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Johnson's Russia List
2 July 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-Tass: Russian Tax debt at 300 Billion Rubles.
2. Moscow Times: Jonas Bernstein, PARTY LINES: Kiriyenko Is Old Wine In
3. Itar-Tass: Duma Polls to Be Held Even if Yeltsin Fails to Announce Them.
4. Wayne Merry: RE: 3370-Ermarth/Declassified 1990 Memo.
5. Matthew Warshaw: RE: Tom Manson/3371.
6. Miriam Lanskoy: Russia and Caucausus.
7. Hugh Phillips: re Professor Urban/3373
8. RFE/RL: Russia: Floriana Fossato, New Election Law Makes Some
9. The Economist: Strobe Talbott, deliverer of Russia.
10. AP: Russia Flexing Its Military Muscle.
11. AP: Fate of Lenin's Body Disputed.
12. Reuters: Dissident Writer Returns to Russia after 21 Years. (Alexander
13. Argumenty i Fakty: on Crime, Media Takeovers/Lisovsky Interview.
14. Interfax: Zhirinovskiy Calls for Ban on Communist Party.
15. Wendell Solomons: Comments on JRL - Lost in mid air aspect.]
Russian Tax debt at 300 Billion Rubles
MOSCOW, June 30 (Itar-Tass) -- The consolidated
tax debt in Russia is 300 billion roubles (about 12.4 billion US
dollars), Alexei Ageyev, first deputy head of the Federal Tax Police
Service, said on Wednesday.
"The main economic problem is to achieve the payment of this debt at all
levels," Ageyev told a meeting in the General Prosecutor's office.
According to Ageyev, the regular payment of salaries, development of the
infrastructure, and the modernisation of industry depend directly on the
collection of federal taxes.
Those who evade taxes often use "such wicked schemes that even officials
of the Ministry of Taxes and Duties sometimes have a hard time
understanding them," he said.
The Federal Tax Police Service at present sell only 2.5 percent of
seized property, Ageyev said. The remaining 97.5 percent consists of
obsolete equipment which is very hard to sell, he said. Tax debtors
usually manage to "withdraw" liquid assets before seizure, he added.
July 2, 1999
PARTY LINES: Kiriyenko Is Old Wine In New Bottles
By Jonas Bernstein
Sergei Kiriyenko's political profile has been rising ever higher lately.
Only Thursday, during a break in the proceedings at the Eastern and Central
European Economic Summit in Salzburg, the youthful former prime minister
told reporters that Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin may get the boot
because his post might be needed for "selling" President Boris Yeltsin's
successor. Kiriyenko also pointed out something manifestly true, but rarely
noted: that no one in Russia's political leadership is interested in the
economy because all attention now is focused on the succession struggle.
Kiriyenko should be commended for some of the things he's been saying. Such
as his insistence that there should be no successor to Yeltsin other than
"civil society." His view is a nice contrast to that of, say, Anatoly
Chubais, who several years ago insisted that Yeltsin had the "historic
right" to choose the next head of state. As a cab driver told me the other
day, "In normal countries, you have democratically elected leaders, not
On the other hand, Kiriyenko has been making some problematic assertions.
On its face, his propaganda campaign against Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov is
unexceptionable: It is right both to demand that Luzhkov be held
accountable for corruption in the city government and to take aim at his
decree changing the date for the Moscow mayoral contest. But some of
Kiriyenko's complaints have a more hollow ring, such as his concern that
Moscow's "crony, bureaucratic, corrupt" capitalism will f gasp! f spread,
should the mayor become president. Indeed, God forbid that the Moscow
contagion should infect the rest of the country, which, obviously, is a
veritable Switzerland, run according to pristine democratic capitalist
In what way does Moscow's political-economic system differ from those at
the federal, regional and local levels, besides the fact that it has, at
least until now, been working better?
In leveling his charges, Kiriyenko also risks being viewed as a glass-house
dweller. This, after all, is a person who in his student years wrote a
monograph extolling the virtues of hiding money from the state in offshore
accounts and declaring that "the most important task of commercial banks is
lobbying at all levels of power." In addition, there are still the charges
going back several years that Garantiya, the bank Kiriyenko headed in
Nizhny Novgorod, used questionable schemes to help Norsi, the oil company
he was also then heading, avoid making payments both to creditors and the
State Pension Fund. As long as the facts of that case remain murky, it
would probably be wise to refrain from holding forth about corruption.
Kiriyenko has been calling on not only Yeltsin but the entire Russian
political elite to resign en masse. Kiriyenko, who climbed the ranks of the
new Russian apparat faster and more cunningly than any other chinovnik in
recent memory, is shaping his own image with such declarations. He wants
voters to see him as, to use a label pasted on him by the Sunday Times
recently, Mr. Clean.
But not only is Kiriyenko himself a former Komsomol climber, his allies
would be men like Boris Nemtsov, another much beloved Komsomol "liberal."
These are not new people for a new era, they are just younger versions of
the old people.
Duma Polls to Be Held Even if Yeltsin Fails to Announce Them.
MOSCOW, July 1 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian State Duma elections will be held
even if President Boris Yeltsin fails to announce them, according to the
new election law which came into force on Thursday.
