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wJohnson's Russia List
23 April 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Bloomberg: Stable Russian Economy Is Vital to US Security, Rubin Says.
2. Vlad Ivanenko: Re: 3251-8/New Russian Deal.
3. Business Week: Margaret Coker, Is Russia Y2K Ready? Don't Bet on it.
4. AFP: Camdessus Says Not Under NATO Pressure In Aid Talks With Russia.
5. Moscow Times: Jonas Bernstein, PARTY LINES: Warring Sides Face Off Over
6. AFP: Media writes off Yeltsin after crushing parliament defeat.
7. Itar-Tass: NATO NONMEMBERS COULD ACT PEACEKEEPERS IN BALKANS.
8. Itar-Tass: 30 PERCENT OF RUSSIANS GIVE CREDIT TO LENIN -- POLL.
9. Argumenty i Fakty: Oligarchs After the Crisis.
10. RFE/RL: Robert Lyle, Russia: Officials In Washington For IMF And World
11. Robert McIntyre: Lisovsky, Berezovsky and Luzhkov.
12. Kennan Institute Washington, DC internship.
13. Mark Ames: Re: Eric Kraus: Droit de Response/3252.
14. Moskovskiy Komsomolets: Yuliya Kalinina, Will the Retired President
Run Out of Steam?
15. Jake Rudnitsky: The Russian Political Crises of 1993 According to the
New York Times. (DJ: I want to thank Jake for reminding me of this important
subject. Long-time readers of JRL may remember my earlier interest in the
1993 events and my conviction that Yeltsin's assault on the Parliament, with
backing from the United States, is the central political event of the post-
Soviet era. Dimitri Simes in a talk at Johns Hopkins yesterday also mentioned
this theme. Jake in this shortened version of a longer paper highlights a
prominent example of the failure of the American press to accurately report
the complex struggles of Russians to cope with the crises they have been
with long before August 1998. In view of the fact that David Hoffman, Moscow
correspondent of the Washington Post, was given an award by Johns Hopkins
yesterday I would note that his paper provided the same kind of misleading,
one-sided coverage of the 1993 events as the New York Times.)]
Stable Russian Economy Is Vital to US Security, Rubin Says
New York, April 22 (Bloomberg)
The U.S. must do everything it can to help Russia stabilize its
economy to prevent its becoming a national security risk, U.S. Treasury
Secretary Robert Rubin said.
Citing ``enormous national security issues,'' Rubin told a gathering
sponsored by the New Yorker magazine that helping Russia get back on track is
``really very difficult, but we cannot afford not to do it.'' It's ``an up
and down process.''
The U.S. must also work to promote reform in China and integrate it into the
global economy, the Treasury secretary said. China's membership in the World
Trade Organization could be a step forward, and it's ``totally doable,'' with
only ``five to six market access issues that are unresolved but that can be
resolved with people working together,'' he said.
``China can be the world's largest economy, but whether it will be a market
economy is another question,'' Rubin said.
Russia and China aren't the only economies in need of work. The global
economy ``is not on a firm footing,'' Rubin said, pointing to a report by the
International Monetary Fund earlier this week that forecast continued
recession in Japan, slower growth in Europe, and recession in Latin America.
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999
From: Vlad Ivanenko <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 3251-8/New Russian Deal
Thanks to Robert Devane for a translation of Maslyukov's program (JRL
The description of the situation and objectives in the article is honest
and benevolent. Especially, I am intrigued by the statement that the
government considers a partial transfer of the social spheres onto
commercial basis. Social consumption is the only serious vestige of a
socially oriented economy and, if the government does not regard anymore
that its provision is a sacred responsibility of the state, the return to
socialism is not on short-term agenda.
However, the methods, by which Yuri Maslyukov plans to achieve stated
goals, may not work unless the government complements them with what is
probably not spoken out in the article. Utilization of idle capacities
(BTW, stated 30 percent appears to be underestimated) cannot be increased
without a simultaneous reduction in import. The latter could be done
through either an increase in tariffs or control of currency exchange.
Reestablishment of confidence in banks looks suspiciously close to
re-nationalization of (or, at least, heavy state intervention in) banking
industry. Stimulation of the export of the processing industry with state
guarantees smacks of state subsidization.
The article provides a hint, describing three stages of development, on
what the intended state policy will be. It is an expansion of money supply
(to substitute barter deals, to eliminate wage arrears, and to expand
social safety payments) and currency control ("to prevent abrupt jumps in
the exchange rate"). State subsidies to the processing industry are
planned through regulation of prices for natural monopolies. Since the
last two stages go beyond his expected spell in office, they look like
topics open to discussion.
Maslyukov seems to be a capable bureaucrat who learns by doing what market
economy is about. He is inclined towards direct (versus indirect) state
intervention, which makes it personally difficult for him to deal with
international lending organizations.
Vlad Ivanenko, Dept. of Economics,
University of Western Ontario
May 3, 1999
[for personal use only]
Is Russia Y2K Ready? Don't Bet on it
Moscow is short on plans--and money--to battle the bug
By Margaret Coker in Moscow
The Russian Defense Ministry will be ready. So will the Atomic Energy
Ministry, the gas and electricity monopolies, and the oil industry. To hear
Russia tell it, there will be no problems when the clock strikes midnight on
Jan. 1, 2000. But from the Central Intelligence Agency to European utilities,
there's concern that Russia is in denial.
