1 , 1999
This Date's Issues: 3000• 3001
Johnson's Russia List
1 January 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AFP: Russian minister seeks quick ratification for START II.
2. The Independent (UK): Phil Reeves, Of all the places in all the world,
the century had to pick this one. (Near the Bering Sea).
3. Christian Science Monitor: Charles King, Galloping lawlessness sweeps
former Soviet lands.
4. AFP: Democracy still struggles in southern Soviet rim.
5. St. Petersburg Times: Barnaby Thompson, On the box, down the tubes for
'98 TV. (Review of Russian TV).
6. Ira Straus: A Multilateral Nuclear Force: the alternative to Russia
building new missiles.
7. Ludmila Foster: Danzer/Lebed.
8. Mitchell Polman: More Lebed.]
Russian minister seeks quick ratification for START II
MOSCOW, Jan 1 (AFP) - First Deputy Prime Minster Yury Maslyukov vowed Thursday
he would undertake "active efforts" to persuade the Russian parliament to
ratify the START II nuclear disarmament treaty and begin work on a START III
in late January or early February.
"A rapid ratification of START II and a no less rapid implementation of
III would considerably strengthen strategic stability," Maslyukov was quoted
as saying by his spokesman, Anton Surikov.
The minister, Russia's economics chief, oversees the country's lucrative
The State Duma had been due this month to begin its first debate of the
pivotal treaty slashing the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States.
The US Congress approved START II in 1996 and both Washington and the
have been pressing the Communist- and nationalist-led Duma to follow suit.
But Duma deputies became outraged by recent US-led strikes against Iraq and
voted during a council session on December 22 not to debate the issue before
the end of the year.
START II sees cuts in US warheads to 3,500 and in Russia's stock to 3,000
while also forcing the Kremlin to eliminate its heavy multiple-warhead
Maslyukov said that Russia needs the treaty no less than the United States,
adding that ratifying the treaty would open the way for talks on a START III.
But nationalist lawmakers argue ratification of the treaty puts Russia in a
nuclear disadvantage compared to the United States and favor approval of a
new, more balanced START III version.
In his statement, Maslyukov said that START III should contain provisions
would prevent the reinstallation of decommissioned nuclear warheads on carrier
The Communist cabinet member added that it was essential to observe the 1972
Anti-Ballistic Misslie Treaty while work continues on both START accords.
Progress on the two START treaties would "completely conform to the
of strengthening the national security of the Russian Federation with minimum
expenditure," Maslyukov said.
The Independent (UK)
31 December 1998
[for personal use only]
Of all the places in all the world, the century had to pick this one
By Phil Reeves
This is where Time Present meets Time Past. A few score miles to the east,
across the frozen Bering Sea, lies the International Dateline, the United
States and yesterday. Head west across the tundra, and you also traverse back
in time through the 24-hour-sized segments that girdle the planet. There is no
later hour than here; this is the first time zone, one of its bleakest parts.
It is here, in Russia's far north-east, that in one year's time this
millennium will quietly slide into the next. Long before the citizens of
London, Paris and New York have gathered to toast the first few seconds of the
New Age, it will have dawned here on a world which, though permanently ahead
of the clock, is heading backwards.
Welcome to Chukotka, the meeting point between Asia and the West, a
size of France but which now has a smaller population that Reading. Welcome,
to be more precise, to Anadyr, the regional centre where we have arrived as
guests of the governor at the start of a four-day odyssey over the Arctic
lands which he seeks to rule.
When, on 1 January, 2000, the sun finally drags itself above the horizon
few sallow hours, it will illuminate these wide streets of ice, these dreary
apartment blocks, shacks on stilts, and empty steel containers (testimony to
the steady depopulation). In Fiji, New Zealand or Vanuatu, which share its
time zone, the next century's first view of the world will surely be idyllic -
but not here.
It is Saturday, but we are wondering where most of Friday went. On Thursday
evening we boarded our charter plane in Moscow - nine hours' flying time and
nine time zones away - and late Friday night we disembarked. Our party
comprises about a dozen Moscow-based journalists and a blonde, mink-wrapped
Moscow TV star called Aida Nevskaya, who seems to spend her time scouring the
empty landscape in search of fans, and who - bafflingly - has brought her
sunglasses with her. Some of the group say they caught a glimpse of the day
through the plane window, a red rag of light waved briefly at us from the
horizon. But most of Friday was lost.
So Saturday it is. Today our host, the governor, a stout and energetic man
called Alexander Nazarov, summons us to tell us about Chukotka's economic
prospects and problems. We are here because he is keen to attract
international investment in the gold industry, as his semi-autonomous region
has the second-largest reserves in Russia. He also reveals that he is planning
to erect an international hotel in Anadyr, where the world's media can stay
when they arrive to cover the opening of the millennium (the BBC is already
Later, he tells me that he has "big plans" for the special day. "We will set
the tone for the new millennium," he declares. He doesn't, however, give any
Certainly, the new hotel is a good idea. The current one is a run-down
affair where the governor's enthusiasm for the new millennium is not shared by
the staff. "We aren't interested," says Tanya Simkochova, 41, an
administrator. "We have more important worries." Like, for example, wages: she
hasn't been paid for four months.
