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Johnson's Russia List
29 April 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
A few comments and suggestions:
a. It would be helpful to readers if authors provided a bit of
information about themselves.
b. In scanning today's Moscow Times on the Internet
(www.moscowtimes.ru) I am reminded about how useful this publication
is. In my judgement it is the best single window on Russia. JRL has
permission to pass on a small portion of the content and I would
encourage recipients to check out the full version.
c. As an aid to improving the content of JRL (and avoiding boredom
and burnout) I would like readers to alert me to items that depart from
the standard fare.
d. I'd like to encourage contributions from new writers and from
those who have been away for some time.
e. There is no Johnson's Yugoslavia List and won't be. I just don't
have the time or energy. Let us all hope that the war in Yugoslavia
ends very soon. It can and should.
f. Just to clarify what might not be clear to some: JRL is my
late night and early morning second job. It's a hobby which has
perhaps grown too large.
1. Reuters: Russia, IMF reach $4.5 billion lending deal.
2. The Guardian (UK): Brothers in the Balkans. As Russia and the US hold
key talks, Roy Medvedev plumbs the psychological gulf between them over
3. Robert Huber: Annotated bibliography of NCEEER's research reports.
4. Reuters: Once adored Soviet cosmonaut looks back. (German
5. Richard Hoagland: Reply to Matsuk (JRL 3257).
6. William Davies: Russian legal system.
7. Reuters: TENNIS-Kafelnikov not quite Russia's golden boy.
8. Moscow Times editorial: Loyalty Does Not Ensure Democracy.
9. Moscow Times: Andrei Piontkovsky, SEASON OF DISCONTENT: For Yeltsin,
The Struggle Is Everything.
10. AFP: Press: Yeltsin And Primakov Learning To Be Friends Again.
11. Moskovskiy Komsomolets: Inara Filatova, Governormania. Fatherland Seeks
Friends. (Luzhkov's 'Talk of Primakov' Intended to Lure Governors).
12. Washington Post: Charles Krauthammer, The Real Winner in
Russia, IMF reach $4.5 billion lending deal
By Lida Poletz
WASHINGTON, April 28 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said on
Wednesday it had reached a deal to lend Russia $4.5 billion over 18 months
but technical details still had to be sorted out and Russia had to approve
IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus said in a statement that the Russian
government had promised to implement "many measures in the fiscal banking
and structural areas" and to explain what happened to previous IMF credits.
"As soon as the measures have been implemented and I have received the
necessary assurances, I shall ask the executive board to consider Russia's
request for a standby arrangement of ($4.5 billion) over 18 months, of
which ($3 billion) would be in the first 12 months," he said.
Sources close to the talks said the IMF loan would be part of a $7.5
billion package, including money promised by the World Bank and other
lenders. If debt rescheduling is taken into account, the package will total
$23 billion to $24 billion -- slightly more than the bailout that collapsed
in August 1998.
Russia is the IMF's biggest borrower but also one of its least reliable
ones. Loans have been halted several times because of Russia's dismal
performance on tax collection or because it failed to meet key elements of
an IMF reform plan.
The latest and deepest setback came last August, when Russia devalued its
currency, the rouble, and defaulted on some domestic debt. The $22.5
billion bailout -- agreed on just weeks before -- was canceled, and new
The IMF is also worried that previous loans were directed through an
offshore company based in Britain's Channel Islands, and Camdessus said
Russia had promised to provide "a full explanation of the management of the
reserves of the Central Bank of Russia and the use of disbursements from
the IMF over the last few years."
Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko said earlier the IMF was waiting
for a report from accountants Price Waterhouse on the activities of the
offshore company. He said the report was due in mid-May.
The Russian government is already preparing legislation to meet the IMF
demands. The laws must be tough enough to satisfy the IMF yet mild enough
to be approved quickly by the communist-dominated parliament.
World Bank President James Wolfensohn said he was delighted with "this
important agreement for support of Russia's economic reform efforts."
"The government has informed me that, on this basis, it will be moving
quickly to publish and then implement the new reform program," he said in a
The bank says that it is ready to restart $2.3 billion in lending programs
frozen after the Russian debt default but that payments hinge on a new IMF
New IMF money also is crucial for planned debt rescheduling agreements
between Russia and its creditors.
Russia wants more time to pay billions of dollars of debts inherited from
the Soviet Union. Gerashchenko said Russia was paying post-Soviet debts --
including eurobonds and IMF loans -- and would continue to do so if
"If the Duma (lower house of parliament) will make a decision that we need
to pay what is due in the second quarter -- it's approximately $2.5 billion
-- we should pay," he said.
The Guardian (UK)
28 April 1999
[for personal use only]
Brothers in the Balkans
As Russia and the US hold key talks, Roy Medvedev plumbs the psychological
gulf between them over Serbia
Roy Medvedev is a Russian historian living in Moscow
The violent reaction of Russians to events in Serbia can be explained not
by political logic but by human feelings. There are many reasons for their
The strong strike the weak. Many strike one. About 20 powerful countries,
of which three are great military powers, with a combined population of
more than 600 million people, are striking Serbia and also Montenegro,
which is not in conflict with anyone. This spectacle reaches us by
television, radio and newspapers, and it is unacceptable to the Russian
understanding of justice. The participation in this terrible action of
Germany and Turkey, whose historical guilt before the Serbian people is far
from forgotten, adds to the anger.
