This Date's Issues: 3240•
Johnson's Russia List
15 April 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Primakov Wants Russians To Invest 'Mattress' Money.
2. AFP: Berezovsky a free man, Primakov a reeling prime minister.
3. Jamestown Foundation Monitor: CENTER-RIGHT COALITION HOLDS CONFERENCE
4. Bloomberg: Russia Should Join NATO to Gain Influence, Fyodorov Says.
5. Dale Herspring: Hough on Russia.
6. The Independent (UK): Phil Reeves, Yeltsin envoy has strong ties to West.
7. Moscow Times: Andrei Piontkovsky, SEASON OF DISCONTENT: Rulers View
Niceties As No Hurdle.
8. W. George Krasnow: Russian American Goodwill Association meeting in
9. Argumenty i Fakty: Political Forces Planning for Elections.
10. Obshchaya Gazeta: Vladimir Vasilyev (head of Political Psychology
Laboratory, St. Petersburg State University), "A Heavy Locomotive in the
Acceleration Phase; a Rough Psychological Sketch of Yevgeniy
11. Los Angeles Times: Paul Watson, Not-So-Smart Weapons Are Terrifying
Civilians. Airstrikes: Errant bombs and missiles are slamming into
neighborhoods of provincial capital.]
Primakov Wants Russians To Invest 'Mattress' Money
MOSCOW, Apr. 14, 1999 -- (Reuters) Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov
told bankers in the crisis-hit country on Wednesday that he wanted to
persuade people to invest in the economy the billions of dollars they keep
under their mattresses.
Primakov, speaking as bankers met after one of the worst financial crises in
Russia's post-Soviet history, said the government would support loss-making
banks if they were important although this would be an exception not the
"The best investment resource is the funds of individuals and legal entities,
the funds of the residents of the Russian Federation," Primakov told the
"We should ensure the creation of conditions under which money will not be
held under the mattress...but will be profitably invested into production,
small and medium-sized businesses, domestic banks," he said.
The August 1998 crisis, involving a devaluation and default on domestic and
foreign debt, has seriously damaged the bank system. Several large banks are
in trouble and trust in banks collapsed after many were unable to repay
The government says as much as $50 billion of cash dollars are held at home,
an amount second only to the United States.
Primakov said the problems of the bank system, the restructure of which has
been criticized by some as too slow, was still preventing the flow of
payments and settlements.
Some 18 billion rubles ($722.9 million) was frozen in banks as of February,
three times more than in August 1998, he said.
He said help would be given to loss-making banks but he wanted to get rid of
"In several cases, the government will have knowingly to carry out
investments in loss-making banks which are of great social importance...this
will not be the rule but the exception," he said.
Berezovsky a free man, Primakov a reeling prime minister
MOSCOW, April 14 (AFP) - The fortunes of Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov dimmed on Wednesday after authorities ripped up an arrest warrant
against influential underworld tycoon Boris Berezovsky, a powerful Kremlin
And Primakov's grim day clouded over still further when the Kremlin pulled
Russia's foreign policy rug out from under his feet by appointing ex-premier
Viktor Chernomyrdin as a special envoy on Yugoslavia.
"This is an open challenge to Primakov," remarked political analyst Yevgeny
Volk. "It is time to show Primakov that he should not think of himself as the
Conventional wisdom in Moscow suggests that President Boris Yeltsin's Kremlin
team was behind both moves, orchestrating an offensive to loosen Primakov's
ever-firmer grip on power.
Yeltsin and Primakov took their sparring into the public last week when they
exchanged barbs in a rare series of national television broadcasts.
How far this quarrel will go and whether it will end in a potentially costly
and distracting government overhaul is an open question. But the smart money
is deserting Primakov.
His fortunes seemed to be soaring just a week ago when Russian prosecutors
issued an arrest warrant for his political enemy number one, Berezovsky.
The one-time Kremlin kingpin was charged with bilking hundreds of millions of
dollars from the state airline which he ran for several years by naming his
cronies to Aeroflot's board of directors.
Rumors about corruption at Aeroflot had been making the rounds for several
months. But prosecutors were slow to act until Primakov assumed office last
After a series of police raids on companies linked to the business baron,
Berezovsky and another top airline executive were charged with parking a
chunk of Aeroflot's hard currency profits in a dummy Swiss firm they had
themselves set up.
A billionaire with interests ranging from oil to media, Berezovsky has
developed a reputation as a powerful Kremlin influences with close links to
Many government decisions this decade have been -- rightly or wrongly --
linked by analysts and the media to his name. The one he openly fought
against and lost was the appointment of Primakov to the government.
Primakov has been mentioned as a potential candidate to replace Yeltsin as
president in 2000. Berezovsky meanwhile has vowed to torpedo any such
campaign by financing a rival candidate.
Berezovsky's arrest warrant and his current refuge in Paris appeared to give
Primakov a victory just as Russia enters election season.
But Berezovsky has promised to return to Moscow this weekend while
prosecutors offer evasive answers when pressed about their sudden about-face
on Berezovsky's arrest.
Outside the squabbles of domestic politics, Primakov until Wednesday enjoyed
a near-monopoly on foreign policy decisions.
He took Yeltsin's place on a half-dozen trips abroad even though the prime
minister has no direct oversight over Russia's foreign policy.