Anadyr also needs a new restaurant. There are only two in town, one of which
is a gloomy little dive that calls itself a pizza house. Here I am given a
bun, with reindeer meat buried in it. Everyone eats reindeer here, even for
breakfast (it costs just over a dollar a kilo). The residents hang plastic
bags of it out of their apartment windows. In these temperatures, there's no
need for a freezer.
Max, a client of the pizza house, looks like a reindeer-eater. He is a human
tank with a tundra-like, quarter-inch haircut whose drink-fuelled desire to
speak English far outweighs the minor inconvenience that he doesn't know any.
But it is clear that the young man is not happy. "We - have - big - girls," he
says, gesturing at a table of women. Why, he asks - switching to Russian -
won't we dance with them?
So this, we can assume, is what New Year's Eve 1999 will look like in
At the end of the room, a solemn-faced man dressed like a Sixties Butlins
redcoat is playing the "Macarena" on electric guitar. Soon the big girls are
dancing hard, their feet thumping the worn floorboards.
Sunday: We set off in a 14-year-old Soviet AN-24 propeller plane north for
Egvekinot - an old Gulag town - and then on by a battered Mi-80 helicopter to
Konergin, a hamlet of 700 people mostly occupied by Chukchis.
History has been unkind to the Chukchis, the region's largest non-Russian
ethnic group. For centuries, they lived on the tundra, subsisting on reindeer
herding and hunting whale and walrus, while Russians, Americans, Britons and
other adventurers swept in and out in search of furs and gold. But the Soviets
decided to collectivise their herds (a task that they were still struggling to
accomplish by the Fifties) and put their children into boarding schools to
force-feed them with Moscow's ideology. Severed from their roots and
traditions, the Chukchis fell victim to drink and social despair. They are now
a favourite butt of Russian jokes - like the Belgians to the French.
There will be no pre-millennium tension here; no fretting about which
wear, or which party to go to. Here, like Anadyr, there are more pressing
matters, such as survival. Any Chukchi born today is not likely to make it
beyond four decades or so: average life expectancy has fallen to between 40
and 45. For most adults here, their experience of the next millennium is
likely to be fairly brief.
Monday: It is beyond comprehension that anyone should live in a place as
as this. The low hills and forests of central Chukotka are cloaked in a grey
haze of deep, deep refrigeration. It is like glimpsing the Ice Age. At minus
49 Celsius, the air is so cold that it scalds the lungs.
A rouble banknote held between the fingers turns brittle in seconds. A half-
eaten Mars bar turns so hard you can cut yourself with it. Touch a metal door
handle without gloves, and you hit the pain zone where the fingertips cannot
tell if they have been burnt or frozen.
We have flown west to Bilibino, 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The
11,000 residents (half the town's Soviet-era population) have various means of
keeping warm - we meet one woman wandering around clutching a hot water bottle
under her fur coat - but the main source of heat comes from a big concrete
atomic power station a few miles out of town.
You might think that Bilibino's residents are none too happy about living on
top of a nuclear station. Far from it. They like the plant. It guarantees them
heat and light, treasured services in an ice-world where nothing else is
certain. "You get used to it," says Ludmilla Dubina, a school librarian, who
has lived here 23 years. "It is better to live near an atomic station, and
have heat, than not to have any."
Vladimir Boiko, the local police chief, was living in Ukraine, his native
republic, when Chernobyl blew up in 1986; yet he, too, has nothing bad to say
about the power station. "What do I care? At least we're warm," he grins. And
that's true: Bilibino almost seems to revel in its round-the-clock heating: in
the foyer of the sports centre, there are lemon trees growing in pots.
The governor is keen to show off his nuclear plant, so we drive there across
the ice roads in Jeeps, their interiors lined with thick carpet to keep out
the cold. Within, it is smart, bright, clean and busy. The conference room,
where the acting director meets us to explain how his plant abides by
international safety standards, is adorned with plaques proclaiming its
excellence. These would have been more reassuring if several cameramen had not
managed to get into the reactor area, unescorted and unprotected, while the
governor's party and the staff gathered to toast each other with cognac.
The governor and his crew know they can get out of here. Vladimir
54, duty officer in the station's control room, moved to Bilibino 20 years
ago, and cannot afford to leave. "I came here as a young romantic, and ended
up a prisoner," he remarks. A prisoner trapped in an Arctic nuclear power
station, thousands of miles from anywhere. You can hardly make a worse start
to the new millennium than that.
