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Johnson's Russia List
22 April 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Time: Pavel Felgenhauer, DEFENSE DOSSIER: Flagging Yeltsin
2. Reuters: Prosecutor row shrinks Yeltsin authority.
3. Andrei Liakhov: the Skuratov case.
4. Reuters: Gorbachev calls NATO strikes ``mad and irresponsible''
5. APF: Russia seeks to spoil NATO's 50th birthday party.
6. USIA: RUSSIA MUST ADDRESS ELECTION LAW ISSUES AND PROBLEMS.
7. Droit de reponse: Eric Kraus on Kosovo.
8. Peter Chatterton: Clarification.
9. Atlantic Council: Arbatov speech.
10. Kyodo: Russia academic says China is on right path with reforms.
11. Newsday editorial: Russia as Slavic Peace Broker? It's Worth a Try.
12. Boston Globe editorial: The Russian connection.
13. Reuters: Russia's small farms produced half of all '98 food.
14. Der Spiegel: Interview with Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov, The Danger
of a Third World War.]
April 22, 1999
DEFENSE DOSSIER: Flagging Yeltsin Looks West
By Pavel Felgenhauer (email@example.com)
In recent days, Russian foreign and domestic policies have visibly shifted.
President Boris Yeltsin is no longer talking of the need "to stop NATO." On
the contrary, this week Yeltsin announced a new political priority: stop
anti-Americanism. The president said that "in some regions," anti-Western and
anti-American sentiment is growing and that such trends should be reversed.
Yeltsin has also said that he is totally against any speedy union with
Yugoslavia. Yeltsin told U.S. President Bill Clinton in a telephone call on
Monday that he would not send additional ships to the Adriatic and reaffirmed
that he would not "allow Russia to be drawn into the Kosovo conflict."
During that phone chat, Clinton once again invited Yeltsin to come to
Washington this weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NATO. Sources in
the Kremlin say that Yeltsin declined the offer. But personally, I would not
be surprised if at the last moment Yeltsin were to suddenly grab a plane and
go to Washington to reaffirm, in his typically dramatic fashion, that he is
the only politician the U.S. should support in Moscow.
Yeltsin's new pro-Western demeanor is, most likely, the best foreign
political news Clinton has heard since the start of the ill-prepared war in
the Balkans. If Russian political support for Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic dries up, and if military and intelligence help are also not
forthcoming, the fighting spirit of the Serbian population and the Serbian
military may collapse before long. The war may end soon without the need to
go into a costly ground offensive by Western troops, and Clinton will once
again have muddled through a crisis.
However, there is a dark side to Yeltsin's sudden pro-Western transformation.
Yeltsin is a lame-duck president. His popularity ratings are almost zero. His
record is dismal. Today, the vast majority of Russians will most likely
disagree with any Yeltsin-endorsed policies, regardless of their merit.
Yeltsin cannot rely on any loyalty whatsoever in the armed and security
forces. He is a nominal commander-in-chief. Yeltsin cannot expect the
military to execute any of his orders automatically and without hesitation -
if at all.
This does not mean, of course, that the Russian military will not obey when
they want to. Yeltsin says he "decided not to send more ships to the
Adriatic," which seems to be a bold decision. But Russian military chiefs
have had for some time their own reservations on sending a flotilla. The
Russian Defense Ministry believes the war in the Balkans will last long and
that the climax will come months from now, when NATO begins a ground
invasion. The Black Sea warships are old and worn-out. If they sail now, they
may be forced to withdraw soon, before the real show begins.
A Washington-based U.S. colonel from military intelligence told me recently
that "we are not much concerned with you sending those 30-year-old Black Sea
ships to the Adriatic. If we think they are monitoring NATO air activity and
sending this information to the Serbs, we could easily jam their radars. But
in the North Sea you have some very modern ships, like the aircraft carrier
Kuznetsov, with radars we cannot possibly jam."
Sending the Kuznetsov and maybe some big nuclear cruiser to the Adriatic
would be a much more powerful signal of Russian discontent than several old
ships from the Black Sea. However, such a voyage would take weeks to prepare.
The Russian military may tacitly agree with Yeltsin that any attempt to stop
NATO aggression in the Balkans should be well thought out and well prepared.
Still, Yeltsin's present pro-Western public pronouncements will hardly be
well received. Yeltsin already has a reputation in the armed forces as an
American proxy. More pro-Western moves will further inflame opinions.
This week Yeltsin also called on Russian regional leaders to rewrite the
Constitution and grab more power from the "federal center." The majority of
Russian military and security chiefs will surely see this move as part of a
CIA-devised plan to break up Russia the same way the Soviet Union was
dismantled in 1991.
Today, Yeltsin is preparing to fight for power as in 1991 and 1993. He
clearly is trying to enlist political support wherever possible: in the West,
in the Russian regions, in the Russian media.
Next thing, Yeltsin will call for a hefty hike in military pay. But this time
Yeltsin's belligerence will almost certainly end up provoking Russian
military and security forces into evicting him from the Kremlin and
installing a radical nationalist (pro-Communist) government instead.