The law passed by the Duma in June and signed by the president last Friday
says that the head of state announces elections not earlier than five
months and not later than four months before the date of the vote.
"In case the president of Russia does not announce elections of State Duma
deputies in that period, the elections are held by the Central Election
Commission on the first or the second Sunday of the month following the
month when the mandate of the State Duma expires," says the law published
by the official Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Thursday.
The mandate of the current Duma expires in December and Yeltsin has August
31 as the deadline to announce elections in December. If he misses the
deadline the polls have to be held either on January 2 or 9, 2000,
following a relevant announcement from the Election Commission. In Duma,
they mostly believe that elections will be held on Sunday, December 19.
The law fixes that a Russian citizen over 21 years of age can be elected to
the State Duma either on a party ticket or in one-seat constituencies.
The law bans fully or partially state-owned companies from contributing to
the election funds of candidates. Distribution of any material values or
services to voters is banned.
To get registered for elections in a one-seat constituency a candidate has
to submit a list of signatures in his support and to report his sources of
income and property. Candidates have also to report any criminal record.
Party tickets are submitted to the Central Election Commission and the same
data are to be provided for the candidates.
To avert fraud or the use of the so-called "dirty election technologies"
the law bans foreign citizens, people without citizenship and foreign legal
entities from participating in the election campaign. Early voting is
banned and the number of polling stations, where a travelling voter can
cast his ballot, is restricted.
From: Wayne Merry <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: 3370-Ermarth/Declassified 1990 Memo on the Russian Revolution
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999
Some comments on Fritz Ermarth's recently declassified 1990 memo on the
Ermarth can certainly take considerable satisfaction in his vision of the
future a year before the Soviet collapse, and he also shows admirable
intellectual honesty by revealing the full text rather than selected bits to
make himself look more wise.
Unfortunately, whatever the foresight of individuals within the intelligence
establishment a decade ago, the establishment as a whole -- not to mention
the foreign affairs community -- was incredibly blind. As I went the rounds
of my consultations in Washington in mid-summer 1991 prior to taking charge
of the Political/Internal Section of the Moscow Embassy, the general tenor
was that I was going to the Soviet Union too late for anything interesting:
Gorbachev had exhausted his capacity to change the system, and a prolonged
period of stagnation within the Soviet empire would ensue; nothing really
dramatic would happen because nothing really dramatic could happen. I
arrived in Moscow only two weeks before the August putsch.
Sadly, for weeks and months after August most of Washington simply refused
to recognize the significance of what was taking place (although it was
palpable, almost physically so, in Moscow). Even when President Bush had
his final meeting with Gorbachev that Fall, the preparations in Washington
were predicated on continuing support for Gorby and Shevy (and hence the
Soviet system) and treated Yeltsin as an annoying flash in the pan. While
some official voices in Washington (such as Ermarth's) and ours in Moscow
tried to warn our political leaders of what impended, it was not till the
Ukrainian referendum that Washington woke up to reality. Even then, there
was a great debate whether the United States should recognize the newly
independent states and, if so, which.
In short, the US Government played little but catchup to the most important
events of the second half of the century. A key question, then, is whether
Washington institutions can ever be made to hear and appreciate the voices
of individuals who perceive more than the coordinated, cleared, vetted,
revised, and watered-down least-common-denominator conventional wisdom.
Recent predictive failures (the nuclear tests in India, Belgrade's
willingness to withstand more than a few days of bombing, etc) make this
question of more than historic interest.
Now that Fritz Ermarth is a free man, perhaps he could help find answers to
this perpetual but critical problem.
E. Wayne Merry
Program on European Societies in Transition
The Atlantic Council of the United States
910 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20006
From: "Matthew B. Warshaw" <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: Tom Manson/3371
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999
I agree with Tom Manson that more discussion of "what is really happening"
to people in Russia is worthy of being posted on the list. It would be very
useful to ask some English speaking Russians to contribute or to have
Russians contribute in their native tongue and get a few of us JRL readers
to attempt to translate some short notes. No novels please, but I would be
willing to help translate a letter from an "ordinary" citizen.
I work in survey research. Over the past 5 years I have overseen multiple
surveys that contacted thousands and thousands of former Soviet citizens. I
have traveled to tiny towns in Belarus to the Urals and into Siberia. I have
spent countless hours surveying door to door in those inhospitable mega
construction of apartments that go on for miles and miles as well as sat in
a crudely constructed home to listen to an interview with a family and their
livestock all inside to protect both from the weather and the jealous eyes
of less fortunate neighbors. All told, I have been in hundreds of Russian
homes monitoring the work of interviewers. It has been a fascinating window
into "ordinary" life in Russia. Like any other society, Russia runs the
gambit of what you will find behind the doors to the millions and millions
of homes across the country. We in the US are more accustomed to mail,
telephone and internet surveys, but in Russia much of the survey work is
still conducted face to face. When an interviewer comes to the door he or
she might find a family with a full line of Sony electronics, computer,
modern kitchen and a car or perhaps find a drunk out of work journalist
looking to vent his frustrations. The possibilities are endless.
