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Johnson's Russia List
3 June 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Solzhenitsyn says NATO ``like Hitler'' in Yugoslavia.
2. Moscow Times: Pavel Felgenhauer, DEFENSE DOSSIER: West Losing Zero-Sum
3. Itar-Tass: Duma Passes Duma Election Law.
4. Gregory Kozlovsky: What Chills Mr Reeves/3313. (re FSB and Internet).
5. Kennan Institute seminar: The Russian Military: Barracks and Politics.
6. Itar-Tass: Government Should Rely on Russia Regions, Stepashin Says.
7. Itar-Tass: There Is No Split in Communist Party, Zyuganov Claims.
8. The Russia Journal: Gregory Feifer, Myths, as Always, Dominate Russia's
Emerging Nationalistic Self-Identity.
9. Financial Times: Dominique Moisi, Russia's search for identity.
10. Moskovskie Novosti: Sergei Karaganov, Parting with
11. Business Week: Margaret Coker, A Russian Tycoon Who's Actually Doing
Right. Mikhail Fridman has quietly kept his companies on track.
12. Moskovskiy Komsomolets: Aleksandr Vasilyev, Extended-Service President.
Is Yeltsin's Third Term a Reality?
13. Reuters: Russian military oppose Kosovo plan - Russian TV.]
Solzhenitsyn says NATO ``like Hitler'' in Yugoslavia
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Wednesday compared NATO to German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler over its bombing
campaign in Yugoslavia.
``I see no difference in the behavior of NATO and Hitler. It is the same,''
Interfax news agency quoted Solzhenitsyn as saying.
``I don't know the way to resolve the Yugoslav problem but I see that...for
the third month before the eyes of the whole world a European country is
being destroyed,'' he said.
Solzhenitsyn, whose ``Gulag Archipelago'' and other works exposed the cruelty
of the Soviet regime and Josef Stalin's labor camps, accused NATO of trying
to dominate the world.
``NATO wants to establish its order in the world, and it needs Yugoslavia
simply as a pretext -- let's punish Yugoslavia and the whole planet will
tremble,'' he was quoted as saying.
Russians across the political spectrum from communists to liberals have
criticised NATO's bombing campaign against their Slavic, Orthodox Christian
brethren in Yugoslavia.
But Moscow has also been leading diplomatic efforts to end the Kosovo crisis.
Solzhenitsyn, 80, is well known for his conservative, Slavophile views. Once
hailed by the West for his stand against totalitarian Communism, he has
become a fierce critic of Western materialism and liberal ideology.
Like an Old Testament prophet, he also fulminates against post-Soviet
Russia's economic reforms, saying they have created a selfish, spiritually
empty society. He harks back to a patriarchal social order based on Christian
Interfax also quoted Solzhenitsyn as criticising the U.N. war crimes tribunal
in The Hague for indicting Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic over his
actions in Kosovo. He said the court was biased and did what it was told by
Solzhenitsyn said he had no criticism of Russia in its efforts to mediate a
settlement in Kosovo, though he said the West seemed to be exploiting
Moscow's Balkans envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin for its own purposes.
``I have no other reproach against Russia. She can do nothing now. Russia is
completely powerless,'' Solzhenitsyn said.
June 3, 1999
DEFENSE DOSSIER: West Losing Zero-Sum War
By Pavel Felgenhauer
War is always a zero-sum game, and the current conflict over Kosovo is no
exception. Post-war development and reconstruction is a different story, but
in war per se, one side wins and the other loses. It also may be a draw. But
there cannot be any "win-win" outcome.
Of course, zero-sum games are not very popular nowadays. In the West, they
are almost officially illegal. In recent years, Western political leaders
insisted that zero-sum games are a thing of the past, that head-on,
uncompromising confrontations between nations are possible no more, that
economic globalization makes genuine international cooperation unavoidable
and so on.
Most likely such delusions were one of the main causes of Western political
and military unpreparedness at the start of the conflict over Kosovo. Western
leaders and diplomats apparently believed that the threat of force and the
actual use of military force are more or less the same thing - just a
bargaining tactic. Three days of highly symbolic bombings of selected targets
in Yugoslavia, and a negotiated agreement to solve the Kosovo problem will be
Western leaders today are obviously frustrated by the intransigence of the
Serbs, of their willingness to sustain a barrage of bombs, to sacrifice
thousands of their own lives and, of course, thousands of Albanians, just to
keep Kosovo. At the same time, public opinion in the West is no less
frustrated by the inability of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's war
machine to win a clear, clean victory and quickly end the fighting.
Poll results published last week show that 82 percent of Americans want a
pause in the bombing of Yugoslavia, so that serious peace negotiations can
The frustration of leaders and public alike is straining Western nations.
Last week at a seminar on the future of NATO in Toledo, Spain, the Spanish
Defense Minister Eduardo Serra said "not purely military problems in the
Balkans, but public opinion problems at home are the main danger."
NATO's operation in the Balkans is not only ineffective, but also illegal.
