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Johnson's Russia List
26 April 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Russia, praised by West, seeks Kosovo peace.
2. AP: Primakov Often Regrets Becoming PM.
3. Message from US Embassy in Moscow to Americans in Russia.
4. US News and World Report: Christian Caryl, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING
Making a deal, Moscow style.
5. Reuters: Chernobyl survivors mark disaster 13 years on.
6. The official press release from the US Embassy regarding the emergency
aid to Russian media. (DJ: I'd be interested in comments on this program
of the US government to fund Russian media.)
7. Stratfor: Russia to supply Serbia.
8. Washington Post editorial: Empty Chair.
9. AP: Russia May Review NATO Relations.
10. Reuters: Serb-Russian brotherhood only skin-deep.
11. The Times (UK): Anna Blundy on advertising in Russia.
12. BBC: Tom de Waal, Who Killed Dudayev?
13. Moskovskaya Pravda: Petr Yanchenko, Grigoriy Yavlinskiy and the
Russia, praised by West, seeks Kosovo peace
By Gareth Jones
MOSCOW, April 26 (Reuters) - Russia, praised by NATO leaders for trying to
mediate an end to the Yugoslav conflict, will step up its diplomatic
efforts this week but its relationship with the alliance remains severely
In a sign of Western concern to keep Russia fully involved, U.S. President
Bill Clinton spoke by telephone with Russia's Boris Yeltsin for about an
hour on Sunday evening.
``Both presidents agreed that the main and most important goal must be
restoring a stable peace in the Balkans,'' the Kremlin said in a statement,
adding that the conversation took place in ``an open and constructive
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott was preparing to leave late
on Sunday for Moscow and further talks on Kosovo. ``It's very
important...to continue to maintain contacts with the Russians and it's
important to have them be a part of things,'' Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright said, adding that the trip was decided before Clinton spoke to
Yeltsin, who has led Russia's condemnation of NATO's month-old bombing
campaign against Yugoslavia, is expected to send his special Balkan envoy,
Viktor Chernomyrdin, to Western capitals in the coming days to discuss ways
of ending halt the conflict.
Chernomyrdin, Russia's prime minister from 1992 to 1998, held talks last
week in Belgrade with President Slobodan Milosevic and then announced the
Yugoslav leader was ready to make concessions.
Western leaders quickly dismissed Milosevic's reported offer to allow U.N.
peacekeepers into Kosovo as completely inadequate but made clear they
wanted Russia to continue mediating.
``I believe President Yeltsin and the Russians are very serious about
trying to find a peaceful solution,'' White House National Security Adviser
Sandy Berger said on Sunday.
``President Clinton encouraged President Yeltsin to do so, and I think
there will be continuing contact over the days ahead,'' Berger told CNN.
Russia has fiercely opposed NATO's air strikes against its Slavic, Orthodox
Christian brethren in Yugoslavia from the start and, in the latest sign of
protest, boycotted the alliance's 50th anniversary celebrations this
weekend in Washington.
But the crisis has also put Moscow, the only major world player with good
access to Milosevic, in a strong diplomatic position which it is keen to
exploit to the full.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said Chernomyrdin will be welcome
in Bonn and both Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy and U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan are due to visit Moscow this week for talks on
the Yugoslav crisis.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has emerged as the alliance's
leading hawk on Yugoslavia, said he hoped Moscow would use all its
influence on Milosevic to help end the war.
In an interview for Russia's NTV commercial television aired on Sunday
evening, Blair also drew parallels between the NATO campaign against
Milosevic and the fight against fascism during World World Two, when
Britain and Russia were allies.
But NATO's plans to impose an oil embargo on Serbian forces could reignite
tensions between the West and Russia, Yugoslavia's main oil supplier.
France says only ships of NATO and European Union member states and allied
countries should be targeted to avoid violating international law and
further enraging Moscow.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said in Cairo on Saturday that Moscow
would not be part of the oil embargo on Yugoslavia, though on Sunday the
White House's Berger suggested that Russia might go along with such a
blockade after all.
``I expect the Russians would comply with it. Nothing in the conversation
today with President Yeltsin indicated to the contrary,'' Berger said of
On a less sanguine note, the Communist speaker of Russia's lower house of
parliament, Gennady Seleznyov, told Itar-Tass news agency that NATO's air
strikes meant Russia no longer had to heed an international arms embargo
And in an interview for the Obozrevatel news programme, Prime Minister
Yevgeny Primakov warned against the deployment of NATO ground troops in
Kosovo, saying such a move would force Russia to review its defence spending.
Russia has sent a reconnaissance ship, the Liman, to the Adriatic Sea to
monitor the Yugoslav crisis but has so far said it has no wish to become
militarily embroiled in the Balkans.