There are so many stories I would need weeks to write them all out. Instead,
I want to share some general observations as a reaction to Tom Manson's plea
for discussion of daily life. Life goes on. It always has and hopefully it
always will. Russians have survived so much it boggles the mind. Surely they
will weather this latest phase started in the late eighties just as they
have weathered all previous crises. Yet, as someone who has traveled
thousands of miles across Russia and worked hard at trying to get an optic
on "ordinary" life, I am haunted by horrible sense of decay in the country
and a frightening idle population. Some of the small towns I have visited
are falling apart at the seams. Most of the adult population seems to wander
about aimlessly in these towns. There is no work. There is nowhere to go.
Even those with some success do not seem insulated from the decay. They may
have repaired their own individual apartments, but who will fix the water
main when the temporary welding job finally gives way? Will rich and poor be
equally left without services?
I too agree that Russians are not hopeless and that many are working toward
positive change, but I cannot discount that overwhelming decay in public
services and public health that seem to get worse with each year. My fear
for Russia is that the divide between the haves and the have nots will
continue to grow. Regardless of any economic boom or social change, it will
be daunting challenge to raise the standard of living for so many. Is Russia
just a colder version of Brazil or India?
Subject: Russia and Caucasus
From: Miriam Lanskoy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: July 1, 1999
Some have written recently that Shevardnadze's and Aliev's denunciations
of Russian imperial aims and methods are not to be taken seriously. They
have an interest in appealing to US apprehensions about Russia, or so the
argument goes. In that case, why do Russian analysts and politicians
speak in nearly identical terms?
The following are two excerpts from my contributions to the "NIS
Observed: An Analytical Review." The full text can be found at
Volume IV Number 9
Russian journal exhibits rare candor
In its March 1999 issue, the journal Vlast (Power), which draws its
audience from the presidential administration, the government, and the
Federal Assembly, ran the article "Caspian Oil and Russian Security," by
Artem Mal'gin, an instructor of International Relations at the Moscow
State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO), which falls under
the foreign ministry.
Mal'gin argues that American interests require that the US pursue
non-OPEC sources of oil, while Russia stands to benefit from "limiting
the number of 'sellers' on the energy market, which would allow them to
agree upon and maintain the necessary price level. The appearance of new
independent or US-dependent market participants is disadvantageous for
Some may note that the oil producers have failed to collude successfully
to set the price on numerous recent occasions and that the volume of oil
from the Caspian would not come in sufficiently large quantity to alter
the market price. Still, the political implications of his argument are
clear: Russian interests are served best if Caspian oil remains in the
ground. But if it must reach the market, it should go through Russian
How will Russia pursue this objective? This "became evident in
January-February of this year and in the first place concerns the
Baku-Ceyhan route. On the eve of the adoption of the final decision
regarding the route of the main artery for Caspian oil, Armenia tapped
into the PVO [air defense system] of the CIS. In this way, the republic
falls under Russia's powerful 'umbrella'. The existence of this
'umbrella', as many in Baku believe, can stiffen Yerevan's resolve in the
negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh, where in the event of renewed
hostilities the military balance would not be in Azerbaijan's favor."
Moreover, Western investors, Mal'gin argues, must worry about the
proximity of Nagorno-Karabakh to the export route: Wouldn't they be
scared off by a new upsurge in the fighting?
This rather blatant threat comes from a person who teaches Russia's
future foreign policy practitioners and a journal aimed at its current
policy makers. Interestingly, it contains no mention of the legal status
of the Caspian, or of a legality of any kind.
Volume IV Number 10
See no evil ...
Chairman of the Ajarian Supreme Soviet Aslan Abashidze recently commented
on the possibility of the withdrawal of Russian border guards from his
"I proposed to them: whoever wants to stay and continue to serve, we will
create all the conditions for this -- accommodations, services, pay. When
they have completed their service, they can be advisers, specialists....
After all, we have already trained 3,000 Ajari border guards with the
resources of the Russian border forces here. As for combat hardware, we
have more of it than Georgia's border forces." (MOSKOVSKY KOMSOMOLETS
(Electronic Version), 28 May 99; FBIS-SOV-1999-0531)
In a telegram to the Russian "peacekeepers," President Boris Yel'tsin
congratulated them on the fifth anniversary of their stay in sunny
Abkhazia, thanking them for "fulfilling their mission in a region
adjacent to Russia, ably representing Russia's national interests."
(Jamestown Foundation MONITOR, 25 Jun 99)
Speaking at the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Separate
Operational Task Division of interior troops (ODON), Sergei Stepashin
"said the division had gone a valorous path of flashspots in Sumgait,
Baku, Yerevan, Abkhazia, Ingushetia and Chechnya, ...." (ITAR-TASS, 26
Jun 99; nexis)
Is it possible that the Russian border guards are helping Abashidze set
up his own military to oppose Georgia? Nah, couldn't be. They've never
done that before.
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999
From: "hugh.phillips" <email@example.com>
Subject: Professor Urban/3373
I also just returned from three weeks in Russia, conducting research in
na Donu and spending a lot of time discussing Yugoslavia. Professor Urban is
right on target that Russians have become deeply anti-American, rather than
anti-western. But many Russians I spoke with had another interpretation of
U. S. bombing campaign and the motivations of "Adolf" Clinton, to use their
terminology. Many know of Clinton's obsession with his place in history, and
believe he undertook the bombing to eliminate or reduce what would have been
his main legacy: Monica Lewinsky and impeachment. They may be on to something.
associate professor of history
Western Kentucky University
Russia: New Election Law Makes Some Significant Changes
By Floriana Fossato
With elections for the Russian State Duma due in December, RFE/RL Moscow
correspondent Floriana Fossato reports on the election law governing the poll.
