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Johnson's Russia List
14 August 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Boston Globe: David Filipov and Dmitry Shalganov, Russia's threat raises
prospects of regionwide war in Caucasus.
2. Financial Times: John Thornhill, VLADIMIR PUTIN: The Family's sinister
3. Reuters: Moscow mayor attacks Putin.
4. Moscow Times: Brian Whitmore, Russians Ponder State of Emergency.
5. Itar-Tass: Kremlin Ready to Talk to Duma on Presidential Power Transfer.
6. Le Monde: Berezovskiy Interviewed on Putin, Luzhkov.
7. Argumenty i Fakty: Tatyana Netreba, Yeltin's Daughter's Career.
8. Argumenty i Fakty: Andrey Uglanov. "Yeltsin is cutting the branches
on which he sits, or Onwards, to constitutional amendments!" ]
14 August 1999
[for personal use only]
Russia's threat raises prospects of regionwide war in Caucasus
By David Filipov, Globe Staff and Dmitry Shalganov Globe Correspondent,
NEAR KARAMAKHI, Russia - Moscow yesterday threatened to carry its
counteroffensive against Islamic militants in the southern Russian republic
of Dagestan into neighoring Chechnya, raising the specter of a regionwide war
in the Caucasus.
But a day spent with a company of Russian troops on a rugged mountain slope
in central Dagestan demonstrated that rooting out the rebels is going to be
no easy task.
The militants move far more freely around the region than Russian officials
in Moscow have let on, and have established bases far from the Dagestani
villages on the Chechen border where Russian officials say they are holed up.
The Russians, however, seem just as poorly led, unprepared and disorganized
as the force that was driven out of Chechnya by rebels after a disastrous and
bloody 1994-1996 campaign.
Acting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russian forces were pounding rebel
positions in Dagestan and would not hesitate to strike Chechnya, whose claims
to independence Russia does not recognize.
''Chechnya is Russian territory, and strikes will be carried out against the
militants wherever they are,'' Putin, in Siberia for meetings with regional
officials, told a news conference.
Putin repeated a promise to quickly end a campaign that began when up to
2,000 rebels, led by Chechen field commander Shamil Basayev, occupied several
villages on Dagestan's border with Chechnya.
More than 40 miles from that border, 120 Russian paratroopers combed a steep,
wooded mountainside yesterday, searching for a rebel base they were ordered
to destroy. Local police officers said the base was built by Basayev months
ago, evidently in preparation of last week's invasion, and that rebel
militants frequently appear here. But after several hours, the frustrated
paratroopers called off the search.
''We should have found this place months ago. This is not the way to do
things,'' said a sergeant as another soldier set off a signal rocket to
signify the end of the operation. The sergeant, like the other men, refused
to give his name. This is a lesson soldiers have learned from Chechnya. After
the war, Russians say, rebels tracked down soldiers who served in the war,
killing some, taking others hostage.
Another lesson the Russians seem to have learned from Chechnya, and NATO's
airstrikes against Yugoslavia, is that air wars are less costly than sending
troops in on the ground. Since the uprising began, Russia has primarily
conducted an air campaign against the rebels, flying more than 200 sorties in
the first six days, according to the Defense Ministry.
During the campaign, which the Russians call Operation Horseshoe, 150 rebels
have been killed and 300 wounded vs. only 10 killed and 27 wounded for
federal troops, said Yevgeny Ryabtsev, an Interior Ministry spokesman in
Dagestan's capital Makhachkala. The Chechens claim light losses. Russian
Public Television showed another prominent Chechen commander, Khattab, saying
the rebels were pushing into Dagestan. That appearance seemed to contradict
Ryabtsev's earlier report that Khattab was ''seriously injured.''
The disagreement over casualties is not surprising - both sides exaggerated
the others' losses in the Chechen war. A more alarming similarity, at least
on the Russian side, is the way units fight together.
The reason for the chaos is not surprising. Despite losing the war in
Chechnya, Russia has not invested time or money in retraining its troops to
handle such conflicts, and instead spends its limited resources on such
exercises as West 99, a massive simulation of an invasion by NATO.
Russia's best forces - its paratroopers - are busy keeping the peace in
Kosovo. As a result, Russia has again been forced to draw on a wide variety
of units from around the country to meet the threat in Dagestan: S.W.A.T.
teams from Murmansk, paratroopers from Ryazan, Dagestani police and even
local volunteers have seen action alongside regular army units.
The 120 paratroopers on the mountain near Karamakhi appeared well-trained.
But they got bad information from their Dagestani police escorts, who had
known about the rebel base for months and never told anyone.
''Russia has not learned to organize its military to meet modern
requirements,'' said reserve Colonel Viktor Litovkin in an article in the
weekly Obshchaya Gazeta.
The federal troops' coordination has been bad. This week, a police unit let
the rebels close enough to fire mortars at the helicopter of Russia's chief
of general staff, General Anatoly Kvashnin, who barely escaped death. Two
gunships were destroyed and three pilots killed.
