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Johnson's Russia List
1 August 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Baltimore Sun: Jonathan Wiesman, U.S., Russia to develop a joint missile
2. Eric Foss (CBC): A Letter from Russia.
3. Itar-Tass: Otechestvo and all Russia Alliance Can Be Powerful Bloc.
4. Boston Globe: Stephen Kurkjian, Russian refugees skirt regulations to
5. Financial Times: Broadcast and be damned. Journalists have joined in the
country's power struggle, writes John Thornhill, but their integrity is being
6. The Times (UK): Richard Beeston, Russian Jews' protection squad guards
7. Chicago Tribune: R.C. Longworth, ONLY THE RUSSIANS CAN REPAIR THEIR
8. The Electric Telegraph (UK): Andrew Gilligan, Russia, not bombs, brought
end to war in Kosovo, says Jackson.]
1 August 1999
[for personal use only]
U.S., Russia to develop a joint missile defense
`Unstable regimes' identified as threat
By Jonathan Weisman
Sun National Staff
WASHINGTON -- A fanciful dream first conjured up by Ronald Reagan 14 years
ago will take a step toward reality next month when the United States and
Russia begin serious talks on the joint development of a system intended to
destroy incoming missiles.
In White House talks last week, President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and
Russian Prime Minister Sergei V. Stepashin spoke at length about the emerging
threat of missile attacks from rogue nations, hinting at a growing consensus
around efforts to develop anti-missile defense systems.
Though no specific proposals were offered by either side, both emerged from
the talks speaking of mutual interests in missile defense. Stepashin said
both nations should work together toward a "global security system."
"The ballistic missile threat is not from Russia but from unstable regimes,"
Stepashin told reporters. "These threats also affect Russia."
Clinton's national security adviser, Samuel R. Berger, said more cautiously,
"It is conceivable that we could cooperate in such a way that would protect
American security, but would also provide tangible benefits to the Russians."
The very idea that the United States and Russia are working jointly toward
the development of an anti-missile defense program marks a startling
turnabout. Moscow had long insisted that the 1972 Anti--Ballistic Missile
treaty was inviolable and that neither side could go beyond the single-site,
limited defense system allowed under that accord. U.S. officials, along with
the Russians, now envision a true national missile defense system.
Yet there is no guarantee that engineers would be able to make it work. Thus
far, the talks have been abstract. Next month, arms control negotiators will
try to developmore concrete joint research projects when they resume talks on
further reductions in nuclear arms and the future of the ABM treaty.
Russia's parliament has refused to ratify the START II arms reduction treaty
hammered out in 1993, and the U.S. missile defense efforts have been central
to its intransigence.
Some Russian members say they should not be ratifying a new arms control
treaty just when the United States plans to abrogate the ABM accord. Others
in the Russian parliament have insisted that Russia must maintain a high
level of ballistic missiles so it can overwhelm any American defense shield.
Back to the table
But a convergence of circumstances and looming political deadlines are
pushing both sides back to the bargaining table. President Boris N. Yeltsin's
government wants to break the logjam over START II, which would reduce both
nations' arsenals of long-range nuclear warheads to no more than 3,500 each,
and move toward START III, which would reduce arsenals to 2,500 warheads or
fewer. For the ailing Russian economy, that level would be more manageable.
Indeed, Russia announced last week that it would hold discussions on START
III with the United States in Moscow later this month.
Yeltsin needs to make progress before negotiations are consumed by the
politics of the Russian parliamentary elections this fall, and progress on
arms reduction has become bound up with missile defense and the ABM treaty.
The Clinton administration faces its own deadline. Earlier this year, the
White House yielded to pressure from Republicans in Congress and dropped its
long-standing resistance to an anti--missile system.
The president then signed legislation making it national policy to deploy a
nationwide missile defense system "as soon as technologically possible."
Under an earlier agreement with Congress, Clinton pledged to decide next year
whether to go forward with that deployment. Clinton hopes to negotiate
changes in the ABM treaty in advance of that decision.
Drawing the Russians into a cooperative relationship, Berger said, could make
a decision to deploy more palatable in Moscow and provide "a greater
incentive to make changes in the ABM treaty."
"We want to reduce the overall nuclear stockpile," a State Department
official said. "We want to preserve existing treaties, and we want to be able
to deal with a new generation of threats with a new generation of technology.
How you do all those things means looking at all three at once and as a
Moreover, advances in missile capabilities -- especially in North Korea and
Iran -- have given both the United States and Russia cause for concern.
Members of Congress have suggested building a missile defense system in
Russia's Far East to shoot down possible North Korean missiles, or a system
in the south of Russia to guard against Iranian or Iraqi missile launches.
"I think people want to explore this," said a White House official familiar
with the talks. "We haven't talked in concrete terms, but there's a lot of
For years the United States and Russia have run joint research programs
sponsored by the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. But the
technology was of such marginal value and the amount of money invested was so
low that the project was considered a confidence-building measure more than a
serious research effort, a Pentagon official said.
