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Johnson's Russia List
13 May 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Times: Matt Bivens and Jonas Bernstein, Kremlin Planning
Worriedly For 2000.
2. The Guardian (UK) editorial: A bad day for Russia. And potentially bad
for the Balkans too.
3. The Times (UK): Anna Blundy, Doubts raised on President's sanity.
4. The Times (UK): Vanora Bennett, 'President Yeltsin has appointed his own
Dirty Harry to do a prime ministerial job which requires a Maynard Keynes.'
5. Vlad Ivanenko: Re: 3281-7 Reliability of the report from MT.
6. Mark Moorstein: Yeltsin and Clinton.
7. Dmitri Glinski Vassiliev: your remark in the latest JRL issue.
8. Mark Jones: YELTSIN SACKS PRIMAKOV.
9. Albert Weeks: Stepashin as PM.
10. Edward Lozansky: Primakov is gone but his dream of Russo-Chinese
alliance is coming true.
11. Lore Lawrence: MARS in DC and Other Stuff.
12. Stratfor: Russian Government Sacking Marks a Major Shift Toward the
13. Reuters: Russian liberal Yavlinsky sees economy worsening.
14. Reuters: Reform chances seen easing under new Russia
15. Interfax: Poll Reveals Muscovites' Attitude to
16. Moscow Times editorial: Is Stepashin A Russian
May 13, 1999
Kremlin Planning Worriedly For 2000
By Matt Bivens and Jonas Bernstein
He is pushing 70, he slurs his speech and he needed help to mount just a few
small steps to a World War II memorial over Victory Day. But will Boris
Yeltsin ever leave power willingly?
That is the real question raised by the day's political events.
The president's second term ends in 13 months, and the Constitution does not
allow a third term. Yeltsin is supposed to step down in 2000, and Russia is
supposed to elect a new president.
But can Yeltsin afford to step down?
Or more precisely, does Yeltsin believe he can afford to step down?
Yeltsin has ruled over a regime that, in the space of a few months, gave away
the oil companies on the cheap. He has the blood of October 1993 and of 21
months of war in Chechnya on his hands. His name is associated with the
disappointments of economic reform.
Many of the Communists frankly would love to see him in jail, or worse. If
they had their way, he would even stand accused of "genocide" by parliament.
Now Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov is investigating corruption in the
Kremlin - and the Kremlin is rattled.
It is debatable how much danger an ex-President Yeltsin would really be in.
But Yeltsin has a strong paranoid streak that comes through in his memoirs
and in his eight years of rule. And in matters of political power, he never
leaves things to chance.
Yeltsin has been talking for years, off and on, about grooming a successor -
whether the general Alexander Lebed or the young reformer Boris Nemtsov or
the "heavyweight" Viktor Chernomyrdin. Significantly, however, despite his
constant preoccupation with the question he never seems able to settle on
Now he is running out of time - and look who he has put into power:
loyalists, security officials and members of "the family."
There is Sergei Stepashin, who is remarkable mainly for heading hundreds of
thousands of armed troops and for being obsequiously loyal to Yeltsin - to
the point that Stepashin recently announced he would simply ignore Skuratov's
arrest warrant for Boris Berezovsky, the Kremlin-connected oil and media
And there is Nikolai Aksyonenko, the previously obscure railways minister,
who is now No. 2 in the Cabinet. Russian media say Aksyonenko has ties to the
Berezovsky-controlled Sibneft oil company.
Yevgeny Primakov gone, Stepashin and Aksyonenko ascendant - all of this
suggests Berezovsky is back in favor. (It would be no surprise if all charges
against Russia's most famous businessman were soon dropped.)
Just two weeks ago, Yeltsin's Kremlin announced First Deputy Prime Minister
Stepashin's new brief was to oversee the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Then, in Wednesday's televised speech, Yeltsin explained his latest promotion
of Stepashin - who has no known economic expertise - on grounds that this was
the man to carry out urgent new free market reforms.
Yeltsin said these would be harsh and unpopular but necessary measures. He
provided no real elaboration, except to add that these vague measures were
not possible to carry out in a parliamentary election season.
Is Yeltsin thinking of heeding his old friend Berezovsky's advice and
postponing, indefinitely, the 2000 presidential elections?
That's what Berezovsky and others publicly called on Yeltsin to do in 1996 -
in the name of, among other things, saving democracy from the Communists.
Then Yeltsin declined, explaining the elections would go ahead because he
expected to win. This time around, he can't possibly expect to win - he's not
even allowed to run.
Enter Stepashin, the perfect man to have at your side to declare an
extraconstitutional state of emergency and to rule by decree. There are
plenty of justifications at hands - a wave of Chechen terrorism, which
Stepashin obligingly predicted to be at hand just a few weeks ago; the need
for decisive economic policymaking; the need to hold back the anti-Semitic
Communists; even the war in Yugoslavia.
