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Johnson's Russia List
13 January 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Times: David McHugh and Andrei Zolotov Jr., Zyuganov Prepares
For Split In Party.
2. Toronto Sun: Matthew Fisher, Believe it or not, I'll miss Moscow.
3. Elizabeth Owen: Time magazine Visions of Europe online roundtable.
4. AFP: Russians wake up to massive hangover after year-end festivities.
5. St. Petersburg Times: Alice Lagnado, Starovoitova Aide Scolded.
6. Interfax: Poll Measures Party Chances in Forthcoming Duma Elections.
7. Informatsionnoye Agentstvo Ekho Moskvy: Large Staff Reductions in Health
Care, Education Mooted.
8. AP: Russia Likely To Default on Loans.
9. AP: Russian Debt Facts and Figures.
10. Ronald Pope: Learning Russian.
11. Globe & Mail (Canada): Geoffrey York reports on Canadian aid to Arctic
12. Reuters: U.S. hopes to resolve uranium dispute with Russia.
13. Interfax: Governor Lebed Sees Trouble Ahead For Primakov Government.
14. Journal of Commerce: Mark Maslin, Oldest lake surviving.
15. Moscow Times: Julia Solovyova, Yeltsin Boosts Powers of Favorite Aide.
January 13, 1999
Zyuganov Prepares For Split In Party
By David McHugh and Andrei Zolotov Jr.
In a statement sure to put new stress on the divisions among Russia's
Communists, party leader Gennady Zyuganov on Tuesday declared his willingness
to join forces with populist Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov in next year's
Luzhkov, however, has rejected such an alliance, saying Communists have not
condemned anti-Semitic statements by their members.
Zyuganov then suggested that hard-liners who didn't like Luzhkov might break
away and run a coordinated campaign under their own leftist banner - a tactic
that could let him keep restless hard-liners from a full-fledged split.
A partnership with Luzhkov's Otechestvo group was in the works "as long as
there's a danger of a liberal revenge," Zyuganov was quoted by Interfax as
saying outside a closed party conference. "Communists will be in contact with
all to whom the nation is dear and who want to live in a peaceful democratic
Speaking on ORT television, Zyuganov suggested the left might march
election in three groups: his Communists, a more moderate bloc of
"enlightened" patriots, and a group of hard-liners like Duma deputies Viktor
Ilyukhin and Albert Makashov.
"It's one of the possibilities for our broad bloc - to take part as three
columns, the KPRF, the enlightened patriots and the national-patriots."
ORT reported that Ilyukhin and Makashov were considering splitting from
Zyuganov. The two, who openly pine for the old Soviet system, have drawn
criticism for statements blaming Russia's woes on Jews and have often opposed
Zyuganov's habit of tacit cooperation with the government. But they have never
left the party or openly sought to overthrow Zyuganov.
The no-compromise left has chafed as Zyuganov flirted with Luzhkov. The
mayor, while criticizing the government's attempts at budget discipline, has
allied himself with a number of former Kremlin officials whom the left find
odious. In addition, he has spoken out against anti-Semitism.
Any new radical left bloc, however, will have a competitor for hard-line
- an openly Stalinist coalition, unveiled Tuesday with the Soviet dictator's
grandson Yevgeny Dzhugashvili lending his support.
Zyganonov's three-column plan has been floating around in leftist circles
months, said Boris Kagarlitsky, a political scientist with the Russian Academy
of Sciences and an expert on left-wing politics.
Communist strategists think that a separate political home for Makashov and
Ilyukhin might provide a place for the hard-liners unhappy with Zyuganov,
while reassuring wavering moderates that the KPRF was not preaching anti-
"They think the shift to the left will be so huge that just one party
be able to take advantage of it," Kagarlitsky said.
The moderate or "enlightened" group could be headed by someone like State
Speaker Gennady Seleznyov or by Nikolai Ryzhkov, a former Soviet prime
minister and head of the Communist satellite Popular Rule group in the Duma,
parliament's lower house.
But the whole operation would be coordinated. "Ilyukhin is absolutely
with what he is doing," Kagarlitsky said. "He has an operation that is totally
agreed on with Zyuganov."
Observers in the Russian press have long predicted a schism among the
Communists, pointing to the obvious differences between moderates like
Seleznyov and Yury Maslyukov, a former Communist Duma deputy who took a job
with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's left-supported Cabinet.
But despite tensions, it has never happened.
The Communists are the largest opposition group in the 450-seat Duma,
seats. Each of the "three columns" would have a chance to clear the 5 percent
barrier needed to share in the 225 Duma seats divided up according to party
list voting. The rest are decided by voting in single-mandate districts.
Popular disgust with President Boris Yeltsin, whose popularity rating is in
the low single digits, leads the left to think they can make gains in the next
elections. The protest vote, however, is not automatically communist, as shown
by the election of General Alexander Lebed as governor of the Krasnoyarsk
region on an anti-corruption platform.