Tuesday: You need to drink to keep warm, to keep your spirits up in this
twilight world. I entirely accept that. The climate here is so hostile that
its own football team, Spartak-Chukotka - the governor's pride and joy - is
based 5,000 miles away in Moscow for most of the year. But vodka for
breakfast? To be fair, there was a choice. Bottles of wine and beer also stood
on the table. Requests for soft drinks bring puzzled looks from the restaurant
In the back of Russia's beyond, they seem to drink even harder than they
Moscow. As we fly around the emptiness of the Arctic in our propeller plane,
like the court of a minor medieval potentate, the governor's band of
dishevelled aides crack open bottles of cognac and vodka and gobble down
chunks of frozen wild goose meat and sausage. Yesterday, several were so drunk
that they could barely get off the plane. The governor himself remains
restrained, pondering the mighty issues that face him.
This morning we board the AN-24 and fly to Pevek, a port and mining town
on the edge of the Arctic Ocean six decades ago by prisoners at the height of
Stalin's fanatical attempts to colonise the north. Thousands of people died in
It is minus 33 Celsius, but there is a brisk wind coming in from the frozen
sea that makes it seem even colder than Bilibino. We are walking along the
front when an old woman approaches my colleague, Will Englund from the
Baltimore Sun. "Cover your nose quickly!" she says. We notice that, although
we have only been outside for a few minutes, the tip of his nose has gone
bright white, the first sign of frostbite.
Every story here is a sad one. A group of municipal workers have been on
hunger strike for a fortnight because they haven't been paid for three and a
half years. "This town is quietly dying," says Alla Yevstigneyevna, 59, the
manager of a local grocery store. "It is an irreversible process."
And dying it surely is; the population of the surrounding area has fallen
34,500 in 1991 to 12,500 today, mirroring a fall that has seen Chukotka's
population shrivel to 90,000, half the size of a few years ago. The Soviets -
Russians, Ukrainians, Belarussians - are steadily moving out, abandoning the
landscape again to the Chukchis and reindeer and wolves. But leaving is
costly. Like everyone, Mrs Yevstigneyevna also wants to head for the real,
light, normal world. if only she could afford a flat somewhere else.
Ten years ago, when he first arrived, this town was fun, says Dr Alexander
Maslov. Like everyone, he was lured north by the promise of higher pay. At 32,
he is now chief doctor at the Pevek hospital. A few years back, he earned the
rouble equivalent of $1,000 a month, and had a big apartment. The streets
teemed with life on holidays. No more. His salary - delayed for months these
days, like everyone else's - is worth a fifth of what it once was. "What's
happening is very hard to bear," he says.
So hard that some people seem to be on the edge, grappling with total
breakdown. When we go to a bar, a middle-aged woman with bright peroxide hair
gives us - by way of a gesture of hospitality - a plate of sliced lemons to
eat. We return the compliment by buying her a bottle of Russian champagne.
A conversation starts, but within a few moments her mood changes from calm
urbanity to tears and anger. "God has forgotten this place!" she bellows,
trembling. "We gave everything to the Motherland! But we have nothing now!"
We leave, embarrassed, uneasy, eager now to end this odyssey of the Arctic,
unable to offer any suggestion, any hope that would help her, or the rest of
this abandoned place, to weather the first years of the new millennium.
Happy New Year, Chukotka. And - when it dawns - may the next century be far,
far better than the last.
Christian Science Monitor
December 30, 1998
[for personal use only]
Galloping lawlessness sweeps former Soviet lands
By Charles King
Charles King, a professor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown
University, wrote 'Nations Abroad: Diaspora Politics and International
Relations in the Former Soviet Union' (Westview Press, 1998).
The horrific murder of four foreign engineers in Chechnya earlier this month
emphasized an uncomfortable fact about the former Soviet Union: The real
threat to security in the region is not a return to authoritarian government,
but the lack of any government at all.
The three British citizens and a New Zealander, working in the north
republic for a British telecommunications company, were kidnapped by a Chechen
gang in October and held for ransom. During a bungled rescue, they were
These four now join a growing list of victims of the everyday violence that
has followed the collapse of the Soviet order, including the regular
kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder of local citizens as well as foreign
businessmen, aid workers, and peacekeepers. In Chechnya alone, some 111
hostages, many of them foreign, are currently being held for ransom.
Low-level violence has become endemic across the archipelago of anarchy
stretching from the Black Sea to Central Asia. After 1991, armed conflicts -
from local violence to full-scale war - destroyed the residual legitimacy of
local institutions after the end of communism. These disputes created new
security vacuums, ungovernable black holes into which money, drugs, weapons,
and people simply disappear. Recognized states are now not so much weak as
simply irrelevant. Average post-Soviet citizens have discovered what Angolans
and Afghans have known for a long time: In the absence of legitimate state
authority, personal security is a self-help game.
The inability of the state to guarantee the security of its citizens,
is not the only problem. Criminal entrepreneurs in these areas are learning
how to export their lucrative brand of privatized violence.
