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Johnson's Russia List
30 April 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: Experts warn of another drought in Russia.
2. AFP: Top general warns Russia able to defend its interests.
3. AFP: Yeltsin's Memoirs Hit The Shelves In Russia.
4. Jamestown Foundation Monitor: RUMORS ABOUT PRIMAKOV'S IMMINENT OUSTER
JUST WON'T QUIT.
5. RFE/RL NEWSLINE: DUMA DEPUTY SUGGESTS REVISING NO FIRST USE DOCTRINE...AS RUSSIA PREPARES FOR EVENTUALITY OF LAND WAR?, and COMMUNISTS TO DIVIDE
6. RFE/RL: Floriana Fossato, Creation Of New Political Bloc Surprises.
7. St. Petersburg Times: Fyodor Gavrilov, 'Russia' Parties Bank on Tired
8. NewsBase.com: Emerging markets looking up.
9. The Athens News: John Helmer, GREECE'S RUSSIAN FAILURE.
10. Robert Chandler: Translating Platonov.
11. AFP: Economy troika urges Duma to grasp last-chance IMF life-line.
12. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Relevant again, Moscow relishes
13. Baltimore Sun: Kathy Lally, Back in Moscow, an air defense planner
proudly watches Serbs.
14. BNS: Poll: Only 40 Percent of Population Support NATO Entry. (Latvia).
15. Reuters: Russian Generals Say NATO Guilty of Eco-Disaster.
16. AFP: Russian journalist slams treason charges as "criminal"
Experts warn of another drought in Russia
April 30, 1999
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia may be headed for a second straight disastrous
harvest, as fields are threatened by another drought similar to the one
that ruined crops last year, agriculture officials warned Thursday.
Russia's 1998 grain harvest was its worst in 40 years because of drought.
To prevent possible food shortages, the government negotiated food aid
deals with the United States and the European Union.
But the Agriculture Ministry warned Thursday that the coming summer may be
just as dry, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
Unusually warm weather this spring melted snow fast, and streams of water
rushed into rivers, giving soil no chance to gradually absorb water, the
Top general warns Russia able to defend its interests
MOSCOW, April 30 (AFP) - A senior general told AFP on Friday that the
Russian military was strong enough to defend its interests, an apparent
riposte to NATO threats to impose an oil embargo against Yugoslavia.
"People should not believe that Russia is weak. Russia's military is
sufficiently strong for us to be able to defend our interests, including
economic ones," General Leonid Ivashov told an AFP journalist.
Ivashov's comments came after a warning by US Defense Secretary William
Cohen that Russia faced unspecified economic and political consequences if
Moscow chose to ignore the western fuel embargo on Yugoslavia.
"I would hope they would not do that because again there are economic and
political consequences to openly defying the EU resolution as such and that
of NATO," Cohen said at a Pentagon press conference.
Cohen moreover said that NATO commanders should have the option of using
force in interdicting ships at sea suspected of carrying oil to Yugoslavia.
Yeltsin's Memoirs Hit The Shelves In Russia
MOSCOW, Apr. 30, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) The first volume of Russian
President Boris Yeltsin's three-volume memoirs hit stores in Russia
Thursday, the Interfax agency said.
The book, entitled "The Solitary Czar of the Kremlin," covers the past 15
years of Yeltsin's political career.
The first volume details the period 1985-1991, from Yeltsin's start as a
secretary of the Sverdlovsk (later renamed Yekaterinburg) Communist party
regional committee to the August 1991 coup that brought him to power.
The publication features interviews with former associates and friends,
including former premier Valentin Pavlov, former secretary of state Gennady
Burbulis, his first spokesman Pavel Voshanov and the man behind Russia's
privatization program, Anatoly Chubais.
The second volume, which is due out soon, will cover the period beginning
in January 1992 with the start of reform until the 1994-1996 Chechen war.
The third part runs from the 1996 presidential elections until the current
Jamestown Foundation Monitor
30 April 1999
RUMORS ABOUT PRIMAKOV'S IMMINENT OUSTER JUST WON'T QUIT. Despite the
Primakov cabinet's "success" in winning a promise of new credits from the
IMF, rumors in Moscow persist that the Kremlin is mulling over who will
replace the prime minister. Several media have noted that earlier this week,
when President Boris Yeltsin fired First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov
and replaced him with Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, he held a meeting
in the Kremlin with Nikolai Aksenenko, Russia's railroads minister.
Aksenenko, while one the government's more obscure top officials, is known
to be a member of Yeltsin's inner circle, and is rumored to be very close to
Roman Abramov, the head of the Sibneft oil company, which is part of the
business empire of former CIS executive secretary Boris Berezovsky. Yeltsin
reportedly considered Aksenenko last year as a candidate to replace Viktor
Chernomyrdin as prime minister.
In a sign that old-style Kremlinology is alive and well, one report today
noted that Yeltsin recently awarded Aksenenko with a third-degree order for
service to the Fatherland. "Serving governors and ministers traditionally
receive this order as a present marking their 50th birthday or some other
significant date," the account read. "But, according to connoisseurs of the
awards business, if the president is not favorably inclined toward the
recipient, [he] gets a fourth-degree order, but if the president is
favorably inclined, [the recipient] gets a third degree order. From this
comes the conclusion that Yeltsin is favorably inclined toward Aksenenko.