Another group of radical leftists, Victor Anpilov, leader of the Working
Russia movement, and Stanislav Terekhov, head of the radical Union of
Officers, on Tuesday announced the formation of a new electoral coalition,
dubbed the Stalinist Bloc. For the occasion, they enlisted the support of
Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, grandson of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, whose real
name was Dzhugashvili. The name "Stalin" was a revolutionary pseudonym.
"We are for a great power, which Stalin revived from nothing," Terekhov said
in describing their goal of rebuilding the Soviet Union. "Colonel Yevgeny
Dzhugashvili is our kindred spirit."
This is not the first time the grandchild of a Soviet leader has used his
to play on nostalgia appeal. Last October, Andrei Brezhnev, 37, grandson of
Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, unveiled his All-Russian Communist Social and
Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, 63, is a retired air force colonel and the son of
Dzhugashvili, Stalin's son from his first marriage to Yekaterina Svanidze.
When Yakov was captured by Germans during World War II, Stalin refused to
trade him for Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus, taken prisoner at the battle
of Stalingrad, thus dooming his son to death.
Though a Russian citizen, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili spends most of his time
in Georgia, where he leads the Stalin Society, which claims 50,000 members.
Not only Dzhugashvili's appearance had something in common with his dreaded
and revered grandfather, but his language too. He termed Russian and Georgian
presidents Yeltsin and Eduard Shevardnadze "enemies of the people" for their
role in the breakup of the Soviet Union.
It was much easier during the war with the Nazis, Dzhugashvili said, when
front line was clear. "Now enemies are among us and they receive support from
He blamed the reign of terror under his grandfather's rule on Soviet
Leon Trotsky, who, he claimed, invented the gulag and waged war on religion.
Historians say Stalin and his government killed and imprisoned tens of
millions of people from the late 1920s to his death in 1953. Trotsky was
exiled in 1929 and later killed by one of Stalin's agents.
Anpilov, the leader of the new bloc, said the party wants to take power away
from the Kremlin's "bourgeois" regime and give it back to the "working people"
in order to restore the Soviet Union "within 1985 borders."
To do that, "enemies of the people" and "capitalist blood-suckers" will have
to be brought to justice, he said. þ"If a banker agrees to work as a clerk in
the only state bank, have him work," Anpilov said. "If he doesn't, he would
need to be sent for a preventive term to a village or a logging camp."
Anpilov's group narrowly missed getting into the Duma in 1995, polling just
under 5 percent.
January 11, 1998
[for personal use only]
Believe it or not, I'll miss Moscow
By MATTHEW FISHER (74511.357@CompuServe.com)
Sun's Columnist at Large
MOSCOW -- Everyone here says how lucky I am to be moving from Moscow to
London. I guess they're right.
As regular readers of this space will know, I detest the thievery and
sloth of the Russian police and the Soviet-style hoops almost every other
branch of the bureaucracy requires everyone here to leap through. I've been
slowly soured by an extravagant business culture which requires mega-bribes
and by a society in which so many people regard westerners as easy marks
and in which so few people seem interested in offering any kind of help to
the rapidly growing number of desperately poor.
I've been living in a compound that was specifically designed by Soviet
minds to keep foreigners and Russians apart. In communist times, diplomats
and journalists had no choice but to live in these ghettos and they often
resented it. Now, when foreigners can live wherever they want in the
capital, such compounds have come to be considered rather good addresses
because they cost less, are better maintained and offer more security than
lodgings available on the open market.
Much as I love the view out over a park from the balcony of my flat on a
hot summer's evening, and have become friendly with a few of the guard dogs
resident in the courtyard and a wonderful Finnish couple next door, I won't
otherwise miss my tiny digs on Leninsky Prospekt.
When I moved in there were two open gates through which I could enter the
premises. One of the gates was sealed shut a couple of years ago because
the crime rate in Moscow was accelerating from zero to extreme levels. For
the same reason the other gate is now kept locked overnight and for much of
the day, and is kept under constant surveillance by one of three guards who
pull 24-hour shifts every third day in the courtyard or inside a gloomy hut
where they gaze at a bank of eight television screens linked to cameras
searching for intruders.
The enhanced security is certainly a plus, but it is now being put at
risk by the local managers who have apparently done private deals with a
number of local tenants. So-called New Russians, they have arrived with
mink coats, fancy German sedans and, presumably, lots of enemies who may
wish to one day square their accounts in the New Russian way by putting
them in coffins.
However, it's not only the notion that I've been living under siege
that's bothered me. I don't much like the fact the landlord, which is a
branch of the government, recently decreed that tenants must pay a fee of
about US$10 a month for the right to pay the telephone company for a line
that was wired into the flat several decades ago and another $10 a month to
the landlord for the right to pay another $30-$40 a month to what may be
the worst cable TV provider on the planet.
While the possibilities for dining out have improved fantastically in
Moscow during the 1990s, there is no pleasure in paying the $200 or $300
for a so-so meal for two in a country where the average monthly wage is
less than that and a lot of the people I know are unemployed or have jobs
but have not been paid a kopeck for months.
