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Johnson's Russia List


May 5, 1999    
This Date's Issues: 3270    


Johnson's Russia List
5 May 1999

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Times editorial: NATO-Free UN Troops A Solution.
2. Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy: Poll Shows Most Russians Blame NATO For 
Balkan Crisis.

3. Stratfor Commentary: Russia Offers Serious Concessions on Kosovo Force.
4. International Herald Tribune: David Hoffman, Russian Says Arms Accords
Be Lost.

5. AP: Russian PM Says Economy Still Sick.
6. New York Times letter: Carol Saivetz, Can Russia Be an Ally We Can 
Depend On?

7. Jerry Hough: Re: 3269-Fossato/Dacha Season.
8. Itar-Tass: Minister on Russia's Better Than Expected Finances.
9. The Times (UK): Anna Blundy, Gorbachev.
10. AFP: Majority Of Russians Opposed To Union With Belarus and Yugoslavia.
11. The Guardian (UK): Little Russia. A million immigrants from the USSR 
don't think of themselves as Israelis, says David Sharrock. But they hold the 
balance of power in this month's election.

12. Baltimore Sun: James Drake, NATO's war repels new member. (Czech

13. Moscow Times: Andrei Zolotov Jr., Army Cautiously Welcomes Back the

14. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Security Council Preventive Nuclear Strike Debate 
Goes on.] 


Moscow Times
May 5, 1999 
EDITORIAL: NATO-Free UN Troops A Solution 

"[Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic knows perfectly well what the 
conditions are, and he has not moved three inches towards meeting them." -- 
Sandy Berger, U.S. National Security Adviser. 

Hasn't he? Over the weekend Milosevic released three American POWs f a 
calculated public relations gesture, but still conciliatory. And last week 
Milosevic said he would agree to a lightly armed international peacekeeping 
force in Kosovo, if it did not include NATO forces. 

NATO's response has been to insist that any peacekeeping force in Kosovo 
include NATO troops and be heavily armed. But why? What is the difference? 
And who is really refusing to move those three inches f NATO or Milosevic? 

A lightly armed UN force f provided it is reasonably large and mobile, and 
enjoys the wholehearted recognition of Belgrade f could restore order in 

The same cannot be said of a NATO peacekeeping force. No matter how heavily 
armed, NATO troops would be targets for Serb hatred and Serb terrorism for 

In the best-case scenario, the authority of a UN peacekeeping force in 
Yugoslavia could benefit from the full weight of NATO support, without the 
full weight of NATO guilt: If Milosevic accepts NATO-free UN troops, but then 
undermines them or allows them to be attacked with impunity, NATO could 
simply resume its war. Because Milosevic would have just attacked the United 
Nations, NATO would even be justified in occupying Belgrade itself and 
deposing Milosevic. 

If they chose to, the Western governments could find new expression for their 
concern about Yugoslavia by financing such a UN peacekeeping operation. This 
would seem particularly appropriate to expect of the United States, which 
owes hundreds of millions of dollars in dues to the UN. 

Happily, NATO is starting to bend. On Monday, shortly before a 90-minute 
meeting with Russia's special envoy on Kosovo, Viktor Chernomyrdin, U.S. 
President Bill Clinton talked of a peacekeeping army in Kosovo made up of 
NATO troops but also of Russian, Ukrainian and perhaps even Japanese troops. 
And he talked of a possible "bombing pause" to further negotiations, provided 
he could be convinced of Milosevic's good faith. 

Clearly NATO and Clinton are looking to Russia for a face-saving peace deal. 

In the meantime, however, NATO continues to bomb f despite all evidence that 
this has failed in every way. Sunday, NATO bombs hit a civilian bus in the 
Yugoslav province of Montenegro, killing at least a dozen people, including 
some children. It was the second civilian bus hit that weekend. 


Poll Shows Most Russians Blame NATO For Balkan Crisis 
Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy 
May 3, 1999

Most people in Russia - 63 per cent - are convinced 
that NATO is to blame for the Balkan conflict, whereas 13 per cent think 
that both sides are to blame. Six per cent of the respondents accuse 
Yugoslavia only, the Public Opinion Foundation has reported. More than a 
third of all Russians don't know what has caused the conflict in 


Stratfor Commentary 
1905 GMT, 990504 - Russia Offers Serious Concessions on Kosovo Force

Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev on Tuesday laid out Moscow’s position 
on an international presence in Kosovo – in the process apparently making 
concessions that may be crucial to breaking the deadlock in negotiations. 
Speaking at a meeting of the Nordic Defense Council in Stavanger, Norway, 
Sergeyev said that, "The situation in the Balkans has deteriorated to the 
point where it will not be possible to solve the problem of Kosovo without an 
international presence, including a military one." Concession one: Russia now 
agrees that the UN presence in Kosovo must involve armed peacekeepers, not 
unarmed observers.

Sergeyev argued that NATO "aggressor states" whose hands are "stained with 
the blood of bombs" should not take part in the UN force in Kosovo. However, 
Sergeyev went on to invite Nordic Defense Council members Denmark, Finland, 
Norway, and Sweden to contribute troops to the force. Denmark and Norway are 
both NATO members, though their participation in Operation Allied Force has 
reportedly been limited to providing air cover and reconnaissance. Concession 
two; Russia is willing to accept NATO members in the UN force in Kosovo, as 
long as they have not taken part in the actual bombing of Yugoslavia. This 
could technically allow a large NATO role in the UN force, including 
countries like Greece, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, 
Iceland, Belgium, Denmark and Norway.

