This Date's Issues: 2538 • 2539
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31 December 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
1. Moscow Times editorial: A New Year's Wish List For Russia.
2. Reuters: Russians turn to sorcery for white winter holiday.
3. AP: Russia Inflation Hits 84 Percent.
4. Dale Herspring: Lebed.
5. Bill Ross: More top-down view of Lebed.
6. Wayan Vota: Re 2538-D. Gusev: Nukes.
7. Keith Hudson: Who has the virtual economy?
8. The Electronic Telegraph: Marcus Warren, Monks lay foundations of
9. Sovetskaya Rossiya: Zyuganov Statement on 'Jewish Question.'
10. The Times (UK): Anna Blundy, Fatherhood takes on new meaning for
11. Moscow Times: Russell Working, LETTER FROM VLADIVOSTOK: Russians
Show Whiners The Way to Take Delays.
12. Interfax; Communist Win 21 Percent of Votes in Hypothetical
13. Literaturnaya Gazeta: Dmitriy Gayev, director of the Moscow Metro
14. Interfax: Prosecutor Outlines Damage Caused by Economic Crime.
15. Itar-Tass: Tourism Official Says Russia not Dangerous to Visitors.]
December 31, 1998
EDITORIAL: A New Year's Wish List For Russia
We at The Moscow Times certainly wish for peace and goodwill on Earth,
but here are a few tendentious hopes for what the coming year will bring.
High on the wish list for 1999 of any friend of Russia must be a serious
war in the Persian Gulf. Although it might be a little hard on the Arab
world, a good war in the Middle East would do a lot to push up the price of
oil on world markets. And unless crude oil rises to $15 a barrel, nothing
the government or the International Monetary Fund does will turn the
Russian economy around.
We also earnestly hope for a sharp rise in anti-Semitism in sections of
the Russian Communist Party. Once again this may be a bit unpleasant for
Russia's Jewish population but it could have the virtuous side effect of
causing a split in the party.
The rabid Jew haters in the party like Viktor Ilyukhin and Albert
Makashov would split off to form a lunatic fringe Nationalist Soviet
Communist Party. The moderates in the party - if there are any - would keep
the Russian Communist Party label. Hopefully, divided, the communist vote
in the upcoming State Duma elections would be sharply reduced.
We wish President Boris Yeltsin moderate but not excessive good health
in the coming year. Moderate good health should allow him to see out his
term and provide some sort of stability as the elections go forward.
But if Yeltsin started to feel too well, that might be a very bad thing.
Yeltsin might start getting ideas about running for an unconstitutional
third term or he might start illegally interfering in the election process
to handpick a successor.
We want a banker in jail. We do not care which one. Ideally, it should
be a high profile oligarch involved in the shares-for-loans scheme or some
other wickedness. But we would be content if it were just a small fish. It
would do a lot of good for morale.
We hope that Russia loses its seat on the United Nations Security
Council. This would be a blow to national pride but it might give Russia,
which has the gross domestic product of Belgium, a clearer idea of its
importance and power in the world. Hopefully, without the prospect of
strutting its stuff at the UN, Russia will not spend so much energy
defending rogue regimes in Iraq and Serbia and will instead start worrying
about things that actually affect it.
Not too many people would claim that 1998 was a great year for Russia.
But take the long view. It was better than 1917 and 1941. And better than
1995 when the war raged in Chechnya. We are still hopeful.
Russians turn to sorcery for white winter holiday
MOSCOW, Dec 30 (Reuters) - A coven of witches and wizards will try to use
their supernatural powers on New Year's Eve to change Moscow's unseasonably
mild weather and bring snow to the Russian capital, RIA news agency said on
It said the sorcerers would gather on Red Square in front of the Kremlin
barrels of ice-cold water which they plan to whack with their broomsticks.
The flying water is then supposed to turn into snow with the help of various
arcane rituals and spells, RIA said, quoting sources ``close to the
The witches and wizards decided to hold their meet after Muscovites
of a big drop in temperatures, which has turned the capital's traditional snow
into slush and puddles.
New Year is the main winter holiday for Russians and is followed by the
Orthodox Christian Christmas on January 7. Russians usually enjoy a white New
Year and Christmas but in recent days temperatures in Moscow have hovered
around zero Celsius (32 Fahrenheit).
In November they dipped below minus 30C (minus 22F).
RIA said the witches and wizards had the backing of the Moscow city
and of Father Frost, the Russian answer to Santa Claus, and his assistant the
The Russian weather service on Wednesday suggested sorcery might not be
as they predicted temperatures of minus 10 C (14 Fahrenheit) for Thursday.
Russia Inflation Hits 84 Percent
By Greg Myre
December 31, 1998
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian inflation, which appeared under control until a
financial crisis struck last summer, hit 84 percent for 1998, the
government said today.
With Russia still mired in crisis, many private economists expect the
rate for 1999 to be as high, if not higher.
