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Johnson's Russia List


August 11, 1999    
This Date's Issues: 3432 • 3433 3434

Johnson's Russia List
11 August 1999

[Note from David Johnson:
1. The Straits Times (Singapore): John Helmer, THE SECRET OF RUSSIAN 

2. IMF letter to Le Monde. (RE: 3429-Le Monde/IMF).
3. Interfax: Source Says Reshuffle Not To Affect Primakov's Plans.
4. The Times (UK): Richard Beeston, Why Russian plots lead to potato 

5. Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy: Zyuganov Says Yeltsin 'has No Control 
Over Himself' 

6. Moscow Times EDITORIAL: Eject Yeltsin, Then Alter Constitution.
7. Reuters: Oleg Shchedrov, Stepashin sacking--Kremlin gift to foes?
8. Interfax: Natalya Timakova, WHO WILL BE YELTSIN'S SUCCESSOR? 
9. Bloomberg: Russia's Election Watchdog to Oversee Fair Run-Up to 

10. Carnegie Moscow Center: Aleksei Malashenko, Moscow between 
Yugoslavia and Chechnya: the Kosovo Factor in Russia's Policy on the 



Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 
From: (John Helmer)

>From The Straits Times (Singapore), to come
By John Helmer

In 1833, four years before his wife's flirtation caused
the death, in a duel, of Alexander Pushkin, Russia's greatest poet,
he wrote her a warning letter.

"You like it when the dogs trail after you like a bitch in heat,"
Pushkin said bluntly. "All you have to do is make sure everyone knows, 'I 
love it'. That's the whole secret of flirting. As long as there's a trough, 
the swine will find it." 

When President Boris Yeltsin, his daughter Tatiana Dyachenko,
his chief of staff Alexander Voloshin, and his successor-to-be, Vladimir 
Putin, were discussing recently what to do to assure their futures, they 
thought they could play the part of the alluring wife, Natalia Goncharova -- 
at least to the financial oligarchs of Russia, to the proprietors of the 
media, and also to Russia's voters. All they had to do, they decided, was to 
fill the trough. The pigs were certain to follow, they thought.

But what if they were mistaken, and it turns out they have chosen
the ill-fated part of Pushkin?

The reaction of some of Russia's most ambitious politicians, men like 
Samara Governor Konstantin Titov, Saratov Governor Dmitri Ayatskov,
and Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel, demonstrates their readiness
to challenge newly appointed Prime Minister Putin the minute he shows 
vulnerability, or fails to attract the money and votes required to become 

The same can be said of the reaction to his appointment this week of those 
unelectable ex-ministers, the reformers who once counted on Yeltsin's 
affection -- flirts like Boris Nemtsov, Yegor Gaidar, Sergei Kirienko, Boris 
Fyodorov, and Anatoly Chubais. 

Chubais, it is now known, tried, but failed to talk Yeltsin out
of promoting Putin. The others have condemned the move almost as bluntly as
once Pushkin did Goncharova. This is not faithlessness toward Yeltsin. It is 
jealousy of Putin. They want nothing more than to return to Yeltsin's
bosom, and be loved again -- as his prime minister, his presidential

But what trough have they to offer the swine that compares with 
Putin now? That was the question which the Kremlin circle thought
long and hard over.

For the young reformers, as for the likes of Titov, the trough of public
funds -- on-budget, off-budget, and in reserve -- with which to fatten their 
supporters is too poor nowadays. They whisper to their friends that Putin, 
with his fluency in German, the language of central bankers; with his 
experience of fattening the electors of St. Petersburg, and the clients of 
the presidential business administration -- Putin the prime minister must be 
overthrown, before the trough can be theirs again.

We are speaking, mind you, of the most ardent hearts in the government's
court, now gossiping maliciously, now plotting against the favourite.

How can Yeltsin's flirtation for his fresh young prime minister be 
consummated, when so many of Yeltsin's loves are so hostile? When those
who love his favourite as he does himself are so few? 

The answer to these vexing questions can be found in the plot that
killed Pushkin. Was there ever a love so tender it could not be maddened
beyond control by slander and compromising scandals? Was there
ever a man of quality so cool as not to be trapped by his own vainglory? 


Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 
From: "Frances Hardin" <>
Subject: RE: 3429-Le Monde/IMF

Dear Mr. Johnson - here is a copy of the letter sent in response to Le
Monde's editorial.
All the best, Frances Hardin
IMF External Relations Dept.