Prosecutor row shrinks Yeltsin authority
By Timothy Heritage
MOSCOW, April 21 (Reuters) - Russia's upper house of parliament dealt a new
blow to President Boris Yeltsin's waning authority on Wednesday by rebuffing
his efforts to force out the embattled chief prosecutor.
Prosecutor-General Yuri Skuratov, who is at the centre of a sex scandal and
is investigating alleged high-level corruption, has twice offered to resign
under pressure from the Kremlin.
But the Federation Council, or upper house, has now rejected his resignation
twice in five weeks. Only 61 of the members of the 178-seat chamber backed
his removal in a vote on Wednesday which required the support of 90 members.
Skuratov vowed to stay in his post after the vote, even though he has been
suspended by Yeltsin. The Kremlin took the news in its stride, despite
pledging to continue the long-running battle over Skuratov.
``The president took the Federation Council's decision on Yuri Skuratov
calmly,'' presidential press secretary Dmitry Yakushkin said.
But the defeat in the upper house, which usually sides with him on major
decisions, underlines how power has shifted away from Yeltsin in recent
``This confirms again that Boris Yeltsin's influence among the senators is
already not so great,'' Andrei Andreyev, a Communist Party spokesman, said.
Yeltsin, 68, is making a comeback after several months of illness and
economic crisis, during which he handed day-to-day control of Russia to Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov.
He has looked relatively well in recent weeks but the failure to force his
will on the Council, the only body that can remove Skuratov, is widely
regarded as a sign of the president's isolation and weakness.
``This will have unpredictable consequences,'' liberal parliamentarian Sergei
Ivanenko said of the vote.
He called it a ``step towards a further worsening of the serious political
crisis in Russia.''
The Council's support could for Yeltsin if the lower chamber presses on with
efforts to impeach him. The Council would have the final say on impeachment,
but many analysts say the procedure is likely to fail before it gets to the
Skuratov lost favour this year after announcing several high-profile
corruption investigations, one of which resulted in the prosecutor's office
removing documents from the offices of the Kremlin administration.
Yeltsin suspended Skuratov earlier this month, announcing the crime fighter
was under investigation into allegations that he abused his office. The
decree suspending Skuratov is still in force, although the prosecutor denies
Skuratov first offered to quit, with Yeltisn's backing, in early February but
the Council refused to dismiss him in a vote on March 17. Hours later, state
television showed video footage of a man resembling Skuratov in bed with two
Skuratov then offered to resign again, under pressure from Yeltsin, giving
the Council a chance to reconsider.
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999
From: "Liakhov, Andrei" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: the Skuratov case
The Federation Copuncil just voted to retain Skuratov. Although this fact
alone may hardly be considered as a decisive blow to the President and the
Family, it is certainly a sign of the times.
However recent Russian history has precedents which bear striking
resemblance to the Skuratov case. Remember Gdlian and Ivanov saga? These two
were investigating a corruption case which went into the very heart of the
Soviet political and economic system and in case of successful completion
would have made a stronger impact on the shape of Soviet and Russian society
than the famous 40ies and 60ies' mafia processes had onm the US.
The problem is not that Yeltsin and his clan are corrupt - that became
evident in the last 8 years.It would be fair to say that there are almost no
actors on the current Russian political stage who do not have ties to the
criminal world of some sort. That stemms from the nature of society created
by the Brezhnev regime (in which most of the current politicians were
raised), where inter alia breaking the law (unless it was something
violent) was acceptable as long as you were not caught.
People like Chubais, Chermomurdin and Nemtsov are reported to have openly
criminal associates (not to mention BAB's best friend Mikhas who was
recently acquitted in Switzerland) and I do not remember anyone complaining
about it in public.
Gorbachev calls NATO strikes ``mad and irresponsible''
April 21, 1999
By Sara Marani
ROME (Reuters) - Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev Wednesday called
NATO's air strikes on Yugoslavia ``mad and irresponsible'' but at the same
time urged Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to halt the bloodshed.
``NATO showed the world its madness and irresponsibility -- Yugoslavia is a
sovereign country and NATO does not have the right to attack it,'' Gorbachev
told a peace summit in Rome.
He called for an end to the Kosovo crisis and for Milosevic to ``end the
spilling of blood and the actions of war.''
``To keep order in Kosovo peace forces will be needed, but they must not be
from NATO and not from Russia, but peace forces which represent neutral
states under the aegis and mandate of the United Nations,'' he said.
Gorbachev, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, was addressing a two-day
seminar which brought six Nobel Peace laureates to Italy, the country from
which NATO has been launching most of its air attacks on Yugoslavia....
Russia seeks to spoil NATO's 50th birthday party
MOSCOW, April 22 (AFP) - Russia's seat at the NATO birthday table will be
conspicuously empty this weekend when members and associates of the western
alliance convene on Washington to mark the bloc's 50th anniversary.
