This Date's Issues: 3286 •
to CDI's Home Page I Return
to CDI's Library
Johnson's Russia List
14 May 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
Personal query to recipients in San Francisco area: My son Keir,
age 19, will be spending the summer in San Francisco. He's interested
in finding inexpensive housing. Please contact me if you have any
1. AP: Tycoon Behind Russia Dismissals. (Berezovsky).
2. Reuters: Russian liberals could end stagnation.
3. Moscow Times: Valeria Korchagina and David McHugh, Stepashin Met With
4. Interfax Gives Biography of Russian Premier Stepashin.
5. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Stepashin Interviewed as Vice Premier.
6. AP: Duma Hearings Are Boring, Orderly.
7. The Weekly Defense Monitor: David Johnson, Russia's America Problem.
8. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Yevgeniy Anisimov, Economic Impact of Primakov
9. Moscow Times editorial: He'll Never Leave If Impeached.]
Tycoon Behind Russia Dismissals
May 13, 1999
By JOHN IAMS
MOSCOW (AP) -- Whenever there is Kremlin political intrigue, the name of
Russia's most prominent business tycoon is rarely far behind.
It happened again Thursday, when Gennady Seleznyov, speaker of parliament's
lower house, said he saw the ``clear political intrigues of Boris Berezovsky
behind the dismissal of Yevgeny Primakov.''
President Boris Yeltsin dismissed Primakov as prime minister on Wednesday and
named Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin to replace him.
Berezovsky, a multimillionaire with holdings in oil, media and airlines, had
been at odds with Primakov ever since he was named prime minister in
In the eyes of many Russians, Berezovsky is a sinister figure, a master
manipulator who uses his Kremlin connections and wealth to run the country
from behind the scenes. Berezovsky, who seeks the limelight, dismisses the
allegations, insisting he's just a businessman.
He was named last year to oversee the Commonwealth of Independent States, a
grouping of ex-Soviet republics, but was dismissed from the post in April.
In parliament on Thursday, Seleznyov said that although he had lost his
official government job, Berezovsky continued ``to exert very serious
political pressure on the processes in Russia,'' the Interfax news agency
He said by getting rid of Primakov, Berezovsky stood to profit from the
political chaos caused by the premier's dismissal.
Before he was fired by Yeltsin, Primakov publicly criticized Berezovsky for
meddling in the Cabinet's work. His critics say Berezovsky epitomizes the
modern Russian business mogul, having relied on close Kremlin contacts to
build his fortune.
His ties to the Kremlin leadership and Yeltsin's family are so close that he
was also rumored to have masterminded the ouster of two previous prime
ministers, Viktor Chernomyrdin and Sergei Kiriyenko, to further his own
Evidence of Berezovsky's manipulation, Seleznyov said, was the appointment of
Railway Minister Nikolai Aksenenko to the post of acting deputy prime
minister. Besides Stepashin, he was the only member of Primakov's Cabinet not
to be dismissed along with the prime minister.
Aksenenko has been in charge of the nation's railroads since 1997, and is
said to have close ties with Berezovsky and Yeltsin's family, according to
Berezovsky also has reportedly cultivated close ties with Yeltsin's daughter
and political adviser, Tatyana Dyachenko.
He spent freely to support Yeltsin's 1996 re-election victory, and shortly
afterward, was named to the Security Council despite howls of protest over
his lack of government and military experience.
Yeltsin later fired Berezovsky, but said he would welcome the chance to work
with him again.
ANALYSIS-Russian liberals could end stagnation
By Peter Henderson
MOSCOW, May 13 (Reuters) - Russia may grapple better with economic stagnation
if a new liberal government is formed than under sacked premier Yevgeny
Primakov, economists said on Thursday.
A team of liberals at the head of the government would not be able to work
with parliament but may be able to hold off foreign creditors and take small
crucial steps to growth ignored by Primakov, fired as prime minister on
President Boris Yeltsin said that Russia needed to take urgent action to
improve the economy and his nominee for premier, Sergei Stepashin, called for
clear amd tough reforms.
"It is difficult to get worse," said Pavel Teplukhin, president of asset
management at Moscow brokerage Troika Dialog.
"The economy is in a state of depression at the moment and the state of
depression will continue, whatever is the government," he said. "It is very
highly probable that the new government would shorten the depression period."
Russia's economy improved under Primakov with signs of industrial growth,
rising foreign reserves crucial for repaying foreign debt and markets
recovering from crisis lows, but many economists say improvements beyond
pre-August crisis levels will not happen without real reform.
Expectations are low for any government in the half a year before a scheduled
parliamentary poll -- which might be held earlier if a confrontation between
Yeltsin and the lower house State Duma leads to the chamber's dissolution and
But crucial financial matters remaining to be dealt with include selling
banks that failed since the August crisis, fighting the battle to collect
taxes in cash rather than in kind and forcing businesses to use foreign
accounting standards, so it would be clear what Russian firms were
Teplukhin said the legal basis to start campaigns such as banking reform had
been established. "The legislation exists," he said, calling for the
political will which Primakov lacked.
