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Johnson's Russia List
16 June 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Times editorial: Paying IMF First Keeps Russia Poor.
2. AP: Siberian Resources May Be Tapped.
3. Peter Juviler: Re: 3341-Goble/The New Bezprizorniki.
4. Baltimore Sun: Jonathan Weisman, Russia's reversal is a setback for Gore.
5. UPI: Yeltsin Knew of ARMY'S Kosovo Plan.
6. Moscow Times: Premier Reassures On Army Control.
7. Izvestia: Vladimir Lukin: Order Could Have Been Given By One Man Only --
8. Itar-Tass: Kiriyenko WON'T Run for President, Blasts
9. Itar-Tass: Russian Constitution Court Starts to Verify Tax Laws.
10. New York Times: Michael Wines, Two Views of Inhumanity Split the World,
Even in Victory.
11. Robert Devane: Re: Markus' second big dump/3341.
12. Reuters: No payoff for Russia on Kosovo-Germany.
13. AP: Russia Moves To Compromise on Bills.
14. World Socialist Web Site: Barry Grey, NATO-Russian standoff in Kosovo
contains seeds of future wars.
15. NTV: Russia MP Proposes Duma Cancel Recess for Fear of Coup.]
June 16, 1999
EDITORIAL: Paying IMF First Keeps Russia Poor
The draft federal budget for 2000 that the Russian government unveiled last
week sets ambitious targets for 1.5 percent economic growth, 18 percent
inflation, a ruble/dollar exchange rate of 32/$1, a budget deficit of just
1.5 percent of gross domestic product.
But by far the most striking features of the 2000 draft, for all its worthy
fiscal prudence, are the figures that paint so starkly the ruinous state to
which this potentially great nation has fallen.
At just under $24 billion - provided the ruble can stay as strong as the
predicted exchange rate - Russia's annual budget is just half as large as the
budget of the U.S. state of Texas.
Now, Texas is admittedly one of the largest U.S. states, but it has a
population just 15 percent of Russia's. It also does not plan to spend 42
percent of its 2000 budget on debt servicing the way Russia does.
Russia's government calmly, even proudly, announced last week that it would
spend that amount next year on paying off loans to the International Monetary
Fund, the World Bank, holders of Russian Eurobonds and other creditors.
That means that the IMF and the World Bank are going to get their cash while
tens of millions of Russians continue to suffer poverty, disease and early
death well into the new millennium because their government will have
insufficient money left over to tackle the country's decaying infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the IMF's insistence on new taxes to raise revenues means the
Russian government is busy pushing a regressive gasoline sales tax while
vowing to introduce price controls on gasoline to avoid popularuproar. A
peculiar turn indeed for an organization that has been trying to help Russia
move away from a command economy.
There is no doubt that the regime of President Boris Yeltsin has been to
blame for most of the harm wrought over the past nine years on Russia's
But the IMF, the World Bank, the U.S. Treasury Department and other
fair-weather financiers of Russia must stop singing the same vague and pious
choruses about the country "sticking with reforms."
They should instead be working toward a solution that would allow Russia -
not just themselves - to climb out from the economic morass the country has
A good place to start would be making sure that the government pays out a
smaller percentage of its budget for servicing its foreign debts. Such a
measure would be taken with the proviso that the money instead be used to
attack some of the really fundamental changes that are needed, such as bank
reform, reducing the bloated bureaucracy, or reforming the military.
Siberian Resources May Be Tapped
June 15, 1999
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
MOSCOW (AP) - A top Cabinet official promised today to revive an expensive
Soviet-era plan to tap the vast natural resources of Siberia, without saying
where the cash-strapped Russian government would find the money for the
First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko said only that the government
has ``special programs and funds'' to build mining plants along the
Baikal-Amur Railway, which crosses southeastern Siberia.
The railway, known by the Russian acronym BAM, and the planned development of
industries along it, was one of a series of huge Soviet industrial projects
that required heavy state funding and a great deal of cheap labor.
But the project ground to a halt after the railroad was built. The work that
was supposed to come next - development of several giant mining plants to
extract and process southeastern Siberia's valuable minerals - never got
The ideas remained largely on paper as the Soviet Union was forced to abandon
most industrial programs because of its cash shortage.
Soviet propaganda described the railroad construction as a battle of heroic
pioneers against the taiga and permafrost, and memorialized the workers'
feats in songs, movies, paintings and literature.
Building the railway - which takes a more direct route to Russia's Pacific
ports than the older Trans-Siberian Railway - was supposed to open up the
Siberian wilderness and allow for extraction of its riches.
That possibility has been ``substantially overlooked'' in the free-market
reforms of recent years, Aksyonenko told state construction officials
Tuesday, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
The Cabinet has been pleading for a new loan from the International Monetary
Fund to pay off some of its foreign debts. The government also has been
struggling to clear a backlog of wages owed to millions of workers nationwide.
Aksyonenko, the former railway minister, made his comments on the 25th
anniversary of the railroad's start of construction. The railway, built
between 1974 and 1984, crosses nearly 2,000 miles. More than 3,200 bridges,
tunnels and culverts were built for it.
