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3 February 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Gorbachev: PRIMAKOV'S Proposals on Stability Must Be Discussed.
2. Ryzhkov Proposes Review of Attacks on Primakov Via Media.
3. Robert Donaldson: Upper Volta.
4. Joseph Pickett: Buses in Perm.
5. Russian Aerospace journal.
6. Charities Fear Losing Tax Status Under Bill.
7. Russia's giant moonbeam aims to light a global path.
8. RUSSIA: New EU strategy urged.
9. Politicians Use Extremists to Own Advantage.
10. Zyuganov Calls for New Economic Policy as Basis for Dialogue.
11. Communist Deputy Denies Making Anti-Semitic Statements.
12. Nemtsov Denies Impeding IMF Accord.
13. Democratic Choice Warns of Threat of Dictatorship.
14. Deputy Minister: Russian Assets Abroad Worth $50 Billion.
15. Primakov Outlines Ways of Overcoming 'Economy of Mistrust.'
16. Primakov told to put house in order at Davos gathering.
17. Lebed Interviewed on 'Hero of the Day.'
18. Russian Opinion Poll Puts Communists Ahead.
19. Gorbachev Endorses Primakov-Luzhkov Ticket in 2000.
20. Press Says Prosecutor Ousted for Political Reasons.]
Gorbachev: PRIMAKOV'S Proposals on Stability Must Be Discussed.
MOSCOW, February 2 (Itar-Tass) - "It is necessary to give up all narrow
interests of the Yabloko faction in the Russian State Duma lower house of
parliament, the Communist faction and the "Fatherland" organisation, and
start discussing the proposals of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov,"
president of the International fund of social and economic and
politological researches Mikhail Gorbachev stated at a news conference at
the Central House of journalists on Tuesday.
"Common interests of the Motherland must be the orienting point around
which it is necessary to reflect on and on the basis of which it is
imperative to reach an agreement -- that is Primakov's intention. After
all, he does not insist on his stand but invites to a discussion," Mikhail
Gorbachev pointed out.
In this connection Gorbachev proposed to support the project by "getting
over everything and having in mind only one thing -- Russia and our
Ryzhkov Proposes Review of Attacks on Primakov Via Media
MOSCOW, Jan 29 (Interfax) -- Nikolay Ryzhkov, the leader of Popular
Rule parliamentary group, has suggested that three Duma committees - those
for economic policy, legislation and information policy - draft a
resolution assessing the media attacks made by several former Cabinet
members on the government of Prime Minister Yevgeniy Primakov.
"Many public and political figures, mainly recent members of the
government who drove the country to the brink have launched a violent
attack against the government and the State Duma via the media," Nikolay
Ryzhkov told the Duma on Friday.
He said Primakov, his first deputy Yuriy Maslyukov, his deputy
Gennadiy Kulik and other ministers defending national interests are singled
out as targets for the attacks.
"What accord or joint actions can we speak of if the media owners have
declared an open war against any efforts to lead the country out of the
deepest crisis and former Cabinet members are ill-wishing and intriguing in
the West to harm Russia," he said.
Duma speaker Gennadiy Seleznev invited Ryzhkov to direct an official
request to the parliamentary committees.
Date: Tue, 02 Feb 1999
From: email@example.com (Robert Donaldson)
Subject: Upper Volta
With respect to the use of the phrase "Upper Volta with rockets," it was
used (in quotes, but with no attribution) in a Survey on the Soviet Economy
in The Economist on April 9, 1988. That's the only time I've seen it until
it popped up in your list (Jensen, #3035 and Berdy #3038). In response to
Berdy's attribution of the phrase to Gorbachev, it seems that if it had
originated with Gorbachev, the Economist would have made note of it. More
important, I can't imagine that Mikhail Sergeyevich, even at his most
pessimistic, would have used such a phrase to describe the country he led.
Robert H. Donaldson, University of Tulsa
Date: Tue, 02 Feb 1999
From: "Joseph M. Pickett" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I've been rather surprised at the enthusiastic response to my letter
last week about Keezel. It's heartening to see that so many Americans are
concerned about what is happening to many of our Russian friends.
As I've told some people who wrote to me, my Russian experience has
been great. Not always good, not always bad, but always interesting. For
that reason I offer the following lighter piece for your consideration.
Russian bus drivers always drive their buses in three's, the joke goes.
The first knows where to drive. The second knows how to drive. The third is
admiring the intelligence of the first two.
Probably the butt of more jokes in Russia than even the not-so-friendly
GAI (militia) officer, the abuse heaped on Russian bus drivers is rooted in
two facts: Russians use humor to alleviate stress of their high-stress
lives, and the average Russian is highly dependent on erratic public
The same for me too. After over two years living in Perm, I have become
intimately familiar with the specs of our bus #41 that services our suburb
outside of Perm.
