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Johnson's Russia List
22 November 1998
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READ: Some of you may not be aware of the CDI Russia Weekly
that is NOT duplicative of JRL and gives more coverage of
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1. Reuters: Aide to murdered Russian MP clings to life.
2. Reuters: Russia PM should consider presidency -Yeltsin aide.
3. The Sunday Times (UK): Carey Scott,Yeltsin is 'least worst' leader.
4. Los Angeles Times: Jeffrey Sachs, The Dismal Decade: Failure East
5. Interfax: Primakov To Continue Investigation of Illegal Privatization.
6. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: US, not IMF Determines Whether Russia Will
7. Washington Post: Thomas Lippman, U.S. Narrows Its Vision of
'Partnership' With Russia.
8. Reuters: China's Jiang Arrives To Meet Ailing Yeltsin.
9. Baltimore Sun: Kathy Lally, Russian powers pull media plug.
10. Itar-Tass: Russian Duma Adopts Law on Military Reform.
11. Intefax: Impeachment Commission: Yeltsin Did Not Ruin Armed Forces.
12. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Schroeder Meets Institute Students, Staff.]
Aide to murdered Russian MP clings to life
By Gareth Jones
MOSCOW, Nov 22 (Reuters) - An aide to murdered liberal deputy Galina
Starovoitova was still fighting for his life on Sunday, nearly 36 hours after
they were ambushed by unknown gunmen near her home in Russia's second city St
Ruslan Linkov was shot in the head and throat but military doctors treating
him said there was a good chance that he would live and that he might be able
to provide clues about the shooting, which has shocked and outraged Russia.
President Boris Yeltsin has taken personal charge of the investigation,
describing Starovoitova as a ``passionate tribune of democracy'' and a close
ally since Soviet times.
``(Linkov) has shown some signs of improvement,'' Interfax news agency quoted
a doctor as saying, though it added his condition remained very serious.
The 27-year-old journalist was later reported to be conscious and reacting
``normally'' to those around him. He could not speak because of an artificial
tube helping him to breathe but he had tried to raise himself and to turn over
on the bed.
Interfax also reported that Linkov had managed to ring the agency on Friday
night on his mobile telephone immediately after the shooting. It gave no
As the sole witness of Friday's shooting, Linkov's ward at the St Petersburg
Military-Medical Academy is under close guard.
As doctors tended to him, hundreds of mourners continued to leave flowers by
the stairwell of Starovoitova's apartment building in central St Petersburg
where they were both shot.
Starovoitova, 52, was a co-chairman of the Democratic Russia party and sat in
Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament, where she was a fierce critic
of the chamber's dominant Communist and ultra-nationalist factions.
But all Duma factions have joined Yeltsin and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov
in condemning the killing, which many see as setting a dangerous precedent in
Russia ahead of next year's parliamentary election and a presidential poll due
Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, said he hoped Starovoitova's
death would frighten Russia's divided and weakened liberal camp into unity.
``How many more honest, decent Russians have to be killed before democrats
understand that only by sticking together can they achieve something in power
and ensure that Russia becomes a safe country,'' the pro-reform Nemtsov told
Ekho Moskvy radio.
Speculation about possible motives for the shooting has continued unabated,
with many including the Kremlin saying they suspect political foul play.
Starovoitova was reportedly preparing to run for the vacant seat of governor
of the Leningrad region surrounding St Petersburg. She was also helping pro-
democracy candidates taking part in next month's election to the local
Starovoitova was the first high level woman politician to be assassinated in
Russia. Her murder followed several high-profile shootings in St Petersburg,
whose graceful neo-classical facades have long concealed a large and confident
Her sister Olga told Ekho Moskvy that Starovoitova, whose funeral has been set
for Tuesday, should be buried at the city's Alexander Nevsky monastery,
resting place of many famous Russians including novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky
and composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Modest Musorgsky.
``After her death caused such a huge resonance in the city and the country at
large and in view of many people's requests, we would like to have the place
of burial moved to Alexander Nevsky (from her home village Gorelovo),'' Olga
Police say the investigation at Starovoitova's home by central St Petersburg's
Griboyedov Canal would last 10 days.
They have found an automatic weapon and a pistol at the scene of the shooting
and have said they believe the killers were a man and a woman.
Russia PM should consider presidency -Yeltsin aide
MOSCOW, Nov 22 (Reuters) - A senior Kremlin aide sees Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov as a strong presidential candidate and says he should not rule
himself out of the race to succeed Boris Yeltsin in 2000, RIA news agency said
Oleg Sysuyev, deputy head of the presidential administration, told RIA in an
interview that as premier Primakov was already Yeltsin's heir under the
``(Primakov) is effectively the deputy president, assumes his duties in the
event of the president's absence and under the constitution is obliged to
think of his prospective presidency,'' Sysuyev was quoted as saying.