The armed strike the un armed. The Serbs do not have modern aviation or new
forms of anti-aircraft defence. They are defenceless before the missiles
and bombs. Nato pilots and sailors risk nothing, they are beyond danger,
they go unpunished. There are hundreds of dead and wounded on the Serbian
side, Serbia's industry is destroyed. But there is not a single dead or
wounded Nato soldier. From the point of view of Russian people this is
unequal, dishonourable and cowardly. It isn't even war, it is a massacre.
A Slav, Orthodox country is being destroyed. It was Russia which helped
Serbia attain its independence in the 19th century. In all the European
wars over the last 300 years, Serbia has always been Russia's ally. It was
because of Serbia that Russia went to war against Austro-Hungary in 1914.
Serbia has never opposed Russia and it remains our only ally outside the
former USSR. All Russians knows this from their history lessons at school.
Serbia is being beaten to humiliate and teach Russia a lesson. There is a
strong conviction among Russians that the senseless destruction of Dresden
in 1945 and the use of atomic bombs against Japan were demonstrations of
strength to the USSR above all. Russia only began to rise from its knees in
autumn 1998, to emerge from the crisis, to rid itself of worthless, alien
politicians who were oriented to the west. The destruction of Serbia was
conceived as a demonstration of the west's strength and invincibility. It
was intended to break Russia's will, to put a stop to the integration of
Slav peoples. These ideas and feel ings are particularly strong in the
Russian army, in the defence industries, and among veterans of the last
war. But they are transferred to the entire population.
The west deceived and robbed Russia. Our people were told over and over
again about the benefits of democracy and the market economy which the rich
western countries would help Russia construct. This illusion has long
disappeared. In the minds of the impoverished there is a conviction that
the west not only deceived us, but it robbed Russia, trying to turn it into
the source of raw materials. New wealthy Russians, stock market gamblers
and financial speculators carried billions of dollars away to the west.
Life in Russia became worse and poorer, and its debts to the west grew
several times over. Russia is being squeezed out of international politics
and the international economy.
Although weakened, Russia is still strong both as a nation and as a state.
Its army may be hungry but it has great traditions. It is armed with modern
weapons. Russia's military-industrial potential is still very great. If
ground forces and the neighbouring countries are drawn into the war, Russia
will certainly break the UN embargo on supplying arms to the Balkans which
is already being broken in relation to the Kosovo Liberation Army. A real
union between Serbia, Belarus and Russia is not utopian.
Talk about the despotism of President Milosevic does not impress the
Russian citizens. Russia lived for centuries in conditions of despotism and
political terror. Compared to our dictators, Milosevic seems a pragmatist.
He was elected by the people, Serbia has a multi-party system and
practically no political prisoners.
No one in Russia defends ethnic cleansing, but it is obvious to all that
external aggression can only make it worse. In Russia itself there are
about three million Russian refugees who have fled from the ethnic
conflicts in Central Asia, Moldova, the Caucasus and Abkhazia. There are a
million refugees in Azerbaijan, half-a-million in Armenia, three hundred
thousand in Georgia. But no-one thinks that bombs are the best means of
returning their lost land to these people.
In order to win a war, it is necessary to smash the will not only of the
leaders, but of the whole people. Russian and Belarussian support will give
the Serbs a great deal of hope. The Serbian nation has lost more people in
the wars of the 20th century than any other nation in Europe. Serbia has
lived in bondage for longer than it has been free. This small nation in the
Balkans cannot be defeated, it can only be destroyed. If Nato does not
intend to destroy it, it would be better to stop now, to prevent a more
serious war with incalculable consequences.
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999
From: Bthnceeer@aol.com (Robert Huber)
Subject: Annotated bibliography of NCEEER's research reports
The National Council for Eurasian and East European Research (NCEEER) is
pleased to announce the publication of an annotated bibliography of NCEEER's
research reports from the first twenty years of its history (1978-1998). The
reports, numbering 950, and usually about 15-30 pages in length, include
contributions from among the finest scholars and researchers in the field of
Eurasian and East European studies, including many of direct policy
relevance. The bibliography also contains an introductory article by
Professor Vladimir Treml, an economist at Duke University, on the impact of
Western Sovietological work, including work annotated in the NCEEER
bibliography, on Soviet decisionmaking in such areas as foreign trade, the
second economy, and health and environmental policy, indicating in the
clearest way yet the positive impact U.S. academic research had on
contributing to serious policy change, particularly since the Gorbachev
While supplies last, NCEEER will offer the bibliography to the public free of
charge. The research reports in their entirety are also available for use at
the Vladimir I. Toumanoff Library, located in NCEEER headquarters at 910 17th
Street, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20006. For further information contact
the NCEEER President Robert T. Huber, at (202) 822-6950.
