This Date's Issues: 3229 •3230
.Johnson's Russia List
7 April 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Paul Backer: Re: Norris on RF Corporate Governance/3226/NYT.
2. Itar-Tass: Civil movement Against World War III set up in Russia.
3. Bloomberg: Russians Support General Prosecutor Skuratov, Poll Shows.
4. Jamestown Foundation Monitor: POLITICIANS MULL POTENTIAL FALLOUT FROM
5. Katherine Dolan: Sea Change, Part 2.
6. Moscow Times: Bryon MacWilliams, ESSAY: Moscow Starts Folding Up the
7. AP: Lenin's Mausoleum Reopens.
8. AFP: Bad year for Russian business baron Boris Berezovsky.
9. AP: Unorthodox church seeks change in Russian Orthodox Church.
10. New York Times editorial: Russia's Role in Kosovo.
11. The Independent (UK): Phil Reeves, Russia is down but not out.
12. For the Foreign Desk from Helen Womack in Moscow, 6 April.
(Re Russian reactions to war in Yugoslavia).
13. Itar-Tass: Maslyukov: Military Aid to Yugoslavia 'Impossible'
14. Interfax: Baburin Demands Arms Deliveries to Yugoslavia.]
From: "Paul Backer" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Norris on RF Corporate Governance/3226/NYT
Date: Sun, 4 Apr 1999
First a Disclaimer: Until February of this year, I served as a consultant
with Burson-Marsteller NIS a PR company that works with Yukos. I was
employed on a world bank commercial law education project, had no working
contact with any work done for Yukos, had never done any work for Yukos. I
do have personal friendships with former and current Yukos employees, but so
Anyway, Mr. Norris' article illustrates the problem of covering Corporate
Governance in a newspaper format. It (news coverage) always comes down to a
colorful anecdote and truly the anecdotes are colorful. My favorite story
that I personally believe to be true is a regional brewing company boss, who
used to conduct shareholder meetings with an AK hanging on a wall behind
him. And Yukos transfer pricing policies certainly are colorful.
At the same time, RF has done tremendous amount work on corporate
governance. During my tenure as a Business and Commercial Law Specialist
with the American Bar Association, I organized a Corporate Governance
Seminar under US AID funding together with NAUFOR (RF equivalent of US AID).
This seminar involved the creation of a corporate governance workbook
consisting of 250 pp. of original legal materials that was subsequently
accepted for publication as a law school textbook and is sold by NAUFOR as
corporate governance materials. Further, ABA/CEELI (unashamed plug for
former employer) and other Western organizations have done some quite good
The problem is a fairly straightforward one.
One, the materials are not available to the public. I simply could not
afford to give the textbook to those who wanted it b/c it cost (in the RF)
over $27 to Xerox/bind it. NAUFOR sells it for over $100. The textbook is
having trouble being published due to the financial crisis.
Two, there is no enforcement no lobby for enforcement. The head of the RF
SEC (FKTzB) expressed an opinion that is seconded by most, "There is very
little wrong with RF corporate law, aside from its non enforcement".
The lack of enforcement underlines the wrongheadedness of IMB/World
Bank/EBRD/US AID, etc. funding programs, b/c they have quite simply NEVER
emphasized enforcement. Rather, almost all of the grantor organizations
focused on enactment of statutes (particularly fine tuning of existing
statutes) and the (absolutely irrelevant) federal budget. If we are serious
about corporate governance, we (as specialists in the field) must work to
promote enforcement programs. Until there is enforcement or at least some
sort of tangible steps taken toward enforcement of corporate, finance and
securities laws, the Yukos story will just be another colorful anecdote.
A particularly funny, if it wasn't so sad item, is that the World Bank/IMF
is considering cutting RF a check roughly equivalent to the amount repaid by
RF on its outstanding obligations to WBk/IMF. There is a technical term for
this activity, it is called check kiting and is illegal. Way to set an
example for the Russians.
And by the way, let's make sure to note that Yukos has traditionally been a
darling of the Western (private and institutional) lending community. Odd
how years of "string free" lending and granting by these institutions failed
to yield a model corporate citizen. So much for money for nothing as a
corporate governance enforcement strategy. I guess it's time to try ...
money for nothing.
1-917-861-5873 [cell phone]
firstname.lastname@example.org [cell phone email]
email@example.com [Russian Federation]
Civil movement Against World War III set up in Russia.
MOSCOW, April 6 (Itar-Tass) - In connection with the events in the Balkans it
was announced on Monday that a new civil movement "Against World War Three"
had been established in Russia.
This movement united television and radio journalists, creative
intelligentsia and young scientists, who expressed in such away their civil
position, coordinator of the organisational committee of the movement Maxim
Reznik told Itar-Tass here on Monday.
The aim of the movement, a statement received by Itar-Tass says, is to change
radically the public conscience concerning an attitude to the tragic events
in Yugoslavia so as not to allow Russia's participation in a "new world war"
and uphold "the constitutional right to life and freedom."
"We believe that a wide anti-war movement in Europe and America will still be
able to stop crazy generals because there will be no veterans of World War
Three," the document stresses.
According to Maxim Reznik, the movement intends to carry out a number of
anti-war actions in the near future, as well as organise pickets and
manifestations which "will be of a very broad character."