In response to the recent air strikes on Iraq, Chechen president Aslan
Maskhadov issued a statement threatening terrorist attacks against the US and
Last spring, the Trans-Dniester region in eastern Moldova, which declared
independence in 1990 and fought a brief secessionist war two years later,
announced that it has resumed production of small arms, a mainstay of the
region's economy during the Soviet period. Trans-Dniester-produced weapons
have found their way as far afield as Kosovo and Macedonia.
Abkhazia, whose mercenary army routed Georgian forces in 1993, has carved
an independent country both ungoverned and ungovernable. Abkhazia has become
an important transit zone for weapons, drugs, and the increasingly profitable
prostitute trade through the Turkish port of Trabzon, and from there to Europe
and the Middle East. Local powers oppose any outsiders who might call
attention to their business and have stepped up attacks on United Nations
personnel in the area.
In North and South Ossetia, Russian border guards seeking to police the
are regularly ambushed or find themselves in the middle of fire-fights between
rival Ossetian, Ingushetian, and Dagestani gangs.
Earlier this month in Tajikistan, the deputy chairman of the country's
National Bank was kidnapped, the latest in a string of killings and
disappearances linked to the lethal alliance of politics and transnational
crime spawned by that country's unresolved civil war.
Some degree of order has begun to emerge in these zones, but it is hardly
kind of order that Western governments should welcome. On the ground, de facto
countries are being forged. Trans-Dniester, Chechnya, and Abkhazia are set to
become a new generation of unrecognized rogue states that hold sham elections,
sign trade agreements, and teach new versions of history to schoolchildren.
But these formal accouterments of statehood are little more than masks for
illicit money-making, often at the expense of the people in whose name local
leaders tout their independence.
These post-Soviet black holes are rarely of major concern to Western
policymakers, who are focused on stopping hot wars in the Balkans and
preventing their outbreak elsewhere. But in an era of so-called new security
threats - from international terrorism to drug trafficking - these anarchic
zones are critical problems. And they are problems not easily solved by peace
agreements or peacekeepers. Cooperation among national police forces and
greater assistance to front-line countries around the Black and Caspian seas
are essential to checking the export of violence to other fragile states.
Interstate wars and large-scale ethnic conflict normally grab the headlines,
but it is low-level lawlessness that poses the greatest threat to security and
regional stability in the former Soviet south. Rogue regions are the real
legacy of Soviet communism, and their increasing propensity to export the
business of violence should be of central concern in the West.
Democracy still struggles in southern Soviet rim
ALMATY, Dec 31 (AFP) - When Kazakhs took to the streets in December 1986 to
protest Moscow's appointment of a Russian leader to their republic, some
western observers recognized it as the first crack in Soviet totalitarian
But 12 years later, as Kazakh voters get ready to choose a president in a
January 10 election that has been criticized for being far from fair and open,
it is clear that western-style democracy has yet to play a meaningful role in
the southern tier of former Soviet republics.
"There were great hopes that if full-fledged democracies would not bloom out
of Central Asia immediately, then at least the transition might be easier,
smoother and clearer," said Peter Eicher, deputy director of the Organisation
for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Office for Democratic
Institutions and Human Rights.
"That may not have been entirely realistic," he admitted.
Today, the 1986 Almaty uprising over the appointment of native Russian
Kolbin as Kazakhstan's party leader is viewed as an expression of
nationalistic fervor and not a sign that Kazakhstan was fighting for
Across Central Asia and the Caucasus, the masses remain mostly apolitical
the leaders have not shaken off Soviet-style tactics, local and outside
political observers say.
Kazakhstan, which has been unwavering in building a market economy, had been
seen as the last chance for democracy in the region.
But Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and those in power have made sure
his most able challengers, like former prime minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin,
were banned from the race.
Opponents have been denied access to the media and voters have been
"The reason why these presidential elections are so troubling is because the
trend in Kazakhstan had struck us as not so bad," Eicher said.
"There were a lot of positive elements, and then suddenly you have something
like this dropped on the top of it. It's got to color the view a little bit."
Kazakhstan is not the exception.
In October, Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev also was criticized for
intimidating voters and rigging the election to maintain his hold on power.
In Kyrgyzstan, the Constitutional Court, which is appointed by the
this summer overruled the two-term limit for presidents on a technicality,
this enabling incumbent Askar Akayev to run for a third term in 2000 as ruler
of what he calls "the Switzerland of Central Asia."
And democracy builders have practically given up on Uzbekistan and
Turkmenistan, where strong-men Islam Karimov and Saparmurat Niyazov have
created virtual police states and restored the Soviet-era practice of jailing
While the OSCE and the US government have led criticism of such practices,
stability is clearly valued by the West -- and especially by oil chiefs
concerned with holding prosperous ties with leaders like Aliyev, Nazarbayev
and Niyazov, analysts say.
