This Date's Issues: 3232•
Johnson's Russia List
9 April 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Fred Weir on Russia and Yugoslavia developments.
2. John Helmer: The Canary and the Catbird. (Berezovsky and
3. Moscow Times: Jonas Bernstein, PARTY LINES: Berezovsky Is Out So Yeltsin
4. Moskovskiye Novosti: Andrei Kozyrev Scores Yeltsin-Primakov Policies.
5. IntellectualCapital.com: Richard Pipes, Boris Gets Angry.
6. Washington Post: Celeste Wallander, Russia's Role.
7. AP: Russia Tries To End Kosovo Crisis. (And Solzhenitsyn).
8. Moscow Times: Melissa Akin and Matt Bivens, FSB Slaps Duma's Plans to
9. New York Times: Michael McFaul, Don't Look to Russia for Help on
10. Interfax: Chubays Denies IMF Loan Misused.
11. International Herald Tribune letter: David Timmins, Alienating Russia.]
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999
From: "Fred Weir" <email@example.com>
For the Hindustan Times
From: Fred Weir in Moscow
MOSCOW (HT April 9) - Russian leaders are increasingly convinced that NATO
has trapped itself into an unwinnable war against Yugoslavia, and are moving
to take advantage of the situation by positioning Moscow as the only
credible agent to mediate an end to the conflict.
"For once Russia is pursuing a very wise and workable policy," says
Viktor Levashov, an analyst with the Institute of Social and Political
Studies in Moscow.
"Before the war started our military experts predicted the imbroglio
NATO forces have got themselves into, and our politicians warned that only
diplomatic solutions would be effective in the Balkans," he says. "NATO and
the U.S. are being discredited with each passing day, while Russia is the
only country that looks like a serious peacemaker".
Russian President Boris Yeltsin has condemned NATO's aerial war in
strong terms since it started more than two weeks ago. Early in the conflict
he dispatched Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov to Belgrade and Bonn to
explore opportunities for peace. Though that mission failed, the Russians
Primakov opened a dialogue that could lead to fresh negotiations.
This week Mr. Yeltsin stepped up Russia's diplomatic offensive, calling
for a meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of Eight -- most of which
are NATO countries, plus Russia - to set out new
approaches to the Yugoslavia quagmire.
The Kremlin is urging that the United Nations - which NATO sidestepped
when it launched the war - be given primary responsibility for dealing with
the refugee crisis and that the UN Security Council take over political
supervision of the process.
"Russia is preparing new initiatives for a peaceful solution to the
Yugoslav conflict," Mr. Yeltsin said Thursday.
Moscow has also positioned itself as spokesman for a "silent majority"
of non-NATO countries that Russian officials say oppose the war but lack a
forum to express their feelings.
"India has always spoken against aggression, and we believe Russia's
stand against the bombing of Yugoslavia is correct," said Mr. Santosh
Gangwar, Minister of State for energy and head of an Indian parliamentary
delegation that visited Moscow this week. "We have had a meeting of minds on
But the Russian government is walking a fine line, trying to remain the
voice of reason amid a growing public clamor for firmer steps to assist
An opinion survey conducted last week by the Russian Centre for Public
Opinion Research found that 90 per cent of Russians believed NATO had no
right to attack Yugoslavia without the consent of the UN Security Council.
"Today about half of Russians say they dislike the United States. In a
survey last December less than a third felt that way. That is a very
dramatic increase in anti-American sentiment" says Leonid Sedov, a
sociologist with the Centre. "Only 14 per cent favour direct measures to aid
Yugoslavia, such as
supplying weapons or sending volunteers, but that could change if the war
escalates. Russian public opinion is very volatile just now".
The Kremlin has moved to defuse public anger by making strong anti-NATO
statements, sending a warship to the zone of conflict to monitor the
fighting, and breaking off military ooperation with the Western alliance.
At the same time Mr. Yeltsin has repeatedly warned that Russia must
stay out of the war. "Russia will not supply military hardware to Yugoslavia
and will not be drawn into conflict in the Balkans," he said this week.
However, some steps taken to appease public opinion may have lasting
consequences, analysts say. The Russian government decided this week to
increase defence spending, halt the downsizing of Russia's armed forces, and
beef up the army's combat readiness.
"The plans to strengthen our armed forces are explained by the new
strategic concept of NATO, under which the alliance plans to use its forces
in any part of the world without the consent of the UN Security Council,"
Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev said. "The actions NATO is taking in
Yugoslavia deepen our worries".
Quoting an unnamed source in the Russian General Staff, the liberal
Kommersant Daily newspaper reported that Moscow is already providing
sensitive military intelligence to the Yugoslavs. "The Serbs constantly
receive information about the takeoff time, route and presumed number and
composition of the NATO forces taking part in the raids" against them from
Russian space, air and sea-based reconnaissance assets, the paper said.
