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Johnson's Russia List
19 April 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. The Times (UK): Poison cloud engulfs Belgrade.
2. The Guardian (UK): Mark Milner, Russia shows signs of a remarkable
3. Financial Times (UK): Andrew Jack, Study puts 30m Russians in harsh
4. Edward Lozansky: Press conference in Washington on Ending the War
5. Eric Chenoweth: Taibbi.
6. The Times (UK): Anna Blundy, It is finally spring in Russia....
7. Yale Law School conference on PROMOTING LEGAL REFORM IN THE FORMER
8. Robert F. Miller: NATO, Yugoslavia, Russia and the End of post-Cold
9. The Electronic Telegraph: Patrick Bishop, A people who glory in the
prospect of defeat.
10. AP: Russia Military Won't Act on Kosovo.
11. The Guardian (UK): How much of what Nato and the MoD tells us can
we believe? (Views of Phillip Knightley).
12. Reuters: Crimea's Yalta torn between Ukraine, Russia.
13. Argumenty i Fakty: Sergey Karaganov, chairman of the presidium of
the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, discusses Russia's losses and
gains in the Balkan conflict.]
The Times (UK)
April 19 1999
Poison cloud engulfs Belgrade
Nato crippled the Serb oil industry yesterday. Tom Walker reports from
AN ecological disaster was unfolding yesterday after Nato bombed a combined
petrochemicals, fertiliser and refinery complex on the banks of the Danube in
the northern outskirts of Belgrade.
A series of detonations that shook the whole city early yesterday sent a
toxic cloud of smoke and gas hundreds of feet into the night sky. In the dawn
the choking cloud could be seen spreading over the entire northern skyline.
Among the cocktail of chemicals billowing over hundreds of thousands of homes
were the toxic gas phosgene, chlorine and hydrochloric acid. Workers at the
industrial complex in Pancevo panicked and decided to release tons of
ethylene dichloride, a carcinogen, into the Danube, rather than risk seeing
it blown up.
At least three missile strikes left large areas of the plant crippled and oil
and petrol from the damaged refinery area flowed into the river, forming
slicks up to 12 miles long. Temperatures in the collapsing plant were said to
have risen to more than 1,000C. Asked about the hazard from chemical smoke,
Nato said there was "a lot more smoke coming from burning villages in
The Guardian (UK)
19 April 1999
[for personal use only]
Russia shows signs of a remarkable recovery
By Mark Milner, Deputy Financial Editor
Russia's economy is defying predictions of collapse to show signs of
recovering from the crisis triggered by last August's debt default,
according to a senior government official yesterday.
But pressure for institutional reform, especially in the banking industry,
is set to continue as Russia tries to mend fences with the international
Russia's fascination for investors was underlined by a standing-room only
presentation by economics minister Andrei Shapozaliants at the European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development's annual meeting in London yesterday.
'Many people predicted total collapse of the rouble, that the country would
experience hunger, power supply problems, hyperinflation,' he said. But
inflation had not risen and industrial output was stabilising as domestic
producers benefited from a more competitive currency.
Mr Shapozaliants said living standards had suffered. Russia needed 'stable
growth with a social dimension'.
Investors remain keen to see Russia step up its reform programme with
greater emphasis on corporate governance. Nicolas Stern, chief economist at
the EBRD which has made multi-million pound provisions against its Russian
lending, emphasised yesterday that 'institutional problems are the root
cause of the crisis'.
Financial Times (UK)
April 19, 1999
[for personal use only]
Study puts 30m Russians in harsh poverty
By Andrew Jack in Moscow
Up to a fifth of Russians may be living in extreme poverty by next year, the
World Bank will warn next month.
The full effects of last August's financial crisis on economic growth and
household incomes will continue to worsen this year and will increase poverty
to a peak in early 2000 affecting up to 30m people, according to a
preliminary analysis carried out by the bank due to be published in May.
It suggests that the worst-affected Russians will not be pensioners but
families with children, particularly those living in small and medium-sized
towns who have less access either to rural land to grow food or to large
cities with alternative employment opportunities.
The World Bank analysis assumes a decline in the size of the Russian economy
of 8.3 per cent in the current year - considerably beyond the forecasts of
other organisations. It assumes inflation of 60 per cent.
But even its more modest projections suggest a growth of those in extreme
poverty to 18.5 per cent in 2000. Extreme poverty is defined as those living
on less than half the official subsistence minimum income, which stood at
Rbs830 ($35) a month in February.
Reliable statistics in Russia are difficult to compile, with debate over the
techniques used and many people reluctant to provide accurate information.
Russia has one of the highest differences in the world - of two-to-one -
between the amount people say they spend and the income they claim to earn.
There is also a huge unrecorded "grey economy" of informal jobs that help
people survive despite low wages and social security benefits - often paid
late - estimated by the World Bank as up to 43 per cent of the Russian
Michal Rutkowski, sector leader of the World Bank's social protection
department, stressed that the poorest groups often did not have access to
such alternative sources of income.
He added that there was already a trend towards an increase in extreme
poverty in Russia well before the August crisis, from 11 per cent of the
population in 1994 to 15 per cent in 1997.
