This Date's Issues: 3116 • 3117
Johnson's Russia List
"The bible of serious Russia watchers"
30 March 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AFP: Camdessus agrees fresh billions to pull Russia from default brink.
2. Reuters: TEXT-Russia, IMF joint communique.
3. Itar-Tass: Most Russians Fear Balkan Crisis Can Trigger Third World War.
4. Reuters: Russian premier set for peace mission to Serbia.
5. Reuters: Russia says New Yorker accusation a Kosovo ruse.
6. Financial Times: Andrew Jack, Primakov tries for Slavic balance.
7. AP: Russia Moves To Curb Capital Flight.
8. Itar-Tass: Russia Can Enter New Century with New History Yeltsin.
9. Reuters: Struggling Yeltsin to defend liberal reforms.
10. Itar-Tass: Security Chief Says Russia Will Not Get Involved in Balkan
11. Reuters: Russian Crisis Breeds Extremism.
12. Moscow Times editorial: NATO Uses Wrong Plan To End War.
13. Itar-Tass: Zyuganov Plays down Liberal TRIO'S Trip.
14. Interfax: Arbatov: Anti-Western Sentiment to Dominate Election
15. Itar-Tass: Baburin Says NATO Strikes Change World Security System.
16. Interfax: Gorbachev Warns Politicians 'Not To Lose Their Heads.'
17. Christian Science Monitor editorial: Russia's Dilemma.
18. Interfax: Maslyukov Says Russia Avoided Hyperinflation.
19. The Russia Journal: What Zyuganov Can Achieve With Clinton's Help.]
Camdessus agrees fresh billions to pull Russia from default brink
MOSCOW, March 29 (AFP) - IMF chief Michel Camdessus rode to Russia's fiscal
rescue Monday, agreeing billions of dollars in fresh loans to help Moscow
stave off all-out default on its foreign debt and avoid financial pariah
The deal, the second multi-billion-dollar IMF bailout for Russia in a year,
was struck after three hours of talks in the Russian capital between Camdessus
and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.
Although no official details were released, government sources said the Fund
would make 4.8 billion dollars (4.4 billion euros) available in four equal
Analysts hailed the accord which they said would give the cash-strapped
Russian government some much-needed breathing space and boost Moscow's efforts
to secure further vital debt rescheduling from its foreign creditors.
The new money will help balance Russia's hopelessly lopsided budget. The
government admits it can only repay 9.5 billion of the 17.5 billion dollars
that mature this year. Some 4.6 billion dollars of that is owed to the IMF.
"We agreed to cooperate, agreed that a new loan will be offered to us, agreed
that next week a top mission will come here which will complete the
preparation of an (economic) document," Primakov said on RTR television.
The IMF froze its Moscow assistance programme last year when a financial storm
triggered by an August 17 ruble devaluation and internal debt market freeze
tore through the Russian financial system.
A senior IMF mission will arrive in Moscow next week to draft the program,
which will then be submitted to the IMF's Washington headquarters for approval
"and will provide the basis for an extension of financial support for Russia,"
a joint communique signed by Camdessus and Primakov aid.
However, the statement did not mention the size of a potential new loan
extension or other possible terms of the deal. Economists said they expected
Russia and the Fund to sign a formal agreement within two months.
Analysts said Monday's deal was above all political, pointing out that the IMF
had significantly eased its original terms, notably a primary budget surplus
of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product.
That triggered a fierce war of words between the Fund and Russia's Communist
economy chief Yury Maslyukov, who insisted this year's 19.6-billion dollar
budget had already pared spending to the bone and noisily refused to cut
social programmes further.
Monday's accord represents a personal victory for him, providing for a primary
surplus of two percent of GDP, a figure that excludes debt servicing payments.
"The IMF has backed-off in terms of the conditionality associated with new
lending," said Philip Poole, director of Emerging Europe at ING Barings in
"That points to what is primarily a politically-motivated deal. The West sees
it to be in its interests for the IMF to stay engaged, for the IMF to provide
support to stop Russia slipping any further into the financial abyss," he
"It's the right thing to do in my view because it's a very difficult
transitory political environment in Russia and it made no sense for the G7
(group of seven most industrialised nations) to disengage or for the IMF to
allow Russia to default on additional classes of debt," he added.
Experts said the IMF would demand the cash be used to repay debts to the IMF,
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and post-Soviet Paris Club
(sovereign) debt, and insist there be no repeat of massive capital flight
associated with last July's 22-billion dollar IMF-led package for Russia.
Alexei Zabotkin of Moscow's United Financial Group said he expected the two
sides to sign a full deal by May. "Russia can wait until then, because no big
Fund debt re-payments are due until that point," he said.
However, some analysts were sceptical that Russia would prove able to meet
even the relaxed primary surplus target set by the IMF, which one said was "a
pretty tall order," unless the government ran up wage arrears to state
"It will give Russia some breathing space short-term," commented one western
banker, "but it's like giving a drug addict one more hit. It calms him, but it
doesn't cure him."
