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Johnson's Russia List
15 September 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-Tass: Moscow Warns US Media Against 'Anti-Russian Campaign'
2. Reuters: Congressional leaders blast Clinton's Russia policy.
3. Reuters: Y2K bug could hurt Russia, ex-Soviet states - U.S.
4. AFP: Muscovites set up neighbourhood watch groups to confront terrorist
5. Interfax: KREMLIN PREPARING FOR EMERGENCY RULE - COMMUNIST LEADER.
6. Interfax: PUTIN: NO NEED TO PASS NEW LAW ON STATE OF EMERGENCY.
7. The Independent (UK): CAN RUSSIAN DEMOCRACY STILL SURVIVE?
8. Moscow Times: Sergei Markov, Bank Scandal Is Russian Elite's Comeuppance.
9. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Chechen Link to Moscow Bombings Viewed.
10. Prague's Lidove Noviny: Rebel Leader Basayev on Dagestan Conflict.]
Moscow Warns US Media Against 'Anti-Russian Campaign'
WASHINGTON, September 14 (Itar-Tass) -- The
administration of the Russian president warned a number of the U.S. media
outlets that it is ready to "use the entire force of international law"
to put an end to the anti-Russian campaign of slander in connection with
"a certain invented financial scandal."
Sources in the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington told
Itar-Tass that the presidential chief of staff Alexander Voloshin has
sent an open letter to that effect to the editorial offices of the
newspapers The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The USA Today,
as well the Newsweek magazines.
The message is being studied by the leadership of these periodicals.
The message expresses confidence that "all malicious accusations of the
president of the Russian Federation are exclusively political in
character." "Thus attempts at linking the name of Boris Yeltsin with the
so-called financial scandal are an act of political provocation," the
Alexander Voloshin notes that the administration of the president of the
Russian Federation "does not comment on false and filthy inventions" and
calls on the leadership of the above U.S. media outlets "to thoroughly
weigh the possible consequences" of their involvement in "an
unprecedented campaign aiming to discredit Russia and its president. The
flow of lies must be stopped."
Voloshin recalls that "the struggle against corruption, the protection of law
and democracy remain priorities" for the Russian president. "Nothing can
detract him from the achievement of these goals," Voloshin stresses.
Congressional leaders blast Clinton's Russia policy
By Christopher Wilson
WASHINGTON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Congressional Republicans on Tuesday blamed
the Clinton administration for allowing rampant corruption to flourish in
Russia and the U.S. House of Representatives, outraged at Russian weapons
technology sales to Iran, passed a bill requiring tough retaliatory
In a harsh denunciation of Clinton's policy, several leading Republicans said
Washington had failed in its aim to help Russia become a peaceful and
productive free market democracy by reinforcing the government of President
Boris Yeltsin where widespread corruption had taken over.
"Instead, Russia has become a looted and bankrupt zone of nuclearized
anarchy," said House Republican leader Dick Armey of Texas, who described the
administration's Russia policy as "the greatest U.S. foreign policy failure
"The unparalleled financial graft in Russia, much of it apparently involving
money from U.S. taxpayers, marks the effective end of the Clinton-Gore
Administration's approach to Russian reform," Armey told reporters at a news
Worried by a spate of scandals involving Russia -- including allegations of
corruption against Yeltsin and reports that billions of dollars in Russian
funds were laundered through the Bank of New York -- Congress has been
unsettled by intelligence reports confirming that Russian firms are major
suppliers of sophisticated weapons technology to Iran.
Concern deepened last week when the Central Intelligence Agency reported that
Iran, North Korea and possibly Iraq are likely to join Russia and China in
posing long-range missile threats to the United States.
In a move plainly designed to penalize Russia, the House unanimously passed
legislation that would require the president to tell Congress every six
months which countries, foreign companies or individuals have helped Iran
develop nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or the missiles to carry
The president would be required to take punitive action against anyone deemed
to have breached the prohibition by imposing economic sanctions or suspending
military aid. If he does not, he would have to explain his decision to
Massive support for the measure by Republicans and Democrats came despite
opposition from the U.S. State Department on the grounds that it would pose
thorny diplomatic problems for the Clinton administration and might
discourage foreign countries from cooperating with Washington on nuclear
Congressional leaders ignored that argument.
"We're gratified by today's overwhelming vote for the Iran Nonproliferation
Act," Armey said. "This action is just the first of many congressional steps
required to address the failure of the administration's Russia policy."
New York Republican Benjamin Gilman, the chairman of the House International
Relations Committee, said the Clinton administration had previously vetoed
similar legislation and that developments since then had proved this was a
"In the hands of a rogue state like Iran these weapons pose a clear and
present danger, said Gilman. "Why did the president claim that Russia was a
'success story' for his foreign policy in his 1996 reelection campaign when
today, less than three years later, people are asking 'who lost Russia?'"
The House bill would have to be matched by similar legislation by the Senate
before it could become law.
