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Johnson's Russia List
10 February 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Russian armed forces should be cut 50 pct -weekly.
2. Itar-Tass: USA Wants to Discuss Abm and Nmd Problems with Russia.
3. RFE/RL NEWSLINE: START-II ON AGENDA FOR MARCH.
4. Itar-Tass: Start-2 Ratification Accords with Russian Interests,
5. Moscow Times: Melissa Akin, Yeltsin Put Himself In Harsh Spotlight.
6. Charles A. Warner Re 3047-Goble/USIA Poll on Poverty.
7. Moscow Tribune: John Helmer, ALL THE GOOD HORSES, ALL THE GOOD MEN.
(Re Central Bank).
8. Boston Globe: John Ellis, US Should Build A Military Base In
9. Mark your Calendar, Russia in Crises Roundtable Discussion in
Washington DC February 18.
10. Jamestown Foundation Monitor: YELTSIN REPORTED TO BE CONSIDERING
SOME POLITICAL SURPRISES.
11. Newsweek International: Bill Powell, President-in-Waiting.
12. Renfrey Clarke: RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES TO CRACK DOWN ON EXTREMISTS -
13. Itar-Tass: Russia Communist Boss Amazed at POLICE'S Language Remarks.
14. Mark Jones: re kinulied again.
15. David Filipov: Boston Globe in Moscow job.
16. Dmitry Shlapentokh: new book.]
Russian armed forces should be cut 50 pct -weekly
MOSCOW, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Russia, a former superpower with a small-country
budget, must cut its armed forces by half to fund them properly, a weekly
military newspaper reported.
Moscow slashed its forces by 400,000 to 1.2 million last year as it
struggled to slim down its vast Soviet-era military machine to match
post-Cold War realities and cope with an economic crisis that has squeezed
Yet the latest edition of Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye (Independent
Military Review) said an internal analysis by the Russian General Staff
showed even deeper troop cuts were needed.
``Russia's armed forces must be cut by half,'' the newspaper said in its
main front-page headline. ``Otherwise they face tragic disintegration in
the next few years.''
The analysis, which the weekly said it had reprinted in an edited form,
sketches several scenarios, including one assuming spending remains
unchanged for the next three to four years.
``The conclusion: it is only possible to finance the armed forces with a
strength of 550,000 to 600,000 military personnel,'' the newspaper said,
noting this did not even take account of paying those troops forced back
into civilian life.
``The figure of 1.2 million troops is proving to be unsustainable,'' the
weekly said. ``The figure is essential to maintain parity with the American
armed forces but is unfortunately too much for the Russian economy.''
Even in the best case, the Defence Ministry would receive adequate
funding only by the start of 2004, the analysis said.
``That situation would require a review of the timescale for carrying out
planned reforms in the Russian Federation's armed forces,'' it said.
A Defence Ministry spokesman told Reuters: ``We do not know who the
author of this analysis is. We don't have information to show the source of
the prognosis is in the General Staff headquarters.''
Defence spending in 1998 fell far short of the military's requirements
and wages went unpaid for several months. Cutting troop numbers, buying new
weapons and slimming down command structures also costs money the country
can barely scrape together.
USA Wants to Discuss Abm and Nmd Problems with Russia.
WASHINGTON, February 9 (Itar-Tass) - The United States wants to discuss
with Russia in detail all the problems linked with the ABM treaty and the
American programme to set up a limited national missile defence system
(NMD), Pentagon Spokesman Michael Doubleday told Itar-Tass.
We want to discuss with the Russians the treaty itself as well as our own
programme in order to agree on whatever is necessary, Doubleday added. He
denied assertions that Washington would deal with the NBM treaty,
irrespective of Moscow's stand, and would make a decision to deploy the new
system as soon as it was ready.
The stand of the Russian Duma and the Russian government is very
important for us. This is precisely why we want to discuss with the
Russians the ABM treaty and our NMD programme, the Pentagon spokesman noted.
He found it difficult to answer the question of whether Moscow's firm or
negative attitude to the amendment of the ABM treaty would prevent the
deployment of the American NMD system when it was ready, stating that this
was precisely the subject that should be discussed during the negotiations
between the United States and Russia.
Doubleday explained the choice of January for making the statement on
Pentagon's new approach to the ABM treaty, which Secretary of Defence
William Cohen made a couple of weeks ago, by the latter's desire to outline
his position before the draft budget for the 2000 fiscal year was submitted
to the Congress.
It was decided to earmark additional funds in the future budget for
financing our missile programmes. We decided that it would be right for the
defence secretary to make this statement a few days before the budget was
be submitted to the Congress in order to exactly outline our stand on the
missile defence problem, Doubleday stated.