And if [Yeltsin] is favorably inclined, then he can appoint."
The paper also said that--other than Aksenenko--the other likely candidates
to replace Primakov are Sergei Stepashin, Viktor Chernomyrdin, Samara
Governor Konstantin Titov and Kremlin administration chief Aleksandr
Voloshin. Aksenenko's advantage, it said, is that--having been in office for
two years, under three premiers--he has proved himself to be "apolitical;"
furthermore, he has not been dogged by rumors about "accounts in
Switzerland" (Segodnya, April 30).
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 84, Part I, 30 April 1999
DUMA DEPUTY SUGGESTS REVISING NO FIRST USE DOCTRINE... In an
interview with "Ekho Moskvy" on 29 April, Defense Committee
Chairman Roman Popkovich (Our Home Is Russia) repeated an
earlier suggestion that Russia amend its military doctrine to
allow the option of a first nuclear strike--"but not
necessarily with strategic missiles." Popkovich added that
the change is needed because NATO's new strategy allows it
the option to launch a first nuclear strike. The next day,
"Izvestiya" reported that although Russian officials claimed
that the Security Council's discussion the previous day of
Russia's nuclear weapons strategy was unrelated to the
Balkans crisis, an anonymous source at the council said "the
recent conceptual alterations in NATO's tactics and
strategy...did not go unnoticed during the adoption of the
final version of the [council's] documents." JAC
...AS RUSSIA PREPARES FOR EVENTUALITY OF LAND WAR? Noting
that the content of the documents has not been made public,
the newspaper speculated that Russia's Strategic Rocket
Forces would return to "the old encounter attack form of
combat actions," abandoning its current orientation toward
retaliatory attacks. The new emphasis on tactical nuclear
weapons suggests that the armed forces are preparing for the
eventuality of a land war, according to the daily. Reuters
quoted an anonymous Russian defense analyst as saying that
the development of tactical nuclear weapons "will take 15
years at a minimum and huge amount of resources." "It's a
game so that the West will get upset," he concluded. JAC
COMMUNISTS TO DIVIDE AND CONQUER? The Central Committee of
the Communist Party (KPRF) is likely to announce on 22 May
its strategy for upcoming Duma elections, unidentified Duma
deputies from the Communist faction told Interfax on 29
April. According to these sources, the party intends to run
Communists in "three columns," with KPRF leader Gennadii
Zyuganov heading the biggest column, Duma Security Committee
Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin and deputy Albert Makashov the
radical column, and Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev and
Aleksei Podberyozkin, head of Spiritual Heritage, the third
column. Earlier, Ilyukhin said that he would run in the
elections in his own bloc, the Movement for Support of the
Army, "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 21 April.
According to the daily, Ilyukhin's movement is composed of
the Russian Party, the Union Movement, and the Moslem
Committee. On 19 April, Viktor Anpilov, head of Labor Russia,
said his movement is also willing to join. JAC
Russia: Creation Of New Political Bloc Surprises
By Floriana Fossato
Kazan, 30 April 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Last week's announcement by a number of
influential Russian regional leaders of the creation of a new political
bloc, "All Russia," was greeted with surprise not only in Moscow.
One of the most prominent leaders of the bloc is Tatarstan President
One official in the government of Tatarstan said that "nobody" in the
republic "was aware of the initiative ahead of its announcement." Another
added that the announcement "was a complete surprise."
Surprise, however, does not mean the creation of the new bloc has prompted
criticism in Kazan.
The officials who spoke with RFE/RL praised the initiative as a way to
promote regional interests ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for
Shaimiev is considered the informal leader of "All Russia." Other
influential participants are Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov; the
president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev; the presidents of the republics of
Adygeya and Chuvashya; and a number of influential governors.
According to Saint Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, the bloc will not
have a formal leader and will not put forward a candidate for next year's
The new bloc announced on April 22 an alliance with "Fatherland," the
movement led by powerful Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, one of the strongest
presidential hopefuls. Kazan officials say it could be seen as a possible
reaction by regional leaders to a statement by Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov earlier this year.
Primakov said a "vertical of power" should be re-established in Russia. He
talked about the possibility of appointing, rather then electing, regional
leaders and called for imposing more discipline on governors.
One Tatar official told our correspondent that "Primakov's proposal did not
raise any enthusiasm in Kazan. On the contrary, people started asking
themselves questions about Primakov's political intentions and orientations."
According to political analysts, other regional leaders probably had a
similar reaction, fearing the return of Soviet-era-oriented structures of
Samara Governor Konstantin Titov leads another electoral movement called
"Voice of Russia" that has announced its intention to join with "All
Russia." He said on April 21 that Moscow should grant more power to the
regions. According to Titov, excessive centralization of power in the
federal government is one of the main causes of Russia's current crisis.
