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CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List
 

 

January 31, 1998    
This Date's Issues: 3036   

Johnson's Russia List
#3036
31 January 1999
davidjohnson@erols.com

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Interfax: About 85 Percent of Russians Regret USSR Dissolution.
2. Reuters: Yeltsin rests, Russian PM talks to IMF on crisis.
3. Harley Balzer: Correcting the record. (re Starovoitova article).
4. Itar-Tass: Left Parties to Lead in 1999 Parliamentary Polls Zyuganov. 
5. Mark Jones: Roy Medvedev/Yeltsin and Primakov.
6. Joseph Pickett: Re 3033-White/Pickett.
7. AFP: Russia faces daily bread shortage, despite US/EU manna: report.
8. Baltimore Sun: Kathy Lally, Moscow's flu war means breathtaking measures.
9. Chuck Spinney: The United States and Azerbaijan: Why the New Great Game 
is a Loser.

10. Argumenty i Fakty: Berezovskiy Unhappy With Primakov.
11. Moscow Times editorial: Considering The Dread 'N' Word.
12. The Sunday Times (UK): Mark Franchetti, Daughter fights to clear 
Stalin's hitman. (Yezhov).

13. AFP: Russia still has diplomatic muscle despite crisis: Primakov.
14. Rebecca Johnson: Running in Moscow?
15. Aviation Week and Space Technology: Paul Mann, Paving The Way to 
Strategic Hell.

16. T. S. White: Re 3033-Payments to Russians in Dollars.
17. Andrei Liakhov: Payment in USD.
18. Itar-Tass: Treason Trial: Pasko Defense Accused of Misleading Media.] 

*******

#1
About 85 Percent of Russians Regret USSR Dissolution 

MOSCOW, Jan 28 (Interfax) -- As many as 85% of Russians regret the
dissolution of the USSR, up from 84% in 1997 and 69% in 1992, according to
a poll of 1,500 Russians conducted by the Public Opinion Fund.
The number of Russians indifferent to the dissolution of the USSR was
14% this year, 15% two years before and 31% in 1992.
Although the total number of those regretting the dissolution did not
change significantly in the past two years, the percentage of people who
are very upset by it grew to 68% in 1999, up from 54% in 1997 and up from
33% in 1992.Of these, people over 55 years old accounted for 81% of those
nostalgic for the USSR this year compared to 73% in 1997. Moreover, 52% in
1999 and 34% in 1997 of those under 30 expressed regret that the USSR had
disbanded.

******

#2
Yeltsin rests, Russian PM talks to IMF on crisis
By Timothy Heritage

MOSCOW, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin was spending his
first full day out of hospital on Sunday after receiving treatment for a
stomach ulcer for two weeks. 
A Kremlin spokeswoman said Yeltsin, who will be 68 on Monday, was resting at
the Barvikha sanatorium near Moscow one day after leaving the capital's elite
Central Clinical Hospital following treatment with drugs. 
She said Yeltsin was expected to spend a quiet birthday at Barvikha with his
family on Monday. 
Yeltsin has handed responsibility for running day-to-day affairs to Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who discussed Moscow's economic problems with an
International Monetary Fund (IMF) official in the Swiss resort of Davos. 
``I feel a positive response,'' Itar-Tass news agency quoted Primakov as
saying after his talks with Stanley Fischer, the IMF's first deputy managing
director, during an exclusive gathering of political, finance and business
leaders. 
Tass said Fischer might visit Russia to discuss the crisis after a planned
trip to Brazil, but made no mention of when or whether the IMF would offer
Moscow new financial assistance. 
Primakov, 69, has played the lead role in Russian politics since he was
appointed prime minister last September to replace Sergei Kiriyenko, sacked
after Russia sank into economic crisis. 
The conservative premier looks set to continue in that role for the time
being
because Yeltsin is expected to remain at Barvikha for another two weeks to
continue his recovery 
Proposals by Primakov to sideline Yeltsin further, if the Kremlin and
parliament accept the premier's terms for a political truce, have raised
questions about their relationship. 
The plan is intended to guarantee stability for a parliamentary election in
December and for a presidential vote in 2000 but Russian media have speculated
that Primakov is mainly trying to strengthen his own position. 
The opposition-dominated State Duma, or lower house of parliament, gave the
government a boost by approving the draft 1999 budget on Friday at the third
of four scheduled readings. 
The Duma insisted on amending the budget to cut spending on the Kremlin
staff
by 40 percent, while reducing the Duma's own budget by only a few percent. The
Kremlin and Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov criticised the decision on
Saturday. 
Presidential press secretary Dmitry Yakushkin said in comments shown on
Russian television that Yeltsin wanted a compromise on the issue and noted
that a decree issued on Saturday would cut the Kremlin staff by 20 to 25
percent. 
Zadornov hoped for compromise and said in a television interview that
monthly
inflation, which was 11.6 percent in December, had eased in January. He said
industrial output was ``starting slightly to rise'' but gave no figures. 

*******

#3
Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999
From: Harley Balzer <balzerh@gusun.georgetown.edu>
Subject: Correcting the record

David:

One of the nice things about the digital age is that we can respond to
errors more quickly. 