Primakov Often Regrets Becoming PM
April 25, 1999
By ANGELA CHARLTON
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who has spent much
of his term fending off political enemies and wrestling with a moribund
economy, said Sunday he frequently regrets taking the job.
Soon after his appointment in September, Primakov was effectively leading
the country while President Boris Yeltsin suffered a series of health
Asked whether he regretted accepting the post, Primakov said in an
interview with Russia's TV-6 network: ``Yes, many times.'' He did not
indicate whether he had plans to quit.
He also reiterated his insistence that he would not run for president,
despite his widespread popularity and reports that he is considering a bid.
``I'm tired of repeating that I have neither ambitions nor desire to take
part in the struggle for power,'' he said. ``I don't want'' to run for
Primakov, a former spymaster and longtime diplomat, was appointed premier
as a compromise to appease Yeltsin's Communist foes after the president
dissolved the government in the wake of Russia's financial collapse last
One of Primakov's key tasks was to rescue the economy. Yet the problems run
deep, and he has made little progress.
Primakov has presided over a period of deteriorating relations with the
United States, largely over Iraq and Yugoslavia. Yet he repeatedly has
turned to Western lenders for aid.
International aid organizations have frozen loans to Russia, refusing to
release more money until they see signs that Primakov's government is
making serious economic reforms.
Primakov also has suffered increasing attacks from political rivals --
reportedly some from within Yeltsin's administration.
In Sunday's interview, Primakov insisted that there was no rift between him
``There is no reason to believe that the government is working
independently from the president or against his orders,'' he said.
He also spoke out against impeachment charges against Yeltsin that the
lower house of parliament is scheduled to debate next month.
``Impeachment is a useless idea, undermining the unity of society. It's
unjustified. The president should serve the remainder of his term,''
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999
From: Serguei Sossedkine <email@example.com>
This was distributed today on Moscow Expat List:
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 05:33:46 -0400
From: "Basadur, Steven J."
Subject: Warden Message
This is a warden message for all American citizens. Please distribute it to
your American citizen friends and colleagues. If you are a Warden, notify
your Warden Group. In order for the Embassy or Consulate to ensure that all
American citizens get this information, please inform us if you have
received this message. If you have any questions contact us, either by
e-mail, or at one of the following numbers:
E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
April 24, 1999
On Saturday, April 24, 1999, at 6:05 AM in Yekaterinburg, a bomb exploded in
a parking lot adjacent to the building in which the U.S. Consulate General
is located. No injuries were reported, but all windows on the blast side of
the building were broken, as were windows in residences across the street.
Police are investigating the incident.
This incident underscores the fact that all Americans must maintain a high
level of security awareness. The Embassy is recommending that all American
citizens review and practice the following security precautions.
- - Stay alert to your surroundings. At your residence, keep your
doors locked at all times.
- - If you observe a demonstration of any kind, leave the area
immediately and stay away. If unable to leave the area, seek refuge in a
public building until the demonstration passes. Stay out of sight, and do
nothing to incite the demonstrators. If in a vehicle, do not attempt to
drive through a demonstration. Instead, turn around and leave the area
- - If you hear a commotion, or what you believe to be an explosion,
outside on the street, do not go near the windows, and do not look outside.
Instead, get down, stay away from the window, and report what you have heard
immediately to the police. Remember, one explosion might be followed by
another that is more powerful.
- - In public, avoid wearing clothing such as team logo jackets or
T-shirts that identifies you as an American. Speaking loudly in English on
the Metro or other public places will also draw attention and should be
- - Should you be approached in public by someone wishing to engage you
in a conversation about the events in Yugoslavia, politely excuse yourself
and walk away. Ignore completely people who recognize you as an American
and express their displeasure with NATO's actions in a loud or forcible
manner. If they persist, seek refuge in a public building until it is safe
for you to leave the area.
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999
From: Christian Caryl <CCaryl@compuserve.com>
Subject: THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING
US News and World Report
THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING
Making a deal, Moscow style
MOSCOW–And suddenly there was Victor Chernomyrdin, riding to the rescue.
For a while last week it looked as though the former Russian prime
minister, basking in his surprise appointment as Boris Yeltsin's special
negotiator for the Balkans, might hold the key to peace in Yugoslavia. On
Thursday Chernomyrdin emerged from a marathon session with Slobodan
Milosevic to announce that the Yugoslav leader reluctantly had agreed to
allow international peacekeepers in Kosovo.
Yugoslav officials backtracked on the proposal the very next day. But that
did not dispel hopes that Chernomyrdin might yet succeed where others have
failed. His contacts are hard to beat: As the former head of Russia's
natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, he is well acquainted with the Yugoslav
president, whose country was a major customer. And as the former head of
Russia's government, he's also a friend of Vice President Al Gore.