Finally, Sergeyev said the international force in Kosovo must act under a UN 
Security Council mandate and be deployed under a UN flag, at which point he 
said Russia would be ready to play a direct role in organizing the force. 
According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Avdeyev, NATO members 
agreed to this at today’s G-8 meeting. But there’s a catch that may render 
Russia’s offers pointless. Sergeyev said that the international presence in 
Kosovo must still receive Belgrade’s official consent. In short, Russia threw 
the veto power back to Belgrade, which still insists on no armed force in 
Kosovo, and certainly no NATO members. This is actually more Russia’s problem 
than NATO’s, as Moscow’s credibility at the negotiating table – and on the 
world stage – comes from the implication that it can deliver Belgrade if NATO 
makes an offer acceptable to Russia. If it can not, then Moscow is just 
wasting everyone’s time. 


International Herald Tribune
May 5, 1999
[for personal use only]
Russian Says Arms Accords May Be Lost 
By David Hoffman Washington Post Service

MOSCOW - The Russian defense minister, General Igor Sergeyev, threatened 
Tuesday to reconsider a just-concluded agreement for revisions to the treaty 
Conventional Forces in Europe if NATO continued its air campaign against 
Yugoslavia, which he called a ''road back to the Cold War.''

General Sergeyev made the threat at a meeting in Stavanger, Norway, of 
defense ministers from countries of Northern Europe. 

The general refused to sign several military cooperation agreements with 
Norway as a gesture against the air strikes. Norway is in NATO. 

The treaty Conventional Forces in Europe, signed in 1990, limits heavy 
weaponry such as tanks, armored combat vehicles, combat aircraft and attack 
helicopters held by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the 
former Warsaw Pact. 

The collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 and the admission of 
Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to NATO this year led to negotiations 
to revise the pact, replacing the Cold War bloc limits with national limits. 

In early April, a compromise was reached and it was expected to be signed 
this year. Among other things, the pact would give Russia flexibility to 
deploy more weapons on southern borders.

On Tuesday, General Sergeyev said that if the NATO attacks against Yugoslavia 
continued, Russia might ''revise a number of its international commitments, 
including those pertaining to the CFE treaty.'' 

''If the military operation continues,'' he said, ''Russia will be forced to 
completely freeze its military and military-technical cooperation with NATO 
countries, primarily those involved in the bombing attacks.'' 


Russian PM Says Economy Still Sick
May 4, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia has passed the most critical phase of its economic 
crisis, but still faces severe problems, Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov 
acknowledged in an interview being published Wednesday.

Primakov also defended a policy of heavy governmental intervention in the 
economy, saying it was needed to guide Russia out of its crisis. Russia's 
economy collapsed last summer after the government defaulted on some of its 
domestic debt and devalued the ruble.

The crisis ``is far from being over,'' Primakov told the Komsomolskaya Pravda 
newspaper, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency, which obtained an advance 
text of the interview.

However, he said some economic indicators were up, and the government had 
kept the lid on inflation, despite widespread fears that it would be unable 
to do so.

``It is so far early to speak of a victory, but, anyway, there is progress,'' 
the premier said.

Primakov, who has brought communists into his government and advocates a 
strong state role in the economy, scorned the free-market reformers who held 
sway in Russia's government before him.

``We oddly used to think that it was most important to plunge into the market 
and everything would develop by itself without any interference from the 
state,'' Primakov said in the interview. ``Those who stick to such dogmas are 

He advocated a mixture of socialism and capitalism -- a recipe that is 
popular with many Russians, despite the protestations of Western-oriented 
economists that it won't work.

``We were assured that socialism did not accept market relations, and 
capitalism did not accept regulating measures of the state -- planning at a 
certain level, if you like. But that is absolutely not so,'' Primakov said.


New York Times
May 4, 1999
Can Russia Be an Ally We Can Depend On? 

To the Editor: 
A May 2 Week in Review article asks whether the United States wants a strong 
or a weak Russia. The answer should be that we want a Russia -- weak or 
strong -- that will be a responsible international player. 

NATO's war with Serbia comes at the same time as Russia's economic collapse 
and NATO's expansion. Thus, we must take particular care not to wind up with 
a new cold war. To that end we should facilitate and enhance Russia's role as 
a peacemaker in Kosovo. The best end would be similar to Bosnia, where 
Russian troops participate in a peacekeeping operation. 

After Kosovo, we should strengthen Russia's ties to NATO while recognizing 
that our interests and Russia's will not always coincide. In the Caspian 
region we should include Russia in the pipeline networks, thus diminishing 
incentives for Moscow to destabilize other Caspian states. 

Cambridge, Mass., May 2, 1999
The writer is a research associate at the Davis Center for Russian Studies at 
Harvard University. 


Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <> 
Subject: Re: 3269-Fossato/Dacha Season

Floriana Fossato's report on the long holiday in Moscow was a 
strange combination of correct reporting and misleading lead and tone. Of 
course, they plant potatoes. Russia has the kind of subsistence economy 
in which it is absolutely crucial for large numbers of people. The 
heavy reliance on potatoes is one of the reasons for the high death 
rate. And it is not new. We had a survey in the spring of 1997, and 
the timing was a problem. It could not be done during potato planting 
time in Moscow, for our Academy of Sciences personnel ! had to be in the 
their potato fields, but, of course, the planting season varies by region 
and we couldn't do a survey in a city when its population would be 
planting or we would get a terrible sample.

I never could understand why Yeltsin campaigned so hard on the free 
sale of land issue when it was always the most unpopular aspect of economic
reform by any survey. In 1996 he showed why he has been such a brilliant
politician. He and the televsion portrayed Zyuganov's opposition to the 
free sale of land as a determination to take away the private potato plot
and this was one of the things that frightened people so much.

The lead of Fossato's piece should have been "May has come, and 
once more it illustrates why the American Administration is wrong to call 
Kosovo the greatest humanitarian disaster in postwar Europe. Millions 
in Russia are going to their potato fields in their annual trek to 
ensure against starvation." 

Since I live in the Washington area, I hope that no one decides it is 
now obligatory to bomb the capital of those who produce humanitarian 
disasters in Europe. But I can understand why the Russians think an 
administration whose policy has killed three times more Russians than 
there are Kosovar Muslims are outraged at the selectivity of our moral


Minister on Russia's Better Than Expected Finances 

Paris, 3rd May, ITAR-TASS correspondent Andrey 
Nizamutdinov: The financial situation in Russia is better now than was 
expected back in October and November last year, Finance Minister Mikhail 
Zadornov told today's opening session of the first Russian-French 
financial forum in Paris. 

Federal budget revenues in April were at least R40 billion against just 24 
billion in March, he said, which points to a fairly steady trend towards 
month-on-month revenue increases. Budget revenues made up 11.4 per cent 
of GDP during the first few months of this year, and the government is 
very close to achieving its planned revenue-collection level for this year. 
This positive shifts in the financial situation are accompanied by 
definite changes in industry. For example, output in March this year was 
up 1.5 per cent on March last year. It is possible, therefore, that the 
year will end with output registering so-called zero growth and GDP 
shrinking by 2 per cent at most against 1998. 

The minister pointed to other positive factors, such as an increasing 
trend for companies to settle their accounts with each other in "live 
cash". This practice grew by 3 per cent in the first quarter, with the 
use of barter declining by the same amount. 

Russia was able to pay 5 billion dollars towards foreign debt and 1 billion 
towards domestic debt between October last year and March this year 
despite the financial crunch in August, Zadornov said. It also managed to 
get by without taking out more foreign loans, relying on its own 
resources and the Central Bank's reserves. According to the minister, it 
can now be confidently asserted that inflation and the rouble-dollar rate 
will be much closer to the government's forecasts than to the disaster 
scenarios that some experts were voicing at the end of last year. 

The biggest problems lie in the social sphere, although even here the 
government more than halved all state-owed pension and wages backlogs 
from R60 billion to R24 billion between October and March. But incomes 
are declining in real terms, and to remedy that the government is 
index-linking pensions and wages from this month. According to Zadornov, 
this will mitigate the impact on industry of falling solvent demand. In 
general, the government wants to achieve a rise in real incomes of 8-9 
per cent by the end of this year against last year. But even this would 
unfortunately not compensate for the drop in real incomes that took place 
last autumn due to the financial crash.


The Times (UK)
May 3 1999
[for personal use only]
Anna Blundy 
'Gorbachev is less pompous than any politician you might come across in the 
West. You feel like an old mate seconds after meeting him'

It does not happen often. There you are having a glass of tea and a chunk of 
chocolate when in walks the man who has characterised the last couple of 
decades of the millennium. "Hello, nice to meet you," he grins, shaking hands 
with the few people loafing around in the kitchen smoking and slurping at 
their mugs. Then he pulls out a chair and sits down. 

I was fifteen when I first saw him on television in his trilby, waving at the 
passing parade of tanks from the top of Lenin's mausoleum. And here he was, 
much younger looking than I had anticipated, sparkly eyed, energetic, 
mischievous, great suit - Mikhail Gorbachev. I had expected a magnificent 
statesman, and in the sense that he is clever, eloquent (whatever the 
Russians might say), forthright and funny, that is what I got. 

What I had forgotten though, is that he is Russian. He is more friendly and 
less pompous than any politician you might come across in the West. You feel 
like an old mate of his sitting round the kitchen table seconds after meeting 
him. He is from peasant stock and it shows in the best possible way. He put a 
sugar cube in his mouth and sucked his coffee through it. 

The Editor of New Times, the host of Face to Face, a weekly interview 
programme on Radio Liberty, Mikhail Gorbachev and I walked through to the 
studio where an hour-long interview was conducted. Mikhail Sergeyevich held 
forth on the mistakes he had made (he should have conducted presidential 
elections at the height of his popularity), Kosovo (how can Nato be allowed 
to police the world for America's political gain?), and the mistakes of the 
current regime (many), while I, when not nervously monitoring the grammatical 
mistakes in my questions, sat in bewildered awe, staring at history in the 

When the presenter referred to him as such, Gorbachev flashed his eyes and 
sat up even straighter. "Do not consign me to the history books yet," he 
laughed, obviously irritated. But the trouble is, there is nothing he can do 
about it. Pottering around at home, doing his morning exercises, brushing his 
teeth, pulling his socks on - he is a living symbol of the 20th century, the 
face that represents the new world order for better or for worse and the man 
everyone will remember for ending 70 years of Communist rule in Russia. 