White House aides have said it could face a presidential veto. But strong
backing for the measure in Congress indicates sufficient support to override
"There's great frustration here and in the White House over the failure of
the Russian government to get to the point where it can control the
proliferation of serious weapons of mass destruction," said Sam Gejdenson, a
"We should have a policy that both engages Russia and provides penalties when
they fail to live up to the agreements that we bring to them."
Y2K bug could hurt Russia, ex-Soviet states - U.S.
By Deborah Zabarenko
WASHINGTON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Russia and other former Soviet states could
face dark, cold homes, dead phones and the failure of other essential
services if the Y2K computer bug hits, the U.S. State Department said in a
report on Friday.
The report on 196 countries and territories, meant to help Americans abroad
at the end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000, found Russia ``somewhat
prepared'' for Y2K, Ukraine unprepared, Belarus not prepared, and Latvia
working hard but needing improvement.
Even though none of the former Soviet states relies heavily on computerized
systems, they depend on them enough to make the Y2K glitch a potential
problem, the report found.
``Although Russia continues remediation efforts and contingency planning, at
the present time, Y2K disruptions are likely to occur in the key sectors of
electrical power, heat, telecommunications, transportation and financial and
emergency services,'' the report from the State Department's bureau of
consular affairs said.
In Ukraine, a former home to Soviet nuclear missiles, ``there may be a risk
of potential disruption in all key sectors, especially the energy and
electric services,'' the report said.
Belarus could face disruptions in electricity and medical services because it
relies on imported energy, and Y2K-related problems could hit the countries
that supply power to Belarus, the report found.
``Americans who are planning to remain in Belarus should be prepared to
withstand power, water and heat outages during cold winter weather that can
last several days or more,'' the report said.
CHERNOBYL-TYPE NUCLEAR PLANTS
Other former Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan, carried only a generic
warning about the possible consequences of Y2K.
The so-called Y2K bug could prevent some computers from distinguishing 2000
from 1900 because of old programming shortcuts that recorded the year with
the last two digits only. Unless fixed, this could disrupt everything from
airlines to health care to telephones.
Russia and former members of the Soviet Union raise special concerns
regarding computers because of the 16 Chernobyl-type nuclear power plants
located there. The Chernobyl plant in Ukraine was the site of the world's
worst nuclear reactor accident in 1986.
While no nuclear power plant catastrophes are expected, a Senate panel
dealing with the Y2K problem suggested last week week that the computers
controlling daily operations could experience problems that could affect
On another front, some 2,500 nuclear-tipped missiles remain on hair-trigger
alert in Russia. U.S. and Russian officials have agreed to jointly staff a
missile command centre in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to protect against
false warnings of missile attacks as the new year dawns, leaders of the
Senate Y2K panel said in a statement.
``The greatest Y2K danger comes not from the threat of an accidental launch,
but from the threat of Y2K glitches being misinterpreted by personnel on
either side of the Atlantic,'' said Sen. Robert Bennett, a Utah Republican,
in announcing Russia's commitment to the project.
Muscovites set up neighbourhood watch groups to confront terrorist threat
MOSCOW, Sept 14 (AFP) - Citizens' self-defence groups sprang up across
Moscow Tuesday as worried Muscovites set up neighbourhood watch groups to
confront a wave of terrorist attacks that have left 210 people dead in a week.
Responding to calls from the authorities to increase vigilance, bands of
residents in the Russian capital have started patrolling their local
districts, on the lookout for anything suspicious.
"We have decided to set up a 24-hour watch over our building," said Anna
Alexandrovna, who lives in the Borisovskiye Prudi area in southeast Moscow.
"This evening all the residents are going to meet to discuss exactly what
steps we should take," said the 29-year-old secretary, whose home is situated
in a district where 43 sacks of explosive were found by police Monday.
"Yesterday evening there were lots of people in the building's courtyard.
Thirty or so people were up until midnight discussing ways of avoiding
'presents' from the terrorists," she added.
Moscow police received more than 200 phone calls overnight from worried
residents reporting suspicious objects in outlying districts of the capital.
"I called the police on Monday evening to tell them about a dubious company
which has premises in our building," said Eleonora Andreyevna, 59.
Police inspected some 26,560 apartments overnight following calls from
tenants, police told AFP.
Suspect cars were examined by bomb squads while at least one building in the
south of the capital was evacuated Tuesday following a bomb scare. None of
the alerts proved well-founded.
"People are so afraid that they started taking precautions straight away,"
said the owner of one building sited near the latest explosion.
"The municipal police are helping us search attics and basements, but the
tenants are not standing idly by. They have chosen someone in each building
who is going to organise security," she said.
In some districts kiosk vendors are being paid by wary residents to keep an
eye on the various comings and goings from their building.
Even veterans of World War II have set up their own self-defence groups, the
daily Izvestiya reported.