Russia's Communist and nationalist opposition has sharply criticized
the government for its failure to take stronger action to aid Yugoslavia.
The opposition-led State Duma this week passed a non-binding resolution, by
a margin of 279 to 34, to unilaterally lift the arms embargo against
Yugoslavia and supply the Serbs with advanced air defence weapons.
The Russian press reported that the first contingent of privately
raised Russian volunteers arrived in Yugoslavia this week, including
military experts and veterans of the Afghanistan and Chechnya wars.
"There is always danger in political momentum," says Mr. Levashov.
"Temporary measures may become permanent facts, and lead to new
If the war continues for a long time, or escalates into a bloody ground
offensive by NATO forces to seize the breakaway Yugoslav territory of
Kosovo, public pressure on the Russian government to act will rise sharply,
"We can find ourselves back in a Cold War situation, isolated from the
world and spending all our national wealth on military buildup," says Mr.
Sedov. "If the present public mood leads to big political changes, that can
But if NATO is looking for a face-saving way out of the hopeless war it
created, says Mr. Levashov, Russian diplomacy might be the answer.
He cites press reports that U.S. Vice President Al Gore asked Mr.
Primakov for help to end the conflict during a telephone conversation
between the two last Tuesday.
"That shows NATO is beginning to realize they can never win and they
are ready to turn back to legal mechanisms to find a solution. Russia has
real credibility and long experience in this region. We can talk to both
sides and help to forge a peaceful settlement. They need us," he says.
Date: Fri, 9 Apr 1999
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Helmer)
Subject: The Canary and the Catbird
JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, to come
THE CANARY AND THE CATBIRD
Moscow. There was an ancient belief that when a swan was about to die, it
sang an unhappy song.
Aesop turned the belief into a fable about the swan and goose, who
were the property of a wealthy man. One night, when the man went to kill the
goose for dinner, it was too dark to distinguish between the birds. But
the swan, thinking he was about to die, began his song. This saved his
life. Music, Aesop moralized, can cause death to be delayed.
In modern times, it may be the other way around. At least, this is what
can happen if a man is known as a canary. That's underworld
slang for an informer.
While Boris Berezovsky, one of Russia's most powerful political financiers,
waits in Paris for the extradition papers to arrive from Moscow, where he
has been charged with embezzlement and other crimes, he appears to
favour a swansong. Maybe he is figuring that, so long as he sings loudly and
menacingly enough, the Russian state prosecutor will do no more than issue an
arrest warrant. Quietly, Mr. Berezovsky may be hoping, no request for
extradition will be made to the French government, allowing him to sit
safely in exile.
Choosing what song to sing, and what to play, is a problem now for
Mr. Berezovsky, who made his first fortune as a car dealer, and multiplied
it severalfold through his Kremlin connexions. Until the indictment was
he thought his best song was the one that promised (but didn't reveal) what
he knows about President Boris Yeltsin and his family. There are many
allegations of his financial involvement, including those which former
Yeltsin confidant, Alexander Korzhakov, has published. The claims include
alleged payoffs to Yeltsin's family, and to Yeltsin himself through his book
Mr. Berezovsky hasn't said anything about these charges. Not yet. But
he's made quite clear that if he isn't protected, he may do so.
That he has accumulated videotape evidence to accompany his song has been
clear for a long time.
If Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov is to survive the attempts Mr. Yeltsin,
and his Kremlin cronies are making to dismiss him from office,
it doesn't matter what kind of song Mr. Berezovsky sings, so long as he
isn't silent. That isn't difficult to arrange.
"Fools," Mr. Berezovsky told an interviewer a year ago, "cannot be
trained at all, and clever people learn only by their own example."
That's a man who doesn't know when or how to close his own mouth. "I am
honest before my own self, and this is the principal criterion that guided
me in business and in politics." Canaries have always been self-righteous
If Mr. Berezovsky is compelled to choose between himself and the Yeltsin
family, then it's clear to Mr. Primakov what will come first. The prime
minister tried but couldn't persuade Mr. Yeltsin a few weeks ago to accept
immunity from prosecution in exchange for leaving the prime ministry to go
about its business in the normal way. Mr. Berezovsky's singing is going to
make President Yeltsin's perch even more precarious now.
To the Russian electorate -- convinced, according to the latest polls,
that Mr. Primakov is the first Russian leader willing and able to clean out
the state corruption -- Mr. Yeltsin was the goose for Mr. Berezovsky's
table, and it's with relish that they watch to see the tables turned.
Prime Minister Primakov has become the catbird. According to
ornithologists, that's a black and grey songster which characteristically
sings from a high perch; hence, the popular expression, "the catbird's seat",
meaning an advantageous position.
April 9, 1999
PARTY LINES: Berezovsky Is Out So Yeltsin Can Attack
By Jonas Bernstein
If I were Boris Yeltsin and in the mood for one of my now-traditional spring
flings - "program minimum" being forced retirement for one or more of the
Cabinet's leftist ministers; "program maximum" being Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov's removal and/or a ban on the Communist Party - what is the first
thing I'd do?
