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Johnson's Russia List
24 May 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: Gorbachev: NATO Must Stop Bombing.
2. AP: Poverty Slows Russia Reforms.
3. AFP: Economy chief post power-struggle threatens vital IMF Russia aid.
4. Los Angeles Times: Michael McFaul, With Foes Like Communists, How Can
Yeltsin Ever Lose?
5. AP: Russians Seeks Smooth Appointments.
6. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): Greg Neale, Russia faces 'new Chernobyl'
7. Itar-Tass: Stepashin Would Prefer to Remain Premier till 2000 Elections.
8. Itar-Tass: PM Seeks to Create Normal Conditions for Upcoming Polls.
9. The Sunday Times (UK): Mark Franchetti, Inside Moscow.
10. Washington Post: David Hoffman, Arms Control Damaged By War.
U.S.-Russia Tensions Imperil Nuclear Cuts.
11. Itar-Tass: Our Home Is Russia Faction Leader Urges Reform of Power.
12. Reuters: Russia's new premier seeks strong economic
Gorbachev: NATO Must Stop Bombing
May 23, 1999
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -- Former Soviet president and Nobel Peace Prize
winner Mikhail Gorbachev on Sunday delivered a stinging message to the United
States government to stop NATO's bombing campaign in Yugoslavia.
The leader who helped end the Cold War criticized Washington for acting
``irresponsibly'' by using military force in Yugoslavia without a United
``The United States is conducting itself irresponsibly on the world stage,''
he said through an interpreter at the World Masters of Business forum in
Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union for five years from 1985, accused
Washington of using military power to its own advantage.
``The United States has a superiority and victory complex,'' he said.
Despite expressing concern over the economic and political crisis in Russia
under President Boris Yeltsin, Gorbachev said he hoped the country will pull
itself out of trouble.
Poverty Slows Russia Reforms
May 23, 1999
By JUDITH INGRAM
MOSCOW (AP) -- Leaning against a row of white washing machines, arms crossed
over green overalls, Gennady Klyuyev rattles off the prices and features of
his wares to customers ducking in and out of the tiny shop.
In a mall where almost every store offers high-priced, imported appliances,
the sad-faced 25-year-old is one of just a handful of salespeople pushing
goods made in Russia. There are stoves and washers and refrigerators, and
they're cheaper than the competition.
Only no one's buying.
``I didn't make a single sale yesterday, either,'' Klyuyev moans, watching
another customer walk out the door.
That is Russia's economic dilemma as President Boris Yeltsin's newest prime
minister, Sergei Stepashin, takes office.
The economy has begun showing the first signs of life since its devastating
plunge last summer, but prospects that Stepashin can sustain the improvement
are dim because Russians have little money to spend.
``The population has been getting fewer goods. Banks are investing less money
in production. The government is making fewer purchases for its needs. This
could provoke a new slump in the next few months,'' Yevgeny Yasin, a former
economy minister, wrote in the weekly Arguments and Facts.
After the devaluation of the ruble that began last August, Russian goods have
become competitive with ever-more extravagantly priced imports. Russian
industrial production has risen and even surpassed its pre-crisis level.
Yet along with the plunge in value of the Russian ruble, people's real
incomes have dropped drastically. If their jobs haven't been cut, their
salaries have. If their salaries haven't been reduced, their worth has,
because the ruble has lost 74 percent of its value since summer.
In contrast to the official statistics showing a growth in industrial
production, Klyuyev hasn't noticed any increased inclination among people to
They have a huge selection to choose from at the three-level, warehouse-sized
electronics mall. A Moscow television manufacturer built it last year to
compete with a nearby outdoor market where people sell appliances out of
``Pensioners will buy our goods, but richer people will still buy imports,''
Klyuyev said. And, he added, ``Since August, people have been buying very
little of anything.''
The tentative economic growth that Russia has registered this year is almost
certain to shrink if incomes don't start rising soon.
Stepashin, a former police official, has no experience in economic
administration. He hasn't yet voiced a single new idea for reviving Russia's
economy and has so far limited himself mainly to broad promises.
``Our mission is to create a substantially new economic context, to make the
only real decisions that can help achieve a better standard of living for
people and can revive such a great country as Russia,'' he told the lower
house of parliament, the State Duma, on Wednesday before the legislators
voted overwhelmingly to confirm him as prime minister.
Like his predecessor, Yevgeny Primakov, Stepashin pledged to concentrate on
improving social welfare, increasing domestic production and fighting
economic crime. He also urged the Duma to pass the package of new laws that
the International Monetary Fund has made a precondition for resumed financial
But he hasn't addressed the need to restructure sick enterprises or provide
incentives to private entrepreneurs, who have been burned badly by the
near-collapse of the banking system and crushing, sometimes arbitrary, tax
``Even if you start something on your own here, if you work honestly, they'll
suffocate you with taxes. And if you work dishonestly, sooner or later you'll
have to do time in prison,'' said Andrei Nikulevsky, another 25-year-old
Whether the Stepashin government will implement the reforms that analysts say
are vital to healing the economy depends in part on the Cabinet ministers he
and Yeltsin appoint.