A group of former members of the elite Alpha anti-terrorist squad, now part
of the "Union of Private Security Firms," offered their services to the law
enforcement agencies on Tuesday.
"We can guard buildings that could become targets, patrol streets and hunt
for terrorists. We have the men and the means to do so," said the group's
president Sergei Goncharov.
Police raids Monday averted a fresh catastrophe, the FSB domestic
intelligence agency said. Police discovered 50 sacks containing a mixture of
explosives and sugar in the basement of a city residential block.
The material could have caused a devastating explosion, they said. The public
prosecutor's office in Moscow has appealed to city folk to report to police
anyone suspected of hoarding sugar.
KREMLIN PREPARING FOR EMERGENCY RULE - COMMUNIST LEADER
MOSCOW. Sept 14 (Interfax) - Communist Party of Russia leader
Gennady Zyuganov is convinced that Russian President Boris Yeltsin's
staff is preparing to introduce a state of emergency in the country.
Zyuganov said at a press conference Tuesday he studied a two-page
proposal to this effect, which had been drafted by Yeltsin's staff.
"They are preparing for emergency rule with one aim: to evade
responsibility for the current situation and derail elections," he said.
This blue-print envisions a suspension of the State Duma and
introducing initiatives aimed at stabilizing the situation in the North
Caucasus to the Federation Council, he said. "There are enormous forces
in the country, which are interested in fueling a war" there, he said.
The executive branch "has so far commented on the events instead of
taking preventive steps," he said.
"The Kremlin-based party of traitors, which also exists in the
Caucasus, is doing nothing to normalize the situation," he said.
The leftist opposition "will support any constructive steps aimed
at combating crime," he said. Rule of law must be restored so that all
power branches work precisely and in coordination, he said. Zyuganov
emphasized the importance of adopting a Duma resolution concerning the
situation in Dagestan and the recent terrorist attacks in Moscow. Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin and law enforcement chiefs will attend the
debate of the draft later today.
Furthermore, Zyuganov insists on an "immediate" adoption of three
Constitutional amendments, which the Communist faction will introduce to
the Duma in the near future. The amendments will bar the president from
replacing the prime minister and the government without the Duma's
consent; grant the right of legal initiative to the Prosecutor General's
Office. Third, they will permit the Duma to conduct parliamentary
investigations and summon officials in the process.
PUTIN: NO NEED TO PASS NEW LAW ON STATE OF EMERGENCY
MOSCOW. Sept 14 (Interfax) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
told the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, on
Tuesday that it would be premature to accelerate the adoption of a new
law on the state of emergency.
He said that federal forces and local authorities are doing
everything possible to eliminate the hotbed of terrorism in the
Caucasus. "But special efforts must be made to prevent the spreading of
this disease in Russia," said Putin.
He said that the law-enforcement bodies in Moscow and in other
large cities are on a round-the-clock alert and that the security regime
at strategic facilities has been tightened. "We have launched an
operation to track down the bandits and are working to establish places
that may be used for new terrorist acts," he said.
"It's obvious that in Dagestan and in Moscow we are dealing with
well-trained international terrorists, not with individual rebels. They
are not laymen, but professionals specializing in subversive acts in the
broadest sense of the word," he said.
"Those who have organized and implemented the recent series of
barbaric terrorist acts are nursing far-reaching plans. They would like
to fan political tensions and their main goal is to upset stability in
Russia, demoralize the authorities, shake the foundations of the state,
complicate the state bodies' normal work and provoke panic," Putin said.
The seriousness of the situation and the sharpness of the moment
are making some look for a way out in introducing a state of emergency,"
he said, adding that some of the Duma deputies would like to accelerate
the adoption of a new law on the state of emergency. He expressed
disagreement with those who think Russia lacks laws "for curbing the
bandits and restoring order in the North Caucasus." "In my opinion, we
have enough laws. We must only use the mechanisms available to the
state," said Putin, noting that "the foundation already laid is
sufficient for the current issues."
He said that a special legal regime which has many elements of the
state of emergency is being established in Dagestan's districts where
the federal forces are engaged in anti-terrorist operations.
"I'm convinced that an effective application of the current laws
will remove the discussion on the application of the outdated 1991 law
on the state of emergency from the agenda," he said.
"I would therefore urge the deputies to put aside their fears and
draft, finalize and adopt a new law on the state of emergency in
accordance with the established procedure." Putin said.
The Independent (UK)
15 September 1999
[for personal use only]
CAN RUSSIAN DEMOCRACY STILL SURVIVE?
`Any country would find this brand of terrorism hard to tackle. In the case
of Russia it is foreign to its entire experience'
THIS IS a tale of two Russias. There is the vanished Russia, of the Soviet
Union and its security services whose skullduggery of yesteryear is again
engrossing our spy-besotted nation - its latest manifestations, a
great-grandmother amid the flowers in her suburban Kentish garden, and a
disgraced former Metropolitan police officer turned KGB "Romeo" agent. And
who knows, maybe Melita Norwood and John Symonds really did once pose a
mortal threat to the British realm.
