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Johnson's Russia List


March 6, 1999    
This Date's Issues: 3079   

Johnson's Russia List
6 March 1999

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Russians getting older, but men face early grave.
2. Reuters: Clinton vows not to abrogate ABM treaty.
3. Fred Weir on status of women.
4. Nicolai Petro: Fatalism in Russian Studies.
5. Chicago Tribune: Lisa Black and Michael McGuire, GORBACHEV WARNS U.S. 

6. Danny Cruz: Re 3078-Kipp/Bagels.
7. Rachel Dubin: Re: Berezovsky out.
8. Bjorn Kaupang: How to deal with bankruptcy in Russia.
9. Yale Richmond: More on Bagels and Bubliki.
10. Jerry Hough: US and Russia.
11. Alexander Samoiloff: Corruption in Russia.
12. Moscow Times: David McHugh, Primakov's Triumph May Be Fleeting.
13. Boston Globe editorial: Dangerous tendencies in Russia.
14. Reuters: Chronology of political shakeups under Yeltsin.] 


Russians getting older, but men face early grave

MOSCOW, March 6 (Reuters) - Russia's population is getting older, but 40
percent of young men will probably never live to be 60, the State Statistics
Committee was quoted as saying on Saturday. 

A report on demographic trends, quoted by Interfax news agency, said the
average life expectancy of Russian men was about the same as at the end of the
19th Century, when only 43 percent of 16-year-olds were expected to reach the
age of 60. 

The report said Russia's 146.3 million population, which fell by about 400,000
last year, would be 5.6 million greater if infant mortality and life
expectancy rates had remained at 1990 levels. 

``If current life expectancy levels in Russia are maintained, about 40 percent
of young men who have reached the age of 16 will not live until 60,'' the
report said. 

High levels of alcoholism, smoking, health care problems, stress and economic
hardships are largely to blame for the shrinking population. The average life
expectancy of Russian men is estimated at about 58, while women's is about 71.


Clinton vows not to abrogate ABM treaty

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) - President Bill Clinton vowed on Friday the
United States will not abrogate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty despite U.S.
plans for a missile defence system. 

The Clinton administration has pledged $6.6 billion for development of a
missile defence system in its fiscal 2000 budget, but would delay a
presidential decision on building one until June 2000. 

Clinton said researching a missile defence does not violate the 1972 ABM
treaty with the Soviet Union that limits both sides' ability to deploy anti-
missile systems. Russia says it will not carry out strategic arms cuts unless
the ABM Treaty is observed. 

He spoke at a joint news conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister
Massimo D'Alema. 

Clinton said while it was theoretically possible that a missile defence system
could be developed that would violate the treaty, he promised Russia
repeatedly that ``I have no intention of abrogating the ABM Treaty. Anything
we do, we will do together.'' 

The president is engaged in a battle with congressional Republicans who want
to make it national policy to deploy a missile defence system. The House of
Representatives Armed Services Committee approved legislation Feb. 25 to do

The Clinton administration and some congressional Democrats have said such
legislation undermines the ABM Treaty. 

Clinton said there is value to a missile defence. 

``I think if we believe that the technology might be there, we owe it to
ourselves and to all of our allies -- to try to develop that, along with an
adequate warning system,'' he said. 

But he added: ``I have no intention of supporting or initiating a unilateral
abrogation of the ABM Treaty. I will not do that.'' 


From: "Fred Weir" <>
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 
For the Hindustan Times
From: Fred Weir in Moscow