Economists saw a more focused team than Primakov's coalition government as
offering at least even chances of improvement.
"I don't think it is worse," said Peter Boone, head of research at Moscow
finance house Brunswick Warburg.
Boone believed a new government would be loyal or at least ideologically
similar to Yegor Gaidar, the market economist who ran Russia's first reform
Gaidar advised the cabinet of Sergei Kiriyenko, Primakov's predecessor, and
he and ally Anatoly Chubais have been among the few to comment positively on
Wednesday's Kremlin announcement that Primakov was sacked for failing to
improve the economy.
The team could work under Stepashin, Yeltsin's nominee, or someone else,
Given respect in the West for the old reformers, analysts saw a new team
making peace with the International Monetary Fund and creditors to whom
Russia owes $17.5 billion this year.
Primakov's key achievement of a draft agreement with the Fund, initialed in
April, could buy a new government with better reform credentials time to act,
"The very fact that Russia appears to have agreed an economic programme with
the IMF will probably allow everybody to fudge things," said Christopher
Granville, chief strategist at Fleming UCB, a Moscow investment bank.
He said the exhausted country did not have much chance of major change before
parliamentary polls due in December and presidential elections set for next
"There is no political capital for going forward or backward, and that really
is the case this side of elections."
Of course Yeltsin may provoke crisis. He must stare down or dismiss a
parliament scheduled to vote on impeaching him this weekend and then push
through or appoint a new premier, but the analysts were optimistic Russia
would muddle through.
"My best bet is Yeltsin will win this," said Boone. He saw the liberal bloc's
chances in parliamentary polls slightly improved if Communists were kicked
out of the government and stripped of associated money and power.
"It puts people in power now who are on the side of more liberal reforms and
hence probably raises the odds for those type of people -- centrists -- doing
better in the elections."
May 14, 1999
Stepashin Met With Surprising Openness
By Valeria Korchagina and David McHugh
Even as they angrily prepared to impeach President Boris Yeltsin, several
influential State Duma deputies said Thursday that Yeltsin's nominee for
prime minister, Sergei Stepashin, had at least a chance to be confirmed in
Stepashin, 47, won cautious expressions of respect throughout the lower house
of parliament - even from leftists who were outraged by the firing Wednesday
of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.
Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov has set the first of three possible votes on
Stepashin's nomination for next Wednesday, and many deputies seem at least
willing to give the former interior minister a hearing.
Several deputies and observers advanced a scenario under which the Duma
Communists satisfy their disgruntled electorate by approving impeachment
charges against Yeltsin in a vote expected Saturday - and then approve
Stepashin to avoid a full-blown constitutional crisis, or a less palatable
Stepashin, as a law-and-order police official whose views on economic matters
are murky, has much more in common with the Duma leftists than do young
liberals like Sergei Kiriyenko, who was approved as prime minister after a
fierce fight in April 1998 but lasted only five months before being replaced
Duma Deputy Nikolai Kharitonov, head of the Communist-allied Agrarians, said
that if the Duma gathers the 300 votes needed to advance impeachment
proceedings against Yeltsin, Stepashin "will have better chances."
And Viktor Ilyukhin, a prominent Communist deputy, said, "I could agree to
any candidacy, because today any candidate for prime minister will discredit
himself in two or three months under such leadership as Yeltsin's."
Asked what Stepashin's chances were, Vladimir Prybylovsky, an expert on Duma
politics at the Panorama research center, said, "If you had asked me an hour
ago, I would have said he had no chance."
But after hearing Kharitonov and Ilyukhin, Prybylovsky revised his estimate a
bit: "Most likely, he won't - but a chance has now appeared."
Prybylovsky noted that former prosecutor Ilyukhin, though a member of the
Communist opposition, is an influential lobbyist for the so-called power
structures - the police, military and intelligence agencies and ministries of
which Stepashin is a prominent representative.
Stepashin is still a good way from confirmation. The Duma factions,
especially the dominant Communists, haveyet to take a definite position.
"To make this decision, we must know what program he will bring, who will be
his real deputy, and who will serve as key ministers," Communist chief
Gennady Zyuganov said, in remarks reported by Interfax.
On Thursday, Stepashin met with Duma faction leaders, including Zyuganov.
Zyuganov later told Interfax that they had agreed Stepashin would address the
entire Communist faction, as well as its leftist sputniks, the Agrarians and
the Popular Rule factions, next Tuesday.
One concern on the deputies' minds is that Stepashin may be Yeltsin's best
If the Duma turns down Yeltsin's nominee three times, the Duma is dissolved
and new elections are held. But Yeltsin can submit different nominees on
successive tries - and subsequent nominees might be much less acceptable.
Prybylovsky pointed to the possibility that Yeltsin might name Railway
Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko, an obscure bureaucrat who was appointed the No.
2 man in Stepashin's Cabinet by Yeltsin, as his next choice.
Aksyonenko is viewed as an ally of Kremlin-connected tycoon Boris Berezovsky,
the financier most loathed by the left. Stepashin, on the other hand, is
looked at primarily as Yeltsin's faithful servant, which is probably less of
a crime in the eyes of the opposition.