Nor have I much liked routinely paying 20 or 30 times more than face
value to the ticket touts who starve the Bolshoi Theatre of funds for what
have, over the years, become terribly dreary performances.
Yet for all this, I must confess I have enjoyed my time in Moscow
immensely. Most Russians may treat each other and foreigners abominably,
but when a Russian becomes your friend there is no better friend in the
world. To be invited into a Russian home or dacha for an evening or a
weekend is a marvellous adventure that includes intense conversation and
heaps of wonderful food.
There can be few more enjoyable ways to spend a few hours than at the
Moscow Conservatory. It isn't just the divine music and the sublime
acoustics, it is the chance to see Muscovites completely enthralled by the
Although hardly what it once was, there is also still lots of fun to be
had at Moscow's four main hockey academies. It has been a privilege and a
pleasure to watch earnest 6- and 7-year-old kids learning under little
known but great coaches working quietly for one-100th or one-1,000th of the
money demanded by players and coaches in the NHL.
More than anything, I will miss lazy afternoons soaking up the heat,
steam and camaraderie of a traditional Russian banya or bathhouse.
For all the snow and slush, Russia seems a lot warmer to me than England
will ever be.
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999
From: Elizabeth Owen <email@example.com>
Subject: Visions of Europe online roundtable
I just wanted to invite JRL readers to take part in a TIME Magazine
Online digital roundtable on the future of Europe next week, Wednesday,
January 20, at 12pm ET/9am PT. Although the topic is Europe at large,
Russia will no doubt feature heavily in the roundtable discussion, so
the input of JRL subscribers would be very welcome.
The roundtable will be held on Yahoo! Chat (http://chat.yahoo.com) and
is part of TIME International's special issue on Europe at the turn of
the century, Visions of Europe, available online at
If you haven't participated in a moderated chat before, it works a bit
like a radio call-in show, where audience members submit their questions
and comments to the chat host, who then submits them to the roundtable
participants for their responses. Invited panelists include Nuala
O'Faolain, Irish Times columnist and author, historian Timothy Garton
Ash, and TIME International editor James Geary. The chat should last for
Look forward to seeing you there.
Producer, TIME Online
Russians wake up to massive hangover after year-end festivities
MOSCOW, Jan 12 (AFP) - Millions of Russians who have been spending the last
week drunkenly celebrating the end of the year now face the inevitable
According to the Julian calendar still used by the Orthodox Church,
Christmas fell on January 7, while New Year's Day is January 14.
Newspapers have been full of advice on how to prevent morning-after
pains, usually involving consuming large quantities of oil, lard or bread
and butter to delay the effect of alcohol on the body.
But these have only limited effect against the imbibing of glass after
glass of vodka, and remedies also abound for eliminating the headaches and
other consequences of over-indulgence.
These are often traditional, going back generations and widely described
in Russian literature.
Experienced tipplers swear by several glasses of brine in which guerkins
and tomatoes have been pickled for coming back to the real world, while
others prefer "solyanka", a bitter soup whose ingredients restore reserves
of vitamin B used up by alcohol.
Solyanka appeared in Russia about the same time as vodka, and was
originally known as "hangover soup," according to the authoritiative
dictionary of cuisine compiled by Viliam Pokhlebkin.
Other remedies include fermented cabbage or kvass, a slightly alcoholic
drink made from rye flour or bread with malt, which is reputed for its
Some Russians like to plunge into a steam bath, but they risk the
temptation of falling back down the slippery slope, as vodka, beer and
smoked fish are seen as natural accompaniments to such relaxation.
In the most serious cases, specialist doctors can be called on to pull a
sufferer out of a coma induced by over-absorption of ethyl alcohol. Someone
like Yuri Sivolap, who charges the equivalent of 35 dollars, the cost of a
dozen bottles of vodka, per visit.
A dozen half-litre bottles represents 24 days' consumption for the
average Russian, who swallows 14.5 litres of pure alcohol per year, buying
two-thirds of it from underground distilleries.
The produce of such illegal sources can be of extremely dubious quality.
According to official figures adulterated alcohol killed 43,000 people in
For the government, the answer is to step up production of approved
vodka, pledging last October to increase output by 60 percent in 1999 from
last level of 820 million liters of vodka and other alcohols.
As well as the problem of adulterated alcohol, distillers complained of
an influx of foreign brands on the Russian market.
The previous month Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov announced that the
government was restoring the state monopoly on alcohol sales, in a move
criticised by the industry.
"This cannot fail to make the situation worse and provoke a new outbreak
of alcohol-induced illnesses," said Pavel Shapkin, director of the
producers' lobby group, the National Alcohol Association, at the time.
"Now most people drink cheap but decent vodka," Shapkin said. "But this
will drive the price up so that only 20 percent of the population will
drink quality products, with the rest pushed towards consuming aftershave,
wiper fluid and moonshine."