TEXT-Russia, IMF joint communique
MOSCOW, March 29 (Reuters) - The following are edited highlights of a joint
communique issued after a meeting between Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov and International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Michel Camdessus.
The communique began by listing the meetings Camdessus had had and then
followed with what had been agreed:
``The parties have agreed on the Initial (primary) Surplus of two percent to
be realized in 1999 and on most of the measures needed to achieve this. They
also agreed on the other key elements of the economic program of the RF
(Russian Federation) Government and the Central Bank of Russia for 1999 and
``M. Camdessus has reaffirmed that the IMF will continue its constructive
cooperation with Russia. The Russian side has expressed the intention to
continue its cooperation with this important international organisation.
``Agreement has been reached about the despatch to Moscow next week of a full-
scale IMF mission to work out, as soon as possible, with the RF Government and
the Bank of Russia an agreed statement on an economic policy program, which
will then be submitted -- in accordance with the IMF Articles of Agreement -
to the Board of Directors of the Fund for approval and will provide the basis
for extending IMF financial support to Russia.''
Most Russians Fear Balkan Crisis Can Trigger Third World War.
MOSCOW, March 30 (Itar-Tass) - Most Russians denounce NATO bombing of
Yugoslavia and fear it may trigger the third world war, according to an
opinion poll of the "Mneniye" service held on Friday to Sunday.
93.2 per cent of respondents said NATO decision to bomb Yugoslavia was wrong,
and only 1.4 per cent said the decision was right. 5.3 per cent were
indecisive and 0.1 per cent have never heard of the air raids.
55.3 per cent of respondents fear a new world war can break out. 28.7 per cent
said it was out of the question, while 16 per cent were indecisive.
50.6 per cent believe Russia has to support the Serbs, while only 0.4 per cent
said Moscow was to back the Kosovo Albanians. 18 per cent said neither of the
parties should be supported, while 9.4 per cent said both parties should be
39.9 per cent are convinced that NATO is supporting Kosovo Albanians. 40.9 per
cent said Russia should supply arms to Yugoslavia, while 36.7 per cent are
Most respondents back the decision of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov to
cancel his visit to the United States because of the Yugoslavian crisis. 69.7
per cent said it was the right decision, while 11.5 said it was the wrong
40.9 per cent want Russian peace-keepers to withdraw from Bosnia, while 39.7
per cent want them to stay.
Russian premier set for peace mission to Serbia
By Andrei Khalip
MOSCOW, March 30 (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov is due in
Belgrade on Tuesday to try to convince Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
that he should agree a peace deal in Kosovo and avoid more punitive NATO air
The former spymaster and foreign minister must yet again prove his formidable
diplomatic skills just a day after he agreed a broad deal with the
International Monetary Fund that opens way to a new multi-billion dollar loan
for economic crisis-stricken Russia.
The peace mission is probably the toughest challenge for Primakov, Russia's
leading political figure with President Boris Yeltsin sidelined by illness,
but if successful it will boost Russia's waning influence on the world scene.
NATO member states, especially France, say Russia holds the key to persuading
its traditional Slav ally Yugoslavia, which now comprises Serbia and
Montenegro, to agree to a peace deal for Serbia's majority ethnic Albanian
province of Kosovo and so halt alliance bombing.
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana wished Primakov success on Monday. He
added that Primakov would be ``totally safe'' flying into Yugoslavia despite
the continuing aerial bombing campaign aimed at forcing Milosevic to desist
from what NATO has branded Serbian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
Yeltsin, eager to prop up his own image after a long period of absence form
public politics, himself ordered Primakov, along with Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov, Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev and intellignce chiefs to fly urgently
Moscow has used Cold War-style language to lambaste NATO's air strikes,
sharply criticised by politicians and the public, but the policy response from
a politically and economically weakened Russia has been relatively muted so
Increasingly isolated and facing an impeachment, Yeltsin is due to address
both parliament houses on Tuesday to defend his record of political and
Few people, however, expect his speech to be a big hit, not least because
Primakov is likely to steal the show.
Yeltsin's waning authority and bouts of illness have made Primakov a powerful
player. Unlike his more reform-minded predecessors, Primakov favours more
state control of the economy, and is generally backed by opposition
Yeltsin is expected to say liberal reforms were carried out inconsistently and
with mistakes, but he will insist there is no other way for Russia and that
they should be continued.
Yeltsin is also expected to stress the importance for Russia to rule out self-
isolation and remain part of the international community despite its row with
the West over Serbia.
The full text of the address has not been published but Kremlin sources have
provided a foretaste. Yeltsin was still working on the foreign policy part on
Monday and it was not clear what he had to say of the Yugoslav conflict.
Primakov is expected to fly to Bonn after Belgrade to brief German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder on his talks with Milosevic.
On Monday Primakov emerged from talks with IMF chief Michel Camdessus
victorious to say they had agreed an outline deal for a new credit package.
IMF said later it had reached a broad accord with Russia on an economic
programme but that talk of a new multi-billion loan was premature.
