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Johnson's Russia List
28 October 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Times: Natalya Shulyakovskaya, Korzhakov Says Bombings Were
2. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, Where will war leave Chechnya?
3. Journal of Commerce: John Helmer, RUSSIAN PLATINUM IS A LOOSE NUKE.
4. Jerry F. Hough: Re: 3587-Mendelson/Student Visas.
5. Ray Thomas: RE: 3588-Reynolds/Crime and Capital Flight.
6. Stephen Young: Re: 3581-Albert Weeks on Interfax on ABM.
7. Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe: BIPARTISAN GROUP LED BY
BRZEZINSKI CALLS ON CLINTON TO SUSPEND IMF LOANS IN PROTEST OF RUSSIAN ATTACKS ON CHECHNYA.
8. Toivo Klaar: RE: 3588- Ware/West Does Not Understand Chechnya.
9. Isabella Ginor: Trojan Horse or Victim of Circumstances?
Yakovlev, Contract Killings and the St. Petersburg Election.
10. Newsday: Michael Slackman, Russian Police Relying on Soviet-Era
October 28, 1999
Korzhakov Says Bombings Were Berezovsky's Doing
By Natalya Shulyakovskaya
Alexander Korzhakov, a one-time bodyguard and confidant of President Boris
Yeltsin who has since fallen out with him, said Wednesday that he believes
the terrorist bombings that have swept Russia into panic and war were
orchestrated by Russian intelligence at the bidding of a dark Kremlin faction
that includes tycoon Boris Berezovsky.
Korzhakov said he believes the Kremlin needed the terrorism attacks to renew
the war in Chechnya. He said the war was conjured up as part of a drive to
establish emergency rule and postpone presidential elections.
Korzhakov also said he believed Berezovsky was in the process of trying to
engineer the removal from office of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his
replacement with Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Lebed.
Korzhakov repeated allegations that when he was the head of the Kremlin's
security service, Berezovsky tried to convince him to murder Moscow Mayor
Yury Luzhkov, NTV founder Vladimir Gusinsky and popular crooner Iosif Kobzon,
an ally of Luzhkov's.
Berezovsky could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He was flying abroad,
an assistant in his office said.
Korzhakov, who is now a deputy in the State Duma, said Berezovsky had turned
to him in hopes of arranging the murders of Luzhkov, Gusinsky and Kobzon
because Korzhakov had the "necessary resources" at his disposal.
He said he had kept quiet about Berezovsky's alleged request that he kill the
three men because the Kremlin repeatedly kept Berezovsky in high offices.
Korzhakov said he would now file a complaint against Berezovsky over the
matter with the Moscow city prosecutor's office. He said he was motivated to
act now in part because Berezovsky has announced his candidacy for the Duma.
"Now, when [Berezovsky] wants to become a Duma deputy, a people's
representative, I have no choice but inform the voters who this person is,"
Korzhakov said Berezovsky would use his Duma seat to pursue his own business
interests in Chechnya.
"What sort of interests does he have in Chechnya? I am telling you officially
that he is a source for the armed fighters," Korzhakov said. "Now Prime
Minister Putin has taken an absolutely correct position: to attack. And
[Putin] is ready to finish off the terrorists. Who and what can divert him?
Boris Abramovich Berezovsky."
Christian Science Monitor
28 October 1999
Where will war leave Chechnya?
Yesterday, Russia bombed Grozny, and ground troops inched closer to the
By Fred Weir
Russian troops continued their bomb and blockade mission on the Chechen
capital of Grozny yesterday. And military generals vowed to fight to a full
But at the same time, highly placed Russian doves warn the military campaign
could undermine an eventual political settlement with the rebel republic that
claimed its independence from Russia in 1991.
"Russia's political strategy should be to seek normalization of relations
with Chechnya, and military action should be of much less importance," says
Ramazan Abdulatipov, a Russian minister without portfolio whose main area of
responsibility is nationalities' policy. "It is necessary to carry on
negotiations and keep our contacts [with Chechen leaders]. The political
process must not be stopped."