Sergei Yushenkov, a deputy from the Democratic Russia party, said that the
left's mild reaction to Stepashin raised the chance he could make it through
the Duma. "The first reactions of the opposition to the candidacy of
Stepashin have surprised me," Yushenkov said. "Compared to how radical they
were regarding Sergei Kiriyenko ... now they are very cautious."
"Judging by this reaction one can conclude that at the second vote and,
furthermore, on the third vote the Duma might approve Stepashin as the prime
There is also a constitutional wrinkle that surely gives Duma deputies pause.
Once impeachment charges are approved, the Constitution says the Duma can not
be dismissed; but if the Duma rejects a prime minister nominee three times,
the Constitution says it ***must*** be dismissed.
So which takes precedent? That's a flaw in the Constitution that Duma
deputies might not want to confront right now. Yeltsin could respond by
suspending the Duma indefinitely while the Constitutional Court ponders the
issue at its leisure.
Dissolution and new elections also hold risks. For instance, Viktor
Chernomyrdin, head of the Our Home Is Russia party, said he advocated new
elections - with a different set of rules.Chernomyrdin wants every one of the
Duma's 450 deputies elected from a local voting district as occurs in, say,
the United States, not by national voters backing an entire party as is done
in, say, Germany. As it is now, half the Duma is elected by local voters and
half by a national party list vote - and the Communists have done
exceptionally well in the party list voting.
Interfax Gives Biography of Russian Premier Stepashin
MOSCOW, May 12 (Interfax) -- A new government will
be formed in the time limits envisaged by the Russian Constitution,
acting Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin said in an exclusive
interview with Interfax. "Everything will be done according to the
Constitution," Stepashin said. "The Duma should discuss it first and
until it does, the former government will execute its responsibilities,"
he said. Stepashin was born in Port-Artur (Lushun, China), on March 2, 1952.
graduated from the Russian Interior Ministry's Higher Polytechnic College
in 1973 and from the Humanitarian Military Academy in 1981. He served in
special Interior Ministry divisions and then taught at the Interior
Ministry's Higher Polytechnic College in Leningrad (St Petersburg).
>From 1973 till 1990, he served in the Interior Ministry troops and
implemented tasks in hot spots such as Baku, Fergana, Nagorno-Karabakh
In 1990, Stepashin was elected the lawmaker of the Supreme Council of
the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (RSFSR) and was appointed
the head of the Council's Committee for defense and security. In 1991,
Stepashin was the deputy head of the General Director of the Federal
Security Agency (AFB) of the RSFSR and the head of the AFB Department for
St Petersburg and the Leningrad region. In 1992-1993, he was deputy
security minister, then first deputy security minister.
>From December 1993 to March 1994, Stepashin worked as the first deputy
director of the Russian Federal Counter-Intelligence Service (FSK). From
March 1994 to April 1995, he was the FSK director. From November 1995 to
July 1997, Stepashin was the head of the administrative department of the
Russian government staff. In 1996, he was appointed the executive
secretary of the State Commission for settlement in Chechnya. In July
1997, Stepashin was appointed to the post of minister of justice. Since
March 1998, he has occupied the post of Russian interior minister.
Stepashin's military rank is colonel general. He is a justice state adviser,
Cand. Sc. (History), a Dr. Sc. (Law), and a professor.
He is married and has one son.
Stepashin Interviewed as Vice Premier
May 12, 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Interview with "First Vice Premier and Internal Affairs Minister"
Sergey Stepashin by Aleksandr Gamov; date, place not stated: "Sergey
Stepashin: Political Witch-Hunt Does Not Threaten Russia. But We Shall
Introduce Order!" -- first paragraph is introduction
On the eve of the State Duma vote on the procedure
for the president's impeachment the Russian first vice premier and
internal affairs minister met with your Komsomolskaya Pravda
Why Did Yeltsin Move Stepashin?
[Gamov] Sergey Vadimovich, the president has not only appointed you first
vice premier but at the recent conference in the Kremlin he moved your
seat closer to himself. There were immediately rumors that Yeltsin is
preparing Stepashin to succeed as premier....
[Stepashin] I have not discussed the subject with the president. As for the
that he moved me closer.... These are problems for the protocol service
rather than for me. And then my life and career have taken shape in such
a way that I have never been far from Boris Nikolayevich.
[Gamov] But the conclusion does suggest itself....
[Stepashin] You journalists can draw conclusions. Right now I have other
problems: The situation in the North Caucasus, in St. Petersburg (in
connection with the revelation of economic crimes there) and then there
is Nakhodka, Karachay-Cherkessia. There is a lot to do! So as for who is
re-seating whom where -- you can leave me out of it....
[Gamov] Nevertheless, as first vice premier now, you can feel that the
clouds are gathering over the White House and in particular over Premier
[Stepashin] Yesterday Yevgeniy Maksimovich and I discussed utterly
everyday, very important matters: How to submit to the Duma the package
of laws connected with the IMF tranche as regards paying foreign debts.
There were tough polemics in relation to excise duty. And I am glad that
the government chairman supported me. Because by increasing excise duty
we shall not receive the expected addition to the budget.
