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Johnson's Russia List
2 December 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Russian Robin Hood burns rich Russians' homes.
2. Roger Markwick: Comment on Renfrey Clarke on Starovoitova murder.
3. Washington Post editorial: Helping Russia.
4. William Mandel on Lapidus re Starovoitova.
5. Abraham Brumberg: Some Comments on Starovoitova's death and its
6. Nick Holdsworth: Question about regions.
7. AP: Kremlin Urges Probe of Bolsheviks.
8. Dale Herspring: Poland.
9. Ray Finch in Moscow: an opportunity to help.
10. Brian Whitmore in St. Petersburg: Reflections on a Horrible Week.
11. Leslie Dienes: Russia's tax revenues.
12. Reuters: Russian Communist chief blasts Kremlin, liberals.
13. AFP: Russia Faces 7 Million Tonne Grain Shortage.
14. Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung: Interview with Russian Communist Party
leader Gennadiy Zyuganov, "'The West's Economic Model is Fatal for Us'."
15. Itar-Tass: Gaydar--Right Block To Take Shape After 10 Dec Conference.
16. Interfax: Poll Survey Measures Trust in Government, Leaders.]
Russian Robin Hood burns rich Russians' homes
MOSCOW, Dec 1 (Reuters) - A man dubbed Robin Hood by locals burned down the
opulent cottages of nouveaux rich over a one-year period in the Yaroslavl
district northeast of Moscow before being caught, police said on Tuesday.
Local police chief Alexander Sarychev told Reuters that the 21-year-old man
had allegedly set fire to 25 cottages in the town of Tutayev belonging to so-
called New Russians -- those who have become wealthy from economic reforms --
and company directors.
``I hate the New Russians and all those who live rich, and couldn't stand it
any longer,'' Sarychev quoted the man as saying.
``The locals nicknamed the arsonist Yaroslavl's Robin Hood and he virtually
turned solidly-built cottages into ashes,'' Sarychev said in a telephone
The case reflected popular resentment towards Russia's small band of rich and
their ``cottages'' -- often luxurious suburban homes. Most Russians have
struggled just to make ends meet in the new era of free-market reforms.
Sarychev said the man charged could face up to eight years in prison if
From: "Roger Markwick" <rogerm@Bullwinkle.econ.usyd.edu.au>
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998
Subject: Comment on Renfrey Clarke on Starovoitova murder
Starovoitova: Kirov of the 1990s?
I read my friend Renfrey Clarke's careful analysis of Starovoitova's death with
great interest. He basically suggests that it was a 'St Petersburg crime',
connected with her campaigning against criminal activity in the highest places,
including the city governor. This makes a lot of sense, but so might another
explanation, that takes in the broader context of Russian politics.
Starovoitova seems to have been close to so-called reformers like Gaidar and
Chubais. The latter spoke at her funeral. Like them, she was extremely hostile
to the CPRF, advocating lustration, and more recently (rightly) denouncing the
anti-semitic comments of Makashov. Gaidar and Berezovsky, lately implicated
by Korzhakov in the killing of the TV journalist Listev in 1995 thereby it
opening the way to control of ORT, have both called for the banning of the CP.
Is it too far fetched to think of social interests (the 'oligarchy') if not
who might benefit from a renewed anti-communist atmosphere if not the
outright banning of the CP, given the demise of Yeltsin and the likelihood that
the CPRF and its allies would be the likely electoral benficiaries of the
crisis? Would the sort of people who would shell a parliament into submission,
as David Mandel points in his commentary on Renfrey's piece, worry about the
loss of a liberal politician? All the evidence suggests this was a killing
out by professionals, perhaps the security services. There is a smoking gun.
We may never know who pulled the trigger. No evidence I know of has directly
linked Stalin with the death of his friend Kirov, but we know who benefitted
who lost. This is not the 1930s, but the precedent is worth considering.
University of Sydney
December 1, 1998
RUSSIAN OFFICIALS desperate for more dollars from the International Monetary
Fund have settled on two rather odd tactics. One is to insult the fund, which
-- according to Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov -- employs "young kids who've
seen almost nothing in life" who, "without knowing our situation, start to
dictate or recommend some kind of development plans." In addition, Russia has
taken to threatening the fund -- with all the terrible things that Russia will
do to itself if more loans are not forthcoming. Foremost among these self-
inflicted wounds, Mr. Primakov warns, will be printing more rubles to make up
the shortfall, a strategy likely to result in hyperinflation.
Presumably IMF officials won't make decisions based on personal pique. They
certainly understand that Mr. Primakov, with his insults, is playing to a
domestic audience. But the damage he does is not primarily to IMF egos. His
blaming of outsiders is corrosive domestically because it forestalls Russian
understanding of what Russians must do to solve their economic problems.