``He is obliged to consider himself a candidate for the presidency -- that is
written in the constitution ... He must think of himself as a man who at any
moment might have to take on the responsibilities of the president,'' Sysuyev
With Yeltsin dogged by illness, Primakov has already taken over the day-to-day
running of Russia, though he denies having any designs on the presidency in
Primakov, approved as a compromise premier in September, has won plaudits for
restoring political stability in Russia after the previous cabinet ignited a
financial crisis by effectively devaluing the rouble and defaulting on debt
But he faces a daunting task trying to reverse Russia's decade-old industrial
downturn and his plans to increase state involvement in the economy have been
criticised by the West.
The former foreign minister and spymaster is also, at 69, more than a year
older than Yeltsin, though apparently in much better physical shape.
``Age is no obstacle for considering the candidacy of Yevgeny Primakov,''
Sysuyev told RIA.
``In the history of other countries there have been very effective and
successful rulers (older than Primakov),'' he said.
Sysuyev said Yeltsin -- who now spends much of his time resting at state
residences outside Moscow and makes few public appearances -- was keen to find
a ``real heir.''
But he noted that much could change in the turbulent world of Russian politics
before the next election.
Yeltsin cannot run for another four-year term and key rivals for his job are
already jockeying for position in what promises to be a long and hard-fought
The president initially gave a lukewarm endorsement of former prime minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin, a declared candidate in the next election, but his star
has waned in recent months.
Other major candidates are expected to be Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Siberian
governor Alexander Lebed, liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky and Communist Party
chief Gennady Zyuganov.
The Sunday Times (UK)
November 22 1998
[for personal use only]
Yeltsin is 'least worst' leader
by Carey Scott
THE Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, has lost the "moral authority" to
rule his country - but an alternative leader could be even worse, Sergei
Kiriyenko, the former prime minister, said last week.
"There is a difference between having the formal right to power, and
having the moral authority that enables you to influence a society," said
Kiriyenko, on a private visit to London to try to persuade sceptical foreign
investors to return to his country.
The president "has practically no moral authority left", he said.
Keeping Yeltsin in the Kremlin, however - or at least in his government
dacha outside Moscow - is still better than forcing him from office, said
Kiriyenko, who was forced to resign last August.
Kiriyenko, 35, a baby-faced former oil refinery director, came to office
in April full of ideas, but his honesty and enthusiasm proved no match for
the powerful vested interests ranged against him. He said the collapse of
the rouble, which began on August 17, could have been halted if he had not
been fired by Yeltsin six days later.
"There would have been no need for devaluation if we had been able to
carry out our programme, but it required letting people go bankrupt, and
making people pay taxes, and this was going to be rough on lots of people -
powerful people," he said.
Los Angeles Times
November 22, 1998
[for personal use only]
PERSPECTIVE ON RUSSIA
The Dismal Decade: Failure East and West
Corruption, the IMF, inadequate monetary policies all share credit for the
collapse of reform.
By JEFFREY D. SACHS
Jeffrey D. Sachs Is a Professor of Economics at Harvard University and
Director of the Harvard Institute for International Development
As Russia's economy spirals out of control this fall with a collapsed
currency, default on foreign debts, a plummeting economy and the worst harvest
in years, an assessment must be made of what went wrong with Russia's reform
I served as an economic advisor to President Boris Yeltsin from November
1991 to January 1994. More than a few people have blamed my advice--a charge I
must decline. The advice that I gave: Eliminate price controls, stop subsidies
to loss-making state enterprises, make the currency convertible and open the
economy to trade. This kind of economic medicine produced an end of
hyperinflation and strong economic growth in Poland, Estonia, Slovenia and
other economies that I advised.
The same advice would have worked in Russia, but it was not followed. My
real frustration in Russia was not the failure of these suggestions, but the
fact that the Russian government did not pursue real reforms.
The West bears a lot of responsibility for the failure of Russia to
pursue these reforms. The Yeltsin government was financially and politically
very weak. In the case of Poland, the West gave several critical kinds of
help, including: the zloty stabilization fund, a time-out on debt-servicing
payments, and a cancellation of half of Poland's debts. But the hard-nosed
Western attitudes weakened the Yeltsin government and eventually contributed
to its collapse.
