Center for Defense Information
Research Topics
CDI Library
What's New
CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List


June 5, 1999    
This Date's Issues: 3325 3326

Johnson's Russia List
5 June 1999

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-Tass: Russian Revival Is Quite Realistic-Duma Speaker.
2. Moscow Times: Leonid Bershidsky, MEDIA WATCH: Good-bye, It Was Great Fun.
3. In praise of Ermarth. {DJ: Who sent this?)
4. Mike McFaul: Russia and Yugoslavia. (DJ: Let me take this occasion to
note that I encourage more discussion of controversial issues. And the more
civil and substantive the discussion the better. I want to encourage people
to contribute their views without fear of being attacked.)

5. Los Angeles Times: Robert Hunter, Like It or Not, Russia's the White
This Time.

6. Mike Mckeever: RE: Stiglitz/3317, Principal/agent problem in

7. Philip Reeves: What really chills Mr Reeves.
8. Carnegie Moscow Center releases a book on Kosovo.
9. Reuters: Russia reformer Nemtsov eyes Communist poll vote.
10. Moscow Times: Berezovsky Boasts of Kremlin Insider Role.
11. Itar-Tass: Russian Govt to Facilitate Drafting Union Treaty with Minsk.
12. Itar-Tass: 1999 Elections to Be Transparent, Honest-Official.
13. The Russia Journal: Tara Warner. A Good Reason to Learn Russian.
(re Pushkin). 

14. Igor Zevelev: RE: Russian Identity (JRL # 3321).
15. UPI: Zhirinovsky: 'I Am No Clinton'] 


Russian Revival Is Quite Realistic-Duma Speaker.

YEKATERINBURG, June 4 (Itar-Tass) - The revival of Russia is quite a 
realistic task bearing in mind the preserved industrial and labor potential, 
Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov told correspondents on Friday after visiting 
several plants of the Urals in his two-day trip to the Sverdlovsk region. 

The Speaker came to Yekaterinburg on Thursday afternoon and visited a new 
workshop of the Uralelektromed plant. On Friday he met the heads of 
legislatures of 36 Russian constituencies and spent several hours at the 
Urals electro-chemical plant in Novouralsk, a town of the restricted access. 

On Saturday morning the Speaker will go to Serov by helicopter and visit the 
local metallurgical plant. Serov is the town where Seleznyov was born and 
where his parents spent several years. 

"I am an optimist. I am glad I find here proofs to my assurance of the 
soonest revival of Russia," Seleznyov said at a news conference in 
Yekaterinburg on Friday. 


Moscow Times
June 5, 1999 
MEDIA WATCH: Good-bye, It Was Great Fun 
By Leonid Bershidsky (
Staff Writer

It is not easy to say goodbye to this column. I have written 92 of them
since June 1997, and I wanted to get drunk after writing the 100th. My
position, however, has become untenable. I am now the editor of a new
Russian business daily, which will be in direct competition with many of
the papers I try to analyze in this space. My paper, Vedomosti, is going
into dry runs starting Aug. 1. 

As I was writing about Kommersant, Segodnya, Expert and other Russian
publications, I was at the same time trying to hire away some of their best
journalists. Naturally, I found out things about these newspapers that I
could not publish in Media Watch, though my itch to do that got quite bad
at times. 

I have been totally unethical in the last few months, anyway. I criticized
my competitors, I wrote about our project, I pushed the envelope, and my
editors at The Moscow Times have been overindulgent. This has got to stop. 

It has been a great ride. I got to where I identified myself with the
picture in the middle of this column - yes, I am the guy with the fat nose
and the watches in his eyes. 

I treated this column as a hobby and never aspired to the role of a true
media expert, as I told the many journalists and diplomats who wanted to
discuss Media Watch subject matter with me. The folks at the Glasnost
Defense Foundation, Moscow State University's Center for Media Law, the
National Press Institute, the magazine Sreda and some polling agencies are
the true experts. As for me, I tried to provoke rather than provide
in-depth analysis. 

Naturally, most of the mail The Moscow Times got about my columns was
angry. At various times, Media Watch irritated famed commentator Nikolai
Svanidze at Russian television, Itar-Tass star correspondent Tamara
Zamyatina and Expert weekly editor Maxim Fadeyev. I am grateful to all of
them for writing back. On some points, I stand corrected. On others, I
still don't know why people bothered. There was, for instance, the BBC
bureau chief who wanted The Moscow Times to correct me by saying the BBC
does not pay for interviews. The Beeb's radio service still pays me from
time to time. 

I was not without guile in some of my predictions in this column. I have
been saying from the start that someday big foreign publishers would come
to Russia and finally build a commercially solvent, editorially independent
Fourth Estate here. I knew about Pearson and Dow Jones' plans to set up our
newspaper. But the prediction also bears itself out in the weekly Versia's
partnership with the New York Daily News and I think more similar projects
are coming. 

Russia is a country with a lot of political money and little understanding
of press freedom by the people who control the money. This will not always
be so. I am convinced that even now, Russia is one of the freest countries
in the world where the written and spoken word is concerned. What it lacks
is the infrastructure needed to exercise that freedom. That, compared with
our very recent legacy, is a minor problem. 