Number: #41, or #4 if they forget to switch the signs from the different
Nickname: Zholte Chuda, Yellow Miracle. The person who bequeathed this name
obviously had just been picked up
Color: From dingy yellow to chocolate brown (in spring)
Size: Too small
Speed: Slow to real slow
Country of origin: Hungary, which says to me it should have adequate winter
heating, but they didn't ask me back in '81 when
it rolled off the assembly line
Frequency: From kind of often to almost never, depending on day of week,
holiday, driver, if it's lunch time, how many feet of snow are on the
ground, if the GAI officers closed the one bridge going into the city for
no reason, if it's potato harvest season, unannounced closed roads, if the
city workers are staging a protest for unpaid wages, etc.
Typical elapsed time into city: 25 minutes to ???. See above for reasons
Cabin temperature: -20 to 90 F
Capacity: If the passengers were of American origin, 50. But since they're
Russian, at least 75
Average space between you and next passenger: None
How to tell where you are in the bus route in January, when the windows are
coated with 1/4 inch of ice: Spidey sense, or you just don't know and get
off at the wrong stop
How much I miss my car in the states while riding: somewhat to a whole
Best poor student ruse to avoid paying fare: Saving a punched ticket from
each bus on the route. Each bus has punchers on the walls with a different
pattern. Just show the conductor the old punched ticket, but make sure you
got the bus
number right or she'll yell at and fine you when she sees the wrong puncher
Best way to keep feet warm while riding it packed full in subzero February:
Buy valenki, felt boots, or maybe just resignation that there are more
things in life than warm feet. And hey you know if it's -20 in Perm it's at
least -35 in Irkutsk! It's tropical here!
Best place to be on the bus when it's packed: If you don't need to get off
until the end, in a seat. If you want to get off sooner, anywhere but a
Worst place to be on the bus when it's packed: Crammed into the well just
inside the door, the last poor soul to get on the bus. This in an ideal
place to get your foot crushed in the door, which lack safety devices, as I
learned on rough
Day Three in Russia
Second worst place to be on the bus always: Standing on the joint that
connects the two parts of the bus together. This area has an unfortunate
tendency to collapse unexpectedly during transit, causing no injury but
rather unpleasant momentary terror
My favorite way to pay fares: With a monthly pass. This avoids the
necessity of constantly digging for change with numb fingers, letting go of
the railing and being flung around, etc
Best past time while waiting for the bus: trying to hitch a ride for 10
Best excuse to not pay fare (Russian): I'm a Hero of the Soviet Union
Best excuse to not pay fare (American): Y-y-ya, ne g-g-g-ovoreat
poo-Rooskie (I don't speak Russian, complete with bad grammar and
pronunciation). The conductor doesn't want to deal with problem children.
But I always pay, honest
From: "Steve Thomson" <email@example.com>
Subject: Russian Aerospace journal , Concise
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999
We have put our Russian aerospace journal on the web offering free access
for the next two months and I thought some of the subscribers to the list
might find it interesting. You can find it on www.concise.org
February 2, 1999
Charities Fear Losing Tax Status Under Bill
By Alexander Gordeyev
If the State Duma passes the second part of the long-awaited tax code in its
current form, the distributors of free soup to the needy may have to pay
value-added tax, and those who eat the soup will have to face revenue
inspectors over income tax.
For the past several months, managers of scores of charities from 35 Russian
regions have been lobbying against the proposed legislation, which they say
gives charities equal treatment with businesses.
"The huge problem of the draft tax code for NGOs is that it makes no
distinction between commercial and noncommercial entities," says Yury
Dzhibladze, president of the Center for the Development of Democracy and
Human Rights, or CDDHR, in Moscow. "That means that any donation will be
deemed a commercial transaction and will be taxed as such."
Part One of the new tax code went into effect Jan. 1, winning praise from
tax experts for setting out clearer fiscal procedures. But NGOs, or
nongovernmental organizations, were dismayed to see that no exemptions were
reserved for their line of work.
Specific tax rates are to be set out in Part Two of the code, which is
currently under debate in the State Duma, parliament's lower house. NGOs
hoped to secure a special status under this bill, but officials both in the
Duma and in the government have been wary of the idea, citing
well-publicized scandals involving charities set up to support sports,
churches and the disabled.
These charities, which enjoyed massive customs-duty exemptions, quickly
acquired criminal connections and monopolized the liquor and tobacco markets
before the breaks were taken away.
If NGOs fail to get special status under the new tax law, most of the 60,000
nonprofit organizations currently operating in Russia would be unable to
continue their free advice and handouts to some 20 million needy people a
year, activists said.
"It is an absurd situation," Dzhibladze said. "An organization is trying to
help those whom the state cannot help, and the state wants taxes from that.
The society would lose $300 million to $500 million that NGOs draw into the
social sector annually, including foreign aid and support from commercial
entities. Also, NGOs employ about 2 million people who would have to seek
state funds if they lose their jobs."
NGOs' efforts have not been all wasted, however. Part of the tax reform
package designed by the Tax Ministry grants exemptions for aid channeled to
social-economic reform, science and education, as well as for disarmament
and nuclear safety. But Dzhibladze said the criteria are so vague that, in
the end, taxation may be arbitrary.
But Viktor Gitin, deputy head of the Duma's budget committee, insists no
breaks should be granted to charitable donations until proper public control
is set up over all aid, to rule out possible abuse. "Any social support must
be directed to particular recipients, otherwise it's wasted," he said. "And
for commercial entities there should be no exemptions - real charity does
not have to be encouraged with financial privileges."