Plot twist. What an irony it would be if it were Russia that helped the
West solve the Kosovo crisis. When NATO started its air war on March 24,
the Kremlin reacted with indignation at being cold-shouldered out of the
decision to attack. But the past few weeks have seen a dramatic change in
tone. According to Alexander Pikayev of the Carnegie Endowment's Moscow
Center, it all began with an April 6 telephone call to Yevgeni Primakov
from Gore. The soothing message was that "Russia could still play an
important role" in the Kosovo crisis, says Pikayev. A follow-up meeting in
Oslo between Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov brought no visible results, but at least, say
diplomats, the two sides were talking.
Since then there have been many signals of Russian willingness to get back
into the diplomatic game. On a visit to Belgrade, the patriarch of the
Russian Orthodox Church, Alexy II, criticized NATO. But that was to be
expected. The real surprise was that he also included Albanian refugees in
his prayers. The Russian media also have become more evenhanded in their
coverage of events in the Balkans. And Yeltsin himself has staged a
rhetorical climb-down, emphasizing that Russia and the West still have an
interest in cooperation–a point symbolized by Chernomyrdin's appointment.
Still, domestic political affairs in Russia could muddy the picture again.
The nationalist-dominated parliament, which is pushing for closer ties with
Milosevic, has postponed an impeachment vote against Yeltsin until the
middle of May. And Russian public opinion is still running strongly against
Chernobyl survivors mark disaster 13 years on
By Christina Ling
KIEV, April 25 (Reuters) - Thousands of survivors of the 1986 explosion at
Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant mourned their dead on Sunday, on the
eve of the tragedy's 13th anniversary.
``We want to show we are still here, we are still alive,'' said Mykola Bosiy,
commander of a secret clean-up battalion ordered to the plant hours after its
No. 4 reactor blew up early on the morning of April 26, 1986.
The sombre column of sufferers, many with black bands tied around their
foreheads and bearing black banners, marched through crowds of families and
rollerblading children out enjoying spring sunshine on Kiev's central
Diseased and cancer-ridden children, including one boy in a wheelchair,
joined widows and children of those sent to clean up in the weeks and months
after the explosion in a march police said mustered about 4,000.
``We built and worked at that cursed reactor...now I get a pension of 160
hryvnias ($40) a month and they want to take away our compensation and
discounts,'' said one woman carrying a black-framed portrait of her husband
in one hand and wiping away a tear with the other.
Hundreds of thousands of people had to abandon the immediate zone around the
plant after the explosion sent a poisonous radioactive cloud billowing over
Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and parts of Western Europe, killing 31 people and
affecting thousands more in the world's worst civil nuclear disaster.
Red Communist flags mingled with the black in Kiev, while in neighbouring
Belarus, 7,000 protesters marched to the sound of a tolling church bell in
the capital to commemorate the disaster, which contaminated a quarter of
Ukrainian Deputy Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Kholosha said this
week the government had spent about $11 billion so far to battle the
consequences of the accident.
But Ukraine's cash-strapped and indebted government must stick to a tight
fiscal and monetary policy to receive funds from the IMF and others, and
wages and pensions are delayed for months across the country, including at
nuclear power plants.
``It is OK for us, the medicines we need are still on the list of those
provided free to Chernobyl victims,'' said Andriiy, 40, whose seven-year-old
son Serhiy has cancer and who still lives in a town near the Chernobyl zone.
Health officials say the number of radiation-related diseases in the
impoverished country is increasing. Four children have died from thyroid
cancer so far, a deputy health minister said this week, while the total of
cases among those who were under 18 in 1986 has hit 1,200.
Safety at nuclear plants throughout the former Soviet Union, including
Ukraine, has come under renewed scrutiny in the run-up to the new millennium.
Analysts fear the date change could cause some types of computer systems to
Chernobyl's chief engineer said this week the plant's systems were
susceptible to the bug, although there was time to deal with the problem.
President Leonid Kuchma has also renewed his pledge to keep the last
remaining reactor running at Chernobyl until Western states come up with
promised financial assistance to finish construction of two replacement
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999
From: "Marianne Ruane" <email@example.com>
Subject: emergency assistance to Russian media
X-Comment: FSU Media list
The official press release from the US Embassy regarding the emergency aid
to Russian media.
DRAFT: Press Release: Assistance to the Independent Media
On January 25, 1999, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced in
Moscow that the United States will commit USD 10 million to fund training
and support for Russia's independent media. This commitment builds on more
than five years of assistance programs to promote the professionalism and
financial viability of the regional independent media in Russia.
Assistance will be implemented primarily through non-profit Russian media
assistance organizations selected by the U.S. Government for their expertise
and extensive networks of contacts with regional Russian broadcasters and
print media. Assistance organizations receiving support from the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID) will include the
National Press Institute, Internews Russia, the Eurasia Foundation and other
providers. The U.S. Information Agency will also expand media exchange
opportunities for Russian media professionals in such areas as
economic-related reporting for journalists and crisis management training
for media managers.