Primakov negotiated personally -- although unsuccessfully -- with Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade two weeks ago and had been due to
talk foreign loans in Washington before cancelling his visit in protest of
NATO's bombing campaign.
Analysts suggest that Yeltsin was growing restive as he watched Primakov
parade the world stage while the Russian leader spent his time primarily
between hospital and a suburban rest home trying to shake off persistent
On Wednesday, Yeltsin pulled his faithful ally Chernomyrdin out of the hat,
naming him as point man on the Yugoslav negotiations. Chernomyrdin will
answer directly to the president.
"Yeltsin is unhappy that Primakov and (Foreign Minister Igor) Ivanov are
concentrating a lot of power on foreign policy," Yevgeny Volk said.
"He is demonstrating to the Russian audience and the West that he is the
chief foreign policy decision maker."
Jamestown Foundation Monitor
14 April 1999
CENTER-RIGHT COALITION HOLDS CONFERENCE IN MOSCOW. Pravoe Delo (Right
Cause)--the center-right coalition formed by Yegor Gaidar, Anatoly Chubais
and others--held a conference in Moscow yesterday, during which Gaidar laid
out the party's platform. The former acting prime minister charged that the
"Primakov-Maslyukov government has shown its complete ineffectiveness in
economic policy," saying that it has brought about a sharp drop in living
standards, a record growth in the number of poor, a shrinking of Russia's
hard-currency reserves, a bankrupt tax policy and actions aimed at putting
an end to the ruble's convertibility. Gaidar also attacked the government's
actions as being tied to those of the communists in the State Duma, which
include impeachment. Gaidar said that his coalition was ready to cooperate
with Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko in fighting "chauvinism, nationalism and
communism." Gaidar attacked the NATO actions in Yugoslavia, saying that the
alliance's "mistaken hypotheses" had turned into "erroneous decisions."
Other leaders of the coalition also addressed the conference, including
former finance minister and Deputy Prime Minister Boris Federov, who said
that "the hysteria surrounding the Yugoslav conflict and impeachment is
constructed to deflect the public's attention away from the fact that the
[Primakov] government has done nothing during the seven months of its
Notable absences included Anatoly Chubais, who was away from Russia on
business involving United Energy Systems (Russia's electricity grid, which
he heads) and Sergei Kirienko, the former prime minister. While Kirienko was
one of the leading politicians who originally signed on to Right Cause, he
has since distanced himself from it. Kirienko has formed his own movement,
called Novaya Sila (New Force) (Russian agencies, April 13-14).
Russia Should Join NATO to Gain Influence, Fyodorov Says
Moscow, April 14 (Bloomberg)
-- Russia's former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Fyodorov, and a leading
proponent of free- market reforms, said Russia should join the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization to increase its influence over the alliance's actions,
Russian news agency Interfax reported. ``Only when Russia becomes a NATO
member will the alliance cease to pose a threat for Russia, Yugoslavia, or
anyone else,'' Fyodorov said in an interview on Russian television last
night. If Russia had a vote in NATO, ``the U.S. would be unable to undertake
little triumphant wars to solve internal problems,'' Fyodorov said, the
Two weeks ago, Fyodorov together with former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar and
former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov flew to Yugoslavia and European
capitals for meetings with the U.S., European and Yugoslav government
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999
From: Dale R Herspring <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Hough on Russia
As is normally the case, Jerry raises some very interesting and important
issues when he discusses the situation in Russia. One point struck me as
especially interesting. This was Jerry's suggestion that one division of
Russian troops (provided the Serbs fed them) would be enough to stop an
American invasion from Hungary. I suspect he may be right. However,
taking such a step would increase the danger of a super post-super power
confrontation. Besides, I am not certain that would be where the main
NATO thrust would come from. As the Soviets used to say -- it is not
accidental that the 24 helos are being sent to Albania. Once they are in
place I think they will be used to stop Serb incursions into Albania or to
harass Serbian troops/police near the border (unless a decision is made to
refuel them in the air).
Given the hospitality the Albanian govt is showing NATO and the proximity
of Kosovo, I suspect that any ground operations will be launched directly
into Kosovo. Why take on the entire Serbia people, when the objectives
are much less limited? The presence of a Russian division in Serbia would
not do much to stop the insertion of ground forces into Kosovo.
In discussing the potential role of military forces in conflicts like
Kosovo, we have to be much more careful than has been the case with a lot
of civilian analysts to this point. The procedure is much more complex
than many realize. Inserting a military force under peaceful conditions
appears easy, but in reality it is rather difficult and requires
considerable planning if it is to work effectively. That is even more so
true when we are talking about putting military forces in "harms way."
Keep in mind that sending a Russian division to Serbia would not be as
easy as it looks. I sincerely doubt that the Hungarians would permit it
to transit. Could the Russians get the Romanians or Bulgarians to agree?
Even if the plan was to use airborne forces, Moscow would have to get
overflight permission. We are talking about moving more than 10,000
troops -- who would need air cover as well as a lot of logistical support.
My point is that a decision by the Kremlin to send military forces to
Serbia would not only mark a major political escalation (something
they seem to be trying to avoid), it would also be a much more complex
undertaking than many civilians realize. Given the situation within the
Russian armed forces, I think it would be even more difficult. Doable,
but extremely difficult.