Whatever he carries on to do in life, and he is clearly itching to continue 
his contribution, it could not possibly compare in terms of magnitude to what 
he has already done. For despite the fact that he still feels young and 
energetic (he is 68), he has already taken up his position in history, and 
struggle though he may to take part in the future, his place is in the past, 
in political terms at least. 

To end the interview the presenter asked us to sum up what we felt had been 
the most important aspects of our talk. "I know it might sound stupid, but it 
is an honest answer," I gabbled. "Mikhail Gorbachev is someone who symbolises 
the outgoing century, a real hero of our time. Today has really been a great 
event for me - this meeting and conversation with you, Mikhail Sergeyevich." 

On the one hand, you can get away with a great deal more sincerity here than 
you can at home, but on the other hand, I meant it. Even the cynical 
Alek­sandr Pumpyansky, of New Times, admitted that the fact that we could all 
sit round the table together and ask our stupid questions was down to 
Gorbachev alone. 

Moving on to knock back a bottle of cognac with the man whose existence has 
meant that I could come here and live with Russians in a communal apartment, 
sing in seedy Moscow clubs, sail up the Volga with the Russian National 
Orchestra and finally come to work here for The Times, was almost more than I 
could bear. Never mind the collapse of Communism and the rape of Russia by 
the capitalist aggressors for which the Russians resent him so. 

Outside, in the dusty courtyard, The Times's driver (I know, I know) was 
chatting to Gorbachev's security men and chauffeur. "He pays them really 
well, and they only have to work two 24-hour shifts a week," said Kolya 
enviously. "Apparently he's nice, but Raisa is a bit less friendly," he 
continued, starting the engine. Gorbachev and his entourage went on their way 
and I went home to show off. "You know the last General Secretary of the 
Soviet Union?" I said to my husband. "I just clinked glasses with him." 


Majority Of Russians Opposed To Union With Belarus and Yugoslavia 

MOSCOW, May. 03, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) A majority of Russians is
opposed to a closer union between Belarus, Russia and Yugoslavia, mainly
out of fear that their country could be drawn into the Kosovo conflict, a
poll revealed Friday. 

Fifty-five percent of 1,500 respondents said they were opposed to such a
union while 28 percent were in favor. 

Of those opposed, 68 percent feared Russian involvement in the crisis in
the Balkans, Interfax news agency said citing the April 17 poll by the
Opinion institute. 

Eighty percent believed that Russian military aid to Yugoslavia could lead
to a third world war. 

On Wednesday Russian President Boris Yeltsin ruled out any progress, for
the time being, on Yugoslavia's bid to join the fledgling union between
Belarus and Russia. 

Yeltsin spoke before a meeting with Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko
who went to Moscow to help draft a new union treaty more closely linking
Russia with the former Soviet republic. 

The pair signed 11 documents during their talks. 

A loose Russia-Belarus union pact was signed by Yeltsin and Lukashenko in

But with both countries suffering from deep economic recession and
political volatility, concrete steps towards integration have been hard to

Moscow said it was writing a new, more detailed version of the union treaty
that could be ready by June 1 and later be put to referendums in both

Yugoslavia, embroiled in an air war with NATO, voted April 12 to join the
union with the two Slav countries. 

But the treaty, currently under discussion in Moscow, does not mention
Yugoslavia. Yeltsin earlier this month said Russia should be cautious about
formally linking arms with Belgrade. 


The Guardian (UK)
May 3, 1999
[for personal use only]
Little Russia 
A million immigrants from the USSR don't think of themselves as Israelis, 
says David Sharrock. But they hold the balance of power in this month's 

'In Russia I was a Jew and now I'm in Israel they call me a Russian,' says 
Masha Shapira, pulling out the birth certificate of her four-month-old son 
Yochanan. Beneath the menorah, symbol of the state, the bureaucrats have 
inserted a dashes in lieu of specifying religion and nationality. Officially, 
Yochanan, born in Jerusalem, is neither Jewish nor Israeli. Nor even Russian, 
as his mother is described in her ID. But Yochanan may be very significant to 
the Jewish state - he is possibly the millionth Russian citizen of Israel, 
newest member of what many here call 'the mini-state of Russia'. 

Take a stroll in Ashkelon, a rapidly expanding Mediterranean city half an 
hour south of Tel Aviv on a Friday morning, as the weekend begins. There's a 
busker playing Russian melodies on his violin. At the pavement cafe tables, 
men are playing chess or reading Russian papers. The talk is Russian. The 
waitress is called Natasha and although she can speak Hebrew, she doesn't 
need to. 