Sergei Smirnov, spokesman for the Rosalka producer association, added:
"All talk today of anti-alcoholism and monopoly just don't add up for the
simple reason that ... Russia was, is and always will be a nation of
drinkers, and any efforts to change the use of alcohol are unlikely to
St. Petersburg Times
January 12, 1999
Starovoitova Aide Scolded
By Alice Lagnado
The Russian Prosecutor General on Sunday publicly attacked Ruslan Linkov,
press secretary to slain lawmaker Galina Starovoitova, accusing him of
refusing to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation into her Nov.
Yury Skuratov, speaking at a press conference in Moscow, said that
Linkov, himself injured in the attack, had not given investigators full
details of what he witnessed that night.
Linkov, who was released from the hospital in December after almost a
month of treatment, "had not spoken fully about several things which could
shed light on the circumstances of the crime," Skuratov said, according to
Skuratov further said he hoped to convince the aide of "the incorrectness
of his position, since he himself is also interested in finding those who
organized and committed the crime and getting them to court," said the
During a press conference Dec. 21, Linkov, 28, said he knew little about
the investigation's progress but that he thought Starovoitova was most
probably killed by "communist and fascist radicals."
Skuratov did say the investigation had progressed, however, with or
without Linkov's help. He said his team had intelligence leading them to
suspect certain "specific figures," whom he declined to name.
In a somewhat vague statement, the Prosecutor General said that
"intelligence information on the case is being gathered very efficiently
and the FSB [the KGB's successor] and Interior Ministry are working well
"Good intelligence work is being done," he said.
Poll Measures Party Chances in Forthcoming Duma Elections
MOSCOW, Jan 9 (Interfax) - Forty-eight percent of Russians believe
Gennadiy Zyuganov's Communist Party (KPRF) will be able to win seats in the
next Duma, the lower house of parliament.
However, only 11% expect that the center-right coalition led by the
top figures from former reformist Cabinets, Yegor Gaydar, Sergey Kiriyenko,
Boris Nemtsov, Boris Fedorov and Anatoliy Chubays, will be able to muster
the 5% minimum of votes that are needed to be represented in the State Duma
in the December 2000 election, the VTsIOM opinion studies service said.
According to a VTsIOM, 35% believe reaching the 5% mark will be no
problem for Fatherland, a recently formed group led by Moscow Mayor Yuriy
Luzhkov, and 33% think Grigoriy Yavlinskiy's liberal Yabloko party will be
among the winners.
But only 24% make such a forecast for the Russian People's Republican
Party led by former Russian security chief Aleksandr Lebed, the current
governor of Krasnoyarsk territory.
Vladimir Zhirinovskiy's ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party is
further behind with 23%, followed by former Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia with 16%, Mikhail Lapshin's Agrarian
Party with 15%, Yekaterina Lakhova's Women of Russia with 13% and famous
ophthalmologist Svyatoslav Fedorov's Worker's Self- Government Party with4%.
A mere 1% of Russians believe any of the other parties stands a chance
of representation in the Duma.However, 31% are undecided.
Large Staff Reductions in Health Care, Education Mooted
Informatsionnoye Agentstvo Ekho Moskvy
9 January 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Valeriy Mansurov, Deputy Director of the Sociology Institute of the
Russian Academy of Science, has said in an Ekho Moskvy radio interview that
large staff reductions in the spheres of health care and education are to
be expected in the near future.
"This is the implication of the idea of reducing public sector
spending currently being discussed by the State Duma deputies," he noted.
"The reductions have already taken place in science. The cultural sphere
has to some extent started supporting itself. Mind you, the management
staff at the Ministry of Culture are unlikely to be reduced: they seem to
be much needed, with new departments opening every year," Mansurov said.
As a result, he assumes, the workload of teachers and doctors will
increase. The departing employees will be replaced with young
professionals, but in much smaller numbers. Mansurov said that the current
situation in education is that 60 percent of teachers working at high
schools are over 50 years old.
Generally, one should not speak about a big unemployment problem in
the sphere of health care and education, because there is a demand for
teachers and doctors in society. As far as engineers and scientists are
concerned, their number fell 15 percent in 1996 and 1997. This means that
one in six of them is currently unemployed, Mansurov added. The data
available indicates that the number of people employed in this sphere has
fallen from 1.5 million to 730,000 people since 1985.
The sector where currently higher education graduates are most in
demand is management and administration. "In recent years, management
staff has been growing by five percent each yea"r, he said. The biggest
reduction in employees has taken place in the construction industry. The
number of jobs in manufacturing industry has declined by 15 percent in the
last two years, Mansurov said.
Russia Likely To Default on Loans
January 12, 1999
By GREG MYRE
MOSCOW (AP) -- As Russia's economy shrivels, the big financial question for
1999 emerges: How will Moscow pay back billions of dollars in loans due this
year to Western banks and governments?
Answer: It can't.
And even worse, President Boris Yeltsin's government is making no apologies
for its inability to pay.
