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Johnson's Russia List
29 July 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: IMF Approves $4.5B Loan for Russia.
2. Izvestia: Alexei Tarasov, General Lebed Starts March On Moscow.
3. AP: Media: Kremlin Manipulates Yeltsin.
4. The Guardian (UK): One foot in the grave. It's a bitter debate that's
splitting Russia - should Lenin finally be buried or should he be allowed
to stay on show in his Moscow mausoleum as a reminder of communism?
David Hearst reports.
5. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Andrey Maksimov, Who Is Who. Between 'Whites' and
'Reds'? Real Battle in the Coming Elections Will Be for the Moderate Voters.
6. Interfax: Court Chairman Views Possible Changes to Constitution.
7. Vremya MN Interviews Chubays.
8. RFE/RL: Paul Goble, Rise Of Anti-Semitism In Russia. (DJ: A word of
caution. I well remember the series of election-era bombings in Moscow
in 1996 that were helpful to Yeltsin's campaign. Was anyone ever
IMF Approves $4.5B Loan for Russia
July 28, 1999
By HARRY DUNPHY
WASHINGTON (AP) - The International Monetary Fund approved a $4.5 billion
financial package for Russia Wednesday aimed at helping to keep the country
afloat through December parliamentary elections and presidential voting
scheduled for June 2000.
A total of $640 million would be made available immediately, said an IMF
spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Other installments will be
paid out over the next 17 months, she said.
President Boris Yeltsin's special envoy to international financial
institutions, Mikhail Zadornov, worked out the final details with the IMF's
deputy managing director,Stanley Fischer, and the 24-member executive board
during a daylong meeting.
The long-awaited deal would allow Russia to stave off a complete
international default and to gain access to new loans from the World Bank and
Japan. For its part, the IMF gets to keep some leverage over the policies of
its largest debtor. Russia owes the IMF $18 billion.
The move to resume lending comes nearly a year after Russia defaulted on its
debts and devalued its currency last Aug 17. The IMF froze a loan package
worth $22.6 billion after the financial collapse but reached a preliminary
accord on new financing in April.
Since then, there have been visits by IMF teams to Moscow, briefings for
board members and an independent audit of Russia's finances, so the result of
Wednesday's deliberations were seen by many at the IMF as a foregone
Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, visiting Washington, on Tuesday
emphasized his commitment to reforming the economy. He said Russia would
``fully implement our obligations.''
But there was been some criticism of new IMF lending to Moscow in Congress
and elsewhere. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, one of the IMF's
most vocal critics, said last week the United States should withhold support
for further IMF lending until Russia has accounted for use of past aid. The
United States is the IMF's largest contributor.
The new loan was being made contingent on Russian parliamentary approval of a
package of laws intended to increase government revenue, combat corruption
and restructure the commercial banking system.
The IMF decision is expected to unlock $3 billion in World Bank and Japanese
loans and consideration of an accord to restructure debts owed to rich
creditor governments. They meet in Paris on Thursday to discuss rescheduling
of up to $10 billion of Russia's debt.
The IMF approval also leads to negotiations with the so-called London Club of
commercial creditors Aug. 3 on restructuring about $30 billion of Soviet-era
The United States, Germany and other wealthy nations have made future
bilateral support contingent on Russia first securing an agreement with the
No funds will actually be sent to Moscow. Instead the first installment of
$630 million will be transferred from one of the IMF's accounts to another
next month, allowing Russia to avoid default on more than $5 billion it owes
the lending agency this year and next.
There was concern that if the money went to Russia's central bank, it could
disappear in a few days as it did last summer when the IMF sent $4.8 billion
just before the financial collapse.
Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin told a congressional panel in March
that much of that money ``may have been siphoned off improperly.''
July 28, 1999
General Lebed Starts March On Moscow
By Alexei Tarasov
Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Lebed has started his public presidential
election campaign, writes IZVESTIA. Addressing the local press on July 27
in Krasnoyarsk, the General declared war on the "neighbor beyond the
Urals," i.e. the federal and Moscow City authorities.
Lebed said he was going to pool the efforts of regional leaders in their
opposition to the "untalented" policy of the federal center and promised
the "first big scandal" at the August meeting of the inter-regional
association, "The Siberian Accord." This will be followed by another major
attack on the government in the Federation Council (Senate). Lebed feels he
has enough strength, will and support from other regional leaders to launch
an all-out offensive on Moscow.
Lebed's latest criticism was not something new in Russian politics, the
paper notes in a comment. He and other regional leaders have been saying
similar things for several years now. What impressed the listeners
yesterday was Lebed's resolve. He warned that a repetition of the August
1998 financial crisis this year, when many Russian regions were hit by a
severe drought, will ruin most of them. Only one question warrants
attention now, Lebed said. Eighty four percent of Russia's finance is
concentrated in Moscow today. Finance is the country's blood. In this
sense, he said, Russia is in a "pre- insult" condition.
