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9 February 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. The Globe and Mail (Canada): Geoffrey York, Primakov gains trust,
power as Russian PM.
2. AP: Russia Communist Chief: No Election.
3. Moscow Times: Jonathan Dean, Relaunching START II.
4. Itar-Tass: Russian Army Will See No New Weapons by 2005, Minister Says.
5. RFE/RL: Ronald Eggleston, NATO: Russia Doubts New Strategic Concept.
6. Mike Mckeever: $50 billion.
7. Peter Ekman: kinulied again.
8. Moscow Tribune: Catherin Belton, Nikitin Case to Be Investigated
9. Mark Jones: Re Moral Culture and Russian Prosperity.]
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
February 8, 1999
[for personal use only]
Primakov gains trust, power as Russian PM
'Excellent tactician' moves out of shadows,
establishes control over security forces
Moscow -- In a series of lightning strikes at his rivals, Prime Minister
Yevgeny Primakov has expanded his power and entrenched himself as Russia's
Mr. Primakov's shrewd manoeuvring seems to have nudged Boris Yeltsin further
to the sidelines, weakening the Russian President at a time when he was
believed to be contemplating a counterattack against the Primakov cabinet.
Since he was appointed Prime Minister five months ago, Mr. Primakov has
most of his time in the shadows, installing allies in key posts and
consolidating his position in the Kremlin.
Last week, however, he used a series of police raids to demonstrate his
control of Russia's powerful security forces, which had previously been loyal
to the President. He also persuaded Mr. Yeltsin to accept new limits on his
Mr. Primakov also boosted his popularity by launching a high-profile
anticorruption campaign, highlighted by the arrest of a former cabinet
minister. He threatened to "optimize" the jail population by filling the
prisons with corrupt officials and businessmen.
"Primakov is an excellent tactician, and he's growing stronger," said Boris
Kagarlitsky, senior researcher at the Institute of Comparative Political
Studies in Moscow.
"He's moving step by step. Yeltsin seems to have lost support in the
services, and Primakov is increasingly establishing his control over them.
That is the key to this situation."
Mr. Primakov's latest manoeuvre came on Friday, when he induced Mr.
accept limits on the president's traditional power to sack the prime minister.
These limits could be crucial, since Mr. Yeltsin has twice thrown the
government into chaos by dismissing a prime minister and his entire cabinet
without any warning.
Under the agreement announced on Friday, the President cannot sack the
Primakov government until he has held formal consultations with the
opposition-dominated parliament, where Mr. Primakov has broad support. While
this doesn't prohibit Mr. Yeltsin from firing his Prime Minister, it would
prevent the kind of ambush-style surprise sackings that Mr. Yeltsin
orchestrated twice last year.
"Consultation sounds meaningless, but it's not," Mr. Kagarlitsky said.
real limit to his powers. It changes the whole structure of power. It's a move
away from an autocratic presidential republic to a sort of parliamentary
Mr. Primakov, a wily 69-year-old former diplomat and spymaster, was
seen as a caretaker prime minister and transitional figure when he was
appointed in September at the height of a national crisis. Mr. Yeltsin was
reluctant to appoint him, but was forced to bow to parliamentary pressure.
Mr. Primakov has consistently denied any presidential ambitions. But when he
brought stability and dignity to the political landscape, his popularity began
to grow, despite his failure to solve Russia's massive backlog of unpaid wages
and other chronic economic woes.
Recent opinion polls show that he is the most trusted politician in
aura of serene confidence and his tough populist rhetoric have struck exactly
the right chord among Russia's voters, who yearn for stability.
In the first round of a presidential election, polls suggest, Mr. Primakov
would run second, behind the Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov. But in a
second round, in a two-candidate runoff, he would defeat the Communist
contender or anyone else, the polls predict.
Because of his age and health problems, Mr. Primakov might not run in the
scheduled presidential election next year. Some analysts suspect he would
prefer to engineer a backroom deal with parliament to strengthen his powers
and make him Russia's dominant ruler.
He took a big step toward that goal last week when he sent a chilling
to presidential candidate Alexander Lebed and Boris Berezovsky, the business
tycoon with close ties to Mr. Yeltsin.
Heavily armed police commandos in fatigues and black ski masks descended on
Mr. Berezovsky's oil company and other business offices in a series of raids.
They announced they had found evidence of illegal spying operations by one of
the tycoon's companies.
At the same, several of Mr. Berezovsky's loyalists were ousted from
one of his most important companies. And authorities began bankruptcy
procedures against his biggest media holding, the influential ORT television
Mr. Primakov also moved against Mr. Lebed by seizing control of key
in the Siberian region where he is governor, including the printing press that
publishes the region's newspapers.