Indeed, the White House has proposed killing the joint Russian-U.S. program
`U.S. is serious'
But last week's discussions about joint missile defense work has lifted the
hopes of missile defense advocates that the White House is becoming serious
about deploying a system. And they believe the Russians are increasingly
reconciled to it.
"This is not some romantic notion of a great strategic partnership that's
driving this," said Keith Payne, director of the National Institute for
Public Policy and the U.S. director of a joint U.S.-Russian study of missile
"It's a notion that the U.S. is serious about going through with this, and
the Russians don't want to be left behind.
"It's a very serious change" in Russian attitude, Payne said, "and I wouldn't
be surprised if there was a sea change in the near future."
Even some opponents of a missile defense system sense a change in attitude on
"It's only been going on for a few weeks," John Pike, director of the Space
Policy Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said of the joint
missile defense talks. "But evidently, there's been much more discussion in
the last few weeks than in the last several years."
White House officials acknowledge that the talks have a long way to go.
"I don't think there's been a sea change on Russian thinking on this issue,"
said one official.
And some Russian experts and missile-defense opponents are skeptical that a
meaningful joint research program will ever move beyond the bargaining table.
Reagan first suggested sharing missile defense technology with Mikhail S.
Gorbachev in 1986, as a way of easing U.S.-Soviet tensions.
In 1992, Yeltsin and President George Bush established a high-level working
group to examine joint missile defense projects, but the effort quietly died
Skeptics suggest that the latest attempt will fail, too.
The Russians will expect the United States to throw in billions of dollars,
and the Americans will refuse, predicted Sherman Garnett, a Russia specialist
and dean of Michigan State University's James Madison College of Public
Moreover, in the wake of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, suspicions are rife
within Russia that the Americans would join such an alliance only to
undermine Russia's national security.
"It's much easier for an American to describe such a thing than a Russian to
understand why he would be interested in doing something like this," Pike
Date: Sat, 31 Jul 1999
From: "Alex Shprintsen (CBC, The National Magazine)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: A Letter from Russia by Eric Foss
In the attachment is an article that was published in "Izvestia" on July
28. It was written by Eric Foss, a colleague of mine at the CBC. (He is a
sound recordist at the "National Magazine", CBC television's flagship
current affairs program. I am a producer.) It's based on his general
impressions of Russia during our recent documentary assignment. Obviously,
you don't need to translate it -- what I am sending you is the English
original that had been translated into Russian for "Izvestia."
I think it's the kind of piece that might be of value for the List. If you
like it, by all means put it in. By the way, "Izvestia" gave it the title
"The Incomprehensible Russia." If you have any questions, please don't
hesitate to contact me.
A Letter from Russia
By Eric Foss
Canadian Broadcasting Company
As our rickety van edged through the crush of evening Moscow traffic, a
black Land rover suddenly emerged from an underground parking lot, abruptly
cutting off what was left of any traffic flow. From the vehicle two
leather clad oafs, with necks as thick as tree trunks, whispered urgent
instructions into shoulder strapped two way radios. Within seconds, a
tinted glass Audi shot onto the street followed closely by another black
Land rover. In a minute all three vehicles were gone, evidenced only by the
distant reflection of the flashing blue lights that signaled their obvious
importance. "Is that a high level political figure?" I asked. My Russian
born colleague replied " No, that is the Russian Mafia". My return to
Moscow had already lived up to its advanced billing.
I had last visited Russia in 1993, working as part of a CBC documentary
crew reporting on the rise of ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. At
that time the Russian people were struggling with the transition into a new
economic and political milieu, the government had narrowly avoided a
parliamentary coup and young entrepreneurs were thriving in a system that
was ripe for exploitation.
Preparing to arrive six years later, my expectations for any significant
turnaround hadn't changed. President Boris Yeltsin had just fired Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov, the battered Russian ruble had been devalued
once again and the barons of organized crime continued to strengthen their
grip on a defenseless Russian society. Add to all of this the cataclysmic
events occurring in the former Yugoslavia and I was sure my foray back
onto Russian soil would be anything but uneventful. As the plane touched
down at Moscow's
Sheremetyevo airport, I pressed my nose against the window looking for any
Visiting Russia in the spring will challenge any preconceived notion one
might have of the country or its people. Outside of greater Moscow,
private dachas dot the countryside amid lush green foliage and giant birch
stands. The dachas are crude and rustic and remind the visitor of a rural
past and of the current necessity for harvesting food. Inside Moscow, the
contradiction is jolting. Sleek european cars navigate the pot-holed
streets, giant western advertisements cover any blank space available and
designer shops market their goods to cell-phone toting clients. The newly
refurbished gold domes that glisten from behind the Kremlin walls now
compete for onlookers in a city that is suddenly filled with the colours of
change. On the surface the transition seems remarkable, but a closer look
reveals that all is not as it appears.
Many of the new construction projects started prior to the economic
collapse in September of 1998 have been left abandoned, cement skeletons
that remind everyone of the fragility of doing business in the new Russia.