February 3, 1999
[for personal use only]
Russia's giant moonbeam aims to light a global path
James Meek in Moscow and Ian Traynor in Bonn on a bid to bring heavenly
glow down to earth
In the most audacious attempt to rearrange the natural order of the
heavens since God said 'Let there be light', Russian scientists are to
flood parts of Europe tomorrow night with the glow from an artificial moon.
If all goes according to plan, a pool of light roughly nine miles wide and
25 miles long, projected from space, will illuminate a swath of north
Germany and Belgium shortly after sunset. If it is a clear night the light,
as bright as 10 moons, should be visible almost 200 miles from its
epicentre. The cosmic spotlight will be projected from a giant mirrored
parasol attached to a Russian Progress 'space tug' detached from the Mir
space station. Cosmonauts on Mir will direct the device to reflect the
sun's rays on to the earth.
Over a 13-hour period the experiment, known as Znamya 2.5, will
illuminate six 'zones' on earth for four minutes each. Three of the zones
are in southern Russia, northern Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The fourth zone,
between Frankfurt in Germany and Liege in Belgium, will be lit from 6.50pm
to 6.54pm local time.The light will later appear between Quebec and
Winnipeg in Canada, before hitting the final zone between Calgary, and
Devils Lake in the United States.
The only problem is that nobody outside Russia seems to know anything
about the experiment. 'I've heard nothing about this, but that's not
unusual because we often learn of the Russian space experiments from the
papers or the TV,' said Raimund Lentzen, the head of the German Astronauts'
Office near Cologne. A spokesman for the technology ministry in Bonn was
equally nonplussed. 'It's a bit early for April Fool jokes but this sounds
like one,' he said.
'It shouldn't be a problem,' said Ulf Mehrboldt, a German astronaut who
has flown on two US space missions and spent one month on Mir in 1994.
'They don't need permission: the sun shines on Germany, too, and you can't
ban that. 'The reflective parasol, about 25 yards in diameter, was built by
a Russian firm called Cosmic Regatta. Asked whether the countries involved
in the experiment knew about it, the company's deputy technical director,
Oleg Saprykin, said: 'We've advertised our intentions on the Internet,
we've told the media. I don't expect any protests. America financed part of
the scientific research for this experiment, so they know what's going on.'
The reaction of colleagues overseas had been mixed, he added. 'On the
one hand we get letters from astronomers giving us a telling-off for
interfering with their observations. At the same time we get letters of
gratitude from people thanking us for doing this and offering us work.' In
thickly populated northern Europe, Mr Saprykin added, there would be lots
of people to see the brightness of Znamya 2.5.
The idea behind the space lamp was eventually to use a network of
reflectors to turn night into day over the cities of the Russian Arctic.
But the technology involved is also vital to realise the long-held vision
of generating electricity by channelling the sun's energy to ground
stations. Making the pool of light stand still over one spot on the earth
is exceptionally tricky, because it involves co-ordinating the movements of
three objects moving at incredible speeds relative to each other - the sun,
the earth, and the Progress spacecraft. The reflector has to be positioned
in what scientists call the 'terminator', the orbital zone between day and
night. Progress and Mir whiz overhead at 18,000 miles an hour relative to
earth, so the reflector has to swivel rapidly to keep the sunlight on the
'There's a pretty limited period during which Progress can illuminate the
earth - the period in which it cr osses the terminator,' said Mr Saprykin.
'But the patch of light will be practically motionless, and will increase
the illumination in the chosen area.'
The reflector will be aimed at the ground partly by instruments and
partly by the Mir cosmonauts, Gennady Padalka and Sergei Avdeyev. One of
the advantages of northern Europe compared to Russia, said Mr Saprykin, was
that the cities shone more brightly at night, making it easier for the
cosmonauts to direct the light.
3 February 1999
[for personal use only]
RUSSIA: New EU strategy urged
By Ralph Atkins in Bonn
The European Union had to adopt a strategy towards democratic and
institutional reform in Russia reflecting the EU's increased economic
importance after launch of the euro, Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign
minister, said yesterday.
Speaking after a meeting in Bonn with Igor Ivanov, Russia's foreign
minister, Mr Fischer said that the "main point" of a fresh EU strategy
towards Moscow would be "the development of long-term, lasting structures".
It was of "decisive importance" that the EU co-ordinated and combined
efforts by member states to ensure Russia's economic and financial
stability, he added.
Mr Fischer's comments came as Chancellor Gerhard Schröder prepares for
the planned EU-Russia summit in Moscow on February 18-19.
This summit is expected to help shape a revised EU strategy. Germany
holds the European Union presidency for the first six months of this year.
Germany's foreign ministry is seeking to switch discussion over Russia
away from talk about financial aid, towards developing a long-term
relationship with the EU across a range of foreign and economic policy areas.
Mr Fischer yesterday cited as an example the co-operation between the EU,
Russia and the US over Kosovo, which had led to the United Nations Security
Council playing a "constructive role" in a crisis situation.
