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Johnson's Russia List


August 16, 1999    
This Date's Issues: 3443 • 3444 

Johnson's Russia List
16 August 1999

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Gorbachev Says Wife's Condition Is Very Serious.
2. Stratfor Commentary: Further Evidence Emerges Suggesting Gazprom 

4. Itar-Tass: CPRF'S Extraordinary Congress to Be Held on Sept 4.
5. Itar-Tass: Russia Lacks Conditions for a State of Emergency-Putin.
7. Washington Post: Sharon LaFraniere, Gulags for the Children.
Russia's Orphanages Warehouse the Retarded.

8. New York Times: Celestine Bohlen, A Russian Who's Still Dancing as Fast 
as He Can. ("Is Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin crazy?")

9. Stratfor Commentary: The Price of Arrogance. (Re Caucasus events)]


Gorbachev Says Wife's Condition Is Very Serious
August 15, 1999

BERLIN (Reuters) - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev described his 
wife's condition as very serious and said he felt useless as she was treated 
for acute leukemia, a German newspaper reported Sunday.

Raisa Gorbachev, 67, has been having chemotherapy to combat the blood cancer 
at the University Hospital in the northwest German town of Muenster.

Gorbachev told Welt am Sonntags that his wife, whose treatment was described 
by the hospital as at a critical stage, had worsened considerably some days 
ago and the pain had been so extreme that she was unable to speak.

``Now there is an improvement after a complication halted treatment for a 
while... Yesterday we were at last able to talk to each other again. Not a 
lot but for a long time,'' he said.

He did not give any indication as to how long Raisa would remain in hospital 
or what her recovery chances were. But he said he felt powerless to help her.

``Pain, such as that which Raisa has to overcome at the moment, is a heavy 
burden... And it all happens in front of my eyes -- and I am so powerless,'' 
he said.

Gorbachev, who as Communist Party leader in 1985 began the glasnost and 
perestroika reforms leading to the Soviet Union's collapse, has been by his 
wife's bedside since she was taken ill.

``Being with her is everything. When I am by her side it is easier for her. 
Sometimes maybe also more difficult. But we are always together,'' he said. 


Stratfor Commentary
2130 GMT 990813 – Further Evidence Emerges Suggesting Gazprom Nationalization

The German newspaper Tagespiegel wrote August 13 that Russian President Boris 
Yeltsin planned to nationalize Russian energy giant Gazprom. The newspaper 
cited a leaked Russian government document as stating the nationalization 
would take place at a Gazprom shareholders’ meeting in August. Allegedly, 
Russian Energy Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny would raise the number of company 
board members appointed by the state and remove Gazprom executive director 
Rem Viakhirev from his post during the meeting. Tagespiegel further wrote 
that a first attempt to get Gazprom under state control occurred at the July 
congress of the Russian oil industry, when Kalyuzhny proposed the energy 
ministry take Gazprom under its direct control. The paper suggested that then 
Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin opposed such change, which may have been the 
real reason for his sacking by Yeltsin this week. Gazprom produces the 
majority of Russia’s natural gas, and is also the world’s largest gas 
producer. Currently, the Russian government owns 38.37 percent of the 
company, Germany’s Ruhrgas owns 5 percent, and remaining part is owned by 
dispersed shareholders. In its official response to Tagespiegel’s article, 
Gazprom denied August 13 that any information contained in the piece was true.

Earlier this week, Russian tycoon and close Yeltsin ally Boris Berezovsky 
said in an interview with French daily newspaper Le Monde that Gazprom head 
Rem Viakhirev would soon have to resign his post due to political reasons. 
Berezovsky said Viakhirev should leave his post over his support for a 
presidential candidate Yuri Luzhkov. Berezovsky explained his position in 
regards to Viakhirev by saying, "The state is the majority shareholder in 
Gazprom and it is not normal for its financial muscles to be used against the 
president and the government." Luzhkov is a strong candidate for the 2000 
presidential elections, currently standing fourth in the polls. Moreover, 
Luzhkov has strengthened his position, and the position of his Otechestvo 
(Fatherland) party, by aligning with Yevgeny Primakov and his All Russia 

The Tagespiegel article had a ring of truth, judging from Yeltsin’s ongoing 
political machinations in Moscow. As with the recent proxy media war and 
proposed media controls, the Gazprom grab undermines Yeltsin’s political foes 
ahead of the elections, this time by depriving Luzhkov of his strong 
supporter Viakhirev. But more importantly, Gazprom – and the energy sector as 
a whole – is one of the few reliably profitable sectors of the Russian 
economy, and is a powerful domestic and foreign policy tool. Russia’s former 
Soviet satellites owe Gazprom billions of dollars for gas deliveries, and 
Russian regions and businesses are in debt to the company as well. The 
ability to turn the tap on or off is a powerful bargaining chip, and not one 
Yeltsin wants in his opponents’ hands. Stratfor is inclined to believe the 
Tagespeigel report, at least insofar as it confirms that Yeltsin will seek to 
gain control over Gazprom. Nationalization may be extreme and 
counterproductive at the moment, and a sympathetic management is just as 
effective for the Kremlin. For certain, Yeltsin and his backers will continue 
their attempt to consolidate control over key sectors.