Mr Rutkowski said the analysis showed the need for far more detailed
targeting of government social programmes on those most severely affected by
poverty. The World Bank has already launched pilot projects in three Russian
cities and is discussing expansion to a further 25.
Date: Sun, 18 Apr 1999
From: Lozansky@aol.com (Edward Lozansky)
Subject: Press Conference on Yugoslavia
MEDIA ALERT -- PRESS CONFERENCE
April 21, 1999 at 11.00 am
Russia House, 1800 Connecticut Avenue, NW Metro Dupont Circle
For additional information
contact Edward Lozansky
Ending the War in Kosovo:
Russian, Yugoslav, and American perspectives
on NATO's Role in this Conflict
Gavriil Popov, Founder of the Russian Democratic Reform movement
Former Mayor of Moscow
Mihajlo Mihajlov, Yugoslav author & scholar
Constantine Menges, Professor, George Washington University
Former Member of the National Security Council
THE RUSSIA HOUSE
1800 Connecticut Avenue N.W.
Wednesday, April 21, 1999, 11.00 a.m.
Date: Sun, 18 Apr 1999
From: Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe-Eric Chenoweth <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Taibbi/Chenoweth: A modest request
Just a brief clarification: I never said I supported NATO's military
campaign and it is wrong of Taibbi to assume I do. I have grave problems
with the war, as well as with wrong and wrong-headed reasons for opposing
it that justify any form of deadly nationalism.
Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe (IDEE)
2000 P Street NW, Suite 400
Washington D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7105
Fax: (202) 466- 7140
The Times (UK)
April 19 1999
[for personal use only]
It's spring, Boris Yeltsin is back in his shell and all's right with the
world. Suddenly, Russia is seeming like a friendly old bear again
It is finally spring in Russia. Not the grey slush, freezing rain and bleak
skies kind of spring that seems to bring such joy to Russians and such
bafflement to foreigners ("Ooooh, spring!" they say excitedly when the black
snow at the side of the roads starts to slosh on to the pavement), but real
spring, with birdies singing and buds on the trees and the President back on
At the end of winter the mood of your Russian lightens and he pulls all the
insulation out of the gaps in the windows and starts doing what he does best,
which is enjoy himself. Boris Yeltsin is a prime example of this. The moment
the clocks went forward and the icicles began to drop off everyone's
balconies (many serious injuries) he bounced back from the dead, slung around
some heavy-handed hints and threats, stopped the communists and nationalists
(who thought they were on to a good thing under Prime Minister Primakov) in
their tracks, and set about having a really good time.
The relish with which he swilled back a glass of champagne with that icon to
vulgarity Alla Pugacheva the other day in the Kremlin while her ludicrous boy
husband looked sheepishly on (Fillip Kirkorov recently flooded the airwaves
with his hit Oi Mama, chica dam) was a clear sign to everyone that spring was
in the air. Never mind all the wintry reports that the President had been
having trouble walking, he practically ran into the room to sweep the
unsuspecting pop star off her feet.
Suddenly everyone is making an occasion of everything. All the birthday
parties held over the winter were slightly hysterical affairs at which the
object was to stave off the chill by drinking as much as possible as quickly
as possible. This desperation is typified by the song Vstavai Nalivai, which
involves a short verse asking who around the table was born in January,
February, March and so on and then another verse forcing them to stand up and
empty their glass to the cheers of everyone else. If it is your birthday, the
person with the guitar/accordion returns to your month over and over until
you can no longer either stand or pour, as the song demands.
Now, though, the need to lighten the atmosphere with drink has diminished
slightly and people are loafing around the city's restaurants and cafés in a
more relaxed manner, bringing huge bouquets of spring flowers to stand at the
head of the birthday table. Spring toasts seem longer and even more sincere,
smiles less drunken and the air inside less fetid.
An English visitor moved the table at a Georgian restaurant last week to
joyous tears with his largely ironic (and admittedly shoddily translated)
toast dedicated to the Russian writers he had known and loved and his
pleasure at walking in their very footsteps. This inspired the Russian guests
to leap up and start reciting Pushkin, much to the cynical Englishman's
But as they said their poems the Georgian musicians played sad mountain songs
and couples got up from their tables to dance. Russians will take any
opportunity not to think about the economic crisis, the war in Kosovo, the
President's possible impeachment, or anything remotely pertaining to the
dismal, and a few rays of sunshine through the gloom are enough to set them
off dancing, drinking and singing until next winter.
Indeed, every winter a kind of depressive pessimism sneaks into people's
souls, foreigners not excepted, and newspaper reports talk of revolution,
civil war and the end of Russia as we know it. Doom-monger politicians insist
that the only reason the populace is not demonstrating on the streets is
because it is cold, and that the moment the sun comes out the Government will
really have something to answer for. The communists and nationalists, who as
we know love nothing better than a bit of popularity-boosting adversity, are
beside themselves with wintry glee predicting Yeltsin's impeachment, an
upsurge of support for Serbia and general apocalypse. While the snow keeps
falling and the grey horizon is punctuated only by a few blackened trees, it
is hard not to believe them.
