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Johnson's Russia List
13 June 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Quick move no 'mistake' by Russians.
2. Moscow Times: Helen Womack FACES & VOICES: Priest Offers A Fair Picture
3. Albert Weeks: Encomium to Talbott.
4. AFP: Russians elated but fearful of running Kosovo sector.
5. AFP: Russia's Kosovo move result of US bungling: experts.
6. Reuters: U.S. ties Russia's Kosovo troop move to politics.
7. The Moscow Tribune: John Helmer, STALKING ASS. (Kirienko vs.
8. Stanislav Nevzorov, Russian move - commentary.
9. Washington Post editorial: Russia's Kosovo Dash.
10. New York Times: Michael Wines, Who Is Giving Orders in Moscow?
11. Robert Devane: Re: 3335-Markus' Big Dump.
12. NTV: 'Big Money' Sees Attempts To Soften Communists.]
13 June 1999
[for personal use only]
Quick move no 'mistake' by Russians
By David Filipov
MOSCOW - The unexpected arrival of Russian troops in Kosovo was no mistake,
but a calculated move to spoil NATO's victory party and to ensure a central
peacekeeping role for Russia, officials and commentators here said yesterday.
They said the orders to deploy 200 Russian paratroopers early yesterday in
Kosovo's capital, Pristina, were issued by the chief of Russia's general
staff, almost certainly with the prior agreement of Yugoslav leaders and
most likely with the approval of Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin.
The surprise deployment won praise here as a victory for Russia, but caused
alarm in Western capitals over Moscow's intentions and raised speculation
about whether the military was acting on its own.
It also prompted Russia's foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, to tell CNN early
yesterday that the troops' arrival in Pristina was a ''mistake'' that would
be corrected by the force's immediate withdrawal.
But the troops stayed put. Officials later said Ivanov had not been
informed of the plan. He was not alone: Russian NTV television reported
that Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, who was out of town, was also out of
the loop, as was Russia's national security chief, Vladimir Putin.
NTV reported that the order had been given by General Anatoly Kvashnin, the
head of Russia's general staff and one of a number of senior Russian
officers who have grumbled that the peace deal between Belgrade and NATO
brokered by Russian special envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin had sold out Russia's
interests. A Russian official, who asked not to be named, confirmed that
Kvashnin, one of the few officials with direct access to the reclusive
Yeltsin, had issued the order to move.
Yeltsin's top foreign affairs aide, Sergei Prikhodko, said that the
president himself had approved the deployment, but that the timing of the
move - before NATO forces entered into Kosovo - was the decision of the
''As far as the presence of the Russian contingent in Kosovo is concerned,
there are instructions from the president,'' Prikhodko told reporters.
''The responsibility for their fulfillment and timing depends on the
While Yeltsin did not mention Yugoslavia at a Kremlin ceremony for Russian
Independence Day yesterday, he promoted the commander of the Russian
contingent in Kosovo, Viktor Zavarzin, to the rank of three-star general.
The early-bird Russian intervention occurred as talks between Russian and
US officials failed to produce a role Moscow could accept for its
peacekeepers. Russia's negotiators, led by another staunch critic of
Chernomyrdin's diplomacy, General Leonid Ivashov, had insisted that Russian
troops would have their own sector outside of NATO command. NATO was not
ready to allow that, and Russian officials were worried they would be
excluded from the force altogether if they did not act fast.
According to the plan, Yugoslav authorities escorted the troops to the
Pristina airport, the exact spot where NATO had been expected to set up the
command post for their force's commander, British Lieutenant General
''If the troops had not entered Kosovo last night, they would have never
entered,'' the Interfax news agency quoted a military official as saying.
''Moscow had to act to prevent that.''
Vladimir Lukin, the politically moderate chairman of parliament's foreign
affairs committee, offered a similar explanation.
''NATO had impudently decided to turn a UN operation into a NATO
operation,'' Lukin said. ''Something had to be done, and it was.''
Who commands its troops is a matter of both pride and principle for Russia,
which opposed the NATO airstrikes against its Serb allies and considers the
Western alliance the aggressor in the conflict. But participating in the
peacekeeping force is no less important for Moscow, which wants to keep its
hand in a region it considers its sphere of influence. The Russian military
said yesterday it had given the order for 2,000 troops to join the
international force in Kosovo.
Russia's assertive move contrasted with its behavior in recent years.
Moscow, wary of the growth of US influence as its own clout diminishes, has
often criticized the West over such foreign policy issues as the bombing of
Iraq and the expansion of NATO. But Yeltsin has been wary of forcing an
open confrontation with the West.
Yesterday was the first time in his presidency that Russia has defied the
West with troops, and the move won praise from such diverse sources as the
Kremlin's Communist opponents in parliament and the liberal media.
''Russia stole from NATO the victory in the Kosovo conflict,'' NTV commented.
Some pro-Western politicians objected to the Russian troop movements,
saying it hurt Russia's international status more than it helped it, while
others portrayed the event as a kind of military coup.
Lawmaker Sergei Yushenkov and other commentators suggested that Yeltsin had
been forced to accept the generals' plan.