The day before, Russian President Boris Yeltsin -- whose relations with
Primakov are reportedly rapidly worsening -- met with the governors of
several Russian regions and offered them more autonomy in exchange for
And this week, the deputy head of the presidential administration, Oleg
Sysuev, said the merger of "All Russia" and "Fatherland" would be a "step
in a constructive direction."
Attending "Fatherland's" second congress on April 24, Luzhkov reconfirmed
his willingness to form an alliance with "All Russia." According to
Luzhkov, the two movements share, among other things, the need to elect a
new State Duma that will try to achieve "practical results."
In an interview with the daily "Kommersant" one day before the congress,
Luzhkov addressed concerns raised by some observers about his ability to
co-exist with other political leaders. Luzhkov said the alliance would not
entail the absorption of one movement by another.
However, Luzhkov did not say if he is willing to review previously voiced
positions on what Russia's federal structure should look like.
Fandas Safiullin -- the leader of the "Volga Is Our Home" faction in
Tatarstan's legislative assembly -- told RFE/RL's Kazan office this week
that Luzhkov is in favor of liquidating the national republics, while
Shaimiev is a federalist who favors retaining the republics' sovereignty.
Safiullin also said that -- once the two blocs have jointly achieved their
main goal of keeping Communists out of the State Duma -- they will likely
go their separate ways.
Other officials in Kazan were less categorical.
In conversations with our correspondent, they stressed the coalition of
"All Russia" and "Fatherland" has been announced ahead of the parliamentary
elections. "After that," they said, "we'll see."
However, they added that Luzhkov and Shaimiev can be considered
"compatible, as one cannot be considered more important than the other."
Hinting that the support of regional leaders participating in "All Russia"
will be key for Luzhkov's "Fatherland," the officials said that after
December it will become clear which of the movements will have played the
main role during the parliamentary campaign. That, they concluded, will
"help to prepare the ground for further talks among regional leaders and
St. Petersburg Times
30 April 1999
NOTES OF AN IDLER
'Russia' Parties Bank on Tired Sentimentality
By Fyodor Gavrilov
A FUNNY thing happened in Moscow last week - three political blocs with the
word "Russia" in their names cast their hats into the ring: Samara Gov.
Konstantin Titov's Voice of Russia, Petersburg Gov. Vladimir Yakovlev and
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev's All Russia and Viktor
Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia. And let's not forget Yury Luzhkov's
Fatherland, closely related to these movements in all senses. Moscow
political thinkers apparently have concluded that "Russia" is the horse to
back in the coming election derby.
We'll disregard the odd Russian habit of crowding together on one tiny
patch of ground - be it in commerce, fashion, philosophy, or politics -
despite the fact that right next door, so to speak, there are tons of job
openings, undeveloped markets, unexplored ideas. It's more fruitful to
wonder what our federal barons have in mind when they speak of "the
Fatherland," of "patriotism."
The answer is clear: nothing in particular and certainly nothing authentic
in terms of culture and history.
Formal Russian patriotism is based on two things: the idea of the country's
endless expanses (paralleled by the alleged boundlessness of the Russian
soul) and a romantic notion of Russia's exclusive and sacred past. Neither
of these ideas are new - they're at least 200 years old. Despite their
creakiness, though, they continue to sustain Russian political thinkers to
Let's begin with Russia's endless expanses. There's no doubt about it:
Russia is spacious. In Soviet times, people were fond of saying that you
could fit nine (five, three) Frances (Switzerlands, Belgiums, etc.) into
Omsk (Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk) Oblast. This sort of geographical braggadocio
impressed a lot of folks back then, and apparently the trick still works
for many today.
Besides, you can lump the blame for many of Russia's failings on the
distances involved. "One-sixth of the earth's land mass" may be a truism,
but seriously, how do you cope with it all?
But then, in Russia the love of wide-open spaces goes hand-in-hand with a
deliberate callousness toward the problems of its numerous marshlands.
True, a sort of consumerist paradise has been built in the capital, Moscow,
in the last 10 years. What's been done, though, for the cold and hungry
inhabitants of the Kurile Islands?
The average Russian's conception of his/her country's past is teeming with
prejudices, many of which are often harmful.
The most conservative account of Russian history - which the grand princes
of Muscovy began falsifying surprisingly early on, in the 16th century - is
accepted as the standard version. Russian politicians of all stripes - from
the troglodyte anti-Semite Makashov to the liberal reformer Gaidar - rely
on the most outrageous historical clichés in their speeches and manifestos.
Figuratively speaking, that is, they eat unwashed apples.
What can we do? We love Russia the only way we know how. But it's one thing
to love the Fatherland and quite another to cast your vote for one of the
gubernatorial "Russia" parties - their electoral prospects seem rather
As the Oriental proverb goes: "No matter how many times you say 'halva',
the taste in your mouth won't get any sweeter."
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999
From: "NewsBase.com" <email@example.com>
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Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999
From: email@example.com (John Helmer)
>From The Athens News, May 1, 1999
GREECE'S RUSSIAN FAILURE
>From John Helmer in Moscow
The Moscow mission of Foreign Minister George Papandreou was a
failure, but not for what was said, or not said; done or not done,
on the Kosovo conflict.