In preparing the 1999 federal budget, Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's
government has forecast inflation at 30 percent, but many analysts regard
this as overly optimistic.
Russia suffered from hyperinflation for several years after it moved to
a market economy in 1992, but the government seemed to be taming inflation
in recent years.
The rate was 11 percent in 1997 and the government was expecting
single-digit inflation for 1998 until the financial crisis struck in August.
Since then, the Russian currency has lost much of its value, the
government has effectively defaulted on some of its debts and the economy
has been shrinking.
The economy contracted about 5 percent in 1998 and Russia remained
trapped in one of the worst depressions ever experienced by an
Primakov warned government bureaucrats today that their salaries would
not be increased until the incomes of the country's poorest citizens began
``I don't think ... it would be correct to raise salaries for ourselves
without raising the salaries of the poorest citizens,'' Primakov said.
``We cannot turn Russia into an economically prosperous country in just
a few months, but it's our duty to do as much as possible,'' he was quoted
as saying by the Interfax news agency.
An estimated 42 million Russians, nearly one-third of the entire
population, is living below the official poverty line, the government says.
Meanwhile, a Russian court has declared one of the country's largest
banks bankrupt, clearing the way for the first liquidation of a major bank
since the August crisis.
The Moscow Arbitration Court ruled this week that Tokobank was bankrupt
and that its assets should be distributed among creditors, The Moscow Times
The bank was once among the 20 largest in Russia, but now has debts of
$363 million and assets of just $165 million, the newspaper reported.
Russia has some 1,500 banks, but many have been hard hit by the
financial crisis and have either closed or are providing only limited
In another development, the Central Bank said Russia's hard currency
reserves stood at $12.3 billion as of Dec. 25.
Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998
From: Dale R Herspring <email@example.com>
Since we are talking about Lebed's chances in the absence of anything
resembling data, I want to suggest one caveat in speaking about him. My
caveat is simple, we don't know what the Russian Narod thinks at present.
Furthermore, the situation is very fluid and could change in several
directions at once. We also don't know how Yeltsin will exit the
political stage or when. Timing is very important in politics.
Furthermore, I think we need to keep in mind that most of the people who
comment on or read this newsletter (including this writer) are what many
would call intellectuals. The fact is that in spite of how much we like
to think we know, we do a rather poor job of judging the average man or
woman on the street. I have to remind my academic colleagues on occasion
that we do not live in the real world (something they don't like hearing).
True, Lebed is not doing much in his position as governor of Krasnoyarsk.
But does that really matter? Or put another way -- would it make any
difference if he were doing well? Does the average Russian read the paper
and keep up with Lebed's latest accomplishments (or lack thereof). I
doubt it. I suspect that they work on sound bites to an even greater
degree than we do. Thus, as several commentators have suggested, a lot
will depend on the election campaign and how well Lebed is able to get out
his message. Furthermore, timing could be critical.
I think we have to keep reminding ourselves that just because many
intellectuals look down on soldiers as ignorant Neandrathals, it does not
follow that this happens in the real world. Some soldiers are dumb,
although I would put the likes of Makhmut Gareyev up against the best any
university has to offer when it comes a lot of the issues discussed on the
pages of this and other journals/newspapers. I suspect he would eat a
number of our supposed intellectuals alive -- and he is nothing but a
simple army general! Other examples could be given (of both smart and
dumb senior officers). Similarly, I could cite a number of examples where
members of the academy have come up with brillant ideas only to discover
that they were very naive and irrelevant when it came to implementing them
in the real world.
I welcome discussions of Lebed or Luzhkov's chances -- they often make me
aware of factors I had overlooked. At the same time, however, I think we
have to keep in mind that the future will probably be as much as surpise
to us as it will be to Luzhkov and Lebed.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org.EDU (Bill Ross)
Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998
Subject: more top-down view of Lebed
I too have mixed feelings about Lebed, but sometimes he
seems pretty hard to ignore. Maybe because his can-do
attitude projects well to Americans (me being one). Here's
an analysis of a brief news item:
> 1. Interfax: Lebed: Airstrikes 'Failure for Russian Diplomacy.'
> MOSCOW, Dec 17 (Interfax) - Krasnoyarsk territory governor Aleksandr
> Lebed has called the U.S. and British attack on Iraq a failure for Russian
> diplomacy."Now the U.S. will get its own Chechnya," he told Interfax on
> Thursday. "The U.S. is a great power, and its Chechnya will be
> appropriate," he said. Lebed said the Muslim world may unite against the
Question: Russian diplomacy protecting us from ourselves? Well,
Chechnya was about giving away a lot of money to fight a war
that Russia has had some capacity to regret, perhaps especially
now that there is an especial shortage of money. And come to
think of it, cruise missiles are maybe too expensive for what
they destroy, in the long run.
