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Johnson's Russia List
29 January 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Fred Weir on teachers' protest.
2. AP: Russian Teachers Barricade Office.
3. Moscow Times: Alexander Gordeyev, Maslyukov Touts Economy to
4. International Herald Tribune: Flora Lewis, Watch Out, Everyone,
Russia Is Still on the Brink.
5. T. S. White: Observations on 3031-Pickett/Harvard Symposium.
6. Alison Pacuska: Russian Legal Question.
7. Robert Pringle: Aleksei II and the KGB.
8. Felix Corley: Re JRL#3031 on Patriarch Aleksii and the KGB.
9. Business Week: Washington Is Making It Hard for Russia to Help
10. Edward Owens: New Atlantic Council paper.
11. Jerry F. Hough: Re 3031-Meek/US-Russia Relations.
12. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Connecticut man is facing Russia
inquiry. (Re Starovoitova murder).
13. Reuters: DAVOS-Russian crisis takes toll on Forum presence.
14. Journal of Commerce: John Helmer, Loose lips set corridors abuzz.
(Albright in Moscow).
15. RFE/RL: Floriana Fossato, Absurd Proposal Or Bid To Consolidate
16. Interfax: Lebed Hails Primakov's Proposals for Political Stability.
17. Interfax: Russia's Gustov Says Situation in Russia Critical.
18. Interfax: Duma Communists Want Details on US Help to Russian Press.]
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999
For the Hindustan Times
From: Fred Weir in Moscow
MOSCOW (HT Jan 28) -- Tens of thousands of teachers closed
down schools across Russia this week to protest mounting wage
arrears and what they describe as the near-collapse of the
country's educational system.
"We had world-class education and a fully literate society
ten years ago. Today's young people are falling back into the
dark ages," said Olga Chernovtsova, a 52-year old teacher from
the town of Lobnya, near Moscow.
Ms. Chernovtsova was among a delegation of teachers
picketing Russia's upper house of parliament Wednesday as
thousands of other angry teachers across the country closed
schools and went out on strike.
"Nobody wants to strike, it is a measure of last resort,"
she said. "But no matter how dedicated you are, it's impossible
to work when you're starving".
The teachers' union says the government owes teachers 16.5-
billion roubles ($730-million) in back wages. Teachers are among
the worst-paid of all workers in Russia, often receiving as
little as 300 roubles (about $15) per month.
"I haven't seen my salary since September," says Ms.
Chernovtsova, who is paid 400 roubles ($20) per month. "I haven't
paid my rent for almost a year, now I can't even afford to buy
food. Things are very desperate".
Officials of the teachers' union said over 100,000
educational workers had stopped work around the country, and
predicted many thousands more would participate in rallies and
work stoppages before the 3-day protest action ends Friday.
Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov has promised to
clear away the mountain of unpaid back wages for public sector
workers, but so far little progress has been made.
"It's not just a problem of wages, but the collapse of the
whole school system in Russia," said Angelina Soboleva, a teacher
from the Moscow district of Kuntsevo, who joined the protest
as a show of solidarity.
Moscow is among the few Russian regions where teachers have
suffered no disruptions in pay, and hence declined to join this
But Ms. Soboleva said that even in the relatively prosperous
Russian capital teachers are growing angry.
"Prices of everything have tripled in the past few months,
but our wages are the same," she said. "We are grossly
understaffed. No one wants to be a teacher anymore.
"If we don't see some improvements, there will be an
Russian Teachers Barricade Office
January 28, 1999
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian teachers who have not been paid in months barricaded
two officials in their offices in a southern Russian city for 12 hours
Thursday before releasing them.
The teachers, taking part in the second day of a three-day nationwide
teachers' strike, barricaded a city district chief and his deputy in their
offices in the city of Volgograd, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.
Strike leaders said the men would not be released unless three months of
wages were paid to the district's teachers, who haven't received their wages
However, they later released them without any agreement on wages being
announced. The protesters said they would stay in the office building until
all teachers are paid.
About 200,000 teachers across the country are taking part in protests to
demand an estimated $730 million in overdue wages owed by federal and regional
The cash-strapped government has paid salaries and pensions late since the
1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. The country's latest financial crisis,
which struck last August, only made matters worse.
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov repeated an oft-made promise Thursday
back pay problem would be solved soon.
``The government should stand guard for people, and the receipt of pay for
their work is one of these rights,'' Primakov told a Cabinet session,
according to ITAR-Tass. ``The government is doing all it can to solve this
Deputy Finance Minister Viktor Khristenko said Russian regions will
additional $100 million this month for wage payments, ITAR-Tass reported.
January 29, 1999
Maslyukov Touts Economy to IMF
By Alexander Gordeyev
Russia's top economic policy-maker Yury Maslyukov joined talks with the
International Monetary Fund's mission on Thursday, flashing figures that he
said reflect a sensational economic recovery, while the Central Bank reported
that its hard currency reserves had dropped to a three-year low.