Analysts fear nuclear power-plant shutdowns and other millennium
near-disasters. Gartner Group Inc., a Stamford (Conn.) technology consultant,
predicts that 80% of Russia's transport systems could face delays. Natural
gas supplies to Europe could run short. A committeecreated by Prime Minister
Yevgeny Primakov says that what Y2K problems remain will cost $3 billion. But
even if Russia miraculously finds the money, it's too late to fix everything.
Multinationals are scrambling. Some are buying diesel generators; others
are stockpiling inventory. Such efforts are unlikely to avert an earnings
hit. Mitchell Krasny, CFO of SUN Brewing Ltd., an Indian company with 14% of
Russia's beer market, says Y2K will be as bad as August's ruble devaluation.
Tensions between Russia and NATO over Yugoslavia could jeopardize a joint
early-warning program in the U.S. and Russian defense systems. Pentagon
managers are meeting with Russian officials to explain how the U.S. has made
its systems Y2K compliant. ``But in the current climate, even this may not
last,'' says a U.S. official. Y2K is one more crisis Russia is ill equipped
Camdessus Says Not Under NATO Pressure In Aid Talks With Russia
WASHINGTON, Apr. 22, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) IMF managing director
Michel Camdessus said Wednesday he was not under political pressure from NATO
countries in efforts to negotiate a financial program with Russia.
"I don't feel any kind of political pressure," Camdessus told a news
He said that perhaps after 20 years of such negotiations he had become
impervious to pressure, but in any case "pressures don't determine at all our
course of action in Russia."
Russia has differed sharply with NATO over its air strikes on Yugoslavia in
the past four weeks, and announced on Wednesday that it would not attend
NATO's 50th birthday celebrations this weekend in Washington.
Camdessus said Russia is "at this very moment perhaps the most difficult
problem we must tackle" and that the Russian authorities had initially
reacted to last August's crisis by taking action "that seemed to be in the
But the IMF is actively negotiating a 1999 budget with the Russian
authorities and both IMF and World Bank officials have reported "progress"
towards agreement on necessary structural changes and "there is still the
possibility for them to agree with us soon," Camdessus said.
"The next few days will possibly bring us good news and if they do not, be
sure that we will continue to work with them" to try to reach agreement.
April 23, 1999
PARTY LINES: Warring Sides Face Off Over Skuratov's List
By Jonas Bernstein
The Federation Council's unexpected vote to reject Yury Skuratov's
resignation for a second time is the best circumstantial evidence yet that
the suspended prosecutor general possesses some very damning information
concerning the Kremlin's inner circle.
Prior to Wednesday's vote, much of Russia's political elite seemed to believe
it was a foregone conclusion that the upper chamber of parliament would back
President Boris Yeltsin in the Skuratov matter. Many observers even suggested
that Skuratov's hints that he had a list of top Russian officials with Swiss
bank accounts was no more than a bluff.
If Skuratov had just been shooting blanks, however, the Federation Council's
members would hardly have been willing to spit so openly in President Boris
Yeltsin's face, as one newspaper inelegantly but accurately described their
vote in support of Skuratov. The regional chiefs that make up the council
are, like most Russian politicians, pragmatists with no time for quixotic
causes. And the fact that Yeltsin's promises of increased autonomy failed to
sway them suggests they put more stock in Skuratov's dirt.
The fact that Skuratov has not revealed his hand by no means proves he's
holding only deuces. The kompromat concerning money in Switzerland is, like
any weapon of mass destruction, useful only as long as it's not detonated.
What is more, a recent account by Obshchaya Gazeta's Yelena Dikun suggests
the Kremlin takes Skuratov's list quite seriously. She reports that when
Skuratov sent Yeltsin his second letter of resignation in February, he
attached "a list of prominent people and their Swiss bank accounts." Dikun,
citing unnamed informed sources, writes that Yeltsin "asked Skuratov not to
touch a number of people particularly close to him, but promised full
cooperation in the investigation into the other figures."
Following Skuratov's April 1 television interview (which led to his
suspension), in which he confirmed he had sent Yeltsin a memo on Swiss bank
accounts, Kremlin officials "rushed around madly" for several days trying to
find it, even combing through trash cans, Dikun reports. "The circle of
people worried that their names might be on the list was quite large," she
writes. The list, she says, probably remains stashed in a "special file" in
Yeltsin's office. Skuratov, meanwhile, "naturally made back-up copies, which
he hid in safe places."
While historical analogies can be dangerous, the atmosphere surrounding the
Skuratov affair, coupled with the Duma's impeachment threat, increasingly
resembles the walkup to 1993's "October events." Then, too, the Kremlin and
its foes pursued each other with corruption charges. In that battle, the
suitcases of kompromat were never actually opened. Instead, both sides
eventually reached for more blunt weapons.
Saddest of all, perhaps, is the fact that even if Skuratov's list came to
light, it would matter little - at least to the West. The New York Times'
Thomas L. Friedman recently described Boris Yeltsin as an "enormous asset"
for the United States for not causing NATO problems in the Yugoslav war.