But as a diplomatic thrust, directed at us, the Chechens, the Russians,
and the Arab world, offering a bittersweet grain for each, it is
a master stroke. And Lebed remains firmly in his sounds-dumb-but-
obviously-isn't persona, showing media savvy comparable if not
exceeding that of Clinton or Reagan at their 'best'. AND, if the
guy is wrong and anyone happens to believe him, it seems that
only good things could result. The Russians find they have real
opportunities in the international arena - for once, they can
try hard to be the most rational international player - using
brains in the absence of other resources. The Arabs find that
they could do to the US what Chechnya did to Russia. The US
hears that it's so great that it would take the whole Arab
world to cripple it, and can find this flattering. And, at home,
the Russians and Chechens remember Lebed's efforts to end
that war, and think, "He's a practical guy. I wonder, can
Yeltsin still tie his own shoelaces?"
And Lebed knows how to wait.
From: email@example.com (Wayan Vota)
Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998
Subject: Re: 2538-D. Gusev: Nukes
I would like to respond to Dmitri Gusev's comments concerning the West's
policy toward Russia and Russia's military (JRL 2538 Re: Danzer/Lebed).
> The second comment is going to be a reply to the following
>statement by Mr. Danzer.
>>The REAL problem in Russia is that the United States and other
>>Western Nations through the IMF have indiscriminately dealt with
>>a ruling elite who are criminals. Can you state the problem in
>...However, if the actual objective is to weaken Russia so that
>it can no longer maintain its nuclear arsenal, then the policy
>criticized so vocally by Mr. Danzer and many other analysts
>may be not so bad, after all.
>... It appears rather obvious to me that if Russia's nuclear
>arsenal suddenly disappeared overnight, the country
>would not be getting much more attention in the West
>than Somalia or Cambodia from that moment on.
I would think that a policy of eroding Russia's military capabilities
(nuclear in particular) would be at the heart of any and all Western
activity towards Russia. Didn't we just spend the last 50 years trying to
out-gun each other? Why would we (USA/Europe/UK) want anything but a weak
and defenceless Russia?
A Russia stripped of military might, would make the UN Security Council a
weaker restraining body. No longer would the Western nations, who comprise
most of the seats, have to worry about the ramifications of skipping over
Moscow in consultations. The recent Anglo-American activity in Iraq being
a prime example of the new power mix. Did Mr. Clinton even warn Mr.
Yeltsin? If I'm not mistaken, Moscow learned of the bombings from CNN.
Also, with Russia effectively neutralised, the West would be in a better
position to deal with the emerging Chinese influence on world affairs.
A Russia stripped of military might, would be a pliable source of cheap raw
materials for the new Euroland. Remember the outcry a few months ago when
Alfred Kokh told just this to a news wire? The response in Moscow was
quite vocal in denouncing Mr. Kokh, and the West downplayed his remarks,
but behind closed doors the Moscow intelligentsia (local and foreign)
acknowledged that this is the reality already. Look at Russia's current
export mix, dominated by petro/mineral exports to Europe, with the vast
majority of new foreign investment going towards these industries. If I
were the German Chancellor, with Russia being my main source of natural gas
(and therefore electricity and heat) would I want a strong (militarily or
A Russia stripped of military might, would no longer be one nation. As we
can see already with the growing autonomy of the regions, as Moscow's, and
the Army's influence weakens, Russia's many minorities will start to carve
out their own mini-states within Russia (note Chechnya). As this happens,
the West can play an interesting game of he said/she said, playing off one
region against another for better investment conditions than it can obtain
in the current Moscow-centric investment climate. Why stop there? Why not
start taking back historically non-Russian regions? Kallingrad joining
Poland/Germany? Karalia with Finland? Khabarovsk Krai to China?
A Russia stripped of military might, would propel the Western economies
into the middle of the next century. Think of all the resources
(material/budgetary/human) that are currently expended towards the reaction
to/containment of Russia's remaining military. Redirected towards
economic pursuits, and coupled with cheap raw materials (see above), the
resulting economy would fuel the next generation's economic miracle. Look
at how the US economy has rebounded from the early 1980's, for an example.
After spending a record number of billions (or was it trillions) spend on
the military/industrial complex in the 1970's & early 1980's, we redirected
our energies towards the economy with amazing results.
So I find Dimitri's comments very valid. A common refrain heard in Moscow
during the August crisis, was "Russia is Indonesia with nuclear weapons."
Take away the nuclear weapons, and what do you have? Just another 3rd (Ok,
maybe 2nd) world nation ripe for the multinational conglomerates to pillage
for all that she is worth. We all know it, and soon, when the life
expectancy of the nukes expires (when would that be anyway?), we will see
S Novum Gordum
Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998
From: Keith Hudson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Who has the virtual economy?
Ray Thomas (JRL 2536) is, of course, quite right in saying that it is the
Western world which depends on a virtual economy and that a barter economy
is tangible. There has been a fair degree of nonsense spoken about a barter
economy so far.