Today's Washington Post (Jan. 30, 1999) has a story
by Daniel Williams, filed from St. Petersburg, about Rulan Linkov and
Galina Starovoitova. I have never met or spoken with Mr. Williams. He
includes a quotation from an article that I wrote about Galina just after
the murder--something that appeared first on JRL and was subsequently
published in both the Moscow Times and St. Petersburg Times. Other than
errors in my name and institutional affiliation, the quotation is correct
and appropriate.

However, several paragraphs later, Williams attributes to me a statement
about the conduct of the murder investigation that could only have been
made by someone else. Whatever I might think about the work of the Russian
procuracy, I would never characterize the work of a judicial organization
in this manner unless I was in possession of hard evidence to support the
statement. I can only assume that Mr. Williams mixed up his notes and made
an error in attributing the quotation. 

The Post will, most likely, print a "correction" some time next week. My
parents will be happy to see my name spelled correctly. Georgetown will be
happy to have my institutional affiliation noted correctly. I doubt that
whoever keeps score in the prosecutor's office will see the correction.

Harley Balzer
Director, Center for Eurasian,
Russian and East European Studies
Georgetown University

******

#4
Left Parties to Lead in 1999 Parliamentary Polls Zyuganov.

BELGRADE, January 31 (Itar-Tass) - Russia's Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov
said on Saturday that he believed "the left parties will win this year in
parliamentary elections and will form the government." 
Zyuganov, currently on a visit to Yugoslavia, spoke during the
presentation of
his book "Russian Geopolitics" in the Serb language. 
He said one of the main tasks of the People's-patriotic union is to
"restore a
renovated union state." He said it could be based on the union of three Slav
republics - Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine. 
According to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) leader,
the
liberal idea had failed in Russia. "Capitalist ideas are incompatible with the
Russian mentality," he stressed. 
The CPRF leader elaborated on the course of the left forces to renew the
ideology of socialism. According to Zyuganov, the biggest mistake of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union was its underestimation of modern
technologies, first of all in the world financial and information spheres. 
Zyuganov characterized the independent press as "means to manipulate the
public opinion in the interests of the ruling regime" and once again stressed
the necessity to set up observer councils at the leading TV channels. 
He also spoke about an importance to rejuvenate Russia's left forces, saying
that each CPRF member must bring in the party one or two young people. 
Focusing on political situation in Russia ahead of the parliamentary and
presidential elections, Zyuganov said that the Our Home is Russia movement,
headed by ex-premier Viktor Chernomyrdin, was not a serious claimant to power.
He cited among the real political forces Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's
Fatherland movement. He said, however, that although it has many businesslike
and clever people, a dislike by the province of the rich Moscow would prevent
Luzhkov from winning in elections. 
He also said he doubted the chances of liberal reformist Grigory Yavlinsky's
Yabloko, as well as those of Krasnoyarsk region governor Alexander Lebed. He
said Lebed "has bogged down in the unresolved problems of the Krasnoyarsk
region and is losing his popularity." 

*******

#5
Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999
From: Mark Jones <mark@jones118.freeserve.co.uk>
Subject: Roy Medvedev/Yeltsin and Primakov

Roy Medvedev's encomium to Mr Primakov in the semi-official Rossiyskaya Gazeta
(JRL #3035) cannot be by chance. It is surely the first consecration of
Primakov's
presidential candidacy. I wonder if others feel the same way: the signs are
there
that Primakov wants the job, and if he wants it, who's going to stop him?

********

#6
From: "Joseph M. Pickett" <joe@pi.ccl.ru>
Subject: Re: 3033-White/Pickett

Mr. White is correct to point out that great suffering exists in Moscow
and St. Petersburg as well. In my letter about Keezel, I did not mean to
imply that it does not. I am sure Mr. White has seen as much suffering
there as I have in Perm. Allow me to rephrase - "As anyone who has been
around
Russia knows, life in the provinces bears no resemblance to the prosperous
areas of Moscow and St. Petersburg that some Westerners on two week,
expense-paid visits to Russia, staying at the Moscow Raddission or
Renassance, tend to frequent." However, let me point out that on my
infrequent trips into Moscow, I enjoy visiting those prosperous areas as
much as any Westerner. One trip to Starlite Diner for me staves off
homesickness for months. And that theater at the Renaissance is great too. 
My point is that there are pockets of prosperity, however small they
might be, that exist in Moscow and, to a lesser degree, in St. Petersburg,
that do not exist in Keezel, or the provincial town of your choice. 
Last, I stated that 15 people died of alcohol poisoning last month in
Keezel, not last year. 

