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Johnson's Russia List
11 July 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-Tass: RUSSIAN ECONOMIC FORECASTS IMPROVE SINCE START OF 1999- UN.
2. Baltimore Sun: Kathy Lally, Where forbidden is a possibility.
Rules: In Russian society, prohibitions are nonbinding if one has the desire
and is willing to pay the price.
3. Reuters: Russia Says Needs Law to Fight Political Extremism.
4. Itar-Tass: SHEVARDNADZE THANKS RUSSIA FOR HELPING PROTECT ITS BORDERS.
5. Itar-Tass: RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT SAYS IT WILL TRY TO REDUCE DEBT BURDEN.
6. Ludmila A. Foster: Pushkin 200.
7. The Irish Times: Spectre of TB haunts Russian jails. A new killer is
stalking Russia's appalling prisons, a strain of incurable tuberculosis which
resists drugs. Clare O'Dea visited one such prison in Siberia, where at one
the authorities were burying 80 inmates a month.
8. Moskovskiy Komsomolets: Leonid Krutakov, Berezovskiy's Push Button.
Single Click Puts $80 Million Into His Pocket. (Berezovskiy Media Empire Benefits>From
9. Izvestia: Sergei Stepashin's Debut In Washington.
10. The Independent on Sunday (UK): Phil Reeves, White Nights and rooftop
tours reveal the secret St Petersburg.
11. New York Times: Francis X. Clines, A Khrushchev Is Pledging New
12. Washington Post: Jim Hoagland, Kosovo: What Bearhugs Can't Hide.]
RUSSIAN ECONOMIC FORECASTS IMPROVE SINCE START OF 1999- UN.
GENEVA, July 11 (Itar-Tass) - Forecasts for the development of the
Russian economy for a close perspective have improved since the start
of 1999, despite "persisting uncertainty" with respect to its future,
says a report, published in Geneva by the U.N. Economic Commission for
Europe. Its publication was timed to coincide with a session of the
U.N.Economic and Social Council, now in progress in Geneva (July 5-30).
Authors of the document note that following the August crisis, the
situation in the Russian economy was uncertain. On the one hand,
domestic demand substantially flagged in the second half of the year,
especially in the last quarter, due to a slump in real incomes of
population and an inflation wave.
At the same time, some producers in localities gained advantages as a
result of the rouble's devaluation: export became more competitive and
trade stepped up in some types of import-substituting goods of national
Price hikes for oil in 1999, the main article of Russian export, also
favourably told on the Russian economy. The combination of the above
factors brought down rates of slump even in the fourth quarter of 1998.
The slump stopped in the first quarter of 1999, while in March and
April, industrial production resumed "a modest rise". The report says
that a growth in domestic production can evidently become the mainstay
for a lengthy economic growth in Russia, but it is early to speak about
ECE experts warn against euphoria. They state that general economic
activity in Russia remains weak. Problems of the Russian economy are
deep-rooted and demand, in their opinion, implementation of
"across-the-board programme of reforms". A high level of foreign
indebtedness remains a heavy burden.
Under these circumstances, support of Russia by international financial
institutions is of great importance.
The ECE report shows that assessments of close economic perspectives
for Central and East European countries as well as for the former
Soviet republics are now less favourable than at the start of the year:
many countries experienced negative influence of the Kosovo crisis and
still feel a fallout from the last year's financial upheavals in
Russia, which resulted in dwindling Russian imports. The situation in
several CIS countries is shaping up worse than expected.
11 July 1999
[for personal use only]
Where forbidden is a possibility
Rules: In Russian society, prohibitions are nonbinding if one has the
desire and is willing to pay the price.
By Kathy Lally, Sun Foreign Staff
MOSCOW -- One of the unwritten but strictly observed rules of the social
contract here goes like this:
If something is prohibited, but you really, really want to do it, then go
The latest affirmation of the anarchy that lies deep in the Russian soul
exists in a new billboard advertising a German-made cigarette called West.
In the United States this ad would be considered scandalously salacious at
worst and in dreadfully poor taste at best.
A beautiful flight attendant is sitting in the cabin of an airplane next to
a handsome passenger. The stewardess has one hand resting provocatively on
her hip. Her smile exudes sexual invitation. Her crisp blue uniform and
white blouse are unbuttoned, revealing most of a blue push-up bra. A pack
of cigarettes sits on the arm rest between them.
"Anything Is Possible," the ad promises in large black letters from above.
On a hot summer afternoon, three jovial construction workers are taking a
break for water across the street from one such billboard. They have been
working on the corner for a month, passing the billboard every day for at
least two weeks. They haven't really noticed it.
"I saw it, but I didn't pay any attention to it," says Nikolai Alexeyev,
51, who studies the billboard for a moment before offering his opinion
about the message.
"Well," he says, "you can see quite clearly what it means."
His co-worker, Alexander Dyakonov, 37, brings up the old Russian adage to
explain the message. "If it's prohibited," he says, "but you want it very,
very much, then of course you should do it."