MOSCOW (HT) -- Champagne, flowers, chocolates and copious vodka toasts
will be lavished upon Russian women Monday as their menfolk scramble to make
up for the previous 364 days of toil, tears and neglect.
"But I'll still have to do the dishes, you can count on it,'' says
Yelena Ponomaryova, a 32-year old secretary.
"I really do look forward to seeing all the men be sweet for at
least one day, though. It's better than nothing''.
International Women's Day, March 8, was a key holiday on the Soviet
calendar, an occasion to hail the struggle for women's emancipation.
It has long since been stripped of even symbolic political content,
but it is still enthusiastically celebrated as a kind of Valentine's Day and
Mother's Day rolled into one.
When the long weekend arrives, the price of flowers climbs
precipitously as anxious men scurry about trying to secure the obligatory
bouquets for the women in their lives. Vendors say a single rose will cost
up to $25 in downtown Moscow on March 8 morning.
The tradition is for families to feast together, and for men to shower
gifts and praise upon mothers and wives.
A giant banner strung across a street near the Kremlin for the
occasion this year reads: "Congratulations dear ladies of Russia on March
Many women complain, however, that between the kisses and toasts they
will still have to do the cooking and cleaning.
"Russia is a very male-centred society, and it's getting worse not
better,'' says Alla Chirikova, a sociologist and author of a book on women
trying to break into the business world.
"Women's Day is, like so many aspects of male-female relations in
Russia, full of hypocrisy''.
Ms. Chirikova contends in her book that the market reforms of the
post-Soviet era have created unprecedented opportunities for a small
minority of Russian women. But she admits the picture for most is gloomy.
"Unemployment wears a woman's face in Russia, and for women over the age
of 40 there is simply no hope whatsoever,'' she says.
Women made up 55 per cent of the Soviet-era workforce, and fully 60
per cent of all Russians with university degrees are female.
But since reforms began in 1992 they have borne the brunt of
According to the Russian parliament 6.5-million Russian women -- about
30 per cent of all working age women -- are jobless today.
"The attitude of the men who implemented economic reforms in this
country was that women belong in the home, not the workplace,'' says Yelena
Yershova, co-ordinator of the non-governmental Association of Women's
"They used this as an excuse to shut down the Soviet-era system of
daycare centres and to cut funding for every program that provided even the
slightest chance for women to be independent,'' she says.
"A woman's life never had much sunshine, but things have gotten a lot
Svetlana Kirilova, a 27-year old waitress, says she is on her feet
constantly at work and at home, and she wishes her husband would be more
But she adds: why blame Women's Day?
"My husband won't lift a finger around our apartment. I have to do
everything and it drives me crazy,'' she says.
"One day a year he's as sweet as honey. He looks after our daughter
while I sleep in, brings me flowers and tells me I'm beautiful.
"It's a very nice day''. 


Date: Fri, 05 Mar 1999 
From: "Nicolai N. Petro" <>
Subject: Fatalism in Russian Studies

As long time readers of JRL will know, I have sporadically posted comments
about the Novgorod region to this list. Last month I also completed a report
for the NCEEER called “Novgorod: A Russian Success Story.” Over the past few
months I have received more than a dozen critiques of my findings (both
authored and anonymous). While I am profoundly grateful to everyone who has
taken the time to share his or her thoughts with me, I see a troubling pattern
emerging. To put it bluntly, I sense that positive analyses of Russian
affairs, no matter how well documented or multiply-sourced, are being
out-of-hand because of the pervading pessimism about Russia these days. 

I take my current work on Novgorod as a benchmark. Novgorod’s economic
is by now so well documented that I would think it hardly needs proving. Much
more interesting are the reasons for it, which include the local government’s
ability to involve civic organizations in decision-making, and the
decentralization of budgetary authority to the districts. None of this, by
way, is unique to Novgorod. 

To my surprise, however, none of my critics deal with these issues. Rather,
they simply dismiss the entire account as a story "too good to be true,” a
comment I have heard repeated more than once. The not too subtle implication
is that since nothing in Russia can work, any report to the contrary is simply
implausible. While innuendoes abound, however, I have yet to be presented
any substantive criticism of the actual research findings. Another common
refrain, particularly by those who conduct their own research in the regions,
is that since politics in “region X” (with which they are familiar) is not at
all like Novgorod, my account simply cannot be true. This is hardly a
convincing argument. 

The only persistent and tangible criticism regards the absolute ranking of 
Novgorod compared to other regions. If Novgorod is doing so well, so the
argument goes, why does it rank “only” in the upper third of regions when it
comes to standard of living or other measures of the quality of life. There
are several rather obvious answers to this criticism. 

First, it is hardly surprising that Novgorod’s absolute ranking would be low. 
After all, we are in the fifth year of an economic experiment in a resource
poor region that was heavily dependent on military manufacturing. Much more
significant than the absolute ranking, I would think, is the steady rise of
Novgorod in nearly all rankings from the bottom third to the upper third of
regions, and explaining the reasons for it. 

Second, the methodology used by both foreign and domestic ratings is
notoriously slippery. Rather than focussing on this or that study, it
seems to
me of much greater significance that the majority of such studies and ratings
consistently point to Novgorod’s success. For some reason, critics never
address the overall body of evidence. 

Third, critics cite statistical data published in 1993 or 1994 to cast
doubt on
Novgorod’s success when, as the historical record clearly indicates,
budgetary and economic legislation was introduced only on the cusp of
1993-1994. The results, therefore should be apparent after 1995-96, and they

I cannot help but feel that the massive evidence for Novgorod’s success is
being minimized largely because Russian studies has succumbed to a sense of
fatalism. To my mind, such fatalism is no more justified than starry-eyed
optimism. Arguments should be evaluated on their merits alone. While a
healthy skepticism is necessary to good scholarship, it is healthy only
when it
is based on relevant evidence and pertinent argument. If it rests on sheer
disbelief, then it is simply prejudice, and as such risks blinding us to the
diversity of political and economic life in Russia’s regions. 


