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Johnson's Russia List
22 July 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AFP: Gorbachev wants Lenin buried.
2. AP: Russian: Moscow Should Abandon Mir.
3. Reuters: Russia sees flat '99 GDP, up 1.5 pct in 2000.
4. Interfax: Poll: Primakov most likely Russia's next president.
5. Moscow Times: Andrei Piontkovsky, SEASON OF DISCONTENT: Primakov
Is Our Amazing Mediocrity.
6. Interfax: Zyuganov Reports on Talks With Primakov, Luzhkov.
7. Itar-Tass: Government To Suspend Laws Due to Scarce Revenues.
8. Kommersant: The Kremlin Refuses To Have Anything To Do With...
9. Dale Herspring: Hough and Culture/3401.
10. St. Petersburg Times: Kirill Koriukin. Two 'Pure Web Publications'
Prepare for Russian Market.
11. Moskovskiy Komsomolets: Sergey Kovalenko, Romanian Scenario
Written for Kuzbass? Ten Years Have Passed Since Beginning of First
Russian Miners' Strike.
12. RFE/RL: Ben Partridge, East: Report Says Russia Seeking To
Reassert Regional Influence.
13. The Russia Journal: Lyuba Pronina, For these folks, it's Boris
14. John Wilhelm: Volodya. (Homeless teenager)]
Gorbachev wants Lenin buried
MOSCOW, July 21 (AFP) - The Soviet Union's last leader Mikhail Gorbachev
said Wednesday that he was in favour of burying Lenin's mummified body
which is currently on display in a Red Square mausoleum.
The issue is controversial as Russian leftists threaten to take to the
streets in protest should the Kremlin follow through on threats to remove
the body of the founder of the Soviet Union from public display.
"I am in absolute favor of burying Lenin's body if this is approached in a
humane and Christian way," Gorbachev told Moscow Echo radio in an interview.
He lashed out at his old foe President Boris Yeltsin for turning Lenin's
body into a political pawn.
"This is a political game, a provocation whose aim is to ban the Communist
Party," Gorbachev said. "That tells me that the current regime is in agony."
People in the Soviet era come to worship the father of the Russian
revolution on display in his red marble mausoleum, built in 1930, six years
after his death.
The mausoleum is at the foot of the Kremlin walls where other leading
Soviet figures are buried.
Yeltsin has said that two goals of his final term in office were to bury
both Lenin and the remains of Russia's last tsar Nicolas II, who was
executed along with his family by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
The remains of the tsarist family and faithful retainers executed with the
royals were buried in the former imperial capital Saint Petersburg a year ago.
The Communists have recently expressed concern that the Kremlin may use the
one-year anniversary of the tsar's burial to sneak Lenin out of Red Square.
As a result several dozen leftist deputies stayed in Moscow despite the
summer recess to make sure Lenin's body stays put.
Yeltsin said in a recent newspaper interview he still thought Lenin's body
should be removed from Red Square but refused to specify when this might be
Russian: Moscow Should Abandon Mir
July 21, 1999
MOSCOW (AP) - A top Russian official said Wednesday what NASA has been
waiting to hear for months: Russia should scrap its Mir space station and
concentrate on contributing to the international space station.
Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said the 13-year-old Mir has served its
duty and is falling into disrepair, the Interfax news agency reported.
The Mir has long outlasted its originally planned life span, but the timing
of Klebanov's remark was unusual because the orbiter has been running
trouble-free for months after a series of major breakdowns and accidents
two years ago.
Klebanov said the government can't afford to pay $250 million a year to
keep the Mir operational and should focus instead on building the
international space station with NASA.
The U.S. space agency has long been urging Russia to abandon the Mir and
concentrate its meager resources on the international station. But the
Russians have resisted, unwilling to part with the symbol of their space
glory and national pride.
However, a dire cash shortage forced Russia to decide that the station
would be left unmanned after the current crew departs in August. They plan
to discard it early next year.
Space officials still hope that a new source of cash will materialize
before then, allowing them to resume missions to the Mir. But repeated
efforts to lure private investors have failed.
The international space station project is running almost two years behind
schedule. The first permanent crew isn't expected to move in until March
because of Russia's failure to build its key segment on time.
Russia sees flat '99 GDP, up 1.5 pct in 2000
MOSCOW, July 21 (Reuters) - Russia's economy minister on Wednesday forecast
unchanged gross domestic product in 1999, compared with previous forecasts
of over a two percent fall, and said the economy would grow at least 1.5
percent next year.
Forecasts for the economy have been gradually improving as a softer than
expected landing from last year's economic crisis has become apparent in
"We are counting on gross domestic product not falling this year," Andrei
Shapovalyants told a news conference.
"We think that the lowest figure which can be used for calculating the
(2000) budget amounts to 1.5 percent."
He also said that industrial output, which has been showing impressive
month-on-month rises since the start of the year, would grow by 1.5 percent
The statistics agency said earlier this week that industrial output in the
first half of the year rose three percent. It fell 6.6 percent in 1998 amid
the after-shock of the crisis.