Well, I'd want to convince the home audience - not to mention the foreign
moneybags - that such steps (taken, of course, more in sorrow than in anger)
were necessary to put the country back on the "road to reform," etcetera,
etcetera. So I would first jettison the most controversial and unpopular
advocate of those very same steps.
Yeltsin - or, at any rate, the group of insiders incorporated under his name
- did just that this week, vis-a-vis Boris Berezovsky. The move against the
tycoon was executed brilliantly. Rather than moving against Berezovsky
itself, the Kremlin simply kicked him out from under its krysha and let the
Communist opposition's allies in the Prosecutor General's Office have at him.
That they did, and apparently with relish: They ordered Berezovsky's arrest
and even, reportedly, put his name on Interpol's most wanted list.
The Kremlin, however - undoubtedly to the relief of the political elite, from
left to right - had the presence of mind to give the green light for
Berezovsky's arrest while the tycoon was abroad. No one in the elite really
wants to see him back in Russia, in prison khakis or otherwise. That's
because, as Moskovsky Komsomolets noted, Berezovsky knows too much about too
many important people.
That the blow against Berezovsky was little more than the Kremlin clearing
the decks for bigger moves was apparent from what happened immediately
afterward. In the best traditions of the mob contract hit, Deputy Prosecutor
General Mikhail Katyshev, the man who ordered the tycoon's arrest, was
immediately afterward removed as head of the prosecutor office's main
investigations department. Now, with Yury Skuratov removed again as
prosecutor general, that office is back in relatively safe hands - hands
unlikely to continue rummaging through the dirty laundry of the Kremlin's
property management department, the Central Bank or other sensitive spots.
And now, with the decks more or less cleared, we can expect events to move
quickly in the walk-up to April 15, the day the State Duma plans to vote on
whether or not to impeach Boris Yeltsin.
Already this week, the Federal Security Service, or FSB - previously not
known for its opinions on constitutional law - weighed in with an "analytical
report" calling the findings of the Duma's impeachment commission legally
flawed. When the country's main internal security agency starts issuing such
warnings to its legislature, it's time to start taping the windows.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin, the Yeltsin loyalist who heads the FSB, has been
reshuffling personnel at his agency, while Interior Minister Sergei
Stepashin, another Yeltsin loyalist, has been doing the same in his.
But perhaps the most telling sign that something is in the works was the
turnaround by one of Russia's foremost political pragmatists. Moscow Mayor
Yury Luzhkov, who on Tuesday had cheered the Berezovsky arrest order, by
Wednesday was condemning the "political" persecution of the tycoon and
warning against a return to Stalin-era repression.
Somebody, it seems, gave Luzhkov a heads-up.
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999
From: Albert Weeks <AWeeks1@compuserve.com>
Subject: Piece by Kozyrev
Andrei Kozyrev Scores Yeltsin-Primakov Policies
Moskovskiye Novosti (Moscow News), Mar. 30-April
5, 1999, p. 4.
IN STEP WITH MILOSEVIC TOWARD ISOLATION
by Andrei Kozyrev [Foreign Minister, RSFSR,
1990-1, and of the Russian Federation, 1992-5;
deputy in the Duma from Murmansk, member
of the Gaidar, et al., "Russia's Choice" Duma group
opposing President Yeltsin's dispatch of troops to
(Full Text, trans. by Albert L. Weeks)
I think we have now reached the logical culmination of
that turnaround in foreign policy of 3-4 years ago:
Instead of defending the true interests of Russia
through partnership in the economic sense with
the leading democratic powers -- who were, by
the way, our allies in the Second World War --
we have taken a course which all but
resembles one of defending the interests of bloody
dictators like Milosevic in Serbia and Saddam Hussein
And here we are today paying for this. Some
here think that the whole of Europe is out of step, that only
we alone keep the right pace, that meanwhile
the NATO states, among whom today are two
Slavic states [reference to the admission into
NATO of Poland and the Czech Republic--ALW],
and a single, ancient Orthodox state, Greece,
together with the whole EU have disrupted that
tempo. Well, Russia alone and Milosevic are in step
and in this way both head toward political and
economic self-isolation. The turning back of the
plane on its flight to Washington [with Prime Minister
Primakov aboard--ALW] is the price we pay
for pursuing the blind-alley policy that we are
following today. We ourselves our erasing the
possibility of receiving credits. In this way once again
we show that our bureaucracy thinks least of
all of the interests of our people.
Unfortunately, we have disinformed our
population about the situation in Kosovo. With
the result that at present, European states and
other foreign countries are beginning to get
the impression that Russia is swayed
by a policy of ethnic cleansing, that we
overlook ethnic cleansing in Kosovo just as
we did in Bosnia, just as we ignored the fact
that it was the leadership in Belgrade that
unleashed conflict on the territory of the former
Yugoslavia. This impression casts a long,
very grim shadow.