We are a society of pessimists. The worst always does seem to happen. Few
Russian journalists can disagree with that after seeing their salaries
plummet, their publishers go broke, their independence sacrificed to
various fly-by-night political interests. This column has often been harsh
and sometimes cynical. I would like my 93rd Media Watch to end on an
optimistic note, though. 

As I have found out while hiring people for the new paper, there is a
strong hunger among journalists for the chance to report objectively for
newspapers that are not controlled by political and business interests. It
cannot remain impossible for long. Regardless of whether President Boris
Yeltsin will stay alive, who will win the upcoming elections or what
happens in Kosovo, Russia can no longer be gagged as it was 12 years ago.
The genie is out of the bottle. 

Many thanks to everyone who read this column. I hope you had half as much
fun reading it as I had writing it. Please watch this space. 


From: ? [DJ: This came to me with no email address. Could
the person who sent it let me know.]
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 
Subject: Ermarth piece/3323 

The Ermarth piece you sent out today is one of the best I have ever read
in an adult life time of reading about Russia. Many thanks.


From: "Mike McFaul" <>
Subject: Russia and Yugoslavia
Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 

Dear David,

Writing in the Moscow Times today, Andrei Zolotov, writes that "The Russian
public and politcians have been frustrated by his failure to win substantial
concessions from NATO." Does Mr. Zolotov or anyone else out there have
evidence for this statement? Of course, politicians such as Zyuganov and
Podberezkin called the agreement a sell out. In the U.S., Caspar Weinberger
and Al Haig already have gone on televiusion to call the Clinton's position
a sell out. That's partisan politics be it in Moscow or Washington. But
what do the people of Russia think? Nearly 80 percent believed that the war
should end through peaceful negotiations. As for "NATO concessions" my
experience with public opinion in Russia leads me to believe that most
Russians care not the least about things like NATO concessions. Of course,
the foreign policy community in Russia does, but not the public.

More generally, how is Mr. Chernomyrdin's actions a sellout of Russian
national interests? What specific interests are lost? The composition of
the peacekeeping force or the command structure? Are these really the things
of national interest, especially when one considers all of Russia's real
threats to the national interest that are of much greater consequence? If
anything, I think Russia has played a weak hand very well over the last
several weeks. Remember, we are talking about Russia, a country with a
collapsing economy, an impotent military, run by a weak and ailing president
who nonetheless continues to lead in Russia because of an even weaker
opposition. Given all of Russia's internal problems, Russia might have been
totally sidelined in this crisis. Yet, instead, Russia played a
consequential role on the international stage, maybe for the first time
since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In intervening in the crisis,
Russia stopped NATO aggression, preserved the territorial integrity of
Serbia (there is not even talk of a referendum on independence anymore),
brought the United Nations back into the picture, changed the composition of
the peacekeeping force, created conditions to disarm the KLA, and
established Russia's image in the world as a country of peace and
international law in contrast to the NATO image around the world as an
of war that has little regard for international law. And now , the real
bruden is on the West to deal with the KLA, rebuild Kosovo, get the refugees
back, an undertaking that may take years if not decades. Russia, on the
other hand, has no obligations. These are not small achievements for a
country in decline like Russia.



Los Angeles Times
June 4, 1999 
[for personal use only]
Like It or Not, Russia's the White Knight This Time 
By bringing Moscow front and center in peace negotiations, NATO is weakening 
itself as key arbiter. 
Robert E. Hunter, a Senior Advisor at Rand Corp. in Washington, Was U.s. 
Ambassador to Nato From 1993-98