Friedman reached this conclusion, undoubtedly shared by most Western
governments, even though half his column was devoted to how Yeltsin has -
behold the euphemism - "mismanaged economic reform." (Not a word, of course,
What, indeed, is a few Swiss bank accounts between friends?
Media writes off Yeltsin after crushing parliament defeat
MOSCOW, April 22 (AFP) - Moscow newspapers splashed political obituaries of
President Boris Yeltsin across their front pages Thursday, a day after
parliament ignored Kremlin orders to fire Russia's chief prosecutor in a
crushing defeat for the head of state.
"Russia has been left without a Kremlin," opined the Izvestia in a banner
"Political decisions are no longer being made behind the Kremlin's walls,"
Izvestia said. "Russia is turning into a parliamentary republic."
Russia Federation Council, the upper chamber, on Wednesday ignored Yeltsin's
appeals to approve his dismissal of controversial prosecutor general Yury
This refusal to bow to the Kremlin will came even after Yeltsin offered
governors in the chamber more independence from Moscow and possible financial
assistance for special projects.
Skuratov has turned into a political pawn in the Kremlin's heated battle with
the nationalist and Communist opposition.
He has been probing top government officials and businessmen for graft, while
Yeltsin has accused Skuratov of taking bribes in the form of sessions with
prostitutes and suspended him from his post.
But parliament's second consecutive decision in favor of Skuratov on
Wednesday was interpreted by the media as a clear signal that power had
shifted in favor of Kremlin opponents.
Lawmakers "spat in the president's face," said the usually-restrained
Kommersant business daily.
"Yeltsin is presented with a choice -- he can either wipe his face and join
the ranks of Kremlin pensioners, or he can launch a counterattack."
Kommersant further quoted one Kremlin insider as saying: "We will always
remember today's date. It marks the start of a new era."
Nezavisimaya Gazeta observed that the Communists will now use Skuratov's
graft probes as a rallying cry ahead of December's parliamentary elections.
"The Communists could not have received a better present at the start of the
election race," the paper said.
And the Sevodnya daily decided that Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's
unsuccessful bid to influence the chamber in the Kremlin's favor minutes
ahead of the vote meant he was likely soon to lose his government post.
"The prime minister's chances for retirement increased," the liberal paper
The Federation Council leader Yegor Stroyev, who has long shown himself loyal
to the president, attempted to restore some calm amid the brewing political
chaos by telling the session Thursday: "We need to find a political
But the Kremlin reacted quickly to its defeat. On Thursday morning it
announced the dismissal of deputy administration head Ruslan Orekhov, a
presidential aide who apparently refused to obey Yeltsin's orders to speak to
lawmakers before the Skuratov vote.
NATO NONMEMBERS COULD ACT PEACEKEEPERS IN BALKANS--OPINION.
WASHINGTON, April 22 (Itar-Tass) -- Gavriil Popov, the leader of the
Russian movement for democratic reforms, and predecessor of Moscow
Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, on Thursday said here that to settle the crisis in
Yugoslavia peacekeeping forces of NATO nonmember states should be
brought onto its territory with the consent of Belgrade.
"In the present situation, there can be no doing without attraction of
external forces, but they should not be NATO forces," Popov said. He
further reasoned that it was theoretically possible to form a
contingent of peacekeeping troops of six NATO nonmember states. Half of
those countries should belong to the Islam world. According to Popov,
the right to choose the countries belonged to Yugoslavia and NATO. "In
that case Yugoslavia will meet NATO halfway on the issue of bringing
foreign troops onto its territory, and NATO's concession will be that
peacekeeping troops will be not of the alliance," the Russian
Popov said that the US administration was wrong in believing that if
Russia was carrying out reforms and aspiring to democracy it would seek
rapprochement with the USA. "Russia aspires to democracy and economic
reforms, but it is disappointed over the US policy /for the bomb
strikes against Yugoslavia/, and therefore would rely upon its own
potential," Popov emphasized. He further called the assumptions about
Russia being ready to yield to the US pressure for loans groundless.
30 PERCENT OF RUSSIANS GIVE CREDIT TO LENIN -- POLL
MOSCOW, April 22 (Itar-Tass) - Opinion pollsters said 32.9 percent of
Russians believe that the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin brought more
good than harm to the country, versus 28.7 percent who think otherwise.
The poll conducted by the Mneniye public opinion study center, involved
1,020 respondents and was timed with Lenin's 129th birth date, the
center's press service reported on Thursday.
Fifty percent of those polled backed the proposal to bury Lenin in
St.Petersburg, 36 percent said his body should remain in his Moscow
mausoleum while 14 percent were undecided.
As many as 40 percent approved the abolition of the ceremony of the
change of guard at Lenin Mausoleum in 1993, against 42 percent who said
the decision was wrong. Eighteen percent were uncertain.