Russians Support General Prosecutor Skuratov, Poll Shows
Moscow, April 6 (Bloomberg)
-- The Russian Center for Public
Opinion surveyed 1,600 people concerning repeated attempts by
President Boris Yeltsin to fire General Prosecutor Yuri Skuratov or
force him to resign. Skuratov cannot be fired without the approval
of the upper house of parliament, which has overruled his firing
once and could be asked to consider it again after Yeltsin today
fired Skuratov again.
Skuratov's case initially became a cause celebre because of
his investigations of associates of the president, and companies
linked with the president's office. Then state-owned television
broadcast a videotape of two women in bed with a man who appeared
to be Skuratov, and Yeltsin said investigations would be launched
into his personal behavior as well as the origins of the videotape.
The poll was carried out March 27-30 and has a margin of error
in the range of 4 percent.
What were the reasons for Skuratov's dismissal?
Investigation in Kremlin 43%
Sex scandal 8%
Incapability to manage responsibility 5%
Financial machinations 4%
Support communists 1%
Poor health 1%
Other reasons 3%
Don't understand what's happened 14%
Haven't heard about it 6%
Don't know 15%
Is the information about Skuratov's ``sexual adventure'' enough
reason to dismiss him from his post?
Don't know 19%
Should Skuratov keep his position of general prosecutor under the
current circumstances ?
Don't know 27%
Jamestown Foundation Monitor
6 April 1999
POLITICIANS MULL POTENTIAL FALLOUT FROM SKURATOV SCANDAL. As the Monitor has
previously noted, the Skuratov scandal has potentially huge political
ramifications, and could give the State Duma's planned attempt to impeach
Yeltsin a genuine impetus. Oleg Morozov, head of the leftist Russian Regions
Duma faction, warned yesterday that if the Duma begins impeachment
proceedings against Yeltsin on April 15, it might lead to the resignation of
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov or the firing of Maslyukov and Kulik.
Morozov said that the best outcome would be for 298 deputies to vote for
impeachment. A minimum of 300 votes are needed for the process to
continue--that is, go to the Federation Council for a vote, and then to the
Constitutional Court and Supreme Court for consideration. One newspaper
reported today that, should the Duma vote pass an impeachment measure,
Yeltsin will use his constitutional right to dissolve the Duma, which could
set off a chain of events leading to both the banning of the KPRF and other
"extremist parties" and the imposition of a state of emergency (Kommersant
daily, April 6).
Igor Shchegolev, head of the government's information office, said that
Primakov believes that the controversy surrounding Skuratov is complicating
the country's internal political situation. Skuratov should thus step down
as prosecutor general. At least one cabinet member, however, disagrees. On
April 3, First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov said that Skuratov's
resignation "is not the best option for Russia." Subsequently, both the
government's information office and Primakov's press secretary felt it
necessary to issue statements saying that Gustov's comment did not reflect
the official government view (Novoe izvestia, April 6).
In any case, both sides seem to be eyeing each other warily prior to
Skuratov's scheduled appearance before the Duma tomorrow. Oleg Sysuev, first
deputy head of the presidential administration, said yesterday that the
Kremlin is not expecting any "sensational revelations" from Skuratov, and
warned that "a specialist of Skuratov's rank must not come to resemble the
[Duma] deputies, who rely on unconfirmed information, talking about accounts
in Austria or Switzerland." For his part, Skuratov said over the weekend
that Swiss Federal Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte had called him to express her
"support," "solidarity" and surprise over the latest turn of events. The
fact that a foreign official has become an uncontrollable variable in this
controversy must be making a number of people very nervous, and Skuratov
undoubtedly sees his close links with Del Ponte as a key trump card.
The Federation Council, which must approve the president's hiring or firing
of the prosecutor general, is expected to vote on Skuratov's ouster at the
end of the April. Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev this afternoon
claimed Skuratov had just submitted his resignation, but some news agencies
subsequently quoted Skuratov as denying he had done so, and as saying he
would ask to stay on as prosecutor general if the Federation Council wanted
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1999
From: "Katherine H. Dolan" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Sea Change, Part 2
Today's Moscow Times (Tuesday, April 6) noted NTV's change of position on
coverage of the Yugoslav war, and suggested a reason: the fear of handing a
winning political issue to the Communists, just in time for the upcoming
parliamentary and presidential elections. Kiselyov himself ,however,
proclaimed that there was no major change but simply a continuation of
"objective coverage of war".
In my business ethics class this spring we have been discussing what makes
a choice moral. Aristotle would answer that a) it must be voluntarily and
freely chosen; and b) that it must be made for the right reasons. Kant would
go along with both of these, especially emphasizing the motives and
intentions underlying the choice. Objective coverage is of course one of the
highest standard of journalist ethics. But reading further in the Moscow
Times article, we come across another reason in a quote from Kiselyov: "I
understand that the anti-NATO, anti-Western, anti-American hysteria could
lead to a situation when we would have restored Communist Party rule and we
would have to line up at (party) headquarters to get recommendations for
every trip abroad."
It is a little disappointing to see that what could turn out to be a very
positive change in political position is less of a moral decision than a
result of personal preference. But then, perhaps we should analyze this
more in consequentialist terms and be glad that Zhenya still values
travelling to the West!
