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Johnson's Russia List
19 June 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: World Leaders Make Up With Russia.
2. AFP: Russian deal on Kosovo faces rough ride to domestic approval.
3. Toivo Klaar: RE: 3347-Two Cows and Ten Political Regimes.
4. Peter Juviler: Re: 3348-Russia's Role.
5. Francis Hardin: RE: 3348-DJ on anti-Russian sentiments.
6. Mike Lutomski: Re David Johnson on US seriousness in anti-corruption
7. Katherine H. Dolan: Tough Love.
8. New York Times editorial: Russia's Military Role in Kosovo.
9. Itar-TAss: Russia Names Sir Winston Churchill the Statesman of Century.
10. Reuters: UN Rights Chief Says Russian Prison Life ''Torture''
11. Financial Times: Courting Tsar Boris. Russia's political life has more
to do with Ivan the Terrible than modern democracy, writes John Thornhill.
12. The PBS NewsHour: Discussion of RUSSIA'S ROLE in Kosovo with
Nina Krushcheva, Anna Vassilieva, and Jack Matlock.
13. Interfax: Poll: Most Moscow Residents Against Kosovo Role.]
World Leaders Make Up With Russia
June 19, 1999
By MAUREEN JOHNSON
COLOGNE, Germany (AP) - World leaders today haggled over a promised huge
reconstruction program for Kosovo as Russia sought to get Yugoslavia
included in the deal even though President Slobodan Milosevic remains in
On the second day of their annual summit, leaders of the United States,
five other NATO nations and Japan attempted to block diplomatically the
latest bid by Russia, German officials said, speaking on condition of
Moscow is already smarting over the scale of the allies' victory in their
78-day bombing campaign to oust Serb forces from Kosovo.
``The conduct of one man must not penalize 10 million Serbs,'' Russian
Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin told France's President Jacques Chirac in
talks Friday night, French officials said.
President Clinton and other allied leaders say Milosevic must not benefit
from the reconstruction program.
As the second day of the summit got under today, Clinton and other leaders
strolled in brilliant sunshine to the modernistic museum where they are
meeting. Bands played their national anthems and excited schoolchildren
waved the flags of the foreign VIPs.
Clinton plunged in among the kids, laughing and shaking hands. As he headed
off into the building, several dozen children rushed after him, swarming
round - and got some more handshakes.
An expected joint statement on Kosovo did not materialize Friday night
because of the dispute over Milosevic benefiting - although Kosovo was the
prime topic at a dinner at Cologne's Germano-Roman museum.
While Russian prospects appeared uncertain in the new round of the
diplomatic battle over Kosovo, Stepashin expressed confidence of getting a
deal to reschedule $69 billion of debt run up under communist governments.
``We more or less successfully are coming to a conclusion on the issue of
Soviet debt,'' Stepashin told reporters after breakfast with German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
``In principle we reached an agreement ... There are a few wrinkles. But I
consider that the result is almost 100 percent,'' added Stepashin.
The other leaders were keen to help, partly to help make up with Russia
over the crisis that increased Moscow's isolation from the rest of the rich
``This summit gives us the chance to put our differences behind us and map
out a set of common interests for the future,'' British Prime Minister Tony
Blair said in a British Broadcasting Corp. radio interview today.
Russia's Soviet-era debt totals about $69 billion owed to other governments
and private banks. Russia balks at paying the Soviet-era debt, which
includes money owed by republics that are now independent, in addition to
the huge amounts of financial help it has received since communism
collapsed in 1991.
Stepashin said Schroeder promised to press the International Monetary Fund
to release $4.5 billion of Western aid, blocked after Russian financial
markets collapsed last August.
On Friday night, U.S. and Russian negotiators in Helsinki, Finland, reached
agreement on the sensitive issue of deploying Russian troops in NATO's
peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
The Helsinki deal provided for about 2,850 Russian troops to work with NATO
commanders in the U.S., French and German-controlled sectors of Kosovo
while under Russian command, U.S. official said. An additional 750 Russians
would be based at the Pristina airport.
It was a compromise between NATO reluctance to give Russia a separate zone
and Russian refusal to put its troops under the British general in charge
of NATO forces in Kosovo.
An agreement on Russian aid would set the stage nicely for the late arrival
Sunday of President Boris Yeltsin, who sent Stepashin in his place for most
of the meeting.
Another issue on today's agenda was a U.S.-backed proposal to help Russia
keep control of its nuclear arsenal.
Clinton has asked Congress to provide $4.2 billion over the next five
years, and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi came to Cologne prepared to
contribute $200 million to the effort.
On Friday, the leaders approved a program to wipe out up to $100 billion in
debt owed by the world's 33 poorest nations. They also endorsed a package
of reforms to the global financial system to reduce the threat of the
currency crises that battered Asia, Russia and Brazil.
