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CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List
 

 

January 2 , 1999    
This Date's Issues: 3002  




Johnson's Russia List
#3002
2 January 1999
davidjohnson@erols.com

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Newsday: Anatol Lieven, U.S. Can't Do Much About the Russian Economy.
2. The Guardian: Tom Whitehouse, Russia seeks solace in last shopping
trip.

3. Reuters: Iraq brings troubled U.S.-Russia ties to fore.
4. Reuters: Russia seeks swift updating of CFE arms treaty.
5. Argumenty i Fakty: Characters in Yeltsin's Entourage.
6. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Russia's abused children suffering grim
neglect.

7. Argumenty i Fakty: Immunity Guarantees for Yeltsin.
8. Itar-Tass: Lebed Acclaims Russia-Belarus Union.
9. Itar-Tass: Foreign Spies Interested in Krasnoyarsk, Lebed Activities.
10. AP: Russian Artist Depicts Miseries.
11. The Guardian: Tom Whitehouse, A Russian family's values: expect 
nothing and forget about tomorrow.

12. The Times (UK) editorial: People of the Century. CONSCIENCE OF THE 
EIGHTIES. Sakharov, physicist and brave canary in the Soviet cage.] 


*******

#1
Newsday 
December 29, 1998
[for personal use only]
U.S. Can't Do Much About the Russian Economy
By Anatol Lieven. Anatol Lieven, strategic comments editor at the
International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, is the author
of "Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power." 

THE DANGER of the disintegration of Russia, the world's largest country,
with tens of thousands of nuclear warheads, is enough to worry anyone.
But the question is: What can we do about it?
Most of our recent Russia policy has been not only useless but
harmful, and there are worrying signs that the Clinton administration,
at least, has still not really learned from those mistakes. Complicating
matters, of course, is that Russia opposed the recent bombing of Iraq
and recalled its Washington ambassador. But no one expects this to lead
to a serious break in relations. More troubling, though, is Washington's
misguided approach to Russia's internal problems.
Rapid privatization of the Russian economy - urged by countless
western policymakers - has been disastrous. It has produced a
monstrously corrupt process in which the state received a pittance in
return for abandoning control over its most important sources of
revenue. These resources were transferred to various magnates, most of
whom have spent the last few years transferring the profits to the West,
without reinvesting a single ruble in their own industries.
Meanwhile, much of our economic advice was irrelevant. As a recent
article by Clifford Gaddy and Barry Ickes makes clear in Foreign
Affairs, the Russian economy, to almost the same extent as the former
Soviet economy, is based upon principles that have very little in common
not just with a market economy but with a modern cash economy.
The foundation of the entire system is a mixture of barter and a
conspiracy to inflate the paper worth of goods and services. The real
hard cash - that is, foreign currency - needed to keep the economy
tottering along is provided by the export of raw materials and some
weapons. A sharp drop in the international price of oil paved the way
for the financial catastrophe that followed.
The problem is that the different parts of this economic system are
so intertwined that the price of trying to pull it to pieces and impose
western market discipline on the economy might well be a social and
political explosion, which the West most wants to avoid.
Westerners' advice, like that given by President Bill Clinton in
Moscow, urging Russians to "stick to the path of reform," sounds
positively surreal. The only justification the West would have for
giving such advice would be if it could make huge amounts of aid
available. Asking western parliaments and electorates to go along with
this, after what has happened to the aid so far, would be simply
grotesque. In any case, for years to come in Russia there can be no talk
of economic "reform," but only of more or less (or more likely, less and
less) successful emergency measures aimed at damage control. The Russian
state is too weak to implement such reforms, and given the international
climate, whatever Moscow does, major foreign direct investment will not
be forthcoming.
Unfortunately, what we can do is to make things worse in two ways.
First, we can oppose some of the things that the Russian state really
needs to do and would be justified in doing: above all, partial
renationalization of the oil companies. This would set off howls of
protest in the West and much foolish talk of a "return to the Soviet
Union," but it would be a highly useful step, both from the point of
view of raising revenue and - it is to be hoped - of later selling
stakes in these companies to foreign conglomerates, if the state's need
for cash were great enough. Second, as Boris Yeltsin stumbles to his end
and new presidential elections loom, we can get into the business of
backing one candidate against the others.
With hindsight, this policy was a mistake even in 1996. Even if the
Communists had won then, they could hardly have done more damage to the
economy than has occurred since. A Communist-appointed government in
1996 would probably have looked very similar to the one headed by Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov today. Besides, there is a lot to be said for
forcing the Communists to take responsibility for economic decline, and
thereby helping to destroy any nostalgic support for them in the
population.
Certainly, there is no argument whatsoever for the West to choose
sides. Instead, we must use our influence to support the democratic
process as such, even if, for example, this produced a Communist
victory. The system created by Yeltsin has not been truly democratic,
but it has been (excluding October, 1993) peaceful, and this internal
peace should be our principal goal. We should go on giving aid and
engaging with Russia whenever it is in our interest to do so,
irrespective of the Russian government and its policies.
This approach means encouraging and helping Russia to reduce its
nuclear stockpiles, and supporting measures to improve public health and
the environment. Obviously, we have to go on either pressuring or
cajoling Russia when its actions are against U.S. interests, as with the
proposed sale of missiles to Cyprus. But we can also work together with
Russia where we have similar interests, for example with regard to
Afghanistan and terrorism. In other words, we can treat Russia as we do
India - an irritating country with which we have to deal, but neither
a major enemy power nor a society we can hope to change radically by our
own actions or influence. More than this we cannot do and should not
try. We have done enough harm already.