Katherine H. Dolan
American Institute of Business
and Economics, Moscow
April 7, 1999
ESSAY: Moscow Starts Folding Up the Welcome Mat
By Bryon MacWilliams
Special to The Moscow Times
I step off the curb and into the roadway, my right arm pointing downward at a
45-degree angle. Momentarily, the beams from the headlights of a purple Lada
sweep across me as the car swerves to a stop.
I open the passenger door and lean in: Proletarskaya, 40 rubles. "Have a
seat," says the driver, exhaling the last drag from a Pyotr I as he tosses
the butt out his window onto the filthy asphalt.
The subway has shut down for the night, and it is approaching 2:30 a.m. on a
Friday as he accelerates back into traffic, ignoring his side view mirror,
along Leningradsky Prospekt. I reach behind me for the seat belt, one of the
rare ones that is functional.
"No need to," he says. I know, I tell him, I just prefer to buckle up.
He snorts. "Where are you from?" he asks, looking at me.
America, I say.
"Ukh ty," he says, turning away to face the windshield. "Aren't you scared? I
mean, right now, aren't you scared?"
Pensioners, communists, skinheads, students and soccer fanatics had gathered
earlier outside the U.S. Embassy to protest the first day of NATO bombings of
Yugoslavia. TV was carrying footage of angry Russians, some 2,500 of whom
signed a petition volunteering to fight "For Serbia!"
A friend had, minutes earlier, cautioned me in her kitchen to "be careful
because, as you know, our country is a little bit crazy." The early Friday
edition of the city's 2,300,000-circulation daily newspaper, Moskovsky
Komsomolets f which I had bought for 2 rubles from an elderly woman in the
subway f carried the banner: "Bill Without Monica Has Gone Completely
Below a cartoon depicted two jet fighters, inked in black, dropping bombs on
a pastoral landscape with a modest city on the horizon. Upon one of the bombs
was scrawled, "For Monica!" The United States was even blamed for an 80
percent jump in the price of eggs under the headline, "Clinton's Eggs," a
not-very-covert reference to the source of the evidence scraped from a
certain blue dress.
And the story on the nationwide protests ran with the headline, "Yankee, Go
to þ" f which, in Russian, presages a crude term for a place far, far beneath
your average Yankee home.
I turn to the driver. No, I say, I'm not scared. Maybe I'm naive, but þ
"Well, then, you're sufficiently naive," he says. "Listen, I will tell you
the truth. Russians hate Americans. I know. They hate you. Several of my
Russian acquaintances have said that they want to go out and kill Americans."
They also don't like people from the Caucasus, I say; the driver has light
brown skin, termed "black" by most Russians, and I suspect he is among the
Georgians, Armenians or Azeris who are harassed regularly by Moscow city
police through so-called random document checks, and fines.
"I, myself, am from Azerbaijan," he says, exposing a top row of teeth capped
in gold and framed in silver. "Everything is normal between us and the
Russians. Even so, if they don't like us, they certainly hate you."
Indeed, things have changed a bit since I moved here in the fall of 1996.
About three or four times a month I catch flack for being American from
aggressive strangers. Usually it is words but, from guys hanging out at the
street kiosks at night, drinking and smoking, it is also gestures
demonstrating what they believe Americans are doing to the world.
I have toned down my actions in small ways: I no longer read English-language
publications on the subway, or in crowded parks and squares; I speak English
rarely on the streets, and then only quietly; I am more aware of who is
around when I enter and exit my apartment building; and, if a group of young
drunks happens to gather near me on the subway, I casually move to another
part of the wagon in order to avoid any conversation that might reveal my
accent, and beg questions about my country of origin.
Still, I feel fairly safe with my short hair, modest dress and Slavic looks.
I have it much easier than dark-skinned people.
The driver pulls over near the Polezhayevskaya subway station. Proletarskaya,
I say. I wanted Proletarskaya, across town.
"Ukh, ty," he says. He flicks the nail of his middle finger against the right
side of his neck, indicating that he had been drinking. "Let's agree on 80
rubles," he says. Fifty, I say. That's all I have. Besides, I say, it's your
"Fine, fine," he says, reorienting the car toward downtown. "Listen, I don't
want to offend you. I'm only telling you the truth. Azeris, we respect the
Americans. Look here," he says, "this city, this country is a disgrace."
The prostitutes are spaced out every 100 meters or so along Tverskaya Ulitsa,
the main street in the city. He pulls over sharply next to a pair of girls in
"Roll down your window," he says. "Let's talk to the night butterflies."
I feel a brief shiver of panic, then embarrassment, like the Boy Scout I used
to be. It's nearly 3 a.m., and I just want to get home.
We get the lowdown on the price-to-service ratio. Their breasts, we learn,
are size 2. "Any special services for our American friend?" he asks.
"Are you really an American?" asks one of the girls.
Yes, I say.
"What's with you and your Clinton?" she says.
What do you mean, precisely, I ask.
"What do you think?" she says.
The driver is laughing as we pull away. "See?" he says. We chat with four
more night butterflies, one of whom submits to a squeezing of the goods by
the driver f just to make sure they're the size she claims them to be.