Moscow, 1 July 1999 (RFE/RL) - A week ago (June 25), some five months
before scheduled parliamentary elections, Russian President Boris Yeltsin
signed into a law a bill regulating the election of deputies to the State
Duma, the lower house of parliament. The present Duma had approved the bill
a month ago, and the upper house, the Federation Council, did the same one
The law leaves basic election rules intact. Half of the Duma's 450 seats
will still be filled by deputies elected directly in single-ballot
constituencies. The remaining seats will be split among political parties
based on the percentage of the vote they receive.
But the regulations do contain some significant changes. Most notable among
them is a new interpretation of the five percent of the vote that a party
must attain in order to be represented in the Duma. In accordance with a
late 1998 ruling by the Constitutional Court, the new law says that the
total number of political groups reaching the five-percent threshold must
now represent more than 50 percent of the voters. This calculation will be
made only after the official vote count is made public.
If the parties that managed to attain five percent of the vote do not
together add up to half the ballots cast, then political groups that have
reached more than three percent of the vote will also make it into the Duma
-- until the total percentage of voters represented in the chamber meets
the required 50 percent.
According to Duma deputies who worked on the text, the law also represents
an attempt to reduce election fraud by forbidding the use of so-called
"dirty techniques" -- including the adoption by candidates and parties of
names and symbols already used by other candidates and groups. The law also
requires candidates to declare income, property and criminal convictions,
if any. It stipulates that Russian citizens who are also citizens of
another state -- the Russian constitution allows dual citizenship -- must
make the same declaration. According to the new law, too, businesses that
receive state monetary support are forbidden from making donations to party
The hope is that these and other provisions will make the parliamentary
race more open and discourage potential candidates with criminal records.
But many Russian politicians and journalists nevertheless predict that the
campaigns for the December 19 parliamentary balloting, and for the
presidential election due next June, will be marked by widespread legal
The new law tries to strengthen safeguards against rigging the ballot in
several ways. For example, it bans the practice of early voting, originally
intended to bolster the electoral turn-out by attracting those who are
unable to vote on election day. In the last few years, however, the
practice has frequently led to allegations of fraud.
Another article of the new law allows individual candidates and parties to
qualify for the race by paying a monetary deposit instead of collecting
signatures, the common practice in past elections. The money will be
returned only if the candidate or party makes it to the Duma, and the
deposit is expected to come from each candidate's campaign funds. Ten
percent of each candidate's campaign fund can be used as deposit. According
to one of the drafters of the law, Viktor Sheinis, a respected legislator
from the Yabloko party, the deposit represents a positive development. He
spoke recently with RFE/RL:
"[In the past,] the practice of collecting signatures has proved to have
serious deficiencies. It has become more and more a commercial and criminal
affair. Now there is an alternative. Usually, with only few exclusions,
signatures are collected and paid for. There are even firms ready to
collect signatures on behalf of any candidate willing to pay."
Sheinis adds that, with so many less-than-serious candidates vying for
parliamentary office, the monetary deposit is better than the collection of
signatures for another important reason: The money, he says, will end up in
needy state coffers, and will be used to cover the cost of the election.
July 3-9, 1999
[for personal use only]
Strobe Talbott, deliverer of Russia
WESTERN Europe has Russianists galore. These days, however, it has no one
with clout at home and a rapport with the Kremlin. For that, sometimes
reluctantly, it has to turn to the United States—as recent events in the
Balkans have shown—and to Strobe Talbott in particular.
In some respects, as Mr Talbott has discovered over the years, Russian
officials can be quite predictable. As soon as they meet him, they
invariably trot out the most famous verses of Fedor Tyutchev, the
19th-century poet whose works he studied as a young man. “Russia cannot be
understood with the mind, nor can she be measured with a common yardstick;
she has her own way of being; in Russia one simply believes.”
As if the American deputy secretary of state, an old friend of Bill
Clinton, needed reminding of that hoary old saying. Whether he likes it or
not, he has the reputation of being one of the West’s few top policymakers
still prepared to make Tyutchev’s bold leap of faith. While others may be
sceptical or despairing, he is seen as a person who still believes in
Russia: not necessarily as a benign or successful power, but as a place
that the West should continue to take seriously—showing forbearance where
necessary, and giving credit (at least in the moral sense) where it is due.
Because of that reputation, he often attracts the opprobrium of those in
Washington who view Russia mainly as an unreformed miscreant that should be
kept firmly in its cage. Fuelling the hostility of these back-biters is
their suspicion that it is often Mr Talbott who calls the shots in Russia’s
relations with Europe, because of the chronic inability of America’s allies
to think clearly about “the bear”. These critics have rejoiced in the
ascent of Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state whose Czech roots give
her a robust suspicion of Russian nationalism in any form; and they lament
the fact that the president has saddled her with so Russophile a deputy.