And the reasons for spoiling the party, Moscow says, are obvious.
"The military action of NATO against a sovereign European nation --
Yugoslavia -- are a blatant violation of the UN Charter," the foreign
ministry said on Wednesday in a statement officially revealing the Russian
boycott of the event, ordered by President Boris Yeltsin.
The Russian absence hardly comes as a surprise. Relations between the old
adversaries have plummeted back to Cold War levels over the Kosovo crisis.
The bonhomie of May 1997, when Russia formerly concluded its own special
partnership with NATO, has rapidly given way to suspicion and accusation.
Moscow recalled its ambassador to NATO within hours of the first air strikes
on Yugoslav targets on March 24, and has since growled menacingly of world
war and Slavic brotherhood as the Atlantic alliance persisted with its
"In these circumstances, Russia has no choice but to freeze relations with
the North Atlantic bloc," the ministry statement said. "We had no other
"We do not want to return to the times of the Cold War and do not intend to
get drawn into confrontation with the West," it added. "But Russia will not
encourage the arbitrariness of force by keeping silent."
Specifically, parliament has shelved once again the key nuclear arms
reduction treaty START II, citing NATO's military action. It has also voted
to welcome Belgrade into a 'union' with Russia and Belarus, which some
deputies say could allow Moscow to deploy troops in Yugoslavia.
But Moscow has been careful not to overdo its frosty soundbites. Accusations
of "NATO aggression" involving "genocide" and the use of "weapons with
radioactive components" have been tempered by spin doctors -- and even
On Tuesday, just days after warning NATO ground troops to stay out of Kosovo
or risk world war, the Kremlin chief insisted he wanted to stay in
Washington's good books.
Instead, he said it was more important to stop nationalist opportunists
making political capital out of the current stand-off, and ordered them not
to stoke up anti-western feeling on the back of the Yugoslav crisis.
Despite the double-speak, Russians have been genuinely revolted by the NATO
air strikes, partly because of largely one-sided media coverage of the
conflict, but also because of a strong undercurrent of mistrust of Moscow's
"It was not easy to create in Russia a new image of NATO, and all this effort
has been reduced to nothing," said Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov recently.
Indeed, even before the NATO air strikes were launched, Russia looked
suspiciously on the military bloc's designs in central and eastern Europe.
Many here still feel NATO should have been dissolved at the same time as its
erstwhile adversary, the Warsaw Pact, and should certainly not be welcoming
new members from Moscow's own former sphere of influence, as it did last
month with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
Moscow's relations with Budapest have deteriorated sharply ever since,
notably over a Russian aid shipment bound for Yugoslavia which Hungarian
officials held up for two days at the border. On Wednesday, Russia confirmed
that it had recalled its ambassador to Budapest, Interfax reported.
In a recent poll carried out by the VTsIOM public opinion institute, 70
percent of Russians said that the NATO strikes were a direct threat to
Russian security. And 72 percent expressed a dislike for the United States,
up from just 28 percent before the air raids began.
All other former Soviet republics with the exception of Belarus will attend
the summit, promising a total of 44 heads of state in Washington -- the
largest number of world leaders the US capital has seen at one time.
21 April 1999
RUSSIA MUST ADDRESS ELECTION LAW ISSUES AND PROBLEMS
(Carlson says system slow to adjust to realities) (600)
By Stuart Gorin
USIA Staff Writer
Washington -- Russian lawmakers should consider examining laws that
would allow the Central Election Commission more room to address
issues and problems as they arise, says a veteran observer of
elections in Russia.
Jeffrey Carlson, a program officer for the International Foundation
for Election Systems (IFES), said at an April 21 briefing in
Washington, that Russia's Central Election Commission has proven
itself as "an effective, permanent institution."
The briefing, co-sponsored by IFES and the Center for Strategic and
International Studies (CSIS), focused on the impact of a legislative
crisis in Russia.
While "significant reforms" have been undertaken in Russia to address
weaknesses in the electoral process, Carlson said, the development of
an electoral code has proven to be symptomatic of the country's
overall legislative reform efforts.
"By emphasizing highly detailed legal provisions that leave little
room for interpretation by key administrative bodies, lawmakers are
creating an electoral system that is slow to adjust to Russia's
quickly changing realities," he said.
Carlson noted that factional politics in the State Duma, power
struggles between governing bodies, and center-regional relationships
have "held hostage" what was to have been a relatively swift overhaul
of electoral legislation in preparation for the upcoming December
He pointed out that in 1994 Russia adopted the federal law "On the
Basic Guarantees of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate
in Elections," outlining a hierarchical structure of election
commissions and establishing fundamental principles for voting,
counting and tabulation processes.
Three years later, however, the guarantees were annulled passage of
new legislation, he added, that said the center should determine how
elections are to be conducted on all levels and these determinations
should be enshrined in a single law.