Lebed carefully avoided the subject of upcoming presidential elections
and his participation in them. Yet his tough manner of speaking and
far-reaching plan of action leave no doubt that the general has decided to
move precisely in that direction. "I will only attack," he said. It seems
he has enough financial resources to do that, the paper says. An indirect
proof of this is the current political activity of pro-Lebed business
tycoons Boris Berezovsky and Lev Cherny.
Media: Kremlin Manipulates Yeltsin
By Anna Dolgov
July 28, 1999
MOSCOW (AP) -- The leaders of several prominent media organizations accused
top Kremlin aides Wednesday of deceiving and manipulating Boris Yeltsin, and
trying to suppress a free press to grab lasting political power in Russia.
Yeltsin, constitutionally barred from running when his second term expires
next summer, said he will dedicate the remaining months of his presidency to
ensuring a free and fair election and a smooth transfer of power.
Top presidential aides, however, seem anxious to preserve their political
clout after Yeltsin leaves. They are believed to be vehemently fighting for
control over the country's press to push through a presidential candidate of
``I am very seriously worried, including for the future of our young
democracy,'' Oleg Dobrodeyev, head of the prominent NTV television station,
told a news conference.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, a potential top choice in 2000 who has been at
odds with the Kremlin recently, accused the presidential staff of waging a
smear campaign against him.
Luzhkov claimed that his wife's business had come under close scrutiny by the
Federal Security Service, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, on
instructions from Kremlin staff seeking to discredit him.
Meanwhile, tax police have been investigating the finances of leading media
organizations. Journalists complain that the raids have begun to interfere
with the media's work, and amount to intimidation.
The Media-Most holding company, which includes NTV and other prominent print
and broadcast organizations, wrote to Yeltsin on Friday, asking him to end
what they called the ``systematic persecution and blackmail'' of the free
Yeltsin's chief of staff Alexander Voloshin announced after meeting with the
president Tuesday that Yeltsin had received the letter and was ``alarmed by
the continuing pressure on the government by such an influential and
respected'' media organization.
But Yeltsin has been a consistent supporter of media freedom. Media-Most
suggested that Voloshin was lying.
Yeltsin's supposed reaction to the Media-Most letter ``showed ... that the
truth hasn't reached the president,'' said Alexei Venediktov, head of the
popular Echo of Moscow radio station.
``Does this mean that on other issues the president is also not receiving
(accurate) reports?'' Venediktov said at a joint conference with other
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin denied the allegations. ``It is
completely wrong to say that the president is not aware (of the situation),''
Yakushkin told the RTR television station later Wednesday.
But few outside the Kremlin would say the same. Most Russians believe that
the ailing, 68-year-old Yeltsin easily falls under the influence of his
current favorites among the presidential entourage.
And these aides, observers claim, are playing their own game.
``I think that Mr. Voloshin's goal is to find a candidate who can ... ensure
the security of the people who are currently holding power and who surround
the president,'' Venediktov said.
The Guardian (UK)
July 28, 1999
[for personal use only]
One foot in the grave
It's a bitter debate that's splitting Russia - should Lenin finally be
buried or should he be allowed to stay on show in his Moscow mausoleum as a
reminder of communism? David Hearst reports
The queue stretched all the way down one side of the Red Square, and round
the corner into the Alexandrovski gardens - just like the bad old days.
Marina, the woman behind us, had come from eastern Ukraine with her
daughter and niece to look upon the square-boned forehead of Vladimir
Illich Lenin one last time: "The children must see him, because soon they
will bury him."
Her nephew had refused to budge from his Gameboy: "What's the point of
looking at a stiff?"
The absent nephew was right. Lenin is looking peaky. Four years ago, he was
a respectable, if bilious, shade of yellow. He has since developed a
disturbing ochre hue that has prompted many Lenin watchers to conclude that
the father of the Russian Revolution has already been spirited away,
turning the mausoleum into nothing more than a communist waxworks.
As the queue shuffled forward, down the black marble steps of a 1930s
mausoleum constructed in the shape of an Aztec tomb, something had changed.
The jack-booted Kremlin guards had gone. In their place were slouching
policemen armed with nothing more than a pair of metal detectors. The crowd
stopped to look briefly at the man they had known for so much of their
adult lives as "Grandfather Lenin". The policemen snapped at them to keep
As a symbol of Russian history, the currency of the mummified remains has
been devalued. No longer an icon, they have become a curio of the last
moments of the 20th century. The issue of his burial has become a matter of
intense and bitter debate.
In 1961 the mummified remains of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who had
lain for eight years next to Lenin, disappeared overnight through a secret
tunnel. It was done on the orders of Krushchev. No trace of Stalin was
left. They even removed the name that had adorned the entrance.
Everyone now fears a rerun with Lenin's body, and communists have stayed
close to the capital, just in case. But the clouds are gathering.
The last Kremlin leader to pronounce on the burial was Mikhail Gorbachev,
many hours of whose life had been spent standing on Lenin's tomb.
"I am in absolute favour of burying Lenin's body if this is approached in a
humane and Christian way," he said last week. But it's not as easy as it
"What's Christian?" asks Lenin's closest surviving relative, his
78-year-old niece Olga Ulyanova. He is buried three metres under, in a
sarcophagus, and according to the traditions of Russian Orthodoxy.