The absence of any UN legitimization is an additional cause for protests. The
seminar in Toledo was actually interrupted by angry Spanish anti-NATO
protestors, who suddenly filed into the room shouting "Assassins!" and
"Terrorists!" at U.S. and European generals, diplomats, politicians and
NATO's new strategic concept, approved at the summit in Washington, envisages
possible future military interventions into non-NATO sovereign countries to
defend human rights and other Western values. But under international law
such actions should be legitimized by the UN Security Council, where Russia
and China have a veto. Such constraints are increasingly seen by Western
leaders as a menace that should be removed.
In Toledo, Serra announced "there is a conflict between Western values and
formal international legalities.
"The peace in Europe can be undermined," added Serra, if international law is
"International law was always rewritten after great wars, because the world
changed," he said. "The Cold War was a bloodless war, but still after its end
the world changed profoundly, so international law should change accordingly.
It is hard to explain to young people why some countries have a veto in the
UN. A country that has lost its capability to act as a superpower because it
became too weak, is abusing its veto power in the UN to show it is still a
superpower of sorts."
The Spanish defense minister did not mention Russia by name, but obviously
had it in mind. Serra was speaking in an official capacity and his position
was clear: Russia should be stripped of its veto power in the UN Security
Council to stop "veto abuse."
This view is most likely supported tacitly by other Western governments. If
Russia does not soon start fully supporting NATO against the Serbs, Western
nations may begin procedures to rewrite the UN Charter. Through aid
distribution to poor countries, the West today has a firm majority in the UN,
making such a revision possible. The personal political future of an entire
generation of Western leaders is today at stake in the Balkans. Not many will
survive a debacle and may go to any extreme to win.
In Moscow, many see NATO's action against Yugoslavia as a terrifying forecast
of what could happened to Russia - a Western invasion as in 1941. Of course,
the war in the Balkans has not yet actually spread to other countries, as
predicted, but the zero-sum game is already engulfing Europe.
Pavel Felgenhauer is chief defense correspondent of Segodnya.
Duma Passes Duma Election Law.
MOSCOW, June 2 (Itar-Tass) - The State Duma lower house of parliament on
Wednesday passed in the third reading a draft law on Duma elections.
The law was passed 355-9 with one abstention. It reaffirmed the
Constitution-set size of the Duma, 450 members.
Half of this number is elected in single-mandate districts and half on
federal lists of parties or electoral blocs.
Russian citizens who are 18 years old on the day of elections can vote in
federal and single-mandate districts and take part in nomination of
candidates for the State Duma.
Citizens who are recognised by court as insane or serve court-ruled sentences
in the penitentiary system are not eligible for voting.
Under the Constitution, Duma elections are called by the Russian president
not earlier than five months and not later than four months before the voting
If the president does not call the Duma elections within this period, they
are set by the Russian Central Election Commission for first or second Sunday
of a month that follows a month ending the Duma's term.
The 200-page law largely renews the election law passed by the Duma in 1995
by introducing checks to campaigning irregularities.
The new edition in particular lays down more rigorous requirements for the
collection of signatures of support and bars the practice of fielding
doubles, or namesakes of runners in elections to mislead electorates.
The new law stipulates informing voters of candidates' past convictions and
double citizenship. The law tightens up requirements for the funding of
election campaigns of individuals and electoral blocs.
The new version of the election law lays down responsibility for violations
of it. The Duma has drafted relevant amendments to Russian codes of civil and
criminal procedure to enact the responsibility.
The election law lays out rules for pre-election campaigning. One of its
provisions gives candidates for the Duma a third of the airtime free.
The law first introduces the definition of electoral collateral that can be
posted by a candidate or a bloc, provided that it comes from their own
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gregory Kozlovsky)
Subject: What Chills Mr Reeves [JRL 3313]
Notes of a Disinformation Analyst: What Chills Mr Reeves?
By Gregory Kozlovsky, Zurich
Four heavily build men entered the tram and ordered the passengers to
show their tickets. They forced several unfortunates who failed to do
so to disembark and proceeded to extort a from them hefty fine,
disregarding tearful explanations and pleas for mercy. This is another
chilling example of Zurich transportation authorities to extort
exorbitant transportation fees from the population.
What would be your reaction if you have read the above piece of news in
a paper? What would you think about the intention of the author and the
editor? Did they want to inform? Hardly. What was described is a normal,
albeit unpleasant practice of transportation authorities everywhere.
To presume that the author and the editor somehow were not informed about
uniform application of such procedure is impossible. If they wanted to
make a point that Zurich ticket controllers are especially cruel, they
would compare their actions with similar actions elsewhere. Without
such comparison, the only conclusion a reasonable person can make is that
the above quote was written by somebody whose intention was not to inform
his readers, but to discredit Zurich Transportation Board.
Consider now a real piece of news. The Independent's Moscow correspondent
Phil Reeves, in his recent dispatch ("Russian Internet boss stands up to
spies," May 31, 1999) told his readers about "a chilling example of the
Russian security services intense efforts to bring internet activity under
surveillance." He describes how Mr Murzakhanov, who runs an Internet
provider in Volgograd, refuses to allow agents from the Federal Security
Service access to his system. Mr Murzakhanov says, that he refuses to
comply with the FSB demands because he wants his children grow up in a
It is not clear whether Mr Reeves had a similar concern for his children.