Smoking is being banned on more and more Russian airplanes, Dyakonov points
out, but that doesn't mean people have stopped doing it. Smoking, being
romanced by a flight attendant, anything is possible here. (The Russian
word for flight attendant, by the way, is stewardessa, pronounced
"We smoke in the toilet," he says. "We drink too much. We don't obey rules.
A Russian isn't like an American. We live another way. Our behavior is
This renegade streak permeates life here, says Georgy Satarov, a former
adviser to President Boris N. Yeltsin who runs a foundation called
Information for Democracy. He adds that it can lead to all sorts of
undesirable social consequences.
"If I really want to, I can break the law and exceed the speed limit," says
Satarov. "But I have to be willing to pay, and the policeman has to be
willing to accept it."
This is the logic that allows Russians to bribe their way through numerous
official encounters, large and small. They break the rules if they really
want to, and if they get caught, they pay for the privilege.
"A bribe is a payment for permission to violate the law," Satarov says.
"And this is the main difference between Russia and Western countries.
Maybe at the top corruption is less than in some countries, but on the
bottom it's much more serious than in the West."
If the billboard offers an interesting insight into Russian character, the
construction workers say, they are sure it will fail at its attempt to sell
more West cigarettes.
"It's not a good ad for cigarettes in Russia," says the third construction
worker, Sergei Goredikov, 29. "They're not smoking. It should be
advertising a restaurant. The ad should say, `Come to our restaurant. We
have a lot of stewardesses drinking here.' "
Besides that, Dyakonov says, Russians have still not gotten over the
Soviet-era perception of advertising.
"We used to have shortages of anything that was good," he says. "They only
advertised what they couldn't get rid of.
"We depended on our friends and neighbors for everything, to tell us what
was good and where to buy it. Our tradition is that if something is
advertised, it isn't any good."
And people who walk by the ad every day in fact seem to have reacted very
little to it.
"It looks very pleasant," says Vyacheslav Ushakov, a 52-year-old
construction engineer. "They are not drinking. They are not fighting. It's
promising many nice possibilities."
Lena Nikolayeva, a teacher, studies it at length. "Of course, it's about
sex," she says. "It doesn't seem to say much about cigarettes."
Nikolai Popov, editor of Advertising World magazine here, agrees.
"People will remember the picture but not the brand," he says. "And they
will enjoy the picture. In the U.S., they control the ads more strictly.
That's why the Americans don't get enough humor and positive emotions from
Here, Russians wade through a gantlet of advertising every day, so it's not
easy for one brand to stand out.
Within a few blocks on one street, there's a dashing, virile Camel man
paddling a raft through white water. Another handsome young man strides out
from a billboard where he's just won a lottery because he bought L&M
cigarettes. "Old Friends Are Best," proclaims a billboard for Bulgarian
cigarettes. Across the street, a Marlboro man lassos a handsome horse.
"Just think whom you're calling," says Sergei Kirevnev, a spokesman for
Reemstma, the German company that makes West cigarettes. "It's a tobacco
company. We're not going to give out information about our advertising.
It's a commercial secret.
"Maybe you have never dealt with tobacco companies before and you do not
know that we keep everything secret here," he scoffs.
Back on Dolgorukovskaya Street, Galina Motorina, an 18-year-old student, is
walking past the West ad. She is wearing a very short skirt. A black-lace
stretch blouse clings to her buxom figure, her skin translucent underneath.
"I don't like the ads," she says, "but I'm conservative myself."
Russia Says Needs Law to Fight Political Extremism
MOSCOW, July 10 (Reuters) - Russia should adopt a law to combat political
and religious extremism in the run-up to parliamentary and presidential
polls due in the next 11 months, Russia''s advisory Security Council said
"It has now become urgent that a law on countering political extremism be
adopted as soon as possible," the council''s press office was quoted as
saying by Itar-Tass news agency.
The Security Council meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin,
agreed that radical organisations had become more active ahead of Russia''s
elections. A parliamentary poll is due in December and a presidential
election is due in mid-2000.
Parties and organisations representing minority viewpoints blossomed after
the fall of Soviet one-party rule. Some groups have taken on hardline ideas
after Russia''s financial crisis last August discredited liberal,
The media has suggested that democracy could suffer if groups such as the
ultra-nationalists came into power.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin has vowed to crack down on political
extremism to ensure stability and calm during a time of fierce pre-election
Yeltsin said on Friday that the political scene was calm. But opposition
deputies say his decision to take a summer holiday just outside Moscow
shows he is gearing up for a major battle with them before December''s
election to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
SHEVARDNADZE THANKS RUSSIA FOR HELPING PROTECT ITS BORDERS
TBILISI, July 10 (Itar-Tass) - Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze
on Saturday thanked Russia for its assistance in protecting Georgia's
While on a visit to the Black Sea port of Poti, Shevardnadze said "at
the first, the most difficult and complex stage of the development of
the independent Georgian state, Russia undertook, and successfully
fulfilled, a task of protecting several sections of the Georgian state
border (Georgia's border with Turkey and sea border)."
The president said Russia "showed understanding for the new objective
realities in the post-Soviet period and assisted in the transfer of the
border protection functions to Georgian border guards."