However, analysts say that since then industry has benefited from the
devaluation as its exports have become more competitive while imports have
shrunk, allowing domestic goods to take market share.
Shapovalyants said industry was boosted by the fact that prices for energy
and wages had been lagging behind inflation.
He said forecasts for next year depended on how long these two factors
would continue to help domestic producers.
Poll: Primakov most likely Russia's next president
MOSCOW. July 20 (Interfax) - If presidential elections were held in
large Russian cities next Sunday, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov
would emerge victorious with 17% of the votes.
This is clear from the All-Russia Public Opinion Center's report on
a poll among 1,800 residents of Russian regional centers where about one
third of the population lives.
The poll was held last week.
The second most probable winner was leader of the Fatherland
movement, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov (13%). In third place was the leader
of the Yabloko party, Grigory Yavlinsky (11%).
Next came Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov (9%), Prime
Minister Sergei Stepashin (7%), leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party
Vladimir Zhirinovsky (6%), governor of Krasnoyarsk territory Alexander
Lebed (5%), and leader of the New Force movement Sergei Kiriyenko.
In last place in the top ten were Viktor Chernomyrdin and First
Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko; each scored 2%.
Other candidates were named by 8% of the respondents; 8% said they
would not take part in voting and another 8% were undecided.
Asked what party or movement they would support if parliamentary
elections were held right away, 16% named the Fatherland movement led by
Luzhkov, 15% preferred Yabloko leader Yavlinsky and another 15%
Next came Zhirinovsky's party (6%), The People's Republican Party
led by Lebed (5%), The New Force led by Kiriyenko (5%), the Our Home is
Russia movement led by Chernomyrdin (4%), Right Cause led by Boris
Nemtsov, Boris Fyodorov and Irina Khakamada (3%), Women of Russia led by
Yekaterina Lakhova (2%) and the Civil Dignity movement led by Ella
July 22, 1999
SEASON OF DISCONTENT: Primakov Is Our Amazing Mediocrity
By Andrei Piontkovsky
Valentin Kuptsov, the Communist Party's No. 2 official, says the left may
support Yevgeny Primakov in the presidential elections. A figure on the
opposite side of the political spectrum, Anatoly Chubais, speaks with great
sympathy about the possibility of Primakov returning to politics as a
leader of a "centrist bloc of healthy forces." Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov
virtually throws himself at Primakov, first offering him the leading
position in Otechestvo, or Fatherland, and then, apparently, leadership of
Has a titan of thought appeared, whose prophetic vision raises him
immeasurably above petty party discord and makes him the indisputable
father of the nation, a Russian Ghandi, Charles De Gaulle or, at least, a
During the years of his party and bureaucratic career, Primakov mastered
the art of pronouncing, in his imposing bass, banalities that were received
by lower-level apparatchiks as the height of state wisdom. And given that
from September 1998 through May 1999 the entire Russian apparatus was on a
lower level than Primakov, it became the inviolable rule of political
correctness in Moscow to be captivated by Yevgeny Maximovich's exceptional
diplomatic and economic wisdom. And only the most desperate boys, like
those in the tale about the emperor's clothes, occasionally noted timidly
that hidden behind Primakov's imposing manner and and deep voice is the
limited intellect of a mediocre apparatchik. This is revealed every time he
departs from the prepared text to make some sort of pronouncement about
"the strategic triangle of Russia, India and China," "Orthodoxy as the main
religion of Russia," "the incorrect dollar-ruble exchange rate" or "freeing
places in the prisons and camps for those we will be sending there."
In a recent "Itogi" broadcast, host Yevgeny Kiselyov, who always overdoes
it in carrying out his leadership's line, spoke rapturously about Primakov
having had "the most distinguished career of the 20th century." Yes, for a
provincial youth without contacts and with an undesirable point in his
passport, Primakov made a remarkable career. Only let's not make a thinker
out of him. His greatest academic achievement was his doctoral dissertation
on the socialist economy of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Nor should we expect any brave political decisions from him. Just recall
how Mikhail Gorbachev's closest adviser prudently disappeared during the
first two days of the 1991 coup, but rushed to Foros, the Crimean resort
where Gorbachev was held during the coup, on Aug. 21 to inform his chief
about "the victory of democratic forces."
Primakov's super-cautiousness served the country well when he unexpectedly
found himself in the post of prime minister. He did not heed the insane
advice of insane academics - people who were socially close to him -
preferring a strictly Brezhnevian kind of soothing inaction. In the eight
months that followed the predecessor government's four-fold devaluation of
the ruble, this inaction was the best medicine for our economy.
Dear Yevgeny Maximovich, who with each day looks more like dear Leonid
Ilyich [Brezhnev], is the most outstanding mediocrity of our political
class. And the hysteria of political groups to win Primakov to their side
says less about Primakov than it does about the emptiness of the Russian
political class itself.