Mr. Primakov has not yet moved against his two strongest rivals, Mr.
and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, and seems to have reached a temporary truce
with both men.
Russia Communist Chief: No Election
February 8, 1999
By ANNA DOLGOV
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's Communist leader called Monday for constitutional
amendments that would abolish nationwide presidential elections and transfer
some presidential powers to the Cabinet and parliament.
While typical of the Communists' political grandstanding, Gennady Zyuganov's
remarks dimmed the prospects for a truce among President Boris Yeltsin's
Cabinet, his staff and the Communist-dominated opposition in parliament.
All sides have been calling for reconciliation, but have different ideas on
what it should entail.
``The president should not necessarily be elected by all citizens,''
was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying. ``It is not necessary to drag
the whole country into the process.''
He also said some presidential powers should be redistributed between the
executive and legislative branches.
Months of political calm in Russia abruptly ended last week with a standoff
between Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and influential tycoon Boris
Berezovsky, and rumors about a government shakeup.
Yeltsin's history of unpredictable behavior has made many nervous that he
decide to fire Primakov, who has been getting increasingly bold.
In what many analysts saw as an attempt to create guarantees for his job,
Primakov proposed a political truce among Yeltsin's staff, parliament and the
Cabinet that would bar Yeltsin from disbanding parliament or the government --
in exchange for a promise that parliament drop impeachment proceedings against
The proposal drew sharp criticism from all sides. Yeltsin's aides have
parliamentary leaders a new draft agreement that would only bar the president
from disbanding the government without notifying lawmakers.
The draft agreement also includes a promise from both parliament and Yeltsin
not to rewrite the constitution.
Zyuganov's Communist Party, which dominates the lower house of
clearly displeased with the plan, and called instead for what would
effectively amount to the return to a Soviet-style system.
Besides calling for doing away with national presidential elections,
said Russians shouldn't be allowed to elect regional governors.
He said the president should be chosen by the two houses of parliament. He
didn't specify who would appoint the governors -- who make up the upper house
of parliament -- but seemed to expect that the Communist Party would be
allowed a say in the process.
Meanwhile, a poll released Monday indicated that public support for Zyuganov
has been shrinking, while Primakov has been gaining popularity. Yeltsin, whose
ratings generally stay in the low single digits, didn't even register in the
poll by the independent All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research.
According to the poll, 29 percent of respondents approved of Primakov, up
24 percent in November. Zyuganov's rating was down to 18 percent from 20
percent in November.
The Interfax news agency, which carried the poll results, gave no margin of
February 9, 1999
Relaunching START II
By Jonathan Dean
Jonathan Dean is adviser for international security issues at the Union of
Concerned Scientists. He contributed this comment to The Moscow Times
Many Russian critics of START II have complained about its high economic
for Russia. They argue that the treaty will require Russia to destroy many
missiles, to build a large number of a new class of land-based missiles, Topol
Ms, and to construct a new class of missile-equipped submarines, also with new
missiles. For its part, the United States will merely have to "download" or
dismount some warheads from its submarine-launched missiles and will not at
this time have to undergo major costs for building new types of missiles and
This disparity does exist. However, it is not mainly the result of START II,
but of different cycles of production in the former Soviet Union and the
United States which left the United States with newer armaments and Russia
with older ones when the Cold War ended.
Under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II, Russia will retain some SS-19
missiles to convert to single-warhead missiles by downloading. But it would
not be possible to do this with SS-18 missiles, which must be destroyed under
the treaty, although some SS-18 silos may be retained for space and satellite
Some Russian experts want to modify START II, which, as indicated, prohibits
land-based missiles with more than one warhead, to permit the new Russian
Topol M to be equipped with three warheads. In that case, if a new START III
set a level of 2,000 for the United States and for Russia, Russia would have
to build only one-third of the Topol M missiles that it would otherwise have
to construct to maintain the permitted level. Even so, at a construction rate
of only a handful of Topol Ms per year, it would be difficult for Russia to
maintain equality with the United States in numbers of deployed warheads using
three-warhead Topol M missiles only.
Equipping Topol M with three warheads therefore does make some sense from
viewpoint of saving money and of maintaining equality with the United States
but not that of arms control and disarmament. True, the mutual danger from
MIRVed, multiple warhead, missiles has decreased with the passing of the Cold
War confrontation. But intercontinental missiles armed with multiple warheads
remain a magnet for possible preemptive attack. For this reason, the U.S.