President Boris Yeltsin sent a message of congratulation to those who built
the railroad Tuesday, hailing their ``selfless labor,'' which he called ``a
key to the still untapped natural treasure trove of Siberia and the Far
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999
From: Peter Juviler <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 3341-Goble/The New Bezprizorniki
Paul Goble writes in #3341 an overview of the plight and background of the
new homeless that calls for attention. He calls the 1.5 million figure
higher than in the 1920s. Bad though that figure is, the numbers in the
1920s were much higher--up to seven million according to Soviet figures of
the time. Also the collectivization war on the peasantry in 1929-33
produced probably more homeless ones as well. The important thing is that
Russia--USSR has gone through devastating experiences of one kind or
another for the third time this troubled century, not counting two world
wars and the purges.
June 15, 1999
[for personal use only]
Russia's reversal is a setback for Gore
Airport occupation dilutes vice president's foray into statesmanship
By Jonathan Weisman
Sun National Staff
WASHINGTON -- Vice President Al Gore's diligent wooing of the Russian
government had all the makings of a foreign policy triumph, where tough talk
and subtle diplomacy combined beautifully to lead to a breakthrough in the
Kosovo peace process.
Then, just as Gore was moving to take partial credit for NATO's victory in
Kosovo, he was slapped in the face by his erstwhile allies, the mercurial
"We were assured, assured, by [Russian Foreign Minister Igor] Ivanov that
they would not be coming into Kosovo," said an exasperated administration
official close to Gore. "Then suddenly, they were there."
White House officials insist that the stalemate with Russian troops at the
Pristina airport in Kosovo will soon be resolved and, even if it isn't, by no
means should it tarnish a U.S. diplomatic and military triumph.
But for the vice president, the political stakes are higher. No official in
the Clinton administration has become more identified with Russian diplomacy
than Gore, and no official had staked so much of his reputation on the role
the Russians played in the peace accord with Yugoslavia.
Throughout the crisis in Kosovo, Gore's pre-eminent role has been as an
intermediary with his long-standing Russian contacts, and it has burnished
his leadership credentials for his White House run.
Gore was instrumental in bringing his longtime contact, Russian Balkans envoy
Viktor S. Chernomyrdin, into the peace process, and he maintained frequent
contact with newly appointed Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin.
Just when it had looked as if Gore's efforts would be considered an
unmitigated success, the Russian troops rolled into Kosovo, dimming NATO's
moment of triumph and preoccupying the media's attention. The vice president
was back on the telephone, again trying to defuse the tension.
"Friday night, he saw the images of Russian tanks rolling into Pristina," an
administration official said. "Saturday morning, Gore picked up the phone and
NATO's victory in Kosovo might have its perils, but last week, it clearly
appeared to be a relief for the vice president. Gore foreign policy advisers
and political consultants concede there were few electoral upsides to the
conflict in Kosovo. Presidential elections tend to swing on domestic issues,
not foreign policy.
"Let's face it," said Ed Gillespie, a Republican political strategist. "It
wasn't that relevant for George Bush, and he won a real war."
But a clear Gore role in a victory indirectly could strengthen his image in
just the area he might need it most: leadership.
On the other hand, there were plenty of downsides.
"It could have been a conflict that would be a black eye for the incumbent
administration," said a Gore foreign policy adviser. "It could have dominated
attention, given people openings to go on the attack, and detracted from Gore
as a strong foreign policy leader."
Gore dutifully backed Clinton's war-fighting strategy, and his Russian
contacts might have been pivotal. White House aides tell the story of Gore's
face-to-face meeting with Chernomyrdin on May 4 as if it is the stuff of
Chernomyrdin, whose relationship with Gore goes back more then five years,
sat across the dinner table from Gore at the vice president's residence that
evening, sternly lecturing Gore about NATO's aggression in Yugoslavia, about
the historical ties between Russian and Serbian Slavs and the political peril
presented to Russia's government by NATO airstrikes.
Gore listened impassively, then snapped back, saying that military
intervention in Kosovo would bring about just what Russia wanted: peace in
the Balkans, safety for Kosovar Serbs, and a return of Kosovar Albanian
refugees whose exodus threatened to destabilize neighboring countries.
The Russian envoy "came at an accelerated basis to the conclusion that what
he was hearing was the bottom line, not some negotiating position that was
steps away from the bottom line," a White House official said.
The meeting proved to be a turning point for the conflict in Kosovo. In short
order, Gore brought Chernomyrdin around, further isolating the government in
Belgrade. The two men settled on Finnish President Maarti Ahtisaari as a
negotiating partner for a peace accord. Within weeks, Milosevic had
Gore's role was to give the vice president bragging rights as he heads off on
the campaign trail, but the latest diplomatic standoff has put him back in
the hot seat and somewhat on the defensive.
As Russian troops headed into Serbia on Friday, Gore was left mumbling on
ABC's "Good Morning America," "Well, the -- we didn't know they were going to
go right there."