The Independent (UK)
15 April 1999
War in The Balkans - Yeltsin envoy has strong ties to West
By Phil Reeves in Moscow
BORIS YELTSIN has softened his stance on the Balkans war by naming a former
prime minister with strong ties to the West as the Kremlin's special envoy
for resolving the conflict. The appointment of Viktor Chernomyrdin suggests
Mr Yeltsin is moving beyond explosive denunciations of the Nato air strikes -
such as his infamous "Third World War" warning - towards securing a position
for Russia as mediator.
Although the majority of Russian politicians have condemned Nato, Mr
Chernomyrdin has been less vocal than most. As prime minister from 1992 to
1998, he acquired a reputation as a compromiser who leans considerably more
to the West than the current Prime Minister, Yevgeny Primakov, or his
Moscow knows that the Kosovo war could provide it with a golden opportunity
to play a starring diplomatic role, its best chance to do so since the
break-up of the Soviet Union. It also knows this means ignoring domestic
pressure to give unqualified support to the Serbs. Mr Yeltsin - if not his
administration, with whom he has strained relations - appears to be trying to
grasp that opportunity.
Russia should take the chance to end the bloodshed now, "when there are
neither winners nor losers", Mr Chernomyrdin said yesterday. Moscow would
step up its diplomatic efforts "in all directions" to bring an end to Nato
bombing. But, in an unusually even-handed remark by Russian standards, he
said that both "belligerent parties" should be brought to the negotiating
Although the 61-year-old is derided as a fat-cat windbag by many Russians who
resent his role in the failed market reforms, he has the advantage of good
connections. He is personally acquainted with the two biggest players,
Slobodan Milosevic and Bill Clinton, whom he plans to visit soon.
A gas industry baron, Mr Chernomyrdin is generally approved of by Western
leaders, who see him as a member of the now exiled team of market reformers
who once dominated the Russian government. The Kremlin yesterday was keen to
advertise his "great political experience", and "broad international
Mr Yeltsin's move comes amid a general toning down of Russia's expressions of
outrage over the Yugoslav war, after an initial burst of fury. The most
striking example of its new strategy came during Tuesday's meeting in Oslo of
Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State, and her Russian counterpart,
Igor Ivanov. Although their talks brought little concrete progress, both
sides vowed to continue talking and there was a largely co-operative mood.
This was a far cry from last week, when Boris Yeltsin was spouting angry
warnings about Russia being drawn into a Third World War, while news
headlines - inaccurate, as it turned out - said Moscow was re-aiming nuclear
missiles at Nato countries.
In recent days, Russian TV coverage of the dispute has become more balanced,
and now includes accounts of the suffering of the refugees alongside reports
of the damage wreaked Nato bombs. News of the Yugoslav parliament's vote to
join the Russia-Belarus union was greeted coolly in Moscow; public opinion
surveys showed more than two-thirds of Russians are not interested in joining
a political embrace with their troubled Slavic cousins. "All this pan-Slavic
talk is complete rubbish, the invention of a perverted Russian political
elite," said Andrei Piontkovsky, a leading Moscow political commentator.
Even the tub-thumping nationalist mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov - who
yesterday played host to British businessmen - has shown signs of backing
away from his first fiery response, notably his demand that Russia should
supply military aid to the Serbs. The fact that 20 per cent of the Russian
population is Muslim has finally begun to filter up to the ivory towers
occupied by the political ruling elite. Combine that with the country's need
for Western loans and investment, and it becomes clear that Russia could not
sensibly give unqualified support to Mr Milosevic - even if it wanted to.
As ever, Machiavellian Kremlin politics are at work behind the scenes. The
appointment of Mr Chernomyrdin is a jab by Mr Yeltsin at his Prime Minister,
Mr Primakov. The latter is a former foreign minister, who coveted the chance
to mediate in Yugoslavia for himself. He is also the Kremlin's second-choice
premier, who got the job after Mr Yeltsin failed to persuade parliament to
approve the return of Mr Chernomyrdin last year.
By restoring the veteran ex-premier to the centre stage, Mr Yeltsin is trying
to remind Mr Primakov who is in charge. But the President is a much weaker
man these days, and his rival can be expected to counter-attack soon.
April 15, 1999
SEASON OF DISCONTENT: Rulers View Legal Niceties As No Hurdle
By Andrei Piontkovsky
Our people are very compassionate, and therefore we will not ban the
Communist Party." So stated President Boris Yeltsin last week during a
meeting with the presidents of Russia's autonomous republics. It appears that
he was speaking with complete sincerity and that it never occurred to him
that the Communist Party should not be banned, not because the people are
compassionate, but because there are no legal grounds to do so. And that when
and if such grounds appear, then it will be the courts that dissolve the
Communist Party, through an adversarial legal process and with the
observation of appeals procedures.
Surprisingly, Yeltsin's comment, which was completely inappropriate coming
from the country's supreme guarantor of constitutional rights, drew no
protests from the Communist Party leaders. Apparently they, like Comrade
Yeltsin, believe that the authorities, and only the authorities, should make
decisions concerning the existence of opposition parties, based exclusively
on considerations of political expediency.