Zyuganov Reports on Talks With Primakov, Luzhkov
MOSCOW. July 20 (Interfax) -- Leader of the
Russian Communist Party and of the People's Patriotic Forces Gennadiy
Zyuganov told Interfax on Tuesday that the leadership of the Russian
people's patriotic forces is holding consultations with ex-prime minister
Yevgeniy Primakov and leader of the Fatherland movement Moscow Mayor
Yuriy Luzhkov on coordinating actions on the eve of the parliamentary
elections. "Yeltsin and his team are very nervous, as they are aware that
they will not benefit in any way from honest elections. Hence, their
attempts at preventing the unification of sound forces," he said. "They
are aware that if we, Primakov and Luzhkov act jointly, our success will
be complete and final," he said.
He said that the possibility of forming
a bloc or a coalition is not being discussed. "What is meant here is
coordination of efforts which will have a healing effect on the nation,"
said Zyuganov. Regarding possible participation of the All Russia bloc in
consultations, he said that this bloc will join in after the people's
patriotic forces, Primakov and Luzhkov "come to terms in principle, and
lay common approaches to important problems." "We are tired of these
stupid information feuds," he said. He announced that he had recently
climbed the Elbrus summit in the Caucasus. "From the height of the
Caucasus mountains all this scuffle looks petty and mean." "One may have
the impression that all problems have been solved, that the drought has
ended and all the fires have been put out, and that all people have food,
clothes and jobs. Meanwhile, the situation is extremely serious and the
country is on the verge of hunger and dramatic developments. Despite
this, those who loathe Russia are trying to entangle it into one more
brawl," Zyuganov said.
He said that attempts will probably be made to foil the parliamentary
elections in December. At the same time, he continued, Russia has enough
sound forces in the country that will manage to check an unconstitutional
course of events. Regarding possible participants in the electoral race,
he said that leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party Vladimir
Zhirinovskiy, whom he described as "an artistic cover for embezzlement,
destruction, degradation and immorality" is being "brazenly deceived" by
the authorities. "But he is doomed," said Zyuganov.
Concerning the Right Cause movement, he said that "it has no future" as its
organizers "initiated the destruction of the country." He described the
present-day situation in Russia as "unusual" and said that the people's
patriotic forces have "very good prospects."
Government To Suspend Laws Due to Scarce Revenues
MOSCOW, July 20 (Itar-Tass) -- The Russian
government is planning to suspend for the year 2000 the laws which cannot
be implemented due to insufficient budget revenues, First Deputy Prime
Minister Viktor Khristenko said on Tuesday.
The appropriate bill will be submitted to the State Duma lower house of
parliament in early autumn, Khristenko told reporters. "It is a forced
but necessary measure, as in other case, we will continue cheating both
ourselves and the people," Khristenko said.
In order to finance enhanced social programmes set up by various laws,
the government needs a sum equal to two or three yearly federal budgets,
The bill also addresses interests of regional authorities, as many laws
and decrees envisage financing from local budgets, that is why the bill
is likely to raise support from many members of the Federation Council
upper house of parliament and heads of local administrations, Khristenko
The law aims to indicate to the local authorities for which social
programmes they can rely on full and timely financing, Khristenko stressed.
Russia Today press summaries
21 July 1999
The Kremlin Refuses To Have Anything To Do With...
A source in presidential administration told the daily that the the Kremlin
had nothing to do with information war between media tycoons Boris Berezovsky
and Vladimir Gusinsky.
Kremlin chief of staff Aleksander Voloshin told journalists on Monday that he
is "calm" about NTV television's attacks against him. (Its Itogi program on
Sunday accused Voloshin and Berezovsky of being involved in a scheme using
the AVVA company and Chara bank to take depositors' money).
Other Kremlin officials said NTV has received more money from the state than
any other channel. "Why should the state fund those who are at war with it?"
The war between ORT and NTV, or their bosses Berezovsky and Gusinsky, is part
of the greater war between the Kremlin and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, the
daily concluded. On Monday, even the respectable politician Victor
Chernomyrdin made the surprising remark that "two Jews (Berezovsky and
Gusinsky) are fighting, and the whole country has to watch this farce."
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999
From: Dale R Herspring <email@example.com>
Subject: Hough and Culture/3401
Jerry is right when he argues that factors like culture play an important
role in economic life. Unfortunately, some political scientists have
followed the (I would argue) simplistic view advocated by a number of
economists -- to wit, that things like culture, language, religion, etc.
are of secondary importance when it comes to economic and political
development. Jerry has given some good examples from the Russian
experience, but one could give hundreds more from the East European,
African, Asian and Latin American experiences. Incentives are heavily
influenced by culture. Something that would increase the output of an
American worker, might not have the same impact elsewhere. Similarly, the
pluralistic understanding of politics that most Americans have appears
lacking in Russia and I for one don't see any signs that it is about to
change sometime soon.