In fact, Russian officials have accused Western lenders of doling out bad
financial advice along with their money, and Moscow has unilaterally announced
restructuring plans for some debts, further antagonizing its impatient
``Contrition does not seem to form part of the Russian psyche,'' said Eric
Kraus, head of fixed income at Dresdner Bank in Moscow. ``Russia is in a
situation where it can't pay its full debt burden. But the government's
attitude has been to tell creditors what it plans to do, and then give them a
week or two to accept it.''
Russia has run up roughly $150 billion in debts to Western lenders that have
been sending money throughout this decade to help Russia make the transition
to a market economy.
Even as the Russian economy foundered, the loans flowed in because the
States and many European governments felt Russia was too big, too important,
and too unpredictable to be allowed to suffer an economic meltdown.
But after Russia's financial markets crumbled in August, and the government
effectively defaulted on some domestic and foreign debts, the West turned off
the money tap for the first time in years.
Russia has missed a number of big debt payments in recent months, and faces
$17.5 billion in foreign debts due this year. The government had said it hoped
to repay $9.5 billion and re-negotiate the rest.
But the government said Tuesday that it planned to spend just $4.6
foreign debts this year.
``I think we'll see some more defaults,'' said Peter Westin, an economist
the Russian European Center for Economic Policy. ``Russia simply doesn't have
any money and it faces large payments every month this year.''
For millions of impoverished Russians, all this talk of high finance seems
utterly irrelevant to their daily struggles. For many, Russia's formal economy
collapsed years ago, and the notion of going to a factory or an office every
day and receiving a regular salary is a distant memory.
These Russians stay a few steps ahead of destitution by growing their own
potatoes, by turning their wheezing cars into gypsy taxis, and negotiating all
sorts of creative barter deals with friends and neighbors.
Still, the debt negotiations, which promise to be tedious, protracted
are enormously important to Russia.
Yeltsin's government periodically blames the International Monetary Fund and
other foreign lenders for Russia's woes. But Moscow needs the money to cover
basic expenses such as paying teachers, soldiers and pensioners who already
get their money months late.
Also, Russian leaders still see their country as a major international
and Moscow needs good working relations with Western financial institutions if
Russia wants to be a full-fledged member of the global economy.
After nearly a decade of recession, one of the worst ever endured by an
industrialized nation, Russia's economic decline is difficult to overstate.
This year, the country's overall economic output is forecast to fall well
below that of Belgium. Russia's 146 million people are expected to produce an
economy worth only $175 billion, while Belgium's 10 million people are
expected to crank out $272 billion worth of output.
Russia also has a large shadow economy -- unregulated, unreported and
production and payments made in barter, services and cash -- that's impossible
to measure, but even that only marginally improves the bleak picture.
As Yeltsin's government tries to figure out how to pay all its bills, here's
another sobering thought: Russia's national budget this year -- the equivalent
of $26 billion -- can't match the $32 billion that the U.S. government spends
in a typical week.
With so few resources, Russia's apparent debt strategy is to stay current on
the $50 billion in obligations run up this decade while it's likely to default
on much of the $100 billion in Soviet-era debt it inherited.
Many Western governments and banks, it seems, are already resigned to
off these loans.
Russian Debt Facts and Figures
January 12, 1999
Some facts and figures concerning Russia's debts:
FOREIGN DEBT: Russia's total foreign debt is $150 billion, including $50
billion incurred since 1992 and $100 billion inherited from the Soviet Union.
Russia is trying to make timely payments on the Russian debt, but appears
likely to default on a large portion of Soviet-era debt.
THIS YEAR'S DEBT: Of total foreign debt, $17.5 billion is due this year.
Government had said it could repay $9.5 billion, but on Tuesday it said it
would only be able to cover $4.6 billion. The rest will have to be
restructured or written off.
KEY LOAN: The International Monetary Fund organized a $22.6 billion loan
package for Russia in July, but only $4.8 billion was distributed before the
economic crisis hit in August. Russia urgently wants additional money from the
loan package, but the IMF and other lenders say Russia first needs a credible
economic recovery plan.
NEGOTIATIONS: Russia will be in almost constant negotiations this year with
various creditors, including the IMF, World Bank, London Club of commercial
banks, and Paris Club of government lenders.
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999
From: Ronald Pope <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Learning Russian
To get directly to the point, it has been my experience that being able to
communicate directly with Russians--without having to go through an
interpreter--is frequently essential. Russian culture strongly favors
face-to-face communication. If the Russians you need to communicate with
know your language, there is no problem. (However, they will appreciate
your making an effort to speak Russian.) If they don't, there is
frequently going to be a problem. For example, one reason for resentment
against foreign missionaries is that so many of them, even after a year or
more in Russia, still do their preaching in English, etc. (During my
visits to the Baltic republics before 1991 one of the reasons locals gave
for disliking the Russians in their midst so much was that they refused to
learn the local language.)
In another example, my Russian friends assured me that it was very
important, quite possibly crucial, for me to be able to communicate my
position in Russian during a legal case that was recently concluded--in our
In short, anyone one who wants to get seriously involved in Russia does
need to learn as much of the language as possible. (Doing so will both
enhance communication and open doors to understanding aspects of Russian
culture that will otherwise remain largely closed.)