******

#2
The Guardian
January 1, 1999
[for personal use only]
Russia seeks solace in last shopping trip 
By Tom Whitehouse in Moscow 

If you've got it, spend it. That was the attitude of Muscovite shoppers
yesterday as they rushed to buy presents, champagne and vodka as if roubles
were going out of fashion. 
They are probably right. With three-figure inflation expected to further
devalue pensions and salaries in 1999, Russia's traditional new year binge
makes economic sense.
"I'm afraid to save. It's better to spend," said Alexandra Korchagina, a
67-year-old pensioner, who spent a quarter of her 300 rouble ( 10) monthly
pension on a toy gun for her grandson.
"Who knows what will happen this year? If prices again rise threefold, my
money will be worthless. Anyway, even if 1998 was bad, we have to see it off
in a good way."
Most Russians stick to Soviet habits and give presents at New Year rather
than
at next week's Orthodox Christmas. Ms Korchagina has already had her best
present: her pension was actually paid on time last month With a seasonal spin
of the rouble printing presses, the finance ministry gave millions of
pensioners, soldiers, miners and teachers some of the pensions and wages they
are owed. Inevitable inflation is a sacrifice the government is apparently
prepared to make for some temporary voter satisfaction.
The middle and upper classes, whose love affair with money was brought to an
abrupt end by the August rouble crash, are also doing their best to ignore the
impending doom of 1999.
"At New Year we have to pretend that nothing has changed. You have to buy
something. Even if you lost your job and can't afford it," said Grigory
Balzer, owner of World of New Russians, a shop which sells expensive lifestyle
accessories.
The road to a Turkish-owned hypermarket in north-west Moscow has been jammed
with bargain-hunters by the Lada-full. Shoppers have been queueing for up to
an hour to stock up on cheap provisions for the long holiday weekend. Sales of
domestic vodka are up this year, but only because the Finnish and Swedish
brands that Russians prefer are now too expensive. People have also been
buying smaller Christmas trees.
Companies hiring out actors to play Grandfather Frost - Russia's
equivalent to
Santa Claus - have been destroyed as fathers save money and don his red or
blue gown instead.
Perhaps the most important present this year is American food aid, which
according to the the agriculture minister, Gennady Kulik, should arrive before
the end of January.
Moderation has never been a Russian habit. But this year there are
especially
good reasons to seek oblivion in drink. According to a poll released
yesterday, only 1 per cent of Russians expect life to get better in 1999