And then there is the other Russia, today's democratic, post-Communist
Russia, a Russia which no longer directly threatens us and whose internal
misadventures, it may be argued, concern us so much less. But this is a
Russia not of living ghosts from the past, but of an increasingly unstable
and menacing present. Financial collapse, discredited politicians, a falling
birthrate, a declining life expectancy, a state in which almost no one
believes - tribulations which long since would have prompted insurrection in
a less patient and enduring people. And now two apartment blocks in Moscow
levelled by massive bombs, killing upwards of 200 innocent people as they
slept, among the worst terrorist atrocities in modern European history.
No-one has claimed responsibility. But suspicion points inexorably to the
south towards the Caucasus, to Chechnya where Russia fought its disastrous
war between 1994 and 1996, and to neighbouring Dagestan, where Chechen
insurgents have occupied villages and for two months have been fighting
Moscow's troops. Drawing his own conclusions after a third bombing 10 days
ago, the Interior Minister has even named two Chechen warlords, Khattab and
Shamil Basayev, as having been behind the bombings. Inevitably, the name of
Osama bin Laden has come up. But in truth nobody knows. Instead we may ponder
how far and how fast the country has fallen.
Just 10 or 15 years ago, Russia was ruled by one of the strongest and most
omnipresent central states in history. Today it is governed, if that is the
right word, by one of the weakest. An intelligence and security service once
dreaded at home and abroad is now impotent against modern terrorism on its
own doorstep. But what goes around, comes around. The most likely culprits
for the bombings are extremists from one or other of the lawless republics on
Russia's southern, mostly Islamic, fringes - those same southern fringes
where tsars and then general secretaries of the Communist party sought to
impose Moscow's rule. Having sown the wind, a dismantled empire is now
reaping the whirlwind.
Now, any country would find this brand of random terrorism hard to tackle. In
Russia's case however is it especially difficult, foreign to the country's
entire historical experience. The Soviet Union, thanks to those same
redoutable security services, was never greatly troubled by terrorism of any
sort. Before 1917, terror was traditionally the work of anarchists and
revolutionaries, aimed at symbols of the regime: a prime minister, police
chief, or in the case of Alexander II in March 1881, the tsar himself. The
masses were never targets, because they did not matter. In the new democratic
Russia, they do.
Even in wider Europe the precedents for this kind of attack are few. True,
IRA bombs exploded in public places in the City of London, Warrington and
Manchester, but even the IRA has stopped short of detonating the equivalent
of half a ton of TNT in residential buildings at the dead of night (except of
course a hotel in Brighton whose guests one October night in 1984 included
Margaret Thatcher and half the Tory cabinet). The outrage that most closely
resembles the ones in Moscow was the bomb which killed 80 people at Bologna
station in 1980, planted by Italian rightwing terrorists in the hope of
bringing about an authoritarian takeover by popular demand.
A similar, if equally perverse, logic can be imposed on events in Russia now.
After all, we are approaching elections, first for the Duma in December, then
the one that really matters, for the Presidency next June. Never before,
whether ruled by tsar, Communist party, or elected president, has the country
witnessed a democratic transfer of power, when a leader has not died or been
overthrown in a coup, but steps down because he has served his term as
decreed by the constitution. If all goes smoothly, Russia will have in a
sense finally become "normal". But suppose Boris Yeltsin and/or his entourage
have decided to rewrite the rules: might the bombs not be setting the stage
for the declaration of a state of emergency, that would cause the elections
to be postponed?
Unfortunately, like most conspiracy theories, this one overlooks several
simple but inconvenient facts. First, Mr Yeltsin himself has made clear again
and again that he opposes emergency rule. Second, his entire trackrecord
suggests that on the biggest issue of all - democracy or totalitarianism for
Russia - he is on the side of the angels.
Nonetheless, the theory is not quite completely implausible. Voting for the
Duma, let alone for a new president, may be months off; but a campaign
without quarter is already being waged by other means. Take the recent
torrent of allegations of money laundering, corruption, diversion of
International Monetary Fund loans, and sundry other financial shenanigans.
The point lies not so much in their truth (wearily accepted by most Russians)
as in their timing. The Yeltsin clan has already been tarred with accusations
that a Swiss company carrying out renovation work at the Kremlin has picked
up credit card bills run up by the President and his family.
But these will not be the last. In the weeks and months ahead we may expect
revelations about other contenders for power, not least Yuri Luzhkov, the
Mayor of Moscow and his new ally, the former prime minister Yevgeny Primakov,
currently the most popular politician in the country.