I am prepared to accept many of the ideas that neoliberal economists put
forth, but only if they are directly relevant to the country and culture
concerned. Trying to generalize across cultural lines may make the
theorist feel good, but it is of only minimal use to the policy maker.
The approach I am suggesting is a bit more humbling, but as an ex-policy
maker, I can assure you that it is much more useful.
If and when Russia finds a way out of its current morass it will be by
introducing a "Russian" approach. Anything else will do more to screw
things up -- as we have seen when we American economists who know nothing
about the situation on the ground in Russia come up with "plans" for
ensuring the country's economic development.
St. Petersburg Times
July 20, 1999
Two 'Pure Web Publications' Prepare for Russian Market
By Kirill Koriukin
MOSCOW - As elections draw near and Russia's addiction to the Internet slowly
gathers momentum, two new full-fledged online publications are set to hit the
Russian web this fall.
Russica-Izvestia, the newspaper's online project (www.izvestia.ru), will
launch a revamped site in September which will carry an electronic version of
Izvestia as well as several databases, according to those working on the
project. The current Russica-Izvestia is profitable and has an annual
turnover of $500,000, said Mo dest Kolerov, one of the project's masterminds.
He is expecting turnover to double soon after the new site is launched.
Kolerov said the venture aspires to become nothing short of Russia's leading
online news site before year's end.
The site will be constructed by the same team that launched the Polit.RU
online newspaper (www.polit.ru) last February. Polit.RU has been breaking
even for the past two months. It also recently began warning visitors to its
English language section that they would soon have to pay to view articles.
No such warning has been posted on the Russian site.
Meanwhile, the Fund for Effective Policy, which earlier this year started its
own publication, Gazeta.RU, (www.gazeta.ru), said it was going to launch an
electronic version of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, also in September.
The project has no plans for making money in the initial stage, said Marina
Litvinovich, head of FEP's Internet department. Rather, they wish to stake
their claim in the Internet first and garner some advertising revenues.
Gazeta.RU has yet to make a profit, she said.
The creators of both planned sites said that their publications would not be
like existing newspaper-based sites. Instead they will be more like "pure Web
publications" such as Polit.RU and Gazeta.RU, offering same-day news and
interactive features as well as databases and search engines.
"Polit.RU is one of the most successful projects in the field of political
and economic information on the Internet and the same team which made it can
get Russica-Izvestia going," said Anatoly Levenchuk, head of
TechInvestLab.com company. "I think that Russica-Izvestia may soon make a
splash on the market and become a major player by the end of the year."
Threat of Unrest Seen in Kuzbass
16 July 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Report by Sergey Kovalenko: "Romanian Scenario Written for Kuzbass?
Ten Years Have Passed Since Beginning of First Russian Miners' Strike"
The anniversary of the miners' strikes that shook
the country back then was celebrated calmly in the Kuzbass. However, in
observers' opinion, the calm betokens a thunderstorm. Representatives of
the local authorities also share that opinion. In particular, Oblast
Governor Amman Tuleyev has publicly stated that as early as this year
events in the Kuzbass may develop according to the Romanian scenario,
where outraged miners staged mass unrest in Bucharest and forced the
government to resign.
The governor's conclusion may be too dramatic, but there are more than
enough reasons for serious anxiety. The situation in the sector is
currently much worse than 10 years ago. Back then 75 mines and 25 open
pits operated in the region. A little more than one-half of them are
left, and even they are eking out a wretched existence. There are
virtually no funds in the state budget to support miners: Whereas a sum
of 26 billion rubles [R] is required, the government has only allocated a
little more than R5 billion for this year.
Meanwhile, the coal sector is of much greater strategic importance for the
country than, for instance, the oil sector. According to specialists'
estimates, Russia's oil reserves will last for another 20-30 years,
whereas coal reserves will last for at least 200 years, and in addition
coal is much cheaper. Incidentally, other countries have realized this
also. A program for reviving the coal sector is being implemented in
Germany; a similar project is being developed in Britain. Until recently,
meanwhile, we have stubbornly been converting our heating systems to
operate on oil and gas. According to Gazprom leader Rem Vyakhirev, the
proportion of gas-fired heating in Russia has approached 80 percent,
whereas in other countries it is 20 percent. As for the coal sector, from
the start it has relied on subsidies, and our extremely market-oriented
government simply does not want to bother with it.
In the circumstances miners have to go begging to the IMF and the World
Bank, which have been issuing credits for several years now for the
"restructuring" of the coal sector. However, the IMF does not give money
for nothing. Under the most recent agreement, in exchange for a credit of
$400 million, we have to immediately close down 60 mines and privatize
the rest. However, a mine is not a candle factory. After closure it
becomes flooded with water and is impossible to reanimate. In addition,
as a rule mining enterprises are major employers, and mine closures lead
to the complete decline of the associated population centers. The $400
allocated for two years to retrain miners and create new jobs is a drop
in the ocean. In the opinion of Viktor Medikov, a State Duma deputy
representing the Kuzbass, the IMF's policy toward Russia is nothing but
"large-scale economic sabotage aimed at the complete destruction of the
strategic and competitive sectors of our industry."