*******

#3
Iraq brings troubled U.S.-Russia ties to fore
By Carol Giacomo

WASHINGTON, Jan 1 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was
almost exuberant when she announced in December plans for a trip to Moscow
that would launch, after much delay, U.S.-Russia talks on deeper cuts in long-
range nuclear arms. 
Then, a week later, the United States unleashed a four-day aerial
bombardment
of Iraq, fanning new tensions with Russia, one of Baghdad's key traditional
defenders. 
As a result, U.S. officials say the arms negotiations are again on hold and
Moscow has cancelled a major military exercise with NATO set for next June. 
These officials assert that the political fallout over Iraq -- which
included
Russia's brief recall of its ambassador from Washington -- was not as bad as
they feared. 
Even as Russian leaders erupted publicly in outrage over the bombings,
Moscow
privately told Washington it did not want to do irreparable harm to bilateral
ties, officials say. 
One sign is that Albright's trip to Russia will go forward, on Jan 25-27.
Another is last Wednesday's telephone call between President Bill Clinton and
Russian President Boris Yeltsin. 
In fact, Moscow cannot allow relations with the United States to completely
deteriorate, even if its political leaders were inclined to do so. Russia's
economy is in disastrous shape and Moscow is dependent on western loans and
other assistance. 
Nevertheless, experts view the Iraq episode as more proof of an increasingly
troubled relationship between the world's remaining superpower, the United
States, and the unravelling vestige, Russia, of its one-time adversary, the
Soviet Union. 
``Certainly things are significantly worse at the end of the year than they
were at the beginning,'' Professor Angela Stent of Georgetown University said
in assessing U.S.-Russia ties. 
She added: ``If you look at the upcoming year, it is hard to see avenues
where
we could revitalise the relationship, unless the Russian government itself is
prepared to go further in the area of economic reform.'' 
Iraq brings into sharp relief all of Russia's massive and worsening
economic,
political and military weaknesses. 
Despite long-time close ties to Iraq, and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's
personal friendship with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Moscow was unable to
persuade Baghdad to comply with U.N. weapons inspections that would have
obviated air strikes. 
Nor was Moscow able to persuade the western allies to forgo the strikes or
even bring this issue to the U.N. Security Council, the major international
decision-making table where Russia has a vote -- and a veto. 
U.S. officials, who insist the Russians understood well in advance that
military action would result if Iraq did not comply with U.N. weapons
inspections, say Washington has worked hard to help preserve the ``fig leaf''
of Moscow's now-shredded ``co-equal status'' in world affairs. 
``We have an interest in doing that but not when it cuts across our own
sense
of national security,'' one official said. 
There is no question the Clinton administration, once a huge booster, has
sobered on the post-Cold War Russia as an ailing Yeltsin disengaged from
governing and the country shifted significantly from reform. 
In a November speech, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott gave dramatic
public vent to this view. He slammed Moscow's retreat from free-market
economics and warned bluntly that financial decline could lead to ``political
drift, turmoil and even crackup'' in the world's second nuclear power. 
He also warned that help from the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund
would be on hold until Russia made the hard structural adjustments needed for
recovery and growth. 
In a recent analysis, James Duran, a Russian history professor at Canisius
College, rendered an even bleaker view. 
He accused Yeltsin, after seven years in power, of failing to establish
economic or political stability in Russia. This has ``profound implications''
for U.S. security policy, he said. 
During a continuing 10-year recession, Russia's gross domestic product has
fallen to levels about equal to that of Germany or Japan by the end of World
War II, he said. 
Russia's parliament last week passed an austere 1999 draft budget, key to
new
IMF aid and restructuring the foreign debt. 
U.S. officials say, however, the draft budget is ``only a start'' and even
tougher changes must be made. Economic reform will be a main focus of
Albright's trip to Moscow. 
Primakov's new conservative government ``is a coalition in a transition
period
heading toward the elections'' and there are several ways it can go, one U.S.
official told Reuters. 
``It can take the country backward, it can tread water and muddle through or
it can use the relatively high degree of national consensus, in the short run,
to push through some hard things'' and Albright will encourage option three,
he said. 
In Moscow, Albright will discuss Iraq and other regional issues; renew U.S.
pressure for Russia to halt nuclear and missile cooperation with Iran; renew
U.S. concerns about anti-Semitism in Russia and discuss new negotiations to
adapt the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, officials said. 
But launching Start-3 strategic arms reduction treaty talks, her original
goal, will not be on the agenda. The United States insists Russia's Duma first
ratify the Start-2 treaty, signed in 1993. 
The Duma was expected to finish Start-2 in December but delayed action after
the U.S. attack on Iraq. The issue is now on the calendar for spring, when
U.S. officials hope the climate will be more favourable for legislative
approval. 

*******

#4
Russia seeks swift updating of CFE arms treaty

MOSCOW, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Russia called on Saturday for swift progress in
efforts to update the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) agreement ahead
of NATO's planned eastward expansion later this year. 
Moscow is worried that NATO's admission of Poland, Hungary and the Czech
Republic, set for April, will radically alter the balance of power in Europe
to its disadvantage. 
``The Russian side believes that decisive progress at the negotiations
must be
achieved before the official admission of NATO's new members,'' the foreign
ministry said in a statement. 
Without such progress, it said, Russia would not have the right to conduct
full inspections of NATO forces on the territory of the new members. 
``This would jeopardise the very future existence of the present
Conventional
Forces in Europe agreement,'' it said, adding that Russia would then have to
take appropriate measures. 
The 30-nation CFE treaty limits the number of tanks, artillery pieces,
aircraft and other non-nuclear arms states can hold. The updated treaty would
replace the existing idea of a balance between NATO and now defunct Warsaw
Pact, which grouped the Soviet Union and its east European communist allies. 
The updated treaty would instead set individual national arms limits and
``territorial ceilings.'' 
Russia has fiercely criticised NATO's plans to admit former members of the
Warsaw Pact but has been powerless to prevent the expansion. 
Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic will formally join the North Atlantic
Treaty Organisation at a Washington ceremony in April timed to coincide with
NATO's 50th anniversary. 
Moscow has sealed a new partnership with NATO, the Founding Act, but remains
suspicious of Western policy in various parts of the world, most notably in
Iraq where it condemned the recent U.S.-British air strikes. 

******

#5
Paper Views Characters in Yeltsin's Entourage 

Argumenty i Fakty, No. 950
December 1998 (signed to press 28 Dec)
[translation for personal use only]
Unattributed article from the "Rumors" column entitled "New Year
Preparations in the Kremlin"; first paragraph, which is published in
italics, is an introduction, passages between slantlines are
published in boldface