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 27, Part I, 9 February 1999
START-II ON AGENDA FOR MARCH. State Duma Security Committee
Chairman and member of the Communist Party Viktor Ilyukhin
told Interfax on 9 February that the Duma will start debating
ratification of the START-II treaty in March. According to
the agency, Ilyukhin does not think that the treaty will be
ratified. Writing in "Novoe Vremya," Aleksandr Pikaev of the
Moscow Carnegie Center says the chances of ratification for
the treaty have never been so small. According to Pikaev, the
U.S.'s suggested revision of the ABM treaty requires that the
whole process of nuclear arms reduction be rethought. He
concludes that the U.S. has left Russia with little choice:
"Either the U.S. quits the treaty unilaterally or Russia
gives its consent and gets in turn at least a hypothetical
chance of influencing Washington's anti-ballistic missile
defense system policy." JAC
Start-2 Ratification Accords with Russian Interests, Ivanov.
MOSCOW, February 9 (Itar-Tass) - The ratification of the START-2
corresponds to the national interests of Russia, Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov said in the NTV Hero of the Day television program on Tuesday.
"We would not have submitted the document to the State Duma be there any
doubts," he stressed.
A number of Duma deputies "have their own considerations not about the
treaty, but about the provision of national interests related to the
treaty: how the national interests will be ensured in the light of
ratification and implementation of the treaty," he said. "Certainly, that
is the key issue for us."
In the words of Ivanov, the government will resume active debates with
the State Duma in the near future and return to the ratification problem.
"No time can be wasted, that is a matter of principle," the minister said.
"If we do not ratify (the treaty) in the near future, we will give occasion
to those who want to ruin the system we have created on a basis of the ABM
Treaty and our related efforts to reduce the strategic nuclear armaments."
February 10, 1999
Yeltsin Put Himself In Harsh Spotlight
By Melissa Akin
An ailing President Boris Yeltsin dashed to Jordan for King Hussein's
funeral to show he's still able to carry out his duties. But he succeeded
mainly in showing the world his struggle to avoid political oblivion.
Yeltsin, who was on the ground for about 2 1/2 hours in Jordan, left
before the funeral was over and reportedly received medical attention
before leaving, though this was denied by the Kremlin.
The trip did put Yeltsin back in the center of world attention, a place
he likes to be. But it was a painful spectacle.
At 6:10 a.m. Monday, Yeltsin boarded a plane for Jordan, where he bowed
at the coffin of King Hussein - a man he barely knew - and made for the
door. Television showed Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov discreetly supporting
the president as he inched toward his car as world leaders were still
filing past Hussein's coffin. The president was back in Moscow at 8:10 p.m.
In the estimated 2 1/2 hours Yeltsin actually spent on the ground in
Amman, the Kremlin said he managed to hold "substantive" meetings with new
King Abdullah, President Jacques Chirac, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat,
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and others. He also saw U.S. President Bill
But the real motive for going appears to have been to upstage Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov, whose standing has risen as Yeltsin's has
fallen. Primakov, an Arabic-speaking former foreign minister who knows many
Mideast leaders personally, would have been a logical choice to go.
Yeltsin's political role has shrunk due to his repeated illnesses and the
political fallout from the Aug. 17 financial collapse. He has carved out a
role as a figurehead who meets foreign leaders and makes pronouncements on
weighty questions like the fight against political extremism, and he seems
determined to defend that role as long as he has breath in him. But
Primakov has day-to-day charge of trying to manage the economy.
Analysts have said Yeltsin needs to carry out at least a minimal role to
maintain the diminished status he has left.
Yeltsin has chafed at the new arrangement, and balked at a Primakov plan
to restrict some of his constitutional powers with a political peace deal.
Political analyst Vladimir Zharikhin said Yeltsin put himself on the
world stage to prove he was healthy enough to run Russia - and he couldn't
"This is the tragedy of the situation," said Zharikhin, deputy director
of the Fond Politika research institute. "All he could do was to show how
sick he really is."
If the state of Yeltsin's health "was known before to the Russian
political elite, it was graphically felt by the world community" Zharikhin
said. "Therefore, changes could come. It is one thing to be informed by the
press that he is in a sanatorium, and another to see how it is in reality."
The Russian papers made fun of Yeltsin. "The King is Dead - Long Live the
President," declared a banner headline on Tuesday's edition of Kommersant.
"Moscow - Amman - Central Clinical Hospital" was Segodnya's take on the
president's route, even though Yeltsin actually returned to the Barvikha
Zharikhin said it was more tragic than funny. "You can laugh all you want
at the sick president, but it looks more like an act of tragedy than of
farce," Zharikhin said. "I personally felt a long unfelt feeling of respect
for the president. To overcome his weakness by strength of will - it really
calls forth respect."
Date: Tue, 09 Feb 1999
From: "Charles A. Warner" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 3047-Goble/USIA Poll on Poverty
"I only make $50 a month. How can a person survive on that?" If I had a
ruble for every time I'd heard a Russian whine that phrase I'd be, well...a
ruble millionaire, for what that's worth.
The myth of widespread poverty in Russia needs to be exploded, at least in
terms of how it's usually researched and reported. The same is true of the
recent USIA poll that Paul Goble reported on (JRL # 3047). Just because a
Russian doesn't make enough money from their factory or office salary to
live on doesn't mean that they are poor. Nor is it a sign of poverty if a
person holds a second job or grows their own food or borrows money from a
friend or family member.