While Yeltsin has reappointed several members of the previous government,
including the defense, foreign and justice ministers, he has not yet chosen
the team that will be responsible for economic policy.
More important, however, will be Stepashin's own relationship with the
legislators who must pass the laws governing the economy.
``The key is to maintain sustainable growth, which requires fundamental
reforms. And this requires Duma support. We're unclear on whether he can get
that support,'' said Peter Westin, an economist at the Russian-European
Center for Economic Policy.
Klyuyev, the appliance salesman, is not hopeful. Over less than a year, he's
seen his salary drop from the equivalent of about $1,000 a month to less than
$200. His wife, a dental assistant, hasn't worked since her job was axed last
fall. Their savings are gone, and so is their ability to buy anything but the
``Stability?'' he snorts. ``Nothing changed under Primakov, and nothing will
change under the new government, either.''
Economy chief post power-struggle threatens vital IMF Russia aid
MOSCOW, May 23 (AFP) - A Kremlin power-struggle over Russia's next economy
supremo is threatening an IMF loans-for-laws package vital to Moscow's
efforts to avoid outright bankruptcy and rescue its ravaged economy, analysts
Premier Sergei Stepashin wants a respected deputy for the post, but arch
Kremlin intriguer Boris Berezovsky is pushing his own candidate, whose very
ties to the tycoon could hurt the prospects of the IMF package in parliament.
Analysts said Berezovsky has used his influence with Tatyana Dyachenko,
President Boris Yeltsin's younger daughter and head of the Kremlin's "kitchen
politburo," to ensure his allies win key posts in the new cabinet.
They include First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko and new Interior
Minister Vladimir Rushailo. Another Berezovsky ally, Alexander Voloshin,
heads the Kremlin administration.
But Stepashin, anxious to avoid charges that he is a "puppet premier," wants
Alexander Zhukov named economy chief and first deputy premier as a
counter-weight to the Berezovsky cohorts.
Zhukov is also backed by Anatoly Chubais, the head of the powerful UES
electricity monopoly who is feted abroad as a key reformer but detested at
home as the architect of Russia's scandal-tainted privatisation programme.
Should he win the job Zhukov, a centrist who chairs the State Duma budget
committee, would be tasked with piloting through the lower house of
parliament a slate of unpopular IMF-approved laws needed to unlock the door
to billions of dollars in fresh loans to Russia.
The measures include higher alcohol and gasoline (petrol) tariffs, a delay in
a much-publicized cut in value added tax, an easing of currency restrictions,
and radical reform of the banking sector ravaged by the government's August
17 ruble devaluation and domestic debt default.
On those measures hang 4.5 billion dollars in fresh credits over 18 months
and billions more in associated loans from the World Bank and Japan.
An IMF deal is also pivotal to Moscow's efforts to reschedule its foreign
debt mountain and avoid a generalised default on 141 billion dollars in
liabilities which would make Russia a pariah with international creditors.
But the IMF package is deeply unpopular with a Communist-led Duma facing
re-election in December and still smarting from its failure to impeach
Yeltsin and swift confirmation of Stepashin in office under threat of
"If Mr Stepashin gains the image of a Berezovsky puppet, of course the
willingness of parliament to cooperate will be much less," said Sergei
Markov, director of Moscow's Institute of Political Studies.
The presence of so many Berezovsky allies in the cabinet "will create a
problem for the IMF package because the more influence Mr Berezovsky has, the
less interest the Duma will have in cooperating with the government," he
Economists fear any delays to the IMF deal would further postpone economic
recovery and prolong the misery for millions of hard-pressed ordinary
Russians, whose per capita income dropped by 27.6 percent and whose real
wages slumped 38.5 percent in the 12 months to the end of April, according to
Markov said Stepashin could seek to assert himself by undermining Berezovsky:
"I would expect some Kremlin intrigues which will include corruption
allegations concerning people in Berezovsky's entourage."
Nevertheless the omens are not looking good for Stepashin, who agencies said
could fly to Sochi on Monday to discuss his cabinet with Yeltsin who is
holidaying in the Black Sea resort.
The president has "not yet managed to persuade the president of the need for
two first deputy premiers," commented Saturday the Nezavisimaya Gazeta, which
is owned by Berezovsky.
The respected business daily Kommersant said Yeltsin had broken the
information blockade imposed by his tight-knit coterie of advisors by
installing a telephone hotline to Chubais, who was due to return from the
United States on Sunday.
"The president is sent away -- so as not to meddle" in the cabinet's
formation, the paper headlined Saturday's edition.