The IMF mission had been studying Russia's economic performance for five
when First Deputy Prime Minister Maslyukov finally showed up at the
discussions Thursday evening, bringing along his own statistics.
Maslyukov said Russia demonstrated average monthly output growth of 3.1
percent in the last quarter of 1998, "the highest rate in all the years of
reform," Interfax quoted him as saying.
The first deputy prime minister, a former Communist legislator, also told
IMF that his analysis showed that domestic producers' competitiveness had
increased, contributing to the growth as the Russian market was "cleansed" of
Before making his presentation, Maslyukov praised the negotiators for
"progress in reaching mutually acceptable solutions" that would enable the
government and the IMF to sign a debt refinancing deal within "an acceptable
time frame," Maslyukov's spokesman, Anton Surikov, said.
The economic supremo also dismissed as "rubbish" some recent reports
suggesting he did not want to meet with the mission.
Maslyukov has complained of a bad back in recent days and stayed out of his
office, leading the media to speculate the ailment was political.
No reaction from the fund's experts or other participants in the
was reported immediately but, apart from Maslyukov's statistics, they can be
expected to take into consideration Thursday's report by the Central Bank,
which put its hard currency reserves at $11.6 billion, the lowest in three
The IMF mission is here to see how Russia's economic performance and plans
match the fund's requirements for a possible resumption of lending to the
Other Russian negotiators Thursday were expected to begin talks with the
London Club of commercial creditors on a possible restructuring of Russia's
Soviet-era debts. But neither the Finance Ministry nor the London Club
confirmed that the talks had started by Thursday night.
The London Club holds a total of about $20 billion of the debt principal and
was due to receive $1.2 billion this year.
It has already decided not to accelerate the debt after Russia defaulted
$360 million interest payment last December, and banking experts said the
creditors were likely to grant a restructuring request this year.
Russia's chief foreign debt negotiator, Deputy Finance Minister Mikhail
Kasyanov, said recently that the government would limit its restructuring
pleas to the debts accumulated by the Soviet Union, but would not default on
post-Soviet sovereign obligations.
However, Arnab Das, an emerging markets analyst at JP Morgan, said this
position could come under fire from creditors.
"It's not clear that the Western community would like to send a signal that
it's OK for a sovereign to make distinctions between the debt of a previous
regime and the current regime because that would create incentives that could
go the wrong way," he said.
Russian public figures, including former Central Bank chairman Sergei
lately have suggested that after years of trying to repay all of its debts,
Russia may now ask for debt forgiveness on terms similar to those granted to
several Latin American and Eastern European countries.
"Certainly, the process should begin because the idea of debt reduction
appears much more clearly on the official table," Das said.
"But also, with very high probability, the government will want to have a
comprehensive approach to Russia's external debt problem, one that will
encompass the London Club, the Paris Club, and potentially Eurobonds," he
International Herald Tribune
January 29, 1999
[for personal use only]
Watch Out, Everyone, Russia Is Still on the Brink
By Flora Lewis
PARIS - Winston Chruchill's description of Russia as a ''riddle wrapped in a
mystery in an enigma'' was a reference to the total obsessive secrecy of
Stalin's regime. That has all gone. The country has been opened, including
whole cities that were hidden and lots of archives. Travel to and from it is
no problem. But today's Russia remains a dilemma.
It is a crucial uncertainty, perhaps the most important in determining how
world affairs are going to evolve in coming years. No one informed pretends to
see clearly how Russia will be governed nor the role it will play, but the
role is sure to be significant.
The countries of Eastern Europe are moving now more or less smoothly,
less successfully, through their transition from Communist authoritarian rule
to market-based liberal democracies. It has been harder than anticipated, by
no means the simple explosion of liberated energy that dissidents once dreamed
about. But the direction is clear and the goal well enough defined: to be a
comfortable, secure member of Europe and the Western world.
Nothing is that clear in Russia. Start with Boris Yeltsin's health, an
impending disaster for years now, but he is still there. ''He is one of those
Russians born with the sturdy health of an ox and he's been working all his
life to destroy it, but he still hasn't made it,'' a Russian writer said of
Yevgeni Primakov, former KGB chief and foreign minister, is in charge as a
kind of caretaker prime minister, but he dare not appear too eager to succeed
to the presidency or he risks being dumped as his predecessors were.
The economy is awful. Top officials keep announcing that the decline has
bottomed out, that growth has begun at last, and the figures still go down.
Muscovites joke: ''We learned that everything they told us about communism was
a lie. Now we learn that everything they said about capitalism is true.''
An elaborate but shadowy game is going on to prepare for a presidential
election, but lines of allegiance are crossed and unreliable. Districts and
provinces strike out with their own programs in the absence of effective
central support. The federal government seems to teeter between insolvency,
for lack of revenue collection, and the temptation of hyperinflation to
produce enough worthless rubles to go around.