Anyone who would like an intensive language program in Russia can contact
us. We are offering customized programs of varying length this summer in
the city of Vladimir. Each student will be tutored one-on-one by
experienced native speakers. (We have been providing Russian lessons to
the Americans teaching in our English program since 1992....) The cost,
including round trip airfare, will be lower than most intensive state-side
programs--and you will have the advantage of being "totally emersed" in the
historic city of Vladimir.
For more information on our activities in Vladimir, see our website:
For specific information on our Summer Russian Program, contact me:
1403 Kingsridge Dr.
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: (309) 454-2364
FAX: (309) 452-6332
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999
From: "Fred Weir" <email@example.com>
Subject: Geoffrey York in Chukhotka on Canadian aid
Geoff York, who is still in Chukhotka, asked me to forward the following
to you. Warmest regards, Fred.
By Geoff York
Globe & Mail (Canada)
SIRENIKI, Russia -- In a dark, frozen land where Christmas
is only a distant rumour, a planeload of Canadian food has
brought a brief ray of light to the long polar night.
A helicopter dropped from the Russian Arctic sky on Thursday
to deliver the first boxes in a 17-tonne shipment of Canadian
humanitarian aid for the Chukhotka region of northeastern
The relief shipment arrived in the village of Sireniki on
Russian Orthodox Christmas -- a holiday that is almost completely
ignored in this Bering Sea village because of its deepening
poverty and unpaid wages.
"For the past four years we've had no celebrations here,"
said Sergei Gorbunov, a 51-year old Russian Innuit sea-mammal
"There is nothing in the store and we have no money, so
there is no holiday. We have nothing to celebrate. People have
almost forgotten what candies and cookies are, because we can't
Dozens of Yutik Innuit and Chukchi aboriginal people queued
up on Thursday to receive the first rations of Canadian aid. Each
person in the village was given about twelve kilograms of flour,
cereal, sugar, macaroni, margarine, cooking oil, salt, condensed
milk and tea.
Many smiled and shyly thanked the two Canadian Innuit and
government officials who monitored the distribution. "Thankyou
from the bottom of our hearts," said one tearful woman. "We
really needed this assistance."
Sireniki is a traditional Innuit and Chukchi village of 600
people on the shores of the Bering Sea, at the extreme
northeastern edge of Siberia, where temperatures plunge to minus
40 and darkness descends at 3 pm on winter days. Most of its men
are reindeer herders and hunters of whales, walrus and seals. But
they haven't been paid any wages since June 1995, and their
hunting is hampered by a worsening shortage of ammunition and
Many of the concrete apartment blocks in Sireniki are
freezing cold, heated only by small coal stoves. Medical supplies
are almost non-existent. For some village children, the cereal in
the Canadian aid packages was the first they had ever seen. Many
wear ragged clothes and sneakers instead of boots.
The biggest source of employment in Sireniki, a polar fox
fur farm, was shut down a year ago because of declining revenues
and rising cost, putting 40 women out of work. The village's
elderly residents, who get pensions of barely $30 per month, are
the only people here with a regular source of income. Most young
men are idle, and alchohol and crime have ravaged the community.
Because of its extreme isolation and its subsistence
economy, Sireniki is one of the few remaining places in Russia
that hasn't yet suffered from the economic crisis and the
collapse of the rouble. "But when the winter ice road opens and
new supplies are delivered, I think the prices will be much
higher and then we'll feel the effects," said the village mayor,
Canadian aid parcels were also delivered this week to two
other aboriginal hunting villages, Yanrakynnot and Enurmino,
where conditions are equally bad.
At Yanrakynnot, dozens of Chukchi villagers crowded around
the arriving helicopter yesterday to load the food packages onto
a large wooden sled. The village's unemployment rate has soared
to 50 per cent, and its kindergarten has been forced to close
because of the lack of heat.
The Canadian humanitarian aid, financed by the federal
government, was organized by the Innuit Circumpolar Conference
and the Canadian Red Cross in cooperation with Russian aboriginal
groups. It's part of a major international humanitarian campaign
to help Russia survive its worst economic crisis since 1992.
The Canadian relief parcels, primarily food but also
including blankets, candles and medical supplies, were flown from
Ottawa to Anadyr, the capital of Chukhotka, in a Boeing 727 owned
by First Air, the Canadian Innuit airline. From Anadyr the aid
was flown to two smaller towns in Russian cargo planes, and then
transfered to helicopters for the final flights to the three
The relief parcels are worth about $60,000, but the entire
Canadian mission will cost about $400,000 because of the enormous
expense of transporting the aid parcels from Ottawa to the
Russian Arctic. The Boeing flight alone had a cost of $125,000
and the smaller planes and helicopters added to the bill.