Yeltsin Knew of ARMY'S Kosovo Plan
MOSCOW, June 15 (UPI) _ In the first official comment from Moscow on
President Boris Yeltsin's role in ordering the surprise deployment of Russian
troops in Kosovo ahead of NATO, Vladimir Putin, head of the Federal Security
Service and secretary of Russia's Security Council, says, ``The supreme
commander-in-chief knew about everything that was planned and approved...the
strategic plan of developments.''
Putin, speaking on Russia's state-owned RTR television network, confirmed
that the plan to deploy the troops had been approved by Yeltsin.
Asked about the decision to deploy the 200 peacekeepers overnight Friday and
Saturday morning that took Washington by surprise, Putin said: ``As for the
plan's fulfillment by hours, that was the business of the doers, who did not
exceed the limits of the plan (to enter Kosovo).''
The Clinton administration, which was assured over the weekend by Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov that the surprise deployment was done without the
Kremlin's authority, continued to maintain that the military went ahead with
the deployment before Yeltsin approved it. The State Department did
acknowledge, however, that there is no question about Yeltsin's control over
such big issues as nuclear launches.
``They told us the military got ahead of the political leadership,'' State
Department spokesman James Rubin said. ``We believe President Yeltsin makes
the big decisions in Russia, and we believe he maintains command and control
over their nuclear forces.''
Yeltsin has not commented on his role in ordering the deployment, which
appeared to surprise even Ivanov, who was negotiating Russia's position in
Kosovo with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott.
However, on the eve of the move, Russian Gen. Leonid Ivashov said Russia had
no intention of being last into Kosovo, implying that the Kremlin had given
the green light for the military to prepare to move into Kosovo at a moment's
notice, should NATO forces move toward the Kosovo borders, while diplomats
haggled over procedure.
Yeltsin, looking smug after snubbing NATO with the surprise deployment,
promoted the officer in charge of the operation, Russia's former ambassador
to NATO, Gen. Viktor Zavarzin.
June 16, 1999
Premier Reassures On Army Control
In an apparent attempt to counteract any confusion over who issued the order
to send Russian peacekeepers into Kosovo, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin
assured the press Tuesday that the Kremlin has tight control over the armed
Stepashin issued the statement after meeting with President Boris Yeltsin,
when the two leaders discussed the future of Russia's peacekeeping role in
"The main point upon which we agreed is that all work in regard to Kosovo
should be coordinated," Stepashin said, adding that "the leading role belongs
to the Foreign Ministry."
"Today a new formula has begun which synchronizes the actions of the Foreign
Ministry, the military and the government, with a follow-up report to the
president," Stepashin said.
Stepashin also indicated that Russia would step up its efforts to reach an
agreement with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization over the deployment of
peacekeeping forces in Kosovo.
June 15, 1999
Vladimir Lukin: Order Could Have Been Given By One Man Only -- President
By Gennady Charodeyev
Chairman of the Duma Foreign Relations Committee Vladimir Lukin has said in
an interview for IZVESTIA that only one man, the President, could have given
the order for Russian troops to enter Kosovo.
"The Russian generals did not act at all contrary to the political will of
the country's leadership," Lukin is quoted as saying. "I do not doubt that
the decision about the movement of our paratroopers to the Kosovo area was
made with the consent of the President of Russia."
Juridically, he said, a decision about entrance of Russian troops into the
territory of a foreign state is adopted by the Federation Council [Senate].
But in this particular case, he explained, a group of servicemen arrived in
Kosovo from Bosnia, rather than from the territory of the Russian Federation,
so the action could be considered just a redeployment of that group, effected
in keeping with the earlier mandate given by the Federation Council.
The entrance of the Russian battalion into Kosovo, Lukin stressed, is also
in keeping with the relevant U.N. Security Council resolution. "We have
actually been deceived," he stressed, "because instead of a U.N. operation, a
NATO operation was under way. The blitz march of our troops is an attempt to
make matters develop in full compliance with the U.N. resolution." Lukin said
that the U.N. resolution provided for the deployment in Kosovo of
international security forces under a unified command. But then it was
announced that the operation would be carried through by NATO and that the
alliance would set up five sectors, whereas other countries would be just
"allowed" to participate.
"The entrance of Russian troops into Kosovo," Lukin stressed, "is an attempt
to show, dramatically and audaciously, that the U.N. does exist and that
international agreements must be fulfilled." The West should realize that
Russia should be treated as a partner, not as a lackey. In Lukin's opinion,
the Kosovo operation has improved Russia's image in Yugoslavia, which was
disillusioned by its inaction in the region. Moreover, he added, that
operation has also made the Russian people again believe in the strength of
Lukin excluded any clashes or incidents between Russian and NATO soldiers
because the alliance commanders realize perfectly well that Russia was right,
legally and morally.
When asked to comment on the media reports about the on-going conscription
of volunteers to serve in the Russian military contingent in Kosovo, Lukin
said he did not know anything about it, adding that it was most probably
political gaming by forces close to the military.
Kiriyenko WON'T Run for President, Blasts Luzhkov.