August 5, 1999

The Editor
Le Monde
21 Bis, Rue Claude-Bernard 75242 Paris CEDEX 05 France
Dear Sir:
We take strong exception to your editorial ("Le FMI et la Russie", August 6,
1999) and article ("Comment la Russie detournait l'argent du FMI, August 6),
both of which are examples of irresponsible journalism. Under the pretext of
"knowing how to read between the lines of the PricewaterhouseCoopers
report," you conclude wrongly that funds from the international community to
Russia were being diverted, through FIMACO, an offshore company, to the
enrichment of oligarchs-and that this was done with the full knowledge of
world leaders, including the Managing Director of the IMF. The report
contains no such allegations. Moreover, your editorial relies on Moscow
rumors to propagate the baseless charge that the IMF knew of these
activities from the start.
Let me set the record straight. While IMF staff has been aware for some time
that some of the reserves from the Central Bank of Russia were held in
European subsidiaries, it was not told of FIMACO activities until this year.
The IMF Executive Board has concluded that this episode constituted a
fundamental lack of cooperation on the part of the Russian authorities and a
serious violation of Russia's obligations to the IMF. Our strong disapproval
of what has taken place has been unambiguously conveyed to the Russian
leadership. The IMF's decision to release new financing to Russia reflected
the considered judgment of its 182 member nations, in light of the economic
policies that Russia is implementing. Le Monde is known worldwide for its
high journalistic standards. Thus, it is extremely disappointing to see it
stray so far from that tradition.
Sincerely yours,
John Odling-Smee Director European II Department 


Source Says Reshuffle Not To Affect Primakov's Plans 

MOSCOW. Aug 9 (Interfax) - Events on Monday in 
which President Boris Yeltsin fired the government and urged support for 
acting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as a potential presidential 
candidate will not affect the political plans of former Premier Yevgeny 
Primakov, a source close to Primakov said. The source was commenting to 
Interfax on Russian media reports that Primakov was ready to drop a plan 
to head the election ticket of the centrist Fatherland-All Russia 
coalition after Yeltsin ousted Prime Minister Stepashin and indicated he 
would like Putin to be the next president. "That's total rubbish," the 
source said. He said Primakov had not even made up his mind on whether to 
run for parliament or on whether to join any political group. On 
Wednesday, Primakov told Interfax he took a "fairly positive view" of the 
unification of Fatherland and All Russia. He said the alliance was in a 
position to set off a process that would change the situation in Russia 
for the better. But the coalition "is not and should not be 
anti-presidential in nature," the ex-premier said.


The Times (UK)
August 10 1999
[for personal use only]
Why Russian plots lead to potato knifings
Richard Beeston at large - In Borodino 

A few miles from one of the epic battles of Russian history, a smaller but
equally violent struggle for survival is under way, pitting Russian
against Russian. 

In small vegetable patches and allotments here and across the country,
harvest time is not only a battle against summer drought and the marauding
Colorado beetle. In Russia it also means protecting potatoes, cabbages and
other vegetables against the thieves who raid gardens and make off with the

The rural struggle can have its comic side, leading to noisy night-time
encounters in which elderly Soviet matriarchs and young amateur thieves
wrestle in the mud over a sack of potatoes. 

But it is also deadly serious. Several thieves, often alcoholics trying to
steal enough to buy a bottle of vodka, have already been pitch-forked to
death this year by angry gardeners, for whom the summer's crop is the basis
of their diet for the long winter ahead. 

After Viktor Gonchar had his allotment raided one night recently, the
pensioner vowed to guard his property more carefully and spent the next
night sleeping next to his vegetables. He was woken by the sound of digging
and caught two women. 

"The young one got away but I caught the older one and gave her a good
hiding," he growled. "She will not be coming back here again." 

The punishment may seem harsh, but there is scant sympathy for the thieves
who get caught. Mr Gonchar and his wife need the home-grown food to
supplement his meagre state pension of around 6 a month. 

To some extent the potato thieves operating near Borodino, the site of
Napoleon's victory over the Russian Imperial Army before his capture of
Moscow in 1812, were lucky that their assailants were so restrained. The
Russian press is currently full of stories about less fortunate vegetable
raiders across the country who have been beaten to death or lynched by
angry mobs. 

Earlier this month in the suburb of Ulyanovsk, Lenin's birthplace, the
badly beaten bodies of two thieves were found after watchmen caught them
digging up vegetables. 

Police said that they had died for the sake of 12 potatoes found in a
knapsack near the bodies. According to the local authorities, six other
potato pinchers have been killed in similar incidents this summer. 

One pensioner from the Nizhny-Novgorod region on the Volga explained
recently how she had accidentally killed a potato thief raiding her
vegetable patch. 

Valentina Dolgopyatova, 64, a short, toothless and short-sighted granny in
a floral dress and slippers, said she was guarding her patch when she heard
someone quietly digging. In a rage she ran out with a knife to confront the
intruder and during a struggle for a bag of potatoes she stabbed and killed
the thief. Police found the body of a man, with a stab wound through an
artery, 50 yards from her home. He was still clutching a bloodied bag of

"I did not mean to kill him. I only wanted him to understand that I was not
going to let him dig up my potato crop," a distraught Mrs Dolgopyatova said. 

The coming weeks could turn so nasty that a newspaper has published an
advice column warning gardeners that they could be jailed if they use some
of the more tenacious methods of protecting crops, including explosive
booby traps and electric fencing. It recommended buying a dog or paying a
night watchman. 

As for Mrs Dolgopyatova, while police opened an investigation into the
killing, she has not been arrested. Given the angry public mood against
crime, and this type of theft in particular, it seems unlikely that the
killing potato pensioner will go to prison. 