From: "Tanya Samoiloff" <>
Subject: Hello Russia #43
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 

August 16 1999

More than three thousand readers of "Sobesednik" took part in competition
"Russia. Results of the Millenium ". Below are results of quiz A MAN OF THE
1. Peter The Great (Russian Tzar) - 39 %
2. Alexander Pushkin (Russian Poet)- 18 %.
3. Yuri Gagarin (First Cosmonaut) - 14 %.
4. Mikhail Lomonosov (Scientist) - 7 %.
5. Vladimir Vysotsky (Folk Singer) - 6 %
6. Alexander Nevsky (Russian Prince) - 4 %
7. Vyacheslav Tykhonov (Movie Star) - 3%
8. Ivan the Terrible (Russian Tzar) - 3 %.
9. Illya Muromets (Fairy Tale Hero) - 2 %.
10. Yermak (Annexed Siberia) - 1 %.
In Russian public mentality an image of reformer is inseparable from the
image rough and powerful man, that once again confirms a female nature of
our population. In this way, A Man of the Millenium was elected Peter the
Alexander Pushkin "the post-mortem gift to Russia of the Peter" takes an
honorary second place, and only four percent ahead of Yuri Gagarin. With
Pushkin everything is clear: the poets always write about love - and Pushkin
was a great lover. Gagarin too has become a sex symbol of the planet because
of his innocent charming smile!
But why Lomonosov is on the fourth place is a mystery. Probably, some people
still believe that our leaders also should be clever.
Also, our people love strong leaders: on the sixth place is Alexander
Nevsky, and then goes Ivan the Terrible (he shares the place with Vyacheslav
Tykhonov as the symbol of Soviet Spy). Illya Muromets is ninth because few
believe that he ever existed. The tenth is Yermak - yet he was a robber, but
still annexed Siberia to Russia.


CPRF'S Extraordinary Congress to Be Held on Sept 4.

MOSCOW, August 16 (Itar-Tass) - The 4th extraordinary congress of the 
Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) is to be held in Moscow on 
September 4, according to a decision taken by a plenary meeting of the CPRF 
Central Committee on Sunday. 

CPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov told journalists that the delegates to the 
congress would discuss the election platform of an electoral bloc or 
association which the Communists would join, and approve a Federal list of 
such a bloc. 

Zyuganov pointed out that the Communists would act strictly in keeping with 
the provisions of the law on the election of members of the State Duma lower 
house of parliament, the text of which had been specially sent out to all 
electoral headquarters. 

The CPRF chief is of the opinion that a broad patriotic bloc, a tentative 
name of which is "For Victory" and which the CPRF intends to enter, has 
chances to get 300 seats in the State Duma. A final decision on the bloc's 
name, just as on its emblem, is to be decided by congresses of organisations 
which would enter the bloc, Zyuganov said. 

The CPRF leader said participants in the CPRF CC plenary meeting discussed 
the political situation in the country, describing it as a "critical" one, as 
well as the position of the citizens of Russia. 

The plenum decided to present a proposal at a State Duma meeting on Monday 
about the ensurance of subsistance minimum for every citizen, as well as 
proposals to intorduce amendments to the Constitution "to limit the absolute 
power of one person". 


Russia Lacks Conditions for a State of Emergency-Putin.

MOSCOW, August 16 (Itar-Tass) - Russia's acting Prime Minister Vladimir 
Putin, in an interview with the RTR television channel on Sunday night, said 
"there are no internal political conditions" for the introduction of a state 
of emergency on Russia's territory. 

As far as the zone of clashes with terrorists in Daghestan is concerned, 
Putin believes, "some special procedure may be introduced there because local 
authorities actually do not function any longer". 

But "there is no necessity" even for this kind of measure, Putin said. He 
voiced confidence that the Federation Council upper house of parliament 
"would support us if we come forward with such a proposal but as of now we 
shall resolve the problem without any emergency measures". 

After the main groups of terrorists are destroyed or edged out of Daghestan, 
"mopping-up operations" would take place there. But this is not the problem, 
Putin believes. He said the situation in Daghestan is an "abscess, a boil" 
which is connected with the unsettled nature of relations with the Chechen 

Russia "has been consistently, continuously and very scrupulously 
implementing the Khasavyurt Agreements. But our actions have sense only 
provided the lawfully elected Chechen authorities will be able to be in 
control of the situation on their territory," the acting Premier said. "We 
intend to deal only with them," he emphasised. In this connection, Putin said 
a meeting between the Russian leadership and Chechen President Aslan 
Maskhadov is still planned. In so doing, "we shall proceed from priorities of 
Russian statehood," he said. 

Russia's acting Premier does not visualise "grounds for a sharp reply to us 
on the part of the Chechen leadership". In so doing, he pointed out that the 
Chechen people "have the right to uphold their historical interests. But in 
this case we have to deal with gangs of international terrorists, not the 
Chechen people". 

In the opinion of Putin, it is essential to create conditions"which would 
render safe the life and health of our citizens". After this is done, "we 
shall seek a settlement of relations with Chechnya in a calm, weighed and 
consistent manner through a negotiating process", he said. 