''The Kremlin had no option but to go along,'' said Pavel Felgenhauer,
defense analyst for the newspaper Segodnya.
But it is equally possible that Yeltsin decided to go ahead with the plan
because it gives his unpopular regime an easy domestic victory, and an
obvious scapegoat - the military leaders - if something goes wrong. This is
a favorite Yeltsin tactic.
The Russian leader is also known for extracting revenge on those who betray
him in impulsive, demonstrative manuevers. Once, in a fit of pique at his
onetime mentor, Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin took away the former Soviet
leader's cars, guards, and cottage. This spring, when Prime Minister
Yevgeny Primakov got a little too popular for the Kremlin leader's liking,
Yeltsin took away his job.
It is plausible that after weeks of seeing his objections about NATO
airstrikes ignored, Yeltsin is trying to take away the victory from the man
he used to call ''My friend Bill.''
Witness Yeltsin's caustic televised remarks after Clinton thanked him for
mediating a deal with Belgrade: ''Yesterday Bill Clinton called,'' Yeltsin
said. ''Can you imagine? It turns out I'm their good guy, their diplomat,
and so on and so forth.''
If past battles that Yeltsin has won are any indication, the Russian
leader, after his conversation with Clinton today, will let others manage
the crisis he has created. And it will likely end with a face-saving deal
with NATO that makes the West forget this crisis ever happened.
June 12, 1999
FACES & VOICES: Priest Offers A Fair Picture Of Orthodoxy
By Helen Womack
If you read this column regularly, you will know me for a pagan, a skeptic
and a sinner. I doubt the Orthodox Church will ever claim me as a convert.
Yet, I have come to a better understanding of Orthodoxy thanks to my contact
with the friendly people at St. Catherine in the Fields Church.
The church, on Ulitsa Bolshaya Ordynka, acts as the "embassy" of the Orthodox
Church in America to the Moscow Patriarchate. The parishioners are mostly
Russian while priests from Russia and Britain serve under a rector from the
My past experience of Orthodoxy had been unfortunate. I had witnessed priests
acting like petty dictators and heard believers expressing anti-Semitic
views. Father Christopher Hill, from Britain, wanted to give me a fairer
picture of a faith that, like all religions, has many elements and should not
be judged by its extremists.
June 3 was St. Helen's Day. With a delicate kindness, he chose my name day,
as well as that of his Russian wife Yelena, to invite me to St. Catherine's.
It is a fascinating church. In Soviet times, it was a communalka. Partitions
cut brutally through the 18th century architecture to divide the living space
for the communal apartments. Elderly parishioners remember this. "That's
where the bathroom used to be," they say and point. As for the rectory, the
state still uses it - as a base for the Federal Security Service to keep an
eye on the Mossad agents from the Israeli embassy next door!
Today, the church interior is simple and white. A choir sang clearly at the
morning service. Father Chris was splendid in the emerald green vestments
worn for Pentecost. As he performed the Eucharist, he was visible through the
open iconostasis, or altar screen, which in most Orthodox churches hides the
priest from view.
"Intelligibility" and "openness" were the aims of this church, he said. When
I remarked that seats were provided and not every woman was wearing a
headscarf , he added: "It is important to be able to relax in church. This is
God's house, not a military parade ground."
The parishioners, including some Jews who have converted to Christianity,
seem to be looking for a tolerant atmosphere.
In the past, I have used this space to bash the Orthodox Church for being
"fascist." On the other hand, Russian nationalists say Father Chris and the
rector, Father Daniel Hubiak, cannot be real Orthodox priests because they
are foreigners. The vast majority of Russians, however, had accepted them,
Father Chris said. This continued to be so despite the war in Yugoslavia.
The truth is, of course, that Orthodoxy, like Catholicism and Protestantism,
has nothing to do with nationality. Father Chris showed me an icon of the
19th-century Bishop Tikhon, known as the "enlightener of America," because he
blessed the first translation of the service into English. Orthodoxy had come
to America a century earlier via Alaska, which used to be Russian territory.
Thus, the U.S. branch is as much an Orthodox church as the Russian, Greek or
What unites them, and distinguishes them from Western churches, is the
sensuous Byzantine tradition. Blind obedience to authority is not the
essence, as I had ignorantly thought. Discipline should always be tempered by
love, said Father Chris, and most important of all was human freedom.
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999
From: Albert Weeks <AWeeks1@compuserve.com>
Subject: Encomium to Talbott
Colleague Marshall Goldman made the point in the Baltimore
Sun piece on Strobe Talbott that a number of people who
have been critical of Talbott in the past should now be eating
crow. Mr. Talbott was the key player in the commendable effort
to bring Russia into the peace settlement over Kosovo.
I confess that I have been one of those critics, though
my criticism (in print) was directed mainly at Talbott's past
Time Magazine articles, especially one in which he
blamed continuation of the cold war in the 1970s mainly
on the U.S. However, I thought his line, as Ambassador-at-
Large advising Clinton on Russia, in support of Yeltsin
to be a good one.