Kvashnin was the commander of Russian troops in Chechnya who planned the
disastrous assault on the Chechen capital, Grozny. Litovkin, asking what such
a senior officer was doing so close to a military zone, suggested that
Kvashnin did not trust his subordinates to tell him the truth about the
Many observers have found it strange that Kvashnin, Putin, and other
commanders have repeated the predictions of a quick and easy victory that
Russian generals made at the start of the Chechen conflict.
On the ground, troops are digging in for a much longer conflict. Russian NTV
television showed the commander of the North Caucasus military district,
Viktor Kazantsev, watching soldiers beef up defenses - and giving a few
pointers on how to fire a heavy machine gun - at positions around Buynaksk, a
city 60 miles inside Dagestan.
NTV said the city was being turned into an ''unassailable fortress'' after
Shamil Basayev, the Chechen commander leading the rebels, said he wanted to
take Buynaksk, flooded by some of the more than 6,000 refugees from the war
zone. The newspaper Izvestiya, unimpressed by the Russian military's claim
that it is going on the offensive, referred to federal forces the headline
''Army in a Trap.''
Basayev's biggest problem appears to be that unlike Chechnya, most Dagestanis
do not support his self-proclaimed independent Islamic republic. Locals
burned a bridge Basayev's men were using as a supply route to Chechnya. Even
militant Muslim Dagestani groups have joined in the resistance. Members of
the strict Wahhabi Muslim sect in Karamakhi burned down a base used by the
rebels near here - even though the rebels say they are Wahhabis.
But while the Islamic republic is not catching on, the militants are still
free to move around. Some observers worry that Basayev is just creating a
diversion while planning an attack elsewhere, a tactic that he used to drive
the Russians out of the Chechen capital in 1996.
Filipov wrote and reported from Moscow, Shalganov reported from Dagestan.
14 August 1999
[for personal use only]
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The Family's sinister son
John Thornhill asks whether Russia's latest prime minister has the
credentials to become president
Had President Boris Yeltsin's reforms succeeded he would not have nominated
Vladimir Putin as his prime minister and anointed heir this week. If
democratic reforms had taken root in Russia, Mr Yeltsin would surely have
chosen a popular, young politician to preserve his legacy. Had economic
reforms succeeded there would have been a stronger middle-class to support
As it is, Mr Yeltsin has gambled on a hatchet-faced, 46-year-old former KGB
officer, who boasts he is an apparatchik rather than a politician.
Virtually unknown to the public, Mr Putin has never held elected office nor
been held accountable for any of his actions - except by military superiors.
His one overriding virtue - at least in Mr Yeltsin's eyes - is his
unquestioning loyalty. "Yes, I am ready to run for office, including the
office of president," Mr Putin declared this week. But he produced no
compelling motive other than the fact that his commanding officer had told
him to do so.
In his television address, Mr Yeltsin praised Mr Putin's human and
business-like qualities, which the president claimed would become apparent
to all Russians by the time of the elections next July. Mr Yeltsin said
that Mr Putin had proved his worth as head of the FSB (one of the successor
organisations to the KGB) and secretary of the security council.
Mr Putin has certainly experienced a head-spinning ascent. Within three
years he has progressed from being the deputy mayor of St Petersburg to
being proclaimed by his president as the best man to lead the biggest
country in the world.
But like many KGB officers, Mr Putin has seemingly risen without trace.
After graduating from the law faculty of Leningrad University, where he was
taught by Anatoly Sobchak, one of the later leaders of Russia's democratic
revolution, Mr Putin was recruited by the KGB and spent most of the next 15
years in East Germany.
In 1990 he returned to Leningrad and resumed his acquaintance with Mr
Sobchak, who was elected mayor of the renamed city of St Petersburg. Mr
Putin's supporters say he was a conscientious and capable member of Mr
Sobchak's team, which professed - if not consistently practised - liberal
But Mr Putin has also shown himself familiar with the darker arts of
Russian politics. Boris Berezovsky, the influential financier, has alleged
that FSB officers plotted to kill him while Mr Putin was in charge of the
organisation. Meanwhile, Mr Berezovsky's arch-enemy, Yuri Luzhkov, the
Moscow mayor, has claimed the FSB has been tapping his telephones and
digging up dirt on his wife, Yelena Baturina. Mr Putin's supporters suggest
that at least this shows the FSB is equally rough- handed with all sides.
In his first television interview since being appointed, the fair-haired Mr
Putin appeared extremely self-assured, answering all questions in a direct
but terse manner. He promised tough action against Moslem militants in the
north Caucasian republic of Dagestan and vowed to crack down on domestic
But he also revealed a chilling streak of humour, suggesting he could be a
fearsome opponent. Asked what would happen if Yevgeny Primakov, the popular
former prime minister, won the presidential elections, Mr Putin replied:
"What's wrong with a clever man winning?" Then he paused, smiled, and
added: "One can only wish him good health," in a pointed reminder that Mr
Primakov is 69 years of age and has been suffering from severe back pain.
Mr Yeltsin has repeatedly promised that presidential elections will take
place next year. But if that is so, why did Mr Yeltsin jettison Sergei
Stepashin as prime minister, just at the moment he was finding his stride
and winning approval in the opinion polls? Why did he instead promote an
untested and faceless bureaucrat in his place?