Mr Fischer said the EU would have an increasing role in helping develop
democratic structures in Russia, as well as helping with building
infrastructure, and in areas such as the development of legal systems.
Although it was not an immediate theme, he expected an evolving
"political relationship" between the EU and Russia.
Mr Ivanov described the EU's plans for a joint strategy on Russia as a
"strong political signal".
He promised that Moscow would help drive forward the initiative
February 3, 1999
Politicians Use Extremists to Own Advantage
By Andrei Zolotov Jr.
Last Sunday's march of the violently nationalist Russian National Unity
group drew only about 200 participants in a distant region of northeast
Most people would never have even known about it - if Russia's
politicians and news media had not raised an immediate hue and cry.
Newspapers ran big headlines, independent NTV television showed tape of the
marchers with their swastika-like armbands over and over, and Moscow Mayor
Yury Luzhkov vowed to deal sternly with police who had failed to stop it.
Some observers even suggested that the failure to stop the march might
have been behind President Boris Yeltsin's decision to dump Prosecutor
General Yury Skuratov on Tuesday.
But there may be more to the swift and outraged reaction than concern
over homegrown fascism. For many of Russia's political players,
rhetorically attacking a vaguely defined extremism is an important part of
pre-election political intrigues and propaganda campaigns.
The intensive coverage was similar to the way the same liberal media
covered State Duma Deputy Albert Makashov's anti-Semitic statements in
October. Makashov's remarks gave financier Boris Berezovsky, for instance,
a soapbox from which to attack the Communist Party.
Everyone similarly spun Sunday's march to his own advantage.
Political analyst Yury Korgunyuk of INDEM research group said it was an
important "propagandistic moment" for Luzhkov, who wants to emerge as a
fighter against xenophobia and thus appeal to the more liberal of his
constituents. At the same time, it exposes the weakness of the federal
government and Russia's liberal laws, which can do nothing to curb the
Against that background, Luzhkov can emerge as a tough leader whose
toughness would be justified in the eyes of Western liberals by the
necessity to fight anti-Semites.
For Yeltsin's part, expressions of concern from the Kremlin helped him
fulfill his role as guarantor of the constitution, one of the few roles he
has left with his influence diminished by poor health and political
After a meeting of the Presidential Commission for Resistance to
Political Extremism, Yeltsin's justice minister, Pavel Krasheninnikov, said
the governmen t would soon propose tough "anti-extremism" laws to
parliament, while top presidential aide Oleg Sysuyev threatened that if
parliament failed to endorse the measures, Yeltsin would have to act by
Not to be outdone, opposition Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov told the
media Tuesday that one cannot count on a successful campaign against
extremism by a "sick and helpless president."
Political analysts interviewed Tuesday all agreed that xenophobia and
virulent nationalism could eventually turn into a real problem for Russian
society. Some analysts believe a far-right party could clear the 5 percent
barrier required for Duma representation in December's elections.
Korgunyuk and fellow political scientist Sergei Kurginyan said Tuesday
the situation in 1999 Russia is "very dangerous" and similar to that of
Weimar Germany in the 1920s and '30s, when economic collapse resulted in
the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism.
It was last summer, shortly before the economic crisis set in, that two
prominent Jewish figures, Vladimir Gusinsky, who owns NTV, and Berezovsky,
who controls ORT television, started to stress the danger of Russian
chauvinism and anti-Semitism as key rallying points in the upcoming
According to Sergei Kolmakov of the Politika research institute, the
liberals among Moscow's ruling elite and the financial oligarchs are in a
"state of anxiety" about the threat of hard-line politics, and the media
reflects these confused attitudes.
In all the rhetoric, extremism is often loosely defined - offering room
for politicians to apply it to their opponents.
Yevgeny Volk, director of the conservative Heritage Foundation's Moscow
office, said that authorities might even have encouraged the RNE's march in
order to use it as an excuse for "tightening the screws."
"Perhaps the authorities try to activate extremist forces in order to
carry out a serious blow," against their opponents, Volk said.
By associating Barkashov with Makashov - something that has been
repeatedly done in Russian television reports over the past few days - such
a blow can also be directed against Communists such as Zyuganov, who could
be accused of "extremism" by proxy.
Kurginyan said that Barkashov, leader of a numerically marginal group,
has all of a sudden become a prominent political figure because he is
necessary for bigger politicians in their games.
There's a danger, analysts said, that by treating extremism as a
political tool rather than a real political and social problem Russian
politicians may eventually reap the grapes of wrath.
"The situation is very dangerous indeed," Korgunyuk said. "Everybody is
afraid that a bomb is to explode, but where is it going to happen, nobody
Zyuganov Calls for New Economic Policy as Basis for Dialogue.
MOSCOW, February 2 (Itar-Tass) - "A dialogue in Russia is necessary, the
prime minister is concerned about this situation, which is quite
understandable. However, national truce should be based on a qualitatively
new socio-economic policy, rather than an agreement between top officials
in power," said leader of the Russian Communist party Gennady Zyuganov,
commenting on an initiative put forward by Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov
on reaching national accord in Russia.