But now Yeltsin is back in his shell and all's right with the world.
Suddenly, under Boris Nikolayevich's command, Russia is already seeming like
a friendly old bear again, the Red-Browns are beginning to look a bit foolish
(their forte) and the World Bank and the IMF are putting their hands back in
their pockets to help out. Most people are far too busy renovating their
dachas for the summer to start messing around demonstrating and Yeltsin is
far too busy effecting yet another spectacular political comeback to let
Date: Sun, 18 Apr 1999
From: Bill Fick <email@example.com>
Subject: Conference on Promoting Legal Reform
For Immediate Release
Yale Law School Holds Conference on Promoting Legal Reform in the Former
The future of Western efforts on behalf of legal reform in the former Soviet
Union is the topic of a two-day conference April 23-24, 1999, at Yale Law
School, 127 Wall Street.
The conference, entitled "Promoting Legal Reform in the Former Soviet Union,"
will bring together representatives from the many groups concerned with
promoting legal reform in the former Soviet Union, including academics and
practitioners, people from institutions within the former Soviet Union, and
representatives from funding organizations.
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, many Western organizations and
individuals have spent much time and money on legal reform, but now that many
of the new countries have set up their institutions and drafted their laws,
the role of Western organizations seems less clear. Is there a continuing
role for Western aid in promoting the development of accountable, effective,
and efficient institutions? What have the strategies been so far, and have
they been successful? What have been the biggest obstacles? What should be
the goals? How does one measure accomplishment? These are some of the
questions the conference will address as it looks at the phenomenon of
Western assistance for post-Soviet legal reform.
The heart of the conference will consists of five panels:
Commercial law, moderated by Professor Henry Hansmann, Yale Law School;
Constitutional law, Professor Paul Gewirtz, Yale Law School;
The Judiciary, Professor Robert Gordon, Yale Law School;
Administrative and public law, Prof. Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale Law School; and
Legal education, Professor Stephen Holmes, Princeton University and New York
University School of Law.
The conference is organized by the Russia and Eastern Europe Law Forum, a
student organization at Yale Law School, and received support from the Law
School and the Yale Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy.
Conference co-sponsors included: Debevoise & Plimpton, PriceWaterhouseCoopers
CIS Law Firm, the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human
Rights, Yale Law Women, and the Yale Center for International and Area
Opening and closing sessions are open to the public. Those interested in
attending the panel sessions will be admitted on a space-available basis and
should email Karen Johnson.
For further information contact Karen Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or
email@example.com; fax: 203-752-9102.
A conference schedule follows:
PROMOTING LEGAL REFORM IN THE FORMER SOVIET UNION, Yale Law School
Friday, April 23
3:30 p.m. Public Forum, Keynote Address, and Q & A Session, Room 120
Introduction: Professor Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale Law School
Keynote Address: Joseph Onek, Senior Coordinator for the Rule of Law,
U.S. Department of State
6 p.m. Public Reception, Faculty Lounge
Saturday, April 24
9 - 10:30 a.m. Panel on Constitutional Law
Panelists: Robert Sharlet, Professor of Political Science, Union
College; Paul Stephen, Professor, University of Virginia School of Law;
Alexander N. Domrin, Russian Foundation for Legal Reform; Viacheslav
Nikonov, President, Polity Think Tank, Moscow, Russia; Serhiy Holovaty,
President, Ukrainian Legal Foundation, former Justice Minister of Ukraine
11 - 12:30 p.m. Panel on Administrative and Public Law
Panelists: Alexander Blankenagel, Professor, Humboldt Law School,
Berlin, Germany; Denis Galligan, Professor, Oxford's Centre for Socio-Legal
Studies, & Central European University; Peter Maggs, Professor of Law,
University of Illinois; Ed Rekosh, Director, Public Interest Law Initiative
in Transitional Societies, Colombia Law School; Maria Levina, Lecturer in
Law, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences; Irina Kotelevskaya,
Head, Secretariat, First Deputy Chair, State Duma of the Russian Federation
Panel on the Judiciary
Panelists: Peter Solomon, Professor of Political Science, Univeristy of
Toronto; Todd Foglesong, Ass't. Prof. of Pol. Sci., Law, and Russian & East
Eur. Studies, Univ. of Kansas; Michael Gallagher, Lawyer, Estonian Law
Centre; Lisa Dickenson, American Bar Association Central and East European
Law Initiative; Olga Schwartz, consultant, Legislation and Judicial Reform
Comm., State Duma of the Russian Federation; Ivan Marisin, partner, Clifford
12:30 p.m. Lunch Break
2 - 3:30 p.m. Panel on Commercial Law
Panelists: Maidan K. Suleimenov, Advisor to Kazakh government,
Professor, Kazakhstan State Law University; William Butler, partner,
PricewaterhouseCoopers CIS Law Firm, Moscow, Russia; Sarah Carey, Eurasia
Foundation, partner, Steptoe & Johnson, L.L.P.; Kathryn Hendley, Associate
Professor of Law and Pol. Sci., University of Wisconsin-Madison; Andrei
Lissitsyn-Svetlanov, Professor, Moscow Institute of State and Law; Gregory
Vojack, head of Almaty office, Bracewell & Patterson, L.L.P.
