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Johnson's Russia List
23 November 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
Advance warning: There will be a Thanksgiving break from
JRL November 25-28.
1. Reuters: Peter Graff, Deputy's murder unites Russia in mourning and
2. The Independent (UK): Phil Reeves, Fear for aide who escaped
3. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Armed and dangerous. Russia's nuclear
fleet in serious disrepair.
4. Reuters: Olga Popova, Stranded Russian enclave ponders identity.
5. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Vladimir Lysenko (Duma deputy), "Buy Russian,
or the Kind Of Benefit Which Can Be Derived From the Crisis."
6. Alexander Samoiloff: DOES RUSSIA REALLY NEEDS THE FAR EAST?
7. Argumenty i Fakty: Paper Says Berezovskiy Building Power Base.
8. RFE/RL NEWSLINE: SANTA TAKE HEED. (Reindeer).]
Deputy's murder unites Russia in mourning and fear
By Peter Graff
MOSCOW, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Russia's political landscape was transformed at the
weekend by the murder of a liberal parliamentarian which united people in
mourning and fear.
On Monday President Boris Yeltsin hosts Chinese President Jiang Zemin, a visit
that in previous weeks would have been accompanied by fresh speculation about
Yeltsin's health and worries over Russia's future role on the international
Russia is also hosting a delegation from the International Monetary Fund in
the hope of receiving desperately needed loans despite IMF criticism of the
government's economic plans.
But news of the killing of Galina Starovoitova -- a human rights advocate and
outspoken democratic political leader -- drove the country's economic woes and
political wrangling off television screens and out of dinner table talk.
Throughout Sunday, mourners lit candles and laid flowers by the St Petersburg
apartment where Starovoitova, 52, was ambushed in a stairwell by two attackers
and gunned down on Friday night.
An aide, Ruslan Linkov, was severely wounded in the attack and remained in
hospital where his ward was under heavy guard. There were conflicting reports
about his condition and it was unclear how much information he could give
Like the death of Princess Diana for Britain, or the slaying of President John
Kennedy in the United States, the murder struck a chord across the political
Liberals and their opponents alike expressed outrage at the killing and shock
at the level of violence in the country. The Kremlin, which issued an eloquent
eulogy, said Yeltsin had taken direct control of the investigation.
Russia has seen waves of political violence and organised crime. Starovoitova
was the sixth deputy of the State Duma lower house of parliament killed since
the house was founded in 1993.
But there was broad agreement over the weekend that the assassination of a
woman not known to have significant business dealings was unlike previous
``Starovoitova, as has already been said several times, is far from the first
Duma deputy to die a violent death,'' Yevgeny Kiselov, host of the weekly
television programme Itogi on NTV commercial television, told viewers on
``But her murder is the first instance in which practically nobody has any
doubt that she paid with her life for her political activity.''
Nikolai Svanidze, host of the Zerkalo Sunday evening weekly programme on RTR
state television, said the murder had ``put all the other events of the week
in the background.''
``Society, for its self-preservation, must find out how this murder became
possible,'' he said.
Neither influential broadcast mentioned Jiang or the IMF.
Starovoitova a sharp-tongued, tawny-haired grandmother, had been a leader of
the pro-democracy movement in the last years of Soviet rule alongside human
rights campaigner Andrei Sakharov.
Lately, as electoral defeats thinned the ranks of liberals in the Duma and
economic collapse spawned disilliusionment with reform, hers became a somewhat
lonely voice speaking out for increasingly unfashionable principles.
Liberal leaders said her killing should be a call to unite, especially in
crime-ridden St Petersburg itself.
Svanidze, who does not disguise his liberal bias in his broadcasts, aired
Starovoitova's last interview, in which she harshly condemned the Communist
Party for refusing to censure a leading member's repeated anti-Semitic
He then showed footage of Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov dancing happily at
a party meeting the morning after the killing. He noted, however, that the
Communists had observed a moment of silence at the meeting.
The funeral planned for Tuesday looks set to become a highly publicized
national event, although Yeltsin's uncertain health makes the president's own
Starovoitova's sister Olga told Ekho Moskvy radio she should be buried at St
Petersburg's Alexander Nevsky monastery, beside such famous Russians as
novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky and composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Modest
``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 of Gorelovo),''
The Independent (UK)
23 November 1998
[for personal use only]
Fear for aide who escaped hit-men
By Phil Reeves in Moscow
A 27-YEAR-OLD man was under armed guard in a St Petersburg hospital last night
amid fears that he will be assassinated because he knows too much about the
death of Galina Starovoitova, the liberal politician whose murder is
threatening Russia's paper-thin stability.