But why keep Moscow and Russia's most famous square (red in Russian also
means beautiful) as a graveyard? No one knows for sure, because there are
mass graves from the civil war, but lying behind Lenin's tomb are as many
as 400 other bodies, buried at the foot of the wall.
They include each Soviet leader - bar Krushchev; Russia's greatest
generals, including Georgi Zukhov; its greatest cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin. If
you bury Lenin, and clear the mausoleum away, what do you do with the
others? For a nationalist Russia trying to disentangle itself from its
communist past, this is no simple endeavour. Russian war heroes, so
important to the nationalist psyche, were also Red Army heroes. Yeltsin
erected a pompous statue to Zukhov on a horse, only yards from where his
remains lie. The statue belongs to modern Russia, the grave to the Soviet
Even among those who recognise that there is something deeply Byzantine
about the public exhibition of a corpse, there is a strong resistance to
Boris Yeltsin being the man to bury him. He is not forgotten as the
communist apparatchik who bulldozed the Ipatiev House, the house in
Ekaterinburg where the Romanovs were executed, on the orders of central
Olga Ulyanova quotes Yeltsin, a previous democratic, incarnation, with
glee. He said in 1991: "We cannot discount what was done by him Lenin. This
is a big figure, a genius. We have to settle our accounts with him, but I
am against taking him out of the mausoleum." Today the same man says: "He
will be buried but the question is when."
Yeltsin's political time is over, even if he hangs on to the bitter end.
He, his family and the oligarchs who support them are much troubled about
the succession. Too many of their Swiss bank accounts, and properties in
Germany and the south of France, depend on it.
With parliamentary elections looming in December and presidential elections
next year, all manner of threatening coalitions are possible. The hottest
political ticket in town is Evgeny Primakov, the prime minister whom
Yeltsin sacked only months ago. The communists, who recognise that they
alone could never again win an election in Russia, would be only too eager
to attach themselves to a nationalist or centre left candidate. Mass public
demonstrations are the last thing they need if they want to build
coalitions with other parties .
Last week leader of the communists Gennady Zyuganov warned he would take
action if the body was removed: "We have a plan. We would take emergency
But the sad truth is that Zyuganov is the last person to want his bluff
called. Inactive opposition is far more appropriate. To cloud matters
further, mystics have got involved on both sides. TV anchorman and
playwright Eduard Radzinsky tells his viewers each month: "There is a
saying. The war hasn't ended until the last soldier is buried. Our
revolution and misfortunes won't end until Lenin is buried."
On the other side, Lenin's niece also uses mystical arguments. Forgetting
all of her Marxist-Leninist training, she warned of creating "unpredictable
tremors" in the country if Lenin was moved from his tomb.
The scientists of the Scientific Research Centre of Biological Structures
are also much exercised to keep the mummification experiment they started
in April 1924 going.
At the time they thought he would last for only 20 years. It's been 75.
Ho-Chi Min, Georgi Dimtrov, leader of the Bulgarian Communist party, and
Augustino Neto of Angola are all satisfied customers. Why destroy something
that is a first for Russian science?
What Lenin himself would have said about his fate in 1999 is also hotly
debated. No one has found any written evidence that he wanted to be buried
beside his mother in St Petersburg.
His ghost continues to stalk modern Russian political life. Erasing the
past comes naturally to every new incumbent of the Kremlin. Coping with it
requires a political maturity no one appears capable of showing.
Regions Seen Leaning to Centrist Ideology
23 July 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Andrey Maksimov under the "Facts and Commentaries. Point
of View" rubric: "Who Is Who. Between 'Whites' and 'Reds'? Real Battle in
the Coming Elections Will Be for the Moderate Voters"]
Between Heart and Mind
The niche of political centrism in Russian politics has attracted many.
Politicians like Vladimir Shumeyko, Ivan Rybkin, and Andrey Nikolayev
have aspired to bear the name of "centrists" or of people affiliated to
them at different periods of time.... The list could be extended but
those listed in it would, perhaps, have only one thing in common -- they
are politically homeless. Moderate politicians are not particularly
popular in our country.
It has so happened that in Russia there has always been a fashion for
extremes -- revolutions, division of property.... Nonetheless, people are
pretty much fed up with both the "left" and the "right." There are those
for whom we can vote with our hearts. However, there is a shortage of
those for whom we could vote with our minds. The vacuum of choice for
serious pragmatic voters must be filled without fail. The question is: By
Science of Discernment
Someone may say: How about Fatherland? It would appear that this is where
the genuine centrists are; vote for them and you cannot lose. Indeed,
Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov is currently actively exploiting the idea of
political centrism. Judging by sociological polls he has been extremely
successful in this area. However, Luzhkov-style centrism is quite
The mayor's visit to Sweden, which became a kind of Luzhkov's debut in
the West as a politician, was quite illustrative in this regard. Yuriy
Mikhaylovich appeared in front of scrupulous Swedes in the role of a
social democrat. He even promised them to build something similar to
"your socialism" in Russia. However, since the European political
vocabulary differs from ours the audience perceived the guest as a
leftist rather than a centrist liberal of the generally accepted kind.