Russian deal on Kosovo faces rough ride to domestic approval
MOSCOW, June 19 (AFP) - Moscow was putting a brave face on its role in the
Kosovo peace-keeping mission Saturday after signing an accord with the
United States that renounces its demand to control a sector of Kosovo.
Russian leaders were conscious of the need to convince senators in the
Council of the Federation that the deal struck in Helsinki was one worthy
of the upper parliamentary house's approval.
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said: "We have obtained a participation worthy
of our country in the peacekeeping operations, which will be carried out on
the basis of the UN Security Council resolution" signed June 10.
Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, speaking at the G8 summit in Cologne,
which brings together the world's seven leading industrial nations and
Russia, said President Boris Yeltsin had approved the agreement.
Moscow and Washington signed an agreement late Friday that limits the
deployment of Russian troops in Kosovo to 3,600, spread among three
sectors, as part of the NATO-led peacekeeping operation.
The three sectors will be the US-controlled eastern zone, the northern
French zone and the German southern zone.
Russian troops will also control Pristina airport, which they seized before
NATO troops entered Kosovo, while air traffic control will be under Allied
Russia will have no involvement in the allocated British or Italian sectors
The agreement was a significant step-down for Russia, which had been
demanding its own zone in Kosovo with an independent command and a force of
Washington had flatly refused the demand, arguing that it could lead to a
partition of the Serbian province.
Negotiators at the three days of talks reached a compromise that resembles
the military agreement in Bosnia, whereby Russia will have the operational
control of its troops but will fall under the tactical command of the
NATO-led force, KFOR, US Defence Secretary William Cohen said.
The accord allowed both Cohen and his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeyev to
announce their "satisfaction" with the deal.
Parliamentary spokesman Gennady Seleznev, one of the few Russian officials
to comment on the accord, said: "It was one of three options which were
proposed by Russia."
He addded that it "should allow us to avoid a situation which recalls the
partition of Germany."
Seleznev said: "We do not want a partition of Kosovo, it has to remain a
part of Yugoslavia, that's why we think it is reasonable."
The Russian troops will answer directly to the Russian defence ministry, he
"The most important task today is to find the means to keep supplies going
to our army in Yugoslavia," the speaker added.
Ivanov and Sergeyev will face the Duma on Tuesday to explain the agreement.
The Communist-dominated Duma was virulently anti-NATO during the Atlantic
alliance's 11 weeks of bombing against Yugoslavia, as Serbs are seen in
Russia as fellow Slavs and traditional allies.
The parliamentary discussions are expected to heated, although a defence
specialist at the daily Segodnya, Pavel Felgenhauer, said "the Duma doesn't
Felgenhauer said the real issue was the position of the governors, who have
to ratify the text and whose traditional loyalty to Yeltsin has been patchy
"There is a risk of difficulties" in passing the accord through the
governors, said Felgenhauer, who viewed it in a dim light.
He said the Russian negotiators had "conceded everything so that the text
could be ready by Sunday for the meeting of (US President) Bill Clinton and
The sentiment was echoed by the daily Kommersant, which said: "The fact
that Boris Yeltsin confirmed on Friday that he would go to the G8 summit in
Cologne shows that Moscow was ready to make reasonable concessions to reach
an accord with NATO."
The business daily said that the Russian negotiators were ready to leave
Helsinki late Thursday but were persuaded to stay after consulting Moscow.
Kommersant said that Ivanov and Sergeyev were ordered by Moscow to stay
put, meaning they should "reach an agreement at any price."
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999
From: Toivo Klaar <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: 3347-Two Cows and Ten Poltical Regimes
It is fascinating how communism has managed to stay somehow respectable
while fascism is abhored by one and all. After all, the communists
managed to murder far more people than Hitler did - perhaps because they
were allowed to go at it for a longer period of time, but still. The
article below illustrates this.
In my opinion 'practical communism' would mean that the two cows are
taken away from you because you are a kulak, you are shot, your family
is sent to concentration camps in Siberia and only later on are they
allowed to return to herd those two cows which now belong to the state.
Communism was not only bad management but an evil regime.
Best regards + keep up the good work.