Zyuganov Says Yeltsin 'has No Control Over Himself' 

Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy
9 August 1999
[translation for personal use only]

[Presenter Sergey Buntman] We have a link-up 
with the leader of the Communist Party, Gennadiy Andreyevich Zyuganov. 
Hello, Gennadiy Andreyevich. 
[Passage omitted: Buntman comments that State Duma Chairman Yevgeniy
has recently been dismissive of the way Yeltsin treats his staff.] 
[Zyuganov] Generally, I believe that everything that is happening is a
case 100 per cent in its final stage - in the stage of agony when people 
cannot foresee what is going to happen 100 days ahead. He does not know 
whom he will have in his government. There is panic, confusion and 
leap-frogging. And all this is happening in a country as large as ours! 
[Dismissed Prime Minister Sergey] Stepashin has recently come back from 
the USA. This is a man who held talks in Cologne, who got together with 
the G7 and visited the Balkans where he had to give guarantees. Yesterday 
[8th August] he came back from Dagestan where there is a fully-fledged 
Who can take his [Yeltsin's] prime ministers seriously if he changes 
them like gloves. [Passage omitted: regional governors will now be upset, 
too] The country has been turned into a mad house. [Passage omitted: 
repeats himself] 
While the Kremlin is ruled by a person who has no control over himself, 
the country will be feverish. We have long proposed that the two chambers 
should get together to consider the situation in the country, to make 
changes to the constitution, to restrict the powers of the president, to 
create a strong government accountable to parliament, to appoint to 
government posts the most competent people and to get them to work to a 
specific programme. Until this is done, the leap-frogging will continue. 
As for [newly-appointed Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin, there is no 
real difference between Putin and Stepashin. Both are from Leningrad; 
both are from the same democratic gang; both unreservedly support Yeltsin 
and his policy; both are from power-wielding ministries; neither has any 
experience of the economy; neither has any party or movement base, or any 
solid support anywhere. Both are forced to serve a man who is not in 
control of himself. 
[Buntman] Today President Yeltsin said that Putin will be conducting
reforms in the 21st century. He has also called on us to vote for Putin, 
and Vladimir Putin has himself confirmed that he will run for the 
presidency. What do you think of him, since you will probably stand for 
president yourself? What do you think of him as your competitor? 
[Zyuganov] The country has been thrown back 50 years and now they are
trying to 
go back to the middle ages. Heirs exist in monarchies, whereas in 
democratic countries it is written into the constitution that the supreme 
sovereign is the people, the people determine who will be elected in the 
next presidential elections; the people alone have the right to answer 
the question. I believe that on Yeltsin's part this is absolutely wrong, 
and Putin has not yet been in the prime minister's seat for one day. It 
will be up to him to show that he can set an example, that he can give a 
solid programme to the Duma, and some serious orders. 
All this is in defiance of common sense and [word indistinct] disrespect 
for the country. 
[Buntman] Do you think Vladimir Putin can be your rival and the rival of
party at the next election if they are held on time? 
[Zyuganov] I do not want to discuss this. For a start, I will remind you
the country needs to be prepared for the winter, as far as 
combine-harvesters and tractors are concerned. Supplies of food and 
energy must be guaranteed. Let them first stop the chaos in Dagestan and 
in the North Caucasus. In other words, they must first feed the starving 
before they try to climb the throne. Let them do some work first. 
[Buntman] My last question, Gennadiy Andreyevich, is this: Is it possible
unless Putin is confirmed, the State Duma will be dissolved? That could 
in fact be the aim - the dissolution of the Duma and the postponement of 
parliamentary elections. What do you think about this? 
[Zyuganov] I do not rule out that this may be a move to a multiple
effect. On 
the one hand, they are not happy with the Duma, because if there is a 
duma, there is a federal assembly. The vertical legislative power is then 
at work. If not, then there is complete chaos. These authorities have two 
aims: to stay at the feeding table and to evade responsibility. Any 
options such as provoking a state of emergency or trying to dissolve the 
Duma and such like - none of this can be ruled out, given what is going 
on in the Kremlin and at the Politburo. 
[Passage omitted: Buntman parts with Zyuganov and leads out.] 


Moscow Times
August 11, 1999 
EDITORIAL: Eject Yeltsin, Then Alter Constitution 

The Russian Constitution gives the president too much power. From the 
Communist Party to the Yabloko party, all are in agreement: the Constitution 
needs to be amended to share more power with parliament and the Cabinet. 

However, former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko has taken this idea and run 
with it in a very dangerous direction. Kiriyenko is insistent that Russia 
amend the Constitution immediately - during a timeout of some sort between 
the December State Duma elections and the July 2000 presidential elections. 

"The new president must be elected under a new constitution," Kiriyenko said 
Tuesday. He says he intends to organize a national referendum to put 
constitutional amendments on the table in just months. 

This is a horrible and irresponsible idea. Boris Yeltsin must legally 
transfer power under the existing constitution. We cannot start changing the 
rules of the game at this late date. 

Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko party has for years advocated rewriting the 
Constitution to limit the powers of the president - but Yabloko is also 
emphatic that Yeltsin leave office under the existing constitution. Yabloko 
is right. 