Putting a gun to his own head isn't any more effective; it simply further
erodes international confidence in Mr. Primakov's government.
It makes no sense for the IMF to lend large sums to the Russian government if
that government has no sensible plan to restore the nation's economic health.
The money will be frittered away, as past loans have been, and future
generations of Russians will be that much more in debt. Russia needs to
collect more taxes. It needs to adopt a realistic budget. It needs a host of
reforms that neither the IMF nor any other outsider can impose.
This does not mean the fund, the United States or other friends of Russia
should just cut the country loose. There are kinds of assistance that continue
to make sense, even as the government flounders. These include programs
championed by Sen. Richard Lugar and former senator Sam Nunn to safeguard and
reduce Russia's nuclear arsenal; programs aimed at deepening Russian
democracy; and assistance to independent media, environmental groups and other
nongovernmental organizations trying to enrich civic life.
From: email@example.com (William Mandel)
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998
Subject: William Mandel on Lapidus re Starovoitova
FOR POSTING ON JRL
Letters to the Editor
San Jose Mercury News
May I, as one of the founding Hoover Institution fellows half a
century ago, comment on Gail Lapidus' article on the murder of Russian
Congresswoman Galina Starovoitova (Perspective, Nov.. 29). I should add that
my own perspective is enriched by having spent weeks in central Siberia this
summer, and a longer record of visits and stays in Russia - 68 years - than
anyone else in the history of writing on that country in either tsarist or
Starovoitova's courage and devotion to her particular principles
were absolute. Her willingness to pay with her life for obtaining
documentary evidence of corruption in the St. Petersburg cemetery business
are characteristic. But Lapidus' unqualified endorsement of her principles
is another matter entirely.
The version of reform which Starovoitova endorsed has thus far cost
the peoples of the countries that used to be the Soviet Union 5,000,000
lives. That is the number world health authorities accept for their decline
in population since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Had that occurred
under Communist rule, the term "genocide" would be applied to it has a
matter of course. When it occurs as a consequence of policies pressed by the
United States and enforced as a condition of loans by the International
Monetary Fund, to which Washington is the largest contributor, use of that
word is apparently indecent.
I agree entirely that Starovoitova was not a feminist. Were she, it
would have been impossible for her to continue advocating policies that have
cused Russia to surpass the Phillipines as the world's leading source of
mail-order brides, and that have caused Ukrainian and Russian women to have
become prostitutes and outright sex slaves in Western Europe, Israel,
Thailand, and here, to mention only country for which I have made notes on
reports in our general press. To estimate their number at 100,000 is very
conservative in the light of emigration data on women under 30 and the low
visibility of ex-Soviet women abroad.
That Starovoitova proposed that Russia join NATO was simply over the
top. NATO exists purely and simply as an anti-Russian alliance. That is what
it was established for, as a matter of public record, challenged by no one.
That is why countries that suffered Soviet dominance and have centuries-long
histories of enmity with Russia joined it. That is why Moscow, whose army
today is worthless and whose navy hardly exists, is seeking to maintain the
nuclear arsenal which provides its only unanswerable argument against ours.
Or would we rather not remember that the United States is the only country
ever to use that weapon?
Absolute courage is a rare quality. The question is always to what
end it is put.
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998
From: abraham brumberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Some Comments on Starovoitova's death and its reception.
Sovietology breathed its last a few years ago, but to this
day some of its epigones are still hammering nails into the coffin.
The outpouring of grief, tributes, speculations and prognoses
relating to the assassination of Galina Starovoitova are a case in point.
Most curious, perhaps, is the assumption that Starovoitova's death may yet
pave the way for the resurgence (?) of democracy in Russia. The behavior
of some of Mme. Starovoitova's colleagues in the political battles she had
waged are one thing. (Note, for instance, Chubais' copious
tears--envy of a thousand crocodiles.) But what is to explain the curious
naivite of American politicians, newspaper gurus, experts on Russian
politics, economics, and feminism? That Starovoitova's murder was a
monstrosity is clear enough. But surely the assumption that she was gunned
down by hate-mongering antisemities or their sordid patrons is less so.
And the assumption, fed by fhe very nature of the murder--that Starovoitova
was a splendid scholar no less than a splendid political thinker and
activist is certainly open to challenge.
I did not have much traffic with Mme. Starovoitova, but I must
confess that what I saw and observed of her revealed rather a different
person--vain, intolerant of the opinions of others, filled with an imposing
sense of her own importance and omniscience, all rather traditional
qualities, I am afraid, of many Russian INTELLIGENTY.. Does a person with a
respect for democratic principles storm into a meeting of demographers
and, without any invitation, launch into a two-hour tirade? Does a bona
fide scholar complain to a visitor from abroad about the outrageous lack of
erudition displayed by nearly all her colleagues? I speak from
personal--if admittedly limited--experience, without feeling that I must
pay exorbitant homage to a victim of terrorism, But I happen to know
that what I just mentioned is hardly atypical.