Upon completion of a meeting of the Communist faction which discussed
Primakov's initiative on Tuesday, the Communist leader declared that
communists were prepared for a serious dialogue, but national accord should
be based on a different policy which would guarantee a job and a minimum
subsistence level to citizens. "Agreeing that the old policy should be
pursued is impossible," Zyuganov added. He described the president as a
"chief destroyer and destabilizing figure", adding that he did not believe
a word the president says. "Tomorrow, he might breach any agreement",
"If the president resigns of his own free will, it is one thing, but if he
is not prepared to do this, giving guarantees is pointless, " Zyuganov said.
He underlined that communists would conduct a dialogue with the
government." We have working relations with the government and there is no
need to sign an agreement," Zyuganov said. He reminded of the fact that the
opposition had voted for the budget which it disapproves "in all parameters
", but did so only for the sake of stability. Should the president wish to
offer a qualitatively new politics to the country he will be offered such
an opportunity since in February, he is to make his Address to the Federal
Assembly." Let him give his guarantees," Zyuganov said in conclusion.
Communist Deputy Denies Making Anti-Semitic Statements
Moscow, Jan 28 (Interfax)--A Communist parliament deputy on Thursday
denied that statements he made several weeks ago constituted legal offenses
as being anti-semitic.
Gen. Albert Makashov told reporters that before journalists informed
him, he had been unaware criminal proceedings had been instigated against
Makashov, whom the Prosecutor General's Office accuses of fanning up
ethnic strife, denied that he had Jews in mind when he used the word
"zhid," a pejorative Russian word for Jew.
He said he had told law enforcement officials that if he was
prosecuted "Pushkin, Dostoyevskiy, Gogol and Shevchenko must also be taken
to court because they used the perfectly acceptable word 'zhid'."
"'Zhid'," the general explained, "means blood-sucker, bad person, and
I want to repeat that all those who have run down the country and are
robbing it are zhids in the full sense of the word. (Former Soviet
President Mikhail) Gorbachev is also a zhid to me."
Makashov did not know whether formal charges would be brought against
him. "Who can predict what the Prosecutor's Office will do?" he said.
Communist parliament deputy Viktor Ilyukhin, who heads the Security
Committee in the lower house, also denied that the general had broken the
law and said action against Makashov was a Kremlin political plot.
"The Prosecutor General's Office will have no reasons to file with the
State Duma (lower house) a motion to deprive Makashov of his parliamentary
immunity," Ilyukhin said. "This criminal case has no prospects.
"Today the Prosecutor's Office is simply attempting to drag the matter
out a bit so as to avoid the wrath of the president, who has issued a
command to find cases of extremism at any cost and punish the extremists."
Ilyukhin, who was a senior criminal investigator at the former Soviet
Prosecutor General's Office, said he was sure the case would be quashed
because, as a "professional," he did not see Makashov's statements as
"A search for political extremism is under way" in order to find "the
slightest pretext to bar the opposition from the elections to the State
Duma," Ilyukhin said. "Those who are involved in this do not realize that
they are helping to increase Makashov's prestige and popularity."
Nemtsov Denies Impeding IMF Accord
MOSCOW, Jan 30 (Interfax) - Former Russian Deputy Prime Minister, and
leader of the Young Russia political movement Boris Nemtsov has denied
accusations from First Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Maslyukov that former
Cabinet members are impeding Russia's receiving Western financial
Speaking at the Russian political movement Democratic Choice (DVR)
Congress in Moscow Saturday, Nemtsov attributed the current government's
failure in dialogues with the International Monetary Fund to their tactics
Nemtsov called upon the DVR to use Communist tactics and become "the
party of street action."
He proposed that a so-called "rightist" Komsomol [Young Communist
League of the former USSR] be set up. It would unite young people who
"have not had the experience of living in a totalitarian state," he said.
The Young Russia movement is prepared to negotiate with all non-
fascist organizations, including Fatherland, Our Home Is Russia,
Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed's movement, and Yabloko," he said.
Democratic Choice Warns of Threat of Dictatorship
Moscow, January 30 (Itar-Tass) -- The Russia's Democratic Choice party
(DVR) said that prerequisites have been practically created in the country
for establishing national- communist dictatorship.
A resolution called "For the Freedom and Rights of Individual, Against
the Threat of Dictatorship", adopted by the DVR congress on Saturday [30
January], said that the constitutional liberties and rights of individual
are in danger.
To avert this threat, the DVR called on all democratic forces to take
energetic and decisive steps and unite.
The DVR appealed to all democratic political movements and
organisations to "pool their efforts against the threat of communist
revenge and dictatorship to promote the ideals of individuals' freedom, a
law-governed state and civil society."
Yegor Gaydar's party believes that the fate of each citizen largely
depends on the laws to be adopted by the State Duma and therefore on its
"We are confident that democratic forces will win in the upcoming
elections to the State Duma," the resolution said.
Another resolution "For the Preservation of the Unity of Reformist
Forces" adopted by the congress said that the integration process within
the electoral coalition "The Right Cause" has already been approved at the
The most important task now is to proliferate this process to regions.