Panel on Legal Education
Panelists: William Burnham, Constitutional and Legislative Policy
Institute, Central European University; Marion Dent, Dean, Pericles American
Business & Legal Education Project, Moscow, Russia; Olga A. Dyuzheva,
Professor of Family and Civil Law, Moscow State University; Jane M. Picker,
Professor of Law, Cleveland State University; Sidney Picker, Jr., Professor
of Law, Case Western University Law School; Bruce Reznik, president, Legal
Technical & Advisory Services, Inc., Washington, D.C.
4 - 6 p.m. Closing Session, Room 120
Address: Dean Anthony T. Kronman, Yale Law School
Panel Reports: Panel Moderators
Summation: Professor Stephen Holmes, Princeton University and NYU
School of Law
Date: Sun, 18 Apr 1999
From: Bob Miller <firstname.lastname@example.org>
NATO, Yugoslavia, Russia and the End of post-Cold War Stability
by Dr Robert F. Miller
Visiting Fellow, Transformation of Communist Systems Project
Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University
One of the principal consequences of NATO's ill-conceived bombing
of Yugoslavia is probably the irreversible destruction of a fundamental
presumption of international relations in the post-Cold War era: namely,
the primacy of institutionalised diplomatic and political solutions to
conflicts between and within states. This was one of the bases of
Gorbachev's 'new political thinking' and, after the failure of Moscow's
military adventure in Chechnya, of Yeltsin's foreign policy. America's
hasty resort to force, pointedly ignoring the UN Security Council where
such matters are supposed to be discussed, and President Clinton's
browbeating of his NATO allies to go along with this strategy have dealt a
severe blow to Russian confidence in the basically benign context of the
'new international order'. The bombing of Yugoslavia has confirmed
Russia's worst fears that NATO's expansion and the change in its doctrine
and mission from defence to intervention in countries outside its
membership constitute a grave threat to Russia itself.
Let there be no mistake that Russia's concern is motivated by some
sort of traditional Slavic and Orthodox Christian solidarity. Many times
in the past this mythical connection has left Serbia in the lurch, and no
one in Yugoslavia takes the strength of the bond seriously. Nor is the
Yeltsin administration governed by any particular fondness for Yugoslav
president Slobodan Milosevic. On various occasions Milosevic has allied
himself with nationalist and communist opponents of Yeltsin in Moscow's
ongoing internal struggle for power.
No, the present crisis is purely a matter of Russian perceptions of
national interest. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union Russian foreign
policy has been built on the assumption that East-West confrontation was
being replaced by cooperation and the establishment of diplomatic,
political and economic institutions that were to ensure that international
relations were to be regulated by formal institutions and procedures for
handling conflict situations. Among these institutions were the UN
Security Council, the Organisation for European Security and Cooperation
(OSCE), the European Union, the G-8 and the Contact Group. In trying to
invoke the use of each of these organisations to work toward a peaceful
solution on Kosovo, the Russians have found themselves ignored, blocked or
otherwise humiliated. When, with French encouragement, Prime Minister
Yevgenii Primakov went to Belgrade in the midst of the bombing to get
Milosevic to call off his 'ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, NATO, led by the USA
and the UK, abruptly dismissed the deal Primakov was able to conclude with
Milosevic, saying they would consider nothing short of the latter's full
acceptance of the Rambouillet 'Agreement'.
That agreement, which was alleged by the Americans and British to
be the fruit of Contact Group deliberations, was something the Russians, as
members of the Contact Group, realised the Serbs would never countenance,
particularly the stationing of 28,000 NATO peace keepers in Kosovo with the
right to travel freely throughout Yugoslavia. With the experience of the
SFOR protectorate in Bosnia under the Dayton Agreements in mind,
Milosevic--and the Russians--realised that this was the end of Serbian
sovereignty in Kosovo. Moreover, it established the dangerous precedent
that NATO felt itself free to dictate and to police the terms of any
settlement in Europe, whether agreed to by parties in conflict or not.
Would Russia be faced with similar threats if it sought to re-establish its
control over the Crimea or if it tried to gain advantage in other parts of
the former USSR where Moscow saw its vital interests being endangered?