The malign interpretation of events is that Mr Yeltsin has now despaired of
achieving a smooth succession by the ballot box and is preparing to take
unconstitutional measures to protect the interests of his closest entourage
of followers, whom the Russian press have labelled the Family.
In a recent newspaper interview, Anatoly Kulikov, the former interior
minister, revealed how perilously close Mr Yeltsin had come to dissolving
parliament, banning the Communist party and postponing elections in the
run-up to the last presidential ballot in 1996. Mr Yeltsin may have simply
appointed the ever loyal Mr Putin to serve as the sword and shield of the
One senior journalist does not rule out the possibility that events could
again take a violent and tragic turn. "The leadership of Germany knew that
they were doomed in 1945 but they fought to the end," he says. "Hitler was
in his bunker sending people to their deaths. There was no logic in this
situation but still the machine was working. Yeltsin is no Hitler but the
psychology could be just the same."
There is, though, a more benign interpretation of events, however
unflattering it is to Mr Yeltsin. This is that the 68-year-old Russian
president has simply lost the plot. Cocooned in the Kremlin and attended by
an ever decreasing circle of advisers, Mr Yeltsin no longer understands
that he has largely lost credibility with his compatriots, who will be
inclined to reject rather than embrace his chosen heir.
Boris Nemtsov, one of the leaders of the liberal Just Cause movement, who
was himself once proclaimed Mr Yeltsin's chosen heir, is convinced the
presidential elections will take place next year. He argues that the
democratic impulse in Russian society is now too strong to be curbed.
"There is not one political force that will support anti-constitutional
measures. Not one. The oligarchs will not support them. No parties or
movements or security services will support them. The instruments for
achieving an anti-constitutional solution do not exist," Mr Nemtsov says.
In that case, Mr Putin may well end up contesting the presidential
elections. The overwhelming backing of the media and the financial support
of some oligarchs may even transform him into a halfway serious candidate.
But practically every political pundit believes Mr Putin will be crushed by
a more experienced politician, such as Mr Primakov or Mr Luzhkov, in an
Mr Yeltsin may yet accomplish one last historic achievement: the peaceful
transfer of power from one democratically elected leader to another for the
first time in Russia's 1,000-year history. But Mr Yeltsin's personal
tragedy could be that this will now happen in spite of, rather than because
of, his basic instincts.
Moscow mayor attacks Putin
By Anatoly Verbin
MOSCOW, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Moscow's powerful Mayor Yuri Luzhkov blasted on
Saturday President Boris Yeltsin's choice of Vladimir Putin as prime
minister, casting doubt over the former spy's longer term political
Luzhkov, in his first public comment since Yeltsin sacked prime minister
Sergei Stepashin on Monday after less than 100 days in office, said the
appointment showed the ``continuous, nonstop absurdity of those in power'' in
Putin met parliamentary leaders on Saturday, further strengthening his
chances of being confirmed in office by the the Duma lower chamber next
But the broadside from Luzhkov pointed to the difficulties Putin will face in
December 19 parliamentary elections.
Luzhkov said Putin's appointment was hard to understand.
``What do we want, to strengthen power structures or address the task of
creating jobs, securing a rise in industrial output and stabilising
agriculture?'' Interfax news agency quoted Luzhkov as saying.
Luzhkov said the nomination of Putin, a former spy with strong links to
security bodies, showed the Kremlin was interested only in staying in power.
``It is an alarming move,'' he said.
The mayor's war of words with the Kremlin is intensifying as his Fatherland
alliance improves its chances for the December election.
Luzhkov has already allied himself with a group of powerful regional leaders
and the Agrarian Party is due to announce its backing next week.
Most analysts predict that if popular former Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov
agrees to lead the alliance it would become a clear favourite -- something
the Kremlin is desperately trying to avoid.
Yeltsin will have to submit a prime minister for approval to the new Duma and
Luzhkov's opposition to Putin makes his chances of remaining premier slim.
His immediate political future, however, seems secure.
News agencies said Putin met Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who
heads the biggest Duma faction.
Putin also met liberal Grigory Yavlinsky who leads the Yabloko party, and he
is scheduled to meet other parliamentary bosses over the weekend.
Nearly all factions have indicated they would back Putin, primarily to
prevent Yeltsin from dissolving the Duma which he has to do if the chamber
rejects his choice three times.
Putin and the party chiefs also discussed the fighting in Dagestan where
Russian forces are battling Islamist separatist rebels.
An Interior Ministry spokesman said four paratroopers were killed and 13
wounded in a battle on Saturday.
Russia has said 10 soldiers have been killed and 27 wounded in an attack on
the rebels, who infiltrated from the neighbouring breakaway region of
Chechnya earlier this month seizing several villages.
August 14, 1999
Russians Ponder State of Emergency
By Brian Whitmore
Canceled elections, curfews, censorship, suspended civil liberties - this
is what a "state of emergency," that bugbear that keeps cropping up in
discussions of Russian politics, could in theory mean.
And in practice? What is a state of emergency? What are the legal and
constitutional implications? Like so many other corridors of Russia's legal
labyrinth, the hows and whats are often confusing dead-ends.