Senate considers the fact that START II prohibits all land-based multiple
warheads a major advantage of START II and fears losing that gain for both
sides if START II is not ratified by the State Duma. That is why the U.S.
administration, pressed by the Republican majority in the Senate, insists on
ratifying START II before moving on to negotiate START III.
One way to deal with this cost problem and also make more rapid progress in
nuclear arms control would be to add a protocol to START II reducing the
permitted level of deployed warheads to 1,000 each for both countries, and
then proceed to negotiate START III covering data exchange, warhead
dismantlement, tactical warheads and sea-launched cruise missiles, the topics
the two presidents agreed at Helsinki in 1997 to negotiate. Under this
approach, Russia might have 200 land-based warheads mounted on single warhead
Topol M missiles and SS-19s, and make up the difference with multiple warheads
on submarine missiles.
Still cheaper for Russia would be to have a limit of 1,000 total deployed
warheads each for Russia and the United States. The term "total deployed
warheads" would cover both nuclear warheads intended for intercontinental-
range ballistic missiles (and/or bomber aircraft) and nuclear warheads
intended for shorter range "tactical" delivery systems. Each country would
decide for itself on the combination of tactical and strategic warheads it
desired and would be free to change that mix at a later time after
notification. In this way, Russia could, with minimum construction of new
Topol M missiles, maintain a 2,000- or 1,000-warhead level equal with the
United States using a combination of single warheads for SS-19 and Topol M
missiles, tactical warheads, and multiple warheads for submarine missiles.
A further way for Russia to deal with the cost factor would be to demand
ceilings with the United States, and not to insist that Russia's deployed-
warhead totals reach those ceilings from the beginning, but slowly increase
this total over the years as new Russian single-warhead missiles are built.
All of these three approaches would save money for both countries,
for Russia. They would also place both countries in a position to enter
nuclear arms control negotiations with China, Britain and France to work out
agreements on small equal arsenals of about 200 total (strategic plus
tactical) warheads, immobilized through placing separated warheads and
delivery systems into internationally monitored storage on the territory of
the owner state. Israel, India and Pakistan could be invited to join this
program under similar conditions.
Owner states could withdraw their warheads in emergencies. If it were agreed
to and carried out, this approach would eliminate or sharply reduce the main
current dangers from nuclear weapons for all sides f actual surprise attack,
accidental launch, unauthorized launch, threats of launch and seizure or theft
of warheads or fissile material. At the same time, it would leave nuclear
weapon states with a strategic nuclear reserve that could be used in
situations of acute national emergency.
It is true that destruction of old missiles and dismantling of excess
in Russia and in the United States under approaches like these would cost a
lot of money. However, the advantages of such approaches for both sides and
for international security would be so great that the United States should be
expected to provide for considerably greater economic help for Russian warhead
and missile dismantling and warhead storage than it does at present.
Russian Army Will See No New Weapons by 2005, Minister Says.
TVER, February 8 (Itar-Tass) - Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev said that the
Russian armed forces will begin receiving new weapons and hardware only
after the year 2005.
Until then they will have to repair and modernise the existing weapons
and equipment, he said.
The minister arrived in Tver on a one-day trip and visited the Air
Defence University, formerly Zhukov Air Defence Academy, to familiarise
himself with the work of its departments.
"We live in a world where stable certainty has been replaced with a
variety of uncertainty," Sergeyev told the faculty members.
He noted that the events "happening in the international arena have made
society turn towards the army."
The minister believes that "even in these difficult conditions, owing to
the efforts of the president and the prime minister, funds have been found
to raise the salary of the military."
He expressed the hope for further increases in the defence budget and
linked his optimism with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov who "understands
the importance of force in conditions of uncertainty better than any of his
Sergeyev was also due to visit the local cadet school, which turned 55 in
December, and meet Tver regional governor Vladimir Platov.
NATO: Russia Doubts New Strategic Concept
By Roland Eggleston
Munich, 8 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Russia has told an international
security conference it is concerned about some aspects of NATO's new
strategic concept. But senior NATO officials responded that Moscow had no
cause for alarm
Russian deputy foreign minister Yevgeni Gusarov told the conference in
Munich, Germany, that some members of the Alliance apparently wanted to
reorient NATO's activities by adopting a policy aimed at dominating the
zone covered by the European-Atlantic partnership.
He said it appeared NATO wanted to extend its competence to embrace
Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet space. He said the new policy also
suggests that the new strategic concept envisaged NATO resorting to
military force without the authorization of the U.N. Security Council.