Chicago Tribune
March 6, 1999
[for personal use only]
By Lisa Black and Michael McGuire
Tribune Staff Writers

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, told a packed
auditorium at Benedictine University in Lisle on Thursday night that the
United States would be making an error by writing off Russia because of its
current economic and political problems.

"Russia is a strong nation, Russia is a capable nation, and I'm sure we
will be able to work out of this crisis," Gorbachev told the crowd of more
than 3,000 that filled the bleachers and the floor.

He urged the United States to tread a fine line in its role as the only
remaining superpower.

"The future of the world cannot be built if you want the whole world to
dance to the tune of America," he said. "Every country has its own tune. No
one country has the right to dictate to the rest of the world."

Gorbachev began his speech a half-hour late, but the crowd waited
patiently and greeted him with a standing ovation. A university
representative said that although the school has attracted other major
speakers--such as former First Lady Barbara Bush and former British Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher--the only person to draw a bigger audience than
Gorbachev was singer Bob Dylan.

When Gorbachev finished his speech, the crowd gave him a rousing
rendition of "Happy Birthday." Gorbachev turned 68 on Tuesday.

Audience members had paid $30 or more for a ticket to see Gorbachev, who
rose to the top of the Soviet Communist Party before the Soviet system came
to an end in 1991.

While the former Soviet president is well-received in Western countries
for opening to the West and instituting political and economic reform, the
economic nosedive that followed those actions led to his immense
unpopularity in Russia. In the 1996 presidential election, he won less than
1 percent of the vote.

He maintains that many Russians still back him but that they have been
hesitant to show their support during Boris Yeltsin's administration.

The man who once shared the pinnacle of world power with President
Ronald Reagan repeatedly called for Yeltsin's resignation. But he said the
action must be taken by Yeltsin rather than through a forced removal.

In a meeting with Chicago Tribune editors before the college appearance,
Gorbachev said the Russian people are showing more support for him,
especially now that Yeltsin appears politically vulnerable.

He also warned the United States to avoid trying to become a global
police officer, and he said that recent U.S. military actions in Iraq and
the former Yugoslavia were contributing to a growing anti-American
sentiment in Russia.

"Some people think America wants to keep Russia down," he said. "The
communists are exploiting this changing mood."

He said that the U.S. has acted as if Russia no longer exists in some
ways, throwing its weight around economically because of a "superiority

"I'm very concerned," Gorbachev said. "Maybe Americans don't like me to
speak out so openly on this, but I do so as a friend. . . . The U.S. has
declared itself winner in the Cold War. This concept could take you too far."

Russians, he said, "are just like Americans. They don't like to be pushed."

He called upon the United States to back Russia's request for
international loans arranged through the International Monetary Fund and
other financial bodies, and he asked Washington to continue its support and
partnership with Moscow.

Students on the campus said they were excited to see Gorbachev. Most of
them were in elementary school when he held power. Many said they thought
his role in history was significant and should be remembered.

"I told friends I was going to see Gorbachev, and they said, `He's been
sick lately,' " said Kim Skarr, a junior from Western Springs who is
majoring in history. "I realized they were talking about Yeltsin. You
should know the main players in our recent history. Gorbachev's decisions
really influenced our lives."

Susan Wilson, 21, an Elmhurst senior majoring in international business,
said "I remember the fall of the (Berlin) Wall" in 1989, she said. "I
remember the tanks rolling through Moscow. It was a big deal, and this
enemy that everyone said we hated, they weren't there anymore."

Earlier in the day, Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa Gorbachev, talked
about another figure that has made a global impact.

"We just had a nice talk on the telephone with our granddaughters,"
Mikhail Gorbachev said. "The younger one was asking for a new Barbie doll.
Mrs. Gorbachev said, `Nastia, I will bring one if I find a new kind of

"But she has a community of Barbies."


From: "Danny Cruz" <>
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 08:55:18 +0300
Subject: 3078-Kipp/Bagels

Regarding: Moscow Times March 4, 1999 EDITORIAL: Down With Donuts, Up With
Bagels. Thoughts of a SP:

"Real Expats..."

"Sorry, I don't think this Expat community shares those values. I guess it
is the difference between being an ordinary American exchange student in
say Paris and being part of the global commercial elite. You really missed
something very extraordinary."

Dear Johnson's List,

I am troubled after reading this message. Not because of the triviality
regarding the Fall of the Donut and the Rise of the Bagel... Rather because
this article continues the barrage of emphasis on the "Imperialist Expat"
while making "ordinariness" somehow noble. I believe that most expats here
in Russia are striving to contribute as much as they have to this society.