He said the transfer of these functions from Russian to Georgian border
guards is almost over and expressed the hope for further development of
cooperation in the field of border protection.
RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT SAYS IT WILL TRY TO REDUCE DEBT BURDEN
SARANSK, July 10 (Itar-Tass) - The government will take tough measures
to ease the foreign debt's burden on the economy and budget, First
Vice-Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko said.
Speaking at a meeting with the staff and faculty members of Mordovia's
N.P. Ogarev State University on Saturday, Khristenko said the talks
with international lending institutions have entered a critical stage
and the first portions of the first IMF tranche are expected to start
arriving in Russia in July.
In 1999 Russia has to pay 9.5 billion U.S. dollars to foreign creditors
and borrow five billion U.S. dollars. The difference will have to be
covered from the budget, he said.
In the year 2000, Russia will have to pay foreign creditors 10 billion
U.S. dollars, with almost half of this sum to be borrowed.
At the same time, Khristenko stressed that the government should play
by certain principles in order "not to become financial addicts who
need more and more foreign creditors."
He said total revenues in June 1999 reached 53 billion roubles, which
signifies a positive trend in the Russian economy.
Khristenko noted the need for the economy to be more socially oriented,
adding that the government plans to take a number of measures in this
In the year 2000 the government will "adjust the wages of budget
workers to inflation" which is expected to be 18 percent. In April of
2000, wages in the budget sector will be raised by 20 percent, he said.
In addition, "it is necessary to put an end to arrears, primarily wage
and pension arrears" and then "carry out a wage reform," he said.
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999
From: "Ludmila A. Foster" <email@example.com>
Subject: Pushkin 200
Dear David: The Bicentennial of Pushkin's birth is widely marked not
only in Russia, but also in the U.S. But I can not find either a Pushkin
in America Internet site, or a review article that would list the
various events. The Russian-language newspapers published in the States
(at least those that I see) do not have any comprehensive articles,
either. I keep hearing individual reports, for example that there was a
major conference at Stanford, or some sort of an event at Yale, and
here, in Washington, we are going to have a Pushkin memorial. Could any
of your readers supply any information on the Pushkin Bicentennial in
America? Thank you for printing my appeal.
The Irish Times
10 July 1999
Spectre of TB haunnts Russian jails
A new killer is stalking Russia's appalling prisons, a strain of incurable
tuberculosis which resists drugs. Clare O'Dea visited one such prison in
Siberia, where at one time the authorities were burying 80 inmates a month
In a prison hospital compound built for 750 patients in the small town of
Mariinsk in the Kemerova region of Siberia, 1,500 men and boys behind the
wire quietly endure the lurking menace of tuberculosis.
Mariinsk is situated just three hours' drive, through picturesque forest
and farming scenery, from the regional capital, Kemerova. The relative
prosperity of Moscow is four hours away by air, but it could be decades away.
This is the Kuzbass region of Russia, where huge deposits of coal have been
mined for generations, the winters are long and harsh, temperatures
plunging as low as minus 40 C, and the population is hardy and heavy drinking.
The prison system is a big employer in the Kuzbass, with 10,000 people
working in jails that hold 30,000 inmates, in an area the size of Belgium.
Historically it was a region of exile for dissidents under the tsars and in
Soviet times. Millions of prisoners perished in the zone, as the Russians
call it, because of inhumane treatment and atrocious living conditions.
But that was then and this is now. Now most of the inmates in the region's
33 prisons and colonies are from the surrounding area, meaning one in 10 of
Kemerova's population are incarcerated. Tuberculosis has always been a big
killer in the zone, but the deterioration of services and shortage of money
since the break-up of the Soviet Union have made matters much worse.
Dr Natalya Vezhnina, a colonel in the military and medical chief for the
Ministry of Justice in the region, described a very difficult time in
hospital colony No 33. "After the crisis [by which he means the break-up of
the Soviet Union], it became very difficult to feed the patients, and to
maintain normal conditions in the colony. We had practically run out of
medicine, and more and more men were being transferred here from other
colonies. One-quarter of the TB patients admitted to the hospital died from
the disease. We were burying 80 men a month. It was our darkest hour."
The international non-profit medical organisation, Medecins Sans
Frontieres, identified the colony as suitable for the introduction of a
project which would follow World Health Organisation recommendations for
the treatments of TB. After the MSF programme was introduced in 1996, the
death rate from TB decreased 20-fold in two years.
The colony in Mariinsk is a quiet place. The inmates have nothing to do but
hang around, follow the prison and medical routines and put up with their
disease. Most of them are well enough to spend time outside each day, now
that the weather allows it. The men suffer from persistent coughing,
difficulty in breathing, general weakness and usually weight loss. As they
are existing on 75 per cent of the recommended daily intake of calories
they are unhealthy-looking and lack energy.