It is in the interests of Russia to conduct
economic reforms and provide its population
with the kind of life that is found in the rest
of Europe so that Russia not remain the worst
of them all, poorer than the rest, and the only state
marching in step with Milosevic. This is in the
interests of the Serbs as well, that is, if one has
in mind the interests of the Serbia people. But
these interests run counter to those set by the
leadership in Belgrade.
April 8, 1999
Boris Gets Angry
by Richard Pipes
It is probably safe to say most people believe major decisions affecting
national security, especially when they involve resorting to force, are
reached by a careful, inductive process -- a process in which all the
available information is conveyed upward and then subjected to judicious
analysis, with all the pros and cons weighed until a decision is reached.
I have concluded, from my personal experience and my historical studies,
that reality does not correspond to this idealized picture. For one, the
information provided to the decision-makers is too voluminous and usually
too contradictory to produce clear judgement. Secondly, personal and
emotional factors -- frustration, anger, envy -- plague statesmen as much
as ordinary mortals.
The problem with attacking the West
These thoughts spring to mind as one watches the erratic reaction of the
Russian government to the events in Yugoslavia. It is true that Russians
have had close emotional ties with the Serbs going back centuries, based on
shared religion and Slavic ancestry. On a number of previous occasions,
when the Serbs revolted against the Turks and then again notably in the
summer of 1914, they had come to their defense. But in these instances,
the Serbs were either tyrannized or threatened by foreign powers. In 1999,
by contrast, they are tyrannizing a minority within their own borders.
Yeltsin's angry words could undermine his support
One could understand if President Boris Yeltsin made a reasoned argument
against NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia. Such arguments can carry weight.
But he did nothing of the kind: He singled out the United States as the
bully responsible for the bombing and even threatened a general war as a
result of it.
"Morally, we are above America," Yeltsin declared, and, as if to prove it,
announced that he had decided not to use unspecified "extreme measures" at
These intemperate words suggest that he was acting out the pique that
Russia's counsels on the issue did not prevail. The words also suggest
that there is no one on his staff able to dissuade him from making
inflammatory speeches directed against the West, and the United States in
Yeltsin's actions are pernicious for two reasons. One is that his
administration is firmly committed to Western-style political and economic
reforms. Attacking the West undermines support for these reforms and plays
into the hands of the most reactionary communist and nationalist elements,
Yeltsin's sworn enemies.
Secondly, Russia is heavily dependent on Western loans and investments to
reconstruct an economy in deep distress. It can go to a certain point but
no further in alienating the Western countries without courting economic
disaster and political isolation.
But, so far, emotions have prevailed over common sense. Ten years ago,
Yeltsin identified with the United States and modeled his administration on
it. Presumably, like many Russians he thought that elections and the free
market were a quick road to riches. In reality, it is a long and arduous
road. And as the obstacles mount, Russians become increasingly frustrated.
They blame the United States for the catastrophic shape of their economy,
for giving it allegedly poor advice in order to buy Russia's rich natural
resources at bargain-basement prices.
They also despise the United States for having emerged from the Cold War as
the sole superpower. Ordinary Russians are too preoccupied with surviving
to care much one way or the other about this issue. But the politicians,
intellectuals and generals care deeply. Unable to do much about it, they
vent their frustration in self-defeating rhetoric.
In reality, the Soviet Union was never a genuine great power; in the
contemporary world this status is earned by economic prowess and the
international appeal of one's popular culture. Russia neither disposed nor
disposes of such assets. It was allowed the illusion of being a world
power by the West from fear of its nuclear arsenal.
Few people in the West realize the bitterness the Russian elite feels at
what it considers its humiliation at having been robbed of this illusion.
A couple of months ago, Harvard gave a farewell dinner for a group of 30
Russian generals and colonels who had spent two weeks as its guests. I
engaged one of these generals in small talk. Suddenly, without
provocation, he switched the subject. "You Americans are riding high now,"
he admonished in an angry voice, "but it won't be forever. Don't throw
your weight around or you will pay for it."
I suspect that it is such emotions that explain the erratic outbursts of
Russia's first democratically elected president. They divert the country
from its real task, which is not to posture as a great world power but to
rebuild itself from seven decades of communist ruination.
Richard Pipes is Research Professor of History at Harvard University. In
1981-82 he served as Director of East European and Soviet Affairs in the
National Security Council. He is a contributing editor of
8 April 1999
[for personal use only]
By Celeste A. Wallander (email@example.com)
The writer is associate professor of government at Harvard.
Increasingly, discussion of options to salvage the disastrous policy on
Kosovo has turned to a ground force intervention. Should the United States
decide it must stop the humanitarian crisis it has helped to create, it
will face a major obstacle to such a mission. Intervention without Russian
participation will lack legitimacy and is likely to be the final blow
against meaningful Russian security cooperation with the West for a long
time. Somehow, a way must be found to end this crisis through cooperation
Circumvention of the U.N. Security Council in order to launch airstrikes
against Yugoslavia unilaterally and solely on NATO's terms was a mistake.
Even for Russia's liberal and moderate elites who do not buy sinister
interpretations of NATO's continued existence after the Cold War, an
alliance that excludes Russia has a negative image as a council of great
powers. Many Russians have warned that NATO expands its military
capabilities to be able to dictate political terms on weaker states,
But by excluding Russia from the single most important decision about
European security that has been made since the end of the Cold War, NATO
and the West have severely undermined support in Russia for security
So far, Russia has said that it will continue to cooperate in important
security issues, especially for nuclear nonproliferation and arms control.
But the West should not believe that Russia has an unconditional interest
in cooperation. In particular, a unilateral NATO occupation of Kosovo would
substantiate the Russian security elite's wildest fear: that the United
States means to use a restructured and expanded NATO to revise borders
wherever it sees fit in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. This
would convince even Russia's moderate leadership that multilateral security
cooperation has no future.
The implication would be for Russia to rely only upon its own military
power, rather than what it sees as one-sided cooperation. Russia's decision
to send a reconnaissance ship, and possibly warships, to the Adriatic is a
sign that Russian policy is moving in this direction. If cooperation with
NATO is precluded, Russia will fall back upon whatever instruments of
traditional military power it can still manage in its weakness.
The urgent need to occupy, and probably partition, Kosovo is clear. A
solution to the crisis has gone far beyond what peacekeeping forces can
accomplish, and the international community is going to have to impose a
Yet this responsibility belongs not to NATO alone. An undertaking of this
scale requires the active participation of all Europe's great powers. By
its geopolitical position, its economic potential over the long term and
its overall military capability, Russia is one of Europe's great powers. It
is in NATO's interests that the settlement of the Kosovo crisis be done in
cooperation with Russia, under authority of the Security Council. Only in
this way will the military mission and the political settlement have the
international legitimacy they need.
Is Russian cooperation with NATO possible even now? Yes, because Russia's
stake in the crisis has little to do with Serbia and everything to do with
Russia's role in European security. Russian objections are not to the use
of force per se but to the use of force by NATO, unconstrained by the
United Nations and without regard to Russia.
For its part, Russia's security elite has to accept that a humanitarian
crisis exists and stop making excuses for Milosevic: Without agreement on
this common purpose no basis exists for a great power solution.
An international occupation to partition Kosovo and restore its Albanian
population could achieve active Russian support and Russian military
participation. While not as modern or as successfully reconstituted for
post-Cold War missions as NATO forces, Russian military forces are capable
of traditional missions of territorial control and defense and would reduce
the need for large numbers of American ground forces. Intervention with
Russia also will be more effective in containing Serbia. By participating
on the ground, Russia can reassure itself and its domestic critics that the
settlement is being implemented as agreed among the great powers. By
involving the Russian military, NATO and Russia can build on the positive
experience of the Russian military in Bosnia.
It is a serious mistake not to see the difference between a Russia that
cannot do anything to stop us and a Russia that actively cooperates in the
areas of security that most engage American national interests. As we move
to the post-post-Cold War world, America's leaders should remember that
cooperation ended the Cold War.
Russia Tries To End Kosovo Crisis
April 8, 1999
By ANGELA CHARLTON
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian leaders pressed ahead Thursday with attempts to end
the Kosovo conflict, despite NATO's unyielding stance and few signs of
success so far in Russia's mediation efforts.
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov courted two top European officials and tried --
without apparent success -- to push for a political solution to stop the
bombings of Russia's ally, Yugoslavia.
President Boris Yeltsin said he was readying new proposals on ending the
conflict and urged that the foreign ministers from Russia and the world's
seven leading industrial nations meet to work out a peace plan for Kosovo.
``Russia insists that the meeting take place as soon as possible,'' he told
journalists, without giving details.
While Russian officials said Western nations appear to be warming to the idea
of a meeting, six of the so-called G-7 nations are taking part in the NATO
attacks -- leaving it unclear what such a meeting could achieve.
Moscow is eager to boost its international status by brokering a political
solution for Kosovo, which would reassert Russia's international status at a
time when its military power has collapsed and its economy is in shambles.
U.S. officials also hope that Moscow can serve as a diplomatic conduit to
Belgrade to help arrange a settlement.
But Russian diplomats said they are making little progress because NATO
insists that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic accept its terms. Russia
says NATO must stop its air attacks before anything can happen, a position
consistently rejected by the alliance.
Ivanov, who has headed Russia's diplomatic efforts, said he had no ``magic
formula'' and was not optimistic that a quick solution could be found.
Ivanov held talks Thursday with Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek,
chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. They
failed to reach any agreement, although Vollebaek welcomed Russia's mediation
Ivanov met later Thursday with the secretary-general of the French Foreign
Ministry, Loic Hennekinne. Russian news agencies said their talks were
friendly but also apparently without concrete progress.
While Russia has harshly condemned the NATO airstrikes and sent humanitarian
aid to Yugoslavia, it has ruled out intervening militarily. Yeltsin on
Thursday again ruled out supplying weapons to Yugoslavia -- despite demands
from Russian opposition parties to do that.
Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov said Thursday that Russia simply cannot
afford military involvement.
``I don't think Russia has the economic capability for participating in any
huge military actions,'' he said.
Russia may have another lever, however: oil. Russia had been supplying about
88,000 tons of oil a month to Yugoslavia until the NATO raids started last
month, when Moscow decided to suspend the supplies, said Sergei Slesaryev, a
spokesman for the Russian Fuel and Energy Ministry.
The speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, Gennady Seleznyov, said in
Belgrade on Thursday that Russia would supply oil to Yugoslavia, although
Slesaryev would not say whether there were plans to restart deliveries.
NATO airstrikes have targeted oil facilities to try to immobilize Yugoslav
military forces by depriving them of fuel. A sustained oil embargo by Russia
could be catastrophic for Yugoslavia.
Renowned Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn lashed out at NATO on Thursday
in his first public comment on the bombing.
``Casting off the United Nations and its charter, NATO is imposing on the
whole world and the next century an ancient law ... whoever's strongest is
right,'' Solzhenitsyn was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.
``In the eyes of humanity, a wonderful European country is being destroyed,
and civilized governments are applauding,'' said Solzhenitsyn, an outspoken
Russian nationalist and former Soviet dissident.
April 9, 1999
FSB Slaps Duma's Plans to Impeach
By Melissa Akin and Matt Bivens
Even as Russia's main security service was telling parliament it could not
impeach Boris Yeltsin, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov was warning Thursday
that the Kremlin is on the verge of sacking the government and imposing a
state of emergency.
"Rumors are flying that somebody in President Boris Yeltsin's retinue is
pushing toward [the declaration of a state of emergency]," Zyuganov told
Zyuganov said that if Yeltsin declares a state of emergency - which could
involve him dissolving the State Duma and perhaps even the government, and
ruling alone by decree - it may well provoke the Yugoslav-style
disintegration of Russia. Even just the sacking of Yevgeny Primakov and his
Cabinet would provoke a new political crisis and "unheard of financial and
economic damage," he said.
Russia's chattering classes have been talking darkly for weeks about an
impending Kremlin political offensive against Yeltsin's opponents or rivals.
Sometimes the talk is of a "state of emergency"; sometimes of a ban of the
Communist Party; sometimes of the sacking of all or part of Primakov's
Cabinet. Often, the predictions are of all three together, on the grounds
that sacking the popular Primakov would be dangerous enough to require an
overwhelming show of force.
There is even often a date put forward for this supposedly impending
political cataclysm: April 15, the day the Duma is to take up the five
articles of impeachment the Communists have won tentative approval for in the
Now that the Kosovo crisis has breathed new life into the leftist and
nationalist opposition, the long-sleepy impeachment charges suddenly look
likely to pass the Duma. That would not be much of a threat to Yeltsin even
so - the process would still have to wend its way through the upper house of
parliament and two separate high courts. Nevertheless, Yeltsin might be
alarmed or outraged enough to try to prevent the vote, even if it means
dispersing the Duma.
Then there is Primakov. Yeltsin has throughout his eight-year reign slapped
down any underling who emerged as a rival, and Primakov qualifies.
In recent weeks Yeltsin has been meeting with politicians like Moscow Mayor
Yury Luzhkov and Yabloko Party leader Grigory Yavlinsky - Kremlin chats that
look suspiciously like a job hunt for Primakov's replacement. On Thursday,
Yeltsin met former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for what was billed as
a general discussion about the future of Russia, and Izvestia predicted
Chernomyrdin would soon again be a minister of some sort.
Where all this is headed is anyone's guess, but more and more Russian media
are joining Zyuganov in suggesting a showdown is looming. Typical was a
report in Thursday's Izvestia that noted talk of "some sort of presidential
intervention that makes use of force" to derail impeachment and slap down
"Of course, such prognoses from the opposition are not that extraordinary ...
they come so frequently that we are all tired of them," reported another
newspaper, Moskovsky Novosti, last week. "What's curious in the current
situation is something else: Bureaucrats from the Kremlin and from [the
Russian White House at] Staraya Ploshchad have begun to willingly talk of
preparations underway for the use of force. So far they do so only in private
conversations ... [and only after warning,] 'This is top secret!' or, 'Don't
you dare quote me!'"
The threat of impending force also seemed to lurk behind a letter sent by the
Federal Security Service to Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov, Federation
Council chairman Yegor Stroyev and Primakov earlier this week. That letter
offered the FSB's opinion that the impeachment articles contained
"significant mistakes of a legal nature."
Seleznyov's spokesman, Mikhail Belyat, confirmed that Seleznyov had received
the stamped and sealed letter from the FSB, and said he would review it upo n
his arrival Thursday evening from a peace mission to Belgrade.
The letter, which the FSB described as an "***analiticheskaya spravka,***" or
an analytical document, was unprecedented. Few Duma deputies could remember
the FSB ever before offering an unasked-for interpretation of the
constitutionality of legislation.
Alexander Zhdanovich, a spokesman for the FSB, faxed a brief summary of the
document to The Moscow Times but refused to send the entire report, or to
comment on the FSB's motives in preparing it.
But Duma Deputy Sergei Mitrokhin, a member of the Yabloko Party, was among
those who saw the FSB's letter to the Duma as a veiled threat.
"This particular action was meant to show a readiness to use force, with the
participation of the special services, in case the impeachment vote meets
with a positive result," Mitrokhin said in a telephone interview Thursday.
"There will be many more of this kind of letter," said Viktor Ilyukhin, a
hardline Communist who heads the Duma security committee. In an interview
Thursday, Ilyukhin brushed the FSB letter aside as a petty threat - even as
he insisted that the Kremlin state of emergency was all but prepared, with
the only question left being when to impose it.
"They have yet to decide: before Easter or after Easter," Ilyukhin said.
"This means the dissolution of the Duma, the banning of the Communist Party
and other leftist, patriotic forces and the interning and arrest of more than
one thousand leaders of parties and movements, and of the Duma and the
As if all this frantic talk was not cause enough for hand-wringing, the
68-year-old Yeltsin was briefly in a Kremlin hospital on Thursday, while the
69-year-old Primakov did not show up for work because he was laid up at home
with acute back pain.
The Kremlin said Yeltsin's was a planned checkup and nothing special. But
Primakov's spokeswoman, Tatyana Aristarkhova, told Itar-Tass that Primakov
had been diagnosed Wednesday with a nerve inflammation of his lower spine.
Although his doctors wanted to hospitalize Primakov, Aristarkhova said, the
prime minister refused, and spent the day at home taking anti-inflammatory
medicine and undergoing physical therapy. Itar-Tass reported Primakov - who
canceled a trip to Kiev on Wednesday over his back pain - would come back to
work on Monday.
Some journalists who saw Primakov at a government meeting on Wednesday said
he did indeed seem to be in pain. But other media, citing the canceled trip
to Kiev, speculated that Primakov was just afraid to leave town for fear that
Yeltsin might move against him in his absence.
New York Times
8 April 1999
[for personal use only]
Don't Look to Russia for Help on Kosovo
By MICHAEL McFAUL (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Michael McFaul, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, teaches political science at Stanford University.
WASHINGTON -- The Clinton Administration was right to reject Slobodan
Milosevic's cease-fire proposal -- entering into negotiations now with
Serbia, which has largely achieved its military goals in Kosovo before NATO
has achieved much of anything, would be an admission of defeat.
So why, then, has Vice President Al Gore called on Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov of Russia at this moment to work on an agreement with the Serb
dictator? Playing the Russian card now legitimates Milosevic's horrendous
actions in Kosovo and exposes the weakness of the NATO alliance.
NATO and Russia should eventually cooperate in the Balkans, as they did in
Bosnia, but only when it serves the interests of both. Today, such
cooperation would serve only the Russians.
Let's not forget Primakov's similarly inopportune actions during the
Persian Gulf war. With Iraqi troops occupying Kuwait, he traveled to Baghdad
to urge Saddam Hussein to negotiate a settlement. At the time, Hussein was
all too eager to talk peace since he had already achieved his military goals.
We rightly rejected such a proposal.
If Primakov begins a shuttle diplomacy operation between Belgrade and the
capitals of Europe today, he could create momentum for a negotiated
settlement at precisely the moment when it is most convenient for Milosevic.
In raising a peace initiative now, Primakov also would strengthen Russia's
hand in Eastern Europe. NATO needs time -- and probably ground troops -- to
achieve success against Serbia. Beginning peace negotiations now would doom
the Kosovars, make future NATO operations more difficult to muster, and
impede future NATO expansion eastward. It could even help to unravel the
alliance altogether. Such an outcome would be ideal for Primakov and his
allies within Russia, who can gain votes by appearing to resuscitate their
country's influence abroad and to diminish that of the United States.
Beyond this, Primakov will not offer his good offices without a price. At a
minimum, he will probably expect more loans from the International Monetary
Fund and forgiveness of Soviet and Russian debts. Linking our security
interests in Serbia with I.M.F. loans would be disastrous for American
foreign policy -- and for Russian reform.
First, I.M.F. money cannot guarantee Primakov's lasting cooperation. As a
potential presidential candidate he must be responsive to growing
anti-Western sentiment among Russian voters first and Western concerns
More important, paying Primakov to mediate would undermine the I.M.F. as an
effective agent of economic reform in Russia. If the I.M.F. cannot credibly
commit to the conditions it has already laid down for loaning money, its
leverage over the Russian Government would be next to nil. This is precisely
what occurred in 1996 and 1997, when the Clinton Administration made an
exception for Russia that it would not have made for any other country,
because Russia was deemed too big to fail. It was a mistake then, and it
would be a mistake now.
The United States has a strategic interest in encouraging market reforms in
Russia that should be pursued independently from its strategic interests in
Right now, NATO would bring a weak hand to the negotiating table. Only when
the "facts on the ground" have changed in favor of the alliance should the
Clinton Administration entertain cease-fire proposals, or think of letting
Primakov act as intermediary.
Chubays Denies IMF Loan Misused
MOSCOW, April 6 (Interfax) - Anatoliy Chubays, a
former Russian first deputy prime minister, said on Tuesday that a
statement made by a Communist member of parliament that an International
Monetary Fund loan was misused in August last year was a huge
fabrication. Lower house deputy Viktor Ilyukhin said earlier that same
day that he possessed evidence that a $4.8 billion tranche of a loan was
misused in August 1998. He told a news conference in Moscow that Chubais,
former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and former Chief Executive
Officer of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Boris Berezovskiy, had
been involved in the supposed misappropriation of the money. "I can use
no other description for Ilyukhin's statement than springtime delirium,"
Chubays, who is currently chief of Russia's state electricity monopoly,
told Interfax. "The principles and mechanisms for the use of IMF loans
are well known, as are the purposes for which the last IMF loan was used.
Comrade Ilyukhin can find this information at the Finance Ministry and
the Central Bank without any impediment. "Frankly speaking, I think
everyone except Ilyukhin himself is tired of these grandiose exposures,
which are as fragile and volatile as soap bubbles."
International Herald Tribune
April 9, 1999
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR by David Timmins
Who would have thought any of us would live to see the fall of the Soviet
Union? And, this miracle having occurred, who would have thought a president
of the United States could be so obtuse and stumble-footed as to alienate a
Russia that only a few years ago was doing its best - against enormous odds -
to adopt an American-style economy and American-style democracy?
With little delay, and apparently no forethought, this foreign-policy
untalented administration invited three former members of the Warsaw Pact to
change sides to NATO - embarrassing Boris Yeltsin and giving his political
enemies the ammunition they need to appeal to revanchist sentiments, raising
the serious threat of returning Russia once more to a state of antagonism to
all things Western.
Charles de Gaulle was many things. But slow on his foreign-policy feet he was
not. One can imagine that the first thing he would have done would be to
agitate for giving Russia a seat in the North Atlantic Council - probably
with Russia remaining outside the NATO command structure, as indeed France
has been since 1965.
Given the prestige of NATO membership and a voice in NATO political
deliberations, Russian political and military egos would have been massaged
and the appeal of Russian extremists effectively neutralized. The Romanian
and Bulgarian economies would no longer remain stalemated in their reform
programs because of the fear of Russian reversion. Nor with Russia a member
of the North Atlantic Council, would NATO be subject to fear-driven appeals
for membership from nations that can contribute little to the common defense,
while imposing enormous new burdens and risks on current members.
Moreover, had Russia early been given a seat in the North Atlantic Council,
we might well have avoided the current bitterness over NATO's involvement in
the Balkans. We will never know whether, with the prestige of NATO membership
behind him, Mr. Yeltsin might have prevailed in his negotiations with
Slobodan Milosevic. But at least we would have been spared Russia's believing
its voice has been ignored.
It was unwise in the extreme to get involved in Kosovo, where U.S. national
interests are not directly involved. This was Europe's problem and Europe
should have been left to handle it,if it were to be handled from the outside
at all. NATO was created for self-defense, not to serve as the world's
policeman. The current action has alienated the Russians, the Greeks, the
Chinese, most of the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and,
one can safely assume, Pakistan, India and most of Africa.
It has set an unfortunate precedent for more powerful states to interfere in
the internal affairs of weaker neighbors. And it may well have prejudiced the
willingness of NATO members to commit their forces in the future. But now
that we are there, all must agree it would be disastrous not to prevail.
Perhaps the clouds of the present imbroglio have a silver lining. It may not
be too late to offer Russia membership in the North Atlantic Council.
This might assuage the feelings of alienation and bitterness which have
accompanied the Kosovo intervention. And it would give Mr. Yeltsin a new and
more secure platform from which to renew his approaches to Mr. Milosevic,
hopefully permitting some form of reasonable settlement short of sending U.S.
and other ground troops into Kosovo for an indeterminate but undoubtedly long
The writer is a former executive officer of the U.S. Mission to the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization.
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