This Date's Issues: 3354
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Johnson's Russia List
22 June 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
It's off to the woods of Petersham, Massachusetts today, with laptop
in hand. If you want to call me its 978-724-3253.
1. Reuters: Russian ex-PM Kiriyenko urges Yeltsin to resign.
2. Reuters: IMF studying Russia report, declines new comment.
3. Moscow Times: Simon Saradzhyan, Russia Practices for NATO Invasion.
4. Interfax: RUSSIAN PM: RUSSIA HAS BECOME FULL MEMBER OF G8.
5. Interfax: FOREIGN MINISTER: YELTSIN PUTS FORWARD 3 GLOBAL INITIATIVES.
6. AFP: Russian parliament to vote on START II in autumn: speaker.
7. Reuters: First Deputy PM Calls For Import Controls.
8. Los Angeles Times: Richard Paddock, Eking Out a Life in Land of
9. Eric Chenoweth: Re: DJ/#3348.
10. Ira Straus: Re: US attitude vs Russia in Central Asia and Caucasus.
11. Marina Prince: Re: 3349- Dolan/Tough Love.
12. Reuters: Russia says events vindicate stand on Kosovo.
13. Moscow Times: Leonid Bershidsky, FIFTH COLUMN: New Russia Breeds
New Type of Exile.
14. Itar-Tass: Presidential Rule Can Ensure Political Stability in
Russian ex-PM Kiriyenko urges Yeltsin to resign
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko said
Monday President Boris Yeltsin should resign before his current term ends
in the summer of 2000.
In the strongest public comments made so far by one of Yeltsin's former
prime ministers, Kiriyenko, a liberal, said the president's resignation
should be part of a process of handing power back to the Russian people
from the politicians.
``The voluntary resignation of the president should be part of this
program,'' said Kiriyenko in televised comments.
``We will start a new millennium, the year 2000. Let us start it with a new
Duma and a new president,'' he told a conference of Russian-language
journalists from Russia and abroad.
Interfax news agency also quoted Kiriyenko as saying Yeltsin, who has been
dogged by ill health in recent years, should stand down in October, ahead
of a planned election in December for the State Duma lower house of
``(Yeltsin) has completed his work, it remains for him only to quit,''
Kiriyenko was quoted as saying.
Yeltsin fired Kiriyenko last August after his six-month-old government of
``young reformers'' defaulted on some state debts and sharply devalued the
rouble, triggering a financial crisis.
That crisis badly damaged the popularity of liberal economic ideas in
Russia and also hurt a nascent middle class, which Kiriyenko now hopes to
make the basis of support for his ``New Force'' political party.
Worried about a possible Communist resurgence, other young reformers, like
former First Deputy Premier Boris Nemtsov, have urged Yeltsin to complete
Kiriyenko, 37, recently announced plans to run for Moscow mayor, though
opinion polls put him far behind the popular and ambitious incumbent, Yuri
Luzhkov is a likely and strong contender for the Russian presidency in the
next election. Kiriyenko, whose party has still to win any seats in the
Duma, is not expected to run for the presidency.
IMF studying Russia report, declines new comment
WASHINGTON, June 21 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said on
Monday it was studying a report on the activities of an offshore company
which managed IMF cash to Russia, but it declined to say whether it was
worried about the firm.
"We have received the report and we are studying it and discussing the
findings with the authorities," said an IMF spokeswoman. She declined to
comment on reports that the IMF had expressed serious concern about the
The draft report, from auditors PriceWaterhouse Coopers, deals with the
activities of a investment company called Fimaco based on Britain's tax
haven of the Channel Islands. Russian officials say some IMF loans were
channeled through the company but that there was no wrongdoing.
The Financial Times newspaper said on Monday that the IMF had expressed
concern about the report on Fimaco and wanted to know if Fimaco had used
some of the IMF money in Russia's high-yielding domestic debt market.
It said the fund wanted the Russian authorities to publish the
PriceWaterhouse report, which it said was due to be completed at the end of
A full explanation of the management of central bank reserves was one of
several conditions of a framework agreement on new IMF loans agreed by the
fund and the Russian government in April.
The government and parliament must also pass new laws on tax, banking and
structural issues before the IMF board will approve the loan.
Some legislation has been approved, and additional laws, including a
controversial gasoline tax, is due for debate this week, before the State
Duma lower house of parliament adjourns for the summer.
Russia has received more than $20 billion from the IMF since the collapse
of the Soviet Union. It wants a new loan, expected to be for a total of
$4.5 billion, so it can repay previous credits, including an emergency
package of high-interest credits approved last July.
June 22, 1999
Russia Practices for NATO Invasion
By Simon Saradzhyan
The Russian armed forces launched major strategic exercises Monday to foil
simulated aggression from the West, in a sign that Russia remains deeply
suspicious of NATO despite the weekend agreement to cooperate in Kosovo
The six-day games, dubbed West '99, will help determine whether the Russian
military would be capable of repelling an onslaught of Western forces that
involved high-precision airstrikes against Russia and one of its allies,
such as Belarus, an air force officer said in an interview Saturday.
Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev arrived in St. Petersburg on Monday to
personally take charge of the exercises. They will mostly consist of
commanders moving troops on maps, but will also feature deployment of
troops to test ranges, the firing of air defense systems and sorties flown
by naval aviation.