We cannot say that nobody has understood this. Under Minister Mikhail
Shchadov, himself a former miner, nobody from the IMF, the EBRD [European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development], and other "well-wishers" was
allowed to even come close to the mines. Their penetration of the sector
began under the Chernomyrdin Government. During the time of Sergey
Kiriyenko the then Minister of Fuel and Energy Sergey Generalov tried
with the premier's support to improve the situation.
An entirely realistic program relying primarily on our own efforts was
drafted for the reconstruction and modernization of the sector, but for
well-known reasons neither the young reformers nor Yevgeniy Primakov's
experienced cadres managed to put it into practice. As for the current
government "generals," it appears that they have simply abandoned the
sector to be torn apart by international vultures.
When in the Kuzbass, Ministry of Fuel and Energy head Viktor Kalyuzhnyy
did not even bother to have a normal explanatory talk with the miners.
Without beating about the bush, he promised to repay wage arrears within
as little as two years. Miners merely laughed bitterly, for they realize
very well what will be left of R700 million given annual inflation of 70
percent. As for the other problems, miners were told: "Here you have the
IMF, here you have the World Bank. Cooperate with them and they will help
you." Just as some khokhol [Russian derogatory name for a Ukrainian] once
said in some joke: "Do as I say and you'll be in trouble."
Meanwhile Kalyuzhnyy himself -- who paid a visit to the miners merely for
appearance's sake -- is now vigorously active on the oil and gas fronts.
First he tries to replace the leadership of the natural monopolies with
his own people; then he tries to subordinate Gazprom and the YeES
[Unified Energy System] Russian Joint-Stock Company to the ministry; then
he promotes the idea of establishing a single state-run oil company....
All in all there is much ado -- but nothing happens. He does not mention
coal not only because he comes from the oil sector. It is, rather.
because mines only make losses, whereas oil and gas yield hard cash --
and not worthless money, moreover. The Main Family badly needs this
money, for it is terribly afraid of their candidate's loss in the
elections with all ensuing consequences. Kalyuzhnyy tries to accurately
fulfill the family's orders. Suffice it to say that a mere 15 minutes
after his appointment to the post the new minister signed a resolution
setting quotas for Iraqi oil for the Sibneft company, whose owner Roman
Abramovich is the Family's main "breadwinner." In light of this kind of
strategic task Viktor Kalyuzhnyy does not give a damn about any kind of
strategy. He knows perfectly well that his term in the ministry will end
the day after the new president's election: No sane leader is going to
retain this kind of "cadre." And Sergey Stepashin's public and highly
transparent hints to his minister that it is time he got down to work are
to no avail. It appears that his warnings that certain politicians are
not averse to playing the miners' card on the threshold of elections also
has no effect. A timeserver is a timeserver: Grab as much as possible and
head for safety. Incidentally, government sources have reported that
Kalyuzhnyy is priming the ground for participation in the election of
governor of Tomsk Oblast, where he once headed an oil company. Good times
ahead for the residents of Tomsk, needless to say....
In the meantime realization of the IMF strategy is in full swing in the
For instance, six out of 10 mines have been closed in the typical mining
town of Kiselevsk. Following that, three enrichment mills, two mine
construction administrations, and a mine construction trust have closed
down. As a result of the ensuing domino effect both the local mining
machinery plants collapsed and, in their wake, three transportation
companies out of four went bust. The number of unemployed in a city with
a population of a little more than 100,000 immediately went up by another
10,000. These people have nowhere to go and have nothing to lose now, not
even their chains. And if they find their own leaders then their demands
will be political and not economic, as was the case 10 years ago. Their
actions, too, will hardly be limited to senseless lying down on railroad
tracks. Meanwhile, the same fate will soon await other cities in the
region. Therefore the specter of the miners' march on Bucharest looms
more and more visibly over the Kuzbass.
The East: Report Says Russia Seeking To Reassert Regional Influence
By Ben Partridge
A new report says Russia is trying to reassert its influence over its
regional neighbors -- such as Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Georgia -- partly in
response to concern over the eastward expansion of NATO. The report by
British security experts also says Russia's effort to dominate surrounding
countries -- and its own multiethnic regions -- could worsen international
tensions and compromise its own security. Our correspondent in London speaks
with one of the authors of the report, as well as a spokesman at London's
London, 20 July 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The report by British security experts
appears in the latest edition of Jane's Sentinel, issued by the respected
Jane's publishing group. The report says members of the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS), created in 1991, have shown a determination to come
to terms with the Soviet legacy and reshape their national destinies.
But it says Russia has tried to assume the mantle of the former Soviet Union
in terms of economic, political, and military power and seems set to try to
reassert its influence again over the entire CIS region.