********

#7
Russia faces daily bread shortage, despite US/EU manna: report

MOSCOW, Jan 30 (AFP) - Hard-pressed Russians, already struggling to cope
with a sharp recession triggered by a summer financial storm, now face a
fresh crisis -- bread shortages, the Izvestia daily reported Saturday.
There is virtually no grain left in the nation's reserves," the front
page of the moderate pro-reform daily proclaimed above an article entitled
"Bread -- a political product."
Russia is "on the verge of a sharp increase in bread prices or
disruptions in supply, above all in the big cities," the paper said, adding
that the grain shortage was being felt in virtually every region across the
country.
"There is a bit of grain left in the Northern Caucasus but they are
keeping it for seed," Andrei Sisov, head of the Sovecon think-tank, told
the paper.
The Stavropol region in southern Russia had already slapped restrictions
on grain deliveries from the province, he said.
Officially, state grain reserves stand at 20-25 million tonnes, said
Izvestia, which questioned the reliability of the figure.
The predicted shortages come against the backdrop of a catastrophic 1998
harvest which yielded only 48.5 million tonnes of wheat compared to 88.5
million tonnes in 1997.
And the looming bread shortage comes despite two food aid deals signed by
the Russian government with the United States and the European Union.
In November, Moscow accepted 1.5 million tonnes of free wheat from the
United States as part of a larger 600 million-dollar emergency aid loan,
while the European Union has offered one million tonnes of wheat, 500,000
tonnes of rye, 30,000 tonnes of rice, 100,000 tonnes of pork and 150,000
tonnes of beef.
However, the US aid is not expected to arrive until late March and the EU
aid may not be used for the big cities where the crisis threatens to hit
hardest, said Izvestia. In addition, up to 5.5 million tonnes will be
needed for seed corn, the paper said.
Flour mills say importing grain is not commercially viable above 1,400
rubles a tonne (66 dollars), given price controls in Russia, but grain
costs at least 2,300 rubles (100 dollars) in neighbouring former Soviet
republics.
Izvestia said many local administrations now faced the prospect of
spending scarce resources on buying in grain or allowing bread prices to rise.
Officials in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia's third biggest city, have already
relaxed price controls on basic foodstuffs, letting bread prices rise 30-40
kopecks, the daily reported.
Bread, one of the staples of the Russian diet, costs around 3.5 rubles
(15 cents) a loaf in a country where the average monthly wage in the last
quarter of 1998 was 752 rubles, or less than 20 dollars, according to
official figures. 

******

#8
Baltimore Sun
29 January 1999
[for personal use only]
Moscow's flu war means breathtaking measures
There's no holding back garlic, onions, dirty socks, cognac
By Kathy Lally
Sun Foreign Staff

MOSCOW -- Nearly every day, another grim dispatch arrives from the front.
The news tells ominously of one surrender after another, from the
volcano-strewn landscape of Kamchatka near the Pacific Ocean to the
belching smokestacks of the Ural Mountains, 3,000 miles to the west.
The flu is marching across Russia, and newspaper readers are following
its path nervously. Here in the capital, a thousand miles west of the
Urals, the assault is expected sometime in the next week or so, and
Muscovites are throwing up the barricades, desperately trying to protect
themselves.
Everyone has a personal battle plan.
"I know that if I don't want to catch the flu, I should be eating garlic
every night," Marina Dobkina, a high school principal, says regretfully.
"But I can't do that with my job."
Unable to risk heavy-duty bad breath, she's doing what she can, drinking
lots of tea with honey and dried raspberry and drinking cranberry juice.
Dobkina lives in an ordinary five-story apartment building, Moscow in
microcosm. Knock on her neighbors' doors and nearly everyone will offer his
own protection.
Sasha Fominikh, a driver at a Moscow factory, read a newspaper article
the other day that suggested hanging a pair of dirty socks around the neck.
He decided against that, but when he felt a cold coming on, he tried out a
second method -- rubbing the soles of the feet with the juice of a raw
onion every night before going to bed.
"It makes the feet sweat a lot," Fominikh says, "which helps get rid of
the fever." He also drinks a little cognac and some tea with jam to prevent
a cold from developing into something worse.
At the first sign of a sore throat, housewife Lena Slivkina starts to
rinse her throat with cognac at least three times a day. "I don't swallow
it, by the way" she says.
"If I have a bad cough, I boil oats in milk for two hours and then drink
it three times a day. Three days and no cough."
Zina Basova, a street sweeper, eats garlic all year round. "If I still
get the flu," she says, "I use a lot of honey with tea."
A flu shot here costs $8 to $20 -- prices far too expensive for most
people. Instead, they take an over-the-counter medicine called dibasol,
which they say not only builds up immunity but lowers the blood pressure,
improves the spinal cord and cures ulcers as it courses through the body.
Many schools gave the tablets to children in the fall, hoping to fight
off the flu.
The newspaper Segodnya lamented the other day that the pills were only a
primitive measure and that once again the authorities were leaving the
Russian people unprotected in the face of danger.
"The sanitary authorities hope that most of the sick people will never
visit a doctor and thus won't be registered, so officially the number of
the sick will not be so large, and consequently there will be no reason to
announce there is an epidemic," the paper wrote.
The flu could well affect 3 out of every 10 people, the paper said, but
no one will ever know for sure.
"The population of Moscow, neglected by public health authorities, have
learned how to cure themselves without doctors."
The newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda devoted a recent consumer column to
cures:
"If you have a runny nose, the method is easy but cruel: You take a piece
of garlic, cut it in two and put the two pieces inside your nose for 15 or
20 minutes three times a day.
"If you are running a temperature: Put 50 grams of onion through a
meat-grinder, along with one tablespoon of vinegar and 60 grams of honey.
Mix it well. Take one teaspoon of the mixture every 30 minutes until you
start to feel better."
The paper's advice for a cough? Cut 20 small onions and a head of garlic
into small pieces and boil in milk until the garlic and onion become soft.
Strain it and add 2 tablespoons of honey to the liquid. Take one tablespoon
every hour.
Sick family members should be confined to one room, while the healthy
ones should stay in a room with the window open so fresh air can sweep the
germs away.
Cold can work wonders, but everyone here knows it has its dangers, too.
Few Russians risk consuming a drink with ice -- that's a sure-fire way to a
severe sore throat. (Somehow, ice cream doesn't have the same effect.
People eat it on the street, all winter long.)
Marshal Georgy Zhukov, who fought in the Revolution and defeated the
Germans at Stalingrad in World War II, chased off the flu by jumping on
horseback and galloping for miles, wearing his felt cloak.
Since few Muscovites have horses, Komsomolskaya Pravda told its readers
about an Asian philosopher who cured the flu by taking 120 steps through a
running stream with a rocky bottom.
Most streams are frozen at this time of year, but the ever-resourceful
consumer reporter offered an alternative:
Put a bristly massage carpet into your bathtub. Let cold water run over
it. Start walking.