Elderly men and women stand in front of Metro tunnels hawking what's left
of their meager possessions to daily commuters, their lined faces evidence
of the constant struggle for survival in an environment that has marked
them as the first casualties of economic change. Soldiers and veterans
from conflicts in Afghanistan and Chechnya appear on street corners asking
for handouts. Many of the disabled veterans wear medals of honour reminding
passersby of forgotten battles and lost dignity. A pungent vodka haze
prevents some from begging for
the few rubles that make up their measly subsistence. Kiosks and grocery
stores are well stocked, providing a variety of goods for any temptation.
The largest are owned by foreign companies and are priced in units (similar
to the US dollar); they are not intended for the average person. Russia
has become a two-tiered society, the young rich and the forgotten poor.
Despite the daily challenges faced by most people, the country seems to
function in an awkward sort of way. Most people will barter, trade or
borrow to compensate for a system that no longer services their collective
needs. Pedestrians, in search of a cheap ride, will flag down passing
vehicles on the road and negotiate on the spot to be driven to their
destination. On Fridays the roads and train stations are jammed with
people trying to leave the city. They visit their dachas in the country
planting the spring seeds that will sustain them over the next few months.
The dachas, despite their cozy affection, are often a dozen pieces of wood
thrown together for cover.
Most foreigners are viewed as easy marks in a pricing game that is
completely at the whim of the seller. A popular cathedral had an admission
charge of 15 rubles (80 cents) until our group walked up to the gate- 250
rubles (12 dollars) was the admission we were quoted; no explanation was
given. Our young driver explained " People will do whatever they have to do
to survive" He told us a story of his graduating senior class, 80% had
become involved in organized crime or had become police officers. He said
there was little to distinguish one group from another.
After a few days in Moscow we traveled by train to St. Petersburg, the new
crime capital of Russia. During our stay four contract killings would take
place, including a Russian journalist and the deputy chief of police. The
city has become a battleground for young Mafioso's, desperate to positions
themselves in this historical wonderland.
After a long night on the train we were anxious to check into our hotel.
The Oktiabrskaya, translated "October Revolution", had all the charm of a
city bus station. The state owned hotel, built in 1847, was a walk into the
past. The lobby was baron and cold, with dimly lit chandeliers. Two doormen
sat motionless as we trudged past with our heavy bags. As I entered my
room I was surprised to see so many modern fixtures, a Japanese television,
touch-tone phone and bathroom appliances imported from Finland. We were
told our rooms had been recently upgraded, unfortunately the upgrade
bypassed the surly clerk who registered us upon arrival.
Tired from a long night of travel, I ran water for a bath. Walking
towards the window overlooking the historical Nevsky Prospect, I thought
of the country I had visited six years earlier. The changes that had taken
place in such a short period were as exciting as they were disturbing. The
staggering growth of organized crime and the alienation of the common
citizen lead one to believe that the new Russia is on a collision course
with its own destiny. Returning to the bathroom, I looked down at the
water in the tub. It was rust red in colour - a timely metaphor for a
Otechestvo and all Russia Alliance Can Be Powerful Bloc.
KAZAN, capital of Tatarstan Republic, August 1 (Itar-Tass) - Tatarstan
President Mintimer Shaimiyev, a leader of the All Russia movement, speaking
in an interview with Itar-Tass on Sunday, said that "our movement continues
consultations with the Otechestvo (Fatherland) movement, and we have covered
the greater part of the road".
"We shall sum up results at the presidium of the All Russia Political Council
on Tuesday and will discuss which differences can be removed by mutual
agreement. If we remove, the time of unification will come close, " he
The situation should not be simplified, the Tatarstan head noted. Fatherland
was formed among the first, and, in Shaimiyev's opinion, "all parties and
movements rushed there with controversial programmes and aims".
In turn, "we should also be choosy while starting unification talks: we have
our own principles which we put forth at the last meeting".
After an understanding between leaders (Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is the
leader of the Otechestvo movement) is reached, the question on unification
will be settled at a congress of the two movements, Shaimiyev stated. "If the
congresses give a positive reply, a unification congress should be held," the
Tatarstan president added.
Shaimiyev, always restrained and very cautious, did not conceal his hopes on
Sunday for unification which he regards as "a powerful election bloc". He
openly claimed that, apart from Otechestvo and All Russia, the country "has
no, regrettably, any other real force which can ensure a normal and
constructive majority in the State Duma (lower house)".
1 August 1999
[for personal use only]
Russian refugees skirt regulations to flood US
By Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON - Since 1989, the United States has granted coveted refugee status
to numerous emigres from the former Soviet Union on the basis of fraudulent
documents or unverified assertions that they were Jewish or evangelical
Christians, according to US officials who have administered the program.
Nearly 275,000 Jewish immigrants and 100,000 evangelical Christians have
arrived in the United States despite the State Department's urging in 1996
that the program be scrubbed because it was vulnerable to fraud and had
outlived its usefulness. Even so, the Clinton administration, expressing
fears of a new wave of anti-Semitism in Russia, is now poised to ask Congress
to extend it for another year.
Meanwhile, amid evidence that many non-Jews, some allegedly with Russian
mafia connections, have manipulated the program to enter the United States
illegally, about 6,000 other Jews from the former Soviet Union await refugee
Regardless of its future, the program's past is troubled: It has cleared for
emigration an unknown, but apparently substantial, number of applicants on
the basis of faked documents and little or no evidence that they faced
persecution, according to several officials who worked in the program.