Speaking about an increase in money allowances from servicemen who take part 
in combat operations in Daghestan, Putin said a Russian government resolution 
on the use of additional incomes for these purposes was in the works. 

The acting Premier considers it correct if servicemen who actually 
participate in combat operations in Russia's flashpoints should get no lesser 
allowances that Russian peacekeepers abroad. The government resolution in 
question will be ready on Monday, Putin said. 


Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999
From: Center for Human Rights Advocacy <>
Subject: Anti-Semitism in Russia

Dear Mr. Johnson: 

Here is an article published today (Aug. 15, 1999) in the Boulder Daily
Camera, titled "Russian Jews Seeing Rise in Incidences of Hate Crimes."
The article is about the Report issued by The Center for Human Rights
Advocacy on August 13, 1999. I have attached a complete copy of the Report
to this message for your and your subscribers information. You have my
permission to include the full Report in Johnson's Russia List, if you so

I would appreciate your including the Camera article in your list.
Bill Cohen
President & Chief Counsel
3120 6th Street
Boulder, CO 80304-2508
Tel:(303) 444-0970
Fax:(303) 444-0982

by William M. Cohen


The Center for Human Rights Advocacy (CHRA) has been monitoring and
analyzing social, economic, political, ethnic and anti-Semitism
developments in Russia and the former Soviet Union (FSU) since its
inception in early 1991. In addition, because of the persistent evidence
and reports of anti-Semitism in Russia, the Union of Councils for Soviet
Jews (UCSJ), on which the author serves as a member of the Executive
Committee of the Board of Directors, has steadily increased its monitoring
and reporting on human rights and anti-Semitism in Russia. In cooperation
with the Moscow Helsinki Group, and aided by a grant from the United States
Agency for International Development, trained monitors located throughout
Russia now regularly report to UCSJ and CHRA on this growing phenomenon.

The persistent pattern of anti-Semitism and the pernicious practice of
persecution of Jews in Russia was identified and summarized by CHRA in
March of 1996:

This phenomenon [i.e., steadily growing anti-Semitism in an atmosphere of
economic hardship following the breakup of the FSU] is exploited by
politicians and elected officials for political gain. It is manifested by
acts of discrimination, insults, threats, and violence against Jews, Jewish
property, and Jewish institutions. It is aimed, in substantial part, at
driving Jews out of Russia to make room for Russians in a time of scarcity,
economic distress, and political instability arising out of the destruction
of the Soviet Empire. Moreover, it is clear that there now exists no
Russian governmental agency able or willing to protect Jews from
persecution because of their nationality or religion. The absence of any
meaningful deterrent to such conduct plus the permission given to
anti-Semites by leading politicians and elected officials to engage in such
conduct encourages those who would persecute Jews to do so with impunity.

Since the economic crisis and the collapse of the ruble which struck Russia
in August 1998, anti-Semitic expressions by leading politicians and elected
officials, aimed at demonizing and scapegoating Jews, and, ultimately, at
driving them out of Russia, have dramatically accelerated. This increase
in anti-Semitic rhetoric has been accompanied by a concurrent increase in
the number of violent acts targeting Jews, Jewish property, and Jewish
institutions. Such violence is now frequent and widespread throughout the
vast number of Russia's regions as well as in the major city centers of
Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Nizhny Novgorod, the location of the three
largest population of Jews in Russia. 

The frequency and ferocity of the various anti-Semitic violent acts appears
to be accelerating. At the same time, the governmental institutions upon
which Jews and other targeted minorities must rely for protection against
extremist violence are either unable or unwilling to effectively provide
that protection.

In addition, during the political and economic crises which continue today
in Russia following the August 1998 collapse, militantly anti-Semitic
groups, such as Russian National Unity (RNU), have grown in size and
popularity. Sensing both the impotence and indifference of law enforcement
agencies, these groups have increased the openness of their anti-Semitic
expressions with little or no effective action by government authorities to
deter them. Under these circumstances, Jews in Russia continue to be
vulnerable to anti-Semitic discrimination, violence, and persecution
without any effective recourse to the Russian government at any level for
protection against such prejudicial treatment.

Indeed, the risk to Jews in Russia today is greater than at any time since
the breakup of the Soviet Union. The Russian government has so far
demonstrated that it is both unwilling and unable to deter growing
anti-Semitic violence against its steadily diminishing Jewish population.
Hence, those aimed at driving Jews out of Russia, punishing them because of
hatred of Jews, and scapegoating Jews for a variety of political ends can
generally do so with impunity.

Faced with escalating anti-Semitic violence combined with indifference to
these attacks by the general Russian populace, political exploitation of
the phenomenon and government impotence to protect them, the Jewish
community has resorted to funding its own security for Jewish institutions
and turned to Western governments and non-governmental human rights
organizations for help. Increasingly more Jews are also leaving Russia and
the FSU permanently for Israel, the United States and other countries where
they will be free persecution because of their Jewish religion and

Absent a dramatic change in the economic, social and political climate in
Russia, it is highly unlikely that the current atmosphere of openly and
violently expressed anti-Semitism will diminish any time soon. To the
contrary, the escalating incidents combined with government silence and
ineffective law enforcement, indicate that Jews are at great risk in Russia
today and for the foreseeable future....