Kiriyenko is not stupid; he surely understands that if he and his allies in 
Right Cause manage to organize a major rewrite of the Constitution, the July 
2000 elections will not be held on time. Right Cause is pushing not just the 
idea of reducing the Kremlin's power, which enjoys broad support, but also 
far more controversial ideas - including a presidential age limit (aimed at 
Yevgeny Primakov?) and an end to immunity from prosecution for members of 

If Kiriyenko gets his way, does anyone see Russia agreeing on a new 
constitution in weeks, or even months? Of course not. 

Then again, that may well be the point. One of Right Cause's top leaders, 
Anatoly Chubais, is deeply involved in the Kremlin's chess games. Players 
like Chubais stand to lose a lot in July 2000 - unless they can find a way to 
keep the Kremlin in the family. 

Enter Kiriyenko, with a proposal that would, if nothing else, buy time for 
the regime - by manipulating the exasperation with it. 

The Right Cause siren song goes like this: If only we had had a young, sober 
president, an independent Cabinet, a corruption-free Duma! We should write 
these things into the Constitution. But this is at best a delusion. We get 
none of those good things if we start taking apart the Constitution now. 

See Yeltsin out the door and a new president in, through elections - and 
then, if Kiriyenko still wants to organize his petition drive, we at The 
Moscow Times will be the first to sign. 


ANALYSIS-Stepashin sacking--Kremlin gift to foes?
By Oleg Shchedrov

MOSCOW, Aug 10 (Reuters) - President Boris Yeltsin's decision to swap popular 
premier Sergei Stepashin for the more loyal Vladimir Putin may have been a 
royal gift to his centrist opponents ahead of the December 19 parliamentary 

Yet the ambitions of centrist leaders and their mutual distrust could just as 
soon transform that present into a bomb which might ruin their hopes of 
changing the whole political landscape in post-Yeltsin Russia. 

Yeltsin did not explain why he sacked Stepashin, an ally since 1993. But he 
said Putin, an ex-spy and head of the domestic security service, was the 
person he wanted to replace him as president in 2000 when he must step down. 

Kremlin sources say Stepashin's sacking was partly prompted by his inability 
or reluctance to avert a union between Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and 
influential regional leaders, which finally became the Fatherland-All Russia 
bloc a week ago. 

Luzhkov is openly engaged in a war of words with the Kremlin administration, 
blasting its head Alexander Voloshin for attempts to rule Russia for Yeltsin. 
The Kremlin sees Luzhkov's possible election success as a serious threat to 
its interests. 

The regional leaders, informally lead by the president of oil-rich ethnic 
republic of Tatarstan, Mentimer Shaimiyev, opt for smoother and more 
pragmatic relations with the Kremlin. 

But both Luzhkov's Fatherland and the governors' All Russia aim at ending the 
Communist domination in the 450-seat State Duma lower house of parliament to 
make it more predictable and pragmatic. 

``We want to win 226 seats in the Duma. Otherwise it is not worth it,'' 
Shaimiyev has said. 

Opinion polls show the centrist bloc badly needs Stepashin -- whose 
popularity grew from nil to match Luzhkov's 10 percent in three months -- or 
the even more popular former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. Even better, it 
could use both. 

Less than 24 hours after Stepashin was sacked, Georgy Boos, campaign manager 
for Fatherland-All Russia, told Ekho Moskvy radio station the door was open 
for the ex-premier. 

``The bloc is ready to offer former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin a place 
in the party list of the coalition if he decides to run for the State Duma 
lower house,'' he said. 

But Stepashin could just as well become an apple of discord for the centrists 
and his departure made the renewal of their war with the Kremlin, muted in 
the past few weeks, more likely. 

Stepashin has said he favours All Russia, and the governors have lobbied him 
to be number one on the party list of their bloc with Fatherland, 
deliberately left for an outsider to avoid a split. 

But Fatherland has said it wants Primakov as number one, something which is 
not likely to win applause from the governors who still remember his plans to 
scrap much of their powers. 

Boos said Stepashin could hope for a ``solid third or fourth position on the 
party list,'' but it was not clear whether the ambitious ex-premier would 
agree to such role. 

Whether or not Stepashin joins the centrists, his departure strengthened the 
camp of Luzhkov's enemies in the Kremlin. 

Last month the Media-Most group, a private media empire sympathetic to 
Luzhkov, fell under a combined attack by tax police and creditors in what its 
chiefs saw as a concerted campaign masterminded by Voloshin. The Kremlin 
denied this. 

Political analysts say the war died down not least through Stepashin's 
cautious mediation. 

``Stepashin's sacking means a new confrontation between the Kremlin and 
Fatherland-All Russia,'' former senior Kremlin aide Sergei Zverev said. 

That new war could in turn make the extra-cautious Primakov, who clearly 
cherishes his own hopes of becoming president, stay out of the unpredictable 
parliamentary poll and so improve the chances for the Communists. 