But the speculation charges forward undaunted: A state of emergency is on
the horizon, Kremlin opponents warn darkly, and it will let President Boris
Yeltsin suspend the Constitution and stay in office indefinitely.
Upon being nominated for prime minister, both Sergei Stepashin and
Vladimir Putin - each a former security chief - almost immediately felt
compelled to assure the country that they had no plans to call for a state
Such unsolicited denials served to further fuel talk. So have the media.
The front-page of Thursday's Kommersant newspaper showed a photograph of
soldiers in an armored personnel carrier driving down a Moscow street, and
was accompanied by an article in which Kommersant warned darkly that "so
far" there is only talk of a state of emergency for the Caucasus.
That same day, the Segodnya newspaper warned in a front-page headline that
"The Kremlin is dreaming about a state of emergency."
Citing anonymous sources, the newspaper reported that Kremlin chief of
staff Alexander Voloshin met secretly with Chechen rebel leader Shamil
Basayev, the man behind the Islamic uprising in Dagestan.
The front-page story obliquely hinted that Basayev's invasion of Dagestan
was entirely staged, perhaps at Voloshin's request, to provide a pretext
for a state of emergency and the canceling of elections. Segodnya is owned
by Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-MOST, which has sided with Moscow Mayor Yury
Luzhkov in his ongoing battle with Yeltsin's inner circle.
Kirill Zubkov, a Kremlin press service spokesman, reached by telephone
Friday, refused - after a sigh and a lengthy pause - to comment on
But even officials as sober-minded as Konstantin Titov, governor of the
Samara region, remain unconvinced. Titov said Friday that the Kremlin may
try to cancel December's parliamentary elections after declaring a state of
emergency in Dagestan, where Russian forces have been battling Islamic
militants all week.
Acting Prime Minister Putin began the week pledging there would be no
state of emergency, either locally in Dagestan or nationwide. By week's
end, Putin was qualifying that, in comments that seemed to translate as:
There will be no state of emergency unless there is a state of emergency.
"It will be possible to speak of introducing a state of emergency when it
is needed," Putin said Friday in remarks carried by Interfax. "There is no
such need today."
"Restrictions of rights and freedoms can be introduced, with an indication
of their extent and duration, in a state of emergency," reads article 56 of
the Russian Constitution. The article goes on to stipulate that a state of
emergency can only be declared "in order to ensure the safety of citizens
and the protection of the constitutional system."
Even then, a state of emergency can only be declared "in accordance with a
federal constitutional law."
Such a law - which must pass parliament by a two-thirds majority in the
State Duma and a three-fourths majority in the Federation Council - has yet
to pass either house. It has been in committee since 1997.
Alexander Kotenkov, Yeltsin's representative to the Duma, admitted the
legal complexity of the situation. On Friday, he told reporters that the
president wanted the Duma to pass the languishing bill on emergency rule -
just in case it is needed.
So until that happens, Yeltsin can't legally declare a state of emergency
at all, right?
According to Vladimir Isakov, head of the Duma's legal department, until a
new law is passed, the parts of an old Soviet-era law that do not
contradict the current constitution are in force.
According to the Constitution, the president can declare a state of
emergency by decree - stating the time frame, place and reasons. He must
then inform parliament and the decree must be confirmed by a simple
majority in the Federation Council, the upper chamber, which is comprised
of regional leaders.
Should the upper chamber approve emergency rule, Isakov says, the
Soviet-era law - with measures ranging from simply tightening security in
trouble spots, to more draconian moves including censorship, curfews and
summary arrests and evacuations - would kick in.
The Constitution does explicitly spell out some measures that the state
cannot take under an emergency regime. The Duma, for example, cannot be
dissolved during a state of emergency.
The Constitution also forbids an emergency regime from suspending
constitutional protections citizens have against torture, and for freedom
of religion, freedom of economic activity and due process.
On the other hand, the Constitution does not expressly forbid the
cancelling of elections during emergency rule - meaning that whether such a
move is legally allowed would be debatable.
Other rights that the Constitution does not expressly forbid the
suspension of under a state of emergency include the rights to free speech,
freedom of the press and freedom of assembly; the rights to travel and to
strike; and protections against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.
Marat Baglai, the chairman of the Constitutional Court, in his book
"Constitutional Law of the Russian Federation," writes that further
limitations on and guidelines for emergency rule need to be spelled out in
Kremlin Ready to Talk to Duma on Presidential Power Transfer.
MOSCOW, August 13 (Itar-Tass) - A member of the presidential administration
did not rule out on Friday that the Kremlin and the current State Duma lower
house might discuss the legal fixating of power transfer to the next
However, the Kremlin is not yet ready for a new distribution of power between
the president and parliament, the source told Tass, commenting on a new draft
constitution voiced by former Yeltsin aides Georgy Satarov and Mikhail
Once outside the Kremlin, Satarov and Krasnov are suggesting the model of a
"governmental republic", in which power would be greatly redistributed
between the branches of government.
"The president's side believes that the constitution should be changed with
amendments to be made by a new Duma," the source said, adding: "The president
will not submit any such bills so far."
Meanwhile, the presidential administration does not rule out that the Duma
will, in exchange for the adoption of acting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin,
raise the issue of redistributing power between the president and parliament
in parliament's favour and try to make relevant amendment before elections.