I don't wish to be misunderstood: I know that Mme. Starovoitova
had many achievements to her credit as a social scientist and political
fighter. But glorification is not a very reliable practice.
The reaction to Starovoitova's death is very much in keeping with
the received wisdom in the West about the direction of Russian politics
over the past seven years. The assumption that there is only one way out
of Russia's miserable plight--bing bang capitalism, instantaneous
privatization (that is, for those with money and the right political
connections), and bribes to magnates in exchange for their support of
the authorities in the media they owned and controlled--newspapers, tv,
radio--and that all those who maintained that perhaps the State also has a
role to play in bringing prosperity and decency to Russia, and that a
slower pace of conversion to the free market, replete with guarantees for
unemployed and social and medical insurance should be undertaken were
nothing but a bunch of Commies-- all this now finds a home in the
flatulent idealization of Mme. Starovoitova.
Of course there have been some who spoke out against these
pernicious myths----Robert Daniels and James Millar come instantaneously
to mind . They have pointed out that the path embarked by the so called
"democrats" and "reformers" has resulted in a dramatic lowering of the
standard of living for most citizens, a disfunctional economy depending on
barter and food in lieu of money, the spread of illnesses and
malnutrition--the latter, ncidentally, throughly documented by Murray
Another recent person who favors straight talk to self-serving
myth-making is Elena Gratcheva, whose letter to Susan Eisenhower appeared
in this journal a few days ago. Among other things Ms. Gratcheva also
makes an excellent case that the murder of Starovoitova, instead of
advancing the case of democracy, may well be another triumph for the
crooks, criminals, and corrupt politicians who now hold the country in
their sway. The increase of general xenophobia and antisemitism are also
a result of the policies implemented by the "democrats" and "reformers,"
much as their authors will not admit it.
Finally, I would also urge all the readers of this journal to
read the article "History Is Not Bunk" by Anatole Lieven, which appeared
in the October l998 issue of the British monthly PROSPECT. It is a
brilliant piece, as brilliant in its insights as in the way it is written,
easily one of the best if not indeed the best article on the subject of
Russia and its possible future that I have read in a long time. The
implications of the piece are not very cheerful. But they are more
compelling than the cant and anodyne opinions to which many writers on
Russia have been so partial.
Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998
From: "Nick Holdsworth" <email@example.com>
Subject: Question about regions
Prompted by Boris Kagarlitsky's informative piece in JRL 2494 November 29,
have any list subscribers heard the following intriguing political rumour:
that Primakov is planning to give de facto autonomy to a dozen of the
leading reformist regions in order to both relieve Moscow of the budgetary
burden of supporting them and create a powerful network of politically
allied, but independent regional governors?
Regions including Nizhny Novgorod, Voronezh and Saratov would benefit from
such a devolutionary expediency, apparently.
I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has heard of this idea; or indeed
what they think of a devolutionary approach to addressing Russia's current
Kremlin Urges Probe of Bolsheviks
December 1, 1998
MOSCOW (AP) -- An aide to President Boris Yeltsin urged prosecutors Tuesday
to investigate the Bolsheviks for carrying out the 1917 revolution -- a move
apparently intended to discourage their successors.
Yeltsin's deputy chief of staff Yevgeny Savostyanov spoke at a meeting of the
presidential commission set up to fight political extremism.
The prosecutors should give a ``legal assessment of the Bolshevik action to
seize power,'' Savostyanov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
The statement reflected the government's concern about the increasing
aggressiveness of the Communist Party, which has the largest faction in the
Russian parliament and enjoys broad nationwide support.
The Communists have also led a panel in parliament seeking to impeach Yeltsin
-- and among the charges they are investigating is his role in instigating the
1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, the Bolsheviks' creation.
In the latest embarrassment to the Kremlin, the Communists recently won a
sweeping victory in local elections in the southern Krasnodar region.
Krasnodar Gov. Nikolai Kondratenko, a Communist, has often indulged in anti-
Semitic and anti-government rhetoric. Communist lawmaker Albert Makashov
similarly sparked a recent uproar with his anti-Semitic remarks.
The Communist Party rebuked Makashov only grudgingly after strong pressure in
Russia and abroad. Makashov enjoys legal immunity as a lawmaker, and the
government hasn't yet moved to persecute him.
Kondratenko, meanwhile, has been invited to the Justice Ministry for a
``conversation,'' the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Tuesday.
The presidential panel on Tuesday discussed possible amendments to Russian
laws to crack down on political extremism.
Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998
From: Dale R Herspring <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As one who also issued visas in Poland during the PZPR time, I can only
underline the points Gary Mathews made about the entreprenurial spirit on
the part of Poles. At one point I did an informal study looking at those
who went to the US and stayed until they were sent home. If I remember
correctly, the average Pole came back between $7,000-10,000 richer.
Indeed, our problem was trying to seperate genuine tourists from those out
to make money. If those who went to the US are any example, and I believe
they were, there is no doubt in my mind that Warsaw's economic reforms
were built on very fertile soil.
Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998
From: ray finch <email@example.com>
Subject: an opportunity to help
"You! hypocrite lecteur!-mon semblable,-mon frere!"
Recently there was an interview with a Russian writer (Daniel Granin)
who spoke about how the internet was changing the way people think and
that the full impact of this innovation would not be felt for many
years. Instead of borders, distance and government regulations, the
only thing which may separate humans in the future will be our
inability to understand foreign languages and culture. Keep this
thought in mind as you read the following.
This is not yet another article describing the corruption, the brutal
winter, the hunger and suffering of modern Russia. It is a challenge
for the readers of DJL to do more than merely inform and comment. It
is an opportunity to help.
Let's first set the record straight: I'm not a preacher, and have
never been in the fund-raising business; I'm certain that I lack the
necessary paperwork and authorization to even attempt such an
endeavor. For the past five months, I've been working with a western
company which helps foreign firms operating in Russia. During this
time period, I've become disillusioned with the official means of
providing assistance to the Russian people. Except for private
charities, it appears that little, if any government or official aid
reaches its intended target. There may be a slight trickle-down
effect, but most foreign aid has done little to stop the slide of most
Russians toward poverty. This entry is for those who would like to
help Russia in a concrete, effective manner.
Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal.
There has been much talk lately of helping Russia build what we refer
to as a "law-based state." What exactly does this mean? That
regardless of income, nationality, sex, religion or social status, the
law treats every person equally. That business and social relations
are settled by means of a functioning and fair legal system and not
through force. That those who legislate and apply the law are equally
subject to its precepts.
How exactly does one go about building such a state? One of my
Russian professors in language school believed that the solution
rested with paying the bureaucrats, politicians and police enough
money so that they would not be so inclined to bribery and corruption.
>From what I know of greed, the number of bureaucrats in this country
and the Russian character, this would be a very costly proposition.
Nor am I certain it would have much effect. As the past decade has
demonstrated, large amounts of cash will not necessarily transform a
criminal into a law-abiding citizen, nor will it develop the notion
that obeying the law is the right thing to do.
Why do you stop at a stop sign? Pay your taxes? Refrain from
stealing your neighbor's new car? Your motive is likely a mixture of
wanting to preserve the social order, tradition, avoiding punishment,
preserving your reputation and obeying some vestige of the golden
rule. The same motives exist here in Russia, except that throughout
much of their recent history, the law was often the stick used by the
powerful to further their own interests or to punish the weak and
those perceived to be a threat to the social order. Hence, most
Russians consider the law as something to avoid or get around and not
as something to respect or pay homage to.
Some claim that Russian's disregard for the law stems from their
traditional lack of "private property," and that laws were first
developed to protect one's property. While there may be some truth to
this theory, the foundation for the concept of law is much deeper and
more encompassing. Using the "private property equals development of
law" logic, respect for the law would be greatest in those countries
where private property is most highly valued. However, the streets of
Washington DC, Chicago and Detroit (or most vividly, the rioting in LA
after the Rodney King trial) serve as stiff rebuttals. Like the
United States, Russia's current lawlessness has more a spiritual than
physical or economic basis.
Returning to the questions above, how would a person act if he knew
that he could get away with these crimes, that his social position
allowed him certain immunities from criminal persecution, or if the
society in which he lived encouraged such behavior? As Conrad
illustrated in his Heart of Darkness (which ought to be read by anyone
trying to understand the current situation in Russia), manmade
concepts of law do not always provide the necessary internal
restraints to do what is right. While the current residents of
Russia's inner station (the Duma or the president) may have the
requisite tools to build a law-based state, they lack the necessary
motivation. Where are they to find it?
Though my logic is incomplete and imperfect, the answer to creating a
law-based state must ultimately be a religious one. Given that the
current Russian state is corrupt, and that the concept of "law,"
along with "democracy" and "capitalism" are now pronounced with spite
and cynicism, only the motivation to avoid sinful behavior seems
adequate to stem the lawlessness. Only the religious basis is capable
of providing a convincing answer to the relativistic argument that the
law is merely a tool in the hands of the rich and powerful. Future
economic assistance needs to be directed at developing this elemental
sense of right and wrong.
There are those reading this who are saying to themselves, "How naive!