ARKHANGELSK, June 15 (Itar-Tass) - Former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko,
who is visiting Russia's northern city of Arkhangelsk, said at a press
conference on Tuesday that he would not run in the presidential elections due
Kirienko, a leader of the New Force movement these days, commented on his
media crusade against Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, saying that his challenging
Luzhkov "is not struggle with Luzhkov, but struggle with the
administrative-bureaucratic system that he personifies, for the future of
He said there is not any "Moscow economic miracle" and what there is
concentration of Russia's economic flows in one city. Using Moscow's model
"anywhere else will not work", he said.
Kiriyenko said Russia needs a system of civilian control of elections at
their all stages.
"Control of honesty of elections must not be trusted to power alone, all
citizens should join in," he said.
Russian Constitution Court Starts to Verify Tax Laws.
MOSCOW, June 15 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian Constitutional Court started to
verify the constitutionality of federal laws "On Fundamentals of the Russian
Tax System," "The State Tax Service" and "Federal Institutions of the Tax
Police" on Tuesday.
A reason is the pronouncements of several Russian businessmen who think that
the punishment for breaking tax laws "puts excessive limits on the freedom of
enterprise and the private property right, and turns into an instrument of
suppression of the economic independence and initiative."
A Voronezh businessman's lawyer told Itar-Tass his client was to pay a 32
billion old ruble fine as the tax inspection claimed he had reported a
smaller profit than the real one in his tax declaration. The businessman's
appeal to the Constitutional Court suspended the punishment. Otherwise, he
would have had to stop the business.
Deputy Finance Minister Mikhail Motorin who attended a session of the
Constitutional Court on Tuesday said that the businessman's case must be
terminated. In his opinion, almost all the problems raised by the
entrepreneurs, including the excessive amount of fines, have been settled by
the Tax Code whose first part entered into force in January 1999. The Tax
Code is retroactive and businessmen can settle their problems at the Court of
Appeal even if it is a matter of cases prior to 1999, Motorin said.
That opinion is shared by the State Duma's envoy to the Constitutional Court
Valery Lazarev. Three resolutions of the Constitutional Court have explained
the tax legislation, and the Court of Arbitration is being guided by these
documents, he told Itar-Tass. "The tax collection procedure has always
provoked objection," Lazarev said.
The Constitutional Court will announce its resolution no earlier than in two
weeks which is a regular procedure.
New York Times
June 13, 1999
[for personal use only]
Two Views of Inhumanity Split the World, Even in Victory
By MICHAEL WINES
MOSCOW -- It was a signal week for the West, no doubt about it. Fifty-four
years after the Holocaust revelations, America and Europe had finally
said "enough," and struck a blow against a revival of genocide.
Serbian ethnic cleansers were now routed; ethnic Albanians would be
spared further murders and rapes. Germany was exorcising a few of its
Nazi ghosts. Human rights had been elevated to a military priority and
a pre-eminent Western value.
There was so much to applaud -- European unity, American technology,
British spine, the stiff upper lips of the Greeks and Italians -- that it
was easy to overlook the fact that much of the world was sitting on its
Americans, flush with victory over Communism and inhumanity, think ever
more reflexively that their values are the world's. In economics, that
often is true. But to many other nations, the Kosovo atrocities that
Germany equated with its own past and President Clinton labeled
"vicious'' and "terrifying'' were just the broken eggs of yet another
national omelet, and the West was a self-righteous, ever-more-meddlesome
Chief among the nations that see Kosovo this way is Russia, and that is
hardly a harbinger of smooth sailing in future efforts to right moral
wrongs around the world.
True, Russia joined the diplomacy that forced Serbia's retreat from
Kosovo and allowed 78 days of bombing to end. And its leaders promised
to cooperate in peacekeeping -- even though a Russian unit rushed into
Kosovo before NATO wanted it there.
But that is not the same thing as saying Russia shares the West's view
that Kosovo is a turning point away from ethnic blood baths and toward
harmony, even if at Western gunpoint. Quite the opposite: The war only
underscored the deep ideological divide between an idealistic New World
bent on ending inhumanity and an Old World equally fatalistic about
Woodrow Wilson tried to bridge that gap 81 years ago at Versailles, and
failed. These days, his faith in internationalist ideals seems to be
shared -- at least in their own backyard -- by the same British, French
and Germans who were that day's nationalist cynics.
Go beyond Central Europe, however, and the world still seems rooted at
Versailles, dismissing the notion of universal rights as wonderful in
concept, and a foolish vanity in practice.
So the anti-West club is a big one -- not just perennial bad actors like
Syria, Libya and Iraq, but rivals like China and even democracies like
Russia and India. They are not motivated by love for Slobodan Milosevic
-- by and large, they also find him and his tactics repulsive -- but by
a conviction that bloodlettings like the one in Kosovo are internal
matters; that it's arrogant and foolish to thrust yourself into someone
else's war; that the safe and even humane course for the world usually is
to let the two sides duke it out alone.
Put baldly, there is also a yawning gap between the West and much of the
world on the value of a single life.
Much of the world is still Hobbesian, looking to strongmen to impose
order on lives that are nasty, brutish and short.