Once adored Soviet cosmonaut looks back
By Adam Tanner
April 28, 199
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Men like cosmonaut German Titov, whose space experience
goes back longer than any other living man, were the Soviet Union's walking
gods, pioneers of the great Communist future who crushed the ants of the
Looking back, Titov, the second cosmonaut in space, recalls that even mighty
heroes suffered the indignities of Soviet rules, such as the time a folder
containing a multitude of identity passes disappeared from his car in 1963.
Such passes gave access to many secret institutes and halls of power and the
legendary father of the Soviet rocket program, Sergei Korolyov, scolded him
personally for his carelessness.
``Korolyov told me what he thought of me, how I was slovenly and not serious
enough,'' Titov, now 63, said in a two-hour interview on his career. ``He
said, 'I'll write you new passes, but if you lose them you'll go to jail.'''
Titov, who was the backup for first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961, flew
less than four months later, becoming the first human to spend 24 hours in
orbit. He, Gagarin and 18 other men made up the original cosmonauts engaged
in a fierce competition with the United States to be first in space.
FOUR 'DISAPPEARING' COSMONAUTS
Yet the Soviet leadership decided that four of their carefully chosen men did
not have the right stuff after all. Officials airbrushed their faces out of
early cosmonaut photos and their fate was among the Cold War's unanswered
Titov now acknowledges he was indirectly involved in the dismissal of three
of these cosmonauts, Ivan Anikeyev, Valentin Filatyev and Grigory Nelyubov,
when he was acting head while Gagarin was on a trip. Their troubles started
one Sunday in 1963 when the three left the air force base to drink some beer,
violating the rule that they not show their uniform off base.
``A patrol came up to them and said, 'Come on guys, you've got to leave, it's
not allowed.' But Grisha Nelyubov began, how would you say, acting up and
they were brought to the base commander,'' Titov said.
Titov called the commander the next day and was told that Nelyubov had until
2 p.m. to apologize for their behavior. ``At 2 p.m. the next day the
commander called and said no one came. So he sent a report to the chief of
staff on disciplinary violations at the base and they were dismissed,'' Titov
``I asked Grisha, 'Why didn't you go?' He said: 'He (the commander) can go to
A fourth member of the original class, Mars Rafikov, was dismissed for
``violations of military discipline'' in 1962, which Titov said was really
because he had gotten divorced.
Titov, now a member of Russia's lower house of parliament, said that as a
``hero'' cosmonaut he let pass many opportunities with women. ``Of course
there was a plethora of opportunities, but I had to limit myself. It would be
one thing as a simple pilot but not for a cosmonaut because of the
The fame that his 24-hour solo flight brought was in fact a nuisance overall,
Titov said in looking back on his career.
``You can never get used to this. Of course it's pleasant when they say nice
things such as you're so smart, good, famous, achieved such a great thing,''
he said. ``But when this disturbs your work you get tired of it.''
Titov, now white-haired, often let his irritation show. ``I wasn't a very
convenient person for the leadership. I had my own opinion about things and
knew how to insist on this. This didn't always stir warm feelings in the
On one occasion after his space flight, Titov broke protocol while in an
official motorcade in Romania, riding on an escort's motorbike rather than
the fancy car provided.
``There was a price to pay. They were not happy,'' he said with a laugh. ``It
was a thing of youth.''
SECOND TO GAGARIN
Despite his fame, the legend of Titov would always be overshadowed by
Gagarin, who stood alone in the pantheon of Soviet space stars. Of the
original class of 20, planners picked six men for intensive preparations for
the first flight into space in April 1961. Then it became clear either
Gagarin or Titov would pioneer man's adventure into space.
Two days before the April 12 flight officials informed them that Gagarin
would make the flight with Titov as his backup.
``I was frustrated, of course, because up to the last minute I thought my
chances were high enough that I could have been the commander of the Vostok
capsule,'' he said. ``We were all young and wanted to be first, not because
we wanted to be heroes or get something but because it was new work for us.
We had stopped being test pilots to go into space.''
The enormity of Gagarin's flight only hit Titov two days later. ``The
historical significance became clear only on April 14 when we were invited on
to Red Square and I saw the ocean of people screaming, smiling, all happy,
singing songs,'' he said.
``It was only then I realized something extraordinary had happened. I think
even Yura didn't think he would become so world famous after a 108-minute
flight,'' he said of Gagarin.
Titov's own flight in August 1961, following two suborbital U.S. flights, set
several milestones. He was the first to sleep in space on his 24-hour flight
and first to experience space sickness, which he hid from Mission Control
until his return.
He also received a unique surprise from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev upon
his return to Earth.
``I made a report to Khrushchev by telephone after landing, And he said, 'I
congratulate you. By a decision of the Communist Party you have been given
immediately status as a member without a waiting period!''' the retired
``Honestly speaking, I didn't really care. Whether a party member or not, I
was a specialist just doing my job.''
But Titov stayed in the party continues to consider himself a member of the
Soviet Communist Party. At the same time he said he believes in God, was
baptized and attends church -- a faith he kept secret during his high profile
of Soviet times.