Russia is a land of jostling fiefdoms, of political parties backed by
specific financial and industrial groups, with their own media outlets, their
fixers and at the furthest fringes, their gunmen. Above all Russia has yet to
acquire a law-based society, whose politicians serve the wider public
interest, and whose everyday institutions - from the tax system to the
customs service to the police - inspire a minimum of public trust. In a
society like this, demoralised by financial collapse, ever more erratic
leadership and ever waning influence abroad, the leap from assassination of a
business or political rival to pre-dawn terror bombs in the apartment block
is huge. But, one fears, not quite beyond the bounds of possibility.
And so back to the age-old question, reflected in the gross disparity of
coverage in British papers between the long-ago doings of a little old lady
in Bexleyheath and a terror bombing campaign in today's Russia without recent
Quite simply, does Russia matter any more ? And if it does, given the
manifest failure of Western political encouragement and financial aid to
produce a cure, is there anything we can do about it ?
The answer to the question is almost surely, not very much. We will
reschedule loans which can never be repaid anyway. British and Western
intelligence services will quietly offer Moscow what aid they can to bring
the terrorists to book. The Americans will continue to help Russia
dis-assemble and make safe its surplus stockpile of nuclear weapons. But
ultimately we can but watch, holding our breath and pinning our hopes on
elections which no bombs must be allowed to prevent.
September 15, 1999
ESSAY: Bank Scandal Is Russian Elite's Comeuppance
By Sergei Markov
In Russia, discussions of the money-laundering scandal that is now unraveling
in the world media are gradually coming to nothing. The theme itself has
already disappeared from the front pages of Russian papers. This is no
accident - the Russian elite doesn't want to see what stands behind the
unfolding scandal. It doesn't have the courage to understand what's
happening. There are a few different variations as to what lay behind the
The first version blames the presidential election battle. By this logic, the
Luzhkov-Primakov gang - consisting of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and former
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and their party Otechestvo, or Fatherland -
are trying to deal a death blow to the Kremlin by putting Western media
outlets to the same use the KGB used to put local media when it wanted to
create an ideological diversion. This version is more than doubtful. It is
certainly not inconceivable that the opponents of the Kremlin could have
dished out some facts to journalists, but this version doesn't explain
enough, especially the scale of the scandal.
The second version has it that the presidential race in the United States is
to blame. Ostensibly, the Republican party wants to discredit the Democratic
administration, accusing President Bill Clinton and his Vice President Al
Gore - also a Democratic presidential candidate - of facilitating the
creation of a criminal regime in Russia at U.S. taxpayer expense. The
Republicans probably aren't against accusing the Democrats of this, but The
New York Times doesn't answer to the Republican Party, and even less so do
Italy's Corriere della Sera or England's Independent. So this version
explains something, but not everything.
The third version finds a conspiracy among international financial circles
that, ostensibly, is enlisting these newspapers in its efforts to recover the
money the international community lost when Russia defaulted on its loans and
GKOs in August 1998. Western bankers probably would like to influence the
Russian government, but unlike Russian bankers, Western bankers don't wage
information wars to get their way.
These three versions are brought together by one simple idea entertained by
the Russian elite: The elite, for the most part, is guilty of nothing and the
whole scandal is a conspiracy. Following this logic, Russian businessmen and
politicians got together to demand the West stop its campaign of besmirching
Russia's image. The elite certainly understands what this campaign means: a
colossal loss of integrity for Russia in the eyes of the world, where
"Russian businessman" is a synonym for "mafioso" and Russian politician"
shorthand for "crooked bureaucrat on the mafia payroll."
But the real reason behind the anti-Russian wave in the Western media is not
conspiracy at all but rather the truth. In Russia a system of complete
corruption and systematic looting of the country has prevailed. Earlier,
public opinion in the West saw Russia as a battle of noble knights known as
the reformers against the dragon of the old communist system. The West is now
finding to its horror, however, that a new dragon has appeared in place of
the old, and that it has been feeding this dragon unwittingly with its own
hands. The dragon is the corrupt, criminal bureaucratic oligarchy. Because of
this, the world financial and political elites want to have less and less to
do with their counterparts in Russia and refuse to acknowledge their attempts
to join the world financial scene.
And it still hasn't dawned on the Russian elite that a sort of condemnation
of them has formed in the world media. Western businessmen and journalists
have tired of hearing explanations of specifics of Russian business.
"As they say, this businessman is good because he only breaks those laws that
everybody breaks," say the explainers. "And this one is not so good because
he breaks those laws that are actually possible to obey, but all the same you
can do business with him because he's friends with a very respectable
politician businessman. And there aren't any bad apples among our friends -
the bad ones are all the rest of them."
Westerners are simply bored by this gibberish. And the West has told the
Russian elite - not so much via its governments as via the private
individuals who do business here - to send its mobsters off to jail if, in
fact, they aren't in charge. Westerners have said: "You first need to create
civilized order at home before you do business with civilized people. Make
laws that work and send crooks to jail instead of to positions in the
government. Tell thieves and money launderers that they will be caught and
jailed." Their demands are correct. Indeed, why don't Russian bankers invest
any money in their own economy? And why can't Russians keep their money in
banks? If Russia really has responsible politicians, as it wants the world to
believe, then why has the country languished in crisis for 10 years while a
very few rogues at the top get rich? And why can't our law enforcement
agencies defend citizens and legitimate businesses?