"It's the concept that the state as an entity is much more important than
the life of one human being," said Yevgenia Albats, an author and
independent journalist who writes about human rights issues here.
"Pinochet is a hero in the press here. For a lot of writers, the fact that
he killed 100,000 people before Chile had its economic miracle is just not
he West finds such views alien. But this war's epiphany may be that a lot
of people around the world who drink Guinness, buy I.B.M. preferred and
drive Audis just don't buy into Western notions of rights and
Consider the Russians, who by temperament, history and current attitudes
are proving themselves the great case study for such attitudes.
"We're not only different countries; we're living in different
dimensions," Leonid N. Dobrokhotov, an informal adviser to the Russian
Communist Party leader, Gennady Zyuganov, said in a recent interview.
"We have a completely different understanding of values. We're a very
independent-minded people. Yes, maybe Saddam Hussein is the wrong guy. But
let him live in his own country. If the Iraqis like it, it's their
business. If they want to take him away and hang him, it's also their
The United States has absorbed this ideological slap in the face
before, most recently from the Chinese. But America expects rebuffs from
dictatorships like China. It is those new-found democrats, the Russians,
who brought the message home in capital letters by turning overnight from
ideological soulmates to embittered critics.
The first, most familiar explanation was that the Russians are the
historic big Slavic brother to the Serbs. But that is only part of the
story, and maybe not a big part. Moscow and Belgrade, after all, were
estranged for most of the cold war.
No, more is at play here. In the words of the Russian Government --
and in the minds of many ordinary Russians -- it was NATO, not the
Milosevic regime, that was a criminal organization, and NATO's air war, not
ethnic cleansing, that was a humanitarian catastrophe.
No doubt the Russian backlash is rooted in part in Moscow's frustration
at having to stand idly by at the drubbing of a country in its own
backyard by its former enemies. But for Americans to view Moscow's anger
as purely a political temper tantrum would be as mistaken as it is for
Russians to view Kosovo as a Western land grab. For the truth is that
Russians see Mr. Milosevic and Kosovo through an entirely different lens
than do the United States and Western Europe.
Ethnic cleansing and forced migration are not exactly unknowns to
Russians. Pogroms forced 1.5 million Russian Jews to flee at the turn of
the century. And Nikita Khrushchev forcibly moved so many Russians to
Kazakhstan that by 1959 native Kazakhs made up less than a third of the
population. From Stalin on, Soviet policy was to dilute the Soviet
Union's 80-odd ethnic groups by moving Russian citizens onto their
territories, evicting them from homelands and drawing borders so as to
split large ethnic groups in two.
Those carefully planned policies went south when the Soviet Union began
to collapse, and nationalist strongmen began to take control. In 1988,
United Nations officials say, a half-million Armenians and Azerbaijanis
were driven back to homelands in each others' nations. In 1989, 60,000
Meskhetian Turks were forced out of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. In 1992
the Ossetians threw out tens of thousands of Inguish; hundreds of
thousands of Tajiks fled Tajikistan. In 1995 scores of thousands died in a
civil war in Chechnya.
Russians rapidly -- and correctly -- point out that these frenzies of
ethnic retribution went virtually unnoticed by ordinary Westerners, and
drew little more than hand-wringing from Western governments. And they
wonder what is so different about Yugoslavia.
"Look at the leaders of almost all the newly independent states," said
Sergei Rogov, the director of the Government's Institute of the U.S.A.
and Canada. "Like Milosevic, they used to be leaders of the Communist
Party before the collapse of Communism."
"And if you look at how they treat the ethnic minorities in the newly
independent states, you'll see that Milosevic fits the pattern," he added.
"He's not perceived as something outstanding."
But in Western Europe he is. Of course part of that is because Serbia is
so close. Even as he declared victory Thursday, President Clinton added a
caveat to the lessons of Kosovo for future ethnic cleansers: The world
will act, he said, when "we can do something about it." But here, too,
even more is at play.
Defeat, democratization and integration into Europe brought the Germans
full circle. Unchecked slaughter in Bosnia and Rwanda shamed their
neighbors into action. And now Western Europe has no stomach to watch Mr.
Milosevic revive the bad memories, setting off ethnic expulsion and
slaughters to consolidate the power of Serbs who don't like their neighbors.
Is that a step forward or a foolish vanity? Kosovo will be safe for
Albanians, it seems, which is what 78 days of bombing were all about.
But nobody knows how many will return. Mr. Milosevic remains
entrenched in Belgrade. Russia, burning at the popular notion that it has
been a shill for NATO, is balking at Western efforts to oversee
peacekeeping. And there is a new danger that radical Albanians will
exact revenge on ordinary Serbs, starting the cycle anew.
It makes the Old World argument -- everyone does it; the world works
this way; a few thousand Serbs or Albanians aren't important; it's none of
our business -- seem almost attractive, even logical. It is not hard
to envision the Russians nodding and saying, "Told you so."
Better to remember, however, that in attitude, if not behavior, Russia
today is roughly where Britain, Germany and France were 81 years ago.
It took World War II to change the West's mind about inhumanity, and 50
years more to make that change of mind a commitment.