The Canadian organizers acknowledge that it would have been
much cheaper to send the food from Moscow or Alaska. But they
said they decided to send the aid from Ottawa because they wanted
to move quickly, in time for Christmas, with Canadian control of
the entire delivery process to make sure it reached the neediest
"We've shown that it's possible," said Terry Fenge, research
director at the Innuit Circumpolar Conference, who monitored the
food distribution in Sireniki.
"We've blazed a path. There's no reason Canada can't embark
on much larger program to help people here who are in desperate
Mr. Fenge said he will recommend an expansion of the aid
program to several other regions in the Russian far north in
February or March. The federal government, however, has not yet
approved any further funds.
If approved, the second phase should include donations of
sea-mammal hunting equipment such as outboard motors and rifles,
Mr. Fenge said.
"We want to help them reinvigorate their hunting technology.
Hunting is at the core of their culture and their economy. If we
provide the tools, they'll have a fighting chance to survive."
Mr. Gorbunov, the Innuit hunter, said the villagers are
grateful for the Canadian aid. "But we don't feel comfortable
asking for more," he said. "We feel embarassed. During Soviet
times we were always paid on time and we could affort anything.
We could never have imagined that we would fall into this state."
U.S. hopes to resolve uranium dispute with Russia
WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (Reuters)- U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said on
Tuesday he hoped to resolve problems soon with a deal in which the United
States agreed to buy 500 tons of highly enriched uranium from Russia to fuel
American commercial nuclear power reactors.
"We hope soon to bring to closure the recent issues that have dogged our
progress on implementing this important agreement," he told a conference
sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
"There are still some issues we need to narrow down," he said. He gave no
Under the $12 billion 1993 deal, Russia was to convert 500 tons of highly
enriched material into low-grade uranium over 20 years.
The fissile material, enough for 20,000 nuclear weapons, was to be
from decommissioned nuclear warheads and sent to the United States after
The U.S. side had agreed to pay for both the natural and enriched components
that make up low-enriched uranium.
But at the end of 1996 the United States stopped paying for the uranium's
natural component. Instead it said it was willing only to pay for the enriched
part, and for the natural component it has been returning an equal amount of
Russian energy officials accused Washington of violating its obligations and
said they would begin selling the natural uranium on world markets.
U.S. experts said the problem was complicated when the United States
Enrichment Corporation (USEC), Russia's partner in the 1993 deal, was
privatized by the U.S. government last year and when Russia put a value on the
uranium out of line with world prices.
Richardson said that already under the deal, 36 tons of Russian HEU --
for over 2,500 nuclear weapons -- had been blended down and delivered to the
United States for use as reactor fuel.
Governor Lebed Sees Trouble Ahead For Primakov Government
Krasnoyarsk, Jan 11 (Interfax) -- Governor of Krasnoyarsk Territory in
Siberia Aleksandr Lebed foresees that several Cabinets may change in Russia
this year "each of which will have to make unpopular decisions."
"The moment of truth for the government of Yevgeniy Primakov will come
in the spring," he told Interfax on Monday [11 January]. Lebed expects the
worsening of the economic situation in March or April.
"My attitude toward Primakov and several of his ministers is good, but
the situation is too neglected. No specks of light are visible so far,"
Lebed said."The version of the (federal budget) that the Duma approved in the
first reading does not suit me. Even if the budget is passed as it is, it
will not be fulfilled and this will only aggravate the economic situation,"
he said.He said that the budget was drafted without due account to the
opinions of provincial leaders and added: "Attempts to control all things
from Moscow already led to the disintegration of the USSR. Unfortunately,
today we continue moving along the same route."
Referring to the situation in his territory, Lebed said the region
"remains alive only thanks to its hypodermic fat."
He said the draft budget of his territory foresees three possible
rates of inflation: 30%, 45%, and 60%.
Journal of Commerce
January 13, 1999
[for personal use only]
Oldest lake surviving
BY MARK MASLIN
Mark Maslin is a marine geologist at the Environmental Change Research
Center, University College, London. His co-researcher is Anson Mackay of
the same department. This article was distributed by Scripps Howard News
Lake Baikal, the deepest and oldest lake in the world, has become a
symbol for conservationists of man's inhumanity to nature. They say this
unique natural resource, which contains 20% of the world's fresh water and
supports a unique ecosystem, is being destroyed by pollution.
But a joint British-Russian study shows the effects of pollution on Lake
Baikal, located in far Asian Russia, have been grossly overestimated.
The lake has certainly had a rough time as the dumping ground for
agricultural chemicals such as DDT and PCB, untreated sewage and industrial
wastes such as organochlorines.
The most infamous industrial culprits are two paper and pulp mills,
producing high-quality cellulose for the Russian defense industry. Although
regulations now govern their waste output, it has been estimated that more
than 1.5 billion tons of waste has already been dumped into the lake.
Lake Baikal is home to the world's only freshwater seals, and when
thousands began dying in 1997, environmentalists were quick to point the
"For now, it is evident that this is the largest environmental
catastrophe in Baikal Lake for decades," said Alexander Knorre, executive
director of Greenpeace Russia. "One way or another, it is directly
connected with the damaging human activity on the shores, with the
pollution of the lake by the pulp and paper mill."