"After his departure to Sochi there is a strong possibility that again all
information to the president will be strictly filtered by his 'family
circle,' which traditionally lobbies for Boris Berezovsky," it said.
Los Angeles Times
May 23, 1999
[for personal use only]
With Foes Like Communists, How Can Yeltsin Ever Lose?
By MICHAEL MCFAUL
Michael Mcfaul Is a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace and Professor of Political Science and Hoover Fellow at
WASHINGTON--Boris N. Yeltsin has done it again. Just when everyone in Russia
and the West thought he was history as an effective politician, the ailing
and unpopular Russian president orchestrated another tactical victory against
Two weeks ago, Yeltsin looked certain to be impeached by the Duma, the
lower house of the Russian parliament. His main political rival, then-Prime
Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov, was the most popular political figure in Russia
and was widely regarded as perhaps the leading presidential candidate. With
Primakov solidly allied with the Russian Communist Party, it looked like
Yeltsin's worst nightmare--the return of the Communists to the Kremlin--was
about to come true. But judging from his bold decision to remove Primakov,
Yeltsin is not quite ready to fade from Russia's political scene.
Furthermore, if forced to depart, the president vowed to go down fighting.
Yeltsin's firing of Primakov had inched Russia closer to a
constitutional crisis. If the Duma had impeached Yeltsin and also rejected
his nominee for prime minister, Sergei V. Stepashin, the Russian Constitution
is silent on what should have happened next. Many had worried that Yeltsin
might try to resolve the impasse through extraconstitutional means:
surrounding the parliament building with troops in a replay of the violent
confrontation he and the legislative branch had in October 1993. Thankfully,
push did not come to shove, and the parliament backed down.
Days before the impeachment vote, nearly every analyst of Russian
affairs expected the article accusing Yeltsin of waging an illegal war in
Chechnya to pass.
Yet, the Communist-dominated Duma couldn't muster the necessary
two-thirds vote to pass any of the five impeachment articles. Then, less than
a week later, legislators overwhelmingly approved Yeltsin's nominee for prime
minister. The Duma's capitulation was all the more striking because Stepashin
was one of the principal executors of the Chechen war.
In virtually assuring that he will serve out his term, Yeltsin severely
weakened Primakov's chances of becoming his successor and thrust Stepashin
into the presidential race. Only a brilliant political strategist could
imagine transforming Stepashin the police chief into Stepashin the
presidential candidate in just 12 months. Yet, in light of what the Yeltsin
team--and especially Anatoly B. Chubais--accomplished in the last two weeks,
do not be surprised if Stepashin makes it to the second round of next year's
Given Yeltsin's minimalist record of achievement in recent years, his
poor health and abysmal job-approval ratings (estimated at 2%, with a margin
of error of plus or minus 4%), he could only have achieved his latest
political victory if he faced an even weaker foe. He did. When the history of
reform in Russia in the 1990s is written, the real story will not be about
Yeltsin's genius, but about the ineptness of his enemies, above all, the
Communist Party of the Russian Federation.
For years, Russia's Communists have been handed issues that would have
assured political success for anyone else. Yeltsin attacked the White House,
as Russia's parliament in known, in 1993, oversaw the deaths of 100,000 of
his own citizens in a fruitless and tragic war in Chechnya and presided over
one of the greatest economic depressions in modern history, including, most
recently, the financial meltdown in August 1998. Yet, despite his record, the
Communists have been unable to remove Yeltsin from power either through the
ballot box or impeachment.
The Communists also have proved inept or unwilling to represent the
interests of their natural constituencies: workers and pensioners. Russia's
Constitution substantially limits the powers of parliament, the one political
institution the Communists dominate. Yet, the Communists have not even taken
advantage of their limited constitutional powers to deliver for their
supporters. Every year, they allow Yeltsin's budgets to slide through largely
intact. With one exception, the opposition-dominated parliament has signed
off on all of Yeltsin's candidates for prime minister. On foreign-policy
issues, the Russian opposition has virulently criticized Yeltsin's acceptance
of the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its
bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. But it has never managed to translate
passionate rhetoric into real influence.
From August 1998 until last week, Russia's Communists had their best
opportunity to influence Russian politics after their candidate, Primakov,
became prime minister against Yeltsin's wishes. Upon becoming prime minister,
Primakov invited a Communist Party member, Yuri D. Maslyukov, to become his
economic czar. Rhetorically, Primakov and Maslyukov promised to reverse
radical economic reforms, raise pensions and wages, curtail the activities of
Western agents of influence--the International Monetary Fund and the World
Bank, most notably--toss 1,000 bankers in jail and hinted at restoring state
control over prices and property.
