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15 March 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. The Times (UK): Anna Blundy, Fears of Kremlin purge leave
2. Fred Weir on impeachment of President Yeltsin.
3. Itar-Tass: Leaders of Duma Factions Forecast Russian Developments.
4. John Varoli: Response to White- 3088. (Re sexual harassment).
5. Carl Olson: Big Banana Republic, Not Upper Volta.
6. Itar-Tass: Washington Negotiations Will Be Successful
7. Financial Times: RUSSIA: G7 still wary despite IMF hope.
8. Los Angeles Times: Richard Paddock, Patient Deaths Point to Depth of
Russian Crisis. Medicine: Power cutoff kills three on life support. Utility
says it was an accident. Relatives call it murder.
9. AFP: Surgery gives Russian drug addicts new lease of life.
10. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Trade Minister Hits U.S., Others' 'Protectionism.'
11. Interfax: Russian Experts Concerned Over NATO Expansion.
12. Argumenty i Fakty Views Various Power Bases.
13. Reuters: Angela Charlton, Rift Threatens Russian Communists.
14. Moscow Times: Igor Zakharov, BOOKWORM: Yavlinsky Silhouette
A Political History.]
The Times (UK)
March 15 1999
[for personal use only}
Fears of Kremlin purge leave Primakov exposed
FROM ANNA BLUNDY IN MOSCOW
A FLOOD of Kremlin leaks suggest that President Yeltsin, angered at being
overshadowed by Yevgeni Primakov, his Prime Minister, may be considering
another political upheaval that Russia can ill afford.
Russian newspapers all agreed at the weekend that a government shake-up was in
the offing. "Primakov has ten days to become a reformer" was Segodnya's front-
page headline, referring to Mr Primakov's imminent trip to Washington. His
survival was said to depend on returning with long-awaited International
Monetary Fund grants. Desperate to prove that he is still a force to be
reckoned with, Mr Yeltsin has undermined his Prime Minister by threatening to
intervene personally if no deal is struck.
In another blow to Mr Primakov, a spokesman for President Maskhadov of
Chechenya, has accused him of not being "interested in the settlement of the
Chechen problem". Mr Maskhadov has said he wants to deal personally with Mr
Nevertheless, most observers doubt that the Prime Minister will be removed. Mr
Yeltsin's recent bedside meetings with Yegor Stroyev, the head of the
Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament, and Grigori Yavlinsky,
the leader of the Yabloko party can be interpreted only as a warning to Mr
Both men were considered for the post before Mr Primakov was proposed last
September. The most popular candidate for dismissal by Mr Yeltsin remains Yuri
Maslyukov, a First Deputy Prime Minister and the target of corruption
allegations. If Mr Yavlinsky, a reform economist, were to replace Mr Maslyukov
as chief negotiator with the IMF, Russia's chances of receiving the much-
needed loan could only be improved.
The removal of Mr Maslyukov would sour Mr Primakov's ties with the Communists,
serving Mr Yeltsin's purpose of getting the party out of Government. The
President is eager that his legacy should be one of ridding Russia of
From: "Fred Weir" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1999
By Fred Weir
MOSCOW (CP) -- Russia's parliament will formally place the impeachment
of Boris Yeltsin onto its agenda Tuesday, setting into motion the second
spectacle of a president on trial this year.
Unlike the recent American version that concluded with President
Bill Clinton's acquittal, Yeltsin is unlikely to even testify before the
State Duma much less face the humiliation of losing his job.
``The result is known, Yeltsin will not be impeached in the end. But
impeachment is nevertheless the most volatile wild card on the political
scene today,'' says Sergei Markov, director of the independent Institute for
Political Research in Moscow.
The Duma, the lower house of parliament, struck a special commission
last June to collect evidence that Yeltsin -- president of Russia since
1991 -- has criminally led the country astray.
On Tuesday the Duma will officially set a date to vote on the
commission's five-part indictment of Yeltsin for treason and other crimes
against the Russian people.
``These charges are all extremely serious. They have been prepared by
some of the country's best legal minds,'' says Vadim Filimonov, the
commission's Communist chairman.
``The underlying issues here have nothing to do with political revenge
against Yeltsin and everything to do with making a president accountable to
the system,'' he says.
Under Russia's Yeltsin-authored 1993 constitution impeaching a president
is an almost impossibly complicated procedure. First, he must be indicted
for ``high treason or other grave crimes'' by a two-thirds vote in the Duma.
The charges must be upheld by the Constitutional Court and then endorsed by
two-thirds of the Federation Council, parliament's upper chamber.
But while the Duma is dominated by Communists, the Constitutional Court
is packed with Yeltsin appointees. The Federation Council is composed of
regional leaders who are generally loyal to the Kremlin.
"It's hard to say what will happen, because the situation is very
unstable. Yeltsin's health is fading and his political grip grows weaker by
the day,'' says Viktor Kuvaldin, an analyst with the Gorbachev Fund, a think
tank run by the former Soviet leader.