Detectives believe Ruslan Linkov may have information about the contract
killers of the celebrated 52-year-old MP, as he was with her when she was shot
in the stairwell of her apartment building in St Petersburgon Friday. Although
Mr Linkov, her aide, was shot in the head and throat, he was conscious
yesterday and able to communicate by gesturing.
Police hope soon to be able to interview him about what has become the most
high-profile murder here since the unsolved killing of the television host
Vladislav Listyev in 1995.
The death of Ms Starovoitova, a courageous figure seen by many as one of the
few uncorrupted standard-bearers of democracy, has plunged Russia into an
agonising bout of soul-searching about the venomous and lethal nature of its
politics. There have been five contract killings in St Petersburg in the past
As investigators set about their task, urged on by President by Yeltsin, a
small crowd stood beside the frozen canal that Ms Starovoitova's home
overlooks. Larger numbers are expected for her funeral tomorrow, certain to
bring outraged speeches about the state of a country in which six MPs and
dozens of businessmen have been shot in the past five years. The murder has
exposed the depths of the rift between supporters of democracy and a market
economy, who still despise the Communists for what they did in the Soviet
Union, and the far more numerous forces of nationalists and Communists who
dominate much of Russia's political landscape.
A Kremlin spokesman said that on Friday Ms Starovoitova contacted Mr Yeltsin's
office to appeal for him to act against extremism. The issue that sparked that
appeal had much to do with an age-old blight in Russia: anti-Semitism. Ms
Starovoitova had led a liberal assault on the Communists after they refused to
condemn one of their members, General Albert Makashov, for an anti-Jewish
diatribe. "Whose path did she cross?" said Anatoly Chubais, architect of
Russia's privatisation drive, "The answer is simple: Communists and gangsters.
There is a close link between the misanthropic remarks from General Makashov
and her murder."
Although all the main parties condemned the killing, there was scant evidence
of remorse among the coalition behind the Communists. At a congress one of
their members backed the Jew-bashing general and was warmly applauded.
Several years ago the tragedy might have galvanised Mr Yeltsin but he is too
enfeebled and out of touch. Nor is there much hope of decisive action by
Yevgeny Primakov, the Prime Minister, who was preparing for today's visit to
Moscow by President Jiang Zemin of China.
However, after a long period in retreat, the democratic liberal camp has
received an electric shock; perhaps now they will set aside their divisions
and the disillusionment that has come with Russia's failed reforms. Chief
among their number is Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, who
yesterday asked the key question: "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
Much will depend on whether the murder is solved. Details surfaced yesterday,
including reports that one of the weapons was a rare American rifle used by US
special services and Nato forces in Yugoslavia. The investigation has also
established that one of the assassins is probably a woman.
Reports circulated that Ms Starovoitova was about to expose corruption in high
places, and those behind another assassination, that of St Petersburg's deputy
mayor, Mikhail Manevich. As the lone witness, Mr Linkov will be under intense
pressure to add to these shreds.
But, if past performance is any guide, the prospects of success are not good.
The three other high-profile cases involving now almost martyred advocates of
change - the investigative journalist Dmitri Kholodov, who was murdered; the
priest Alexander Men, killed in 1990, and Mr Listyev, the television presenter
- have yet to be solved.
November 22, 1998
[for personal use only]
Armed and dangerous
Russia's nuclear fleet in serious disrepair
By David Filipov
MURMANSK, Russia - One day last May, harrowing reports spread to Murmansk from
the naval base 15 miles up the fiord, leaving panic in their wake: A Delta-
class nuclear submarine, armed with 12 ballistic missiles, had suffered a
serious accident and was on fire somewhere in the Barents Sea.
Details were sketchy and the authorities were eerily silent. But many of the
500,000 residents of this arctic port city on the Kola Peninsula had heard
enough and began preparing for the worst.
Police received orders to take iodine tablets to protect against radiation
sickness. Radio stations told Murmansk residents to do the same, and
drugstores quickly sold out their iodine supplies. Schools closed. Children
were sent home and told not to open their windows.
Home to the huge Russian Northern Fleet, which at its height in the 1980s had
about 150 atomic submarines, the region around Murmansk for decades was a
certain target for a massive Western strike in the event of nuclear war.
But now those aging submarines are falling apart, improperly maintained by an
increasingly poor and hungry Russian Navy. They are floating Chernobyls,
nuclear catastrophes waiting to happen.
And for a few nerve-wracking hours on May 6, it looked as though Murmansk had
survived the Cold War only to face nuclear doomsday from one of its own subs.
People knew that Soviet-era evacuation plans assumed a third of the population
would die during a nuclear accident.
''It was panic,'' recalled Lena Vasiliyeva, a Murmansk environmental activist.