''There clearly was a mindset among our superiors that unless there was a
clear case of fraud or forgery, we were to approve what was in front of us,''
said Rebecca Fong, a former review officer for the Immigration and
Naturalization Service at the US Embassy in Moscow.
A 1993 INS internal document, obtained by the Globe, provided no precise
estimate of the number of people who had entered the United States under
false pretenses, but it characterized fraud in the program as
''astronomical.'' Still, INS officials, in recent interviews, played down the
number of applicants who have arrived in the United States illicitly. While
they acknowledged that many applicants submitted faked documents, they said
most of those were weeded out during Washington processing before the
interview stage at the Moscow Embassy.
Critics of the 1989 rules relaxation, sponsored by Senator Frank R.
Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, have focused on the lower standard for
refugee status that was created for Jews and evangelical Christians from the
former Soviet Union.
While officials privately focus their criticism on the level of fraud by
Jewish applicants over the last decade, in the last year or so they say they
have found an increasing level of fraud among evangelical Christians. In 1998
for the first time, more evangelicals were admitted as refugees than Jews.
In other troubled parts of the world, would-be refugees must show they are
being persecuted or have a ''well-founded fear'' of persecution on account of
their race, religion, nationality, membership in a social class, or political
affiliation. But applicants from the former Soviet Union need only show a
''credible basis'' for concern that they might face persecution.
Such vague standards left INS employees uncertain what assertions were
acceptable to win refugee status. But they said they soon learned from their
superiors that a claim of a minor act of discrimination, such as being denied
a promotion or raise, was acceptable, without any need for verification.
The vast majority of the 275,000 who emigrated here through the program were
men, women, and children of Jewish heritage who had close family members
living in the United States and were able to show they had experienced some
discrimination, if not persecution, in the former Soviet Union, the officials
The Boston area, after New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami,
has become a major resettlement destination for the emigres. About 50,000 of
the refugees from the former Soviet Union have settled in Massachusetts since
1983, according to the state Office of Refugee Resettlement.
''Our focus is not on fraud but on how this program has taken people out of a
country that has had a history of anti-Semitic persecution,'' said Leonard
Glickman, executive vice president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which
has helped most of the refugees resettle in the United States. Glickman
sidestepped questions about the extent of fraud.
Yet an investigation by the State Department's Inspector General's office
reported in 1996 that fraudulent documentation had become an increasing
problem for the program.
''Since fraudulent documents can be obtained and category membership only has
to be stated, not proved, it is difficult for INS to verify family claims,''
stated the Inspector General's report. ''The increased fraud and the low
standards imposed resulted in people not eligible for resettlement gaining
access to the US.''
While the program initially facilitated the emigration of many Jews who had
been persecuted under the Soviet system, INS officials in Moscow came to
believe that the program should have ended by 1993 because of the potential
for fraud, according to the report.
Now, with White House plans to extend the program through next year's
election, one of the highest INS priorities is how to prevent fraud, the same
issue that arose in 1993 and 1996 when State Department-led efforts to end
the program were beaten back by Jewish lobbying groups.
Any attempt to end the program now could prove costly to Democratic
candidates, especially to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has taken steps to
court Jewish voters in New York state.
INS officials confirmed there has long been disagreement between INS agents
who process applicants at the Moscow Embassy and their superiors in
Washington about the proof needed to qualify. One superior, who asked not to
be identified, acknowledged: ''I'll admit the program is more generous than
elsewhere, but that's what Congress mandated.''
Several reviewers complained that their entreaties that the Embassy take a
tougher stand against fraud and baseless claims of persecution were ignored.
For much of the last decade, their requests that criminal background checks
be done and equipment be bought that could detect forged documents were
rebuffed. They said superiors also repeatedly questioned reviewers' judgment
when they rejected applications.
Even applicants considered extremely suspect by INS reviewers were ultimately
approved, officials said. In many cases, they said, applicants would claim to
have lost their internal Soviet passports that would identify them as Jewish.
Instead, they were allowed to present other papers, even those that appeared
to have been produced by the thriving fake document industry in the former
Soviet Union, to attest that they had Jewish heritage.
''This program has been documented to be so loosely administered that it has
served as a conduit for the settlement of a strong refugee mafia to take root
in the United States,'' Dan Stein executive director of the Federation for
American Immigration Reform, which wants the program eliminated, told a House
subcommittee last year.
Added one INS interviewer, who asked for anonymity: ''The prevailing attitude
was that Congress had passed the ... amendment'' loosening the restrictions
for Jews to enter as refugees ''and we weren't to stand in the way of putting
up the numbers.''
And impressive numbers were reached. At the end of the first year of the
program's operation in 1990, nearly 40,000 applicants of Jewish heritage were
accepted as refugees.
The Scripps Howard News Service reported in 1995 on the criticism inside the
INS on the program's level of fraud, but Congress approved an extension of
the Lautenberg Amendment the following year.