Under the games' plan, the entire Leningrad military district will be put
on high alert during the first stage Monday and Tuesday.
Then from Wednesday to Friday, troops will cooperate with their Belarussian
counterparts to stop a simulated attack from the West. These joint forces
will on Saturday counterattack to restore the two countries' territorial
Also taking part in the games are commanders of the Baltic, Black Sea and
Northern fleets; commanders of other military districts, including
Moscow's; and personnel of the Interior and Emergency Situations ministries.
The military denied any link between the Kosovo crisis and West '99.
Reached by telephone on Monday, officers at the Defense Ministry's combat
training department said the war games were planned before NATO launched
its air campaign on Yugoslavia in late March.
Moreover, Vladislav Putilin, chief of the General Staff's organization and
mobilization department, told reporters in St. Petersburg on Monday that
the exercises should not be treated as the Russian military's reaction to
NATO's bombing campaign.
But the Russian top brass have conducted an entire series of war games this
year in which all of the country's military districts and fleets have been
repeatedly put to the test.
During one of these exercises, the air force's strategic branch simulated a
long-range operation to destroy an aircraft carrier and support ships in
the Mediterranean Sea. Only NATO countries operate aircraft carriers in
Air force chief Anatoly Kornukov said earlier this year that the Russian
military will "adjust" its combat training because of NATO's bombing
campaign in Yugoslavia.
Three regiments of the air force have already held exercises this year to
shoot down mock-ups of cruise missiles, which NATO actively used in its
campaign in Yugoslavia. More air defense exercises were planned for this
summer, Kornukov said.
Russian military should and will train more because of NATO's campaign even
if there is only a "ephemeral" possibility of NATO striking any targets
within the former Soviet Union, said Valery Mazing, military expert with
the USA and Canada Institute.
The Russian military also is using the Kosovo crisis to wrestle more money
from the federal budget, Mazing and other experts said.
The intensity of combat drills has fallen dramatically since the breakup of
the Soviet Union, with more than 70 percent of the meager defense budget
spent on troops' maintenance.
As a result, air force pilots, for instance, have logged an average of less
than 50 hours per year, while some 250 hours are needed to maintain combat
RUSSIAN PM: RUSSIA HAS BECOME FULL MEMBER OF G8
MOSCOW, June 21 (Interfax) - That Russia has become an equal member
of the G8 group of the most advanced countries is the most important
outcome of the Cologne summit, Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin
told the First Congress of Russian Press on Monday.
This view is shared by President Boris Yeltsin, Stepashin said. "I
met with the president yesterday evening. We exchanged views on the
Cologne summit and agree that it has closed the 'seven plus one' chapter
and now is a 'group of eight'," he said.
Another achievement of the summit is that NATO-country leaders took
a new look at themselves in light of the situation surrounding
Yugoslavia, he said. "It is becoming clear that use of force does not
resolve all problems, and that one people should not be defended by
destroying another," Stepashin said.
The prime minister is of the opinion that the leaders of the most
advanced countries are people with whom dealing is quite possible, and
believes they think the same of him. "They are quite accessible and
democratic people, and one should be honest and frank with them," he
He reiterated that he will travel to the United States on an
official visit and will attend a meeting of the Gore-Stepashin
commission in August.
Stepashin expressed his optimism about Russia's future. "Everybody
in Cologne said that Russia is a country of the 21st century. We have
tremendous potential. Russia has made a lot of mistakes in the last ten
years, but has also taken a great step forward. This lets us talk about
the future of our country," he said.
FOREIGN MINISTER: YELTSIN PUTS FORWARD 3 GLOBAL INITIATIVES
COLOGNE, June 20 (Interfax) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin
proposed at the G8 summit that a concept of the world in the 21st
century be drawn up.
Commenting on this initiative, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said
that all countries must be equally protected against dangers and share
common responsibility in averting risks.
The Balkan drama proved that the international community entered a
crucial phase in its development, Ivanov said.
Relations amoung countries should become more democratic,
consistent with the international law and free of the dictatorship of
force, he said.
Regarding Yeltsin's proposal on debating "legal aspects of the use
of force worldwide" at the U.N. summit in New York in 2000, Ivanov said
a serious discussion is needed about threats which humankind would face
In light of the Balkan lessons, this issue is of critical
importance in maintaining international peace, he said.
A global control system over missiles is necessary because
proliferation of missiles and rocket technologies continues, he said.
Such a system would curb the proliferation, impose global control
over missile launches. It would ensure security for member-countries and
envision their regular consultations.
The countries, which voiced similar ideas previously, notably
France, Britain, the United States and Russia, should conclud agreements
in this sphere, he said.
Russian parliament to vote on START II in autumn: speaker
TROITSK, Russia, June 21 (AFP) - Russian deputies will vote in the autumn
on the shelved START II nuclear disarmament treaty, speaker Gennady
Seleznyov said Monday, but he was downbeat about its prospects for
Approval of the long-delayed measure, pulled from the parliamentary
schedule because of NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia, depended on
Washington's bid to forge ahead with an anti-nuclear missile defence shield.