The exact same approach is taken to other important political questions. Thus
the head of the Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, describes the country's
political prospects after impeachment as follows: "All three branches of
power will assemble and decide all questions, including the issue of the
presidency." What do the "three branches of power" have to do with it? All
questions regarding the functioning of the political institutions in case of
the removal of a president are answered in detail in the constitution -
direct general presidential elections after three months.
But it is well known that Zyuganov does not want direct general elections
(because he has no chances to win them), and, if the impeachment undertaking
is successful, he apparently plans to disregard constitutional procedures.
First, to impeach the president and then to impeach the people, by revoking
their right to elect the next president.
Is there even one politician in Russia who honors the constitution and is
prepared to follow its procedures? Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's
memorable letter of January, "on social accord," came down to one essential
thesis - "Yevgeny Maximovich Primakov cannot under any circumstances be
removed from office until the middle of the year 2000." Even if one agrees
that it would be of absolute and unconditional benefit to the country for him
to remain in office as long as possible, it is impossible not to note that
such an "accord" would annul, or at least freeze, a whole host of articles of
the Russian Federation's constitution.
Such a replacement of the constitution by an "accord" would create an
extremely dangerous precedent. Presidential elections could then be replaced
by an "accord" between ruling comrades. This scenario is completely
realistic, given that the notion of a civilized "accord" in politics -
meaning the strict observation of a constitutionally-mandated separation of
powers - is totally alien to our political class.
"We will empty the jails and camps for those whom we will be imprisoning
there," Primakov declared, with apparent sensual satisfaction. We will be
jailing, we will be banning. The two 70-year-old former Soviet Politburo
candidate-members who rule us are in a desperate under-the-carpet struggle
with each other. But they both came out of the same school of totalitarian
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999
From: "W. George Krasnow" <email@example.com>
Subject: D.C. Meet Report for JRL
The RAGA meeting in the Mayflower Hotel, downtown Washington, announced in
JRL#3112 on March 27, catalysed a new stage of organizational development.
It was decided that, from now on, the Russian American Goodwill Associates
would be renamed Russian American Goodwill Association.
More people came than the hotel could handle, and we had to relocate to a
conference room at the School for Advanced Iinternational Studies (SAIS) at
Johns Hopkins University.
Our mission is the improvement of Russian-American relations toward a
pivotal strategic partnership for the next century and strengthening of
friendship and mutual goodwill between the two nations.
The unfortunate NATO war in Yugoslavia, with which Russia has deep
historical affinity and close ties, has made our mission all the more
urgent and strengthened our determination to pursue it. With the
U.S.-Russia relations at the lowest point since the end of the Cold War,
our immediate task is to prevent them from further deterioration over the
conflict in Kosovo.
To that effect, we have created a new website: www.raga.org. We have
already posted there the Open Letter to U. S. government officials on the
state of U.S.-Russia relations, as well as a letter to IMF's Michel
Camdessus. (We are beginning to get responses to these letters about which
report next time). And we plan to post there an appeal for a cessation of
bombing and a return to negotiations.
We intend to apply for non-profit educational organization status. The
primary membership will be drawn from Americans of all walks of life.
However, in this age of Internet, we welcome all global citizens,
especially from Russia.
We aspire to become a grassroots organization of well-informed individuals.
It is YOUR organization, and everyone's input is welcome. Volunteering in
organizational matters, especially with legal expertise, is essential.
Once again, I thank all JRL subscribers and readers who have supported our
initiative from the start. Without JRL, we would not have taken off.
Organizational matters prevented me from responding to our friends
individually. RAGA sincerely appreciates your support.
W. George Krasnow
Russian American Goodwill Association
1332 Vermont Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20005
Tel. 202 319 8070
Russia: Political Forces Planning for Elections
Argumenty i Fakty, No. 963
6 April 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Andrey Uglanov from the "Politics" column entitled:
"The Communist Party on the Brink of Humanitarian Catastrophe"; passages
contained within slantlines are published in boldface; subheadings are as
The leadership of the Communist party was in
slight panic after Yeltsin's message to the Federal Assembly. The
Communists were alarmed by the president saying that the forthcoming
elections to the Duma would be "clean and honest". They immediately
concluded that //something unpleasant// was being cooked in the Kremlin
for the left-wing movement.
It became clear later what kind of unpleasant things were being
prepared. Yeltsin's administration has allegedly drew up a decree which
will be signed a few months before the elections. Using all sorts of
legal loopholes, //the president will abolish the voting on the basis of
party lists//. It will be "a humanitarian catastrophe" for the Communist
Party of the Russian Federation. The point is that the Communists will
never be able to have a majority in the Duma if the elections are to be
held in single-seat constituencies. People vote not for the colour of a
party card but for a person who they know well and who is businesslike
//Zyuganov// is unlikely to kick up a fuss about it now. After all, the
may never be issued. But one should be prepared, as they say, and members
of the central committee have decided to prepare themselves for such
developments, as we have learnt. Candidates with the best chances of
winning the elections will be selected in all constituencies and their
campaigns will be launched. Gennadiy Andreyevich will be representing his
native //Orel Region//. A campaign group to support him is already being
formed. They would like it to include local intellectuals and top
industrial producers. Kiriyenko is in a political ice-hole
Right-wing forces are also preparing for the elections. Some of them have
already decided on the leading "troika" in their party lists. Thus,
//Fatherland// will probably have //[Moscow mayor] Yuriy Luzhkov, [Duma
deputy speaker] Artur Chilingarov// and businessman //A. Vladislavlev//.