Apart from poor conditions, another major part of the TB problem is that
the <font color=red>Russia</font>n system of treatment is not streamlined,
and many outmoded methods such as surgery and inhalation therapy are still
In 1993 the World Health Organisation produced a strategy against TB in
response to an alarming growth in the disease and particularly the
emergence of a new strain of multi drug-resistant TB worldwide. The
strategy centres on the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease
The programme combines speedy, microscope-based diagnosis, with the
directly observed and monitored system of administering a combination of
drugs daily. The other aspects of the programme are support and funding
from the local government and a co-ordinated follow-up of the cases until
they are declared clear.
This is what MSF is putting into practice in Colony No 33 in Mariinsk, and
it is getting impressive results. The only worrying stumbling block is the
steady hold of the drug-resistant strain.
The TB rate is twice epidemic level now in Russia, with 100 new cases per
100,000 population, according to Prof Nena Gvetadze of the Central TB
Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Medical Science. The rate in
the prisons is 50 times higher again.
A combination of factors has exacerbated the problem in the jails and made
it almost impossible to contain. First and foremost is the overcrowding,
especially in remand centres, where there is standing room only and
prisoners in many cases have to sleep in shifts.
There is no bail in Russia. Once charged with an offence, the accused is
held in a pretrial detention centre until the case comes up. This generally
takes a minimum of 18 months, even for a relatively minor charge. Some 23
hours a day are spent in overcrowded, poorly ventilated cells, existing on
an inadequate diet and almost certainly alongside contagious cases of
On a recent visit to a pre-trial detention centre Butyrka in Moscow, the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, said
the conditions she witnessed there amounted to torture.
Added to these factors is the poor record and method of TB treatment for
prisoners in recent years. The diagnosis procedure has been slow and
outdated, relying chiefly on Xrays. Very often, prisoners do not complete
their course of medication, either because the drugs run out or the
prisoner sees TB as a ticket out of the strict regime colonies and deceives
medical staff when given the medicine. This erratic treatment has fostered
the growth of new strains of deadly multi-drug resistant TB.
In normal circumstances, a patient with TB can be treated successfully with
a combination of up to five drugs over the course of six to nine months.
The TB clears up, the patient recovers and is no longer contagious. But
with MDR the TB is not being cured, and the patient is likely to become
chronically ill or die. Over 15 per cent of the TB patients in Colony No 33
have MDR, and the doctors are alarmed at these results. In the general
prison TB population the estimated rate is 25 per cent.
MDR treatment costs 150 to 300 times more than the treatment of
"The prisoners are now a threat not only to the local community but also
outside Russia," Dr Laura Lobera, MSF doctor in Mariinsk, warned. "These
men will be released sooner or later and will be in contact with civil
society. The MDR strain is being transmitted wider and wider and will
travel with people." One infectious TB case can contaminate up to 30 other
people a year.
The issue of amnesty is a further complication in tackling TB. The State
Duma or lower house of parliament last month voted to approve an amnesty
intended to release 94,000 prisoners (just under one in 10 of the prison
population), among them TB-infected prisoners. The release of 12,000 remand
prisoners will come first and then the other amnesty may produce more
injustice and suffering: if housing and medical care cannot be provided on
the outside, the amnesty could be a recipe for disaster.
>From the point of view of non-governmental organisations working in the
field, they may be faced with a serious dilemma. "If we start treatment we
have to be sure the patient will be there [in the prison] for the full
course. We cannot contribute to the creation of more MDR TB", Dr Vinciane
Sizaire, chief co-ordinator for MSF in the Kemerove region, said. Even
without the amnesty, there are already 30,000 prisoners with active TB
being released into the community each year.
Dr Sizaire believes what is being done in Mariinsk should urgently be taken
as a model for the rest of the penitentiary system because the consequences
of further neglect of the infected prison population are too dire to
THE Irish Government donated £50,000 towards the programme in Mariinsk
in December 1997. The money has helped fight the battle against TB, but
unfortunately this was only the beginning, and the funding commitment is
not there from the Russia government.
As Dr Igor Malakov, head of the Mariinsk hospital, put it: "TB is the
leading cause of death in our prisons, and our problem lies in the lack of
money. MDR TB will spread to the rest of Europe in less than five years.
The danger is real and it is here."
Dr Malakov also has to contend with colleagues and friends from outside the
colony calling him and asking for drugs for their patients in civilian
hospitals. His hands are tied.
One of his patients, 17-year-old Oleg from Novokuznetsk, is small for his
age. He has TB for the second time, and this time it looks like the
incurable MDR strain. Oleg received a six-year sentence in 1995 at the age
of 14 for stealing cases of vodka from a shop with two other boys. His
parents and sister keep in touch and he receives a food parcel from home
When asked if he is angry about his situation, he shrugs his shoulders,
casts a look at the guard and says: "it's my own fault."
Berezovskiy Media Empire Benefits From Public Purse
7 July 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Leonid Krutakov: "Berezovskiy's Push Button. Single Click
Puts $80 Million Into His Pocket"
The offensive against Luzhkov continues. In
particular, an active expansion of Boris Berezovskiy's news empire is in
The Kremlin entourage is actively preparing for the upcoming elections.