In practice, Primakov and his Communist-dominated government pursued
none of these policies. Through inaction rather than intention, Primakov's
government proved to be as fiscally conservative and monetarily stringent as
previous reform governments. Instead of chasing the IMF out of Russia,
Primakov continued to negotiate with this "tool of imperialism" and even
agreed to introduce a package of legislation recommended by the IMF. In its
negotiations with the World Bank, the Primakov government actually rejected
the bank's recommendation for pension payments as too high. When offered the
opportunity to roll back capitalism, Russia's Communists rolled over.
The Primakov era may have been the last hurrah for the Russian Communist
Party. The failed impeachment vote demoralized and humiliated it. Party
members' approval of Stepashin demonstrated they cared more about holding on
to their offices, dachas and free travel than to their principles. (Had
parliament voted down Stepashin three times, Yeltsin would have been obliged
constitutionally to dissolve the Duma and call new elections in three
months.) In doing so, Communist leaders calculated that they needed the
resources of parliament to help them win the upcoming elections this
In choosing resources over principles, however, the Communists may lose
their stranglehold on the opposition vote in Russia. Tired of Yeltsin and his
policies, but disappointed in the inability of the Communists to come up with
a viable alternative, anti-Yeltsin voters in the next election may turn to
new electoral options such as Yuri M. Luzhkov's Fatherland, Grigory
Yavlinsky's A. Yabloko or more strident populists like Gen. Alexander I.
Lebed. Paradoxically, Yeltsin, Chubais and other Kremlin strategists may have
orchestrated a remarkable tactical victory by marginalizing the Communist's
strongest presidential contender, Primakov, but, at the same time,
strengthened new opposition contenders for president.*
Russians Seeks Smooth Appointments
May 23, 1999
By JUDITH INGRAM
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's prime minister said Sunday he would not advance
candidates for Cabinet posts who might provoke opposition from the
Communist-dominated lower house of parliament.
Sergei Stepashin told NTV television that he would like to keep Mikhail
Zadornov in the office of finance minister and propose Alexander Zhukov as a
candidate for deputy prime minister in charge of the economy.
Zhukov is budget committee chairman of the lower house of parliament, or
Stepashin also said the two communist members of the outgoing government of
former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Yuri Maslyukov and Gennady Kulik,
would not have posts in his Cabinet.
When asked about veteran economic reformers like Anatoly Chubais or Yegor
Gaidar, Stepashin said he did not plan to bring in candidates who might be
unacceptable to the Duma, which could call for a no-confidence vote in the
``We're not considering that scenario,'' Stepashin said.
Stepashin and the head of the Kremlin administration, Alexander Voloshin, are
to travel Monday to the Black Sea resort Sochi to consult on the Cabinet with
President Boris Yeltsin.
Yeltsin traveled to Sochi on Friday for vacation after Stepashin easily won
confirmation as prime minister from the Duma.
Stepashin said he and Yeltsin would go over the candidates for the key posts
on Monday, ``not dragging out this process but at the same time not rushing
The final composition of the Cabinet will probably be decided next week, he
Before leaving for Sochi, Yeltsin reappointed Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev,
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu and
Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov to their posts. He also promoted
Nikolai Aksyonenko, former railways minister, to the post of first deputy
prime minister, and named Vladimir Rushailo interior minister.
As Stepashin was working Sunday to put together his team, a centrist
parliamentary leader said Russia's future political stability depended on a
fundamental power shift from the presidency to the legislature, the ITAR-Tass
news agency reported.
Vladimir Ryzhkov, head of the Our Home Is Russia group in the Duma, said the
government should be formed by the parliamentary majority instead of the
president. Such a reform could be implemented only after 2000, when Yeltsin's
term expires, he said.
``If the new president is a wise man, he will pass over a substantial part of
his powers to the parliamentary majority,'' Ryzhkov was quoted as telling an
academic seminar in Golitsino, 12 miles southwest of Moscow.
The constitution, which was passed by referendum on Dec. 12, 1993, gives the
president huge powers and leaves little real authority to either the
parliament or the prime minister.
Yeltsin and the Communist-dominated lower house of parliament have long been
at loggerheads. As a result, much of the legislation drafted by the
government has languished.
The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
23 May 1999
[for personal use only]
Russia faces 'new Chernobyl' disaster
By Greg Neale, Environment Correspondent in Murmansk
WHAT a Russian energy minster has called a "Chernobyl in slow motion" is
unfolding in the country's far north where nuclear submarines are falling to
pieces at their moorings and a decaying nuclear power station has been
refused European Commission aid to buy vital safety equipment.
Russian officials admit that dozens of nuclear submarines in the former
Soviet Union's Northern Fleet are in such a poor state of repair that they
could cause widespread radiation pollution. In the same area is the Kola
power plant, where some nuclear safety experts believe its two oldest
pressurised water reactors, built in 1973, should be closed immediately.
Vassily Omeltchuk, the chief engineer at the Kola plant has told The
Telegraph that most of its appeals for European Commission aid have been
refused. "We are in despair," he said.