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999
From: Peter Juviler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 3348-Russia in Central Asia
I agree with DJ's concern (in #3348) over regarding
Russia as simply a meddlesome mischief maker to be contained and
kept out in Kosovo. First, think of the U.S. Monroe doctrine and U.S.
sensitivity to ,more distant foreign involvements in "our back yard'
the Western Hemisphere. Second, the policy toward Russia should be one
of "inclusion without appeasement." The trouble started I think when
NATO-USA paid too scant attention since 1987 to growing threats of
and actualities of human rights violations in Yugoslavia and took too
lightly the issue of NATO expansion without a surer future place for
Russia. Certainly I am not suggesting a separate zone for Russia in Kosovo
but I am suggesting that the effort to include Russia some alternative way
in the managing of the future of its own "back yard" is all to the good,
as long as it does not allow for more of the past injustices there--the
violations condoned by the USA in Latin America in the name of its
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999
From: "Francis Hardin" <FHARDIN@imf.org>
Subject: RE: 3348-Russia in Central Asia
What about the other way around - in regard to deeply embedded anti-Russian
sentiments. The joke in Moscow right now - according to Russian friends - is
getting the west (via the IMF) to pay for Russia re-starting the Cold War in
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999
From: "LUTOMSKI, MICHAEL G. (MIKE) (JSC-OM)"
Subject: Russia: David Johnson on US seriousness in anti-corruption drives
I like your logic and idea of crime but I don't agree with the following
"but is inhibited from a no-holds-barred effort to help those Russians who
want to crack down".
I question if anyone in Russia (in power) really wants to crack down on
Like in America, elected officials refuse to discuss and get serious about
election reform and fundraising reform.
Like in Russia, for the same reason, this is the system that put them in
power, and provides them their "power base".
I wait with skepticism for a influential Russian official who wants begin
The only thing I have witnessed in Russia is Yeltsin and others using an
"end the corruption" cover to go after their enemies.
Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1999
From: Katherine H. Dolan <email@example.com>
Subject: Tough Love
A few years ago there was a popular theory in American schools according
to which building a pupil's self-esteem was more important than insisting
that he/she master the fundamental reading, mathematical and logical
reasoning skills of an educated person. Some policy makers on Russia as
well as some media commentators appear to be graduates of this school of
thought. Its application to Russia in general and to Russian policy in
Kosovo in particular has led to unfortunate results.
We read, for example, that we must give Russia a zone in Kosovo to control,
outside the authority of NATO, lest their self-esteem suffer. This position
seems a little less than logical when we consider that a) Russia supported
and continues to support an army and a regime whose behavior the NATO forces
were trying to quell; and b) the taking of the Pristina airport by Russian
paratroopers was at best highly irregular, less like the action of an ally
than of a "clever" opponent. Do we really have to accept this on the grounds
of self-esteem? Has no one thought about the fact that in elevating Russia's
purported need for self esteem above logical thinking that we are creating
the seeds of an extremely messy and dangerous situation for all parties in
Kosovo, including Russia?
This is unfortunately not the first time we have fallen into what could be
called the self-esteem trap in our policies toward Russia. In fact, most of
our recent policies have been as much justified by a need to improve
Russia's self-esteem as its economy-- billions in IMF credits, expanding and
renaming the G-7 to include Russia, joint space efforts, payments to
scientific researchers, to name but a few. And in all of these endeavors, we
have looked the other way while these same Russians whose self-esteem so
worries us have taken our money, and spent it, not to improve the efficiency
of the economy or their space program, but to improve their own life-style
and that of their closest acquaintances. Then, having done nothing
themselves that could truly bolster their self-esteem, they instead have
opposed Western policies in Serbia and commited 30% of their budget to the
military, ignoring the myriad more urgent uses for that money.
This brings up a question that has not been sufficiently examined: how
much priority should we give to this question of self-esteem? Are we perhaps
more concerned with it than the Russians, and are we not, as a result,
acting inappropriately?. If the political and economic leaders of Russia had
been even marginally interested in using for Russia rather than for
themselves the vast amounts of Western aid and credits, not to mention
Western investments, that have been pouring into Russia for the past 8
years, the economic as well as the psychological condition of all Russians
would have been much different than it is in fact today.
Thus, a rational look at our policy and its misplaced notions of
self-esteem can only lead to the conclusion that it has failed. It has
helped neither the Russians nor us. We are long overdue for a change to
another policy that was once popular in American upbringing -- tough love.
If we are truly interested in a democratic, market-oriented future for
Russia, we cannot afford to waste any more time and money supporting the
corrupt, criminal elements running the country, whether they occasionally
emit "democratic" sounds or not. We have now seen (and this is not news for
those who have read history) that they can talk out of two sides of their
mouth. Further, they admire "cleverness", as this little foray into the
Pristina airport has shown. By extension, what they cannot admire, and what
we should not admire either, is stupidity. Continuing to cater to our
perception of Russian esteem-needs flies in the face of logic. This policy
does not treat the Russians as fully functioning adults. They should first
be asked to elucidate their goals and second, whether they want Western help
in achieving them. If they do, they should use the funds to help solve their
country's problems. Our current policy tends rather to treat them as
children who must be indulged so that they won't do something really nasty.