The report finds that Russia has sought to retain "regional hegemony," or at
least to exclude other powers -- such as the U.S. and Turkey -- and has also
sought to elevate its own national interests over those of the CIS.
It concludes that Russia has often bypassed CIS structures -- as when it
deployed troops in Tajikistan -- and has had some success in re-establishing
a military presence in all CIS republics except Azerbaijan.
The report notes that a symbolic sign of what it calls a "possible return to
the old order" was a plan three years ago to move CIS headquarters from Minsk
to Moscow. When the CIS was set up, the Belarus capital was -- according to
the report -- "deliberately chosen to avoid any echoes of Soviet central
control from Moscow."
Russian analyst Paul Beaver, who contributed to the new report, says Moscow
is reasserting the doctrine of the "near abroad" -- the idea that Russia has
a natural right to dominate the territory of the former Soviet Union. He says
Moscow appears to be seeking to apply this in the Caspian nations and is also
clamping down on independence movements within Russia itself.
"The crux of it is around the Caspian Sea. We've already seen the reaction
Kazakhstan has had to the fact the Russians are still trying to use the
Baikonur (space facility), as if it belonged to them, refusing to pay rent
for it. We are seeing it in the way they are trying to exert influence over
Azerbaijan, particularly by backing Armenia. We are seeing it in the way they
are dealing with Ossetia, Ingushetia and also Dagestan. They are clamping
down on anything that sniffs at all of being any independence movement
But will Moscow succeed in its attempt to -- as the report puts it --
"dominate and control surrounding regions, as well as its own multiethnic
constituents?" No, according to the report, which says that the retention of
an exclusively Russian sphere of influence is "doubtful."
The report says that as CIS nations build up their own bilateral political,
economic and military ties with outside powers, Russian influence will become
The report says it is only in Belarus and Tajikistan that Russia will retain
anything approaching exclusive military control, and in both cases, Moscow is
starting to question the value of the commitments.
Still, Russia is concerned about the growing influence of NATO on its
borders, despite the fact that Moscow itself signed a special charter with
the western military alliance two years ago. By early 1995, 11 of the 12
member states of the CIS (all but Tajikistan) had signed NATO's Partnership
for Peace framework document.
According to the report, Russians fear that the further enlargement of NATO
-- which has already expanded to include Poland, the Czech Republic and
Hungary -- could "perpetuate the division of the continent, with Russia on
the wrong side of any divide."
Moscow is said to be particularly concerned because Ukraine participated
widely in NATO's Partnership for Peace program and also signed a special
charter with the western alliance. The report says Ukraine is "uneasy" about
Russian attempts to re-exert its influence over its neighbors, a concern
shared by Azerbaijan, Georgia, and others.
Vladimir Andreyev is press counselor at the Russian embassy in London. In an
interview today with RFE/RL, Andreyev denied that Moscow is trying to
dominate and control neighboring regions:
"No, it's not true. Russia is basing its relations with our neighbors on the
foundation of equality. We understand that we are dealing with independent
sovereign states and that is the foundation of our relations with our
neighbors and all other countries of the world. So it is not true what this
report says. The general principle, the general idea, is very clear. And it
has nothing to do with any search to be dominant in the region, or elsewhere."
The report says resistance to any Russian attempt to re-establish dominance
of the CIS remains strong, particularly in the Caucasus region, which could
be threatened at any time by a new eruption of ethnic strife and separatist
Azerbaijan has resisted increased military cooperation with Russia and
opposes a greater Russian military presence in the region. In Georgia, there
has been controversy over the presence of Russian military bases. Tensions
are high in the Russian Caucasus in the wake of Chechnya's successful bid for
de facto autonomy. The report also predicts increased unrest in neighboring
The Jane's report notes that the formal Russian National Security Concept --
adopted in December 1997 -- puts considerable emphasis on the "preservation
and strengthening of Russian national values."
It says there is a real danger that this could be interpreted as legitimizing
or threatening a renewed policy of enforced Russification of the other
100-plus nationalities within the Russian Federation (28 percent of the total
population), something that the Jane's report says "could seriously worsen
rather than improve interethnic relations."
The Russia Journal
July 19-25, 1999
For these folks, it's Boris Who?
Lyuba Pronina/The Russia Journal
Residents of Kozlovo, a village near the presidential Rus residence, where
President Boris Yeltsin chose to vacation last week, took little notice of
the president's helicopter as it rattled overhead last Thursday.
"He must be flying back home, away from the fires," suggested Vyacheslav, a
worker at Kozlovo's only enterprise, a weaving factory in the village, itself
about 144 kilometers from Moscow.
Yeltsin was indeed fleeing the fires, switching his vacation base to Gorky-9,
about 15 km outside Moscow. The fact that the president was no longer at Rus
did not seem to excite Kozlovo locals one way or the other.
"We've become used to it, and it doesn't really matter whether he's in or
not. It's all the same," says a shop assistant who identified herself as
Tatyana. "He's become a constant feature of the place this summer. Sometimes
you hear on the news that he's in the Kremlin meeting someone while he is
really here most of the time."