"When Vladimir Putin will speak in the State Duma, he will certainly hear
such questions," the source said.
He said MPs would take advantage of President Boris Yeltsin's words that
Putin would be his successor, and therefore would ask him "whether he sees
himself in the same system of power or he will insist on the constitution to
So the acting premier will have to anticipate all those questions. Meanwhile,
the Kremlin is ready to discuss with the current Duma only slight amendments
to the constitution. "What can be at stake is not the constitution on the
whole, but the fact that we have no legally binding procedure of the
president's transfer of power to his successor," he said.
Sergei Shakhrai, former presidential envoy to the Constitutional Court and
current legal adviser of the government administration, said he was sure the
Duma would raise the amendments issue on Monday.
"Approving Vladimir Putin on the first try, the State Duma will have to do
something to spite the regime," Shakhrai said, adding the lower house will
try to pass all amendments before January. "That will be a kind of
The recent sacking of the government aroused indignation among MPs,"
Alexander Kotenkov, presidential envoy to the Duma, told Tass.
The changes the Duma will now try to initiate will address a strengthening of
parliamentary control over the government, and the lower house will during
the remaining three months of its work pass the relevant amendments in three
readings, Kotenkov said.
But the amendments will not come into force, because it will take the
Federation Council upper house and local government at least a year to
In terms of the upcoming discussion in the Duma of Putin, Kotenkov said the
acting prime minister would try to go around the delicate topic.
"If Boris Yeltsin declared his candidacy as the most suitable, that does not
mean that an election campaign should kick off," he said.
"The government's performance and its interaction with the State Duma will be
discussed in the first place," said Kotenkov, who is very seriously preparing
for Monday's session.
Berezovskiy Interviewed on Putin, Luzhkov
Paris Le Monde
12 August 1999
[translation for personal use only]
"Exclusive" interview with Russian oligarch Boris Berezovskiy by
Agathe Duparc; place and date not given
Russia's Prime Minister Sergey Stepashin was
dismissed because "he lacked firmness," said Boris Berezovskiy, oligarch,
gray eminence of the Kremlin, and very close to the Yeltsin "family," in
an interview with Le Monde, in which he attacks Moscow's Mayor Yuriy
Luzhkov violently, terming him an "irresponsible populist": "God help us
should he become president!" Berezovskiy announces the "imminent"
dismissal of Rem Vlakhiriev, the head of Russia's gas giant Gazprom.
Vlakhiriev is accused of having become allied with Mr. Luzhkov.
Berezovskiy deems that Russia's new prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin,
the Kremlin's favorite, stands a good chance of becoming Boris Yeltsin's
[Duparc] What in your opinion are the reasons for Prime Minister Sergei
[Berezovskiy] I hold Mr. Stepashin in very high esteem as an individual.
during this difficult period, on the eve of the elections, I think the
President felt that Mr. Stepashin lacks firmness. True, he scored a few
successes, in the regions and in the West, during his visit to the United
States. But he did not have the necessary forcefulness to defend the
Kremlin's positions versus the opposition, particularly that led by Yuriy
Luzhkov (the mayor of Moscow). He was unable to create a political force
capable of dealing with legislative voting. He was not even able to
assert himself within the new bloc, La Patrie-Toute la Russie [The
Fatherland-All Russia] (the new alliance among Mr. Luzhkov and the
[Duparc] Does Vladimir Putin, the new interim prime minister, have the
[Berezovskiy] I have known him since 1991. He was deputy to Anatoil
mayor of St. Petersburg at that time. He is a very resolute person. He
keeps his calm, is never pressed, and sees things through to a
conclusion. But in Russia it is very difficult to predict the performance
of one who becomes prime minister. In our country, the state always
predominates over the individual, and those who are in power can change
everything to anything.
[Duparc] What are his priorities expected to be?
[Berezovskiy] He will have to work with the regions on the outlook for the
legislative elections in December and the presidential election in June
2000. Putin will have to control the situation in Dagestan. The problem
is a fundamental one for Russia. It has always existed and it will not be
settled in a week and a half.
[Duparc] Mr. Putin, a former director of the KGB, also distinguished
in the "war" the Kremlin unleashed against Yuriy Skouratov, the General
Prosecutor who took on the "family"...
[Berezovskiy] I know nothing of his alleged role at the time of the
Yuriy Skouratov. There is not a shred of evidence that Putin pressured
the District Attorney's Office. True, he provided a negative assessment
of Mr. Skuiratov's moral qualities. But as a Russian citizen that was his
[Duparc] Is the Kremlin's having designated him a presidential candidate
Boris Yeltsin's "heir apparent" not a handicap for Mr. Putin?
[Berezovskiy] I absolutely do not agree with that idea. Look at (Yevgeny)
Primakov, (Sergei) Stepashin, and (Sergei) Kirienko. The President
handpicked them and chose them. True, he subsequently dismissed them. But
it was after he appointed them that their popularity began to rise. As
prime minister, Vladimir Putin will have more possibilities and resources
than the other candidates. That is the way it always is in Russia.