By Natalya Timakova Interfax analyst 

MOSCOW. Aug 9 (Interfax) -- President Boris 
Yeltsin announced on Monday he would like to see acting Prime Minister 
Vladimir Putin as Russia's next president. Yeltsin called Putin a 
politician "of a new type, one who does not have to balance between the 
past and the future." Putin, previously secretary of Russia's Security 
Council and director of the FSB security service, rose one step up in his 
career by becoming acting prime minister. To make this possible, Sergei 
Stepashin had to vacate his post of premier. Three months ago Stepashin 
himself was considered a "new-type" politician compared to Yevgeny 
Primakov, whom he superseded as prime minister. Yeltsin's chief of staff, 
Alexander Voloshin, said at that time that Stepashin stood a good chance 
to win next year's presidential elections. 

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin said Stepashin had not expected to be 
fired and learned about his dismissal "only today." According to sources, 
this is what happened on Monday. Stepashin was scheduled to hold a 
routine meeting with Yeltsin at the Kremlin at 10 a.m. Instead, he was 
told around 8 a.m., when he was on his way to his office, that the 
president wanted to see him immediately at his Gorky 9 countryside 
residence near Moscow. At the meeting, where Putin was present, Yeltsin 
rather formally thanked Stepashin for what he had done as prime minister 
and told him he had decided to fire him. The president gave no reasons 
for the decision. 

Stepashin virtually disagreed with Yeltsin, outlining possible negative 
outcomes the government's dismissal might entail. This did not impress 
Yeltsin. Nor could it have, after a similar conversation a few days ago. 
On Thursday, Yeltsin also unexpectedly summoned Stepashin to the Kremlin, 
having cancelled meetings scheduled for the president for that day. 
Unofficial sources said there had been two others in Yeltsin's office at 
the start of the meeting, First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko, 
who left minutes after Yeltsin and Stepashin started talking, and Kremlin 
chief of staff Voloshin, who went out some time later at the premier's 

Some of Interfax's sources said that at that meeting Yeltsin for the 
first time told Stepashin he planned to dismiss the government. But after 
a long eye-to-eye discussion, Stepashin persuaded the president to change 
his mind. This explains Stepashin's apparent confidence when he was 
leaving for a trip to Russia's Volga area. The threat seemed to be over 
but that impression was misguided. By Sunday several ministers and deputy 
prime ministers knew about Stepashin's imminent dismissal. 

And there was even an eleventh-hour attempt to rescue the government. 
The rightists took up their main weapon, Anatoly Chubais, head of 
Russia's electricity monopoly, Unified Energy Systems. Chubais and 
Yeltsin planned to meet at 9:15 a.m., three quarters of an hour before 
the president's scheduled meeting with Stepashin. Kremlin officials said 
that was Stepashin's last chance: Chubais had repeatedly expressed 
support for the prime minister and it was thought he might persuade the 
president to keep the Cabinet in office. But Chubais and Yeltsin never 
met - and by the time the Unified Energy Systems chief *** DATA LOST *** 
the Kremlin expected Stepashin to be a more active state champion in the 
scramble for the natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, and to take a more 
militant stance in the standoff between the Kremlin and Moscow Mayor Yuri 

But Stepashin did neither, and as a result, the Kremlin questioned his 
loyalty. Putin, on the other hand, is a more reliable person for the 
Kremlin. Most likely, Putin's loyalty ultimately outweighed all of 
Stepashin's doubtless advantages, although senior Kremlin sources have 
denied this. "We had very little time to maneuver after it became clear 
that Stepashin was unable to cope with his role both as prime minister 
and the Kremlin's potential presidential candidate. August 9 marks the 
third anniversary of Yeltsin's inauguration. It seemed a suitable date to 
make public Yeltsin's choice," a Kremlin official told Interfax. None of 
the Kremlin insiders were able to say when Yeltsin finalized his choice 
of a successor. They said evasively that "at a certain point in time it 
became clear that the stakes would be placed on Putin." However, the 
Kremlin expects Putin to succeed where Stepashin failed and consolidate 
political and economic forces around himself which could preserve the 
current regime's position after the elections. 

Putin perceived Yeltsin's statement about a successor as an order. "Yes, I 
will certainly run in the presidential elections," he said. Putin's 
presidential bid will be assessed later. In the meantime, there is little 
doubt that the State Duma will endorse Putin as prime minister. The 
leftist parliamentary majority needs to keep the Duma as their election 
headquarters despite Yeltsin's frequent erratic behavior. Duma Chairman 
Gennady Seleznyov's remark that the Duma is likely to confirm Putin must 
also be taken into consideration. Putin will have to prove quickly that 
his presidential bid is well- grounded, if he is given the chance. 

Experts see a broader plan behind today's reshuffle. Yeltsin's "inner 
circle" might try and bring to power somebody else, for instance 
Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Lebed. This may be done at the 
presidential polls or ahead of them, if tensions in Dagestan or in the 
entire North Caucasus escalate. Lebed seems to be the only realistic 
alternative to the Kremlin's fear of Moscow Mayor and Fatherland movement 
leader Yuri Luzhkov. Boris Berezovsky and presidential Chief of Staff 
Alexander Voloshin also support Lebed and respect his economic program. 