But although they are not children, they are quite capable of seeing that
there is no need to behave as responsible adults so long as they can tap
into an apparently endless money stream, without even alluding to their
nuclear arsenal, and without presenting any verifiable plan for spending the
largesse. If we find their attitude in this regard hard to respect, we must
also wonder whether they can respect us. Comments such as Chubais's "my ikh
kinuli" (we conned them) at the time of last July's IMF tranche, suggest
the obvious answer.
Perhaps more damaging in the long run than the loss of the crooks'
respect is the perception engendered in honest people both in Russia and in
the U.S. that the U.S. condones the current situation and/or considers
itself unable to do anything about it. If we talk about wanting Russians to
develop a real market economy and a real civil society, and yet do not
require that our loans and credits be used in a way consistent with
achieving these aims, it looks to the Russians like we are at best
insincere. If we can't provide direction and achieve some results in a
policy area that we and they claim to want, how can the ordinary Russian,
who is already extremely skeptical about the political process and his/her
ability to affect it, be expected to participate?To the ordinary American
reading the newspaper parts of the Russian debacle look suspiciously like a
foreign policy failure, and the typical response to such failures is to
demand less spending on foreign policy. That this is happening today is not
A new policy of "tough love", where we start dealing with the fact of
widespread crime and corruption is essential if the downward spiral of our
relationship with Russia is to end. If we want "reform" to be anything other
than a word to sneer it, our actions must show that we are serious.To
continue granting money without conditions, and without strict accounting
and follow-up of where it goes is just stupid. We don't even do that at home.
Katherine H. Dolan is vice-president of the American Institute of Business
and Economics, an American MBA program in Moscow.
New York Times
June 19, 1999
Russia's Military Role in Kosovo
Provided no new hitches develop, the weeklong crisis over Russian
participation in the NATO-led peacekeeping operation in Kosovo now appears
satisfactorily resolved. Negotiations between top American officials and
their Russian counterparts have produced an agreement that defines the
zones where Russian troops will operate, the channels through which they
will report to NATO's commander and their role at Pristina's airport.
The sudden arrival of 200 Russian troops at that airport last Friday was
unnerving. But the talks that followed have been useful and gave both sides
what they needed. NATO blocked creation of a separate, Russian-controlled
sector that could have split Kosovo into Serbian and ethnic Albanian zones
and preserved overall command of peacekeeping operations. Russia secured
the respectful treatment for its forces it needs to maintain domestic
support for joining in the NATO-led mission.
The agreement provides that the Russian troops will operate within the
American, French and German sectors of Kosovo, plus Pristina's airport in
the British sector. With no separate Russian sector, there will be no
obvious geographic basis for partition. Russian troops will serve under
Russian commanders, who will in turn report to the top NATO officers of
their sectors. This parallel structure allows Moscow to say that Russian
troops are not under direct NATO command, but leaves NATO fully in charge
of all peacekeeping forces. At the Pristina airport, the Russians will
share responsibility but British forces will direct air traffic.
Potential problems include the possibility that Russian soldiers, many of
whom sympathize with the Serbs, might intimidate returning Kosovar
Albanians or tolerate Serbian violence. There is also a risk that Russian
officers might try to bypass NATO command structures. That is essentially
what happened last week when some Russian troops broke off cooperation with
NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia and rushed to Pristina. Military relations
between NATO and Russia have been troubled in recent months. The agreement
will only work as planned if the Russians carry it out in good faith and
maintain professional discipline.
Russia remains an important European power, and its role in Kosovo should
reflect that status. Regrettably, during most of NATO's 11-week air
campaign against Yugoslavia, Moscow stood sullenly on the sidelines. But in
the last weeks, constructive Russian diplomacy was crucial to avoiding a
bloody ground war and securing a just peace. The participation of Russian
troops, on the terms now agreed, can strengthen that peace.
Russia Names Sir Winston Churchill the Statesman of Century.
MOSCOW, June 19 (Itar-Tass) -- A poll launched by Russian Ekho Moskvy
(Moscow Echo) radio station to establish "The Person of the 20th Century"
in over 20 categories has yielded its first results. Sir Winston Churchill
has been named the statesman of the century. Over 40 per cent of 2,965
respondents in Russia have granted him precedence.
Second to Churchill was Charles de Gaulle, who has gained 37,37 per cent of
the votes. Following are Franklin Roosevelt (36,9 per cent), Margaret
Thatcher (34 per cent), Fidel Castro (11,26 per cent) and Yasir Arafat
(9,04 per cent).
At the same time, despite strong anti-fascist feelings in Russia, Adolf
Hitler has enlisted the support of 5 per cent of the respondents, leaving
behind Josip Broz Tito who won 2 per cent of the votes.