NATO's new strategic concept is expected to be approved at a summit
meeting in Washington marking the 50th anniversary of the Alliance. It
updates the 1949 Treaty which created NATO for the defense of the West
In his address today, Gusarov said Russia wanted the new NATO document to
guarantee that NATO would act in compliance with international law. Russia
also wanted a clear indication that the United Nations Security Council is
primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security.
Gusarev said Russia also wanted the document to guarantee's NATO's
co-operation with the United Nations and the Organization for Security and
Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) and to search for ways it could interact with
these two organizations.
He said, "We hope that the new strategic concept will be free of the
vestiges of the cold war, and that the role of NATO will be rather
political than military". He also said "We hope the NATO alliance will act
in the common European interests as an important element of the European
security structure. We do not want a recurrence of confrontation with NATO."
The U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Alexander Vershbow, and the chairman of
NATO's military committee, General Klaus-Dieter Naumann, responded that
NATO was changing its mission to meet new threats.
They said Europe was faced with crises outside NATO's original field of
operations, such as the Serbian Kosovo province. They said the new
strategic concept would allow NATO to work with Russia in managing such
Vershbow, said changes were necessary because NATO needs to strengthen
its collective defense against threats such as chemical or biological
attacks from rogue nations. He said Russia itself had referred several
times to such dangers.
General Naumann said that NATO had to take into account human rights
catastrophes, such as the one in Kosovo. If action by the United Nations
was blocked by some countries in the Security Council, then NATO might have
to take action without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.
He also said that decisions were not taken by NATO as such. Each of the
present 16 members had to individually agree to NATO actions.
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1999
From: mike mckeever <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: $50 billion
This is a comment on two articles in your letter #3047: Elizabeth Davis on
$50 billion and Paul Goble on subsistence farming.
Elizabeth raises the question as to why no one is interested in the fact
that $50 billion has gone offshore while Paul Goble's piece details life in
an increasingly hazardous economy. I think the two items are directly
related: one of the reasons that life is so difficult for ordinary citizens
is that the money which could be used to pay salaries and create demand for
Russian goods is sent offshore; this has the effect of reducing domestic
demand, employment and economic well-being.
I think the reason that no one is interested is that the Washington
consensus of economic theory says that only liberalized capital markets will
create wealth; that is, placing restrictions on capital leaving the country
is against the best interests of the Russian people. This, of course, is
nonsense, but the IMF and Us Treasury people believe in it despite
overwhelming evidence to the contrary: Thailand, Korea, Brazil, Indonesia.
Until someone convinces Camdessus and Rubin that the policy is a failure,
the situation will probably remain the same.
From: "Peter D. Ekman" <email@example.com>
Subject: kinulied again
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1999
Forgive me, but I get excited by the thought of $50 billion. Last week
when Chief Prosecutor Yuri Skuratov was forced out of office and left
behind a memo stating that the Central Bank was hiding (or doing something
with - it's not exactly clear what) $50 billion, I considered this to be
the biggest story - or the biggest piece of disinformation - about Russia
in the last 10 years.
$50 billion is a lot of money. It's 2 1/2 times the size of Russia's
annual budget. It's more than twice the size of the IMF bailout announced
for Russia last summer. It's more than 10 times the amount of money
actually released by the IMF last summer.
There's at least one piece of confirming evidence on the "$50 billion"
story - an interview given by Central Bank Chief Victor Gerashchenko on ORT
last Friday. But I still think that the most likely explanations are
economic illiteracy by Skuratov (e.g. multiple counting of the same money,
or slipping a decimal point) or a disinformation campaign against the
In any case, Gerashchenko's interview was amazing. I quote the
Saturday, Feb. 6 Moscow Times. The single quotes are translations of
Gerashchenko "said FIMACO was used to hide assets from London and Paris
Club creditors - institutions that hold billions of dollars in Soviet era
debts Russia has promised to honor - out of fear those creditors would get
angry and try to seize Russia's foreign assets.
"As an example, Gerashchenko said that in 1994 $1.4 billion was
transferred to FIMACO's accounts by the Central Bank.
' At that time Russia was involved in difficult negotiations with the
London and Paris Clubs, and there was a probability that the country's
foreign property could be seized,' Gerashchenko said. 'FIMACO was set up to
avoid complications.' "
If the Times correctly summarized this interview, Gerashchenko has
confessed on national TV to hiding $1.4 billion (as an example!) from
creditors. If this was a commercial deal in the U.S., he'd be in jail by
now! This statement could also be used to freeze Russia's assets, since
Russia is currently in default to London and Paris Club creditors.