"In (western governments') relations with Azerbaijan, economics have
Democratic development doesn't matter much," said Leila Aliyeva, an
independent Azerbaijani political analyst.
The lack of a mechanism to punish these governments when they fail to uphold
their international agreements is frustrating for local advocates of
democracy, said Mikhail Ardzinov, head of the Independent Human Rights
Organization of Uzbekistan.
"The influence on the democratisation process from the United Nations, the
OSCE, UNESCO and others and democratic states is too weak," he said.
Most observers agree that at worst, Nazarbayev, Aliyev and Akayev will only
suffer tarnished images abroad.
But few are tolling the death knell for democracy in Central Asia and the
Caucasus just yet.
In the Caucuses, democracy has taken "a few steps forward and a few steps
back," but Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia have "kept the basics of democracy
in an embryonic form," Aliyeva said.
The OSCE's Eicher said his organization will begin new projects in
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan next year and is currently negotiating an agreement
"We certainly haven't given up just yet," he said.
St. Petersburg Times
December 29, 1998
ARTS + FEATURES
On the box, down the tubes for '98 TV
By Barnaby Thompson
IN taking it upon myself to review the world of Russian television in 1998, I
am confident that many readers will heartily disagree with most, if not all,
of my choices. So I am going to chicken out even before I start by inviting
readers to submit their most popular and most hated programs in the almost
certainly vain hope that Russia's television executives will sit up and take
note. What follows, therefore, is mostly intended to spark fierce debate and
furious controversy over how the squared-eyed section of the population enjoys
wasting its spare time, and thus improve the quality of what will clog our
airwaves over the next twelve months. For 1998, ladies and gents, was not a
From a purely local point of view, Channel 5, St. Petersburg's only outlet
that broadcast nationally, was passed in 1997 by President Boris Yeltsin from
federal to local control, and replaced nationally by the new Kultura channel,
available everywhere in the country but here. In August, over 1,500 employees
were sacked from Channel 5 as the station was privatized, receiving a new
name, Peterburg, and a new management comprising City Hall, the Leningrad
Oblast and three banks, at least one of which is tied so closely to the
governor that neither can cook breakfast without the other. As one local
lawmaker put it, "Bureaucrats should not be allowed to make autonomous
decisions on matters of selling state property."
THAT was the good news. The bad news was, well, the news. With elections to
the Legislative Assembly looming in December, the channel became a weapon in
the battle for St. Petersburg's potential audience of 5 million viewers. And
when the rival Channel 11 dared to criticize the machinations of City Hall,
the latter teamed up with the Tax Police, the Security Services and the
Prosecutor General's Office to raid the offending station's offices, deny it
access to its transmitter, wage a press campaign and arrest its director (this
time Dmitry Roz hdes t ven sky).
And so to the airwaves themselves. What exactly, above and beyond all the
political shenanigans, did Russian television programmers see fit to present?
Perhaps the most controversial decision in the history of Russian television
came in late November, when RTR was forced temporarily to pull the plug on
Russia's favorite soap opera, "Santa Barbara." This provoked an uproar amongst
the good women of Moscow, who protested the decision with a demonstration
outside the offices of the state-owned television station.
Now, I have seen "Santa Barbara" on three different continents, and while
never-ending tale of love, lust and intrigue has thus far never forced me to
cancel so much as a dental appointment, it does indeed have an avid global
following. From Cruz, the unsmiling, steely-eyed private detective with a jaw
you could use to tunnel to Magnitogorsk, to C.K., the polygamous patriarch
with so many offspring he has to write their names down on the back of his
hand, the characters spin out an often unbelievable plot with a certain
panache. Rally on, babushki: Do you prefer the old Mason or the new?
In fact, an enormous amount of air time is taken up by imported Western
Two of them, "Melrose Place" and "Beverly Hills, 90210" have proved so popular
over the last twelve months that in both cases NTV Independent Television saw
fit to run to the end of the series and start all over again - twice, in the
case of Beverly Hills. (The most fascinating aspect of this was the
opportunity to see Luke "Dylan" Perry's manly stubble shoot back into his face
at the end of the series and start growing all over again.)
BUT whatever happened to promised "Maroseika 12," the Russian series about
sex, crime and intrigue that took its name from the address the Tax
Inspectorate's Moscow headquarters and targeted tax-evading Russians? Due to
start airing in this December, the eager viewing public has not heard a peep
about it since RTR unveiled production plans for the 16-series soap last
A similar fate has also befallen "Señora," the first Russian-made soap opera
(also with a Latin American theme) that Lenfilm was due to start releasing in
early 1999. Given the near-liquidation of Lenfilm, the realization of "Señora"
looks about as distant as the lush plantations of Argentina.