``When you throw an impeachment trial into this picture, the
consequences can be quite unpredictable''.
The Duma will be asked to indict Yeltsin on five counts: for illegally
conspiring to dissolve the Soviet Union in 1991; overthrowing the
constitution and violently dispersing the elected parliament in 1993;
launching a two year civil war in Chechnya, which cost tens of thousands of
Russia's national defence by neglecting and ruining its armed forces; and
committing genocide by pushing through market reforms that caused falling
birthrates and plunging life expectancy.
``Considering that an American president was nearly impeached for
telling a few white lies about his sex life, this cannot be treated as a
frivolous business,'' says Alexei Chesnakov, an analyst with the independent
Centre for Political Trends in Moscow.
``These charges express the political divisions that have tortured and
paralyzed this country since the breakup of the Soviet Union,'' he says.
``It is a very harsh judgement on the entire Yeltsin era but,
unfortunately, one which almost all Russians at least partially share''.
Unlike Bill Clinton, whose ratings soared throughout his impeachment
ordeal, Yeltsin's popularity has been stuck in the low single digits for
over a year.
The near-invulnerability of Yeltsin's constitutional position, combined
with the starkly political nature of the accusations, has led some observers
to dismiss the Duma's impeachment drive as irrelevant. But that may be about
``It's very likely that at least one, and maybe two of the articles of
impeachment will be endorsed by the Duma,'' says Markov. ``That will be
enough to launch impeachment onto political centre stage, and give it
Although many of the charges boil down to a Communist hit-list against
the Kremlin, the agonizing and bloody war in Chechnya -- which Yeltsin
prosecuted without the consent of parliament -- is an issue most of the
Duma's fractious groups can agree on.
``We will vote to impeach Yeltsin over the Chechnya war, if not for
other points of the indictment,'' says a spokesperson for Yelena Mizulena,
the liberal Yabloko party's representative on the impeachment commission.
It is not clear when the Duma will decide to put the matter to a vote,
but analysts say it will probably drag the process out for some time.
``No matter how things turn out, at the very least we have elaborated
the procedures for impeaching a president,'' says Filimonov.
"This is a major step toward real parliamentary democracy in Russia, and
it's one of the most practical steps this Duma has ever taken''.
Leaders of Duma Factions Forecast Russian Developments.
MOSCOW, March 14 (Itar-Tass) - Leaders of four major factions of the State
Duma gave their forecast of the Russian political and economic situation
for the next two-three months in the NTV Itogi television program on Sunday.
"No elections will help us," Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the 50-strong
Liberal Democratic faction, said. "We have exhausted the limit of the
democratic development in Russia... It is time to proceed to a completely
new regime and try to bring order to economics."
The political accord "will not radically change the power system in the
country," leader of the 60-strong Our Home is Russia faction Vladimir
Ryzhkov said. "That will be a temporary freezing, and several months later
we will again face the same problems which have been characteristic of us
for the past seven- eight years." Despite the Primakov government's
"enhancement of its economic bloc" in the next two months "we do not expect
serious changes for the better," he noted.
"In the next two-three weeks the rightist radicals will try to make another
revenge by ruining the government of Primakov, and we will take all
measures to prevent that," leader of the 128-strong Communist faction
Gennady Zyuganov remarked. He is sure the State Duma will support the
impeachment of Boris Yeltsin on April 14.
Zyuganov, however, stands for preserving the government of Yevgeny
Primakov. "The three power branches shall gather and clearly say that the
government will not be dismissed without a report at the Federal Assembly,"
Leader of the 46-strong Yabloko faction Grigory Yavlinsky agrees that the
State Duma will approve of the impeachment. He thinks it "highly possible"
that 300 deputies of the Duma will vote for the dismissal of the president.
However, Yavlinsky does not believe the general situation will change.
"Against the background of the current standing of the president, the
government and the structure of the Duma we will have what we have in the
next two-three months," he remarked.
Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1999
From: john varoli <email@example.com>
Organization: The St Petersburg Times
Subject: Response to White- 3088
I applaud Mr. White's zeal defending Russia's honor. I too try to uphold
it whenever possible, but the truth must be told. It is quite
unfortunate that any criticism of Russia is taken as a "condemndation"
of her culture, as White claims. I believe that criticism is the prime
tool by which individuals and whole societies improve themselves. But
then, I am sure Mr. White will also dismiss such an idea as a silly
My article on sexual harassment was not merely built around several
incidents that I had uncovered in the course of a short investigation,
but rather it was the result of six years living in Russia--- three of
which were spent as a social worker/ human rights advocate working with
women and children, and the other three as a writer.
The plight of women in Russia, in all regards, is certainly the worse
among the European nations. During his next visit to Russia, I dare Mr.
White to venture out of his privileged world of assertive Russian female
corporate executives, and spend a few weeks with those women who are
less well-off and poorly-connected (the majority of the population), and
who have no protection and recourse from abuse.