Gerashchenko's statement goes well beyond Anatoli Chubais's infamous
statement last fall that "Russia stiffed the IMF." At least Chubais had
the grace to disclaim the statement. There was also much discussion
whether "kinuli" should be properly translated as stiffed, suckered,
fooled, or hoodwinked.
Gerashchenko should not be able to claim to have been misunderstood.
After all, he specified the mechanism, the date, the parties involved, the
amount ($1.4 billion), and the purpose.
More information is urgently needed on this. Trying to make sense of
the current information is likely to result in some "never-never land
scenarios." But some of the questions that need to be asked are:
Where did the money come from? Skuratov said that some came from the
IMF, but this seems unlikely. More likely (but who knows?) are undeclared
Soviet gold reserves.
How come nobody noticed an extra $50 billion bouncing around the world
economy? $50 billion is hard to hide. The only institutions that could
transfer sums of this size are central banks, and large commercial banks
who are probably all members of the London Club. Even if it was divided
into a hundred pieces - half a billion dollar payments are still noticeable.
What did the Central Bank's Western auditors know about the money?
Why did Gerashchenko insist that the same auditors return this year?
In defense of the auditors, it should be noted that there are no
Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP) for central banks - at
least not that I know of. The auditors may also have been given a strictly
limited engagement (i.e. Russian operations only), and as with every
Western audit in Russia, a qualified report was probably issued.
Where did the money go? What were the commissions and other expenses of
Maybe I'm just missing the joke here - after all it's not April 1 yet.
But I'm afraid other people might be missing something else - $50 billion.
Feb. 8, 1999
Nikitin Case to Be Investigated Indefinitely
By Catherine Belton
The fate of retired naval officer Aleksander Nikitin still lies in limbo
Russia's Supreme Court dismissed his appeal last Thursday and sent back the
espionage case against him for further investigation.
Nikitin has been the focus of a Federal Security Service (FSB) probe for
almost four years now, after security officials accused him of betraying state
secrets in a report to the Norwegian environmental group The Bellona
Foundation. In the report he revealed details of nuclear waste dumping by
Russia's aging Northern Fleet.
But Thursday's ruling to return the case to FSB officials grants
more time to dredge up evidence against Nikitin and could see the case
prolonged for an indefinite length of time.
Nikitin's defense team slammed the court's decision.
"I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision. I thought
this level, judges could have taken on the responsibility to close the case,"
Nikitin told reporters after the hearing.
"What alarms and worries me is that the continued investigation could go on
for an unlimited time," he said, but added that there was a "90 percent
certainty" that the case would never make it back to trial.
The case has been championed by human rights activists worldwide as an
important litmus test of Russia's ability to break free from Soviet style
muzzling on sensitive issues such as environmental pollution.
But Nikitin's lawyers have often suggested the case has become a matter of
pride for the FSB who are unlikely to let the matter drop.
"The FSB have deceived top government officials to get the case to trial.
There have been so many lies that it would be difficult for them to step down
now," Nikitin's lawyer Genri Reznik claimed at a recent press conference.
Nikitin's defense repudiate the FSB's claims that the information
the Bellona report divulged state secrets. According to the defense, the
Nikitin report was based on facts already open to the public.
At an earlier trial in St. Petersburg last October, residing judge Sergei
Golets turfed the case against Nikitin out of court, claiming the evidence
provided by the FSB was not enough to allow a ruling either way.
Both sides appealed the decision.
Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on the appeal sends Nikitin back to an
uncertain twilight zone where he is still forbidden from travelling freely out
of his hometown of St. Petersburg.
"The continuation of the case puts Nikitin in a very difficult situation.
extremely difficult for him to live with these charges and restrictions
constantly hanging over his head. And, there are no time limitations on the
FSB investigations," Diederik Lohmann, the head of the Moscow office of
Helsinki Human Rights Watch and close observer of the case, told The Moscow
In a recent interview with The Moscow Tribune, Nikitin said the travel
restrictions prevented him from continuing his ecological work.
"Without a decision, there are great restrictions on me. I cannot leave St.
Petersburg. Even to come to Moscow for the Supreme Court ruling I had to ask
the permission of the St. Petersburg courts. This is against international
human rights laws," he said.
"If this decision had been made by the courts then fair enough, but I am
city arrest without being proven guilty because of a decision taken by the FSB
alone," he said.
The president of the Bellona Foundation, Frederick Hague, also joined the
outcry condemning the duration of the Nikitin case.
"The Nikitin case has to be stopped. The case is preventing our
work in Russia's northern regions where an ecological disaster is looming.
Nobody will work with us there. They are all afraid of similar charges," he
told reporters at a recent press conference.