Washington Post
15 August 1999
[for personal use only] 
Gulags for the Children
Russia's Orphanages Warehouse the Retarded
By Sharon LaFraniere

BUTURLINOVKA, Russia—Styopa Streltsov is determined to stand up. The little 
boy steadies himself, clasping a visitor's hands, and straightens his legs 
until he is teetering on his feet. He pulls himself up a dozen times more, 
cackling with delight. Only when a nurse gently disengages his hands does he 

Styopa should be able to stand and walk on his own. But officials at this 
state orphanage, a rambling white structure in an isolated farming village a 
night's train ride south of Moscow, say no one has time to teach him. There 
are 309 mentally disabled children here, 52 of them bedridden, and it's all 
the orderlies can do just to feed and wash them.

Nor does the state expect much else. In Russia's terminology, Styopa is 
officially labeled an "imbecile." Given up by his parents after he was born 
with Down syndrome, he has spent most of his life in tattered diapers in an 
iron bed, in a room full of diapered children in iron beds. Now three months 
shy of his eighth birthday, he weighs less than 19 pounds and is only 31 
inches tall -- the size of a normal 15-month-old.

Asked to describe Styopa's future, Nadezhda Malikova, the orphanage's 
blue-eyed head nurse, stood still, startled. "No future," she said.

Much the same can be said for the 29,000 other children in Russia's 148 
institutions for the severely mentally retarded. In a society that heavily 
stigmatizes the disabled, these children are viewed as dead weight. 
Government officials openly say their families should not be burdened with 
them, and don't bother to include them on the list of children eligible for 

It is not uncommon to see these children straitjacketed, lying naked on 
linoleum floors, cowering miserably in corners or penned up in outdoor wooden 
shelters at orphanages that hold up to 600 children. Almost a fifth of the 
children, gaunt and severely stunted, never get out of bed, state statistics 

The most severely retarded are classified as "idiots," helpless and unable to 
speak or learn. The others are diagnosed as imbeciles who are unfit for a 
classroom and capable of only primitive feelings. Yet some appear to 
outsiders to be of average intelligence. Three organizations -- the World 
Bank, Mental Disability Rights International and Human Rights Watch -- 
concluded in studies over the past year that a significant number are 

Three decades ago, Western countries began to shut down such institutions in 
favor of foster care, group homes and services to keep children in their own 
families. Not so here: Russia maintains 2,000 orphanages but has only 239 
foster families, most of them in one region, a 1998 state report shows. 

The number of orphans is mounting with Russia's social problems: There are 
now 160,000, a third more than in 1994, most of whom have at least one living 
parent. The U.S. Agency for International Development hopes a $6 million 
grant for family and community services will help reduce the flow of children 
into institutions, but its three-year program has just begun.

A true picture of the homes for the severely retarded is difficult to obtain. 
Journalists are expected to request permission from regional authorities 
before any visit, and officials restrict which institutions can be toured.

Nonetheless, visitors can sometimes slip in unnoticed on weekends. The 
Washington Post recently visited five institutions, sometimes in announced 
visits, and sometimes by simply walking in and asking to see a particular 
child. All persons interviewed for this article knew they were speaking to a 

The government body responsible for these children is telling in itself. Some 
orphans are assigned to the Ministry of Education and given schooling, but 
the severely mentally disabled are placed under the department for veterans 
and the elderly in the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. 

"These children are ascribed to the same department as old people because 
there is no question of development for them," said Roman Dimenshtein, a 
critic of the system who works with families of disabled children in Moscow. 
"It's just a question of finishing their lives and passing on to another 

How many of the orphans die prematurely is not a question that government 
officials will answer. In a 90-minute interview, Raisa Kuznetsova, a labor 
ministry official who helps oversee the orphanages, known as internats, 
insisted that she did not know the number and could not find out. Asked in 
writing, the ministry replied: "Regrettably, the ministry has no data." 

"It is worse than a state secret," said Dimenshtein. "No one counts."

At Internat No. 8 in northern Moscow, staff psychiatrist Larisa Bogaeva 
compiled a list. In an institution that held at most 100 children, 16 orphans 
ages 4 to 15 died from January to September 1998, three child advocates 
familiar with the situation said.

Half of the deaths occurred when the orphanage lacked even a competent nurse, 
and half after an inexperienced pediatrician joined the staff, the child 
advocates said. No autopsies were performed. No one even recorded the 
children's weights. The cause of death was listed simply as "deficiencies 
incompatible with life."

Bogaeva was so horrified that she took her list of dead children to local 
officials. But Anatoly Severny, president of the Independent Association of 
Children's Psychologists and Psychiatrists, said no investigation was 

Strangely enough, Russia is a society that dotes on children. Each 
state-subsidized preschool has its own doctor, and advising parents on how to 
properly feed and dress their children is a national hobby.

But the country also has a long tradition of hiding the disabled. After World 
War II, for instance, soldiers with amputated limbs were exiled to Valaam 
Island, north of the city then known as Leningrad.

Even now, Russian officials question a concept accepted in the West: that the 
state should support families with disabled children instead of putting the 
youths in institutions.