Interestingly, another who seems suddenly back in favor is Anatoly Chubais,
the architect of Russian privatization. A recent issue of the Kommersant
Vlast newsweekly claimed Chubais was involved in secret meetings at the
Kremlin with unnamed oligarchs and members of the presidential administration
over how to deal with Primakov. Vlast reported Chubais advocated immediately
sacking Primakov - and as an extra, even jailing Skuratov.
Wednesday, Chubais talked glowingly of Yeltsin's decision to dump Primakov
and put in Stepashin. Speaking to Reuters, he also hinted he had played a
role in Primakov's ouster.
Chubais said he had spoken to Yeltsin several times over the past three
weeks, and that the decision to sack the government came out of "a detailed,
well-thought-out process not of just one or two days but of a much longer
Chubais has been portrayed by Western media and governments as a free market
reformer and as a champion of democratic government. His economics and
politics have been less broadly popular in Russia, however, where he is
looked upon by most citizens with suspicion.
For Chubais, Yeltsin on Wednesday was "in one of his best forms in recent
"[Yeltsin] has the following characteristic Western readers may not fully
understand," Chubais told Reuters. "Just as the political situation gets
tough, goes bad, grows more complicated, when the call comes the president
mobilizes his internal resources and turns out in his best form."
And while Stepashin for most Russian liberals is a suspect figure - a KGB man
and a member of the Chechnya Party of War - Chubais praised him Wednesday as
"a St. Petersburg intellectual, a doctor of law, a highly educated and
cultured person, very rare qualities."
It is not surprising that as Yeltsin sacks the government and creeps toward
authoritarian rule - with a free market element, of course - Chubais would
emerge to applaud. In 1996, on the eve of Yeltsin's bypass operation, then
Kremlin chief of staff Chubais announced he and Chernomyrdin were
"consolidating power" in an emergency committee, and called for an end to
"public discussion." Yeltsin survived the operation and this thinly veiled
drive to establish a junta upon the president's death evaporated overnight.
A police officer is in power, Chubais and Berezovsky have reemerged, and
Yeltsin is talking of the need for harsh economic policies that he says don't
seem to work in a democracy during election season. It may be May 1999, but
in the Kremlin all thoughts are on what happens after June 2000.
The Guardian (UK)
13 May 1999
[for personal use only]
A bad day for Russia
And potentially bad for the Balkans too
The president, who is facing impeachment, abruptly sacks his prime minister
and sends the government packing. A constitutional stand-off threatens,
with the newly nominated prime minister facing almost certain rejection by
parliament. When that happened six years ago, it led to violence and tanks
on the streets. The immediate allied reaction to events in Moscow yesterday
was doggedly hopeful. This shouldn't, said Downing Street, disturb the
useful course of Russian diplomacy in the Kosovo crisis. Whatever the final
outcome in Moscow, said Nato's general secretary, the process would go on.
They'll be lucky if that turns out to be true.
What happened yesterday looks threatening on two levels. This new bout of
chaotic instability and internal conflict still further reduces the already
vestigial chances of the economic and governmental reconstruction which the
country so grievously needs. And the likely knock-on effects of that for
the crisis in the Balkans seem all too clear. Though at the start of the
war he responded with thunderous Cold War rhetoric, President Yeltsin, in
his erratic fashion, has been a constructive force. His installation of
Viktor Chernomyrdin as his personal representative brought the first, very
tentative, signs of movement in the exploration of possible diplomatic
solutions. There remains, as we said yesterday, great gaps between the
Russian and Nato positions, between anything Chernomyrdin is likely to coax
out of Belgrade and the minimum terms acceptable to Nato, as reiterated by
Tony Blair yesterday. Yet inevitably the capacity of this deeply unpopular
president, uncertain of his own survival, in a climate of public opinion
which expects to see Russia standing squarely beside its old allies the
Serbs, to deliver, in Nato's terms, must be diminished.
Whatever Nato's senior figures may say for public consumption, there must
by now be a powerful feeling that events in this war keep conspiring
against them. Sometimes, as with the targeting of the Chinese embassy, and
indeed with the initial miscalculation of what air power alone was likely
to do, that has been their own fault. At least what has happened in Moscow
is one blow inflicted by circumstances, not contrived by Nato itself. But
if these events further imperil the never substantial chance of producing a
diplomatic resolution, that will not be much consolation.
The Times (UK)
13 May 1999
[for personal use only]
Doubts raised on President's sanity
By Anna Blundy
THERE is one question on everybody's lips: is Boris Yeltsin in his right
Distributing awards for Victory Day in the Kremlin last week, he began to
rage incoherently about the bombing of Yugoslavia. Dmitri Yakushin, the
presidential press spokesman, asked journalists present not to report the
President's ramblings and they agreed. But they made their material
available to absent colleagues.
"No one - just let Clinton, a little bit, accidentally, send a missile.
We'll answer immediately," he said. "We don't want . . . such impudence. To
unleash a war on a sovereign state. Without the Security Council. Without
the United Nations. It could only be possible in a time of barbarism."