The shops have Russian signs (Hebrew too, but smaller type); gift shops sell 
Russian kitsch; shelves of food stores groan with nostalgia - Russian tea, 
caviar, black bread, little plastic cups of vodka containing an individual 
hit for 20p. And pork. The city nearly went to war over pork last year; 32 
stores were threatened with closure by the district magistrate unless they 
ceased selling it.

Most of the stores have opened since Ashkelon was settled by more than 30,000 
Russians, following the huge waves of aliyah - return - from the former 
Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s. They have clung to the coast, 
with 45,000 in Haifa, 37,000 in Ashdod and 35,000 in Tel Aviv. Mikhail 
Gorbachev's decision to allow Jews to leave the Soviet Union has had an 
enormous impact on Israel, reshaping its cultural, social and economic 

In their high professional and educational talent, the Russians are unlike 
any previous wave of immigrants. The unemployment rate among them is lower 
than that of other Israelis, around seven per cent. Most have already bought 
their own homes; half have at least one car.

It sounds like the Israeli dream of the Jewish melting-pot come true. But 
it's not that simple, as the war of the sausages revealed. 'In Russia, they 
shut our mouths and didn't let us speak but here, in a democracy, they watch 
what we put in our mouths,' said Tamara, a customer at CMAK, a popular 
Russian delicatessen in Ashkelon.

It is run by Marina and Tatiana, who arrived four years ago from the Ukraine. 
Tatiana holds a masters degree in mining engineering, Marina is a qualified 
electrical engineer, but they both prefer selling sausages. Their cyrillic 
list boasts of products in the style of Moscow and Odessa - all made in 
Israel, which does not permit their import. 'Very popular is pig's cheek,' 
says Tatiana in laboured Hebrew- she says she can speak good English, but 
only if we talk about rock density. 'Ukrainians like greasy sausage.' 

They had some problems with the Orthodox when they first set up shop: 'They 
used to come in and abuse us, but it doesn't happen any more. Maybe they got 
used to us.' The pork dispute petered out as a basis for the city's older, 
mainly Sephardic population in their cultural battle with the Russians, after 
a far graver incident last year. Jan Shefshovitz, a 21-year-old immigrant 
from Moldavia, wearing army uniform, was stabbed to death by a Moroccan at a 
city cafe. 'My son was murdered because he spoke Russian,' wept Jan's mother, 

At the headquarters of Yisrael ba-Aliya, the Russian immigrants' party led by 
trade minister Nathan Sharansky, the killing still angers. Vladimir Indikt, 
the local party leader, rails against state prejudice: 'The killers were 
arrested but have been freed on bail pending trial and are supposed to be 
under home arrest. These murd-erers are walking around Ashkelon every day. 
It's outrageous, but what can we do? 

There are different standards of justice for Russians.' He hopes Israel's 
general election, on May 17, will change all that. The Russian sector has 
grown so large in a decade that no political leader can ignore its voice. 
Already the horse-trading has begun with both of Israel's largest parties, 
prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud and Ehud Barak's Labour, 
dangling the interior ministry before Sharansky as reward for the Russian 

The interior ministry, which supervises new immigrants, has been controlled 
by the ultra-Orthodox and Sephardic Shas party for almost 15 years. Shas is 
anathema to the Russians, most of whom couldn't have told you what a 
bar-mitzvah was before they arrived in Israel; they are secular, and tend to 
be right-wing on the peace process. Foreign minister Ariel Sharon revealed 
the reason behind his government's cynical - that's the US state department 
view - and sudden courtship of Moscow when he told the Washington Post: 'The 
Russian vote will decide the outcome of the elections.' 

For years, Netanyahu and Sharon had been urging the US to impose sanctions on 
Russia for assisting Iran's nuclear programme. Suddenly they wanted the the 
IMF to extend loans to Russia. Israel's Russians, who get their news from 
their own-language newspapers and cable television, have backed this. Over 
Kosovo, Sharon and Netanyahu have been notably reluctant to support their 
strongest ally, the US, because most of Israel's Russians are pro-Serb.

In conversations with Russians, the same themes surface. Most say they will 
vote for Netanyahu, who has kept the lid on terrorism. Russians like a strong 
leader, they like the way Netanyahu spat in Washington's face and convinced 
President Clinton it was only raining. 

As for the Palestinians and land for peace, one Ashkelon chess-player said: 
'Where I used to live, we had a huge country. And I came to Israel and if you 
look at it on the map, it's tiny. And they want to start giving bits of it 
away? Are they crazy?' Most Russians (like most Israelis) have never been to 
the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. They have no yearning for 
the Greater Land of Israel which so inspires the Right. Yet they are 
contemptuous of Arabs, as they are disdainful of Israelis, whom they regard 
as vulgar and without culture.

'There is a double culture-shock at work,' explains journalist Sergei 
Makarov. 'Before we came here, most Russians had only preconceptions that 
Israel was like the west, and shared our values. We knew nothing at all about 
the Middle East. We found that Israel is not really like the west at all, so 
we were disappointed and we still don't understand the Middle East, which is 
alien.' Israel once dreamed of a population of a nation united and confident. 
What happened? There is a rich and varied culture, but far more disunited 
than its founders imagined.