The Yeltsins have a tradition. They celebrate New Year twice:
according to Moscow time and Sverdlovsk time. This year's celebrations
will be joined for the first time by the president's two young grandsons
Gleb and Ivan. The family usually gives Boris Nikolayevich something warm,
something for the house for New Year - a sweater or a cardigan. His
daughters Yelena and Tatyana like to experiment with cocktails for special
occasions. And when it is midnight in Moscow all members of the big family
usually take a bottle of champagne out to a Christmas tree in the garden. 
It was decided that the arrival of 1999 will be celebrated in Gorki-9 this
year. However, in spite of a popular saying that one spends the year the
way one starts it, the president seems to have no intention of staying on
in Gorki after New Year. At the beginning of January, the president will
have two meetings with heads of Russian republics and governors. He is
also expected to meet leaders of parties and movements. And at the end of
January he is expected to go to //France//, though just a month ago the
presidential administration clearly indicated that //Yeltsin// was not
expected to have any trips until the year 2000.
//Second coming of Yumashev//
//Valentin Yumashev// was spotted in the Kremlin last week after
returning from London. Valentin Borisovich looked cheerful, made a few
jokes and asked how the administration was doing. The Kremlin did not fail
to notice that //Valentin// had returned to his old style: jeans, a
sweater, a gold chain on the wrist and messy hair. Rumor has it that an
office not far from the president's office is almost ready for the new
freelance adviser. In the runup to New Year, the new head of the
presidential administration admitted he knew about the talk of his being
allegedly appointed to be "a kind of a whipping boy" and //Yumashev//
planning to form a shadow cabinet. "I have never been a whipping boy and
never will be, and Yumashev is not capable of intrigues," Bordyuzha said. 
Speaking about the government at a meeting with journalists, Bordyuzha
openly spoke about "his good relations" with Prime Minister //Yevgeniy
Primakov// and the head of the White House staff, //Yuriy Zubakov//, saying
that "they first met while working at the Lubyanka."
//What Yeltsin has on his mind//
Now just a few words about rumors which usually come true. They say
that, when //Boris Nikolayevich// recovered from his illness, he became
very cross with //Yuriy Luzhkov//, especially because during his foreign
trips the Moscow mayor said that the president may resign. //Boris
Yeltsin// does not forgive things like that. Rumor has it that he
instructed //Nikolay Bordyuzha// "to show Luzhkov his place". Television
may now start showing reports that not all is that brilliant in Moscow. At
the beginning of January, the president may meet //Aleksandr Lebed//, if
only just to hurt Luzhkov, who may compete against Lebed at the elections.
//Boris Berezovskiy// has turned out to be more cunning than //Yuriy
Luzhkov//. He, as we know, also said that the president may resign soon. 
But the CIS executive secretary found a way to show his repentance and
played a certain role in the signing of an agreement with //Belarus//. So,
he is recovering his position "at court". The point is that the president
needed the agreement with Belarus as a successful foreign policy move after
several major failures of this year, including the cancellation of foreign
visits and the bombardment of Iraq. Observers do not seem to be surprised
by the reappearance of //Viktor Chernomyrdin// on television screens or by
the fact that he is still being kept "afloat". It is not ruled out that
//Boris Nikolayevich// is keeping the former prime minister "stashed away"
until March. Some say that the economic situation will be particularly bad
in spring and the government will have to be replaced. But not much
attention is being paid to this right now because New Year is just round
the corner.

******

#6
Boston Globe
January 2, 1999
[for personal use only]
Russia's abused children suffering grim neglect 
Study describes minimal care received by orphaned, disabled
By David Filipov