In his article he never mentioned what are usual practices elsewhere,
as if the Russian situation was so clearly unique that it was not worth
even mentioning that Internet privacy is sacred in other countries.
A cursory search on the Internet, found some interesting material on
NSA Sniffs Internet Sites. Wayne Madsen, in an article written for
the June 1995 issue of Computer Fraud & Security Bulletin (Elsevier
Advanced Technology Publications), wrote that "according to
well-placed sources within the Federal Government and the Internet
service provider industry, the National Security Agency (NSA) is
actively sniffing several key Internet router and gateway hosts."
Madsen says the NSA concentrates its surveillance on destination
and origination hosts, as well as "sniffing" for specific key words
and phrases. He claims his sources have confirmed that the NSA has
contracted with an unnamed private company to develop the software
needed to capture Internet data of interest to the agency.
"Within Europe, all e-mail, telephone and fax communications are
routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency,"
according to a report commissioned by the European Parliament, and
presented to the parliament in January 1998.
European Parliament Approves Net Tapping Resolution. The European
Parliament approved a resolution on the controversial ENFOPOL
proposal on May 7. Enfopol would require Internet service providers,
telephone companies and satellite-based communications companies to
provide an electronic "back door" for law enforcement agencies to
use to access communications. (Reuters, May 7, 1999).
Interestingly enough, the Moscow Times on March 16, 1999, published an
editorial "Beware FSB Surveillance Of Internet." Whatever idealistic
ideas the Moscow Times may have on the relative merits of the FSB and
the NSA, at least it was honest enough to mention the existence of
a competitiong effort.
The U.S. government already monitors international e-mail traffic
through the National Security Administration, and the NSA's legal
authority to do so seems equally dubious.
Of course, surveillance of the Internet by the NSA and other special services
is common knowledge. What interests me here is not the NSA but rather Mr.
Reeves. What chilled him to such an extent that he decided to omit the
most relevant information from his article? It is hard to believe that
Mr. Reeves did not know about similar activities of the NSA. He would be
entitled to express an opinion that NSA activities are benign, while similar
FSB activities are wicked. However, it appears as if he felt that the very
mentioning of Internet snooping activities by the NSA would destroy
the propaganda impact of his article.
My question is what made a correspondent of an independent newspaper
to write what is clearly not information but propaganda? Is Mr. Reeves
a party of a media conspiracy? Is The Independent controlled by some
Date: Wed, 02 Jun 1999
From: "JOSEPH DRESEN" <DRESENJO@WWIC.SI.EDU>
Subject: additional Kennan Institute event
--Please note one additional event at the Kennan Institute for the
month of June:
Tuesday Seminar, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
"The Russian Military: Barracks and Politics"
Dale R. Herspring, Professor, Department of Political
Science, Kansas State University, and former Fellow,
Woodrow Wilson Center;
Eva Busza, Assistant Professor, Department of Government,
College of William and Mary, and Research Scholar,
Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, Woodrow
The readiness of the Russian armed forces can be measured in
two ways: (1) the material preparedness of units, how they are
trained, and how they are led; (2) the relationship between the
military and the government and the strength of civilian control
over the military. According to either measure, today's Russian
military is in crisis, with soldiers in some locations having been
reduced to begging for food. Concern is growing regarding how
the military will act in the event of a constitutional crisis or
unrest stemming from Russia's current economic plight. This
seminar addresses both the "barracks" and the "politics" of the
Russian armed forces of today.
Government Should Rely on Russia Regions, Stepashin Says.
TULA, June 2 (Itar-Tass) - The government's key priority is its reliance on
Russia's regions, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin said in his address to a
meeting of the regional economic association Chernozemye in Tula on
He said his part and of his deputy ministers' in the work of the association
would be regular.
Stepashin said his tours of regions will be part of the government's work.
"Regional leaders should not merely influence the policy of the government
but also form it," he said, adding that he would personally supervise the
government's contacts with regions.
Stepashin emphasised the need for permanent contacts with regional economic
associations, saying that many regional problems can be solved at their level
without appealing to the federal centre.
He promised to rapidly attend to all of proposals sounded by regional
delegates at the Tula meeting.
He said leaders of Russia's entities can plan and implement many projects on
the basis of federal legislation.
"Federal authorities should be assigned to a regulating role," Stepashin
said, adding that there must be no "unnecessary petty tutelage".
Federal authority should combine "legal and force methods" in its work with
regions, he said.
There Is No Split in Communist Party, Zyuganov Claims.
MOSCOW, June 2 (Itar-Tass) - "There is no split either within the Communist
Party of Russia or within the National Patriotic Union of Russia. The party
is more united and active than ever before. It has drawn up a programme and
is forming a national government of people's trust," Leader of the Communist
Party and of the National Patriotic Union Gennady Zyuganov told a press
conference here on Wednesday.