The uproar over Donuts, Bagels, and other things Western, is a case of
having a piece of the "mother country" with us in a very different land. 
Let me remind you that America was built with the help of waves of
immigrants from all over the world, including Eastern Europe who each
brought a piece of their homeland with them. Some of my favorite foods are
included in this: Sauerkraut, Knishes, Corned Beef, Sandwiches, the list
is endless... These immigrants formed little enclaves of their own, yet
contributed greatly to BOTH the cultural and business values of the U.S.

Lastly, there is nothing "elite" about commercialism, as it is a great
equalizer amongst humankind. One should also note that in Moscow, 70% of
the startup business since the crisis have been ventures owned and managed
by women. Business people are some of the hardest working people I know. 
And in Russia, the expats that are left are working hard to contribute
their values and knowledge. Do not be misled by our focus on a little
piece of home while we work and live in this vastly different and exciting

Danny Cruz
Managing Director
Metropol-NSL Corporate Finance Group
Moscow, Russia


Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 
From: Rachel Deborah Dubin <>
Subject: Re: Berezovsky out

A personal aside re: tonight's report that Berezovsky was sacked. A
most unacademic and unscholarly "Yay!" Perhaps, as a few other articles
said, we are entering the post-Yeltsin era. I think, though, that instead
of Primakov's being the next one to fall, he will become stronger. We
will see. But Yeltsin is becoming increasingly erratic. It is better for
him and for Russia if they just leave him in "office" till 2000, rather
than try to attempt a 'palace coup,' as happened to Khrushchev in '64 and
Gorby in '91. 

I see many, many parallels here between Brezhnev and Yeltsin that I am
sure you've also noticed. Brezhnev was senile towards the end of the
1970s; SALT II was signed in 1979 but never ratified on the US side. One
of the discoveries I made while writing and researching my senior thesis
last year was that one reason SALT II was a failure was because Brezhnev
was too ill and debilitated to make a big effort to ensure it was a
success. (I can give you page numbers and quotes from my paper in support
of this contention.) Yeltsin, it is apparent, is going the same way
towards the end of the 1990s. If my theory holds, START II will *also* be
a failure, partly because Yeltsin is no longer the force he once was--just
like Brezhnev. Or, as shown schematically: Brezhnev = 1979 = SALT II =
Yeltsin = 1999 = START II. And after Brezhnev came the death of detente
(which actually died in 1979, with the invasion of Afghanistan, but his
death buried it even deeper). With that came the rise of the hard-line
policies of Andropov and Chernenko. With this historical progression and
historical precedent in mind, I think we can see a resumption of "Cold
War"-style rhetoric and perhaps policy (maybe more externally than
internally; there is no way the censorship and gross human rights
violations can be committed on such a wide scale again, though it may
still be possible) in the next few years. So Primakov, if he stands, will
likely be a strong ruler...followed by perhaps another Andropov or
Chernenko-like figure...and then perhaps, God willing, a reformer. But
the "reformers" who will come to power in the next century will be wiser
and perhaps older as well, having learned the lessons of the 1990s. Time
shall tell.


From: "Bjorn Kaupang" <>
Subject: How to deal with bankruptcy in Russia ?
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 

>From Bjorn Kaupang on
Joint Stock Law and Bankruptcy Law (and practice of those)

I posted a small article about Small Business Development
5-6 weeks ago, here at JRL, and today I would like to follow
up this with other topics connected to the same area.

After spending many years working in Russia, and of course
learned a lot about the logic (Russian) used by managers, I
still get surprised from day to day.
Our company have been part in a tender for to buy a bankrupt
company, currently working under bankruptcy administration,
started from April 1997, and intended to do so for five years !!!!!!.
This bankruptcy administration have made the excellent result
of loosing approx. 4 million rouble annually, but still no of the
creditors raised their voice and wondered what was going on.

When we showed interest for the company (or actually their
property/assets), we went into a interesting situation.
Politically, the Governor of the Oblast, the local mayor and others
became exited about our proposal / project. From their side, we
could grab the whole thing the next day. But, we wanted to act
carefully, and let our lawyer work out all legal actions that had to
be taken for to do things right.
This ended up with announcing a tender for the company, even if
the bankruptcy administrator refused to prepare any paper (which
he/she have to do upon the law). We had then to initiate auditing
and pricing of the property for to be able to prepare paper for the
tender. Those paper was made by the local administration of the
In a tender in Russia it have to be minimum two bidders for to make
it legal (can anyone explain me the logic ?). And the main importance
for to evaluate in the bids, seemed to be the amount of investment
the bids showed. We did a lot of lobbying, trying to promote the
thoughts about the perspectives and turnover the bid would show.
Eventually this thoughts was understood, and shown in the final
decision made.
Three companies made a bid, and we went out as winners. Happy
of course, because now we could start work - we believed.
But NO, the bankruptcy administrator have to sign papers for to
handle the property over to the new owner, and she (it's a lady)
was always against any changes (bankruptcy administrators are 
working with more or less immunity against all control), so she of 
course refused. What to do then ? Was the tender only a game ?