"Only when strong and efficient structures are created in regions, capable
of decent performance at the future elections, will we be able to say
whether the coalition has proved viable," the resolution said.
Deputy Minister: Russian Assets Abroad Worth $50 Billion
Moscow, Jan 29 (Interfax) -- Russian assets abroad are worth $50
billion, Deputy Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said at a news conference
held at Interfax headquarters in Moscow on Friday [29 January].
However, he said, "in real dollars" their actual value is less, since
many of the assets are located in countries deemed to be overburdened with
debt or whose economies have been ravaged by war or natural disasters.
Nonetheless, Russia is taking part in decisions on which debts to write
off. Many of the nations concerned are in Africa and Asia.
At the same time, a purely technical valuation of the assets using
Soviet transfer rubles valued at 60 kopecks to the dollar produces a total
value of $122 billion.
In effect, by taking part in the providing of assistance to developing
countries, Russia, which holds both Soviet assets and debts, is widening
the gap between its own assets and liabilities, Kasyanov said.
Primakov Outlines Ways of Overcoming 'Economy of Mistrust'
Davos, January 30 (Itar-Tass) -- Russian Prime Minister Yevgeniy
Primakov said that "further market reforms and the development of the
economy as an organic part of the world economy is a high road for Russia."
"However, we will have to make considerable corrections in the former
reform policy," Primakov said at a plenary session of the World Economic
Forum in Davos on Saturday [30 January].
"Our task is to prevent social upheavals, ensure stability in society
and improve living standards through sustainable economic growth, and, in
the future, to create a socially-oriented market economy," the Prime
The main resource which the government has and which it will seek to
retain is the support of people, the parliament and the president, he
He stressed that this creates new opportunities for advancing reforms,
which all the previous governments lacked.
How is Russia going to get out of "the economy of mistrust" created by
the August 17, 1998 crisis?
First, the government is strengthening the regulating functions of the
state. But this does not mean that Russia is building a mobilisation
economy. Instead it is seeking to create an efficient economic system with
transparent and effectively protected "rules of the games", the Prime
Second, the Russian government has not taken and will not take any
steps which would economically isolate Russia from the rest of the world,
Russia has not embarked on the path of default on its debts and is
negotiating with the London Club of creditors. "I hope we will find a
mutually acceptable solution with the Paris Club too. We are doing
everything possible to successfully conclude our talks with the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank," he said.
On the threshold of the 21st century, the Russian economy is looking
for its place in the international division of labour. "We want that not
only resources, but also the rich intellectual potential of our country to
be used in this process. While thinking about Russia's place in the world,
we realise that the modern world economy is swept by globalisation.
Interdependence of countries has grown sharply. Goods, services and
capital move across borders quite easily. Common communications and
information systems have been created. This is an objective process which
has many positive sides," Primakov said.
Russia's policy aims at ensuring economic growth and developing the
real economy. "We have begun with separating current budget expenses from
investments and are creating a special development budget as a tool of the
state's industrial policy," he noted.
The government is also continuing privatisation, but making any change
in the form of ownership dependent on the growth and efficiency of
production, he added.
In 1999 the government plans to reduce the tax burden on businesses in
order to give them an opportunity to expand and invest.
The government is determined to do its best to restore the confidence
of foreign investors in Russia and guarantee their rights, including the
right to repatriate profits.
In conclusion, Primakov said that "the experience of reforms in Russia
shows that there is no universal scheme of building an effective market
economy for all nations. Each country may have different combinations of
market mechanisms and state regulation, and different systems of economic
institutions, depending on the level of its development and peculiarities.
Similarly, legal, ideological and religious systems cannot match either.
The surrounding world should please us by the variety of colours not
Primakov told to put house in order at Davos gathering
DAVOS, Switzerland, Feb 2 (AFP) - Russian premier Yevgeny Primakov won much
moral support from a six-day meeting of the world's business and political
elite -- but was told starkly that he must drive through reforms to win
more Western cash.
Primakov came to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss ski resort
of Davos to present his case to the 1,000 corporate chiefs and more than
250 political leaders gathered here for their annual blue-chip summit which
He went away with some kind words, other blunt ones, and little in the
way of concrete help.
"We find it important to not just go in and give money to Russia," said
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Tuesday. "The Primakov government ..
has understood that point. They know they have to get the reform process
going," he added.
US Vice President Al Gore told Primakov that he welcomed progress on the
Russian budget -- but insisted that Moscow must be "realistic" in its
dealings with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"Our position is to urge Russia to work very closely with the IMF and to
develop an economic plan that is realistic and promises to be effective,"
said a US official after a 90-minute meeting between the two leaders.
The Russian premier himself told the WEF meeting that it would probably
take "more than a year" to overcome his country's current economic crisis,
but insisted it was a temporary phenomenon.
"So far as Russia is concerned these dire economic straits (are) a
temporary phenomenon ... it will take time and probably more than a year to
get out of these dire straits," he said.
Russian officials have talked up their chances of striking a deal with
the IMF which would enable Moscow to restructure a large portion of the
17.5 billion dollars (15.5 billion euros) of foreign debt which falls due
But a team of IMF experts currently studying the Russian government's
economic plans has queried a string of assumptions in this year's draft
budget, dismissing inflation and exchange rate assumptions as over-optimistic.