Over the past month Russia has invaded and occupied over a third of Chechnya,
and is presently laying siege to its capital. Military leaders say the
operation is going well and have even begun to talk of "restoring
constitutional order" throughout the secessionist state's territory. Chechnya
is a "nest of bandits and terrorists" with no effective or legitimate
authority, they say, and hence there's no point to negotiations.
But Mr. Abdulatipov, a probable key Russian player in any future peace talks,
says he favors the limited military goal of crushing Chechnya's lawless
warlords, who are accused by Moscow of sowing terror and discord beyond the
But like other top officials and ethnic policy experts, he seems dismayed
that the generals - backed by a handful of hawkish political leaders - are
again flirting with victory in Chechnya.
"Moscow has to realize that it is impossible to prevail in a drawn-out
guerrilla war in Chechnya," says Emil Pain, director of the independent
Center for Ethnic, Political, and Regional Studies in Moscow and a former
adviser to President Boris Yeltsin. "I am very much afraid that Russia will
forget the hard-learned lessons of the recent past and go all-out for a
military solution. But Chechnya could only be conquered at the price of
oceans of blood, and even then it's doubtful."
Chechnya, a region of 1.5 million Muslims in the Caucasus, declared its
independence as the Soviet Union was breaking up in late 1991. But unlike
"union republics" of comparable size and with similar histories of Russian
conquest and oppression that won freedom at that time - like Estonia -
Chechnya was not permitted to secede. Moscow tolerated its quasi-independence
for a while, but in 1994 launched a full-scale invasion.
The bitter two-year war that followed left an estimated 80,000 people, mostly
civilians, dead and ended in humiliating defeat for Russian forces.
The Khasavyurt Accords, signed in August 1996, gave Chechnya de facto
self-government, but left its legal status in limbo. In postwar presidential
elections, Chechens voted overwhelmingly for former top military commander
But the isolated and unstable republic has since seemed incapable of building
an effective government. "The rebels have proved they can defeat the federal
army, but they are absolutely unable to solve Chechnya's economic problems,"
Last summer several thousand guerrillas led by Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev
invaded the neighboring Caucasus republic of Dagestan, pledging to drive the
Russians out and create an Islamic superstate in the North Caucasus. In
September, a series of apartment bombs killed nearly 300 people in Russia.
Moscow has charged - but not proved - the bombings were the work of Mr.
Public opinion in Russia demanded action, and newly appointed Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin responded.
He denounced the Khasavyurt Accords, and said the only Chechen government
Moscow recognizes is a legislature elected under Russian occupation in 1996.
Russian forces invaded Chechnya early this month. Rebuffing peace overtures
from Mr. Maskhadov, they occupied the northern third of the republic and
carried out a sweeping aerial bombardment of Chechen infrastructure and,
independent observers say, savagely pounded civilian centers as well. An
estimated 170,000 Chechen refugees have fled to neighboring Ingushetia.
The original plan announced by Mr. Putin was to create a "buffer zone" in
north Chechnya to hem in terrorists and provide a haven for Chechen refugees
who wish to live under Russian rule.
But in the past two weeks Russian forces have pushed beyond their
self-declared zone, and Russian generals have suggested they might storm the
Chechen capital - an operation that cost thousands of lives in the previous
conflict, and could do so again.
"Hatred between Russians and Chechens will only increase if events follow the
pattern of the 1994-96 war," says Alexander Makhamedov, chief of the North
Caucasus department in the Russian Ministry of Federal Affairs.
A key problem is that Putin has boxed Russia into a corner by declaring
Maskhadov illegitimate. "Maskhadov may have been elected outside Russian law,
but there is no doubt he was elected by the people," says Ibrahim
Suleimeinov, a pro-Moscow Chechen general and member of the Duma and former
military governor of Grozny under Russian occupation.
Mr. Suleimeinov, who is a likely key player in any future Russian-installed
Chechen government, is deeply troubled by the civilian casualties. A Russian
rocket attack on Grozny killed 140 people in a market last week, and bombings
of Chechen villages have left dozens more dead in recent days.