His comments came the day after President Boris Yeltsin told his US
counterpart Bill Clinton in the German city of Cologne that the Kremlin
remained committed to the START II agreement.
Seleznyov, speaker of the State Duma lower house of parliament, said
deputies were unlikely to rush into ratification and warned that US plans
to build a ballistic missile shield could trigger "a news arms race.
"Everything will depend on the United States but also on our relations with
NATO," he told journalists while touring a nuclear research institute some
30 kilometres (around 20 miles) south of Moscow.
"If they remain the same, it will be difficult to raise it (START II
ratification). For the moment our relations with NATO are frozen and we
have no intention of resuming them either today or tomorrow."
He said lawmakers would pick up debate on the START II treaty, which would
see Russia and the United State reduce nuclear arsenals to 3,500 warheads,
when they reconvene in September after the summer break.
The Duma had been due to vote on the treaty for the first time in April,
but deputies protesting against NATO's air attacks dropped the key
agreement from their agenda. The US Congress ratified the agreement in 1996.
The Kremlin also moved to put ties with the Atlantic alliance on ice in
retaliation at the attacks on Yugoslavia, a traditional ally of Russia.
"There exists a version (of START II) drawn up by the Duma and approved by
Yeltsin. This question will be linked to what the Americans do today in
terms of breaching the ABM treaty.
"This autumn we will see to what extent the Americans intend to breach this
treaty, and we are going to sort out a lot of other issues, notably what we
do with the ABM treaty," he said.
Moscow accuses Washington of planning to unilaterally breach the 1972
anti-ballistic missile treaty, which place strict limits on the deployment
of an anti-missile defence shields.
The United States has announced plans to pump billions of dollars into
research on a nationwide anti-missile shield it says is needed to protect
the country from the treat posed by rogue states.
Seleznyov said the Duma would vote on an amended version of the agreement
drafted in the Communist- and nationalist-run chamber earlier this year.
The amendments would allow Russia to pull out of the treaty in specific
cases, such as the violation of disarmament pledges by the United States or
if NATO deployed nuclear weapons on the soil of new NATO members the Czech
Republic, Hungary and Poland.
Washington has previously said it opposes such changes to the draft, which
would also have to be approved by US lawmakers.
START II has languished in the Duma's in-tray for six years as it would
require Russia to get rid of its most powerful weapons -- the
multiple-warhead intercontinental missile.
The treaty is also expensive for Russia to implement if it wants to keep on
an equal nuclear footing with the United States.
By scrapping its multiple warhead rockets, Russia would have to churn out
some 1,500 new single-warhead missiles to stay even with the United States.
The delay has held up moves to further slash nuclear stockpiles, although
US officials in Germany for the G8 summit said at the weekend that talks on
a future START III agreement would resume in early autumn.
Moscow had signalled for the first time that it was ready to examine
possible changes to the ABM treaty, the US officials added.
First Deputy PM Calls For Import Controls
MOSCOW, Jun 21, 1999 -- (Reuters) First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai
Aksyonenko said on Friday Russia should ban imports of goods which could be
produced at home.
"The main thing is we must turn to our own national production. Just cut
off, very aggressively cut off imports of what it is possible today to
produce in Russia," Aksyonenko said in televised comments.
"Cut off, economically cut off, cut off by sanctions," he said.
Aksyonenko, who is in charge of industry in Prime Minister Sergei
Stepashin's new cabinet, was speaking during a trip to Kazan, capital of
Russia's ethnic republic of Tatarstan.
Stepashin and Aksyonenko have both spoken before of the need to revive
domestic industry, still mired in a decade-long recession, but have not so
far called for import controls -- a move likely to irritate creditors like
the International Monetary Fund.
In another sign of the government's interventionist stance on the economy,
Aksyonenko this week helped broker a deal between 50 companies imposing
price controls in key industrial sectors until the end of 1999.
The deal covers fuel and energy, metals and transport. The signatories
included national power utility Unified Energy System , natural gas
monopoly Gazprom and major oil companies.
Aksyonenko said the deal would guarantee "normal formation" of domestic
prices but economic analysts branded it a step back to the Soviet command
Aksyonenko, who served as railways minister in the previous cabinet of
Yevgeny Primakov, is widely regarded as being close to key members of
President Boris Yeltsin's entourage.
Los Angeles Times
June 21, 1999
[for personal use only]
Eking Out a Life in Land of Wealth
Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula is rich in untapped resources, yet its people
live in squalor. Most subsist on the salmon they catch illicitly. Even the
legal fishing industry is threatened.
By RICHARD C. PADDOCK, Times Staff Writer
KTYABRSKY, Russia--From the beach where Vladimir Belov stands, he can see a
dozen ships trawling for salmon in the Sea of Okhotsk. An unemployed
plumber, Belov can't afford a fishing license. In fact, he's never seen
one. But that doesn't keep him from fishing for salmon too.
With a watchful eye for the police, the 39-year-old father of two sets out
his homemade truba--a 20-foot pipe with a fishing net and floats
attached--and waits for the only good luck his life is likely to offer.