Perhaps most puzzling is how a very few people managed to ravage the wealth
of the country in a decade and still not put it on the path of normal
development. The Russian elite won't own up to these facts. Failing to do so
is more than just a serious mistake, though. It is a suicidal strategy that
will lead them into a wall. They will be denied entry to the world
establishment and - sooner or later - will be forced to face their furious
people. All told, however, this would be a fair end for the Russian
politician, who is full of contempt for his own people. The political
situation in Russia is completely corrupt and in need of radical change.
There must be found, among the current elite, the strength to initiate a
For today, law enforcement groups with ties to Western agencies must be
established to investigate the corruption allegations. The prime minister and
the prosecutor general need to take this initiative on themselves - so long
as they themselves are not implicated. And there is no need to fear the
Kremlin. It's been a long time since they have run the country. And for
tomorrow, this means showing the political will to create a civilized system
in Russia, where businesses will be defended, where laws work, and where
nobody will ever have to discuss whether or not the presidential election
will happen. You can't run a country like this. Those who are running Russia
now haven't earned the right to call themselves elite. We don't want to see
them as our leaders. These simple thoughts are the pathos of the anti-Russian
campaign in the Western media. And those who call themselves the Russian
elite cannot wave off the accusations, but instead must work for order.
If instead they keep up the bluster about who organized the scandal, they
will find themselves shut out. The world community is sick of pretending it
believes that Russia has a normal system.
Sergei Markov directs the Center for Political Studies. He contributed this
comment to The Moscow Times.
Chechen Link to Moscow Bombings Viewed
14 September 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Boris Yamshanov under the "Topic of the Day" rubric:
"Scoundrels Gloating at Dawn"
Yesterday was a day of mourning for the victims of
the explosions in Buynaksk and Moscow. What was in store for such a day?
The explosion at 0500 hours at the apartment block on Kashirskoye Highway
-- a new black mark on black Monday -- produces in the heart not only
pain at a senseless and barbaric mass murder but also a host of questions.
The first question is the natural reaction of any normal person: Why?
There were neither political headquarters nor military facilities in the
apartment block on Kashirskoye Highway any more than there were in
Pechatniki [site of explosion at Guryanov Street], there are not even any
high-ranking officials living there -- just ordinary citizens. There is
no need to take revenge on them and there is no point in intimidating
them because they do not make important decisions. Thus the action is
purely indicative -- cynical -- and propagandist in character. It is
aimed /against Russia./ [words between slantlines printed in boldface]
People have immediately begun talking about a Dagestani-Chechen trail. This
would seem natural. Although there is no war in Chechnya right now, the
organizers of terrorist acts cannot fail to understand that it could be
triggered again by arousing people's hatred for everything Chechen.
Dagestan has nothing to do with it: The armed bandits came to its land
from the Chechen terrorist camps, the people began a war against them,
and the Russian troops are helping the people, defending, furthermore,
the Russian state's unity and integrity. Everything is in accordance with
Question two: How could this happen? Of course Moscow is a big city and it is
difficult to keep an eye on every apartment block. Nevertheless, if some
degenerates impudently demonstrate three times in a month in the
country's capital city that they spit on our entire powerful law
enforcement system, we should wonder: Is this a good system, are its main
efforts directed in the right place, should its interests be focused on
the real security of specific Russian citizens, in this instance Muscovites?
In this connection I should like to say a special word about Moscow.
The fact that it has become an international transit point is obvious to
the naked eye. Admittedly, the Moscow authorities are campaigning for a
universal registration of aliens and have even devised a new form of
registration for Muscovites which makes the antiquated residence permit
seem pale by comparison. Special attention is being paid to people
originating from the Caucasus, as all can see for themselves from the
blanket checking of the documents of everyone with dark hair, a sun-tan,
and a moustache.
At the same time, for some reason the capital's most prestigious
business centers, hotel complexes, restaurants, and bars have ended up in
the hands of this category of people. There is no need to say who is the
true owner of Moscow's markets, wholesale centers, and trade outlets:
This is where unemployed Moscow men and women break their backs for their
alien masters, suffering unheard of insults and cynical intimidation.
Any newcomer without a visa or a passport can get premises, a basement,
a warehouse, or a whole store if he pays an official well. It is rare to
find an apartment block where those same southern traders have not rented
a room or an apartment. For some reason, however, the precinct police,
who used to know each resident by sight, have been nowhere to be seen
recently. The apartment block committees, which could have kept their
building under control with the residents' help, essentially do not exist
either. As is well known, military installations have now been placed under
reinforced guard and officers have even been confined to barracks. Are we
expecting an airborne terrorist assault? Perhaps it would have been more
intelligent to recruit the officers to help the police to monitor
residential districts and for night patrols in the day time until the
danger had passed? People are intelligent, they will accept this.