Russia says New Yorker accusation a Kosovo ruse
MOSCOW, March 29 (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov condemned on
Monday a U.S. magazine article which said Iraq had paid Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov to help Baghdad obtain nuclear-related materials from Moscow.
Ivanov said the story was a ruse to divert attention from the ``barbaric''
NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
``The reply is clear. When there is no longer a single possible argument to
justify this aggression... such a dirty game is considered permissible,'' he
told a news conference.
In the latest issue of the New Yorker magazine, investigative reporter Seymour
Hersh quoted U.S. intelligence sources as saying Primakov received $800,000 in
a wire transfer in November 1997.
It said Primakov, a Middle East specialist friendly with Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein, was paid to obtain strategic materials from Moscow to build up its
nuclear weapons stockpile.
``The planes are flying in to bomb Yugoslavia and this kind of story is meant
to distract the attention of the world community from the aggression,'' Ivanov
The weekly magazine, which went on sale on Monday, said a British signals-
intelligence unit intercept had produced evidence of the transfer.
Primakov himself has not commented on the report.
March 30, 1999
[for personal use only]
RUSSIA: Primakov tries for Slavic balance
By Andrew Jack in Moscow
Yevgeny Primakov's mission to help bring an end to Nato's military action in
Yugoslavia gives Russia's prime minister a chance to respond to the surge in
militaristic, anti-western feeling in his country over the last few days.
Russia's show of solidarity with the Serbs has involved much theatre. Vladimir
Zhirinovksy, the nationalist politician, appeared on a Sunday evening
television show dressed in a military uniform. His party has assembled
hundreds of volunteers to fight for the Serbs.
The demonstrations taking place outside the embassies of the US and other
western countries in Moscow in the last few days have been modest in size. But
in a country not known for spontaneous, large-scale protests, Nato has
provoked widespread resentment.
Even Russia's unpopular pro-western, liberal economic reformers have attempted
to take advantage of the mood. Yegor Gaidar, the former prime minister, led a
delegation to Belgrade over the weekend - although Serb hostility meant the
Mr Primakov's action seems far more shrewd, even if he will be exposed if he
fails. While it was unclear whether the International Monetary Fund would
withhold financial support for Russia, he held back from excessively anti-
western comments. With that funding seemingly assured yesterday, he is free to
concentrate on resolving the Kosovo crisis.
Alexander Pikaev of the Carnegie Moscow Centre cites the renewed anti-Nato
rhetoric as the latest development to offer parallels between contemporary
Russia and the Weimar Republic period in Germany in the late 1920s and early
1930s: "There is a feeling that the public has been humiliated and Russia
ignored in the international arena," he says. "Since the August [economic]
collapse, people have been disappointed with the course of economic reform and
the westernisation of the economy."
Some of the protestors have played up the idea of solidarity with Russia's
"Slavic brothers" - reflecting the pan-Slavic ideology first promoted under
Tsar Alexander III in the late 19th century, and encompassing the Christian
Orthodox world. However, as Sergei Markov of the Institute of Political
Studies points out: "The Slavs may regard themselves as brothers, but they
always end up fighting with each other."
Russia Moves To Curb Capital Flight
March 29, 1999
MOSCOW (AP) -- The Russian government on Monday set a $5,000 limit on the
amount of hard currency Russian citizens can take out of the country legally.
The Cabinet met in a brief special session Monday to discuss capital flight
from Russia, which Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov estimated at $20 billion to
$25 billion annually.
``This is a huge sum,'' he said. ``The time has long passed when we should
have erected a barrier to this, and we will erect a barrier to this.''
Prior to the new regulation, Russian citizens could take out virtually
unlimited amounts of hard currency, as long as they had a bank declaration.
The customs service reported that according to all personal customs
declarations submitted in 1998, some $10 billion had been exported from the
country, according to a report on the ORT television station. Deputy Finance
Minister Sergei Ignatiev said private individuals had submitted declarations
for amounts as high as $1.5 million.
Russia Can Enter New Century with New History Yeltsin.
MOSCOW, March 29 (Itar-Tass) - Russia has a chance to give a good start to
Russian history in the new century and the new millennium by stepping over its
grudges and ambitions, said the annual state-of-the-nation address to the
Federal Assembly to be delivered by the president on Tuesday.
Over years of reforms, Russia has succeeded in dismantling elements of the
obsolete administrative system, but at the same time the state, administrative
structures, controlling and supervisory bodies, which began during
perestroika, have continued to grow weaker, the address says.
Assessing last year, the president said it became a period of serious trials,
heated political debates and personnel reshuffles, and a year of the severest
financial crisis in Russia's modern history.
The form of the decisions adopted last August is far from perfect, but their
content was largely determined by the extraordinary circumstances of that
period, the president said.
The Russian economy was seriously affected by the world financial crisis and
the unfavourable situation on international markets. However, the president
believes that the main reasons for the crisis were internal.