//Right Cause// is in a more difficult position. The former "young
reformers" have not yet decided who is "more first" of them - //Yegor
Gaydar, Boris Nemtsov or Boris Fedorov//. The coalition of the right-wing
forces seems to be split for the first time. Rumour has it that //Sergey
Kiriyenko// has blamed his colleagues behind their backs for their
"unwise" peacemaking mission to //Belgrade//. Rumour also has it that he
has recently started to look for new people to join forces with. The
former prime minister first turned to //Grigoriy Yavlinskiy//, promising
to "ditch" Gaydar's men for the sake of the common cause. To give due
respect to Grigoriy Alekseyevich [Yavlinskiy], he did not agree to the
deal. Kiriyenko then went to one of the leaders of the Our Home is Russia
movement, //Vladimir Ryzhkov//, but without success. It seems that there
are not many people who would like to form an alliance with a person
whose name is so closely connected with the 17th August crisis [financial
crisis in Russia]. Primakov may save Yeltsin
However, there is still time left before the elections, which cannot be said
about the impeachment vote, scheduled for //15th April//. All sides are
preparing for it in earnest. According to some reports, a secret meeting
between [Yeltsin's daughter //Tatyana Dyachenko//, [chief executive of
the Unified Energy System of Russia joint-stock company] //Anatoliy
Chubays// and several former oligarchs took place last week. They
discussed the price of the "issue", i.e. voting in favour of the
president. On the following day, representatives of the [Yeltsin] family
met the leader of the most agreeable Duma faction in a Moscow apartment.
Rumour has it that he was offered the big //Transneft// in exchange for
In its game for position with deputies, the Kremlin not only sacrifices
pawns and exchanges pieces. But it seems it has also a queen's move in
store, just in case. Some reports say that the administration would like
to persuade //Yevgeniy Primakov// to visit the Duma on 15th April and
defend the president. This can really save Boris Nikolayevich from the
humiliating procedure. At least one opposition member, //Aleksey
Podberezkin//, thinks that the prime minister's visit to the Duma will
have a positive effect on the deputies. He believes that "it is possible
and necessary to postpone the impeachment issue".
[Passage omitted: a Stavropol duma deputy said that General Shpigun was
abducted with the aim of exchanging him for two Chechen women accused of
bombing Pyatigorsk train station - 170 words].
Primakov Psychological Portrait Examined
Obshchaya Gazeta, No. 13
April 1-7, 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Vladimir Vasilyev, head of Political Psychology
Laboratory, St. Petersburg State University: "A Heavy Locomotive in
the Acceleration Phase; a Rough Psychological Sketch of Yevgeniy
"Image is nothing, thirst is everything," the
advertising slogan tells us. Obviously, this does not apply to
politicians. In politics everything has to make the right impression: the
face, the clothes.... There are special firms that can give you any kind
of image you want. But what is the organic basis of the character of a
political leader? This is being studied by a team of psychologists from
St. Petersburg State University, working under the supervision of
Vladimir Vasilyev. This is not just a matter of purely academic interest.
When the average citizen has to choose a leader, he should be able to
identify the candidates by their faces instead of their images.
We never planned to study the entire life and career of Yevgeniy
Maksimovich Primakov. The question we were trying to answer was this:
"Who is Primakov today?"
We took our information from videotapes of Ye.M. Primakov's public
appearances between September 1998 and March 1999. We did not use the
reports of news agencies, newspaper articles, and the opinions of various
individuals. In other words, we analyzed only what we observed. (The "we"
refers to the author of the article and his colleagues, doctoral
candidate Yuriy Filimonenko and undergraduate student Aleksey Dvornik.)
A Classic Phlegmatic
When Ye.M. Primakov, still only a candidate for the office of prime
minister, addressed the Duma on 11 September last year, he violated the
unwritten rules that other candidates had observed so scrupulously:
Instead of a prepared speech, he had a few notes on a piece of paper, and
instead of a plea for a show of confidence in him, he offered a warning:
"If you have no intention of giving the government resolute support, do
not vote for me!" It was obvious that the candidate had no strong career
motive for seeking this high office. In this respect, Ye.M. Primakov was
the opposite of his predecessor, S.V. Kiriyenko. Whereas Sergey
Vladilenovich's worries during his candidacy for the prime minister's
office were connected with a fear of rejection by the deputies. Yevgeniy
Maksimovich was more wary of their approval (because he realized the
magnitude of the problems he would have to solve after taking office).
This difference between the two prime ministers stems primarily from the
two different psychological types they represent: Whereas S.V. Kiriyenko
could be called sanguine in most respects, Ye.M. Primakov is a typical
phlegmatic. What does this mean? The phlegmatic is distinguished by a
combination of two characteristics. The first is introversion--a person
who is emotionally withdrawn, is detached from others, and is inclined to
view himself and others from a functional and impersonal vantage point.
The second is composure--a person who is inclined only toward calm,
balanced, and moderate displays of emotion. How are these characteristics
reflected in Yevgeniy Maksimovich's appearance and behavior?