Larissa Gerstein is deputy mayor of the Jerusalem municipality and her 
husband edits Vesty, Israel's largest Russian newspaper. The more deeply 
involved she became in Israeli society the more she felt rejected. 'Russians 
don't care what the Israelis think of them, say about them and especially 
write about them. We now have cultural autonomy. Little Russia.' And they 
will vote for Netanyahu because he, too, is an outsider to the establishment 
and 'because they like seeing a Jew screwing the gentiles for a change'.

As Russia grows more unstable, so anti-semitism there rises and the 
immigrants keep coming; 916,200 Jews still live in the former Soviet Union. 
Shas wants to make qualification for immigration more strict, so that 
Russians whose claim to Jewishness is only through a grandfather would no 
longer qualify.

It is thought that around a third of the Russian Israelis are not Jewish. A 
few are actively Christian. Ivan, who attends a Roman Catholic church in 
Jerusalem four times a week, recalls that when he attended the Israeli 
absorption centre in Russia, 'they told me to put down that I had no 
religious faith, but they knew and didn't care. They just wanted more 
citizens. Perhaps they believed that over time we will all be integrated into 
the Jewish character of Israel. 

That may be true, but they forgot that we will determine just what that 
character will be. Most of my countrymen and women don't care about religion 
at all. They don't care about being Jewish. That may create big problems some 
day.' What about baby Yochanan Shapira? 'I think another big wave of Russians 
is coming soon,' says his mother. 'Ehud Barak says another million arriving 
here would be good for Israel, but I'm not sure he's right. I think the 
Israelis already have more Russians than they can cope with.' 


Baltimore Sun
May 4, 1999
[for personal use only]
NATO's war repels new member
Loner: Having worked so hard to join NATO, the Czech Republic finds itself 
all but alone in opposing the alliance's war on Yugoslavia. Prague is 
flunking its first loyalty test, say NATO sources.
By James Drake 
Special To The Sun 

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- When the Czech Republic's President Vaclav Havel 
flew into the Canadian capital, Ottawa, last week for a three-day visit, he 
had some explaining to do.

Fresh from NATO's Washington summit, Havel thanked Canada in an address to 
both houses of parliament for its support of his country's application to 
join the military alliance.

Yet of the three new Central European members that formally joined NATO on 
March 12 -- Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic -- the Czechs find 
themselves at odds with the alliance over Yugoslavia.

Within two weeks of joining NATO, those countries were yoked to 16 other 
members in launching the first attack on a sovereign state in the alliance's 
50-year history. And most Czechs -- their government included -- wanted 
nothing to do with it.

True, Havel, the former anti-Communist dissident who enjoys his people's 
affection and respect, has over the past five weeks continuously hectored 
them about their duty to oppose tyranny.

But the night the bombing began, his minority left-of-center Social 
Democratic government disassociated itself with almost indecent haste from 
the decision, claiming that it had been made before Prague joined the 

"This was supposed to prevent fighting, not bring us into war," says Prime 
Minister Milos Zeman, who likens the current Yugoslav conflict to "cave men 
throwing rocks."

Zeman is mirroring the popular mood. Polls consistently show that no more 
than 35 percent of Czechs endorse the NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia.

"This is a minority government," explains Jonathan Stein, an analyst with the 
Prague branch of the East-West Institute, a think tank in Washington. "They 
can't stick their neck out because they could very easily find it chopped 

NATO sources have been shocked by the hostile Czech response to the 
alliance's action, particularly given the reaction of their Central European 

At the Washington summit, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, according to 
witnesses, dropped his habitual bonhomie to give a tongue-lashing to Czech 
Ambassador Karel Kavanda.

Solana upbraided Kavanda for his country's alleged failure to live up to its 
new responsibilities and warned that Prague was being tested in a baptism of 
fire closely observed in other allied capitals -- as well as in Belgrade.

Hungary, the only NATO country that borders Yugoslavia, is vulnerable to 
reprisals because of the 300,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Serbia's 
northern province of Vojvodina.

Some of those ethnic Hungarians have been conscripted into the Yugoslav armed 
forces and dispatched to Kosovo. Budapest has reported that several ethnic 
Hungarians have been killed in Kosovo since the airstrikes began March 24.

Yet, according to opinion polls, only 45 percent of Hungarians are opposed to 
the NATO airstrikes, while 60 percent of Poles back the campaign.

In a recent visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Janos Martonyi, 
the Hungarian foreign minister, reminded the allies that his country has been 
placed in the agonizing position of going to war against fellow Hungarians. 
Thus, he said, it would be unthinkable for Hungary to supply troops for a 
NATO ground offensive in Kosovo, if that should prove necessary.

Many Czechs are asking why their country joined NATO in the first place.

"Did the Czech Republic's politicians join NATO to protect itself from 
Yugoslavia?" asks Stein of the East-West Institute. "Of course not. It's part 
of a more general process of aligning themselves with the West, of joining 
all the Western structures that will have them. The trouble is, that's a fine 
point that's lost on most people here."

The disillusionment of Czech citizens with NATO reflects a recurring theme in 
Central Europe, not just in Prague: a gap between their ruling elites and the 

On the continent's two more significant debates, NATO's eastward expansion 
and the European Union's single currency, the Central European leaders have 
been positive, even though many of their citizens are dubious of the benefits.