"There are over 20,000 damaged spent (nuclear) fuel rods (stored in just one
town in the north). The walls where they are stored are already cracking. When
the ice melts this winter the water will enter the cracks, freeze again and
make the cracks bigger. I am afraid there will be an accident there soon," he
"We don't have time for this case. We want to save the northern areas and we
are afraid," he said.
Nikitin's defense team are currently discussing the possibility of appealing
the decision to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
But, according to Lohmann, the complicated procedures involved in lodging an
appeal with the court mean it could be years before a decision is reached.
Date: Mon, 08 Feb 1999
From: Mark Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Moral Culture and Russian Prosperity.]
The absurdities of Busse did not seem worthy of comment, but
now that anthropology has raised its ugly head, I hope you'll allow me to
comparison between the fate of Russia and the fate of other primitive peoples.
Edwin G. Dolan, JRL3046, seems to think that the Soviet Union was a nomadic
of hunter-gatherers. It was more than that, actually, and before we try to
the Russians themselves that it was, we shall have to ply them with a lot
cheap booze and 'aid'. People can still remember. As those who ever lived
know, yes there was corruption on a large scale in the USSR but there were
normative standards of honesty, collective action, solidarity and
and pace Gaddy & Ickes, the country was productive enough to be able to
and to provide its citizens with a higher standard of life than capitalism
Of course, if you steal people's land and livelihoods from them, as
the case of the Ik and of First Nations everywhere, most recently in the
of the Ogoni in West Nigeria, whose land was turned into a reeking swamp of
oil pollution and gas flaring by Shell Oil (whose royalties financed the
government which then executed Ogoni playwright Ken Saro Wiwa), and you
decant them into some reservation and give them a few shovels to get by,
you can expect them to turn nasty. If, as in the case of Russia, you
promote the activites of notorious thieves and robbers, making a new
elite of the most criminalised, anti-social groupings, which is what the
then you can get virulent anti-Americanism as one possible response, but
you can also spread the idea that in Western eyes, theft, cynicism,
greed, plunder and a devil-take-the-hindmost attitude to one's fellow
citizens, are all
commendable, jolly good things which are normative western values. You
surprised if your quislings and placemen then turn into natives before your
eyes and start to behave in the same way, even biting the hand that feeds
and do it without displaying any of the conventional hypocrisy which masks
such behaviour and conceals the true selfishness behind the superficial
good-neighbourliness of westerners.
Shocked by the appalling lack of gratitude and general bad manners of
your victims, the next logical thing to do is to call in the
special breed of men and women invented in Victorian England for
the sake of salving bad consciences and explaining away in
the anti-social behaviour of colonial peoples traumatised by our own
genocidal behaviour. If you really want to see the kind of behaviour Dolan
in its most florid expression, you have to read not anthropology but the
of Primo Levi, the Auschwitz victim who survived until 1987 before
as the consequence of his unassuagable guilt and endless waking nightmare.
such as 'The Truce' (1963) and 'The Drowned and the Saved' (1986) he shows
physical torture and annihilation inevitably produce spiritual degradation
complicity of the victim in the process. This in particular is what destroys
the sense of worth and self-esteem of survivors; it is what drove Levi to
himself and what drives people on reservations to drink, demoralisation and
death. Jane Jacobs would have had a field day as an SS anthropologist
the odd behaviour of the Jews in the camps and rationalising it for a
posterity. It's their Jewishness, you see. The Jews are well known for being
cunning, conniving, deceitful, anti-social, thieving, beggar-my-neighbour etc.
I can give you an example closer to home of what happens when you steal
birthright. I hope you will allow me to do it in sufficient detail to show the
absurdity of Jane Jacob's findings about 'Guardian culture' which Dolan has
The Skokomish Indians lived in the Olympic mountains in western Washington
state.Unfortunately for them a utility company decided to build dams and
plants on the Skokomish River: after all, who really needed the kind of
actvities like year-round salmon-fishing and celebrating nature which the
were into? Just like at the kind of futile existence these people had
got the benefits of modernity: the Skokomish regarded the valley of the
North Fork as the
home of their ancestors, an idea which recently received archaeological
support with the
discovery of prehistoric village sites that were inundated by the flooding
of Lake Cushman
caused by the construction of the first power dam. The age of these sites
was estimated at
between 5000 to 8000 years old based on the style of artifacts found and
their similarity to
other presumed "Olcott" sites in the Pacific. In the nineteenth century the
was also a major village site. The valley was the center for many important
the Skokomish, including flocks of waterfowl, large herds of elk that
wintered in the
valley, and many kinds of useful plants including ironwood, yew, bear
grass, berries and
cedar. A detailed picture of the importance of these resources for the
provided by the work of William Elmendorf. Elmendorf was an anthropologist who
conducted fieldwork among the Skokomish for nearly twenty years, and
comprehensive ethnographic monograph on The Structure of Twana Culture in
Many of Elmendorf’s informants spoke to him about their activities in the
the dams were built: hunting for deer, elk, bear, wolf and marmots in the
spearing ducks and geese from canoes in the river delta, and fishing for
steelhead at the falls and in the river. The lake, waterfalls and mountain
slopes were also
important as sites for guardian spirit questing.