******

#9
Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 
From: Chuck Spinney <cspinney@erols.com>
Subject: The United States and Azerbaijan: Why the New Great
Game is a Loser 

[Re STEPHEN KINZER, "Azerbaijan Asks U.S. To Establish Military Base," New
York Times, January 31, 1999]

The attached report [DJ: Not reproduced here]
in today's New York Times describes an effort by
Azerbaijan to lure the U.S. and Turkey into establishing military bases or
a troop presence on Azeri soil.

Being seduced into an alliance with corrupt dictatorship like Azerbaijan
would be a classic example of how the United States gets maneuvered into
sowing the seeds for future conflicts. We would be getting involved in a
cultural competition which is unrelated to our national interests, about
which we know very little, and where the U.S. military has no business,
because it could not be supported logistically without the cooperation or
acquiescence of the Russians, who would probably be on the other side, if
war broke out. 

The United States got along fine without being involved in Azerbaijan or
its oil during the Cold War, and prior to that, we did not play a role in
the Great Game between Britain and Russia. But the collapse of the Soviet
Union opened up a power vacuum in the great swath of territory, formerly
known as Turkistan, ranging from Turkey in the West to the Sinkiang
Province of China in the East. Now the lure of oil and natural gas in the
Caspian Basin is a magnet attracting U.S. economic interests right into the
middle of this strategic vacuum. 

Establishing a U.S base or stationing troops in Azerbaijan needs to be
understood in the cultural and historical context of greater Turkistan and
the interests of its Turkic peoples. If the U.S. gets mixed up with Turkey
(a country that I happen to admire) in Azerbaijan, we could create a
witches brew of inflamed reactions in Armenia, Georgia, and particularly
Russia, but maybe also China and Iran, or perhaps even India, each of which
has their own problems with Turkic discontent, Turkic expansionism, or what
is perceived as an out-of-control U.S. hegemon. 

But the impact on Russia is by far the most important factor affecting U.S.
security. For better or worse, Russia regards this region as its
legitimate sphere of interest. A U.S - Turkish - Azeri alliance will be
percieved by Russians as another opportunistic attempt by the U.S to weaken
or humilate Russia while it is down. Remember, when viewed through Russian
eyes, such an action will not be interpreted isolation. It will be viewed
in the larger context of other U.S. policies, most of which seem aimed at
weakening Russia, such as the tacit support of criminal capitalism by using
of shock therapy and the IMF to loot the Russian economy, the NATO
expansion eastward , the tilt against Serbia, the unilateral decision to
bomb Iraq without going through the Security Council where Russia has a
veto, or the ongoing attempt to cut Russia out of a possible oil bonanza in
the Caspian basin. 

Bear in mind Russia is a great nation in deep trouble. Its economy lies in
ruins. Social controls and traditional cultural values are breaking down,
and Russia is awash in fissile materials. Now it is clearly in the
interest of the United States to keep these fissile materials out of the
hands of terrorists and rogue nations. That can only be done through a
cooperative strategy with the Russians based on an appreciation of mutual
interests, empathy, and trust. [See Comment #s 216, 218, 219, 220, 222,
224, and 226].

The fact that a hair-brained scheme like basing U.S. troops in Azerbaijan
could even get into the New York Times without vigorous opposition or
denunciation by the U.S. government says something about the short-sighted
blindness that is creating a deteriorating state of relations with Russia,
a country that is far more important to our national security than the oil
of Azerbaijan.

If oil is so important that we are willing to put Russian democracy at
greater risk to get it, would make more sense to trade thugs and patch up
our differences with Saddam Hussein. Saddam has more oil than the Azeris,
U.S. forces stationed in Iraq would be easier to support, he would have
less incentive to unleash nuclear terror on the U.S., and by reducing
tensions with Russia, we might be able to build toward a cooperative
working relationship to rid the world of loose nucs.

One thing is clear, however. Since no one is talking about reducing oil
consumption or promoting democracy, and imperialism has a bad name, future
poets will have a harder time glorifying the new Great Game. 