But in part, at least, the Czech mood is also a bitter residue of history. 
This tiny nation, with a population of about 10 million, has had unhappy 
experiences with alliances. In 1938, a treaty with France was no protection 
against Nazi tanks that annexed the country's outlying edges and finished the 
job six months later. In 1968, it was tanks from the "fraternal" Warsaw Pact 
that rolled into Czechoslovakia -- on orders from Moscow to put down the 
"Prague spring" uprising.

Military forces here generally have been an object of derision rather than 
respect. In Poland there is a long warrior tradition. Czech soldiers, by 
contrast, have not fought in defense of their country's borders for four 
centuries. The 200,000-strong army of 1990 is about 60,000 men today.

Lt. Gen. Jiri Nekvasil, 51, the recently retired chief of the general staff, 
personifies both the aspirations and shortcomings of today's army. He is a 
former Communist trained in Moscow. "Twenty-one years as a member of the 
Warsaw Pact left some traces on me," he admits. "We had been studying NATO as 
the enemy."

Nekvasil eventually warmed to the West. Still, only a handful of Czech senior 
officers speak English, and Nekvasil is not among them.

Besides, almost 10 years after the "velvet revolution" that threw off the 
shackles of communism, economics preoccupies Czechs, not geopolitics. A deep 
recession overshadows any immediate security threat.

The Czech Republic had grown somewhat complacent about threats from 
neighbors; only two of them -- Poland and East Germany -- were part of the 
Soviet empire and both are now in NATO. By contrast, Poland, which in 1990 
had three Soviet allies as neighbors, now has seven, including a sliver of 
Russia marooned between Lithuania and Poland.

That sense of complacency -- coupled with dire economic straits -- is 
reflected in Prague's paltry financial commitment to the North Atlantic 
Treaty Organization. With military spending just 1.9 percent of gross 
domestic product, Prague plans to boost military spending by just 0.1 percent 
of GDP each year for the next three years.

NATO officials, recognizing the danger of undermining democracy by insisting 
on higher spending, have so far bitten their tongues on Czech reluctance to 
do more.

Even so, they didn't take kindly to a Zeman-led trade mission to Moscow in 
mid-April to recoup some of the $3.6 billion outstanding in Cold War loans to 
Moscow. As partial payment, Moscow agreed to send the Czechs $200 million in 
military equipment.

Zeman's difficult position was revealed by Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky, the 
far-right Russian nationalist and Serbophile who gate-crashed the Czech prime 
minister's farewell party to congratulate him on "highlighting the 
differences in NATO over Kosovo."

Zeman smiled thinly, but made no reply.


Moscow Times
May 5, 1999 
Army Cautiously Welcomes Back the Church 
By Andrei Zolotov Jr.
Staff Writer

VLASIKHA, Moscow Region -- Escorted by a military police car with a flashing 
light, the black Volga sedan zoomed by the gated checkpoint and drove toward 
the new red-brick Orthodox church in Vlasikha, a closed missile garrison 
outside Moscow. 

This was no general or minister, however, but another kind of top brass. 
Bishop Savva of Krasnogorsk, responsible for the Russian Orthodox Church's 
contacts with the military, had arrived to celebrate the Divine Liturgy at 
the headquarters of Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces. 

After 75 years of strictly enforced atheism, the Russian military is slowly 
and cautiously reopening its doors to the church f an institution that for 
centuries provided much of the patriotic justification for serving Russia and 
risking one's life for one's country. 

Churches and chapels are springing up at military facilities, and some 
commanders say they welcome the moral compass the church's teachings offer 
soldiers. But behind the gates of military bases, the church finds itself in 
a highly ambiguous situation. 

Other than a provision about freedom of conscience in Russia's oft-ignored 
Constitution, the Orthodox Church, along with the country's other religious 
organizations, has no legal status in the military. Unlike in countries with 
unbroken religious traditions, there are no chaplains in the Russian army, 
where, priests say, at most 5 percent of soldiers are practicing believers. 

The church's work in the military is based solely on priests' personal 
contacts with commanders and on a vague agreement between the Moscow 
Patriarchate and the Defense Ministry. 

On one front, priests struggle against the strong atheist inertia of 
Communist-trained political officers, now renamed "educational," or morale, 
officers. On the other, they face suspicion from other religious groups that 
say the Orthodox Church wants to monopolize ties with the military and claim 
that it obstructs their access to soldiers. 

The church in Vlasikha was built in less than one year and consecrated on 
April 27, 1998. Officials maintain that no budget money was used, saying the 
Strategic Rocket Forces coordinated collection of donations from companies 
and individuals. 

It is dedicated to two saints, St. Ilya of Murom, a medieval warrior and 
monk, and St. Barbara, considered by the church to be the patron saint of the 
nuclear missile forces. That's because it was on Dec. 17, her saint's day, 
that the militant atheist and church persecutor Nikita Khrushchev signed a 
decree in 1960 founding this branch of the armed forces.Today, more than 100 
churches and chapels function on bases around Russia, says Archpriest Alexy 
Zotov, deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for Contacts 
with the Military and Law Enforcement Organs. Two churches function in 
military hot spots: one on the Russian military base in Tajikistan and the 
other with the UN peacekeeping brigade in Bosnia. 