But the way Talbott recently maneuvered and gained the
confidence of Moscow higher-ups in the confidential
talking that led to the settlement was both shrewd and
productive. As the Sun correspondent points out, and
as I emphasized in a JRL contribution two weeks
ago, the key to resolving that crisis lay along the Ring Road
circling the Kremlin. This Talbott saw from the beginning,
not only as a means to resolving the crisis but toward an
overall mending of fences with Russia over the Kosovo war as
well as the eastward extension of NATO. Talbott obviously also
had his eyes on the pair of elections upcoming up in Russia.
Here it was crucial, he apparently reasoned, not to
irritate and alienate Russia over both a belligerent as
well as expanding NATO but rather to reassure the
Russians, and those in the Duma who are willing to be fair,
that the U.S. and its allies do not wish the Russians ill.
Far from it, they wish to bring Russia closer into the European
family of nations.
Russians elated but fearful of running Kosovo sector
MOSCOW, June 13 (AFP) - Muscovites greeted a US concession that Russian
peacekeepers should command a zone in Kosovo as a victory over NATO, but
some expressed fears Sunday about sending troops to Yugoslavia.
For many, Washington's agreement that Moscow should have its own
operational zone in Kosovo showed that Russia would continue to influence
events in Europe.
"Russia has become like a poor peasant recently, but Russia has always
influenced events in Europe and it has its own interests there," said
Anatoly Klimkin, 58, a factory worker. "In that way you could consider
these negotiations a symbolic victory."
Other Muscovites pointed to Moscow's role during the Kosovo negotiations as
a sign that Russia had resumed a dominant role -- politically and
militarily -- on the world stage.
"We also need to participate, we're also a global power and we have an
influence, not only NATO," said Lydia Rybina, 59, said. "These negotiations
served as a victory for Russia over NATO."
Several Muscovites said Russia's presence in the Kosovo peace mission was
necessary to offset the influence of the Atlantic alliance, and
particularly the United States, not only in the Balkans, but also globally.
"Russia needs to be in Kosovo to provide balance in the world. NATO's
actions in Kosovo upset the balance of power," said Andrei Koroteyev, 18.
Washington's concession "was a good choice because Russia shouldn't be
subordinate to the West on global issues," Koroteyev said.
Several Muscovites said they believed Russia's presence in Kosovo would be
useful because Moscow was not involved in the NATO air campaign against
Yugoslavia, as the Kosovars would more likely listen to Russian soldiers
than NATO troops.
They believed that Russia's presence in Kosovo would be used only for
peaceful means, not to gain military influence in the region.
However, many were hesitant about sending Russian troops into Kosovo and
expressed misgivings about the potential consequences of becoming entangled
with NATO in the region.
"Events (in Kosovo) started badly and will end badly. They needed to think
first and then act. Look what happened in Chechnya," said an 80-year-old
woman who declined to give her name, referring to Russia's war with the
breakaway Chechen republic.
Others felt Russia with its ailing economy and wage arrears should worry
about domestic issues and not expend its energy trying to play a major role
in international affairs.
"Russia needs to stay out of the events in Kosovo. Our own territory is so
big and we need to resolve some of our own problems first," said Alla
Romanova, a 17-year-old student.
Most of those interviewed said they believed that no troops -- not NATO's
and not Russia's -- should have violated the territorial integrity of
Yugoslavia, but despite Sunday's successful negotiations they still blamed
the violence in Kosovo on the United States.
"The Yugoslavs need to settle things themselves, but such interference with
crude violence should not be allowed," Nadezhda Klimkin said. "What right
does America have to command these people? What are these peacekeeping
forces? They don't use the word correctly, they are conquerors."
Russia's Kosovo move result of US bungling: experts
WASHINGTON, June 13 (AFP) - By mistake or by design, the United States and
NATO made a string of moves on Kosovo that Moscow perceived as threatening,
resulting in Russia's dramatic preemptive deployment in Kosovo and
confrontation with NATO troops, experts here said.
"Washington, out of its ignorance, is treating the Russians like dirt,"
said George Kenney, a former State Department desk officer on the Balkans
who resigned his post in 1992 in protest over US policy in the region.
"The Russians are showing that you really can't do that," he said,
referring to the run by about 200 Russian troops into Kosovo where they
seized the airport in the capital Pristina on Saturday before NATO
peacekeeping contingents began arriving in the province.
"NATO and Washington have not even begun to grasp that it's not about
Slavic brotherhood," Kenney explained. "It's about Russian concerns that
NATO is a police force unto itself going around wherever it wants, possibly
into Russia's neighborhood."
The seeds of renewed mistrust between the Cold War rivals were sown well
before the current Kosovo crisis. NATO, for instance, has already reneged
on its pledge -- offered when Moscow conceded to German reunification in
1989 -- not to expand.
But Washington's insistence on launching the NATO air war in Serbia without
securing prior UN approval, its rebuff of pleas for a temporary halt to
bombing during peace talks and refusal to allow a Russian peacekeeping role
except under NATO command have radically compounded Moscow's anxiety.