Struggling Yeltsin to defend liberal reforms
By Oleg Shchedrov
MOSCOW, March 29 (Reuters) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin, increasingly
isolated and facing the threat of impeachment, is expected to defend his
record of political and economic reforms in a state of the union speech on
But in contrast with past years, the annual set-piece speech by the ailing
leader, who has largely retired from day-to-day management of Russia, is
unlikely to be a big hit.
Yeltsin risks being upstaged -- while he addresses parliament in the Kremlin's
Marble Hall, Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov will be heading for Yugoslavia to
mediate over Kosovo.
For their part, the influential opposition Communists have shown clear
indifference to Yeltsin's planned 20-minute speech to deputies and regional
leaders. "I doubt there'll be anything new," Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov
Seven months after a disastrous economic crunch that followed a government
decision to devalue the rouble and default on some foreign debt, Russia is
back to square one -- arguing whether seven years of liberal reforms have been
The Communists want former spymaster and foreign minister Primakov, whom they
have supported since his appointment in September, to revive a Soviet-style
They seek to impeach Yeltsin over a series of political charges to allow a
presidential election be held before his terms runs out in mid-2000. The
Communists also want to slash many presidential powers through changes to the
Yeltsin's waning authority and bouts of illness have made Primakov a powerful
player, able to criticise his liberal predecessors and advocate stronger state
Kremlin sources say Yeltsin is expected to say liberal reforms were carried
out inconsistently and with many mistakes.
But he will insist there is no other way for Russia and that they should be
continued. Yeltsin is also expected to stress the importance for Russia of
avoiding isolation and remaining part of the international community.
Aides said Yeltsin was still working on the foreign policy part of his
address, which has taken on added importance since NATO incurred Moscow's
anger by launching air strikes on Yugoslavia. They said he would call for
efforts to maintain a positive element in Russia's ties with the West.
Political analysts say Yeltsin these days can hardly hope for the final say in
the debate about Russia's future. But the Kremlin sources said he would warn
Russia against trying to turn the clock back ahead of parliamentary elections
in December and a presidential poll next year.
He will reiterate his opposition to Communist demands for changes to the 1993
constitution, and appeal for legislation to prevent extremists and criminals
from winning seats.
But the president is not likely to touch upon a looming April 15 vote in the
lower house of parliament, the Duma, on whether to start impeachment
proceedings against him on charges that include starting the 1994-96 war in
Some political analysts say Yeltsin's opponents now have a chance to take the
multi-stage impeachment procedure, designed under the constitution to be
virtually unpassable, to the end.
Security Chief Says Russia Will Not Get Involved in Balkan War.
MOSCOW, March 30 (Itar-Tass) - Vladimir Putin, the head of the Russian Federal
Security Service, who on Monday also got the job of the secretary of the
Russian Security Council, said the country will in no way get involved in the
war in Yugoslavia.
He said in a TV interview that while protecting the interests of the allies,
Russia should not forget about its own interests.
"It is clear for each sober-minded person that the protection of the interests
of our allies, of the people who are close to us in religion and sprituality,
is a must. But the protection of our own interests is also a must", Putin
"Russia must not get involved in an exchange of srtikes. Russia cannot engage
in any military action, specifically in its present state. I am feeling that
we are being pushed to that. But nobody will succeed in that", Putin stressed.
Putin said the incident at the US embassy in Moscow, when unknown gunmen
opened fire at it, is being investigated by his officers. "The demonstration
of attitude to the Yugoslavian developments must not acquire criminal forms",
Russian Crisis Breeds Extremism
MOSCOW, Mar. 29, 1999 -- (Reuters) Dima used to be a skinhead but regards that
as just a passing phase. Now 17, he has grown back his crop of fair Slavic
hair and styles himself a "neo-fascist."
"If you are a skinhead you stand out and the police give you constant hassle,"
said Dima, in his last year at high school. "Anyway, skinheads don't have a
His friend, a serious 24-year-old "in business" also named Dima, explained
their new "ideology."
"We have to get rid of the Jews, it's the only way to restore Russia's
greatness. Just like Hitler did in Germany," he said, sipping a soft drink.
"We want a country where all Russians can feel at home, where we can sort out
our problems and get jobs," he said.
"The Jews have ruined this country," he continued, lighting a cigarette. "But
we are also to blame, we let them do it."
Such views are hardly new in Russia, where Jews have for centuries been a
convenient scapegoat for the country's ills.
But their reverence for Adolf Hitler, who despised Slavs as an inferior race
and who caused the death of tens of millions of Russians, is more surprising
in two self-proclaimed "patriots."
The elder Dima is ready with his reply: "Hitler didn't hate Russia, he hated
Bolshevism. If he had hated Russians he would not have formed Russian
divisions to fight in his army.
"My grandmother lived in German-occupied Krasnodar (in southern Russia) during
the war. She said the Germans behaved very correctly towards the local
Media Targets Ultra-Nationalists
This highly selective approach to recent history highlights the confusion felt
by many Russians struggling to find new values and role models amid the rubble
of Soviet communism.