Moreover, Lebed did a great favor to Yeltsin by giving his support to 
Yeltsin between the first and second rounds of the 1996 presidential 
elections. Asked about his successor in 1996, Yeltsin cited Lebed's 
advertisement "there is such a person and you know him."


Russia's Election Watchdog to Oversee Fair Run-Up to Elections

Moscow, Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Russia's 
Election Commission said it will crack down on any attempts to break 
electoral laws before December's parliamentary elections or falsify the 

President Boris Yeltsin's decree scheduling elections for Dec. 19 comes into 
force today and political parties can start preparing their campaigns, though 
campaigning itself can only start in October after they register with the 

``We will crack down on everyone who tries to push for power by illegal 
means, ''said Alexander Vishnyakov, the commission's chairman. ``There are 
big hopes for this election campaign. . .the line-up of political forces may 
determine presidential elections,'' 

Russia last held parliamentary elections in 1995 when it elected a 
communist-dominated lower house. In the 1996 presidential election, Yeltsin 
was re-elected, some media campaigns were criticized for using illegal means 
to promote candidates. The run- up to this year's parliamentary elections is 
likely to be intense because winning seats in the parliament is seen as key 
for a party to push its own candidate in next year's presidential elections. 

The commission said it will be strict in controlling election propaganda. 
Offenders will be prevented from taking part in the elections. 

Vishnyakov said the commission's decisions can only be revoked by the Supreme 

Media Rules 

The country's media must report on prices they charge for publishing 
promotional materials. Media that receive more than 15 percent of funding 
from the state will be obliged to air campaigns and publish materials of all 
candidates who request it. 

A total of 107 million Russians are registered as voters, Vishnyakov said. 
The commission so far received applications from 139 electoral groups. The 
last deadline for applying to participate in the elections was Dec. 19, 1998. 

``Now it is possible to form election blocs,'' he said. 

One of the first blocs, formed last week, brought together Moscow Mayor Yuri 
Luzkhov's Fatherland party and the All Russia party of about 16 regional 
governors. Other parties are also expected to form blocs to attract more 

The current parliament can be dissolved if it fails to approve Yeltsin's 
choice for prime minister, Vladimir Putin, in three votes. In that case, a 
new parliament would have to be formed no later than four months after being 

``I think the Duma will approve Putin,'' Vishnyakov said. 

Russian elections cost the budget 1.4 billion rubles ($56 million). 


Subject: Carnegie Moscow Center's New Briefing Paper
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 

Dear David:

The CMC has just released a new briefing paper entitled "Moscow between
Yugoslavia and Chechnya: the Kosovo Factor in Russia's Policy in the
Caucasus" by Aleksei Malashenko that might be of interest to you and the
readers of your list. This is a translation (for personal use only) of the
original paper in Russian.

Katya Shirley
CMC Assistant Director

Moscow between Yugoslavia and Chechnya:
the Kosovo Factor in Russia's Policy on the Caucasus
by Aleksei Malashenko
(Translation for personal use only)

Are Russia's policies in the Balkans and the Northern Caucasus
interrelated? Is there any correlation - even a mediated one - between the
situations in South-Eastern Europe and in the southern subregion of Russia?

Needless to say, any comparisons, particularly in politics, are risky or
even loaded. Yet there is a striking similarity between some aspects of the
situation in the Balkans and what is happening in the Russian Northern
Caucasus and in the Caucasus generally.


There are several parallels which can be drawn between the Balkans and the
Caucasus. First, they are both characterized by a multitude of ethnic
groups and confessions as well as by the phenomenon of divided peoples.
This alone provides a breeding ground for conflicts in both regions.
Secondly, the central authority, represented by post-Communist regimes,
seeks to restore at any cost its accustomed level of control over ethnic
territories which cannot but aggravate the situation by fostering mutual
bitterness among the peoples and provoking mass violations of human rights.
This results in the growth of centrifugal and separatist tendencies, which
could potentially lead to the proclamation of new independent states.

In this sense, one can, albeit with some reservations, describe the
developments in the Caucasus as "Balkanization" - that is, the snowballing
of tension in a region or a state with its subsequent conflict-ridden
breakup into separate political units formed on an ethnic basis.

At this very moment demands are heard in the Northern Caucasus for the
division of autonomous republics on an ethnic basis but without secession
from Russia. In the spring and summer of 1999, such demonstrations swept
across Karachaevo-Cherkesia. Similarly, the Balkar opposition has been
known to call for the ethnic demarcation of Kabardino-Balkaria. There is a
steady trend in both of these "dual-subject" republics to reconsider their
constitutional structure and to grant more extensive rights to minorities
in areas where they are densely populated. In other words, the situation
that arose there is reminiscent of Yugoslavia at an early stage of its

The election last spring in Karachaevo-Cherkesia won by General Vladimir
Semenov aroused an outburst of indignation among the Cherkesian minority
(the Cherkesians account for 10 and the Karachais for 31 percent of the
republic's population) whose leaders have in fact threatened to split the
republic on an ethnic basis if the election is recognized as legal. Similar
demands are put forward by the Balkar minority in Kabardino-Balkaria where
15 percent of the population are Balkars and 45 percent Kabardinians. In
fact, an appeal to establish a Balkar Republic within the Russian
Federation was first voiced as far back as 1991. In other words,
ethnocentric trends arose long before the Chechen precedent regarded by
some experts as the first in a series of North-Caucasian conflicts.