''People were calling me asking what to do, how much iodine they should
Calm was restored only after the Russian Navy announced on May 7 that the
whole thing had been a training exercise. Russian and foreign environmental
groups countered that an accident really had occurred, probably a fire in one
of the submarine's missile shafts. They pointed to Western military data
documenting that a submarine suddenly surfaced on May 5.
''The whole story of an `exercise' was a cover-up,'' the Norwegian
environmental watchdog Bellona, which monitors nuclear activity in the region,
concluded in a report. As if to confirm this theory, no Northern Fleet
submarines went on patrol for the next three months.
The incident highlighted concerns in Russia and abroad about the safety of the
Kola Peninsula, where 270 military and civilian nuclear reactors are located,
18 percent of the total number of reactors on the planet.
The Soviet Union did a poor job of disposing of the deadly radioactive waste
from these reactors. Thousands of barrels of waste and at least 13 reactors
were dumped into the sea.
Russia says it has stopped dumping its waste in the ocean. But its storage
facilities for nuclear waste are widely acknowledged to be in horrible shape,
often located in the open or in leaky containers that Russia's Atomic Energy
Ministry conceded recently ''do not provide the required level of safety.''
Many of these facilities are run by the military. They are cloaked in secrecy
and off-limits to most civilians, including local government officials and
nuclear safety inspectors. The secrecy has also prevented a coherent study on
the effect of the radiation on people's health, according to Igor Korolyov,
head of the Murmansk regional government's health committee.
Anyone who tries to learn more runs afoul of the authorities. Alexander
Nikitin, a former submarine captain, was charged with treason after he co-
authored a Bellona report on environmental hazards caused by the Northern
Fleet. Last month Nikitin won a battle in court when a judge suspended his
trial, but he remains under investigation. Vasilyeva says she has received
death threats, and her young son was beaten, by people she described as
security agents trying to frighten her away from her investigations.
Some of the worst sites are located for all to see, minutes from downtown
Murmansk. The cargo ship Lepse, a 50-year-old vessel moored in the harbor not
far from the city center, looms as a monument to the dangerous practices of
storing Russian nuclear waste.
Once used as a service ship for Russia's civilian nuclear-powered icebreakers,
Lepse was converted in the early 1980s into a floating waste bin for spent
nuclear fuel. Some of the fuel rods jammed into its hold are damaged and
cannot be removed safely because the ship's surface is highly radioactive.
A European Union-funded project to clean up Lepse is under way. But a far
larger threat is posed by subs that cost more than the post-Soviet economy can
afford or that have been decommissioned because of arms reduction agreements
or old age.
Of the former Soviet Union's 250 atomic submarines, about 160 have been
decomissioned. Only about 50 have had their nuclear fuel removed, according to
Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry. There are 104 more that still contain fuel
that cannot be scrapped. Those subs are rotting at their docks. To prevent
them from sinking and avoid problems with their reactors, the submarines have
to be maintained by small crews and require costly shore support.
About 90 of these decommissioned submarines are moored at bases and shipyards
around the Kola Peninsula. The rest are part of the Pacific Fleet in the
Russian Far East.
The United States is helping to pay for the scrapping of submarines by
supplying Russia with the guillotines and presses that turn vessels into scrap
metal, once their reactors and nuclear waste have been removed.
Last week, Senator Richard Lugar, a sponsor of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative
Threat Reduction Program, which has provided more than $2 billion to former
Soviet states since 1991, vowed continued support after watching Delta class
submarines being chopped up with American equipment at the Zvezdochka
But the United States is not involved in financing the defueling of the
The reactors of decommissioned submarines are supposed to be deactivated and
removed and the liquid and solid radioactive waste sent off to the Mayak
reprocessing plant outside of Chelyabinsk, a city in the Ural Mountains.
In fact, Russia has no money and inadequate facilities to transfer the fuel.
So it has a growing backlog of poorly stored nuclear waste. The only way to
get it out of Murmansk is on a special train that takes it to Mayak. But this
train has only made two trips this year. At that rate, it will take at least
50 years to dispose of the waste.
''We don't have the technology to solve the probem,'' said Andrei Zolotkov,
chief engineer at Atomflot, the Murmansk enterprise in charge of maintenance
of civilian nuclear-powered ships. ''We just put the'' waste ''in containers
and fill them up and fill them up some more. There is no storage site where
all of this can be sent forever. As long as we don't have this, there will be
What can go wrong on the decommissioned subs? For one thing, the removal of
their fuel requires dangerous transfers of radioactive materials, much of it
by sea. During refueling in 1985, a submarine reactor exploded near the
Pacific port of Vladivostok. The resulting lethal radioactive cloud missed the
city only because the wind was blowing in another direction.