TOMILINO, Russia - Dima Chesnokov has known more hardship in his seven years
than most people do in a lifetime.
His abusive, alcoholic father forced him and his sister to beg for money at
the local market. When Dima's mother died last year, his father's drinking
became worse. So did the daily beatings, as evidenced by the scars on the
boy's body. The family lost its home and moved into a barn. And when his
father drank faster than they could beg, he began killing stray dogs to feed
his children, until finally he abandoned them. 
Sadly for Dima, the shelter cannot keep him. He will probably not be adopted
by a Russian family and end up instead in Russia's notorious state orphanage
system, doomed to a life of ''deprivation and cruelty.''
That is how the New York-based Human Rights Watch described conditions for
many of the 200,000 children who live in Russian orphanages. In its report
released Dec. 17, it described state institutions as a ''gulag'' where
children suffer ''appalling levels of abuse and neglect.''
The situation has deteriorated since Russia's August economic collapse.
Federal funding has all but disappeared, and even facilities where children
are treated well are struggling to provide basic care. Despite promises to
improve the situation, the Russian government has tried to hide the problem. 
Dima still cannot tell his story with words. He draws the events of his
short,
tragic life using stick figures. His nightmare ended temporarily in October,
when he and his sister, both undernourished and suffering from dysentery, were
taken in by a shelter for abandoned and abused children in Tomilino, a suburb
10 miles east of Moscow. 
''I like it here,'' Dima said at the shelter last week, taking a break
from a
rollicking play session around the first New Year's tree he has ever had.
''They feed us real food and buy us toys. Nobody beats me with a rope, or a
knife or an ax.''
Human Rights Watch found evidence of punishment similar to torture and
brutal
hazing by older children at state institutions, home to 200,000 Russian
orphans and abandoned children. Some 30,000 children are summarily diagnosed
as ''invalids,'' ''imbeciles,'' or worse, ''idiots,'' deemed ineducable. They
are condemned to lives in dark isolation and never taught to walk or read,
according to the report. 
Kathleen Hunt, its author, recently told reporters that even abandoned
children deemed ''normal'' by the state may be beaten, locked in freezing
rooms, tied to furniture for days at a time, or sexually abused. 
''The reaction of the Russian authorities to the critique of their
orphanages
has been to block access to the institutions; punish or threaten to fire
workers if they speak about abuses; and, in some instances, pardon those who
are responsible for the wrongdoing,'' the Human Rights Watch report said. 
The destructive legacy of such treatment is clear. Of the 15,000 children
who
leave orphanages each year, one in three ends up homeless or unemployed, said
Hunt. One in five commits a criminal offense. One in 10 commits suicide. 
The report arrives at a time when the number of abandoned children in Russia
has doubled over the past three years to some 600,000, according to government
figures. Financial hardship and alcoholism have contributed to increasing
instability of Russian families. And Russian maternity wards persuade parents
to give up children with even mild or operable birth defects. 
That policy has a bitter irony. It costs the Russian government $300 a month
to keep children considered disabled in institutions that Boris Altshuler,
director of the Moscow-based nonprofit group Children's Rights, calls
''graveyards for hopeless children.''
Yet families, where the children would be treated far better, receive only a
$50 allowance from the state for care for their disabled children, he added. 
Poor families with older children give them up when they decide they cannot
cope. 
''I can tell how bad things are by the way families are starting to ask
us to
take their children,'' said Irina Abramova, director of the small Tomilino
shelter. She says her colleagues at shelters in Moscow are experiencing the
same phenomenon. ''Families in Russia are falling apart. If we don't take
measures to prevent the destruction of families, we won't be able to build
enough orphanages,'' she warned. 
Abramova's facility has room for 20 children, but 37 live there now.
Children
are not supposed to stay in her care longer than six months. But some have
been there for several years. 
The reason is that Abramova does whatever she can to keep children from
entering orphanages. This involves a lengthy search for the child's real
parents. Sometimes, people claim to be the parents of a child when they are
not. Alisa, 3, a somber redhead who cannot shake a case of pneumonia, was
brought to the shelter by a woman who stole her from her real mother to make
her begging more lucrative. 
Reuniting children with their parents sometimes is impossible. Abramova says
50 percent of her wards have been sexually abused by adults. In some cases,
parents forced their grammar school-aged children into prostitution. 
''I could not imagine that people could treat children like that,'' Abramova
said. 
For Abramova, success is the family agreeing to take the children back. She
says in 40 cases since the shelter opened in 1993, alcoholic, drug-dependent,
or abusive parents have ''rehabilitated'' themselves and reclaimed their
children. 
More often, this does not happen. If Abramova cannot find a suitable
relative
or an adopting family, she has to give the children up. Adoption is difficult,
she explains, because many children suffer from chronic illnesses or
behavioral disorders because of the treatment they received before entering
the shelter. 
''No one in Russia will take them,'' Abramova said. ''Russian families
aren't
prepared for children with problems.''
Abramova tries to help children cope with their problems using specially
trained child psychologists. The children go to school. For some, like Dima
Chesnokov, they are in classrooms for the first time in their lives. All
children are encouraged to keep scrapbooks in which they can put pictures of
their parents in better days, or drawings and stories of happy times at home. 
''It helps restore the children's self-esteem when they know they have
roots,'' Abramova said. 
But her shelter is suffering from the crisis. Salaries are minuscule;
Abramova
earns $50 a month. Funding is nonexistent. The shelter used to get 12 rubles
per child each day for food from the state. That was 50 cents before the
August crisis, about 17 cents today. And the state has not paid since
September. The shelter survives on charity. But acts of kindness are the
exception rather than the rule. 
''You know, I love my country, but our best intentions in Russia always come
down to finances,'' Abramova said. ''We used to live by the motto `the best
for the children.' Now we are left with only a motto.''

*******

#7
Article Examines Immunity Guarantees for Yeltsin

Argumenty i Fakty, No. 950
December 1998 (signed to press 28 Dec)
[translation for personal use only]
Vitaliy Tseplyayev article in the "Analysis" column entitled
"Who will provide a nice get-out for the president"; first
paragraph, published in italics, is an introduction, passages within
slantlines are published in boldface; article is illustrated by a
photo of Yeltsin