The corporate leaders in Davos were extremely supportive. There was much
talk of long-term commitment to investing in the economy and people of
Russia despite the current crisis afflicting the country.
But in concrete terms Primakov came away with little.
One hopeful note came Saturday when Primakov said here that he would sign
Monday a memorandum providing answers to questions from the International
Monetary Fund, after meeting IMF deputy head Stanley Fischer.
Monday came and went however without such an agreement -- Moscow
officials said they were planning to publish a memorandum answering IMF
Further bad news also came Monday when leading international ratings
agency Standard and Poor's gave Russia a de facto default rating, for its
failure to pay back foreign creditors.
Schroeder on Tuesday stressed above all the need for Russia to put its
house in order.
"The economic support that needs to be provided should be organized in
such a way that it underlines the Russian responsibilty for self-reliance.
They have to take responsibility and set up their own structures," he said.
Lebed Interviewed on 'Hero of the Day'
January 28, 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Good evening, your are watching Hero of the Day and this is Svetlana
Sorokina in the studio. You cannot command in whispers--that is proved by
experience. This aphorism by Kuzma Protkov was not idly chosen, since my
guest today has a resonant voice heard far beyond the region he heads. My
guest today is Aleksandr Ivanovich Lebed, Governor of Krasnoyarsk
Territory. Hello, Aleksandr Ivanovich.
[Lebed] Hello. [passage omitted: importance of commander's voice]
[Sorokina] We hear your voice, and many things happening in
Krasnoyarsk Territory lead one to think that you are continuing combat
action, while you are now a civilian. What are the most difficult fronts?
[Lebed] In general I am opposed in principle to combat action in
peacetime on my own land.
[Sorokina] But it happens?
[Lebed] It happens, but I am not the initiator. [passage omitted:
Lebed happy with his job]
[Sorokina] Aleksandr Ivanovich, what is happening with [aluminum
magnate Anatoliy] Bykov with whom you currently have such an open
confrontation? At one time he supported you. Now you are on opposite
[Lebed] What do you mean, supported?
[Sorokina] In the election campaign.
[Lebed] He is a businessman. He has to worry about his profit.
[passage omitted: further on this]
[Sorokina] So a conflict started between you.
[Lebed] It was not I who started the conflict and I do not intend to
keep it going. I want business to be in contact with the authorities, to
hold talks and dialogue with the authorities, but when business starts to
blackmail the authorities--and that is precisely the case here--we shall
bankrupt one of the biggest coal companies in the country for 600,000
rubles, when the government cannot sell it and money is not given to the
government for it...[Pauses] The IBRD $800 million against 600,000 rubles;
when business starts to blackmail the authorities they must treat those
businessmen like cats that have made a mess. [passage omitted: mistake
made by his predecessor on electricity prices]
[Sorokina] In your complex affairs, your battles in Krasnoyarsk
Territory, can you rely on support from the center, from the presidential
[Lebed] What battles?
[Sorokina] You said that having removed your uniform four years ago,
you did not think you would have to fight again, but here you are.
[Lebed] It is not a battle, it is flowers.
[Sorokina] Fine. Can you rely on a watering can from the center for
[Lebed] Of course. The question is very simple. Is there power in
the country or not?
[Sorokina] Do you have an answer to that question?
[Lebed] I think we will all get an answer to that question in about 70
[Sorokina] Why that timescale?
[Lebed] Power must be apparent in that time, if it exists.
[Sorokina] At your level?
[Lebed] At all levels. [passage omitted: Sorokina tries to pin Lebed
down on 70 days, without success]
[Sorokina] The situation with the coal mine is due to be sorted out
[Lebed] Certainly. There are no longer any coal bosses. On the night
of 18th January they left the Territory.
[Sorokina] You got 42 million rubles to cover the mine's debts.
[Lebed] Yes, I tried to give it to them.
[Sorokina] And no one took the money?
[Lebed] No one took the money. They decided to run away and they ran
[Sorokina] A unique situation.
[Lebed] Amazing, no one wants to take it.
[Sorokina] They want bankruptcy?
[Lebed] Yes, but that will not happen. [passage omitted: Lebed has
support in the Territory, no interest in fate of his predecessor's aides]
[Sorokina] Finally, I want to ask you about a topic that has long been
close to you, and still is, the situation regarding Chechnya. Governors are
calling on the president to introduce a state of emergency in Stavropol
Territory in connection with the situation in Chechnya. What do you think
[Lebed] I implemented a state of emergency four times in my life.
These are laughable calls. For this you need forces and funds. If you
have that, then you can introduce a state of emergency in three hours. But
in present circumstances it will take 33 years to introduce it. They will
not do it.
[Sorokina] So what will they do in this situation?
[Lebed] There is no need for any state of emergency. What to do is
not a theme for public discussion. [passage omitted: peacekeepers are
operating in Chechnya, refusal to comment on a challenge from a local
opponent to a boxing match]
Russian Opinion Poll Puts Communists Ahead
Moscow, Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Following are results of an
opinion poll carried out by the independent Russian Social-Economic
Agency. The opinion poll was conducted Jan. 19-26 in 81 of Russia's
regions and surveyed 36,487 people.