Additionally, the advice of the International Monetary Fund was
atrocious. Someday some serious historians will get a look at the IMF's books
and see the utter incompetence of that institution's advice and behavior in
Russia. The IMF convinced the Russians not to introduce a separate national
currency in 1992. The fact that all 15 successor states of the Soviet Union
shared a currency in 1992 meant that each of the new countries introduced
highly inflationary monetary policies, since the inflationary effects were
absorbed by the other countries.
Also, the Russians were highly corrupt, especially after the end of the
Gaidar government in 1992. Viktor Chernomyrdin presided over one of the most
corrupt privatization processes in world history. Tens of billions of dollars
of natural resource exports were given away free to politically connected
insiders in the Russian regime.
The U.S. administration just stood by as this corruption continued.
Nobody in the U.S. or the IMF wanted to hear a bad word about the Chernomyrdin
government. That government was on our side, it was said repeatedly. The
corruption poisoned the Russian political process, but nobody in the Western
leadership wanted to say a word about it at the time.
In the end, the corruption and the lack of reform undermined the Russian
fiscal system. The government could not or would not collect taxes, especially
from politically powerful firms. Nor did the government raise revenues by
selling its valuable natural resources; instead they gave them away. In the
end, the government went bankrupt.
For two years, the government borrowed heavily from foreign investors by
selling them the now-famous ruble-denominated Treasury bills. Foreign
investors put lots of money into these treasury bills because they thought
that the IMF would always bail out Russia if necessary. They were almost
correct. The IMF put in $22 billion in emergency loans, but it wasn't enough,
given the extensive rot of the Russian fiscal system.
Why did the Russians allow this to happen to their society?
Almost nobody in Russia knew anything about democracy or market economy.
Unlike Poland, which had national traditions and experience in both, Russia
simply lacked the historical knowledge and trained personnel to manage a
market economy. The situation was even worse than in China, which still had
people familiar with trade and commerce from before the 1949 communist
Also, Russia is more geographically isolated from Western markets than is
Central Europe or China. Russia has no large coastal economy, for example,
which has been the real fuel of China's rapid growth. Russia has little direct
economic contact with Western Europe, except through natural resource exports.
Transport costs between Western Europe and Moscow are much higher than between
Western Europe and locations in Central Europe.
Third, Russia lacks a civil society. Most of it was killed off by Lenin,
Stalin and their successors. There are no powerful organizations independent
of the state, such as the Catholic Church or the Solidarity Trade Union
movement in Poland. The result is that the Russian government is not
constrained in its actions by independent power centers. When the government
engages in full-scale corruption, no one is powerful enough to protest.
Lastly, Russia did not experience a complete political change as did
Central Europe. Even though the Soviet Union disintegrated, many of the key
institutions of the Communist era were maintained. The Communist Party
continued to have authority and a presence.
This has been a dismal decade for Russia. Economic decline has
accelerated. The early years of democracy have produced economic chaos. The
West has failed to provide useful support.
The situation is dire, but not lost. Russia is still maintaining its new
and fragile democratic institutions. This gives some hope for continued
peaceful change. After years of failed Western support, let's take the IMF out
of the picture and start a new and fresh approach to support for Russia.
Primakov To Continue Investigation of Illegal Privatization
Nov 19 (Interfax-Eurasia) -- Russian Prime Minister
Yevgeniy Primakov has stated that he "will carry out to the end the
investigation into illegal privatization."
Speaking at a session of the Council of the Far East and Trans- Baikal
economic cooperation association in Khabarovsk on Thursday, Primakov said
that the privatization of Svyazinvest and Purneftegaz were examples of
illegal privatization. "There were plans to sell a 25% share packet in
Svyazinvest, worth 2 billion rubles, for just 600 million," he said.
There are 5,000 joint-stock companies with state capital and 2,500
where the government holds a controlling block of shares, but the budget
receives only 900 million rubles from them. "It's plunder," Primakov said.
The role of the state must be enhanced, and this is the correct thing to
do, he added.
Regarding the government's strategic course, he said that the Cabinet
has two priorities - social orientation of the market economy and
development of the real economic sector.
He said that the government will ensure the timely payment of wages to
government workers and will gradually repay wage arrears. However, there
are enterprises which do not depend on the budget and which also suffer
from wage arrears, he said. This problem should be tackled jointly with
the local authorities, as the government has no sufficient financial
potential for this, he said. At the current stage the regions and the
federal authorities should pool their efforts, as without this "we cannot
Primakov on Thursday made a stop-over in Khabarovsk territory em route
to Moscow from Malaysia. In addition to attending a session of the Far
East Trans-Baykal association, he visited the Gagarin aircraft
manufacturing enterprise in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. He flew out to
US, not IMF Determines Whether Russia Will Receive Loan
19 November 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Report by Aleksey Baliyev under the "IMF" rubric: "Will Money
Be Given, Provided We Do Not Switch On the Printing Press?"