This is hardly the first time he has embarrassed himself in public. But
since his humiliating performance in Central Asia late last year, when he
stumbled dramatically and was rumoured to be unaware that he had left
Moscow, aides have made more and more efforts to keep him away from
Until the beginning of the Kosovo conflict in March, Mr Yeltsin had taken
a back seat in the day to day running of Russia and had been all but
replaced by Yevgeni Primakov, who was appointed Prime Minister in September
1998 and sacked yesterday.
After persistent bouts of bronchitis, pneumonia and, most recently a
bleeding ulcer, the President has appeared for work in the Kremlin
increasingly rarely and his car has been followed everywhere by an
ambulance for more than three years. His country residence is said to
resemble an accident and emergency department, and since last year he has
endured frequent periods of hospitalisation.
He has suffered heart problems since his student days, culminating in a
quintuple heart bypass in 1996. His "sore throats", "colds" and respiratory
problems have done nothing to explain his forgetfulness, incoherence and
slowness, and difficulty in standing unaided.
His face has become paler and puffier, and his words further and further
This hardly seems a man able to stand at the helm of a country which he has
plunged yet again into a politico-economic crisis.
The Times (UK)
May 13 1999
[for personal use only]
Vanora Bennett (firstname.lastname@example.org)
'President Yeltsin has appointed his own Dirty Harry to do a prime
ministerial job which requires a Maynard Keynes'
Once again, the headstrong and impulsive President of Russia has exercised
the power without responsibility that is his constitutional prerogative. By
abruptly firing his Prime Minister, Yevgeny Primakov, Boris Yeltsin is
condemning his country to more months of upheaval at a time when Russia can
ill afford it. The political battle that now looms will inevitably compound
Russia's existing woes - a precarious economy and a difficult foreign
policy role in Kosovo. Yeltsin's wilful self-regard, and the freedom
Russia's constitution gives him to indulge it, is doing something few would
have dreamt possible. It is making things in Russia worse.
Yeltsin's pretext for getting rid of Primakov - the excuse that he had not
done enough to rescue the economy - is unconvincing, given his choice of
replacement. The man the President wants to become his fourth Prime
Minister in just over a year, Sergei Stepashin, is a crony, not a
capitalist. A gung-ho, law-and-order type who has run the interior, justice
and security ministries, he is happier in a helicopter chasing criminals
than doing the complex calculations needed to win the IMF's respect.
Yeltsin has appointed his own Dirty Harry to a job which requires a Maynard
While Primakov may not have been a skilled economic strategist either, he
at least dodged the cataclysm which Russians feared would engulf their
country when the rouble collapsed last August. Primakov had tried to make a
truce in Russia's murky political wars. He had won IMF agreement to resume
lending. His own hands were clean, a rarity in Russian politics. His
patriotism, and his background as a Soviet grandee - with long experience
of seeking consensus in the power elite and stability in the country at
large - had earned the grudging respect even of those who did not support
Perhaps Primakov's worst offence against Yeltsin - apart from scoring far
higher than the President's 2 per cent in recent popularity polls - was to
cultivate a cordial relationship with the Russian parliament, home of
Yeltsin's Communist opponents. Yeltsin's visceral hatred of Communism,
which he presents as proof of his commitment to democracy, owes much to
rage at his personal humiliation on being expelled from the party hierarchy
in 1987. Primakov, trying to reconcile the Kremlin and lawmakers this
year, had touched a raw presidential nerve by suggesting that Yeltsin's
vast powers be reduced.
Despite his influence in parliament, Primakov subsequently failed to get
the deputies to drop a long-cherished plan to try impeaching Yeltsin. The
impeachment attempt would have been unlikely to succeed. But the idea of
even a symbolic threat fed Yeltsin's fear of being pushed out of office
before his term ends in June 2000.
Sacking Primakov, and thereby disassociating himself from any
responsibility for his own Prime Minister's policies, was the intemperate
response of an autocrat. It was inappropriate behaviour in a leader who
pays lip-service to democracy. Yeltsin rules a country equipped with
institutions which, at least in theory, are supposed to divide power. With
those institutions now on a collision course, Yeltsin has ensured that the
future is bound to be perilous.
The peculiarities of the current constitution mean that Yeltsin and the
hostile parliament will now be racing to defang each other. The parliament
will be unlikely to approve of any Prime Minister Yeltsin puts forward.
Under normal circumstances, Yeltsin can dissolve the legislature if it
rejects his candidate three times. But, if he is being impeached, he loses
Meanwhile, a parliament angered at the firing of Primakov and eager to save
itself from dissolution will be more likely than before to muster enough
votes to pass an impeachment resolution in its debate this week. The last
time Yeltsin and parliament got stuck in an impasse of this sort was in
1993; the result was bloodshed. A parliamentary mob seized a TV tower;
Yeltsin responded with tanks. In the name of democracy but at the cost of
more than 100 lives, he bombarded deputies into submission.
That time, the outside world bought his explanation that the parliament's
opposition to him was a threat to democracy itself. The West let him write
a Russian constitution in which almost all power was vested in his
presidency and almost none in the legislature. Since then, he has felt
empowered to support meaningless and bloody adventures, erratic policies
and overt cronyism. As today's crisis develops, with its echoes of 1993,
Russia's need for genuine democracy, in which the President's powers are
matched with responsibilities, is again painfully visible.