******

#10
Berezovskiy Unhappy With Primakov 

Argumenty i Fakty, No. 953
January 1999 (signed to press 26 Jan)
[translation for personal use only]
Unattributed report from the "Details" column; passages within
slant lines are published in boldface: "Primakov Is Being Put on theSpot"

We believe it is too early to talk about /Boris Yeltsin's/ full
recovery. All foreign trips by the President have been cancelled and
meetings which have been planned are being rescheduled to Moscow. Rumor
has it that his entourage has had difficulty in finding the right
photograph of Yeltsin to show to the people. None of the photographs
create "a feeling of cheerfulness." And the entourage have also failed to
take a picture of Yeltsin working on documents.
[Prime Minister] /Yevgeniy Primakov/ had to take on the presidential
duties. It is not easy for him now, and it is unlikely that the visit by
/Madeleine Albright/ has made Yevgeniy Maksimovich more optimistic. Rumor
has it that the United States would like to see someone else in his place. 
They cannot forgive Primakov's tough stance on /Iraq, Serbia and the
enlargement of NATO/. The United States would be much happier to see
pro-Western liberal /Grigoriy Yavlinskiy/ as Prime Minister.
And in Russia, too, there are people who are not particularly happy
with Yevgeniy Maksimovich. It is known that he has strained relations with
the country's oligarchs, especially [CIS executive secretary Boris]
Berezovskiy. Rumor has it that when Primakov met Boris Abramovich
[Berezovskiy] on 23 January, he forgot to wish him a happy birthday, which
fell on that day. And it seems that the birthday boy suddenly became all
worried about his future. If there are early presidential elections in the
country, /Yevgeniy Primakov/ will become the head of state, if only
temporarily, and the influence of BAB [Boris Abramovich Berezovskiy] may be
reduced to nill.And certain steps have already been taken. Not long ago, when
visiting Boston, Berezovskiy spoke sharply about "the communist government
of Primakov." And quite recently a confidential message from the Prime
Minister to Duma Chairman /Gennadiy Seleznev/ was circulated in the /State
Duma/. It contained a proposal that a peace agreement between the main
political forces for the election period should he discussed. Those who
"leaked" the letter have a clear aim in mind: to drive a wedge between
/Yevgeniy Primakov/ and /Boris Yeltsin/. Everyone knows that the President
does not like his staff to be too independent.
A statement made by /Oleg Sysuyev/, the first deputy head of the
presidential administration, in which Berezovskiy has much influence, was
an equally serious attempt to put Primakov on the spot. Quoting /Aleksandr
Shokhin/, he voiced the idea of forming the so-called /Primakov's bloc/ in
which the Prime Minister was expected to head a group of regional leaders
to take part in the presidential elections. Unfortunately, almost every
initiative put forward by the administration has backfired. Take, for
example, the final stages of persecution of Vladivostok mayor /Viktor
Cherepkov/. So it seems that this quite good idea of forming a bloc was
voiced at the wrong time and will be of no benefit to the Prime Minister.
They say that Berezovskiy is working on the following idea. He will
wait until /the end of February/ when the President will deliver his
/annual message/ to parliament in which he will sum up poor results of "the
first year without Chernomyrdin." And then, using his contacts and mass
media bodies under his supervision, he will launch a campaign to demand the
government's resignation. They say, and not without reason, that when
/Oleg Sysuyev/ and /Viktor Chernomyrdin/ met, Sysuyev hinted to him that he
should not consider himself to be completely written off.
However, the Prime Minister, is aware of future difficulties and has
decided to do something about it. According to some reports, he intends to
propose to /Boris Yeltsin/ that he should replace current head of the
Federal Security Service /Vladimir Putin/ with " his man," namely the
current head of the government staff /Yuriy Zubakov/.

******

#11
Moscow Times
January 30, 1999 
EDITORIAL: Considering The Dread 'N' Word 

Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov's attack on a two-year-old privatization
auction at the UES national power grid surprised and frightened Moscow's
business and political circles. 
The concern was that pulling on this nagging loose thread might unravel
the entire package that is privatization. 
It's an understandable conclusion. After all, the major oil, gas and
metals exporters were privatized in shady deals, and the oligarchic giants
who swallowed them are now weak - witness the waning influence of Boris
Berezovsky at ORT and Transaero, or of Uneximbank's Vladimir Potanin at the
Sidanko oil company. 
What's more, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has been calling for the most
infamous of these auctions to be overturned. And now unapologetic
Communists like former Gosplan chief Yury Maslyukov are in power. 
Does this mean impending nationalizations? Not necessarily. 
Many firms have already been run into the ground, so it may be easier to
wring cash out of the IMF than the oil majors - and wooing the IMF means
avoiding the 'n' word. 
What's more, the oligarchs have always devoured their own. But that
hasn't changed the system itself, which always finds another Potanin,
another Berezovsky (or another Oleg Boiko, he of the OLBI credit cards and
Kremlin connections - remember him?) And it's likely to be an oligarchy
until there are democratic counterweights like a strong parliament, and
begins to punish corruption. 
Meanwhile, here's a heretical thought: What would be so bad about
selected renationalization? Is anyone getting anything out of Norilsk
Nickel or Sibneft now, other than a few Russian plutocrats and Cyprus banks? 
Renationalizing raw material export giants that have had their assets
stripped and profits whisked abroad would be a fine idea. At least then,
the state would get some revenue - from the sale of natural resources. Such
renationalizations could also be a prelude to genuine reprivatizations,
with open tenders and international participation. 
Some will argue that advocating renationalizations and reprivatizations
is a slippery slope. But the slippery slope was accepting corrupt
privatizations in the first place. No one in theirright mind will ever
invest in a property tainted by association with the most publicly sleazy
sell-offs - precisely because they were sleazy, and so for decades will be
targets of angry talk of renationalization. 
If the IMF really cared for the rule of law it preaches, it could adopt
above-board reprivatizations as its loan conditions. It couldn't be worse
than advocating higher taxes and recessionarily tight budgets - both of
which will eliminate jobs, growth and consumer demand with each passing day
in 1999. 