In this desolate, Godforsaken town near the southern tip of the Kamchatka
Peninsula in Russia's Far East, the residents have little to live on but
the fish they catch illegally. Local industry has collapsed. Crops refuse
to grow in the sandy soil. Stores have closed, and commerce is nearly
"Life is all about poaching," Belov says. "What do you think life is like
when you don't get paid at all? If someone gave us the money, we would be
out of here in no time."
Perched on the Pacific Rim just 700 miles northeast of Japan, Kamchatka is
a land of missed opportunity--a lush region of wilderness and lakes held
back by seven decades of Communist dictatorship and seven years of
Two-thirds the size of California, Kamchatka is connected to the mainland
by an isthmus only 52 miles wide. Nine time zones from Moscow, the region
is so far east that it is closer to Rodeo Drive than to Red Square. But its
culture, traditions and ways of doing business are distinctly Russian.
Its natural assets make it one of the richest regions in the country, but
Russia's poorly functioning economy provides little money to develop the
resources. Towns such as Oktyabrsky, surrounded by a wealth of untapped
resources, sit in poverty and squalor. The spectacular beauty of wild
rivers and erupting volcanoes provides a backdrop for rampant lawlessness.
As in the rest of Russia, prices in Kamchatka have skyrocketed, salaries
have plummeted and goods have become scarcer since last year's financial
collapse and ruble devaluation. During the winter, residents in the
capital, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, shivered in near-freezing apartments
because there was not enough fuel to run the city's centralized heating
plants. In recent weeks, each household has received electricity for only
three hours every other day.
In Oktyabrsky, anyone who could manage it has moved away, leaving behind
only the destitute and the desperate.
"Life is so terrible here we're going to die like dogs," says a 20-year
Oktyabrsky resident who gives her name only as Yulia. "But before we die
like dogs, we're going to eat the dogs we have."
Kamchatka's economy has gone so haywire that much of its record 1998 salmon
harvest went to waste. On the
Bolshaya River near Oktyabrsky, dozens of Soviet-style work brigades
conducted the same kind of industrial fishing operation they had for
decades: Men in small motorboats placed their nets in the river and pulled
them tight with tractors on the beach, trapping tons of fish at a time.
Using cranes, they hauled the salmon out of the river and loaded them onto
Later, workers sliced open the female fish and extracted the rich, red
caviar. But local canneries, run-down and poorly managed, could not process
most of the salmon. As the brigades kept catching fish, trucks dumped an
estimated 50,000 tons of salmon in fields to rot. The ground was so thick
with fish that the trucks simply drove over the decaying salmon to dump
During Soviet times, Kamchatka was an important military area closed to all
outsiders. It was from here that a jet fighter took off to shoot down
Korean Air Lines Flight 007 in 1983, killing 269 people in one of the worst
disasters of the Cold War.
Under Communist rule, time was frozen and much of the peninsula's
wilderness was preserved. Kamchatka's main economic function was to supply
the Soviet Union with fish.
"Of course, this had a very negative effect on the development of the
region and was one of the major reasons the economy was oriented to fishing
and nothing else," said Vladimir A. Biryukov, a former Communist Party
functionary who has been Kamchatka's governor since 1991. "Kamchatka has
wonderful opportunities to develop other resources and could become a
spectacular tourist attraction."
With the Soviet Union's collapse and Russia's continuing depression,
Kamchatka has developed stronger trade ties with some of its Pacific
neighbors than it has maintained with Moscow.
Today, half the vehicles on the road are right-hand-drive cars bought used
in Japan. Food and consumer goods imported from the U.S. and other Pacific
nations are commonly available, if expensive. Wealthy Americans visit by
cruise ship or fly in to catch trophy fish and hunt Kamchatka's huge brown
But as in Soviet times, fishing--legal or otherwise--dominates the region's
economy. Illegal fishing in Russia's Far East is estimated to bring in as
much as $5 billion a year, an amount equal to nearly a fifth of Russia's
annual budget. Kamchatka--jutting out from the Russian mainland into one of
the world's richest fisheries--figures prominently in the illegal trade.
The biggest threat to the fishery comes from commercial ships that haul in
fish without regard to legal limits in the three bodies of water that
surround the peninsula: the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Okhotsk and the
Officials say Russian vessels working out of Kamchatka, Vladivostok and
Sakhalin Island are steadily depleting the region of crab, salmon and
herring, among other species.
To avoid fishing limits, steep taxes and stifling bureaucracy, Russian
ships commonly take their catch directly to Japan, where they can sell it
at premium prices. Officials say it is common practice for Russian fishing
vessels to export a dozen catches illegally for each one they bring home
"A business that tries to operate legally and pay its taxes cannot afford
to stay in business," said Vladimir N. Burkanov, head of the regional
agency in charge of protecting fishing resources. "It's much easier to open
an account abroad, deliver fish to another country and stay in business
while technically being bankrupt in Russia."
Russia's rich fishing grounds also lure ships from other nations to fish
illegally. Some pirate companies send several vessels at a time to fish
nonstop and a shuttle ship to meet up with them, take their haul and
deliver it to port.
"Right now, the poachers have become really brazen," said Federal Border
Guards Service Col. Valery D. Yunoshev, who oversees the agency's naval
sector in the region. "They don't even leave the spot where they drop their
nets. They know the economic situation in the country is terrible, and they
know the chances are unlikely that a patrol boat will show up."