Anthropologists are only just waking up to the fact that early man was only
able to migrate into the furthest corners of the world by means of trade --
and, of course, this was originally barter trade. Habitats which were
otherwise inhospitable by virtue of a lack of one or more essential
resources could only have been populated by being on the end of a barter
trade route, its inhabitants importing resources which they lacked and
exporting resources of which they had a relative surplus.
It is this prejudice against barter which basically invalidates the
original article by Gaddy and Ickes and exposes the fact that they, like so
many economists, simply do not understand the fundamentals of money, how it
arose, and how, in the course of this century when governments have
intervened in the supply and control of money, it is now only of token
validity without any intrinsic value at all. Western money depends
completely on blind faith of the public that governments are somehow the
natural progenitors of money.
All strength, therefore, to the Russian barter economy. Russians aren't
fools and if the barter economy were not a perfectly practicable method of
survival then they wouldn't be using it. Basically, it is sounder than the
virtual economy of the West. If all the major currencies of the capitalist
world collapsed or span into hyperinflation (which is a credible, if
unlikely, scenario) then a barter economy would survive.
However, a barter economy suffers from two deficiencies which means that
economic growth is impossible. Firstly, it is administratively very costly
and by itself probably absorbs any potential profit due to normal
productivity. Secondly, it has no credit-making mechanisms so a barter
economy cannot create new capital goods or spawn new business.
I therefore support Ray Thomas' and Esther Dyson's contention that normal
commercial banks are a key factor and must be instituted in Russia for the
sake of enabling existing businesses to expand or allowing new businesses
to develop. I think that, in due course, the need would be such that the
Mafia, oligarchs and large Western firms could, and would, supply the
necessary venture capital but the new mechanisms and institutions required
(including a body of mercantile and property law) would probably take at
least two or three generations to develop and Russia cannot afford to wait
The Electronic Telegraph
31 December 1998
[for personal use only]
Monks lay foundations of Orthodox revival
By Marcus Warren in Kurovskoye
IT is too early to speak of a new golden age of monasticism, but dozens of
Russian monasteries, many in ruins after years of persecution, are reopening
and rediscovering the great traditions of Orthodox spirituality.
The monasteries have been defiled, looted and abandoned, their monks and
martyred in the gulag or just thrown on to the streets. They were prime
targets of Soviet efforts to root out religion and build communism.
Just a decade ago there were only two functioning monasteries in Russia. Now
there are nearly 300 and their numbers are rising. For monks, taking vows of
obedience, chastity and poverty marks a retreat from the world. In Russia,
quite apart from the spiritual rigours of monasticism, it also means back-
breakingly hard work.
Vitaly, a novice monk at the Guslitsky monastery outside Moscow, said: "The
bell tower was completely devastated. When work started, there were no doors
or windows either."
Here, as elsewhere, work consists of more than restoring the monastery to
former glory before decades of neglect and vandalism. The immediate task is to
make the place habitable. A lack of funds means much of the work is carried
out by the monks or novices. Carpentry and masonry are skills in as much
demand as icon-painting or a good grasp of theology.
Guslitsky, on the outskirts of the town of Kurovskoye, reopened in August.
Before the revolution it had 50 monks. Now there are only two monks and five
novices. The monastery is a shadow of its old self and occupies a fraction of
its original lands. The huge main chapel stands derelict just beyond the fence
of a forbidding looking psychiatric hospital next door. Work is still in
progress even at monasteries reopened several years ago. At the Holy Catherine
Hermitage, south of Moscow, several of the outhouses are in ruins and workmen
are only now installing beams to support the church roof.
During lunch, monks sit listening to readings from the Lives of the
silence, dressed not in black habits but wearing paint-stained overalls and
muddy boots after a hard morning's work. Digging on the allotment, raising
pigs or driving excavators are a far cry from the contemplation and prayer of
the monastic ideal. They come on top of hours spent every day attending
services from 5.30am.
Nevertheless, there seems to be no shortage of volunteers of all ages,
spend the rest of their lives in a monastery. The monastic life may not be an
easy one, but it provides a way of escaping a world that many believe is
rotten with promiscuity, sin and corruption.
Father Superior Tikhon, of Holy Catherine Hermitage, said: "People want to
dedicate themselves to God. They want to test themselves and see if they are
equal to the challenge of living in a monastery. It's a cry of the soul."
Zyuganov Statement on 'Jewish Question'
24 December 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Statement signed by G. Zyuganov: "On the National Pride of
Patriots. Statement by Communist Party of the Russian Federation
Central Committee Chairman" -- passages within slantlines published in
Each time that politicians in the ruling regime suffer a failure, they
resort to an old tried-and-tested means -- they whip up anti-Communist
hysteria. The distinguishing feature of the current campaign of lies and
slander in the electronic media has been its provocatively Russophobic
nature. Once again the thesis about "Russian fascism" and a "brownshirt
Red" threat, and about "anti-Semitism" allegedly being an official
Communist Party stance has once again been thrust into the limelight.