The difference is not obvious for everyone. An ordinary voter does not
care about defining it -- it is too dull. However, for those who intend
to cast their votes for politicians with centrist leanings it is
worthwhile to distinguish who is who among our "whites" and "reds."
Social consciousness in Russia is of a strange kind. It closely watches
only the politicians capable of spectacular revelations or those who know
how to attract attention. Luzhkov is one such figure. As the capital's
mayor he holds a favorable starting position in the election campaign.
At first glance Luzhkov has fully occupied the niche in the "center."
Nonetheless, he seems to be facing serious rivals. Moreover, they are not
widely known politicians of the Lebed kind, although the latter is also a
centrist in his own way -- "neither your man nor ours." The Russian
Movement of Political Centrism [RMPC] headed by State Duma Deputy Stepan
Sulakshin promises to become Fatherland's worthy rival. Provided, of
course, he manages to "establish himself" in the voters' minds by the
time of the elections.
Indeed, it is problematic, for he is pressed for time. However, if he, so to
speak, gets mobilized, the task will be quite feasible. It is no accident
that, at the time of Fatherland's foundation, Sulakshin was called its
ideologist. At the same time, it should be admitted for the sake of
fairness that Sulakshin is an independent figure in politics. If he
agrees to cooperate with someone, he does not do so for mercantile
interests or for the sake of kowtow.
As time went by, Sulakshin's and Fatherland's standpoints diverged on
matters of principle. He primarily parted with those who are turning
Luzhkov into a person exempt from criticism.
It is significant that Dmitriy Rogozin's Congress of Russian
Communities withdrew from Fatherland at about the same time. As for other
leaders of the movement, Andrey Kokoshin is more of an analyst than a
public politician in terms of his character and work experience.
Meanwhile State Duma Vice Speaker Artur Chilingarov is known as a polar
researcher, but not an organizer of election campaigns. In addition, he
has a leaning for changing places. Therefore certain observers point out:
As soon as Sulakshin stepped aside Fatherland began to rest exclusively
on the figure of Luzhkov.
Stepan Sulakshin is a well known politician: He has been elected deputy of
the Supreme Soviet and subsequently the Duma four times. Of course, he is
not as noticeable as the Moscow mayor. However, Stepan Stepanovich has a
number of other advantages over Yuriy Mikhaylovich. For instance, he,
unlike the capital's leader, is much more of "our man" for the outback:
He was elected to the Duma from Tomsk Oblast. In case the RMPC actively
launches its activities in Russia, the regional elites (which are mostly
of the centrist variety) will think 10 times whom they should support
during the elections. A firm Luzhkov who will dictate them his terms if
he comes to power? Or Sulakshin who advocates a considered regional
policy and proposes to the Duma a whole number of economic laws whose
objective is to normalize relations between the center and the regions
without infringing the interests of the latter and, on the contrary,
taking them into account?
A sociological poll conducted by the Public Opinion fund revealed the
following correlation: 13 percent of voters are ready to actively support
centrist politicians; 8 percent spoke to the effect that they are very
tired of extremes and if they saw a realistic politician meeting the
interests of the "golden mean" they would vote for him. Another 16
percent believe that the country needs a new leader on an all-Russia
scale, a practical man, an activist. Regions support the ideas of
centrism -- this is a fact.
Let us not draw premature conclusions, but sometimes they ask to be
Where is this kind of party?
It is difficult to create a new (especially a new one in ideological
terms) party in present-day Russia. Many have tried but, in essence, none
of them succeeded. However, the very creation of a "party for normal
people" is a truly historical task. The point is that society rests on
Of course, centrism in Russia will have native Russian features anyway.
However, the main elements of this ideology are: stability, legality, and
evolutionary development. Those are the very principles preached by
Luzhkov, Sulakshin, and politicians leaning toward the center.
If we presume that "left" voters as well as "right" ones determined
their sympathies long ago, the struggle will be waged for those who have
not yet made up their minds. Tuleyev, Shaymiyev, Titov, and other
politicians who, along with their newborn movements, are trying to win
the voters' sympathies, will most probably be competing for their votes
alongside Sulakshin and Luzhkov. Although the elections will be held in a
matter of months it is still too early to compare their chances. However,
one way or another it is now that political centrism in our country has
every chance to push radicals and extremists to the sidelines.
Court Chairman Views Possible Changes to Constitution
MOSCOW. July 26 (Interfax) - Chairman of the
Constitutional Court Marat Baglai has said that theoretically the prime
minister's powers may be broadened if the Constitution is amended, "but
only to a definite limit." In commenting on proposals, he told Interfax
that powers within the executive branch might be slightly re-distributed,
that "the Constitution has a mechanism of changing it [the authoritative
branch] and turning the presidential republic into a parliamentary
[republic]. [That is] a parliamentary [republic], not a premier's
republic, as such a concept does not exist," said Baglai. He pointed out
that "the powers of the prime minister cannot be larger than those of the
president. This is unthinkable," he said. He also said that "the
introduction of a parliamentary republic requires serious changes in the
constitution, if not a new constitution. Article 10 of the constitution
stipulates the principles of power distribution and of the autonomy of
each branch. If the executive authority is to be made subordinate to the
legislative branch, or parliament, Article 10 must be re- written.