Why am I saying this? So that you know that I, as first vice premier,
discuss and resolve with the president and the prime minister only these
purely practical issues. If I should begin to respond nervously to the
articles that are published, nothing will get done.
[Gamov] But does it seem to you that the problem of the government's
dismissal exists today?
[Stepashin] Any government is always under threat of dismissal. Its
is another matter. But I think that both Yevgeniy Maksimovich and the
cabinet members should be thinking about something else. That means above
all preserving the trend toward the ruble's stability. The second thing
is real movement in the economic sphere.
Let's look into why the problem of Yugoslavia exists today. Because we are
weak. Primarily through our economy and real results. The gross domestic
product has declined to who knows where and it is very hard to penetrate
the Western market. It is all very well if the market situation plays
along and if there has been a rise in prices for oil and we can balance
the ruble that way. But that can only work for a while. We have had
enough of being an appendage. That is what should be predetermined in the
government's plan of action. That is the first thing.
And the second thing is that there is no denying that a serious
political card is indeed being played. For instance, it is very hard for
me to understand the position of the State Duma as regards the plan to
impeach the president, particularly over Chechnya. Yes, Stepashin,
Grachev, and Yerin should probably have been made to answer for the fact
that the war in Chechnya ended in precisely that way. But today we have
another problem there -- they are kidnapping people and killing them,
there is total anarchy there!
And now the NATOites are speaking of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Why do
we forget that in the Chechen Republic there was a real and far more
terrible ethnic cleansing? Before 1991 there was a majority of Russians
living in Groznyy and now there are 27,000 old men left whom we shall
quietly pull out.
...The closer we come to the parliamentary and presidential elections, the
more rumors and speculations of every kind there will be.
Will Duma Launch Impeachment Procedure? [subhead]
[Gamov] Nevertheless let us dwell on the procedure for impeaching the
president which the Duma opposition is trying to launch 13 May. There has
already been news that Stepashin is heading a staff which includes
Tatyana Dyachenko, Valentin Yumashev, and others. It is as though a
strong-arm scenario is being elaborated....
[Stepashin] Stepashin heads the Ministry of Internal Affairs. And as first
premier I am in charge of the block connected with regional policy. That
is all, I do not need any other staffs. The powers I have are enough for
me. And there is no strong-arm scenario. You know who is thinking it up.
[Gamov] And you have not discussed this scenario with the president?
[Stepashin] Of course not.
[Gamov] And how are you preparing for the forthcoming events?
[Stepashin] We are not sitting idly by. I have had several meetings with
leaders of several factions and a meeting with Gennadiy Nikolayevich
Seleznev is planned. I am quite unable to understand the people who
initiate these things. What is preventing them from preparing quietly for
the elections? In Brezhnev's time would they really have allowed
themselves to use in public such dirty words, unworthy of an
intellectual, to describe the state's leader, where would they have ended
up? Respect the president at least for the fact that he gives you the
opportunity to "indulge in polemics" in this way. Although I am sorry
this is happening.
That is the first point. The second is that we shall not allow any strike
committees or any subversive actions. There are laws, there is the
Constitution, and it is within that framework that we shall act. We have
intelligent policemen, they understand perfectly what must be done in
this situation. Especially as no special measures, decisions, or
reinforcements are planned.
And against whom should force be used? On May Day (I saw this from my
office window) 500-600 people converged on Kaluzhskaya Square. OK, people
are walking about and holding meetings, why not....
But I do not want there to be the result that Zyuganov is trying to
achieve. He should talk with Yanayev, Lukyanov, or any of the other 1991
[Gamov] What is your prediction right now -- will the Duma collect the 300
votes to start impeachment?
[Stepashin] I think not. But if the procedure does begin it will have no
prospects. There is no complete legal mechanism. Although in any case
this process will strike at the state's foundations. And that will be
[Gamov] And how do you imagine work with the regions under the conditions
the election campaigns?
[Stepashin] The first is the equalization of interbudget relations. There
be no outcasts and no favorites. The second is the struggle against
regional separatism. We must preserve Russia as a single state for our
heirs. Third, there is joint work with the regions in the struggle
against crime. We cannot allow criminals to enter power, including the
executive and legislative branches.
And fourth there is probably the strategic avenue. We must make bolder
use of the regions' potential for elaborating the government's economic
and even political decisions. There are many interesting proposals here.
But we cannot extrapolate the experience of let us say Moscow and St.
Petersburg to Maritime Kray or North Ossetia. It is from this premise
that we must proceed today if we are speaking of regional policy,
including nationalities policy. I would not emphasize a purely
nationalities policy because it was, incidentally, the defects in that
policy that led in the past to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
How To Keep Criminals From Power? [subhead]
[Gamov] And how do you intend to fight the criminals so that they do not
enter power if some of them have already done so?
[Stepashin] That is not a problem for local legislative assemblies.
does not extend to their deputies. As for the State Duma.... Last year
Justice Minister Krasheninnikov and I, through the government, submitted
to the lower chamber our suggestions for a kind of "clean sheet" for
deputies. The State Duma supported these proposals. We must tell our
voters in an absolutely official manner who is who.