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999
From: Vlad Ivanenko <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 3281-7 Reliability of the report from MT
In 3281-7 contribution from Moscow Times "INSIDE RUSSIA: No Heroes in This
Shameful Political Melee" Yulia Latynina states that "...The impending new
round of inflation, the unfulfilled budget, the non-payment of paltry
wages - all of this appears to the voters, on the eve of the elections, to
be the fault of the left-wing government [of Primakov]".
I wonder where the author has got her data to make such inference. I use
Russian Economic Trends database that provides following information
Year 98-99 97-98
Inflation (percent, from Sept to Mar) 43 5
Federal Budget Deficit (in Dec 95 Bn R,
aggregate for Sept-Feb) 197 500
Non-payment of wages (percent, in real terms, -14 4
from Sept to Mar)
Apart from inflation (that has been moderate since February), data
contradict to what Ms. Latynina states. I recall that her economic
articles in Izvestia appeared to be somewhat misleading.
It is possible to argue that the reduction in budget deficit was due to
inability of the Federal government to borrow on open market. Inflation
could explain lower wage arrears in real terms. Both factors are not
completely under the control of the Primakov government and, hence,
positive trends just "befell" if you wish. But why to twist data?
Vlad Ivanenko, PhD candidate in economics
University of Western Ontario
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999
From: Fotog5@aol.com (Mark A. Moorstein)
Subject: Yeltsin and Clinton
Dear David: I haven't written before, but I think it's about time to point
out the problems with both Clinton's policies and Yeltsin's firing of
Primakov. Combined, they cold spell the reemergence of the communists in
both Russia and elsewhere.
Clinton has done much to force natural enemies into bed with one
another. Russia and China, for example, have similar desires to see the US
weakened --- American "hegemony" as the Chinese employ the concept and
"superpower monopoly" as the Russians use the term --- are similar fears.
Both are afraid of too much US presence on the world stage. There are de
facto alliances forming between Iran and Iraq because of Caspian oil as well
as peripheral alliances in the NIS.
NATO has done much to frighten the rest of the world. While I, for
one, was happy to see NATO react to Serb atrocities, the flouting of
international law and its institututions once the primary crisis abated,
makes no sense in the long term. It's like calling the local security guard
to stop domestic violence and then, when the violence has stabilized, posting
the security guard to intimidate the children into forcing the abusive father
to behave himself. Obviously the authorized police should come and the
courts should become involved --- read, the UN and the Hague.
With Yeltsin firing Primakov, the communists now have a legitimate
argument that Yeltsin is unstable and will remain so. Yeltsin's desires for
market reforms and stability are covers for remaining in power and avoiding
impeachment. This will fuel communist rhetoric and convince on the fence
Russians to side with the communists.
These same communists will gain moral authority by pointing to NATO
and the threat there. "Only a strong return to Communism will help!" they
will say. The worst part of this is that they now have a real chance of
convincing others this is so.
Clinton, unfortunately, plays right into this scenario. Both
Yeltsin and Clinton have committed massive blunders in the last two weeks:
Clinton, by not picking up the settlement possibilities in Kosovo and
accidentally bombing the Chinese Embassy, and Yeltsin by firing Primakov.
Together they indicate a serious crisis for not only Kosovo, but Russia, the
US and the rest of the world. The only ones who gain in these
miscalculations are the communists.
For me, a lawyer, it appears that the rule of law has been
temporarily replaced by blatant stupidity, by Milosevic, Clinton and Yeltsin.
From: "Dmitri Glinski Vassiliev" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: your remark in the latest JRL issue
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999
in the table of contents of the May 12 issue, you ask: "Can anyone show me
a single editorial or op-ed article in a Western newspaper advising AGAINST
the dismissal of Primakov?" Let me suggest in response that at least one of
them was re-printed in JRL not so long ago. It was written by Peter
Reddaway and myself and published as op-ed in The Los Angeles Times on
March 21. Specifically, our article said the following: "Primakov is the
first Russian leader since 1993 who enjoys broad-based legitimacy (...) his
appointment was a major step toward representative democracy (...) Though
his government's economic performance has not as yet justified this level
of trust, his moral capital, if skillfully invested, will greatly benefit a
country where despair and mistrust are pervasive in the political system.