Among other figures nominated by the participants in the poll were Diana,
the Princess of Wales, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Monica Lewinsky and Prince
Otto von Bismarck.
People could cast their votes by phone (210 people), by filling in a
questionnaire or a coupon (over 700 people), and through the Internet
global communication web (2015 people).
The voting is still in progress as regards the person of the century in
other 20 categories. The nearest future will disclose the name of the
Russian musician of the century.
UN Rights Chief Says Russian Prison Life ''Torture''
MOSCOW, June 18 (Reuters) - United Nations human rights chief Mary Robinson
on Friday criticised conditions in Russia's run-down prisons as "torture"
but said officials had responded positively to her suggested improvements.
Robinson was also due to sign a technical cooperation agreement with
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on human rights education and training worth
$3.0 million over three years, the biggest agreement of its kind signed by
Robinson, in Russia for a week, criticised prisons after visiting a
Tsarist-era jail where prisoners were held up to 85 to a cell and let out
for just one hour a day. Prisoners with tuberculosis, rife in Russian
jails, got two hours' exercise.
"They amount in effect to torture," she said of the conditions.
She also discussed the beating and torture of people by police soon after
detention in order to get a confession.
"This is very widespread, not only in Moscow but in the regions," she said.
Robinson said officials had a good idea of Russia's rights problems and she
was pleased with the response of Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and others
to her requests and suggestions.
"I felt that there was an appreciation that there was a problem and that it
needed to be addressed," she said.
Earlier on Friday the Russian parliament approved a bill granting amnesty
to tens of thousands of people convicted or charged with non-violent
crimes. Russian officials have said they see the amnesty as part of a
campaign to reform the prison system.
On children's rights, Robinson said there was a tendency to put youngsters
with minor mental or physical disabilities in care, when in other countries
they would stay with their family.
She urged the formation of a public monitoring body, which would have the
right to visit childrens' homes without prior warning to examine conditions.
She called it a growing problem as there were 600,000 children in care and
the figure was rising by 100,000 a year.
June 19, 1999
[for personal use only]
RUSSIA: Courting Tsar Boris
Russia's political life has more to do with Ivan the Terrible than modern
democracy, writes John Thornhill
Alexander Lebed, the gruff former paratroop general who came third in the
Russian presidential election in 1996, once memorably likened Kremlin
politics to trying to "swim in a pool of hydrochloric acid with your legs
If anything, since then, Russian politics have grown even more vicious.
Even though the country's next presidential election is still a year away, a
ferocious, high-stakes power struggle has already erupted in Moscow. The
closest courtiers and financial supporters of ailing President Boris Yeltsin
are frantically scheming how to retain their influence and wealth once their
68-year-old Tsar succumbs to the limitations of life or office.
But Yeltsin's myriad enemies are just as desperate to sweep him and his
entourage aside and grab a share of the patrimony of the biggest country in
the world. For the first time in its 1,000-year history, Russia is
confronting the possibility that power might pass unpredictably from one
elected leader to another. That makes people associated with Yeltsin's regime
Open a Russian newspaper and you quickly appreciate the intensity of the
struggle. Anti-Kremlin journalists hysterically highlight the alleged
corruption of Yeltsin's entourage and the attempts of the presidential
"puppet-masters" to manipulate the political process by firing ministers and
But the kompromat (compromising materials) thrown against Yeltsin's enemies
is just as lurid.
Take the case of Yuri Skuratov, the country's top law officer who has been
investigating allegations of corruption in the Kremlin. The night after the
upper house of parliament voted to retain Skuratov in office, a state
television channel broadcast secretly shot footage of the prosecutor general
having sex with two prostitutes.
Although Skuratov's wife had little objection to her husband's
extracurricular activities, the Kremlin insinuated that the two prostitutes
had been procured by a businessman under criminal investigation.
Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the liberal Yabloko party, says such episodes
illustrate how Rus sia's political leadership still views the people as its
servants rather than the other way round. "In the US the prosecutor general
investigates the sexual adventures of the president, but in Russia the
president investigates the sexual adventures of the prosecutor general," he
While post-Soviet Russia may have developed the formal trappings and
institutions of a late 20th century democracy, the stuff of its political
life at times still resembles that of a medieval court. Access to Tsar Boris
is the most important determinant of political influence, given the vast
powers invested in the presidency by the 1993 constitution.
But Yeltsin's circle of advisers has drastically contracted over the years as
his health has deteriorated and his energies have waned. He now appears
almost wholly dependent on what the Russian press has called the Family, with
a capital F.
At the heart of this Family is Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin's 39-year-old
daughter, who appears to have inherited her father's taste for power and
In spite of holding a formal advisory position in the Kremlin, Dyachenko
shuns the limelight, refusing to give interviews or disclose her thoughts to
the public. Everyone understands she will always command her father's closest
attention but her influence is not solely due to an acci dent of birth. As a
former rocket scientist, she is reputed to have a formidable intellect.