It was a failure, because Russian officials demonstrated that the special
relationship between Russia and Greece, relied on for years in Athens,
is now dead. Greece has ceased to be one of the states on whose friendship
Russia believes it can count. The implication of that is reciprocal. If
Greece finds itself threatened, especially in a border or island conflict with
Turkey, it will not be able to count on Russian support -- and the government
in Ankara already knows this.
There is nothing personal in the Russian assessment.
Foreign Minister Papandreou may contribute in a small way to ending the
NATO war against Serbia on terms the sides can accept. He added Greece's
backing to that of Canada and South Africa -- whose representatives were
also in Moscow at the same time -- to the restoration of international
legality in the Balkan intervention. But Papandreou did not, and may not,
repair the damage Russian strategists believe has occurred to
the special relationship with Greece.
This is not something Russian officials will say aloud. It was said in
private, several weeks ago, when a senior Russian minister expressed
the government's bitter disappointment at the way in which Athens
had handled the deployment of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, planned for
Cyprus. At the time, the minister put Cyprus ahead of Greece in
Russia's order of priorities.
Since then, the missile batteries have been delivered to Crete, and for the
first time Russian military technicians are at work on Greek soil to
make a Russian-made weapons system operational.
At a higher level in Moscow, however, this week was full of hints and
symbols of another Russian sentiment towards Greece.
Don McKinnon, Papandreou's counterpart as foreign minister of New Zealand,
spent as much, if not more time in negotiations with Igor Ivanov,
Russia's foreign minister, than Papandreou. And what Ivanov told McKinnon
privately was something Greek officials say was not touched
in the Papandreou conversations.
Rejecting European and American proposals to halt oil supplies
to Yugoslavia, and impose a sea blockade on tankers attempting to
make oil deliveries, Ivanov told the New Zealander "we will
consider that in the most serious way." An attempt to stop or search
a Russian oil tanker, Ivanov said, "would have the most serious
consequences." He went on to assure McKinnon he wasn't exaggerating.
"It is not an exaggeration to say we [would] consider that a
Ivanov also discussed with the New Zealand minister the high reputation
New Zealand forces have established as peacekeepers in Cyprus, Bosnia,
and Croatia. There was a reciprocal exchange between the two hinting at
Russia's readiness to propose New Zealand for the international
peacekeeping force that has been proposed for Kosovo.
After McKinnon's talks with Ivanov, he was invited to meet with
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. He was the only foreign diplomat to be
received by Primakov this week.
Greek officials say that neither the oil embargo nor the peacekeeping
force were discussed in Papandreou's talks. The implication of the
Russian treatment of the two ministers suggests that at the other
end of the earth, New Zealand has been accepted as neutral or
friendly towards Moscow. Almost nextdoor, Greece is now treated as a member
of a hostile alliance that is no longer even neutral towards Russia.
To convey with credibility the threat of war at sea, Russia's chief
diplomat chose McKinnon, not Papandreou. And that sea washes Greece's
For obvious reasons, the number of countries Russia counts as its
strategic friends has been shrinking, while the number of its enemies
has grown. Rhetorically, Greece used to counted in the second tier of
special friends, one level below strategic partners, China and India.
In fact, China is contemptuous of the Yeltsin administration, and
Beijing feels free enough to spy on Russia at will, steal Russian technology
if it can, and most recently impose a near-total trade blockade of
Russian steel imports.
India, the other "strategic partner", is more discreet, but it too has
imposed a trade ban on some Russian steel imports. India has a well-armed
adversary on its border, and needs to cultivate Russia as its principal
source of arms and spare parts.
The special friendship Greek and Russian officials used to refer to a year
ago had its strategic value in the Balkans and in the Aegean. It has been
part of Greece's armoury against Turkish threats. Appreciating that,
Turkey has mobilized every resource it has to lobby the Yeltsin
administration, and every Russian official of importance, to limit
Greece's influence has been waning as a result, but not as seriously
among Russia's military commanders as among its politicians. But they too
have been affected. Last August, much of Greece's trade with Russia
collapsed. This year's negotiations over Russia's gas exports to Greece
demonstrated how irritated and inflexible powerful Russians can be in
dealing with Greek officials.
Coming after the S-300 and the Ocalan affairs, the Kosovo
conflict, and Russia's perception of where the Greek government stands,
have done more harm to Greece in Moscow than the Turkish lobby. This week
Greece's foreign minister may have realized how serious this is. But
it's too late.
Subject: Translating Platonov
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 99
From: Robert Chandler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I would like to introduce myself to your readers as a London-based
translator of modern Russian literature. I am currently translating
works by Andrey Platonov, considered by many Russians to be their
greatest prose-writer of this century. Two volumes, THE RETURN and THE
DOUNDATION PIT have been published by the Harvill Press, and A PORTABLE
PLATONOV will be published by GLAS this August.
Platonov is extraordinarily difficult to translate and I need all the
help I can get. If any of your readers would like to comment on a draft
translation of the novel HAPPY MOSCOW, I should be delighted to send them
a copy. A translation is never perfect, and my experience is that every
attentive reader can make useful contributions.