While no one would estimate how many residents of the former Soviet Union
took advantage of the program to enter the United States illegally, US
statistics show that few of the applicants interviewed were rejected. Between
1989 and 1998, more than 97 percent of the Russian Jews interviewed became
emigres. About 90 percent of the evangelical Christians seeking admission
In contrast, only about 75 percent of refugee applicants from elsewhere who
reach the interview stage win approval, mostly because they face the higher
theshhold of proving that they face persecution at home.
Refugee status is an immigrant's dream: Refugees are entitled to several
benefits, including welfare for eight months, health insurance, employment
services, and instruction in English as a second language for 18 months, that
are not available to foreign visitors on work visas. And it allows them to
petition for US citizenship after five years.
But a decade after the rules were relaxed, no one can say for sure how
extensive the fraud is.
One INS executive, who asked not to be identified but is familiar with the
refugee program, said the agency's top tier of officials are aware that loose
standards and lax controls allowed some who did not deserve it to gain
refugee status. Asked how many came in without proper credentials, he said:
''It's anybody's guess.''
Calls about this article can be made to 617-929-3372. The Globe Spotlight
Team can be reached at 617-929-3208. Confidential messages about other issues
can be left on voice mail at 617-929-7483. The e-mail address is
31 July 1999
[for personal use only]
RUSSIA: Broadcast and be damned
Journalists have joined in the country's power struggle, writes John
Thornhill, but their integrity is being questioned
Several leading Russian journalists decided to make rather than break the
news this week. The country's best known television anchorman, Moscow's
punchiest radio commentator, and the editors of a daily newspaper and a news
magazine got together to launch a blazing attack on the state-owned ORT
The journalists, all employees of the privately run Media-Most group, accused
ORT of peddling "lies".
They also attacked Alexander Voloshin, President Boris Yeltsin's chief of
staff and the government representative on ORT's board, for misleading his
ailing boss about the real state of the country.
"We consider that the activities of A. Voloshin compromise the Kremlin, the
president and the authorities in Russia. In any civilised country a
bureaucrat who openly lies should be sacked," said Yevgeny Kisilyov, the
suave presenter of Itogi, the flagship current affairs programme of
Media-Most's NTV television channel.
Such a direct attack against a public figure was extraordinary even by the
rumbustuous standards of Russian political life. But the fact that it was
journalists doing the mud-slinging, rather than political rivals, has many
Russians worried about the independence and integrity of their fledgling free
Perhaps it was inevitable that the media would become entangled in the ugly
battle for power and wealth in the dying days of the Yeltsin regime.
It was always expected that the media would play a critical role in
influencing the outcome of presidential elections next July. But Media-Most
is testing uncharted waters by being so openly hostile to President Yeltsin's
The "war of the television channels" began in mid-May, when Yevgeny Primakov
was sacked as prime minister, leaving big corporate interests to shape the
new government. Boris Berezovsky, a Kremlin adviser, oligarch and power
broker, placed many of his men in the cabinet and started lining up potential
presidential candidates. The state-owned media was an essential instrument in
A Ministry of the Media was recently created to "protect the interests of the
state", stoking fears that freedom of expression - one of the most precious
achievements of Mr Yeltsin's presidency - could be curtailed.
Although Mr Berezovsky denies he exerts editorial control over any media
organisation, the ORT television channel, which is 51 per cent owned by the
state, has actively sided with Mr Berezovsky's supporters, while tarnishing
"ORT is like a matryoshka doll," says Alexander Pumpyansky, editor of the
independent Novoye Vremya (New Times) magazine. "There is a private channel
inside a government channel inside a state channel.
"Berezovsky is clearly using ORT for his own financial and political goals,"
he adds. "The mass media are returning to their role as organs of agitprop."
Mr Berezovsky's ambitions, however, have met a stumbling block in the form of
Vladimir Gusinsky, a former theatre producer who has built Media-Most into
Russia's biggest private media organisation. His group embraces NTV, Echo
Moskvy, a radio station, Sevodnya, a newspaper, and Itogi, a news magazine.
Media-Most has further antagonised Mr Berezovsky by backing the presidential
ambitions of Yuri Luzhkov, Moscow's energetic mayor, who has fallen out with
Mr Gusinsky has not been above using his media assets to further his
commercial interests. But NTV has set new standards of objectivity in Russian
journalism in its coverage of the war in the breakaway republic of Chechnya,
and more recently in the refugee crisis in Kosovo. It has also encouraged a
more vibrant political debate by devoting more airtime than other television
channels to reporting the views of Russia's opposition parties - to the
intense irritation of the Kremlin.
"NTV is widely regarded as the main pioneer of free speech in Russian TV,"
says Aleksei Pushkov, a political commentator at TV-Tsentr, a rival
television company. "It is the most outspoken and liberal and pro-western TV
station in Russia."
The animosity between Mr Berezovsky and Mr Gusinsky is intensifying by the
day. And in this fight, many Russians fear Mr Gusinsky will be the loser
because his finances, unlike Mr Berezovsky's, would appear to be particularly
Recently, the tax police raided Media-Most's offices. At the same time, ORT
began to air reports on the health of NTV's finances, highlighting its
dependence on soft credits and loan guarantees from the giant Gazprom gas
company. And from a different flank, Mr Berezovsky's allies are campaigning
to remove Rem Vyakhirev as head of Gazprom, which owns 30 per cent of NTV. Mr
Vyakhirev's dismissal could signal severe financial complications for
But Mr Gusinsky, a veteran of many Kremlin intrigues, knows how to hit back.