Question three: Who could have committed this inhuman crime? I am not talking
about those degenerates who planted the explosives under people who were
sleeping peacefully but those who sent them and who paid them. To judge
from the overt threats addressed to "Moscow" from the Chechen caves and
from the stories that have been heard about the dispatch of several
groups of saboteurs to the capital, the address is well known. But this
gives rise to new questions.
If Chechnya is part of the Russian state and even receives money from
the federal budget, why are there international terrorist training
centers functioning openly on its territory at locations that are known
not only to the special services, training centers with instructors who
receive a monthly wage. For teaching people to murder in a particularly
cynical way. Their victims include sleeping old people and children. Does
that money not come from the same budget?! Does someone among us know
where Russia's money goes if Chechen pensioners assert with one voice
that they have never even seen their pensions?
Why is it that the international terrorist Khattab, a foreigner, has
been freely spinning his lethal web for years and no one asks for his
residence permit or registration card? Why does the bandit and terrorist
Shamil Basayev, who still bears the blood of the women of Budennovsk,
freely continue his raids? Of course, people can object: But they are in
Chechnya, there is no need to start a war because of them. But has a
court convicted them for their crimes and passed sentence on them, albeit
in absentia? We do not even have a law which would give a legal framework
to the destruction of the bandit lairs from which the threat to the whole
of Russia stems.
The final and perhaps main question: Who needs all this, who stands to
gain? We are unlikely to find an answer to this soon. It is all
interwoven here: The desire of the Chechen extremists to "pressure"
Russia so as to secede from it and then set about their crazy plans for
the creation of a "great state in the Caucasus." And the plans of
international terrorism, which sees in the Caucasus a bridgehead for its
large-scale actions. And the world oil barons' hopes of redrawing the map
of a rich region in their favor. And the intrigues of those people who
want Russia to be immersed up to the ears in local conflicts and retire
from the big stage.
But one thing is patently obvious: No matter who is behind the
ostentatious explosions, they also have sympathizers here among us
Russians. These are the people to whom stability in society, the state,
and authority sticks in the craw, people who are used to fishing in muddy
waters, who would very much like to embroil the country in a new war, and
increase their ill-gotten millions even more on the blood of innocent
victims. But until they have been identified by name there will be more
and more questions in our life.
Rebel Leader Basayev on Dagestan Conflict
Prague's Lidove Noviny in Czech
9 September 1999
[translation for personal use only]
"Exclusive" interview with "the leader of Caucasian rebels and
Chechen war veteran" Shamil Basayev by Epicentrum news agency
correspondent Petra Prochazkova; place and date not given: "No matter who
asks me, I shall help in fighting the Russians" -- first paragraph is
Lidove noviny introduction
The nightmare of Russian politicians is called
Shamil Basayev. "Moscow destroyed us," the bearded fighter claims in an
interview for Lidove noviny and does not make any secret about his plan
to rid the Caucasus of the Russian influence.
[Lidove noviny] It is thanks to your latest actions that almost the whole
world accuses the Chechens of waging aggression against Dagestan today.
Why did you cross the border?
[A] Many Dagestani political parties and movements are fighting for
Dagestan's freedom nowadays. Some of them have asked me to take up the
command of the Mujahidin United Armed Forces of Dagestan. This is no
Chechen army. It is an international corps comprising Chechens,
Dagestanis, and other nationals.
For example, 34 of our people died during the Botlikh operation: 14
Chechens, 8 Dagestanis, 5 Arabs, 3 Turks, 2 Uzbeks, and 2 Ingush. This
was the end of the first stage of our plan. Its aim was not to allow the
Russians to liquidate, without punishment, the Muslims in Cumadinskiy and
We entered Dagestan only after Russian units and pro-Moscow Dagestani
police began eliminating their own citizens, those wishing to live in
keeping with God's laws.
[Q] Many Dagestanis are not exactly over the moon with your help. Are
those who invited you a truly representative group?
[A] We shall always be pleased to fight the Russians and we shall help
anyone, in any way, who seeks freedom. And helping our Dagestani brothers
is simply our duty. It is our joy to fulfil this duty now and we shall
fulfil it in future too. The Russians will have to leave Dagestan sooner
or later. The campaign unleashed by the Russian media, the purpose of
which is to convince the world that their army enjoys the support of all
Dagestanis, can result in nothing good. The conflict will only become
more protracted and more blood will be spilt. The sooner the Russians
withdraw from Dagestan, the better for them and for everyone else.