The tidal estuary at the mouth of the river on Hood Canal was also a major
resource for the Skokomish. The abundant shellfish present at the estuary were
particularly valuable because they were stationary and available year
round. Along with
shellfish collection, other important activities included spearing and
trolling for salmon
and bottom fish, hunting for wildfowl with spears and nets, and harvesting
cattail and other plant materials for baskets and containers. The estuary
was also an
important sacred site for the Twana Secret Society.
The third major riverine resource for the Skokomish was of course the river
itself, as a
habitat for anandromous fish. The Skokomish developed an extensive
knowledge of the
habits and what we would now term the ecology of all five species of salmon
steelhead, which arrive at the river in a more-or-less orderly sequence of
extending virtually the year-round. At the height of the salmon runs, vast
fish were available. Maximizing the potential of this resource required a
technological and social innovations. If the salmon were to do more than
provide for the
subsistence needs of individual households, several problems needed to be
solved: how to
catch many fish in a short time, how to store the surplus that could not be
immediately, and how to convert that perishable surplus into wealth. The
exist for commercial fishermen today, who solve them by using large boats
machine-operated gill nets, and selling the fish in the marketplace.
The Skokomish developed a wide variety of fishing techiques, including
spearing, gaffing, trapping, set-lining and gill-netting. Some techniques
were suited for
fishing by individuals or small groups. The most effective method for
however, was the construction of weirs spanning the river, which were set
up by entire
village communities during the salmon runs and carefully managed so that a
fish could be caught without fatally interrupting the spawning cycle.
These weirs made it possible to catch far more fish than the community
could consume. Most of the fish were preserved by smoking or drying. Fish
oil and seal fat
were stored in seal or porpoise bladders, while dried fish was stored in
baskets made from
cedar bark and roots and grasses from the river valley and estuary.
Thus the ability of the Indians to obtain a regular surplus of salmon
depended on two
types of technology: communal weirs and various systems used to catch the
smoke-houses and containers used to preserve them. Effective use of this
required the participation of large social units, which Elmendorf calls
Fishing weirs in the Skokomish river were the communal property of the
a winter-house group who seasonally erected them. However, although all male
members of a village were responsible for the construction and maintenance
weir, sections of the weir platform and the suspended dip nets used there were
individually owned...A large portion of any catch was distributed gratis to
villagers in any case.
Without these communal weirs and an effective technology for storage and
preservation, fishing would have remained a subsistence technology carried
households, and only a fraction of the actual Twana population could have
by this resource. The high population densities, stratified social
structure and complex
ceremonial life which characterize traditional Twana culture are the
products of an
economic adaptation based on the collective management of riverine
resources by the
"villages" or "winter house groups". What were these groups?
The Twana language has no term for the nuclear family or household unit.
the major social unit recognized by the Twana was the group of kinsmen and
occupied the large winter joint-family houses. These groups or "villages"
scel.a in the Twana language. According to Elmendorf, scel.a "referred to
bilaterally reckoned line or lineage, a series of ancestors and
descendants". Twana social
organization was thus technically a form of kinship organization which
call a deme: a clan-like group of persons who reside together and are
related to one
another by marriage or by common descent through either of their parents.
functioned as corporate groups, whose joint estate included weir sites on
the river and
weirs themselves, as well as the large wooden building that served as their
Demes were socially stratified into three classes: upper class, commoners,
Characteristically, even though "slaves" were descended from different kin
residents of a winter village were regarded as members of the deme. The
demes in existence at the time of the treaty negotiations were located at
along the Skokomish river.
The wealth items acquired through the trading network circulated in
exchanges which were the principal focus of social and ceremonial life among
the Skokomish, as well as other Coastal Salish tribes. Elmendorf emphasizes
that a surplus
of fish was sought not as a source of food, but because of its role in a
complex system of
ritualized exchanges that were the foundation of the social and spiritual
life of the
Winter feasting and heightened social activity were not merely matters of
leisure made possible by the existence of preserved-food stores. In the
these winter activities, particularly spirit dancing and its accompanying food
distribution, were the necessities of life for which abundant food stores
had to be put
aside. Informants repeatedly expressed this view. "The real reason", said
Allen, "why people worked so hard in the summer and put aside all that
than they needed-was to feed their c’sa’lt (guardian spirits), when they
them in winter."