"Chechens want to know if the federal authorities are really serious about
providing real constitutional order for them this time," he says. "Or will
they just repeat their past mistakes?"
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Helmer)
Subj: RUSSIAN PLATINUM IS A LOOSE NUKE
RUSSIAN PLATINUM IS A LOOSE NUKE
By John Helmer
Journal of Commerce, coming
MOSCOW. No matter how much Russia's economy shrinks, and its
international creditworthiness dwindles, the Kremlin still controls
resources of such power they can make or break global commodity markets,
generate fortunes overnight, or disrupt the inventory and production plans
of some of America's leading industries.
These Russian resources are the economic equivalent of loose nukes. It
is the Kremlin's unpredictability in handling them that fuels global price
speculation, hedging strategy, and costly investment to find the
technological or geographic alternatives to dependence on the Russians.
After years of uncertainty over whether Moscow will export
the platinum group metals, this year has almost gone by without any export
at all of platinum and rhodium; and grave doubt about the legality of the
palladium shipped so far.
These metals are vital for production of autocatalysts to meet United
States and European standards for reduced auto emissions. Jewellery demand
is also rising for platinum.
When the U.S. and European markets realize there will be no Russian
platinum or rhodium this year, and maybe no palladium either early next year,
a rocket will be lit under their price.
But is this a clever scheme by the Russians to raise the value
of their shrinking pgm supplies? That is what traders who know the
commodity markets, but don't know Russia, believe.
Understanding Russian actions, even in a sector as small as pgm, is
complicated by the secrecy with which the decision-makers operate,
and the difficulty of gauging whether they are acting out of
institutional or bureaucratic interest, or out of possibly illegal
At odds with each other in the decision-making to release pgm for export
are the Kremlin staff of President Boris Yeltsin; cabinet ministers; the
head of the state precious metal stockpile agency, Gokhran; the Central Bank
of Russia; the state trading agency for precious metals, Almazjuvelirexport;
platinum and palladium producer, Norilsk Nickel; and the State Duma.
At stake are Russian deliveries of at least one million ounces of platinum,
which would be worth $430 million at current prices. Rhodium worth another
$220 million is also affected.
Although the Russian government keeps the figures secret, Johnson Matthey,
which monitors the worldwide trade from London, estimated that last year
Russia exported 1.3 million ounces of platinum, an increase of 44%
from 1997; and 5.8 million ounces of palladium, up 21% on the year earlier.
Russia and South Africa dominate the world market.
According to Victor Gitin, the parliamentary deputy who chairs the
subcommittee with jurisdiction over pgm, a measure he drafted and put into
effect last December requires the metals to be exported through a state
organ. This was intended, he claims, to block a move by Norilsk Nickel to
create its own platinum sale channel, and sideline other agencies.
Norilsk Nickel officials have claimed Gitin's legislation was
a "mistake". They also assert that a long-term export authorization
for palladium export by their company, granted late last year by a secret
Yeltsin decree, overrides the legal prohibition on exports.
The Central Bank is also involved in this battle, believing it too is
not subject to the law, and not required to report to parliament what
it has been doing with its large stockpile of palladium and platinum.
The Central Bank stockpile is far greater than the volume of precious
metal produced each year by Norilsk Nickel and other miners. Through
a network of affiliates and subsidiaries, Central Bank officials benefit
personally from the profits generated from precious metals dealing.
In secret, the Central Bank has been negotiating swap agreements with
European banks to provide collateral in metal, in return for cash loans.
These transactions also violate the law, and parliament's intention,
Gitin has declared.
Norilsk Nickel doesn't conceal its worry that the Central
Bank's dealings threaten the price buildup they have been counting on.
According to Gitin, he introduced his restrictive measure in order to
create more accountability and control. But who should guard the guards is
a question the Kremlin and the prime ministry can't agree to settle.
The Gokhran, which is the state agency supervising pgm stockpiles, is
proposing to expand its span of control over the export process. Banking
sources say there have been overtures from Gokhran offering platinum and
palladium swaps similar to the deals the Central Bank has arranged.