He stops at my street, and draws my attention to the names of his son and
daughter embossed on the glove compartment of the car. He invites me to go
cruising for women sometime, that is, when he can shake free of his wife.
I lie that I have a girlfriend, and get out.
A Zhiguli sedan the color of butterscotch is parked in the icy alley outside
my apartment building. Taped to the rear and side windows are signs on white
paper in blue and red ink: "Clinton, the goat, has blasted YOU!" "Iraq,
Serbia, soon everywhere!" and "Let's together crush underfoot the American
I walk in the door and listen to the messages on the answering machine. A
friend asks me to call and congratulate him on his birthday, then invites me
to the rescreening of his old documentary film: "Meet me in the subway at 3
p.m. tomorrow, OK? That is, I mean, if it's safe for you to go outside."
Bryon MacWilliams is a freelance writer based in Moscow.
Lenin's Mausoleum Reopens
April 6, 1999
MOSCOW (AP) -- Vladimir Lenin's embalmed body went back on display in its
Red Square mausoleum Tuesday after a spring cleaning.
The mausoleum where the Soviet founder has been on display for 75 years was
closed in February so doctors could perform scheduled preservation work on
It reopened for visitors Tuesday, the Interfax news agency reported.
``No irrevocable pathologic changes'' were discovered during the repairs,
Yuri Denisov-Nikolsky, deputy director of the laboratory responsible for
maintaining the body, told Interfax.
He said the doctors did the checkup on Lenin for free.
The scientists had reportedly planned to drape Lenin's face in ointment to
keep the skin from decomposing, take tiny tissue samples for research, soak
the body in solution, and change Lenin's coat and tie.
Lenin, who led the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, died of a stroke in 1924 at the
age of 53. His body was soon put on display in Red Square.
Lenin's embalmers were hailed during Soviet times for their pioneering
preservation work and sold their services to other Communist governments like
China, North Korea and Vietnam.
The corpse was revered in Soviet times, but recent polls show that most
Russians now want him buried.
Denisov-Nikolsky dismissed calls for interring Lenin.
``There are neither medical nor moral grounds for terminating the unique
medical experiment and burying Lenin,'' he said.
Bad year for Russian business baron Boris Berezovsky
MOSCOW, April 6 (AFP) - It's been a bad year for Boris Berezovsky, the
enigmatic Russian business baron who once bankrolled Boris Yeltsin.
Rarely out of the headlines, Berezovsky was making news for the wrong reasons
Tuesday, as Russian prosecutors crowned a stormy struggle for influence in
the corridors of power by issuing a warrant for his arrest.
It was the latest move in an apparent coordinated offensive against
Berezovsky, who numbers Communists, government ministers and Prime Minister
Yevgeny Primakov among his considerable enemies.
Prosecutors have targetted Berezovsky's business interests for months,
probing a litany of sensational but as yet unsubstantiated charges of money
laundering, abuse of office and even eavesdropping on private Kremlin
Signs that Berezovsky was losing the latest battle in a stormy and
controversial career as Russia's number one "oligarch" emerged last month
when Yeltsin announced his dismissal from an executive post overseeing the
Commonwealth of Independent States.
The CIS may be largely moribund, but the post gave Berezovsky immunity from
prosecution. No sooner had he been formally stripped of the title last Friday
than the prosecutors swooped.
"I think it is probably not safe for Berezovsky to return to Russia," said
analyst Yevgeny Volk. Berezovsky was prevented from returning to Russia from
Paris last Friday.
"Yeltsin has given Berezovsky up."
Berezovsky himself has attributed his remarkable rise from used-car salesman
to the president's banker to the controversial Russian privatisation
programme under which he and a few well-placed entrepreneurs got very rich
"I am the product of privatisation," Berezovsky, 53, recently remarked.
In fact, the quiet graduate of the Moscow Lumber Technical Institute with
mathematics training came to define and mold Russia's transformation from
post-Soviet rubble to Wild-East capitalism.
He launched his first venture called Logovaz in 1989, when private ownership
and profit had just become legal.
"Only in Russia can a used car salesman claim to have influence over the
president," remarked political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky, one of
Berezovsky's most bitter critics.
But it was a car dealership that made rivals envious enough to want to kill
him. He briefly made headlines in 1994 for surviving a bomb blast that
decapitated his chauffeur.
Soon after that he acquired mysterious influence over the Kremlin and a large
chunk of the nation's premier television station, ORT. He later became dogged
by rumors that he ordered the assassination of that station's general
director, Vladislav Listyev.
By the spring of 1996, with Yeltsin facing re-election and the Communists
looking an unbeatable force, Berezovsky pooled together a group of 13 bankers
that held secret negotiations with all the candidates.
Eventually the group settled on Yeltsin -- and made sure that he won.
Yeltsin rewarded Berezovsky for his efforts in October 1996 by bringing him
into the Kremlin as deputy head of the powerful Security Council, where he
was handed the tricky task of making peace with breakaway Chechnya.
Instead, he attracted criticism for using the job to lobby for his booming
oil interests. The US magazine Forbes soon branded Berezovsky the "Kremlin
godfather" -- a label that prompted him to file a libel suit, which he lost.