Apparently the question of whether Russia receives the next IMF loan
tranche depends not so much on the implementation of the IMF's
recommendations as on the position of the United States -- the fund's main
creditor. To all appearances, this position is becoming less tough.
During the recent talks in the Malaysian capital between Russian
Government head Ye. Primakov and U.S. Vice President A. Gore, the U.S.
side's assessment of Russia's current economic policy on stabilizing the
financial system and resolving debt problems was, on the whole, positive.
Incidentally, the United States' role in the fund's loans to various
countries has recently increased markedly. After lengthy and heated
debate, the U.S. Congress nhevertheless recently gave the go-ahead for
IMF's "storehouses" to be replenished. In return, it was demanded that the
fund's policy become more transparent and that control over the "actual use
of loan money in borrower-countries" be strengthened.
Washington's role was also confirmed by the Kuala Lumpur talks between
the Russian Government delegation and the U.S. vice president. At the end
of the talks it was stated, for example, that Russia's 1999 budget "will be
a most important document, on the basis of which a decision on providing
Russia with all the IMF loan tranches will be made."
On the eve of the consultations the Russian Government received a
letter from the U.S. Administration giving recommendations concerning
budget policy and measures to overcome the financial crisis. According to
[Russian Economy Minister] A. Shapovalyants, many of the provisions of the
current measures for socioeconomic stabilization in Russia coincide with
the U.S. recommendations.
Incidentally, yesterday [18 November] saw the arrival in Russia of
another IMF mission, which will study the said program in detail. Unless
its provisions prompt substantial objections from the fund leadership,
according to U.S. sources Russia has a chance of obtaining the loantranches.
The Russian leadership will most probably have to take account of the
recommendations, the main ones being: to avoid uncontrolled printing of
money, reform the banking system, and swell state budget revenue. Even
though it is clear that another dose of credit could itself remove the
"printing press" problem.
These issues are being discussed not only at Russia's talks with the
fund. They will also be the subject of consultations between the Russian
Federation leadership and U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary L. Summers, who
will visit before the end of November. The Treasury leadership declared
recently that it intends to support "the implementation of the
understandings reached at the talks with Russian representatives in Kuala
Lumpur."In short, it should be reiterated that the answer to the question of
whether Russia will receive the IMF loan tranches depends to a considerable
degree on the position of the United States, which is interested in
cooperation with our country in many spheres.
November 22, 1998
[for personal use only]
U.S. Narrows Its Vision of 'Partnership' With Russia
By Thomas W. Lippman
Washington Post Staff Writer
In Moscow on Sept. 1, President Clinton delivered an expansive message of hope
to young Russians, telling them that with courage and hard work they could
forge a brighter future out of their country's economic and political turmoil.
The next day, though, he sternly warned leaders of Russia's fractious
political parties and members of the Communist-dominated parliament not to
turn to prescriptions from the past or reimpose state controls on the economy.
The choice is Russia's, Clinton said, but he added, "As a friend, I say I do
not believe that you can defy the rules of the road in today's global economy
any more than I could defy the laws of gravity by stepping off the top floor
of Spaso House," the residence of the U.S. ambassador.
The contrast between the two messages unveiled a sharp revision of the Clinton
administration's view of Russia, which was shifting from the optimism
Washington has associated with the country's youth to the deep skepticism it
holds for the tradition-bound politicians whose rise in recent months has
demoralized U.S. policymakers.
According to senior officials, the administration watched this summer's
economic and political upheaval in Russia with a sense that it was rapidly
losing influence with Moscow. In public statements and background
conversations, Clinton and his senior advisers on Russia began to distance
themselves from a country they had long embraced. Their vision of Russia as a
full member of the Group of Eight industrialized democracies gave way to a
damage-control effort with a limited agenda of bilateral cooperation and an
interest in ensuring that Washington not take the blame for what went wrong.
This repositioning began with Clinton's remarks in Moscow, which were prompted
at least in part by polling data, U.S. officials said. Opinion sampling showed
that Russians 35 and younger remain committed over the long run to principles
of democracy and free markets. Clinton wanted to help lock in those sentiments
with his relatively upbeat remarks to students.
But to Russians older than 35, the U.S. polls showed, reform and unrestrained
flows of capital have come to mean privation and uncertainty. Many see the
United States, which supported economic liberalization and the shift to
capitalism, as the source of their distress.
After the Aug. 23 dismissal of 36-year-old Sergei Kiriyenko as prime minister,
the cosmopolitan younger Russians with whom Washington had worked closely
throughout Clinton's administration were mostly gone from the government. They
were followed by a resurgence under Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov of old
leftists such as First Deputy Premier Yuri Maslyukov, 61, former head of the
Soviet State Planning Committee.