Several dozen soldiers stood in Vlasikha for the liturgy. Some prayed, lined 
up for confession and took communion. But most f brought in by order of their 
commander f just watched and listened to the choir which came from Moscow for 
the occasion. Several soldiers chatted irreverently behind a pillar. 

"If the Lord brings 200 people here, maybe 20 of them might come to believe," 
said Captain Sergei Yakimenko, 32, one of the few actively religious 
officers. He graduated from the department of Orthodox culture in the 
Strategic Armed Forces Academy, one of the first such departments in military 
educational institutions. 

Draftees can, with a letter from their parish priest, request to serve in a 
unit that has a church or chapel, though such requests are not automatically 

The attitude of the majority of officers, priests working in the army say, 
varies from favorable neutrality to active resistance. 

"I am not a believer, but I am curious," said Major Alexander Sadovsky, a 
battalion morale officer who brought his subordinates to the St. Ilya church. 
"Our Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience, and if a person is 
drafted to the army, he should not be torn away from his religion." 

"The Russian Orthodox Church considers the defense of the Motherland to be 
the holy cause. That is most important," Sadovsky said. "It also helps upkeep 
the discipline in the military collective, because religious people are, as a 
rule, more disciplined themselves." 

"The relations between army and church go back into history," says Priest 
Mikhail Vasilyev, pastor of the Vlasikha church. "I consider myself to be the 
continuation of the same tradition, which was illegally broken and is now 
being reborn." 

Vasilyev says his main mission is to console soldiers in difficult 
situations: in prison, or on the brink of suicide f not uncommon in the 
Russian army, where new conscripts are often brutalized by more senior 
soldiers. "Who can a soldier appeal to if not to a priest?" he says. Vasilyev 
visits the barracks, attends the meetings of morale officers and says he 
constantly fights overzealous junior commanders who force soldiers to go to 

"I come where I am needed," Vasilyev said. "If one soldier in one unit would 
not commit suicide, that would already be a victory." 

In tsarist times, the military clergy was led by the senior priest, called 
the Protopresbyter of the Army and Navy, who reported to the minister of war 
and the emperor while maintaining a seat on the Holy Synod. He was in charge 
not only of Orthodox priests, but also the clergy of other faiths, who were 
sent to the units when there was deemed to be a need. 

Vasilyev says it makes no difference to him whether troubled soldiers are 
Orthodox or Moslem, or of any other faith, or nonbelievers. "There have been 
cases where I found myself in the place of an imam," Vasilyev said. "There 
was a Moslem guy facing years in prison f I gave him the chance to talk out 
his griefs." 

But the Russian Orthodox Church's limited inroads generate suspicion among 
Russia's other faiths. Ravil Gainutdin, the leader of Central Russia's 
Moslems and chairman of the Council of Russia's Muftis, said that 
construction of churches in military garrisons is "discrimination" against 
Moslem soldiers, who constitute up to 20 percent of servicemen. He said the 
Defense and Interior Ministries refused to sign an agreement with the Moslem 
authorities similar to the one it has with the Russian Orthodox Church. "We 
don't see enthusiasm on the part of the military," Gainutdin said. 

Some Moslem leaders complain that the Russian Orthodox Church wants to 
re-establish its tsarist position where only it has the right to work 
directly with the military command, while other faiths would have to go 
through the church. 

Zotov defends such a position and says the Orthodox Church can speak for all 
of Christianity in the Russian military. "Why do we need, say, Catholic 
priests in the Russian army?" he said. "If there is a Catholic soldier, our 
priest, if he is not an idiot, will find a Catholic priest for him." 

To back up his position, he cites the patriotism of the Russian Orthodox 
Church: "We are a traditional confession in Russia, and our center is in 
Moscow, and not in Rome or in the United States." 


Security Council Preventive Nuclear Strike Debate Goes on 

Komsomolskaya Pravda
30 April 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Report by Viktor Baranets: "Russia Takes Time Over Preventive Nuclear 
Strikes. Security Council Will Consider This Question at Next Session" 

At Thursday's [29 April] Russian Federation 
Security Council session questions concerning the storage and 
reprocessing of nuclear weapons and the maintenance of Russian Strategic 
Nuclear Forces' combat readiness at the highest level were discussed. The 
problem of developing the country's nuclear weapons complex was also 

It is known that events in Yugoslavia have spurred the president, 
Security Council, and Defense Ministry leadership into thoroughly setting 
about solving the many problems which have accumulated in this sphere: 

Almost 60 percent of strategic nuclear missiles have already reached the 
end of their warrantied life, the putting of Topol-M systems onto alert 
status is proceeding slowly, and almost all Russian nuclear arsenals are 
already under U.S. technical control (in accordance with Russian-U.S. 
programs to help Russia ensure nuclear safety). There is still no clarity 
regarding the Defense Ministry leadership's proposal approved last 
November to set up a Strategic Nuclear Forces High Command. The General 
Staff leadership and certain high commands of branches of service are 
seriously questioning this "untimely and ill-considered innovation." 

The draft of the new Russian Federation military doctrine was also 
considered at the Security Council session. The question of enshrining in 
this document a provision regarding a preventive nuclear strike was 
raised but it has not yet "gotten off the ground." 

Discussion of this problem will be continued at the next Security Council 


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