He never flew again in space. After Gagarin's death during a test jet flight
in 1968, Titov realized he would never get another chance because authorities
would not risk losing another giant of Soviet space achievement.
Titov still holds the record as the youngest man in space -- he flew when he
was 25 -- and is the last survivor of the four men, two Russian and two
American, who made the pioneer flights in 1961. There is even a moon crater
He says he is proud of his subsequent career as a top official in Soviet
military space forces, a twist in fate he said he did not expect when he
first flew. ``We thought our careers as cosmonauts -- we were young then --
would end with a flight to Mars. But you see life has made some course
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999
From: "Richard E. Hoagland" <email@example.com>
Subject: Reply to Matsuk (JRL 3257)
I read, reread, and read yet again Tatyana Matsuk's essay from the
Jamestown Foundation's "Prism" reprinted in JRL 3257 (4/25/99) #12 because
it seemed to me to embody all that annoys me about Russia and Russian
intellectuals. I lived in the post-1991 former Soviet Union for five
years, three of them in Moscow.
Matsuk's essay is cogent in its own way, accurate in some places, and
well-written, but wrong-headed in too many of its givens, and seems to me
to exemplify that strange combination of Russian intellectual and emotional
absolutism and moral blindness and practical impotence.
Yes, it is indeed true that Russia and the U.S. knew very little in
reality about each other in 1991. Yes, it is true and highly significant
that the passivity of Russian language-structures mirrors the
But it seems to me the height of self-righteousness for Matsuk to say,
"This is not necessarily such a bad thing as it may seem at first sight --
no Protestant work ethic here, no tendency always to
follow the letter of the law.' It is simply the result of adapting to
different living conditions, particularly geographical and historical ones."
Ms. Matsuk, please drop this politely chipper form of Marxist-Leninist
determinism and wake up to the real issue of a morally bankrupt
system. Use your considerable intellectual charm and power to analyze
the plight of good people trapped in a profoundly bad system.
It is not true that Russians have no equivalent of the Protestant work
ethic nor is it true that Russians have no tendency to follow the letter of
the law. Russia has millions and millions and
millions of truly good citizens who work doggedly hard and try to play by
the rules -- and even more would play by the rules if they could. But the
system itself is grotesquely corrupt, criminally corrupt. When a government
refuses to pay its professionals -- doctors and nurses and
teachers and professors -- a minimally livable wage, it forces them to
become complicit in corruption. When oligarchical bankers and enterprise
blatantly steal the life savings of good, middle-class people or refuse to
them their wages and get off scott free, you have to
wonder if there is any hope for such a sick society. When $1-2B a month
reportedly is still even now flowing to off-shore banking havens while the
educated unemployed and unpaid workers subsist on bread, potatoes, and
poor-quality tea, is there any hope for such a country?
Matsuk's article also set my teeth on edge because of the way it
perpetuated the contemporary myth Russian intellectuals are so fond of
that the U.S. gave its assistance to respectable English-speakers (of course
she means the Chubais clan), and "the result was that all ended in
corruption and economic collapse." The U.S. could have "given" its aid
to German-speaking Volgans or Russian-speaking Tatars or "mats"-spewing Red
Directors, and the result would most likely have been the same. The U.S. did
not cause the corruption. Yes, the U.S. did not at first
understand the corruption, nor later did it fully acknowledge the
corruption, but the corruption was and is endemic. U.S. assistance did not
cause it. Without the mentality and institutions of
rule of law, the outcome was almost -- maybe not absolutely, but almost
Matsuk's final assertion simply continues her high-minded blindness:
"[The U.S. and NATO] should find in themselves the moral courage to admit
their mistake [about Yugoslavia] and amend the situation honorably before it
is too late. Otherwise, they will bear responsibility for
everything that happens -- in Russia, too." Ms. Matsuk, I'm sorry that
your language mirrors a profound passivity. I'm sorry that your history has
created such a devastatingly sick and twisted
system. I love that hugely sprawling, enormously beautiful, endlessly
fascinating, and annoyingly irksome land called Russia. I profoundly admire
the patience and courage and -- yes -- the moral strength of the Russian
I love my Russian friends. But I don't care to
tolerate one more Russian intellectual who folds her hands in her lap,
purses her lips, and says,"It's all your fault."
[I am solely responsible for the opinions in this note. They in no way
are meant to represent the views of my employer, the U.S. Government.]
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999
From: "William L. Davies" <Kola_salmon@email.msn.com>
Subject: Russian legal system
This past week the Johnson Report noted enactment by the Duma of
legislation that strengthens the legal system by establishing recognition of
foreign judicial and arbitration awards in Russian courts. Readers should be
aware that this is not quite the momentous event portrayed, inasmuch as it
merely replaces the previous recognition, dating from the USSR era.
My company, Kola Salmon Marketing, Inc. has fought a protracted legal battle
in Murmansk oblast over four years, involving property confiscation and
unilateral contract cancellation by the oblast and its local raion. We
successfully prevailed in the Arbitration Institute of Stockholm on October
31, 1996, receiving a verdict in our favor of nearly one million dollars,
arbitration that was insisted upon by the local government we might add.