Since Luzhkov openly declared his intention to run for the 2000
presidential post and since Primakov receded into the background, Luzhkov
has become the main target for attacks by the Kremlin staff. According to
Moskovskiy Komsomolets's information, last week a whole FSB [Federal
Security Service] department dealing with the press was instructed by its
director [Putin] to concentrate all of its efforts on the Moscow group of
As well as on the newspapers and television channels supportive of
Luzhkov (in other words, on the Media-Most Holding Company).
Concurrently, powerful pressure has been exerted on Tatarstan's President
Shaymiyev, leader of the All Russia movement. The objective is to prevent
Fatherland's [Luzhkov's movement] unification with All Russia
The Kremlin staff is perfectly aware that the press will set the tone in
the upcoming State Duma elections. And the Duma elections are believed to
be a trial run for the presidential election. In the event the Communists
or Fatherland prevail, it will be necessary to resort to the use of force
in order to ensure the continuity of power. If they don't prevail, there
are chances that there will be no need to spill blood in order to
perpetuate the regime. This is the reason why Chernomyrdin's image is
being energetically promoted (by purely bureaucratic methods) in order to
impart more weight to his Russia Is Our Home movement. It is rumored
that, in the event the Duma elections prove successful, Viktor
Stepanovich [Chernomyrdin] has been promised the post of successor.
Yeltsin's inner circle realizes, however, that the press should not be hit
excessively. With rare exceptions, corporative ethics still work. For
that reason, in addition to preparing for putting pressure on those mass
media that do not show due reverence toward the "[Yeltsin] Family," the
"friendly" alliance of publications is being reinforced. These chores
have been entrusted to Berezovskiy.
Important work, no doubt about that. And it does not look as though it
burdens Boris Abramovich's [Berezovskiy's] financial situation. As
always, Berezovskiy takes money for the implementation of new plans
regarding the mass media from the state treasury, in other words, from my
pocket and yours. As a result, Boris Abramovich can make a pretty penny
on this venture.
As Moskovskiy Komsomolets has learned, last week, the Kremlin's chief
of staff Voloshin got Yeltsin's approval for a directive on the
development of a new procedure for financing ORT [Russian Public
Television], and on Friday [2 July] Stepashin sent a letter, based on
that directive, to Vneshekonombank requesting a $80 million credit for
ORT. That was in addition to the $100 million allocated to "button No. 1"
[ORT is Channel 1 and the first pushbutton on TV sets or remote controls
is traditionally tuned to that channel] under Primakov.
A most remarkable fact. But the procedure for redeeming this credit
and the preceding one looks even more interesting.
According to government sources, ORT will not repay either credit in cash but
will do so in internal foreign-currency loan bonds. Their current market
value ranges between 15 percent and 25 percent of the nominal value
depending on the series. And the credit will naturally be redeemed
according to the nominal value of the bonds. In simpler terms, of the $80
million, $12 million can be spent on redeeming internal foreign-currency
loan bonds so that the credit will be covered with that money, and the
remaining $68 million can be spent, without hesitation, on one's own
needs. Something that Boris Berezovskiy will, apparently, do.
An elegant strategy, isn't it? Although, what is unusual about it?
Everything is logical: Our television is public property, therefore all
of us should be paying its debts. And BAB [Boris Abramovich Berezovskiy]
can echo Lenin's words in response to all accusations regarding his
personal material incentive: "You cannot live in society and be free of
society at the same time."
July 9, 1999
Sergei Stepashin's Debut In Washington
By Vladimir Abarinov
The White House has announced that Russian Prime Minister Sergei
Stepashin will arrive in Washington on July 27, writes IZVESTIA. The high
Russian guest is to meet with Vice President Al Gore within the framework
of the Russia-U.S. Commission for Economic and Technological Cooperation.
Most likely, he will also meet with President Bill Clinton.
Stepashin's visit is expected to be a major event in Russia-U.S.
relations which were markedly spoiled by the NATO airstrikes against
Yugoslavia. The paper recalls that former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov even had to make a U-turn while on his way to Washington to go
back to Moscow on learning that the strikes had started.
Currently, the paper notes, Washington is carefully trying not to strain
its relations with Moscow any further. Specifically, there is still a
strict embargo on any comment on the ousting of the U.S. military attache
from Moscow on espionage charges. The reaction to possible arms supply
contracts between Russia and Syria was rather moderate. Reports about the
"confrontation" between Russian and Western peacekeepers in Kosovo
gradually waned after the NATO talks in Moscow.
It is also noteworthy, the paper says further, that President Clinton in
his annual report to the Congress on the emigration policy recommended that
the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment, restricting trade with countries
preventing emigration (Russia was also on the list), should now be repealed.
Another paper, NOVYYE IZVESTIA (07/09/99, pp. 1-2), notes that
Stepashin's visit to Washington is expected to give a new impulse to
Russia-U.S. business contacts, now practically frozen. The Russian Prime
Minister will take along a big group of government officials and will meet
with several major American corporations still interested in more extensive
business contacts. The paper recalls that following the August 1998
financial crisis in Russia U.S. companied curtailed their activities in
this country by almost 60 percent. Stepashin's task will be to convince
them to come back to the Russian market. Also, an attempt will be made to
push the talks with the IMF, though no breakthrough is expected -- Moscow
realizes quite well that it will not receive much money at once.