How can the West help Primakov succeed? German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder perceptively remarked, "Stabilizing Russia now means stabilizing
Primakov's government." However, Russia's democracy may not be strong
enough to keep Primakov in power (...) A key problem are the
"oligarchs"(...) Since his appointment, Primakov has blocked the oligarchs'
easy access to state coffers. In revenge, they are fiercely attacking him,
through their media empires and associated politicians. They keep
predicting that Primakov's Washington trip to renegotiate Russia's debt
will fail. Then, they insist, President Boris N. Yeltsin will restore them
to their privileged positions.(...) To promote this scenario, some have
traveled to Washington and lobbied against their own government. Thus, if
Primakov's visit goes badly, the oligarchs and other corrupt elements will
be boosted in their efforts to unseat the first government to combat their
plundering. Russia's democracy and economic performance would continue
"muddling down," and anti-Western sentiment among ordinary Russians would
Sorry for the long quote, but I find it necessary to keep the record
straight. By the way, I have been watching TV in Moscow most of the day. I
have heard only two positive comments about today's coup. One came from
Boris Berezovsky (as of today, still a defendant in a criminal case), who
praised Primakov's firing as "the end to the communist revanche". The other
praise for Yeltsin's decision came from a Zhirinovsky's deputy
Dmitri Glinski Vassiliev
Research Associate, George Washington University
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999
From: Mark Jones <email@example.com>
Subject: YELTSIN SACKS PRIMAKOV
The power struggle in Moscow between the left-dominated Duma and the
Yeltsin presidency is reaching a climax. This has always been more than
a political struggle: it is a contest about the fate of capitalism in
Russia. The new crisis throws Moscow in turmoil and throws in jeopardy
Nato plans for a diplomatic settlement of the Kosovo war. Russia will no
longer be available to put the screws on Milosevic at Nato's behest, as
Yeltsin himself confirmed this morning, when he warned that Russia
will break off its peace efforts unless Nato stops the bombing.
Yeltsin is obliged to sound warlike and anti-Nato: according to
recent polls, his rating has slipped to two percent, ie below
the threshold of statistical error. His political frailty
is thus Yugoslavia's gain. Yesterday India issued a
statement strongly critical of Nato bombing. Yugoslavia now has the
committed support of India, China and Russia. The diplomatic isolation
of Nato is developing.
Yeltsin faces renewed attempts by the Russian Duma to impeach him. It
now seems certain that the Duma will vote on Saturday to commence
impeachment proceedings. The constitutional effect of such a vote is to
make it impossible for Yeltsin to sack his prime minister or to dissolve
the Duma. This explains why Yeltsin sacked Primakov now. In his place he
has appointed interior minister Sergei Stepashin, a colourless
personality known only for supporting Yeltsin and for his hawkishness
over Chechnya during the Chechen war three years ago. Stepashin resembles
a kipper, ie, he is two-faced, gutless and spineless. It is inconceivable that
the Duma will accept his nomination. Yeltsin may now try to dissolve the
Duma anyway, but the Duma will certainly refuse to be dissolved. There
will thus be a dual power situation in Russia and indeed one can speak
of such a situation already today.
In 1993 Yeltsin managed to get a few tanks from the Moscow garrison to
shell the then parliament, when that refused to endorse him. When
Yeltsin recently asked the garrison for the same support if a similar
situation occurred today, he was told that 'the tank motors cannot start
because they have no batteries'. In 1993 Yeltsin was supported by Moscow
Mayor Luzhkov, who controls the Moscow police, inlcuding its OMON
paramilitary groups. There is no chance that Luzhkov will support
Yeltsin openly today.
If by some chance Yeltsin were to find loyal troops to attack the
parliament, they would certainly encounter massive public hostility.
Large street demonstartions are now inevitable in any case.
Yeltsin, whose role in destroying the USSR and whose subsequent quisling
servility to the West has made him a vilified and scorned leader for
most Russians, second only to Gorbachev in their pet-hate list, cannot
rely on the support of the oligarchs (they're bust) or the new Moscow
middle class (also bust and deeply disillusioned).
If a dual power situations descends into anarchy and street violence in
Moscow, the knock-on effects in the regions will be momentous. Secession
of Siberia, the Urals and oil-rich Muslim republics such as Tatarstan,
seems probable. In this case the incoming, post-Yeltsin government will
be faced with civil war and possible foreign intervention. It will have
to fight to re-establish a strong Russian state.
Can Yeltsin survive, or even win? It seems unlikely. His best hope is
that a stalemate will develop, with Stepashin as acting Prime Minister
working to destabilise the Duma and take control over the electoral process.
Duma elections are scheduled for later ths year. But Yeltsin is not
master of events. Everything now depends on the will and resolution, not
of any one party or grouping, but of the will of the Russian people
themselves. This week, for the fourth time this century, Russia is in
the throes of revolutionary struggle.
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999
From: Albert Weeks <AWeeks1@compuserve.com>
Subject: Stepashin as PM
The appointment of 47-year-old ex-FSB and MVD chief
Sergei Vadimovich Stephasin suggests a new phase
in ever-evolving Russian domestic and foreign policy.
Of course, the appointment reflects Yeltsin's battening
down of the hatches on the eve of the
impeachment vote in the Duma. Stephashin is both a
loyal Yeltsinite as well as a respected erstwhile overseer
of the "power ministries" going back to Soviet times when
he headed the Security Committee in the old Supreme Soviet
under Gorbachev. In other words, Stephasin has substantial,
built-in support in the largely unreconstructed Russian legislature.
Moreover, Stepashin has an excellent command of English.
It is possible that Yeltsin will exploit this putative "hawk"
in ensuing East-West talks on Kosovo and Serbia, etc. Yeltsin
can count on Stepashin, who was unyielding as to the
Russian grip on Chechnya, Russia's "Kosovo," as a defender
of Russian interests as calculated in more nationalistic terms
today in the Kremlin.