Moreover, a special administration for work with public organizations in
runup to the election has been created in the MVD [Internal Affairs
Ministry] structure. We shall simply check every State Duma candidate
deputy within the procedure stipulated by the law. And if there are legal
grounds for bringing someone to book with regard to specific criminal
cases, for instance -- we shall take steps.
And the third task is perhaps the hardest. We must think about how the
new Duma will resolve problems connected with lobbying. I believe that a
law on lobbying must be adopted, such laws operate in many Western
countries. When the results of voting are linked to money, that is not a
[Gamov] That is, as I understand it, politics, whether you want it or not,
will be present in your work as first vice premier?
[Stepashin] I also remain internal affairs minister. And the MVD is a very
important political structure. But here we must consider one factor: A
man who has donned police uniform must not belong to any party.
[Gamov] As first vice premier in police uniform and as someone who also
holds a ministerial portfolio, are you prepared to oppose the red
[Stepashin] I am prepared to oppose extremism, and I do not hide the fact.
[Stepashin] I have already said: Only by constitutional means. We will not
anyone to smash windows. But here normal ideological work should also be
set up. Not ideological deception but a normal explanation of where we
are going and what we want to build. People cannot be constantly misled
and strung along. After all, we have a remarkable people --
unpretentious, honest, and kind, although they are sometimes moved to
[Gamov] Of course you can explain to people where we are going. But they
see what is happening. Take corruption in the top echelons of power....
[Stepashin] There is a great deal of talk about corruption in the top
but there are few specific facts.
[Gamov] I can give you an example -- Smolenskiy.
[Stepashin] What has Smolenskiy and corruption in the top echelons of power
to do with it? Let the court prove it was corruption. We have enormous
holes in economic legislation which arose after 1991. Today we are living
in two dimensions as it were -- the Soviet dimension and what is
figuratively speaking our own Russian capitalism. And the more frequently
we hear rhetoric to the effect that we shall put those people in prison,
they are corrupt, the more rapidly money will fly out of our country.
Yes, we must consistently struggle against economic crime. But where does
the strength of any power and any government lie? No, not in changing
everyone's seating. We have already had that: Some people would put
people in prison, others would go to prison, and then they would change
places. So the government and political system must create conditions
whereby money does not flee the country. When wealthy people like Savva
Morozov and the Ryabushinskiys invest money in their own economy, as was
the case in Russia early this century.
But what are we doing? Surely capital will not return to us with the
radicals? Surely international investments will not arrive with them?
Surely we will not be able to enter the normal world economic community
with them? It is absurd.... We must not be indecisive. And we have had
enough of the terms right-wing and left-wing. There are clever people and
there are fools.
[Gamov] So will you fight corruption or not?
[Stepashin] We shall. What is corruption? It is when a state official uses
position and receives a direct or indirect bribe and implements
particular decisions to the detriment of the interests of a particular
sector or structure or the state as a whole. That is what corruption is.
But when we speak of private entrepreneurs who have found themselves at
odds with the law.... Here we must carefully investigate each specific
instance. Incidentally, it is for precisely this purpose that a federal
center for seizing, seeking, and returning so-called fugitive capital
that has left Russia has already in fact been created under the MVD.
But the most important thing is that conditions must be created for
those who would like to invest their money in a civilized manner in our
economy today. I am sure that a democratic president will come in 2000
and the country will enter the channel which our incumbent president
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin is setting up.
And believe me, a large amount of money will start to work normally. I
do not want to brand all those entrepreneurs who have indeed been
compelled to hide their capital abroad, aware that tomorrow the
commissars, figuratively speaking, could come and the expropriation of
the expropriators would begin. It is the lack of political stability and
political predictability in Russia which is a very serious deterrent now
to normal investors.
Who Will Become President of Russia? [subhead]
[Gamov] Do you believe the new Russian president will be a democrat?
[Stepashin] The next president will be a normal man with democratic
quite a tough man who loves his country and who will not allow it to be
returned to a past which the entire civilized world said good-bye a long
[Gamov] You describe this image so precisely it is as though you can see
[Stepashin] No, it is a composite image.
[Gamov] One question regarding Chechnya remains unclear to us. Not long
before you were appointed first vice premier you made very tough
statements with regard to Groznyy.
[Stepashin] Not with regard to Groznyy but with regard to the bandits.
[Gamov] Do you not intend to soften your position now?
[Stepashin] With regard to the bandits -- certainly not. Moreover, I
that Aslan Maskhadov should also be tougher. There has been enough
flirting! And those State Duma deputies who intend to vote for
impeachment should be more consistent.
Before making the decision they would do well to take a trip to Kurskoy
Rayon, Stavropol Kray. And meet with the Cossacks, women, and old ladies
who are quaking as a result of the bandits' attacks. They would probably
say to the deputies: "What are you doing, guys? You are prepared to stir
up the whole world for the Serbs but here there is real genocide!"