[Duparc] In the Russian media, it is said that all the important
the Kremlin are being made by the "family," a small group of persons
close to Yeltsin. Is that true?
[Berezovskiy] That is a myth that has been created by the President's
and by Yuriy Luzhkov in particular. First, they tried to discredit Boris
Nikolaevitch by saying that he was near death and that he would never
leave the hospital. He is still not dead. He is continuing to make the
important decisions himself, alone. He is therefore not about to lay the
blame for them on his entourage, which indeed includes members of his
family, his daughter (Tatiana Diatchenko), and all those who have been
close to him at one moment or another.
[Duparc] Hence yourself?
[Berezovskiy] I am indeed in contact with Tatiana Diatchenkoj. I saw her
ago. But my last meeting with Boris Yeltsin goes back to July 1998.
Everybody is sure that I see him daily. But I myself am convinced that
Boris Yeltsin does not like me. I also realize that Russian society does
not accept me. I am Jewish, I am rich, and in addition, the president at
one time entrusted me with a government position. I am an ideal target.
[Duparc] You recently stated that Yuriy Luzhkov was dangerous for Russia.
More harmful now than the communists?
[Berezovskiy] From the moral viewpoint, the communists and Russian nazis
the most dangerous. But from the viewpoint of real forces, it is Yuriy
Luzhkov who must be feared. He is an irresponsible populist. Today, he
declares that we must get rid of Chechnya, give it its independence.
Tomorrow, should he become president__God save us from that!__incapable
as he is of resolving a single economic problem, as his present
administration of Moscow shows, he will say that Chechnya is detrimental
to Russia and will start a war. His overwhelming aim is to remain in
power. In order to appeal to simple people, he says he is prepared to
revise the privatizations. Those privatisations were perhaps carried out
unjustly. But revising them will not put an end to the injustice and will
lead to a blood bath.
[Duparc] An intense struggle is currently being waged for control of
the Russian gas giant. Rem Viakhiriev, its manager, no longer hides his
support of Moscow's mayor...
[Berezovskiy] In his support of Luzhkov, Rem Viakhiriev is indeed behaving
unacceptably. The state is Gazprom's majority stockholder, and use of
that financial potential against the President and the government is
[Duparc] Can Viakhiriev lose his post as head of Gazprom?
[Berezovskiy] I believe that his departure as head of Gazprom's board of
[Duparc] Do you think that Yevgeny Primakov will run for president in 2000?
[Berezovskiy] Mr. Primakov is a political animal of great intelligence.
presently thinking about how he should shape his career. Unlike Yuriy
Luzhkov, he seriously has Russia's interests at heart. But he belongs to
the past, and he is nostalgic for that great empire that was the Soviet
Union. This vision is absolutely lethal for Russia.
[Duparc] Already at the head of a media empire, you just bought out the big
daily Kommersant. Has the editorial staff received the order to work
"against" Mr. Primakov and Mr. Luzhkov?
[Berezovskiy] I have simply explained to the editorial staff that I now
right to express my positions. They know my views on Moscow's mayor. If
an article favorable to him is published in the Kommersant, that will
simply mean that I have not been persuasive enough.
[Duparc] While Mr. Primakov was prime minister he gave the green light to
opening of criminal investigations against some of the President's close
aides. Is this not the main threat if he returns to power?
[Berezovskiy] A few years ago, Russian laws were changing very rapidly,
people indeed, consciously or not, violated the laws. I explained to Mr.
Primakov that he was embarking on a very dangerous process. I know that
on 7 December 1998, he sent a letter to the Office of the Public
Prosecutor requesting that it open an investigation of the Central Bank
(the case concerned insider trading in the government bonds market on the
part of leading personalities). He overstepped the bounds of his
functions and was censured for that.
[Duparc] Are you still charged with money laundering in the "Aeroflot"
[Berezovskiy] Yes, the investigation is continuing. But it is a politically
motivated, totally fabricated case against me.
Newspaper Eyes Yeltin's Daughter's Career
Argumenty i Fakty
10 August 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Tatyana Netreba from the "Personality" column: "Her
Father's Shadow"; from issue No 981 signed to press on 10 Aug; passages
in slantlines published in boldface; first paragraph is newspaper
She is the most mysterious resident of the Kremlin.
She does not give interviews, pose for pictures or denies the most
vicious rumours about herself. And all this only increases interest in
"I do it"
It is known that Boris Nikolayevich always dreamt to have a male heir.
But in 1960 he had //a second daughter, who had incredible likeness to
him.// She became the dad's favourite. So that was the way it was in the
Yeltsin family: The older daughter, Yelena, was mum's daughter, Tatyana -
daddy's. Yelena inherited Naina Iosifovna's qualities of good housewife
and Boris Nikolayevich's short temper. Tatyana inherited her father's
When she was at school, Boris Nikolayevich necessarily checked her record
book every evening. If she did not get top marks, the book was thrown on
the floor with the words "I don't want to see such marks any more." But a
short time later Tatyana would sit next to her "daddy" (she still calls
her father like this at home) and put her head on his shoulder. Dad could
not remain angry with his daughter for long.
Tatyana showed her abilities as a leader when she was still a member of the
Young Pioneers organization. She was the leader of the group of . She was
the leader of the group of Young Pioneers in her Sverdlovsk School No. 9.