He was stripped of his Security Council post in November 1997 after spending
months feuding with his banking colleagues and the government following
defeat in a juicy privatization auction of the state telephone company.
But he soon fought back, making sure that arch reformer Anatoly Chubais also
lost his post.
Berezovsky then took on the reformist government of Sergei Kiriyenko, which
had declared war on the oligarchs, and succeeded in helping oust the cabinet
in August 1998 as the financial crisis bit.
But he failed to secure a more accommodating successor. The no-nonsense
Primakov has if anything proven an even more stubborn adversary. Berezovsky's
calls for the Communist Party to be banned for supposedly supporting
anti-Semitism have meanwhile fallen on deaf ears.
Unorthodox church seeks change in Russian Orthodox Church
April 6, 1999
MOSCOW (AP) -- Just inside the Church of Saints Kozma and Demyan, a
bulletin board bursting with notices announces that this is far more than a
cloistered place of prayer.
Alongside congregants' invitations to religious discussions hang offers of
free medical services to the
community. A hand-lettered sign appeals for blood for a sick child at a
hospital where one of the parish priests has established a chapel, an aid
fund and a team of volunteers.
Inside the sanctuary, friends greet one another with hugs and kisses, and
press forward to hear the soft-spoken senior priest, the Rev. Alexander
Borisov, read the Gospel. Children slither around their parents' legs, or
perch atop their shoulders to get a better look at the icons of saints
reaching practically to the 18th century dome.
The church provides a respite from the roar of traffic and crowds of
pedestrians on nearby Tverskoy Boulevard, which passes Moscow's City Hall
and ends at the gates to the Kremlin.
It's also a place of fellowship for a small flock of believers yearning to
do away with the formality -- some say the hidebound adherence to ritual --
that characterizes the Russian Orthodox Church, the country's predominant
Echoing the earlier liberalization movement in the Roman Catholic Church,
reform advocates want to
break down the barriers between Orthodox priests and their congregations.
They say that the Russian
language should be used more often in place of old Church Slavonic and that
priests should read the Gospel facing the congregation rather than the
altar, as is the practice in most Orthodox churches.
They want Bible groups, parish involvement in the community, and an
ecumenical approach, rather than the isolationism preached by many vocal
leaders of the Orthodox hierarchy.
All this goes against the grain of Russian Orthodox tradition, where
doctrine is handed down from the patriarch to the bishops to the parish
priests and finally to believers. A renewal effort by the hierarchy itself
was ended by the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and more recent reform attempts
by individual priests have been quashed.
Borisov has been careful not to challenge the Patriarchate, and he says
wearily that time, not pressure, will bring change. Yet some see his church
as a model for renewal.
"The service is a ritual that we should preserve -- it's beautiful and
mystical-- but for most worshippers it still isn't a real means of active
faith. The service isn't the only thing," says Borisov, a biologist who
served as a deacon for 17 years before becoming a priest.
The Church of Saints Kozma and Demyan supplements its worship services and
children's Sunday schools with an array of Bible discussion groups,
catechism classes for adults and youth clubs. Much of its charity work is
focused on medical aid, in the tradition of its namesake saints, the
Russian patron saints of healers.
Nearly 400 of the 500 people who make up the core of the church have come
to the faith over the past decade. Most have come through friends or
through acquaintance with the work of the Rev. Alexander Men, a popular
priest and writer who was murdered in 1990. The crime has never been solved.
Some members were attracted by the church's ecumenical approach _
Protestant and Catholic worshippers are welcome -- and others by the
priests' outspoken defense of democracy, propagated over an independent
religious radio station.
"People want not just to attend church, but to have brothers and sisters
with whom they can share their faith," says Karina Chernyak, a parishioner
who with her husband Andrei founded Russia's first school to train Orthodox
The Orthodox Church has traditionally enjoyed such dominance in Russia it
didn't have to seek out converts. With the collapse of communism, however,
it is having to compete with dynamic evangelical faiths that took root as
underground movements during Soviet times.
Reform advocates fear that in its campaign to protect the faith, the
Orthodox Church is becoming increasingly xenophobic.
"Soviet people were brought up with the struggle against the enemy being a
very important part of their internal world. Today, instead of the fight
against world imperialism, they're presented with a new form of struggle --
against the enemies of Orthodoxy," says the Rev. Georgy Chistyakov, another
priest at Saints Kozma and Demyan.
The missionary school, housed in an apartment near Saints Kozma and
Demyan, has just 10 students each year, ranging from age 18 to 25.
The school is a sharp departure for the Orthodox Church, where serious
religious study was traditionally restricted to seminaries and, before the
Bolshevik revolution, the bulk of ordinary worshippers could not read. The
Soviet era brought 100 percent literacy but a dearth of religious literature.
"An absolutely new situation has arisen over the past 10 years, when this
absolutely literate country has enough sacred texts and we can talk about
internal missions or evangelism," Chernyak says. "We have plenty of reason
to hope that life is returning to the Church."