******

#12
The Sunday Times (UK)
January 31 1999 
[for personal use only]
Daughter fights to clear Stalin's hitman 
by Mark Franchetti 
Magadan 

HIS name is synonymous with the Great Terror. As the head of the Soviet
secret
police, Nikolai Yezhov - known as the Bloody Dwarf - sent hundreds of
thousands of innocent people to their deaths at the height of Stalin's purges
in the 1930s. 
Natalia Khayutina remembers a different Yezhov: a gentle father who showered
her with presents and played with her in the evenings after returning from the
Lubyanka, his infamous headquarters. 
She could never have imagined that he spent his days supervising torture and
execution; nor, until recently, did she suspect that the man she called Papa
had taken her in after ordering the murder of her real parents. 
Nearly 60 years after Yezhov was caught up in the bloodletting - he was
executed in 1940 as an enemy of the people - Khayutina is determined to clear
his name. She wants the Russian authorities to accept that he was not, as most
historians believe, one of the cruellest figures of the Soviet era, but a
victim of Stalin's charisma. 
"Stalin was his icon," she said. "He was turned into a beast by his
adoration
for Stalin." 
Whatever lay behind Yezhov's ruthlessness, Khayutina suffered for it from
her
early years, when she was orphaned, to the decades when she roamed Russia's
barren far north, moving on whenever her identity was discovered. Now in her
60s, she exists on a pension of 10 a month in Ola, a bleak village near
Magadan, 4,400 miles east of Moscow. 
"All my life I have felt invisible eyes following my every step because
of my
father," she said. "Yezhov has been a heavy cross to bear. I have lived all my
life in fear." 
Khayutina is aware that her attempt to have him rehabilitated entails the
sacrifice of hard-won anonymity. Her first application to military prosecutors
was rejected but she is preparing an appeal. 
It is hard to understand why. Her real mother and her father, a Soviet trade
representative believed to have been posted in Britain in the 1930s, were
almost certainly executed on Yezhov's orders. 
He adopted her when she was about two. She spent three years living with
Yezhov and his wife in a government dacha on the outskirts of Moscow, where
Stalin visited and his daughter, Svetlana, came round to play. 
"Yezhov loved me - he really loved me," Khayutina said. "I feel no
resentment
about what happened to my real parents, even if it was a crime. Those were
difficult times and maybe Yezhov could do nothing to save them. I, of course,
was not supposed to know." 
Khayutina has never discovered why he chose to adopt the sickly child of two
of his victims. She learnt her real parents' fate only 10 years ago, when the
glasnost reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president, allowed the truth
to emerge. 
"I only knew one father - Yezhov - and I loved him," said Khayutina. Yezhov
taught her to play tennis, skate and ride a bicycle, and delighted her with
gifts of furry toys. This portrait is far removed from the monstrous
impression the 5ft Yezhov made on millions of Russians. "Better 10 dead
innocent victims than one single unexposed spy," he would tell his officers. 
Yezhov was appointed head of the NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB, in
1936, as
Stalin's purges of his political rivals and imaginary enemies gathered
momentum. The reign of terror, marked by show trials, deportations and summary
shootings, is known in the former Soviet Union as "Yezhovshchina", or the time
of Yezhov. 
He is believed to have been responsible for perhaps 1m deaths during his two
years in power, and he consigned millions of others to hard labour in Stalin's
gulag archipelago. 
Yezhov set quotas for prisoners to be taken in every region, prompting
officials to keep up their numbers by thumbing through telephone directories,
looking for victims with foreign-sounding names against whom allegations of
spying could be concocted. 
Thousands of Communist party members went to their deaths still shouting
their
loyalty to Stalin. They never believed that the leader himself could be
responsible for such atrocities. 
By the end of 1938, Yezhov had served Stalin's purpose and was replaced by
Lavrenti Beria who remained head of the secret police until the dictator's
death in 1953. Yezhov briefly held the post of people's commissar for water
transport, but his habit of flying paper planes during meetings made many
wonder if he had gone mad. He was executed, having been accused of spying for
Britain and conspiring against the Communist party. 
"It was all very sudden," recalled Khayutina. "Father was taken away from
the
dacha. I was bundled into a black car and taken to the Kremlin, to a large
room where all my things and toys had been brought and spread out on the
floor." 
She was banished to an orphanage in Penza, in southern Russia, where she
spent
nine miserable years. "Everyone taunted me. I was called the daughter of a
public enemy and we were made to rip out photos of Yezhov from our history
books," she said. 
"It was years before I learnt that Yezhov and my 'mother' had both been
killed. I was absolutely shocked and immediately wrote a letter to Stalin." 
After a somewhat nomadic life as an accordion player, Khayutina has found a
measure of peace in the region to which Yezhov dispatched thousands to die in
labour camps. Many passed through the port of Magadan; underfed and overworked
in temperatures of -40C, few survived. 
"He was blinded by his love for Stalin," said Khayutina, who wears her
hat and
coat in bed to keep out the cold in her one-room flat. "But he was not a
British spy and he should be rehabilitated." 
She admits there are questions she would like to ask her father: "Why did he
commit those crimes? He adopted me and loved me. How could he be so brutal?" 