The discerning inquirer does not accept the definition of "salary," in the
Russian cultural context, as the end all of what a person makes. Rather,
it's important to probe deeper and carefully define and distinguish between
the words: salary, income, savings and net worth. What a person makes at
their main job is their salary, but not their income.
The real difficulty for pollsters is to get Russians to reveal their true
financial position, that is, their true overall income, savings and net
worth. It isn't easy. We in the West assume that a person taking a poll
will answer a question truthfully the first time. This is not always the
case in Russia.
The average Russian still remembers, and continues to act upon, the ideal
of the Soviet days when everyone was supposed to be making approximately
the same salary, with any "additions" concealed in order to not stand out
in society (and today--the tax police). If they're hiding their true
income from their own government, friends and family, why should we presume
that they'll suddenly tell the complete truth, on the spot, to the USIA, or
any other foreign agency? We shouldn't.
The truly dis-enfranchised, the truly poor in Russian society, are the
orphans, the widows, the elderly, the physically and mentally disadvantaged
who have insufficient services from the state and no active support,
financial or otherwise, from other friends or family members. If the
Russian government, and the Russian Orthodox Church, were truly wise they
would allow foreign groups such as the Salvation Army, and others like it,
both religious and non-religious, to flourish and serve this level of society.
Yes, there are there are poor people in Russia. But we need to be much
wiser in discerning who they are and how many there are in order to help
those who really need it.
Date: Tue, 09 Feb 1999
From: email@example.com (John Helmer)
>From the Moscow Tribune, February 9, 1999
ALL THE GOOD HORSES, ALL THE GOOD MEN
By answering questions the way he's been doing, the Chairman of
the Central Bank of Russia, Victor Gerashchenko, has unfortunately
aroused people to ask whether he's a good man, or bad.
A good man is good inside, they say in Russian villages -- a good horse is
Noone investigating the Central Bank at the moment is able to find out, and
no auditor or prosecutor need care, whether Gerashchenko is good on the
inside. What concerns us all is whether he's good on the outside -- whether,
like the village horse, he is carrying the burdens that are his duty, or not.
In the case of the Central Bank, the legislation that governs its
operations was enacted in such a way as to make the Bank accountable on many
matters to itself alone. Gerashchenko told a television interviewer last
week that he and his bank report to the Duma. He didn't elaborate on
all the topics, records, transactions, and accounts which are not
reported to the Duma, or withheld from the Accounting Chamber, according to
the interpretation of the law which the Bank holds.
1. Personnel compensation. According to the recent audit of the Central Bank
by the Accounting Chamber, more than 50% of the Central Bank's annual
operating expenses (about $1.6 billion) was spent on compensation
for staff. This proportion, the Central Bank told the Accounting Chamber,
was comparable to what investment banks pay their employees in the
west. Investment bankers say that's a misleading comparison, and much too
large to be justified. Around 20% is standard for western commercial banks,
they say; less than 10% for central and reserve banks. Gerashchenko hasn't
claimed the Central Bank is an investment bank. But he did try to
classify the compensation report of the Accounting Chamber to prevent the
details becoming public. According to the Accounting Chamber, he had no legal
right to do that. The Chairman of the Central Bank must not be above the law.
2. Central Bank investment banking. The Procurator-General last week
revealed the Central Bank conducts private investment operations with
billions of dollars of national currency reserves. So far, just one of the
investment agents for these operations has been publicly identified.
Gerashchenko has explained this was a creation of one of the Central
Bank's foreign subsidiaries. Those offshore affiliates and subsidiaries
have never been audited before, though it's now clear that without
tracking Central Bank operations through them, the Bank was not
accounting for its currency operations truthfully before parliament.
Gerashchenko has acknowledged the concealment, but given differing reasons
for it. They add up to his admission that concealment was
the policy, not accountability. He has told the Accounting Chamber that
the law under which it operates limits its audits to budget resources and
state debt transactions, not to currency dealings. Even if the chairman
believes the law allows him to keep parliament and the Accounting Chamber in
the dark, the Procurator-General has reminded Gerashchenko he has higher
legal duties than the letter of the Central Bank and Accounting Chamber
laws. Slipping between the two with a definition of federal property
that defies commonsense, doesn't relieve Gerashchenko of the requirement
that he and his subordinates obey the criminal code. Hiding what they
do fuels the suspicion they do not. The Chairman of the Central Bank
must be above suspicion.
3. Central Bank precious metals dealing. A succession of Duma budget
committee chairmen has acknowledged that transactions with state
stockpiles of gold, platinum, palladium, and diamonds have been a black
hole. Attempts at auditing them by the Accounting Chamber have been
frustrated and blocked, although the law on the Accounting Chamber clearly
means to include them as federal property subject to audit. But when the
Chamber recently attempted to audit the Central Bank's platinum and
palladium stocks, worth more than $2 billion last year, the Central Bank
refused. According to the Bank, the Accounting Chamber had the right only to
audit the precious metals that are included in the International Monetary
Fund's definition of reserves. Since that counts gold, but excludes platinum
and palladium, the Bank blocked the auditors. They are thus able to hide
from parliament what happened to the profits from last year's upward
revaluation of platinum and palladium. They are also hiding details of the
attempts by the Central Bank -- over Finance Ministry opposition - to place
the metal in banks abroad in circumstances that threaten a price collapse.