Wait Until He Is Seated
Clothing: Like all high-level government officials, Ye.M. Primakov wears
classic suits, with a preference for darker colors. The main thing that
distinguishes him from extroverts, however, is his use of the buttons on
his jacket. If he is standing or walking, the buttons are always buttoned
(with the exception of the lowest button, which is left unbuttoned by
convention). Yevgeniy Maksimovich also keeps his jacket buttoned while he
is standing during public appearances, even though procedural guides
recommend an unbuttoned jacket to signify candor to the audience. The
current Prime Minister unbuttons his jacket only when he sits down.
Posture: Yevgeniy Maksimovich only relaxes when he is sitting down: either
leaning against the back of the chair or leaning forward and resting his
weight on his hands, laid flat on the table in front of him. His pose can
be highly asymmetrical--for the sake of comfort. When Yevgeniy
Maksimovich stands or walks, however, his posture is impeccable, his
shoulders are always thrown back, and his movements are balanced and
deliberate. His spine is always completely straight, even when he greets
To a certain extent, these habits compensate for his short stature.
Anyone wanting something from Yevgeniy Maksimovich should be advised not
to approach the Prime Minister while he is standing, but to wait until he
sits down, unbuttons his jacket, and gets comfortable in his chair.
Leadership Expressed in Gesticulation from Above
It would be pointless to expect intense gesticulation or a variety of
expressive movements from a phlegmatic. He does, however, use
exceptionally informative gestures.
Ye.M. Primakov has an extremely distinctive handshake, clearly reflected
in protocol situations--when two people are walking toward one another.
Yevgeniy Maksimovich starts raising his palm up along his body to the
level of his shoulder a few steps before the point of contact and then
lowers his hand to grasp the other person's hand from above. This
gesture, particularly in combination with the previously mentioned
straight spine, reveals the dominance that is one of Ye.M. Primakov's
main personality features. We should clarify that the highly dominant
individual is aloof and is certain that his way of doing things is the
only right way. It is particularly important that this feature is clearly
displayed, regardless of the rank of the other person--all the way up to
the President. Yes, it is true that the Chairman of the Government also
demonstrates this quality in some of his statements, but the unconscious
gesture, by virtue of its "motive candor," is much more informative than
We know that the second palm, the left one, is sometimes involved in a
handshake. It is usually placed lightly on the shoulder of the other
person or grips the other person's elbow slightly. Ye.M. Primakov also
uses his left hand occasionally. How? As another means of expressing
dominance: It is lowered, again from above, onto the right forearm of the
other person. In the language of gestures, this means: "I like you, but I
intend to get my own way." That is exactly how Yevgeniy Maksimovich
greeted U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and IMF Director
Politicians usually start gesticulating 3-4 minutes into their speeches. This
an indication that the initial psychological tension has subsided. Public
appearances are always highly stressful for an introvert, and that is why
it takes longer to surmount this tension: It takes Ye.M. Primakov six
In general, downward movements of the right hand are common among
Yevgeniy Maksimovich's gestures: slapping the table top, making
"stabbing" motions with his index finger, etc.
His right hand is much more active than the left, and this is a clear
sign that the left side of his brain is dominant--i.e., in simpler terms,
this means that his emotions are controlled by his intellect. The Prime
Minister's left hand sometimes begins gesticulating vigorously during
discussions of matters with a stronger emotional impact on
him--discussions of economics and the news media.
"Yes" in the Sense of "No"
We know from early childhood that agreement or disagreement can be
expressed by a movement of the head. These gestures are so habitual that
we usually do not control them. Apparently, Yevgeniy Maksimovich does not
notice them either, and this "motive candor" reveals amazingly frequent
disagreement between the positive implications of his words and the
negative connotations of the movements of his head while he is speaking.
At the very least, this suggests that the speaker has doubts about what
he is saying. Here are some examples of statements Ye.M. Primakov made
while he was shaking his head in a negative manner: "I have the highest
respect for the President"; "We agree on this point" (the transfer of the
Ministry of Justice and the Tax Police to the President's jurisdiction);
"Of course reform is necessary"; "This is a man of unquestionable decency
... and an admirable professional" (about Yuriy Maslyukov); "A united
team will be working in the government"; "Today many of our young people
are extremely sensible"; "I will endorse this, I fully endorse it" (about
economic support for the media); "Well, how do I feel about him? I have
positive feelings" (about his relationship with Aleksandr Lebed).
We can assume that these are statements the Prime Minister made for the
sake of decorum--acting in line with this principle: "I gave the proper
answer, but the intelligent person will understand."
The Prime Minister Has the Proper Blink Reflex
Facial expressions: His most characteristic expression is a look of intense
concentration, reflecting his ability to focus on the matter at hand. The
deviations from this "norm" take three basic forms: "implacability,"
"resentment," and a smile--each of these is a true reflection of the
emotions he is feeling.
Yevgeniy Maksimovich proved in several interviews that he could use his smile
effectively: The more difficult and uncomfortable the questions became,
the more frequently a smile would appear on his face. In these
situations, the smile seems to say "I have nothing to worry about" and it
also enhances the emotional state of the smiling person.
The Prime Minister's mouth reveals his introversion just as eloquently
as his buttoned jacket does: The space between his upper and lower lips
while he speaks is usually no more than half a centimeter and only
occasionally a whole centimeter (for the sake of comparison, the figures
for Zhirinovskiy are 2-3 centimeters).