"Even if such a child is in a family that loves and takes care of him, 
nonetheless this family has grief on its soul," said Kuznetsova, the labor 
ministry official. "Even if it's a well-intentioned family, they can't give 
the specialized education and care that this child might need.

"At home, this child wouldn't have any friends because the parents would be 
embarrassed to show them around. We think the system justifies itself. There 
may be insufficiencies . . . but we don't have unfed, neglected children in 
our institutions."

Child advocates say the pressure on parents to give up disabled children 
begins in the maternity ward. Parents who keep their children find themselves 
essentially on their own, without services or access to schools. The state 
gives about $13 a month to provincial families with disabled children, and 
$21 a month to Moscow families. It pays institutions eight times as much.

Many children whose parents surrender them go first to "baby houses." A 
morning visit to one in Moscow was telling. In the dayroom, one little boy 
eagerly tossed an old plastic bottle across the floor to a glum-looking 
orderly seated on a couch. She wordlessly kicked it back three times, then 
declared the game over. That was the only interaction between the staff and a 
dozen children under the age of 5 in nearly an hour.

By the age of 4, more than four-fifths of the children in the baby houses are 
diagnosed as retarded. Those considered only slightly disabled are sent to 
Ministry of Education orphanages and given schooling. Severny, of the 
association of psychologists, has begun a study of those homes. Of a group of 
15 teenagers, he found 12 were misdiagnosed as retarded.

Those classified as more severely mentally disabled end up at institutions 
like No. 15 off a busy Moscow highway. Behind its blue iron gates and 
concrete walls, a four-story building houses 400 children. 

One floor is for the lezhaschiy -- literally, those who are lying down. One 
recent Saturday, five of 11 children in one room were straitjacketed so 
tightly they could barely roll over. Those who could sit up rocked 
rhythmically in their beds -- a motion that child development experts say is 
typical of children without any stimulation.

Racing down the overgrown paths was Natasha, an athletic, sociable 
17-year-old. Natasha learned to read and write at Ministry of Education 
orphanage No. 67. 

Had she remained there, she would now be entitled to a one-room apartment 
from the state. But two years ago, her diagnosis was changed from slightly 
retarded to imbecilic, and she was sent to No. 15. When she turns 18, she 
said, she will be transferred to an adult institution "for life." 

Natasha's 14-year-old friend, Katya, ran back to their old orphanage two 
months ago. Privately, out of sight of the orderlies, she and Natasha 
explained the consequences. After Katya was found and returned, they said, 
she was punished with repeated injections of aminazine, a tranquilizer that 
put her to sleep for days at a time and caused painful cramps.

Ivan Zhigalov, the director of No. 15, declined to be interviewed. After six 
months as director, he said, he is ready to leave. "Have had about enough," 
he said.

Buturlinovka is set amid southeastern Russia's potato fields, instead of 
apartment buildings. But like No. 15 in Moscow, it is home to children whose 
diagnoses seem inexplicable. 

One June afternoon, a 13-year-old named Yaroslav peppered a reporter with 
questions about America and sang a popular love song while the orphanage's 
silver-haired director, Sergei Terichenko, watched with a smile. "Some of 
these children, if they were brought up in a normal family, you wouldn't even 
know the difference between them and a normal child," he said.

Several children call Terichenko "Papa," and he knows many by name. He 
refuses to send even some as old as 34 on to adult institutions. "They perish 
there," insisted Nina Shteltser, his deputy.

But even Buturlinovka, with its well-intentioned staff, presented arresting 
scenes. The 58 children classified as idiots were confined in outdoor pens -- 
tall wooden, roofed structures enclosed on one side by a narrow slatted 
fence. Rusted iron pails in the corners served as toilets. 

Girls and boys looked alike: All had shaved heads. One boy, lying on a 
blanket, slapped himself over and over with a neighboring boy's hand. Another 
boy howled miserably, his pants bunched below his hips. Except when the 
director was there, the gates were tied shut, and the children peered out 
from the dim interior through three wide openings in the slats.

In one of two "lying-down" rooms inside the orphanage, a little girl named 
Marina clambered into a visitor's arms, swimming in her hospital-style gown. 
Ten years old, she is no bigger than an average 18-month-old.

Sergei Koloskov, who heads the internationally funded Down Syndrome 
Association, is on a lonely crusade to help children like Marina. He showed 
the staff at Buturlinovka an album of before-and-after photos of children now 
at orphanage No. 8. Koloskov's team, working along with government staff 
there, has managed to double the weight of formerly emaciated, bedridden 
children and taught many to walk and talk.

"Compare this skeleton to this plump kid," he said, pointing to a photo of 
one 9-year-old girl. "These are not unique kids. No miracle. . . . You just 
have to know how."

But Koloskov is one reformer faced with thousands of orphans whose fates are 
sealed. At the age of about 18, children in institutions like Buturlinovka 
move on to institutions like Kandaurovsky, outside the city of Tambov in 
southern Russia.

There, 310 residents, many of them aged and with obvious psychiatric 
problems, aimlessly mill about a two-story building, dressed in ragged 
housecoats and slippers.