In general, only regional non-governmental media will be eligible for
assistance. Most support will involve training and related activities to
promote both the short- and long-term financial self-sustainability of
regional independent newspapers and television stations.
The United States Government commitment represents one component of a
package of assistance from an international consortium of governmental and
private donors who will make announcements about their programs when
1. Print Media
The National Press Institute (NPI) will provide crisis-related consulting
assistance to independent regional newspapers in the areas of crisis
management, advertising strategies, and business-related legal issues. As
a matter of policy, NPI does not award direct grants to newspapers.
Instead, NPI training and consulting can assist regional non-governmental
newspapers to streamline their management, cut costs, increase advertising
revenues, increase circulation, improve Internet applications, draft
business plans and write more effective applications for bank loans to
acquire needed capital infusions. NPI also offers journalism and
cyberjournalism training, organizes press conferences, and provides other
media assistance services.
For further information, contact:
National Press Institute
E-mail (best for initial inquiries): firstname.lastname@example.org
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 229, Novy Arbat 2, Moscow, 121019
TEL: (095) 245-3008 or 245-3072 FAX: (095) 246-7502
2. Electronic Media
In addition to crisis-related business management consulting, professional
training, advertising sector support, and production support activities for
regional independent TV broadcasters, Internews will organize additional
program production and documentary competitions for public service
announcements (PSA) and social issue-oriented programming. Competition
details will be publicly announced, beginning mid-spring, 1999.
The financial crisis has greatly increased economic pressures on independent
broadcasters, and the resulting political climate has become more difficult
for the non-governmental media. Accordingly, Internews Russia will also work
with a broad range of other Russian media support organizations (including
the Glasnost Defense Fund, the Journalist Union of Russia, the Media Law and
Policy Center, the National Press Institute, and the Standing Commission on
Freedom of Information) to help research, publicize and defend press
freedoms and the legal rights of independent regional media.
For further details, please contact:
E-mail (best for initial inquiries): email@example.com
TEL: (095) 956-2248
FAX: (095) 956-2249
3. Eurasia Foundation Programs:
As part of its mission to promote the advancement of democratic institutions
and private enterprise in Russia and other Newly Independent States, the
Eurasia Foundation seeks to increase citizen participation in political and
economic decision-making, including through work with media organizations.
Foundation-supported media programs facilitate the creation of more
effective media; increase the sustainability of media; and reduce obstacles
to media development. Specific examples of programs which are eligible for
Foundation support include: university-level journalism programs that
instill new skills and professional standards; projects which increase
advertising revenues and decrease costs of newspaper printing and
distribution; and promotion of laws that guarantee access to information. In
Russia, proposals are reviewed and funded through an ongoing open-door grant
making process in the Foundation's representative offices in Moscow, Saratov
For further details, please contact:
The Eurasia Foundation
4. Media Exchange Programs with U.S. Media
The U.S. Information Service (USIS) will administer a limited number of
programs designed to support Russian media. USIS does not operate grants
programs and thus will not be asking for applications to receive grants.
USIS assistance will take the following forms:
* Professionals in Residence: U.S. media professionals will be invited to
Russia to work with Russian colleagues on emergency-related projects.
Working together with Russian media institutions, USIS will focus on
specific problems, such as downsizing or raising revenue.
* Thematic tours to the U.S. Russian journalists will be chosen to visit
the U.S. to review specific themes such as crisis management in difficult
* Internship program. A limited number of Russian journalists will visit
the U.S. to undertake internships at publications and electronic media
outlets to understand how U.S. media organizations change in times of
* A small portion of this allocation will be available as support for TV
programs with democracy themes.
For further information, please contact:
U.S. Information Service
Ms. Marina Kalashnikova
Tel. (7-095) 956-4238
Fax (7-095) 255-9766
Russia to supply Serbia
1850 GMT, 990425 – Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov warned that Russia may
send arms shipments to Yugoslavia. Seleznyov told Itar Tass, "I make an
official statement that the Russian parliament will achieve the Russian
military-technical assistance to Yugoslavia if NATO starts a land
operation. Russia now has the right to render any assistance to the country
subjected to an aggression because of the gross violation of Article 51 of
the UN Charter, and that may include air defense systems and missiles."
Seleznyov added, "There cannot be an embargo today: NATO is arming the
Kosovo Liberation Army and preparing it for an aggression in Yugoslavia.
Why can one arm the other, and why cannot we arm Yugoslavia?" However,
Seleznyov emphasized, "We do not get involved in the war."