To set the record straight, Mr Talbott says he “heartily denies” that he is
romantic about Russia. As for Tyutchev’s verses, familiar to him since he
studied Russian culture and literature at Yale and Oxford, they evoke a
mysticism which has no place in diplomacy. On the contrary, he regards
Russia’s travails and the dim prospects for their correction with cold-eyed
realism. But yes, he does think Russia has “such a huge capacity for good,
and the opposite” that it is worth taking time and trouble to integrate the
country successfully with the rest of Europe.
Nor does Mr Talbott’s character, at least on the surface, betray much
romanticism or strong emotion of any other kind. An old-fashioned
scholar-journalist who devoted his early career to erudite essays in Time
magazine and worthy books about arms control, he is described by friends as
hard-driven but understated. He has the eccentric habit of slipping off to
bed early (even during his own dinner parties) and rising in the small
hours to strum the classical guitar or pore over Russian verse; but he
eschews the nervy, self-conscious workaholism of ambitious Washington
Recently, his belief in Russia has undergone a severe test. As the NATO
bombing of Serbia plunged relations between Russia and the West to a
ten-year low, he was sent to work out terms on which Russia could help
bring about a settlement for Kosovo. By early June, this effort seemed to
bear fruit, as Serbia accepted the conditions delivered by Russian and
Finnish envoys. But that still left open the question of how Russia could
contribute to a multinational peacekeeping force. On June 10th, Mr Talbott
was flying west out of Moscow after a hard round of talks when word reached
him that a small Russian unit had abandoned its post in Bosnia and was
racing through Serbia towards Kosovo. He turned his aircraft round and flew
back to Moscow for another meeting with Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign
minister, which rapidly turned into a long night’s eyeballing with some
devious generals. It took another six days of high-wire diplomacy to settle
the terms for Russia’s involvement in Kosovo. What teetered in the balance
that week was not only the whole fabric of Russian-American relations since
the cold war, but the principle of democratic control over Russia’s army.
The result, Mr Talbott concluded, was satisfactory on both counts—and
vindicated the patience he had shown.
But are patience, learning and integrity—the virtues that mark him out in a
government of bond-traders and spin-doctors—the right qualities for dealing
with post-Soviet Russia, where scholarship is out of fashion and
gamesmanship is in? It may be that the bond-traders’ brand of cynical
realism is as good a tactic as any. Beneath the rhetoric, the Clinton
administration’s approach has reflected more grubby deal-making than grand
theorising. In effect, Mr Clinton has told President Boris Yeltsin: “We
will overlook the corruption and spasmodic brutality of your regime [in
Chechnya and elsewhere], roll over your debts and bankroll your elections
as long as you guarantee us a quietish life in the diplomatic arena and at
least pretend to co-operate over dismantling the nuclear legacy [ecological
and military] of the cold war.”
Cynical as it sounds, this deal has more or less worked—so far. The fact
that Russia eventually agreed to help rather than hinder the West in
Yugoslavia probably says more about its financial dependence (on soft
western loans) than about Mr Talbott’s cunning, patience or literary
The trouble with the bond-dealer’s approach to leveraging Russia is that
its calculations are short-term. Sooner or later, like any backroom
arrangement, the bargain is liable to break down. At that point, all the
pearls of Russian literature may not provide western policymakers with
enough wisdom to limit the damage. In the meantime, what unites the
deal-makers in America’s Treasury and cerebral types like Mr Talbott is
their militant agnosticism about Russia’s medium-term outlook. Asked for
his own prognosis, he answers with just one Russian word: posmotrim— “We’ll
just have to wait and see.”
Russia Flexing Its Military Muscle
July 1, 1999
By ROBERT BURNS
WASHINGTON (AP) - Russia is flexing its Cold War muscles - sending
strategic bombers to probe allied air defenses and pushing for a bigger and
more independent role in NATO-led peacekeeping in Kosovo.
Two TU-95 Bear bombers flew so close to the coastline of Iceland last
Friday that a pair of U.S. Air Force F-15 fighters were scrambled from a
NATO air base to escort the Russian planes around the island. And NATO
member Norway sent up fighter jets when two other Russian bombers flew down
The White House on Thursday dismissed the incident as militarily
insignificant but acknowledged that it was the first time in a decade that
the Russian air force had flown so near to a NATO member's airspace.
Moscow seems eager to demonstrate, after years of decline, that its
military is still to be reckoned with.
A State Department report earlier this year concluded that the Russian
military's combat readiness was in rapid decay and that the average Russian
soldier was only marginally capable of combat. It said that in 1993,
Russian air force pilots flew far less than half their normal training hours.
The Washington Post, which reported Thursday on the bomber incidents, said
the flights were part of a large-scale Russian sea and air exercise, called
``West '99,'' that had been publicly announced. The newspaper described the
exercise as Russia's largest since the end of the Cold War.
Also on Thursday, a Russian military delegation led by Adm. Valentin
Kuznetsov left NATO military headquarters in Belgium after failing to
settle disagreements over several aspects of Russian peacekeeping in Kosovo.
Publicly, NATO officials described the remaining disagreements as minor.