When asked if they preferred to call Russia's second largest city
Leningrad or St.Petersburg in case of a referendum, 54 percent of the
respondents said they would vote for St.Petersburg and 28 percent --
Russian Paper Views Status of Oligarchs
Argumenty i Fakty, No. 965
(signed to press 20 April)
[translation for personal use only]
Report from the "Details" column by Tatyana Korostikova, Gennadiy
Chernikov, and Diana Chernikova: "Oligarchs After the Crisis" -- passages
within slantlines published in boldface
THE PERSONAL WEALTH OF THE RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS IS
ESTIMATED AT 1.2BN to 3BN DOLLARS
Last summer, even before the crisis, the president [Boris Yeltsin]
summoned those who had traditionally been regarded as the pillars of
Russian business, in other words, the oligarchs, to go and see him: /Rem
Vyakhirev/ (Russian joint-stock company Gazprom), /Vladimir Potanin/
(ONEKSIMbank), /Aleksandr Smolenskiy/ (SBS-Agro bank), /Vagit Alekperov/
(LUKoil), /Mikhail Fridman/ (Alfa-group), /Vladimir Gusinskiy/
(Most-bank) and /Mikhail Khodorkovskiy/ ("Menatep" bank). In his
conversation with them, the president acknowledged the great impact they
had had on the country's finances and economy. The crisis had tested the
soundness of everyone, including that of the oligarchs' empire.
Where are they now?
Vyakhirev, Khodorkovskiy and Alekperov are in Moscow. True, the latter is
planning to go to Astrakhan soon to launch a floating oil platform.
Fridman and Potanin are on business trips abroad.
Gusinskiy is also abroad, but he spends most of his time there. He has homes
in London and Spain. The most difficult to trace was Vinogradov
(Inkombank). Nobody knows where he is. How much money do they have? [subhead]
Just as before it is /Vyakhirev and Potanin/ who are the leaders.
According to the estimates of foreign journalists, their personal wealth
amounts to /3 billionn dollars each/.
/Khodorkovskiy/ has every reason to give himself up to his favourite hobby,
the collecting of purses, even those with money in them. According to
"Forbes" magazine, his personal wealth is /1.3bn dollars/.
/Alekperov/ is slightly behind him with /1.2bn dollars/.
All the oligarchs' banks suffered during the crisis.
But this does not mean that the oligarchs left the banking business.
They transferred their best assets to newly created banks. For instance,
in transferring part of his money to Rosbank, Khodorkovskiy moved his
banking business to the northern capital, to Menatep - St Petersburg and
to the Principal Investment Bank of which he was head.
The crisis was even to the advantage of some people. /Gazprom
drastically fortified its positions in the banking sphere./ Its assets
almost doubled. /The group of Gazprombanks is now only second to the
Savings bank./ Alfa-bank rose from 20th to 6th place.
But Alekperov's "Imperial" and Vinogradov's Inkombank were very unlucky.
They lost their licences.
The oil and gas business
Some of the shares of the Russian joint-stock company /Gazprom/ were sold
to the German Ruhrgas. Now the share of foreign capital in Gazprom is 14
per cent. As a result, its /shares rose in price by 65 per cent./ The
company Mezhregiongaz [Interregional Gas] was set up, which was headed by
In an attempt to overcome the difficulties, Khodorkovskiy's YUKOS was
forced to use 95 per cent of its shares as collateral security. But the
beginning of 1999 was said to have been lucky for him. The foreign
investors were soon permitted to develop the Priobskoye oil deposit which
belongs to YUKOS. YUKOS has every chance of turning from a bride without
a dowry into a rich bride.
It looks as if better times lie ahead for /Alekperov/ as well. On 19th
April, he signed an agreement with the Savings Bank of Russia /on a loan
of 150m dollars to develop the oil business./ In December 1998, LUKoil
bought the controlling package of shares in the Murmansk Sea Shipping
Line and is laying claims to the exclusive right to transport fuel along
the Northern Sea Route.
LUKoil is a member of three consortiums to develop Azerbaijan's and
Kazakhstan's oil and is taking part in the development of oil deposits in
Iraq and Egypt.
After the crisis, Potanin is doing everything he can to save his main
property, the joint-stock company /Norilsk Nickel/ (the company produces
90 per cent of Russia's nickel, 50 per cent of its copper, 85 per cent of
its cobalt, and 95 per cent of the metals of the platinum group) and /the
oil company Sidanko/, a world-wide corporation. A controversy is brewing
round it. /Sidanko is being accused of false bankruptcy./ Bankruptcy is
the cheapest way for it to get its tax payments deferred.
Each oligarch has "his own" mass media. Gazprom helps the newspaper
"Trud", it also has a share in Russian Public Television. Alekperov owns
shares in TV-6 and 40 per cent of the shares in the newspaper
'Izvestiya'. Potanin has shares in Izvestiya', 'Komsomolskaya Pravda' and
more than 50 publications all in all. In February 1999, /Fridman/
acquired the blocking /package of shares in the company Network of
Television Stations (STS). Today this company is already broadcasting to
220 towns in Russian and, according to some estimates, controls 7 per
cent of the country's television viewers.
But, naturally, the /real media magnate is Mr Gusinskiy./ This is the
publishing concern Media-most [Media-bridge], NTV, a share in Russian
Public Television, the newspaper 'Segodnya', the magazines 'Itogi'
['Results'] and 'Sem Dney' ['Seven Days'] and the radio station Ekho
Moskvy. This entire concern was not affected much by the August crisis.
It even launched its own television satellite costing 150m dollars.