April 25, 1999
JUST ABOUT EVERY European nation had its representative at Washington's
mega-summit this weekend, NATO and non-NATO members alike. Conspicuously
absent, though, were the Russians. That was unfortunate for NATO and the
Clinton administration, which have worked hard, and rightly so, to make a
place for Russia in the new Europe. It was even more unfortunate for Russia
itself, which now finds itself more isolated than ever, and more exposed in
The proximate cause for Russia's boycott is NATO's war in Kosovo. The
bombing campaign has aroused strong emotions in Russia, all negative. Some
Russians say it proves right the fears they harbored from the start that
NATO is an aggressive, not a defensive alliance. There is sympathy for the
Serbs, who share a version of Russia's Orthodox religion. Among
policymakers, who waged their own brutal war against ethnic separatists in
Chechnya, the anxiety is that the Kosovo example could be used to fracture
Russia. And there is resentment that NATO launched this campaign without
authorization from the U.N. Security Council -- which is to say, without
the approval of Russia and China.
Opposition to NATO's action is not, in and of itself, dishonorable. Plenty
of Americans and Europeans share the view that an air campaign was not the
optimal way for NATO to achieve its goals. But Russia in two ways has
diminished its stature and its standing to make this argument. First, it
has failed to put forward any true alternative. Throughout the past year,
that is, Russia claimed to share the goals of autonomy for Kosovo, an end
to ethnic violence and a withdrawal of most Serbian troops. But when
Slobodan Milosevic violated his own commitments to those goals, commitments
that the U.N. Security Council had enshrined, Russia offered no suggestions
on how to enforce agreements it had backed or to protect the civilians of
More serious has been Russia's refusal to condemn or even acknowledge the
massive crimes against humanity for which Mr. Milosevic is responsible.
It's fine to argue against NATO bombing, if that's your view, and to call
attention to the civilian casualties such bombing is bound to produce. It's
not fine to pretend, as Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov did early on, that
the mass exodus from Kosovo is caused entirely by NATO's bombing. It's not
fine to claim, as Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov did, that the forced
expulsions are purely a matter of Western propaganda. It won't be forgotten
that so many Russian politicians, across the political spectrum, could not
bring themselves to condemn the mass rapes and murders.
Now President Boris Yeltsin has appointed as Kosovo negotiator his former
prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin. This may be as much a slap at his
current prime minister, Mr. Primakov, as a genuine attempt to make peace,
but NATO is right to encourage Mr. Chernomyrdin's efforts. Russia's
government also has sidestepped calls from the Communist and nationalist
opposition to take extreme measures, such as sending arms to Yugoslavia. If
Russia can be brought back into the process without compromise to NATO's
principles, so much the better. But its involvement can only be meaningful
to the extent it acknowledges the reality and consequences of Mr.
Russia May Review NATO Relations
April 25, 1999
By NICK WADHAMS
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia may beef up its defense budget and will review its
relations with NATO countries if the alliance commits ground troops to
Yugoslavia, Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov said Sunday.
President Boris Yeltsin and President Clinton, meanwhile, discussed the
Kosovo conflict and Russia's latest mediation efforts in a telephone
Russia has strongly denounced the NATO airstrikes against its ally
Yugoslavia but has insisted it will not intervene militarily.
Instead, it has sought to serve as a peace broker. Several Russian
politicians and diplomatic leaders -- including Primakov -- have traveled
to Belgrade to meet with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, but they
have achieved no breakthroughs.
If NATO decides to use ground troops in Kosovo, ``we will have to revise
relations with NATO and we will have to make certain changes in the
budget,'' Primakov told Russia's TV-6 network.
He did not call directly for more military spending -- as many Russian
lawmakers and some defense officials have done -- but said, ``We will have
to pay more attention to defense.''
Clinton urged Yeltsin to press Milosevic to accept a political solution and
stressed that Russia ``could play a constructive role'' in the Kosovo
crisis, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said in Washington.
The speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, Gennady Seleznyov,
warned Sunday that Russia's peace initiatives were ``running dry,'' blaming
NATO for rejecting its proposals, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.
The Communist speaker Seleznyov and ultranationalist lawmaker Vladimir
Zhirinovsky each called separately Sunday for a tribunal to try NATO
leaders for their actions in Yugoslavia.
Meanwhile, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott was leaving for a
meeting in Moscow with Russian officials. Talbott was expected to meet with
Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin.
The former Russian prime minister said Saturday that NATO leaders invited
him to meet for discussions about his talks with Milosevic. But NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana said that to his knowledge Chernomyrdin
hadn't been in touch with any of the NATO leaders.
Chernomyrdin also perplexed world leaders Thursday by saying the Yugoslav
government had agreed to allow an international military force in Kosovo.
That might have met one of NATO's major demands and brought Yugoslavia
closer to a political settlement.
But the Yugoslav government said nothing of the kind had been discussed,
and Chernomyrdin's own staff said he had been misinterpreted.
NATO has insisted that it must lead an armed presence in Kosovo to enforce
a peace agreement between Milosevic and the ethnic Albanian majority.