But privately, they acknowledged a serious divide over fundamental
questions that alliance officials had believed were settled during lengthy
negotiations last month in Helsinki, Finland, between U.S. and Russian
The argument is mainly over a Russian demand to station troops in the
Italian-patrolled sector of Kosovo as well as in the three other areas
spelled out in the Helsinki agreement of June 18, plus a Russian demand for
closer military and political control over their troops than NATO says was
agreed in Helsinki.
NATO officials in Belgium, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the
Russians are seeking to expand their operations into the British area
around the airport in Pristina as well as the Italian-patrolled sector.
Moscow also is arguing with NATO over whether Russian soldiers must take
orders from NATO commanders - a contentious issue that the Helsinki
agreement was supposed to have settled.
The Russians characterized the problem as NATO trying to change the border
arrangements to put an Italian corridor between Russian troops in the
German and British zones.
``As for the areas-of-responsibilities borders, there are only minor
problems there, they are not major problems,'' Italian Adm. Guido
Venturoni, chairman of NATO's military committee, said Thursday. ``If there
are problems, they are in different areas,''
On Capitol Hill on Thursday, the top NATO commander in Europe was
questioned about Moscow's dispatch of 200 troops to the Pristina airport
last month that beat NATO forces into Kosovo and triggered a ticklish
standoff with NATO troops for several days.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, asked U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark why NATO had
been ``caught off guard'' by the Russian dash to Pristina.
``We weren't caught off guard,'' Clark said. NATO had a plan to get to the
airport first, he disclosed. ``We were prepared to respond, but decisions
were made at levels above mine not to.''
Fate of Lenin's Body Disputed
July 1, 1999
By BARRY RENFREW
MOSCOW (AP) - It sounds like the plot for a cheap thriller: a conspiracy to
snatch Lenin's body from his Red Square tomb and bury it in the middle of
the night so Boris Yeltsin can stay in power.
But that is the feverish scenario sweeping Russia's media and political
circles, amid speculation that Yeltsin is looking for ways to outlaw the
Communist Party - his biggest rival.
Ordinary Russians are worried that their country is edging toward yet
``Moscow ... is filled with alarming rumors and expectations about an
unconstitutional course of events,'' said Andrei Piontkovsky, a political
Exactly how Lenin's burial would lead to banning the Communists or help
Yeltsin stay in power isn't clear, but nobody seems to be worrying about
that. The Communists and others agree a burial would signal the start of an
offensive to outlaw what is still the largest political party in Russia.
Lenin's mummified corpse is a symbol of the schism that divides Russia
between those who want to revive the Soviet Union and those who want the
country to move on. Lenin died in 1924 at the age of 53 after a series of
strokes, having said he wanted to be buried in St. Petersburg.
``It's a secret to no one that a draft decree on banning the Communist
Party has already been prepared ... I believe that they will soon start
carrying out the program code-named `Body' to move Lenin's body out of the
mausoleum,'' Viktor Ilyukhin, a senior Communist, said this week.
It's not even clear who, if anybody, has the authority to order Lenin's
burial. Ilyukhin and others claim the Kremlin plans to take the body from
the mausoleum one night, before anyone can protest. They claim it will
happen July 17, the 81st anniversary of the execution of the last czar and
his family by a Bolshevik firing squad.
While a majority of Russians oppose communism, there is still widespread
respect for or dread of the man who was turned into a virtual saint by
generations of Soviet propaganda.
Yeltsin, who suffers from poor health, favors burying Lenin and makes
little secret of his hatred of the Communists, who tried to impeach him in
Burying Lenin would be a massive blow to Communist prestige, and would
likely cost the party a lot of supporters.
It could also be an attempt to provoke the Communists into staging riots,
clearing the way for a government ban, analysts say. Another, less likely
possibility is that the Kremlin would ban the party, flouting the
constitution, they add.
The Communists say with them out of the way, Yeltsin would be able to stay
in power when his term runs out next year.
Russia's constitutional court has ruled that Yeltsin must step down when
his second term ends next summer. Top aides and members of Yeltsin's family
want to skirt that ban and keep him in power even though the great majority
of Russians detest the president, blaming him for most of the country's
One idea being explored is a union with Belarus that could allow an
extension of Yeltsin's term.
Some prominent Yeltsin backers have called for a ban on the Communists.
Yeltsin publicly admonished his justice minister this week for failing to
show that the Communists broke any law with recent anti-Semitic speeches
and attacks on the president.
With parliament on summer recess, some Communist deputies of the Duma, the
lower chamber, are staying in their offices in case Yeltsin acts. Others
are keeping a low profile in rural districts, claiming Yeltsin might order
Dissident Writer Returns to Russia after 21 Years
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A prominent Soviet dissident writer, Alexander
Zinoviyev, returned to Russia Wednesday to start a new life in the country
he was forced to leave 21 years ago, Russian media said.
"I am back for good," Ria Novosti news agency quoted the 76-year-old writer
as saying upon his arrival in Moscow. "It is in Russia that the front-line
struggle for the fate of humanity is taking place."
Zinoviyev, author of satirical novels such as "Yawning Heights," lost his
Soviet citizenship in 1978 after writing a book critical of Communist
leader Leonid Brezhnev.
His citizenship was restored in 1990, although he continued to reside in
Munich, Germany. He visited post-Communist Russia after the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991.