The paper notes further that Vice President Al Gore, whose name has been
connected with the U.S.-Russia Commission for Economic and Technological
Cooperation for seven years now, will try to use his meeting with Stepashin
to raise his low rating. Reportedly, Gore wanted to meet with the Russian
Prime Minister not in Washington but somewhere else, closer to the
electorate. Yet Stepashin was firm on Washington as the main venue --
clearly, he wants to make use of the fact that not only the U.S.
Administration is in Washington, but also the IMF and World Bank
The Independent on Sunday (UK)
11 July 1999
[for personal use only]
Phil Reeves - White Nights and rooftop tours reveal the secret St Petersburg
A Russian with an offbeat - and unlicensed - sideline offers tourists the
unique thrill of 'urban mountaineering'
THEY never look up, the hustlers of St Petersburg, as they bully tourists
into sitting for street portraits at midnight, or hawk tickets for
canal-boat rides during what the locals call the White Nights, under a sky
whose summer sun barely sets. They scan the street, peering through the
crowds of promenading couples in the hope that some will agree to part with
extra roubles for one last treat before the summer finally ends, and the
former capital of the tsars returns to its sombre, northern self.
But they never look up, above the eyeline, to the silhouetted turrets and
rooftops that frame their own city. Business is business, even for the
beggars, prostitutes, or elderly women selling just-born kittens, and
business takes place at ground zero.
If they did lift their gaze at the right time of night, as the light fades
to a cobalt blue for an hour or two, they might glimpse a small group of
foreigners, backpacks and cameras over their shoulders, earnestly picking a
path among the chimneys as silently as possible. The rooftop tourism season
is in full flood in St Petersburg, unknown to its four million residents:
except, perhaps, those who hear the footsteps overhead.
Its chief advocate is Peter Kozyrev, a 26-year-old Russian freelance
journalist and - a rare breed this, in a country whose population until
recently could not usually go overseas - an avid and widely travelled
backpacker. He never advertises his services as a roof guide, apart from
distributing fliers in English at the international youth hostel. He never
gives interviews to the Russian media. The essence of successfully roaming
the roofs is to be as discreet, and low-key, as possible.
Being discreet, however, is not easy when you are clambering up a steel
ladder in darkness but for the beam of Peter's small torch. Moments
earlier, we had ducked (guiltily, I thought) into an archway, and walked up
a dark six-storey staircase inside a damp-blistered, pee-reeking apartment
block. Our destination was one of his favourite spots, a small, crumbling
brick turret on a roof just off Nevski Prospect, the city's Oxford Street.
It commands a view that sweeps from the port on the Gulf of Finland to the
church that marks the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by a
bomber, and beyond. "Shhhhh," Peter whispered, as I tripped over a pipe.
"We don't want to piss off the neighbours." He patted a wall as we were
passing through a dust-caked attic. "There are people living right behind
When we got there, the view was marvellous. "Once you are up here, above
everything, it's all worth it," he said, eyes shining. "It is a feeling
that you cannot get anywhere else in St Petersburg. You see, there are no
skyscrapers here, and no hills." He calls his tours an "urban version of
St Petersburg has plenty of official guides, bustling women who used to go
from museum to museum spouting history of behalf of the KGB-controlled
Intourist agency, and have carried on ever since, though under new
management. (It is not hard to imagine how their former bosses would have
reacted to the idea of Western tourists creeping about the roofs). Peter
Kozyrev is not one of these. He is, as he points out in his perfect
English, a guide for the Alternative Tourist. He does not have a guide's
licence - which is one reason for the need for discretion; nor could he
ever get one for his rooftop work. His clients are few in number and, he
says, "like-minded people", mostly other youth hostelers.
Putting together his tour was a sizeable undertaking. For weeks he wandered
the streets, padding up and down apartment stairways and trying the doors
used by the city workers who go on to the roofs to clear the snow and
icicles in winter. Even as we walked along Nevski Prospect later, he seemed
to be constantly looking upwards, wistfully.
"It takes a long time to find a good one," he said. "You walk along the
street, see a building with a nice railing, and say to yourself, 'It must
be great up there.' You try several staircases. If you can find one that's
open, you try to find a safe way in. Sometimes the neighbours give you a
hard time. If not, you can start taking people in."
The residents are his biggest bane, even though he says most of the roofs
he tramps upon are municipal property. He used to have access to the roof
of the tenement in which Dostoyevksy housed Raskolnikov in Crime and
Punishment, but the inhabitants got fed up with the disturbance and bolted
the door. It can be far worse: on one occasion he and some friends were
locked up on a roof by outraged tenants. On another, he was confronted by
an angry man wielding a rifle.
He has persevered, not only because his work earns him a bob or two (though
not much more), but also because he loves showing off his patch. With only
1.9 million tourists last year, St Petersburg has failed to make the most
of its beauty, because of its crime - an Australian was murdered last
month, and contract killings are a blight; overcharging - the top hotels
are ludicrously expensive; and Soviet practices - you can still be fined
for not registering your visa.