Mr. White should remember that human rights are universal, and not
merely American values. The application of force, in any form, on the
will of any individual, is wrong. And be assured that I will always
fight such violations, regardless of what is considered acceptable by
the local culture.
Finally, Mr. White claims to have spoken with "female legislators, in
the St. Petersburg Legislature" who also share his criticism of American
feminism. The plural is highly unlikely. There is only one woman in the
St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly.
PS Mr. White, I am married to an extremely assertive Russian female
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Carl Olson)
Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1999
Subject: Big Banana Republic, Not Upper Volta
The "capital flight" from Russia in the range of $50 billion to $230
billion (JRL 3089 #13) should readily convince anybody that Russia
is not an "Upper Volta with Missles".
The vast amount of wealth that has been taken out of Russia is
nothing that the rulers of Upper Volta can hope to match, even on a
per capita basis.
Unfortunately, the Russian economic elite's behavior of taking the
money and running sounds more like the habit of Latin American
regimes. It certainly does not bode well for the Russian citizens
who continue to suffer because these hundreds of billions of dollars
are NOT being used to make the Russian economy more
productive and prosperous.
My nomination for a more appropriate phrase is "Big Banana
Republic with Missiles".
State Department Watch
Washington Negotiations Will Be Successful Primakov.
NEW YORK, March 14 (Itar-Tass) - The Washington negotiations will be
successful, Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov said an exclusive
interview with the American Newsweek magazine on Sunday in view of his visit
to the United States to attend the 11th session of the bilateral Commission
for the Economic and Technological Cooperation.
The commission to convene in Washington on March 23-25 is chaired by Primakov
and U.S. Vice-President Albert Gore.
"The negotiations can be successful because many of our interests coincide,"
Primakov said. "I think that not only we understand the significance of the
United States but also the United States has not lost the ability to value the
significance of our country despite the difficulties we are having."
When explaining a delay in the allocation of more IMF credits to Russia, the
premier did not exclude that contacts with some of his predecessors could make
the position of the Fund "tougher."
"Certainly, there are objective reasons. The IMF rendered the assistance to
our country for a lengthy period of time and that period was not very
successful," Primakov said. On the whole, the delay is caused by the wait-and-
see policy of the IMF and a number of Western countries which, in the opinion
of the premier, want to find out the genuine nature of the policy to be
carried out by the Russian cabinet.
In the words of Primakov, the cabinet will continue the reforms but with
certain corrections. "It will put an accent on social aspects of the reforms
and increase the role of the state in economics where it is necessary," he
If the IMF refuses to give credits Russia will not die, Primakov noted. He,
however, is optimistic about prospects for the negotiations and hopes "the IMF
leadership will make a step to meet Russia halfway" and the agreement will be
March 15, 1999
[for personal use only]
RUSSIA: G7 still wary despite IMF hope
By John Thornhill in Moscow and Stephen Fidler in Washington
The Group of Seven indus-trialised nations still appears ambivalent about
whether to resume immediate financial assistance to Moscow, as the Russian
government insists it can clinch an agreement with the International
Monetary Fund by the end of March.
Following talks with senior IMF officials in Washington, Victor
Chernomyrdin, the former Russian prime minister and unofficial government
envoy, became the latest in a long line of Russian politicians to predict a
"Today I am convinced that everything can be done in March, precisely in
March. And it is very important not to go beyond March," Mr Chernomyrdin
said on Saturday, before returning to Moscow to brief Yevgeny Primakov,
Mr Primakov has promised to devote this week to economic issues, before
flying to Washington on March 23 for talks with Al Gore, US vice-president,
and the IMF. The Russian media are already portraying the trip as the
"make-or-break" event in Mr Primakov's six-month premiership.
The IMF, which suspended its lending programme to Russia following last
August's crash, has said the two sides have reached a "common
understanding" of the government's fiscal problems - after months of
inconclusive talks. But the IMF still insists the government must raise its
primary budget surplus from 2 per cent of gross domestic product to closer
to 4 per cent.
Although the G7 countries unanimously insist Russia must sign up to a new
IMF programme, they appear divided about how to deal with the country's
$150bn (£93bn) external debt.
The US administration has hinted it might lobby other western governments
to write off much of Russia's Soviet-era debt. But Bonn, which owns half of
Russia's $60bn of sovereign debt, has rejected any talk of debt forgiveness.
Los Angeles Times
March 13, 1999
Patient Deaths Point to Depth of Russian Crisis
Medicine: Power cutoff kills three on life support. Utility says it was an
accident. Relatives call it murder.
By RICHARD C. PADDOCK, Times Staff Writer
MOSCOW--The three patients lay unconscious in the intensive care unit, kept
alive only by the Siberian hospital's life support system. Two were
elderly; one was 39. None of them could know that the greatest threat to
their lives was an unpaid bill.