Last August's financial crash discredited liberal, capitalist ideas and the
national media suggested that Russia's infant democracy could suffer the same
fate as Weimar Germany and fall into the hands of ultra-nationalists.
President Boris Yeltsin ordered security forces to crack down on fringe groups
preaching ideas such as those shared by the two Dimas, although cynics say the
Kremlin is trying merely to divert attention from Russia's deep economic
Television has focused on two personalities -- Alexander Barkashov, leader of
the ultra-nationalist Russian National Unity (RNE), and anti-Jewish Communist
deputy Albert Makashov.
The RNE, whose national membership has been put at anywhere between 20,000 and
100,000, uses Nazi-style salutes and a modified Nazi swastika symbol and calls
for a dictatorship based on the dominance of ethnic Russians.
The two Dimas were dismissive of Barkashov, a former electrician who sports a
moustache and pony-tail.
"His lot just strut about for the TV cameras," said the younger Dima.
They were equally unimpressed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose ultra-nationalist
Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) once alarmed the West with its successes in
two parliamentary elections but which is now perceived as part of the
"Zhirinovsky is just a clown," said the older Dima.
Political analysts said the RNE had certainly gained from media scare tactics,
which they said amounted to free publicity.
"We should not give publicity to these people. A political crackdown would
also backfire because Russians generally sympathize with the underdog, with
the persecuted," said Andrei Ryabov of the Carnegie Endowment for
"Extreme right-wing groups appeal to disaffected youths in many countries
looking for some meaning to life," he said.
Rich Vein of Anti-Semitism
Communists such as Makashov are a much more difficult problem for the
authorities to deal with because they are an integral part of the political
system, the analysts said.
Makashov caused a huge row last year when he called for Jews to be rounded up
and jailed for what he called their responsibility for Russia's economic ruin.
He has made numerous anti-Jewish speeches in public since then.
"The problem is that the Communist Party is infected with anti-Semitism from
top to bottom, just as the old Soviet Union was," said Mikhail Krasnov of the
liberal Indem think-tank.
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov cannot afford to slap down Makashov
because he knows such views are supported by a large swathe of his electorate,
For such people the wealth of Jewish businessmen such as Boris Berezovsky and
Vladimir Gusinsky, two so-called oligarchs, is proof of a Zionist plot to
Underlining Krasnov's remarks, Russia's Communist-dominated lower house of
parliament this month rejected a censure motion against Makashov over his
anti-Semitic remarks and accused the media of playing up the dangers of
fascism in Russia.
"Political extremism in this form...is an invented problem artificially
created to manipulate public opinion, create a distorted idea of Russia in the
international community and hamper the efforts of the government to
restructure our debts," said a resolution overwhelmingly approved by the State
"The State Duma of the Russian Federation declares that the best way of
preventing political extremism is to change the socio-economic course of the
country in the interests of the whole population," it said.
While broadly supporting Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's government, the
Communists are also pushing for more state help for the poor and domestic
Russians Divided over What Extremism Means
The wording of the Duma resolution underlines a lack of consensus about what
political terms such as extremism mean.
For the Communists and their allies, Russia has for the past seven years been
governed by a band of extremists zealously implementing a totally alien
ideology called monetarism.
For liberals, the Communists pose a mortal threat to the rule of law and will
try to restore a totalitarian state and command economy if they win next
year's presidential election.
But while acknowledging the lack of consensus in modern Russia over the
meaning of extremism, Indem's Krasnov denied it was a fabrication of the media
or the authorities.
"Extremists are those who peddle simple solutions to our problems. They say
'if only we could get rid of the Jews or the Reds or the democrats, Russia
could be great again,'" he said.
"The Bolsheviks did this. They said 'let's destroy the bourgeoisie and then we
can build a bright future'. But that led to the camps, executions and
Political analysts played down the danger of a Weimar scenario unfolding in
Russia, at least for now.
"Russia today certainly shares some elements with Weimar Germany like the
discrediting of democratic ideas, economic confusion, weak institutions,"
"But there is no strong, radical party outside the existing system to compare
with the Nazis. The Communists are too integrated in the present system."
The two Dimas also felt Russia might not be ready just yet for their ideas.
"There is no strong leader in sight right now," complained the younger one.
"It could take a generation or more."
March 30, 1999
EDITORIAL: NATO Uses Wrong Plan To End War
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov flies to Yugoslavia Tuesday to try to end the
war in the Balkans, but much of the onus for peace lies with NATO.
Primakov has consistently condemned the use of NATO airstrikes to end the
crisis in Kosovo. He was right.
No one criticizes NATO's goals in trying to avoid a "humanitarian catastrophe"
among the separatist Albanians of Kosovo. The whole world joins with NATO in
condemning the "ethnic cleansing" policies of the Serbs, which are designed to
drive the Albanians off their lands and deny them their basic rights.