He admits to all these problems, but points to the city's fabulous art and
architecture, the legacy of nearly 300 years. "People say Petersburg is the
Venice of the north but that's bullshit. St Petersburg is St Petersburg. If
anything, Venice is the St Petersburg of the south."
For now, he and his fellow back-packers are enjoying these riches from
above, moving in the shadows above the melee. And, for now, Peter Kozyrev
sees no reason why he shouldn't carry on: "We are invisible. No one looks
up. Have you ever seen anyone around looking up?"
New York Times
July 11, 1999
[for personal use only]
A Khrushchev Is Pledging New Allegiance
By FRANCIS X. CLINES
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Four decades after his father, Nikita Khrushchev,
provocatively vowed from the Kremlin, "We will bury you," Sergei Khrushchev
awaits American citizenship, happily prepared to pledge allegiance to the
United States as its newest patriot.
"Sure," said Sergei Khrushchev with a wisp of merriment in his blue eyes
that recalled no one so much as his father.
"This is a great country and it's an honor to live here," the 64-year-old
son of the late Soviet premier declared last week. "They will tell me what
"I will do everything as they say," he added with a patient smile, speaking
of the citizenship ceremony and the universal ways of bureaucracy.
Now a scholar of the Cold War whose lectures at Brown University here are
driven by eyewitness memories, Khrushchev had been a rocket and computer
scientist in his father's heyday and a firm believer in communism. But on
Monday, in a red-white-and-blue ceremony off Cathedral Square here,
Khrushchev will stand and be sworn in with other new Americans, including
his wife, Valentina Garlenka, in a most personal postscript to the Cold War
years of his father.
Nikita Khrushchev had barnstormed America with his son at his side at the
height of the Cold War 40 years ago. "An impression of a great country, but
nothing shocking," Sergei Khrushchev said of the nation he would come to
adopt. "More friendly than expected. You smile more than others."
The son, an ardent collector of butterflies, journeyed to such exotic
places as Brooklyn in adding to his collection, while the father hammered
away -- literally and famously at the United Nations -- at the message
that capitalism would some day be defeated by communism.
"Of course, you use only that expression about 'bury,' " said the son with
a smile, talking from a perspective somewhere between Moscow and Washington
about how his father had referred to economic, not thermonuclear, burial.
But the distinction was often lost in fear and outrage on the American side
of the Iron Curtain.
But that was then, and now Sergei Khrushchev can enjoy the liberating
aftermath as he edits family journals, lectures and writes about the Cold
War at the university's Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International
Studies. "Time does its inevitable work," he wrote in his own memoir a
decade ago before he ever imagined becoming an American.
More playful than solemn about his citizenship decision, he keeps a Soviet
spy-satellite photograph of Rhode Island pinned to the wall as a symbol of
his double-faceted fate, near a cartoon of a grizzled beggar labeled
"Expert on Russia."
Outside his tiny faculty office, where he was interviewed, a poster offers
the image and hopeful prediction of his father that after a person's death
"the good things will outweigh the bad." Inside, the son tests that hope in
his scholarship about the long and at times frighteningly checkered career
of premier Khrushchev. The son dismisses the question of what his father,
celebrated for his barnyard candor, might have said about having an
American for a son. "It is impossible to move a political figure from one
era to another," the scholar said of the dictator. "We only create such
fiction in movies."
He came by his scholarly role accidentally, he explained, when someone was
needed to edit his father's dictated memoirs. "Then I was interested in
missiles and gyroscopes," he said. "But I decided I would work with the
society," he added, summarizing a journey that included his father's daring
to denounce the horrific abuses of Stalin, his predecessor, and his
father's eventual fall in 1964 as he attempted gradual changes in the
When the liberating era of Mikhail Gorbachev arrived, Sergei Khrushchev was
already more independent minded in investigating the Cold War in detail and
he became fascinated by its "mutual misperceptions." By then, his father
had come to be viewed as something of a foreshadowing of Gorbachev for
having tried to ease the absolutism of the Soviet system.
The son began teaching here in 1991 and last year decided that, with travel
to Russia no longer restricted, he would base his life here. "We thought
that if you decide to work and live here you have an obligation to be a
citizen," Khrushchev said.
"Our children told us it's your decision," he said of the three adult sons
(and three grandchildren) in Moscow. They regularly visit the Khrushchevs
in Rhode Island.
The Khrushchevs have American Dream trappings, living in Cranston, a
15-minute commute from the university, in a house they were able to buy
with the profits from Khrushchev's writing and lecturing.
Lately he is bemused by questions from Americans about whether there is any
sense of betrayal in Russia at his change in citizenship. "People over
there, really much more than here, they are are less under the pressure of
old ideology," he said. "They can like America, they can dislike America,
but they are not living in the Cold War.
"Of course, I heard one of the old apparatchiks call me an 'enemy of the
people,' " he added, charmed by the notion.
While his father took long, garrulous walks with his son after his Kremlin
work days, he never talked of the raw daily fear of the Stalin terror until
after he took power and began denouncing before party leaders the murderous
abuses of the masses, Sergei Khrushchev said.