Dyachenko herself consults a small circle of advisers, including Boris
Berezovsky, head of the Logovaz business empire and latter-day Rasputin,
dubbed "Russia's evil genius" by George Soros.
The fast-talking Berezovsky is the self-proclaimed leader of Russia's
oligarchs, who backed Yeltsin's re-election campaign in 1996. Berezovsky's
star appeared to have faded earlier this year when a warrant for his arrest
for money-laundering was issued while he was in Paris.
But, yet again, Berezovsky proved himself the master of manoeuvre by having
the charges dropped against him and successfully plotting to persuade Yeltsin
to sack his principal tormentor, Yevgeny Primakov, as prime minister.
Other Family members include Valentin Yumashev, an ex-journalist and former
head of the presidential administration, who helped ghost-write Yeltsin's
memoirs, and Roman Abramovich, a thick-necked, young oil trader, who now runs
the Sibneft oil company and, it is alleged, the Family's finances.
The accepted wisdom in Moscow is that this Family is now intent on levelling
the ground for next year's presidential elections by destroying dangerous
rivals, such as Primakov and Yuri Luzhkov, the demagogic mayor of Moscow. It
has also begun promoting its own preferred presidential candidates, such as
Nikolai Aksyenenko, the tall, grey-haired former railways minister, who has
been appointed to the second most senior job in the government.
The challenge now is to put the Family's supporters in charge of Russia's
biggest ministries, companies, and television stations to contribute to an
electoral war chest and control the media. The shameless transparency of this
process reminds Andrei Piontkovsky, a long-time Kremlin watcher, of the
ancient Roman matrons who paraded naked in front of their slaves, not
recognising them to be human.
But, say Yeltsin's supporters, one must step back and look at the longer
sweep of history before condemning the current regime too harshly. This
century, Russian politics has been an appallingly bloody affair and so the
fact that - as one cynical diplomat observes - a bunch of criminals, who
favour contract killings, has triumphed over a bunch of communists, who
favour mass murder, must count as some kind of progress.
Besides, most criticisms of Yeltsin's regime ignore the context in which he
was operating. "How do you conduct democratic reforms in a country in which
the majority of the elite are profoundly undemocratic?" asks one political
"Consciously or instinctively, Yeltsin believed that the only way was to give
such people a stake in his regime by letting them steal. He knew that when
they had $5m, $10m, say, in a Swiss bank account they would not want a new
leader coming to power and saying: where did you get your money? Corruption
was a form of control."
Some of the so-called young reformers, who spearheaded Russia's drive towards
a market economy and a liberal democracy, are just as unrepentant.
Anatoly Chubais, architect of Russia's mass privatisation programme and
Yeltsin's re-election victory, recently argued that everything that had been
achieved in Russia since 1991 had to be counted as a "large-scale historic
victory". Most people complained about Russia's ills but overlooked the
gains. "We have grown used to the fact that in Russia there now exist
freedom, a separation of powers, elected officials from bottom to top, an
independent media, private property, and independence from the state," he
told the Kommersant newspaper.
Unquestionably, Yeltsin has made many terrible mistakes during his presidency
- the catastrophic war in Chechnya being the most prominent. But, as his
regime draws to a close, the most telling criticisms that can perhaps be
levelled against him are not for what he has done so much as what he has left
Having faced down the hard-line communist coup of August 1991 and destroyed
the Soviet Union, Yeltsin opened up a world of political possibilities both
for himself and his country. But, imprisoned by the communist mentality of
his past, he was never truly able to build rather than simply destroy.
Yabloko's Yavlinsky argues that irrespective of who becomes the next
president, Russia's challenges are to create open markets, a civil society,
effective small businesses and a workable banking system - goals which
Yeltsin, and his Soviet-era comrades, could not understand, still less
But Georgy Satarov, a former presidential adviser, argues that Yeltsin's
greatest achievement has been to give Russian voters the freedom to choose
what follows. Almost everyone now accepts democratic elections are the only
means to establish political legitimacy. It is true that Russia's infant
democracy is still suffering from deformations that more mature democracies
have outgrown, he says. But Russia's painful development, which happened
centuries ago in the case of Britain, France, or the US, is occurring in the
modern, transparent information age.
"If English democracy is an ancient castle which is periodically refurbished,
then Russian democracy is a modern, glass- sided house which has still not
been fully built," he says.
June 17, 1999
In Helsinki, Finland, U.S. and Russian officials have been holding talks on
what role Russia should play in the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
Margaret Warner and guests discuss the sticking points of the negotiations.