But despite these good intentions, NATO's airstrikes have actually exacerbated
the human rights situation in Kosovo and postponed a resolution of the
Without the support of ground forces, NATO's pinprick air raids have failed
miserably to damage the Yugoslav leadership or its capacity to run its low-
level paramilitary war in Kosovo. The NATO raids have succeeded only in
angering Yugoslav moderates andthird countries like Russia, and in giving
Serbian paramilitaries new license to roam and burn and kill.
Indeed, the Serb extremists in Kosovo have now been given free rein. Streams
of refugees into neighboring countries tell the story of the upsurge in
violence over the past few days.
For very good reasons, NATO is unwilling to mount the bloody ground offensive
that is the only way of pushing Milosevic out of Kosovo. NATO is also not
prepared to arm the anarchic and unstable Albanians to allow them to defend
Once again, the goal of stopping Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is not
in question. It is just that NATO is using the wrong means. Or more precisely,
there is not much that NATO can do.
Can Primakov do any better? Not really, but he doesn't have to. With luck, he
can bring back some vague promises from Milosevic to stop the violence in
Kosovo. These promises will not be enforceable but they will provide the basis
for a new round of negotiations, which should try to bring Yugoslavia back to
NATO should seize this as a chance for peace with some sort of honor. It
should call off airstrikes and return to the negotiating table.
NATO stumbled into this war, making promises to protect the Albanians that it
knew it couldn't keep and then lashing out impotently to maintain its
credibility. But NATO's credibility has been irrevocably damaged anyhow. It
has attacked a sovereign country with the flimsiest of justifications. Its
policy should now be aimed at saving lives.
Zyuganov Plays down Liberal TRIO'S Trip.
MOSCOW, March 29 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov on
Monday played down mediatory efforts of three liberal politicians, who left on
Sunday on a tour of Belgrade, Rome, and Washington.
Zyuganov told reporters that he did not believe in the success of the
delegation, including former prime minister Yegor Gaidar, former finance
minister Boris Fedorov and former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, joining
the right-of-centre coalition the Right Cause.
"I don't take that operation seriously, as they are trying to gain political
capital on blood and bones, but they will get no capital in Russia," the
Communist leader stressed.
He said that he believed "none of the politicians can and will take them
seriously, as they are traitors of national interests".
They "are only capable of destroying entire branches and embezzling state
means," he said, accusing them of "embezzling strategic reserves of the
According to Zyuganov, "they have gone there with only one aim - to
demonstrate that they are the second government in Russia." The Communist
leader emphasized in that connection that the trio's behaviour is tactless as
regards the government of Yevgeny Primakov and exceptionally defiant as
Arbatov: Anti-Western Sentiment to Dominate Election Capaign
MOSCOW, March 26 (Interfax)--The election
campaigns in Russia will develop along anti-American and anti-Western
lines due to NATO's military attacks on Yugoslavia, head of the Duma
Defense Committee Alexei Arbatov said at a Friday news conference. "All
the politicians will have to take into account the public sentiments in
Russia, which can be seen everywhere, in the wake of the developments in
Yugoslavia," he said. When the United States and NATO attacked Kosovo,
"they calculated only one step forward," Arbatov said.
"The operation is a mistake, and many in NATO realize this. Now one can
say that the talks on ABM and START II have absolutely no prospects." He
said Russia will now be expanding its cooperation with India, China,
Pakistan and other countries. "The feeling of helpless rage" in Russia
has reached its climax. From now on, the most irrational steps might be
taken, he said. "And the country will be in complete isolation. NATO has
crossed the Rubicon, and there are groups in Russia that want complete
severing of all ties with the West," Arbatov said. He added that NATO's
actions and the United States' position will require the revision of
Russian foreign and defense policies. This is the most serious crisis in
Russian-U.S. relations in 30 years, Arbatov said.
Baburin Says NATO Strikes Change World Security System
OMSK, March 26 (Itar-Tass)--Duma Deputy Speaker
Sergey Baburin believes that the NATO strikes against Yugoslavia, which
were not authorized by the United Nations Organisation, have radically
changed the whole of the world security system, created after the Second
World War, and have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the U.N.
"This is an upheaval in the world order, as well as a total destruction of
the Potsdam system of European security," he told Tass on Friday.
"We have not fully realised so far what really happened on March 25,
1999. The U.N. died on that day. Its phantom is still moving, but is
showing absolute inability to protect human lives and to make the
international law work. This is the beginning of the decline of Europe
and the collapse of the United States as the world moral leader," Baburin
In his opinion, NATO has shown that the talk about its transformation
into a political organisation is nothing but bluff. This is why the
problem has emerged of creating a new security system by the anti-NATO
countries, he said.
Gorbachev Warns Politicians 'Not To Lose Their Heads'
MOSCOW, March 26 (Interfax) - Ex-Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev has urged Russian politicians "not to lose their heads"
in connection with the situation in Yugoslavia. "Military hysteria is
dangerous. Some (people) used the situation to say, 'These are enemies.'