So it was left to the smallish THT Broadcasting Network's "Ulitsa Razbitikh
Fonarei" ("The Boulevard of Broken Streetlights") to fly the home flag, which
it did rather well in a low-budget kind of way. A branch of Vladimir
Gusinsky's Media-MOST group, THT brought "Broken Streetlights" to airwaves in
January and won almost instant detective-thriller success with the program and
boosted its formerly faceless actors to star status.
SPEAKING of domestic products, over the years Russians have managed to
various gameshows - staple televisual diet of any country, anywhere - which
are either fascinating or revolting. I recommend ORT's "Pole Chudes" ("Field
of Miracles,") for example, as an excellent weight-loss therapy, although its
compere, Leonid Yakubovich, has made quite decent film appearances. "Ugadai
Melodiyu" ("Name That Tune") on ORT Public Television should be renamed "Name
That Idiotic Costume," but it must be said that emcee Valdis Pelsh lacks
nothing in professionalism - although his pop video to the tune of his show
was truly horrendous. "Chto? Gde? Kogda?" ("What? Where? When?") - the
intellectuals versus members of the public battle-of-wits contest, also on ORT
- however, is strangely compelling, partly because a consistently victorious
team stands to make a pile of cash, while the weeping losers never appear on
the show again.
YEVGENY Kiselyov and NTV's "Itogi" ("Summary") have continued to lead the
field of political analysis programs - which hasn't been too hard this year,
since much of the competition is pretty stale. One need only look at the
decline of Channel 11's "Sobytiye" ("Events") to understand the point. The
main event of the year for men like the mustachioed Kiselyov, however, has
been the open feud with the Communist Party. On the eve of the Nov. 7
anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Communist Duma Deputy Alexander
Kuvayev singled out Kiselyov and other commentators and accused them of
"collaboration with the regime in its crimes against society." The TV bosses
countered by saying the Party was "outside the ethical laws of the civilized
world." And the battle continues...
But while Kiselyov has been sporting his mustache on the box for years,
another TV strongman has been less fortunate: Housewives' favorite Sergei
Dorenko - the one with the subsonic drawl and the heavy eyelids - was pulled
from his job anchoring ORT's nightly "Vremya" after only three months. But
longevity is not Dorenko's forte. Throughout his long career he has worked for
ORT, NTV, RTR, TV6 and Ren TV (amongst others) and has never stayed in one
spot for more than two years.
But at last it befalls me to nominate the best and worst of 1998. TV 6's
"Dezhurnaya Chast" - that untranslatable cop show in which a documentary-type
cameraman shadows Russia's fearless law enforcers - got on my nerves more than
once for its voyeurism masquerading as on-the-spot journalism. "Russky Boi"
("Russian Fight-out") - which takes the "Gladiators" formula and pumped in
extra testosterone, pitting city police forces against OMON - was the most
ridiculous thing I've ever seen with a remote control in my hand. A passing
index finger should be waved at the television companies who either ignore or
slavishly copy each other's schedules, with the result that "Terminator" has
been on about six times this year.
ON THE other hand, I shall miss Regional TV's crisis-victim "Tele magazin"
("Teleshopping") terribly, selling moronic gadgets like the Buttmaster and the
Sticky Roller flogged at vast expense to gullible New Russians. The irreverent
NTV's "Segodnyachko" ("Today") and its eccentric crew have brought cheer to
many a gloomy night, even if I didn't always understand what those who phoned
in were talking about. "Kukly" (NTV's version of Britain's political spoof
show "Spitting Image") is usually a bit of a mystery to non-Russians, but I
did enjoy their excellent adaptation of Hamlet.
But for the so-bad-it's-good accolade, my vote goes to RTR's sad, tired and
aging "Sam Sebe Rezhissyor" ("Be Your Own Director"), whose occasional
snippets of homemade merriment cannot compensate for listening to the name of
the sponsors thirty-eight times a minute, and the pathetically boxy car
offered as the star prize. I am assured that this used to be good
entertainment. They should have quit while they were ahead.
From: Strakh@aol.com (Ira Straus)
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998
Subject: A Multilateral Nuclear Force
A Multilateral Nuclear Force:
the alternative to Russia building new missiles
by Ira Straus
Dr. Straus is U.S. Coordinator of the Committee on Eastern Europe and Russia
in NATO, and was Fulbright professor of international relations and politics
at the Russian State University of the Humanities in 1997-98.
Russia's Christmas-time announcement that it will produce a new
nuclear missiles, the Topol-M, has to rank as one of the greatest follies of
the post-Cold War period. It is folly not only because Russia can ill afford
it. It is folly not only because it will promote - is already promoting - a
revival of Cold War suspicions. It is folly above all because the missiles are
being built for the sake of maintaining a deterrence balance vis-a-vis the
United States, that is, for the sake of an old Cold War need, not for the sake
of any needs vis-à-vis the real potential threats faced by Russia - China,
Islamic regimes, and Russia's own internal instability and insolvency.