However, it is part of the first chapter of the constitution which cannot
be changed by merely making amendments. In this case, Parliament must be
convened to decide whether a new constitution should be written or the
old constitution should be left without changes," he said. As "an expert"
Baglai said that in his personal opinion such changes in the constitution
Vremya MN Interviews Chubays
23 July 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Interview with Anatoliy Chubays, conducted by Aleksandr Bekker and
Nataliya Gevorkyan: "Anatoliy Chubays: There Will Be Three Remaining
in the Year 2000 Top League"
In the "first information war" among the Russian
oligarchs, that is in 1997, Anatoliy Chubays belonged to one of the
warring sides, was brutally attacked, and successfully counterattacked
himself. The "second information war" is beginning now right before us,
but in this case Chubays has situated himself above the skirmish and has
become an ideal commentator on both the "war" and on the political
situation overall--one who knows everything about everyone and intervenes
in almost nothing. However, in their interview with Anatoliy Chubays, our
correspondents Aleksandr Bekker and Nataliya Gevorkyan did not permit him
to remain a mere observer, but also asked Anatoliy Chubays those
questions which he takes very much to heart.
[correspondents] In Irina Khakamada's observation, your eyes light up
someone starts talking about RAO YeES Rossii and power engineering. Are
you really involved in politics now most likely out of a sense of duty?
[Chubays] Of course, and not just now. In the government I was also much
interested in working in economics than politics.
[correspondents] It is certainly a secret of Polichinelle that Kommersant
acquired, "all 100 percent of it," by Boris Berezovskiy. If that is a
known fact, as they say, why didn't you fight to the end for the
[Chubays] I certainly did fight. Only I did not intend to buy it. This is
position: for the mass media to be independent in essence and spirit,
they must not be in the hands of what amounts to two people--Berezovskiy
and Gusinskiy. I am certainly not calling for general nationalization and
all press and television owned by the state. But even so, from my
viewpoint, information services in our country are too highly
concentrated. Berezovskiy's buying Kommersant emphasizes the tendency. It
will lead to no good, and I told Berezovskiy that directly.
[correspondents] What did he say?
[Chubays] Not word for word, but roughly what he said was that his
correspond to the country's objectives. In short, what is good for
Berezovskiy is automatically good for Russia.
[correspondents] You know Berezovskiy and Gusinskiy quite well. In 1997
you ended up
in the crossfire between them. Now they are fighting with one another.
Berezovskiy, it seems, is trying to raze Gusinskiy's business to the
ground. And in principle take no prisoners: to pull down and completely
bankrupt the Most group and the media holding company. And Gusinskiy is
in a hurry to hide his sworn friend behind bars. What broke them up?
[Chubays] In my view, there are two circumstances. The internal
is that they put the interests of their business above the country's
priorities. Both of them understand that nothing good will come of the
feud between them. But for each of them it is a way of showing that he is
the one that is tougher. So both are being drawn into a bloody battle
right out in the open, and in my opinion that is bad. And the external
circumstance is that the only outside enemy has gotten weak. In 1996 the
Communists were that enemy. In 1997 Chubays became the target. Today the
Communists are not so strong and Chubays is not working in the White
House. The situation arises where the internal contradictions which have
always existed but were weakened by the need for outward consolidation
begin to dominate.
[correspondents] But certainly Berezovskiy is not lying when he says that
empire is deep in debt: debts to Gazprom, Vneshekonombank, and
Vneshtorgbank have reached $1.3 billion, and it is hardly possible to pay
them. Surely in theory it is not wrong if the state as the main creditor
becomes the owner and removes the ineffective management. Is that,
incidentally, perhaps Berezovskiy's course?
[Chubays] Possibly. But I categorically disagree with that logic. I believe
that ORT [Public Russian Television] in principle cannot be used to fight
competitors. Berezovskiy has already used ORT as a club to pressure
opponents more than once. The channel is not a private one, however, and
does not belong to him alone. From my viewpoint, the state as the
stockholder that still has the controlling block of stock in ORT is
required to oppose that. That is formally. But in essence all of
Berezovskiy's logic is actually false and detrimental. Gusinskiy is
taking out loans. The creditors provide the money under conditions that
they consider acceptable. And so is Most in default or did it miss the
payment deadline? No. It simply borrowed more credits than Berezovskiy
liked. And so what? That is certainly not Berezovskiy's problem. And
perhaps Most's technologies and the company's growth in capitalization
will yield amounts that exceed the sum of the loans many times over. I do
not know. But in any case, that is not my problem. And it is not a
problem of the state, since the latter has a prescribed bankruptcy
procedure, and Gusinskiy has not yet entered it. When Berezovskiy raises
the topic of Most's debts, he is certainly not pursuing the creditors'
interests, but his own.