MARGARET WARNER: We get three perspectives on that issue, two Russian and
one American. Nina Krushcheva is director of communications at the
East-West Institute in New York. She is the great granddaughter of the
former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Anna Vassilieva is head of the
Russian Studies Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
She is a graduate of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Federation. And
Jack Matlock was ambassador to the then-Soviet Union during the Reagan and
Bush administrations. He now teaches at Princeton University's Institute
for advanced Study. Welcome all. Anna Vassilieva, why is it so important to
the Russians to have a role in Kosovo after this war?
ANNA VASSILIEVA: Well, Margaret, I think we should look at this issue on
not being led by the rational approaches, the way the westerners used to
deal with Russia, but let's try and look at the Russian perspective. And at
the moment, it seems to me Russians are driven by emotions more than by
rational considerations. What we have seen in the past was the pattern of
Russians suppressing their negative emotions and frustrations over the
unfulfilled NATO promises, over not listening to Russian considerations
when making decisions regarding Kosovo. Now is, to my mind, the critical
moment when the West has to listen very carefully to Russian needs and
Russian demands because, to my opinion, it's a crucial moment not just in
Russian-American relations, but in the situation in the world in general.
MARGARET WARNER: But when you say they're reacting more out of emotion than
anything else, what do you mean?
ANNA VASSILIEVA: What I mean is that there are lots of expectations on the
part of the Russian people, the population of Russia, a well as the
government officials that are not fulfilled by the West, the western
governments, as it was expected. We know that there is a very popular
notion in Russia that when Gorbachev came to power and when perestroika
started, the West promised that NATO is not going to expand, NATO is not
going to go against Russia in any possible way, and that it will be a
defensive mechanism, rather than anything else. And Russians believed those
promises and withdrew their troops from Eastern Europe and the reaction was
very emotional. And they were hoping, indeed, that the West will keep their
promises. I'm talking about the popular notion among the Russians and
Russian politicians. What we have been seeing recently was the tendency to
ignore Russian concerns. And here we see real emotional feelings, you know,
people in Russia feel being betrayed. You know, they did feel betrayed
before the war in Kosovo started and they feel much more betrayed now after
mass media in Russia had been portraying the situation in Kosovo from the
point of view of Serbs and Serbian interests and Russian interests, rather
than from the point of view that was widely accepted in the United States
and the western countries.
MARGARET WARNER: Okay. Nina Khrushcheva, is that what you think is driving,
this kind of an emotional reaction?
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA: Yes, I absolutely agree with Anna on that, that Russians
react very emotionally to that. And there are certain expectations, which
I'm not going to go into details now. What I disagree with is that the West
does not sort of disregard Russian reactions and Russian concerns. I think
they're being very understanding, and they're being very accommodating to
Russia's desire to keep its superpower position, and I actually admire them
for that. My problem with the whole situation is that the West does not
believe that Russia is a superpower anymore, and very rightly so. And so
all this admissions to G-8, I mean which was G-7 plus one, all of a sudden
it became G-8, let's communicate on the Kosovo peace process and let's
involve Russia in that as a major player, let's consider Russian role in
the sort of troop deployment thing and so on and so forth. This is all very
wonderful on the western side. I don't believe that the West really
believes -- that the West really thinks that Russia can play a major great
role in the whole situation. But Russia buys this kind of attitude, and it
does things that all these special privileges that are given by the West,
Russia deserved to have -- and then where the problem comes because I think
that the West being dishonest in treating Russia is still a great power, at
least pretending that it would like to. And Russia is sort of emotionally
would like to believe that it is a great power and I think that's what
we're facing here because Russia thinks that, once something was promised
to the Soviet Union ten years ago, is still going to go on. Well, the world
has changed, and we really have to face the reality now.
MARGARET WARNER: Jack Matlock, do you see it that way that the Russians
making this move on the airport was kind of an emotional reaction to not
being afforded respect and a way of saying, "we're players?" That's what
JACK MATLOCK: I think that's exactly what was behind it. It obviously was a
rash act and one that was probably more annoying than really damaging. But
there is a real issue here, and I think that the fact is that without
Russia, we're not really going to have peace and stability in Europe
because we need their assistance diplomatically. And let's forget who's a
great power and who is not. Actually, most of these issues are not decided
by the sort of power that great powers are supposed to have. And, as -- of
course -- as a nuclear power, Russia still has at least the second largest
and maybe the largest arsenal in the world. So if we think in those terms,
I think we're likely to miss the point.
MARGARET WARNER: I'm sorry. If we think in what terms?
JACK MATLOCK: In terms of Russia not being necessarily a great power
anymore. Obviously, in an economic sense, they're not, but they never were
in the economic sense a very great power.