Milosevic vehemently opposes the idea.
In an interview published Sunday by Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper,
Chernomyrdin called on NATO to halt its air war to help boost his
peacemaking efforts and outlined other proposals the alliance is certain to
``Ending or even temporarily suspending NATO's missile and bomb strikes
would open up a good chance of a settlement,'' he was quoted as saying.
He said NATO should withdraw its troops deployed in countries neighboring
Yugoslavia in return for ``a possible reduction'' of Yugoslav forces in
Serb-Russian brotherhood only skin-deep
BELGRADE, April 25 (Reuters) - One of the bitter jokes going around
the moment is that to cross the road you need to look left, look right
and look up.
According to President Slobodan Milosevic, a month of NATO bombing has
Serbs also looking
east, to their fellow Orthodox Slav brothers in Russia.
"Every Serb is looking east with hope, looking where the sun rises," he was
quoted as telling a Slovak newspaper last week.
In the first few weeks of NATO air strikes, some people in Belgrade, which
long prided itself as a cosmopolitan city, took out their anger at the
smashing western embassies, cultural centres and businesses.
The same people cheered Russian politicians at a rock concert, welcomed
Russian Cossacks to
what they called a human shield on one of the city's bridges and shouted
Russia!" at a demonstration outside Serbia's parliament.
Milosevic, encouraged by his firmly anti-Western wife Mirjana Markovic,
has even sought to join
a loose post-Soviet union between Russia and Belarus, though the two
neighbouring countries are far
from the Balkans.
Moscow, keen to reassert itself on the world stage after the collapse of
Soviet superpower, has been flattered by the attention from Belgrade, which
broke ties with it
Now a Russian peace envoy is trying to mediate an end to the bombing
and NATO, which initially dismissed his mission, has said it will hear him
But far from being encouraged by former Russian prime minister's Viktor
Chernomyrdin efforts to
end a standoff over Kosovo which led to the air strikes, many Serbs view his
mission with suspicion.
Brought up in the Cold War years when Yugoslavia was a wedge between East
and West, they see themselves as pawns in a game between the world's great
and fear Russian involvement could make their predicament worse.
The main worry is that Moscow will try to use the conflict to gain
military influence over the Balkans.
This was bolstered when Chernomyrdin emerged from a day of talks with
week saying the Yugoslav leader had agreed to a U.N.-led force in Kosovo,
as part of a package of peace proposals for the Serbian province.
Asked if they thought Chernomyrdin, who was on Sunday preparing to take
from Milosevic to NATO leaders, could bring an end the bombing, people
interviewed at random
in Belgrade at the weekend said no.
"I doubt he could help," said Alexandar Vlajkovic, an editor at Serbian
standing outside the ruins of one of its buildings hit by NATO to try to
silence a media outlet it views as an anti-Western propaganda machine.
"I think the Russians are actually worse than the others in a way, because
they are not genuine. They are talking about our interests while wanting to
own army in (to Kosovo)."
Dejan Anastasievic, a journalist at the liberal weekly Vreme, also doubted
the Russian initiative
"Why would NATO bomb just to let the Russians put their troops in?" he
said, referring to U.S. insistence that any military force in the province
His doubts stem less from fear of a Russian takeover than a feeling that
the standoff between the West and Milosevic has gone much too far to be
diplomatically, and that Russia is too weak to be a viable mediator.
"I would like to believe a deal is possible but I can't. They (western
leaders) have called him a dictator, how can they turn around and sign an
with him?" he said.
Even Milosevic has played down Moscow's diplomatic role. His foreign
ministry denied he had
agreed to any military force and he himself made clear it was military aid
"We appreciate Moscow's diplomatic support. But aside from diplomatic and
moral support, we particularly
need military and technical aid," the Slovak newspaper quoted him as saying.
Russia's response to Serbia is further evidence that the relationship is
more complicated than
straightforward brotherly solidarity proclaimed by the Cossacks visiting
The Russian authorities responded coolly to Belgrade's request to join
their union with Belarus,
and Russian President Boris Yeltsin has said Milosevic is not the easiest
"Sometimes you have to speak to him two, three, five, 10 or 20 times,"
he cautioned before the air strikes began.
Moscow, seeking western funding to help it out of a domestic economic
been strong on anti-NATO rhetoric -- even warning the alliance risks
sparking World War Three
-- but short on actions that could lead to a confrontation.
Anya, a public relations executive from Belgrade, is one Serb who would
stayed that way.
"Serbs don't want Russia involved," she said. "What for? To pull in the
of Europe, to bomb Paris and Rome? Even Serbs are not that vengeful," she
The Times (UK)
April 26 1999
[for personal use only]
By Anna Blundy
'Fifteen years ago there were no
adverts and no products to advertise.