On Wednesday, the hospital in the town of Prokopyevsk received a telegram
from the local power company, Gorelektroset, warning that it would have its
electricity shut off the next day if it did not pay its debt of $95,000. At
6 o'clock Thursday morning, the hospital's power went off; 40 minutes
later, all three patients were dead.
"The patients started dying one after another," said Dr. Sergei V.
Pushkaryov, chief of the intensive care unit, who led a desperate effort to
keep them alive. "It was terrible. The nurses cried. We saw them dying, and
we could not save them. I have seen a lot in my professional life, but
three corpses in one morning is too much."
Prosecutors were investigating the deaths Friday. The apologetic utility
company called the outage an accident. Relatives called it murder. Yet it
could just as well be said that the three patients fell victim to Russia's
seven-year effort to overhaul the Communist system and create a market
Outside Moscow, Russians are witnessing the steady retreat of civilization
as Soviet-era systems of health care, industry, trade and law enforcement
decay and collapse.
Factories barely function, goods are exchanged by barter, and police are
powerless against organized crime. In most places, the capitalism that many
Russians wished for has yet to arrive.
Economic transformation has been especially hard on medical care.
Hospitals are chronically underfunded and understaffed. Outdated and broken
equipment is not replaced. Patients must bring their own linens, medicines
and syringes with them to the hospital. Doctors often face the choice of
operating without anesthetic or not operating at all.
At the 600-bed Prokopyevsk Emergency Hospital, doctors worked six months
last year without receiving their meager salaries of 800 rubles a
month--the equivalent at the current rate of exchange of about $35. They
began getting paid again in January but are still half a year behind. A
backup generator is a luxury the hospital cannot afford.
"Sometimes, when I come home from work, I watch the American series 'ER' on
television and I almost cry because what I see there is another world,
another civilization," hospital Director Anatoly P. Shutov said.
"I can't imagine that I will live to see my hospital even remotely
approaching these standards."
To comply with Western conditions for multibillion-dollar loans, Russia is
trying to wean consumers from subsidized power and have them pay for what
they use. However, it is difficult to put the energy system on a capitalist
footing when institutions and individuals have little or no money to pay
for utilities--and the temperature outside is below freezing for large
parts of the year.
As part of the national power grid, Gorelektroset, the local company, has
been under pressure itself from its supplier to pay for electricity it has
distributed to homes and enterprises in Prokopyevsk, a city of 240,000 in
the impoverished coal-mining region of central Siberia.
One of its biggest debtors is the hospital, which has not paid its bill
since 1994. The company briefly cut off the hospital's electricity several
times before but always telephoned ahead to warn doctors so the power would
not go out in the middle of an operation.
Shutov said the telegram he received from the utility Wednesday ordered the
hospital to pay 2,187,202 rubles--the equivalent of $94,931--or "the
electricity supply will be cut off on March 11." The hospital heard nothing
more before the power went off promptly at 6 a.m. the next day.
Gorelektroset chief Pavel M. Pichugin acknowledged sending the telegram but
insisted that the company had not carried out its threat. The timing of the
power outage was a coincidence, he said.
"This was a totally accidental cut," Pichugin said. "We never really meant
it. It was a technical cut in the power line, and it took us about an hour
to repair it. We are very sorry that people died, but I assure you we
didn't cut off the supply deliberately."
Pichugin said he issued the warning in the hope of triggering the kind of
mutual cancellation of debts that has become commonplace in Russia's barter
Gorelektroset faces power shortages of its own, he said, because it cannot
pay its supplier, the much bigger Kuzbasenergo. Because Kuzbasenergo owes
money to the Kemerovo regional government, and the regional government owes
money to the city, and the city owes money to the hospital, a debt swap
could wipe Gorelektroset's obligations off its books.
"I just wanted them to press their case with the city authorities so they
would press their case with the regional authorities," he said. "What
happened yesterday is a tragedy that was not intended."
Such explanations are lost on the families of the three victims: Filip I.
Salnikov, 82, who was recovering from stomach surgery; Zoya V.
Gasanaliyeva, 69, who was being treated for poisoning; and Alexander V.
Gart, 39, who was recovering from a knife wound to the chest.
When the power went out, the doctors and nurses attempted to keep the
patients alive with ancient manual resuscitation equipment. First
Gasanaliyeva died, then Gart. Despite his age, Salnikov hung on for 40
Salnikov's granddaughter, Natalia V. Svetlakova, said he had begged family
members the day before not to leave him in the hospital. She recalled that
his last words to relatives were "Please don't leave me. I will die here."
"It was an ugly, violent death," she said, crying. "I think you can call
this murder. After all, we are not at war with anyone, but people are
killed left and right. How can we trust our medical care after this? How
can we trust the state that kills its citizens?"
Sergei L. Loiko of The Times' Moscow Bureau contributed to this report.