MARGARET WARNER: But you mean -
JACK MATLOCK: What I mean is that without their political assistance,
without their active assistance in bringing stability, we are not going to
be able to solve these problems. And I think we found that in Kosovo. We
bombed against their advice, and actually the atrocities, most of them
occurred after the bombing started, then we had to turn to them for
assistance in getting us out of it. And I think that assistance was
essential. Now they're asked to be treated as one of the team, given a
sector or something and I'm sure they'll work something out. But I think
that what they're asking for is not that unreasonable.
MARGARET WARNER: Anna Vassilieva, what do you think are Russia's intentions
if they are given or -- not given, but if they achieve a role in Kosovo? I
mean do you think they want to cooperate with the U.N. mandate? Do you
think they want to carve out their own area of influence? Do you think they
want to help the Serbs? What do you think really are their intentions?
ANNA VASSILIEVA: Well, first of all, I do believe that the intention is the
most noble. You know, we have no reason to suspect that Russians are going
to go to Kosovo to do something harmful. I definitely think that Russians
are going to try to achieve the agreements according to the U.N. laws,
international laws. And for the Russians, it is extremely important to be
there, as Ambassador Matlock has mentioned. We're not talking here about a
great or non-great power being invited to participate in some kind of an
event. The world has seen and is convinced that it is extremely important
for the Russians to assert their own role in this particular conflict. The
world has seen that Russia has been struggling to achieve, if not the
quality, at least the respect to its opinions and the desire of the West to
cooperate on the issues that are important for the Russians. So I see
Russia's involvement with the situation in Kosovo as a necessary one
because, to me, it is obvious that the Serbs -- the situation with the
Serbs is not going to be solved without Russian participation, and the
Russians are instrumental for preserving peace in Kosovo and keeping it for
the future. Let's not talk about just what's happening now, but let's look
at the situation in the future, as well. And Russian presence there is very
important for stabilizing the situation, I think.
MARGARET WARNER: Nina Khrushcheva, what about that point? I mean, we hear
this a lot, that the Russians, the Serbs, and the Kosovars probably won't
-- there will be no stability there without the Russians?
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, I think degree with the point that Russia has to be
involved in the peacekeeping process. What I disagree with is how Russia
tries to assert its importance there. And for example, the private -- the
separate sector for Russia and separate sector there under Russian control,
I'm not sure it's such a great idea because this was not Russia's war. This
was NATO's war. Russia was involved in it only in the peacekeeping process
because it is very important for Russia and the world to have this place in
peace, and thus Russia has to be involved. However, I don't see why, when
NATO five sectors are going to be in the region, how Russia -- Russia has
different objectives in this war. Russia has different objectives in this
particular part of the world, and what I think would be more reasonable
thing to have is to have maybe a battalion or some sort of involvement of
Russian troops in each of these sectors so Russia would be represented, it
would carry on its point of view. And frankly, I'm afraid that if Russia is
given a sector, then there would be something else. I'm just -- my problem
with the whole situation is that they try to come to the agreement,
everything is fine, and all of a sudden Russia does something which is
completely unexpected, unpredictable and in a way makes no sense. And I
don't think it's going to stop with the given sector or not given sector.
And I think Russia is much better off being involved in each sector as sort
of separate and, on the other hand, integrated force.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Jack Matlock, where do you come down on this
point, how reliable Russia would be as a partner in Kosovo?
JACK MATLOCK: Well, I think you have to give them an incentive to be a
reliable partner. This is something we've not been very good about in the
last few years, starting with NATO expansion and the other things which, in
effect, leaves them out of the club, so to speak. I think that if we expect
them to take a responsibility, which they need to do, we need to treat them
as a reliable partner and have them accept that responsibility. Obviously,
there needs to be a chain of command. The sectoral problem was worked out
in Bosnia. I'm sure it will be now -- this time, just what methods, I don't
know. But I'm sure that that will be worked out because it is in Russia's
interest to be there. But I can understand the reluctance to be formally
under NATO command, given the fact that they're not in NATO. They'll find a
way to finesse the issue and they are probably waiting until Yeltsin meets
with the other leaders in the G-8 or the G-7, plus one, to make that
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, thank you all three very much.
Poll: Most Moscow Residents Against Kosovo Role
MOSCOW, June 17 (Interfax) - Russia will benefit
from the participation of its forces in the Kosovo peacekeeping
operation, say 37% of Muscovites, while 49% say that this can only result
in damage, according to an opinion poll conducted by the All-Russian
Center For Public Opinion Studies on June 12-14. The poll involved 1124
Moscow residents. Seventy-five percent of those polled favor the
agreement effecting the cease-fire in Yugoslavia and on the deployment of
international military forces to Kosovo. Four percent said they are
"bewildered" by those agreements, 2% are "distressed" and 2% "appalled."
However, 15% said they do not care.