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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
3. Stratfor Commentary: Russia Offers Serious Concessions on Kosovo Force.
4. International Herald Tribune: David Hoffman, Russian Says Arms Accords
5. AP: Russian PM Says Economy Still Sick.
6. New York Times letter: Carol Saivetz, Can Russia Be an Ally We Can
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
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
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
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
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.
CAROL R. SAIVETZ
Cambridge, Mass., May 2, 1999
The writer is a research associate at the Davis Center for Russian Studies at
Date: Tue, 4 May 1999
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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]
'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
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
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]
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
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
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.'
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
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
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
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
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.
May 5, 1999
Army Cautiously Welcomes Back the Church
By Andrei Zolotov Jr.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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