Foreign policy focuses on regaining influence in the ''near abroad,'' among
former Soviet republics, maintaining the status of a global power wherever
possible, and getting on with but also opposing the United States.
The consensus of experts is that Russia could still go any way -
dictatorial, with a fascist rather than Communist coloration; a cooperative
peacemaker in helping deal with turbulent parts of the world (Bosnia and
Kosovo, maybe even Iraq), or a vengeful expansionist seeking to live by arms;
a source of great new cultural flowering or of terrible brutality.
The historical comparison is Weimar, the reference to the ill-fated
War I German republic whose constitution was written in the picturesque city
of Goethe and Schiller. The vindictive Versailles treaty, the worldwide spread
of economic collapse for lack of sound political management, the fear of
communism among conniving barons of capitalism are customarily given as
reasons for Weimar's failure and the rise of Hitler. But it was in any case a
frail structure, given to illusion and disdainful of hostile intrigues.
Russia could become Weimar. This is a frightening thought because of the
sequel, but it is not at all inevitable. James Billington, librarian of
Congress and an eminent American expert on Russia, is convinced that the
spirit, the resources, the will exist to enable Russia to develop into a
stable, healthy democracy. But neither is that inevitable.
Remembering how important such contacts were in the transformation of post-
World War II Germany, Mr. Billington calls for the immediate dispatch of
several thousand young Russians to the United States for some firsthand
experience in how to administer a democracy. Others could be sent to Western
Europe. He feels that such a program is urgent, that it could have early and
widespread effect as people throughout the provinces are obliged to grapple
with making their society work.
Russia is not a defeated country, and it is not an occupied country. The
German parallel must be recognized as very limited. But the people are
suffering and bewildered. The leaders who have emerged so far have been unable
to organize, inspire, produce. Nobody can do it for them, but they need help
from what their own bright youth can learn out in the world. No doubt that is
not enough, but Russia's future will affect all of us so much that nothing
useful and feasible should be left undone.
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999
From: "T. S. White" <email@example.com>
Subject: Observations on 3031-Pickett/Harvard Symposium
With all due respect to Mr. Pickett, I am certain his work in Perm
is meaningful and substantive, he makes the same mistake committed
by many regional field workers. I cannot criticize his critique
of the Harvard Symposium on Russia in the least. To have the best
economic minds of our country rubbing elbows with the worst
economic plunderers of Russia is a moral degradation of American
self respect. This is not, however, the mistake that I would
observe. The mistake Mr. Pickett committed was the ease with
which he dismissed the impact of the Russian economic crisis on
the populations of Moscow and St. Petersburg.
For those who have visited Moscow and St. Petersburg, without
leaving the proximities of Tverskaya Street or Nevsky Prospect,
his dismissal may seem justified. Yet, it is ill considered to
bestow the opulent life style of the Russian new rich, and well
placed politicians, onto the general population of either city.
The facts are far different when one visits the decaying districts
of Moscow or St. Petersburg and then considers the weight of
One of the first facts that one must come to grips with is the
impact, in the big cities, of the Russian economic crisis on
children. The population of homeless children, in these cities,
is the fastest growing segment of the poor in Russia. Children
whose parents have abandoned them to the street in favor of
vodka. Children that are not cared for by relatives of their
deceased parents because there is not enough food for the family.
Children that take to the streets for refuge to escape the abuse
of homes ravaged by poverty and alcohol. These children beg and
steal to get their daily sustenance. They huddle in alcoves and
air vents in the freezing Russian winter trying to survive the
night for another gruesome day. In St. Petersburg the population
of homeless children is officially stated at 10,000, but
unofficial estimates double that number.
Mr. Pickett refers to pensioners as the people with money in his
region. To be sure, when the pensioners actually do receive a
payment, they have a quantifiable amount of Rubles. The fact is
that quantity is the equivalent of of forty U.S. Dollars. St.
Petersburg has the largest concentration of pensioners in all of
Russia. There are one million residents of St. Petersburg on
pensions. Pensions that are pitifully inadequate to provide even
the most rudimentary of life's necessities. How does an aged
W.W.II veteran of the Siege of St. Petersburg buy food for a month
on the Ruble equivalent of forty dollars? The obvious answer is
Mr. Pickett rightfully bemoans the affect of alcohol poisoning on
the residents near Perm. Anyone that has visited Moscow is aware
of the ubiquitous presence of vodka at every turn. Public
drunkenness and alcoholism exist at staggering levels. The bodies
of the people that have succumbed to alcohol poisoning are quietly
hauled from the sidewalks and gutters every morning. The body
count in one day exceeds the fifteen reported annual deaths that
Mr. Pickett cites.