Last year, a decommissioned sub in the Pacific fleet sank after it was hit by
another vessel, according to a January report in Jane's Navy International, a
leading naval periodical. The magazine said reactors kept in floating storage
had also been briefly lost at sea during foul weather.
And then there is the human factor. ''A human mistake can lead to serious
consequences,'' Zolotkov said. ''We know subs don't have food and that it's
Conditions in the Northern Fleet are indeed dire. Officers go months without
pay, forcing them to forgo vacations and even basic food items. From all
accounts, the situation on the subs themselves is even worse.
In September, a sailor killed eight of his fellow crewmates and briefly
hijacked a nuclear-powered attack sub. The sailor, Alexander Kuzminikh, an
18-year-old draftee from St. Petersburg, threatened to blow up the ship's
nuclear-tipped torpedoes. The drama ended when he took his own life.
A Navy spokesman quickly assured horrified Russians that the Alfa-class sub
was unarmed and that its titanium hull was impervious to any harm the sailor
might have tried to inflict. But the spokesman's dismissive explanation that
Kuzminikh had ''just gone mad'' seemed to underscore the fleet's morale
The military has done little to clean up the mess left by its submarines. To
expedite the process, the Russian government in August transferred the job to
the Atomic Energy Ministry. But it is unclear how the cash-strapped ministry,
already unable to pay its workers at closed nuclear-research facilities and
nuclear power plants, will find the money to conduct the cleanup.
That has not stopped Nikolai Melnikov, director of the Kola Peninsula's Mining
Institute, who is in charge of developing safe underground storage facilities
for the waste. His plans look good. But no one in the Murmansk region or
neighboring Arkhangelsk wants the facilities built in either area. Besides,
there is no money.
''The technical engineering problem of building the sites is solved,''
Melnikov said. ''The social, political and financial'
FEATURE-Stranded Russian enclave ponders identity
By Olga Popova
KALININGRAD, Russia, Nov 22 (Reuters) - The Russian enclave of Kaliningrad is
suffering from an identity crisis.
Wrenched from the Nazis by Russian troops and then folded in behind the Soviet
Union's vast Iron Curtain, the tiny outpost on the Baltic Sea has been
physically cut off from the rest of Russia since the independence of Belarus,
Lithuania and Latvia.
Kaliningrad may be closer to Berlin than Moscow but the enclave is still very
Russian. The once bustling free economic zone is feeling the pinch of Russia's
economic crisis as well as the twin scourges of drugs and AIDS.
Foreign-made cars and European-style homes outside the airport might at first
convince a visitor that the enclave, which was part of Germany until the end
of World War Two, has kept its European roots.
But once you set off down Kaliningrad's bumpy roads, you forget the charming
Baltic scenery and feel as if you had never left Russia.
``Yes, we are already in Europe,'' Russian visitors often say. ``Well a poor
ONLY CHEAP CARS ENTER THE FREE ECONOMIC ZONE
Kaliningrad's western cars and cheap beer are the last remnants of the
privileges once provided by the enclave's status as a free economic zone.
``If privileges remain they only cover car imports. So that's a (free
economic) zone. We could get more,'' one resident said.
The imported cars are not cheap to run. Petrol imported from Lithuania costs
more than one and a half times as much as in Moscow.
Other sectors of the economy are also struggling to survive in the wake of
Farms are being forced to close or cut back production as Lithuanian and
Polish produce floods Kaliningrad's market.
It does not matter that farmers in the mild climate can gather five harvests,
locals say. Imported food is beating out the local competition and now only
four-fifths of the harvest is brought in.
``The fields have been given up,'' pensioner Alexei Semyonovich told Reuters.
But the decline in farming has yielded some benefits.
``At least salmon come to our shores now. Before they did not come because the
waters were poisoned by fertiliser,'' Semyonovich said.
KALININGRAD'S PORT BRINGS HOPE AND DESPAIR
Fishing has brought the region much-needed income. Ten percent of
Kaliningrad's catch is sold in the Russian Federation.
But the Baltic Sea port is a double-edged sword and has been widely blamed for
bringing drugs and AIDS to the enclave.
The rate of HIV infection, the virus which can cause AIDS, was last year
projected to be nearly twice as high in Kaliningrad as in Los Angeles.
Alexander, 16, laid the blame for the surge in AIDS and HIV on drugs. ``In the
port the drug dealing is out of control,'' he said, adding that young people
were most at risk.
CAR DEALING IS THE ONLY PROFESSION THAT COUNTS
Despite the traditionally high quality of education in Kaliningrad, most
youngsters seem very uncertain about their future.
In Russia, Kaliningrad is well known for producing mathematicians, astronomers
and philosophers. The region boasts six universities and around half a dozen
But many youngsters quizzed by Reuters aspired to nothing more lofty than
being a car dealer, as they can make between $500 and $1,000 a time by selling
``In my opinion the most profitable professions for youngsters nowadays are to
be homeless or to trade cars,'' said Mikhail.