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999
From: Lozansky@aol.com (Edward Lozansky)
Subject: Primakov achieved his goal
For interview with Edward Lozansky
call 202-986-6010, E-mail: Lozansky@aol.com
Primakov is gone but his dream of
Russo - Chinese anti-American alliance is coming true
The continuing war in Yugoslavia is creating a new geopolitical nightmare,
one which can supercede all the damage which has already been done to
innocent civilians, the regional economic infrastructure and the ecology in
the heart of Europe. In addition to increasing the vote for the Communist and
rabid nationalists in the upcoming elections for the Russian Duma and
Presidency, we now see a strong momentum in the direction of a closer
Russo-Chinese alliance based on anti-Americanism.
It looks like Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov despite his removal
from Prime Minister job after all has achieved the major goal of his life -
creating a geopolitical counterweight to the United States and NATO. He can
thank his good buddies, Clinton and Albright, for helping him in this dubious
project. When congratulating the Primakov-Clinton-Albright triangle for this
"great achievement", one has to remember that the last two times Russia and
China were together against the US, it cost over 37,000 American lives and
100,000 wounded in Korea and over 57,000 lives and 150,000 wounded in
Vietnam. It should be noted, of course, that at that time China was
relatively weak and did not have all the nuclear wherewithal it has now
courtesy of US Government Nuclear Research Facilities. Only God knows what
will happen now if, for example, North Korea goes wild, and if China decides
to move on Taiwan. Russia, where communists and extreme nationalists are
gaining every day may throw its weight against the US.
In the US Congress, I was quoted by Representative Curt Weldon to the effect
that Clinton and Albright have succeeded where Soviet propaganda had
miserably failed - in creating strong anti-American feelings among the
Russian people. In fact, the pro-western Russian intellectuals and youth, who
had resisted the vicious communist attacks on America, are now turning
against us. And one can see on TV what Chinese youth are thinking now about
America. We are entering a very dangerous period because each additional day
of Kosovo war brings the world closer to a major confrontation, in which one
cannot rule out the possibility of a nuclear exchange. The only power which
can stop this madness is the US Congress. Members of Congress have the
Constitutional and moral obligation to protect the American people and the
world from the approaching catastrophe. Those Members of Congress who
continue to support or even push to expand this war should know that they
will bear full responsibility for devastating results of their shortsighted
Edward Lozansky, President, American University in Moscow
1800 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Tel. 202-986-6010, Fax 202-667-4244, E-mail: Lozansky@aol.com
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999
From: Lore Lawrence <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: MARS in DC and Other Stuff
As I mentioned this morning, I am looking for other DC-area residents who
are hooked on the soap opera of Russian politics and who also may have
knowledge of the whereabouts of MARS. MARS -- Metro Area Russian Services
-- is a local culture and language group that was extant during my last DC
residency of a couple of years ago. Perhaps I have the wrong phone number,
but they seemed to have vanished.
I am also looking for a competent language instructor who wont mind working
with the old Soviet text books known as the START series. While these
books made Communism seem like a hootenanny (parties to celebrate the end
of exams! shopping sprees in the music store! shindigs on the old
kholkhoz!) they were far more efficient than any American text I tried.
So, if you could post this to this list, I'd really appreciate it. I can be
reached by phone at (202) 822-1680 or by email at
Stratfor special report
Russian Government Sacking Marks a Major Shift Toward the West
1654 GMT, 990512
Yeltsin’s decision to sack Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and his entire
government was anticipated for some time, with the general analysis that
Primakov had grown too strong and popular and posed a threat to Yeltsin, who
always sacks his successful subordinates. That may be partially the case, and
the move gives Yeltsin the added opportunity to dissolve the Duma – which is
preparing to impeach him – if they do not accept his choice to replace
Primakov, but there is more to Yeltsin’s decision than just professional
jealousy and insecurity. In a televised address explaining his decision,
Yeltsin acknowledged that Primakov’s government had succeeded in reining in
Russia’s economic and social crises, but noted that "bit by bit" Primakov had
begun emphasizing political, rather than social or economic goals. As a
result, the situation had evolved "far from stability" in all spheres.
Primakov’s replacement, Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, began his tenure
vowing to focus on "socially-oriented market reforms."
Primakov, a former KGB foreign directorate chief, was popular with the
communists and nationalists in Russia’s Duma. He and Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov pressed an uncompromising and confrontational agenda in dealing with
NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia. While this did give the West some incentive to
attempt to buy off Russia in the short term with IMF loans, it threatened a
long term reversion to the Cold War. When Yeltsin designated former Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin as his special envoy on the Kosovo crisis, quite
explicitly shoving Primakov and Ivanov aside, it was an attempt to salvage
Russia’s relations with the West.
A real indicator of Primakov and Ivanov’s future occurred on April 26, when
Chernomyrdin met with Yeltsin’s chief of staff Alexander Voloshin, Interior
Minister Stepashin, Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, and the heads of the
Federal Security Service and the Ministry for Emergency Situations, to define
Russia’s negotiating position. Primakov and Ivanov were not present at the
meeting, and Russia’s diplomatic efforts from then on were far more moderate.