It may be concluded that both in the Northern Caucasus and in Yugoslavia,
the struggle for autonomy led to the growth and deepening of interethnic
conflicts. In both cases, the central authority was unable to seize the
initiative from the autonomists and set the stage for stable negotiations.

The situation in Yugoslavia and the Northern Caucasus highlights the danger
authorities face of underestimating the trend toward the political
consolidation of society on an ethnic basis and the formation of monoethnic
states. These cases demonstrate that in the face of ethnopolitical tension,
politicians prove unable to quickly take adequate measures oriented toward
reconciliation and compromise.


The role of religion in the Caucasus is more conspicuous than in Kosovo.
The opposition in the North Caucasus region openly appeals to Islam,
frequently couching the ideology of resistance to central authority in
religious slogans. This is true first and foremost of Chechnya, which has
declared a jihad - or holy war - on Moscow. Moreover, a specific Islamic
fundamentalist ideology, sometimes incorrectly termed "Wahhabism," appears
to be gaining ground in the region.

The main reason why religion is used as an instrument of political struggle
by various actors in the North Caucasus is that traditionalism here - to a
far greater extent than in Yugoslavia - penetrates the public mind and
daily life through religious norms and stereotypes. Furthermore, in some
cases (primarily in Chechnya), there exist among local authorities
well-entrenched forces which seek to use Islam - mainly without success -
as an instrument of consolidating their peoples and achieving political

In Yugoslavia, at least today, the importance of the confessional factor is
not great. So far the antagonistic forces have not tried to justify their
actions by religious motives, though it does arouse concern that support is
already being voiced in the Middle East for Kosovars as co-religionists.
Some Arab countries even feel that the Organization of the Islamic
Conference, which has great authority in the Muslim world, should take a
particularly active stance in this conflict.

Be it as it may, there have been manifestations of Islamic solidarity, even
though on a limited scale, both in Yugoslavia and the Northern Caucasus.
Two instances stand out: first, during the NATO action in Yugoslavia
Chechen authorities issued a public statement declaring their readiness to
dispatch a battalion-strong contingent to aid the Muslims (as the Kosovars
are invariably referred to in the Chechen press); and, secondly, the de
facto refusal of Russian Muslims to be identified with the Kremlin's
position. This was expressed most pointedly, in a statement by Mintimer
Shaimiev, President of Tatarstan, opposing the inclusion of Tatarstani
citizens in the Kosovo peace-keeping force. Shaimiev had earlier objected
to the participation of Tatar Muslims in military operations in Chechnya.
This episode too reveals some links between Caucasian and Yugoslav events
in terms of confessional solidarity.


The continuing breakup of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines is a warning to
Russia. There are ample reasons to believe that the increasing attention
given to problems in the Northern Caucasus, which has crystallized in an
uncharacteristically vigorous attempt to work out a proper program and
approach to the solution of conflicts brewing there, was partly stimulated
by the Balkan events. Russia's active stance in the Yugoslav crisis may be
spurring its more resolute actions in the Northern Caucasus. And an
important psychological role seems to have been played by the sudden
seizure by Russian troops of the airport in Pristina. It was particularly
useful to the Russian forces in restoring a degree of self-confidence and
equal status with US and European colleagues, and came with few risks

In the opinion of some politicians, the good showing made by Russia in the
Kosovo conflict, where it overcame numerous obstacles and succeeded in
saving face, convinced the Russian political establishment that, first,
Moscow still reserves the right to adopt independent and truly
"nonstandard" decisions without the consent of Western partners and that,
secondly, it has now acquired greater freedom of maneuver in the Caucasus
up to and including the potential use of force. As to the strategic goals
of current and future actions in the Northern Caucasus, they may include
pressure on Chechen militants and their allies, preventive measures to
protect the boundaries of the Stavropol Territory, and, finally, provoking
a sharp aggravation of the situation on Chechnya's borders. Such actions
could easily trigger the subsequent introduction of martial law, radically
changing the alignment of forces on the eve of the State Duma election in
favor of the Kremlin.

After the presidential campaign of 2000, Russia's policy in the Northern
Caucasus will most likely get tougher. This is true, above all, because the
future president obviously will be required to propose and implement an
ultimate rather than intermediate solution of the "Chechen question." For
instance, Yury Luzhkov has previously advocated Chechnya's secession from
Russia provided there is a well-protected and "opaque" boundary between them.

In Kosovo, as in the Yugoslav conflict generally, Russia did not acquire
direct military experience. One cannot conclude that the unexpectedly
resolute actions of the Russian force structures in the summer of 1999 on
the border between Dagestan and Chechnya were an attempt to use their own
brand of Euro-American tactics. 