And this, policy experts concur, runs directly counter to larger US and
western security interests.
"The Russians now feel that they are in implicit confrontation with NATO,"
said John Steinbruner, director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings
Institution, a prestigious Washington policy think tank.
"Both Russia and the United States are running standard Cold War deterrent
operations against each other" with the knowledge that despite Russia's
current weaknesses it remains a major nuclear power, he said.
"NATO has a major problem with Russia," Steinbruner explained. "The
Russians are telling themselves that they are under severe pressure and
they have to evoke their nuclear capability to fend it off."
Washington rejects suggestions that US policy makers have in any way
mishandled Russia during the Kosovo crisis and insists that all short- and
long-term implications for ties with Moscow were considered beforehand.
"Ultimately, the course we took was what we firmly believed was in the best
interest of the United States, including taking into account our
relationship with Russia," explained Mike Hammer, a National Security
Many experts, however, differ.
Part of the tension that has arisen from Washington's dealing with Moscow,
can be attributed to simple ignorance among top US policy makers of
Russia's minimal needs, they say, for recognition as a major power.
Launching a NATO offensive in Europe, for example, without at least a token
gesture towards securing some form of international assent from outside the
alliance, was short-sighted, experts assert.
But more importantly, the United States and NATO have telegraphed, through
rhetoric and deeds, a message to the Kremlin that Russia's interests would
be minimalized or disregarded entirely if at odds with alliance plans in
Defense Secretary William Cohen underscored that message again Saturday,
describing Russia's military presence in Kosovo as "insignificant" and
suggesting that the United States would, in essence, ignore it.
"They want to treat them as the poor relations and have them on their
terms," said Bill Hartung, senior researcher at the New York-based World
Policy Institute, a school for international social and political research.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin "met the alliance more than half way, even
though the United States never accepted or took seriously the demands of
the Russians for a pause in the bombing.
"There's a much deeper suspicion in Russia of US motives than there was
prior to the war and I think its harder for the pro-western elites in
Russia to explain it away now," Hartung said.
U.S. ties Russia's Kosovo troop move to politics
By Tim Loughran
WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) - President Boris Yeltsin's need to solidify
his wobbly domestic power base after the successful NATO air campaign
against Yugoslavia motivated Russia's surprise deployment of troops in
Kosovo, U.S. officials said on Saturday.
``Clearly, they were sent mostly for domestic political consumption,'' one
administration official, who asked not to be named, said. ``The size of
their force was insignificant, and they clearly are not trying to be
A dozen trucks and armoured personnel carriers brought about 200 of
Russia's former Bosnian peacekeepers to the Kosovo capital of Pristina late
on Friday and early on Saturday. The column moved while Washington and
Moscow were still discussing Russia's role in the so-called KFOR
peacekeeping effort and beat NATO troops into the province.
Although Russian officials quickly said the force had been told to withdraw
from Kosovo and await further orders, it moved only as far as the Pristina
airport, where it remained late on Saturday.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott was scheduled to meet Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Sunday for further talks on peacekeeping
arrangements, while President Bill Clinton was due to speak by telephone
Russia wants its own sector in Kosovo and independence from NATO command,
conditions unacceptable to the United States.
Defence Secretary William Cohen, briefing reporters at the Pentagon, voiced
U.S. scepticism about the Kremlin's explanation of the deployment.
``It's not exactly clear whether it's a mistake or not,'' Cohen said.
In fact, U.S. intelligence agencies began to prepare for a possible Russian
arrival in Kosovo early on Friday, once the Russian column suddenly left
Bosnia by highway, another U.S. official said.
``It's likely that some elements of the Russian military felt they wanted
to go in and they wanted to demonstrate they were a player,'' the official
Throughout the 11-week NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, Russia
opposed the attacks, since Yugoslavia's Serbian majority shares Slavic
roots with most Russians.
On June 3 Belgrade accepted a peace plan presented by European Union and
Russian envoys. A week later, the U.N. Security Council, of which Russia is
a permanent member, approved a resolution envisaging Kosovo peacekeeping
roles for both NATO and an international force, to which Moscow said it
wanted to contribute up to 10,000 troops.
At home, however, Yeltsin's failure to protect the Serbs from NATO raids
angered his critics among Russian nationalists and members of the Communist
Party, who dominate the Duma, the lower house of the legislature.
Last month Yeltsin survived a communist-led attempt in the Duma to impeach
him on other charges, but he was weakened in the eyes of most Russians,
since his eight-year record as president was widely ridiculed.
For their part, Russian military officers were also disturbed by the NATO
victory in Yugoslavia and the alliance's growing influence in the Balkans
and Eastern Europe, one U.S. official said.
The NATO campaign, backed by many former allies of the Soviet Union, was an
insult that added to the injury suffered by Russia's military budget in the
nation's economic crisis, the official said.
Fearful that NATO would occupy Kosovo and push Russia further to the
sidelines in its own backyard, Yeltsin himself may have indirectly given
approval for the token force of Russian soldiers to enter Pristina, one
``We can never rule out that these troops went in on their own by mistake,
but our overall sense is that the Russians needed to do this in order to be
seen at home as still being seen in parity with NATO,'' the official said.