Director Nikolai Gorbachev, giving an impromptu tour one afternoon, flipped 
on the light in a dark hallway. There stood 20-year-old Sveta Matsneva, a new 
arrival. "She is our local beauty," the director proclaimed.

Sveta, a pink scarf around her neck, trailed a few steps behind the visitors 
for the next half hour. She kept her distance from the woman mumbling to 
herself and turning in circles, and from the woman who sat in the dirt yard 
and glared at her.

Then, as the visitors unlocked the car door to leave, she seized the moment.

"Please," she said, her voice low and urgent. "I want to be free. Here, you 
only walk to the fence. That's all.

"Can you help me pull myself out of here?" 


New York Times
August 15, 1999
[for personal use only]
A Russian Who's Still Dancing as Fast as He Can

MOSCOW -- Is Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin crazy? 

Why else would a lame-duck President -- whose zombie-like public appearances 
reinforce fears about his state of mind -- suddenly jettison his latest Prime 
Minister, his fourth in 17 months, and name as his political heir an unknown 
K.G.B. officer who has no political party, no popular support and the 
charisma of a well-mannered Doberman Pincer? 

As tempting as the Mad Czar theory may be, there are other explanations for 
Mr. Yeltsin's latest gyrations that may be even more disturbing. According to 
those who know him well, Mr. Yeltsin probably has a plan, possibly a flawed 
plan, which like most of his plans has to do with holding on to as much power 
as he can, for as long as he can. 

In naming Vladimir V. Putin as his new Prime Minister and preferred successor 
last week, Mr. Yeltsin signaled that he is not going to sit by idly while his 
opponents, either on the left (the Communists) or those in the political 
center sweep up the remnants of his tattered authority, and claim it as their 

Just last week Moscow's Mayor, Yuri M. Luzhkov, who for months now has been 
in the Kremlin's "enemies" camp, formed a coalition with a handful of 
autocratic governors, which perhaps, and most importantly, may be joined this 
week by former Prime Minister Prime Minister Yevgeni M. Primakov, Russia's 
most popular political figure. 

In dumping former Prime Minister Sergei V. Stepashin, the President 
apparently decided that the mild-mannered 47-year-old former commissioner 
lacked the gumption to tackle opponents like Mr. Luzhkov. The 68-year-old 
President also stated firmly that he intends to leave office in July 2000, as 
the Russian constitution requires him to do at the end of his second term. 

Many Russians believe him. But in a sign of their deep distrust of their 
willful and capricious President, many others are not convinced, fearing, for 
instance, a declaration of a state of emergency or some other series of 
events that could disrupt the first constitutional transfer of power in 
Russian history. 

Nor do many Russians necessarily believe that Mr. Putin, 46, will still be 
Mr. Yeltsin's preferred choice as a successor by the time the presidential 
elections roll around, several months after December's parliamentary 
elections. Russian politics are littered with men who, at one time or 
another, held the mantle that has now been bestowed on Mr. Putin. 

One ace up the President's sleeve could be, oddly enough, Sergei Stepashin, 
who served as Prime Minister for 82 days, and who last week passed the 
ultimate test of loyalty: In an emotional appearance before his Cabinet, Mr. 
Stepashin thanked the man who had just fired him. Now courted by center-right 
parties still friendly to the Kremlin, Mr. Stepashin may end up with the 
covert backing of the Yeltsin entourage and as a bonus, a popular image as a 
man wronged by an erratic czar. 

ut Mr. Yeltsin is determined to keep his hand in the elaborate chess game 
that is Russian politics. His latest move was described by one analyst as 
"castling," where the king and castle swap places. "Yeltsin is very good at 
grasping the political situation," said Gavril Popov, a former Moscow Mayor 
and a one-time Yeltsin ally in Russia's early democratic movement, in the 
weekly newspaper Argumenti I Facti last week. "He finds a decisive solution 
which his administration cannot. The level of his physical incapacities 
should never be overestimated." 

In Prime Minister Putin, Mr. Yeltsin will have a loyal servant -- and a 
recent boss of Russia's domestic intelligence service at that -- who will be 
more ready than his predecessor to pull the kind of levers of power that 
might make even Russia's most brazen regional bosses, an increasingly 
independent lot, think twice. Often portrayed as the kingmakers in the coming 
elections, they are still sensitive to the granting of funds and the release 
of compromising information -- tools at the Kremlin's disposal. 

Such a bald use of power does not contradict the widely held view that Mr. 
Yeltsin's influence as a political leader is almost exhausted. Nor does it 
discount the fact that his team of advisers has now shrunk to the size of a 
"family" -- the term used to refer to the small circle of Kremlin insiders 
that includes his staff, his daughter Tatyana Dyachenko and a smattering of 
power-hungry oligarchs. 

But power is a tangible commodity in Russia, used every day, in many ways 
across the society -- in the way bosses belittle their subordinates, in the 
way petty bureaucrats grant or withhold meetings and signatures, in the way 
traffic police browbeat drivers to cough up "fines" for tenuous violations. 
And Mr. Yeltsin, who has used up advisers and staff like Kleenex, understands 
this better than anyone. 