For the moment the Russians are more aware than most that its
conventional military power is inadequate to defend Yugoslavia or seriously
to threaten NATO sufficiently to make the US more circumspect in its
application of its great military power. For one thing, the geographic
situation, where Yugoslavia is surrounded by countries that are either in
NATO (Hungary) or hope eventually to join it (Romania, Bulgaria and
Slovakia), makes it extremely difficult for Russia to ship sufficient
quantities of military hardware to raise the stakes for NATO. For another,
the Russians themselves are at best ambivalent on the merits of supporting
Yugoslavia at the cost of being starved of bailout funds by the
US-controlled international financial community. Thus, for now, apart from
sending a ship or two to spy on NATO operations, the Russians are limited
to marshalling whatever diplomatic and political arguments they can make to
try to encourage America's NATO partners to see the idiocy of the current
In the long run, Russia's policy can be expected to be seriously
altered in its dealing with NATO, with which it has already broken off all
official contacts, and with the European Union. For one thing, despite its
desperate financial situation, Moscow has just announced a substantial
increase in its military budget. For another, it has, despite denying any
intention to send volunteers to help the Serbs, there are reports from as
far away as Khabarovsk Krai on the Pacific that Moscow has ordered the
registration of such volunteers. Economically driven motivation to proceed
with the ratification of the SALT II treaty and to diminish the nuclear
capability of the Russian armed forces has certainly dissipated in the past
two weeks, and it is not inconceivable that Moscow will see fit to station
battlefield nuclear weapons in Belarus, on the border with new NATO member
Poland. Equally threatening is the recently announced determination to
proceed with the sale of advanced anti-tank weapons to Syria, despite US
threats to place an embargo on all dealings with the Russian companies and
institutes involved in the deal.
NATO has brought this destabilising change upon itself. It has
changed from a defensive to and offensive alliance, arrogating to itself
the right to violate international norms, institutions and procedures in
terms of some higher moral good, of which it sees itself alone capable of
perceiving and enforcing. This change has alarmed a number of great
powers--potentially super powers in their own right in the 21st
Century-such as China, India and, of course Russia. By its hubris and its
impatience with normal processes of diplomacy and compromise, the USA and
its NATO hangers-on have guaranteed that Russia will do everything it can
to frustrate American objectives. As its economic and military power
increases, Russia will be a more attractive magnet for the growing number
of disaffected countries which are equally desirous of curbing American
power and influence. This will be a great shame, for the US and other
Western countries had a chance to build a really stable new international
order. The Actonian principle of the corrupting effects of absolute power
has been vividly illustrated by the bombing of Yugoslavia. NATO, on its
Fiftieth Birthday, has vainly tried to reinvent itself. All it has done is
to demonstrate that it has outlived its once indisputable usefulness.
The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
April 16, 1999
[for personal use only]
A people who glory in the prospect of defeat
Patrick Bishop says that the history of the Serbs explains why they are still
defying Nato and sticking with Milosevic
THIS is a disaster for people like me," a liberal Serb friend told me on the
phone from Belgrade the other day. "Now we are never going to get rid of
It is just as well that Nato has not declared the removal of Slobodan
Milosevic as a war aim. In keeping with Nietzsche's dictum, that which has
not killed Milosevic has made him stronger.
For the first time in his political career, he is enjoying the unconditional
support of a majority of Serbs. Politicians who hate the Yugoslav President,
as well as army malcontents who have been plotting his overthrow, have
prudently decided to rally behind him or suspend their opposition.
Bourgeois intellectuals and the trendy young are finding that, beneath their
European veneer, a Serb heart is beating. "Only unity can save the Serbs"
runs the old, wistful slogan. Now, for once, Serbdom is unified - all thanks
There is a strong streak of paranoia in the Serb psyche. As a result, many
will find a perverse satisfaction in the bombing. Serbs are always being told
by their leaders that the world is against them. Now they know it is true.
What they do not know is why Nato has gone to war with them. Viewed from
outside Yugoslavia, it is hard to understand how Serb citizens can apparently
condone the ethnic cleansing and murder that is being carried out on their
behalf by Milosevic's forces in Kosovo.
That, of course, is not how the conflict has been presented. From the outset,
the state-controlled media have portrayed it as struggle between the security
forces and Albanian "terrorists", who specialise in cowardly attacks on
policemen and Serb civilians in their drive to break away from Yugoslavia and
establish an independent state.
It was a picture that few bothered to challenge. Animosity towards the
Albanians runs deep. Kosovo, with its Serb Orthodox foundations and battle
site of the Field of Blackbirds (on which the Battle of Kosovo Polje was
fought in 1389, when the Serb and Turkish armies met and the flower of
Serbdom was slain) is genuinely dear to Serbs, though as an idea rather than
a reality - few visit, let alone choose to settle there.
When Nato bombs began to fall, then, the first reaction of many was
astonishment. It was as if America decided to bombard Britain because it was
unhappy with our treatment of the IRA. That feeling has now given way to a
mood of resolution and stoicism, qualities that the Serbs have frequently
demonstrated in their stormy history.
Now, almost everything that Nato does simply reinforces those feelings. A
bomb fell on the town of Kragujevac, a bastion of the anti-Milosevic
movement. More than 500 young men volunteered for the forces.
The raids on factories and infrastructure targets are failing to have the
demoralising effect for which the allies rashly hoped. If anything, they are
producing a Blitz spirit and reinforcing social solidarity.
By evil luck, the lies told by Milosevic's men are becoming more plausible by
the day. Following Wednesday's disastrous strike on the refugee column, it is
now possible to believe that the Kosovo Albanians really are running away
from the Nato air campaign, and not from the ethnic cleansers.
The demonisation of Milosevic by British politicians and others is doing
nothing to turn people against him. If anything, it has increased his status
among Serbs, who reason that, to be so angry with Milosevic, the West must be
rather frightened of him.