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Helmer)
The Moscow Tribune, June 15, 1999
The only thing more stupid in politics than a stalking horse is
a stalking ass, as Sergei Kirienko is proving by his campaign against
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.
Don't get me wrong -- I am very fond of the donkey family, in their place.
Aesop thought the same when he told the fable of the ass who had
clothed himself in the skin of a lion. This he wore around the
countryside, frightening all the animals, until he came on a fox.
"You would have scared me too, for certain," the fox told the ass, "if
I hadn't already heard you bray."
Not everyone in Russia has a memory like a fox. Take the correspondent of
the Financial Times of London, for example. He wrote a few days ago
that Kirienko "remains popular in Russia in spite of being prime minister at
the time of last August's devastating financial crash."
Popular when? Popular still? Popular with whom? those are the questions to
start with. And how popular, if it is at all possible to measure, when
Kirienko's electability rating is so small, the margin of polling error
It is easy to overhear what the campaign managers in the Kremlin have
been telling Kirienko. We'll arrange the airtime -- you concentrate on
visibility for now, they have said. Keep painting Luzhkov black enough, and
often enough on the evening television broadcasts, and before long the
Kirienko image will have magically turned into the opposite of its target, but
equal in size.
You can see what the dresser and producer have been whispering in Kirienko's
nicely trimmed ear. Sit down, so you don't look as short as you are. Wear
double-breasted suits, so you look bigger. Grin, so you look young. Stick to
white shirts, they say -- you should look so clean, Russians will want to try
you out, like a new brand of cleanser.
Last October, I recommended that Sberbank give Kirienko the job of
running the bank, which he was publicly begging for at the time. He had the
pre-requisites for the job:
-- He knows how to run a lottery. Not too many years ago, Kirienko and
his friends invented and patented a scratch-card lottery game. Whether there
were any other winners but the inventors of that game, isn't known.
-- He knows how to launder pension funds. Before he was promoted
to Moscow from Nizhny Novgorod, the local bank which Kirienko headed -- after
his lottery venture -- served as a depository for all sorts of regional
funds supplied on the order of then Governor Boris Nemtsov, including
-- He knows how to violate Russia's Constitution and Civil Code. Kirienko
still defends the decisions he took, as head of government, to precipitate
the August 1998 financial crash, though parliament, prosecutors, and western
lawyers know they were illegal. He has also never revealed fully and
truthfully what happened in the days leading to the crash.
-- He knows how to steal from the poor and give to the rich. This
was the real function of the Russian commercial banking system from
the start. In Nizhny Novgorod, Kirienko was one of the system's pioneers;
in Moscow, he didn't exactly mastermind the last of the big ripoffs -- the
verb is too grandiose -- but as prime minister he deserves some of the
Running a national savings bank is one thing; running Moscow another. The
city is more important, as those who live in it recognize by keeping
more of their savings in their apartments than in the banking system.
If Kirienko becomes mayor, and experience is his guide, you can
be sure he will build a bankers' pyramid out of mortgage finance and
schemes drafted at Harvard. In the name of the International Monetary
Fund, he will redistribute the ownership and cashflow of the city's
petrol stations to his supporters. He will promise to convert the municipal
water supply into a river of cash, according to the plan of the World
Bank. And when all of this totters, and Kirienko's gang starts toward the
exits, when the city faces a similar default to the one Kirienko arranged
for the country, he will destroy the value of the remaining capital of the
citizens in the name of "communal reform".
Can the sight of Kirienko roaring like a lion convince Muscovites
he is not braying as he did before? Impossible.
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999
From: STANISLAV NEVZOROV <email@example.com>
Subject: Russian move - commentary
I would not mind if my thoughts are placed in your news. I hope it
will be helpful for NATO officials, who have forgotten one simple rule:
"Do not treat others the way you do not want to be treated yourself."
RUSSIA SHOWS THE SAME ATTITUDE TOWARDS NATO, WHICH NATO USE TO
DEMONSTRATE TOWARDS RUSSIA!!!
It was not by chance that NATO, Pentagon, White House were embarrassed when
200 Russian soldiers entered Serbia and then Kosovo. They started to feel
that they can be treated the same way they had treated Russia by ignoring
and humiliating it. This insignificant in military sense, but effective
political movement has stressed the following:
1) Russia's negative attitude towards NATO, created by NATO illegal
actions towards a sovereign state in Europe. Trying to approve its
existence NATO has tuned millions of people in Serbia, States of the
former Soviet Union, China, other countries over the world against it.