In reply to an Itar-Tass request, he commented on the report, published in
the Wednesday issue of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, that a congress of the Unity
Revival Movement would be held on Saturday. The newspaper said that the new
movement was headed by Aman Tuleyev and that several leaders of the Communist
Party and the National Patriotic Union were taking part in it. "There are two
hundred parties and movements in our National Patriotic Union today and
nothing terrible will happen if there will be only 201 left," Zyuganov
stated. As to the claims of some mass media that Gennady Zyuganov, Nikolai
Ryzhkov, Svetlana Goryacheva, and Valentin Kuptsov are taking part in the
formation of the movement, the communist leader officially stated: "We have
not taken part in it and are not involved in anything of the sort."
Asked whether Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov was taking part in the formation
of some new movement, Gennady Zyuganov also replied in the negative. "He is
Duma Speaker and must deal with state affairs, not party matters," he said.
The Russia Journal
May 31 - June 6, 1999
Myths, as Always, Dominate Russia's Emerging Nationalistic Self-Identity
Gregory Feifer/The Russia Journal
Russia's outcry against NATO bombing last March did much to solidify the
country's view of its global role in opposition to the United States. The
country staged a collective war whoop of impotent anger, a last resort in the
face of a collapsed economy and a political system in which new corruption
scandals were emerging weekly, with little hope for improvement in the
But the reasoning-expressed in rhetoric about the need to support "Slav
brothers"-was almost entirely based on myth, the same type on which a new
so-called "Russian idea" is forming.
Russia's emerging conception of itself and the world draws almost exclusively
from the past. Pastiches of images and rhetoric have flooded Russia's
developing popular nationalist collective identity over the past decade.
Turning to the Past
The Russian "national idea" has been forming for some years, but has only
recently begun to crystallize.
One doomed attempt came in 1996 when, after winning his presidential election
campaign, Boris Yeltsin created a special commission of intellectuals to find
a so-called "national idea" to succeed the reviled tsarist ideology
"Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationhood" and Communist slogans such as "Workers
of the World Unite." The commission failed to come up with an idea.
"World and historical experience has shown us that it is not just the
national idea that is important, but the process of finding it, too,"
explained Georgy Satarov, a presidential adviser and member of the National
Idea Commission, at the time.
Certain conceptions have recently begun to solidify in the collective
consciousness. Some of the most prominent newly-taken images from the past
are fixed in the hulking scuptures of Zurab Tseretelli, commonly referred to
as the "court" artist of powerful Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. Tseretelli
erects statues around the city depicting tsars and illustrations of Russian
But ideology in Russia has very often been used not to expound a deep truth
about society, but to obscure the nature of Russian politics.
"Today's political rhetoric," Marat Gelman says, "is completely different
from pragmatic politics. That is to say, politicians can shout and berate
America but at the same time take its money."
Gelman, who led the protest in 1997 against Tseretelli's mamoth statue of
Peter the Great which stands on the banks of the Mocow River in the city
center, owns one of Moscow's trendiest art galleries.
"The fundamental direction of the search for the new 'Russian idea' is a
turning to the past and autarky. That is, there are strict characteristics to
the new Russian idea. When the whole world is trying to become integrated and
globalization is occurring, the Russian idea is to exist alone, apart from
the rest. And the Russian idea consists of the sense that it is necessary to
return to some kind of past," Gelman says.
Luzhkov orders the hanging of banners showing Soviet war medals on the sides
of buildings in the city center. No discrepancy between the country's two
main historical political systems is seen. The mayor likes to decorate even
himself, more than once having donned a costume to portray Moscow's supposed
founder, the warrior Yury Dolgoruky, whose statue Stalin himself erected
outside what is currently the mayor's office.
Yevgeny Bunimovic, a member of the Moscow city legislature, stresses that the
real search for a new identity is dictated by myth because of Russia's lack
of education in history. "That's why stories emerge about Peter and others.
It's not a question of choosing a model for a certain period, but that to
this day, there does not exist a normal textbook of Russian history in
schools. Russian history remains a black hole."
The Roots of Slavophilism
One of the central arguments in Russian history has been between so-called
"westernizers," who wanted to draw the country culturally closer to Europe,
and "Slavophiles," who insisted Russia had its own idea, one closer to the
East. That debate has been central to Russian cultural development.
Each side is based on as much myth as the other. The roots of the Slavophile
position may lie in the genesis of Russia's political "dominant culture"-and
can be illustrated by its critics. Since the end of the sixteenth century,
dissent was kindled by those whose status rested on birth and tradition, not
merit. Dissenters depended upon the political system, and thus did not
criticize it directly. Rather, they targeted individuals.
Tsars were faulted not for their repression, but for being weak rulers unfit
to exercise authority properly.
The dissenting tradition adopted a nostalgic view of a once-happy land ruled
by grand princes who worked correctly within what the tradition saw as the
true nature of the Muscovite system's oligarchic rule.
The same types of methods-generating myths of a once-happy land-formed the
basis of the Slavophile position in the often misrepresented
Slavophile/Westerner argument. That extended to the 1960s and 1970s, when the
Soviet regime increasingly accepted a similar kind of moralizing anti-Soviet
realism-"village culture"-of which Solzhenitsyn is an extreme example, too
extreme for the regime to have swallowed.