[Gamov] If you engage in work with the regions in earnest will you have
left for the fight against crime, which so far has no intention of
[Stepashin] I hope so. Moreover, there will be more opportunities. In the
as minister, I sometimes had to do the rounds of the White House with
outstretched hand to argue elementary points. Now I believe there will be
no problems with that. And then I now have the opportunity to resolve
many problems, how shall I put it, through the MVD's "illumination." That
is, we can see more clearly why a particular solution is not working and
who is putting obstacles in its way -- corrupt people, criminals, or
simply stupid officials. It will now be more convenient for us to tell
the president and premier which decisions are appropriate and which are
not. But of course that also imposes additional responsibility....
Will New Stolypin Come to Russia? [subhead]
[Gamov] Sergey Vadimovich, I listen to you and I think: It is good that an
intelligent man like Stepashin will be carrying this burden of problems.
But, alas, you are in policeman's uniform. Will we not get something like
the 1937 model political witch-hunt?
[Stepashin] You would do better to take the start of the century, the
Stolypin, for instance. I like that comparison better. But do not think I
am drawing any analogies here, god forbid!
[Gamov] Nonetheless could there be a repetition of the situation where the
internal affairs minister becomes government chairman?
[Stepashin] You must ask the president.
[Gamov] And if he offers you the post?
[Stepashin] I consider the question to be incorrect. Both with regard to
Nikolayevich, because these decisions are within his competence, and with
regard to Yevgeniy Maksimovich, with whom I am linked by close, friendly
relations. I do not hide the fact....
At any rate, let's not spread rumors and gossip. We would do better to
get down to work....
Duma Hearings Are Boring, Orderly
May 13, 1999
By SERGEI SHARGORODSKY
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky stormed
into the State Duma, parliament's lower house, on Thursday, pausing in a
corridor to argue with a Communist opponent.
``This red plague must come to an end,'' he shouted at the man, who tried to
interrupt Zhirinovsky's diatribe. ``Who are you? I'm a lawmaker. Millions
voted for me, for my purity. And you're a vagabond!''
Outside the Duma, hundreds of hard-liners waved red Soviet flags and chanted
slogans as they waited for parliament to open its first day of hearings on
impeaching President Boris Yeltsin.
There was a sharp contrast Thursday between the scene outside the Duma
chamber -- where an odd assortment of party activists, cleaning ladies and
lawmakers' aides milled around trading opinions on the proceedings -- and in
the chamber itself. There, the machinery of parliament ground steadily
through the business of impeachment, the atmosphere all business and order.
The morning debate ranged from tedious legal talk to passionate phrases, but
there wasn't much drama.
It was a far cry from President Clinton's impeachment hearings, which were
televised live, sometimes riveting the nation. Russian TV channels decided
not to carry the debate live, prompting complaints from the legislators.
Speaker Gennady Seleznyov insisted on strict protocol. The session was
interrupted only once or twice by outbursts from the floor when Alexander
Kotenkov, Yeltsin's envoy to the Duma, defended the president.
Vadim Filimonov, head of the Duma's impeachment commission, set the tone with
a long, monotone reading of a list of charges against Yeltsin. However, he
ended his 90-minute speech on a passionate note, mentioning the ``blood of
the dead and disfigured, the tears of the humiliated and offended beating
into our hearts.''
Many lawmakers applauded. Others were less appreciative.
``The commission chairman put everybody to sleep, and from time to time it
seemed that he was falling asleep himself,'' said Zhirinovsky's party
colleague, Alexei Mitrofanov.
Reporters besieged passing lawmakers after Seleznyov announced a break.
There were the familiar faces -- Viktor Ilyukhin, who earlier delivered the
hard-line charges against Yeltsin, the beaming and self-confident Communist
Party boss Gennady Zyuganov and the liberal Sergei Yushchenkov, who flashed a
``V'' sign for victory.
A secretary started to argue with the quiet, bespectacled Sergei Kovalyov, a
Soviet-era political prisoner who is now one of the most outspoken liberals
in the parliament. Kovalyov agreed with her that Yeltsin was a ``bad
president,'' yet insisted that impeachment was not the right way to remove
Kotenkov, Yeltsin's envoy, opened the afternoon hearings with a sometimes
rambling yet emotional speech. He became especially eloquent while defending
Yeltsin from the charge of launching the botched and bloody 1994-96 war in
``The events in Chechnya were the greatest tragedy for Russia, but to say
that the president was the only one responsible would not be true,'' said
Legislators protested noisily when Kotenkov asked for an additional 20
minutes to speak, but voted to grant his request. A new barrage of shouts
greeted Kotenkov in the evening when he faced more that a dozen questions
The Center for Defense Information
The Weekly Defense Monitor
779 Massachusetts Ave., NW * Washington, DC 20036
202)332-0600 * Fax (202)462-4559 * www.cdi.org
VOLUME 3, ISSUE #19 May 13, 1999
Russia's America Problem
By David Johnson, Senior Fellow
President Boris Yeltsin's firing of Prime Minister Yegeny Primakov
complicates even further prospects for both Russia and U.S.-Russian
relations. Primakov, the most popular political figure in Russia, had
restored some sense of public confidence in government and his abrupt
ouster by the autocratic and perhaps senile Yeltsin pushes Russia back into
another round of political divisiveness and turmoil. It will now be more
difficult for Russia to play a peacemaking role in Yugoslavia. Russian
attempts to secure additional loans from the IMF will likely grind to a
halt. Popular Russian suspicions of Yeltsin's ties with the West will be
increased. Arms control agreements, already in deep trouble, will languish
on the back burner. The long-hoped for (by Russians) transition to the
post-Yeltsin era may be further delayed.