Surgery gives Russian drug addicts new lease of life
SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia, March 14 (AFP) - Ivan Sirotkin, 20 had tried time
and time again to kick his drug habit, without success, before he went to the
St. Petersburg Human Brain Research Institute and got cured.
In a three-hour operation, surgeons neutralised using a cryosurgical technique
the part of his brain causing his addiction, with the result that he has
completely lost his appetite for drugs.
For the past year, the St. Petersburg institute has performed similar
neurosurgery on several patients and doctors say 70 percent of them were cured
of their physical and psychological dependency.
They said the treatment was not only effective but had no discernible side-
effects on the patient's personality.
The surgeons drill a hole in the skull and then freeze about eight millimetres
on the surface of the brain. Throughout the operation which is carried out
under local anesthetic, the patient is conscious.
"I would like to invite you home doctor to have a drink together," Ivan joked
during the operation.
"Operations of this type have been done for years to cure the 'ghost limb'
syndrome" - where patients who have lost a limb still feel pain from it. But
we are using this technique to free patients from narcotic dependency," said
Svyatoslav Medvedev, the director of the institute.
The advantage of this method, which is also employed in other parts of Russia,
is that it cures patients' psychological as well as physical dependency.
Medvedev said that with the classic detoxification cures, "only seven percent
of patients manage to overcome this psychological dependency."
"Our method makes the patient forget the sensation created by the narcotic and
because of this, he loses the desire to take drugs," the doctor said.
Already, 15 drug abusers have had the operation in St. Petersburg and 10 more
are on the waiting list.
"For our patients, this is their last chance to escape from drug
addiction,"surgeon Vladimir Nizkovoloz said. Every patient treated at the
institute had attempted several cures but all had failed, he said.
"I had tried everything to get rid of my drug habit but nothing worked,"
Sirotkin said a few minutes after his operation.
He said he had been on drugs for five years and had lost most of his friends
because of his addiction. "I wanted to live," he said, explaining that his
parents had collected 2,000 dollars to pay for his operation.
After surgery, the patients stay three to four weeks at the hospital and when
they leave they are able to begin their lives over again without drugs.
Svetlana, 19, had the operation two months ago. "I don't even think about
drugs any more. I have gone back to my studies and am living a normal life
again," she said.
There are officially 500,000 drug addicts registered in St. Petersburg - one
person in every ten in this city of five million.
Trade Minister Hits U.S., Others' 'Protectionism'
11 March 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Unattributed report: "Putting an End to Losses"
Unless energetic measures to counter foreign
protectionism with regard to ferrous metals and chemical commodities are
taken, then Russia's annual currency losses may increase in the very near
future from $1.5 billion to $3 billion. This opinion was expressed by
Russian Federation Trade Minister Georgiy Gabuniya in an interview with a
According to him, protectionism with regard to Russian commodities abroad is
having a considerable negative effect on the present state of the Russian
Gabuniya reported that the Russian Ministry of Trade is keeping a register in
which several dozen cases of the application of restrictive measures, as
well as threats to introduce these with regard to Russian export
commodities, have already been recorded.
In his opinion, this is attributable to the fact that Russia has not
yet joined the World Trade Organization, and therefore does not have the
possibility of using the mechanism of resolving trade disputes.
Gabuniya named the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, India, the Republic
of Korea, Hungary, Poland, and the European Union countries as the
countries that resort most frequently to restrictive measures with regard
to Russian export.
Russian Experts Concerned Over NATO Expansion
MOSCOW, March 11 (Interfax) - With the admission
of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to NATO, the alliance will
significantly bolster combat potential in Europe and will bring its
military infrastructure within 700 kilometers of Russia, experts from the
Russian General Headquarters have told Interfax, commenting on the three
states' official entry into NATO, planned for March 12. They said that
with the admission of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary into NATO,
its ground troops in Europe will get 12 more divisions and will become
15% stronger, numerically. The alliance will increase its overall air
force strength in Europe by 15%, adding 250 airports of various class to
its air force bases. Experts reported that NATO's military structures in
Europe have about 6,500 aircraft, including 3,200 in Central Europe, more
than 2,000 in Southern Europe, and nearly 1,300 in Northern Europe. If
needed, NATO's air force in Europe can be reinforced with over 200
strategic and 3,000 tactical aircraft based in the United States and
other countries. With over 3,100 American airplanes attached to the U.S.
Navy, NATO can now rely on 13,000 aircraft, experts said. They said that
from Poland, NATO's tactical aviation can reach targets in many major
Russian cities, including St.Petersburg, Murmansk, Kursk, and Voronezh.
This is why the experts voiced concern over NATO's recent acquisition of
mostly offensive and high-precision weapons. According to the Russian
military, in 1999 NATO plans to spend $477.6 billion, of which $276.2.
billion will come from the United States.