In Twana society, individuals gained prestige and social status not by
hoarding up their
surpluses, but rather by generously giving goods away, in a manner that
incorporation of other people. According to the Twana concept of the
humanity to the natural world, the continuation of human life required
humans to kill
sentient beings whom they considered to be, beneath their animal skins or
like themselves. For the Salmon People, the Elk People and the other animal
regarded as sharing a common origin with humanity. As the anthropologist
Indeed the lives of people and game or fish are interdependent; for if the
willingly give themselves to the Indians, it is because the Indians know
how to assure
the rebirth of their prey through the ritual aspects they accord the
that passes through a human phase when the animal is consumed as food.
Such beliefs ensured that the social function of the winter villages
extended beyond the
annual creation of the communal salmon weirs. Each community also took
enforcing rules against the pollution of the river, since this could
interfere with the
annual journeys of the Salmon People. It is reported that even when
feuding, the weirs were regularly opened to allow the fish to continue
upstream. In the autumn, at the height of the salmon run, villages held
potlatch feasts (siwad). Local surpluses of food were traded through an
exchange network to acquire items of wealth that could serve as gifts,
whose bestowal was
the main business of such feasts. The value of these wealth items was
double-fathom strands of dentalium shells as the units of value. In the
members of the upper class presented wealth items to important people from
communities, transforming the wealth generated by their mastery of the
into personal status. Foodstuffs such as salmon were never treated as
wealth for the
purpose of these ceremonial gifts, although a lavish outlay of food was
expected at the
termination of a feast.
For the sponsors of the siwad feasts, the ability to bestow rich gifts was
proof of the
potency of the powers they had acquired from their animal guardian-spirits.
were sought by individuals in vision quests in the mountains. Guardian
spirits (also called
"wealth-power spirits") gave power-songs to their chosen human
these songs were sung by the sponsors at the culmination of the siwad
feasts. One became
a member of the upper class by using the "wealth-powers" acquired from
spirits to accumulate wealth, and ultimately by transforming this wealth
into prestige by
giving it away in competitive feasting. While such feasts served to
validate the upper-class
status of the feast giver, they also helped to maintain social bonds
throughout Twana territory. The ties created by the feast cycles were
by marriages between upper-class individuals belonging to different demes.
Elmendorf’s informants, members of neighboring tribes were also frequently
the cycles of feasts and marriage alliances. The social bonds thus created
practical consequences. During the spring and summer, members of Twana
able to move freely over the entire Twana territory. Warfare existed in the
but only in the form of raids on their villages by distant tribes. Twana
demes did not make
war on one another, or on the neighboring tribes who participated in the
Elmendorf noted that the Twana practiced only defensive warfare, and "in
all accounts the
raiding enemy was defeated by defensive action".
The feast cycles provided manifold practical benefits. But they also had
religious significance. Major rituals served to define Twana concepts of
society in the
context of the collective rites necessary to ensure the continuity of the
example, upper-class leaders of demes annually organized the "First Salmon"
in which the bones of the first salmon caught were ceremoniously sent
to ensure the return of the souls of the
Salmon People to their villages across the western ocean. Similarly, the
community bore the responsibility to enforce rules against polluting the
river which might
harm the Salmon People in their journey upstream. Twana demes were at once
economic and ritual units, whose prosperity depended on their fruitful
connection to the
life-giving powers of the natural world. These powers were conceived as
spirits, who were actually human beings in their own countries. In Twana
animals tell the people to treat them well and to remember that they are
"just like people".
Elemendorf’s informants spoke of "the time when we were animals", before
capsized, noting that "if the people aren’t good, the animals know that
there will be
another [transformation or "capsize" of the world]".
Sociologically, the major use of the surpluses of salmon sought by
the demes was to acquire the wealth items which fueled the cycles of
competitive exchange by which social alliances were extended across the
After the dams were built, the Skokomish river silted up and soon became a
trickle. What happened to the Skokomish? Yes, you guessed it: they ended up
a bunch of
drunks fighting and stealing on a reservation. Then they pretty much died
out. Now their
8,000 year old culture is just history and souvenir shops.
I hope the Russians have better luck than the Skokomish, but I'm not an
optimist any more.
Not when I see how far down the road we have already gone in rationalising
the destruction of
Russian culture and the Russian nation.