While fishing remains the mainstay of Kamchatka's economy, officials are
wrestling with how to shape the region's future and tap into its wealth of
Kamchatka has fewer than 390,000 people and only 150 miles of paved road.
With 28 active volcanoes, the peninsula sits at the end of the Aleutian
Islands chain opposite Alaska--a part of what economists call the Pacific
Rim and what geologists call the Ring of Fire.
Much like Alaska in climate and terrain, Kamchatka has a wealth of gold,
oil and gas, as well as other mineral deposits. Its volcanic activity
provides potential for geothermal power as well as abundant hot springs for
tourists. It has more than 100,000 lakes and more than 14,000 rivers.
As the region tries to diversify its economy, tourism competes with the
mining industry for limited investment funds.
Officials are proud that 27% of the region has been set aside as national
parks and nature preserves, a figure they say will soon rise to 31%. UNESCO
has designated five parks as the "Volcanoes of Kamchatka" World Heritage
site. One of the most popular tourist destinations is the Valley of the
Geysers, where steam rises from vents in the earth, mud boils in open pits
and geysers spurt almost as regularly as Old Faithful.
But harsh weather and a shortage of hotels make Kamchatka a tourist
destination only for the wealthiest--or hardiest--travelers. Traveling by
helicopter is the only practical way to reach most destinations, including
the Valley of the Geysers. And Kamchatka's aging, Soviet-made helicopters
are expensive and prone to crashing.
Even at the height of the short summer tourist season, it is not unusual
for restaurants in Petropavlovsk to close at dinner time because the city
water supply has been shut off. To keep away cockroaches, one prominent
hotel in the capital is known to spray pesticides in guests' rooms while
they are out for the day.
For now, officials are investing little in tourist facilities and are
trying instead to attract cruise ship
passengers, who have no need for hotels, and big-game hunters, who expect
to camp out.
"We are very much aware that tourism could become the major sector of the
economy in the long run," said Alexander M. Potiyevsky, head of the
region's foreign economic affairs and tourism agency. "But let's be frank.
You're in Russia, and you should understand there can't be an island of
well-being in one place while the whole country is suffering."
Oktyabrsky, 100 miles west of Petropavlovsk, is as grim a town as any in
Russia. The main street--a treeless dirt road--is strewn with garbage and
lined by half-empty apartment blocks. The street is so rutted that large
mounds have formed at intervals across it, making a drive through town a
bit like riding a roller coaster. Undernourished children entertain
themselves by jumping onto the backs of trucks as they go by.
Along the beach, dozens of men put their trubas into the sea and wait for
salmon to swim close to shore. On the best of days, one truba can bring in
a ton of fish. In a constant game of cat-and-mouse, the men are ready to
run at the first sign of the police, who frequently come to issue fines and
cut their nets.
"Whether or not you call it poaching, we don't have a choice," unemployed
crane operator Alexander Belashov, 31, says as he watches over his homemade
fishing rig. "We depend entirely on the sea. If we get some fish, we know
we're going to survive. If we don't, God knows what will happen."
Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999
From: Eric Chenoweth <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: DJ/#3348
You write in issue 3348 about a meeting of the SAIS's Central Asia
Institute in which only an "anti-Russian imperial" attitude was
expressed concerning Russia's role in Central Asia and the Caucasus and
that Russia was portrayed just as a "meddler" and
"troublemaker." In your view, this is conclusive proof of the
pervasiveness of anti-Russian attitudes in Washington, which, presumably
in your view, have no basis in reality. Yet, logically, another
conclusion might be entertained: that the new independent states view
Russia in exactly this way because it is their experience that Russia's
principal foreign policy goal in the region is to perpetuate its
historical imperial influence and, as a result, they are looking to the
U.S. and Europe to help counterbalance that influence. Ask Eduard
Shevardnadze if Russia is a "meddler" or
"troublemaker." He in fact accuses Moscow of organizing several
attempts on his life, not to mention the hijacking of Abkhazia. The once
pro-Moscow KGB general Haydar Aliyev also has similar complaints of
Russian-sponsored coup attempts against him in Azerbaijan, not to mention
of direct Russian backing for Armenian claims on Nagorno-Karabakh.
Tajikistan is a trajic, broken country in large part as a result of the
Russian military's and security service's "meddling." In
alliance with Iran, Russia has prevented a Caspian Basin agreement for
five years making claims only an imperial power might make on oil
interests. Moreover, the Commonwealth of Independent States is falling
apart because it is seen as simply an instrument for Russian domination
of the former Soviet republics. In fact, the list is rather lengthy of
"Russia's imperial role," "meddling," and economic
blackmail. On the other hand, as someone who follows these events
closely, I am hard-pressed to note "positive Russian
initiatives" in the region, that is initiatives seen as positive by
the new independent states, with the possible exception of arming Armenia
to the teeth. This is not a question of anti-Russian bias but of a
realistic assessment of the role of the Russian Federation in the Central
Asian-Caucasus regions. Instead of assuming anti-Russian bias as the
basis for the speakers' conclusions, it seems that a proper rebuff to the
arguments made at the Central Asian Institute (and elsewhere) would be a
recitation of positive initiatives and cooperation that reflected
Russia's willingness to accept the sovereignty of the new independent
states and build normal economic and political relations with them. I,
for one, have no interest in creating unnecessary superpower obligations
for the U.S. and would be most happy to be proven wrong in my judgement
that Russian foreign policy towards the new independent states remains
based on an imperial mindset.
Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999
From: IRASTRAUS@aol.com (Ira Straus)
Subject: Re: US attitude vs Russia in Central Asia and Caucasus
I think you were exactly right in your criticism of the attitudes of the
American policy community on Russia's role in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
The assumption is widespread that Russian influence in the region is bad,
dangerous, imperialistic, disruptive, etc., and that American policy ought to
aim at reducing Russian influence from the region (or "expelling" it, as
Russians say). This goes under the rubric of "strengthening the independence"
of the new states; which means strengthening their independence from Russia,
not independence from America or the IMF or Turkey, nor independence from
China or Taliban.
Russian "imperialism" is defined in this way of thinking as just about any
kind of hegemonic Russian influence on the region, or any heavily asymmetric
Russian influence, or any client state-type relationship. Under these
definitions, it would be virtually impossible for Russia to avoid imperialist
relations in the region. So if Western policy proceeds on the basis of these
assumptions, a hostile struggle of the West against Russian imperialism
becomes inevitable and interminable.
The idea of expelling Russian imperialism (broadly construed as asymmetric
Russian influence) from the region forms a mirror image to the idea among
Russian nationalists of expelling Western imperialism (equally broadly
construed) from the region. We are back to mirror-imaging, in a way that is
far more senseless than in Cold War days, since today there is no profound
ideological opposition between the two socio-political regimes that compels
them to regard one another as geopolitical enemies.
The two anti-imperialisms are both unrealistic in the Central Asian and
Caucasus region, but in somewhat different ways. The idea of expelling
Russian strategic influence from this region is far more unrealistic than the
idea of expelling Western strategic influence, since the region is next door
to Russia, has for a long time been in the Russian state sphere, and has far
greater bearing on Russian interests than on Western interests. Nevertheless,
it is also unrealistic to try to exclude overall Western influence, which
inevitably filters in through ideas and wealth and through the attractive
power of the West, and spills over into influence on the political and
strategic orientation of the state.
The concept of "mirror-imaging", like "tit-for-tat", is a valid analytical
tool for the broad structural aspects of the situation, even if not for every
detail of it. Each side's struggle against the other's influence serves to
stimulate the other to conduct an equal and opposite struggle. Together the
two struggles lead to a revival of adversarial checkerboard patterns of
client relations with the states in the periphery region. The adversarial
checkerboard pattern in turn encourages the development and deepening of
mutually adversarial geopolitical outlooks in the core powers.
Ironically, on the geopolitical checkerboard in this region, it is Russia
that has ended up with the more liberal or democratically-inclined clients in
nearly every pair-off, while the West has ended up with the less
liberal-democratic client states. Russia gets Armenia as its client; the West
gets Azerbaijan. Russia gets Kazakhstan and Kirghizstan; the West gets the
most extreme Oriental despotisms in the region, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
This is no accident. Russian influence, especially in Central Asia, is a
European and modernizing influence. Kazakhstan and Kirghizstan have large
Russian minorities, which bring with them both a more modern and liberal
culture, and a preference for close relations with Russia; Uzbekistan and
Turkmenistan are more interested in total independence from Russia. As long
as the West's client pattern correlates to distancing from Russian influence,
it will also correlate to undemocratic trends.
The Western effort to strengthen state independence from Russia in the region
has thus proved contradictory to its effort to build democracy in the region;
and it seems to be the independence motif which is prevailing. This makes the
democratic rhetoric of the West ring hollow.
The West sets the democratic standards for its programs in this region, but
it sets them so low that everyone qualifies, even Uzbekistan (the trend in
Uzbekistan is to go further back away from the marginal elements of democracy
that existed there at the end of the Soviet period). The application of
Western standards are sometimes fudged, with more severe criticisms of the
shortcomings of pro-Russian states and more generous evaluations of the
achievements of anti-Russian states. Armenia, which has had genuinely
competitive elections, is loudly flayed because there has been some
Russian-style cheating and some election outcomes may been reversed through
falsification; Azerbaijan, where the elections are not competitive enough for
the results to be in doubt, is mildly reprimanded. Kazakhstan is loudly
flayed for its elections which its leaders describe as "20% democracy"
because the opposition is allowed to get up to 20% of the vote; Uzbekistan is
quietly reprimanded for elections that are more reminiscent of the 99% votes
of the pre-Gorbachev days of Soviet totalitarianism.
Russian influence in Central Asia continues even today to be a Europeanizing
and liberalizing influence, on several levels: through the presence of ethnic
Russians, the through remnants of Soviet education and of the political
opening of the glasnost era, and through continuing influences from Russian
mass media and political groups. But it is a dangerously waning influence.
The flight of Russians from this region since 1991 has contributed to a
regional trend of de-modernization. The countries may be gradually losing the
Russian lingua franca which had connected their elites to one another and to
European culture; and if ethnic nationalisms come to prevail in place of the
common Russo-European heritage, the result may well be an increase in mutual
conflicts within the region and in Islamic influences from outside. And
Russian media are sometimes excluded. These losses in Russian influence are
all damaging not only to Russia; they are also damaging to the regional
influence of modern democratic European culture, and thus to the underlying
influence of the West in the region.