NATO is now perceived as a dangerous aggressor, though its staff seemed to
achieve its goal to show that NATO deserves to exist. Now the rest of the
world realize that only nuclear arsenal can prevent NATO's future
The world has been welcomed by NATO back to the Cold War times of distrust
2) Russia is not a part of the occupational force, indeed, the Russians
are the only true peace-keepers, introduced in Kosovo. Despite of the fact
that NATO officials are trying to lessen the meaning of this move, it
shows that 200 Russian soldiers were not afraid to enter the country and
to move all the way through it, because they were welcomed, they were real
peace-keepers. For comparison, it took NATO forces twelve weeks of bombing,
which killed almost 2000 civilians and caused environmental disaster in
Yugoslavia, to introduce its ground troops. It does say that there were
less bloody and costly means to solve the problem, which were ignored by
3) NATO leaders, intoxicated with excessive power, did not want to
appreciate Russian initiatives and assistance in bringing peace to
Yugoslavia. Russia had to demonstrate its disapproval of NATO policy. It
seems that very often abnormal physical strength causes mental
abnormality: there is no need to waste time on negotiations, when one can
Nobody knows, how the events will develop, but, maybe, this movement of
Russian troops will make NATO countries to take a pause and to think for
some time about the future of the world, in which all the peoples are
supposed to have equal right to live.
Interesting questions, raised by the aggression:
What were the real reasons to start the war in the light of consistency
of US foreign policy (it is not a secret who gives orders in NATO)? Why
not Turkey, Croatia, or Chechnya?
- geopolitical reasons, NATO existence, Clinton's legitimacy???
Why lives of Yugoslav civilians are nothing in comparison with lives of
soldiers from NATO democracies?
What caused the flows of refugees internal conflict escalation and should
Solana, Clinton, Major and the rest face the International trial together
with Miloshevich for slaughtering innocent people?
Why was it important to rename KLA?
Was it a victory or a world disaster?
Which country is next???
13 June 1999
Russia's Kosovo Dash
IF THERE HAD been any doubt about the wisdom of denying an exclusive zone
of occupation to Russian troops in Kosovo, the Russians themselves removed
it with their secretive entry into Pristina early yesterday morning. With
its misleading and confusing series of statements and counter-statements,
Russia's government cast doubt on its trustworthiness as a partner. More
important, with their victory rally with Serbs in Kosovo's capital, Russian
soldiers demonstrated anew that their sympathies lie more with the criminal
perpetrators of Serbia's war than with its victims. Those sympathies make
Russia's army a poor choice to play the role of protector of returning
Russia's true intentions, and even whether it is possible to speak of the
Russian government as a single actor, remain unclear. It's possible still
that Russia wants to play a cooperative role; that exuberant generals,
acting perhaps out of wounded pride or a misguided sense of patriotic
competitiveness, simply moved out a bit ahead of schedule. It's also
possible, though, that Russian officials, maybe conspiring with Serbian
leader Slobodan Milosevic, want to sabotage NATO's peacekeeping -- to work
toward a partition of Kosovo, to shield Serbian war criminals from
investigation and arrest, to discourage the return of ethnic Albanians.
NATO and the Clinton administration are right to negotiate with the
Russians in the hope that the first reading is accurate while doing
everything possible to hedge against the second. That means, above all,
deploying NATO's 50,000 peacekeepers as quickly as possible to make clear
that Russia's few hundred cannot shape the peace. Negotiations, meanwhile,
look for an arrangement that would keep Russia engaged in this process --
still a worthwhile goal -- without letting it play wrecker. That means
Russia can't have its own zone, and a NATO general must have sole command
of the overall force.
Beneath these uncertainties lies the familiar question of who, if anyone,
is in charge in Moscow. Russia's foreign minister assured the White House
Friday night that Russian troops wouldn't enter Kosovo; in they went.
Russia's government called the deployment a mistake; then President Boris
Yeltsin claimed credit for it. Was Mr. Yeltsin playing a double game all
along, or was he yesterday just trying to put the best face on his
inability to control the military? For a vast, unstable nation with a vast
nuclear arsenal, neither possibility is comforting.
New York Times
June 13, 1999
[for personal use only]
Who Is Giving Orders in Moscow?
By MICHAEL WINES
MOSCOW -- There are but two conclusions that can be drawn from Russia's
abrupt and befuddled deployment of troops in Kosovo, neither of them
reassuring. One is that President Boris Yeltsin no longer has full control
of his government. The other is that he does.
If critical government organs like the Defense Ministry are free-lancing
Russian foreign policy, as seemed all too possible Friday night, then a
struggle to peel away Yeltsin's powers almost surely is under way, with
ominous implications for democracy here and Russia's rocky relations with
But if Yeltsin either hatched or blessed the troop deployment plans, as
appeared more likely Saturday, the implications are hardly more comforting.
It would mean that Russia's 68-year-old president tossed aside obligations
under an international peace agreement barely a week old without even
consulting his foreign minister, much less the other parties to the accord.
And that suggests that Russia in Yeltsin's final year as president is an
increasingly unreliable and unstable nation, driven more by domestic
politics and anti-West nationalism than by any internal compass.
Yeltsin, who could settle the matter, has remained silent. A Kremlin
official on Saturday evening refused to say who issued the order,
suggesting that some better explanation would be forthcoming Sunday.
Russian politicians themselves confess confusion over what the Kremlin is
"Today's commotion in Western capitals is quite justified," said a member
of the foreign affairs committee of the lower house of parliament, Vladimir
Averchev, "because it's not clear who makes decisions in Moscow."