Everyone in the precious metals business in Russia knows about this --
except the parliament and the Accounting Chamber.
6 February 1999
[for personal use only]
US Should Build A Military Base In Azerbaijan
By John Ellis, Globe Columnist
The Iranians hate the idea. The Iraqis hate the idea. The Russians hatethe
idea. The French allow that it could be destabilizing. What else do we need to
The idea is this: Azerbaijan would like the United States to build a
military base on the Apsheron Peninsula, which juts out into the Caspian Sea.
No less than VafaGuluzade, national security adviser to the president of
Azerbaijan, publicly extended the invitation lastweek.
''Turkish and American military bases,'' Guluzade told The New YorkTimes,
''would be welcomedhere.'' It's a great idea. It works for the Azerbaijanis,
who are understandably nervous about the recent joint
military agreement signed by Russia and Armenia. ''Azerbaijan is under a
big threat from Russia,'' Guluzade told the Times. ''They are waiting to use
the Armenians tostrike against us.''
It works for the Turkish government, which is under domestic political
attack for allowing US warplanes to launch missions over Iraq from the
Incirlik Air Base,located in southern Turkey. The Turks like having a de facto
US military base nearby; it has astabilizing effect. But it would be better
politically if US warplanes weren't on Turkish soil. Azerbaijan bordersTurkey.
It works for the other nations of the Caucasus. The four key countries of
this region are known as GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova).
Each of them isdesperate to enter into some
kind of joint defense agreement with the United States under the NATO
program known asPartnership for Peace. That won't happen, but a US-Azerbaijan
deal for a military base would send a strong signal that the
United States and NATO are serious about protecting the region.
It works for the global energy industry, which is investing billions of
dollars in Caspian Sea oilexploration and development.
Azerbaijan is by far the richest country in the western half of whatused
to be the Soviet Union. It sits a top and astride a sea of oil and natural
gas. In the next 20 years, it may emerge as the leadingenergy-producing nation
of the entire region. Unless. The danger is what insurance underwriters call
''political instability.'' Political instability is bad for business. It makes
people nervous. Costs go up. Investors get jumpy.
Put a US military base in Azerbaijan and the likelihood of political
instability in Azerbaijan decreases dramatically. Everyonecalms down.
As important, a US military base (or some kind of joint military venture
with the Turks or the Azerbaijanis) would make it more likely that the
Baku-Ceyhan oilpipeline would be routed throughTurkey and not Russia.
This is crucial. Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan and the center foroil
exploration in the Caspian Sea. Ceyhan is a Mediterranean seaport in western
Turkey. The Russians believe that Caspian oil should
flow through a pipeline that heads north (into Russian territory) andwest.
The more direct route is duewest across Azerbaijan and Turkey. A secure
pipeline (made more so by the presence of US fighter jets)would have a tonic
effect on world energy supply and prices. This is crucial to continued
economic growth in emerging markets.
Petroleum is the most vital natural resource in the global economy. Its
current low is what prevents emerging markets from collapsing. Insuring that
it remain cheap is a vital US national security interest.
There are other strategic reasons why a US military base in Azerbaijan
makes sense. Foremost among these is to make war in the region more difficult
to wage. Russia's current political system may collapse into a fascist heap.
The first thing a fascist Russian government would seek to ''reacquire''
would-be oil fields. Baku would be all but impossible to invade if the United
States operated a major military installation nearby.
Second, building a base on the Apsheron Peninsula would send a strong
signal to the Iranians and the Iraqis that the United States has every
intention of protecting its national security interests in theregion.
If the United States should acquire evidence that chemical andbiological
weaponry is being readied for use in either Iran or Iraq, a massive preemptive
strike could be launched without a lot of diplomatic interference. The
Azerbaijanis would be more than happy to clear
their airspace in returnfor a US military presence.
The national security establishment reacted to the Azerbaijani offerwith
considerable tact, deflecting specific questions with solemn pronouncements of
further study and diplomatic mumbo-jumbo.
One hopes that this means they are already negotiating the details with the
Azerbaijanis. It's not often that the United States encounters such an
opportunity. We ought to accept the invitation without delay.
From: Eurasia@aol.com "Gerard Janco"
Date: Tue, 09 Feb 1999
Subject: Mark your Calendar, Russia in Crises Roundtable Discussion
The Center for American-Eurasian Studies and Relations (CAESAR)
Invites you to its first Caviar Reception
& Russian Roundtable Discussion for 1999
"Russia -- Crossroads of Crises: A Search for Solutions"
February 18th, Thursday
At THE RUSSIA HOUSE
1800 Conn. Ave., NW
(Dupont Circle Metro, corner of Conn. & Florida Aves.)
Reception: 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Discussion: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
The Center is inviting Russian area specialists, government officials,
representatives from different organizations, and those interested in
the Russia within the Washington, DC metropolitian area to gather and
discuss the crises in Russian leadership, economics, and arms control
and nonproliferation efforts, as well as the environmental, health and
social issues facing the nation.