Isn't the author aware of the rampant corruption in the Russian
Orthodox Church (and in many other organized religions for that
matter)." Alas, I am aware. Yet despite the many human failings
inherent among the organized religions of the world, encouraging the
Gospel message of "doing good and avoiding evil" seems infinitely more
practical, especially at the individual level, than another economic
restructuring plan or even fresh elections.
Russia has had its fill of many well-intentioned economic efforts of
the IMF, World Bank, and western countries. This bourgeoisie charity,
however, has proven to be too impersonal and clouded with other
conflicting motives to have had much of an effect. Many of these
initiatives appear to have been merely smokescreens for the
bureaucrats (of all nationalities) to go on a boondoggle or to pocket
some extra cash. They've done nothing to change the disgruntled and
confused hearts of the most embittered Russians.
Love one another
Some two months ago, while walking home after one of those days when I
felt that I needed to get home and take a shower, I was stopped by a
middle-aged Russian who was curious to know whether or not I was
saved. Feeling somewhat less than redeemed, and perhaps wanting to
meet a Russian who was not involved in some way with corruption, we
spoke for some 45 minutes (one of those splendid Russian conversations
about the purpose of life, fate, destiny), and at the end of our talk,
even though I assured him that I was a confirmed Catholic, invited me
to visit his church.
For the past two months I've attended this Church's Sunday service
(more out of curiosity than any desire to be born-again) and the
experience has helped to dispel my belief that Russia is just one
moral swamp. There are plenty of lights still shining in the
darkness. The members of this Church (Moscow Evangelical -but the
brandname doesn't really matter) are trying to bring and carry out the
gospel message. They are involved with everything from working with
troubled teenagers to providing material and spiritual assistance to
those most in need. They are visiting the sick, fixing the plumbing
and making and serving soup. They've adopted some of the most abject
families living in Moscow and are endeavoring to bring them comfort.
They are trying to repair and restore the broken lives of Russians.
Most importantly, they are teaching others a fundamental sense of
right and wrong.
For those DJL readers who maintain, like E. Scrooge, that they have
paid their taxes and aren't there sufficient poor-houses to take care
of the indigent, I return to the original point of this article (i.e.
how the internet is changing how the world works). I'm merely
offering an opportunity to those readers of DJL to actually help
relieve the sufferings of a real Russian person. I'm convinced that
one repaired toilet or warm sweater to a poorly dressed Muscovite will
do more to create a law-based state and further US-Russian relations
than any number of symposiums on "Russia in the 21st Century" or grand
IMF rescue packages.
Again, I'm not a preacher or religious fanatic, but someone living and
working in Moscow who has found a worthy conduit for your material
assistance. That's all. If you would like to give something, contact
my wife at the e-mail address below, and you can work out the details.
The only guarantee that I can give is that every dollar contributed
will reach its intended target, so help me God.
wife's e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998
From: brian whitmore <email@example.com>
Subject: Reflections on a Horrible Week
The St. Petersburg Times
Dec. 1, 1998
By Brian Whitmore
Somehow, at some point, life will more or less return to normal. If,
that is, one can call the atmosphere of fear, anger and dismay that is
still predominant among my friends and colleagues normal.
The foreign press have left town, moving on to other stories, other
wars, other tragedies. The "official" grieving over Galina Starovoitova
has ended: the funeral, the traditional nine days of mourning, the
The real grieving, however, will be with many of us forever.
When finally alone with my thoughts, I am left with several images
burned in my mind --perhaps permanently.
The sleepless vigil on the night of the murder. The expressions of
sadness and disbelief on Viktor Krivulin's and Dmitry Shagin's faces as
we listened to Viktor Reznukov's reports on Radio Liberty. Jumping every
time the phone rang as we waited for news on Ruslan Linkov's condition
in those first, terrible hours.
The hundreds of people braving bitter cold on Palace Square last
The haunting scene at twilight last Tuesday at the Alexander Nevsky
Monastery with thousands of ashen-faced people gathered outside the
gates of the Nikolsky Cemetery lighting candles.
Huddling in the cold near Galina Vasilyevna's grave with Tatyana
Likhanova and Yury Kravtsov. A teary embrace from Yuly Rybakov.
Standing outside Ruslan Linkov's heavily guarded hospital room with his
friends and family waiting for news of his condition Ñ dramatically
improved, thank God.
A black ribbon on a bouquet of flowers on Galina Vasilyevna's grave that
reads: "From Ruslan. Galina, forgive me that I didn't protect you."
Alexander Belyayev's quiet dignity and his brief, sincere and somber
eulogy Sunday at the House of Journalists.
I don't name these people's titles because right now such things aren't
important. Rather than politicians, journalists, poets, artists and
candidates, all of those mentioned above are, above all, ***people*** in
the finest meaning of that word.