Gusinskiy borrowed money from Americans with the Russian government
acting as a backer. Information has emerged about a project called
"Kino-most" ["Cinema-bridge"]. The structure will make films itself and
hire them out. They are even planning to get experts from America to help
them in doing this. And cinemas are being built in Moscow. At the present
time, "Kino-most" is repairing the Oktyabr cinema, turning it into a
multiplex. Its own restaurant "At the Goose's" is to be opened on the
What is their life like?
Not bad at all. Fridman has a flat 450 sq m in area in Moscow.
Gazprom has its own block of flats in Moscow, opposite its main office. /The
flats which are as much as 500 sq m in size with eight rooms in each/ are
equipped with all modern conveniences: electronic devices, bathroom
fittings and sound proofing.
The house in Moscow where Potanin lives is one of the first experimental
blocks of executive flats in the capital. In 1994, the cost of one square
metre here was as much as 7,000 dollars, and the flats cover an area of
350-700 sq m. The block has its own restaurant, sauna, gym, a billiard
room with a cafeteria, a swimming pool, a solarium, room service, a
children's play room, a hairdressers, an independent telephone exchange,
satellite television and a winter garden. There is a lit and guarded ski
run next to the house. The monthly rent ranges from 300 to 800 dollars
per flat. Potanin also has an out-of-town residence by Istrinskiy
reservoir, next to the country cottage of Anatoliy Chubays [head of
Unified Energy Systems of Russia]. When the friends go out "to sea" in
their yachts or go jet-skiing, the lake fills with body guard launches.
Russia: Officials In Washington For IMF And World Bank Meetings
By Robert Lyle
Washington, 22 April 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Russia may be boycotting this
weekend's NATO summit in Washington, but senior officials from Moscow will
still be in the American capital. They'll be just down the street at the
regular spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the
The big NATO summit forced the two global financial institutions to shift
parts of their meetings to avoid conflicts, but the IMF and World Bank have
agendas of their own and Russia, according to IMF Managing Director Michel
Camdessus, is at the top.
"Russia is at this very moment probably the most difficult problem we must
tackle. And indeed, here we are in a domain where there are no such things
as evidences. Nothing is evident there. Everything is difficult," he said.
At a press conference Wednesday, Camdessus was answering questions about
the fund's continued efforts to work out a way to resume lending to Russia.
After all, went the questions, the fund itself has acknowledged that Moscow
lost its last IMF loan because it failed to meet its promises on
Camdessus responded that indeed Russian officials had done some
"back-peddling" in the process of economic reforms. But he said, Moscow has
been trying to do a lot by itself to avoid major negative developments:
Camdessus said: "What we have seen, and of course we have been in a
permanent dialogue with them throughout this period, is that they have
tried to maintain the dialogue with their creditors and in particular for
the debt of Russia, they have made every effort to try to stay current
while they were applying for rescheduling of the former Soviet Union debt."
The IMF head said there has been progress in negotiations with Moscow. He
said the Russians have agreed to amend the current budget to limit the
effective deficit and even to create a surplus of two percent this year not
counting debt repayments.
But he said the fund and the bank have both been working with Russian
officials to adopt some major changes in the structures of major parts of
the Russian economy.
Camdessus said: "We want in particular to see more rapid progress in
banking restructuring, we want to have full clarification of the suspicions
that have been raised about the use of our resources, the propriety of the
behavior of the central bank, we are looking forward to the results of the
audit in this domain. But in view of what they have been doing, in view of
what they tell of us of their intentions -- and you know I have personally
spent many, many hours discussing that with Mr. Primakov -- we believe that
there is still the possibility to agree with them soon."
Camdessus said it's possible there might even be good news in the next few
days, but he was quick to keep that in perspective, saying that major
issues remain to be resolved. He added that if there is no "good news" this
week, the IMF will continue to work with Russia to get it through this
Exactly how a new loan for Russia would be structured is not clear, but
Camdessus says Moscow understands that the IMF will have to be tough in
lending any more money:
He said: "They (Russian officials) themselves recognize that we will have
demonstrate extra care in this operation and to maintain a strong
surveillance, and be minding for the implementation of their commitments. "
The IMF Managing Director, used to being questioned about whether the U.S.
and other member governments were pressuring the fund to lend more money to
Russia, was challenged from a different perspective this time. He was asked
if the U.S. and its NATO allies were pressuring the fund not to lend to
Moscow because of Russia's opposition to the air strikes on Serbia.
"No Sir," was Camdessus's quick response. Like fish in the deep seas who
don't feel the water pressure and humans who don't feel atmospheric
pressure, the IMF doesn't even perceive such pressures.
Camdessus said he couldn't say if there were people around who wanted to
pressure the IMF one way or the other on Russia, but he said, political
pressures don't determine in any way the fund's course of action in Russia.
An IMF team is currently in Moscow working on the framework agreement
Camdessus himself negotiated a few weeks ago with Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov. But senior Russian officials attending the bank and fund meetings
through next Wednesday will also be negotiating with top IMF officials in
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999
From: "Robert McIntyre" <email@example.com>
Subject: Lisovsky, Berezovsky and Luzhkov
Lisovsky, Berezovsky and Luzhkov
In JRL 3231, 8 April 1999, item 13 repeats the Moskovsky
Komsomolets story of 27 March which states that large amounts
of incriminating intelligence material was seized from the homes
and offices of Sergei Lisovsky by the General Proscutors Office.