Even boys would obey her. And she went to Moscow to enter the university
against her parents' will. Finally, Boris Nikolayevich came to approve
his daughter's determination but //in the beginning she did not get
financial support from her parents.// Rumours have it that other students
and neighbours in the dormitory did not suspect for a long time that this
provincial girl in jeans and a T-shirt was a daughter of the secretary of
the Sverdlovsk Regional Party Committee. Even now she prefers to wear
trouser suits and started using cosmetics only recently.
The department of computers and cybernetics was regarded as one of the
most prestigious at that time. Tatyana was a good but not exceptional
student. She felt a bit different from the easy-going Muscovites. During
breaks and holidays she would hurry back to her parents in Sverdlovsk.
People who knew Tatyana Dyachenko say that it took her long to overcome
that complex of a brilliant student from the province.
Perhaps this is precisely the reason why she subsequently became friends
with non-Muscovites, as a rule. One can include //V. Yumashev//, born in
Perm and //R. Abramovich//, a provincial man who had Moscow at his feet.
Initially she behaved rather meekly when in the company of metropolitan
intellectuals of the ilk of //Chubays, Berezovskiy or Malashenko//. When
she worked with them in Boris Yeltsin's election headquarters, she would
listen more than she would talk.
Most women-politicians are failures in their personal lives, as a rule.
It seems that Tatyana Borisovna managed to become a happy exception to
this rule. Following her first, unsuccessful marriage, she married her
work colleague from Moscow's Salyut design centre, Aleksey Dyachenko.
The start of the Kremlin career
It was A. Chubays, the then head of the presidential administration,
who persuaded T. Dyachenko to become her father's adviser, not that she
had to be cajoled into it. By nature an active person, Tatyana found the
role of a housewife, exclusively preoccupied with bringing up children,
somewhat burdensome. Even in the course of the election campaign she
found that the political hothouse behind the scenes was to her liking.
As someone who is quite clever, she could not have been unaware that in
1996 Yeltsin's entourage only needed her as an intermediary to bend the
president's ear. However, it was surely pleasant to be in the centre of
attention of clever, high-ranking and courteous men. Now an official pass
to the Kremlin enabled her to feel an equal among equals.
Naina Iosifovna tried to persuade her against the whole idea. Rumours
became rife in the upper echelons of the Kremlin about the excessive
sympathy the president's daughter felt for the young reformer Chubays and
about Aleksey Dyachenko becoming more and more fond of drink as a result
of his wife's political activities.
Initially the role of an image consultant was, if anything a nominal one.
Tatyana Borisovna made infrequent appearances in the first Kremlin bloc
with its exquisite apartments, initially meant for the spouse of the head
of state. Attending meetings in Chubays' office, all she could do was,
every now and then, to utter remarks such as: "It seems to me Papa will
never agree to that" or "In my view Father will like it."
The situation changed drastically following V. Yumashev's appointment as
head of the administration. They started to "steer" all affairs, acting
in tandem. Who played the main fiddle remains a question yet to be
answered. It was then that T. Dyachenko first had recourse to her
father's favourite ploy of checks and balances. //She placed her friends
in many key Kremlin posts//. Together with Yumashev, Tatyana carried out
a general purge of old Kremlin cadres, having abolished the institution
of Kremlin advisers. Acting in a fairly decisive manner, she could not,
at the same time, rid herself of certain personal clumsiness. A former
adviser recalled how he bumped into Tatyana in a Kremlin corridor on the
day the decree releasing him from his duties was signed. She became
embarrassed and began to assure him that he continued to be a part of the
presidential team. Raising her eyes, she asked with hope in her voice:
"You will not desert Papa, is that not so?"
The taste of power
Tatyana Borisovna's character became ever more hard as time went by. It took
her about a year since the start of her work in the Kremlin to master yet
another rule of her father: there are no insoluble situations,
unfortunate combinations do happen, but they are always rectifiable. To
be firm and resolute is the main thing, emotions are of no consequence.
There were slip-ups, too.
Once Tatyana Borisovna decided to stake it all on one card and, together
with V. Yumashev, and in secret from the president they drafted a decree
to get rid of a well-known raconteur and industrialist, the almighty Pal
Palych Borodin, whom they disliked, although Yeltsin held him in respect.
Boris Nikolayevich put them right on this score double quick.
Ever since that Tatyana Borisovna has become reconciled with the fact
that the //president needs her and Yumashev only in the capacity of
situational lobbyists//. Even an ailing Yeltsin will never allow them
into his own, personal domain of decision making.
According to people who know her well, the president's daughter is well aware
that as soon as Boris Nikolayevich leaves the Kremlin, her political
rating will take a dive to zero. However, she is certainly disinclined to
give up her role as a behind-the-scenes Kremlin cardinal. Over the past
year she has acquired a taste for political games and as a former
mathematician she became fascinated with calculating all manner of
possible multiple moves and political combinations...[paper ellipsis]
She has personal control of the lists of those who have been invited and
granted a presidential audience and compiles B. Yeltsin's working rotas.