A soft drink was a soft drink and
there was only one word for it -
Happy milkmaids, fields of corn, golden light and lots of old
men vaguely modelled on Leo Tolstoy. This is the surreal
image of Russia presented in television ads. Quite how
anybody expects people who actually live here to believe
that there are robust, rosy-cheeked girls in embroidered
shirts happily slopping milk from one pail to the next in
some pastoral idyll outside the ring road, I cannot imagine.
Fifteen years ago there was none of this drivel. No adverts,
no products to advertise, no spin. Cheese was cheese (in
fact there were two sorts - yellow and white), and a soft
drink was a soft drink. There was only one word for it -
water. Anything non-alcoholic came under this name. You
knew where you were.
Then, in 1990, a billboard went up in Pushkin Square. It
was huge. On it was a little line- drawing of a man holding
a can. The caption, a ludicrously literal translation of the
English, read: "7UP. More a jar of water than a way of
life." People stood before it, squinting up in a desperate
attempt to extract meaning. This was the start of
advertising in Russia.
For at least two years, direct translations of foreign
advertisements baffled the Russian populace. "Bounty - the
enjoyment of paradise" did not disclose that there was
something to eat beyond the palm-tree wrapper and not a
sex aid, as the words suggested. But eventually the
economic colonists got the hang of things and started
running faintly 1950s-style ads of the "buy this, it does this
and is better than that" type. This went down much better
and Russians began to believe that there were differences
between cans of drink, and the ways of life that went with
them. They were not quite as convinced as their Western
counterparts, perhaps - Russians in general have a more
finely developed sense of irony than we do - but they
managed to have a Coke versus Pepsi war nonetheless.
Today, however, it's a new ball game. While the
nightmarish "Papa? Nicole!" might not yet be appreciated,
Western-style coffee ads are. Nowadays, the idea is to
show affluent Russians enjoying the finer things in life.
There is a fantastic one in which a girl lets a waiting lover
leave messages asking where she is, as she enjoys her
delicious cup of coffee in a faintly sexual way.
The thing is, where is she? She cannot be shown in some
awful Brezhnev high-rise, but the beautiful
pre-Revolutionary apartments here are not yet fashionable
because old people are still dying in them. So this gorgeous
woman lives in a ground-floor place that overlooks a forest
and is always bathed in golden light. If by some amazing
chance such a place exists, she would need bars on the
windows and an armed guard nearby.
But best of all, there are now Russian companies running
sophisticated ad campaigns. The trouble is, they have a
Russian product to sell to Russians. This means that they
cannot use beautiful Russian youngsters, looking
Westernised and standing in a basketball court saying "I
can chew it all day and it never loses its taste", because
that is still selling the West to Russia. They have to sell
The results are hilarious. This surreal twilight zone country
has emerged - happy peasants in fields of gold meet
affluent new Russians with cars and country houses. The
most toe-curling of these involves a little boy on in-line
skates, gliding along a pristine riverbank (no such thing
around these parts and anyway, he would fall down a
pothole in the pavement and do himself an injury), hand in
hand with his Grandpa. I think the boy is wearing a
Walkman around his neck and if not, he ought to be.
Grandpa has a long, grey beard and is wearing a belted
peasant shirt and shoes made out of reeds. Presumably his
son eschewed his simple way of life and became a contract
killer or similar (in-line skates are expensive). Anyway,
Grandpa is droning on about how the cathedrals are the
heart of Russia (how he came out of Communism looking
so well with such stringent religious beliefs is anyone's
guess). The boy looks convinced.
The strangest, though, is Milaya Mila (sweet Lyudmilla), a
pretty, buxom mother who goes out into the pale morning
light, skips through the dew to her healthy, happy cows and
comes home with pails of fresh milk for her eager,
What is so interesting about all these ads is that, without
exception, they carefully omit the past 75 years. It is as
though Russia leapt straight from Tolstoyan paradise to
American dream without a glitch. Would that were true -
and perhaps, with a carton of milk, a stick of chewing gum
and an aromatic cup of coffee, it just might be.
April 21, 1999
Who Killed Dudayev?
'Dual attack' killed president
President Dudayev was killed in 1996
By Russia Affairs Reporter Tom de Waal
Interest in the assassination of a popular Chechen separatist leader has
heightened following new revelations on the third anniversary of his murder.
Many questions remained unanswered about the death of Dzhokhar Dudayev,
though it is believed he was killed during a rocket attack while making a
satellite telephone call in a gully outside a Chechen village.
But mystery has surrounded the event.
It was not clear why there were two explosions - theories included a car
bomb planted by Dudayev's own followers or a Russian attack following the
tracking of the satellite call.
The death of Dudayev instantly changed the course of the war in Chechnya.
With their president out of the way, the rest of the Chechen leadership
soon flew to Moscow to sign a new peace agreement.