Ms. Albats, the journalist, says her nation needs time, too. "This is
still imperial Russia," she said. "It's still the Soviet Union. The
generation ruling this nation grew up in the Soviet Union, and you can't
expect people to change their minds the way you change a rule on private
property. But another generation is coming."
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999
From: "Robert Devane" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Markus' second big dump/3341
For the sake of clarification:
1 - I am not so much disturbed by Ms. Markus' views, as she asserts in her
second big dump in JRL 3341, as I was disturbed by her unfortunate choice
of terminology, which in my opinion detracted (if not eclipsed) any valid
points she might have had on issues.
2 - When I suggested that Ms. Markus alma mater might want to distance
itself from Ms. Markus comments, I was not making a reference to her Ph. D
work, which I am sure was consistent with the school's academic standards.
I was really referring to Ms. Markus style of expression, which she
illuidated in her second piece, when she invited me to jump off a bridge. I
thought that was an excellent way to convey Ms. Markus true level of
professionalism, as well as her ability to debate issues on merit.
3 - Ms. Markus says that "part of the reason for Johnson's list is to let
air their personal views and get debates going". I wholehartedly agree that
JRL is an excellent means to air views and stimulate debate. But ON
ISSUES!!! In my opinion it is not the function of JRL for people to air
their personal likes and dislikes, such as Ms. Markus complaint in her
first big dump that Russia watching is just not fun anymore. Who cares? JRL
is not a chat room on AOL. But I suppose, David really has the last word on
what JRL is or isn't.
3 - Ms. Markus second big dump reveals an even greater lack of insight into
Russia than the first one, which she vividly illustrates. She says "In the
early 1980's I had the most negative impression of the Soviet Union
imaginable. I was certain that it was such a horrible place, that I was
actually pleasantly surprised when I first went there in the late 80's. It
was not nearly as bad as I had expected. There were even some nice things
about it". Sounds like Ms. Markus is very prone to forming extreme opinions
with inadequate input, a fine trait for an LSE Ph. D holder, and is equally
prone from drawing back from those views. This is underscored by her
statement that "Back in '91, I was convinced all of the republics, with the
exception of the Baltics, would be basket cases. Then I became hopefully
some of their prospects. Then, somewhere between the Chechen war and the
re-election of a half-dead Yeltsin as president, I decided Russia was not
going to be one of the winners without some serious effort, which is not
forthcoming". So, if my count is correct, in the span of about six or seven
years, Ms. Markus had gone from (a) the most negative view of the USSR
imaginable, to (b) thinking that itwas not nearly as bad and that there
were even some nice things about it, to (c) thinking that the CIS republics
will be basket cases, to (d) becoing hopefully optimistic about some of
their prospects, to (e) deciding that Russia was not going to be one of the
winners... I think I see a pattern, and Ms. Markus is ripe for another
mood swing there.
CONCLUSION: In order for an analyst to be credible, whether in academics or
in business, it is crucial to be consistent in one's analysis, or if need
be, to own up to mistakes and errors in judgement. Russia is a hugely
complicated geopolitical, social, cultural, ethnic, and economic animal,
and it is certainly difficult to gain true insight into its pocesses.
That's probably why we've been able to observe such poor Russia-related
policy-making in the west over the past decade. Part of the problem is that
there are too many self-proclaimed experts running around, who think
they've got it all figured out. Hardly realistic. It is great that a
variety of views are expressed in JRL. Undoubtedly this contributes to a
better, more rounded insight into Russia. The process however becomes
watered down when people start using JRL for trite expressions of THEIR
BIASES, as opposed to their views on the goings-on in Russia.
INTERVIEW-No payoff for Russia on Kosovo-Germany
BONN, June 15 (Reuters) - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's top economic adviser
said on Tuesday Russia could not expect to receive any short-term bilateral
debt reductions in return for its constructive diplomatic role in bringing
peace to Kosovo.
Klaus Gretschmann, Germany's "sherpa" responsible for preparing this
weekend's Group of Eight summit in Cologne, told Reuters that reports of a
pay-off for Russia were baseless.
"This summit won't be about debt talks," Gretschmann said in an interview.
British Defence Secretary George Robertson said at the weekend that a dispute
over the role of Russian soldiers in Kosovo, which has hampered NATO's KFOR
peace force, would not help Moscow win extra financial aid at the G8 summit.
The International Monetary Fund has demanded a series of tough
revenue-raising measures and other reforms be implemented as a condition for
granting a much-needed $4.5 billion loan to Russia.
Russia also hopes to reschedule $8 billion in loan payments due this year to
foreign creditors, including the Paris Club of sovereign lenders.
Germany is the West's largest creditor to Russia, but Moscow stopped
servicing its debts after the rouble currency and Russian share prices
collapsed last year and is on the brink of default unless lenders agree to
reschedule the loans.