Carlson said that only this month has Russia settled on "highly
politicized" amendments to the Basic Guarantees Law, which creates the
framework of basic principles for elections with which all electoral
legislation and practice on the federal, regional and local levels
The result, he said, has been to add another layer of complexity to an
already complex situation, since all election-related legislation must
comply with the Basic Guarantees Law.
What will be the impact of this legislative crisis on the
implementation of a transparent and credible electoral process?,
Carlson asked. "For example," he said, "important legislative
initiatives pertaining to the financing of political activities and
political parties, which had the potential to increase accountability
of candidates, electoral associations and blocs, have been diluted."
He added that lawmakers have done little to address the adjudication
of election-related grievances, and said the inability to determine
the legislative framework for the electoral process has reduced the
ability of the Central Election Commission to prepare for the December
Another potential problem, Carlson said, is that Russia's computerized
voter tabulation system risks being affected by the Y2K changeover.
"Should the same computerized system that increased the level of
credibility during the last elections fail to work, then it would only
feed into the lack of faith of an already apathetic and cynical
electorate," he said.
But Carlson pointed out that elections "are an evolving and developing
process," and no country can be expected to develop legislation that
solves all its problems at once. "All the actors in the process," he
said, "must effectively act on their rights and responsibilities in
order to hold each other accountable and to ensure that elections in
Russia are free and fair."
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999
From: "Kraus, Eric" <Eric.Kraus@dresdner-bank.com>
Subject: Droit de reponse: Eric Kraus on Kosovo
Droit de reponse: Eric Kraus on Kosovo
Two papers critical of my view on Yugoslavia have recently been published on
DJL; I am taking this opportunity to reply, before returning to more
Since Mr. Ames has chosen to criticized my views ad hominem, rather
irrelevantly equating my views with those of Gary Peach (a good journalist,
with whom sometimes I agree, sometime I disagree quite violently). I will in
reply to him first.
The Exile, a semi-pornographic throw-away published in Moscow, is usually
replete with furious attacks on the Westernizing faction and featuring a
weekly column by a well-know neo-fascist; it has consistently defended
Russia's dignity and attacked her exploitation by profiteering Westerners.
It is therefore surprising that a glance through a recent edition reveals a
full page of photo-adverts for prostitutes, as well as advice on negotiating
prices at a local brothel. Since the paper is aimed at foreigners--most
Russian males can probably find commercial sex without the assistance of The
Exile--one can only conclude that they are proud to offer Russian women for
sale, or at least, to provide them (or, more accurately, their procurers)
with a cost-effective way to reach those same Western exploiters they
fustigate in their columns. Similarly, they have been consistently critical
of the "young reformers", indeed, of reformers of any age. Since the
political alternatives would appear to be either the Soviet throwbacks or
the extreme nationalists, it would be of interest to know exactly whom they
DO support. As for my own long-term support for the "reform faction", I
confess that I have, and shall continue to do so, not because I believe them
to be pure and virtuous, but simply because they are the best available
alternative; readers of my published research will remember that I was
extremely bearish going into Summer-I turned bullish in September, on
The only substantive argument I found in his reply was that "Milosevic
stripped them (the Kosovar) of autonomy on the pretense that the Albanians
were discriminating against the Serb minority..." . I can only interpret
this to mean that rights than can be stripped away by a dictator on "a
pretense" are not to be considered rights.
The reply by Daniel Kimmage was more substantial. Point-by-point:
2. I continue to believe that if we were to start to redraw borders on the
basis of 11th century battles and 300-year old population movements, we will
be faced with some serious problems, not least Belgium, Alsace Lorraine,
Texas and much of Southern Russia.
3. My statement about "an entire population being slaughtered" was
inaccurate; I stand corrected. Nevertheless, the functional definition of
"Genocide" as applied in the International War Crimes Tribunal has probably
been fulfilled (forced evacuation of civilian populations, mass murder of
young males, systematic rapes). I fully agree that there are numerous other
peoples whose rights are being trampled on: Tibetans, Kurds, Chechens and
Palestinians. The fact that not every group can be protected in no way
justifies standing by and allowing any one group to be repressed.
4. I stressed the high level of international support solely as a reply to
people who keep speaking of "America's war". Indeed, this should be a
European, not an American problem (I am, by the way, a French national).
6, 7. I agree that demonizing an entire people simply obscures the debate
(though demonizing nationalism itself is another matter altogether).
Unfortunately, no one has yet found a way to bomb a regime without hitting
its citizens. Similarly, to personalize the target of a war creates more
heat than light, but unfortunately, (and Marx notwithstanding) individual
men can make a huge difference; Milosevic undoubtedly has done so, probably
more for personal power than for any concern for his nation. NATO indeed has
no business ensuring the "irretrievable loss of Kosovo", but rather, "the
inalienable rights of its inhabitants".