Soviet "village prose" writers focused on "eternal values" and the suffering
of Russians at the hands of a revolution wrought by Jews and foreigners. But
their desire to return to an idyllic Russian past makes their work as utopian
and obscuring as Stalinist Socialist Realism.
Those writers of the '60s and '70s were the precursors to today's
nationalists. Nationalism is a form of remedial political action; it
addresses a deficient position and proposes to remedy it.
Nationalism declares that the identity and interests of a putative nation
have not been properly addressed or realized, exactly the type of call to
resurrect a former glory one sees from all sides of Russia's political
In the 1970s and 1980s, Western academe debated long and hard about Russia's
possible fate upon a probable future collapse of the Soviet Union. It was
well known that Moscow promoted nationalist policies in almost all Soviet
republics in a successful effort to co-opt local elites into the central
But there seemed to be no such thing as a Russian nationalism: Russians were
encouraged to be good "Soviet" citizens. Some say rulers such as Stalin-a
Georgian-would never have advocated Russian nationalism instead of promoting
his own regional clans. Regardless of that fact, the Soviet Union was in
effect a thinly-veiled Russian empire, and communist ideology obscured the
regime's real imperial nature. The question was whether Russia, once alone,
would be faced with a massive identity crisis.
But Russia has had little problem in generating its new form of nationalism,
the basis for which had existed under the Soviet Union, itself greatly
influenced by events under the tsarist regime.
"At the beginning of perestroika, it all seemed much easier," Bunimovic says.
"It seemed that you just needed to print the Gulag Archipeligo one time, talk
about the horrors of Stalin's camps once, and the question of Stalin would
close for ever. In fact, everything is much more complicated. No reality, no
arguments, can dissect myth. That's where the problem lies."
May 31, 1999
[for personal use only]
DOMINIQUE MOISI: Russia's search for identity
The author is deputy-director of the Paris-based Institut Français des
Relations Internationales and editor of Politique Etrangère. He writes here
in a personal capacity
It will be difficult, but the west can avoid alienating Moscow entirely over
It is a sentiment more usually associated with a US veteran of the Vietnam
war. But the words "Bombing civilians cannot produce positive results; we
know it because we did it" were uttered by a Russian democrat in his late
After Afghanistan and Chechnya, he is tired of war, all wars, even "just"
ones. A week ago, at the annual seminar of the Moscow School of Political
Studies, I defended the Nato action in Kosovo to a group of national and
regional members of parliament representing the entire political spectrum of
Russia, from the communists to the extreme right.
They were unanimously and emotionally opposed to the western intervention in
Kosovo, but for widely differing reasons. For Russia as well as for the west,
the war in Kosovo reflects an identity quest, a search for status and clout.
It reflects the difficult period of transition it is undergoing, from a
feared and central superpower to a chaotic and marginalised, decaying empire,
desperately searching to become a more "normal" country.
The criticisms by the Russian representatives of the western action in Kosovo
fell into three categories at the seminar; US-Nato bashers, defenders of the
concept of sovereignty, and pacifists.
In the first were, perhaps not surprisingly, the communists. Their arguments
were as though the past 20 years had not happened. The Soviet Union was not
back - it had never disappeared. Faithful to a conspiratorial vision of
history, they were quick to denounce the "real" agenda of the US behind the
war in Kosovo - the attempt to stop the euro challenging the dollar.
The selective emotions of the west and why Kosovo - not central Africa or
Chechnya - was the scene for intervention by Nato were an illustration of the
false moralism and universalism of the US. The communists believe Washington
is abusing its present superiority with an absolute cynicism.
The second category of critics was the defenders of the principles of
national sovereignty. As one of the members of the exclusive "club of five"
of the United Nations security council, Russia can only react negatively to
the bypassing of the UN, in particular, and to the post cold war
international system, defined by globalisation, that makes national
sovereignty no longer the ultima ratio of international politics.
The generous but vague and ambiguous concept of "human security" promoted by
Canada is definitely not to the taste of Russians. To transcend national
sovereignty in the name of a universal vision of human rights, you must have
a prosperous economy, secure identity and stable, democratic pluralism. The
knowledge of successfully overcoming a recent tragic history also constitutes
an undeniable plus.
Only the west - western Europe, in particular - fits these criteria. The
Russians are too uncertain of themselves, of their political, economic and
social future, of their international status, even of their own geography, to
question the concept of national sovereignty or the classical balance of
power model. They are not ready for the global age.
In spite of its geography, Russia's position on these issues is much closer
to that of India, China and the majority of the countries of the developing
nations with "young" nationalism.
The distinction that Nato members sometimes make between legitimacy and
legality strikes them as manipulative and artificial. The Russians may not
like Slobodan Milosevic, Yugoslav president, and their sense of Slavic,
Orthodox solidarity may have been over emphasised, for Russia is a
multi-ethnic, not so terribly religious empire.
What they cannot accept is to have been more or less excluded from a drama
taking place in their own continent.