Russia's young, imperfect democracy has no system of checks and balances. As 
in the days of the czars and commissars, if you lose power, someone else will 
grab it. Power-sharing is only on the winner's terms. 

When Mr. Luzhkov teamed up with the governors, analysts dubbed the alliance 
Russia's new "party of power" -- a label pinned on "Our Home Is Russia," a 
political party formed in 1995 by Mr. Yeltsin's Prime Minister, Viktor S. 
Chernomyrdin, in reality the home of the then-dominant political 

To borrow a phrase from the old Soviet propaganda machine, it is no accident 
that Mr. Yeltsin fired Mr. Stepashin after the alliance was forged on Aug. 4, 
making his Prime Minister the scapegoat for failing to stop a bandwagon 
threatening to slip out of the Kremlin's control. By numerous accounts, Mr. 
Yeltsin tried to fire him Aug. 5 but was dissuaded -- by his long-time 
adviser, the reformer Anatoly Chubais, among others. 

Last Monday the President made his choice. 


Stratfor Commentary
0100 GMT 990815 – The Price of Arrogance

The recent incursion of Moslem militants into Dagestan appears to be a 
stunning tactical miscalculation on the part of rebel leaders Shamil Basayev 
and Khattab. Rather than sticking to what had been an effective guerrilla 
campaign of kidnappings, murders and hit and run attacks on isolated police 
outposts, the rebel leaders have pushed a force of 1,200-1,600 guerrillas 
into Dagestan, where they engage in conventional warfare against Russian army 
and Interior Ministry forces. The rebels’ unstated goal of disrupting 
negotiations between the Russian and Chechen governments may succeed, but 
their stated goal of driving out the Russians appears doomed to fail.

The so-called Islamic Peacekeeping Army succeeded in the surprise seizure of 
several small towns, where the rebels are now besieged by Russian forces. 
While taking defensive positions in towns has provided the rebels with a 
force multiplier, it has removed their mobility and handed the advantage of 
time to the numerically superior Russian forces. If the Russians can seal off 
the towns and any lines of retreat for the rebel forces, they can quickly 
build up troops to outweigh the rebels’ defensive advantage. The Russians 
have advantages in air power, logistics, heavy equipment, intelligence 
gathering and sheer numbers. The Russians can win a war of attrition, 
particularly against a conventional foe.

Dagestan is a sparsely populated republic slightly larger than the state of 
Maryland, quite a mouthful to bite off for some 1,200 guerrillas using 
conventional warfare. The rebels might have succeeded in pursuing a guerrilla 
war against Russian forces in the region, giving the rebels a tremendous 
force multiplier that would have tied down thousands or tens of thousands of 
Russian troops. The rebels could have pursued their stated political goal of 
driving the Russians from Dagestan by grinding them down slowly and 
insufferably, one demolished checkpoint, jeep or patrol at a time. Instead 
the rebels chose to attack directly and en masse, somehow believing that they 
could drive eastward, first to capture Buynaksk and then the capitol 
Makhachkala, on the Caspian coast. This gambit could only reflect 
overwhelming arrogance on the part of the rebel leaders, or a serious desire 
for martyrdom.

At midnight August 12, Russian forces and Dagestani police sealed the 
Chechnya-Dagestan border by manning all 60 of the border’s checkpoints. 
Nothing goes in or out without a search, and the critical supply route of 
Lake Kezenoy-am is now guarded. The rebels are being locked into an 
unsustainable defensive position. And although rebel troops have moved in a 
steady northeastern trajectory up the Andiskoye Koysu as far as Mekhelta, 
it’s not strictly voluntary. Tsumindinsky District was cleared Thursday 
evening, meaning the Pakistani contingent is losing Gakko, while the 
Dagestani police mopped up Tsumado, Khvani and Echeda. Fighting concentrated 
around the villages of Gagatly and Rikvany in Botlikhsky district overnight 
August 13-14, during which time Russian forces reportedly launched 19 air 
strikes. Not only are the rebels unable to sustain a rear guard action, there 
are increasingly fewer places to run and to lose. 

The rebels’ defensive warfare may give them a tactical force multiplier, but 
attritional warfare exaggerates their materiel and numerical deficiencies. 
Over the past few days Russia’s forces have succeeded in destroying or 
capturing large quantities of rebel weapons, including two armored vehicles. 
At Khvani, police confiscated a critical weapons depot that housed grenade 
launchers, submachine guns, a mortar, 90 anti-personnel mines, 20 thousand 
bullet cartridges, 200 mines for grenade launcher attachments and 200 mines 
for anti-tank weapons. Russian paratroopers also secured commanding terrain 
outside Ansalta Thursday night, allowing them to prepare for the second phase 
of the Botlikhsky campaign that will begin on Tuesday. 

While rebels retreat to fortify the Botlikhsky district, police units and 
Russia’s federal forces arrive daily from Murmansk and Stavropol to occupy 
the cleared villages. Rebels also face a wave of Dagestani volunteers from 
the east, 300 of which reached Godoberi on Thursday morning. Rebels will for 
days be preoccupied by regular infantry, police, and volunteers, while OMAN 
forces, paratroopers, commandos and engineers choke rebel defenses one by 
one. Unless reinforced, Basayev cannot win a war of attrition at this rate.