The Murmansk Administration refused to accept the arbitration decision,
initiating appeals and harassment lawsuits, but the Russian courts finally
upheld the decision and issued a writ of execution, all affirmed by the
Russian Supreme Court, which underlines our contention that there is nothing
inherently wrong with the courts or the legislation that is currently on the
books. In Murmansk at least, most judges have shown surprising independence
from the executive and a refreshing willingness to rule according to the
Unfortunately, legal codes and an independent judiciary all came to nothing.
The Administration simply chose to ignore the court order and this
underscores the real problem faced by foreign investors in Russia. When the
government itself refuses to follow its own laws or to accept court orders,
there is little hope that privately-owned companies or individuals will do
The foreign investment community recognizes very well that investments in
Russia are inherently risky affairs, protected only by current goodwill from
government officials instead of by a predictable legal system. I suppose it
is not necessary to spell out for readers how goodwill is obtained.
Certainly, that is the case in Murmansk where foreign investment
opportunities go a-begging because local government cannot be trusted. The
Norwegian government even offered guarantees for investments in neighboring
Murmansk, but no takers could be found.
Adding to our further gloom, the architect of this legal fiasco in Murmansk,
Vice-Governor Valentine Luntsevich, supposedly has now been appointed to
Moscow as Vice Minister under Andrei Shapovaliants at the Economics
Ministry. Reportedly, he will be in charge of attracting foreign investment.
Incredibly, many good-willed and otherwise intelligent people still consider
the government of Russia to be worthy of financial support and still
encourage foreign investment. Frankly speaking, in the jargon of
contemporary psychology such a position is called "enabling," making it
possible for an ill person to continue with his self-destructive behavior.
Russian officials need to "grow up," and we do them no favors by
forestalling this day.
Meanwhile, David, spare us further reports of poverty, health, environment,
and other social problems, as well as their adolescent tantrums over Kosovo.
Russians made these problems and it is Russians who are doing nothing to
solve them. We can feel sorrow, but until Russians themselves address their
own problems and move the change the system, there is nothing much anyone
can do about their plight.
TENNIS-Kafelnikov not quite Russia's golden boy
By Elizabeth Piper
MOSCOW, April 28 (Reuters) - Yevgeny Kafelnikov is about to become the first
Russian to top the tennis charts but he has not convinced the pundits at home
that he is worthy of the honour.
The tall fair-haired player from Sochi has been criticised for being aloof
and a ``snob'' by local commentators and has never had an easy ride with the
Some could not help but express doubts about his rise to number one.
``In any case it was a surprise to see Yevgeny's current ranking,''
television commentator Anna Dmitriyeva said.
``By my reckoning, he should have become number one a bit later,'' President
Boris Yeltsin's tennis coach, Shamil Tarpishev, told one newspaper.
He suggested Kafelnikov would burn himself out because of his hectic
``Yevgeny is now committed to preparing for Roland Garros, and to squander
strength on other tournaments is pointless, especially when you consider how
much strength is drained away by playing on clay,'' Tarpishev said.
Kafelnikov, 25, is guaranteed of becoming world number one next week after
Pete Sampras dropped out of this week's tournament in Atlanta because of a
But he did his cause no good by crashing out of the Czech Open to Australian
Richard Fromberg on Tuesday, the sixth successive ATP event in which he has
lost his first match.
Kafelnikov, who has played more matches in recent years than almost every
other leading player, blamed his latest defeat on playing too much and said
it was probably time to get away from his ironman approach to the game.
He claimed he was tired physically and psychologically.
``I've been taking part in the World Series for seven years already and
obviously it's time to change my schedule to give more time for rest,'' he
But he added that, despite his recent series of defeats, he felt he could
hang on to the top ranking right through to the end of the year as Sampras
was also having problems.
``Now I have a chance to take a breath and I feel so relaxed that I could
easily jump over the Great Wall of China,'' the daily Sevodnya newspaper
quoted him as saying.
After Sampras dropped out of the Australian Open in January, Kafelnikov
emerged to win it with his best run of form since he won the 1996 French
But sceptics still felt his temperament would let him down.
``Not everyone is ready, every time they go on the court, to show that they
are a leader,'' the usually staid business daily Kommersant said.
``Kafelnikov, despite his rank, cannot boast about being resistant to
Kafelnikov, the only Russian to win an ATP title in over 20 years, has not
earned the warmth enjoyed by team mates like Andrei Chesnokov or new golden
girl Anna Kournikova, 17.
But recently he seems to be following advice offered by, among others, Alex
Metreveli, the Georgian who reached the 1973 Wimbledon final. He told
Kafelnikov when he was 22 to work with the media rather than berating it.
Coach Larry Stefanki, who started working with Kafelnikov in January, has
helped with his attitude. Marriage and the birth of his daughter in October
1998 also appear to have mellowed him.