The third category of critics came mainly from the most democratic segment of
the duma and emphasised pacifist arguments nourished by recent experiences in
Afghanistan and Chechnya. By using massive forces against a society, you
destroy its social fabric and contribute to the creation of a criminal state;
the legitimacy of the goals does not overcome the barbarism of the means. It
is an argument that cannot simply be dismissed or ignored without a real
For Russia, the Kosovo crisis presents both a mirror and a dilemma. It
reflects Russia's downgraded international status. If they want to be
Europeans, Russians have to accept and openly share the values of "their"
continent. Europe is a place where ethnic cleansing cannot be tolerated,
where people cannot be executed or expelled for what they are and not for
what they did. In expressing themselves on Kosovo issues, and in taking
sides, Russians are also choosing their identity.
Given western Europe's tragic history, it should not adopt any kind of
western moral arrogance. The decision of The Hague war crimes tribunal to
indict Mr Milosevic and four of his key aides reinforces the moral legitimacy
of Nato action, but underlines the inadequacies of a strategy based solely on
air bombings. How can we claim the moral high ground with a cause that we
define by our action as worth killing for but not dying for?
Lord Ismay, the first secretary-general of Nato, in a celebrated formula,
described the original goals of the alliance as follows: to keep the
Americans in, the Soviets out, and the Germans down. The three main
objectives of the alliance in Kosovo today are to bring the refugees back,
Milosevic down, and the Russians in.
It is not impossible. Debating Kosovo with members of the duma was difficult
but there was a debate, and the arguments used reflected a surprising
diversity of views behind the appearance of monolithic indignation.
It is too early to say that the west has "lost" Russia. The west can still
"win" in Kosovo and not lose Russia.
Moskovskie Novosti N19 (987), 25-31 May 1999
Parting with Primakov?
by Sergei Karaganov, political scientist
[translated by Rachel Dubinemail@example.com]
items within double slantlines were published in bold
//Primakov’s departure has gone relatively quietly.//
I will not give a critique to the present Kremlin inhabitants, who have thrown
out the prime minister who, among the politicians in the entire history of the
new Russia, had enjoyed society’s greatest [level of–trns.] trust before his
The level of trust in Primakov reached 67%. It was surprising to see and hear
Vologda teachers, Tula collective farmworkers, who had gotten tired of the
military or the new petty bourgeois and who considered this different man
man, who defends their interests, the interests of their country and suffers
for the nation. And this, in spite of a critical view of Primakov by a
considerable part of the major press.
It is possible that Primakov is old–he is 69–and needs to write out his
memoirs. A heavy feeling of disgust for Russian politics and for the Russian
politically-formed class, has probably arisen in him. But he will not
Then, it is possible to start summing up the “Primakov era,” and it was
probably an era for Russian politics and for ourselves. But this era can only
become an episode.
It is possible, boyars [17th century Russian nobles–trns.], that having gotten
tired of the “holy fool” in the tsardom and having been frightened of
a worse version, pouncing on Primakov will allow him to return to politics.
Then such a summing-up will be useful for him, too, and the era [of
Primakov–trns.] will continue.
Primakov accomplished two fundamental successes in Russian politics, which is
almost a miracle. Having become foreign minister and having on his back the
state, which had fallen apart, he succeeded, with peaceful and sometimes harsh
and sometimes masterful maneuvers, in demonstrating the capability to say
partially to revive respect for Russia and its diplomacy. Heads of leading
states really valued and respected Primakov highly. Many of them related to
him with personal friendliness, too, as the typical Tbilisi charm would
presuppose. He strongly irritated very many of these people. Annoyance was
usually masked under the guise of words that he was “Soviet,” “imperial,” and
“ancien-regime.” But the real source of irritation was something else.
With mastery and will Primakov made Russia’s position on the world stage
stronger than Russia was worthy of, with its decayed regime that was becoming
weakened by the state. Covertly, but then more and more openly, Primakov, it
is apparent, is equivalent to Prince Gorchakov, who had provided for Russia a
slow return from isolation and weakness after the defeat in the Crimean War.
At times, he did not succeed in accumulating tactical advantages. A series of
virtuous US shoves from the attacks on Iraq led to Washington deciding that
best thing of all would be to rattle its sword against the Russian diplomatic
one and to simply start bombing. And having started and continued it, the US
laid out for itself a path to Yugoslav aggression. Sometimes Primakov did not
come out when what had fallen apart of Russia was “obtained” all the same; so
it was, for example, when in trying to make friends with someone, the
ordered the composition and signing by night of what turned out to be the
astonishing Russia-Ukraine treaty, or the signing in a month of the
Founding Act. Primakov again needed to step back, having been shoved aside to
the maximum extent.
It is possible that, trying to return, as it were, to a part of the former
diplomatic trumps, he has risked and played anew too much. But he preserved
the country’s self-worth.
He almost created the second miracle when he became prime minister. Here,
perhaps, a list of his achievements can even be called historic.
Yet, he temporarily saved the country from trouble and destabilization.
He proved that the government and the parliament can work together.
the inclusion under him of union with the parliamentary majority, a democratic
system of government, when the parliament balanced and supplemented executive
power, worked out for the first time in the history of the new Russia. For
first time, there was no war between them. He proved such a possibility, the
possibility of developing a working democratic system of government in Russia.