In the Balkans, fear and respect go hand in hand. The West's attitude is all
the more baffling given that, if the current policy is followed, the same
politicians will one day have to conclude an agreement with someone whom they
have presented as a fin-de-siecle Hitler.
Even among the opposition intelligentsia, there is bewilderment at the West's
actions. Hate Milosevic though they may, they cannot understand why the
allies have chosen this moment to use force against him.
Why did they not attack after the siege of Vukovar in 1991, when his
intentions became clear, they ask, or before the great massacre at Srebrenica
in 1995? Our leaders have ritually pronounced that they are not at war with
the Serb people.
Those words have a hollow ring if you are trudging down to the bomb shelter
every night, with no job to go to in the morning because Nato bombed your
factory. They do not blame Milosevic for their plight: they blame the West.
This attitude may prove to be a significant obstacle in the way of
negotiations over the future of Kosovo, when the fighting eventually stops.
Despite its cultural and historical resonances, Kosovo was low on the list of
political issues exercising Serbs - until the war began. A deal of the sort
on offer at Rambouillet would have been relatively easy to sell, had
Milosevic wished to do so.
Now attitudes have probably hardened. After what they have been through,
Serbs are surely going to resist any deal that looks as if it will lead to
independence for the Kosovo Albanians. Nor are they likely to see the
deployment of a peace-keeping force as anything other than an occupation of
their soil by enemy troops.
The war has cast the Serbs in a role with which they are comfortable. Their
history is studded with episodes of suffering, heroically born. At its heart,
of course, is the story of Kosovo Polje. According to one of the great epic
poems describing the encounter, God offered Prince Lazar, the Serbian leader,
the choice between life and "the empire of the earth", or death and "the
empire of heaven".
He chose the latter, was killed the following day and was revered thereafter
as the shining exemplar of Serb values and conduct. These are the myths
sustaining the Serbs as the sirens wail and they scurry for the shelters.
Defeat is merely a way station on the path to salvation. As Lazar told his
men on the eve of the battle: "Sufferings beget glory and labours lead to
Nato is facing a country that is more united than at any time since the
break-up of the Yugoslav federation. The allies' psychological campaign
against the Serb people appears to have been no more effective than the air
Russia Military Won't Act on Kosovo
April 18, 1999
By ANGELA CHARLTON
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's newly appointed special envoy to Yugoslavia on Sunday
ruled out Russian military intervention in the Kosovo crisis.
Former premier Viktor Chernomyrdin also criticized plans to join Yugoslavia
to a union between Russia and Belarus, saying they were premature and
impossible to implement as long as Yugoslavia is being bombarded by NATO.
Russia fiercely opposes NATO's airstrikes on Yugoslavia, but its response has
been largely symbolic because its military is weakened and its economy is in
Dragging Russia's military into the conflict would mean another world war,
Chernomyrdin said on Russia's Itogi news program.
``Everyone should understand that,'' he said. ``That's why (military
intervention) is absolutely ruled out.''
While President Boris Yeltsin has said Russia wouldn't support Yugoslavia
militarily, Russian leaders have warned that the NATO assault, which aims to
drive Serb troops out of the ethnic Albanian enclave of Kosovo, could lead to
a wider war.
Russia has been eager to play a role in settling the conflict, though
Moscow's repeated attempts to find a political solution have failed.
Yeltsin put Chernomyrdin, a longtime prime minister with good relations with
many Western leaders, in charge of Russia's efforts to negotiate a settlement
in Yugoslavia last week.
Chernomyrdin said Sunday that he has long, strong ties with Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic. Chernomyrdin has said he would likely visit
Belgrade and Washington, though he refused Sunday to disclose any specific
Regarding the decision last week by Yugoslavia's parliament to join the
Russia-Belarus union, Chernomyrdin was skeptical.
While he said he supported the theory, he added, ``It raises the question of
why didn't we do it before.'' Speaking on Russia's Zerkalo television
program, he said it was logistically almost impossible to implement now,
``while there's a war going on.''
Meanwhile, the pro-Western president of Montenegro, the smaller of two
remaining republics in Yugoslavia, welcomed Russian mediation efforts but
slammed the union proposal.
``Milosevic wants to pull Russia into this conflict and start World War
III,'' Milo Djukanovic said on Itogi. ``Milosevic is capable of this ... but
the results will depend on Russia's position.''
The Guardian (UK)
15 April 1999
[for personal use only]
How much of what Nato and the MoD tells us can we believe?
Phillip Knightley, veteran international correspondent and author of The
First Casualty, about wartime propaganda:
Very little. They're a party to the war so naturally they are going to be
pushing their own side. In other words, what you are hearing from Nato and
the MoD is propaganda calculated to get public support behind the war effort
and maintain support for it until it reaches a conclusion.