Involuntary facial expressions are extremely rare for Primakov, but there
some involuntary horizontal movements of his jaw, for example, during a
pause in a speech, suggesting that he was having difficulty formulating
the government's stance on the continuation of reform.
The average person blinks approximately once every eight seconds under
normal conditions. The frequency increases in response to unfavorable
psychological and physiological changes (fatigue, irritation, anxiety,
fear, etc.). The ability to hold a direct gaze without blinking for a
long time is logically associated with certainty, power, and strength.
Yevgeniy Maksimovich passes the blink test with flying colors: He blinks
only half as often as the average person at the most, even in
uncomfortable situations. During conversations, however, he looks down or
to the side and only occasionally looks directly at the other person.
Trial by Speech
Speech: Public speaking is just as difficult for an introvert as silence is
for a verbose individual. Academician Primakov's superior intellectual
qualities are indisputable. We also know that these qualities are not
only resistant to the aging process in the intellectually and
artistically active person, but can also compensate to some extent for
the negative effects of aging on the other subsystems of the human
organism. In this context, only Ye.M. Primakov's introversion can explain
the comparatively high number of logical, terminological, lexical,
stylistic, and phonetic errors in his speech. This is confirmed by the
mounting frequency of those errors toward the end of a speech, when the
ordeal of public speaking becomes intolerable for the introvert. This is
not a case of mere exhaustion: Judging by the main observable
characteristics, the Prime Minister's psychological and physiological
state as a whole stays within the normal limits.
A common tendency in most of his speeches is the repetition of the
first word of the sentence two or three times ("This, this, this..." and
so forth), indicating an unconscious effort to postpone the moment of
final formulation. He frequently uses the parasitical phrase "so to
speak." When he addresses matters that are subjectively difficult, he
uses phrases that are ambiguous, contradictory, or even mutually
exclusive. Here are some examples.
"I..., I would not say (pause) absolutely that..., that Yavlinskiy..., that
Yavlinskiy is pro-American." Does the qualifier "absolutely" apply to
"pro-American" or to "would not say"?
In reference to Yu.D. Maslyukov's appointment, he said this: "I think
this is absolutely the best possible decision, I think it is acceptable."
There is a world of difference between "best" and "acceptable."
He had this to say about V.V. Gerashchenko: "This was not only a
presidential nomination, so to speak, but also had my support from the
beginning...." (11 September 1998). "This nomination was conceived in the
banking community...and was later supported by a whole group of extremely
prominent bankers here" (13 September 1998).
When he addressed the Duma, Y.M. Primakov underscored his superior
economic qualifications, but right after that, when he was discussing the
economy, he mistakenly used the term "destructuring" instead of
During the whole time he has headed the government, its Chairman has always
experienced obvious terminological difficulties in public statements on
economic subjects, particularly in statements pertaining to wages and
Sometimes the public vocabulary of the usually reserved Prime Minister
conventional bounds: "Why do you listen to the delirious ravings of some
of the news media?!" There are also some regrettable slips of the tongue:
"The government does not plan to prohibit the circulation of the
ruble..., excuse me, the dollar."
When he discusses some subjectively difficult topics, he smacks his lips
and exhibits some rare and brief changes in intonation--to the point of
sounding hoarse. With the passage of time, as the Prime Minister has
adapted to his role, the overall frequency of verbal mistakes has
Subjective stress factors: The main one is his relationship with the
Apparently, the problem is not so much that the President's existence
threatens the professional status of the Prime Minister, as it is that
the relationship has developed in the presence of the worst possible
conditions for a phlegmatic--uncertainty, unpredictability, and
inexplicability. Displays of deference and loyalty to the President are
essentially lacking in the Prime Minister's behavior. It is indicative
that during meetings with the President, Yevgeniy Maksimovich takes his
seat at the same time as the President (instead of after him), drops his
briefcase on the table with a bang (others lay their binders down
silently), and leans back in his chair without restraint, taking up the
whole seat, instead of perching on the edge and leaning forward.
Incidentally, the first time the Cabinet Chief was asked about his future
plans, he was composed and reserved. Later the topic of his possible run
for the presidency began to arouse lively displays of favorable emotions
(smiles, more vigorous hand gestures, and an inclination to say more
Other obvious stress factors for Ye.M. Primakov are the composition of the
government (the key figures in which are not subject to the Prime
Minister's will), the issue of reform (the "policy line" warrants
simultaneous continuation and adjustment), and relations with the media,
which force the introvert to perform the unnatural role of a public
Slow Preparations Are Followed by Quick Action
Conclusion: The activities of Ye.M. Primakov, as a dominant phlegmatic, would
most effective in an orderly environment with the possibility of
short-term and strategic planning, the absolute clarity of the rights and
obligations of all "players," and the strict observance of the rules.
Yevgeniy Maksimovich has been busy establishing these conditions from the
first days of his term in office, although he must have realized that
some of them would be impossible under present conditions. After learning
this through experience, the dominant phlegmatic had to consider--by
virtue of his psychological nature--how he could attain all of his
objectives in their entirety--i.e., how he could settle the issue of
The Prime Minister has already been standing at the helm of government
approximately twice as long as his young predecessor. For the phlegmatic
Prime Minister, however, seven months constitute only the initial
planning stage. Whereas S.V. Kiriyenko was like a sports car in the
psychological sense, Ye.M. Primakov is like a heavy locomotive, slow to
accelerate and still building up speed for a long trip along a straight
and direct route.