Without a doubt there is suffering and deprivation in the region
where Mr. Picket does his good work, and I do not wish to minimize
that fact. The fact is that when you multiply that suffering by
the density of urban populations in Moscow and St. Petersburg it
takes on staggering proportions. In St. Petersburg, a city with
five million residents, there are more than two million people
living below the Russian poverty line. These people are all
suffering the kind of hunger and cold Mr. Picket complains about.
So in the hard economic analysis of the Harvard crowd I guess it
is correct to assert that the suffering he has observed is
proportionately less severe. Of course then I remember the
running joke in the graduate economics course I took so many years
ago, "If you lay every economist in the world end to end you still
will not reach a conclusion".
Anyone interested in more information on the levels of poverty and
needs of the poor in all of Russia may visit:
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999
From: Alison Pacuska <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Russian Legal Question
I am seeking an answer to a legal question regarding dollar payments for
goods and services in Russia. The question is: Is it legal to make
payments in dollars to Russian citizens for goods and services?
Conisdering the wide circulation and use of dollars that I have seen in
Moscow and other regions, I would imagine that it is legal, however, I have
yet to locate the appropriate legislation (if it exists). Additionally, if
someone could point me to a good Russian lawyer who might be able to
address such questions, I would appreciate it.
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999
From: Robert Pringle <email@example.com>
Subject: Aleksei II and the KGB
In reply to DJL 3031question about Aleksei II's connection with the KGB.
Aleksei II was not an officer in the KGB but cooperated with the "organs"
as did almost all members of the Church leadership. According to documents
published in the Russian press, Aleksei had the KGB covername "Drozdov"
while he was a bishop. (Look at Yevgenia Albats, State within a State for
more details.) Aleksei has admitted -- at least in interviews in the West
-- that he had a covert relationship with the Council on Religious Affairs
and the security service. He has explained his past by noting that some
cooperation with the police was the terrible price of doing business for
the Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet period.
University of Kentucky
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999
From: "Felix Corley" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re JRL#3031 on Patriarch Aleksii and the KGB
In answer to the inquiry from Theresa Fallon about Patriarch Aleksii:
The extracts from the reports compiled by the fourth department
(which controlled religious groups) within the Fifth Directorate
(which controlled dissidents as a whole) of the USSR KGB, released
in early 1992 by the commission set up to examine the CPSU's
unconstitutional activity, have several brief mentions of KGB agent
"Drozdov" and specific assignments he undertook. Evidence indicates
that this is Aleksii (not coincidentally, his thesis was on Filaret
Drozdov). I reproduce the extracts in my book RELIGION IN THE SOVIET
UNION: AN ARCHIVAL READER (New York University Press, 1996), pp. 363
Aleksii was recruited by the Estonian KGB in February 1958. In
February 1988 (perhaps in recognition of his 30 years' service) an
instruction was prepared for the KGB chairman to award him the
I am not aware of any KGB rank being given him, but would appreciate
any information on this.
February 8, 1999
[for personal use only]
Washington Is Making It Hard for Russia to Help Itself
By Stan Crock in Washington, with Carol Matlack in Moscow
EDITED BY JOHN TEMPLEMAN
When Defense Secretary William S. Cohen unveiled a plan on Jan. 20 to
extra $6.6 billion into U.S. missile-defense programs, the Russian response
was a loud ``Nyet!'' Such a move would require Russia to agree to make big
changes in the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a cornerstone of arms control
for nearly three decades.
In fact, Moscow is in no mood to make concessions of any sort. Secretary of
State Madeleine K. Albright downplayed the growing tensions during a Jan.
25-26 visit to Moscow. But ongoing bitter rows over issues from U.S. air
strikes against Iraq to weapons proliferation and Russian economic reform have
sunk U.S.-Russian relations to the frostiest since the end of cold war. And
contradictory American policies are only making matters worse.
Now, analysts fret, domestic instability in nuclear-armed Russia and the
growing rancor over foreign policy could provoke Moscow into a much more
aggressive stance in hot spots around the globe, from Kosovo to Iraq. Besides,
Washington's unsubtle mix of threatening punishments and promising rewards is
alienating Russians of all political stripes. U.S. actions ``make Russia's
liberals and democrats very uncomfortable,'' says Alexei G. Arbatov, a
reformer and deputy chairman of the Duma's Defense Committee. ``And they are
provoking our right-wingers, hawks, and nationalists.''
BACKLASH? It's a dangerous situation. Since ailing President Boris N.
appointed him four months ago, Prime Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov has worked
to restore political stability, but at the cost of abandoning economic reform.
As a result, Russians have even less hope than ever that their economy will
improve anytime soon. The risk is that desperation could provoke a serious
backlash. ``We have to hope that a nuclear weapon doesn't get smuggled out,''
says Michael McFaul of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Russia badly needs financial aid and debt restructuring. Washington is
happy to pay Russia for dismantling nuclear weapons or for programs to help
small businesses and banks. But, along with the International Monetary Fund,
it balks at another huge government bailout. Both want genuine reforms in
return for a rescue.