Russian Paper Views Various Power Bases
Argumenty i Fakty, No 959
1 March 1999
[for personal use only]
Article by AiF Analysis Center in "Politics" column: "Turmoil Over
President's Signature" -- passages and words within slantlines published
in boldface; signed to press 9 March
/Yevgeniy Primakov's/ appointment to the post of
chairman of the Russian government has made it possible to halt a
political crisis terrible in its consequences, but it has not eliminated
its causes. Not having set any political conditions during his
appointment (a guarantee that the government will remain in place until
the year 2000, a free hand in the selection of personnel, control over
state-owned media, eliminating the influence of the oligarchs),
/Primakov/ has let all the main players stay on the political arena,
together with the groups that stand behind them, and their economic
interests. It is therefore quite possible that we are to witness in the
very near future the second act of the political crisis drama, namely its
Let us outline the positions and objectives of the main participants in
the forthcoming events. /The first column/ comprises the remaining
oligarchs led by [CIS executive secretary] /Boris Berezovskiy/, the media
under their control, the forces supporting them within the International
Monetary Fund, and part of the presidential administration. The public
political representative of this group is [Yabloko party leader]
/Grigoriy Yavlinskiy/. The group's objectives are to squeeze out of the
government "the left wing" led by [First Deputy Prime Minister] /Yuriy
Maslyukov/, and to weaken the electoral positions of the Communist Party
of the Russian Federation [CPRF]; to make /Primakov/ amenable and include
their own placemen in the cabinet; and to restore their monopoly on the
information flow before the election.
/The second grouping/ is the left wing, headed by [CPRF leader] /Gennadiy
Zyuganov/, and most of the State Duma. Their objectives are to neutralize
the president completely, to strengthen their control over the government
and /Primakov/ personally; to take the first and second television
channels [Russian Public TV and Russia TV] under their "operational
management"; to obtain funding for the forthcoming presidential and
parliamentary elections through their own people in the government and
the Central Bank.
The way things have developed, the interests of /"the third force"/ are
represented by Prime Minister /Primakov/. Admittedly, he does not yet
have a clearly formulated stance. He does not like the oligarchs or
Yavlinskiy, and does not have much confidence in the president. He
demonstrates a manifestly peremptory style in the government. Acting in
accordance with the laws of the power know-how alone, he is trying (with
little success so far) to strengthen his influence on television and
within force structures, and to improve budget and tax discipline. He is
sincere in his willingness to combat corruption and crime. He is
childishly quick to take offence with the press. He wants to stay in
power at least until the year 2000.
/The fourth force/ is [Moscow mayor] /Yuriy Luzhkov's/ team. He is most
likely not to take any direct part in the imminent political battle. Any
serious rise in the influence of either the first or the second groups,
however, does not suit the Moscow mayor. He is likely to try and use to
his advantage the results of the forthcoming "showdown", particularly if
it presents him with an opportunity to /take the post of prime minister/
before the presidential election. In tactical terms, one should note a
serious rapprochement between /Luzhkov/ and [Media-Most group owner]
/Vladimir Gusinskiy/. Thus Most-Bank has gained access to funds in the
city budget and to the accounts of the city's enterprises, talks are
under way on NTV [partly owned by Gusinskiy] and the 31st TV channel
"complementing each other", and Gusinskiy's personal influence on the
mayor and on part of his team has increased sharply.
Other players in the political drama
/The President/. Even though he is ill, his instinct of power has
prompted him into making spectacular moves, such as a fleeting visit to
Jordan and the dismissal of Berezovskiy, even though these have become
rare of late.
/The Federation Council/, the governors' corps, is not monolithic. It
will only start playing a significant role after other forces become
active. The Federation Council chairman [Yegor Stroyev] is cautious to
the point of inertia. The governors are getting ready for their own
elections - 18 regional leaders are facing elections this year.
/The public/ is passive.
/The media/ are shared out between various political forces and their
We have nearly forgotten to mention [chairman of the Unified Energy
System of Russia joint-stock company and former First Deputy Prime
Minister] /Anatoliy Chubays/. He is not averse to using the developments
in his own interests, or even to actively influencing them. According to
unconfirmed reports, Anatoliy Borisovich [Chubays] has recently "forced
his way" to the president's ward in the Central Clinical Hospital and
suggested to Yeltsin that he should play his favourite political
personnel game: to whack both the left and the right wing, boosting his
own role as "guarantor and umpire". To wit, he should remove /Maslyukov/,
[deputy prime minister] /Gennadiy Kulik/ and Co from the government, and
for this purpose, he should also remove from the political Olympus
/Berezovskiy/, who is a figure of hate both for the opposition and for
Chubays himself. This theory is much more plausible than the rumour that
BAB [Berezovskiy] was sacrificed in exchange for the Communists freezing
the impeachment and providing safety guarantees for the president's family.
Likely scenario of future developments
If /Primakov/ refuses to remove /Maslyukov/ and /Kulik/ from the
government, it is highly likely that a decree will appear relieving the
prime minister himself of his post.
In this case, the left-wing majority in the State Duma and the
Federation Council will immediately say that the decree does not bear the
president's own signature (because he is ill and unable to sign) but
rather a stamped signature, in other words a facsimile.