Will he be able to move ahead at full speed? This is not a question a
psychologist can answer.
Los Angeles Times
April 14, 1999
[for personal use only]
DISPATCH FROM KOSOVO
Not-So-Smart Weapons Are Terrifying Civilians
Airstrikes: Errant bombs and missiles are slamming into residential
neighborhoods of provincial capital.
By PAUL WATSON, Times Staff Writer
RISTINA, Yugoslavia--NATO bombers scored several direct hits here in
Kosovo's capital Tuesday--including a graveyard, a bus station and a
children's basketball court.
The targets weren't mentioned when U.S. Gen. Wesley K. Clark, NATO's
supreme commander, briefed reporters in Brussels on the air campaign's
But the general stressed that almost all of his pilots' weapons are
precision-guided, so-called smart bombs and that "almost without exception,
the targets are very precisely struck."
He repeated that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is not at war
with the people of Yugoslavia, so Brankica Budimir might be forgiven for not
understanding why her small Pristina apartment was in ruins.
A bomb or missile struck the edge of a playground in the center of
Budimir's large apartment complex during a heavy bombardment about 1:40 a.m.
Nearby was a black steel pole holding up a basketball backboard and a
hoop without a net, about 50 yards across a parking lot from Budimir's
second-floor flat in Pristina's southern Dardanija district.
The explosion blasted out practically every window and sliding glass
door in the four-story apartment block where Budimir, a 46-year-old Serb,
lives a middle-class life with her three children, ages 10, 18 and 22.
Budimir, still trembling and in shock, swept up broken glass and pieces
of twisted metal Tuesday in an apartment that wouldn't be out of place in
many U.S. cities. Her youngest child's bedroom was decorated with movie
posters, one advertising "101 Dalmatians" and the other "Aladdin."
Overcome with tears, Budimir apologized for losing her composure--and
for what she was about to say.
"If this is NATO democracy, and the fight for humanism and human lives,
this should be held against their own honor," Budimir, a researcher at
Pristina's Center for the Environment, said in the wreckage of her small
"Maybe this should happen to them so that their children grow up in fear
and panic. I don't like to believe this, but they have gone overboard."
No one was reported killed by the explosion outside Budimir's apartment,
but that was small consolation to the hundreds of traumatized residents left
to pick through the remains of their homes and cars.
Jana Vlasacevic, 70, thought the night's airstrikes were over and had
just come up from the cellar with her son. She was asleep on the living-room
couch when the blast hit.
A piece of shrapnel pierced the painting that hung just above Vlasacevic
in her third-floor apartment.
"I heard what sounded like lightning, and glass started to fall all over
the place," Vlasacevic said through an interpreter. "We thought the building
was in flames. Pure horror."
The apartment building is exclusively Serbian, and Budimir wondered
aloud whether NATO attacked it in what she called "a terrorist act."
Asked Tuesday about the strike on Kosovo, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth H.
Bacon said, "We've got no bomb damage assessment from Pristina today."
Pristina's civilian casualties from the NATO strikes, which number in
the dozens, include Serbs, ethnic Albanians, ethnic Turks and Gypsies, so no
one feels safe anymore.
Since NATO didn't include Budimir's building in any of its slow-motion
replays of smart bombs hitting their targets, or even mention the strike at
Tuesday's briefing, it's impossible to know why it happened.
"Was this coincidence or on purpose?" Budimir asked herself, and then
answered: "I don't know. Was it done to create panic and revenge among Serbs?
I don't know."
Standing amid the smoldering rubble of Pristina's bus terminal Tuesday,
director Dragan Manojlovic couldn't see the logic behind NATO's strategy.
Bombs destroyed most of the two-story bus station, the main public
transport hub linking Kosovo, the southernmost province of Serbia, to the
rest of Yugoslavia.
"There is no excuse for this. There was nothing military here," he
insisted. "I don't think they even know why. Maybe it is psychological."
Manojlovic's terminal was one of the country's best bus stations and had
a computerized ticketing service, he said proudly.
It was about 500 yards away--and on the other side of the highway--from
an army barracks, which NATO destroyed with bombs over several days and
NATO also hit a fuel depot on the southern edge of Pristina early
Tuesday, destroying one large storage tank but apparently leaving at least
two still intact.
The same bombing run destroyed a plastics factory in the next lot, and
about 30 graves in a cemetery adjacent to the fuel depot.
It was the second time the graveyard has been bombed. On April 7, NATO
blasted a huge crater at the other end of the cemetery, enraging Orthodox
Serbs who saw remains of their loved ones scattered on the ground.
Nada Turcinovic had come to the cemetery Tuesday morning to bury her
son, Zoran Dragutinovic, but she had to sit and wait, weeping on a curb,
until the roar of NATO jets finally passed around 10:35 a.m.
"My son," she chanted softly to herself, dressed all in black. "My son.
My heart. My soul. My Zoran."
Times staff writer Paul Richter in Washington contributed to this
All of Paul Watson's dispatches from Kosovo are available on The Times'
Web site at http://www.latimes.com/dispatch.
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