On May 4 Sergeyev announced that Russia would support armed peacekeepers in
Kosovo, including troops from NATO countries not taking part in the bombing
of Yugoslavia. Chernomyrdin meanwhile succeeded in bridging the gap between
Russia and the West with a framework peace agreement worked out with foreign
ministers of the G-7. In short, Chernomyrdin appears to have succeeded in
salvaging Russia’s relations with the West, at least to the point where
Yeltsin is ready to sack his increasingly hard-line cabinet.
Thus, far from a simple matter of personal insecurity, Yeltsin’s decision to
sack his cabinet marks a serious shift in Russian orientation back toward
moderates and the West – provided Yeltsin can ride out the domestic political
storm he has unleashed. It also reinforces the growing division between
Moscow and Belgrade. Russian UN Ambassador Sergei Lavrov on May 8 criticized
Belgrade’s intransigence over accepting a negotiated settlement. Yeltsin
today warned that Russia could pull out of international efforts to find a
peaceful solution to the crisis if its views were ignored. "We are not the
ones taking part in this war and we did not start it," said Yeltsin. "Clearly
our appeals and various propositions have not reached their intended
destination," he added. Under Primakov and Ivanov, this would certainly have
been targeted at Brussels. Under Stepashin and Chernomyrdin, this is more
likely directed at Belgrade.
Russian liberal Yavlinsky sees economy worsening
MOSCOW, May 12 (Reuters) - Russian liberal opposition leader Grigory
Yavlinsky, head of the Yabloko party, said on Wednesday the economy would
worsen after the sacking of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.
``Such upsets of the game board always lead to a worsening of our economic
situation. This lack of clarity cannot improve the economy,'' he said in an
A real change could only happen after new elections, he said.
President Boris Yeltsin sacked Primakov for not improving the economy fast
enough, and quoted Yavlinsky in his speech announcing the changes as saying
the country was suffering from stagnation under Primakov.
An economist who supported Primakov's candidacy eight months ago, Yavlinsky
said that ``Primakov and his government used up their resources long ago.''
Yavlinsky said Primakov had refused to cut ties with his less apt ministers,
and he specifically criticised First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, a
former Communist member of parliament, for strategic errors in drawn out
negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.
``A change of command was needed to overcome the crisis, so that there was no
government crisis. But he (Primakov) tied himself to that team, called them
friends and comrades -- that is, he did all that possible so that we fell
into this same government crisis,'' Yavlinsky said.
Reform chances seen easing under new Russia gov't
By Janet Guttsman
WASHINGTON, May 12 (Reuters) - President Boris Yeltsin's shock decision to
sack his government -- for the second time in less than a year -- dealt a new
blow to efforts to contain a deep financial crisis there, analysts said on
The experts said they were baffled by Yeltsin's decision to replace former
spymaster Yevgeny Primakov with Sergei Stepashin, a hardline backer of
Russia's war in breakaway Chechnya. They saw little chance of fast-track
reform and new delays in international lending plans.
``This is a disaster for democratic rights, both in the short and in the
medium term,'' said Anders Aslund, an economist at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace who once served as a Swedish diplomat in Moscow.
``Stepashin is the only remaining hardliner from the Chechen war. He has no
reformist credentials whatsoever.''
Yeltsin announced the changes one day before a hostile parliament was due to
discuss impeachment charges, some of them related to Yeltsin's bloody efforts
to crush Chechnya's independence movement. Tens of thousands of people, many
of them civilians, died in the fighting.
Battling ill-health and struggling to reassert his authority, Yeltsin had
appointed Primakov just nine months ago, after parliament balked at his first
choice, the reappointment of long-time premier Viktor Chernomyrdin.
``You can make a good case for impeaching Yeltsin, and you can make a good
case for saying that Primakov did not do very much,'' said Marshall Goldman,
a Harvard University professor and the author of books on Russia and the
``But you can also say that with Yeltsin the country has held together and
with Primakov it has not been as bad as you thought it would be. There are
some small signs of economic recovery, although they are very small.''
The analysts said the government changes would alarm anyone still brave
enough to consider investing in crisis-hit Russia and hurt Russia's efforts
to win more money from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart, putting a brave face on the political
turmoil, said he expected Russia to continue on the path of economic reform
and the IMF said it was ready to support ``any economic programme that
envisaged faster reforms.''
``We had an agreement with the previous government about economic policies,
which the authorities were in the process of implementing,'' an IMF spokesman
``We do not yet know what the new government will want to do but we are in
contact with the central bank and technical experts in the Russian
Russia is the IMF's biggest single borrower, but loan agreements have stalled
repeatedly because of the government's inability to meet its promises on
reform and tax collection.
The latest deal, agreed last month, would offer Russia an additional $4.5
billion over 18 months provided the government meets a number of prior
actions including passing new laws and explaining what happened to previous
``The terms are not going to be met,'' said Goldman. ``If the Duma ever was
going to come up with the proper menu, it certainly is not now.''