Ironically, the West has done its part in creating this folly. The new
construction follows directly from - is almost mandated by - the START II
treaty, which requires getting rid of MIRVed missiles and indicates that their
replacements, up to the specified limits, are to be single-warhead missiles
like the Topol-M.
START II is premised on the continuation of Mutual Assured Destruction
Russia and America. This relation has been inherited from the Cold War.
Rightly dubbed "MAD" in its time, it has grown much madder since the end of
the Cold War. START II does nothing to change it; indeed it helps perpetuate
it. START II is not entente or positive collaboration; it is just more détente
- mutual restriction, arms control, regulation of the enemy relationship,
stabilization of the adversarial balance, maintenance of mutual deterrence.
In the START II context, no one should be surprised that, if Russians
get rid of their strongest MIRVed missiles, they will go ahead - no matter how
hard it is for them to afford it - with producing single-warhead missiles to
replace them. They are playing precisely by the rules and reasoning we have
set up for them.
There has got to be a better way.
There is in fact a way out of the folly of the new nuclear construction; it
goes by way of getting out of MAD itself. For this, no amount of détente will
suffice; what is needed is entente, or integration Russian forces with
American and Western forces.
This is a lesson which we were supposed to have learned from history. It was
the strategic integration of Germany through NATO that finally overcame the
old entrenched situation of mutually adversarial military plans and
preparations between France and Germany. It was the absence of integration
that left the underlying adversarial situation intact in the 1920s, despite
the defeat and suppression of German military forces. We did it right in the
1950s because we had learned our lesson from the 1920s.
But when it came to Russia in 1991, we acted as if we were back in 1919
without having learned a thing. We faced a structural enmity - MAD - even more
dangerous than the old Franco-German enmity. We faced a Westernizing
revolution in Russia no less daring, and no less in need of validating
integration from the West, than the German revolution of 1918. Yet, lacking an
adequate plan of integration, we proceeded in many respects to treat Russia
as France had treated Germany after 1918: as a country to be restricted,
disarmed, surrounded, kept at arms' length; in a word, kept in the role of
adversary. Under President Bush and his National Security Adviser, Brent
Scowcroft, the U.S. retreated from the visionary ideas of President Reagan and
reverted to a Kissingerian strategy: détente, meaning skillful management and
moderation of the enemy relation. There it remains today.
In the minds of most people, the mutual threats of nuclear destruction faded
out with the end of the Cold War, which also brought an end to the apocalyptic
public debates about the arms race. A strategic partnership was proclaimed in
place of enmity. Mr. Yeltsin showed at least a rudimentary understanding that
the old deterrence relation ought to end, making public gestures about
"detargeting" Russian missiles. But the old targets can be re-entered in 40-80
seconds' time. Meanwhile mutual deterrence has remained the basis of nuclear
planning and weapons preparations. And deterrence has actually grown more
dangerous, not less, since 1991: the old Soviet system of command and control
has decayed, and a fraying Russian military has come to rely more and more on
its nuclear arsenal.
The enthusiasm for building a fundamentally new relation was powerful in
1991-2 and could have swept away the Cold War wholesale, but it was
squandered; the Bush-Scowcroft team fought against any "euphoria" or dramatic
changes, and proceeded on a basis of retail adaptation or "status quo plus".
Today, a new effort will be needed to get off the dead center of mutual
deterrence. It will not be as easy as before, but fortunately it is still
feasible. On both sides there are powerful new national interests in favor of
doing it - on top of the mutual interest in getting out from under the
constant risk of nuclear annihilation.
For the West, nuclear integration is the only realistic way of getting the
loose nukes under safe control; current methods, which focus on disarming
Russia, have for obvious reasons run into resistance. For Russia, integration
of forces with the West is a much better option than the present miserable
choices - either (a) build expensive new missiles and still end up inferior,
or (b) reduce to very low levels under START II-III and sink back to the
status of a Third World power (and in both cases continue to run the risks of
disintegration, local seizures of nuclear forces, and sales to third
Integration would amount to investing Russian missiles into a safe jointly-
controlled structure. This is not only in Russia's enlightened interest, but
in its Realpolitik interest: it would be a way for Russia to preserve its
importance in the world, which otherwise is bound to go on declining, and to
avoid bankrupting itself in the process.
Russia would for the first time gain its full share of influence, not as an
alien force or enemy of the West, but as a part of a powerful joint structure.
If Russia hopes to maintain its influence, it needs to invest its forces in
such a manner quickly, before they can decline much further. National dignity
could be perpetuated through the joint force, without perpetuating the
needless risks of mutual deterrence against Russia's fellow European
By investing its forces into a jointly managed force, Russia would preserve
even its great power status, but in a new form - as a power that is integrated
into collaboration with the West, rather than fixed in an unhealthy role of
anti-Western deterrence. This would work wonders for Russia's attempts at a
democratic identity and at stabilization. By contrast, the perpetuation of
mutual deterrence has had the effect of forcing Russia's core security
institutions back into an adversarial posture toward the West, with the
unhealthy consequences we are seeing for the Russian state identity.