And occasionally a little praise comes his way from papers who say his
success has boosted not only Russian tennis but also the morale of the vast
``Kafelnikov is number one,'' Kommersant proclaimed on its front page. ``It's
not just that Kafelnikov has taken the tennis throne -- our tennis player has
been the best of them all since the beginning of the year.''
April 29, 1999
EDITORIAL: Loyalty Does Not Ensure Democracy
President Boris Yeltsin's decision to elevate his loyal flunky Sergei
Stepashin to the post of first deputy prime minister has some worrying
undercurrents for Russian democracy.
The Cabinet shuffle is itself a rather unremarkable piece of Kremlin
intrigue. What is worrying is Stepashin's statement that he was appointed
by Yeltsin to supervise State Duma elections this year and, perhaps,
presidential elections in 2000.
Stepashin said he had been given the new brief because Yeltsin did not
want "crooks, criminals and bandits to get in at the elections. I will work
Yeltsin likes to style himself as a guarantor of Russian democracy but he
has no business entrusting members of the government to carry out functions
that are the responsibility of the Central Election Committee.
This body is chosen jointly by the Kremlin, the State Duma and the
Federation Council, giving it the pretense of bi-partisanship and
Its track record, however, does not inspire confidence. Over the past five
years, the government has bullied it into ignoring obvious breeches of
The crucial referendum on Russia's new constitution in 1993 was dogged by
allegations of vote-fixing. More recently, in 1997 a poll for president of
the region of Baskhortostan was allowed to proceed even though the Supreme
Court ruled two candidates had been unfairly excluded from the ballot. In
the same year, the election committee also connived to annul on a
technicality elections for mayor of the city of Nizhny Novgorod, which were
won by a businessman with enemies in the Kremlin.
Yeltsin was quite happy to tolerate these examples of bias. What likely
worries him now is that he is losing his grip over the Central Election
Committee and future bias will be to his disadvantage.
The old committee was more or less under the Kremlin's thumb, but earlier
this year, Alexander Veshnyakov, a member of the left-wing Agrarian
faction, was appointed chairman thanks to the votes of commissioners
appointed by the Duma and the Federation Council.
Stepashin may now be trying to counterbalance the new election committee.
This will be a good thing if it ensures rigorous application of new laws
that force convicted criminals to disclose their records in campaign
But the fear is that a revitalized Yeltsin does not intend to give up
power when his mandate expires next year. Stepashin's new job sounds
ominously like a license to mount a new dirty tricks campaign for the Duma
April 29, 1999
SEASON OF DISCONTENT: For Yeltsin, The Struggle Is Everything
By Andrei Piontkovsky
"I have fully recovered, I am in marvelous form and ready for battle,"
President Boris Yeltsin proudly announced during a meeting with Russia's
regional governors. The word "battle" refers not only to the single
possible form of Yeltsin's political life but also to the perpetual state
of his soul. The entire history of Russia in the last decade is the history
of his struggle.
Only with each passing year, it becomes harder and harder to understand
whom Yeltsin is battling against and for what - which ideals, views,
principles - he is fighting. When, in August 1991, a tall, powerful,
grey-haired man fearlessly challenged the GKChP, or the State Committee on
the State of Emergency, from atop a tank, 100,000 people who had come to
defend the White House and millions of people throughout Russia were
convinced that he was fighting against a totalitarian communist
dictatorship that was blocking Russia's way to democracy and freedom.
When, just two years later, in October 1993, a very flabby and
heavy-drinking person spent a whole night in the Kremlin persuading his
defense minister to send four tanks to the White House to drive out his
former comrades-in-arms, Vice President Alexander Rutskoi and leader of the
Supreme Soviet Ruslan Khasbulatov, it was already much more difficult to
understand with whom and for what Yeltsin was fighting. The roughly 10,000
people who gathered that night in front of the Muscovite believed that
Yeltsin was fighting against a Communist revenge. And the roughly 10,000
who had gathered around the White House believed that Yeltsin was fighting
against the Constitution and the legally elected parliament. Both groups
were prepared to die in the fight for or against Boris Yeltsin.
Another six years have passed. Yeltsin is again raising the battle cry.
But now not even one person will take to the streets to fight - not to
mention die - either for or against Boris Yeltsin. During these years, even
the most naive people have come to understand that in 1991 and 1993, as
now, he fought and is fighting for one and the same goal - power.
He hates, of course, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov and Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov, but not as people who hold alien views on how to
organize society's economic life or on man's spiritual nature. He hates
them the same way that, when he was the first secretary of the regional
Communist Party committee, he hated with every fiber of his being the
second and third secretaries, who were plotting against him and trying to
take his place.
"The communist Primakov-Maslyukov government will be immediately removed
if the [State] Duma votes for impeachment," the president's close aides
threaten openly. All the same, let us try to parse this. If the communist
government is good for the country, then why will it be removed? And if the
communist government is bad, then how come it has not been removed already?
This paradox is easily solved if it is remembered that the government is
in no way communist, but simply lobbyist. Then the "message" of the
president is completely logical - If you don't pull us away from the state
feeding trough, then we will allow you to continue feeding there. This,
apparently, is the Russian idea of the division of powers.