KALININGRAD PONDERS INDEPENDENCE
Russian World War Two veterans bristle when asked about the future of the land
they captured from Nazi Germany.
After the war, the new Soviet authorities in Kaliningrad drove out the
remaining German population and brought in people from regions across the
Soviet Union whose homes had been destroyed in the Nazi invasion.
Most buildings were cleared from the bombed-out centre of the Prussian city,
whose islands and bridges inspired 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant.
The economic crisis, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the
appearance of newly independent Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia between Russia
and Kaliningrad, has made local people consider independence as an option.
``The people are in a daze and wonder who they can lean on. Now there is a
very strong urge to separate,'' said one man who declined to give his name.
People are constantly reminded of their military past. Every street in central
Kaliningrad bears the name of a Soviet general.
``Probably the most popular holiday is May 9 (Victory Day). Then all statues
are bedecked in colours,'' pensioner Semyonovich said.
But what was once a victorious army now fails to provide shelter from the
``Now they say that we have an army here nearly as big as NATO and we feed
them nothing,'' Semyonovich said. People in the armed forces are paid about
600 roubles ($34) a month.
``I don't know how we can go on living,'' said Galina, who works with her
husband in the border guards. ``We received our wages four days ago and now
we've got only 100 roubles.''
Duma Deputy Urges "Buy Russian" Policy
November 17, 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Vladimir Lysenko, State Duma deputy and member of the
organizing committee for the establishment of the association Buy Russian
Goods: "Buy Russian, or the Kind Of Benefit Which Can Be Derived
>From the Crisis"
The August financial collapse has brought us to a practical solution
to the age-old problem:
how can Russia"s industry be forced to work for the impoverished
market under the conditions of the sharp curtailment of importing? And,
first of all, the light and food industries which directly serve the needs
of the people.
After all, the prices for imported goods have tripled in accordance
with the dollar"s exchange rate. In the meanwhile, those for our
domestic foodstuffs and light industry"s products have increased by
factors of 1.5-2. And whereas, a month ago, the Russian buyer gave
preference to imported products, he is now taking our domestic products
Under these conditions, there are two paths. To reduce the customs
duties on the imported goods and to fill up the store shelves with them
anew, their prices having again been made comparable with those for
Russian products. Or to turn toward domestic industry, providing it with
We went along the first path, hoping that industry itself, under the
conditions of the market and private competition, would get out of the
crisis. And we got deplorable results.
Now, however, a unique moment has arisen--to make an abrupt
lunge finally and, following this, a breakthrough as well in the further
development of domestic industry. And to establish on this basis a solid
ruble, to carry out a structural reorganization of the economy and to
begin to solve the piled-up social problems. Of course, accomplishing
this task will require changes in the very thinking of the political
elite. And of the country"s population as a whole.
The stereotype which has emerged over the last few years that
"nothing good can be produced in Russia" should be demolished by life
itself. I will say more: following the national, professional and,
finally, soccer patriotism which we need not bother with, we have already
come close to "commodity patriotism," having "had our fill" of second-rate
Chinese and Turkish consumer goods.
Thus, over the last 2 years, 90 percent of Russia"s citizens,
without advertising of any sort, have turned to our domestic foodstuffs.
Now it is necessary to take the next step—to return prestige to
our light industry"s goods. After all, in many respects, they are
also of better quality than the overseas ones. But it will not be
possible to get by here without the help of the mass media and public
organizations. It is necessary to educate the Russian fans of domestic
"commodity patriotism." The same kinds of domestic-brand admirers as
those which, for example, the soccer clubs currently have. After all, no
matter how Spartak [Spartacus] or Dinamo [Dynamo] do in the championship
tournament, their ardent admirers" hearts are always on the home
team"s side. They will not put on even the most beautiful foreign
clothing, preferring the simple red-and-white Spartak or white-and-blue
Dinamo cap and scarf to it.
I believe that Russia greatly needs a federal program of support for
the light and food industries. We have looked enough at foreign
experience. Let us look at our own. At least, that of the beginning of
the twenties. Remember: the uplifting of the country"s economy,
which had been destroyed by the Civil War, had been begun during the NEP
[New Economic Policy] period with the light and food industries and
agriculture. And after just 2 years, we had fed and dressed the country
and had established the conditions for the conducting of industrialization.