A multilateral nuclear force (MLF, as it is called in NATO jargon) would be
fairly easy to start on a small scale. It could be begun in an unthreatening
pragmatic way, by assigning a fraction of Russian and American nuclear forces
to a joint Russia-U.S. or Russia-NATO command and control. This would not
require any leap of faith in good relations; it requires at most that both
sides recognize - as they have already done ever since 1991 - that they have
some basic strategic interests in common, and no inherent reason for remaining
enemies. Like the START II reductions, it would leave the main national forces
intact; what it would add is a token that the option of partnership is kept
open. With the joint structure in place, there would always be the option of
gradually assigning more forces to it, thereby taking more weapons out of the
business of threatening one another.
The joint controls on the joint arsenal would ensure from the start that its
weapons could never be used aggressively against one another (even if, for an
interim period, there might be a jointly-controlled form of deterrence of both
parties, in order to deal with residual threats and avoid escalation in cases
of accidental or third party launches). The doctrine for the joint force would
be planned jointly. The resulting new joint nuclear doctrine would no longer
focus on mutual deterrence, but on deterrence against outside potential
threats. This joint doctrine would be more relevant to future needs than the
old Cold War doctrine of mutual deterrence, and would probably sooner or later
supplant it completely.
Once the MLF was created, external pressures and mutual interests would
- as long as overall Russian-American relations remained steady - the
assignment of more and more Russian and American missiles to it. Eventually no
separate forces might remain. Then mutual deterrence, with all its dangers,
would finally be ended. Russian missiles could no longer threaten America.
American missiles could no longer threaten Russia. The Cold War would finally
be completely over.
Overall international security would gain as well. Nuclear proliferation
be reversed for the first time in history. If Britain and France joined in the
MLF, as would be likely at some stage, it would roll four nuclear forces into
one. Prevention and reversal of proliferation in the South would become much
easier, given the end of nuclear competition in the North and the re-securing
of the Russian arsenal.
Several further possibilities would open up, satisfying both Left and Right:
deeper nuclear cuts and de-alerting of offensive nuclear weapons, and a
defensive BMD or ABM. These would be "accessory options": they are in no sense
inherent in an MLF, but would be made far more feasible by it, since (1) the
MLF's huge margin of superiority over all external arsenals would make it easy
to reduce offensive nuclear weapons sharply, and to remove the remaining ones
from short alert status; and (2) the MLF would simply eliminate the problem of
maintaining mutual Russia-West deterrent balances in the course of BMD
deployments. Meanwhile the MLF would give us, for free, an instant doubling of
the nuclear forces on our side (to be sure, under more cautious control, but
the safer for that), while reducing the external nuclear arsenals that could
threaten us to a mere fraction of their former strength.
The security reasons for forming an MLF are compelling: to end the ongoing
threat of annihilation, to establish safe controls over the Russian arsenal,
and to halt and reverse proliferation. But in the end, it may be budgetary
considerations that will finally lead to action. A multilateralization of
nuclear arsenals is a darned attractive alternative, especially when it is
compared to the present plans, which come down to this: spending vast sums of
money on building new versions of the present separate national arsenals, on
the argument that this way they will be slightly more stable and less risky in
their mutual balance.
Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998
From: "Ludmila A. Foster" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
David: I was surprised to see as many reactions on JRL to John Danzer's
article on Gen. Lebed. Indeed, there is a lack of information about him
in the Russian press. It seems to me that the reason for it is that the
major Russian news media are owned by a few "oligarchs" who exerice a
much tougher censorship over them than the late Glavlit did during
Soviet times. May I suggest that those who are interested, read Lebed's
own web papge at: www.alebed.org (in Russian). His press office does not
do a good job of updating the news, but the letters in the "Guest book"
are very intersting. Also, my own review of Lebed's programmatic book
"Ideologiya zdravogo smysla" should appear in the Winter issue of the
Washington-based journal "Demokratizatsiya."
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.
Subject: more Lebed
From: email@example.com (Mitchell L Polman)
Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998
Lebed reminds me a lot of Ronald Reagan. Part of his talent lies in an
ability to be self-effacing and ready to admit to what he doesn't know.
This strikes many as dumb, but I think we need to recognize that this
makes him a "breath of fresh air" to Russians. He could conceivably
turn-out to be precisely a "hard pragmatist" that is willing to listen to
others and delegate responsibility, which is what Russia needs. Lebed
also seems to me to be every bit as incorruptible that he claims. Is it
any wonder that he is popular with the people? I was not a fan of
Reagan's, but I often found myself in the strange position of defending
him to foreigners because I felt they had a very parochial view of him.
Foreigners never understood Reagan's appeal to the American people
because they didn't understand the times in America. I'm afraid many of
us may be doing the same thing with Russia and Lebed......then again,
maybe he is dangerous.
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