[passage omitted: question and answer on Churchill being right in saying
that any deal with the Russians is worthless]
Russian generals are bloodthirsty and dream of revenge [subhead]
[Q] Could you still sit at a table with Russian representatives and
[A] There is no government in Russia now with which it would be possible
to negotiate. Russia is in the hands of secret policemen and if a
policeman and informer gets to the helm of the state (Basayev means Prime
Minister [Vladimir] Putin, officer of the Communist secret service, the
KGB, who later became the director of the KGB's successor, the FSB,
editor's note), the state in effect does not exist. The only thing which
is left is the police apparatus. First it was [Sergey] Stepashin who was
the prime minister and now it is Putin. It is as if they could not find a
single ordinary economist in the whole country.
This indicates that Russia is sliding deeper into the abyss and that it
is getting closer to a total breakup. Attempts to solve things by force
will lead nowhere. Russian generals are bloodthirsty, they dream of revenge.
None of their dreams will come true, however. Instead of feeding their
people and providing a normal living for them, they ram down their
throats poetry about the might of Russian arms. But the point is that the
big army no longer exists and will never exist. [passage omitted: two
questions and answers: Basayev attaches no importance to being labelled
bandit; examples of Russian border provocations]
[Q] Moscow claims that you do not suffer from lack of funds. War costs a
lot. Is it true that the well-known terrorist Usamah Bin-Ladin or Boris
Berezovskiy are giving large sums of money to you?
[A] It seems to me sometimes that apart from Berezovskiy, I am paid by
the Americans and also by the Czechs, but that I do not know who has not
paid me yet. Rumours about Berezovskiy did not surprise me. But do use
your brains a bit, please. If we had as much money as is being claimed,
if we had such possibilities, we would hardly be in such a difficult
situation. What we have, is gathered, penny by penny, and today there is
nobody who would provide any significant help to us. Had there been
someone who would cooperate with us in specific terms, Russia would have
ceased to exist long ago.
[Q] You would like to create a big Islamic state in the Caucasus. Are
you planning to continue to disseminate your faith after that?
[A] I did not dress my wife in a chador and I am not going to do this to
foreigners either. Everyone has to make their own decision. Your fears of
fundamentalism are baseless. You should rather think of the fact that the
Muslims are oppressed nowadays and that everyone should be able to live
in freedom. If you in the West have the right to make a free choice
practically in all aspects, why should we not have this right? This
entire conflict lies in the policy of double standards. After all, I do
not want to use force in persuading someone to accept my faith, I merely
want to be free to follow this faith. [passage omitted: recalls what the
Koran says, Russians do not have any faith, pro-Russian leaders in
Dagestan are not Muslims]
[Q] People in the Caucasus are already tired of war. Are you not worried
that they might start accusing you of constantly kindling war?
[A] Russia has prepared absolutely no political concept with regard to
the Caucasus and Chechnya. The fact that Chechnya has not been granted
independence will result in big tragedies and one day the subversive
activities of the Russian secret services in Chechnya will turn against
the Russians. Moscow has destroyed our entire country without paying a
single penny in war reparations. There is a massive unemployment in our
country. Our young people -- despite what the grown-ups may say -- blame
Russia for everything. The feelings of hatred and contempt for Russia are
growing among our teenagers and we shall be nurturing this contempt and
developing it in every way. The point is that Russia is the real
perpetrator of our entire suffering. The time has come when we shall have
to settle all our accounts with Russia.
[Q] Is terrorism also your way of fighting?
[A] I denounce terrorism, including state terrorism used by the Russian
empire. The latest blast in Moscow is not our work, but the work of the
Dagestanis. Russia has been openly terrorizing Dagestan, it encircled
three villages in the centre of Dagestan, did not allow women and
children to leave and accused the population of extremism. The Russians
claim that Dagestan is theirs. But is this how the state should treat its
own population, regardless of what they may think? They have always
regarded us as foreign, strange and unruly elements. Today, Russia is
weaker than it was yesterday. For the whole week, united in a single
fist, the army and the Interior Ministry units have been pounding three
small villages. What for? Because they want to live in a way different
Moscow seeks to generate internal tribal disputes and introduce a state of
emergency afterwards, thus making it impossible to hold parliamentary
elections in Russia [in December 1999]. The Russians set against each
other the entire Dagestani people, which had split into two camps. And
blasts and bombs -- all this will go on, of course, because those whose
loved ones, whose women and children are being killed for nothing will
also try to use force to eliminate their adversaries. This is a natural
process and it is yet more evidence of Newton's third law, that each
action generates a reaction.
[Q] They accuse you of not sparing women and children... [newspaper
[A] What is the difference between someone letting a bomb go off in the
centre of Moscow and injuring 10-20 children and the Russians dropping
bombs from their aircraft over Karamachi and killing 10-20 children?
Where is the difference? The Russians could have blockaded the villages
and given people a week, perhaps even a month to think it over and let
women and children leave. They could, as they like to say, fight for the
life of each Russian citizen. But the point is that they do not regard
some of the Dagestanis as Russian citizens. And that's what gives me a
lot of joy. Soon they will not regard the remainder of the Dagestanis as
Russian citizens either. Just like before, for the Dagestanis Russia will
become a nasty stepmother and a source of all evil.