The two chambers of parliament will then suggest that /Primakov/ should
not leave the post of prime minister but should take over the president's
duties instead and ensure that an election is held at a time set by the
Federation Council and the State Duma.
In this scenario, the president will be "quietly isolated" (without
physical elimination) at one of his country residences (Gorki-9 or Rus).
The country will be shown footage confirming the president's inability to
run the country due to illness. The army and the Internal Troops will
appear to acquiesce to the changes. All this will be sadly reminiscent
either of February 1917, when the tsar was removed, or of Lenin's
isolation in Gorki in 1922-24.
But the sequence of events in accordance with the plans of /Zyuganov and
Co/ will be disrupted by /Primakov/. He will not want to become a head of
state in this status and will leave the post of chairman of the
government, explaining the move by his unwillingness to become the cause
of a conflict and of possible clashes.
After that, the State Duma and the Federation Council will form a /"State
Council"/, which will be a collective political governing body, and a new
government - possibly headed by /Luzhkov/ .
The country will be promised an election in the near future (as soon as
the economy and political stability allow). A campaign to replace the
constitution will be launched. A Constitutional (for which read
/Constituent/) Assembly will be convened for the adoption of a new
fundamental law. Russia might enter a long period of Troubles.
The only hope is that the president, even if he cannot sign the decree
with his own hand, will not allow those in charge of the facsimile stamp
to do it either. At least out of the sense of self-preservation.
Rift Threatens Russian Communists
March 13, 1999
By ANGELA CHARLTON
KRASNODAR, Russia (AP) -- When five uniformed Cossacks boarded the tram,
conversations hushed mid-sentence, passengers' backs stiffened and the air
seemed to chill.
The ticket-taker inched toward the men, three swathed in camouflage, the other
two in tall black astrakhan hats and the roughly stitched wool coats their
grandfathers wore while serving in czarist regiments.
One barked: ``We're Cossacks. We're protecting your tram. I hope you weren't
coming to ask me to buy a ticket.''
The men are part of an army of volunteer militiamen patrolling Krasnodar, a
farming region on Russia's volatile southern border, on behalf of the
Communists who run its government.
These Communists are among the most hard-line members of Russia's best-
organized political movement. While their tactics frighten many Krasnodar
residents, they also command widespread respect for crushing crime.
These Communists are so hard-line, however, that their racist rhetoric and
protectionist economic policies are threatening to split the party.
The national leader of the Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, is trying to
hold the hard-liners and more moderate elements together as Russia moves
toward two key elections -- the selection of a new parliament in December and
a presidential poll next year.
If Zyuganov can keep the party united, it could remain the largest faction in
parliament and position Zyuganov to make another strong run for the
presidency. But there are dangers the party could splinter, and Krasnodar
illustrates the fault line.
Krasnodar and the rest of the ``Red Belt,'' a swath of southern Russia dense
with agriculture and nostalgia for the Soviet Union, was a key Communist
constituency when Zyuganov finished second in the 1996 presidential election
behind Boris Yeltsin.
But Krasnodar's charismatic and venomous governor, Nikolai Kondratenko, is
among an increasing number of prominent Communists who suggest the party has
gone soft since it gained a few Cabinet seats in the political shakeup after
Russia's economic meltdown last August.
Kondratenko's Bolshevik predecessors fought against the monarchist Cossacks in
the Russian Revolution. But in today's Krasnodar and other pockets around
Russia, the Communists and Cossacks have found a common language: a proud
nationalism that thrives on the insecurities of an impoverished populace and
In a speech to students last year, Kondratenko blamed Jews for most of
Russia's ills, from poverty to crime. Human rights groups said he used
derogatory terms for Jews 61 times in the speech.
Skewering Jews and immigrants in another speech last year, he said, ``Why
haven't we revolted against that scum, a bunch of people for whom Russia,
Russians, patriotism, the land of Russia is something alien?''
Galina Goldner, head of the Shalom Jewish cultural center in the city of
Krasnodar, the regional capital, said, ``People are afraid to come to
meetings, to services, even to bring their children to our day care.''
Kondratenko's many supporters say they are scared, too -- of a spillover of
violence from breakaway Chechnya and the region's ethnic conflicts.
Krasnodar's leaders have imposed residency rules that restrict immigration and
indirectly favor ethnic Russians. They've also ordered police -- and Cossacks
-- to monitor dozens of minority groups.
Goldner, for example, must give police the plans for Jewish cultural events.
Minority groups say police often pass on the information to ultranationalist
groups that disrupt their meetings.
Political dissent provokes similar suspicion. Opposition rallies, though rare,
attract heavy police attention. Many local journalists complain of pressure
from Kondratenko's administration.
Vladimir Konovalov, the local Cossack ``hetman,'' or chief, litters his speech
with slurs against Jews and Muslims. He says his grandfather was killed by the
Bolsheviks, yet he supports Kondratenko.