Unfortunately, Washington is making it harder for Russia to help itself.
The Administration may, for example, curb imports of low-priced Russian steel
because U.S. producers allege that it is being dumped. And Clintonites oppose
Russian sales of conventional arms, which could generate hard currency to
service debt, to countries such as Cyprus. To sanction Russia for selling
weapons technology to Iran, Washington may shelve plans to increase to 30,
from 16, the number of U.S. satellites that Russia can launch through 2000.
But actions to punish Russia for unacceptable behavior in one domain can
stymie efforts to moderate unwelcome conduct in another. Hammering Russia's
world-class space-launch business, for example, is a blow to moderates who
want to stop Russia's defense industry from peddling weapons to terrorist
regimes and rely instead on commercial sales. ``The U.S. is basically pressing
Russia into an alliance with Iran,'' says Pavel Felgenhauer, a defense expert
at Moscow's Segodnya newspaper.
American policy seems to rely on the hope that time and the need for money
will bring Moscow into the Western economic orbit. Meanwhile, though, the
contradictory signals coming out of Washington are penalizing Russia in the
very areas in which it can compete in global markets--and help itself in the
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999
From: "Edward E. Owens" <Eeowens@acus.org>
Subject: Atlantic Council paper
The Atlantic Council has published a new occasional paper titled After
the Fall: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Next Stage of Post-Soviet
History, by Peter J. Stavrakis, Associate Professor of International
Relations at the University of Vermont. The paper can be read in its
entirety by visiting the Atlantic Council website at www.acus.org
Program on East-West Studies
The Atlantic Council of the United States
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 3031-Meek/US-Russia Relations
James Meek of the Guardian reports that Kommersant Daily thinks
that the US has declared Russia to be an Upper Volta with rockets. I
would like to register my protest about the insult to Upper Volta.
I read the President's speech more optimistically. It was
precisely interesting that he said nothing about Russia except the
nuclear weapons although he might have mentioned the contents of
the biological warfare labs as well. That is precisely where American
national interest lies. It was precisely interesting that he did not
call for economic reform in Russia, as the US has been defining it. I
take that to mean that the US has finally abandoned the path that
Treasury and the IMF pushed for a decade. Thank God.
What is needed is not for Russia to behave responsibly in the
international realm (although there is no reason for it to act
irresponsibly), but for it to get a responsible government. What is
one to say about an advanced industrial country that cuts medical
expenditures and produces a huge rise in mortality. Surely Upper Volta
would not do that. The problem is not only in Russia. I am told there are
no medicines in Yerevan.
I have been following events in Indonesia. Finally it is being
admitted that the devaluation actually was beneficial to peasants.
Wealthy Indonesians cannot buy as much imported food and hence must buy
domestic. As a result, prices are rising, and so will production.
Must one ask why that is not happening in Russia, even in the face of a
domestic harvest disaster? I can see why the government fears to take
the urban price controls off. But is it pouring money into agricultural
machinery, fertilizer, pesticide production? Is it promising farms
higher procurement prices? That should be the first
step in an industrial policy, and the government should be proclaiming it
from the rooftops to give the population some hope that things will
improve. That it is saying nothing presumably means it is doing
nothing. Would Upper Volta follow such a policy?
Russia desperately needs a change in government. If Primakov's
hands are tied, then Yeltsin must be pushed aside. If Primakov is
responsible, he must go. President Clinton's speech implies that he
agrees, and he is to be applauded.
January 28, 1999
[for personal use only]
Connecticut man is facing Russia inquiry
By David Filipov
MOSCOW - The successor to the KGB has ordered a Connecticut man in for
questioning today about the assassination in St. Petersburg last November of a
Russian prodemocracy lawmaker, Galina Starovoitova.
The man, Brian Whitmore of New Branford, Conn., has not been named a suspect
in the Starovoitova case. A reporter for the local English-language newspaper,
The St. Petersburg Times, Whitmore, 36, knew Starovoitova and is a friend of
her aide, Ruslan Linkov, who was seriously wounded in the shooting on Nov. 20.
The case has taken a strange turn as investigators have begun interrogating
people who were close to the slain legislator. Some of those questioned say
investigators appeared more interested in finding out compromising information
about Starovoitova and her confidants than finding the killers.
Whitmore, who has written extensively on Starovoitova's murder, said he
received a call last week from an officer of the Federal Security Service, or
the Russian successor to the counterintelligence branch of the KGB. The
officer, who identified himself as Alexander Andreyev, asked Whitmore to
appear at the ''Big House,'' the St. Petersburg office of the service, last
''They told me, `We've got a lot to talk to you about. Plan on being here
a long time,''' Whitmore said by telephone from St. Petersburg.
But when Whitmore arrived with an officer from the US consulate, the
investigator would not let the American official in. When Whitmore refused to
go inside without the consular officer, the investigator issued him a subpoena
for questioning today.