The people from local and Oblast administration proposed to make
a creditor-meeting for to dismiss the bankruptcy administrator. The
meeting was held two days later, and all confirmed that the tender
was legally done. But on the other hand creditors didn't agree upon
dismissal of the administrator !!! So that means it is legally a new
owner of the property, but without any possibility to get access to
the company.
Then I'm asking myself - where is the logic ?? Creditors today loose
money every day, and have been choosen a winner in the recently
hold tender, which immediately would start operate and pay money
for what they intend to buy from suppliers, and paying tax to all the
budget and funds. But, they refuse to "give the key" to the new
owner - how can anybody understand this ???

I would appreciate if you David, or readers of JRL could contribute
with information more business related also - or is this outside the
strategy / idea of JRL ?

Could anybody suggest where to get Russian Law databases in 
English at the net ?


Date: Fri, 05 Mar 1999 09:26:20 -0500
From: yale richmond <>
Subject: More on Bagels and Bubliki

While sinking my teeth into Jacob Kipp's boost for "bubliki," the real
Russian bagels, I recalled that during the 1930s, when I was a boy in
Boston, those bone-hard bubliki cost only two cents each.


Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <>
Subject: US and Russia

Your regular readers know how discouraged I have become about 
events in Russia, and I am even more about discouraged about the way 
America--not your readers, but the government and the mainstream media--has 
simply given up and doesn't want to think about the situation.

For the first time in some time, I really liked Michael McFaul's 
piece in Moscow Times, the one on democracy. The governors are already 
too dependent on Moscow because of the budgeting system, and it is hard 
to see what their appointment would solve. 

But the point that is difficult to understand is why there is not 
more rethinking of economic policy. I teach a seminar this spring on 
the process of democratization, and I have been reading a lot of the 
literature on Africa. It is striking how much terms like "strong 
government" and even "democracy" have come to mean a government strong 
enough to carry out an economic policy that the population does not 
want. That problem is even greater in Russia.

Russia has had a depression for 10 years. There is not the 
slightest sign that things are getting better. As I understand 
Menshikov's article, he is saying that if Primakov's totally unrealistic 
budget is carried out, all will be well. The debate with IMF, as I 
understand it, is whether Russia will make sacrifices so that the IMF 
can make a loan to pay back the IMF loan and help it balance it books! 
Worse than that, Primakov, who talks about the New Deal, has done nothing
even symbolically to try to raise people's hopes as Roosevelt did. He 
has not understood that Roosevelt got the US out of a 10 depression with 
goszakazy in 1939 and then a state-directed economy in 1942. But why 
there could not be something like the early Roosevelt, I cannot imagine.

But the problem is in the U.S. If we made aid dependent on a 
change in policy, it would change. But the issue is not debated or 
given thought. "Reform" is a panacea. I just received a private 
communication from an extremely eminent scholar whom I respect 
enormously. He does not want state-directed reform, but he is also 
against agricultural reform. Russia cannot have the latter, he says, 
because Stalin destroyed the peasantry. Yet, all the "peasants" under 
35 have a high school diploma and became adults after 1985. There is an 
army of highly trained and college-educated agronomists, etc., with 
agricultural managerial experience in the farms and the governmental 
organs who could deal with the markets as well as they dealt with the 
Party or the governors and banks today. But why are those for pure 
market reform against it in agriculture where it always works? 

One could go on and on, and I have in your pages. But there is 
a need for some kind of fresh thought and, above all, an understanding 
that democracy means a coalition with people with whom we don't always 
agree to produce real results that the majority wants. A strong 
government means one that produces results, and, as President Clinton 
demonstrates, free trade means strong limitations on steel imports. 
NAFTA is a 1000 page document, with all the controls, quotas, and 
conditions. So long as American thought and policy are as frozen as 
Russian policy, nothing is going to happen until something dramatic--and 
perhaps ugly--in Russia focuses thought. It is not likely to be an 
outbreak of democracy.