The current state of Russian-American relations is at stake, as well as
future developments for world peace and security.
The Center for American-Eurasian Studies and Relations is an association
of specialists, officials, scholars, and citizens who are interested in
advancing positive relations between the United States and the nations
of Eurasia(Europe and Asia).
Our members include many prominent dissidents, human rights activists,
arms control specialists, as well as students and local citizens who
protested for freedoms in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Moscow and
Beijing. Formerly the Center for Soviet-American Relations, we are
celebrating our 10th year anniversary in 1999.
Questions: The event is free, to RSVP or put your name on the list,
contact the Center at (202)966-8651 or e-mail to Eurasia@aol.com
Please visit our new website which was designed by our Moscow office at
Jamestown Foundation Monitor
9 February 1999
YELTSIN REPORTED TO BE CONSIDERING SOME POLITICAL SURPRISES. The looming
confrontation pits Primakov against what Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the
Politika think tank, called Yeltsin's "family circle"--which includes Boris
Berezovsky. "The president's family circle is unhappy with Primakov's
excessive independence, unhappy with the fact that he is, in their view, in
too close contact with the Communist Party.... Primakov is unhappy with that
Berezovsky and the media he controls are carrying out a rather active
campaign against the government" (NTV, February 7). Izvestia, citing
"unofficial information" from "Moscow power structures," reported today that
one of the reason's for Yeltsin's trip to Amman was to "feel out" Western
leaders' reactions to the possibility of "changes in the government and
dissolving the Duma" in several months time (Izvestia, February 9). Other
newspapers--notably "Nezavisimaya gazeta" and "Novae izvestia"--appeared
today to be egging Yeltsin on in this direction. All three newspapers, it
should be noted, are hostile to the Primakov government.
A more likely scenario is that Yeltsin will remove some of Primakov's key
ministers. A likely candidate is First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov,
a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF). Yeltsin
has a pretext for dismissing Maslyukov--namely, Maslyukov's lack of success
in negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose delegation
recently left Moscow without agreeing to either renewed credits or
restructuring Russia's debt. This could account for Maslyukov's attack
yesterday on three former government officials--Yegor Gaidar, Yevgeny Yasin
and Boris Federov--whom he accused of trying to sabotage the government
(NTV, February 8). Maslyukov had previously charged some of Russia's ousted
"young reformers" of trying to wreck negotiations with the IMF by
criticizing government policy abroad.
By ousting Maslyukov, possibly along with Deputy Prime Minister Gennady
Kulik--a member of the Agrarian Party, which is allied with the
KPRF--Yeltsin would put Primakov in a difficult spot. If Primakov failed to
protest the sackings, the leftist factions in the Duma, a major source of
his support, would go on the offensive against him. Were he to protest, his
only real option would be resignation.
15 February 1999
[for personal use only]
Primakov makes a move against an oligarch. The opening shot of his bid to
succeed Yeltsin in 2000?
By Bill Powell
For six months, Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov has publicly
denied ambitions to succeed the ailing Boris Yeltsin as Russia's next
president. But last week the former spymaster let his security services do
the talking—and their actions spoke louder than his words. Authorities
staged raids on two companies associated with Boris Berezovsky, Russia's
uber-oligarch known less for his money than for his close ties to Yeltsin
and his influential daughter, Tatyana. Primakov had already said he was
preparing to "clean out" the jails to make room for the "economic"
criminals his government intends to imprison—a sure vote-getter, given
Russia's current economic desperation—and had approved the arrest of a
former Justice minister on corruption charges. The move against
Berezovsky's companies—affiliates of the oil giant Sibneft and the airline
Aeroflot—demonstrated that high-profile show trials may not be a thing of
the communist past, but a key feature of the prime minister's presidential
Primakov, in truth, has not done a very good job of shielding his
presidential ambitions. He has been respectful of all but the most rabid of
the communists who control the Duma, and has quietly courted groups (such
as trade unions) that were ignored by Yeltsin's previous prime ministers.
Since the start of the year, Primakov has installed allies at important
Moscow-based media organizations, including a major television network and
the ITAR-Tass wire service.
The only question now in Moscow is whether Primakov's ambition has become
too obvious. Two weeks ago he presented the legislature with a proposal for
a political peace deal: in return for dropping impeachment proceedings
against Yeltsin and giving the president and his family some legal
immunity, the Kremlin would agree not to dissolve Parliament or dismiss
Primakov's government. The move was an attempt to build on Kremlin-Duma
talks begun last summer, but Primakov hadn't cleared it with his boss.
Yeltsin's spokesman quickly made it plain that the president, even in his
enfeebled state, had no intention of giving up any of his constitutional
powers. It was at once Primakov's first political misstep since coming to
office in September and the first time that Yeltsin had made it known he
was unhappy with his prime minister.
That's why, in the eyes of some political analysts in Moscow, the fact
that Yeltsin left his sickbed twice to show up at the Kremlin may be bad
news for Primakov. The president apparently sacked Viktor Chernomyrdin last
March in part because the former prime minister was making his designs on
the Kremlin. Last week Yeltsin sacked a handful of his own aides. On Friday
the usually reliable newspaper Kommersant reported that the White House
(where Primakov works) was bracing for dismissals, and that Primakov, in a
meeting with Yeltsin, "looked discouraged."