>From the outside, the incident appears to be the most troubling episode in
what has become Yeltsin's stock pattern of conduct: a penchant for secrecy,
surprise and sometimes Byzantine intrigue.
Deliberately or otherwise, the president has become so secretive about
major policy decisions, and so cryptic in explaining them, that many
politicians here suspect that he is really parroting the commands of one or
more shadowy Rasputins.
But that seems out of character for Yeltsin, who is nothing if not
strong-willed and jealous of his powers. Nobody outside his inner circle
really knows, however, because Yeltsin seldom explains his surprises.
Nowhere has that been more apparent than in domestic affairs, where he
stunned the nation in May by firing the popular Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov and then ignited an internal struggle over his successor by
dividing power in the next government between rival camps.
One camp is led by former Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, who has contended
that he enjoys Yeltsin's support. The other includes the financier Boris
Berezovsky, who was under indictment and investigation for financial
misdeeds before Yeltsin fired Primakov, and has since enjoyed a remarkable
rehabilitation. Berezovsky, too, claims Yeltsin's blessing.
Yeltsin, typically, has sent mixed signals. He told legislators twice in
May that he would appoint Berezovsky's favorite, Railroad Minister Nikolai
Aksyonenko, as his prime minister -- and then, hours later, appointed
Chubais' favorite, Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, to the post.
Stepashin's Cabinet has been racked since then by power struggles as
Aksyonenko contended he had a mandate to control the nation's economic
policy, Stepashin's choice for that job resigned in protest and his
successor reclaimed some of that command.
The nation's domestic agenda has slowed to a crawl as the rivals debate
economic plans, like a 2 percent levy on corporations that was immediately
dubbed a slush fund for next year's presidential campaign.
It is accepted as fact here that a battle is under way within the
government to control economic policy -- and thus the nation's wealth -- in
order to finance the presidential race of next year's favored candidate.
For his part, Yeltsin has been studiously quiet on the subject of
rivalries, except to say that they do not exist and that Stepashin's
government is a harmonious one.
The latest flap bears all the earmarks of the domestic situation, except
that its international ramifications are far more troubling.
Yeltsin's conduct of the policy in Kosovo became increasingly vague as the
weeks of bombing dragged on, to the point where it was not clear in the
past week whether his top advisers were even paying him much heed.
After the president's personal envoy, Victor Chernomyrdin, sealed the deal
for the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo last week, Yeltsin
congratulated him for a job well done.
But in discussions with parliament, the president's deputy foreign minister
disassociated his agency from the accord, saying it was a cave-in to NATO
demands. Senior military officials privately called the agreement
traitorous, and one of the Defense Ministry's representatives at the talks,
Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov, said publicly that it was up to the public to
decide whether Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin had betrayed their country.
Yeltsin met these attacks with official silence, a response that has only
placed the origins of this weekend's troop movement -- and his control over
events -- in even more doubt.
It is obvious is that some key Kremlin officials were left in the dark when
the decision was made to send an advance force of some 200 Russian
paratroopers to Kosovo's capital, Pristina, on Friday evening.
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov initially said that the deployment was a
mistake and that the troops would be withdrawn, suggesting that the Defense
Ministry had acted on its own. But as dawn broke and the troops stayed put,
military officials issued their own statement saying the troop movement was
cleared at the highest level.
Late Saturday, Chernomyrdin, said that he was not told in advance about the
There are growing hints, through press leaks and other sources, that
Yeltsin was in fact behind the entire move. But no one on the outside
appears to know for sure because the Kremlin refuses to acknowledge it. Nor
is it clear whether there are plans to deploy still more troops, as has
been rumored. Asked Saturday who was responsible for the decision,
Chernomyrdin replied: "You will learn from the president. He will say
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999
From: "Robert Devane" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 3335-Markus' Big Dump
Picture this. A nice sunny morning in Moscow. Birds singing. And then...
Ustina Markus' Big Dump. And then it doesn't seem like such a nice orning
I find it quite bizarre that Ms. Markus would bother to pen down and submit
such a preposterous goulash of stereotypes. She doesn't mention which
school awarded her a Ph. D in Soviet studies. That's probably for the
better. I doubt they would be very
thrilled with having their name mentioned in connection with her senseless
diatribe. The only reason I'm really taking the time to write a response,
is that as a good citizen I'd like to make sure that JRL readers,
especially the Russians, don't take Ms. Markus Big Dump very close to
heart. What are her main points?
Point 1 - "Russia watching is just not that interesting anymore".
O.k. That sounds like a personal complaint. What does one say in response
to that? Thank you for sharing your feelings. You don't have to do it
anymore. You can move on to a new more gratifying passtime.
Point 2 - "The only thing that could actually change would be for
Russia to get its act together and become an orderly and prosperous
Is it just me, or does that sound like telling a gay person "Can't you just
get your act together and go straight?" or telling a victim of abuse "Can't
you just get your act together and become happy and well adjusted?".