The Kosovo peace plan accepted on Thursday by the Serbian parliament was
product of intense bargaining between NATO--represented by the United 
States--and Russia's Viktor S. Chernomyrdin. Major elements of the plan still 
need to be worked out before peace can come. But one thing is already clear: 
NATO's putting Russia front and center in Kosovo diplomacy will have 
long-term consequences for the Atlantic alliance. It marks the limit of 
NATO's willingness to pay the costs of its security ambitions. 
The decision to engage Chernomyrdin as lead negotiator with Serbian 
President Slobodan Milosevic grew out of a simple fact: Neither the U.S. nor 
its allies were ready to risk the casualties of a ground campaign. 
Unwilling to solve the Kosovo crisis on its own, NATO found itself 
having to ask Russia for help. That was designed to complete Serbia's 
diplomatic isolation, test whether Russia truly has influence with Milosevic 
and relieve Washington of some of the opprobrium of dealing directly with the 
devil. At the same time, getting Chernomyrdin into the act has reduced 
Russia's isolation from Europe and helps it cope with the domestic political 
impact of NATO's bombing campaign. 
Not surprisingly, however, Moscow has had its own motives for working 
with NATO and playing the part of lead negotiator. Moscow, too, has wanted to 
show that it is not completely counted out of European security and 
diplomacy. Thus, Russia has frozen its relations with NATO, but it has not 
withdrawn its troops from the NATO-led Stabilization Force in Bosnia. By the 
same token, Moscow still has hopes of gaining economic support from the West. 
Being helpful over Kosovo at least helps pacify creditors and it could pay 
future dividends. 
But the Russians are also trying to exact a security price, while 
keeping just short of jeopardizing the goodwill needed to loosen Western 
purse strings. The Kremlin's short- and longer-term goals are the same: to 
reduce NATO's preeminence in European security and to require it to show 
greater respect for Russian interests in making its decisions. 
This strategy has been apparent in Russia's efforts to modify NATO's 
demands for stopping the bombing and settling the Kosovo war. This, not some 
purported Russian kinship with Serbia or an insider's knowledge of 
Milosevic's diplomatic bottom line, explains Moscow's efforts to water down 
NATO's demands. Thus the Russians insisted that NATO modify its goal of 
excluding from Kosovo all Serbian forces, paramilitaries and police. And they 
chipped away at NATO's original goal that a peacekeeping force have the same 
no-nonsense character and complete NATO control that characterizes the 
Stabilization Force in Bosnia. The Kosovo peace plan provides instead for 
only an "international security presence, with an essential NATO 
participation . . . [and] a unified control and command." Remarkably, in 
their zeal to keep the Russians engaged, the allies joined in this process of 
"negotiating with ourselves" before the first words were exchanged with 
The Russians also want to increase the role of the U.N. at NATO's 
expense. This gambit gained added impetus from the luckless NATO bombing of 
the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, thus presenting the allies with two 
potential vetoes of a U.N. Security Council resolution that has the 
resilience NATO wants. 
Looking to the future, Moscow also sees potential in reducing NATO's 
capacity for unilateral action. It is aware that many European allies are now 
even more reluctant to contemplate further ventures beyond Yugoslavia or 
again to take military action without a U.N. blessing. The Russians also want 
to change the terms of their cooperation with NATO, organized through the 
NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council that meets in Brussels but which Moscow 
put in the deep freeze when the NATO bombing began. Likewise, some Russian 
officials and informal commentators are already ratcheting up resistance to 
the further enlargement of NATO, especially to include the Baltic states. In 
both cases, Moscow is signaling the need for a greater say in what NATO does 
if the relationship is to be put back on track. And the Russians are again 
arguing that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is more 
legitimate than NATO in organizing security on the continent. 
To meet its moral responsibility to the refugees and retain its 
credibility, NATO must clear up the ambiguities in the Kosovo peace plan to 
achieve the allies' basic, unadulterated demands. And while welcoming Russian 
engagement in European security, NATO must resist any veto over its future 
actions. But its unwillingness to send ground troops to Kosovo has already 
sent a powerful message: A Russia asked to rescue NATO from its own 
limitations is also a Russia better able to challenge NATO's ambition to be 
the key arbiter of European security for the 21st century. 


Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 
From: mike mckeever <> 
Subject: RE: Stiglitz/3317, Principal/agent problem in Corporations

In Stiglitz' speech referred to here recently, he mentions the
principal/agent problem as key in creating an effective market system in
transition and developing economies.

Here is a brief introduction to US experience in that issue:

Shareholders elect the Board of Directors as their primary official act. In
the US they vote by shares and a majority of votes elects the Board. It is
possible for a single shareholder with 51% of the shares to elect the board
and run the company.

Because of the obvious ground for disputes here, there has developed over
the years a substantial body of legislation and case law addressing these

Once that issue is settled, the question then arises: How can the
shareholders ensure that the managers act in accordance with their wishes in
a corporate setting with multiple layers of management?

The US answer is that the President, elected by the Board, is the only
person who can both buy assets [by approving the purchase of goods for
resale] and sell assets [by approving the terms of sale of company
products]- any other employeee can, subject to routine approvals, sell
assets OR buy assets. But no employee can do both. If any employee can do
both, then the ability of shareholders to control the disposition of their
assets is damaged. Shareholders check the power of the President by the fact
of his routine reporting to the Board. The President checks the action of
other employees by requiring formal approvals of all actions involving
corporate assets. 

This concept is enforced by the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
[GAAP] as certified by outside public accountants. These principles require
that the separation of powers of buying and selling assets is enforced. 

Obviously, developing countries need to build some infrastructure to ba able
to accomplish similar tasks. 

I think the foregoing is reasonably accurate and hope it useful.


Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 
From: Philip Reeves <> 
Subject: What really chills Mr Reeves

Dear David,

Mr Gregory Kozlovsky (#3321) obviously knows alot about the Internet but
rather less, I would hazard, about journalism. He criticises me for not
pointing out in a recent article about FSB attempts covertly to monitor the
Internet that similar activities occur in other countries, including the US.
On this basis, he accuses me of writing propaganda (a conclusion which seems
to use the flawed logic that if an article does not reflect every point of
view, it is inherently worthless.) 

Let me acquaint him with some practicalities: we are talking here about a
570-word news story for a daily newspaper. Not a long feature exploring the
whole subject. Not an editorial arguing all sides of a case. This was a
shortish news story focussing on one Internet provider based in Russia,
which is where I work. My colleagues in Washington, London, Northern Ireland
and elsewhere are equally likely to write about the murky activities of the
security services within their countries - and often do - without mentioning
the FSB. 