8. I take vigorous exception to the statement that the NATO raids constitute
aggression. In any event, the fact that, in the name of Federal Yugoslavia,
the Serbs are taking revenge upon NATO by butchering their own Kosovar
citizens constitutes a rather unusual sort of logic, and holding NATO to
blame for the slaughter seems outlandish. Whether NATO's intervention was
adequately planned and thought out, only time will tell; whether failing to
take action would have rendered them culpable of complicity with "ethnic
cleansing" is, again, another question.
A solution involving a mixed Russian-European force would indeed be
ideal-perhaps Chernomyrdin can negotiate one-it probably depends on
Milosevic. I am watching from the front lines (Moscow) and am relieved to
see that the initially rabidly critical view of the West is gradually
becoming more moderate, at least among people with access to foreign media.
The air war can probably be carried on with little further damage to
relations; the introduction of ground troops, on the other hand, would pose
a very substantial threat to the mildly pro-Western political orientation
the present government.
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999
From: Peter Chatterton <email@example.com>
It has been suggested that my recent correspondence could be interpreted as
an apologia for Yugoslavia and the Serbian (i.e. Milosovic) position.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
My position is that firm international action, with strong Russian
involvement, should have been taken years ago - and it is too late to
respond after the damage has been done. I am in no doubt that the "ethnic
cleansing" was under way before the bombing. However, the bombing has
provided a justification, and even a distorted public relations rationale,
for the largest forced migration of peoples in Europe since 1945.
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999
From: "Edward E. Owens" <Eeowens@acus.org>
Subject: Arbatov speech
The speech by Alexei Arbatov of April 20, 1999
"The U-Turn in U.S.-Russian Relations"
is now in audio form on the Atlantic Council website.
You can listen to the presentation in its entirety using RealAudio at
Russia academic says China is on right path with reforms
TAIPEI, April 21 (Kyodo) -- Russian academic Alexander Yakovlev, the brain
behind ''perestroika'' in the waning years of the Soviet Union, said
Wednesday that China is on the right path with its decision to put economic
reforms before political liberalization.
''I think that it's the proper thing that they began with economic reforms.
For them it might be better, for us it's a little different question,''
Yakovlev told reporters during a visit to Taipei.
But Yakovlev, a 75-year-old historian who was a close aide to former Soviet
President Michail Gorbachev, cautioned that economic reforms must be
accompanied by political change.
''Every politician should understand and should remember that any economic
reforms would demand eventually political reform,'' he said.
''Obviously at a certain level of the economic reforms, any state, any
government, should think about political reform. It is inevitable, it is
connected,'' he said.
Yakovlev, who arrived here Saturday for a weeklong visit, delivered a speech
earlier in the day at Tamkang University in Taipei, in which he harshly
criticized the Russian government for its stance on Yugoslavia.
''Russia...would have won a lot if it did not side in this Yugoslavian
tragedy with the Serbs...but stood for only one side -- the victims, the
peaceful citizens, those killed and chased from their homes by the criminal
politicians,'' he said.
Noting that Moscow did not object to the Serbs bombing Sarajevo while it now
condemns North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air strikes on Yugoslavia,
Yakovlev accused Russia of having double standards.
He urged Moscow to drop its ''one-sided support'' of Yugoslavia and stop
viewing the Kosovo Albanians as the hotbed of Islamic extremism in Europe.
Yakovlev, who is convinced that NATO air strikes will not solve but rather
aggravate the conflict, said Russia must demonstrate its ''moral supremacy''
by taking a two-pronged approach of seeking the cessation of NATO bombings
and the protection of Kosovo's Albanian population.
21 April 1999
Russia as Slavic Peace Broker? It's Worth a Try
The bombing of Kosovo has set NATO and Washington on a
collision course with Russia, increasing East-West tensions to the
highest degree since the Cold War. So President Bill Clinton was right
to appeal to President Boris Yeltsin for Russia's help in negotiating
peace with its Slavic ally, Serbia.
Washington's relationship with Russia continues to be one of its
most critical foreign-policy challenges and persuading Russia to broker
a peace settlement acceptable to all sides could avert an enormously
damaging ground war with Serbia.
Clinton's 45-minute telephone conversation with Yeltsin Monday was
necessary but predictably inconclusive, not least because Yeltsin's
health has degenerated to the point that he is virtually a nonfunctional
figurehead. But the dialogue had to start at the highest level. The man
to watch-and to deal with-at the Kremlin is Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov, who has a strong personal rapport with Serb strongman Slobodan
Milosevic and has taken an adamant anti-NATO stand.
The mood in Russia today is virulently anti-American and
antiwestern. Russians do not like to see fellow Slavs subjected to the
fiercest military attack since World War II by an alliance that was once
their sworn enemy. Neither the Russian people nor their leadership will
acquiesce to a possible deployment of NATO troops on the ground in
Kosovo. And though there is no danger that Russia would intervene
militarily on the Serbs' side -even if it had the resources to do so
-Russia could cause problems in indirect ways.
At the very least, rising tensions with the West would make Moscow
more resistant to shrinking its nuclear arsenal. They also would put a
chill on economic and democratic reforms in Russia. The result would be
a more isolated and disgruntled Russia less amenable to cooperating with
the West on halting such destabilizing practices as the sale of nuclear
technology to rogue states like Iran or Iraq.