Yeltsin's capacity for erratic behavior should never be underestimated.
But to sack Primakov now, in the midst of economic turmoil, would invite
political chaos sure to further tarnish the president's fading legacy.
Primakov, moreover, is not stupid. The raids against Berezovsky's companies
last week were aimed in part at turning up evidence that the businessman
had used his private security service to bug the Kremlin and Tatyana. The
Kremlin could not have been happy about that. The person in real trouble
now may be Berezovsky, not Primakov. In fact, Friday night, Yeltsin's chief
of staff announced that the president and Primakov had resolved their
differences over the non-aggression pact. Yeltsin, he said, agreed that any
move to dismiss the government could come only after consultation with the
Duma —effectively, a surrender to Primakov.
Berezovsky, for his part, made it clear in an interview with NEWSWEEK
last Friday that he sees nothing to gain from a public fight with the prime
minister now. He denounced "the attacks" against him, but said it was the
result of a feud between him and the FSB (the successor agency to the KGB).
But wasn't the "attack" sanctioned by the Primakov government? "I can't say
anything about that." Does Berezovsky fear that Yeltsin backs the prime
minister? "I do not want to comment on these issues," Berezovsky said.
Spoken like a man who knows that as the political intrigue thickens during
Yeltsin's twilight, the smartest thing to do is hedge your bets. Prime
Minister Primakov may be around for a while.
With Owen Matthews in Moscow
Date: Tue, 09 Feb 1999
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Renfrey Clarke)
Subject: Russian crackdown on "extremists"
#RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES TO CRACK DOWN ON EXTREMISTS - AND OTHERS
#By Renfrey Clarke
#MOSCOW - Russians who have been worried sick about a clinically
dead economy, arrogant criminals, and a do-nothing government can
now take a break from their perturbations. Or at least, they can
shift the focus of their worrying. The country's leaders have
found a new cause for public alarm: extremism.
#At the end of the first week of February, President Yeltsin was
preparing for a meeting of his Security Council, at which plans
for a crackdown on political extremism were reported to be on the
#Soon afterwards, the English-language <I>Moscow Tribune<D>
reported, two laws on counteracting political extremism and
banning nationalistic symbols and literature would be put to the
#Meanwhile, Moscow mayor and all-but-admitted presidential
contender Yury Luzhkov was having his aides demand tough action
in the Russian capital against ``manifestations of extremism in
#As an explanation for this sudden rush of concern, the
authorities could point to a march along a boulevard in northern
Moscow on January 31 by about 200 members of an ultra-nationalist
organisation, the Russian National Unity (RNE). The march, which
received abundant television coverage, was evidently intended as
a protest against the banning by Mayor Luzhkov of a congress
which the RNE had planned for Moscow in December.
#The RNE took care on January 31 not to break any laws. The march
consisted of RNE members walking in groups of no more than two
along the pavement beside the boulevard. The nationalists
eschewed their normal black uniforms, though they wore their
#After more than a dozen people were arrested for distributing
the RNE's paper <I>Russian Order,<D> leaders of the organisation
showed police documents proving that the paper was registered and
could be sold legally. The paper sellers had to be released. In
an odd scene captured by TV cameras, a senior police officer
later apologised to RNE members for causing them inconvenience.
#The reaction by city authorities to the RNE's march was prompt
and vehement. The mayor's press service declared that the Moscow
administration was ``fully determined'' to halt the activity of
extremist organisations in the Russian capital, and criticised
the police, prosecutors and courts. Reports also indicated that
the city authorities intended to press ahead with a prosecution
of RNE leader Aleksandr Barkashov on charges of threatening the
mayor. In a television interview, Barkashov had suggested he
might defy the Moscow authorities by mobilising thousands of his
#On February 2, Yeltsin weighed in with a presidential decree
outlining what was to be considered ``extremism'', ``national or
religious hatred'', and an ``extremist publication''.
#The Communist Party of the Russian Federation, meanwhile, was
placed under heavy pressure to allow the passage through the
parliament of the government's proposed laws on extremism. In the
past, the Communists have resisted allowing such legislation onto
#The hue and cry over the RNE's demonstration provides a strange
contrast to the complacency with which the Russian authorities,
until recently, have mostly regarded ultra-nationalist groups.
Little effort has been made to enforce laws against racist
propaganda, or to prosecute ultra-rightists diligently for their
other crimes - which tend to be numerous.
#This failure to enforce existing laws has helped the RNE to grow
to the point where it is by no means a cipher on the national
political scene. The organisation is particular strong in
southern Russia in regions such as Krasnodar District, where it
reputedly has a considerable following within the law enforcement
#Even if official tolerance of the RNE has ended for the present,
at least in Moscow, the crescendo of indignation is still
curiously blurred. Yeltsin and Luzhkov have vowed retribution
against ``extremists'', not against ``fascists'' or ``ultra-
nationalists''. Extremists, in the language of the press and
television, include anyone calling for radical social change,
including groups on the far left. It is not the Russian left,
however, that beats up and robs ``southern-looking'' traders in
the Moscow markets.