The situation should be soberly analyzed instead," Gorbachev said at a
roundtable discussion of Russia. "The strongest impact Russia can make
today to halt the aggression is to demand compliance with international
laws," he said. He cited the U.N. Charter which permits such actions in
self-defense or with the authorization of the U.N. Security Council.
Since neither is the case, Russia should ask the U.N. Security Council to
put an end to the air strikes and continue political negotiations with
Yugoslavia. "Do not say that these demands of Russia are useless," he
said. Russia's position has already brought results, and international
public opinion is shifting in favor of Yugoslavia, Gorbachev said.
Christian Science Monitor
30 March 1999
The worsening of russia's relations with the West is an unfortunate, but not
surprising, side effect of NATO's campaign against Serbian leader Slobodan
Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov called off his planned visit to
Washington. Intemperate official pronouncements out of Moscow have displayed a
mixture of resignation, frustration, and outrage over the NATO action, which
in turn have drawn criticism from pro-Western democrats. Russia expelled
NATO's representatives from Moscow and put START II ratification on hold
The Russians keenly resent their inability to act in a part of the world where
they have long been a player. Russia's 18th- and 19th-century military
successes against Ottoman Turkey helped set the stage for the eventual
independence of the Greeks, Serbs, Romanians, and Bulgarians - all of whom
share Russia's Eastern Orthodox faith - from centuries of harsh Turkish rule.
This shared religion and the "pan-Slavic" movement were powerful political
forces in 19th-century Russia; Moscow romantically saw itself as the protector
of its Orthodox and Slavic "little brothers" in Serbia. For Russian
nationalists, many of whom seem to be living in 1899 instead of 1999, such
ideas are still powerful.
But the actions of many of these same nationalists - and the Communists, who
dominate Russia's parliament - have put Moscow in a no-win bind. Their
unwillingness to pursue economic reform has hamstrung Boris Yeltsin's
ministers and led the country to near-bankruptcy.
The government is so broke that it simply can't afford to intervene on
Serbia's behalf. Russian troops can barely feed themselves; tanks and aircraft
are short of spare parts.
Thus Russia's dilemma: While it rails against NATO, it desperately needs
Western cash to jump-start its economy. After talks in Moscow, the
International Monetary Fund has agreed to a new loan to help reschedule
Russia's huge foreign debt, which almost equals its annual economic output.
These loans are risky. Without reform, the IMF money could easily vanish down
the same hole as previous aid. Most needed are laws that establish a judicial
system to enforce contracts and permit private ownership of land - laws the
Communists deeply oppose. Yet the Primakov government can't even put forward a
credible annual budget.
Still, the West can't just let Russia sink into economic and political chaos.
Russia still rivals the US in numbers of nuclear warheads. Good Russian-
Western relations are in everyone's interest. It's time for creative thinking
at the IMF and in Western capitals to come up with more-effective aid.
And Russia could still play a constructive mediating role between NATO and
Milosevic. Meanwhile, the West must keep the hand of friendship and
cooperation extended so that cooler heads in Moscow can grasp it.
Maslyukov Says Russia Avoided Hyperinflation
MOSCOW, March 25 (Interfax)--Russia has avoided
hyperinflation, a senior minister said on Thursday. "Fears of
hyperinflation are a thing of the past," First Deputy Prime Minister
Yuriy Maslyukov told German businessmen during a meeting at the German
Economic Union in Moscow. Inflation dropped to 3.5% this month from 11.6%
in December of last year, he said. Output decline also slowed, Maslyukov
said, expressing the hope that this year will show output growth
equivalent to 1% of gross domestic product. Tax collection has
significantly improved since the year began, the minister said. It is the
government's main task to stimulate investment into the real economic
sector, he said. The Cabinet plans to encourage Russia's population to
put their savings into the economy and expected total investment to reach
$40 billion. The government plans to finish work next month on a medium-
term economic program and publish it, Maslyukov said. He said the program
should take into account the results of talks between Russia and the
International Monetary Fund, and demands President Boris Yeltsin is to
make in his annual message to parliament.
The Russia Journal
March 29, 1999
What Zyuganov Can Achieve With Clinton's Help
Since the start of NATO's bombing of Kosovo, Russia's left-wing camp has been
engulfed in excitement bordering on exhilaration. At last, the Communists have
in their possession incontestable evidence to support their position in their
ongoing argument with Russia's pro-western liberals. Once again, they are
marching to the forefront using their favorite slogans condemning American
imperialism and threatening retaliation.
As chairman of the State Duma lower house of parliament, Gennadii Seleznev
supposedly represents the country's top leadership, not just the Communist
Party (KPRF) of which he is a member. Nonetheless, he issued a statement the
tone of which strongly differs from Russia's official stance on the issue.
While President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian government speak only of using
political means to support Yugoslavia, Seleznev has called for military and
technical assistance, proposing to supply weapons to the Serbs.
Seleznev's KPRF comrades are also eager to deploy nuclear arms in Belarus,
supply sophisticated air defense complexes to Yugoslavia, send Russian
volunteers and military advisors to Belgrade, and withdraw from international
sanctions not only on Yugoslavia, but also Iraq, Iran, and Libya.