She chairs strategic conferences in the Kremlin on Fridays herself,
choosing whether to invite Chubays and Gusinskiy or Nemtsov and
It is said that her famous sincere smile which attracted so many
high-ranking men only so recently has now acquired a cold tinge of
haughtiness, still barely noticeable. She listens to opinions herself,
without commenting on them in true Yeltsin fashion and it is impossible
to guess looking at her face whether she is impressed with them or not.
It is true that her attention is attracted by all ideas of the
presidential retinue on how to extend her father's powers, but no more
than that. She knows better than anyone else what the real state of her
father's health is and //the main driving power behind all she does is
her desire to help papa.//
Weekly Examines Stepashin Dismissal
Argumenty i Fakty, No. 981
August 10, 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Andrey Uglanov article
in the "Rumour" column: "Yeltsin is cutting the branches of power on
which he sits, or Onwards, to constitutional amendments!"
So our forecast of Sergey Stepashin's resignation
in early August has proved correct. His entire work in the last few days
failed to impress either the president or his aides. He was replaced with
a devoted person as head of the government. Even a successor, Boris
Yeltsin has said. If you remember, Sergey Stepashin failed to sort things
out with the Fatherland - All Russia movement, Gazprom and
telecommunications not yet under the Kremlin's control. This is for
Vladimir Putin to be done.
The timing of this replacement was carefully chosen. [Moscow mayor]
Yuriy Luzhkov was on holiday away from Moscow. The head of the Moscow
regional directorate for fighting organized crime and the commander of
the Moscow Military District, close to the mayor, had been sacked. For
greater security lorries brought soldiers to central Moscow on Monday
morning [9th August]. Why such precautions?
The thing is that the presidential administration feared that Stepashin
could start "kicking" like he did last Thursday. That day the prime
minister visited the president in the morning and even was late for a
government meeting. The following events took place there. Boris Yeltsin
invited the prime minister and his deputy, Nikolay Aksenenko, to his
office. He showed a sacking decree to one and a decree appointing him
acting prime minister to the other. And that was then that Sergey
Vadimovich lost control. Barely restraining from raising his voice he
asked: what for? And Yeltsin had to backtrack for a time and shelve both
decrees. But only until Monday. He made his choice between Anatoliy
Chubays and Boris Berezovskiy: he removed Stepashin but did not appoint
people loyal to Roman Abramovich - Boris Berezovskiy (Nikolay Aksenenko,
Aleksandr Lebed). A man from the St Petersburg stable was put forward for
the post of prime minister.
When Sergey Stepashin returned from Boris Yeltsin to Government House as
a condemned man, he went to his study and, reportedly, had a glass with
his colleagues. This is a custom. After that he made a very weak farewell
speech, and that was quite wrong of him. In order to have a political
future, it would have been a good idea if, when saying good-bye, he had
briefly said who had sacked him, naturally, without berating the
president. After all, the people involved are known. He could have
publicly called on the president to sort out his administration and
support Fatherland - All Russia and Mintimer Shaymiyev and Yuriy Luzhkov.
But he did not do this. If Sergey Stepashin follows Yevgeniy Primakov's
example and falls silent for a few weeks, this will be his second
It would be a good option for the former prime minister to stand for
the mayor of St Petersburg, of course, if he doesn't receive more
attractive offers, for instance, to become the co-ordinator of the All
Russia movement, since he has no chance of heading the electoral list.
This place has been taken by Yevgeniy Primakov who has already given his
consent and will make it public after 20th August.
Who has won?
Meanwhile, hardly anyone of the prominent political players has liked
Putin's appointment as acting prime minister. Aleksandr Lebed, who was in
Moscow waiting for a favourable outcome has already voiced his
discontent. The Interior Minister Vladimir Rushaylo, who was also eyeing
the prime minister's chair, is unhappy too. Boris Berezovskiy is very
angry. He made a statement to the effect that such frequent changes of
prime ministers are unnecessary. However, he may gain something from
this. It can't be ruled out that Ivan Rybkin, who is close to
Berezovskiy, may become secretary of the Security Council.
True, there is yet another explanation of the sacking. Even a not very
clever person can forecast a falling rouble-dollar exchange rate after a
prime minister is replaced. So it is quite possible that there was a plan
in accordance with which a certain group of people had been buying up
dollars in huge quantities. After the rate falls (and this has happened),
the dollars can be sold at a good profit. What for? For financing
election campaign, for instance. The sum thus gained can be enormous, up
to 1bn dollars.
The first conclusions
They are very simple. The time has come for the constitution to be
amended. The president of such a vast country mustn't change prime
ministers five times a year. The parliament representing all political
forces must have its say in the formation of government. Boris Nemtsov
has suggested that candidates for the presidency should not be older that
60-65 years. He also believes that a government can be sacked only with
the State Duma's consent. No-one of Yeltsin's successors will have as
much power as he himself has.
The Duma will look into this problem in the near future. Naturally, if
it approves Vladimir Putin and is not disbanded.
And the last thing. Boris Yeltsin has named his successors more than
once. Where are they all? So it is not ruled out that Boris Nikolayevich
has publicly shown a new person to all and everyone only to check public
reaction. The game will continue - health permitting, of course.