His NTV television channel has launched a vicious attack against Mr Voloshin
in the presidential administration and has been fanning the flames of
corruption scandals around the Kremlin.
In some ways, the ferocious television war is a healthy sign of the political
pluralism that is taking root in Russia. Only three years ago, most Russian
journalists supported Mr Yeltsin's presidential campaign, fearing they would
be out of jobs if the Communist party returned to power. The fact that
newspapers and television stations are likely to support different candidates
in next year's presidential elections is therefore a novel aspect of Russian
The vigorous scrutiny of all pretenders to power imitates the practice of US
media groups prior to American presidential elections.
But Mr Pumpyansky at Novoye Vremya fears this process is not being dictated
by journalistic standards of objectivity, and that media groups risk becoming
the pawns of oligarchs in their power games. At a time when few media outlets
are profitable, he says, it is difficult to resist the financial allure of
the richest men in Russia.
"There is no tradition or practice or culture of distance between media
ownership and editorial policy," he says. "The big battalions will decide
this struggle. He who has the most money will win the war."
The Times (UK)
July 31 1999
[for personal use only]
Russian Jews' protection squad guards against attack
FROM RICHARD BEESTON IN MOSCOW
RUSSIA'S Jewish community has set up a group to protect individuals and
property amid an upsurge in anti- Semitic violence.
"We are facing the worst outbreak of anti-Semitism since the fall of the
Soviet Union," Pinchas Goldschmidt, Moscow's Chief Rabbi, said. "Our appeals
to the authorities have been largely ignored, so we have been forced to take
steps to protect ourselves."
A visit to Moscow's main synagogue yesterday appeared to confirm his
suspicions. Despite the discovery of a bomb in another synagogue last week,
and the stabbing of a prominent Jew by a Russian neo-Nazi this month, there
was no police presence. Instead, a guard provided by a businessman searched
worshippers, who also had to pass through a newly installed metal detector as
they gathered to pray.
The Security Foundation of the Russian Jewish Community, set up by Moscow's
Jewish leaders, wants to extend this cover to other Russian Jews, who are
fleeing the country in growing numbers. It is seeking donations from abroad.
The neo-Nazi Russian National Unity movement, whose members wear black shirts
and boots and give fascist salutes, has been banned from holding public
meetings in Moscow, although its members have been free to march and train in
provincial cities. Rabbi Goldschmidt said that the small group was of less
concern than the Government's apathy in the face of broader anti-Semitism in
the media and mainstream politics.
Last year two prominent Communists used anti-Semitic language in the Duma,
the lower house of Parliament, with impunity. Virulently anti-Semitic
literature and videotapes are sold freely in Moscow metro kiosks. With
presidential and parliamentary elections due next year, it is thought
unlikely that, in the populist climate, the authorities will take any serious
steps to protect Jews.
Jews in the provinces suffer badly, particularly those in southern Russia and
the northern Caucasus, traditional home of the Cossacks,who led pogroms at
the turn of the century. A Jewish housewife said yesterday that her family
had been driven out of their home in Nalchik. "We were never physically
attacked, but we were the target of daily verbal abuse," she said. Like most
of the town's Jewish families, she said, the family was planning to leave for
Israel or America.
1 August 1999
[for personal use only]
ONLY THE RUSSIANS CAN REPAIR THEIR NATION'S WRECKAGE
By R.C. Longworth. R.C. Longworth is a Tribune senior writer and former
As the century ended, the old empire writhed in its death throes. Once the
focus of the world's dread and the master of much of Europe, the old imperial
power, grown rotten through misrule and incompetence, decayed and crumbled.
In the end, it recoiled into its eastern base, scorned by a new world it had
never bothered to join.
So died the Ottoman Empire, in a demise that eerily foreshadowed the
disintegration of the Soviet Empire and the agonies of Russia a century later.
The passing of the Ottomans took longer: its 500-year empire, which once
stretched from Algeria to Vienna, eroded over 50 years of the late 19th and
early 20th centuries, and casts its shadow to this day. The war over Kosovo
may have been the last battle of the Ottoman legacy.
But the only physical remnant of the Ottoman Empire is Turkey, just as Russia
is the stump of the old Soviet Union. Turkey remains today a serious and
consequential nation, often a valued U.S. ally but still half-European and
half-Middle Eastern, a demi-democracy with a Third World economy, regional
rebellions and the kind of human-rights abuses and religious fundamentalism
that Western Europe long ago put behind it.
Is Russia going to turn out like Turkey? Is this former superpower going to
be a major player in Europe, dominating the politics of the region, or will
it end up a minor power, not really important, causing concern but keeping
few statesmen awake at night?
To many Western diplomats and policymakers, this is a ridiculous question.