The estrangement grew as illness overtook President Boris Yeltsin and Primakov
adopted an economic recovery program based on policies that Clinton and others
in the West had warned against, including printing money to pay salaries and
pensions and subsidizing inefficient state industries.
Senior U.S. officials said they do not anticipate any return to the era of
confrontation with Moscow, but they have drastically narrowed their vision of
a U.S.-Russian "partnership."
In the new vision, Russia and the United States will work together on
technical issues such as safe handling of nuclear materials and the projected
space station, but differences on strategic issues are likely to grow. "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 diplomatic and
security issues," Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said in a Nov. 6
A senior administration official said the new outlook on Russia is not the
result of a formal policy review but evolved through "corridor conversations
and car rides, and the fact that everyone was there in Moscow and saw a new
situation that requires a new way of talking about it."
In Russia's "dysfunctional" political system, "there are a lot of people who
really don't agree with what we want and we have to engage with them," he
said. This official and others cited their own speeches from years past to
show that they had always recognized the possibility things could go wrong in
Russia, arguing that they were disappointed but not surprised by recent
Dmitri K. Simes, president of the Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom and a
specialist on Russia policy, described the administration's new approach as
"preemptive disengagement." He said the administration's senior policymakers
on Russia "were genuinely committed to the radical reformers and looked at
events through their eyes. At some point, when you invest a lot of political
capital in a perspective, it becomes your perspective. That perspective was
rejected in Russia -- hence the disillusionment."
"We aren't giving up on Russia or writing it off or going to a policy of
quarantine," one senior policymaker said, "but it's getting harder to preserve
the partnership because of the ways Russia is changing. It's not U.S. policy
that's changing, it's Russia that's changing."
After nearly six years of trying to persuade Russia to embrace free-market
reforms at all levels of the economy, and of exporting U.S. advice deep into
the Russian bureaucracy through the binational commission co-chaired by Vice
President Gore, Clinton administration officials now stress that Russia must
make its own choices.
"There comes a stage in every crisis where it becomes very perilous to give
advice because the game is already up," a senior official said. "By mid-
August, it had become pretty clear that Russia faced dramatic and unpleasant
policy choices with no good options. Do you want your fingerprints on what is
going to be very messy?"
Administration officials already have begun to defend themselves against
pointed questions of "Who lost Russia?" They maintain that they always knew
things could go wrong there, and say it was bad choices by the Russians,
combined with some bad luck, that vaporized the dream of a modernizing,
"I think we did not blow it," Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said
last week when TV host Charlie Rose raised the question. "I think that
Americans have a great tendency to be very optimistic about things. And the
Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union and empire was gone, and we really
wanted to take advantage of that to talk about democratic values and market
economies. . . . I think our only fault is that we are optimists."
For most of Clinton's tenure, his administration has tried to work with
Yeltsin and like-minded reformers, while treating the Russian parliament and
opposition leaders as inconvenient throwbacks who would be eclipsed over time.
But after the Aug. 17 devaluation of the ruble and the implosion of Russia's
economy, Albright and other senior officials shifted to the message that
Russia is now a democracy and therefore the opposition and the parliament must
be recognized and accepted.
"They have to heal themselves," Albright said in an interview. "If there's
anything we've seen in the past four or five years, it's that to some extent
they drew some of the wrong lessons about what a market economy is supposed to
be. If we offer some other prescription, it's not going to solve the problem.
They have to understand the problem themselves."
In the past few weeks, Albright, Talbott, Deputy Treasury Secretary Lawrence
H. Summers and Stephen R. Sestanovich, ambassador at large for the newly
independent states of the former Soviet Union, have all delivered speeches
with the same message to Russia: We understand what's driving you, and in a
democracy you have to respond to the needs of the people. If you make the
right choices and adhere to the path of reform, we will help you. But if you
make the wrong choices, they are your choices, and there won't be much we can
do for you.
For instance, they said, the Clinton administration will not support large new
infusions of capital into a country whose leaders are taking it backward in
economic policy. The best the United States can do under such circumstances is
emergency aid, such as the 3.1 million tons of food aid aimed at staving off
hunger in Russia's far north.
For Talbott in particular, the turnabout in Russia has been difficult,
according to colleagues. A longtime Clinton friend and Russia expert, he was
the chief architect of a policy of backing Yeltsin and his economic reformers
come what may. Now the reformers are gone and Yeltsin seems barely functional,
putting Russia's fate in the hands of Primakov and colleagues whose economic
views were described by a U.S. official as "Peronist," based on pseudo-
populism and state regulation.