"We were very close," the son said. "He liked to talk and tell these
stories. But not everything."
Nina Petrovna, Sergei's mother, who died in 1984, had learned and taught
English to her children, so she was able to read her husband's memoir when
it was originally published in English. "Now I'm editing my mother's
diary," Sergei Khrushchev said. "And she's often saying, 'So many
interesting things that my husband never told me.' "
Nikita Khrushchev exemplified the triumphs, sorrows and lethal politics of
the Kremlin regime. His first wife died in the harrowing famine of 1921.
His son, Leonid, died as a combat pilot in World War II. Sergei was born of
the second marriage, along with two sisters, Rada and Yelena.
"No 'golden youth' for me," Sergei Khrushchev said of his upbringing,
referring to the pampered children of Kremlin leaders. "No playboy. No
pocket money. No cars. I went by subway to the university and I hung on the
side of crowded trams like everyone else in Moscow."
He seems particularly proud of these memories as he becomes an American.
"Parents warned, 'If you do this or don't do that, you will be like
Stalin's son -- the worst example for our family,' " he recalled.
In Moscow, Khrushchev found his 15 minutes of infamy was over after his
father died in 1971. "They stopped bugging my phone and I told friends I'm
not an important person any more," he said.
"But now my wife's sister tells me the tone of the telephone changes two
days before I arrive," he added with a grin at the status of his new life.
Sergei Khrushchev promises that he will worry far more than the average
American about the current "artificial" and "corrupt" situation in Moscow,
where, he says, a stumbling Boris Yeltsin recalls the final years of Czar
Nicholas II before the Bolshevik revolution. "I can't feel I am safe here
and not care about all my family and friends there."
More than ever, he stressed, the people need economic hope and progress --
an imperative that he said his father once angrily conceded beyond Western
ears soon after his celebrated vow to "bury" capitalism. In facing Soviet
military demands for more weaponry, Sergei Khrushchev said, "My father told
the generals that, between communism and capitalism, that system will win
that presents the better life to the people."
11 July 1999
[for personal use only]
Kosovo: What Bearhugs Can't Hide
By Jim Hoagland
The Russian military continues to stick a collective thumb into NATO's eye
at every opportunity in the wake of the Kosovo war. This is no passing fit
of pique in Moscow. At some level, Russian national interest as well as
Russian national pride has been injured.
The military lessons of NATO's devastating 78-day air campaign against
Serbia are being drawn by general staffs around the globe. Nowhere will the
meaning of Kosovo be studied more intently, or grimly, than in the Kremlin.
Russian-supplied weapons and defensive strategy were defeated by NATO as
thoroughly as were Slobodan Milosevic's political goals.
The end of the Cold War does not prevent senior military professionals in
Washington and Moscow from continuing to grade themselves, their weapons
and doctrines against each other. Kosovo must be judged a military disaster
for the inheritors of a Soviet model that relied heavily on ground
radar-controlled air defense, and a jump forward for U.S. offensive
This sense of strategic failure may be even more important than the often
cited but somewhat tenuous factors of Slav cultural or political solidarity
in explaining the Russian military's obstructive behavior in dealing with
the West over Kosovo.
The Russian dash to the Pristina airport, the constant challenging of the
terms of the deployment deal its political leaders accepted at Helsinki and
even the recent buzzing of Iceland with strategic bombers all fit the
pattern of a military establishment intent on showing anger and unhappiness
and clawing back some self-respect, whatever the diplomatic costs.
The Soviet Union pumped billions into its ground-controlled air defenses in
the 1980s and persuaded its friends and clients to take that approach,
while the United States and its allies funneled resources into offensive
air technology and air-based interceptor defense.
Kosovo rewarded the U.S. effort. Milosevic's highly rated air defense
system, which contained modern Western-manufactured equipment as well as
Soviet-era surface-to-air missile batteries, proved wholly ineffective
against U.S. stealth warplanes that delivered a new all-weather guided bomb
onto critical strategic targets....
Russian-American direct military contacts have ceased since the end of
1998, as U.S. forces prepared for the air attacks they subsequently carried
out on Baghdad and Belgrade without significant opposition or losses.
Despite the surface harmony Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin periodically
proclaim, hopes of mutual military cooperation that flourished at the end
of the Cold War are now on life support, and deteriorating rapidly.
They are deteriorating not only because of underlying conflicts over Kosovo
but also because of the new demonstration of U.S. technological
superiority. The fears and uncertainties now present in Moscow's military
are too deep to be overcome with presidential rhetoric and bearhugs between
Boris and Bill. A deep reassessment of Russian-American relations is needed
in both capitals.
That is not the only cloud present in the silver lining of Milosevic's
capitulation to U.S. pilots, who did not suffer a single casualty to
hostile fire. American generals must now worry that their experience in
Kosovo has made war look too easy, at least for technologically superior
They must guard against the temptation political leaders will no doubt feel
to use professional forces, and the latest wonder weapons, as instruments
of diplomatic frustration. War -- even humanitarian war -- must always be a