German Finance Minister Hans Eichel has also urged Russia to fulfil its debt
"It is in Russia's own interests to be a good borrower," Eichel said at the
weekend. "I can only give Russia the urgent advice to fulfil its
Russia Moves To Compromise on Bills
June 15, 1999
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
MOSCOW (AP) - The government and lawmakers said Tuesday they were moving
toward a compromise on a package of austerity bills needed for Russia to
qualify for a vital loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin's Cabinet needs the austerity bills passed
this month before the parliament's communist-dominated lower house, the State
Duma, goes on a summer recess. Otherwise, it could be months before Russia
receives a $4.5 billion IMF loan that the country needs to pay off some of
The Duma so far has balked at approving the tax-raising bills, fearing a
backlash from voters.
Last week, lawmakers delayed action on a pivotal bill in the package that
introduces a new tax on gas stations. Stepashin responded by threatening to
initiate a motion of confidence in the Cabinet that could lead to the
dissolution of parliament.
Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov, a communist, said that lawmakers this week
are likely to approve a compromise version of the gas stations bill. And
Stepashin told reporters that the government and lawmakers had agreed to
speed up their work on the package.
``We feel certain that a way out of the situation will be found,'' Stepashin
said Tuesday before heading to St. Petersburg for a meeting with IMF chief
Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov lambasted the Cabinet, saying its
members were kowtowing to the West.
The government ``should come up with a comprehensive program for reviving the
country rather than dancing to the IMF tune in the hope of receiving its
loans,'' Zyuganov said, according to the Interfax news agency.
Also Tuesday, Stepashin chaired a meeting of an advisory economic council
that discussed an economic forecast for the year 2000 and beyond.
The Ministry of Economics, which presented the forecast, said an agreement
with the IMF was essential for rescheduling part of Russia's $150 billion
First Deputy Finance Minister Oleg Vyugin expressed confidence Tuesday that
the London Club of commercial creditors would agree to defer interest
payments on Soviet-era debt from June to December of this year once Russia
gets the IMF loan.
Mikhail Zadornov, Russia's liaison with international lenders, held talks on
new loans Tuesday with Michael Carter, the World Bank's representative to
Russia. The World Bank has also been waiting for the IMF to take the lead on
The Ministry of Economics said that if an agreement with creditors is
reached, Russia may achieve growth of 1.5 percent to 3 percent in its gross
domestic product next year.
In a separate development Tuesday, Russia's Constitutional Court began
reviewing an appeal by a group of entrepreneurs who want a relaxation of the
country's tax laws, claiming punishment for tax evasion stifles business.
Russian tax laws are already laxer than in most western countries, with
punishment for tax-dodging usually amounting to a fine, not a prison term. A
large share of business transactions and assets go unreported, tax
enforcement is poor and the government collects only a fraction of the taxes
it is owed.
NATO-Russian standoff in Kosovo contains seeds of future wars
By Barry Grey
15 June 1999
World Socialist Web Site
The first days of the NATO occupation of Kosovo have already belied the
claims that the Alliance's victory over Yugoslavia ushers in a period of
peace and stability in the region.
Within 24 hours of their entry, NATO troops engaged in deadly fire fights
with Serb police and gunmen, three German reporters were shot dead by
snipers, retreating Serb forces burned down Albanian homes, and Kosovo
Liberation Army guerrillas launched their own terror campaign, killing and
abducting Serbs, civilians as well as soldiers and police.
That the crisis which preceded the NATO bombardment was the product of a
civil warand not the genocidal predilections of one Slobodan Milosevicwas
amply demonstrated after the bombing had stopped by the actions of the KLA
and the mass exodus of Kosovan Serbs.
The most ominous development is the standoff between NATO forces and
Russian troops that occupied the Pristina airport. American officials are,
for their own reasons, publicly downplaying the significance of the
confrontation, but it is impossible to deny that, whatever its immediate
outcome, this event points dramatically to an exacerbation of tensions
between the major powers as a result of the war.
Washington is deeply concerned over the preemptive deployment of Russian
forces into Kosovoeven though the small number of troops makes it a largely
symbolic actionand Moscow's refusal thus far to subordinate its forces to
the NATO command. The US has throughout the war relied on the compliance of
Russia, and counts on Russia's continuing assistance in policing Kosovo and
holding Serb nationalist forces in check. At the same time, Washington is
determined to deny Russia's demand for its own military sector in northern
Kosovo, for fear that such a zone would lead to the de-facto partition of
As of now US officials are maintaining a low-key posture, hoping that
diplomacy, i.e., a combination of threats to cut off IMF loans and the
proffer of bribes to Russian civilian and military officials, will achieve
their goals. But neither the US nor the Europeans can for long allow the
Russians to block access to the Pristina airport and roads leading to the
north. The present impasse contains the seeds of an explosive conflict, and
at a certain point the US could decide to force the issue.
There is a lobby within the US foreign policy establishment that favors
such a course. On Monday former national security adviser Zbigniew
Brzezinski published a column in the Wall Street Journal headlined NATO
Must Stop Russia's Power Play. Brzezinski declared: Boris Yeltsin's power
play in Pristina, therefore, must not be allowed to stand. There are many
nonviolent ways of isolating the Russian troop contingent at the airport
and preventing their resupply by air... Failure to apply pressure
decisively will mean that Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Yeltsin will have succeeded
in de facto partition.