The Commission's rejection of an application for new fire detection and
protection equipment had left the plant vulnerable. To compensate, it had
employed additional firemen but even their equipment was not up to the job,
they said. "Much of our equipment is obsolete," said Captain Gennadi
Chernukin, head of the fire team. The bravery of Russia's nuclear
fire-fighters is beyond question. When the Chernobyl reactor exploded in
1986, firemen went into the blazing reactor building knowing they were facing
near-certain death. But they and others in the country's nuclear industry are
having to keep equipment working well beyond its designated lifetime.
Documents passed to The Telegraph show that EC officials have rejected five
applications for aid from the Kola plant, although four projects have been
approved. They included assistance with replacing safety valves, improving
liquid radioactive waste treatment and the burners in Kola's incineration
A Brussels official said some applications were turned down because of
difficulties in finding suitable western energy companies to work with the
Mr Omeltchuk said that although some experts wanted to close down the ageing
reactor units - the same type as the ill-fated American Three Mile Island
reactor - the plant supplies about 40 per cent of the region's power, and the
authorities are unwilling to lose its capacity. Its fate will be discussed
urgently at a conference this summer. Meanwhile much aid is being directed to
improve standards in Russia's nuclear industry, particularly from
neighbouring countries such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, which are in the
front line for any potential pollution.
But while Russia's nuclear power station workers struggle to keep plants
running, the condition of tens of former Soviet nuclear submarines continues
to deteriorate and funds to make them safe are in many cases still to be
"Some dozen or more of these submarines are now being kept afloat by
continually refilling their buoyancy tanks with pressurised air," said Valery
Alexeyev, a dockyard official. "Who knows how long this will go on?"
Nikolay Yegerov, Russia's deputy atomic energy minister, described the
situation in the region as a "Chernobyl in slow motion", the first such
admission by the Russian authorities.
The Kola Peninsula is now one of the most polluted regions in the world. A
report prepared by Bellona, a group of environmental activists, tells of
atomic waste from ships being simply dumped into the Barents and Kara seas.
The United States has contributed funds and technology, largely to help
decommission some of the atomic-powered submarines and their nuclear missiles.
Europe is also helping to clear up this Cold War legacy. Two months ago,
Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, pledged more than £3 million in British
aid to help manage nuclear waste from Russian vessels in the region.
However, a good deal of aid has failed to have any effect. Brussels-based
officials were criticised this year in an internal European Commission
investigation which found that hundreds of millions of pounds had been wasted
on uncompleted projects designed to improve nuclear safety in the country.
But it is not only radioactive pollution which is causing problems. The
mineral-rich Murmansk region has also suffered through waste from heavy
Inger Eikelman, an adviser to Norway's Radiation Protection Authority, says:
"There is so much heavy metal contamination in some places, that economists
say it would make financial sense to simply mine the pollution."
Stepashin Would Prefer to Remain Premier till 2000 Elections.
MOSCOW, May 23 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Premier Sergei Stepashin would prefer to
keep his post till the presidential elections of 2000.
"To be absolutely honest, the optimum way for me is to be the prime minister
till the elections of the president," Stepashin said in an interview with the
NTV Itogi television program on Sunday. The key task "is to show the
professional capability of the cabinet already this year."
That task shall be solved by December "when the new Duma discusses the new
prime minister by law... At that time I will have to report to the president,
the people and the State Duma what is done," Stepashin said.
In his words, there are three main tasks -- "to prevent destabilization,
including that economic," "to consolidate the macro-economic bloc" with due
account of the future economic development of Russia and to solve problems of
agriculture and the social sphere. Stepashin called attention to the need to
"keep paying pensions, salaries and to increase pensions of ex- servicemen
since June 1." Such tasks can be tackled only by "a government of
professionals," he said.
"There shall be one sacred rule: as soon as you join the cabinet you shall
leave political likes for your spare time. No promotion of your projects or
lobbying of the interests of your former companions," the premier said.
"I do not conceal that the government will have representatives of some
public-political movements. But as soon as they come to the government they
must stop any contacts in the political sphere. The government shall not be
affiliated to a party," Stepashin stressed.
PM Seeks to Create Normal Conditions for Upcoming Polls.
MOSCOW, May 24 (Itar-Tass) - "The main role of the government in the
forthcoming parliamentary and presidential election campaigns is to create
normal socio-economic conditions for the polling," Russian Prime Minister
Sergei Stepashin told the NTV analytical programme Itogi on Sunday.
"Elections, held against the background of the impoverishment of the larger
proportion of the population and their discontent over delays in the payment
of wages, unemployment, and an incomprehensible economic and social policy of
the State lead as a rule to very serious negative results," the Premier
Stepashin considers it no less important task in arrangements for the
"election race" "to create a law-enforcement barrier so that as less crooks
as possible would get powerful positions, and to maintain the public order.
In this respect "the situation in Karachai-Circassia is a very serious lesson
to us", the Russian Premier pointed out.