New York Times
April 6, 1999
Russia's Role in Kosovo
The road to peace in Kosovo may yet run through Moscow. Despite Russia's
rhetorical belligerence about the NATO air campaign and Prime Minister
Yevgeny Primakov's failed diplomatic mission to Belgrade last week, Russia
has the credentials and motivation to play a constructive role in ending
the conflict. Doing so will require some straight talking by the Russians
to their Serbian cousins, and a degree of cooperation with Washington
that may be awkward for the Kremlin, but Russia could greatly enhance its
international stature by brokering a political settlement.
For now, Slobodan Milosevic may think he has little reason to consider a
diplomatic solution, and he did not seriously entertain one in his talks
The Serbian assault on Kosovo has driven a million ethnic Albanians from
their homes, and NATO air attacks have so far done little to impede the
Serbian brutality in Kosovo or diminish Milosevic's military forces.
But this conflict, as President Clinton declared yesterday, must not end
with Kosovo permanently emptied of its citizens. With improving weather
and additional aircraft, NATO air power will eventually begin to hobble
the Serbian military and weaken Milosevic's stranglehold on Kosovo. If
Milosevic concludes that the balance of power is shifting in NATO's favor,
he will doubtless start looking for a deal that allows him to remain in
power. If Clinton and NATO stick with their wise decision not to commit
troops to a potentially costly ground war in Kosovo, they too will be
looking for a negotiated resolution.
Because of Russia's longstanding friendship with Serbia, Primakov is
among the few world leaders who has the standing in Belgrade to tell
Milosevic he must end his subjugation of Kosovo, withdraw all his forces
and permit the repatriation of the ethnic Albanians. Kosovo must also be
granted at least the same degree of political autonomy it enjoyed until
1989. All this would be easier for Milosevic to accept if it were
endorsed by the Russian Government, and came with a promise that Russian
troops would participate in an international peacekeeping force that would
assure the safe return of the refugees.
Moscow favored most of the elements of this plan before the NATO air
offensive commenced, and ought to overcome its resistance to the
peacekeeping force now that Serbia has demonstrated such savagery in
Kosovo. The NATO air strikes have stirred anti-Western sentiment in
Russia, limiting Primakov's latitude as he looks ahead to parliamentary
elections in December and a possible presidential race next year. But both
Primakov and his patron, President Boris Yeltsin, well understand that
Russia's long-term economic and diplomatic interests are better served by
working with the United States and Europe rather than by cultivating
Slobodan Milosevic. The White House should be working behind the scenes to
encourage a constructive Russian role.
The Independent (UK)
6 April 1999
[for personal use only]
Phil Reeves - Russia is down but not out
Her economy has shrivelled, but Russia still has a mountain of horrendous
"Over to Mark...good question, thank you." Jamie Shea is quietly working
the press. Note the use of the first name. Note the compliment and the
small courtesies. A professional is in action.
This is Nato's frontman: the alliance's friendly face. He is articulate and
- at least on air - patient; a twinkle-eyed everyman on a moral mission on
behalf of the planet. Even BBC newsreaders call him "Jamie Shea", as if he
was a quizmaster or a footballer known to every household.
The world's top corporations would pay fortunes for these silky, bloke-ish
skills, and you can see why. Nato press conferences seem to be as equally
bloodless and clinical as the alliance's weapons are supposed to be.
The mood seems so urbane that you can easily miss the clues - when, for
example, Shea starts talking about the need for democracy in Kosovo.
To Western ears, of course, it sounds fair enough, unarguable good sense.
Not so, though, here in Moscow or, indeed, to most Russians. Their foreign
affairs analysts - working round the clock at present - will certainly have
noticed when Shea began talking not only about Nato's "humanitarian
mission" to stop ethnic cleansing but also about political ideology - the
creation of a "multi-ethnic democracy" in Kosovo.
For, in Moscow, the word democracy - albeit completely unfairly - carries
more negative connotations today than at any time since the fall of the
Soviet Union. It comes hand in hand with market capitalism - the chief
reason, in the eyes of many, that Russia is enduring an economic decline
greater than the Great Depression.
Democracy's actual achievements here - more or less free speech and the
fair-ish re-election of a president - have been forgotten about by all but
a minority. They have been overtaken by more urgent issues of survival. In
today's Russia, anyone billing themselves as a democrat can expect to be
So the confirmation that Nato's role is to export forcibly this
little-loved Western ideology is only reinforcing the distrust and hatred
with which the alliance is now almost universally regarded in Russia
following the start of the bombing campaign. Who, Russians ask, will be next?
To fully understand this sentiment - as I believe we must try to do - it is
again necessary to view the world through a Russian prism. The years since
the end of the Soviet era have seen the emaciation of heavy industry, the
collapse of the welfare system, a blazingly corrupt mass privatisation
scheme, hyperinflation, fraudulent pyramid rackets, a rise of almost every
social evil (crime, disease, poverty, begging) and the abject defeat of
the Russian army at the hands of a few thousand Chechens.
All this was presided over by a president and his "young reformer"
ministers who, much of the time, flew the colours of democracy with the
broad approval of the West.
Final disillusionment set in last August when the rouble was devalued,
Russia defaulted on its debts and almost all the "reformers" were thrown
out of government. Nato's assault was the last straw, producing the
defining moment in Russia's relationship with the world.
Russia's anger has several components. It is furious with Nato, which they
believe has unveiled itself as the old enemy, relentlessly expanding to
Russian borders. Yet again, Russia's permanent membership of the United
Nations Security Council counted for nothing. This time, bombs were raining
down not on Iraqis, but Slavs.