From: "Alexander Samoiloff" <>
Subject: Corruption in Russia
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 

Dear List Members
I can give you only my humble personal Russian provincial middle class
opinion on the issue of corruption in Russia.
Of cause, it's a human nature to wish more, than one has today. Corruption
is an eternal social evil, which is impossible to exterminate completely.
But in different countries there are different levels of
corruption, as it highly depends of economic situation and government's
Now in Russia we have the unique opportunity to compare two systems: the
Soviet regime and the Democratic Russia.
1. In the Soviet system we had an underground corruption, and only few
officials secretly took bribes through middlemen. In case of leakage of the
information to public, they were severely persecuted, like jailed (often
7-10 years), and even shot. That was a very risky business.
So, in general, all levels of the Soviet officials, from a Communist Party
Secretary to a petty public worker, much cared about their reputation and
had a genetic fear of punishment.
There was a wide propaganda of the INEVITABILITY OF PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME.
It's true that in the Soviet Union there was flourishing a system of Blat
(Left handed support: You-Promote Me - I Promote You), which was considered
as a minor evil.

2. During reforms the corruption has penetrated all levels of Russian
society, and now is the established system, and even the way of life.
There are few basic reasons for that:
It starts from a regular press reports about theft and bribery in the top
echelons of power. And results are the same: no legal action, and what is
the most important, in case of a criminal charge - no results (conviction
reports). I mean they may report about charging a criminal file, and later
silently close it.
Of cause, there are reports about "persecution for corruption", but it is
rather a war between political and economic groups, than the true action to
hit the corruption. In sound like a group of guys uptown have lost their
feeling of the true Boss, and do not want to share any more the booty. Or
other team wants to take their place.

It seems that Russian government has created a big layer ( as I remember
about 18 million buroctrats) of a low paid and uncontrolled officials, and
gave them free hand to raise a living at large.
Let me give you just few live examples for better understanding of this
Traffic cops:
Every Russian knows that if traffic cop stops you on the road, he must be
greased. This idea has highly penetrated Russian mentality, and they take it
as the way of life.
One day a popular Russian TV program GORODOK played the trick. A man dressed
into Russian traffic police uniform stopped Russian immigrants in Israel and
requested the bribe. The former Russians paid without any hesitation. To
the question WHY, YOU ARE IN ISRAEL?, they explained that may be it is a
joint Russian-Israeli joint venture and etc. This in an example of a human
>From the other side, the Russian traffic cops, at best, are paid about
US$200 per month. This is evidently not enough to support a family, and they
have to seek for an opportunities to raise funds besides their regular
earnings. And the similar problems are faced by many other Russian
officials. Some honest people simply have no choice. Many officials
co-founded their business companies and promote them by using their
One day I had a chance to attend a weekly working meetings of EU and Russian
immigration officers. Russian officers were much impressed of the salaries
and benefits enjoyed by their western counterparts. Later few Russian
officers told me that in the western system they would prefer to work only
honestly. Their salaries now are about US$150 per month.
In Russia now we have a saying: "If you steal a big amount and share it
with.... - be sure to feel safe. If you steal a little, beware of the
persecution." For example:
In 1998 the regional audit commission found that the leaders of the
Khabarovsk Pensioners Fund (federal) have spent about 38 million Rbls on
their own needs, and local pensioners received only 1 million Rbls. The
result of this loud provincial case is that the Chief of the Fund was fast
promoted to a higher position in Moscow (bailed out), and the criminal case
went there, and successfully died.
Or now Khabarovsk public watches the scandal of the Chairman of Khabarovsk
Krai Court Mr. Valery Vdovinkov (the Top local Eagle Eagle), who has spent
about 2,9 million Rbls of state funds for presents to the top level Lawyers
in Moscow, and also has written off individual loans for support of his
accountant's kids (80,000Rbls) . We suspect that finally the Judge will be
bailed out to Moscow and the case will successfully die.
At the same time old Babushkas, who struggle for survival with their 300
Rbls pension and sell illegal tobacco on the streets (to the sum of 60
Rubles) are fast charged the criminal files and persecuted.
I think, that Evgeny Prymakov (if his intent to clean up the Russia is true)
is now facing the problem to break up the estabilshed mentality of the
Alexander Samoiloff
Business Consultant
Khabarovsk, Russia
*TOLMACH - Attorney & Business Consultants*
FREE Newsletter Hello Russia
Far Eastern Russia Online


Moscow Times
March 6, 1999 
Primakov's Triumph May Be Fleeting 
By David McHugh
Staff Writer

At first glance, Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov has won the day with
President Boris Yeltsin's decision to fire his political rival, the
controversial tycoon Boris Berezovsky. 

But experience has shown that such triumphs are far from secure - so long as
the impulsive political intriguer named Boris Yeltsin still holds the vast
constitutional powers that go with being president of Russia. 

More than once, an ambitious minister has consolidated power - and before
getting a chance to draw a deep breath, been hoisted overboard by Yeltsin, who
fears concentrations of power anywhere but in his hands and who seems to
relish firing people like nothing else. 

So the next, logical move may be a balancing counterblow - against Primakov
or, if Yeltsin doesn't have the stomach for the political firestorm that would
cause, against his Cabinet. 