Now, however, the light and food industries are producing in all
around 3-4 percent of the state treasury"s tax revenues. If they were
exempted from the payment of taxes at least for a time under the
obligatory requirement that the saved funds be directed into the further
development of production, then, after just a year, they would fill the
country with good-quality domestic goods. They would also increase the
taxable base by no less fourfold and would establish a powerful
springboard for uplifting our industry"s other sectors. And these are
not empty words. I will cite just one example. In September, the
cosmetics association, Svoboda [Freedom], the largest one in the CIS,
under the conditions of the reduction in importing, increased the volume
of products being sold by a factor of more than 2. At the same time, the
total of the taxes being collected from the enterprise increased precisely
by a factor of 4. Possessing significant capacities and manufacturing
capabilities, Svoboda, with the state"s support, could increase the
output of natural soap, of toothpastes, of creams and of shampoos by
factors of 2-2.5, supplying domestic consumers completely with personal
care and hygiene products.
And such examples are numerous. There are other enterprises in
Russia, which are capable of clothing, shoeing and feeding their
countrymen. It is just necessary to take them under the government"s wing
What kind of support are we talking about?
First, about a revision of the customs rates. At the present time,
these rates for finished imported products, strange as it may be, are
lower than those for the industrial greases, oils and accessories, without
which our domestic producer cannot manufacture fragrant soap, attractive
tubes for toothpaste and so on and so forth. However, throughout the
entire world, the practice is the opposite. Everywhere, quotas are being
established for finished products being imported, which, in addition, are
also having a higher customs fee being imposed on them.
Second, I would propose giving "tax vacations" for a year to the food
industry as well, which would be recouped a hundredfold in the future.
Especially since its current share in the state budget is small.
Third, state credits and interest-free loans are necessary for these
sectors. And we will get the money for these purposes from the imposition
of a state monopoly on alcohol production.
And fourth, I think that it is necessary to protect domestic industry
more aggressively from unfair competition. Both within the country
After all, it is generally known that the USA and the European Union
are setting quotas on the importing of our products into their own
countries. But here is our market--the most open one in the world.
Here, we are ahead of the entire planet. Last year, for example, the
Americans limited the importing of coats from our sewing association,
Vympel [Pennant], into the USA to 50,000 units. They turned out to be
more elegant and cheaper than American ones. Yet, these same Americans
filled our country with "Bush knives" [name transliterated] (subsidized by
the state) and ruined our poultry processors. And when an attempt was
undertaken to interfere with this "freedom of trade," the U.S. vice
president himself got involved in this dispute. Yet everything remained
as before.But look what is written in the rules for the American
government"s allocation of grants to citizens and organizations of
other countries: "...under no circumstances should you buy a commodity
not produced in America, if you have not first proven to the government in
writing that an American commodity is not available in a given region."
Is it really possible to compare this with the chaos which is reigning in
our country, when everything, beginning with fountain pens and right up to
staff vehicles for officials, are being purchased abroad?
The most important part of this federal program should be a
"commodity patriotism" educational campaign organized through the SMI
[mass media] and public organizations. Today, few people know about even
the high-quality domestic goods: our enterprises do not have "mad" money
for advertising. Therefore, I would like to appeal to our broadcasting
companies, both state-owned and private, to take a patriotic step at last:
to allow the best Russian enterprises to advertise their products either
free of charge or at preferential rates for, let us say, half a year.
I would like to call upon our regional and municipal authorities to
establish in each city and in each region municipal stores, in which our
domestic goods would be sold. Without the numerous add-ons and, thus, at
lower prices affordable for the population. Such stores have already
appeared in Moscow.
Organizational steps in this direction are being undertaken. The
association, "Buy Russian Goods!," is being established in the capital
city by the efforts of managers, entrepreneurs, politicians, the public,
journalists, and advertisers and it is being called upon to protect our
commodity producer. Founding conferences for its regional organizations
have already taken place in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In line are Omsk,
Kirov and other cities.
Incidentally, in the second half of the 19th Century, there existed
in Russia the most powerful "Society To Assist the Flourishing of Domestic
Industry," which was supported by the state in every possible way.
Written in the first paragraph of its charter was: "The society has the
goal of maintaining the examination and clearing of foreign goods being
imported through customs." And the state carried out the decision of the
Russian manufacturers without a murmur, understanding that this was to the
benefit of Russia"s industry and, thus, Russia as a whole as well.
Has our own positive experience over a hundred years really taught us
nothing at all?
In conclusion, I would like to turn to our citizens who are having a
very hard time today.
When each of you considers what to buy, think about the fact that you
are the ones who are deciding the fate of Russia"s economy.
If you buy a Russian product, then the money will go to a domestic
enterprise and its workers will receive their wages on time. And then
they will be able to pay the taxes and this money will go to the
budget-funded workers and the pensioners. Who, in turn, will be able to
buy your own enterprise"s products.
By putting the squeeze on importing, we will help each other and ourcountry.