By his logic, when we write news stories about rampant corruption in Moscow
we should always - in the interests of balance - point out that there is
also a certain amount of corruption in the US and western Europe. When we
write about the skulduggery of oligarchs, we must always mention that we
have some suspect home-grown ones of our own. No piece about Russian police
brutality is complete without a comparison with the LAPD. No piece about the
Kremlin's folly has any worth unless it includes a reminder of Clinton's
calamities or Blair's blunders. And so on. 

He asks "what chills Mr Reeves"? What chills Mr Reeves is the strong
impression that Mr Kozlovsky seems more concerned with finding fault with
the messenger than paying heed to the message - in this case a violation of
human rights which is in no way lessened by the fact that others in the West
are guilty of the same. 

All the best
Phil Reeves
Moscow Correspondent
The Independent


Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 
From: KatyaSh@CARNEGIE.RU (Katya Shirley)
Subject: Carnegie Moscow Center releases a book on Kosovo

Dear David:

I am pleased to inform you and your list subscribers that a new collective
monograph by Dmitri Trenin and Yekaterina Stepanova (eds.) has recently been
released by the Carnegie Moscow Center:

Kosovo: International Aspects of the Crisis

The book is published in Russian. The full Russian text can be accessed at:

The English language summary of the book is at:

Katya Shirley
CMC Assistant Director


Russia reformer Nemtsov eyes Communist poll vote
By Simon Gardner

LONDON, June 4 (Reuters) - Russian liberal reformer Boris Nemtsov said on 
Friday his new political coalition was confident it could woo support away 
from the majority Communists in parliamentary elections this December. 

Nemtsov, a former first deputy prime minister, said opinion polls had made 
him optimistic that Right Cause would do well in the election to the 450-seat 
Duma lower house, dominated by the Communists and their allies. 

``Public polls show that we have about seven percent (of the vote)... I hope 
that we get about 46 (seats),'' he told Reuters on the sidelines of a forum 
on Russia's political future. 

In a Russian television interview on Wednesday Nemtsov said Right Cause -- 
which held its first congress last weekend -- and other like-minded political 
parties wanted a total of 150 seats in the Duma. 

``Communists control the Duma and control a huge amount of so-called 
red-belts (traditional Communist regions) and people are very disappointed 
about (how they have used) their power,'' Nemtsov said, speaking in English. 

``It gives us a chance to get more seats,'' he added. ``The main message for 
us is to meet directly with these people, explain...our prospectus and our 

Nemtsov was deputy premier in Sergey Kiriyenko's cabinet until last August 
when he fell victim to the economic crisis which rocked the country. 

Other leading members of Right Cause include former acting prime minister 
Yegor Gaidar, still disliked for his role in Russia's unpopular first reform 
programme of 1992, and former deputy premier and reformer Boris Fyodorov. 

Nemtsov said correcting past blunders would also be central to the aims of 
the Right Cause. 

``We remember our mistakes and try to change our behaviour,'' he said. 

During his speech to the forum he launched a diatribe on alleged corruption 
within the halls of Russian government, saying it stunted the country's 

He predicted the Russian presidential election in 2004 would bring better 
things for his country, but he declined to say whether he would be standing. 

``Friends close to me will decide if I am to run in 2004,'' he said. His 
friends include Fyodorov and privatisation architect Anatoly Chubais, another 
liberal reformer. 


Moscow Times
June 5, 1999 
Berezovsky Boasts of Kremlin Insider Role 

Controversial tycoon Boris Berezovsky said Friday that he used what he 
described as close links with President Boris Yeltsin's inner circle to 
influence the formation of the new Cabinet. 

"There was a struggle between influential business groups and political 
groups,'' Berezovsky said at a Moscow news conference. "I took part in that 

Russian politicians and the media have described the new Cabinet as the 
handiwork of Yeltsin's narrow circle of advisers, among them his daughter 
Tatyana Dyachenko, chief of staff Alexander Voloshin, former senior aide 
Valentin Yumashev, Berezovsky and another powerful businessman, Roman 

"I have never tried to hide that I have very good relations with Yumashev, 
normal relations with Tatyana Dyachenko and good relations with Voloshin,'' 
Berezovsky said. "I have never concealed that I have been meeting with them 
to discuss problems that concern me.'' 

Berezovsky said that the group has "enormous influence on the government.'' 
It was the first time Berezovsky had so openly claimed to be such an 
influential member of Yeltsin's inner circle. He said, however, that his 
influence was mostly indirect. 

The financier has been called a modern-day Rasputin by his enemies for his 
supposed sway over the president and his family. But the actual extent of his 
present clout in the backroom Kremlin power struggle is difficult to 

Yeltsin had him fired as executive secretary of the Commonwealth of 
Independent States in April. Earlier, newspaper reports said a security firm 
linked to Berezovsky was under investigation for allegedly eavesdropping on 
the president's family - a disclosure not likely to endear Berezovsky to 

In the past week Russian media reports have speculated that Berezovsky's 
waning star within the Kremlin has been replaced by Sibneft oil executive 
Abramovich, a shadowy figure who is seldom seen or photographed. The media 
has reported that Abramovich had a crucial role in choosing Cabinet 
ministers, but Berezovsky denied this allegation, adding that Abramovich had 
not displaced him as the chief business influence within the presidential 

"I don't know about any role played by Roman Abramovich in the formation of 
the government," said Berezovsky. 