Thank you in advance,
Economy troika urges Duma to grasp last-chance IMF life-line
MOSCOW, April 30 (AFP) - The troika in charge of Russia's sickly economy
urged lawmakers Friday to grasp a life-line thrown to Moscow by the IMF and
swiftly vote a raft of reforms prescribed by the Fund.
"We are being offered our last chance, because right mow Russia is
technically in default," said Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov following a
Washington trip in which the International Monetary fund (IMF) tentatively
extended Moscow a 4.5-billion-dollar loan.
"We will be cast aside economically, and therefore politically, if we do
not use this opportunity," Zadornov told a briefing also attended by
economy chief Yury Maslyukov and Central Bank head Viktor Gerashchenko.
The IMF has poured some 20 billion dollars into Russia's ailing economy
with barely a sign that its giant patient was growing healthy. The Fund cut
off all assistance last summer after Moscow defaulted on 40 billion dollars
in internal in debt and effectively devalued the ruble.
Today Russia faces a towering mountain of maturing obligations and
dangerously depleted coffers.
Capping months of gruelling negotiations, IMF chief Michel Camdessus told a
mission from Moscow on Wednesday that the Fund would approve a new loan --
but only once Russia's parliament approves reform measures and the
government makes serious structural adjustments.
Parliament balked at similar demands last year. Now Russia's government is
building another charm offensive.
"What we are doing is first of all good for Russia" and not for the IMF,
stressed Maslyukov. "We must convince the State Duma (lower house of
parliament), and I think that we have more supporters there than opponents."
Parliament's largest faction, the Communists, partially helped bring down
Russia's last liberal government by stalling on IMF prescriptions aimed to
slash spending and boost revenues.
But the Communists now control several top economic posts and, at least for
the moment, are sounding much more co-operative than last year.
"We support the current government and will examine the IMF proposals,"
said Communist Part chief Gennady Zyuganov on Friday.
"We will approve things which are good for the economy. All of their
proposals will be evaluated from the point of view of local producers."
Several pills offered by Fund will be tough to swallow this election
season. The IMF wants higher alcohol and gasoline (petrol) tariffs as well
as a delay in a much-publicized sales tax cut.
These things are frowned on by the Communists.
Further, the Fund wants Russia to finally allow its many busted banks to go
bankrupt and to lift muzzling restrictions on free currency exchange.
The Central Bank however has used dollar trade restrictions as a mechanism
to prop up the ruble and seems set to keep that system in place for the
"We have managed to explain (to the IMF) that we have limits ... and that
we fighting, by legal means, the flight of capital abroad," Central Bank
chief Gerashchenko said.
The final IMF deal is doubly significant as it will allow Russia to
complete restructuring negotiations with the London Club of private and
Paris Club of sovereign credits which are owed 16 billion dollar by
Zadornov, adding that write-off to the IMF help and potential loans from
Japan and the World Bank, said a Fund deal would net a profit for Russia's
starved budget of more than 23 billion dollars by the end of next year.
Russia has also met another loan condition by having frozen domestic debt
holders grudgingly agree to a debt swap that pays less than five cents on
the dollar. More than 90 percent of the wretched paper has been exchanged,
"We are feeling the gradual return of trust to Russia," the finance
30 April 1999
[for personal use only]
CRISIS IN KOSOVO / THE RUSSIAN VIEW
Relevant again, Moscow relishes diplomatic role
By David Filipov
MOSCOW - Not many days ago, Russia seemed headed toward international
isolation over its opposition to NATO strikes in Yugoslavia, with nothing
but its huge nuclear arsenal to make the West pay it any mind.
Not anymore. Suddenly, the Kremlin is the center of efforts to solve the
Kosovo crisis. The Russian capital has become an obligatory stop on the
peacemaking tour, as Western leaders and international mediators hope
Moscow can use its close ties to Belgrade to work out an agreement on
Kosovo and end the bombing.
Reveling in its new role, Russia yesterday stepped up its diplomatic
efforts - but at the same time reminded everyone of the nuclear option.
Saying he had ''concrete proposals'' to end the war, Russia's Balkan envoy,
Viktor Chernomyrdin, set off on a mission to Bonn, Rome, and Belgrade after
holding talks in Moscow with the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan.
Meanwhile, President Boris N. Yeltsin sandwiched diplomacy around an
unusually secretive meeting of Russia's Security Council, which discussed
upgrading the country's nuclear forces.
But Chernomyrdin's initiative has a key precondition - a halt to the NATO
raids - that gives it little chance for a breakthrough. NATO has insisted
that it will not halt its attacks until Yugoslav forces pull out of Kosovo
and are replaced by a force that includes troops from the alliance.
After talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Bonn, Chernomyrdin
told Russian Public Television that ''we are very close.'' Schroeder was
more circumspect, saying that ''there is movement'' toward a settlement.
But the circumstances surrounding the meeting were entirely different from
the cold confrontation between the two just two weeks ago. Chernomyrdin
also had a 30-minute phone discussion with Vice President Al Gore, Russian
news agencies reported.