As accusations of environmental damage built up, the reputation of Lake
Baikal declined, resulting in a delay of six years before it was declared a
World Heritage Site by Unesco.
Yet so far the predictions of ecological disaster at Lake Baikal have
failed to come true. Even the seal deaths have been shown by recent
alternative studies to be due to a distemper virus.
Despite the claims of some scientists and environmentalists, the link
between pollution and the supposed deterioration of the Lake Baikal
ecosystem has never been proved.
We at University College London, with colleagues from the Russian Academy
of Sciences and Liverpool University, set out to determine what effect the
pollution was having on the lake, using techniques pioneered in Britain
during the acid-rain debate of the 1980s.
To examine the effects of pollution on the water quality of Lake Baikal,
the present situation must be compared with what it was like before the
Industrial Revolution. Lake sediments provide the perfect answer, as these
build up continuously from material that drops out of the surface waters.
The deeper the sediment, the older it is.
We recovered more than 40 cores from all parts of Lake Baikal. These were
radiometrically dated and the oldest material recovered was found to be
more than 2,000 years old.
Lake Baikal's sediment is primarily composed of beautiful, minute silica
shells of algae called diatoms. Diatoms live and photosynthesize in all
types of surface waters and, as shown in the debate on acid rain, are very
sensitive to changes in water quality. Each diatom species has its
preferred water quality and all have unique shell patterns, allowing them
to be accurately identified.
When they die and drift to the bottom of the lake, their shells are
preserved and accumulate in the sediment. By using microscopes to count the
proportions of the various species found at different depths in the
sediment, we were able to reconstruct past changes in water quality.
In addition, we measured the amounts of heavy metals and carbonaceous
particle in the sediment, which provided us with a guide to pollution levels.
Our lake sediment study shows the environmentalists' assertions to be
wrong. Local water-quality problems were observed, but these are restricted
to very small regions of the lake, shattering the assumption that pollution
has ruined its ecology.
We concluded that the ecology of Lake Baikal has been unaffected by all
the pollution the Soviet Union could throw at it because of the lake's
This does not mean we can be complacent. The residency times of the water
in Lake Baikal are about 300 years. So if pollution is left unchecked, it
would accumulate over a period of centuries to toxic levels.
But this biodiverse hot spot -- home to more than 2,500 species, 75% of
which are found nowhere else in the world -- can be preserved.
The only major ecological shift we found in the Lake Baikal sediments was
during the dramatic warming at the end of the "Little Ice Age," 140 years
ago, when there was a shift to diatom species that prefer ice-free conditions.
This was not detrimental to the lake's ecosystem but, more importantly,
it demonstrates the sensitivity of Lake Baikal to global temperature
changes, providing us with a unique window through which to view our
January 13, 1999
Yeltsin Boosts Powers of Favorite Aide
By Julia Solovyova
In a move that further expands the powers of his latest Kremlin favorite,
President Boris Yeltsin put new chief of staff Nikolai Bordyuzha in charge
of the powerful Kremlin household affairs directorate, which is headed by
Yeltsin's long time friend, Pavel Borodin.
Forcing Borodin and his fiefdom to now answer to Bordyuzha gives the
Kremlin chief of staff a vast new domain of bank accounts, cars, planes,
rest homes and valuable real estate to rule. It also means that Yeltsin has
concentrated more Kremlin responsibilities in Bordyuzha's hands than he has
ever entrusted to any other subordinate.
But the Kremlin itself has ceded so much of its real power to the
government that Bordyuzha's meteoric Kremlin rise - to chief of staff, head
of the Security Council and now head of the household affairs directorate -
has provoked only slight commentary.
It may be worth more notice, however. Bordyuzha was brought into the
Kremlin last month to replace Valentin Yumashev, a former journalist who
ghost-wrote Yeltsin's memoirs and served as a link between the president
and financier Boris Berezovsky.
But when Yeltsin fell ill and then ceded economic policy-making to Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Yumashev made the mistake of embracing the idea
that the proud president might be willing to slip into irrelevance. He was
Bordyuzha, by contrast, has actively supported the idea that Yeltsin's
race is not yet run - which may be a sign of what Yeltsin thinks about it
Yeltsin himself recently complained of unspecified people who were
jockeying in unseemly haste to replace him, a comment widely seen as a dig
at a former Yeltsin ally, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who has all but
formally announced his candidacy.
And Yeltsin has been floated, by his loyalists, as a possible president
of any future Russia-Belarus Union, which, as a new country, would let
Yeltsin get around the constitution's ban on a third term.
Tuesday's reshuffle also amounts to a demotion for Borodin, who over the
years has handled all the logistics of running the presidential
administration and has been openly proud of the direct access to Yeltsin
that he has enjoyed.
Borodin was among the small group of Yeltsin cronies with him from the
very first, including former Kremlin security chief Alexander Korzhakov,
former Federal Security Service chief Mikhail Barsukov and former Deputy
Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets.