This Date's Issues: 3238•3239
Johnson's Russia List
14 April 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Times: Poll Date to Be Set.
2. Bloomberg: Russian Public Opposes NATO Actions in Yugoslavia,
3. AP: Chernomyrdin To Head Kosovo Mission.
4. Izvestia: Vyacheslav Nikonov, Easter Truce.
5. Moscow Times: Igor Semenenko, Economy Posts Fragile Turnaround.
6. Itar-Tass: Candidates to Duma Should Be in Equal Conditions.
7. Itar-Tass: Stroyev: No Going Back to Confrontation Era.
8. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Logic of Yeltsin Flirtation With Luzhkov
9. Jerry Hough on US, Russia, and Kosovo.
10. Edward Lozansky: War in Yugoslavia. A view from Russia.
11. Nat Moser: Re: Backer on Corporate Governance / YUKOS in 3229.
12. Moscow Times: Alexander Shumilin, Russia Rethinks Kosovo.
13. Fred Weir on pan-Slavic union.
14. The Russia Journal: Russia's New Nationalism.]
April 14, 1999
IN BRIEF: Poll Date to Be Set
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MOSCOW -- President Boris Yeltsin is expected to sign a decree setting an
election date of Dec. 19 for the lower house of parliament, an official said
The State Duma's four-year term expires in December, and Tuesday was the
first mention of a specific date for the new poll.
Alexander Veshnyakov, chairman of the Central Electoral Committee, met
Yeltsin and said afterward that the president would issue a decree in July or
August formally setting the date for the election.
Veshnyakov said officials were working on election law amendments to prevent
potential campaign abuses. Candidates and parties will receive free air time
on state television, but will face campaign spending limits, he said.
Russian Public Opposes NATO Actions in Yugoslavia, Poll Shows
Moscow, April 13 (Bloomberg)
-- Following are the results of an
opinion poll conducted by Russia's Center of Public Opinion April 27-
30. The poll surveyed 1,600 people and has a margin of error of 3
What do you think about the plight of Albanians in Kosovo?
March 98 March 99
Entirely Yugoslavia's business 26% 64%
Concern of the world community 46% 22%
No opinion 28% 14%
What is the cause of the conflict in Yugoslavia?
Aggressive US and NATO policies 48%
Albanian provocation 13%
Cruelty of Yugoslavia's rulers 7%
No opinion 14%
What do you feel about NATO's air attack on Yugoslavia?
No opinion 2%
Did NATO have a right to start air attacks without UN sanctions?
No opinion 8%
What are the prospects for resolving the conflict?
NATO will have to give up and start negotiations
under pressure of world public opinion 4%
Conflict will have a long lasting character 24%
Yugoslavia will surrender 9%
No opinion 26%
What are the prospects for Russia-NATO relations?
Tension will take some time to abate: 41%
A new cold war will ensue: 33%
No opinion 26%
Chernomyrdin To Head Kosovo Mission
April 14, 1999
By BARRY RENFREW
MOSCOW (AP) -- President Boris Yeltsin stepped up efforts today on ending
the Kosovo crisis, appointing a former prime minister to head Russian
efforts to find a political solution.
Yeltsin named former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin as his special
envoy to end the conflict. Well known to Western leaders, Chernomyrdin will
seek a political agreement that can satisfy both sides, officials said.
``Viktor Chernomyrdin has great political experience and enjoys broad
international recognition,'' said Oleg Sysuyev, a top Kremlin official.
Chernomyrdin said Russia had a chance to end the fighting and get talks
started on a political settlement. He said he may visit the United States
``for meetings at the highest level.''
Moscow, which opposes the NATO attacks on Yugoslavia -- with which it
shares cultural and historical ties -- has failed to find a political
solution despite repeated attempts. But Western and Russian officials hope
that Moscow can serve as an intermediary with Belgrade.
So far, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has not appeared willing to
accept Russian peace moves and Moscow has limited influence with Belgrade.
Moscow has said it will not be drawn militarily in to the conflict.
Chernomyrdin's appointment came as Germany proposed a new peace plan,
calling for a 24-hour suspension of NATO airstrikes if Yugoslavia starts
withdrawing its forces from Kosovo.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov agreed to work together to try to settle the conflict after talks
Tuesday in Oslo.
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement today indicated broad agreement with
key NATO aims in Kosovo, while still rejecting the use of armed force to
``Joint efforts must be made to find a political solution to the Kosovo
problem, ensure a safe return of the refugees and grant Kosovo the broadest
possible autonomous status with Yugoslavia's territorial integrity
preserved,'' it said.
In another possible peace move, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
went to Belgrade to follow up on earlier visits by Russian officials
seeking a political settlement.
Lukashenko, who has been a strong critic of the West and NATO for years,
said he had consulted with Yeltsin before the trip.
Russian Navy officials said two Russian ships are expected to sail to the
Mediterranean by Monday as Moscow steps up protests against the NATO
airstrikes against Yugoslavia.
Black Sea Fleet officials, who declined to be named, said an anti-submarine
ship and an escort were expected to join a Russian intelligence ship
shadowing NATO warships in the Adriatic.
April 13, 1999
IZVESTIA writes that after a series of absurd moves caused by panic
resulting from an enquiry into the affairs of Berezovsky's empire and the
Mabetex company Kremlin got down to the job of planning a
counter-offensive. The paper is almost certain that Anatoly Chubais stands
behind the recent moves of the Kremlin administration.
It points to the spate of recent dismissals in the Security Council, the
Prosecutor-General's Office, the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security
Service and the Moscow Military District, with people having the Kremlin's
trust filling the vacancies. Persistent rumors circulating in Moscow last
week claimed that the elite Dzerzhinsky Division had been put on full alert.
In the course of a meeting with Prime Minister Primakov Yeltsin openly
rebuked him for failing to make adequate efforts to protect him from Yury
Skuratov's "schemes" and the threat of impeachment. Speaking before
television cameras, Primakov hastened to reaffirm his complete loyalty.
However, later Yeltsin indicated that the Prime Minister might be dismissed
in the foreseeable future.
Simultaneously the Kremlin's administration began making overtures to
Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov although only a short while before that they
regarded him as an opponent. The move is understandable: any scenario of
emergency measures would fail within hours without Luzhkov's support.
Meanwhile mass media controlled by the Kremlin launched an unprecedented
propaganda campaign against the unruly Prosecutor- General, with pluralist
views giving way to the general acclaim of the President's policies,
including his remarks on the possibility of Russian missiles being targeted
at NATO countries and the formation of a union with Yugoslavia.
The opposition, meanwhile, went ahead with their absurd plans to impeach
the President on purely political grounds, being fully aware of the fact
that they would not succeed in removing him from power. To all intents and
purposes the scene had been set for a head-on collision but at the last
moment the opposing sides decided to announce a truce to celebrate Easter.
The trouble though is that the sets are still on the stage, with the actors
waiting in the wings.
April 14, 1999
Economy Posts Fragile Turnaround
By Igor Semenenko
Confounding expectations, Russia's economic performance picked up in the
first two months of this year, with government figures released Tuesday
showing consumer demand and industrial output edging up.
Seasonally adjusted consumer demand grew 5 percent in February. Although this
growth came from a low base and demand remains 15 percent below 1997 levels,
it was the first time this indicator had increased since August.
Also rising for the first time since the crash was gross output, which grew
0.8 percent. Meanwhile, industrial production rose 2.5 percent in February
and is now just 2.5 percent below the monthly average for 1997. It has edged
beyond the level for the second quarter in 1998.
Coming on top of slowing inflation - which some economists now say is on
target for a "mere" 35 percent for the first half of 1999 - rising wage
payments in arrears were reduced and capital expenditures increased slightly.
These figures were the first concerted burst of positive economic news since
But while economists welcomed the new figures, giving the government some
credit for improved fiscal discipline and tight monetary policy, they said
that devaluation had been the real factor driving the improved performance.
With a large part of the benefits of devaluation already realized, Russia
faces a continuing, if slower, decline unless the government attacks the
economy's deep structural obstacles to growth, analysts warned.
"This is still more a spillover effect of devaluation rather than a result of
concerted economic policies," said Arkady Dvorkovich, head of Economic Expert
Group, a semiautonomous research center close to the Finance Ministry.
"Fundamental changes are needed to reverse the situation in the long run," he
But there is little chance such reforms will be carried out in the near
future, said Vladimir Mau, head of the government's Working Center for
Economic Reform. The opportunity for structural reform was lost during the
bubble economy of 1996-97, and no serious efforts can be expected until after
the next presidential elections, scheduled for 2000.
That being the case, the most important contribution the Russian authorities
can make is to keep the lid on inflation, analysts said.
"There is investment demand if inflation stays below 5 to 7 percent a month,"
said Mikhail Delyagin, head of the Institute of Globalization. "Once it is
kept under control ... businesses can live with it."
So far, the government and Central Bank have managed to keep the inflation
genie in the bottle. Inflation is unlikely to exceed 35 percent in the first
half of the year, the Russian European Center for Economic Policy reported.
The Russian government was to be commended for its restraint in printing
rubles in the first quarter of this year, RECEP economist Peter Westin said.
Russia's Central Bank printed 7 billion rubles ($280 million) from January
through March and another 1.4 billion rubles ($56 million) in the first week
of April, RECEP reported.
Stable prices seemed to have helped spur a turnaround in capital expenditure,
which increased 1 percent in February.
Business conditions also showed a slight easing in January, when
approximately 38 percent of businesses were loss-making, down from an average
of 49 percent in 1998.
Candidates to Duma Should Be in Equal Conditions.
MOSCOW, April 13 (Itar-Tass) - Candidates to the State Duma of the new
convocation should compete in equal conditions, also as regards funding,
Russian President Boris Yeltsin said on Tuesday, talking with reporters
before his meeting with chairman of the Central electoral commission
Alexander Veshnyakov. Their meeting was held in the president's office in the
Yeltsin confirmed his stand of principle that the forthcoming parliamentary
elections "should be fair and clean". The president said it is necessary to
ensure that politics should be involved as little as possible, that
patriotically-minded professionals be elected to the Duma.
The president stressed that the new Duma should be "more businesslike" and
should "engage more actively in lawmaking". "We are lagging behind
immensely," the president said. He said the current Duma spent only 40 per
cent of the time for lawmaking while "60 per cent of the time was spent on
political battles". "We need laws for the sake of Russia, for the sake of
reform, and there are no such laws," Yeltsin said.
Regarding the financing of candidates, the president said that "some of them
have only the funds allocated them under law," while others enjoy the support
of enterprises, companies, banks. "It is necessary to put a stop to the
situation when candidates are in unequal conditions," Yeltsin said. The
president also noted that funds are misused at times. "There are such dashing
fellows who spend money on vodka and hand out bottles of vodka freely".
Stroyev: No Going Back to Confrontation Era
BRUSSELS, April 12 (Itar-Tass) - "The strength
test of the foundations of international relations will not prod us to
isolationism or thoughtless confrontation," Speaker of the Upper House of
the Russian Parliament Yegor Stroyev told the 101st Conference of the
Interparliamentary Union, which is currently under way in the Belgian
Noting that Russia was turning into a country with a market economy, free
elections, multi-partisan political system, and independent press, he
stressed that the "reforms will be continued in the forms that correspond
to our historical experience, traditions, and national features". The
difficult domestic problems "cannot undermine Russia's resolution to take
an active part in world affairs". "We shall work for the sake of peace
and stability, proceeding from the requirements of international law, and
staking first and foremost on the relations with the CIS nations,"
The Speaker of the Upper House of the Russian Parliament stressed that
instability of the world system and growing globalisation of economy have
proved that a multi-polar world system is needed today. Precisely such a
model meets "the desire of the peoples to humanize and democratize the
international relations without infringing upon the multifariousness and
specific features of sovereign states". The problems of global and
regional security can be resolved only through equality, and the ugly
distortions of world economy can be overcome only on these lines. Only
multi-polarity will "put up a solid barrier to forcible dictate, to
aggressive separatism and nationalism," he noted, assuring the audience
that Russia had always backed and will give vigorous support to all the
efforts of the world parliamentary community to achieve these ends.
The leader of the Russian parliamentary delegation stated that the
Interparliamentary Union "must be abreast of the challenges of our time".
This will guarantee the viability of the organisation, which has been
coordinating the efforts of mps for more than a century now. Stroyev
admitted that the conditions for the work of the Interparliamentary Union
had become much more difficult at the turn of the century. "The latest
developments even give us the right to speak about a financial,
geopolitical, legal, military, and world-scale crisis". According to
Stroyev, "the basic democratic values are being put to difficult trials,
force is trampling underfoot the law, the will of the people is being
violated by the arbitrariness of the rulers, and rude, sometimes cynical
customs are being propagated".
Logic of Yeltsin Flirtation With Luzhkov Questioned
9-16 April 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Commentary by Sergey Chugayev under "Event of the Week" rubric:
"Luzhkov Begins To Figure in Yeltsin's Game" -- from the Utro section
It seems as if Russia's leading political players
have totally ceased to be guided by considerations of logic. Why, for
example, do the Communists need impeachment if their main trump card in
the forthcoming Duma elections is to be the slogan "Down with the
president"? After all, this is their only chance to prevent a repetition
at federal level of recent events in traditionally "red" Udmurtia, where
the left wing lost resoundingly to the local party of power in the
republic's parliamentary elections.
On the other hand, Yeltsin should really be concentrating to the
maximum and rallying all possible and impossible supporters around him in
these days prior to the Duma debates. The president is, however, doing
exactly the opposite. Instead of trying to reach an agreement first and
foremost with Yevgeniy Primakov and Yegor Stroyev on joint action in the
event of success for the Duma's left wing, he is starting to flirt with
Yuriy Luzhkov. Evidently in order to spite both the prime minister and
the chairman of the Senate. As a result, Primakov is postponing an
important visit to Ukraine. This is the most graphic evidence of just how
tense the atmosphere now is in the upper echelons of power.
The illogicality of the Communists' actions can be explained by the
intensifying struggle for power within the CPRF [Communist Party of the
Russian Federation]. It looks as if a split is really developing in the
party. Its extremist wing headed by Viktor Ilyukhin openly dominates.
Moderate Communists are being forced to go along with this. Ilyukhin's
aim (which he makes no real effort to conceal) is to provoke Yeltsin into
unconstitutional action and then carry out a coup d'etat. This is the
purpose of the performance involving the general prosecutor, certain
criminal cases which are virtually against members of the president's
family, and so forth. This means that the Communists do not believe they
can win by parliamentary means and that they realize the overwhelming
majority of the political elite are not on their side.
The situation for Yeltsin is objectively favorable. All he has to do is
resist provocation. Instead, the president is starting a love affair with
Luzhkov, thereby sowing doubt in the ranks of his potential allies. Now
even serious politicians do not rule out the possibility that Primakov
will resign before 15 April, with Luzhkov being appointed in his place.
If that happens, Yeltsin will definitely face impeachment.
Consequently, at a time which is most important for him, the president can
only count on support from the leadership of Russia's power structures. No
more than that.
By making Luzhkov a factor in his political game, a counterweight to
Stroyev and Primakov, who have become stronger, Yeltsin could drive
himself into a trap. If he removes Primakov, he will open the way to the
presidency for the Moscow mayor. The problem is whether Yeltsin really
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My main course at Duke in recent years has been the American
presidency, with a focus on electoral strategy from Jefferson to the
present. By coincidence, I finished Wilson last week. A true disaster.
If he had used Amercian power to force a cease fire (and that was easily
within American economic power at the time) instead of tilting to
England in 1915, there never would have been a Bolshevik Revolution and
there either would never have been a Hitler or the US could have
organized collective security against him without ethnic vetoes in the US.
But the striking thing about Wilson today is how all the lessons
learned at that time have been totally forgotten by those who think they
are following a Wilsonian foreign policy. "National
self-determination," we forget, meant for Wilson forcing the Balkan peoples
into a new Yugoslavia to prevent a future war. He was the one who had a
key role in creating that country. More important, the universal lesson
of Wilson for the four decades after World War II was that the treatment
of Germany at Versailles and afterwards was a disaster.
It is eerie to read and hear what is being said about Russia
today. The McFauls of the early 1930s were talking sagely
about the transition to democracy, to be sure a troubled one, that had
taken place in Germany and how the key thing to get out of the depression
was a balanced budget and a neo-liberal economic policy. But, in any
case we had nothing to worry about. Germany was economically and
militarily too weak to cause the West any trouble. Indeed, it was
disarmed, and the Kellogg-Briand pact had created a regime that outlawed
war and economic interdependence ensured the Pact would work.
It is a shame that the Holocaust and Hitler's foreign policy has
made it a taboo to look at Hitler's economic policy, which was strikingly
successful. Nazi meant National Socialist. He was serious about both
words. The socialism did not mean nationalization, but state direction
of a capitalist economy. He couldn't get out of depression with
foreign trade because of the world depression, he received no foreign aid.
Yet, while the West remain mired in depression, it is astonishing how
quickly Germany became economically prosporous--and even at a time when
it was conducting an utterly stupid as well as utterly evil policy with its
highly productive Jewish population.
The notion that Russia could not follow the same path is crazy.
Indeed, if Primakov is serious about serious agricultural reform of the
type he just advocated (and anyone who takes any words uttered in Russia
seriously is a fool), he is finally on the right path. The notion that
Russia is impotent in Serbia is crazy. It probably won't do anything in
the bombing, but I can't imagine why the foreign policy establishment
thinks Russia will let the West conquer Serbia with ground troops. And
with the favorite scenario of putting big ground troops in Hungary where
there were not going to be meaningful, let alone offensive, American
forces and having a blitzkreig to Belgrade!!! Russia is going to let NATO
Hungary be used in this way??? All it takes is one division of Russian
troops flown to Serbia and put on the road to Belgrade. There is no
way that European opinion will send European troops against Russian ones to
win a war against Kosovo it never wanted. It is hard to believe that
American opinion would be all that supportive of such an action either.
McFaul always seems an infallible bellweather of Administration
thinking. When he shifts as rapidly as he did from the Los Angeles
Times and the Christian Science Monitor to the New York Times pieces, we
really have to worry about an Administration that is close to panic.
The Administration really needs to learn the lesson of the Holocaust and
repeat the words "Never Again." Once the Holocaust started in earnest,
there really was little the US could do but take more refugees. It
certainly should have done so, and it ultimately may find itself in a
similar position today with hundreds of thousands of Kosovars. But the
difficulty in advocating such a position today with the Kosovars reminds us
of the difficulties in the 1930s as well--and reminds us how easy it is to
use moral condemnation, economic sanctions, and bombing as a substitute for
taking real actions that are politically uncomfortable for oursleves.
The lesson of the Holocaust is that the time to stop it was in 1919
and the early 1920s. The time to stop the disaster in Kosovo was at
the time Slovenia and Croatia started to leave Yugoslavia. If the
US and Europe had offered progressive European membership for Yugoslavia as
the inducement and guarantee for a different solution, a horrible decade of
ethnic cleansing and death could have been avoided. Now is the time to
prevent the next disaster, if it is not already too late. Abstract neo-liberal
economists did not know how to stop a depression in the early 1930s and don't
know how to do it now in Russia, and the lesson of the Holocaust is the
danger of mixing offended nationalism and prolonged economic troubles. It
is that the maintenance of democracy and a pro-Western policy for a decade in
a country guarantees nothing. My friends in Yaroslavl talk about an economic
situation getting progressively worse. When Russia blows, there are
going to be ugly political consequences, and the Administration and its
spokesmen seem to believe in stoking up the fire under the boiler.
From: Lozansky@aol.com (Edward Lozansky)
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999
Subject: War in Yugoslavia. View from Russia
War in Yugoslavia. A view from Russia.
As they see it in Moscow, America is in deep trouble. Of course, the economy,
dollar and stock market are doing great and America is definitely the only
superpower. It is on top and projects its power throughout the world. Shall
we celebrate? Not so fast.
On a visit to Moscow in the first days of April, I have heard many
pro-western intellectuals expressing deep concern with the dangerous erosion
of America's ideals and principles on which the country was built. Says,
Gavriil Popov, first democratically elected Mayor of Moscow: "According to
polls American people are reaching a point where they condone perjury and
breaking international law and if such a belief becomes widely held, America
will be rocked to its foundation which would have dire consequences for the
For those of us who lived under the communist regime and fought it, America
was always a symbol and guarantor of freedom and justice. America gave us the
strength and courage. In times of despair, we would pass by the US Embassy in
Moscow and the star-spangled banner would give us a tremendous boost of
morale. Today, the embassy walls are covered by eggs, tomatoes and ink. The
American flag is burned, and not only by communists or fascists. I saw a
large group of young people who did not throw eggs or burn flags, but what
they did was even more troubling. They displayed a poster saying "Goodbye,
America, Ideal of Freedom". I asked them why they were there. It turned out
that some of them had studied in America on US government grants. One young
man said, "We feel betrayed because we thought America sincerely wants Russia
to become a free, prosperous and democratic country, part of the West. Now
wittingly or unwittingly America helps the red-brown coalition to win the
Duma elections and enter the Kremlin. Each day of bombing brings this
coalition closer to power". Because of this very fact he suggested that both
Clinton and Albright should be nominated as Honorary Members of the Russian
Communist Party. Another student, a very well-dressed woman, said "Russia
could solve the Kosovo problem without war. We have influence over the Serbs
and Milosevic and could find an appropriate diplomatic solution, but America
double-crossed us. Clinton did not want Russia to help. He needed this war to
deflect public attention from Monica and China scandals".
Another young woman said with tears in her eyes, "I loved America so much. I
received a scholarship to study in USA, and I came back to Russia to work
for my country and to make it like America. What you are doing now is a war
crime. You kill people, destroy buildings and bridges, create enormous
suffering not only for Serbs but for Kosovo Albanians whom you were supposed
to help. But let's not kid ourselves. Clinton could care less about these
Albanians. His main goal was to build a new legacy for himself -- great
military commander, savior of Europe, instead of sexual maniac, wife cheater
and draft dodger. What a pathetic man he is, but it is America who in the
eyes of the world takes responsibility for all his actions". Another student
said "America already spent so much money on this war that you could build a
home for each refugee family. This will be a much better use of money than
firing missiles and killing people." Other students were saying similar
things. No one defended Milosevic, but they knew there was a better way to
solve this problem. The more they talked, the more I felt like I had to do
something. All this US taxpayers money we spent on educational and cultural
exchanges, bringing thousands of people from Russia and CIS to America to
introduce them to the greatness of this country! And now I could see that all
this money has been turned to waste. I remembered my dissident youth when I
was writing appeals to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and
Afghanistan. I told my young listeners that they were wrong and America has
not betrayed them. I asked them to distinguish the American people and
Congress from those who made the decision to start this war. I promised them
that I would go back to Washington immediately and deliver a letter to each
member of Congress telling them what they told me. I asked them to give us a
chance. If the Congress decides to stop this madness, it can be stopped. I
asked students to help draft an appeal to the US Congress which came out as
"Dear Members of Congress,
"At this critical time for America, we Russian students, and one American
citizen, appeal to you to pass a binding resolution to declare an immediate
cease-fire in Yugoslavia, provided that President Boris Yeltsin personally
guarantees a halt to all ethnic cleansing operations by Milosevic. An
emergency meeting of G-8 should be called to develop a plan acceptable to all
sides which guarantees the rights of minorities, the return of the refugees
to their homes, their protection once they are home, and the territorial
integrity of Yugoslavia."
The students told me that if this resolution passes it will be good not only
for Yugoslavia but for America as well. Unfortunately, when I arrived back in
Washington, I discovered to my great dismay that some members of Congress are
pushing for deployment of US ground forces in Yugoslavia. If this happens,
thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of innocent civilians will be
killed, and the damage to America's moral standing will be irreparable .The
Kosovo problem can be solved diplomatically, but only by Russia playing a
major role. The whole source of this tragic series of blunders is that
America and NATO have not tried to find a realistic way to engage Russia
constructively in the building of European order. For years, resentment has
been building up over the expansion of a NATO that has no intention of ever
including Russia. Now, the bitterness has boiled over for everyone to see, in
face of a NATO war on Slavic soil. An emergency G-8 meeting would offer a
unique chance to engage Russia properly and get us all out of this nightmare.
I hope and pray that Congress will stop the war and chose the way of
diplomacy and peace, so that America can regain its stature as a guarantor of
the world's freedom and democracy.
President, American University in Moscow
Washington, D.C. Phone 202-086-6010, Fax 202-667-4244
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999
From: "Nat Moser" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Backer on Corporate Governance / YUKOS in 3229
I was surprised to see YUKOS' recent behaviour towards its subsidiaries
described by someone claiming to be a specialist in corporate governance as
a "colorful anecdote" and as an illustration of the "problem" of discussing
these matters "in a newspaper format." Share dilution, asset stripping and
transfer pricing involve blatant violation of minority shareholders'
rights. They are not "an anecdote," colorful or otherwise. They are a fact.
And what exactly is the "problem" with reporting them in a "newspaper
Unless you are seeking to deny or trivialise what YUKOS is doing, I should
refrain from comparing it with your "favorite" corporate governance story
that you "personally believe to be true." The picture of "a regional
brewing company boss conducting shareholder meetings with an AK hanging on
a wall behind him" has nothing whatsoever to do with what YUKOS, Russia's
second largest oil company, is currently practising, and which is too
serious a matter to be left to humorists.
Finally, while criticizing multilateral institutions and the western
lending community for not setting the right example to improve corporate
governance in Russia, why not also mention western PR consultants who seek
to bolster the image of companies like YUKOS (to persuade creditors to lend
them money in the first place)? And, come to think of it, western analysts
who write misleading research reports, accountants who sign off on dubious
book-keeping, and financiers who advise the managers of Russian companies
on the setting up of offshore bank accounts for nefarious purposes.
April 14, 1999
Russia Rethinks Kosovo
By Alexander Shumilin
Alexander Shumilin is the foreign editor of Expert magazine. He contributed
this comment to The Moscow Times.
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, one of the main candidates for president in 2000,
has suddenly softened his bellicose position on NATO's bombardment of
Yugoslavia. Since the end of last week, he has ceased his demands that Russia
immediately render military-technical aid to Serbs in Yugoslavia, saying it
is necessary only if NATO begins ground operations. Luzhkov's new position is
understandable given a noticeable drop in the ratings of "warlike
politicians." The mayor apparently understood that not all Muscovites were
ready to back his hardline pro-Serb orientation - approximately 15 percent
follow the Islamic faith and, thus, sympathize with their Albanian religious
The strong emotional reactions of Russian politicians to NATO's aggression
towards Yugoslavia lasted slightly more than a week, from March 24 to April
1. During this period, those whose state and party positions required them to
condemn "the barbaric actions of the NATO militarists" did so. The
condemnations ran the gamut: President Boris Yeltsin promised "adequate
measures," Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov carefully protested in a
restrained manner, the armed forces' General Staff commented about "NATO
cutthroats," and State Duma deputy and General Roman Popkovich called for
"the preventive use of nuclear weapons."
After reviewing issues of 127 Moscow newspapers and magazines from March
1999, the National Electronic Library of Moscow came to the conclusion that
the Yugoslav found that the level of media interest in the Kosovo crisis
rivaled media interest in the war in Chechnya. In its first 10 days, 81
percent of articles in Moscow publications were devoted to the Chechen
conflict. During the first 10 days of the bombardment of Yugoslavia, 16
percent of articles were written about it.
This strongly indicates that the Kosovo problem has become a key factor
exerting influence on Russia's domestic political situation. This is not
surprising: Both print media and television have created a kind of virtual
reality. Commentators in Russian newspapers have often frightened readers
with the possibility of NATO bombardment in Russia ("Today Belgrade, Tomorrow
Liberal nationalist newspapers put out the message: "We always said that NATO
is an aggressor"; "We will help the brother-Serbs with weapons and
volunteers, we will rebuff the aggressor"; "the bombardment of Yugoslavia is
the defeat and disgrace of Yeltsin's policy of grovelling to the West."
Communist newspapers called on readers to be vigilant, warning that a
revanche of liberal, democratic forces could take place in Moscow under the
cover of NATO presence in Yugoslavia (including the dismissal of Yevgeny
Primakov's government, the dissolution of the State Duma and the banning of
the Communist Party from the Russian Federation).
More conservative newspapers, meanwhile, panicked about the possibility of a
seizure of power in Russia by communists, nationalists and criminal elements.
According to the authors of these articles, this could happen as a result of
a destabilization of the country's atmosphere. At the same time, virtually
all of these newspapers unequivocally condemned the bombing of Yugoslavia,
intelligently dubbing it "a mistake by NATO and the West."
Many commentators believe politicians are using Yugoslavia to solve their own
problems on the sly. Whether this is true, the subject of Yugoslavia has
forced certain "hot" topics onto the back burner. For example, the question
of Yury Skuratov's removal from office for a second time had much less
resonance in the media then his first removal. Likewise, Boris Berezovsky was
fired from the post of CIS executive secretary practically without a sound.
Thanks to Kosovo, the spectrum of attention towards Russian politicians
changed significantly. For the first time since 1991, a prime minister -
Primakov - was mentioned in the press considerably more often than the
president, Boris Yeltsin. The frequency with which Defense Minister Igor
Sergeyev, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and left-wing politicians Gennady
Zyuganov and Sergei Baburin appeared in newspapers also rose sharply.
Right-wing politicians like Grigory Yavlinsky, Viktor Chernomyrdin and Sergei
Kiriyenko were alluded to less often.
This increased attention to politicians connected with Kosovo, however, has
not meant a growth in their popularity. In late March and early April,
Zyuganov's and Luzhkov's share of the electorate shrank by 5.1 percent and
4.7 percent, respectively, the Agency for Regional Political Research
These results presumably indicate disillusionment on the part of some
left-wing voters with the "excessively warlike and confrontational"
statements made by Zyuganov and Luzhkov concerning Yugoslavia. Such
statements essentially mean that Russia could enter the war on the side of
the Serbs - with all of the consequences similar to those still fresh from
the war in Chechnya.
The Kremlin has been forced to step back from its initial pro-Serb position
because of another important domestic factor - the dissatisfaction such a
one-sided position has aroused within Russia's Moslem community. Tatarstan
President Meitemir Shaimiev enunciated this discontentment in his speech to
the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament. Soon afterwards came
news that volunteers in Tatarstan and other Moslem regions of Russia were
forming units to assist the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999
From: "Fred Weir" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For the Hindustan Times
From: Fred Weir in Moscow
MOSCOW (HT April 13) - Russian leaders are welcoming a request by
Yugoslavia to join a pan-Slavic union of states but warn that Belgrade must
end its war with NATO before
the scheme can be realized.
"Russia looks favourably on the idea of Yugoslav participation in the
union between Russia and Belarus," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said
after the Yugoslavian parliament voted unanimously on Monday to ask for
admittance to the alliance.
Russia's Foreign Ministry has appointed a special commission to study
the plan. The State Duma in Moscow broke into cheers when the vote of their
Yugoslav counterpart was announced. And the leader of the powerful communist
party, Gennady Zyuganov, called the unification of the three post-Communist
states "desirable and inevitable".
Despite the rhetoric, Russian leaders are not rushing into the embrace
of war-torn Yugoslavia. The Balkan state - reduced over the past ten years
to little more than the core republic of Serbia -- has been under attack by
NATO air forces for the past three weeks over its treatment of the Albanian
minority in its southern province of Kosovo.
Yuri Luzhkov, Mayor of Moscow and likely presidential candidate, summed
up the view of many Russian policymakers by saying Yugoslavia would be very
welcome to join the union, but only after it has come to terms with NATO.
"A union must be a conscious need of the people and not the result of
temporary factors," such as a war emergency, Mr. Luzhkov said.
Though Moscow has extended humanitarian aid and moral support to
Yugoslavia, and the Russian press daily compares embattled Serbia to a brave
David facing the mighty NATO
Goliath, the Kremlin has pointedly steered clear of any entanglement in the
"Of course many people like the idea of countering NATO with alliances
of our own," says Alexander Goltz, a leading political commentator. "Russia
is very worried about the expansion of Western power in the post-Cold War
era, and the shrinking of our own. So we like to talk about creating
'strategic triangles' with India and China, or joining with other Slavic
nations in one
The union between Russia and Belarus was formalized late last year, and
includes a common economic space, joint security policy and plans for a
single currency and government. The organization's founding charter says it
is open to any other countries who want to join.
But skeptics point out that the union remains mostly on paper, and that
in many political and economic respects Russia and Belarus are actually
drifting further apart rather than drawing together.
Yugoslavia, a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement, has refused
to join any alliance since its creation in 1918. Nevertheless, Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic
hailed his country's proposed entry into union with Russia as "a historic
step on the road of integration, security, stability and peace at the turn
of the century".
Russian President Boris Yeltsin has also cautiously welcomed the plan.
But critics point out that he may be doing so to win favour with his radical
opponents in the State Duma,
who have repeatedly voted for non-binding resolutions to send military aid
to the embattled Serbs.
This week the Duma formally agreed to put off a scheduled vote on
impeaching Mr. Yeltsin for at least a month. Several Duma deputies said it
was unseemly to impeach the
nation's leader while he is facing an international crisis triggered by war
"President Yeltsin has made staying out of the Balkan war the
cornerstone of Russia's policy," says Mr. Goltz. "But by making certain
gestures to appease the militant factions in the Duma he can gain major
political benefits for himself".
The Russia Journal
April 12-18, 199
Russia's New Nationalism
For a while, it was NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia. Last week, Russia's
politicians concerned themselves once again with the scandal around General
Prosecutor Yuri Skuratov's. A fast sinking Skuratov fired a parting shot at
influential billionaire tycoon Boris Berezovskii. The country seems to be
playing out a power struggle on the broadest of canvasses.
But is it really? Perhaps politicians' rhetoric is as much present-day
propaganda as visions of Communist ideals under the Soviet regime. Only
today, visions spin largely around a Russian nationalist Valhalla.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Western academe debated long and hard about what
would happen to Russia if the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Moscow had
promoted nationalist policies in almost all Soviet republics in a highly
successful effort to co-opt local elites into the Soviet system. But there
seemed to be no such thing as Russian nationalism: Russians were encouraged
to be good Soviet citizens. The question was whether Russia would be faced
with a massive identity crisis - not to mention a lack of infrastructure.
But just as Russia took over most of the Soviet Union's factories and
enterprises without a moment's hesitation, so too did it appropriate the
basis for nationalism under the Soviet Union.
Indeed, the beginnings of Russia's new official nationalistic culture are a
continuation of 1970s and 1980s "village culture." Moscow's highly visible
new sculptures by Zurab Tseretelli, for example, are commissioned by a key
figure in a political system that has quickly and effectively established
new spheres of influence that function under the parameters of the old
client/patron system of informal political relationships that institutions
policies only outwardly express. That figure is Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov,
who controls the city like a private fiefdom using traditional control
mechanisms. He is helping to forge a new utopian vision based on nostalgia.
Similarly, when there isn't a convenient war to rave about, political
scandals involving top officials distract the populace from the country's
true state of affairs. Not so much the economic conditions, which are clear
to anyone who has to live on a couple of thousand rubles a month, but the
Skuratov is an expendable figure. So is Primakov, the nominal head of a
real political oligarchy of industrialists and bureaucrats who largely took
over running the country in the wake of last August's onset of Russia's
economic crisis, reducing Yeltsin to the status of just another power baron
rather than the country's indisputable leader.
Ideological rhetoric obscures the nature of Russia's murky conspiratorial
political system, presenting politics as black and white: good guys versus
corrupt officials. The Kremlin on the one side and the Communist-led Duma
on the other lob grenades at each other in a heated war of words, claiming
political casualties such as Skuratov and Berezovskii. But the real
politics are held from view.
The roots of this system may lie in the genesis of Russia's political
"dominant culture." That pattern of intellectual culture has existed in
Russia since the end of the sixteenth century, when the first generation of
Muscovite upper-class political dissidents came into existence. This group
consisted of the sons of powerful families exiled to remote northern
monasteries during the reign of Boris Godunov. Like the clergy under which
they studied, those exiles were dispossessed and also used religious
language to elaborate hope for a moral revival or a righteous tsar.
Dissent was kindled by those whose status rested on birth and tradition,
not merit. Dissenters much depended upon the system they criticized. Their
criticism, therefore, was largely of a personal and moral imperfection,
challenging the state's legitimacy by denouncing rulers as moral actors.
The dissenting tradition rejected the state as a projection of an
individual's rule. It also adopted a nostalgic view of a once-happy land
ruled by grand princes who worked within what it saw as the true nature of
the Muscovite system's oligarchic rule.
In light of such an interpretation of the Russian tradition of dissent, it
is perhaps significant that in the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviet regime
increasingly accepted moralizing anti-Soviet realism (of which Solzhenitsyn
is an extreme example) but not anti-ideological modernism or even
avant-gardism. That attitude reflected dissident traditions similar to
those that had existed for centuries. The same types of traditions -
generating myths of a once-happy land - formed the basis of the Slavophile
position in the often misrepresented Slavophile/Westerner argument in
Russian cultural history.
We see them again today in Tsereteli's myth-making statues, in rhetoric
about a Slav brotherhood with the Orthodox Serbs, in specific accusations
of corruption rather than analysis of a system that functions through
to CDI's Home Page I Return
to CDI's Library