Better to find ways to edge Moscow closer once again to the western
fold by giving it a real stake in helping solve the Kosovo crisis. It's
certainly worth a try.
21 April 1999
The Russian connection
It was only a matter of time until President Clinton picked up the phone and
called the Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, for diplomatic help in
negotiating a conclusion to NATO's war with Slobodan Milosevic.
NATO's air war is approaching the point at which a compromise might be
possible. According to Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini of Italy, ''members of
the various political parties in the government coalition and factory
managers'' in Serbia are beginning to tell Milosevic that ''he should seek a
negotiated settlement.'' The question for Clinton is: Who should mediate?
Yeltsin's government is the most obvious candidate. Russian officials have
voiced exasperation at Milosevic's pigheadedness, but they have kept in touch
with him and have given him rhetorical support, if only for reasons of
The benefits of a peacemaking role for Russia are several. It has become
nearly impossible for any Western leader to shake hands with Milosevic in
public, since there is so much blood on that hand. The Russians, intoxicated
with their own propaganda, have no such compunctions. Moreover, a diplomatic
success for Yeltsin could revive Russian self-esteem as a fading great power
and ameliorate Moscow's troubled relations with its Western creditors.
But those creditors will pay a stiff price. Russia will likely demand a
settlement that excludes independence for Kosovo, requires the disarming of
the Kosovo Liberation Army, and allows the Serbs to retain their special
police forces in Kosovo.
Above all, the call for Russian mediation writes an ironic coda to Clinton's
go-it-alone strategy for NATO. Any Balkan deal brokered by Moscow is sure to
be sanctioned by the UN Security Council. A peace in Kosovo mediated by
Moscow will mean the proper return of a multilateral approach to
Russia's small farms produced half of all '98 food
By Sebastian Alison
MOSCOW, April 21 (Reuters) - Small private farms produced nearly half of all
Russia's food last year, despite accounting -- offically -- for less than
three percent of agricultural land, a leading Russian agricultural analyst
said on Wednesday.
But Alexander Petrikov, director of the All-Russia Institute for Agrarian
Problems and Information, part of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences,
warned that the statistics were misleading as many small farmers were
Even so, the discrepancy between the relatively low yields of food grown on
Russia's vast state farms and the huge proportion grown on its smallholdings
means a review of the role of private plots is needed, an agricultural
Russia has 220 million hectares of agricultural land, an agriculture ministry
official said. Officially, small farms accounted for just six million
hectares of this last year.
Petrikov said his institute estimated the actual figure at 28 million
hectares, but most farmers working private plots avoid registering them to
avoid bureaucratic problems.
Whichever figure is right, the proportion of food produced privately is
Last year, Petrikov said, 91.3 percent of potatoes, 76.3 percent of
vegetables, 55 percent of meat, 47 percent of dairy products and 30.4 percent
of eggs were produced privately.
By contrast small plots accounted for just 0.8 percent of grain, 0.8 percent
of sugar beet and 1.4 percent of sunflowers.
Petrikov pointed out that although the figures indicated that only three or
12 percent of land, depending on which figure for privately held land was
accepted, produced 46 percent of Russia's food, this too was misleading.
The reason is that in Russia's barter economy, resources produced on state
farms are often used on private plots.
So a state farm worker may be paid, for example, in grain, which he may use
to feed his own cows. And he may graze his own cows on state land, further
complicating the figures.
But the sector is now regarded as important enough to warrant serious
attention by regional administrations.
Sergei Pakhomchik, the head of the agricultural authority in Tyumen region in
western Siberia, said his region was taking measures to ease conditions for
These included making it easier for farmers to get loans to increase their
plots to up to 140 hectares, and improving transport to get produce to
markets. Losses from disorganised transport systems were a major problem in
the sector, he said.
``We see it as important to support private farmers to secure food supplies
to the population, from the point of view of the social defence of
agriculture, and from the point of view of the morale of the population,'' he
Petrikov pointed out that 28 percent of the Russian workforce is employed in
But Mikhail Kuznetsov, director of the Fund for Agrarian Reform and
Agricultural Development, said supporting small farmers was difficult as
Russia has no Land Code, so changing legislation on rents and other issues
was an uphill struggle.
While small farms are the one bright light in Russia's farm sector, fears
have been raised that food aid from the U.S. and the European Union, arriving
now and needed largely because of failures in the state sector, may undermine
But Petrikov said he did not anticipate problems provided the food aid was
sent where it was needed.
``There is an objective need for food aid,'' he said, ``especially in big
cities and depressed regions, for example the north, and towns dependent on a
Luzhkov Wants Peaceful Solution in Kosovo
Der Spiegel in German
19 April 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Interview with Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov by Fritjof Meyer, Joachim
Preuss, and Rudolf Augstein in Moscow; date not given: "The Danger of a
Third World War"
[Spiegel] Yuriy Mikhailovich, how do you see the
situation in Kosovo?