The tapes and documents are reported to deal with "virtually the
entire Presidential Staff", as well as Chubais, Nemstov, Luzhkov,
Dyachenko and others.
The article ended by asserting that Lisovsky would return to Moscow
from Cyprus on 29 March.
In JRL 3044 of 5 February 1999, item 6, a post script notes Sergei
Lisovsky has joined the staff of Yuri Luzhkov.
What has happened to this two stories? If both are true, they are
interesting if not surprising.
Dr. Robert J. McIntyre
Project Director, Transition from Below
UNU/WIDER (World Institute for Development Economics Research)
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999
From: "JOSEPH DRESEN" <DRESENJO@WWIC.SI.EDU>
Subject: Kennan Institute Washington, DC internship
Internship Positions * Washington, DC
The Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies of the Woodrow Wilson
Center in Washington, DC, offers paid Research Assistantships throughout the
year for undergraduate, graduate students and prospective graduate students
who are either U.S. citizens or permanent residents. A number of positions
are available for Fall, 1999. Each research assistant works with a Fellow
or Research Scholar in residence at the Institute over a period of three to
nine months. Applicants must have a good command of the Russian language,
good organizational skills, and be able to conduct independent research.
A Research Assistantship at the Kennan Institute complements any student's
academic interest in Russian or Soviet Studies. Research Assistants have
the opportunity to:
· Work closely with a prominent scholar in the field.
· Attend discussions and seminars sponsored by the Institute.
· Build on research skills you've acquired in college.
· Gain the privilege to use the Kennan Institute Library, which houses
approximately 7,500 volumes and more than fifty Russian journals and
· Have the opportunity to use your Russian language skills.
· Have a flexible schedule of 15 hours per week.
If you are interested in continuing in Russian Studies, a research
assistantship at the Kennan Institute will provide practical experience in
the field while helping you establish contacts with academics and policy
makers that may prove useful for achieving future career objectives.
To apply, send a resume and cover letter describing your research interests
and available dates to work in Washington, DC to:
Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
One Woodrow Wilson Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20523
The Woodrow Wilson Center is an Equal Opportunity Employer and as such
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Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999
From: "Mark Ames" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Eric Kraus: Droit de Response/3252
At first, I literally laughed out loud when I saw that Eric Kraus's
droit-wing response relied on adopting the Moral Majority high ground by
calling us "semi-pornographic" and accusing us of "offering Russian women
for sale to foreigners" because we publish advertisements by prostitutes in
our classifieds section. If Kraus is really outraged by the morality of
prostitution (which we are not), then he must be fuming mad at himself for
having published an article, "Slaying Russia's Hydra?", in the February 12
issue of the Moscow Times, the same issue which, in the inside back-page
classifieds section, lists, under "Massages," the telephone numbers of some
40 prostitutes and prostitution agencies geared towards foreigners. Also in
that issue, in the Moscow Times's MT Out section (a bland rip-off of the
eXile's popular nightlife guide), the club guide lists, among other things,
a description of the club Dolls: "teenage girls who thrust their pelvis at
you for $100 [...] a VIP room in the back where the girls get a little
naughtier, and nicer." All three English-language newspapers regularly run
classifieds advertisements for prostitutes; prostitution is not something
hysterically frowned upon in Russian culture and using this as a counter-
"ad hominum" attack on the eXile's is strange and again suggests something
about Kraus, not us. Not only strange, but utterly hypocritical. Kraus has
published other articles for the Moscow Times, and regularly offers himself
up to them as a quote-a-matic. The implicit comparison of our profiting
from prostitute ads to the reformers' giving away Russia's top assets to
thieves is not even worth replying to and once again only reflects on how
seriously Kraus takes the destruction caused by the reformers he so
Let me state boldly that I am not only in favor of prostitution, but I am,
if money permits, a proud and satisfied customer as well. I have even dated
and lived with prostitutes, and find them to be... well, sorta like other
people, only free of the moral hypocrisy that I find so nauseating, and
definite titanium-tipped-condoms-alert material. The point of linking
Eric's argument about Kosovo to his stand on the young reformers was to
show that he has a record of supporting whatever the Western powers
support, in spite of the devastating results. His arguments stink of the
Western powers' moral hypocrisy, of good intentions that mask horrible
consequences. His attack on the eXile's liberal attitude towards
prostitution is just another small example.
In May of last year, I spoke at length with Eric when I wrote my piece on
why Russia's economy was heading for an inevitable implosion. While I
couldn't use any of his quotes--he spent almost the entire interview
pushing an IMF stabilization plan of $10 billion and restructuing of GKOs
as the solution to the growing crisis, while insisting that the situation
was far from unsalvageable, something that seemed looney to me--I did find
him to be witty and charming and likeable. Which is to say, I really don't
mean any of this as an ad hominum, but as an attack on the hypocrisy that
underpins such reasoning, a hypocrisy endemic to so many foreigners here.
Paper Sees Yeltsin's Retirement as 'Hard To Imagine'
20 April 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Yuliya Kalinina under the general heading "Not Even Flower
Beds Will Save Him": "Will the Retired President Run Out of Steam?"
Yeltsin and pensions fit together very badly. They
don't go together at all, they are incompatible. Why?