A US embassy official in Moscow said he was aware of Whitmore's case but
declined to comment. Russian law does not allow witnesses to be accompanied by
lawyers for interrogation, and apparently this rule applies to foreign
citizens and consular officers. Whitmore said he was apprehensive about his
interrogation after talking to other reporters who had been questioned.
One journalist, Daniel Kotsubinsky, of the weekly St. Petersburg newspaper
Chas Pik, said his interrogator had told him that the youth wing of
Starovoitova's political party had indulged in immoral behavior. Kotsubinsky
said Detective Mikhail Balukhta tried to get him to confirm such behavior by
Another journalist interrogated agreed that solving the crime did not
be a high priority of at least one investigator.
''At the end of the interrogation he said to me: `We are going to solve this
case in such a way that it buries your democratic movement,''' Whitmore quoted
a journalist, Tatyana Likhanova, as saying.
Whitmore said the investigation had turned on Starovoitova's friends
an article in a Russian newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda, that fingered Linkov
as the killer.
Whitmore said the report contained inaccuracies that could be disproved -
example, it said Linkov, who is recovering from bullet wounds to his head and
neck, was unhurt in the shooting. But Whitmore worries the report and the
investigation is a political ploy aimed at discrediting Starovoitova's allies.
''Has it really gone so far that they're going to pin this on her allies? If
that is the case, we are back in 1937,'' he said, a reference to a critical
point in Stalinist political persecution.
The Federal Security Service has not commented on the case. Alexei
a spokesman for the service in St. Petersburg, was quoted as telling the
Interfax news agency that no one has been detained in the Starovoitova case,
but that officers had interviewed ''several thousand people and interrogated
The St. Petersburg office of the Federal Security Service has led a
investigation of Alexander Nikitin, a former Navy captain who was accused of
treason after coauthoring a report that accused Russia of negligence in
handling nuclear waste from the submarines based on the Kola Peninsula. The
local St. Petersburg Times has been critical of the service's handling of the
case, as have Western governments and human rights groups.
Linkov charged yesterday that the investigation of Starovoitova's case had
turned into a witch hunt.
''I am interested in finding the murderers,'' Linkov told Interfax. The
investigation ''is trying to gather dirt on Galina Vasilyevna and other
DAVOS-Russian crisis takes toll on Forum presence
By Brian Killen
MOSCOW, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Russia's political and business leaders, stars in
previous years at the World Economic Forum in Davos, will have a lower profile
at this year's meeting in the Swiss Alpine resort.
Leading business daily Kommersant said on Thursday there was a generally
apathetic feeling among the Russian establishment towards this year's annual
Forum, which opens on Thursday, despite the participation of Prime Minister
"The main conclusion for Russia can be made already -- Davos doesn't need it
any more. And Russia doesn't need Davos," Kommersant said, referring to
Russia's diminished importance in the eyes of investors after last year's
Kommersant said Russia could gain little from the Forum this year. "It is
impossible to use the Forum for practical goals. At least for goals common to
the whole Russian delegation."
Primakov is to address the Forum on Saturday, but the number of Russian
participants will only be about a third of the contingent in previous years.
The organisers say they are still expecting more than 30 Russian guests,
including a handful of familiar names such as former first deputy prime
minister Anatoly Chubais and prominent tycoons like Vladimir Gusinsky and
Other recognised names include Grigory Yavlinsky, head of the liberal
party and a presidential candidate, Vagit Alekperov, president of LUKoil
<LKOH.RTS> oil company and Andrei Kostin, chairman of state foreign debt agent
But many prominent Russian participants of previous years are missing. Some
fell victim to last year's political and economic turmoil, which brought down
two governments and led to the collapse of many banks, including some of the
Russia's problems have, in any case, already been discussed at a special
conference in Moscow last month which was organised by the World Economic
Forum and addressed by Primakov.
The main attraction for Russia-watchers in Davos is likely to be Friday's
planned one-hour meeting on the sidelines between Primakov and U.S. Vice
President Al Gore.
"Of course, it is important to talk with the U.S. Vice President Albert Gore
about the IMF, debt restructuring, about the government economic policy,"
Vladimir Ryzhkov, head of the centrist Our Home is Russia parliamentary
"But the main thing is to demonstrate (Russia's) political will to overcome
problems," Ryzhkov told a news conference.
Russians have in the past caused a stir at Davos by announcing possible new
economic policies, such as pegging the rouble to the dollar -- suggested by
Chubais in 1995.
Former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin used the Forum to boost his
reformist credentials and lobby for investment, while Communist Party leader
Gennady Zyuganov cut a social democratic image there ahead of the 1996
Kommersant noted that in 1992-94 Davos helped to draw attention to Russia's
post-Soviet businessmen and there were "noisy events like parties with gypsy
"Today there is no need for this. Major Russian businessmen are already
known among the world elite -- as is the fact that they are not particularly
successful. And Davos is not a place for the poor."