[Luzhkov] The absolute majority of the citizens in Russia are of the
that what NATO is doing there constitutes aggression. The majority of
Russians also think the forced expulsion of the Albanians from Kosovo is
also unacceptable, however. For many politicians in Russia who can think
independently, Milosevic is not a political figure that one can rely on.
[Spiegel] NATO believes that against Milosevic, only bombs will help.
[Luzhkov] The first bombing attacks have not resulted in Yugoslavia
the expulsion of the Kosovo Albanians at all. On the contrary, since the
beginning of the bombing, the number of refugees inside and outside of
Kosovo has risen to one million. The Yugoslav problem cannot be resolved
by bombing, no matter how long it is continued. If NATO invades with
ground troops it would be a serious danger.
[Spiegel] Who do you think would participate in such an attack?
[Luzhkov] America would try to saddle its European NATO partners with the
action. This could lead to a sort of second Vietnam in Europe.
[Spiegel] Is that not exaggerated?
[Luzhkov] In the Second World War Hitler sent fifteen divisions to
In addition, fifteen Italian divisions and ten Hungarian divisions
participated in the invasion. What was the price of this war? In 1945
alone, Germany lost over 100,000 soldiers in the Balkans.
[Spiegel] How would Russia react to ground troops?
[Luzhkov] I must regretfully declare that Russia's attitude could be
fundamentally changed by an invasion. Russia would then be forced to
revise its attitude towards a weapons embargo. With such a change, Russia
would probably not participate in this war with military troops or
volunteers. Military and technical aid for Yugoslavia would, however, be
completely possible in such a case.
[Spiegel] Would you then favor such an intervention?
[Luzhkov] I am decidedly opposed to the involvement of Russia in this
conflict, not even through the Russia-Belorussia-Yugoslavia alliance
advocated by some. No one should provoke Russia into such actions.
[Spiegel] What solution do you advocate?
[Luzhkov] In my opinion, Russia should be drawn into a round of
that would develop a unified position. The central points must be return
of the refugees to Kosovo and pressure on Milosevic.
[Spiegel] Those are also the goals of NATO.
[Luzhkov] If they had listened to Russia, the bombing would not even have
necessary in the first place. A settlement could have been produced
through joint economic, political, and moral pressure on Milosevic. Now
the consequences of NATO's actions are assuming alarming proportions;
NATO's measures should have saved people, but now the casualty figures
are beginning to mount many times over.
[Spiegel] And no end is in sight.
[Luzhkov] Just now the media reported that an Albanian refugee convoy has
bombed. One has to imagine this, refugees are being shot at by airplanes.
I see a fundamental change in NATO military policy here. Up until a
certain point, the air strikes were aimed at military targets--against
personnel, airports, concentrations of equipment--that is, against
Milosevic's war machine. Now the Yugoslav people are being bombed:
railroad bridges, streets, bridges, and cigarette factories.
[Spiegel] Can one differentiate to what degree a bridge is used for
or civilian purposes?
[Luzhkov] Any precise observation will reveal that 98 percent of the
over a bridge is civilian and only 2 percent military. As an argument for
the destruction of a bridge, this is pretty thin. One can make a military
target out of anything then, even a town hall, like the one where we are
sitting. We don't have any military here; I, myself, have not served for
single day. However, in the Second World War, the fascists could easily
say that decisions on fortification ditches and tank barriers were made
here. Then our town hall would have apparently become a legitimate target
[Spiegel] We have our own experience with the difference between military
civilian targets. The first bridge over the Danube that was destroyed in
Novi Sad, however, was a historical bridge in the city center, where the
streets are so narrow that a truck can hardly pass.
[Luzhkov] Exactly. Why must it be destroyed then? They are moral attacks
the purpose of intimidation. Believe me, in Yugoslavia such a thing has
no purpose and does not make sense. The NATO policy has resulted in the
people rallying around Milosevic. Russia warned NATO about this.
[Spiegel] Since NATO has already done it and probably will continue to, it
must change. This will not make the world safer.
[Luzhkov] We should not focus on the past but try to find solutions that
lead to peace. What will happen if ground troops invade Yugoslavia and
Russia is forced to give up the weapons embargo? How would Russia
accomplish its military aid? I am not a military man, but I understand
something about economics and can vividly imagine the technical details
of such a transfer of aid. And it sends chills down my spine. If one
imagines how weapons deliveries and counter actions could occur, one can
immediately see the danger of a third world war.
[Spiegel] That's going a bit far. It does not necessarily have to come to
[Luzhkov] What do you mean far? NATO already introduced the plans for the
stage on the 23rd of April. But even if it were in the more distant
future, would it be any less disastrous?
[Spiegel] What is a realistic resolution for you?
[Luzhkov] Very simple. Only the realization of it will be complicated. The
bombing should stop first and all countries--Yugoslavia will probably not
go along--should recognize the status quo. It must be clear that all
refugees will return. The refugees must be able to live where they were
[Spiegel] This will not happen without military protection.