Western countries have been encouraging Russia to act as a go-between with
Yugoslavia, and Moscow has welcomed the chance to play a prominent role.
NATO leaders say involving Russia adds to the pressure on Belgrade and
steers the alliance away from confrontation with Moscow, but Russian
analysts interpret the interest in Russia as a sign that NATO is looking
''A week ago Russia was completely alone, and now everyone is here,''
commented Alexander Goltz, who writes on military and political affairs for
Itogi magazine. ''Russia is the last hope for the West.''
Still, there was no sign that NATO or Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
will make the necessary concessions.
Milosevic's brother Borislav, Belgrade's ambassador to Moscow, repeated
Yugoslavia's insistence that a peacekeeping force for Kosovo be under UN
command and include contingents from Russia and countries that oppose the
strikes, such as India, Belarus, Cyprus, Algeria, and Argentina.
But there were some signs of progress in Moscow, where the foreign
ministers of two NATO members met with Annan and with Russian Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov, who has been the mouthpiece for Russia's displeasure
and its harshest warnings.
In an upbeat press conference with a smiling Ivanov, Canada's Foreign
Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Greece's George Papandreou emphasized the need
for UN backing for any settlement to the crisis. This addressed one of
Moscow's chief criticisms of the strikes, which NATO undertook without a UN
Yeltsin repeated that point before meeting with Annan and later South
African President Nelson Mandela.
''The stakes are very high now not only for the Balkans and Europe but for
the whole world,'' a tired-looking Yeltsin said. ''Either international law
and order will be restored or the world will be ruled by the lawlessnes and
unchecked force of one side.''
In stark contrast with the flurry of diplomatic initiatives, Yeltsin also
met with his advisory Security Council and vowed to develop not only new
strategic nuclear weapons, but also new tactical weapons that can be fitted
on artillery shells and torpedoes. This was such an unexpected initiative -
Russia's 10,000 tactical warheads, most dating back to the mid-1970s, are
stocked away in military storage sites - that analysts here immediately
dismissed it as a bluff.
''They would be mad to seriously be considering that,'' commented one
military specialist, who requested anonymity. ''It's just not possible or
feasible. No one has been developing tactical weapons in Russia for years.
This is for show.''
Indeed, the meeting was full of theatrics.
The session was so secret even the head of the Strategic Rocket Forces was
asked to leave the room. ''Everyone here, including the president, risks
his head if something leaks from here,'' Yeltsin growled.
Afterward, Security Council Secretary Vladimir Putin denied that the
meeting was in any way linked to Yugoslavia. But Defense Minister Igor
Sergeyev has said that Moscow would have to reshape its military doctrine
and review its nuclear and conventional forces to respond to what it
regards as NATO's increasingly threatening stance.
Mandela, who will retire as president in June, indicated that he, too, was
willing to get involved in efforts to find peace in Kosovo. Following a
telephone conversation with Annan, he told reporters in Moscow that he
would play whatever role the UN secretary general asked of him.
''My friend'' Mandela ''is also against the unipolar world in which one
state dictates its will to the rest of the world,'' Yeltsin said. ''We are
against attempts to ensure security for some at the expense of others.''
Globe correspondent Kurt Shillinger contributed from Johannesburg. Material
from Reuters was also used.
30 April 1999
[for personal use only]
Back in Moscow, an air defense planner proudly watches Serbs</FONT><BR>
Ex-Soviet general sees his handiwork as NATO's nightmare
By Kathy Lally
Sun Foreign Staff
MOSCOW -- Yuri Rodin-Sova, a roundish, genial man, can't help but beam
at the way Yugoslavia's air defense system has been performing, proud as a
teacher who hears years later that a favorite pupil has made good.<p> "If
you remember these systems are 30 years old and they are acting against the
most modern planes in the world," he says, "then their efficiency is very
"When NATO says they are not losing planes, you can't believe it."
>From a shabby old building on the periphery of Moscow, Rodin-Sova runs
Defense Systems, the company that produced the Yugsolav anti-aircraft
system. Though the building looks as if it's ready to fall down and the
lobby is full of unintentionally exposed brick, Rodin-Sova's fourth-floor
offices are smartly turned out.
A toy truck bearing a toy missile -- a model of those sold to Yugoslavia --
sits on top of a gleaming credenza. Next to it is a twisted hunk of metal
-- a chunk of a Scud missile.
"Before we sold Scuds to Saddam Hussein, we decided we better know how to
shoot them down, in case he ever turned them on us," Rodin-Sova says. "This
is part of one we shot down."
Rodin-Sova, 50, is a much-decorated retired major general who served with
the Soviet anti-aircraft troops from 1967 to 1992. He says the Yugoslav
anti-aircraft system includes three types of weapons developed by the
Soviet Union from 1968 to 1972, based on experience in Vietnam, where
Soviet advisers assisted the North Vietnamese during their war against the
"Everyone realized that in such a small country as Vietnam, it was
impossible to shoot down all planes," he says. "We developed this tactic of
a high-mobility, low-visibility system. An armed unit is hidden; it shoots
and quickly moves to another place and hides, waiting for another
Rodin-Sova, who says he learned English by conversing with American
prisoners of war in Vietnam, says that if his anti-aircraft system is being
used, it stands to reason that more planes have been shot down and that
NATO is simply covering it up. He thinks about 20 have been shot down.