Press: Yeltsin And Primakov Learning To Be Friends Again
MOSCOW, Apr. 28, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Boris Yeltsin's first
shakeup of Yevgeny Primakov's cabinet shows that the oft-sparring
president and premier have decided to make up and be friends, the Russian
press agreed Wednesday.
"Boris Yeltsin has strictly told his administration and family that only he
can decide whether to get into a fight with Primakov," the Vremya daily
said. "And for now he has decided against it."
Yeltsin on Tuesday took his first axe to Primakov's seven-month-old leftist
government. He dismissed Vadim Gustov, a pro-Communist first deputy
premier, and replaced him with his loyal Interior Minister Sergei
Any cabinet changes in Russia are usually sensationalized by the press and
pundits who often gravely warn of mass sackings and political instability
But Gustov's dismissal and Stepashin's promotion was treated as a sign that
Yeltsin and Primakov have -- at least for now -- put their differences
"The beauty of the reshuffle is that Primakov long ago had no objections in
principle or personally in getting rid of Gustov. And especially not if it
meant that he could be used as a useful sacrifice," the Vremya daily said.
"The premier used this chance to demonstrate his willingness to compromise.
Boris Berezovsky's Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily which has long been gunning
for Primakov and his government calmly said the shuffle "would not ruin
this delicate political balance, yet show to everyone who (Yeltsin) is
Another daily fighting Primakov's government, the business journal
Kommersant, conceded that Gustov's removal may not necessarily mean that
Yeltsin was tired of his most pro-Communist cabinet in the post-Soviet era.
"Gustov's removal should not worry Primakov too much since he planned to do
that a long time ago," said Kommersant. "But he wanted to do it on his own
The liberal Segodnya meanwhile said the promotion of police chief Stepashin
to first deputy premier was a signal to parliament that it should drop its
looming impeachment hearings against the president or face dismissal.
"The president has sent a signal to the Duma that he is ready for any
scenario," Segodnya said. "The Interior Ministry is one of the few organs
that has retained influence over the regions.
Luzhkov's 'Talk of Primakov' Intended to Lure Governors
27 April 1999
[for personal use only]
Report by Inara Filatova: "Governormania. Fatherland Seeks Friends"
Moscow Mayor Luzhkov has made a sensational
statement: Premier Primakov may possibly head the Fatherland-All Russia
electoral bloc. This is a bold statement, given that the aforesaid
association is a virtual one at the moment, and the premier does not tire
of repeating that he does not intend to take part in the elections.
At the Fatherland congress in Yaroslavl, Yuriy Mikhaylovich looked more
gloomy than usual. People who know him were mentioning the Russia Is Our
Home congress, being held at the same time, as one of the reasons for the
leader's bad mood. And governors were taking part in it. Moreover, in far
greater numbers than at the Fatherland event. There are 25 of them in
Chernomyrdin's party. There were only four of them in the auditorium at
the Fatherland congress -- Lisitsyn, Sklyarov, and Mukha as delegates,
and Yakovlev as a guest. Luzhkov's desire to have governors in his
movement is perfectly explicable. Those who are supported by governors
are supported by the whole of Russia. Furthermore, the complex of the
"Garden Ring party," as Fatherland's ill-wishers frequently call it
[implying that it has no relevance outside Moscow], is playing a role
here. It is not surprising that Luzhkov is fighting for every regional
boss. Any failure (for example, Saratov chief Ayatskov's refusal) on this
front is taken fairly badly. In the light of all this, a union with the
All Russia bloc, which is a purely gubernatorial bloc, would be a gift to
Yuriy Mikhaylovich. But although the bloc is being talked about as a fait
accompli, things are not so simple....
"We would greatly desire to coordinate our efforts so as to create
civilized authority in Russia" -- Luzhkov was emotional at the session of
the All Russia organizational committee. But Shaymiyev, co-founder of the
new organization, was, conversely, cautious: "We want to stand guard over
the movements that exist so as to create a normal majority in the Duma."
The "unification" which the press later reported as a fait accompli, was
talked about carefully and indirectly.
Why have governor's blocs -- All Russia, Voice of Russia -- started
springing up like mushrooms? So analysts believe, their own associations
will allow governors to be neutral before the parliamentary elections.
Imagine you are a governor. The Communists come to you today suggesting
that you join their movement. Tomorrow the Zhirinovskiy-ites turn up and
say the same thing, and the day after -- Fatherland arrives. With a clear
conscience you can say to each of them: Sorry, I am already in All
Russia, I cannot betray it, but I am prepared to collaborate." However,
you can forget that later. It is very convenient and safe. After the
parliamentary elections, you can look at the disposition of forces and
back the right person in the presidential election. They say that, in a
private conversation, Shaymiyev has allegedly promised Luzhkov that in
the parliamentary elections they will proceed in two columns, and in the
presidential election All Russia will support the Moscow mayor. This
means that the most that Yuriy Mikhaylovich can count on at present is
the governors' bloc's favorable attitude to himself. Whereby, for
example, it is easy to reach agreement about whose candidate will be put
forward in which region, so that they do not get in each other's way.