It would be wrong, however, to ignore totally the clearly demonstrative
effect of NATO bombings for the Russian military. Moreover, it cannot be
ruled out that some radicals among the Russian generals may be tempted to
use the precedent of the mass bombings of Yugoslavia for similar actions in
Chechnya. (It would be an attempt to repeat the 1994-96 efforts to restore
the constitutional system in the region, this time based on a new spiral
and a new "air option.")

The Russian military establishment cannot but learn from the fact that
despite the overwhelming superiority of the US and its allies in terms of
armaments, they did not venture to launch a ground operation. Ground
fighting would have immeasurably increased the attackers' losses and would
have in all probability provoked a sharply negative reaction in the
countries of the alliance. Therefore the Yugoslav experience may become an
important argument against attempts to resume large-scale hostilities in

In other words, it is the political experience of the Yugoslav conflict
which will resonate most: any military action should be subordinated to
strictly political goals while its military, economic, political, and
humanitarian costs should be very carefully calculated and controlled. Such
an action must be thoroughly prepared and as short-lived as possible. If
the Russian military and political establishments do not heed these
lessons, all their subsequent military and political plans in the Northern
Caucasus are doomed to failure.


The events in Yugoslavia undoubtedly put the problem of international
intervention in Transcaucasian and North-Caucasian conflicts on the front
burner. This is an especially popular theme among Russia’s nationalist and
Communist opposition. But it is hardly worthwhile discussing in earnest. At
this point in the political cycle much of the discussion is of a highly
speculative nature, and is intended for domestic consumption in the light
of the electoral campaign currently gaining momentum. As for often repeated
warnings that NATO’s new out-of-area assertiveness could threaten Russia’s
territorial integrity, not a single Russian politician including the
opposition doubts that regardless what type of action the Kremlin may
launch in the Caucasus, including military pressure on Chechnya, there will
be no active reaction on the part of NATO. An extremely negative image of a
Chechen rebel is ingrained in Western public opinion, where the territory
is associated with hostage taking, terrorism outside their country, and
openly admitted links with foreign extremists. Of course, there are forces
in the West prepared to play the North Caucasus card to weaken Russia, but
their direct support of local separatists is unlikely. 

Meanwhile, NATO military actions in Europe have convinced some Caucasian
politicians of the possibility and even necessity of attracting external
forces to resolve internal conflicts in their favor. They include above all
those that have de facto developed from internal into international
conflicts and those that involve ethnic purges and other violations of
human rights. This applies in the first place to the Georgian-Abkhaz and
Azerbaijani-Armenian conflicts. At any rate, the actions of the alliance
have set a precedent which may be used, in theory at least, by the
authorities formally retaining their sovereignty over "rebel territory." It
is obvious that the parties most interested in this mode of resolving local
conflict, are Georgia and, to some extent, Azerbaijan whose leaders
recently declared their readiness to make their territory available for a
Turkish military base.

On the other hand, the experience of the Yugoslav conflict will have
countervailing effects on Russia which, in the event of outside
intervention in conflict situations in independent Transcaucasian
republics, may feel forced to act more sternly and vigorously than in the
Balkans. If a "third power" intervenes in the Karabakh or Georgian-Abkhaz
conflict, Russia would have not only have to spell out with the utmost
clarity its position in the conflict and its insistence that foreign
nations and international organizations must be invited in if they are to
help seek a solution to the dispute, but also to be prepared to render
practical assistance to its ally the more so since Russia has its own
military bases in that area and may feel more confident in doing so than in
South-Eastern Europe.

In supporting one side or another, Russia would have to take into account
the character of the ruling regime to avoid finding itself on the same side
of the fence with proven violators of human rights, initiators of ethnic
purges, etc. Otherwise its position will be, as in the Yugoslav conflict,
very vulnerable and open to criticism by the majority of the international

Finally, one of the basic preconditions of Russia's participation in
international conflict resolution is its ability to resolve its own
problems, somewhat similar to those of Yugoslavia. Its prestige as an
international arbiter will largely depend on its ability to settle disputes
in the Northern Caucasus.

Aleksei Malashenko co-chairs (with Martha Olcott) the "Ethnicity and Nation
Building" program. The program focuses on analysis of the contemporary
ethnopolitical situation in Russia and other post-Soviet states, conflicts
arising on an ethnic or confessional basis and how they may be resolved, as
well as problems of national identity, citizenship, and nation building.


Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 
From: Nina Khrushcheva <> 


Series: Eurasia in the 21st Century: The Total Security Environment
Series Editors: Dag Hartelius and Alexei G. Arbatov
Assistant Series Editor: Anya Schmemann
Project of the EastWest Instiute, published by M.E. Sharpe

Volume I: Russia and the West:
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Edited by Alexei G. Arbatov, Karl Kaiser, and Robert Legvold
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Edited by Rajan Menon, Yuri E. Fedorov, and Ghia Nodia
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Volume III: Russia and East Asia:
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Edited by Gilbert Rozman, Mikhail G. Nosov, and Koji Watanabe
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Publication Date: September 1999

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