First, because in spirit and image Yeltsin is the worthy continuer of the
series of traditional Soviet rulers who burned themselves out at work,
not letting go the helm of power until the very last moment. His lyrical
image makes it impossible to imagine Boris Nikolayevich without the black
attache case. It is absurd. They are inseparable, like water and air.
But according to the Constitution that possibility does exist. And if it
should happen that the first president of Russia is replaced with the
second through democratic elections, his well-earned rest will depend on
who that second is.
There is a very high probability that it will be a representative of the
Communist opposition, and that is the second reason why Yeltsin and
pensions do not go together. Even now Zyuganov is blurting out with such
keen hatred: "They will answer for everything" -- that it becomes
absolutely clear that the quiet life of a pensioner is not in store for
Yeltsin. It is better not to say what could happen at worst, and at best
he will simply leave very quickly for abroad. For medical treatment.
First to somewhere like Switzerland or Germany, then somewhere else, then
somewhere else again, and gradually the trail will be lost and in a
couple of years journalists will seek him out in some quiet corner of the
globe engaged in a perfectly proper occupation for a pensioner. What
occupation? Unfortunately very little is known about Boris Nikolayevich's
hobbies, inclinations, or pursuits that he is fond of. The broad public
knows about only two amusements -- power and vodka. Apparently there used
to be tennis too, but because of his age that is no longer relevant.
Retired people usually do what they wanted to do all their lives but did not
have time because of work. They go to their dacha and look after their
flower beds, read, write their memoirs, raise their grandchildren, travel
-- if they have the money, of course, but for Boris Nikolayevich that is
presumably not a problem. The problem lies elsewhere.
It is not known what congenial occupation, pleasing to himself, he has
wanted to pursue all his life but has not had time because of work.
The impression is that there is nothing he wanted to do. He had no
passions that do not fit into the general scheme of work-related needs.
...Yeltsin growing super-tomatoes. Reading "Chinese Philosophy." Sitting with
a fishing rod. Painting in oils. Cutting out holes in nesting boxes.
Looking round the Pharaohs' tombs...
No, it doesn't look right. These are just special effects. Even if he
feels very well, he still won't be able to occupy himself in such a way
for more than five minutes. He will find it mindlessly boring.
That is the third point. That is why it is just as difficult to imagine
what the president will do with himself in retirement if the democrats
remain in power as a result of the elections and he has no need to flee.
But what can he do? No doubt he will live in some residence in the Moscow
region and do the same as he does now: drink, get sick, get better, sink
into childishness, and explode in sudden fits of destructive activity.
For a president (and, in fact, for any other kind of leader) retirement
is a transition to a fundamentally different state.
He must switch from superman to normal person.
Psychologically this is very difficult, but most people manage it somehow,
overcome the barrier. Probably even Yeltsin could adapt to the new
situation in time, return to the milieu of "normal people," but in his
case it is not only up to him. An even bigger question is: Will that
milieu take him back?
He has reached a point where there is no place for him among "normal
people" anymore. He can either be president or nobody. And that is
doubtless the main reason why it is so hard to imagine Yeltsin on a pension.
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999
From: "Jake Rudnitsky" <email@example.com>
Subject: Paper on New York Times Coverage of 1993 events
George Washington vs. the Raving Nationalists, Neo-Bolsheviks,
Fundamentalists, Paranoiacs, and Thugs:
The Russian Political Crises of 1993 According to the New York Times
By Jake Rudnitsky
Russian studies student at Macalester college in St Paul, Minnesota
Perhaps the title of this paper sounds more like a comic book
rendition of American history than the New York Times’ description of
Russia’s 1993 Constitutional crises. However, the epitaphs,
referring to Boris Yeltsin and the Russian Parliament, respectively,
were taken directly from the Op/Ed section of the Times. Like most
mainstream American media outlets, the Times has a great deal of
trouble providing decent coverage of political, social, and economic
events in Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States. They are
mired in a two-dimensional perspective, stemming from the Cold War, in
which all conflicts must be portrayed as a clear-cut struggle between
good and evil. This paper will illustrate this bias by presenting a
brief summary of events in the Spring and Fall of ‘93 and a selection
of quotes from the Times editorial and Op/Ed pages during that time.
Starting in ‘92, the Russian government was locked in a
constitutional crisis. While virtually all politicians agreed that
the heavily amended Brezhnev era Constitution needed to be replaced,
Boris Yeltsin and the majority of parliamentarians, under the umbrella
of the Civic Union, could not reach a compromise over the nature of a
new constitution. Yeltsin supported a super-presidential draft and
the Civic Union backed a draft that would reduce the role of the
president to a figure head. The Times started covering the story
when, in late March, Yeltsin declared a period of special presidential
rule until a referendum, set on April 25, would determine who the
Russian people backed. He was denied the special powers, but the
referendum was held and came out conclusively in Yeltsin’s favor.
During this month, the Times published 5 editorials and 10 opinion
pieces. Of these, only 3 of the opinion pieces saw anything but black
and white. The editorials paint Yeltsin as the only true
representative of the Russian people and dismiss the courts as
irrelevant. "The chairman of the Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin,
has accused Yeltsin of undermining the rule of law. But Zorkin...
invests Russia’s Constitution with a legitimacy it does not deserve."
(Editor, Mar. 23) But the rule of law is essential to a functioning
Most of the opinion pieces offer the same absurd critiques, only
they use more colorful language. A. M. Rosenthal declares that the
Parliamentarians are "the enemies of Russian democracy- the army hold
over Communist bureaucrats, the managers of big government industries,
the right wing brutalists who long to substitute a Russian fascism for
a Russian Communism." (Mar. 23) The author forgets that Parliament
was elected in free elections and that the Civic Union was actually
quite moderate. Furthermore, were not Yeltsin and his advisors former
Only 3 articles suggested a more complex analysis. Of these, 2
concluded that the US ought to back Yeltsin, anyway. Only one
commentator was openly suspicious of Yeltsin’s agenda. Melor Sturua
wrote, "Yeltsin’s forces falsely bill the vote as a showdown between
democrats and Red-Browns.... A decisive victory for one side... could
lead to the destruction of the principle of separation of powers."
(April 24) Indeed, the later remark proved to be prophetic.
The referendum was rejected by Parliament as a product of
Yeltsin’s manipulation of the media, and the power struggle continued
throughout the summer. It became an increasingly personal fight
between Yeltsin on one side and Alexandr Rutskoi, the Vice-President,
and Ruslan Khasbulatov, Chairman of the Parliament, on the other. The
situation culminated when, on Sept. 21, Yeltsin moved to dissolve the
parliament and replace it with a loyal Federation Council. Zorkin and
the Constitutional Court objected to this action, and Yeltsin
dissolved the Court as well.
The Parliament responded by convening in the White House and
setting up an independent government. Yeltsin cut the electricity to
the White House, and the building was isolated by a ring of troops.
Yeltsin dominated the media. This standoff continued for over a week,
during which time extremists within the White House became
increasingly influential because they could mobilize their well
organized, militaristic constituency. Many of the Parliamentarians
left as the tension escalated, but several liberals, including noted
Soviet dissident Oleg Rumyantsev, remained to defend what they saw as
a threat against democracy.
On Oct. 3, Rutskoi sent out a force of armed irregulars to capture
Ostankino TV Station, but they failed. The next day, Yeltsin secured
use of the army, and shelled the White House until Khasbulatov and
Rutskoi surrendered. 146 people died in the conflict. Russia’s
capital hadn’t seen that much violence since the Revolution.
Yeltsin quickly introduced a new constitutional draft, which gave
the President more powers than his previous draft, and announced that
Parliamentary elections and the referendum on the new Constitution
would be held on Dec. 12.
During this time, the Times printed 4 editorials and 10 Op/Ed
pieces. 4 Op/Ed pieces were offered a somewhat balanced assessment of
the events. The editorials played down the violence and entirely
blamed Parliament, going so far as to praise Yeltsin’s restraint. The
number of dead contradicts this last point. Even the Times admits
that "Yeltsin had no constitutional authority to suspend the powers of
Russia’s Parliament yesterday and call early elections. But, his bold
coup could help consolidate Russian Democracy." (Editor, Sept. 22)
How does dissolving a democratically elected institution consolidate
democracy? Judging from the current state of Russian democracy, it
apparently is consolidated into the hands of Yeltsin alone.
Most of the Op/Ed pieces are even more inaccurate. William Safire
imagines that the Parliamentarians "are dying hard for the cause of a
return to a command economy, centralization of power, gulags,
oppression, militarism, imperialism, employer mandates, the whole
discredited Soviet works." (Sept. 30) No doubt that is why Rumyantsev
remained in the White House. Even Rutskoi and Khasbulatov, who wanted
to slow the pace of reforms, were not Communists, and had only entered
politics during perestroika. Other Op/Ed pieces offer an only
slightly less outrageous assessment.
The more evenhanded pieces still generally sided with Yeltsin,
although they saw certain dangerous trends, especially in his control
of the media during and after the crisis.
Of the 29 pieces that addressed the situation in Russia during
this time, only 7 provided a modicum of depth. 3 of these came out
mildly against Yeltsin. Statistically, this means that only 24% of
the pieces offered a relatively informed analysis, and only 10% of
them didn’t back Yeltsin. This distorted presentation is a result of
decades of misunderstandings of the USSR and the short term desire to
open up Russia’s markets to Western goods and services. While Yeltsin
was the West’s man in terms of market reform, the shortsightedness of
this approach has, over the last several months, become evident with
the collapse of Russia’s economy and Yeltsin’s health.
The problems with this method of reporting are numerous. It
provides an amazingly narrow view of the situation for an American
audience and betrays a failure to comprehend the situation. When the
media is uninformed, it cannot act as a watchdog. For example, Bill
Clinton’s unquestioning support of Yeltsin during the Sept./Oct.
crisis tacitly encouraged Yeltsin to avoid compromise. When two
notable attempts at negotiations were made (by mediators Zorkin and
Patriarch Alexei), Yeltsin felt no pressure from the West to heed
them. This is precisely the type of information that independent
media should report. But the Times, and other US media, was too
preoccupied with towing the party line and backing Yeltsin at all
costs. Ironically, the Times’ support of ‘democratic’ Yeltsin over
the ‘Communist’ Parliament lead to Soviet style journalism, caulked
full of misinformation and a political agenda.