Some observers have suggested that Kremlin insiders are playing up the role 
of the little-known Abramovich to deflect attention from Berezovsky, who is a 
lightning rod for criticism by his enemies in business circles and the 
leftist opposition. 

Berezovsky, whose business holdings reportedly include cars, oil and media, 
claimed that his interference in politics stems from his desire to defend 
liberal principles, not to advance his own business interests. 

He denied news media claims that First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai 
Aksyonenko and Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo were his protgs, and 
said that he hadn't been fully successful in his lobbying efforts. 

Berezovsky said the Cabinet "would have looked different'' if he had been 
given a free hand in forming it. "The goal has been achieved by 70 percent,'' 
he said. He would not elaborate or give any names he had supported. 

It took two weeks of behind-the-scene battles between Prime Minister Sergei 
Stepashin and Yeltsin's circle to form the Cabinet. Yeltsin rejected several 
of Stepashin's candidates, calling into question Stepashin's authority. 

Berezovsky said the split in the government was eroding its authority. "The 
current Cabinet isn't a single team, and ... this is very dangerous,'' he 
said. "The government must show that it is in charge of the economy, and it's 
difficult to do that without unity.'' 

He also called on the government to take more active steps to stifle the 
hard-line opposition, and reiterated his demand that Yeltsin ban the 
Communist Party. Berezovsky also suggested that Yeltsin might dissolve the 
Communist-dominated State Duma, or lower house of parliament, and hold early 
elections. Disbanding the Duma now would weaken the Communists' campaign by 
depriving them of their parliamentary offices and other assets. 


Russian Govt to Facilitate Drafting Union Treaty with Minsk.

MINSK, June 4 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin stated on 
Friday that the government will make all efforts to prepare a draft of the 
comprehensive treaty with Byelorussia in the shortest possible time. 

"Before my trip to Minsk, the president told me in a parting speech to work 
with the Byelorussian brothers in an open, honest mode," Stepashin said at a 
meeting with Byelorussian leader Alexander Lukashenko. 

Commenting on the Russian-Byelorussian relations, he emphasized that the new 
government he chairs will fulfil all the earlier bilateral accords. 

Today's meeting with the Byelorussian president paid special attention to 
bilateral cooperation in power generation, a number of customs aspects, and a 
possibility of Yugoslavia's joining the Russian-Byelorussian Union. 

Stepashin stressed in this connection that Moscow and Minsk should build "a 
real union, not by words, but by deeds." "It is important for us in principle 
to determine all aspects of relations with Byelorussia, and then others may 
have a close look at what we are getting, in order to decide on whether or 
not to join the union." 

Lukashenko expressed satisfaction over the fact that Stepashin, as prime 
minister, had made his first visit outside Russia to the fraternal 
Byelorussia. It is important, he noted that Stepashin's government inherit 
the best from Primakov's cabinet under which there were no problems in the 
Russian- Byelorussian relations. 

Lukashenko told reporters that Minsk has no problems regarding the prospects 
of preparing the comprehensive union treaty. He expressed hope that Russia 
has no problems on this account either. 

The two countries intend to settle, within a month, all their differences in 
the fuel and energy sector and pricing, according to Stepashin. 


1999 Elections to Be Transparent, Honest-Official.

MOSCOW, June 4 (Itar-Tass) - The elections of this year shall be based on "a 
principle of transparency, honesty and understandability," Chairman of the 
Russian Central Electoral Commission Alexander Veshnyakov said at a 
roundtable meeting with the theme "Fair Elections -- Elections without 
Law-Breaking Technologies" on Friday. 

Ten constituencies of Russia will have elections of leaders of republics, 
territories and regions, legislatures and local authorities in 1999, 
Veshnyakov said. 

"The elections'99 are a step into future, a law-governed step. Who will be 
elected much depends on the way this step is made," he noted. In his words, 
participants in the roundtable meeting are able to make the elections "purer, 
fairer and more governed by law." 

"A principle of the victory at any cost is no good. It is socially dangerous, 
and we will fight against the use of dirty technologies in the election 
campaigns with all methods possible," Veshnyakov remarked. 

Member of the Central Electoral Commission Yevgeny Ishchenko dwelt on some 
aspects of dirty election technologies. "The most impudent technology is the 
cloning of candidates" -- a set of persons of the same name running for the 
election in one and the same district -- "or the cloning of election blocs," 
he said. There are also various violations in the electioneering, the 
financing of election campaigns and the calculation of votes. 

"We must educate candidates. This is the only way to achieve their honesty 
and purity," Ishchenko said. 


The Russia Journal
May 31 - June 6, 1999
A Good Reason to Learn Russian
Many have accepted the challenge of translating Pushkin-tempted by some of 
the world's greatest poetry-but the poet's music remains locked in his native 
By Tara Warner/The Russia Journal 

Along with such figures as Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe, Pushkin is often 
ranked as one of the great names in European literature. He undoubtedly 
deserves this honor.