Russia, they say, is a vast continental nation, an economic invalid to be
sure, but one with thousands of nuclear weapons. Every policy, such as the
prosecution of the war in Kosovo, must be carried out with one eye on Russia,
and nothing can go forward without considering how it will affect our
relations with the Kremlin. Russia may be weak now, but it will be a mighty
power again soon enough and must be kept sweet.
In other words, these policymakers and politicians treat Russia like the
Soviet Union, like the superpower it once was, not the reeling, incompetent
failure it has become.
That is Cold War thinking and needs to be updated if we are to have a
sensible policy toward Russia, not one that lurches from crisis to crisis,
reacting to the latest scowl or tremor from Moscow.
It's too early and too glib to assume that Russia in the next century will be
a semimajor country like Turkey, a useful friend at best and an irritant at
worst. Those nukes, even in the slippery fingers of the people running Russia
now, still count for something.
What's needed instead is a long cold look at Russia as it is, not as it had
been for the 70 years of communism. And then, it will be time to reframe
Western policies to make sure Russia gets what it needs and gives what it
can, but has no veto over these policies.
Russia is as it has been through much of its history, an oppressive place
filled with richly cultured and educated people with a talent for
everything--music, dance, literature--except running a country. For 1,000
years and more, it has lurched between the autocracy of an all-powerful czar
or commissar and the chaos of misrule or non-rule by weak, sickly, sometimes
mad rulers surrounded by scheming courtiers and rivals. Outside the Kremlin
walls, the people still wallow in poverty, hunger and disease, like the
chorus in some 19th Century Russian opera.
Traditionally, Russia has careened between despots (Josef Stalin, Ivan the
Terrible), reformers (Mikhail Gorbachev, Czar Alexander II) and weaklings
(Czar Nicholas II, the last czar, and the present ruler, Boris Yeltsin).
Through the centuries Russia, isolated on its vast landmass beyond Europe,
hewed to the principle of divine rule and repulsed the great intellectual and
cultural currents--the Reformation, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment--that
produced Western democracy.
The sole difference today is that Yeltsin's government calls itself a
democracy, but it's a poor imitation of the real thing. Unreconstructed
Communists run the parliament, oligarchs control the press, a homegrown mafia
bleeds the economy and Yeltsin changes governments like shirts, while his
doctors claim he's healthy and his entourage claims he's sober.
In Poland and Hungary, post-communist governments made the hard reforms and
are reaping the rewards: Their economies bottomed out long ago and they have
become virtually Western nations, secure in their market democracies and well
on their way into the 21st Century.
Russia could have done this, but it didn't. Instead, it allowed former
Communist Party officials and small-time crooks to gobble up factories and
called it privatization. Apart from this phony reform, nothing has been done.
Banks pump money into failed firms with no hope of repayment. The ruble
collapses and the country is in default on its debts, reliant on the
International Monetary Fund to keep going. Workers go months without pay,
while the oligarchs smuggle billions into Swiss bank accounts. It is an
economy based, like the communist one, on barter and cooked books.
Russia today is an embittered, isolated nation convinced that it is being
betrayed--by its own leaders, by the West, especially by the United States.
Its one recent positive contribution to world stability--its mediation with
Serbia in the Kosovo crisis--was treated at home as a sellout to NATO, as
though Russia's future lies with Serbia, not the West.
NATO would have won the battle for Kosovo without Russia's help, but the use
of former Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin as an envoy was seen as diplomatically
necessary, to give Russia a share of the struggle against Serbia. Yeltsin
then squandered this minor triumph by ordering a contingent of Russia troops
to scurry from Bosnia to Kosovo to seize the Pristina airport--a bizarre
stunt that only made Moscow look childish and guaranteed that NATO would give
it no authority at all in the governing of Kosovo.
What is the West to make of a country like this?
There remains a school of thought that says the United States and the West
"lost" Russia by not giving it enough money, or by giving it the wrong kind
of advice, or by expanding NATO, or by being so "arrogant" as to make
decisions without asking what Moscow thought about them.
The fact is Russia lost Russia. Given the history and present chaos there,
there is nothing the West could have done to keep that country--which is,
after all, one of the world's biggest, and not easily manipulated--from
digging its own grave. The West did send billions in aid to Russia, but every
ruble was funneled back into those Swiss bank accounts by the oligarchs and
mafiosi. This is not exactly an incentive to send more.
The United States stands properly accused of post-Cold War arrogance in its
often insensitive use of power around the world. But this country, as the
only superpower, has a global obligation to lead: The fact is that there is
no way for us to exercise this leadership without reminding the Russians, a
defeated superpower, that they lost the Cold War. Resentment is built into
this new Russian-American relationship, and we must live with it.
The United States has obligations and policies toward Europe and Japan and
China and the mineral-rich areas of ex-Soviet Central Asia, and it has a
proper responsibility to be involved in issues such as terrorism and nuclear
weapons and the environment. Anything Washington does on any of these topics
will affect Russia in some way or another, and the Russians probably aren't
going to like it, whether or not it's good for them.
The American goal is not to avoid making decisions just because it might
upset Moscow. Rather, the American goal is to exercise proper and relatively
modest leadership and try to persuade Russia to accept it.