Russia's best-known exiled writer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, returned in 1994
after a 20-year exile in the United States.
Russian Daily on Crime, Media Takeovers/Lisovsky Interview
Argumenty i Fakty
29 June 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Viktor Perushkin and Olga Minayeva entitled "Sergey
Lisovskiy: 'I have been blacklisted'", subheaded "Entrepreneurs in Russia
Have Not Managed to Protect Themselves as a Class", on the difficulties
being experienced by businessmen in Russia; slantlines indicate passages
The public link the name of the businessman
//Sergey LISOVSKIY// with a number of major controversies. The last one,
connected with taxes, caused a lot of fuss in spring this year. After it,
Lisovskiy left Russia for almost three months. He recently returned to
Moscow, where another criminal case awaited him
[Q] //What do you think about [former Prosecutor-General Yuriy]
Skuratov's unambiguous statements that you were involved in the murder of
[journalist Vladimir] Listyev?//
[Lisovskiy] To be honest, I feel sorry for him after the story with that
unfortunate video tape. I can imagine what he and his family must have
felt. After that it is difficult to assess his actions from the point of
view of simple logic. And then, they are always accusing someone of
something in our country and usually it does not end in anything serious
happening. And, if the clod of accusations rolls down the hill, taking
other stones with it on its way, it is senseless to be offended.
[PASSAGE OMITTED: Lisovskiy spent three months holidaying abroad to avoid
various tax evasion prosecutions.]
[Q]// Nevertheless, one criminal case after another. Who are your sworn
[A] The reason is most likely to be quite a different one. There is no
specific person, but there are the interests of certain groups of people.
And, by force of circumstance, I happened to turn up at the crossroads of
their interests. Look, in September there was a new government ([former
Prime Minister Yevgeniy] Primakov - ed.) of markedly left-wing
orientation. In politics, in ideology strategically it demanded a search
for the guilty ones, moreover for people with well known names. This was
done to explain why everything was so bad up until now. This is the
customary techique used by the government to gain popularity. And there
should be more people in a big country. The list of people numbers some
100. Then it becomes clear why the economy is failing, why bandits do
what they like in the streets. The people in the list should be well
known, with certain possibilities, if this policy is to be convincing, so
that people believe it and do not say: "Well now, they've found a
scapegoat." Fortunately or unfortunately I am among these people.,
[Q] //Together with Berezovskiy and Smolenskiy?//
[A] Yes, not only with them. There are many people on that list, from
science and the economy, from Moscow and the regions.
Unfortunately, businessmen in Russia have not learnt to protect themselves
class. We take a tough stand with regard to class: even if he is a son of
a bitch, he is our son of a bitch and we wont let him go to the
slaughter. I am trying to shape this, but I have not been successful so
far. And here is a vivid illustration - the removal of [Anatoliy] Chubays
from the government. It was his own people who removed him, those who had
become rich thanks to his economic policy. Who can replace his hard work?
Completely different people who will not be able to change anything
really. The economy does not depend on whether it is managed by a
red-head or a brunette.
An this is what happens: once you have been blacklisted, it is a good
time for others to undermine your position. To begin with, (one has to be
honest about it) there are talks. If we do not agree, they begin to move
you to the top of the list. And here the tax controversy surrounding
Lisovskiy has come in very handy and one might recall the story of the
Xerox box [when Chubays was said to have moved dollars in a Xerox box
during the last elections]
[Q]//Do you think you were framed?//
[A] Well now, if something like that happened, it means that I allowed
it to happen over a certain period. Next time I shall be cleverer and
[Q] //What do you think about [business tycoon, former Executive
Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States Boris] Berezovskiy's
and [former SBS-Agra Bank chairman] Smolenskiy's criminal cases? You see
very few people think they were instituted on fresh air.//
[A] To judge from my experience, in our country a case can be instituted
against anyone without any weighty grounds for it. True, it is much more
difficult to actually bring it to court. [PASSAGE OMITTED: Recounts how a
file was put together on him after a special motor car rally alarm was
found at his home.]
[Q] //Have you already decided whom you will support at the next
[A] In our country it is impossible make up one's mind and thereby to
attain some certainty for oneself because the political situation changes
[Q] //But do you think there might not be any elections?//
[A] The election technique will essentially remain the same, but I think
that there will be more falsification. Whereas earlier the technologist,
when taking account of the situation, thought how actually to attract the
voters, now he will think more about how to stop that falsification on
the part of the opposition.
Besides this, at the last elections there were only two popular movements,
one in support of [Russian Communist Party leader Gennadiy] Zyuganov and
one backing [Russian President Boris] Yeltsin. This confrontation
prevented falsification because both parties had strong representation at
the polling stations. But this time there will be no confrontation
between the two giants. It will be lucky if the falsification at the
parliamentary elections is approximately 10-15 per cent.
And then, this time I am very doubtful that such large amounts of money
will be invested in the election campaign. There will most probably not
be any money for the volunteers patrolling the polling stations. The
elections will be held by people who are loyal to one movement or
another. The newspapers will support one candidate or another, according
to their own inclinations.
[Q] //And what about television? Incidentally, rumours have long
persisted that they are preparing to sell Russian Public Television to
[Rupert] Murdoch. What is your attitude to this?