The effect is proving traumatic: another psychological blow in the long
process of adjusting to the loss of an empire. The last 10 days have made
it clear that Russia probably has little else in her playbook - short of
taking the hazardous step of supplying weapons or soldiers to the Serbs -
beyond symbolic gestures such as dispatching a surveillance warship to the
Mediterranean. Otherwise, she can but hope that Nato will call on it as an
intermediary, and that it eventually will be able to claim to be the nation
that extracted the world from another terrible mess.
In the meantime, concerns continue over the effect of the Kosovo crisis on
the question of who runs Russia and the future path of this bruised and
increasingly isolated country. Boris Yeltsin has long been marginalised by
ill-health; most of his energy is now spent striking occasional postures as
a national figurehead, and pursuing a down-and-dirty fight with a (now
suspended) chief prosecutor who asked one question too many about
corruption within the Kremlin. Yevgeny Primakov, the premier, is the power
in the land.
So far, the crisis has benefited him. He combines within his stocky frame
the subtle instincts of an austere Soviet, wary but respectful of the West,
and a cautious reformer. Turning on the anti-US and Nato rhetoric after the
bombing started came naturally enough, allowing him to chime with the
genuine mood of outrage across the country. Were elections held tomorrow,
he would win overwhelmingly.
The prospect of President Primakov would, of course, be greeted with scare
stories in the United States, where the papers rarely mention his name
without conjuring up the ogre-ish Cold-War caricature of a "former spy
master" - a reference to his years as head of the foreign intelligence
service. (Why don't they attach the same health warning to ex-president
It is true that his chipmunk smile disguises some unsavoury impulses -
ambitions, for instance, to appoint rather than elect regional governors.
But the West's policymakers would probably still prefer the devil they
think they know - a hard-bargaining pragmatist who wants softly-softly
reforms, but not at the expense of political consensus. In his six months
in office, he has done much to cultivate bonds with the assortment of
Communists and nationalists in parliament. But he is not an extremist or a
And he seems to mean it when he says that he wants Russia to stay out of
the war, and maintain relations with the West.
But madmen cannot entirely be ruled out. Mr Primakov says he doesn't want
to run for president, though few believe him. If he doesn't, the picture
becomes rather more alarming, given Russia's current anti-Westernism. The
democrats believe their chances of a political revival any time soon have
been obliterated. Three of their leading lights - ex-prime minister, Yegor
Gaidar, and former senior ministers, Boris Nemtsov and Boris Fyodorov -
made a desperate effort to regain some ground by parading an anti-Nato
stance. Few took them seriously. Even Milosevic's media condemned them as
nothing more than Western stooges.
Ground has been left to the mainstream nationalists, Yuri Luzhkov and
Alexander Lebed, the Communists led by Gennady Zyuganov - and the wilder
elements of the far left and right. The war has moved them centre-stage.
They have all supported supplying arms to the Serbs.
Yet Russian politics is a fluid business. It is built around personalities,
and the requirements of the industrial, oligarchic and regional elite.
There are no guy-ropes - like strong parties, a demanding electorate, and
an exacting media - holding the system in place.
Voters can be herded here and there by bullying and salesmanship. The
elections are not until December (for parliament) and next July (the
Kremlin). By then focus may well have switched away from Nato, even if it
is still drowning in the mire of the Balkans, towards Russia's deepening
Russia's economy may have shrivelled to the size of Belgium's, but you
cannot discount its views - however warped they may seem to Western eyes.
It has still got a mountain of horrendous weapons. And it is still capable
of forging unsavoury friendships. No amount of smooth talking from Nato's
spinmeister can change that.
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1999
From: "moscow bureau-Helen Womack" <email@example.com>
Subject: offering from helen womack
For the Foreign Desk from Helen Womack in Moscow, 6 April
My Russian husband Costya's rock and fashion firm sells flags: football team
pennants, Russian tricolours, British and American flags. Last week, one of
the junior staff took a Stars and Stripes and burnt it outside the US
embassy to protest against the bombing of Yugoslavia.
"Why don't you take a Union Jack and burn it under Helen's window?" said
Costya. At this the warehouse worker, whose name is Pavel, paused for
thought. Instead, he came home to us and we drank tea and talked about his
"I hate the Americans. America is the embodiment of evil. Today they are
bombing the Serbs. Tomorrow it could be us," he said.
In the course of the conversation, it emerged that Pavel thought the waves
of refugees pouring from Kosovo were fleeing from Nato air strikes rather
than the Serb secret police, who have intensified their "ethnic cleansing"
since Belgrade was bombed.
Pavel, 18 and poorly educated, may be wrong but the fact that he and
millions of Russians like him perceive the Balkan crisis in this way means
that the West has, to say the least, a serious public relations problem.
That Russia's Communists and nationalists should make political capital out
of the war comes as no surprise. (The utterly cynical Vladimir Zhirinovsky,
now wearing a uniform to parliament, is encouraging Russian youths to enlist
as volunteers to help the "Slav brothers" in Serbia.)