*******

#13
Russia still has diplomatic muscle despite crisis: Primakov

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 30 (AFP) - It will take Russia at least a year to pull
out of its economic crisis, but its economic woes will not prevent it playing
an active role in international diplomacy, Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov
said here Saturday.
Russia's economic problems are a "temporary phenomenon" and even if "it will
take time and probably more than a year to get out of these dire straits ....
it will not do anything to prevent Russia playing an active role" in
international diplomacy, Primakov told the World Economic Forum annual
gathering here.
"In the Middle East, in Kosovo" and elsewhere "we are going to play a
positive
role in all these places," Primakov said.
"The difficult economic situation does not create the best conditions in
which
to pursue an active foreign policy," Primakov said, but "we are not going away
any place. We want to use our influence in order to stabilise the situation."
On the economic crisis itself, Primakov said that he would sign on Monday "a
memorandum with answers to questions from the IMF." He did not elaborate, but
said he was "apprehensive" as to the response.
An IMF mission is currently in Moscow to decide whether Russia's 1999 draft
budget merits financial assistance in covering the 17.5 billion dollars in
foreign debts that come due this year.
Russian economy chief Yury Maslyukov, who is leading the Russian side in the
negotiations, said Friday he expected the IMF to release a vital new loan to
Russia by May.
Primakov also said Russia wanted to ensure there are no violent fluctuations
between the ruble and the dollar.
Inflation was the unavoidable result of the sharp fall in the ruble once the
government let it float last year but "we need to keep it under control,"
Primakov said.
He also said he was hopeful of reaching agreement on restructuring Russia's
debt with both private and government creditors, and on agreement with the
International Monetary Fund, but acknowledged "these negotiations are not
going smoothly."
He said his government did not want to "take on commitments that they
(previous governments) took on and never fulfilled," adding that it was
perhaps these previous commitments that were at the root of Russia's problems.
He said that Russia was trying to strengthen the regulatory function of the
state, and create a situation that would bring foreign investors in to the
country. "We never intend to do anything that will isolate Russia economically
speaking from the rest of the world."
He said the 1999 budget currently going through parliament, which will
have to
satisfy the IMF before it releases new aid, for the first time in Russia's
history planned for a budget surplus instead of a deficit. 

******* 

#14
Date: Sat, 30 Jan 1999 
From: Rebecca Johnson <johnsorj@gusun.georgetown.edu>
Subject: Running in Moscow?

My dad's working in Moscow until mid-July and was wondering about running
clubs in the city. I know I've seen something about this here before, and
was hoping to get more information. I'd appreciate it if anyone who knows
of a regular group could send me their info. Thanks.

*******

#15
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 
From: ps_mann@mcgraw-hill.com (Paul Mann)
Subject: Paving The Way to Strategic Hell

Aviation Week and Space Technology
January 27, 1999
Editorial by Paul Mann
Paving The Way to Strategic Hell

U/S. Defense Secretary William Cohen's decision to close ranks with
Congress on 
national missile defense was vintage Clinton politics: steal the Republicans' 
key campaign issues right out from under their noses.
The secretary's alliance with the congressional majority and the Rumsfeld 
Commission on the imminence of the ballistic missile threat, and his
embrace of 
amending, possibly abrogating, the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of
1972, 
enable Vice President Al Gore to steal a march in 2000 on a GOP issue whose 
heritage dates to the early days of the Reagan era.
But Cohen appears indifferent to, even contemptuous of, the strategic 
impact of his NMD pronouncements. He has thrown the skimpy ranks of Russian 
democrats into a situation that foredooms their push for denuclearization.
Susan
Eisenhower, head of the Center for Political and Strategic Studies, estimates 
that the democrats needed to find 70-90 swing Communist votes in the Russian 
Duma to win ratification of the long-stalled START 2 pact. Moscow has been 
adamant all along that START 2 goes nowhere unless the ABM Treaty is
preserved. 
Coming in the wake of Washington's insistence on NATO expansion, which also 
threatened START 2, the Administration's altered NMD posture strongly
suggests 
that the former U.S. policy of "first do no harm" to Russia's democrats has 
degenerated into "we don't give a damn."
Having thoroughly alienated Moscow on both NATO and ABM, while at the
same 
time standing idly by as Russia's economy and its government totter into 
irreparable collapse, the Administration is leading the world perilously
close 
to strategic hell: a strengthening of Russia's authoritarian and fascist 
pathologies; a greater likelihood that a bankrupt and embittered former 
superpower will resort to selling nuclear weapons to the Irans of the
world; an 
inducement to China to quicken its strategic modernization in converting from 
liquid- to solid-fueled launchers, in turn propelling India and Pakistan
forward
on their nuclear course; an invitation to nations everywhere to pursue and 
proliferate NMD-defeating cruise missiles and multi-warhead (MIRVed) ICBMs.
All this in what--supposedly--is post-Cold War heaven.