[A] I am a bit superstitious. I think that ideas are aired not simply to
make waves. If the idea has been voiced, then it may happen.
[Q] //That is, you wouldn't like Murdoch to appear on the scene?//
[A] Neither yes or no. I want to be an onlooker. When it happens, we
will discuss it. For the moment this is a ghost wandering across Europe.
May be it will blow away.
[Q] //What place do you allocate yourself in the dividing up of spheres
of influence in the TV market?//
[A] Today the television business is just about surviving. Actually,
perhaps it will make sense to talk about it in a year's time.
[PASSAGE OMITTED: Lisovskiy does not want to move away from Russia,
his line of business would allow him to. He only has Russian citizenship.]
Zhirinovskiy Calls for Ban on Communist Party
MOSCOW. June 30 (Interfax) - In the opinion of
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky,
the banning of the Communist Party of Russia (KPRF) is unavoidable.
Zhirinovsky said at a news conference in Moscow Wednesday that he fully
supports President Boris Yeltsin, who criticized the Justice Ministry
yesterday for having failed to look into the activities of political
parties, primarily the KPRF, as regards their lawfulness. "The communist
ideology is an open form of robbery, but the justice minister somehow
fails to see this," Zhirinovsky said. The body of Lenin must be buried on
August 19, he said. "We will cremate him and bury the ashes in Volkovo
cemetery in St. Petersburg, while [Communist Party leader Gennady]
Zyuganov will be placed under house arrest to keep him out of the way,"
the LDPR leader said. If the KPRF is banned, Lenin's body buried and
emergency rule in imposed in Moscow and the North Caucasus, the State
Duma will not be able to convene for an extraordinary session because all
its communists "will be placed under house arrest," he said. Zhirinovsky
also called for the cancelation of parliamentary elections and the
signing in the Kremlin on December 30 of a comprehensive treaty
concerning the creation of the Union of Russia and Belarus. A referendum
on the union could be held in 2000, he said. Elections for the union's
president and parliament should be held in 2002 or 2003, Zhirinovsky said.
Date: Fri, 02 Jul 1999
From: "wendell w. solomons" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Comments on JRL - Lost in mid air aspect
Your query is worthwhile and therefore I write.
JRL sees many articles written for Western dailies and
journals for which journalists traditionally and
understandably focus on Russia as a hardship station.
Next, even those journalists who speak Russian and are
expected to be earth-bound have connections with the anti-
Soviet fraternity or have been trained by oldtime
Kremlinologists. Such members of faculty had been forced
to outbid each other in allegiance by swearing at the KGB
and worshiping at Russian-baiting totems. This has gone
on for more than half a century. It is a trajectory lost
in mid air - yet how does one get rid of tenured faculty
At the end of the day, if you take a count per 1000 words,
you will discover that the sheer number of such articles
turn Russian scapegoating volume on JRL higher than audible
in the Washington Post or the NYT !!!
Let me take an example I know at first hand. Though
numerous Western journalists have been based in Moscow
none saw either duty or sensation for their audiences
in investigating my forecast of July 1992 that a legal
base had to be developed before state property was
disbursed if the job was to keep from creating a
criminalized new rich. Journalists would have served
a U.S. readership and the U.S. taxpayer better if they
had helped curtail waste of USAID funds. They would have
served US business better too with accurate posts.
The work of another person who anticipated a mess in ill-
planned social engineering, Jacques de Groote of the IMF,
saw light only after the August 1998 ruble fall grabbed the
attention of world media. The report on de Groote came from
John Helmer and except for a handful of other journalists
(take Fred Wier, Christial Caryl, for instance,) we have
seen much froth and little beer.
The remedy is, of course, to place reliable reporters at
the top of the list and keep the well-known also-rans for
padding on days when material is short. This would mean
initially that more time be invested in editing.
The technical requirements for a 'zine and a magazine are
different. The 'zine can come only in one font and is
quite different to the newsstand magazine. A long 'ezine
tends to limit audiences to those who can afford to hang
out for long and make out where a frothy article ends for
there is no print design or art to help a reader flip pages
fast. Editing will help you reach other audiences that I
find being switched off because of the length of JRL.
Tom Manson <email@example.com> sent in from Moscow a live
observation on JRL's work. Tom has to bend the stick a little
to describe one aspect of media corps skew. Observations
like his from outside media enrich JRL.
The results of the poor quality of reporting may be
encountered in portions of Tom's very text:
>It is also a society where much of the change is for the
>better and where there is real hope, balanced as always by
>the normal Russian pessimism.
I first saw Moscow in the 1960s when the city and country were
exuberant. Tom will see that himself when he has the chance to
dip into all the sputnik paraphernalia, youth festivals, music
and of course, books. Yet, when I returned in the 1970s, the
only relief from a feeling of powerlessness and despondency was
provided by the great work of artistes such as Arkady Raikin,
Mikhail Bulgakov, Alla Pugacheva. Similar to the 1960s, there
were other Soviet periods of tremendous growth when "Russian
pessimism" was observed in the Western journalist's despatches
and not among blithe builders of Communism. We know that it was
one of these rosy periods of growth that made the U.S. government
set up all Americans to go and build up a sweat by jogging in the