So what drove Basayev and Khattab to forego traditional and quite effective 
guerrilla tactics and attempt to take on the Russian army directly? One 
option is that, with plans for talks between the Russian and Chechen 
presidents progressing, the urgent need to undermine those talks forced the 
rebel leaders into a desperate act of martyrdom. Perhaps the rebels felt they 
could both undermine the negotiations and inspire an uprising by taking and 
holding territory and inflicting heavy casualties, even if they were wiped 
out. However, they could have increased the tempo of guerrilla actions to 
undermine the talks, or they could have sacrificed a smaller unit of martyrs 
in Dagestan. The rebels should have had a better grasp of the hearts and 
minds of the Dagestani public, which is almost universally rejecting their 

The other option is that the rebel leaders believed their band of less than 
2,000 fighters could actually defeat the Russians and drive them from 
Dagestan. This could only have come through the gross underestimation of 
Russian capabilities and commitment and the supreme arrogance of the rebels. 
Given that Basayev is experienced in battling the Russians, this arrogance is 
surprising, unless it was fostered, encouraged and exploited by someone else.

Evidence increases that the rebels had Russian help in mounting their 
campaign. First there was the apparent sluggishness in Russia’s buildup of 
troops and police in the region, despite intensifying rebel violence and 
rhetoric from Moscow politicians. This sin of omission may only have been the 
result of the overall degeneration of Russian military preparedness, or it 
could have reflected Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s desire not to see a 
revival of his personal Vietnam. Suspicions start to mount, however, when the 
Russian newspaper Izvestia claimed that high-ranking members of the Yeltsin 
administration have been holding a series of secret talks with Basayev, 
Khattab and other rebel commanders. The arrest of Chechen envoy Turpal-Ali 
Atgeriyev in Moscow by Interior Ministry police inevitably sabotaged his 
mission to plan talks between Yeltsin and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov 
and played into Basayev’s hands in Chechen domestic politics. 

Izvestiya interpreted this chain of events as evidence that Yeltsin sought to 
foment a war in the North Caucasus in order to justify a state of emergency 
and indefinite postponement of presidential and Duma elections. However, all 
of this can be written off as a mixture of generic incompetence and unfounded 
innuendo. The most damning evidence of Russian complicity in events is the 
publicly admitted fact that Russian border guards were withdrawn from the 
Botlikhsky and Tsumindinsky districts immediately prior to the rebels’ 
offensive into Dagestan. Russian troops effectively stepped aside and let the 
rebels take the Dagestani towns without a fight, despite clashes with rebels 
in Dagestan on August 2 and reports from the Russian Federal Security Service 
on August 5 of an imminent rebel offensive.

So did Yeltsin really plan to spin a crisis in Dagestan into martial law in 
Moscow? Not voluntarily. Reviving the Chechen debacle is the last thing 
Yeltsin would want to do. First, Chechnya was the only integral part of the 
Russian Federation to secede, after humiliating the Russian Army, one of the 
darkest moments in Yeltsin’s political career. To compound Yeltsin’s shame, 
Russia has yet to bring the region under control, and rampant crime and 
secessionist movements threaten further crumbling of the Russian Federation. 
It is not a region Yeltsin wants prominent in the minds of Russians. 
Additionally, reviving a war in the North Caucasus throws his political 
future into the hands of his foes – hardliners in the Russian military and 
security apparatus. They have no plans of being deployed out of sight and out 
of mind to a Dagestani meat grinder, while Yeltsin rules by decree in Moscow.

But if the troops were withdrawn, and Yeltsin didn’t order it, who did? The 
only ones who would potentially benefit from stirring up trouble in Dagestan 
are Basayev – who obviously didn’t order a troop withdrawal, though he did 
exploit it – and the hardliners in Russia’s security apparatus. For the 
hardliners, this is a chance to rectify a great wrong – a historic low-point 
in Russian power. It is a chance to do so at the political expense of 
Yeltsin, while forcing the Russian president to rely on their prosecution of 
the conflict. Martial law remains an option, though not necessarily to the 
benefit of Yeltsin. And by drawing the guerrillas into open combat, the 
military can round up and destroy a group that, dispersed, could have bled 
Russian troops endlessly.

Why then would Yeltsin and Basayev cooperate in this, as the alleged meetings 
suggest they did? For Yeltsin, he may not have had a choice. We cannot help 
but note that Vladimir Putin, the new prime minister and Yeltsin’s pick for 
president, served a career in the KGB before rising to the top of its 
successor organization, the Federal Security Service. Yeltsin may have 
cleverly chosen Putin to exploit his connections in the intelligence 
community or, quite possibly, Putin may have been forced upon Yeltsin as part 
of a creeping power-grab by the security apparatus. Outgoing Prime Minister 
Sergei Stepashin charged that Yeltsin’s hand was forced when he sacked the 
Stepashin government. He insisted unnamed others accompanied Yeltsin when he 
relieved Stepashin of his job. For Basayev, he may have been playing along 
with one scheme, only to have been overwhelmed by another. Basayev, 
arrogantly assaulting Dagestan, may have facilitated Yeltsin’s and his own 


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