As a result, under him more market laws were passed, including laws laying out
structural reforms, than under the liberals who had preceded him. Under
law on the division of production was executed. Foreign investors, who had
despaired–for the time being, only oilmen–almost began to idolize it.
Having the stainless service record of a patriot and statesman, he can say,
the time being, only to say, that it is impossible for Russia to be without
large-scale foreign investment, including a return of a considerable part of
the banking sector and industry in the hands of foreign capital, under a
strong Russian government. This is still not a strategy, but its promise.
June 7, 1999
[for personal use only]
A Russian Tycoon Who's Actually Doing Things Right (int'l edition)
Mikhail Fridman has quietly kept his companies on track
By Margaret Coker in Moscow
Mikhail M. Fridman is a Russian rarity. He has done what other tycoons simply
talked about--restructuring and building up companies rather than stripping
assets. As chairman of Moscow-based Alfa Group, he now controls over $3
billion worth of assets in banking, oil, and consumer products. That's a
remarkable feat in a country still struggling to recover from last August's
financial meltdown. But few Russians recognize the 35-year-old Fridman. By
design, he has kept his baby face out of the newspapers and off television
screens. ``I don't want to walk into a restaurant and have everyone start
talking,'' he says.
Fridman won't be able to shun the spotlight much longer. While other
Russian tycoons, known as oligarchs, are floundering, he's thinking growth.
His Alfa Bank is one of the few private Russian banks to survive last year's
financial crisis. Although the bank has serious problems, it is still
managing to move ahead. It's buying up the branches of troubled rivals and is
now one of Russia's top 10 banks, up from 17th last July. Alfa's biggest
industrial asset, Tyumen Oil Co., is one of the first Russian companies to
regain the trust of Western creditors, winning a $200 million loan from the
U.S. Export-Import Bank in May.
The confidence in Fridman stems from his management savvy and prudent
ways. Soon after gaining control of Tyumen Oil in 1997, he brought in an
expert as its CEO: Simon G. Kukes, a former Amoco Corp. executive. Kukes, 54,
has cut staff by 20% and chopped production costs by 30%. With the new loan,
Tyumen will expand production and its retail network. Fridman has unleashed
similar restructurings at Alfa's more than 20 consumer companies, which he
plans to sell off when Russia's market recovers.
The going is more difficult at Alfa Bank, but it's likely to survive,
thanks to Fridman's conservatism. From the start, when he and his friend
Pyotr Aven, 44, founded the group in 1988, they insisted on tight financial
controls. And unlike other banks, they never went overboard on currency
speculation or purchases of risky Russian Treasury bills. When the government
defaulted on T-bills and devalued the ruble by two-thirds last August,
several tycoon-owned banks went bankrupt.
``MONEY IS TIGHT.'' Alfa Bank did not go unscathed. It had borrowed hard
currency from the West, which it now must pay back with a devalued ruble.
>From $1.2 billion in July, Alfa's assets are now down to $510 million. What's
worse, the bank has defaulted on a $77 million syndicated loan, and it is
unclear where it can come up with the cash to make an $18 million coupon
payment due on its $175 million Eurobond in July. ``Money is tight. But we're
not asking for debt reduction,'' says Alfa Bank CEO Alex Knaster.
Restructuring talks with 20 Western banks on the syndicated loan have been
dragging on for seven months. None of the creditors would comment publicly.
Privately, some express frustration at delays but say they think Alfa is
serious about striking a deal.
Despite its debt problems, Alfa's record stands out in crisis-ridden
Russia. Last fall, when Russians lined up outside Inkombank and Menatep in a
vain attempt to retrieve their savings, Alfa settled accounts with all of its
customers. It has launched an aggressive ad campaign and has landed 6,000 new
corporate accounts since August. ``Alfa stands above the crowd,'' says
Richard Thompson, a banking analyst at Standard & Poor's Corp. in London.
``It's not just luck, they've managed well.''
Upcoming parliamentary elections in December and the presidential race in
June, 2000, will make it hard for Fridman to keep a low political profile.
Both he and Aven have close ties to Kremlin insiders, such as Anatoly B.
Chubais. But Fridman is hedging his bets. By beefing up its branch network,
Alfa Bank is building connections in the regions, where it is expected that
the next political power plays are going to take place. Despite his claims of
wanting to stay out of the spotlight, Fridman is setting himself up to be a
'Rumors' of Yeltsin Third Term Circulating
28 May 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Aleksandr Vasilyev: "Extended-Service President. Is
Yeltsin's Third Term a Reality?"
"Yeltsin for President in 2000!" -- today this
slogan seems not only strange but also simply illegal. But tomorrow
everything may change. At any rate, rumors of the possibility of a third
presidential term for B.N. [Yeltsin] have once again started circulating
in Moscow. The person who is to lead Yeltsin to a further election
triumph is even named. It is not hard to surmise that he is Nikolay
Aksenenko, the latest Kremlin favorite.