From: "Alexander Samoiloff" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Hello Russia # 13/DOES RUSSIA REALLY NEEDS THE FAR EAST?
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998
FREE RUSSIAN WEEKLY NEWSLETTER # 13
November 22 1998
Regional political events, business, culture, crime, way of life and another
issues, coming to you from Khabarovsk, Russia's Pacific Rim.
- To subscribe send mailto: email@example.com with Subscribe in subject
I. DOES RUSSIA REALLY NEEDS THE FAR EAST?
(From Alexander Samoiloff)
Does Russia Really Need the Far East?
That was the subject of domestic radio and TV hot discussion programs during
the last two weeks.
Territorial governors, leading local economists, scientists, politicians,
businessmen, entrepreneurs shared their view on realities of Russian federal
policies in the Pacific Rim of Russia.
On November 19-20 Russian Premier Evgeny Prymakov has stayed for two days in
Khabarovsk on the way from Malaysian APEC summit, and held a meeting with
the "Association Far East - Zabaikalye" (Governors of the Russian
territories eastwards of the Lake Baikal).
Head of the Association, the Khabarovsk Krai Governor Victor Ishayev has
expressed the following opinion of the regions.
Historically the Far East and Zabaikalye (40% of Russian Territory) was
considered by Russian Czars, and than by Soviets, as an important military
Pacific frontier post region. In development of the territories Russia was
moved rather by political than economic reasons. In the middle of 19 century
Governor - General of Eastern Siberia Muravyov-Amursky had established all
major Far Eastern cities as a military and paramilitary settlements and
naval ports. Government provided Russian Far Eastern population with all
kinds of benefits and never requested from them any taxes until 1910.
Vladivostok was the major Pacific Naval Base and also enjoyed a status of
Porte Franco. During that time Trans-Siberian Railway together with the
world biggest bridge across the Amur-River were built.
Soviets had created in the region a huge military industrial complex, and
over 70% of the Far Eastern economy in 1990 worked for military purposes.
Majority of food products and consumer goods were delivered from central
Russia. Local residents enjoyed many social benefits and higher salaries.
>From 1992 Russian government left the region to its own survival and never
really supported any domestic initiatives to enter the Pacific markets by
restructuring and developing of local industries, infrastructure, creating
free economic zones, providing tax benefits and etc.
So, in 1998 we see the following major results of such policies:
- Far Eastern Fishing and Merchant Marine fleets and industries are
disorganized and lose their positions.
- Far Eastern wood industries suffer a sharp slump after the disastrous
summer forest fires, which were ignored by federal government.
- Far Eastern gold and mineral resources mining industries hardly survive in
the times of good markets for their production.
- It seems that the huge oil and gas projects Sakhalin 1 and Sakhalin 2 may
be closed because of State Duma's and Russian government's reluctance to
realize Production Sharing Law.
- Far Eastern military industrial complex is almost destroyed and receives
only 10% of orders from the government. Moscow often sabotages signing of
some major arms sales contacts.
- Three biggest Russian military districts (Far Eastern Army, Far Eastern
Border Guards and Far Eastern National Guards) and Russian Pacific Navy did
not receive federal funds from the last June and are in disastrous
situation. They are on the verge of famine, and receive food, heat and
electricity support only from local governments and charity organizations.
The similar hardships are beared by all federal law-enforcement agencies and
- The famous Trans Siberian Railway is losing competition to the new
Trans-China - Kazakhstan Railway, because of high taxes, energy and fuel
cost. In 1998 the amount of railways transit traffic slumped to 50%. Next
year Trans-Siberian Railway may lose over 30% of its today's traffic. But
during Soviets thisTrans-Siberian Railway provided to the nation USD 3.00
billion of revenue per year.
- BAM (4324-km long Northern Trans-Siberian Railway built in 1979) works at
10% of its 10 mln tons annual traffic capacity. Now local governments have
a problem to support and evacuate the population from that rich with natural
- Major Far Eastern seaports Vostochny and Vanino work at 20-30% of their
- Many Far Eastern territories suffer disastrous situation with fuel,
heating, electric power and food supply. But this region is rich with energy
and natural resources.
- Russian government takes from the territories the bulk of regional revenue
in the form of high federal taxes and doesn't return back due to them funds.
For example, issued by the Japanese government loan to the development of
the Far Eastern economy was received by Moscow and never reached the
- Together with that we see a fast economic development of the neighboring
China. We watch increase of Chinese ethnic population in the Russian Far
East and penetration of Chinese capital.
Never in Russian history any government treated its territories in this way.
Far Eastern territories understand that Russian government today has no
funds and also understand the situation in the country. The Far East is
thirsting for creation of a better industrial investment environment and a
fair distribution of revenues. It is the last chance of Russian government
to hold with Russia this territories.