"Then again he never passes by," joins in pensioner Vladimir Rusakov from a
nearby village. "In old times, [Leonid] Brezhnev would rush by in a convoy of
cars with the road blocked for
the traffic for hours on end. This one [Yeltsin] always flies by helicopter."
The road, a two-lane asphalt stretch of quality one seldom sees in Moscow, is
the only sight of interest besides a recently renovated clinic and school.
The weaving factory, known throughout Russia in Soviet times, now stands
nearly idle during the summer season. Most workers haven't seen their wages
The local banya - a Russian version of the sauna - has been shut down for
several years. Hot water has long become an unaffordable luxury from May
through October. With gas in rare supply, many households frame their lives
around electric single-burner stoves. But a poor electricity supply also
means many villagers frequently live through outages - particularly disliked
due to their effect on refrigerators and televisions.
Kozlovo's few shops look depressing; their half-empty shelves remind the
observer of the late Soviet years. Some bread, dairy products, fruit, alcohol
and an occasional chocolate bar are thrown into the mix.
Beside those at the village's national reserve park, where Yeltsin lives
safely apart from the outside world, the rest of the village's 5,000
residents are mostly pensioners, small-time traders and half-employed factory
workers who are paid in barter and an occasional 20 to 50 rubles a month.
Pensioners haven't been paid since March.
Few villagers have warm words to say about Yeltsin.
"Over there, they have everything ... a paradise. We have barely enough to
scratch by, and sometimes not even that," Tatyana moans.
"Who can say why we have two worlds so close by - they get millions and we
get only slips of paper saying how much we have earned," a factory worker
"It's like an epidemic when he [Yeltsin] comes around: Everything is closed
off and you can only get by if you have a permit," one villager said.
"It's a land of plenty, but plenty for just one man," Vyacheslav jokes sadly.
"With the place now turned into a national reserve, you can't go fishing or
berry and mushroom picking, let alone hunting. When His Excellency is
fishing, you get turned around and sent off by soldiers."
Many were nostalgic about the days when Brezhnev used to come for weekends.
"When Brezhnev would go hunting, there would be meat for everyone in
Kozlovo," Andrei, a bus driver, says. "Now there is hardly any change at all."
Pavel Korolyov, who served as a huntsman for Brezhnev for 16 years, saw that
for himself many times. "Brezhnev would roll into Rus, himself at the wheel,
every weekend. In the late afternoon, he would knock off some cognac, open up
the window and shoot boars, strategically lured in by corn scattered nearby.
The guards would then be all over the place, watchful."
With a salary of 150 rubles at that time, Korolyov could have a bite of
everything. Now, with his pension of 560 rubles, he has to struggle with
delays of up to four months.
Former school principal Natalya Prokhorenko and chief doctor at Kozlovo's
clinic, Nadezhda Patyukova, are perhaps among the few residents who support
Ramshakle buildings in which they worked with leaking roofs on the verge of
collapsing got a major face-lift after Yeltsin donated 15 billion rubles last
"It was a real nightmare - no heating, walls were collapsing; we had to
huddle in one big ward. In school, kids would sit in fur coats through the
winter. We turned to the head of the Rus complex, Vladimir Fertikov, with an
appeal to Yeltsin and got the money."
Today, Patyukova proudly shows her new premises with patients happy to find
themselves "in speckless wards under good care with availability of foreign
equipment." However, pateints still complain about a lack of medicine, which
they have to provide themselves.
"It was for the first time that we felt ourselves real doctors," Patyukova
said. "We tried to turn for help before, but it was Yeltsin who extended a
hand. Without this residence here, I don't know how long we would have had to
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 12:17:04 -0400 (EDT)
From: John Wilhelm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
John Howard Wilhelm
418 Lawrence, Apt. l
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104
E-mail address: email@example.com
During my June 1999 trip to Russia, I had an opportunity to get to
know a homeless 17 year old boy, Volodya, who has been living on the
streets of Moscow since he was twelve years old when he was orphaned.
I want to relate his story since I believe it illustrates some aspects
of current Russian reality that may be of concern to those interested
in the Russian situation and concerned about the fate of that country
and its people.
I met Volodya outside of McDonald's on Pushkin Square when he asked me
for three roubles, about twelve and a half cents. When I talked with
him, I realized that his situation was not very good. Over the time
of numerous contacts with him, I learned how desperate his situation
really was which was very distressing for me because it was clear from
my interaction with him that he was basically a very nice kid.