In the confrontation between Russia and the US over Kosovo what has come to
the fore is a conflict of national interests. Russia's movement of troops
into Kosovo has the character of a desperate and improvised maneuver, aimed
at asserting traditional Russian interests in the Balkans and strengthening
Moscow's bargaining position in the division of the spoils of war.
Russia's record in the Kosovo conflict makes laughable any attempt on the
part of the Yeltsin regime, or, for that matter, the military leadership,
to pose as defenders of the Serbs and opponents of imperialism. Moscow
never challenged the formula for destroying Yugoslav sovereignty drawn up
by the US at Rambouillet. Throughout the NATO war, Russia refused to
provide significant aid to Belgrade, or even lift the UN sanctions against
Yugoslavia. At the behest of Washington, Yeltsin appointed Chernomyrdin as
his liaison with Belgrade and NATO and fired his prime minister Primakov,
whom the Americans considered insufficiently pliant. In the end,
Chernomyrdin endorsed NATO's basic demands and joined with Finnish
President Ahtisaari to demand that Milosevic accept them.
This final act of Russian subservience to the US provoked public
condemnation from leading military officers. It may be they took it upon
themselves to send a troop contingent into Kosovo in defiance of NATO and
without the prior knowledge of the civilian leadership in Moscow. This
scenario is suggested by the fact that neither Yeltsin's public spokesman,
nor his foreign minister Ivanov, nor Chernomyrdin had advance knowledge
that the troops under Col. Gen. Zavarzin were headed for Kosovo.
The disarray and divisions within the Russian state reflect an intensifying
conflict between two main factions within the political, military and
social elite: an outright comprador faction that is prepared to abandon
Russia's traditional great power ambitions in return for capital and bribes
from the West, and a resurgent nationalist faction animated by Great
Russian chauvinism. Yeltsin has sought to maintain his power by tacking
between these two factions. With popular anger over Russia's ignominious
role in the war on the rise, Yeltsin apparently decided to adapt himself,
at least for the present, to the demands of his generals. Indeed, the day
after Zavarzin led his troops into Kosovo, Yeltsin announced he was
promoting the then-lieutenant general to colonel general.
But the masses of Serbs will not benefit from having Russian, as opposed to
American, German or French, occupiers. Nor will the conditions of
devastation and foreign oppression be materially altered if, as the
Russians insist, Western troops operate under United Nations command,
rather than that of NATO.
The Clinton administration, assuming it could push the Russians without
limit to act as its cat's-paw in the Balkan conflict, was caught unawares
when it discovered that even the Yeltsin regime could go only so far in
bowing to American dictates. Having dealt with Yeltsin for many years,
however, the Americans believe they can bring him around. What they
overlook, their usual myopia and arrogance compounded by their victory over
Yugoslavia, is the growing possibility of a far more nationalistic and
aggressive regime replacing the present leadership in Moscow.
The initial stage of the occupation of Kosovo has underscored the extremely
reckless character of the policy being pursued by the United States. It
will generate ever more explosive conflicts, not only with small and weak
countries like Yugoslavia, but also with those capable of mounting a far
more substantial response to US aggression. The NATO war has opened the way
to new and greater conflagrations in the future.
Russia MP Proposes Duma Cancel Recess for Fear of Coup
June 11, 1999
[translation for personal use only]
The State Duma is meeting and considering warnings
issued yesterday [10th June] by Prime Minister Sergey Stepashin. The
prime minister said that he would be forced to raise the issue of
confidence in his cabinet if the deputies reject the most important
economic bills. Our correspondent Vladimir Chernyshov has the latest from
the lower house. [Passage omitted]
[Correspondent, on linkup with studio] This is a usual day, with about 40
the Duma's agenda. [Omitted: list]
Some discussion took place at the beginning of the session over whether
the deputies should go on summer recess or not. [Omitted: repetition].
[Stepan Sulakshin, captioned as member of Power to the People deputies'
group, speaking during the debate] Distinguished colleagues, I propose a
vote on cancelling the Duma summer recess. All of you can sense that the
forthcoming summer will be like the summer of 1991 and the autumn of 1993
rolled into one. You can see that the president and the government are
losing their heads. You would probably agree that our duty is not to
leave for Foros [reference to resort where Mikhail Gorbachev was held
during 1991 coup], but to continue working on important economic bills,
to unite with the Federation Council. We should not leave the country to
[Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, captioned as Liberal Democrat Duma faction
proposed the same last year, and the 17th August crisis came after that
and we suffered a major economic crisis. Nobody supported us then. Now I
suggest, on the contrary, that the deputies go as soon as possible and as
far from Moscow as possible for the sake of their own safety. And [I
advise you] to hide. The more places like Foros, the better. Have a good
holiday one last time! It would be better for all of you!
[Aleksandr Kotenkov, captioned as presidential representative to the
am indignant at deputy Sulakshin's remarks. I would like deputy Sulakshin to
explain on what grounds he draws such conclusions.
[Omitted: presenter and correspondent exchange final pleasantries]
[Video shows Duma session]