[correspondents] But certainly Berezovskiy's logic is more subtle. He
Gusinskiy is using his own mass media to support the Most group's
inefficient business. In other words, Gusinskiy seems to be hinting to
creditors: try to touch us for our debts, and we will use NTV [National
Television] and the publications under our control to "beat you bloody."
[Chubays] That is another grievance. It is certainly not the logic of
relations. It is certainly not among the arguments that $1.3 billion is
too much. It is a grievance against Gusinskiy's actions as a media
magnate. There are grounds for complaint in these terms. But Berezovskiy
can be accused of exactly 100 percent the same thing.
[correspondents] Now apropos of Sergey Stepashin's government. We will
not repeat the
rumors about his possible resignation. We will not mention the irrational
features in Russia's structure of supreme power which might lead to that
resignation. The question of the objective possibility of the resignation
of Stepashin's cabinet. Say, a default as viewed by the London Club in
[Chubays] On a purely legal basis, the president has a right to make the
premier and the entire cabinet resign. Of course it is also true that
there are political forces which are fondest of this scenario, and they
are trying to arrange it. Obviously in this scenario any miscalculations
and mistakes by Stepashin's government will be used to strike a blow
against him and bring him down. Any government is under a number of
threats and its effectiveness is determined to a significant extent by
how it is able to withstand the threats.
[correspondents] What should Stepashin do to preserve his status?
[Chubays] In addition to keeping the economy efficient, considerable
needed to stop the behind-the-scenes intrigues and reduce the costs of
the country's inevitable politicization during the pre-election period.
To correlate the scale of threats and the potential of Stepashin's
government, it has a real chance not simply to survive, but even to win
[correspondents] But for the Stepashin team to actually survive, they
freeze the reforms now and keep things running on their own momentum
until the elections--not do anything radical, simply plug along without
any spurts in the economy. And leave all the reforms for later.
[Chubays] That is of course true on the larger scale. The economy's real
problem is nonpayments. Next on the list come protection of private
property and mass corruption. Here I absolutely agree with you. The
technology for accomplishing tasks of such a range and depth can be
realized only with the help of a powerful political base of support,
which by definition cannot be created in the pre-election period. But it
is still not a black and white picture. There is a list of conflicting
and risky sectors of the economy where nonetheless the government and the
Central Bank must move quickly. Bank reform, for example. Liquidation of
insolvent banks must begin without delay. But then it would be best to do
nothing with private ownership of land for now. That is, the government
has enough to do even without radical economic transformations.
[correspondents] A practical politician can be heard behind this
itself, it seems to us, has used you for an interesting experiment. There
was First Vice Premier Chubays, and the chairman of RAO YeES Rossii
appeared. And the second excludes the first altogether. That Chubays
fought for the complete abolition of the "foul," as he himself called it,
mutual offsets of enterprises. But Chubays the power engineer says to the
government: "The company will simply turn up its toes and die without
offsets." In the commission on nonpayments, the previous Chubays demanded
the bankruptcy, without ceremony and regardless of merit, of AvtoVAZ and
Nizhnevartovskneftegaz. But the head of RAO YeES pushes a milder
bankruptcy procedure for the natural monopolies through the Duma and
reaches an understanding with Vyakhirev not to bankrupt energy sector
enterprises. Doesn't it seem to you that there is an insoluble
contradiction between the reformer functionary and the manager of a real
[Chubays] Absolutely not. Let us begin with offsets. I believed and
to believe that offsets are one of the most serious illnesses of the
economy. They are the reverse side of corruption and insider theft. Real
growth in the economy is impossible without curing this illness. But pay
attention: in fighting to abolish offsets when I was in the government, I
did everything possible to balance the budget and get out of the
situation where the federal treasury itself becomes the main source of
nonpayments. I was the one who conducted the sequestration of
expenditures, and for it I got a wide range of complaints, to put it
mildly. So I got the right to demand that offsets be prohibited. Now let
us take today's situation. RAO YeES output consumed by the federal budget
comes to 20 billion rubles [R], but the budget includes only R10 billion
to pay for this output. A disproportion from the start. I am no longer
talking about real financing from the budget, here the picture is even
worse, as always. Today I cannot try to normalize the country's budget;
that is not for the chairman of the governing board of RAO YeES to do.
But then the company must have an instrument of survival. So be so kind
as to either balance the budget or lay a plan on the table for me to
close up the deficit of R10 billion. No other plan but offsets exists in
nature. It can be called "targeted financing" or "counter financial
settlements"--the essence is the same.