That the Kremlin, while pushing a diplomatic solution, meddles at the edges,
for example by sending a reconnaissance ship to the Adriatic, is also par
for the course.
What is stunning -- and should worry the West -- is the extent of genuinely
felt outrage at Nato's behaviour among ordinary, decent Russians in all
walks of life. For this portends a new cold war with a major nation we had
come to regard as a friend.
The media here has given balanced coverage of the war from intrepid
correspondents both in Belgrade and the valley of despair on the
Kosovo-Macedonia border. The full facts are available to those Russians who
wish to know them. And opinion polls show that 92 per cent of Russians
oppose the bombing.
It is impossible to meet a Russian now without talking about Yugoslavia. I
went to see my tax adviser this week and we talked about the war.
Alexander's objections to the air strikes were twofold: that Nato had set a
dangerous precedent by riding roughshod over the UN and attacking a
sovereign country over an internal ethnic dispute; and that the Balkan
problem was far two tangled to be solved by crude bombing, which was only
making matters worse.
"Tito settled the Albanians in Kosovo, rather as Stalin moved populations in
the Soviet Union," he said. "The Albanians had bigger families than the
Serbs, so that they came to outnumber them in the historic heart of Serbia.
There is a Serb point of view here too. Why are you taking sides in a
complicated issue you know too little about? Why don't you listen to Russia?
Do you think because we are economically weak, our opinion does not count?"
Nobody here is defending Slobodan Milosevic. Indeed, the Russians pity the
Albanians and a convoy of humanitarian aid from Moscow will go not only to
Serb civilians but also to the refugees in Macedonia and Montenegro. It is
just that Russians are appalled at the chaos the West has unwittingly
"Now you have got all these refugees you did not bargain for," said Yulia,
an unemployed scientist and friend. "Do you honestly want them in your
comfortable European countries? And if we Russians end up with a hardline,
anti-Western regime instead of the normal society we wanted for our
children, that will be partly thanks to Nato too."
People in the West may not realise this but, after the fall of Communism,
many Russians invested in the ideals of democracy and human rights,
believing us with a childlike trust they would never give their own corrupt
leaders. Now they see what looks to them like our aggression and they feel
Mitya, a 16-year-old to whom I give English lessons, asked me some questions
I found hard to answer: "When we were talking about Chechnya, you said
violence never solved anything. So why are you bombing now? You said Britain
is different from America. So why do you always do what the Americans say?"
Mitya's intelligent, once Western-leaning father said he had come to the
conclusion that real democracy did not exist anywhere, an unutterably
depressing thought for all those, like me, who have devoted years to
interpreting Russia for the West and the West for Russia.
Now the thaw is over and the chill has set in again. The US embassy in
Moscow is advising foreigners not to speak English on the streets. A Russian
military officer with whom I am friendly because of our shared experience in
Afghanistan rang me to say that if anybody hurt me, I could rely on his
Dear God, it has come to that.
Maslyukov: Military Aid to Yugoslavia 'Impossible'
Moscow, 6th April, ITAR-TASS correspondent Yelena
Kornysheva: "Have there really appeared in Russia
madmen who want to supply arms to Yugoslavia?" That was the answer given
today by First Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Maslyukov -
who bears government responsibility, specifically, for the
military-industrial complex - in response to a question from journalists
the possibility of Russia's withdrawing from the sanctions against
Yugoslavia and providing military assistance to that country. In his
view, "that is absolutely impossible and unnecessary".
Yuriy Maslyukov commended "the diplomatic steps that were taken by Russia
to bring about a peaceful settlement of the conflict in
Yugoslavia, as well as the work of Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the
head of the government, Yevgeniy Primakov." The first
deputy prime minister also stressed that "with every passing day, we
become more convinced that what is needed is not military
intervention but political ways of resolving the conflict." "The Americans
are going down a blind alley," Yuriy Maslyukov declared,
describing the Yugoslav situation.
At the same time, Yuriy Maslyukov emphasized, he "does not see the
connection" between the progress of Russia's negotiations with
the IMF and the events in Yugoslavia.
Baburin Demands Arms Deliveries to Yugoslavia
Moscow, Apr 6 (Interfax) -- Duma Vice Speaker
Sergey Baburin has said he favors immediate Russian arms
deliveries to Yugoslavia. He recently returned from a visit to that
country. "Immediate deliveries of Russian defense hardware to
Yugoslavia would be the main step to peace. This conforms with the U.N.
Charter and State Duma recommendations," he said at a
Tuesday [6 April] news conference in Moscow. He said April 15 would be the
best date for the deliveries. "We insistently demand this.
Only in this case a dialogue on autonomy for Kosovo can be launched,"
Baburin said. He said it is no coincidence that voting on the
impeachment of President Boris Yeltsin was slated for the same day. On
that day "we will get an answer to whether we have effective
executive power in Russia," he said. Baburin said the involvement of
Russian armed forces in the military conflict is unacceptable. There
are two ways to avoid such involvement: talks and practical aid to
Yugoslavia to balance the correlation of forces, he said. Sharing his
impressions of Yugoslavia, he said, "Attempts are being made to split
Yugoslavia. The refugees are running away because 40% of all
NATO air attacks are targeted at Kosovo. What else should they be doing if
they are being bombed?" Baburin said.
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