Some blunt observations about Russian realities:
1. Most Russians, despite the difficulties and disappointments they have
been through, remain committed to modernizing and improving their society
and institutions on their own terms. This includes many of the "communists"
and "nationalists" often viewed with either dismissiveness or fear in the
West. So-called "anti-Western" views are mostly a logical reaction to the
concretely damaging policies of the West. These policies and attitudes,
one hopes, are correctable if the West really is interested in good
relations with Russia. We have great control over whether Russians are
"anti-Western." We should raise our expectations about Russia and stop
obsessing on the remote but familiar nightmare of the return of communists
2. The economic and social catastrophe that has befallen Russia in the past
decade is man-made, not a product of historical inevitability. The search
for a way out of the abyss, the learning of lessons, and the assignment of
responsibility is a natural process that will be accelerating in the next
few years. Western commentators and advisors, having played their role
already, have little to constructively offer in this regard. Unfortunately,
the lack of respect for Russian views has become almost second nature in
the West so it will be very hard for us to adapt to the appropriate humble
3. President Yeltsin has in most respects been a disaster for Russia. The
United States, particularly in the view of Russians, shares responsibility
with Yeltsin for his failure. American money and American advise have
played a very important role in keeping the increasingly unpopular
Yeltsin in power. Yeltsin was anointed with the mantle of pro-Western
reformer in 1991 and U.S. policy remained singularly focused on providing
him with financial and political support for nearly all of the past eight
years. All other political figures and forces with either ignored or
attacked. Huge international loans, ostensible to promote reform and
economic development, were provided to Yeltsin largely to solidify his
power and protect him from rising popular opposition to his failed
4. There is a huge irony in the fact that the most important U.S. worry
about Russia, the loose nukes problem, is largely the consequence of the
economic collapse (again not inevitable) that accompanied the Yeltsin-U.S.
economic policies. These politically motivated policies of "shock
therapy," never of course fully implemented in the real world, should
never have been embarked upon in the first place. They were imported from
abroad without due consideration of Russian circumstances. Primakov's
attempt to create a moderate policy resembling Roosevelt's New Deal
response to the Depression was an appropriate course correction for
Russia. Primakov's was the first government that attempted to craft public
policies with the input of the freely elected Parliament. Whatever
derailing of the policy of democratic moderation takes place in the next
few months, Russia will in all likelihood return to this path once it is
freed of the burden of Boris Yeltsin.
5. The true interests of the United States lie in a frank recognition of
its failures and mistakes vis-a-vis Russia and a rapid engagement with
the vast majority of Russians who remain eager for a genuinely constructive
role in Russia on the part of the United States. Realistically, however, it
is unlikely that American policy makers will take this route. They will
drift even further into contemptuous disregard of Russia, leavened by the
continued demonizing of large segments of the Russian political spectrum.
For Russia, this means that the merits of a policy of self-reliance will
become increasingly clear. Fortunately, it is probable that Russians will
cope better with their America problem than Americans will cope with their
Russia problem. The weak and vulnerable are often more nimble on their feet
than the powerful and head-strong.
Economic Impact of Primakov Ouster Viewed
13 May 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Yevgeniy Anisimov: "After Nine Months the President Has
Given Birth to a New Premier. The Birth Pains Were Short"
Ye. Primakov's dismissal was expected. There was
speculation over when B. Yeltsin would dismiss him -- now, or a bit
later. It is believed that Primakov was given two main tasks: to persuade
the State Duma to abandon impeachment, and to reach agreement with the
IMF on the credit without which Russia cannot avoid default. Bankruptcy,
in other words. Neither task, alas, has been completed. And that
predetermined the fate of the Primakov government.
"Excuse me!" -- people may object. "What do you mean: The accords with the
IMF were virtually achieved, the fund's Managing Director Michel
Camdessus had himself promised to help Russia to get credit..." He
promised, indeed. But later, during the trip to the United States by the
delegation headed by Yu. Maslyukov, preliminary conditions were set for
our side. Five laws had to be adopted, in particular on increasing excise
duties on vodka and gasoline. And the laws had to be fully legitimate,
that is, to pass through the State Duma, the Federation Council, and the
president. Not only was the time scale for passing the laws extremely
tight, but there was almost no hope of a positive vote in the State Duma.
After all, on the eve of parliamentary elections the State Duma cannot
vote for laws that will immediately increase the prices of goods like
gasoline and vodka. It just can't! So the IMF's conditions were simply
Primakov was not about to fight selflessly against impeachment -- that would
have meant breaking with the left-wing majority in the Duma. And Yevgeniy
Maksimovich had no other prop. So he tried sluggishly, solely in order to
"score points," to convince deputies to abandon the idea, and when they
stood their ground, the premier realized it was time to pack his bags.