"The president does not make 'asymmetric' firings," the Izvestia newspaper
noted in Saturday's editions, referring to Yeltsin's divide-and-conquer

The leading candidate for sacrificial victim might be First Deputy Prime
Minister Yury Maslyukov, who as a moderate Communist has helped Primakov keep
the peace with the Communist-dominated State Duma. Dumping Maslyukov would
force Primakov to scramble to put together his political base again,
interrupting his quiet consolidation of power at Yeltsin's expense. 

Yeltsin, his role reduced by ill health and the economic crisis, clearly is
uncomfortable with Primakov's enhanced status. The prime minister is widely
acknowledged as being in day-to-day charge of the government. 

Previous victims have included First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais,
who got Berezovsky dumped from his first government job, as deputy secretary
of the Security Council, in 1997. By the end of the year, Yeltsin had taken
him down a peg, stripping him of most of his authority. 

Then, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomrydin gloated at the demise of his rival
Chubais. He lasted just a couple of months after that and was fired in March

And then there's Yeltsin's habit of firing people in bunches, the way he
ditched his chief of staff and several other top aides in December. 

"Yeltsin wouldn't be Yeltsin if he didn't fire several people at once," said
Kremlinologist Andrei Piontkovsky, head of the Institute for Strategic
Studies. "At first it looked like Primakov took a big victory, but it unties
Yeltsin's hands so he can fire Maslyukov." 

Berezovsky, hit with corruption investigations into companies linked to him,
has been waging a propaganda war against Primakov's government, with articles
in his Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper alleging corruption in the Cabinet. 

Yeltsin could hardly have fired Primakov with that going on, the reasoning
goes. Firing Maslyukov would have been tantamount to Yeltsin's admission that
Berezovsky, reviled as a modern-day Rasputin and symbol of crony capitalism,
was forcing his hand. "Now he looks like an honest broker, an honest
corruption fighter," Piontkovsky said. 

Even so, Maslyukov's sacking would be a big risk for Yeltsin, who needs the
Primakov government in place if he wants to maintain a semblance political
calm. If Primakov were to resign, the Duma could force new elections by
refusing to approve a successor. Yeltsin backed down from that threat in
September, choosing the Communist-friendly former spymaster as his third

"In light of all of this, Berezovsky's ouster doesn't really strengthen
Maslyukov or his position," said Alexei Zudin of the Center for Political

Even while defending Primakov, the Kremlin has sent ominous signals. Nikolai
Bordyuzha, the Kremlin chief of staff, has said that the Nezavisimaya Gazeta
charges merit investigating - whether to give Maslyukov a clean bill of
political health, or to find a reason to fire him, it's hard to say. 

And just as Primakov's victory may turn out to be only temporary, Berezovsky
may turn out to have suffered less than total defeat. While he loses the CIS
job gave him access to regional leaders, he still has his newspaper and
appears to exert some control over state television channel ORT. 

Prosecutors have alleged that security company linked to him spied on the
president's family and top officials. But it's hard to tell how much that has
damaged his relationship with the president and with his daughter and media
adviser Tatyana Dyachenko, believed to be one of his chief links to political

And despite the losses all the financial tycoons suffered in the August
economic collapse, he undoubtedly has a large chunk of his fortune and
influence left. In Russia - as in most places - being a billionaire usually
means never having to say you're sorry. 

As Andrei Ryabov of the Moscow Carnegie Center put it, "Berezovsky will be
Berezovsky, even without an 


Boston Globe
6 March 1999
Dangerous tendencies in Russia 

Like spikes on a fever chart, overt displays of anti-Semitism in Russia may
presage a society's relapse into an old sickness. Recurrent Russian anti-
Semitism is accompanied by an inventory of old resentments that nourish
reactionary and chauvinistic impulses. 

Demagogues blame Russia's bankruptcy and humiliation not only on the Jews but
also on the West. Western attempts to offer advice about the management of
free markets, the role of the media in an open society, the formation of
political parties, or the legal structures needed to institute a true rule of
law - all efforts to help Russia construct a stable democratic order - are
denounced by nationalists and Communists as evidence of a conspiracy to
shackle or corrupt Russia. 

One need only scan the symptoms of Russia's current condition to comprehend
the dangers lurking in the shadows. The country is broke, impoverished by the
so-called party of power that allowed a select group of well-connected
oligarchs to buy up at ridiculous prices the most valuable assets owned by the
state. Officials are negotiating the terms of a debt rollover with private
Western banks and with the International Monetary Fund, arguing that Russia is
too important to be allowed to go under and too enfeebled to survive without
special consideration from its creditors.