When faced with tragedy, the best qualities of the dignified always seem
to come to the surface. This past horrible week has taught me that
despite much foolishness in my own life, I have been quite wise in my
choice of friends.
Now, life goes on. The politicians prepare for Sunday's election --an
election that all of Russia will be watching. Ordinary citizens wonder
how it has all come to this. Journalists, myself included, must find it
within themselves to somehow make sense of everything and explain it to
But everything has somehow changed -- you can see it in people's eyes.
There is the angry determination on the part of democratic politicians
to avenge Starovoitova's death by winning the elections. Some of this is
sincere and some of it clearly opportunistic. I won't name names here.
Everybody involved can live with their own consciences.
And there is also fear -- and to not admit this would be dishonest.
People, particularly those involved in politics, are frightened. On
television last week, Grigory Yavlinsky said that "terror is now a
factor of our political life." The Nov. 26 entry in my diary reads: "Is
this how people felt here in 1937?"
Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998
From: "Prof. Leslie Dienes" <dienes@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU>
Subject: Russia's tax revenues
Dear David: I cannot find which recent issue of your wonderful newsletter
refers to the dispute for reducing the VAT, and the IMF's stauch resistance
to it. But that's not important here.
Could someone explain to this non-economist how the opposition of the IMF
to lowering the VAT squares with that institution's steadfast insistance
all through 1995 and 1996 to abolish or lower to insignificance the export
tax on oil and gas in Russia. (I understand the budgetary requirements for
higher tax revenues today, even though, at the same time, everyone insisits
that taxes on business should be lowered). Indeed, earlier the government
has allocated itself some of the oil export directly and could count on it
in the budget. And while there, indeed, was much corruption, was it less
(And why was it realistic to expect less?) than after these industries were
privatized? And the IMF could precisely compute what revenues could be
expected from such export taxes, and hold the Russian govenment's feet to
the fire. It cannot possibly know what revenues may be realistically
anticipated from other taxes. When the export tax was abolished, it was
replace by excises on the same fuel, which than hit domestic fuel consumers.
Also, I was stunned by the reference (DJ List #2493), quoting Clifford
Gaddy, that Ms. Wedel "understand from her previous work that societies are
very complex and you have to understand them from the inside and the bottom
up---THIS IS DIFFICULT FOR AN ECONOMIST TO ACCEPT." I greatly respect Cliff
Gaddy's work and intellect. Unfortunately, I myself found this only too
true. (I even found it hard to put accross to some of my economist
colleagues that one should not make preditions about oil production without
critical variable of GEOLOGICAL conditions). But if Clifford Gaddy's point
is true, the world must beware of that profession.
Russian Communist chief blasts Kremlin, liberals
By Konstantin Trifonov
ST PETERSBURG, Russia, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov
blamed President Boris Yeltsin on Tuesday for a rise in violent crime in
Russia and said attempts by his liberal opponents to unite were doomed to
Zyuganov visited St Petersburg ahead of a local election on Sunday which has
been clouded by the murder in the city on November 20 of liberal
parliamentarian Galina Starovoitova, an outspoken anti-Communist.
Starovoitova was one of a handful of State Duma deputies who have been killed
since the end of Communist rule and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
``Starovoitova and all those deputies killed, as well as the 30,000 people we
are losing (murdered) every year, are victims of this criminal regime, created
by the so-called democrats,'' Zyuganov told reporters.
``The main destroyer of the moral norms, the law -- sits in the Kremlin,'' he
Zyuganov described the campaign for the election to St Petersburg's local
assembly as ``the dirtiest one can imagine.''
The murder of Starovoitova in the stairwell of her St Petersburg apartment
prompted calls from Yeltsin for a crackdown on crime.
It also inpsired liberals to make new efforts to rally to prevent a Communist
resurgence, but Zyuganov said they would be unable to unite.
``I do not believe in any unification of all those so-called democrats,'' he
said. ``They have nothing to unite around now.''
The liberals who oversaw economic reforms this after 1991 have been ousted
from the government and have reservations about the new government of cautious
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.
The Communists, the biggest force in Russia's lower house of parliament, are
in the unusual position of supporting the government's economic plans. They
approved Primakov's appointment and his choice of a Communist as his first
Zyuganov said he still backed the government's efforts but said it must lower
taxes, make punishment for tax-dodging more drastic, regulate the tariffs of
large energy companies and attract more foreign investment.
He complained that some cabinet posts, particularly in the economic sphere,
were still held by ``those who had guided the destructive policies'' of more
He said he believed the International Monetary Fund was likely to come to
Russia's aid by eventually releasing delayed credits, but said the Fund was
``getting too involved in putting forward political conditions in return for
this or that sum.''
Liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky also expressed concern about crime and the St
``Conditions for converting the country into criminal rule have been
created,'' Yavlinsky told reporters. ``The election could turn into a
Russia Faces 7 Million Tonne Grain Shortage
MOSCOW, Dec. 01, 1998 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia faces a 7 million
tonne shortage in domestic grain supplies following its worst harvest in
more than four decades, Interfax news agency cited the Agriculture Ministry
as saying Monday.
Russia's current domestic supply of 72.6 million tonnes of grain falls
short of an estimated demand of 79.6 million tonnes this winter, the
In the face of a drastic shortage, Russia in November accepted 1.5 million
tonnes of free wheat from the United States that came as part of a larger
$600 million emergency aid loan.
The European Union meanwhile has proposed shipping 1 million tons of wheat,
500,000 tonnes of rye, 30,000 tonnes of rice, 100,000 tonnes of pork and
150,000 tonnes of beef to Russia free of charge.
An official memorandum sealing the European Union deal should be signed
Wednesday, Interfax reported.
Zyuganov Views Yeltsin, Economy, International Relations
Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung in German
28 November 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Interview with Russian Communist Party leader Gennadiy
Zyuganov by Frank Nienhuysen; place and date not given: "'The
West's Economic Model is Fatal for Us'"
This is a horror scenario for the West: Russia goes into the next
millennium with a Communist leader. The Communist Party has the biggest
membership and the best organization of all the parties. But it also has
the chairman with the least charisma. Gennadiy Zyuganov is a party
official, a hard worker and organizer, and it must have been mainly due to
his lackluster appearance that he failed to win the election against Boris
Yeltsin in 1996. The 54-year-old is expected to run again; and if new
elections are held shortly, he could replace Yeltsin after all. Frank
Nienhuysen talked to the Communist Party leader.
[Nienhuysen] Yeltsin is very sick, the country without a leader. How
long can Russia go on like that?
[Zyuganov] I wish Yeltsin good health. But at the same time, he is
suffering from another illness called "irresponsibility." He is
irresponsible toward his own fellow citizens, his own country. Half of the
economy has been ruined, there is a lack of food, of fuels. People are not
getting their pay, no pensions. Yeltsin's time is up.
[Nienhuysen] Will there be early elections?
[Zyuganov] New elections are more than necessary. Yeltsin is no
longer in a position to govern the country. One must not wait until the
year 2000.[Nienhuysen] But the Communists can no longer dodge their
responsibility either since their party member Yuriy Mazlyukov has become
vice prime minister and Yevgeniy Primakov head of government with the
Communist Party's help. But there does not seem to be much of a concept.
[Zyuganov] We want to do everything to give our production a boost to
create a good climate for investment. We want to distribute the income
justly and make sure that the population's purchasing power increases. All
these measures need an easing of the tax burden and a decrease in transport
and energy prices. We need a mixture of market economy and state
mechanisms to regulate the economy.
[Nienhuysen] It seems that you primarily want to print money and
nationalize the defense industry. How do you want to convince the West
that it should invest more in Russia?
[Zyuganov] We will do everything to prevent a relapse into the old
policy, the policy of ransacking, and a policy where alcoholism determines
the government.[Nienhuysen] That will not be enough for the West.
[Zyuganov] That is why I am in Germany. Without outside support it
will be difficult for Russia to overcome the crisis. In times when people
like Chubays were in power we had no problem getting credits from the IMF
and other banks. Now that we have a sensible government in power, the West
is skeptical.[Nienhuysen] Would the Communist Party accept the IMF's
[Zyuganov] The way in which the IMF has set its conditions shows that
it does not have a realistic view of what is going on in Russia. If the
IMF's ideas were put into practice in Russia, where the number of
unemployed is 20 million and 15 million people are starving, we would
plunge into social chaos; and this would happen in a country that has
[Nienhuysen] What would be your preconditions for adopting the nextbudget?
[Zyuganov] This question concerns an internal secret. Let me only
tell you that much: the government must develop a model under which people
can work creatively. It must adopt emergency measures to ensure thesupply.
[Nienhuysen] What emergency measures?
[Zyuganov] A minimum of food and medicaments must be safeguarded.
The pensioners must get their pensions paid. Apart from that, one must
fight corruption and organized crime.
[Nienhuysen] One of your deputies, Albert Makashov, has triggered
worldwide dismay with his anti-Semitic statements. Why have you needed
external pressure to distance yourself from him?
[Zyuganov] That is wrong. He first made this statement on 4 October;
Makashov was criticized by his comrades the following day. He was punished
by the party. The media campaign did not start until a month later.
[Nienhuysen] That does not sound very convincing.