Russia is in fact the main Westernizing influence in Central Asia. This
influence serves the fundamental interests of the entire West (just as it has
been in the interest of the entire West that British and French influence
should have continued in their former colonial empires in Asia and Africa).
In the desire of some Westerners to expel Russian influence from the region,
there is a logical disconnect, which would seem to be explicable only in
terms of an unthinking perpetuation of the geopolitical habits of the Cold
The countries in these areas would not even be included in the OSCE, which
defines them as a part of a Greater Europe, except for the fact that they had
been a part of the Russian empire. And NATO would not be developing any
relation to them at all, except for that same fact. Russia is their umbilical
link to Europe.
It is very important for the West that the concrete influence of Russia in
Central Asia (like that of Britain and France in Africa) should continue,
even as it is gradually supplemented by American influences and perhaps
eventually subsumed within a general all-Western influence, but NOT hastily
shoved out and displaced by an American or all-Western influence. The latter
influence would be too distant and amorphous to take on the necessary
responsibilities. Who is going to take responsibility to do peacekeeping work
on a substantial scale in the region, if that turns out to be necessary; or
if the elites, increasingly nationalization as they are distanced from
Russia, end up fighting among each other? Who is going to take responsibility
for defeating Islamic influences if these influence ever rise to a dangerous
level in the region? Not the West as a whole, nor America, but only a country
that is geographically near or contiguous, has a historical sense of
responsibility in the region, has co-nationals stranded there needing
protection, and has a vital interest in stability and moderation in the
region. In Central Asia, that can only mean Russia.
I should mention that, a few weeks ago, I was at a meeting in DC on Central
Asia and the Caucasus somewhat similar to the one you attended. There was a
government presenter taking the line that the centerpiece of our policy is
and ought to be "strengthening independence" -- something which he virtually
equated with promoting democracy (until he was asked whether this wasn't a
false equation). There was, however, vigorous dissent from three people in
the audience, including Arnold Horelick; the points I've made above elaborate
on some of the points that were made in dissent at that meeting. So the
anti-Russian assumptions are not by any means held unanimously. However, they
have come to hold a certain hegemony, fitting in nowadays with official views
and bureaucratic interests.
Senior Associate, Program on Transitions to Democracy, The George Washington
University; and U.S. Coordinator, Committee on Eastern Europe and Russia in
NATO (http://www.fas.org/man/nato/ceern) The views expressed above are
solely those of the author.
Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999
From: Marina Prince <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 3349- Dolan/Tough Love
I do not agree that Russia's "self-esteem" issue is really something West
seriously considers. Same Kosovo example shows that West did not find
Russia important enough to inform about starting a war with Yugoslavia to
begin with, much less to pay any attention to Russia's protests against the
war. Only after it essentially locked itself in a no-win situation and
accepted Russia's help in negotiating the settlement, it began to
acknowledge Russia's importance in the Kosovo situation. Not a self-esteem
of Russia guided NATO in negotiating a status of Russian troops in Kosovo,
but its debt to Russia in regards to ending this unfortunate NATO venture.
As far as aid, I doubt it is connected to Russia's self-esteem as well.
Russia's nuclear arsenal seems a more likely incentive.
Russia says events vindicate stand on Kosovo
MOSCOW, June 21 (Reuters) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Monday that
events had vindicated its strong opposition to NATO's bombing campaign
In a statement, the ministry said the alliance's ``armed adventure'' in the
Balkans had caused devastation which surpassed even that of World War Two.
``Yugoslavia has been completely devastated, the damage to its national
economy and infrastructure exceed all the destruction seen during World War
Two. All the peoples of Yugoslavia have been subjected to terrible
deprivations and sufferings,'' the statement said.
Recent visitors to Yugoslavia say that although industrial infrastructure,
power stations and bridges were wrecked by NATO, most areas where civilians
live and circulate looked untouched. No widespread devastation was seen,
The Russian foreign ministry said the emphasis should now be on rapidly
deploying a peacekeeping force in Kosovo under U.N. auspices while
upholding the principle of Yugoslav territorial integrity.
``Ahead lies the huge task of rebuilding the economy of Serbia, including
Kosovo, and of other countries of the region. Russia will actively
cooperate in this with other interested parties,'' the statement said.
Russia fiercely opposed NATO's 78-day bombing campaign against its Slavic,
Orthodox Christian brethren in Yugoslavia. NATO officially declared its
campaign over on Sunday after the completion of Serbian forces' withdrawal
Russian peacekeepers will join the international NATO-led security force in
Kosovo but will fall formally under Russian, not NATO, command. They will
be deployed in the U.S., German and French-controlled sectors and at
Moscow suspended all cooperation with NATO in March when the bombing
campaign began, saying ties could not continue while the alliance was
conducting air strikes against a sovereign state.
On Monday Interfax news agency quoted unnamed sources in the Foreign
Ministry as saying Russia might be ready to resume some contacts with the
``(But) we are not speaking about an immediate and full unfreezing of
relations between the Russian Federation and NATO,'' Interfax quoted the
sources as saying.