Now the man who headed the operation to kill Dudayev has detailed how the
Chechen president was killed in an interview with a Russian newspaper.
Vladimir Yakovlev, who says he was deputy head of a group tracking the
Chechen leader, has now given a detailed interview to the newspaper,
Yakovlev says that Dudayev was killed by a combination of a booby trap and
The Russians did have the technology to track a satellite phone call but
Dudayev never spoke long enough on the phone for a plane to get airborne
and find him to launch an attack.
A Russian unit on the ground, however, did identify the gully as a place
which Dudayev visited and planted a booby trap bomb there.
A combination of events leading up to Dudayev's death worked well in
favour of the Russians.
When Dudayev made his fateful call from the gully, a plane was already
Once it was known that Dudayev was in the gully, the booby trap bomb was
detonated and moments afterwards a rocket hit its target.
This new account should put to rest some wild speculation about the
incident, in particular the persistent rumour that Dudayev is not dead
after all - although his body has never been seen in public.
But the claim that someone laid an explosive device on the ground raises
new questions about whether someone close to Dudayev was involved in the
plot to kill him.
Governors Back Yavlinskiy for President
10 April 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Petr Yanchenko: "Grigoriy Yavlinskiy and the Regional Leaders"
As the elections to the State Duma and the series
of elections at the regional level approach, governors and leaders of
all-Russian parties are increasingly actively searching for allies in one
another. The process is quite interesting for several reasons. First,
this is the first time that it has happened in Russia in such manifest
form. Second, the position of the governors reflects, better than any
sociological polls, the real attitudes of the Russian hinterland toward
Moscow politicians. Third, the leader who gets the most support of the
regional elites at the parliamentary elections automatically begins to be
viewed as the leading candidate for president, although, of course, it is
premature to speak here of a direct relationship.
Probably, it has come as a surprise to many people that regional leaders are
looking more and more often in Grigoriy Yavlinskiy's direction. This was
shown in particular by his visit to Sverdlovsk Oblast, where both of the
principal candidates to the post of governor, as explicitly as the
pragmatic and cautious politicians could allow themselves to, made clear
their interest in entering into an alliance.
Why are we speaking of this as a surprise? First of all, because since
the time of the last presidential election campaign, official newsmakers
have done everything possible, it seems, in order to dun into Russians'
heads the thesis of the unelectability of the head of Yabloko. In
essence, this is the only thing that his opponents have imputed to him.
For the most experienced regional politicians, unsubstantiated
discourses on "electability," of course, are no argument. Much more
important in their eyes have turned out to be those qualities that are in
fact present in Yavlinskiy.
Back a year ago, such traits as the ability not to get mixed up in
political scandals, not to give cause for suspicions of corruption - in
other words, all that goes into the concept of "clean hands" - seemed a
hopelessly outmoded commodity on the Russian political flea market. The
situation changed after the elections in Nizhniy Novgorod, the Kuzbass,
and St. Petersburg: It turns out that the public has finally simply
gotten scared. If it continues in the same vein, it is not to be ruled
out that for a voter who does not wish to make a particularly close
reading of party programs that resemble one another and who feels a deep
aversion for political leaders as a class, the reputation of this or that
politician will in the final analysis become the decisive factor.
Of course, a role is also played by something else. The headlong shift
of the majority of the leading politicians "leftward," the departure from
the real political scene of Gaydar and Nemtsov, Chubays' transformation
into a purely oligarchic figure - all of this has cleared out the right
flank of the party spectrum. Meanwhile, the voters who cast their votes
over the past several years for right-wing parties have not disappeared
anywhere, and rumors of the death of the "middle," according to domestic
standards, class, have turned out to be greatly exaggerated. At the same
time, it is becoming increasingly obvious that no new significant figures
among the right-wing politicians will appear before the elections. Which
means that the leader of Yabloko can expect an influx of supporters such
as his opponents, bunched up in a pile on a tiny patch of ground "to the
left," can in no way count on.
If we juxtapose the political temperature in the Federation Council and
the State Duma, it turns out that even the regional leaders themselves,
despite the fact that many of them were elected with the support of the
Communist Party, have turned out to be much closer to Yavlinskiy's
positions than to the forces grouped at the opposite pole.
Nor was it likely to have been forgotten that that the very idea of the
revision of relations between the regions and the center was first
expressed by none other than he.
As for the contenders to the posts of governor - as a rule, they are
the mayors of oblast and kray centers - they are much closer to the
federative policy proposed by the leader of Yabloko than to the ideas of
the Zyuganovites on the abolition of direct elections of heads of
Thus, there are all the preconditions for mutual rapprochement. Except,
perhaps, for one. Far from all the governors gravitating to Yabloko's
banners, by virtue of their own reputations, can become fitting partners
for Yavlinskiy himself.