Journal of Commerce
January 29, 1999
[for personal use only]
Loose lips set corridors abuzz
By John Helmer
Russian President Boris Yeltsin snubbed her. Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov
warned her in no uncertain terms. Russia's leading generals were even blunter.
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, a presidential successor, and Gennady
speaker of the Russian Parliament, hectored her. She was pilloried in the
All in all, the U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright discovered on her
recent visit to Moscow that she was far from welcome. And, more to the point,
she found out that the policies for which she is responsible were even less
The fact that the U.S. military attacked Iraq with missiles as Ms. Albright
was meeting people in Moscow -- while at the same time U.S. bombers were
warming up for a run on Serbia -- didn't encourage the Russians to roll out
the red carpet.
And the fact that Ms. Albright flew into Moscow in the jumbo jet plane that
serves the United States as its aerial war-command post emphasized that it was
her finger on the attack button.
That still would have made it undiplomatic for the secretary of state's
Russian hosts not to shake her hand.
But the diplomatic corridors have been buzzing with talk of the fact that,
when Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov received Secretary Albright for the
state luncheon in her honor, he did so not by wagging his finger but by
kissing her face.
Now Foreign Minister Ivanov is new in his post, but he is a veteran diplomat
still. He's of less than medium height, but still taller than the short
American whose fur hat still placed her face decidedly below his lips.
He could have been intending the traditional Russian greeting of friends,
whatever their rank or sex. This requires a two-armed grip of the shoulders,
and three kisses, from one side of the face to the other.
But no. As the foreign minister inclined downwards, past the mink hat, to
plant his mouth on the secretary's cheek, there was a collective gasp from the
Russian political establishment.
What could this mean, they hissed, as Mr. Ivanov puckered, interfaced,
osculated once, and withdrew?
There aren't so many female foreign ministers in the world, the observers
recalled, but another one, Anna Lindh, the foreign minister of Sweden,
happened to visit Mr. Ivanov early in January. Swedish officials recall there
was an embrace. They don't recall a kiss.
The best Ms. Albright's spokesman could come up with, to describe what had
happened, was that her reception in Moscow had been "cordial." The secretary
said she was struck by the accumulation of issues that are preoccupying the
But the spokesman didn't say anything at all about the noise Mr. Ivanov's
John Helmer writes for The Journal of Commerce from Moscow.
Russia: Absurd Proposal Or Bid To Consolidate Power?
By Floriana Fossato
Moscow, 28 January 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Despite a display of consensus between
the Kremlin and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, his proposal for a
political pact among the Kremlin, government and parliament has generated a
great deal of debate in the media and a mixed reception among
Last Friday, Primakov sent to the leaders of both houses of parliament and
to the presidential administration a plan aimed at ensuring political
stability in the run-up to coming parliamentary and presidential elections.
It includes giving President Boris Yeltsin incentives for retiring before
the end of his term next year. It also calls for parliament, the government
and the Kremlin to give up some of their constitutional powers until the
election of a new president.
The leader of the pro-reform "Yabloko" faction, Grigory Yavlinsky, called
the proposal "absurd". Another deputy, Aleksandr Shokin, slammed it as
"legal nonsense, since it would in effect suspend the Constitution." Moscow
Mayor and possible presidential contender Yury Luzhkov said the plan "plays
down the significance" of the office of president and strips it of some of
its powers. Luzhkov's unexpected concern for the presidency is interesting,
since the mayor recently increased his criticism of Yeltsin.
Communist leaders, who in the past have raised the possibility of
prosecuting Yeltsin after he leaves office, said the documents could n-o-t
be approved in the form presented by Primakov, but agreed that the proposal
was a "sound base" for further consultations. Other deputies hailed the
plan and Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroyev went as far as to say
that, if the plan is rejected "that could trigger an escalation of tension."
On Wednesday, presidential spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin denied that
Primakov's plan had taken the Kremlin by surprise. He also said that
Yeltsin had called on Primakov and presidential administration head Nikolai
Bordyuzha to lead an effort to fashion a consensus.
The daily "Vremya MN" writes today that Yakushkin's attempt to defuse the
issue and take the initiative was ineffective.
"Vremya MN" and another daily, "Kommersant," quoted unnamed Kremlin
officials as saying the proposal was sent to parliamentary leaders before
being discussed in detail with the president due to a mistake made by
Primakov's legal advisors.
According to the officials, the Kremlin is sure it will be able to defuse
the incident at a coming Security Council meeting.
However, some analysts argue that the Kremlin spin on the issue only
partially explains why Primakov would have felt the need to initiate now
what some Russian newspapers termed a "delicate attempt at a coup d'etat."
Primakov, a former spymaster and diplomat, is considered an extremely
cautious and meticulous man.