Today Russia has only two ways: to take am emergency measures for saving
Far Eastern economy or to develop and implement a plan for evacuation of
Russians from the region.
Evgeny Prymakov has assured that now he understands the regional problems,
but will not give any promises. He stressed that it's better for Russian
government not to give promises but to make the regional situation going to
better with a real action.
Russian Premier and Victor Ishayev visited a military aircraft plant in
Komsomolsk-Na-Amure and a number of big construction sites in Khabarovsk.
Evgeny Prymakov highly praised Victor Ishayev for creation of a better
economic situation in Khabarovsk Krai compare to other Far Eastern
At the same time Vice Premier Gennady Kulik, who is responsible for
agricultural sector had a meeting with leaders of the Far Eastern
agricultural industries. In his speech Kulik blamed agriculturists for the
"following the easiest way of processing imported agricultural raw
materials, like cheap Chinese raw meat", and said that now government gives
them a possibility to win domestic food markets. He stressed that there are
few good standing agricultural companies in Khabarovsk Krai and others must
follow up this good example.
The meeting of Vice-Premier highly reminded us a traditional Soviet
PARTKHOZACTIVE (Local Industries Reports to Communist Party Meeting)
scenario, when a First Communist Party Secretary, after hearing out of some
complaints, usually blames the industrialists and give them an example of a
Paper Says Berezovskiy Building Power Base
Argumenty i Fakty, No. 944
November 1998 (Signed to Press 17 Nov 98)
[translation for personal use only]
Unattributed report from the "Rumors" column: "Berezovskiy Is
Not everything is fine in relations between Yevgeniy Primakov and the
presidential administration. It is being said that the administration has
already hatched a plan to nominate the Prime Minister for President. The
administration will feel safer with him after Boris Yeltsin's retirement,
which looks as if it is going to happen before summer 2000. However, the
head of Cabinet does not like this prospect and is silently raging against
Oleg Sysuyev, Tatyana Dyachenko, and Valentin Yumashev. Rumor has it that
he is unhappy about the performance of the power-wielding ministers, and at
least two of them are to lose their posts soon.
Meanwhile, last week Boris Berezovskiy started the taming of the
Cabinet of Ministers. First, he spent 90 minutes in a tete-a-tete with the
Prime Minister, then another 90 minutes with his first deputy, Vadim
Gustov. Now it is the turn of the chief agrarian, Gennadiy Kulik. Knowing
Boris Abramovich's ability to make himself indispensable (as was the case
with Boris Yeltsin, Aleksandr Korzhakov, Tatyana Dyachenko, Anatoliy
Chubays, Viktor Chernomyrdin, and others), there is no doubt that he will
soon be in demand again.
While lobbying the Government for his interests, the CIS Executive
Secretary keeps an eye on the future. According to people close to the
Krasnoyarsk Governor [Aleksandr Lebed], Mr. Berezovskiy has been drawing up
a list of the Honor and Motherland Movement for elections to the State
Duma. The list will be headed by Aleksandr Lebed, and it is believed that
Aleksandr Korzhakov may be on the list, too.
Meanwhile, a rumour is circulating Moscow's political scene to the
effect that Yevgeniy Primakov may resign voluntarily in January or
February, when the economic situation is likely to deteriorate sharply.
Some people are maintaining that Viktor Chernomyrdin is the only politician
who will agree to take the post of Prime Minister again. However, it is
very likely that this rumor was started by the entourage of the former
prime minister himself, as he is going through a rather bad patch. The
Political Council of the Russia is Our Home [NDR] movement held last
Saturday [14th November] heard that, if the leader failed to improve the
NDR's image, others--and not only governors headed by [Saratov Region
governor] Dmitriy Ayatskov--would turn away from him. Even the closest
advisers seem to be giving up. Rumor has it that initially nobody could
even be found to write the report for him.
According to our information, a large group of deputies who are NDR
members had a secret meeting with Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov prior to the
Political Council. The same deputies are expected to attend the
constituent congress of Luzhkov's "Fatherland" movement in late November.
There have been attempts to even recruit Viktor Chernomyrdin himself. In
the interval of the council, factory owner Vladimir Bryntsalov tried to
persuade him to become the mayor's ally.
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 225, Part I, 20 November 1998
SANTA TAKE HEED. The legislature of the Yamalo-Nenets
Autonomous Okrug has passed a law on reindeer breeding,
ITAR-TASS reported. Sergei Karyuchi, deputy chairman of
the legislature, described the law as landmark
legislation since previously "reindeers lacked
legislative protection." Some peoples in the area, such
as the northern Evenks, were traditionally reindeer
breeders but their way of life was seriously disrupted
under communism. JAC