*******

#16
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999
From: "T. S. White" <tswrace@ibm.net>
Subject: Re: 3033-Payments to Russians in Dollars

The best response I might offer Allison Pacuska is that it is
illegal to make payments in U.S. Dollars in Russia. The Duma
passed a law, that took effect Nov. 1, 1997, making it illegal to
make payments in Dollars. Before that law merchants would take
charge cards and state the price in Dollars. Since Nov. 1, 1997,
all payments must be made in Rubles. Hence the credit card charge
slips produced by merchants now state the price in Rubles. In the
shops you must have Rubles to make a purchase and obtain a
receipt. If you have a "Hard currency" bank account you must
present evidence to the bank that you owe a foreign debt that must
be paid in Dollars to withdraw Dollars. The bank then makes the
decision on when and how many Dollars they will release.

Unofficially the U.S. Dollar is still the currency in demand in
Russia. Shop keepers will sell merchandise for Dollars without a
receipt. Professionals of all descriptions want their payments
made in Dollars. Manufacturers and wholesalers alike also want
Dollars. All of this Dollar trade is part of the huge unreported
amount of business activity that occurs in Russia. One travel
agent confided to me that to obtain the ticket vouchers the firm
need they would send couriers with bags containing thousands of
dollars to make the purchase. 

I know of one recent case where two young orphans snatched the bag
of a lady on the street in one of the districts of St.
Petersburg. To their surprise the bag contained fifteen thousand
U.S. Dollars. The boys were apprehended and the money was
returned to the lady, by the police, without question. The courts
gave no importance to the fact that the lady was carrying that
amount of U.S. Dollars. The boys got a form of formal probation.

******

#17
From: "Liakhov, Andrei" <liakhova@nortonrose.com>
Subject: Payment in USD
Date: Fri, 29 Jan 1999 

I'm a Russian qualified lawyer currently working in London. 
In relation to your inquiry re: hard currency payments to Russian
individuals I'd like to point you in the direction of the 1992 Hard Currency
Law which quite plainly states that all payments between residents of the
Russian Federation (both legal and physical persons) or for good
sold/services provided within the territory of the Russian Federation must
be made in Roubles (there are some exceptions, for example payment of
salaries to Russian staff of foreign firms in Russia (although this was not
set out in the law, but in an instructive letter of the Central Bank and
thus questionable), or payments by foreigners from bank accounts outside
Russia to Russian residents who have a licence to mantain a hard currency
bank account in an authorised Russian Bank, etc.). 

What you see in Moscow is an abundant breach of this Law but given the state
of economy and finances quite understandable - with Rouble in almost exactly
the same freefall it was 8-9 years ago people would rather risk (quite heavy
sometimes) penalties for breach of that law than to see their
earnings/savings evaporate after some new folly of the Government. 
I must add though that the Central Bank is trying quite hard to make people
observe this law and a whole bunch of other hard currency regulations. Where
the payments are settled through banks it is relatively successfull in doing
so, but as you can see not when it comes to payments between individuals. 

*******

#18
Treason Trial: Pasko Defense Accused of Misleading Media 

MOSCOW, January 28 (Itar-Tass) -- The public relations centre of
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) issued a statement regarding the
trial of military journalist, Captain Second Class Grigoriy Pasko accused
of high treason in the form of spying. The hearing of his case was started
by the Pacific Fleet military court on January 21, 1999.
The statement of the public relations centre referred to Tass on
Thursday says that asserting that Pasko is prosecuted for his professional
activity as journalist, the defence is misleading considerable part of
themedia.
Covering the investigation and trial, some media assumed a lopsided
stand which does nothing to promote an objective and unbiased consideration
of the matter, the statement says.
It notes that legal proceedings are always based on competition of
prosecution and defence. Deplorably, Pasko's defence launched an attack on
investigation and court through the media and various public organisations,
juggling facts learnt when studying the criminal case, the statement notes.
The lawyers exerted pressure on the court and the public, presenting
the defendant as a champion of nature conservation who is prosecuted by the
authorities. Foreign public and environmentalist organisations have been
involved in this campaign. The lawyers expect this to give Pasko a chance
to avoid responsibility for his specific illegal deeds.
The statement says that Pasko is charged with specific criminal
offences, while the prosecution has hardly any information about his
environmentalist activities and his work as journalist.
The court and investigation comply with the requirement of law and
keep from polemics with lawyers and various organisations that describe
themselves as human rights protectors. This reticence is viewed by lawyers
as weakness of the court's positions as regards arguments.
The defence uses this to step up its public activity. Lawyers who
divulge secrets of investigation thus put themselves in a position where
they are punishable under article 310 of Russia's Criminal Code.
The defence, however, goes even further, defying not only law but also
common sense, calling in question the competence of experts who studied
documents confiscated from Pasko -- experts of the Economics Ministry,
Migration Service and of the main agency of the general staff of the
Russian Armed Forces.
It sounds strange when lawyers, paying lip service to democracy and
legality, demand that criminal proceedings against Pasko be dropped and
that he be released. This means urging judges to disregard article 16 of
the Code of Criminal Procedure of the RSFSR, that judges are independent
and are governed only by law. This also amounts to calls to conduct
proceedings in accordance with demands of various interested persons.
Any state has its own interests and its secrets, the statement of the
public relations centre says. A state that cannot preserve them loses
respect of its people, of other countries and finally even its
independence, the statement says.

*******

 

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