>From what Volodya told me and from what I subsequently learned about
him, the development of his situation is fairly clear. Volodya only
had three years of education. He has three younger siblings, all
sisters. Their mother was alcoholic and it is fairly obvious from the
context of what Volodya told me that around the age of ten years old
he stopped going to school to go out on the streets to hustle to get
money to keep his family together. In 1994 his mother died, his
sisters were placed in a home and Volodya went to live on the streets
of Moscow since the family lost their apartment with his mother's
With the exception of his youngest sister who seems to have been adopted,
Volodya has kept contact with his older sisters, one fifteen and the other
thirteen. They were placed with some sort of "humanitarian" organization
which from what Volodya related to me is able to send them abroad to
places like Italy and Turkey to which Volodya told me they were shortly
to go. I did not have the heart to tell him, but I strongly suspect
from reports I have seen that his sisters are in fact being used for
prostitution by the supposedly "humanitarian organization' in whose
care they have been entrusted.
Four or five years ago, sometime after he went on to the streets to
live, Volodya met an American, whom he knew as George, who took an
interest in him. For a period of time, George sent through a friend
in Moscow monies to help support Volodya. It is obvious that Volodya
had made an impression on George and that George wanted to help him.
George tried to bring Volodya to the United States to help him.
Unfortunately, since Volodya had no documents, there was no way that
George could bring him to the States. The support from George
stopped, probably when his contact in Moscow moved.
It is not clear to me when Volodya became involved in drugs. He was arrested
for possession and spent, as a juvenile, six months in prison. Clearly
nothing was done to assess his situation at that time and get some help for
him because he was simply just turned back out into the streets.
It would not have been possible for me to have fully assessed Volodya's
situation without the help of my friend, Father Pavel Vishnevsky, a young
Russian Orthodox priest, and of Connie Meyer, a Danish social worker who
is supported by the Danish St. Paul Society in Moscow to work with my
friend's church. They along with one parishioner who is a psychologist
helped me in assessing Volodya. When I asked for help on this, I let
Volodya know what I was trying to do and he did not object since he
clearly needs and wants help.
>From the assessment I learned that Doctors without Borders had tested
Volodya and found that he is HIV positive due to needle sharing. Despite
being homeless, the boy had made a good impression on me and it was simply
devastating to learn of this aspect of his situation. After I learned
about this, Volodya apologized to me when he saw that I was clearly upset
that his situation was so bad. Of course, he had no obligation to tell
me, but I think the incident said something about the quality of the boy
as a human being in a desperate situation.
Despite his age, Volodya is still very much a boy, not in the sense of
being immature, but in the sense of having many boyish habits. He has
few possessions, but clearly greatly values what he has, a notebook in
which he has autographs of a number of rock performers and a small
collection of foreign coins. Because of his limited education, Volodya
intellectually is not very sophisticated and asks questions, such as
whether it is the same month in America as it is in Russia and the same
time, that on the surface seem simplistic, but would not be for a child
Although he has only three years of education, it is clear from what
Volodya related to me that his reading level is well beyond that of
just the years that he has had of formal education. In addition, he
has learned to do accurate multiplication in his head. His ambition
is to get a job and more education for himself. He supports himself
by asking for three roubles and by washing cars. He has few friends.
One friend he does have whom I was not able to meet is another boy
from the Ukraine who has been homeless on the streets of Moscow as
long as Volodya and is of the same age.
>From reports I have seen, there may be as many as one to two million
homeless children in Russia, a country with a population of around 148
million. I do know know how representative Volodya's situation is
among the homeless children. But it does illustrate the consequences
of nearly ten years of weak government in Russia. In Volodya's case
clearly nothing was done to investigate his situation when he stopped
going to school. And nothing was done to assess it when his mother
died. When he was arrested as a juvenile for drug possession, again
there was no intervention. And in the case when somebody took an
interest in trying to help a person like Volodya as George did, the
barriers to helping were so high that help was simply impossible.
During my June 1999 stay in Russia, I was told by one humanitarian
relief worker of an American man who was able to bring two eleven year
old abandoned twin brothers to the United States to help them, but at
a cost of forty thousand dollars, something that most of us would not
be able to do.
It bothers me a great deal that the barriers to helping kids like
Volodya at a stage when such help could make a difference are so high.
I told Volodya that I would see if I could find some help for him and
he is supposed to contact my friends Fr. Pavel and Connie to see what
help they might be able to give him. I am hoping that, through the
ecumenical project we have started through Memorial Christian Church
in Ann Arbor, Michigan to help in Russia, we could provide some
assistance to at least some of the kids in trouble like Volodya. And
I am hoping that there might be others responding to our To Russia
with Love Program's appeals for additional support with an interest in
helping in this area as well as in other areas of need in Russia.
In Volodya's case, I would like to see support to get him out of the
environment he is in and into a more stable and controlled situation.
He is in my judgement a bright kid and could be used, employed usefully,
to help other homeless children while he still has his health. Perhaps
he could even be helped in getting some of the additional education he
wants. And when he does get sick, perhaps at least we could provide some
support to ease what will surely be a premature death of a person who
has had such limited chances because of many terrible circumstances beyond
his control. If anyone wishes to help on a matter like this, please do
not hesitate to contact me about our To Russia with Love Program and how
you might be able to contribute to it.