The IMF spokesman said only that disbursements from the April agreement would
depend on ``the speed at which the new government decides and implements its
But the analysts said there was still a chance that international lenders
would rush more money to Russia, which wants new money to repay loans falling
due this year.
``Maybe they will stand up and say 'We can't do it,' but then there is the
risk they become known as the people who lost Russia,'' said Goldman. ``It is
clear from the way the Russians behave that they are perfectly capable of
losing Russia themselves.''
Poll Reveals Muscovites' Attitude to Impeachement
MOSCOW, May 11 (Interfax) -- The vast majority of
Muscovites agree in principle that those statesmen, whose incompetence
has harmed the country, must make up for what they have done, says a poll
of 600 Moscow residents conducted by the Research Center of the Youth
Institute. Asked if they think that presidents, mayors, ministers,
governors, members of parliament and others who failed to deliver on
their promises or whose action or inaction damaged the country or its
people should be brought to account, 92% said "yes". Two percent said
"no" and 6% were undecided.
In a similar poll last year, 85% believed that political figures and
statesmen must be made answerable for what they have done.
As few as 1% of Muscovites feel that Russian President Boris Yeltsin is
not guilty on any charge brought against him by State Duma members. Seven
percent were undecided about his being guilty on all five counts. Yeltsin
is guilty of drafting and signing the December 1991 Belaya Vezha
agreements on dissolution of the USSR, 40% said. He is guilty of the
shelling of the parliament building in October 1993, 37% said. Eighty-two
percent said that he is to blame for the Chechen war. Sixty-eight percent
blame him for the disintegration of the Armed Forces and the significant
weakening of the country's defense capabilities. Seventy-three percent
blame him for activities resulting in a socioeconomic crisis causing in
turn the collapse of the basic economic sectors.
On the other hand, the poll has found that quite a few young people
know next to nothing about the Belaya Vezha agreements. Most respondents
said that Yeltsin was guilty of the Chechen war. However, while some of
them think that an agreement had to be reached with the Chickens on any
conditions, others think that they ought to have crushed "the Chechen
snakes." Jointly with the former ground forces commander Vladimir
Semyonov, they described a "member of a Caucasus nation" who sent
untrained Russian boys into fighting in which they were massacred.
Regional political elites like to say that Moscow is not the whole of Russia
and that what Muscovites think is not exactly what the rest of the
country thinks. While this is so, experts say that Moscow is the home of
nearly 10% of the electorate and home, legally or otherwise, to about a
million "members of a Caucasus nation," a clumsy police term, and nearly
two million people who can be viewed as members of Muslim nations. This
suggests that Muscovites do represent a significant extent of the
population of the whole country.
May 13, 1999
EDITORIAL: Is Stepashin A Russian Pinochet?
History will look kindly enough on Yevgeny Primakov. He had enough horse
sense to print some money to pay wage arrears, and to ignore the textbooks
and let the Central Bank restrict trade in the ruble. And he was enough of a
negotiator that his government managed to wring a parsimonious deal out of
the IMF - which was all any Russian government was going to get anyway these
All the same it's good to see him gone. His government's longer-term plans
were at best irrelevant, at worst alarming. And Primakov is not a man one
would like to see in the Kremlin - not with his dubious KGB roots and his
lack of enthusiasm for democracy (he advocated letting the Kremlin, not the
people, choose regional governors).
In other words, the Primakov era could have been worse. That's the good news.
The bad news is, it may be about to get worse.
Yeltsin's television address Wednesday inspires little confidence. It seems
we need Stepashin, a police officer, to bring in "unpopular" and "harsh"
economic measures. These, Yeltsin stressed, will be free market policies. As
Yeltsin explained, no one wants to take harsh free market steps on the eve of
parliamentary elections. Yeltsin also added that the Primakov government
seemed unaware that the provinces are restless.
Taken together, this all sounds alarmingly like the preamble to a
Pinochet-style defense of authoritarian capitalism.
Yeltsin ditched Primakov because he feared him as a rival for power, and this
sends the strongest signal yet that Yeltsin is wrestling with the question of
whether to step down himself in 13 months. Yeltsin faced this same question
in 1996, when friends like Boris Berezovsky and Alexander Korzhakov urged him
to scuttle the presidential elections. Yeltsin, explaining that he expected
to win, went forward.
We can only hope that history will not note Primakov's departure -
serendipitously, on the first anniversary of demonstrations that brought down
a decades-old Indonesian dictatorship - as the start of the Suharto-ization
The Western governments must think clearly about their priorities in Russia
as never before. It is imperative that they recognize that democracy and free
markets - at least as defined by the Western governments - are not
necessarily the same thing. Indonesia and Chile at their dictatorial worst
were also purportedly free markets.
Whatever happens, the Western governments should stand up for democracy
first. The West must not be lulled into complacences when the Russian
bureaucracy - which is twice as bloated as the Soviet command apparatus -
promises "economic reform." Be suspicious of the trade-off.