The aim of this entire campaign is obvious. To divert society's
attention away from the country's catastrophic position and the real
culprits for it. To provoke anti-Jewish sentiment among the masses. To
channel the working people's mounting social protest down a dead end -- in
the direction of interethnic conflicts.
I am convinced that these plans are ultimately doomed to failure. But
nor can we close our eyes to the fact that the provocateurs sometimes
succeed in achieving the results desired. In response to this Russophobic
hysteria, certain Communists have issued ill-considered statements about
the Jews, which run counter to the provisions of the Communist Party of the
Russian Federation Program and the decisions of the Central Committee
plenum on questions of interethnic relations.
These statements are based on an incorrect and harmful confusion of
Zionism as a political phenomenon with the Jewish question. Zionism
itself, which states that it is a "purely national" blueprint for bringing
Jews together in the land of their origin, primarily has an interest in
such a confusion. If its goals were indeed limited to this, no additional
questions would arise. I would like to recall that it was the Soviet
Union, recognizing the Jewish people's right to national and state
self-determination, which actively promoted the creation of the state of
Israel -- but, of course, not to the detriment of the vital interests of
the Arab people of Palestine.
But Zionism has actually shown itself to be one of the strains of the
theory and practice of the most aggressive imperialist circles striving for
world domination. In this respect it is related to fascism. The only
difference between them is that Hitlerite Nazism operated behind the mask
of German nationalism and strove for world domination /openly./ But
Zionism, operating behind the mask of Jewish nationalism, acts /in secret,/
not least at second hand.
Fascism and Zionism are the bitterest enemies primarily of the peoples
whose national feelings and prejudices they exploit. Fascism and Zionism
are non-national and profoundly antipeople in their essence. At the close
of World War II Hitler strove to take the entire German people to the grave
with him, denying them their right to exist.
The great experience of the struggle between our motherland and
fascism serves as our lodestar in the struggle against the various forms of
imperialist aggression. As far as the peoples of the Soviet Union were
concerned, the struggle against German fascism was a national liberation
struggle -- a patriotic war in the true sense of the word. But under no
circumstances was it a struggle against the German people. We need only
recall the words that "Hitlers come and go, but the German people remain"
that were spoken from the country's main rostrum 7 November 1941 at a time
of deadly danger for the Soviet people. It is not inappropriate to recall
that when at the close of the war, in the spring of 1945, Ilya Erenburg, a
member of the Jewish Antifascist Committee, tried to call for ethnic
vengeance against the Germans, he was strictly brought to heel and reproved
from the pages of Pravda: "Comrade Erenburg is getting mixed up!"
Today's struggle against Zionism is not and in principle cannot be a
struggle against the Jewish people or the state of Israel either. We have
never identified the concept of "Jew" with that of "Zionist." Advocating
friendship and brotherhood among the peoples of Russia, we believe that all
problems arising in this sphere should be resolved peacefully, in the
course of a respectful and constructive dialogue. It is precisely such a
Russo-Jewish dialogue that we have repeatedly proposed. Communists are
prepared to take part in it, and /on both sides,/ since our party is
international in makeup and ideology.
Any manifestations of chauvinism and ethnic intolerance -- from
whatever quarter and whatever their motivation -- are incompatible with
Communist convictions. Including manifestations of judophobia, which
insult the national dignity not only of Jews but of all the peoples of
Russia. So views and statements which place Jews and Zionists on an equal
footing deserve to be condemned as backward views spreading narrow-minded
bourgeois prejudice, /masking the class-based essence of Zionism, and
thereby making it harder to combat it./
The idea of legislatively establishing a "percentage norm" for the
representation of various ethnic and religious communities in organs of
state power should also be deemed a mistake. Although this principle is
reinforced in the constitutions of certain states -- Lebanon, for instance
-- practice shows that interethnic peace and harmony is not ensured in this
way. In a democratic state, which is how we want to see Russia, equal
participation in power by all communities is a matter of free choice for
the people and of state wisdom and tact for our top leaders.
At the same time, the Jewish community too needs to decide more
clearly where it stands on a number of issues -- primarily on the question
of its attitude toward Zionism. The spread of Zionist ideology in the
Jewish milieu is under no circumstances /the fault/ of the Jewish people,
but their /scourge./ The only question is whether the Jews intend to go on
tolerating the situation whereby their ethnic feelings sometimes serve as a
smoke screen for Zionist policies.
We believe that the Jews -- like the representatives of any diaspora,
incidentally -- have the inalienable right:
to emigrate from Russia to their historic homeland of Israel or
to any other country;
to recognize Russia as their sole motherland, and to live and work for
its benefit as part of the Jewish community as an equal member of the
multi-ethnic Russian people;
to be assimilated in ethnic, cultural, and linguistic terms into the
Russian people or any other people of Russia.