But any sensible observer would notice that this diarrhoea of words is of no
greater significance than the minor havoc created by several hundred people in
front of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow last Thursday-about which one newspaper
wrote "The Americans dropped bombs on Yugoslavia and we threw eggs at their
Embassy." Zyuganov and others of his ilk don't even assume that the government
takes their militant calls seriously. Yugoslavia and fighting against NATO are
the last things on their minds.
The KPRF is only working to achieve its domestic goals. One of these, as KPRF
leader Gennadii Zyuganov declared on March 25, is to immediately begin the
deployment of Topol-M modernized strategic ICBMs. It has long since been
noticed that the Communists, while crying aloud about the hardships of
Russia's unpaid teachers, doctors, coal miners, and other vulnerable strata of
the population, have actually pursued a most pointed "anti-society" policy.
Their true interests and support lie first in the country's military-
industrial complex. But their efforts to support that economic and political
sector have been hampered by the poverty of Russia's budget and the stance of
liberal economists who held key positions in the country's previous
Political events in Russia took a radical turn in their own way six months ago
when Yuri Masliukov, a KPRF member and former chairman of Gosplan-the main
Soviet central planning agency-and a former executive of the U.S.S.R.'s
defense industry, was appointed Russia's economy chief.
Shortly after the tapping of Prime Minister Evgenii Primakov's government
following the onset of Russia's political and economic crises last August,
Masliukov enthusiastically spoke about Topol-M and its glowing future. But
Masliukov's stance sharply contrasted with the positions of previous
Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar reduced state defense contracts by 70
percent in 1992. And even long before, when Mikhail Gorbachev was Soviet
president, it had become clear that one of the main reasons for the collapse
of the Soviet economy and degradation of the U.S.S.R.'s defense potential was
the industry's determination to maintain military parity with the United
During Leonid Brezhnev's long rule as Soviet dictator, the U.S.S.R. actually
did achieve the unachievable: strategic equality with the West. But the Soviet
Union's economic potential was only 10 percent of that of the United States
and its allies, and the efforts of the military-industrial complex broke the
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it turned out that Russia could not
maintain the military infrastructure it inherited from the U.S.S.R. The
infamous Chechen war demonstrated that graphically. Military reforms launched
on Yeltsin's orders are now assumed to be based on a new doctrine that takes
into account the country's limited economic potential as well as the absence
of a strategic enemy (NATO is no longer perceived as such). Therefore, Russia
no longer aspires to military parity.
So Masliukov's first exultant speech about Topol-M aroused sharp criticism.
And he has refrained from breeching the subject since then. But now, NATO's
bombing of Yugoslavia has untied the Communists' hands.
The Kosovo drama has helped them not only in their lobbying efforts in favor
of the military-industrial complex. The events provide good ammunition to
achieve another principal goal: the crushing of democratic, liberal, and free
market reform policies.
Opponents of westernizing reform carried out in Russia during this decade have
cried out about insidious plots staged by western secret service agencies and
claimed that Russia's reformers have sold out to them. Meanwhile, those
enemies of reform have also tried to invent a "special" way for Russia. That
essentially boils down to totalitarian socialism basically similar to the
U.S.S.R.'s, but seasoned with Russian nationalism and Orthodox Christianity.
For their ideology, new Russian Communists have primarily borrowed Stalinist
ideas, which are, as everyone knows, much closer to national socialism than
Russia's parliamentary and presidential elections of 1995 and 1996
demonstrated that the Communists cannot win with such an ideological arsenal.
A quarter of the electorate supports the KPRF, and together with all their
allies, the Communists are able to attract one-third of Russia's votes but not
more. Even this support will decrease with time, as most of these voters are
elderly. After Zyuganov's failure in the presidential election of 1995, the
KPRF tried to grope for a new strategy, but ultimately did not dare show a
more definite adherence to a social-democratic ideology, nor to open
But the financial crisis of August 1998 provided the Communists reason to
vociferate about the reform policies' general failure. It turned out, however,
that the first generation reformers' fiasco also failed to guarantee political
success for Zyuganov's party. Polls show that although Russians acknowledge
their living standards have deteriorated since August 17, public support for
reform has not decreased dramatically: most Russians want mistakes to be
corrected, but still do not demand that reforms be reversed.
Second, as most key economic positions in the government are occupied by
leftist deputy prime ministers, an increasing number of voters is likely to
hold the Communists responsible for economic difficulties facing the country.
Since Russia's economy will hardly improve in the near future, the Communists'
penetration into the government last year might prove to be a failure rather
than success by the time of parliamentary elections at the end of this year
and presidential elections in 2000.
But NATO's strikes against Yugoslavia have provided Zyuganov with support
where it was not expected. Foreign policy issues are now making up for what
domestic problems failed to provide.
Who on Earth could have expected NATO's and Zyuganov's interests to concur in
such a paradoxical way!
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