Seriously though, I think that this kind of a remark highlights two very
important problems. First, there is a tendency for people to say "Russia
this" and "Russia that". Anyone with a Ph. D in Soviet studies, or for that
matter anyone with even a basic understanding of what Russia is, must
understand that Russia is not a monolith. What we refer to as "Russia" is
actually a highly complex organism with vast internal differences and
conflicts. I sincerely doubt that there are very many, if any,
characterizations that would be valid for Russia as a whole. Thus any
analysis that seeks to fit Russia with neat uniform tags can hardly be
serious and insightful. Second, I believe that in the case of Russia there
has been a huge problem of unrealistic expectations, which, as much as
anything else, is to blame for the current prevalence of disappointments.
It was foolhardy to expect Russia to "just do it". Country building is no a
Nike commercial. Russia has indeed lacked logical, consistent, and
transparent reforms, that would take it from its Soviet incarnation to
something that resembles what we refer to as "modern", "industrialized",
"developed", "democratic", and "pluralist" societies. Probably no arguments
there. But the realization of such reforms requires reasonable political
and social stability and the availability of qualified personnel. Russia
has clearly been suffering from a deficit of both. Thus, the primary
objective for the "power elite" since Yeltsin came to power (and they along
with him) has been to retain that position of power and fend off the vast
array of other would be emperors, from Zyuganov and Makashov to Zhirinovsky
and Lebed. Unfortunately, true reforms always took a backseat. When there
were attempts to implement reforms (let the truth be told), many of the
"liberal reformers" were either learning on the job through trial and
error, or worse yet coming to the realization that they aren't "really"
reformers. As a result, after eight years of half-measures intermixed with
chronic episodes of theft, murder, and corruption, the words "liberal" and
"reformer" have come to evoke the same reaction from most Russians that the
word "fascist" used to (I emphasize, USED TO).
If there is one good thing to be extracted from this (in my humble pinion),
it is that eight years on Russia at least has the benefit of a long string
of hard knock lessons. If this country is so fortunate as to have someone
who is reform oriented, or at least not Soviet-restoration oriented, lead
it into the next century, perhaps those lessons will have the chance to pay
it back in the long term through "better", more consistent, transparent,
and credible reforms. In any event however, it will take years and years
(or perhaps more like decades) for Russia to shed its baggage and be on par
with the rest of the civilized world in deed rather than in word.
Having said all this, I should add that in general I'm quite critical of
what I see as deficiencies that limit evolution and development in Russia.
And like any expat who has lived in Russia for an extended period I've had
my moments of pessimism about Russia's prospects. Then I think about the
country I love, the home of the brave and the land of the free. I ask
myself, how many years did it take for black children in the South to go to
"white" schools? How many years did it take for gay people to be able to
lead a reasonably normal life, at least in some parts of the country? How
long will it be until we don't have children gunning down each other on
schools? Until we have a woman President? Why is that that we are so ready
to expect Russian people to completely change a system which has developed
over centuries and spans eleven time zones in less than a decade, while we
are so hesitant to reform those pats of our own lives and societies that
are generally, though not universally, regarded as needing a change? Is Ms.
Markus' complaint really about Russia, or about herself? Has she become
disillusioned after some years, because the assumptions and expectations
she had in 1991, when she defended her Ph. D, have turned out to be far
less valid than they seemed at the time?
still in Moscow
'Big Money' Sees Attempts To Soften Communists
8 June 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Presenter Igor Pototskiy devotes the "Big Money" 8th June
edition to new taxes to be considered by the State Duma according to IMF
demands, and developments in the Communist Party. He suggests that
attempts are under way to transform it into a centre-left force, but that
this is a slow process.
Yabloko leader Grigoriy Yavlinskiy is shown at a news conference saying:
"Our position is that the present economic situation in the country may
result in serious price increases." He adds: "Our position is also
connected to the fact that the real decrease in incomes in the last year,
between 1st April 1998 and the 1st April 1999, is about 28 per cent. The
decrease in real salaries is 40 per cent."
Communist leader Gennadiy Zyuganov is shown saying similar things at
news conference. He says: "We will study and will support in general
everything that is directed at stimulating domestic industry and creating
normal conditions for work, especially in the real sector of the economy.
We will not support anything that is directed at the further
deterioration of social and economic conditions for citizens."
The presenter lays out different opinions on what taxes on petrol
stations could result in.
Yavlinskiy is shown saying: "The situation with [foreign] credits is clear.
The actual refusal to pay the debt, which means a default, happened a long
time ago." He criticizes Russia's promise to increase taxes to get loans
as absolutely impossible for the country to bear.
Pototskiy looks at the Communist Party's chances of winning the December
parliamentary elections, and what he sees as a crisis in the party during
attempts to transform it into a moderate centre-left force.
Sergey Markov from the political survey institute is shown saying: "This
transformation of the Communist Party is very slow. Zyuganov understands
the need for this transformation. He is trying to head this
transformation." He adds: "He is an ideologist. He is trying to transform
the party's ideology into something new."
Pototskiy finds this slow transformation characteristic of Russia as a