After all, he laid the foundations of Russian literature and left a wealth of 
timeless works in a whole range of genres.

And yet, most foreigners are better acquainted with Pushkin's successors than 
with Pushkin himself. Essentially, this is due to the fact that poetry is 
such a large part of Pushkin's work and this complicates the translator's 

Plenty of bad translations of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Turgenev exist, but 
even if they pale beside the originals, translations of prose usually give 
the reader some chance to appreciate the author's talent, if only because 
pure story-telling ability can carry the rest.

But attempting to bring Pushkin to the foreign reader is a thankless task. 
Most of his major works, such as "Yevgeny Onegin," "Ruslan and Ludmila," and 
"The Bronze Horseman" were written in verse. The translator not only has to 
convey the specifically Russian world being described, but also has to tackle 
the problems of rhyme and meter.

One of the most controversial translations of Pushkin into English is 
Vladimir Nabokov's translation of "Yevgeny Onegin". As a recognized master of 
style in both English and Russian, Nabokov would seem to be the ideal 
translator, but the result has met with a far from unanimous reaction.

Nabokov decided to dispense with rhyme altogether and also produced volumes 
of commentary to accompany the text. Walter Arndt, another translator of 
Pushkin, called Nabokov's translation "...the sad ritual murder performed for 
the purposes of an ever more insatiable lexical necrophilia."

When "Yevgeny Onegin" was translated into French, Ivan Turgenev, who himself 
had impeccable knowledge of French, wrote ironically that there were indeed 
brave people in the world.

If Turgenev was skeptical as to the ability of 19th century translators to do 
Pushkin justice and make him known abroad, present day translators have a 
harder job again. Novels in verse have lost their past popularity, and poetry 
has also changed. Modern readers have become used to a lot more freedom and 

Many translations of Pushkin come out sounding wooden or artificial, people 
read them and wonder what all the fuss is about. Some go as far as to say 
that Pushkin is simply not translatable. But the world is not about to learn 
Russian en masse in order to read Pushkin, and so translations, even if far 
from perfect, are necessary.

Inevitably, there is plenty of debate about how best to translate Pushkin's 
works. Translation is all about the art of compromise. Some put faithfulness 
to the original above all else, with the result that the translations often 
sound forced and strange to the English ear. Some attempt to keep rhyme and 
end up distorting the register as a result, using, for example, a lofty word 
where Pushkin used an everyday one, just so as to make the lines rhyme.

In his younger days, future French president Jacques Chirac also felt 
inspired to try his hand at translating "Yevgeny Onegin." Who knows, perhaps 
the experience persuaded him that there were easier undertakings in life and 
convinced him to change career course.

Today, foreign readers have a wealth of translations to choose from, some 
better than others. None of them can fully convey Pushkin's language, mood or 
ideas, just as no translation of say, Shakespeare, will ever be quite the 
same thing as the original. But for those who really want to become better 
acquainted with the works of one of Russia's greatest writers, there remains 
only one solution-to learn the language of the original.


Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 
From: zevelev <> (Igor Zevelev)
Subject: RE: Russian Identity (JRL # 3321)

Dear David,
I think the articles by Gregory Feifer in The Russian Journal and Dominique
Moisi in The Financial Times (JRL # 3321) address one of the most important
issues of modern Russia, search for identity. My brief comments on this
subject below are based on the arguments developed in my much lengthier
article "The Russian Quest for a New Identity: Implications for Security in
Eurasia" recently published in Sharyl Cross, Igor Zevelev, Victor Kremenyuk,
and Vagan Gevorgian, eds., Global Security Beyond the Millenium: American
and Russian Perspectives (London, Macmillan, 1999). Thank you.
Igor Zevelev