I am not going to argue, when I came to RAO YeES, the thrust of my
priorities changed. It simply cannot be otherwise: the government and a
company are positioned differently in economic space. As the first deputy
chairman of the government, it is certainly natural to fight for as much
tax revenue as possible. But imagine for a second that the chairman of
the RAO YeES governing board tries to get the most tax revenue from the
company. You must agree that there is an element of the absurd here. I do
not know, perhaps I can be accused of changing positions and abandoning
my former principles, but truly, I think not. I now have other tasks--the
reliable operation of the energy systems, settling accounts with
creditors, preparations for winter, and wages in the company--wage
arrears have been cut in half in the last year, by the way. I do not
believe that changing professional priorities means abandoning my
[correspondents] But listen, for the second time in the last seven
months, you have
been trying to get what are essentially oppressive export duties on fuel
oil through the government. Of course you are looking after fuel reserves
for power plants before winter. But in working in the government, you
tried to reach agreement with the IMF on abandoning export duties. In
fact if the old head of the RAO Dyakov just mentioned high duties for
fuel oil, Vice Premier Chubays would tear into him. You were actually the
one responsible for joining WTO [World Trade Organization] at that time.
[Chubays] And joining WTO remains a global Russian task now too. I am
confident that reducing the average rates for import duties remains the
authorities' objective. And export duties will be abolished in the
future. But there is the persistent fact of devaluation of the ruble. If
we look at the proportion of exported fuel oil, it more than doubled
during the year. The reasons are in plain view--the foreign price is 3.5
times more profitable than the domestic price. Obviously, supporting the
fuel balance in the country on the threshold of winter is, I am not
afraid to say it, a task for the state. Which of the government's actions
here are anti-market actions or are in conflict with the WTO's
objectives? Introducing an export quota for fuel oil? That is absolute
absurdity, since a considerable number of people line their pockets on
[correspondents] Not to mention that it is a method of non-tariff
[Chubays] Of course. But then introducing export duties for fuel oil is an
absolutely civilized measure not prohibited by WTO rules. Generally a
quadruple devaluation of the national currency, of course, should push
the government not only toward regulatory measures of a macroeconomic
nature, but also toward localized actions in individual sectors. If oil
producers have impressive growth in income, why not share it with the
state? It certainly is not conditioned upon the oil sector's greater
efficiency. So I believe that a temporary export duty on fuel oil is
[correspondents] The oil producers do not like you, they say that Chubays
[Chubays] I do not play for myself, but for power engineering, which I am
[correspondents] Today there is no way to avoid the politics you dislike.
Cause had just been created, the ratings showed 8-9 percent popularity.
Sociologists' last surveys showed 1.5-2 percent. Why such a cut?
[Chubays] I do not have a complete answer. Of course, at first the very
of the movement's creation began to operate. Now we observe the
compressing of political space closer to the elections. Half a year ago,
it was fairly loose, and now the concentration is higher, and in another
six months, it will be quite saturated. Perhaps there is something else.
At any rate, for Just Cause the truth lies somewhere in between the first
and the present ratings. Here is a small question in this connection: is
this "truth" above 5 percent or below? So both consolidated efforts
within Just Cause and vigorous negotiation tactics are required of us.
[correspondents] From this standpoint, is an alliance among NDR [Our Home
Just Cause, and New Force realistic?
[Chubays] I think that such an alliance is realistic. Moreover, I believe
given the right center which is consolidating and the already
consolidated leftists, a Primakov-Luzhkov-Shaymiyev arrangement can be
discerned. Consolidation of the rightists is absolutely certain to
happen. In my opinion, the July-August process of formation of the bloc
is the base condition predetermining the entire future Duma distribution.
And naturally, in this process the rightists must not miss their
opportunity. Despite all the personal insults, and there are many of
them, consolidation of the NDR, Voice of Russia, New Force, and Just
Cause is needed now more than ever before.
[correspondents] Will Chernomyrdin agree to step aside to make way for
Kiriyenko-Ryzhkov-Nemtsov on the federal slate?
[Chubays] That question can be resolved only by Viktor Stepanovich
believe that such a group of young people is a plus. Incidentally, when
those of us in Just Cause were determining just who would go forward,
neither I nor Gaydar ended up on the list. And that was a conscious
decision. There are times when it is more appropriate for those of us who
are veterans in politics to retreat slightly. I think that for Viktor
Stepanovich the situation now is similar to the one that Gaydar and I
[correspondents] How likely is an alliance between Luzhkov and Primakov?
[Chubays] This alliance is very likely, but under one basic condition--if
Shaymiyev joins them. This is how I understand Primakov's priorities:
evaluate the strategic role of this alliance. If there is no president of
Tataria, there will be no alliance either. But if it does happen, it will
have a global effect on both the Duma and the presidential elections.
Moreover, it will create a situation with three clearly outlined
candidates for the presidential post in 2000--Primakov, Luzhkov, and
Stepashin. Starting at that moment, all other candidates will quickly
drop out of the top league. The impact of an alliance between Luzhkov and
Primakov on the Russian political future is difficult to evaluate
clearly. Undoubtedly it would be a plus in the sense that Russian
Communism would be buried for good. Although strictly speaking, even now
no serious analyst considers Zyuganov a realistically possible president.