Only nobody has the right, while remaining a Russian citizen, to view
Russia as an alien "host country." To be an "internal emigre" in it,
acting to the detriment of its interests on behalf of another state or
international corporation. There is no right to be a tool in the hands of
Zionism. No state in the world can tolerate such activities and is obliged
to put a stop to them with every legal means at its disposal.
Communists did not invent this problem, which really exists. Our
people are not blind. They cannot fail to see that the Zionization of
Russian state power has been one of the reasons behind the current
catastrophic state of the country, its mass impoverishment, and the
extinction of its population. They cannot turn a blind eye to the
aggressive, destructive role played by Zionist capital in the collapse of
the Russian economy and the embezzlement of the assets of the whole people.
They rightly ask how it can be that key positions in a number of economic
sectors were seized predominantly by representatives of one ethic group in
the course of privatization. They see how control over most of the
electronic media -- which are waging a destructive campaign against our
fatherland and its morality, language, culture, and beliefs -- is
concentrated in the hands of those same individuals.
I am convinced that Russian citizens of all ethnic groups will have
the wisdom to figure out these issues calmly and in a balanced way, without
giving in to provocations and without allowing themselves to be whipped up
into a state of nationalistic intoxicationt. There is a growing
understanding among the people that all their current woes are based on the
criminal policy of the antipeople non-national [vnenatsionalnyy] oligarchy
which has seized power. Only the restoration of people's power and a
decisive change of socio-economic course will ensure the revival and
prosperity of Russia and its entire multi-ethnic people.[Signed] G. Zyuganov
The Times (UK)
December 31 1998
Fatherhood takes on new meaning for sperm donor
FROM ANNA BLUNDY IN MOSCOW
WHEN Vladimir Gusiyev walked his dog each morning, he took a shine to a
woman he saw taking her small son to nursery. They got talking, and within
months the three were living together.
Then friends began to comment on how little Misha was the spitting image of
his new father, and the local optomotrist remarked that the boy had inherited
his minor eye condition. Their words set Mr Gusiyev's mind racing - and
apparently led to the discovery that he had fathered the child when he donated
sperm at the local fertility clinic in the town of Yaroslav.
The story, which is the talk of Moscow, is reported in Komsomolskaya Pravda
and has astonished the medical profession, which considered the likelihood of
such an eventuality to be vanishingly small. "Of course it is possible,
especially in a small town like Yaroslav," says Anna Serikova of the Ministry
of Health. Both mother and father come from the town, whose single fertility
clinic has been creating test-tube babies since 1986.
Mr Gusiyev (a pseudonym the newspaper uses to protect the couple) had
sperm in January 1992 after overhearing some of his poorly paid engineering
colleagues laughing over a newpaper article on the subject.
He was approved as a donor and received the equivalent of a quarter of his
month's pay (about £7) for his efforts.
Irina Gusiyeva approached the agency later that year and her son was born in
Two years later, Mr Gusiyev bought a flat on Freedom Street in the heart of
the town and struck up a friendship with the young divorcée he had seen on his
morning walks. When she and her son moved in with him, he believed the boy to
be the product of her first marriage. But his friends' comments set him
thinking and he began comparing photographs of himself as a child with his
Eventually he felt compelled to ask her about Misha's father. Irina
that her first husband had been impotent, that he had reluctantly agreed to
her having artificial insemination and that he had left her soon after the
child was born.
The fertility clinic refused to confirm the couple's suspicions on the
of patient confidentiality, so they travelled to Moscow with young Misha where
they say they paid 4,000 roubles for the genetic fingerprinting that provided
them with proof.
The couple swiftly married, but Mr Gusiyev is unable to adopt his son
the permission of the boy's officially registered father - and he has
December 31, 1998
LETTER FROM VLADIVOSTOK: Russians Show Whiners The Way to Take Delays
By Russell Working
When trains shut down, when planes don't fly, when Russians are stranded
anywhere, they are always ready with a bottle of vodka or sweet Moldavian
On a train, they squeeze into a coupe and dig out whatever food they
have - sausage, bread, cucumbers, candy - as happened last summer when my
train full of shuttle traders was stalled for four hours on the Chinese
On a plane, they fold down the middle seat and spread out a newspaper,
on which they lay their dried fish or salo, a substance made from pork fat
that is handy for absorbing headline ink and images of Primakov.
If a foreigner is in their midst, he will be grilled about his homeland.
The glass will remain miraculously full, however often he polishes it off
and makes clear that this is really his last drink. Eventually, some will
doze. Some may even sing.
The attitude is: Why get excited? The plane will either fly or not fly. I
can't change that, but I can celebrate with my fellow man in the meantime.