[Zyuganov] The Duma has adopted a document against anti-Semitism,
which says that the language, culture, religion, and national dignity must
be accepted.[Nienhuysen] Are you prepared to exclude Makashov from the party?
[Zyuganov] An official statement by the party's central committee has
been adopted, which condemns Makashov's statement and says that similar
statements are illegal.
[Nienhuysen] Let us suppose that Yeltsin will stay in office until
the year 2000. How do you want to keep the Communist Party together
[Zyuganov] There have been attempts to divide us for a couple of
years. You are talking to the spokesman of the alliance of the people's
patriotic forces, whose core is our party; and I have just been reelected
unanimously.[Nienhuysen] Do you think that the Duma will finally ratify the
START-II disarmament agreement this year?
[Zyuganov] The balance of powers has been disturbed over the past few
years. Yeltsin has weakened our defense power. There are many proposals
for amendments that have to be discussed.
[Nienhuysen] Does that mean that it will not happen this year?
[Zyuganov] I do not think so.
[Nienhuysen] How do you see Russia's future role in world politics?
[Zyuganov] We are in favor of close relations with the West and theEast.
[Nienhuysen] Relations with the United States seem to havedeteriorated.
[Zyuganov] The United States has been trying to force its economic
model on Yeltsin, which has proved fatal for Russia. We want a partnership
with the United States, but we expect it to accept our culture.
Gaydar--Right Block To Take Shape After 10 Dec Conference
MOSCOW, November 30 (Itar-Tass) -- Yegor Gaydar, the leader of the
Russia's Democratic Choice party, said on Monday [30 November] the right
bloc, initiated by young reformers, has not yet got shape. "Only appeals
for setting it up" exist at the moment, he added.
"I hope that on December 10 we shall hold a founding conference, and
after that it will be possible to speak about the bloc as a political
reality," said Gaydar, one of the initiators of the bloc. He told Itar-Tass
that it was too early to speak about its leader.
A declaration of intentions to set up a right bloc was signed among
others by former deputy premiers Anatoliy Chubays and Boris Nemtsov,
ex-premier Sergey Kiriyenko, leader of the Party of Social Democracy
Aleksandr Yakovlev and some other politicians.
Gaydar said the issue of the Our Home is Russia joining the bloc had
not been raised. "We have hold consultations with Viktor Chernomyrdin on
possible cooperation during the elections. We did not offer the NDR leader
to sign the statement, but, undoubtedly, we are ready for a dialogue,"
Gaydar said.Gaydar stressed that many regions have rather strong regional
political organisations of non-Communist trend.
"They have different shapes, but they exist and are often much more
influential in the regions" than some Moscow parties. He said those
organisations could become the bloc's support.
Focusing on Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov's Fatherland party, Gaydar said
the right are "ideological opponents of the Fatherland" and have different
in principle views on what must be done in Russia.
He said, however, that he did not rule out the possibility to
coordinate positions on separate majority constituencies, "there where the
Fatherland will nominate, in our opinion, worthy candidates."
He emphasized that such cooperation on the federal level was hardly
Poll Survey Measures Trust in Government, Leaders
MOSCOW, Nov 28 (Interfax) - The Cabinet is the only official structure
in the country in which Russians' confidence has risen this year, according
to a poll conducted by the Independent Institute of Social and EthnicProblems.
In total, 1,765 people from 52 Russian cities and villages were
interviewed for the poll.
The number of Russians that trust their government grew by 7% from
December 1997 to October 1998.
The number of those discontented with President Boris Yeltsin rose by
23%. The number of Russians distrusting the State Duma and trade unions
increased by 2% and 5%, respectively.
For the first time in the past ten years the number of Russians
trusting the church has started to decrease. The poll showed that 7% fewer
Russians trust the church at present compared with one year ago.
Despite the rising confidence in the government, only 22% of Russians
said the Cabinet led by Yevgeniy Primakov would manage to prevent the
financial and economic situation in the country from deteriorating further.
Another 24.5% of those polled said they did not think the Cabinet would
be a success. More than half of the respondents, 54%, were undecided.
Primakov is now Russia's most popular politician and is trusted by 48%
of the country's population. Primakov is followed on the list by Moscow
Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov (41%), Krasnoyarsk territory Governor Aleksandr Lebed
(38%), leader of the Yabloko movement Grigory Yavlinsky (36%), Kemerovo
region Governor Aman Tuleyev (30%), Communist Party leader Gennadiy
Zyuganov (25%), Duma Chairman Gennadiy Seleznev (17%), Federation Council
Chairman Yegor Stroyev (17%), Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader
Vladimir Zhirinovskiy (8%), President Boris Yeltsin (7%), former Russian
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin (5%), former USSR President Mikhail
Gorbachev (3%) and head of the Unified Energy Systems national utility
Anatoliy Chubays (2%).