This man has unlimited power and enjoys truly paradisiacal living
conditions. He is guarded by 650 heavies, and his limousines never have to
stop at traffic lights. He can live in any of his five luxury
residencies, eat the best possible food, and be treated by the world's top
medical experts. But the day will come when citizen //B.N. Yeltsin// is
going to lose almost all those privileges and his fate will be in the hands
of the next Russian president. And that president may wish some unpleasant
things for Yeltsin. For example, his state dacha and car could be taken
away. Any Kremlin boss will have this "threat" hanging over him until
//Russia passes a law guaranteeing the former head of state peace of mind
during his retirement//. At the beginning of September, when the political
crisis was at its peak, the Communist faction in the Duma started to work
on a package of guarantees for Boris Yeltsin. The opposition knew that it
would never topple the president unless it provided something soft for the
president to fall on. Even if he agrees to resign, he will never have the
courage to retire for fear of something happening to his family. Even when
the crisis eased, the problem of guarantees remained. Knowing how
determined Yeltsin is, it is difficult to imagine that he can leave the
Kremlin in the year 2000 and run the risk of being "a scapegoat".
Don't forget to support your former patron
The State Duma is currently examining two draft laws on the same
subject. The author of the first one, Viktor Zorkaltsev, is talking about
giving the former president the status of //life member of the Federation
Council//, providing him with deputy's immunity. And he is also to enjoy
membership of the Security Council. The deputy chairman of the Duma,
Mikhail Yuryev, has a different solution to the problem. His draft says:
"No criminal, administrative or any other proceedings can be instituted
against those who held the post of Russian president. They cannot be
detained, arrested or subjected to a search." Yuryev and Zorkaltsev differ
in their assessment of how much material wealth the former president should
enjoy. Yuryev proposes that Yeltsin's income should be the same as his
salary, which is R12,000 at present, and that he should keep one of his
residencies. Zorkaltsev thinks that 80 per cent of the salary (R9,600)
will be sufficient for the country's most important pensioner and that he
is in no need of presidential accommodation. Unlike his Yabloko
counterpart, a member of the Communist faction, Viktor Zorkaltsev, thought
of "providing the president with medical services, stays in sanatoria and
resorts and also other services to cater for his social and everyday
needs." He is to enjoy the same level of services as the deputy head of the
government. To make it even more clear, he will have a middle-of-the-range
state dacha, access to a special outpatient clinic and a foreign car. The
authors of the two drafts agree on one thing: the family of the former
guarantor of the constitution should enjoy protection for as long as he
lives. The current law on state protection offers life- long protection
only to the head of state.//Pensioners of national importance//
The staff of the Kremlin administration have made it understood to the
author of this article that Boris Nikolayevich banned them from even
discussing the subject of guarantees. Rumor has it that Yeltsin told his
closest entourage once that he //"would like to die as president"//. Rumor
also has it that his entourage deliberately persuaded the boss to go to St
Petersburg in July to attend the funeral of Nicholas the Second so that he
could watch the pompous ceremony and strengthen his desire to run for the
presidency for a third time... Any talk about a third term is no longer
topical. His deteriorating health and a Constitutional Court ruling have
put Yeltsin in a difficult position. His pride prevents him from asking
deputies for guarantees, but at the same time he cannot refuse from them
altogether because of his fears for the future. And Boris Nikolayevich has
not forgotten how badly he treated //Mikhail Gorbachev// in the not so
distant past. In 1991, the former USSR president asked the new Kremlin
boss for 200 staff to provide protection and various other services for
him, but he was allowed only 20. [Passage omitted: other examples of poor
treatment of Gorbachev by Yeltsin, and examples to show what happens to
Western leaders when they retire]

*******

#8
Lebed Acclaims Russia-Belarus Union 

KRASNOYARSK, December 30 (Itar-Tass) - Krasnoyarsk Territorial
Governor Aleksandr Lebed believes that the Russia-Belarus Union means
"elimination of the historical injustice, committed in 1991". He expressed
this view to Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
In Lebed's opinion "there are no people in the world dearer and closer
to Russia than the Belarusians". Therefore, the treaty between Russia and
Belarus must be equitable. Representatives of the two nations must have
equal rights to elect and to be elected to all the governing bodies. "This
is extremely important," Lebed stressed.

******

#9
Foreign Spies Interested in Krasnoyarsk, Lebed Activities 

Krasnoyarsk, December 29 (ITAR-TASS)--A Russian Federal Security
Service (FSB) official said on Tuesday dozens of foreign spies visited the
Krasnoyarsk territory in 1998, in a bid "to compromise our nuclear system."
There have been several dozen "identified career intelligence
officers," head of the FSB's Krasnoyarsk branch Major-General Leonid
Kuznetsov told a news conference.
Agents from foreign secret services mostly focused on the region's
atomic sector which is located in the towns of Zheleznogorsk and
Zelenogorsk, Kuznetsov said.
In his view, some western circles wish to compromise Russia's nuclear
system. Specifically, the matter concerns the safety of fission materials
and the possibility to steal them. "Foreign specialists needn't worry," he
said, "none of the facilities have registered any such cases."
The Major-General also said foreign secret services displayed interest
in Krasnoyarsk because its incumbent governor Alexander Lebed is regarded
by some observers as a presidential hopeful in the year 2000 polls.
Foreign analysts watch Lebed's activities, his political views and his
relationship with local political and industrial elites, he noted.
It is Kuznetsov's opinion that foreign secret services' interest in
the Krasnoyarsk territory will grow in the foreseeable future.