As far as these atrocity stories are concerned, if we learned one thing from
the first world war when all the great atrocity stories put out by the
British propagandists turned out to be untrue it's never to believe such
tales without independent confirmation. No reputable war correspondent should
ever trust stories without this: after all, the refugees have a vested
interest in painting the people who made them into refugees into ogres and
It's quite likely there could be more incidents such as the American pilot
being shot down that we just aren't hearing about over here. American
newspapers, which are being much more critical of the way in which the war is
being reported than we are, have reported that the Nato spokesman was under
direct orders from Gen Wesley Clark to reveal to journalists as little as
possible for military and propaganda reasons. I don't think we've heard that
How do we know what we're being told is true? Why should we necessarily
believe it just because it's come from the Ministry of Defence and Nato?
Governments and armies lie in wartime if it suits them. They're out to win
and information is a weapon.
Crimea's Yalta torn between Ukraine, Russia
By Sebastian Alison
YALTA, Ukraine, April 19 (Reuters) - While Russia's Black Sea fleet prepared
to sail from its home base of Sevastopol to monitor the Kosovo crisis, the
pace of life in neighbouring Yalta, long Russia's premier seaside resort,
reflected a mood of holiday, not war.
But neither Sevastopol nor Yalta are in Russia.
Both cities are on the Crimean peninsula. And while the Crimea was part of
the Soviet Union until its demise at the end of 1991, it is now part of an
The Soviet Union's Ukrainian-born leader Nikita Khrushchev decided
arbitrarily that the Crimea should be handed over to Ukraine as a gift in
This made little difference to the peninsula's status during the Soviet era,
when both Ukraine and Russia were part of the same country.
But now it does. Russia's home port for its Black Sea fleet is merely leased
from Ukraine, and Yalta, the top holiday destination for Russian tsars and
commissars for generations, is on foreign soil. Few locals seemed happy.
``It's bad, very bad,'' said Vadim, a Yalta taxi driver, repeating the word
``bad'' in English to make sure he had put his point across.
Himself an ethnic Russian, born and brought up in Yalta, he insisted he and
all his fellow citizens still felt Russian.
Russian is spoken by everyone. On a recent week-long visit not a word of
Ukrainian was heard from the endless radio stations broadcasting at
ear-splitting volumes throughout Yalta's beautiful parks and gardens. Yalta
certainly feels Russian.
Vladimir, a Belarussian who moved from Minsk to Yalta 17 years ago and now
works in the tourist industry, was typical of many who regretted Ukraine's
sovereignty over the Crimea.
``I was born a Belarussian and a Belarussian I will die,'' he said. ``But
Russia should control the Crimea. If it is no longer Russian, then at least
it should be held in common by all Slavs,'' he said, adding that ``things had
got worse'' under Ukraine's stewardship.
But if Yalta has got worse, it remains magnificent, offering a heady mix of
sunshine, mountain scenery, sea, stunning vegetation rarely associated with
Russia such as palm trees and cypresses, and buildings and monuments which
reflect the region's long and varied history.
THE SETTING FOR THE POST-WAR SETTLEMENT OF EUROPE
Yalta itself became a fashionable Russian resort last century, and the town
contains many pastel-coloured classical 19th century Russian mansions more
commonly found in St Petersburg and Moscow which look incongruous beside the
But there are also innumerable wooden houses with overhanging balconies,
redolent of Tbilisi in Georgia, with other architectural reminders of
Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, leaving the visitor in no doubt that Yalta is
part of The South.
The city was popularised by Tsar Alexander II, who built a palace at Livadia
just west of Yalta in the 1860s. This was replaced by another Livadia palace
built for the last Tsar, Nicholas II, in 1911.
This palace, now open to the public, was used by the imperial family on only
three occasions and is on a far more intimate and human scale than their
other homes such as the enormous Winter Palace in St Petersburg.
But its lasting fame is as the scene of the Yalta conference of February
1945, when Soviet leader Josef Stalin, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt
and British prime minister Winston Churchill met to settle the fate of
The palace has some rooms laid out exactly as they were for the conference,
while others are unchanged from the days of Nicholas II's summer holidays,
creating a bizarre sense of time warp.
Downstairs the main dining room is still decorated with 1940s conference
furniture and Soviet, U.S. and British flags, with photographs of the three
leaders. The bedroom of the ailing Roosevelt, just two months from death, is
as it was.
Upstairs a cosy dining room for the imperial family with stunning views
across the palace gardens and Yalta bay is laid for breakfast just as it was
shortly before the 1917 revolution which brought down the House of Romanov.
A PARADISE OF GARDENS AND GRAPES
Gardens are the main glory of Yalta, where the temperature rarely falls below
freezing in winter and rarely rises above 30 celsius (86 Fahrenheit) in
summer, and where a mountain range protects the narrow coastal strip from the
worst of the winter.
The Nikita botanical gardens outside Yalta were laid out in 1812 and are as
much a pleasure for their views across the bay to the city as for the gardens
themselves. The Vorontsov palace at nearby Alupka is also surrounded by
Chekhov, the playwright and short story writer who lived in Yalta from 1899
until his death from tuberculosis in 1904, surrounded his striking villa with
an exceptional sub-tropical garden.
But the public gardens and parks in the city itself are also a source of
wonder, spectacular and beautifully maintained, itself a surprise in a
country where economic hardship has meant such a luxury is rare.