I thought of this on Sunday while returning from a visit to my parents in
Santa Barbara, California. I had spent the holiday reflecting on the
strengths of America: French roast coffee, sales clerks who don't roll
their eyes at you, a vigorous system of checks and balances that keeps
citizens informed about presidential DNA on intern's dresses.
But as I waited for takeoff on a United Airlines jet, I couldn't help
thinking of another side of the American experience. We're whiners.
We were heading to San Francisco, and only one runway was open in that
foggy city. The pilot announced an hour's delay. Then a second. And a
third. I figured everyone felt the way I did. You can't change the weather,
and if you travel, you live with the possibility of delays.
But I soon became aware of an undercurrent of fury on the plane.
"Unbelievable!" snarled a man with frizzy hair. A woman told a stewardess,
"This is unacceptable. Can't you see my children are exhausted?"
The pilot tried in vain to calm us: "Folks, we're sorry about the delay,
but really, it's not the flight attendants' fault."
In the end, the flight was canceled, and the passengers stomped off. As
United scrambled to reroute us the next day, the frizzy man shouted, "I
don't care whose fault it is. You'll never get my business again."
It was 11 p.m. Passengers lugged their bags to the curb. They crowded
into cabs and headed back to the city where the electricity always works,
where the faucets always gush, where everyone is paid on time. Angry.
Muttering into cell phones. Struggling with the question that has vexed
mankind since Job: Can God really be good in a world where trips to San
Francisco are delayed?
Communist Win 21 Percent of Votes in Hypothetical Elections
Moscow, Dec 25 (Interfax) -- If elections to the State Duma were held
on Sunday [27 December], the newly founded right-wing coalition including
several former senior government officials would clear the 5% threshold and
win seats in the parliament's lower chamber, the Russian Center for Public
Opinion Study, told Interfax Friday after polling 1,600 Russians
The Right Cause coalition includes former Prime Minister Yegor Gaydar,
former Prime Minister Sergey Kiriyenko, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov, former head of the State Tax Service Boris Fedorov, and former
First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoliy Chubays.
The Communist Party of Russia would receive 21% of the votes at the
The Yabloko movement led by Grigoriy Yavlinskiy would receive 12% and
the newly founded Fatherland movement led by Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov 10%
of the votes.The Russian People's Republican Army led by Aleksandr Lebed would
certainly overcome the 5% threshold.
The rest of Russia's political parties can hardly count on having
their factions in the Duma.
The Women of Russia movement led by Yekaterina Lakhova would muster 4%
of the votes and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia led by Vladimir
Zhirinovskiy 3% of the votes.
The Our Home Is Russia movement led by Viktor Chernomyrdin and the
Agrarian Party led by Mikhail Lapshin would collect 2% of the votes each.
The Self-Government of Workers party led by renowned eye-surgeon
Svyatoslav Fedorov and the Common Cause movement led by Irina Khakamada
would receive 1% of the votes each.
Another 14% of those polled said they would ignore the elections, and
13% were undecided.
The list of the parties used in the poll is not final, the Center
said. More than 100 parties and movements may decide to run for seats in
the Duma.The poll definitely shows that the creation of blocks and
an advisable strategy, the Center said.
Gayev Comments on Secret Moscow Metro
9 December 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Interview with Dmitriy Gayev, director of the Moscow Metro System, by
Irina Vorobyeva; place and date not given: "The Secret Metro: Metro Chief
Gayev Would Be Quite Surprised If It Did Not Exist"
[Vorobyeva] Dmitriy Vladimirovich, what are your plans? How far will
we be able to travel in the next five years?
[Gayev] See for yourself. The Dubrovka Metro Station will open up at
the end of 1999. Trains will leave the Prazhskaya Station headed for
Rossoshanskaya. From there, in three years, they will head for Severnoye
Butovo to the Kachalovo Station. Then we will build the segment from
Kiyevskaya to Park Pobedy. A year later, the Lyublinskaya Line will extend
to Trubnaya, in 2004--to Marinaya Roshcha, and perhaps prior to the year
2005 will extend from Park Pobedy to Stroginskiy Bulvar. It is a highly
ambitious program: to complete the Stroginskaya Line; to go from Marino to
Krasnogvardeyskaya, and then to Brateyevo; to go from Krylatskiy to Mitino.
[Vorobyeva] What is needed in order to accomplish this?
[Gayev] A certain amount of funding--R1.5 billion [rubles] a year.
At present, however, no financing at all is envisaged for Russian metro
construction next year! In this regard, you must take into account the
fact that the lines that have already been begun cannot be discarded. They
must either be completed or preserved in temporary shut-down. Water must
be pumped and the lower recesses ventilated. Money is required in any
case. In St. Petersburg alone, 70 kilometers of underground excavation
work has been "frozen." Sixty kilometers here. It will be cheaper to
complete construction on the stations I enumerated. First Deputy Premier
Gustov has directed the Ministry of Construction and other ministries and
departments to determine the minimal level of outlays the federal budget
will be able to finance. We will see...