*******

#10
Russian Artist Depicts Miseries
January 2, 1999
By CARL HARTMAN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Russian painter known in Soviet days as ``the queen of
the Moscow Artists' Union'' has brought to the capital of the other Cold War
superpower reminders of the stark lives of many Russians in post-Soviet
Moscow.
A veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan begs on crutches for money to buy
an artificial leg. A young man, with a sign offering deals in gold and
dollars, stands not far away. A sign carried by a woman with a couple of
puppies does not offer them for sale but begs for money to feed them.
They are painted life-size cutouts, the art of 54-year-old Tatyana
Nazarenko,
who under the old regime obediently glorified communism and the Communist
Party.
But even then, said Rebecca Phillips Abbott, director of the National Museum
of Women in the Arts, Nazarenko also tried to ``extend the boundaries of
Socialist realism and paid for her semi-independence by being excluded from
some exhibitions.''
Under the Soviets, said curator Alexandre Gertsman, Ms. Nazarenko even took
the provocative step of painting the faces of anti-Soviet dissidents on the
figures of century-old heroes whom the communists considered their precursors.
Abbott's museum is showing Ms. Nazarenko's paintings and cutouts until Jan.
10. Paintings line the walls, and cutouts of Russian street people occupy
floor space.
In one diorama, Ms. Nazarenko painted well-dressed young people looking at a
crucifixion scene in a museum. Below them in the Washington exhibit, three
life-size cutouts of roughly dressed young people sit looking blankly in the
opposite direction. One has a heavily tattooed face, including the word
``Blockhead'' above his eyes.
Yunna Morits, a Russian poet visiting Washington, described an exhibit
she saw
in Moscow of Ms. Nazarenko's art in which the visitors looked just like the
artwork. ``It was hard to tell whether the people were looking at the cutouts
or the other way around,'' she said.
Ms. Morits was lecturing on ``Surviving in Russia as an Art Form'' under
conditions where many people unpaid for months must contend with steadily
rising prices.
The cutouts sell for $5,000 to $8,000 each, Gertsman said. Ms. Nazarenko
lives
in Moscow with her businessman husband and two sons.

******

#11
The Guardian
November 18, 1998
[for personal use only]
A Russian family's values: expect nothing and forget about tomorrow 
Tom Whitehouse meets the Plotnikovs of Volgograd, scraping by in a state whose
normal functions have almost ceased 

Yura Plotnikov, aged 39 and a seller of second-hand bicycle parts, avoids
despair by refusing to think about the future in any detail. But unlike many
of his neighbouring traders on the fringes of Volgograd's open-air flea
market, his equanimity is not supported by bootleg vodka. 
"I'm fine. I don't need to drink. I earn about 100 roubles ( #4) a day," he
says. "It's a lot better than working in a dead factory and not being paid at
all."
Mr Plotnikov is not fine. Few Russians are. His wife, two teenage sons and
retired parents live in dilapidated concrete housing blocks on porridge,
potatoes, cabbage and tea. They are all gaunt and grey. The children are doing
well enough at school to qualify for university, but unless he can find #625 a
year for fees their education will soon finish. Mr Plotnikov says he is saving
"bit by bit".
Demand for bicycle parts has fallen with the onset of winter, so he has
had to
diversify. Laid out on a sheet in the snow next to a bicycle pump are three
heaters, several doorknobs and transformers, bought from friends who steal
them in lieu of wages from the factories where they work. He wants 45 roubles
for a round metal clock which began life in a military helicopter dashboard.
Unless trade picks up miraculously, his sons will not be going to
university.
"I will try to earn more money," he says, knowing this is nearly impossible.
So why does he say and mean it? He is not a shoulder-shrugging optimist
and is
certainly not indifferent to his children's future. But without refusing to
acknowledge that they face a hand-to-mouth existence like his own, he could
not maintain his dignity.
His wife, a nurse, finds the best way to control her anger is to keep
busy at
work and at home, and to talk rarely.
"I have not been paid in three months. We live wonderfully," she says
abruptly.
The Plotnikovs have so far resisted the lure of crime and alcoholism - two
common Russian responses to the disappearance of jobs, a varied diet,
holidays, free education and health care. Instead they appeal to the mutual
support of family and friends. As the post-Soviet state undergoes involuntary
privatisation, pre-Soviet traditions of collective self-help are revived.
Next to Mr Plotnikov's parents' television are three sacks of potatoes
harvested from his sister's dacha garden. Fruit for the jam that adds flavour
and sweetness to their monotonous diet also comes from the intensively
cultivated country allotment about three hours' bike ride from the city.
At the end of the summer neighbours brought the potatoes back in their car.
They were given some potatoes in thanks. Mr Plotnikov's 20-year-old Soviet
racing bike is a crucial lifeline. To save money on bus fares he cycles to and
from work through the ice and snow.
It takes 20 minutes to pile his market goods on panniers at the front and
back.
"More reliable than a Russian car", the bike is washed and oiled in the hall
every evening.
Dinners are small, quiet and brief. His two sons then do their homework
or go
to visit their grandparents' nearby flat with their mother. Here only the
fridge's death rattle drowns out game shows and Soviet-era cartoons on the
black and white television which is rarely turned off.
Since his retirement from a local metal factory 10 years ago, Grandfather
Plotnikov, aged 71, has seen his pension dwindle in value to the point where
it is almost worthless. Interrupted by his wife's recital of housekeeping
statistics - "Macaroni was two roubles a kilo. Now it is nine. Bones for soup
are 15 roubles" - he speaks slightly incoherently, betraying neither anger,
hope nor fear.
"I voted for Yeltsin in 1991. He's now too ill. We can't go back. The
factories don't work. I would like my grandchildren to live well."
His son has stayed home for some solitude. He listens to 1980s Soviet pop in
the kitchen on an old ghetto-blaster which needs regular repair. It reminds
him of more hopeful times.
"Back then, when Gorbachev came to power, it looked like things might
change.
But nothing came of it." He answers questions curtly but not rudely.
"If I was unable to work because of illness I would borrow money from
friends.
"My cigarettes cost 2 roubles a packet [8p]. I smoke a packet a day. We call
them contraceptives because they're probably bad enough to stop you having
children."
"I last had a holiday in 1993. I stayed at home. The last time my wife and I
went outside Russia was in 1990. We went to Georgia."
"We don't go out. We may go to friends' to celebrate birthdays. Then we
might
buy some vodka. Parents have to pay for repairs at the school. Fortunately our
school is in quite a safe area with low crime so we do not have to pay for
security."
His flat was given to him by the factory where he worked five years ago. He
pays no rent. Unlimited gas and electricity cost 200 roubles [about #8] a
month.
It is freezing outside but the kitchen window is open because it is too
warm.
Cheap heating and accommodation are the only vestiges of the once all-
providing Soviet state. In remoter regions even these are being withdrawn.
"Otherwise the state means nothing to me. I expect nothing from it," he
says.
A sort of urban survivalist, Mr Plotnikov lives outside the state, not in
rural isolation but in the heart of the city. The government has not paid his
parents' pensions, wife's wages or children's benefits for months. In return
he pays no taxes.
Utterly uninterested in politics, he has not voted in the last two elections
and did not know that Yevgeny Primakov, the former foreign minister, had been
appointed prime minister.
In developed countries not knowing who is prime minister is regarded by
psychologists as prima facie evidence of insanity. Mr Plotnikov smiles at the
thought.