The Sunday Times (UK)
May 23 1999
[for personal use only]
By Mark Franchetti
Who wears the trousers, Yuri?
When it comes to elections, there is only one issue that worries chauvinistic
Russians more than a candidate's political record, and that is his wife.
Mikhail Gorbachev had Raisa, who was despised for her bossy nature and
passion for western fashion. Boris Yeltsin has Naina, an unassuming housewife
admired for the amount of time she spends in the kitchen. The power behind
Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow and favourite in next year's presidential
elections, is a woman without precedent in Russia.
First, there is the name. Yelena Baturina defied tradition by refusing to
change it when she married. Then there is the car. While most Russian men
believe women should be banned from driving, Baturina cruises round Moscow in
a bright yellow Mercedes.
Her biggest fault in the eyes of Russian men, however, is that she nearly
always wears trousers. This is seen as an ominous sign that Baturina, 36,
calls the shots at home with her 63-year-old husband. To make matters worse,
Baturina has confessed that she sometimes chooses his clothes.
Baturina, a successful businesswoman, is said to earn five times as much as
Luzhkov. She is joint head of Itenko, a company that produces laundry
baskets, disposable plates and, most notably, plastic stadium seats.
Itenko supplies plates to Russky Bistro, a fast-food chain owned by the city
and set up by Luzhkov to "bring McDonald's to its knees". But city hall has
reacted angrily to suggestions that the mayor used his connections to advance
Baturina's business interests and Luzhkov, whose first wife died of cancer in
1980, vehemently denies that he has helped her.
Many voters may give him the benefit of the doubt. What they would not
forgive is any indication that Baturina tells him what to do in politics. Or
in the wardrobe, for that matter.
The inhabitants of an area of woodland on the outskirts of Moscow have been
put on the alert after reports that a circus bear is on the loose. The bear's
trainer had tried to give it to Boris Yeltsin as a present. But the Kremlin
said there was nowhere to keep the animal. Infuriated by this rebuff, the
trainer released the bear in woods near a hospital where the president
undergoes treatment for his various illnesses. Yeltsin and his unwanted gift
have yet to meet.
A bugbear for Boris
The Kremlin's triumph last weekend in seeing off a parliamentary threat to
impeach Boris Yeltsin took many Russians by surprise. But not those who saw a
remarkably prescient cockroach race in a nightclub on the eve of voting.
A cockroach named Zu, after Gennady Zyuganov, the communist leader who
supported impeachment, got off to a terrible start. He crashed into a wall as
Boris, the biggest insect, crossed the finishing line.
The winner, however, was Luzhkok, named after Yuri Luzhkov, Yeltsin's most
A Moscow newspaper chose to illustrate a health and beauty section promoting
city salons with a picture of Svetlana Kotova, a Russian model. A strange
choice given that Kotova's body was found dismembered in Greece two years ago
after she became romantically involved with a Russian mafia boss linked to
several contract killings.
President Yeltsin loves sacking prime ministers, but he also likes to shower
his victims with parting gifts. Viktor Chernomyrdin received a medal and a
big bunch of roses when he was dismissed last year. But the gift selected for
Yevgeny Primakov, the latest premier to go, was somewhat strange.
In a ceremony at a secluded dacha, Primakov was told that his greatest
achievement during 10 months in power had been to ensure stability and peace
in Russia. He was then presented with a double-barrelled shotgun so heavy
that he could hardly lift it.
23 May 1999
[for personal use only]
Arms Control Damaged By War
U.S.-Russia Tensions Imperil Nuclear Cuts
By David Hoffman
MOSCOW—The NATO strikes against Yugoslavia and resulting tensions with Russia
and China have created serious new threats to nuclear arms reduction measures
and other global arms control efforts, many of which were already faltering,
according to policymakers and specialists.
Russia's anger over the assault on Yugoslavia has created complications with
the United States that jeopardize the long-delayed Strategic Arms Reduction
Treaty (START II), which aims at slashing both countries' long-range nuclear
weapons. Also at risk are efforts to control the thousands of short-range, or
tactical, nuclear weapons that were never covered by a treaty.
The worsening in U.S.-Russian relations threatens the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty, efforts to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction, revisions
on a treaty on troops and conventional arms in Europe, and plans for joint
early-warning cooperation to avoid an accidental missile attack.
"What will happen in the next two years is the total collapse of arms
control" unless U.S. relations with Russia are repaired, said Sergei Rogov,
director of the USA/Canada Institute here.
"We may be looking at the end of bilateral, negotiated arms control," said
Joseph Cirincione director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace in Washington. "This is not too radical to
contemplate. It is possible [President] Clinton will leave office without
ever negotiating and signing a strategic arms reduction agreement."