It is an open secret that the president's family and its entourage
really are not thirsting to surrender power in 2000. Everyone has long
known the juridically correct means of circumventing a constitutional ban
on a president remaining in office for more than two terms. An example in
this respect was set long ago by Milosevic, who once moved from the seat
of head of Serbia to the "throne" of president of Yugoslavia. Therefore
it is no wonder that for more than a year now the Russian political elite
has regarded with extreme suspicion the talk of "real integration" with
Belarus and the possibility of introducing the post of president of the
The only problem is that the Yeltsin family's applecart is constantly
being upset by Boris Nikolayevich himself. No sooner does the Kremlin
announce the start of another "political offensive by the president" than
Yeltsin goes into hospital. It would be too wacky even for Russia to
elect a hospital patient head of state.
But as soon as Boris Nikolayevich manages to stay in a relatively decent
condition for a more or less lengthy time, talk of a third term surfaces
again. It seems very much as though just such a moment has now come. The
last time Yeltsin was in the Central Clinical Hospital was in March. But
all the president's recent visitors unanimously state that for now he is
on quite decent form.
In addition, the present political situation strikes the Kremlin's
incumbents as exceptionally favorable. Just a month ago a feeling of
depression was reigning in the chambers of the presidential apparatus --
the constant failures of the attempts to dislodge Skuratov from the post
of general prosecutor, the seemingly very real threat of impeachment and
of gradual loss of control over the situation in the country.... Some
officials even started guessing how soon their immediate bosses would
have their cars with flashing lights taken away from them and would be
kicked out of their offices. In the Kremlin today, on the contrary, there
is a state of euphoria. All the dangers that had seemed so awful have in
fact proved imaginary, and the terrible foes have proved paper tigers.
The government has been turned into a puppet. The Communists are in a
state of profound demoralization. All of this cannot fail to arouse in
Yeltsin's retinue a desire to accomplish several more "labors of Hercules."
According to recent rumors, if the "Belarusian" plan is still set in motion,
the key role in implementing it will be allocated to First Vice Premier
Nikolay Aksenenko. You will not find a single person in political Moscow
today who would believe that the railroad engineer's elevation has
anything at all to do with his economic talents. Few people doubt,
either, that Aksenenko will carry out any order given him. Nikolay
Yemelyanovich is totally dependent on the support of the president's
family. Without it he would never in his life have become first vice
premier. Therefore it is extremely important to Aksenenko to keep Yeltsin
in power. It is clear that Yeltsin's family also feels a lot of
trepidation with regard to the newly fledged first vice premier.
Otherwise no one would have simply allowed him to behave in this way.
So an attempt to keep Boris Nikolayevich in power after 2000 is
perfectly realistic. The fact that it is incredibly hard now to make
forecasts concerning its success is another matter. No one can guarantee
that Yeltsin will not once again be rushed into hospital at a most
crucial moment. Nor is it clear how the political situation will develop
further. It is certainly not a fact, for example, that the Kremlin will
always be attended by victory. We can only be confident that our
curiosity with regard to the true plans of Boris Nikolayevich and Co.
will be satisfied quite soon. With each passing month Yeltsin's family is
left with less and less room to maneuver. For the time of the end of
Boris Nikolayevich's presidential term is fast approaching. Such a major
political operation requires quite a lot of time for its implementation.
The president's retinue will simply be forced to reveal its hand by
January 2000. But this could happen even sooner.
Russian military oppose Kosovo plan - Russian TV
LONDON, June 2 (Reuters) - Military aides to Russia's Balkans envoy Viktor
Chernomyrdin have denounced a Kosovo peace plan he has agreed with Western
officials, saying it gives NATO too much say, Russian television reported on
NTV television, monitored by the BBC, said military members of Chernomyrdin's
delegation ``have voiced their categorical opposition to the agreements'' he
reached in Bonn with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and
Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari.
NTV's correspondent in Belgrade said the Russian military also believed
Chernomyrdin had dropped what had hitherto been a key Moscow demand -- that
NATO bombing of Yugoslavia should stop immediately.
Chernomyrdin and Ahtisaari flew from Bonn to Belgrade on Wednesday and handed
the proposals to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Talks were due to
resume on Thursday, when the Serbian parliament was also due to discuss the
``The military have said that, by signing these agreements, Russia has
essentially removed the U.N. from fulfilling its peacekeeping role, handed
over the solution of the Kosovo problem directly to NATO generals and, thus,
violated the principles laid down in Russia's position on the resolution of
the Kosovo crisis,'' NTV said.
``Also, the military think that the instructions given to Viktor Chernomyrdin
by President Boris Yeltsin on numerous occasions on how to conduct talks with
representatives of the West have been violated,'' the correspondent added.
The military believed that ``the Bonn agreements do not reflect one of the
most important Russian positions -- the demand that bombings of Yugoslav
territory should be stopped immediately,'' NTV said.
Exact details of the Bonn agreement have not been disclosed, with
Chernomyrdin and NATO offering differing interpretations of the command
structure for a proposed peacekeeping force to go into Serbia's Kosovo
province to protect returning refugees.
Other Western demands include a withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo and
substantial autonomy for the 90 percent ethnic Albanian province.