And what now? What will happen in the coming days and weeks?
The situation is unclear as yet; not even the key figures in the new
cabinet are known, with the exception of S. Stepashin and N. Aksenenko.
Who will be responsible for the most important section of the government
-- macroeconomics and finance? Aksenenko? Hardly. There should be a
well-known figure in that post. Both in order to enable the country to
get its bearings and for the international financial organizations. Let
me remind you that the threat of default has not lessened, on the
contrary, the country has never before been so close to bankruptcy. You
can forget about the accords reached by Maslyukov and co. There is no
time for new talks -- Russia must begin to pay its foreign debts in May,
and the second chunk of debts must be handed over in June. Even Chubays,
in his time, despite his links with the IMF and the extremely pragmatic
program of S. Kiriyenko's cabinet, took about six weeks to resolve the
question of credit. Now the situation is much worse -- the IMF simply
will not trust us.
I do not think that that aspect of the decision was considered
carefully enough by Yeltsin; most likely he was much more worried about
the impeachment problem. Now that the decision has been made, the
president's advisers are forced to reckon with the situation and must
look for a solution. What will it be?
Let me put forward a hypothesis based on just one premise: A sovereign
default must be avoided, and the president's advisers are aware of that.
In that case, in theory, a plan for radical actions in the economic
sphere is needed. There is such a plan, as we know. It was drawn up by
Boris Fedorov, economist and politician. It consists of the strict tying
of the ruble to the dollar (or to a "basket of currencies," or to the
euro, it does not really matter which). Something similar was done in
Argentina and -- this could convince the president -- in almost the same
conditions that have arisen in Russia today: six months before the
elections, a crisis, almost no investments, the population only trusts
the dollar, and so forth. In Argentina the plan worked.
The IMF would certainly give money in return for such a program. Last
fall Camdessus, talking with Chernomyrdin and Fedorov, himself cautiously
proposed that this option be considered. At that time it was decided that
the time had not come for such radical steps. Even now it has not yet
come. But: Who can say today what the ruble rate will be in two weeks'
time, when the minute after the announcement of Primakov's dismissal the
exchange offices either stopped selling foreign currency or increased the
price of the dollar? In a couple of hours shares in the main companies on
the Russian stock market had fallen by 10-15%, and no end to the fall was
in sight. The government's dismissal reduced the exchange rate of the
euro against the dollar on the world markets -- Europe, especially
Germany, is financially linked to Russia. The euro is falling because
investors believe that Russia will not pay its debts, and it is first and
foremost the European banks that will suffer as a result.
Incidentally, in his statement on the government's dismissal Yeltsin spoke
directly of the need for more radical economic reforms. That can be
assessed as rhetoric, but it can also be seen as a hint of dramatic
changes in economic policy.
May 14, 1999
EDITORIAL: He'll Never Leave If Impeached
Boris Yeltsin must go. All of Russia's political energies should be focused
on this one goal: Yeltsin must go. This ought to be a position taken by
international media and Western governments.
But moving straight to impeachment is not the answer. The answer is 2000.
Yeltsin must go in 2000. The Duma, the West, everyone needs to be helping
Yeltsin make the right decision to do that.
The State Duma is making an enormous - perhaps a disastrous - tactical error
in voting on impeachment this week. Impeachment should be a tool, a means to
an end - the end being to remove Yeltsin in such a way as to preserve,
perhaps even strengthen, democracy. The Duma deputies have been mocked for
postponing impeachment so often, but that is exactly what they ought to do
now: postpone it again. They may well need it.
Yeltsin is flirting with a lifetime Russian presidency, È la General Suharto.
At best he wants to leave but is afraid; at worst he has no intention of ever
If we assume the worst, impeachment plays into Yeltsin's hands: It gives him
just the sort of constitutionally muddy Communist-provoked crisis he is
looking for. He exploits it, moves to establish a dictatorship - and then
In this case, the smart move is not to give him the opening. Instead, keep a
hair-trigger impeachment in reserve - in case Yeltsin tries to unilaterally
extend his term or assume broad new powers - and concentrate on making it
absolutely clear that he must leave in 2000.
If we assume the best - that Yeltsin wants to leave but is afraid to - then
what does impeaching him accomplish? Nothing: Maybe he sighs in relief and
leaves office a few months earlier than scheduled, setting the
less-than-healthy precedent that presidents are elected by the people but
driven from office by the parliament. More likely, he seizes upon impeachment
as proof that he is in danger and surrenders to his darker impulses. If that
happens, the only thing left to do will be to go in and drag him out from
behind the Kremlin walls.
The Duma should:
Postpone impeachment. Brandish it as a weapon any time the Kremlin starts
making noises about rewriting the Constitution to unify Russia and Belarus,
or rumbles about emergency rule to push through economic reform or hold back
the Chechen terrorists.
Promise Yeltsin his safety upon retirement. Write it into law, talk about it
publicly at demonstrations and on television, make it absolutely clear that
Yeltsin has no excuses. And remind Yeltsin every single day that in June 2000
Get rid of Yeltsin. It's all that matters now.