The problems were aggravated by the accidental NATO bombing of the Chinese
Embassy in Belgrade May 6. China announced suspension of current top-level
military and arms control contacts with the United States. China has been a
key focus of U.S. efforts to prevent the proliferation or spread of missiles
and nuclear materials to Iran and Pakistan, among other places.
"All of the principal nonproliferation regimes are under siege," said William
C. Potter, director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey,
Calif. "Without a concerted effort in Washington and Moscow to revive
cooperation of the past, the regimes run the risk of major defections and
Moreover, the troubles on arms control and proliferation come at a time when
other regions are provoking fresh worries. In South Asia, a year after India
and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests, both countries have embarked on a new
missile race. In Iraq, the United Nations' effort to root out weapons of mass
destruction appears to have ended. Iran continues to pursue a ballistic
missile program, as does North Korea.
When the bombing of Yugoslavia began in March, Russia reacted with sharp
criticism and suspended all military links to NATO. Russia is friendly with
Yugoslavia, a fellow Slavic and Eastern Orthodox country. The existing
bilateral U.S.-Russian nuclear and chemical disarmament programs, for which
Russia is receiving hundreds of millions of dollars, so far have not been
Since the bombing began, Russia also has sought a role as a mediator between
NATO and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Although this has put Russia
in a less confrontational approach than in the early weeks of the crisis,
specialists said, the negative reaction to the NATO airstrikes in parliament
and among the Russian political and military elite has seriously clouded
future arms control and nonproliferation efforts.
The first major casualty of the NATO strikes was the START II strategic arms
treaty, signed in 1993 by Presidents Bush and Boris Yeltsin and ratified by
the Senate in 1996 but never ratified by the Russian State Duma, the lower
house of parliament. The treaty was close to approval before the Kosovo
The treaty would slash both sides' nuclear arsenals from 6,000 warheads each
under the START I treaty, signed in 1972, to between 3,000 to 3,500 each,
although experts say Russia cannot financially support such an arsenal.
Moreover, ratification would open the way to negotiations for a follow-on
treaty, START III, which would lead to even deeper cuts, to between 2,000 to
2,500 warheads for each side under a preliminary 1997 agreement between
Clinton and Yeltsin.
The START II treaty was making headway in December, but the Duma, dominated
by Communists and nationalists, recoiled after the bombings of Iraq.
Strenuous lobbying by then-prime minister Yevgeny Primakov moved the treaty
back on the agenda in March, but the Duma backed off again after the NATO
strikes on Yugoslavia. The U.S. decision to move ahead on antimissile
defenses also hurt Russian ratification efforts.
The negative reaction over Yugoslavia may be impossible to overcome. Analysts
say START II is all but dead. The Duma will be facing an election campaign in
the fall. "It's clear the treaty cannot be ratified," said Alexander Pikayev,
an arms control and nonproliferation specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for
A prominent group of arms control specialists called on the United States in
February to try to leapfrog START II and secure new reductions of warheads
and take missiles off hair-trigger alert. But the Clinton administration has
refused to move ahead until START II is ratified.
If it is not, Russia may decide to prolong the life of older multiple-warhead
missiles that were due for retirement.
The arms control deadlock may also extend to the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty, a centerpiece of the Clinton administration's disarmament efforts.
Ratification was blocked by in the Senate by Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and may
fare no better in the Duma. "The plan was to submit it after START II," said
Pikayev. But, he added, "There is a general negative attitude in the Duma
toward all arms control and nonproliferation, and the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty is seen by some as a way of diminishing Russia's nuclear might."
One of the gravest new threats to arms control has been the prospect that
Russia may reactivate short-range, or tactical, nuclear weapons, which are
not covered by any treaty. Yeltsin recently discussed modernizing such
weapons at a meeting of the Kremlin Security Council.
"It's obvious that we will have to carry out limited modernization of our
tactical nuclear capability and strategic nuclear force, and probably not
even modernization, but take a series of measures to increase their combat
readiness," Sergei Karaganov, deputy director of the Institute of Europe, and
chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, told reporters
When the Soviet Union was falling apart, both Bush and Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev took unilateral actions to pull back tactical nuclear
weapons. Bush announced on Sept. 27, 1991, that the United States would
eliminate its entire worldwide inventory of ground-launched tactical nuclear
weapons and would remove all nuclear weapons from surface ships and attack
submarines. Gorbachev followed Oct. 5 with a similar pronouncement.
But the initiatives were never codified and could be reversed. Although
little is known about Russia's arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, the
Monterey Institute has estimated that it retains 7,740 warheads.
Potter said that the relationship between Russia and the United States was
the pillar of nonproliferation efforts but now is "greatly weakened and may
soon collapse altogether." Among other signs of trouble, he pointed to
Russia's economic plunge, continued difficulty in securing Russia's nuclear
materials and its growing reliance on nuclear weapons for deterrence. Other
problems are the Indo-Pakistani arms races, Iraq's defiance of the U.N. arms
inspections and North Korean "missile brinkmanship."