[Luzhkov] Certainly not. But on this point Russia will probably support a
joint decision. That would be a clear and proper decision both morally
and legally. Its implementation would become a joint effort by many
states including Russia. Then Russia would no longer be on the opposing
side, and here I want to stress once more that Russia together with
Yugoslavia cannot defeat NATO.
[Spiegel] Who should implement the peace plan militarily?
[Luzhkov] UN troops or units from countries that are palatable to
for example a French-Russian contingent. France has traditionally had
good relations with Yugoslavia. It could be under the UN flag.
[Spiegel] What would happen to Kosovo then?
[Luzhkov] It must be clear that it is part of Yugoslavia. The world must
recognize this. It is in accordance with all UN documents.
[Spiegel] Even the unusual paper from Rambouilleta.
[Luzhkov] We are seeing the causes that have lead to the events in Kosovo.
That is, the desire of many Albanians for autonomy and the ambitions of
radical Albanians to form their own state. And on the other hand,
Milosevic's refusal to give Kosovo back its autonomy. The international
community must come up with a solution that will be acceptable to all
[Spiegel] You are advocating the same degree of autonomy for the Kosovo
Albanians that they had under Tito?
[Luzhkov] Naturally. One must recreate exactly this state, the withdrawal
which was the cause of the conflict.
[Spiegel] This autonomy existed until 1989. Why did Russia not do anything
before when Milosevic took it away?
[Luzhkov] Russia voted in the UN against the Yugoslav action. Many in the
still think Russia is a blind mother who does not want to see any
failings in her own children. This democratic Russia cannot and will not
support dictatorial ambitions, in whatever country in the world they
[Spiegel] It makes us wonder that the Americans had to come in to clear up
this situation in an important part of Europe. Have the Russians not held
back a little too much?
[Luzhkov] Has any NATO country or the United States tried to actively
us in the solution to this problem? We were de facto isolated, also in
Rambouillet. Behind the back of Russia and in opposition to the
agreements of the Contact Group, western mediators made the so-called
military drafts into political documents that Belgrade could never have
signed at any price. One should not speak to Russia from a position of
strength. The whole preparation for the current NATO action was nothing
but muscle flexing. Too much strong-arming with too little understanding.
[Spiegel] You have your own experiences with minorities?
[Luzhkov] A problem such as Yugoslavia in any nation can only be solved
if you destroy the nation at the same time. One must be clear about this
in the United States.
[Spiegel] There is fundamental agreement that the refugees should return
autonomy be reestablished. And that the OSCE must control this process.
Would Russia suggest sending in peacekeeping troops that would take over
the protection of the OSCE?
[Luzhkov] This must be discussed. But not with me. I am Mayor of Moscow.
decisions are made in the Kremlin.
[Spiegel] You are too modest. Naturally you speak not only for yourself.
[Luzhkov] I represent a political organization called "Otechestvo"
(Fatherland). And its political advisers are of the same opinion, you are
right. The Otechestvo Movement, although it is very young, has
established itself as the second largest political force in the country
after the Communists. According to the latest polls, we had the support
of 16 percent of the people.
[Spiegel] NATO has made up its mind. The United States cannot easily change
the current course. And that is unreasonable. Will the United States help
Russia out of the dilemma?
[Luzhkov] One must look for a solution that will allow each side a
way out. A withdrawal in disgrace would be a tragedy for the United
States and the US leadership would never agree to such a solution. We are
offering a formula through which neither NATO or the United States loses
[Spiegel] Can Milosevic save face then?
[Luzhkov] Everyone must accept negative consequences. This is the wisdom
compromise. We have our hotheads in Russia too. You remember the
ill-considered declaration by our Duma Speaker Selesnyov that our
missiles were being re-targeted to targets in the West. I spoke to the
President yesterday about it. He was completely surprised and did not
know where Selesnyov got such an idea.
[Spiegel] In the Russian parliament there are influential forces calling
weapons delivery and recruitment of volunteers.
[Luzhkov] For these people any peaceful settlement will be a cause for
criticism. So each side must come to terms with the negative
consequences. But this is not a bad thing. It would be horrible if we
lost the peace.
[Spiegel] How do you propose to win Milosevic over to the idea of autonomy
[Luzhkov] That would be a serious loss of face for Milosevic. But the
Federation did not have to lose Slovenia if Milosevic had not been so
unyielding. One could have avoided the break-up with more rights and
autonomy. Now there are tensions again--this time in the relations
between Milosevic and Montenegro.
[Spiegel] Not exactly the ideal situation for accepting Yugoslavia into the
[Luzhkov] An alliance may be worthwhile and would correspond to the mood of
Russians. This must, however, be done without haste or any economic
preconditions. In a Russian proverb, it says one should not throw
everything in one pot. For example not the winter boots and the pickles.
[Spiegel] Mr. Mayor, we thank you for this interview.