The way I understand it is that the 21st century in Russia should be much
less linked with obsolete dogma. It should be a century of strategic
progress. So from the standpoint of the historical perspective, an
alliance between Luzhkov and Primakov would work to the disadvantage. Let
us look at the ages of these leaders--they are long past 60. So this
future would in many respects be a return to the past.
[correspondents] Then what is the nature of Primakov's steady popularity
[Chubays] He did not change anything. He brought stability without
the way of life that had taken shape. The key word is predictability,
people very much want it. It is always more pleasant than change. But
there is a shadow side to this stability, stagnation.
[correspondents] What will Russia be like after Yeltsin?
[Chubays] It seems to me that during Yeltsin's 10 years, what Russia has
accomplished is unprecedented. Today this is still poorly understood.
Only the foundations of democracy and a market economy have been laid in
the 10 years, no more but no less either. They include the Constitution,
freedom of speech, private property, freely elected authorities, and a
federative state system. This foundation is worth a great deal. There was
nothing like it in the country for 75 years. But almost nothing of what
was already named has yielded mature fruit yet. Not even 3 percent of the
potential of each of the institutions indicated has been discovered yet.
In this sense the future of post-Yeltsin Russia is in fact a discovery of
potential. Essentially it means bringing the machine that has only just
been assembled up to full speed. That is the challenge for 21st century
politicians. If they can meet it, I am confident that in the 21st
century, Russia not only will regain the status of a superpower but can
become a world leader.
[correspondents] And have you given up on your political ambitions?
[Chubays] Life will tell. My political ambitions are extremely
ideas on a political career. My ambitions are for Russia to achieve what
I just said. So there you are, very modest. But I would like to realize
these plans without returning to political power. That would be the ideal
scenario for me. But we will see what actually happens.
Russia: Analysis From Washington -- Rise Of Anti-Semitism In Russia
By Paul Goble
Washington, 28 July 1999 (RFE/RL) -- In the wake of several attacks on
Moscow synagogues, a prominent Russian Jewish organization has decried the
increasing incidence of such activities as well as what it said were the
reasons behind that rise.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Russian Jewish Congress said that
the mounting number of attacks on Jewish institutions now represent "a
threat to all Russian citizens regardless of their nationality" and argued
that such crimes "should not remain unpunished."
The organization blamed the increase on chauvinistic appeals by some
Russian politicians, the indifference of many ordinary Russian citizens to
such attacks, and the inability or unwillingness of the government to
identify and punish those responsible.
The Russian Jewish Congress released these findings and issued this appeal
after a July 12 attack on the Moscow Choral synagogue which left Leopold
Kaimovsky, the executive director of Moscow's Jewish Arts Center, badly
wounded, and after reports this week that a bomb had been planted near
another Moscow synagogue.
The Congress argued that "such incidents cease to be something
extraordinary and are committed with the connivance of those who are in
charge of the formation of our society's moral climate." And it provided
three explanations for this increase after a period during which many
Russian Jews felt anti-semitism there had been declining.
* First of all, the Congress put the blame on the increasing number of
political figures who have with impunity issued anti-Semitic statements as
part of their effort to win popular support.
As the Congress noted, "there is nothing strange in the escalation of such
violence when members of the Federation Council and State Duma deputies
make chauvinistic statements," particularly when they escape any censure
for what they say.
* Second, the Russian Jewish Congress criticized the indifference of many
Russians to what is taking place. All too many Russian citizens, the group
indicated, have failed to react in any way to such outrages against Jewish
groups, an indifference that sometimes extends to attacks on other national
minorities as well.
This Russian indifference, the Congress noted, has prompted Jews and other
minorities to "raise the question of whether it is possible to live on
Russian territory" and, in the absence of domestic support, to issue
"appeals to the international community" as the only means of defense.
* And third, the Congress denounced what it said was the "impotence of the
Russian authorities" in the face of such acts, an impotence that reflects
either their inability or their unwillingness to bring those responsible to
justice. The failure of the Russian government to do so, the Congress
noted, has only emboldened those responsible for such behavior.
To counter these factors, the Congress called on Russian leaders to
denounce racists and anti-Semites "no matter how high their posts are." It
demanded that the Russian people recognize the danger to themselves of
anti-Semitic actions left unpunished. And it called on the authorities to
work harder to identify and convict those guilty of such crimes.
But it is a measure of the difficulties Jews in Russia now face that this
organization has directed its appeal to foreign governments and human
rights activists as well, virtually inviting both to put pressure on
Moscow to change its current approach.
Several Jewish groups and human rights organizations in the United States
and other Western countries recently have begun campaigns to attract
attention to a growing problem that many people had assumed was no longer a
major problem in post-Soviet Russia.
The appeal of the Russian Jewish Congress from Moscow is likely to give
additional impetus to these Western efforts. And its identification of the
sources of the new tide of anti-Semitic violence in Russia is likely to
lead ever more people to consider not only why anti-semitism has reemerged
but also the ways in which in can be combated.
To the extent that happens, this appeal may mark a turning point in Russian
social development. To the extent that it does not, the appeal may come to
be viewed as a barometer of how bad things now are and how much worse they