If the term "nation-state" is intended to define a situation in which the
borders of a nation approximate those of the state, Russians had spent
several centuries building an empire, not a nation-state. The British
historian Geoffrey Hosking recently reinterpreted Russian history of the
1552-1917 period, attempting to demonstrate how and why the Russians failed
to develop a strong sense of a nation. Hosking argued that the process of
empire-building obstructed the nation-building in Russia. (Geoffrey Hosking,
Russia: People and Empire. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1997,
pp. 478-481). Relying on his earlier work and on Hosking's ideas, Richard
Pipes proclaimed that building a nation-state in Russia was an immediate
political task. (See Richard Pipes, "Introduction: The Nationality Problem,"
in Zev Katz, ed., Handbook of Major Soviet Nationalities. New York: Free
Press, 1975, p. 1). He came up with a formula, assuming that history
develops in a clear "progressive" direction towards some well-known and
well-defined goal: "The Russians of today would be well advised to give up
fantasies of re-conquering their lost empire - fantasies common to both
conservatives and democrats - and concentrate on building a genuine
nation-state. Nationalism, defined as 'a feeling of community and
solidarity,' which the West has put behind itself and which it has turned
into a reactionary doctrine, is distinctly progressive at the stage of
history at which Russia happens to find itself." (Richard Pipes, "Birth of
an Empire," New York Times Book Review, May 25, 1997, p. 13). 
Foreign policy and security deliberations of Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew
Brzezinski have finally been put into a seemingly solid theoretical
framework with a deep historical perspective. Partly reflecting this view,
US policy in Eurasia has been based on the assumption that Russian
neo-imperialism is the major obstacle to a positive and progressive process
of nation-building on the territory of the former Soviet empire.
Yet, the idea of instantaneously constructing a nation-state in today's
Russia might be seriously flawed not only theoretically and historically,
but also in terms of consequences for security. It is a problematic and
dangerous political goal for the Russian elite to undertake and for American
political strategists to encourage. 
The nation-state is not a uniform condition. It is, in fact, a highly
specific historical phenomenon that does not (and most probably never will)
exist in most of the world. Is it possible that Russia (or any other modern
state) will simply retrace, step by step, the path of Western European
countries a couple of centuries later? Particularly does the process of
accelerated globalization have any impact on today's nation-building? It is
important to realize that the stage of history at which Russia happens to
find itself now is not the eighteenth century, but the nuclear age. On the
more concrete level of national security, the question is whether it is
possible to risk the tumultuous perils of building a genuine nation-state in
a country with nuclear weapons? Western European nation-states emerged out
of centuries of wars and oppression. Michael Howard, an eminent scholar of
the history of war, has argued: "From the very beginning the principle of
nationalism was almost indissolubly linked, both in theory and practice,
with the idea of war... In nation-building as in revolution, force was the
midwife of the historical process." (Michael Howard, The Lessons of History.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 39). Too often, the "feeling of
community and solidarity" has been founded on hostility toward others. 
In the process of building a nation, the crucial questions are who should
belong to the nation and what should be its boundaries. (See Hosking,
Russia: People and Empire, p. 486). The most destructive feature of any
nation-building process has been the amalgamation of smaller political
entities (ethnic, religious minorities) or the breaking-up of bigger ones
(typically multiethnic states). The boundaries of any Western European
state, and corresponding nations, were usually defined by numerous wars,
internal violence, or by combination of the two. (Ibid). In today's Russia
such a definition is more complex, and seems to determine so much more. The
issue of the Russian people's boundaries determines their attitudes toward
the non-Russians within Russia, Russia's relations with neighboring newly
independent states, and the international security of Eurasia. For Russia,
constructing a nation-state on the rubble of the empire would inevitably
challenge its federative structure, which contains a number of
ethno-territorial units, and jeopardize the issue of external borders that
are still based on artificial administrative boundaries, drawn by the
Bolsheviks, effectively excluding twenty-three million ethnic Russians from
their presumed homeland. Indeed, such a nation-state building effort could
easily undermine the entire system of regional and global security.
The collapse of the Soviet Union meant much more for Russia than just the
loss of colonies. It was a loss of identity. We can probably isolate three
major options for the future development of a new Russian identity:
neoimperial, ethnic, and civic. 
No longer hidden under imperial veil, ethnic identity has become more
salient to Russians after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although
ethno-nationalism is not politically well organized in Russia, it might
emerge ascendant, especially if a goal of nation-state building is
introduced into contemporary political discourse, since the term "nation"
has had a strong ethnic, not civic, connotation in Soviet and post-Soviet
academia, public opinion, and politics. As has happened many times in the
history of Europe, a well-articulated common culture may come to be defined
as the ideal political boundary, leading to ardent claims that all Russians
must be reunited under one political roof. 
The redefinition of Russia in more concrete ethnic terms, in line with
those of all Soviet successor states may become the most dangerous
undertaking in its history, primarily due to redrawing of Eurasia's borders
which will inevitably accompany the implementation of an ethno-nationalist
project. The essence of the ethno-nationalist program is to restore a
geographical congruence between the state and the nation by building the
Russian state within the area of settlement of the Russian people and other
Eastern Slavs. Politically, this means the reunification of Russia, Belarus,
Ukraine, and northern Kazakhstan, the last an area Alexander Solzhenitsyn,
the contemporary intellectual force of ethnonationalism in modern Russia,
calls "Southern Siberia and Southern (Trans)Urals."
If the experience of other countries is any guide, nation-building on the
rubble of an empire is usually an endeavor of ethno-nationalists. Kemalist
Turkey started its experiment with a nation-state by subjecting its
Armenian, Greek, and Kurdish minorities to genocide, and expulsion. (The
perils of the Turkish example for Russia were highlighted by Anatol Lieven
in his "Restraining NATO: Ukraine, Russia, and the West," The Washington
Quarterly. Autumn 1997, pp. 73-74). Austrians welcomed the Anschluss after
twenty years of living in a small postimperial state. Serbia and Croatia
became aggressively nationalistic and began to redraw the post-Yugoslavian
political map through the use of brutal force. All the former Soviet
republics have adopted ethno-political myths, identifying the state as a
homeland of "indigenous" people. Intellectually, all these policies relied
on the Romantic historicist tradition, claiming that humanity could be
divided neatly into nations, and stipulating that culturally - or ethnically
- defined nations possessed sacred rights; in such a way these nations'
leaders could downplay the individual human rights and due respect for
minorities. (See more on the Romantic views of nationhood in Margaret
Canovan, Nationhood and Political Theory. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 1996,
pp. 6-9). The policy of ethnonationalism is especially dangerous when it is
supported by powerful outside forces that prefer to see an anti-imperial
struggle cast in rosy hues, ignoring the darker side. 
Many in Eurasia and the West view the vague boundaries of the Russian
people as an unnerving and threatening phenomenon that could very well lead
to imperial restoration. A Russian nation-state, on the contrary, is seen as
a well-tested, familiar, and peaceful alternative. The crux of this article
holds that the approach of nation-state builders overlooks many grave
threats to international security that may evolve from an attempt to
mechanically line up Russia with its neighbors. Inarticulated Russian
nationhood is one of the key factors explaining why the Soviet Union's
occurred so peacefully, especially when compared to the debacle of another
communist federation - Yugoslavia, where most Serbs encountered no ambiguity
over their nation or national identity. Russia without the clear-cut
frontiers may be the only peaceful solution to the "Russian question" after
the breakup of the Soviet empire. Paradoxically, inconsistent and messy
relations between Moscow and ethnic republics within the Russian Federation,
and moderate and sometimes tremendously ineffective policies toward the
Russians in the "near abroad" might be a better solution for security in
Eurasia than attempts to shape a clear-cut approach toward nation-state
building and the inevitable redrawing of borders. The Russian government is
pursuing such an ambiguous policy not because of its wisdom, but because of
its weakness.
The blurred political map of Eurasia might be more in line with the coming
process of globalization than the two-centuries-old system of nation-states
emerging from bloody wars. Boundaries between nation-states are becoming
increasingly less significant as a result of the globalization of the
international community, and there is no reason for Russians and other
Eurasian peoples to repeat all the steps and mistakes made by Western
Europe. The "German question" has been finally resolved within the framework
of European integration, when the borders that Germans had fought over for a
century, became obsolete. 
Eventually, Russia can play the role of a legitimate leader in integrated
Eurasia, as a center of cultural, economic, and political gravitation.
However, the current international environment has not been favorable for
such a result. Nation-state building on ethnic basis seems to be the only
game in the arena of Eurasia thus far. US foreign policy makers are so
preoccupied with putative Russian imperial ambitions in Eurasia that they
can easily fail to recognize other challenges to peace and security on the
continent. Russian and non-Russian ethnonationalism is among the most
significant threats to security in Eurasia. 