President Yeltsin is hospitalized again; the legislators in the Duma are still
trying to impeach him; a Russian general warns that disagreement with the West
over Serbia and Iraq may make it more likely that a Y2K computer problem could
lead to Russia launching its nuclear missiles.

Against this backdrop of impoverishment, irrationality, and disintegration,
the overt anti-Semitism of politicians becomes a sign that Russia may be
tumbling backward toward authoritarianism. Ominous anti-Semitic threats issued
by Communist parliamentarians suggest that the Bolsheviks' system has been
replaced by a Potemkin village version of democracy. Without a true rule of
law, genuine democratic institutions, and the ultimate Enlightenment value of
tolerance, Russia will not be a safe place for Jews or anybody else.


Chronology of political shakeups under Yeltsin
March 5, 1999

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin telephoned other ex-Soviet
leaders Friday to seek their support for sacking Boris Berezovsky, the
businessman who is Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent

Yeltsin has often sacked key officials and close allies with little prior
notice. Following is a chronology of important shakeups during Yeltsin's rule:

June 16, 1991 - Yeltsin becomes Russia's first directly elected president,
beating Communist and nationalist candidates. 

August - Yeltsin plays a key role in putting down a hard-line coup against
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and soon eclipses his rival. 

Oct 29 - Yeltsin announces plans for radical reforms for Russia with a team
headed by little-known economist Yegor Gaidar. 

Dec 14, 1992 - Yeltsin, now the leader of a post-Soviet independent Russia and
facing opposition to Gaidar's reforms from a conservative parliament, drops
Gaidar and replaces him with former gas industry boss Viktor Chernomyrdin. 

Sept 21, 1993 - Yeltsin dissolves parliament, accusing it of blocking
constitutional reforms and elections. Rebel deputies barricade themselves
inside the White House parliament building. 

Oct 4 - Supporters of parliament stage an armed attack on the Moscow
television station. The following day Yeltsin uses tanks to storm the White
House and put down the rebellion. 

Dec 12 - Voters approve a constitution giving Yeltsin increased powers. They
select a new lower house of parliament, the State Duma, at an election in
which nationalists do well. 

Oct 11, 1994 - The rouble nose-dives in a currency crisis. ''Black Tuesday''
forces central bank chairman Viktor Gerashchenko to resign, Yeltsin sacks
acting finance minister Sergei Dubinin. 

Dec 17, 1995 - Communists win over a third of Duma seats. 

Jan 1996 - Yeltsin ousts several liberals including privatization chief
Anatoly Chubais and Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev in a move widely seen as a
setback for reform. 

June 16 - Yeltsin wins the first round of a presidential election from
Communist Gennady Zyuganov. He builds on his lead by making third-placed
Alexander Lebed his security adviser. 

June 19-20 - Yeltsin sacks four hawkish members of his team, bodyguard
Alexander Korzhakov, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, state
security chief Mikhail Barsukov and Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. 

July 3 - Yeltsin wins a second term, 13 points ahead of Zyuganov, despite
cancelling campaign trips in the final stages. 

Aug 31 - Lebed signs a peace deal ending the war in Chechnya. 

Oct 17 - Yeltsin sacks Lebed, accusing him of harboring presidential ambitions
and splitting the Kremlin team. 

March/April 1997 - Back at the Kremlin after heart surgery, Yeltsin completes
a government reshuffle. Reformers Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov are named
first deputy premiers. 

May 22 - Furious over army corruption and a lack of military reforms, Yeltsin
sacks Defense Minister Igor Rodionov. 

November - Yeltsin sacks Chubais, Privatization Minister Maxim Boiko and
Federal Bankruptcy Agency chief Pyotr Mostovoi. Berezovsky is sacked as deputy
secretary of security council. 

March 23, 1998 - Back in the Kremlin after a respiratory infection, Yeltsin
sacks Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his cabinet for failing to
implement reforms. He names former Energy Minister Sergei Kiriyenko as
Chernomyrdin's replacement. 

Aug 17 - The government lets the rouble slide and defaults on some domestic
debt. Yeltsin says he will stand by Kiriyenko. 

Aug 23 - Yeltsin sacks Kiriyenko and his entire government and reappoints
Chernomyrdin as acting prime minister. 

Sept 10 - Yeltsin nominates Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov as prime
minister after parliament blocks Chernomyrdin. 

Sept 11 - Parliament approves Primakov as prime minister. 

December - Yeltsin returns to work after a bout of pneumonia and sacks
Valentin Yumashev as his Kremlin chief of staff, replacing him with former
border guard chief Nikolai Bordyuzha. 

March 4, 1999 - Amid speculation of a possible cabinet shakeup, Yeltsin
announces he is withdrawing support for Boris Berezovsky as Executive
Secretary of the CIS. 




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