"There are circles of impact," said Cirincione. "How does the Russian
relationship change with the states on their borders, Iraq and Iran? . . .
You could see increased trade, exactly the kind we don't like, with Iraq and
Iran." What's more, experts say Russia may instigate new arms sales with
other states to offset NATO. Already, there have been reports of Russian
plans to sell antiaircraft systems to Libya. Russia also may find itself
increasingly looking to alliances with China and India and less responsive to
U.S. pleas to halt proliferation through its huge and weakened
Russia's defense minister, Igor Sergeyev, also threatened recently to
reconsider a just-concluded agreement on revisions to the Conventional Forces
in Europe treaty. Signed in 1990, the treaty limits heavy conventional
weaponry held by members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. The collapse of
the Soviet Union and admission of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to
NATO led to negotiations to revise the pact, replacing the Cold War blocs
with national limits on arms. In early April, a compromise was reached, which
was expected to be signed later this year.
Yet another casualty of the Kosovo crisis may be a planned U.S.-Russia
temporary joint center to share early warning information about a possible
missile attack. Russia announced after the NATO strikes that it was
abandoning military-to-military contacts on the project, part of a larger
effort to cope with the Y2K millennium computer bug.
Our Home Is Russia Faction Leader Urges Reform of Power.
GOLITSINO, the Moscow region, May 23 (Itar-Tass) - A political stabilization
in Russia is possible only on condition of a profound reform of the power
system. That reform must result in the government's formation by the
parliament majority, leader of the Our Home is Russia faction Vladimir
Ryzhkov said at a federal seminar of the Moscow Political Studies School on
Such a reform will become possible only after the presidential elections of
2000. "If the new president is a wise man he will pass over a substantial
part of his powers to the parliament majority," Ryzhkov said. In his opinion,
"not a single government is able to implement any strategy" due to
peculiarities of the Russian legislation.
He does not think that Russia shall abolish the presidency even in the
distant future "because of the immatureness of parties and the parliament." A
mixed parliamentary-presidential model of the French and Polish type is the
best system for Russia, Ryzhkov said.
Russia's new premier seeks strong economic supremo
By Oleg Shchedrov
MOSCOW, May 23 (Reuters) - Russia's newly-appointed Prime Minister Sergei
Stepashin said on Sunday he would meet vacationing President Boris Yeltsin on
Monday to push for a strong economic supremo in his cabinet.
Former Interior Minister Stepashin, 47, shrugged off suggestions his
government could become a puppet in the hands of powerful political and
financial groups and vowed to strictly scrutinise future ministers.
"I think that the first deputy prime minister in charge of the economy -- who
will in fact work out the budget, economic and financial policy of the
government -- should be a figure with strong powers in the cabinet," he told
NTV television in his first major interview since parliamentary approval on
Stepashin, who replaced compromise Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, won
overwhelming approval in the confirmation vote last Wednesday.
But most parliamentary parties have distanced themselves from the premier,
who lacks personal experience in handling a national economy, saying the
selection of ministers was crucial in their attitude towards the government.
Stepashin made clear he wanted another person to mastermind the economy and
finance in his cabinet rather than little known former railway chief, Nikolai
Aksyonenko, appointed as first deputy premier by Yeltsin.
"I will ask Boris Nikolayevich (Yeltsin) to support my idea of having two
first deputy premiers in the cabinet," he said, outlining his plans for a
visit to the Black Sea resort of Sochi where Yeltsin unexpectedly left for a
fortnight's vacation on Saturday.
Stepashin said he expected the core of his government to be approved by
Stepashin said he had several candidates for economic supremo, including
moderate reformer Alexander Zhukov, the head of the budget committee in the
lower house of parliament.
Stepashin, who has praised Primakov for keeping the economy afloat after last
August's financial collapse, made clear he could no longer use the devalued
rouble and partial default on foreign debts as an instrument of maintaining
"The resource of the default will be over by autumn and we need to move ahead
very radically," he said without elaborating.
Stepashin said he favoured keeping Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov and
deputy prime minister in charge of social affairs, Valentina Matviyenko, but
refused to comment on other names.
So far, Aksyonenko remains the only member of the so-called "economic bloc"
of the government confirmed by Yeltsin.
Stepashin dismissed suggestions by some political analysts that the formation
of the government had provoked a fierce under-the-carpet struggle involving
powerful financial tycoons, political parties and Yeltsin's administration.
"I spent the weekend in the White House (government headquarters), but saw no
one under the carpets," he joked. "I will ask Alexander Voloshin (Yeltsin's
chief of staff) to check whether he has anyone under his carpets. Just in
Stepashin asked the media to stop speculating about the criminal record of
some potential candidates and their personal ties with powerful financial
magnates and political parties.
"I have been an interior minister and we will use law enforcement bodies to
check every candidate," he said.