Prof. Igor Zevelev
Political Science Department
Macalester College
1600 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105-1899

Tel: 651-696-6479
Fax: 651-696-6758

On leave from IMEMO, Moscow, Russia. 


Zhirinovsky: 'I Am No Clinton'

MOSCOW, June 4 (UPI) _ Russian Liberal Democratic Party Chairman Vladimir 
Zhirinovsky has denied charges of ``sexual depravity,'' saying, ``I am not 
Clinton, for God's sake.'' 

The colorful and often controversial Zhirinovsky made his comments on 
Russia's NTV network Wednesday and the transcript of the exchange was 
published by the British Broadcasting Corp. today. 

The BBC said Zhirinovsky's comments were made as the State Duma, the lower 
house of Russia's parliament, was debating the qualifications of newly 
appointed Cabinet ministers. 

According to the BBC, Zhirinovsky was engaged in a spirited defense of First 
Deputy Prime Minister Nikolay Aksenenko when he ended up defending himself 
against unspecified sexual allegations that had been printed in the press. 

Zhirinovsky said: ``I am not Clinton, for God's sake. If I was Clinton, I 
would agree to a hundred Monicas. But I am not Clinton. They (deputies) 
should not make a fool out of me. It would take somebody a long time to 
persuade me to sleep with them. As for rape, I don't need that. I already 
have (figuratively) raped (Belgorod governor Yevgeniy) Savchenko. I've had 
enough of that. So I don't need any Monicas: They would bring me no 

Zhirinovsky kept up the pace today when he was barred from speaking after 
spitting at and threatening a Communist lawmaker. 

The maverick politician argued with Vladimir Semago, who accused 
Zhirinovsky's party colleagues of spreading reports that President Boris 
Yeltsin had had a relapse, forcing the Kremlin to broadcast footage of the 
ailing leader at work. 

After the accusation, an enraged Zhirinovsky screamed at Semago, calling him 
a scoundrel. 

He shouted: ``We will throw you out onto the street like a mangy dog. Next 
time, I will beat your face on the bench.'' 

Zhirinovsky then attempted to attack Semago, but was restrained by his 

After the Duma voted to bar Zhirinovsky from speaking during today's session, 
he stalked out of the Duma in protest, followed by the rest of the 
legislators from his Liberal Democratic Party. 

In the past, Zhirinovsky has been involved in a number of incidents, notably 
dragging a female legislator by the hair and punching her, and occupying the 
speaker's seat, from where he splashed mineral water at colleagues who tried 
to remove him from the seat.



Return to CDI's Home Page  I  Return to CDI's Library