"It is too early to proclaim Russian democratization irreversible," a somber
Talbott said. "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."
China's Jiang Arrives To Meet Ailing Yeltsin
By Gareth Jones
MOSCOW (Reuters) - China's President Jiang Zemin arrived in Moscow Sunday for
an informal ``no-neckties'' summit with Russian President Boris Yeltsin
intended to underscore warm ties between the world's most populous country and
Yeltsin's talks with Jiang Monday at the Ogaryovo residence near Moscow are
expected to focus on trade and international issues, including cooperation in
countering the perceived U.S. domination of the post-Cold War world order.
But Russia's deep economic crisis will also cast a shadow over this sixth
bilateral summit, with Chinese humanitarian aid to its huge northern neighbor
likely to feature on the agenda, Interfax news agency reported Sunday.
Such a possibility pinpoints the dramatic reversal of fortunes between Russia
and China, which considers itself a developing country and was a Soviet
disciple and aid recipient in the 1950s when Jiang himself studied in Moscow.
Yeltsin's own performance at the summit will also be under close scrutiny.
The 67-year-old Kremlin leader has spent much of the past month and a half
recovering from what his doctors say is exhaustion and poor blood pressure. He
has cancelled several overseas trips and has made only brief public
appearances, mainly to welcome visiting foreign leaders.
However, Russian officials are upbeat about ties with China.
``I want to stress that this is the first ever informal Russo-Chinese summit,
which underlines the high level of trust in our bilateral relationship,''
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told Reuters.
Despite Russia's crisis and Asia's own financial woes, he said the long-term
prospects for trade were bright. Russia and China have pledged to boost annual
bilateral trade from around $6 billion to $20 billion by 2000.
Yeltsin has long championed the personal brand of summitry he calls ``no-
neckties'' diplomacy and has often used his friendly rapport with Western
leaders like former German chancellor Helmut Kohl to win their support for his
Jiang, who speaks some Russian and once worked in a Moscow auto factory, also
seemed to welcome such informal meetings.
``This form of contact makes it possible in an informal and calm atmosphere to
discuss a broad range of problems, to find mutual understanding and behave
more sincerely and in a relaxed manner,'' he told Russia's Itar-Tass news
agency last week.
But, perhaps in an acknowledgement that the ailing Yeltsin no longer dominates
the Russian stage, Jiang's schedule Monday also includes talks with Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov and other senior government and parliamentary
Primakov is now responsible for the day-to-day management of Russia, and he
met Jiang only last week when he stood in for Yeltsin at a gathering of the
Asia-Pacific economic forum (APEC) in Malaysia, where Moscow formally joined
Primakov, a former foreign minister, wants to boost Russia's role in the
affluent Asian-Pacific region. Jiang's trip follows hard on the heels of an
official visit to Moscow by Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, the first of
its kind for 25 years.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin said Yeltsin and Jiang would issue a joint
statement after their talks hailing the completion of demarcation work on
their shared 4,300-km (2,800-mile) frontier.
``For the first time in the history of relations between Russia and China we
will have a demarcation of our common border throughout its entire
length...For the first time a unique model of border safety will be created on
the Asian continent,'' Yakushkin told a news briefing Friday.
Yeltsin and Jiang ended wrangles over implementation of a 1991 accord mapping
out the border at a Beijing summit last November.
Border disputes erupted into armed clashes in the 1960s when the two giants
were vying for supremacy in the Communist world.
Jiang travels to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk Tuesday where he will visit
a nuclear institute and address scientists. He flies on to Japan Wednesday.
November 21, 1998
[for personal use only]
Russian powers pull media plug
Shutdown: Government officials silence a television broadcast and warn a radio
station of safety violations that could result in its closure.
By Kathy Lally
Sun Foreign Staff
MOSCOW -- It was the middle of another tumultuous day.
One Russian region threatened to secede, three secret police officers gave a
press conference to declare they were not terrorists and killers, a pensioner
set himself on fire on Red Square and the first stage of a new international
space station blasted off into orbit.
And the nation's main television news program fell silent.
Court officers serving a debt collection order yesterday had impounded the
cars and trucks belonging to ORT, the main TV channel and voice of the
establishment, and its cameramen were unable to cover the news. The noontime
anchor reported the seizure, read several wire service reports and ended the
program after three minutes. The screen went still, except for a silent
message. "You are watching ORT news," a notice informed viewers for the last
12 minutes of the newscast.
This was startling, even here, where each day reveals a new and unexpected
turn in the national drama. Players and audience alike immediately began
trying to figure out the plot. And it had many twists.