As well as gardens, the generous climate nourishes plentiful grapes. Inkerman
and Balaklava, famous battlefields of the Crimean war of 1854-1855 when
Britain, France and Turkey took on Russia, are now vineyards.
The region's most famous wines and one of its greatest prides comes from
another palace, Massandra, just outside Yalta.
Sweet, strong and sticky, and heavy to Western palates, many of them are
imitations of such wines as sherry and port. At least they are cheap.
Crimea has been a centre of civilisation since at least the sixth century BC,
when Greeks and Scythians coexisted there.
Since then it has been controlled by, among others, Romans, Polovtsians,
Tartars, Turks, Genoese and Venetians, Russians and now Ukraine.
Every culture is represented. The choice of Yalta, where so much of European
culture has merged, by the allied powers as a site to debate the future
settlement of Europe, seems as good an option as any.
While many locals bemoan the latest transfer of control over the peninsula,
and many Russians insist Yalta's glory days are over and the city is going to
the dogs, to the first-time visitor it is at least the equal of any
Possible Gains From Yugoslav Conflict Assessed
Argumenty i Fakty, No. 964
(Signed to press 13 Apr 99)
[translation for personal use only]
Article prepared by Vitaliy Tseplyayev in the "Balkans of Fire"
column, entitled: "How to Turn Defeat Into Victory;" introductory
paragraph published in italics; Words and passages within slantlines
published in boldface
//Sergey Karaganov//, chairman of the presidium of
the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, discusses Russia's losses and
gains in the Balkan conflict.
The NATO aggression in Yugoslavia has inflicted massive damage on
everyone. The security system that has developed in the world in postwar
years has been undermined. Trust in the maxim that democratic states
cannot attack another state has been undermined.
The war will inevitably lead to the intensification of //the arms
race//. It is highly likely to provoke a further spread of nuclear and
other weapons in the world. Observing the events in the Balkans, many
counties will conclude that only the nuclear bomb will guarantee them
against external aggression. Meanwhile the nuclear states, such as
//China//, will almost certainly start increasing their nuclear and
This is why, regardless of its outcome, the war will leave the whole
world a loser. The only question is how big its losses will be.
Everything hinges on what scenario the developments will follow.
//The first// involves NATO launching a large-scale ground operation in
Yugoslavia, which is, in my view, becoming increasingly likely. The
operation promises to be a drawn-out one for the allies and, ultimately,
a failure. //The second scenario//: without sending its troops in, NATO
//Kosovo's// separation from Serbia or resolves the Kosovo conflict in
some other way. From the point of view of the allies, the war will thus
be "won". The consequence will be NATO's further expansion to the east, a
rise in anti-NATO feelings in Russia, and the scaling down of our
economic cooperation with Western powers.
So far, however, events have been unfolding in line with //the third
scenario, the one that suits us best//. NATO has failed to break the
Serbs' defences, and the pointlessness of the strikes has become obvious.
The barbaric destruction of civilian targets and the killing of civilians
continues. Antiwar feelings in the countries of the alliance are
spreading. It now depends on Russia whether NATO can come out of the war
without losing face. It is said that members states of the union are
already letting Moscow know, through unofficial channels, that they hope
for its mediation in the cessation of bloodshed. If we manage to ensure
that //peacekeeping forces// under the aegis of the UN or the OSCE are
brought into Kosovo with Belgrade's consent, it will be a diplomatic
success for us. And here is why.
//First//, having burnt itself on the Kosovo "settlement", NATO will behave
more modestly in the near future. Talk about its expansion towards our
borders will cease. //America's// claims for single-handed world
leadership will be put into question. Differences will emerge within NATO
and will eventually weaken the alliance. The number of countries wishing
to join it is likely to drop. In //the Czech Republic//, for example,
people are already saying the decision to join was rash.
//Second//, US weapons will show their insufficient effectiveness. The
have certain achieved success in bombing bridges and plants, but the same
cannot be said of destroying Serbian military targets. As a result, our
defence industry's position on the world market can strengthen
considerably. This means, potentially, //billions of dollars// for the
//Third//, if Russia helps the West to come out of the war with minimum
to its reputation, we can count on our problems with the foreign debt and
new //IMF// loans being solved, as a show of gratitude.
The most important of our possible gains, however, will be a boost to
Russia's prestige on the world stage, and that will in turn bolster
//trust in the authorities inside the country//. Our success in the
Balkans is a step towards stability in society.
//In conclusion//, let us turn to the Yugoslav parliament's intention to
join the Union of Russia and Belarus. Many people in Russia were elated
with this initiative. Yugoslavia's desire to join //the union of two
Slavic countries// is, of course, understandable, and so is our desire to
help to Yugoslavs.
There is a danger, however, that without being well prepared, //this union
could draw us into the war//, if we immediately grant the new member
security guarantees. This, however, is virtually impossible. The idea of
a union is more likely to prove nothing more than a lot of hot air. This
can undermine not only respect for ourselves in Yugoslavia but also the
process of rapprochement between Russia and Belarus.