#Meanwhile, Luzhkov's outrage at the presence in Moscow of
uniformed nationalist thugs is not without a tinge of hypocrisy.
The main force
singling out ethnic non-Russians in Moscow for systematic
harassment is not the RNE, but the city's police force, using
flagrantly unconstitutional residence regulations framed under
the ``anti-extremist'' mayor.
#To unravel these paradoxes, and learn what Russia's rulers
really mean when they promise tough action against extremism, one
could do worse than to look at the practice of the Federal
Security Service (FSB). Inheriting most of the apparatus of the
Soviet-era KGB, the FSB is supposed to defend the rights of
Russian citizens against attack by violent fringe groups. One
would expect its chiefs to know an extremist when they see one.
#There is no sign that the FSB has made a priority over the years
of bringing prosecutions against ultra-nationalist thugs, or even
that it has kept the RNE under particularly close surveillance.
On the other hand, the security police have doggedly pursued
charges against ``whistle-blowing'' environmentalists.
#The best known of these cases are those of Aleksandr Nikitin in
St Petersburg, and of Grigory Pasko in Vladivostok. Both of these
people face 20-year sentences if convicted of ``treason through
espionage''. Now, the FSB has thrown its forces against other
environmental activists as well.
#On February 2 security police searched the Moscow apartments of
Vlad Tupikin and Larisa Shiptsova. Tupikin is an anti-nuclear
campaigner with Russia's largest environmental organisation, the
Social-Ecological Union, while Shiptsova is a well-known activist
in radical green circles. During the raids Shiptsova was
arrested. She was later taken to the FSB's Lefortovo Prison.
#There is evidence that the FSB may be trying to link the broad
environmental movement in European Russia to the so-called
``Krasnodar affair''. Last November two young people in
Krasnodar, Maria Randina and Gennady Nepshikuyev, were arrested
and charged with possession of weapons and explosives. It has
been alleged that they were planning to assassinate Krasnodar
District governor Nikolai Kondratenko. One of Russia's more high-
profile anti-Semites, Kondratenko is also known for his
benevolent attitude to the ultra-nationalist groups that flourish
in his district.
#The search of Tupikin's apartment lasted for seven hours, and
ended with the confiscation of his computer, letters, diaries and
numerous other documents. Different rooms were searched at the
same time, with the result that Tupikin was denied his right to
observe the actions of the searchers.
#Later, Tupikin was taken to Lefortovo Prison and interrogated
for a further three hours. His questioners concentrated on
Shiptsova and her attitude to Kondratenko. Shiptsova has now been
extradited to the Krasnodar District, where her lawyer expects
the FSB to charge her with the same offences as Randina and
#If developments like these drive environmentalists out of
activity, the crackdown on extremism by Yeltsin, Luzhkov and the
FSB will not expire for want of other targets. There are other
people in Russia with inconvenient views and demands - trade
union and human rights activists, communists, unpaid teachers and
#As the focus of the campaign spreads, fascists could be just one
heading on a growing list of non-mainstream currents against
which the authorities are pledging, and carrying out, tough
Russia Communist Boss Amazed at POLICE'S Language Remarks.
MOSCOW, February 9 (Itar-Tass) - Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov on
Tuesday sounded amazed at Russia's police and judicial authorities calling
for his bringing to account for insulting President Boris Yeltsin.
Earlier on Tuesday, Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin and Justice
Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov sent a message to First Deputy Prosecutor
General Sergei Chaika, calling for a probe in Zyuganov's foul language
Stepashin and Krasheninnikov said his "offensive words about the
president of the Russian Federation" were "inadmissible, defaming the
Russian head of state, and insulting his honour and dignity".
Zyuganov told reporters on Monday Yeltsin was a "spineless, helpless,
drunk person sitting in the Kremlin" and called for an end to his rule.
Date: Tue, 09 Feb 1999
From: Mark Jones <email@example.com>
Subject: re: kinulied again
Peter D. Ekman asked (JRL 3048): ' How come nobody noticed an
extra $50 billion bouncing around the world economy?'
The reason why there is such a deafening silence about the Russian Central
Bank's alleged $50bn siphoned off into Jersey is that the fate of this
money (if it existed) is already well-known to the relevant authorities.
They will not talk about it because much deeper crimes lie concealed
behind it, and the more they are unravelled, the more will the scale of
western complicity become obvious. The trail leads back to the murky
circumstances surrounding the fall of the USSR itself, when western
intelligence services connived in or fostered financial malfeasance on
a colossal scale by high Russian officials (among them even then, was V.
Gerashchenko). Incredible acts of villainy were performd in cloak-and-
dagger operations in which western intelligence worked with the Cosa
Nostra, the American Mafia, the Russian Thieves' World and other
underworld entities, to destabilise the USSR; one result (among
others) was to spawn the unstoppable wave of organised crime
which Claire Sterling documented in 'Crime Without Frontiers'
(Little, Brown 1994), before her untimely death in what to this
observer seemed non-transparent circumstances a year later.