*******

#12
The Times (UK)
January 2 1999
[for personal use only]
LEADING ARTICLE 
People of the Century 
CONSCIENCE OF THE EIGHTIES
Sakharov, physicist and brave canary in the Soviet cage 

Seldom can a single individual determine the course of his country's
history;
even more rarely can he stand against the entire repressive apparatus of a
totalitarian state and prevail. Yet on that December day in 1986 when Mikhail
Gorbachev telephoned Andrei Sakharov in his bleak Gorky exile to invite him
back to Moscow, the lonely physicist knew that the Soviet Union was headed for
irrevocable change. With characteristic courage and lack of bitterness, the
man whose defence of human rights had taken him to the brink of death accepted
the invitation from the Communist Party's General Secretary to start
dismantling the Soviet system's lies and distortion. After a decade of
suffering and deprivation, Sakharov had won his struggle for the rights of
ordinary Russians. 
A towering moral figure, publicly reviled and privately revered, Sakharov
both
made and broke the Soviet Union as a superpower. Before he donned the mantle
of conscience of the nation, he had achieved high rank and rich rewards for
his pioneering work in the field of controlled thermonuclear fission. As the
most brilliant physicist of his generation, his secret work in the late 40s
and early 50s led to a successful electric discharge in a plasma located
within a magnetic field - necessary to produce a hydrogen bomb. He later came
to resent the soubriquet ``Father of the Soviet H-bomb''. But it was true. 
But even as honours, secret and public, were heaped on him, he began to ask
questions. Worries about restrictions on information led to a more general
concern about freedom - scientific, political and human. Haunted by the
implications of his work, he urged Khrushchev to halt nuclear testing. But his
increasing activism, culminating in his book Progress, Co-existence and
Intellectual Freedom, had a high price. One by one his colleagues left him,
privileges were withdrawn and his views rejected. Repeated protests and the
defence of other dissidents such as Solzhenitsyn made him - and his fiery
second wife, Yelena Bonner - thorns in the flesh of Soviet officialdom. Though
the 1975 Nobel Prize offered some protection, Sakharov was now an enemy of the
state. 
A decade of persecution began. Yet, amid the harassment, petty restrictions
and denunciations, the Soviet state never dared to deploy its full repression
against Sakharov or have him killed. He was too well-known abroad, too
honoured for his work and too brave to be cowed. Even a thuggish Soviet
leadership recognised a visionary patriot. There was a grudging admiration
among his tormentors. He was selfless, politically naive, obstinate and
uncompromising - qualities admired by the ordinary Russian. The more he was
denounced, the more he was respected. 
When rehabilitation came, in those heady years before the Gorbachev
revolution
went sour, Sakharov, by now a deputy, was no more accommodating than he had
been as a dissident. He would not compromise over Afghanistan, political
pluralism or the complexities of power. Had he lived longer, he would have
experienced searing disillusion. Sakharov was a prophet of ideals, not of
reality. But he found, at last, honour in his country: all Russia wept at his
funeral. And mankind still reveres this conscience of the decade. 

******* 

 

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