Since appointing him in September, Yeltsin has increasingly given Primakov
a free-hand in the day-to-day running of Russia, while retaining control
over security ministries. The Prime Minister has been widely credited with
stabilizing a stormy political situation after last August's financial
meltdown and so far has enjoyed the support of parliament.
Why then would he need to propose to the Duma bills that would contradict
the constitution, possibly generate fresh friction between Yeltsin and his
foes in parliament, and ultimately shake the prospects of political stability?
Some analysts say that Primakov's proposal could indicate that he has
finally agreed to calls to become a presidential candidate and is trying to
consolidate his already powerful position.
Political consultant Igor Bunin told the "Washington Post" that Primakov
"enjoys a high degree of confidence and the document is meant to keep it
Primakov's letter to State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev included some
words that could only irritate Yeltsin, such as a call to "work out agreed
rules for the president's behavior" and the assurance that "in case of
approval on the proposed approach, I could obtain the agreement of the
The unusually conciliatory tone assumed by the Kremlin indicates more than
anything that Yeltsin's aides, who admit the president has not actually
seen the text, believe the president is not in a position to sack Primakov,
without creating new stresses for himself and a political crisis even more
disastrous than last year's.
The prospect of lifetime immunity and other privileges would give Yeltsin
and his family the guarantees analysts have long said the president would
consider a minimum requirement before transferring powers.
Parliamentary endorsement of the Primakov plan would give him new ground in
his dialogue with the State Duma. So far, the Prime Minister and
legislators have gotten along well. However, amidst widespread expectations
of a worsening economic situation, there are signs that the communists and
their allies dominating the Duma could withdraw their support.
While deputies are concerned about parliamentary elections scheduled for
December, Russian teachers this week are holding three days of strikes and
protests across Russia, affecting some 10,000 schools. The teachers union
says teachers are owed some 700 million dollars in unpaid back wages.
Seleznev recently said that, if the economy continues to decline, the Duma
could well initiate a no-confidence vote in the government in May. A
parliamentary promise to avoid a no-confidence vote is one of the
provisions of Primakov's proposal.
Lebed Hails Primakov's Proposals for Political Stability
MOSCOW, Jan 27 (Interfax) -- Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed
assessed Prime Minister Yevgeniy Primakov's latest proposal for political
stabilization as "a statement of a wise person who intends to prevent the
Primakov has "drawn the attention of representatives of the power
branches to this problem," Lebed said at an Interfax press conference. "If
we fight each other, then it is a catastrophe," he said.
Lebed disagreed with assertions that Primakov's proposals signify a
launch of his presidential campaign. "The president took a passive stance
long ago, but there is a state which is alive. Someone has to fill in gaps
and the premier does this. I am absolutely convinced that he does it with
the best intentions," he said.
The current draft of the Russian-Ukrainian treaty must be revised, he
said. "A treaty on friendship and cooperation cannot be humiliating. We
cannot act as impoverished drunkards do when they take off (clothes) and
sell them or throw them out thinking their life will end in three days,"
Ukraine's cutting off of power supplies to the vessels of the Black
Sea Fleet is "a purposeful and ill-intentioned" act, he said.
Russia's Gustov Says Situation in Russia Critical
Moscow, Jan 27 (Interfax) -- The situation in Russia is critical,
First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov said at a conference of the State
Construction Committee's senior officials on Wednesday [27 January].
"We are walking on a rope above an abyss," he said. "No one needs
Russia except us." He also said that everything possible must be done to
put Russia on a market footing.
He announced that documents annulling the presidential decree under
which the government cannot act as the guarantor of investments will be
drafted this week. The decision may be made within a month or even a
couple of weeks, Gustov said.
The outrageous practice of closing down coal mines must be done away
with, he said. Otherwise, we will soon have to import coal.
He said that Russia has a 60-year reserve of gas and a 1,000- year
reserve of coal. Given these reserves, in a couple of years the Russian
regions must switch over from gasification to advanced methods of using
timber and coal as fuel.
He said that the Russian government will develop major prestigious
projects, including construction of port complexes and oil terminals in
Novorossiisk, Makhachkala, Primorye and Ust-Lug and the reconstruction of
the Yaroslavl and Kirishi oil refineries.
He also said that the situation will remain complicated in the second
half of 1999 and in the first half of 2000. "It's going to be a crazy year.
The deputies will be deciding their future and then the presidential
election campaign will begin," said Gustov.
Duma Communists Want Details on US Help to Russian Press
MOSCOW, Jan 27 (Interfax) -- The KPRF group in the State Duma
requested information on the Russian mass media outlets that are planning
to receive financial assistance from the United States.
During her official visit to Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright announced a $10 million allocation for supporting the Russianpress.
Most of Russia's mass media support the policy of Russian President
Boris Yeltsin's "failed reforms" and advocate the monetarist policy, deputy
Rinat Gabidullin said Wednesday. The U.S. intention to support the Russian
press prior to elections is "a crude interference into the country's