Moreover, it is clear that, in this situation, the governors' forces and
capabilities will be used to launch their bloc, and certainly not Yuriy
Mikhaylovich's organization. And it is not yet certain that in a month
All Russia is not going to announce a "coordination of efforts" with
another party, for instance, because it can create a "normal majority" in
the Duma with it too.
Luzhkov is perfectly well aware of the shakiness of his not yet formed union
with All Russia, as well as the fact that such an opportunity must not be
missed. Hence, evidently, the talk of Primakov, which is probably
designed to be an "enticement" for the governors. The Moscow mayor has
quite a good personal relationship with the premier. But while Yevgeniy
Maksimovich remains head of the government, he will not agree to head the
Fatherland-All Russia bloc, unless of course he wants to be sacked the
next day. So in reality, Primakov joining Fatherland-All Russia is
unlikely to happen. But conversations about it may play a positive role.
28 April 1999
[for personal use only]
The Real Winner in Kosovo
By Charles Krauthammer
What happens now? However this war ends, one thing is certain: The winner
will be Russia.
The Clinton administration is desperate for an exit. That exit will take
the form of a diplomatic agreement. It will constitute capitulation with
some ad hoc face saving. And it will be brokered by the Russians.
Why is this likely? Because beneath the bluff and the bluster, the
administration has been frantically signaling in every possible way for the
Russians to bail it out.
Clinton's conciliatory line on Russia has been remarkable considering how
unconciliatory Russia has been to Clinton. Russia has delivered him slap
after slap over Kosovo. Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov turned his
U.S.-bound plane around in mid-transit to protest the bombing. Russia then
issued loud criticism coupled with ostentatious support for Milosevic and a
fawning visit to Belgrade by Primakov.
Russia kicked NATO's representatives out of Moscow. It sent a spy ship into
the Adriatic to shadow the U.S. fleet. It threatened to send military
supplies to Belgrade. It boycotted NATO's 50th-year summit in Washington.
Quite a flurry of slaps, particularly coming from a beggar nation.
(Primakov's canceled U.S. trip was to have been devoted largely to
cup-rattling.) And how has the administration reacted? With utmost delicacy.
It talks incessantly about how constructive Russia has been in Bosnia --
and could be again in Kosovo. It dropped demands for a NATO-led force in
Kosovo, which was anathema to Russia. An "international presence" is the
new term of art. Meaning: with Russians, perhaps under Russians. Hint, hint.
Madeleine Albright flies to Oslo to meet the Russian foreign minister. She
is stiffed, and smiles. Presidential speeches make sure to mention how the
Russians would be welcome in any peace negotiation. Gore calls Primakov.
Clinton calls Yeltsin. All welcome the Chernomyrdin peace mission to Belgrade.
"We want to work constructively with Russia," reads NATO's 50th-anniversary
communique, a document drafted (says the NATO secretary-general) to
encourage Russian mediation. Clinton and Yeltsin talk again. A high-level
U.S. envoy is sent to Moscow to confer with Chernomyrdin.
You don't need a secret decoder to read the message: Bail us out. We'll pay
The outlines of a negotiated deal are becoming visible. Some Serb forces
will be withdrawn from Kosovo, but not all. (The NATO communique:
"Milosevic must withdraw from Kosovo his military, police and paramilitary
forces." The key word "all" is missing.) Albanians will be allowed to
return to some part of Kosovo, perhaps with an international presence
controlled by the U.N. (where Russia and China have vetoes) and dominated
by Russians and other Slavs.
Oddly, while working on a deal, the administration is at the same time
pushing to impose a naval blockade on Yugoslavia. That would mean boarding
and/or firing upon ships carrying oil and potential war materiel to
Yugoslavia. Russia has said it will run any such blockade. So: for Kosovo,
Clinton is unwilling to risk the life of a single foot soldier, but instead
is willing to risk a shootout with Russia in the Adriatic. His very own
Cuban missile crisis. (This is taking Kennedy worship a bit too far.)
Whatever the details of the deal, the losers and winners are foreordained:
NATO will have retreated. The Kosovar Albanians, having suffered death and
dispossession, will never even get back to where they were before Clinton
embarked on his little Balkan adventure. Serbia will retain control of all
or part of Kosovo.
And the Russians? The Russians, hailed as the diplomatic brokers, will be
honored for their service to peace. They will pocket a few more billion in
aid, which will temporarily transit Moscow on its way to Swiss banks.
Russia's voice at the U.N., so muted since 1991, will grow louder. Its sway
in European and NATO councils will have increased (if there is anything
left of NATO by then).
Most important, Primakov will have proved to the world -- and to
pro-Western Russians -- that an anti-American foreign policy puts Russia
back on the stage and gives it diplomatic clout, while the pro-American
policy followed since the Gulf War yielded Russia nothing but a ticket to
We will have vindicated Primakov's vision of Russia as leader of the
opposition, friend and broker of rogue regimes (Serbia, Iraq), balancer of
American power. This might even get him elected president next year when
Yeltsin's term expires.
Clinton will finally have his legacy.