Would you vote if parliamentary elections took place on Sunday?
Yes 41.2% No 32.1% Don't know 26.7%
Which party/political movement would you vote for?
Communist Party 13.6%
Russian National Union 8.4%
Women of Russia 6.3%
Peoples' Republican Party 5.4%
Our Home Is Russia 3.4%
Union of People's Power and Labor 3.1%
Liberal Democratic Party 2.9%
Working Russia 2.7%
The Right Cause 1.8%
People's Power 1.6%
Workers' Self-Governing Party 1.6%
Congress of Russian Communities 1.1%
Russian Pensioners' Party 0.7%
Democratic Choice of Russia 0.12%
Against everybody 3.9%
Wouldn't vote 6.1%
Don't know 10.5%
What would you base your choice on?
The party's program 23.4%
Attitude towards the party's leader 35.2%
The Party's previous record 25.5%
Don't know 14.7%
Gorbachev Endorses Primakov-Luzhkov Ticket in 2000
MOSCOW, Feb. 03, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Former Soviet president
Mikhail Gorbachev on Tuesday endorsed the idea of an election ticket in
2000 pairing Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov for president with Moscow
Mayor Yury Luzhkov as his premier.
"There is no better candidate than Primakov," Gorbachev told a news
conference, adding "the new government should be run by Luzhkov."
"It would be exactly what we need," he said.
Primakov, who comes out favorably in polls, reiterated Sunday he did not
intend to run for president when President Boris Yeltsin's mandate expires
He repeatedly said he would not take up the job of prime minister after
Yeltsin dismissed former premier Victor Chernomyrdin after the Russian
economy collapsed last August.
Luzhkov, who founded his own Fatherland party late last year as a vehicle
for his Kremlin ambitions, has not ruled out the possibility of running in
"There is a potential future for this party," Gorbachev said, while
noting that Luzhkov has not yet "developed his strategy."
The former president then urged the ailing Boris Yeltsin to resign.
"I am addressing the president," he said. "As long as he still has his
strength, as long as he can control the situation, I am proposing that he
resign and call early elections," Gorbachev added.
Yeltsin, who turned 68 Monday, was back in office for the first time this
year Tuesday, two days after being discharged from the hospital, where he
was recovering from an acute ulcer.
Yeltsin, who is frequently out of the office with bouts of illness, has
flatly refused to step down before his term expires.
Press Says Prosecutor Ousted for Political Reasons
MOSCOW, Feb. 03, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia's press scoffed
Wednesday at the official ill-health reason for the resignation of the
country's top prosecutor, and argued that he was ousted from office due to
a host of political reasons.
Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov (pictured), 46, who held the job for
more than three years, tendered his resignation Monday evening and checked
into hospital with a heart complaint.
President Boris Yeltsin promptly urged the Federation Council to ratify
the prosecutor's departure.
But newspapers said that Skuratov's removal was more likely due to a
catalogue of other reasons: his apathy in battling burgeoning extremism;
his failure to prosecute perpetrators of shocking political assassinations;
and his decision to probe shadowy tycoon Boris Berezovsky over Kremlin
Skuratov's resignation came on the day that the Kremlin declared war on
extremist and neo-Nazi groupings in Russia -- and on the same day that his
office raided one of Berezovsky's companies in search of evidence that the
billionaire had been listening in on Yeltsin's private conversations.
The probe into the allegations against Berezovsky proved that Skuratov
had allied with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov in his battle against the
'oligarch' for influence in the Kremlin, the press said.
"He resigned but not of his own volition," said the Kommersant daily.
"The over-accommodating prosecutor no longer suits the presidential team
for at least two reasons. His indecisiveness in battling fascism and the
decisiveness of Yevgeny Primakov in seeking influence over the president,"
the daily said.
The Izvestiya daily said Skuratov had erred into the leftist camp, going
even as far as saving noted xenophobes such as Communist lawmaker general
Albert Makashov from prosecution for their outrageous anti-Semitic rhetoric.
"The sabotage by the prosecutor of the cases against (Krasnodar governor
Nikolai) Kondratenko and Makashov...on the eve of parliamentary and
presidential elections could do little else but make the Kremlin want to
change the prosecutor," Izvestiya said.
"In a word, a critical mass of political reasons had built up which
prompted the executive leaders to remove the prosecutor general," the daily
Novye Izvestiya noted that Yeltsin's decision came on the day he returned
to work at the Kremlin after a seven-week sick leave. The president has a
habit of reasserting his political authority on his return from ill-health.
Skuratov had made further enemies with the country's central bank which
he accused of pilfering more than $1 billion in the course of Russia's
financial meltdown last year. He also waged war on captains of industry by
ordering probes into supposedly rigged privatizations.
Yeltsin had moreover recently criticized Skuratov for failing to solve a
series of high-profile murders and political assassinations that included
the St. Petersburg slaying of liberal icon Galina Starovoitova.