``The Communists understand how important stability is. Look at the mess other
regions are in,'' he said, punctuating his words with periodic pats on the
leather holder of his 15-inch, bronze-handled dagger.
The Communists aren't paying Konovalov and other volunteers who come home
after their day jobs and don Cossack gear to patrol trams and parks. For the
Cossacks, it's enough to be given free rein to enforce their own criminal and
The region's Communist leaders, like the czars, understand the importance of
currying favor with Cossacks in a place like Krasnodar, dominated for
centuries by clans of the swashbuckling warriors.
``People respect the Cossacks, see them as a part of Russian history,'' said
Nikolai Osadchy, Krasnodar's Communist Party chief and a member of the
regional legislature. ``The Communists present a similar kind of strict
discipline, and therefore we're successful here.''
The Communists' law-and-order gospel isn't the only thing winning them friends
in Krasnodar. The governor's economic policies have helped.
Nikolai Gladky, head of a collective farm, calls Kondratenko ``the best thing
for (this area) since (Soviet leader Leonid) Brezhnev.''
When Russia succumbed to global financial turmoil in August, inflation soared
and food imports plunged. Fearing unrest, Kondratenko capped prices on local
produce and limited shipments to other parts of Russia.
The tactic worked fine for Krasnodar, which is packed with fertile soil and
farms that enjoy some of the country's mildest weather. But milk and beef and
pears from Krasnodar traditionally have fed Russians in the country's vast
North through the long, permafrost winters.
Not this year.
Gladky conceded the export limits were somewhat extreme, and admitted some
meat had spoiled because local demand was too low. But the regional
administration paid him for it anyway, to stop it from being sent elsewhere.
``People just want stability. Kondratenko has managed to achieve that,''
A veneer of economic stability does coat Krasnodar.
Goods are plentiful, and prices have barely budged since autumn. Medium-grade
eggs cost just 7 rubles (35 cents) for a box of 10, half the Moscow price.
Analysts warn, however, that the veneer is thin.
Kondratenko's extreme economic measures have incensed foreign investors and
the government leaders in Moscow who determine how much federal cash goes to
his region. The government tried to block him and other governors from
instituting price and trade controls, saying they are illegal and devastating
the rest of the country.
Many leaders in the national Communist Party, however, hail Kondratenko as a
hero for increasing control over the regional economy.
However, Kondratenko is reportedly considering joining a splinter party with
fellow Communist hard-liners Albert Makashov and Viktor Ilyukhin -- both known
for their anti-Semitic sentiments. Such an alliance would appeal to a small
but vocal slice of the Communist electorate, and could sap the party's
Osadchy, the Krasnodar Communist chief, warned: ``Zyuganov must be very, very
March 13, 1999
BOOKWORM: Yavlinsky Silhouette A Political History
By Igor Zakharov
A popular series, "Silhouettes of Success," has published nearly 100
biographies about famous people, from Alexander the Great to Napoleon and
Nikolai II, but so far there are only two living persons representing post-
Last year, the publishers, Feniks, released a Russian translation of a German
book about General Alexander Lebed.
This year it's Grigory Yavlinky's turn, with a "first-ever biography" of the
well-known political leader written by Valentine Kolobova. It is hardcover,
320 pages and sells for 20 rubles (85 cents).
Although the author and publishers promise to "disclose the psychology of the
hero," the book is more a review of political events than a biography of the
The reader can find the usual sort of tearful, sentimental details about the
childhood of "Garik," as he was called at the time, including a page-long
story about his kindergarten love affair with a "charming, curly haired blonde
girl" and his unlimited devotion to the "mistress of his heart" until they
turned seven and entered different schools.
The author then informs us that she took the information from an official
Yabloko press release.
There is a chapter-long, heart-rending and logically confused account of young
Yavlinsky, who when in his mid-20s spent nine months in hospitals, diagnosed
"The KGB got interested in him, put him in hospital and nearly made him an
invalid," writes Kolobova. "He finally managed to free himself from the so-
called doctors only when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power."
Again, the source of the story is the Yabloko press service.
"His wife does not like it when journalists write about her; she does not want
her private lie to be publicly discussed," writes the biographer.
She then adds, with rare naivetĪ, "I agree with her. It's her right. The
reader will not find in this book any piquant or poignant details, because
politicians are no differed from us, they can be embarrassed and offended. And
I do not want to embarrass or offend Grigory Alexeyevich."
You read on the next page that Kolobova spoke to her hero only once, and
during that encounter Yavlinsky soon "retired into himself" and stopped
answering her questions.
If you want to refresh your memory about the major political events of the
last 30 years, or to look at pictures of Yavlinsky with his voters, you'll be
probably satisfied with the book.
But if you want more than banalities originating from and approved by the
Yabloko press service, or if you want to see at least one photo of Yavlinsky's
family, you'll have to look elsewhere.