The piece de resistance of the western-sponsored crime wave which
pushed the USSR over the brink was, of course, the theft of the entire
Soviet gold reserve of more than 2,000 tonnes of bullion from the
Soviet gosbank vaults, a crime announced by Geraschenko to an
astonished Russian parliament.
This crime remains 'unsolved' to this day despite extraordinary
efforts made to solve it, including the highly-
publicised hiring by Boris Yeltsin of a crack team of US private
investigators, who came up with nothing.
In the chaotic circumstances of the time, it proved impossible to
completely conceal gold shipments on such a scale, and the British
Guardian newspaper reported in March 1991 that 500 tonnes of gold
had been exported from Russia by the Soviet government, destination
unknown, buyer unknown, purpose unknown. For some reason, this
sensational affair was not reported on again, altho Hollywood
later made a film in which US law enforcement agencies are depicted
preventing Russian organised crime from stealing Russian gold.
This event happened in the period of
the 'war of laws' between the declining Soviet and rising Russian
powers. What happened to this gold? The only thing we know for
certain is that soon after Yeltsin took power, the Russian Federation
was able to launch a convertible rouble, thus something most observers
assumed would take decades to achieve happened almost overnight.
In the murky interregnum, connections formed between western agencies,
organised crime, and the new power that was conjured into life in
Moscow between the August 1991 coup and the disappearance of the USSR
a few months later. It must be one of the greatest triumphs of covert
operations in history, resulting in the smooth liquidation of the
USSR and its replacement by what had previously been a regional
administration equivalent to a municipal authority in other
countries, which was all Yeltsin's RSFSR had been.
During the interregnum period floods of movable wealth left the USSR.
Both Yeltsin's men and Gorbachev's Soviet authorities were doing it.
Trailer loads of Soviet rubles trundled down autobahns and many were
used in complex swap operations by means of which billions of
narcodollars were laundered on behalf of Cosa Nostra families such as
the 'Ndrangheta. The Soviet embassy in Rome was involved; so were
numerous prime western banks, and so was the CIA, whose chief
purpose was to destroy the Soviet currency, and ensure that Yeltsin
got the assets, not Gorby.
In one such operation, 'Ndrangheta boss Pasquale Morabito swapped 70
billion Soviet rubles in a late 1990. The deal involved
large sums in forged dollar bills and narcomoney; police forces from
five European states were involved in attempts to interdict
these and similar deals in which hostages were taken, CPSU Central
Committee bureaucrats with oversight of Gosbank were hurled from
their Moscow apartment windows to their deaths, and as the conmen
converged on Moscow, an era of unbridled criminality began.
These are only a few of the details of what Claire Sterling
called the 'seemingly unbelievable Great Ruble Scam'. Yeltsin's regime
was criminal by origin: on January 23, 1991, a
British 'businessman' named Paul Pearson was picked up at Moscow's
Sheremetyevo airport. In his briefcase was a signed contract, endorsed
by the government of the Russian Federation, proposing
the illegal exchange of 140 billion rubies for US$7.8 billion. The two
noteworthy aspects of this deal were (a) 140bn rubles was more than all
the cash then physically circulating in Russia and (b) at the then
official exchange rate, this sum was worth not $7.8bn but $224bn.
British-born 'businessman' Colin Gibbins, based in the then pariah-
state of South Africa, was also involved in the 140
billion ruble contract whose signatory on the Russian side was an A.A.
Sveridov, a high official from Chelyabinsk, at the centre of Russia's
military-industrial complex in the Ural mountains. He signed on behalf
of the 'Ekho Manufacturing Ecological Company' [sic] and a
dubious charity called 'Eternal Memory to Soldiers'. Russian
Federation deputy Prime Minister, Gennady Filshin, had arranged to
provide the rubles from the state budget. As Sterling put it, Yeltsin in
person authorized such black market swaps, as the only practical
way of luring foreign capital to his bankrupt country.
This was in 1990. The fire sale at the end of history had begun
even before history itself came to an end. The more recent manouevrings
involving Jersey offshores are of a piece with the chequered financial
history of Yeltsin's regime.
Date: Tue, 09 Feb 1999
From: David Filipov <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Boston Globe in Moscow job
The Boston Globe's Moscow office is looking for an experienced, Moscow-based
stringer who can fill in and write political and economic news stories while
the bureau chief is away.
Applicants should have native command of written English (we don't care if
you speak with a foreign accent) and experience writing for English-language
If you are interested, please send a short cv and a copy of one or two
recent NEWS stories as you wrote them (that is, unedited) to
This post must be filled by Feb 17, so please move quickly.
The Boston Globe
141-4395 (ask for Anastasia Saschikhina)
Date: Tue, 09 Feb 1999
From: "Dmitry Shlapentokh" <email@example.com>
Subject: new book
My new book, Counterrevolution in Revolution, is recently released by
MacMillan in the UK and St. Martin's in the U.S.A. The book focuses on the
possibility of the right-wing coup during the Russian Revolution of 1917
and the coup sheds light on present day developments. I hope this
information might be helpful for your readers.