The Foreign Ministry declined comment on the Interfax report.
June 22, 1999
FIFTH COLUMN: New Russia Breeds New Type of Exile
By Leonid Bershidsky
This is actually the first in an intended series of columns about Russia's
perpetual fifth column, the people who are sometimes referred to as
We are a kind of secret society. Our hands meet when grabbing for a copy of
The Moscow Times at the Radisson or the Starlite Diner.
We sit next to each other in the dark, crunching popcorn at one of the
newly fashionable multiplexes. When drunk, we tend to switch to English.
Whether we put in crazy hours at various whitewashed offices or lead a
bohemian existence, you will not see us in the summer tending our dacha
plots. These plots are either overgrown with weeds or mown, American style.
When we talk to a police officer, we are so apologetic and decorous that we
practically invite a body search.
What really sets us apart, however, is the fact that we have not lost our
ability to be amazed by our country (this country, as many of us tend to
refer to it).
Russia surprises us every day of our lives - not exactly the way it
surprises foreigners, but as intensely. A cozy outdoor cafe with nice
service is a surprise, but so is, say, the convoluted process of residence
registration, or propiska.
We are, in a way, a downtrodden class - despite our reasonably high
educational standard, we are notoriously bad at navigating the bureaucracy.
Yet sometimes an internal emigrĪ gets to the very top of the government
A good example is Anatoly Chubais, formerly first deputy prime minister and
presidential chief of staff, now head of the national power grid, UES.
Not only does he know a bagel from a bublik, he looks, talks and acts in
such a non-Russian way that one look at him instills gut hatred in many
representatives of the other four columns.
In fact, an internal emigrĪ looks more natural in a Parisian cafe sipping a
coffee than he does waiting in line at a railroad station ticket office.
Throughout his life he has probably spent more time waiting in various
Moscow lines than in Paris, but that balance is improving every year.
Internal emigrĪs often tend to turn into real emigrĪs.
A lot of them left Russia in the late '80s and early '90s, and many lined
up at the offices of Canadian immigration lawyers when the financial crisis
hit last year. But then some of them come back to be internal emigrĪs again.
None of this is to say we are not fervent patriots. Many of us are obsessed
with finding good Russian music to listen to and good Russian food to buy.
We will be heard screaming at the stadium when the national team scores a
goal. Some of us even cheered when Russian troops went into Kosovo ahead of
We proudly count among our prophets none other than Russia's national poet,
Alexander Pushkin, who, in "Eugene Onegin,'' claimed that Tatyana's famed
letter to the protagonist was actually a poor reverse translation from the
French. It was Pushkin, after all, who noted that he would happily spend
time slinging mud at Russia and all who sail in it, yet take mortal offense
when a foreigner tried to do the same.
Presidential Rule Can Ensure Political Stability in Russia.
MOSCOW, June 21 (Itar-Tass) - Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the
Russian Federation Marat Baglai considers that political stability in
Russia can be ensured only under conditions of the preservation of the
He stated this on Monday at the First World congress of the Russian press
where he spoke before guests and participants in the forum delivering a
detailed report on the constitutional system of Russia and the activities
of the Constitutional Court.
According to Marat Baglai, despite the fact that the majority of cases
considered by the Constitutional Court, are devoted to human rights
problem, no one in Russia criticises the first two key sections of the
Constitution which deal with human rights and freedoms.
Disputes are caused mainly by sections of the Constitution devoted to the
interaction between branches of power, Marat Baglai noted.
Some people speak, in particular, on the need to turn Russia from the
presidential republic into a parliamentary one. The chairman of the
Constitutional Court believes that to make such changes it is necessary to
have first of all a stable system of political parties. Only in this case
such a "simple thing" as parliamentary control over the government will not
do damage to the country, he noted.
In his view, "now we do not have a clearly formed parliamentary majority
which is supposed to exert this control, and it is not known what kind of
parliament will be after the oncoming elections.
Marat Baglai is convinced that "if the president and the parliament take
different positions, no reforms are possible."
In his view, the Constitutional Court in compliance with its possibilities
settles quite successfully disputes, including those between branches of
Analysing the whole spectrum of the Russian legislation, in particular,
standard acts of subjects of the Russian Federation, the chairman of the
Constitutional Court noted that too many of them do not conform to the
The federation in Russia was formed at the difficult period of history, he
said, and therefore the Russian federalism so far has a "complex character."
For example, in such republics as Ingushetia, Kalmykia, Bashkiria,
Tatarstan, Tuva and Kabardino-Balkaria a priority is given to local laws
over federal ones.
In Yakutia and Ingushetia federal laws are subject to ratification by local
parliaments. Some subjects of the Federation contest the principle of
constitutional federalism. In particular, representatives of the Adyge
Republic assert that the federal centre must exercise only those rights,
which are delegated to it by subjects of the federation, Marat Baglai
On the whole, he said, the Ministry of Justice has fixed 50,000 laws in
subjects of the Russian Federation, which do not correspond to the
Constitution. The prosecutor's offices has already lodged protests on 1,
The Constitutional Court "has been acting and will continue to act in
defence of human rights and the unity of the Russian Federation," Marat