Russia may or may not survive in its present form. It probably won't evolve
into a true democracy. It may or may not put its economy together. It
certainly never will regain the kind of global power it had in the Cold War.
It may have good relations with its neighbors, or it may not. All of this is
up to the Russians, not Washington or the West.
The United States cannot run Russia. It can make it clear that it is willing
to work with Russia if the Russians also are willing, just as we've worked
with Turkey, more or less smoothly, since the Ottoman Empire disappeared.
In short, the West can keep the door open in case Russia turns out to be
friendly, while preparing for a more unpleasant world in case it doesn't.
The train to the 21st Century is leaving the station, and we're the engineer.
Whether the Russians want to ride along is up to them.
The Electric Telegraph (UK)
1 August 1999
[for personal use only]
Russia, not bombs, brought end to war in Kosovo, says Jackson
By Andrew Gilligan
NATO'S commander in Kosovo credits the Russians rather than the Allies' air
campaign of Yugoslavia for being the key to persuading Slobodan Milosevic to
withdraw his forces from the province.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Lt Gen Sir Mike Jackson said:
"The event of June 3 [when the Russians backed the West's position and urged
President Milosevic to surrender] was the single event that appeared to me to
have the greatest significance in ending the war." Asked about the bombing
campaign, he replied: "I wasn't responsible for the air campaign; you're
talking to the wrong person."
Such plain speaking is typical from the man charged with the difficult task
of trying to keep the peace between two communities who have decided they do
not want to live together. But performing this task under the constant
spotlight of the world's media is testing a man who hates his new-found
"No pictures, the General doesn't like those," say his staff, as Julian
Simmonds, The Telegraph photographer, and I enter the brown plastic and faux
marble surroundings of Lt Gen Jackson's hilltop headquarters - a former
cinema complex above Pristina. Later, the photographer tries a few shots as
he is meeting Tony Blair's helicopter. The general comes striding over. "The
Prime Minister's over that way," he says, pointing.
It is now seven weeks since his troops began the liberation of Kosovo, and Lt
Gen Jackson admits he was surprised by the lack of damage encountered by his
KFOR troops: "The infrastructure was frankly not damaged at all, it's all in
one bit. Perhaps about 30 per cent of the houses overall have real damage,
but in Pristina there is no damage to speak of at all. I thought there'd be
no harvest at all this year, but I fly a lot and the fields are busy."
But he was not surprised at the willingness with which the Serbs implemented
the withdrawal agreement, despite haggling over it for more than a week and
their earlier record of broken deals. He said: "There was no reason to expect
the Serbs not to keep their promises. They will argue and argue, but, once
they sign something, my experience is that they do it." Their greatest worry
was that Nato would not get there soon enough - "the prospect of a security
vacuum", in Lt Gen Jackson's words.
But that is exactly what some critics say is beginning to develop in Kosovo
now. According to the military police, 110 Serbs have been murdered by
Albanians in Kosovo since KFOR arrived, with new killings reported each day
for the past three days. This is a charge that Lt Gen Jackson rejects. "Three
quarters of a million people have returned of their own volition, without any
real organisation to bring them back. That is a huge vote of confidence in
what we are doing. The rate of serious crime has dropped dramatically, even
as the population has doubled. We think about it all day and every day: have
we got it right? Are we doing all we can? There's a level of lawlessness that
no one can be satisfied with, but it's getting better."
But there has been a toll on his soldiers. The British troops who made up
almost half his force on "D-Day", when they entered Kosovo, are from an army
which is generally thought to be severely overstretched, with its
multiplicity of responsibilities ranging from Bosnia to Northern Ireland. The
general chooses his words carefully. "I'm not trying to second-guess
Whitehall. Clearly we want to meet the political objectives for the Army
without wasting money [on troops we do not need]. But it is a judgment as to
how hard you can work our troops without eroding them - if you haven't got
enough people, if the pace becomes too hot, you erode the effectiveness of an
Lt Gen Jackson refuses to comment on his relations with the Nato Supreme
Commander, General Wesley Clark, with whom he is believed to have argued. Nor
is he willing to comment on General Clark's enforced early retirement. "He is
my superior officer, and that's it," is all that Lt Gen Jackson will say.
But others in Pristina say that the reasons for their quarrel have been
misunderstood. Lt Gen Jackson was said to have been furious that the advance
on Kosovo had to be delayed by a day because the US marines were not ready -
a delay that, embarrassingly, allowed the Russians to reach Pristina first.
In fact, it appears, General Clark was the gung-ho personality, and it was Lt
Gen Jackson who insisted that the marines wait the one day until they were
Lt Gen Jackson is a famed workaholic and he has virtually not stopped since
he arrived in the Balkans, with only a "couple of weekends" off, he said. "I
did bring a couple of books, but I haven't had time to read them," he added.
"I'm getting my first proper R and R since I came to the Balkans next week."
However, he hates talking about himself, his long, rangy body coiling in
exasperation at personal questions. When he threatens to throw out offending
journalists, nobody argues. As the population of Kosovo is discovering, Lt
Gen Jackson is not a person to be trifled with.