For while court deputies were ranging through ORT, crouching under the
director's desk to count his telephones as he talked on one of them, fire
officials were delivering some bad news to radio station Ekho Moskvy,
informing the feisty station it could be shut down for safety violations.
"It can't be anything but political," said Sergei Dorenko, ORT's news director
and evening anchor, who has a rich, mellifluous voice, impassive expression,
and every hair in place.
"At first I thought it was just one of the usual problems, only more so," said
Aleksei Venediktov, Ekho Moskvy's chief editor, whose emotions flit across his
face, and every hair stands out of place.
"But compare it to what's happening to ORT, and it looks like an attempt to
settle accounts with the mass media."
The Communists have been the most outspoken against the press. Just over a
week ago, Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist leader, and other political
sympathizers asked the government to set up a public committee to establish
controls over Russia's television stations.
But their unhappiness is shared by politicians across the spectrum yearning
for a more malleable press.
This week, court deputies arrived at ORT with orders to draw up an inventory
of all of the station's equipment, in case it had to be sold to pay its debts.
A $4 million judgment against ORT had been won by the Television Technical
Center, which transmits the station's broadcasts.
What annoys ORT, Dorenko said in an interview, is that the government owns 51
percent of the station -- and it also controls the Television Technical
Center. The other 49 percent is controlled by Boris A. Berezovsky, one of
Russia's powerful financiers, who has numerous enemies.
In effect, Dorenko said, the government is suing itself for not paying its
debts to itself.
"I think we will soon learn about the political reasons," he said. "In Russia,
when somebody hurts you, they later come to your rescue. Usually, when it
comes time to give you help, you have to pay."
Its opponents, he suggested, want to drive ORT into bankruptcy. Rescue would
come in the form of new investors, who would control the station.
The Communists have already offered to find investors, he said. Yuri Luzhkov,
the mayor of Moscow, who already controls a small television station in the
city and wants to run for president, might also like to help, Dorenko said.
Venediktov speculates that the warnings from the fire inspector represent a
long-term threat to the radio station, and the beginning of a campaign to find
out how far the authorities can go in controlling the media.
"I think the Russian authorities do not like the press in general," he said.
"The whole political elite is getting ready for elections and looking for
levers of power they can control."
His station is still admired and cherished for broadcasting uncontrolled, from
a secret location, throughout the failed coup of August 1991. "We're looking
for other places now," he said. "Perhaps we can satisfy the fire inspectors.
But there's no guarantee we won't be visited by the sanitary inspectors, and
that they won't find cockroaches and seal the building up."
ORT was broadcasting normally when its 9 p.m. newscast came on the air
yesterday. Dorenko reported that LogoVaz (the auto company controlled by
Berezovsky) had offered the station cars. Viewers had also called in, offering
to drive reporters and cameramen wherever they wanted to go, for free. Duma
deputies raged at the government for embarrassing the nation. The court
returned the car keys to ORT.
And Russians heard the news.
A despondent 66-year-old man had doused himself with gasoline and set himself
afire at Red Square, perhaps emulating two Kurdish protesters who set
themselves on fire near Red Square earlier this week.
The Duma approved a statement censuring the Russian republic of Kalmykia for
threatening to leave the federation because it isn't getting money from
And Dorenko broadcast another chapter of the KGB Files, a special segment of
his news program. The drama began this week when five members of the FSB --
the current name of the domestic KGB -- called a press conference to accuse
the security police of taking part in kidnapping, murder and extortion. One of
them also said he had been ordered to kill Berezovsky last December.
Yesterday, another group of FSB officers gave a press conference to deny all
the accusations and insist that the FSB had never broken the law.
"In the 20 years of my service in the FSB, I simply cannot imagine an unlawful
order being given," said Col. Shankor Ishankulov.
A reporter suggested that human rights organizations had documented numerous
abuses against Soviet citizens 15 and 20 years ago.
"I will have to repeat once again that this is nonsense," Ishankulov said.
"This is something that cannot be."
Dorenko promised another segment in the KGB saga on Monday -- if the station
is still on the air.
Russian Duma Adopts Law on Military Reform
18 Nov (ITAR-TASS) -- The State Duma today adopted at a second
reading the federal law "On military reform in the Russian Federation."
In accordance with this law, military reform is defined as "a complex
of the organizational, economic, military, social, and other measures
carried out in the Russian Federation that are aimed at qualitative change
in the Russian Armed Forces and other troops, troop formations, and bodies
of the defense industry complex, as well as organizations, federal
executive power bodies, and military administration bodies connected
The aims of military reform, the law says, are to create in the
Russian Federation a single military organization, to increase its combat
and mobilizational readiness and fighting capability, and to bring the
state's military potential in line with the current requirements of the
state's defense and security.