[Vorobyeva] Will the Moscow Government assist you?
[Gayev] Our metro system--which is, as you know, the largest in
Russia, is supposed to be financed 80 percent by the federal budget, only
20 percent by the Moscow budget. In 1998 the plan called for the
allocation of R1.4 billion, but only R120 million was in fact allocated.
Moscow provided an amount four times greater. But there remain debts to
contractor organizations which, in turn, must be paid to suppliers and
workers. But when the debt exceeds the amount of annual upkeep, there is
no funding for construction.
In this regard, the state itself has placed the metro on the verge of
bankruptcy. Prior to the 1990s, there were no free passes. Suddenly 53
percent of the populace began to travel at no charge. In 1998 alone the
metro system came up R2.8 billion short by virtue of reduced-fare tokens.
Then there are taxes, outlays for equipment, materials, and energy
resources. You can see for yourself.[Passages omitted]
[Vorobyeva] Dmitriy Vladimirovich, in a conversation with the chief
of the metro system, I cannot help but ask about secret Moscow subways. I
am referring to the legends concerning a military metro, government metro,
and military facilities underground that "diggers" say no one keeps track
of. Soon the entire capital city will fall into the earth.
[Gayev] First of all, who are the "diggers"? They are more than
hooligans--they are downright criminals. People die because of them. Do
we catch young lads carrying lanterns down in the tunnels? Yes, we do.
Some of them we apprehend, others crawl underneath a train and escape. As
I have said, the metro is a dangerous place.
Secondly, as far as government and military underground systems are
concerned, I would be amazed if they did not exist.
[Vorobyeva] It is said that during construction of the Park Pobedy
Station, a siding was used that led to Stalin's nearby dacha...
[Gayev] I do not know. I was not there. I will not lie to you. In
building the Stroginskaya Line, we intend to use a segment of the existing
tunnel from Kuntsevskaya Station to Molodezhnaya Station. I have not heard
about other tunnels.
[Vorobyeva] Who would be able to corroborate information concerning
the secret metro?[Gayev] Probably the entity that owns it.
[Vorobyeva] The government?
[Gayev] In all likelihood.
[Vorobyeva] Let me formulate the question somewhat differently. How
would you comment on published newspaper materials on this topic?
[Gayev] Do you remember "A Song About Rumors" by Vysotskiy? That is
how I relate to this. I have nothing to do with any secret metro and can
only surmise about it. Let me say again that I would be quite surprised if
it did not exist--and not only here, but in Paris, New York, and
Washington, as well.
Prosecutor Outlines Damage Caused by Economic Crime
Moscow, Dec 28 (Interfax)--Russia's Prosecutor General Yuriy Skuratov
on Monday announced that the damage caused by economic crimes this year
totals 18 billion rubles.
At a coordinating conference of law enforcement chiefs on the
prevention of corruption and economic crimes he said the rise in economic
crime "is blocking the normal operation of banking institutions, making
shadow economy businessmen rich and creating a federal budget deficit."
Skuratov said there is often a link between economic crimes and
His deputy Mikhail Katyshev said Russia is in the top 10 countries of
the world with regard to corrupt officials.
He said the shadow economy is feeding the underworld and its share in
GDP is between 40% and 50%.
Katyshev added that 50% of commercial banks and about 40% of
government-owned companies are criminally-controlled. The most
crime-ridden spheres are the oil, gas, coal and metallurgical industries.
Katyshev singled out Primorye region where the damage caused by the
illegal extraction of sea products is estimated at $4 billion.
He quoted experts as saying that criminal elements from Russia and the
CIS keep over 5 billion Swiss francs in Swiss banks alone.
Besides, the true bank accounts of Russians are 3-4 times greater than
the official banking statistics.
Katyshev said Russia had 78 large organized criminal communities which
fall into almost 1,500 smaller gangs numbering over 10,000 people.
Tourism Official Says Russia not Dangerous to Visitors
Moscow, December 25 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia is not a country dangerous
for foreign tourists, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Physical
Culture and Tourism Sergey Shpylko said at a news conference at the Central
House of Correspondents on Friday [25 December] with a reference to experts
of the World Tourist Organization, Interpol and the World HealthOrganization.
The experts had attended an international seminar in Vladivostok to
discuss the safety of tourism against the background of the crime rate,
terrorism, natural and technogenic catastrophes and other hazards.
According to the World Tourist Organization, only 3 percent of European
tourists encountered a crime, mostly thefts and swindle in currency
exchange, during their foreign voyages.
Not a single tourist has died of terrorism or crime in Russia.
However, despite official indices, the world has an impression of Russia as
a country dangerous to be visited. That is much prompted by reports from
hotbeds.Shpylko called for doing everything to break the false stereotype. He
thinks that Russia should follow the example of foreign countries that aim
to create a favorable impression about their tourist industry and develop
the tourist market in all ways possible.