"I'm sure NATO has losses but is hiding them so as not to stir up
opposition to the war," he says. "It's not a surprise. During World War II,
we never told the truth. Stalin never gave statistics about losses. It's
only later we find out."
Rodin-Sova says Yugoslavia has used its anti-aircraft system much more
effectively than Iraqi President Hussein used his Soviet-made system during
the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
"Iraq made a mistake. Saddam used the whole missile system at once, to
strike back," he says. "The system was revealed and destroyed. Yugoslavia
hid its system, took its time and used it carefully"
He says the Yugoslavs still have an intact system, which serves as a
deterrent to the widening of the war and would be effective against
America's Apache helicopters.
According to NATO information, after 4,423 bombing missions flown over
Yugoslavia, only one plane has been lost -- the F-117 stealth fighter shot
down March 28.
Rodin-Sova says that can't be true.
"I'm sure there are more," he says, going on to impugn the "invisibility"
of the F-117. "They don't want taxpayers in the U.S. to find out they paid
their money for nothing. There can be no invisible planes. It's a trick. To
make it invisible, you would have to violate all the laws of physics, and
that isn't possible."
Though Rodin-Sova is clearly proud of his company's work, he says that
doesn't mean he likes war -- a good anti-aircraft system should help
prevent one. "Just because we're making weapons doesn't mean we want to
shoot them," he says. "If there's an atomic bomb, that doesn't mean we
should explode it. It's a deterrent."
And, finally: "Technology doesn't make war, people do."
Like the vast majority of Russians, he thinks NATO's action against
Yugoslavia is wrong, and he doesn't think NATO will accomplish its objectives.
"In Yugoslavia, the military spirit is very high," he says. "They have a
perfectly trained army will- ing to fight to the last soldier, and that
will take a long time.
"I can't understand why the country should be completely destroyed. If NATO
wanted to prevent a human catastrophe, that catastrophe has already
happened, and bombing is only making it worse. Where will the refugees
return, to destroyed Pristina? To villages burnt to the ground from
bombing? Bombs will not solve anything."
He contends that NATO has set off a chain of events that it will not be
able to control.
"Even if NATO stops bombing tomorrow and [President Slobodan] Milosevic
accepts all demands, the war will not stop. There will be people who will
continue. . . . Those who lost relatives will continue, and the
consequences will last for a very long time."
NATO strengthened Milosevic by bombing because the attacks have unified
Yugoslavs around him, he says.<p> "Now, for Serbs, it's a question of
national pride," Rodin-Sova says. "When the bombing stops, Milosevic will
be a hero. The more bombs, the more glory."
He predicts the Albanians will never be able to return to Kosovo. "Will you
give every Albanian family a military unit to protect them from terrorists?
There will be constant attacks. You won't be able to protect each family."
And the trouble will spread farther, he says.
"If NATO is able by bombing to reach some goals, NATO will desire to solve
all international problems this way," he says. "Why not bomb the Turks
because of the Kurds? Why not bomb England because of Northern Ireland? Why
not bomb Spain because of the Basques? Why not bomb Canada because the
Quebecois want to split? It can be arranged so that the whole world will
If only Yugoslavia had had the foresight to buy Russia's latest
anti-aircraft system, Rodin-Sova says. "Then NATO would never have dared to
start bombing at all."
Poll: Only 40 Percent of Population Support NATO Entry
RIGA, April 28, BNS - According to the results of
an opinion poll, only 40.4 percent of the Latvian population now support
Latvia's intention to join NATO. Latvijas Fakti market and social
research institute conducted a poll which showed that, if the referendum
about joining NATO is held today, 39.3 percent of Latvian residents would
vote against, 4.3 percent would not vote at all and 16 percent were
undecided. There are more NATO supporters among the Latvian citizens as
compared to the entire population - 47.9 percent of Latvian citizens
would like Latvia to join NATO, 30.5 precent would vote against it, 4.4
percent would abstain and 17.2 percent are undecided. The NATO air
strikes against Yugoslavia are fully approved only by 10.04 percent of
all respondents, partly approved by 14.95 percent, partly diapproved by
11.63 percent and completely disapproved by more than a half - 56.5
Certain proportion of the respondents (7.23 percent) could not give a
definite answer to this question, Out of the Latvian citizens, the air
strikes were fully disapproved by 48.07 pecent and partly disapproved by
13.29 percent, while complete approval of the strikes was voiced by 12.56
percent and partial approval - by 18.48 percent. Officially Latvia
supports the NATO attacks on Yugoslavia as it does not see any other way
to solve the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo.
Russian Generals Say NATO Guilty of Eco-Disaster
MOSCOW, April 30 (Reuters) - Russian Defence Ministry officials accused
NATO on Friday of
unleashing an ecological catastrophe by bombing industrial targets in
Yugoslavia and warned of an increased
risk of a nuclear accident.
Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, an outspoken critic of the alliance, adedd
that NATO was deliberately
misinforming Western public opinion about the conduct and consequences of
"The scale of the damage caused in Yugoslavia allows us to qualify it as
an ecological catastrophe," Ivashov told a news conference.
He said the bombing campaign, now into its second month, had led to the
release of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, the soil and water systems,
endangering human life.
Major-General Boris Alexeyev told the same news conference the danger of
a missile accidently
hitting a nuclear power plant in Yugoslavia or a neighbouring state had
An incident on Wednesday night in which a stray NATO missile destroyed a
in the Bulgarian capital Sofia had highlighted the potential for things
going badly wrong in
NATO's campaign, the Russian officials said.
They said there were nine nuclear power plants in and around Yugoslavia,
big Kozloduy nuclear plant on the Danube and three small reactors near
Alexeyev said that Yugoslavia was a major producer of linoleum and that
against these factories would send highly toxic chemicals into the
Ivashov, who heads the ministry's international cooperation department,
said the Western public was being
kept ignorant of both the ecological and humanitarian destruction in
"Russian television viewers, radio listeners and newspaper readers are
better informed about what is
happening than those in NATO countries," he said.
"This war is being waged not only by NATO but by the governments and
mass media of the member states," said Ivashov, who in the past has
Atlantic alliance as a "criminal organisation which does not have the right
Russia is fiercely opposed to NATO's bombing campaign, which is aimed at
Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw most of his forces from Kosovo and to allow
thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees back to their homes under an
international protection force.
Ivashov said Yugoslavia's humanitarian crisis had begun after NATO's
bombing campaign began. The alliance
insists that Milosevic had planned the expulsion of the ethnic Albanians
from their homes before
it began bombing Yugoslav targets.
"Before the bombing there were ethnic disagreements but they did not lead
catastrophe. There were no mass deaths from hunger and contagious diseases.
Today we have a
humanitarian disaster," Ivashov said.
He reiterated Russia's willingness to take part in a future international
force for Kosovo
but stressed that it should come under the aegis of the United Nations,
Belgrade was unlikely to allow NATO member countries to participate.
Ivashov also echoed Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov's comments that Russia
would not be bound
by an oil embargo imposed against Belgrade by NATO and European Union
Russia's special Balkans envoy, former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
was due to hold a
new round of talks with Milosevic in Belgrade later on Friday aimed at
from him that would halt the NATO bombing campaign.
Russian journalist slams treason charges as "criminal" fabrication
MOSCOW, April 30 (AFP) - A Russian naval officer
accused of leaking military secrets to Japan launched a vitriolic attack
Friday on FSB investigators, accusing the KGB successor body of fabricating
charges against him, Interfax said.
Captain Grigory Pasko, who faces a possible 20 years imprisonment if
convicted of high treason, made the outburst as his closed door trial
resumed in the far eastern port city of Vladivostok.
"This criminal case was illegally brought against me by the investigative
section of the Federal Security Service (FSB) department for the Pacific
Fleet," the agency quoted him as saying.
"The officials involved are criminals who bear criminal responsibility. The
case has been completely fabricated by the Federal Security Service. It is
a dirty invention of the KGB/FSB," he stormed.
"It contains no proof and consists of lies, conjectures and assumptions.
Even though neither the preliminary investigation nor the court hearings
have established my guilt, for a year and a half I have been illegally held
in jail, which is a disgrace to the military prosecutor, the Pacific fleet
court and Russia as a whole," he said.
Pasko, a naval captain who worked on the Pacific fleet's newspaper Voyevaya
Vakhta, was arrested on November 20, 1997, as he arrived back in
Vladivostok from a trip to Japan.
The journalist has exposed the illegal dumping of chemical and liquid
radioactive waste by the fleet in the Sea of Japan. The video footage was
handed over to Japan's NHK television, where it was featured in a report
about ecological crimes committed by the Russian military.
The accused's lawyer Anatoly Pyshkin also rubbished the charges against his
client, the state-run RTR television channel reported, expressing mock
sympathy for bungling FSB prosecutors.
"He completely demolished the charges brought against him by the FSB,"
Pyshkin said. "Frankly, I believe that the FSB has been really unlucky in
having an accused such as him. He is very intelligent."
The prosecution had so far totally failed to prove a single charge against
his client, the lawyer said, adding: "I have not yet heard one word or one
detail which could be classed as a military secret."
Pasko's defence team insist the information handed over by Pasko was
already in the public domain and that the FSB investigation was biased.
Pyshkin said Pasko had been persecuted by the secret services because he
had refused to act as an informer for the Soviet-era KGB and its main
successor body the FSB.
"Moreover, shortly before his arrest he was investigating what happened to
100 million dollars granted to Russia by Japan for the construction of a
nuclear waste treatment plant. He has a lot of documents which, he
believes, put him on the right track," Pyshkin said.
RTR said those documents had disappeared following an FSB search of Pasko's
office and did not figure in the official list of evidence seized by