The Russian president determines the timescale of military reform, its
content, and measures. The head of state is also in charge of how the
reform is carried out and controls the way the federal executive power
bodies, the armed forces and other troops, troop formations, and bodies
fulfill these measures.
In accordance with the law, the size of the annual financing of the
military reform depends on the type and extent of its measures for the
Impeachment Commission: Yeltsin Did Not Ruin Armed Forces
MOSCOW, Nov 19 (Interfax) -- The Russian Duma's impeachment commission
is unlikely to back the charges of ruining the armed forces and undermining
the country's defense capability brought against President Boris Yeltsin, a
commission member told Interfax on condition of anonymity.
He said the commission had decided to end hearings on this issue,
which is the fourth block of charges brought against the president by 252
The commission passed the verdict of guilty for the first three blocks
of charges, which deal with the conclusion of the 1991 agreements that
caused the former Soviet Union's breakup, the events in September and
October 1993, and with the 1994-96 Chechen war.
Commission Chairman Vadim Filimonov, of the Communist faction,
confirmed in an interview with Interfax that hearings on the fourth set of
charges would be ended and that at the next closed session, set for
November 30, the commission will formulate its conclusions.
At the previous session former Defense Minister Igor Rodionov failed
to provides any "convincing proof of whether the president ruined the armed
forces by intent," Filimonov said.
Schroeder Meets Institute Students, Staff
November 19, 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Report by the Department for Public and Press Relations of the
Russian Federation Foreign Ministry MGIMO University: "Gerhard
Schroeder: Sovereignty Is Not An Absolute Concept. Within the
Framework of His Official visit to Russia German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder Met With Students and Lecturers of the Moscow
State Institute of Foreign Relations"
In his brief introductory speech G. Schroeder noted, in particular,
that Germany and Russia play a special role in the consolidation of
stability in Europe and the world, and that trade and economic cooperation
between Germany and Russia has an important significance for both
countries. After the unification of Germany, the chancellor said, a
similar process of transition from the planned economy to the market
"I do not know how many times bigger than Germany Russia is, but we
are prepared to share our experience on the basis of a feeling of respect
for the gigantic problems that you face. You do not have an older brother
in the West to help you. You are forced to cope yourselves."
Then FRG Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder answered questions.
[Question] A certain model has developed in relations between Russia
and Germany. What changes and adjustments will there be now?
[Schroeder] We will not merely make adjustments; we want to do
better. I greatly respect the personal contacts between H. Kohl and B.
Yeltsin, but we will now set these relations on a wider basis. I am
interested in the entire palette of Russian society. Relations between
countries should not depend on relations between individuals. The style of
relations will change; besides, I do not like to go to the bathhouse.
[Question] Whom would you like to see as your new political partner
in Russia after the elections?
[Schroeder] From the level of your questions I can tell that you
would not pass the entrance examinations to the Moscow State Institute of
International Relations. As for the elections -- it is necessary to
recognize the decisions of the people. It is your business, your decision.
And incidentally, why are there no female candidates?
[Question] How do you assess the Russian Government's anticrisisprogram?
[Schroeder] It is essential to fulfill everything written in the
program -- the payment of wages, pensions, debts. But inflation should not
be allowed. Printing money is not the solution.
[Question] What are the prospects for the FRG government's work?
[Schroeder] We will develop the high technology sectors, especially
in the sphere of power engineering and communications. It is essential to
fight unemployment and create new jobs. The state should look after those
who have lost their jobs and provide them with an opportunity to acquire a
new profession. But if a person does not aspire to this, the state will
not bear responsibility for him.
[Question] What will be the basis now of Germany's investments policy
[Schroeder] We do not want to advise Russia, we want to collaborate.
I support the expansion of investments by German companies in the Russian
economy. We will exert influence on the IMF and mobilize the world
community to help Russia, but we do not have the resources for direct aid.
The IMF's experts incorrectly assessed the speed of market transformations
in Russia, especially the speed of privatization. But the direction
[Question] Will Germany renounce nuclear energy?
[Schroeder] We want to create a new energy industry without the use
of nuclear energy. We want to base ourselves on primary sources of energy
and devote more attention to the economical use of energy. We should think
about our descendants, about leaving them natural resources.
[Question] Do you see Yugoslavia as a sovereign state? Is NATO's
policy on the Kosovo problem an interference in the affairs of a
[Schroeder] Yugoslavia is a sovereign state. So is Iraq. But the
international community does not see sovereignty as an absolute concept.
If Saddam Husayn is producing bacteriological weapons, the world community
cannot tolerate this.