Yeltsin's legal advisors have also intervened, claiming
the president alone has the prerogative to set policy for the precious
metals sector. If anyone is to take charge of pgm exports, Gitin and other
deputies suspect, it will be Yeltsin and his advisors with their hands in the
till ahead of national elections due in December, and presidential elections
When so many powerful forces collide over high stakes, nothing can
be decided, even if it would be better for everyone to export, than to
do nothing. We intended to do our best, a former Russian prime minister
once commented on the way Russian policy is made, but everything ended up
the way it always does.
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 3587-Mendelson/Student Visas,
I am much more sympathetic to the State Department's visa policy
than I am of Sarah Mendelson's criticism of it. First, it seems to me
that long-term exchanges are just a form of brain drain, and that exchanges
should be limited to the high school level or short-term visits. Second,
since long-term exchanges must focus on those who know English, they
almost exclusively are for children of the nomenklatura who got them into
English-language schools and were able to send them abroad. The pattern
is for the nomenklatura to send the kids abroad so they can get
citizenship and invite papa to come. As an old specialist on Soviet
cadres, it is astonishing how often I recognize names either from the
press or when I ask about papa.
If we are serious about helping democratization instead of
helping those who will just mouth what Westerners want to hear in
English, we must concentrate on the provinces and focus on those who
don't know English--or know it badly. That is where the votes are, and
that is where the people are who are going to rebuild Russia. But, as
someone who tries to raise money for survey research by 70 regional
scholars under Moscow University and Institute of Ethnology supervision,
as well as money for training them, I can testify that it is a horrendous
problem even if American scholarship is being supported at the same time.
Sergei Tumanov, head of the sociology center at MGU does not speak
English, and Mikhail Guboglo, first deputy head of the Institute of
Ethnology, speaks it only semi-well. That limits their social contact with
funders, and the fact that they are utterly professional, productive,
dedicated to democracy in Russia (which doesn't mean the Yeltsin
dictatorship, the definition of demoacracy in the Democratization Program)
becomes insignificant. Thank God that the Democratization Program as it has
operated is underfunded.
The exchange programs of the Soviet period were far more important
than Reagan in bringing down the Soviet system. But that was because the
programs had to take Soviet officials who needed the exposure to the
West, not those who already supported US foreign policy. It would be
wonderful if we could develop a democratization program that really tried
to support democracy. We and Russia really need it.
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999
From: R.Thomas@open.ac.uk (Ray Thomas)
Subject: RE: 3588-Reynolds/Crime and Capital Flight
The Los Angeles Times report of the business of Alexei N who imports
pharmaceuticals into Russia gives a useful account of the difficulties of
doing business in Russia (JRL 3588 Item #8).
But the references to capital flight are misleading. The term capital
flight is most commonly used to refer to the flight of capital that occurs
when in is believed that a currency is overvalued or is likely to be
devalued. But the report is about the *working capital* of Alexei's
business. Very little to do with the value of the rouble.
Irina Khakmaka of Moscow's Business Development Institute is surely being
extraordinarily optimistic in interpreting the flight of working capital
from Russia as an indicator of economic progress? It may be that some of
money comes back as Khakmaka argues. But the point is, as every
second-year economics student should know, the working capital of firms as
well as 'working capital' of individuals is the foundation of the banking
system. Most of the time firms and people do not need to have their
working capital in form of cash. In capitalist countries this enables
banks to lend out to firms about eight or ten times as much as these
deposits of 'working capital'.
The demonetisation of the Russian economy is an indicator of its primary
weakness and should in no way be construed as a strength. If firms in
Russia put their working capital in banks outside Russia that do not lend to
Russian firms the demonetisation of the Russian economy is perpetuated.
Perhaps Khakmaka was quoted out of context?
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999
From: Stephen Young <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 3581-Albert Weeks on Interfax on ABM
Albert Weeks' arguments for missile defense seriously misunderstand U.S.
national security interests.
Russia and China object to U.S. plans not because they plan to attack the
U.S., but because they understand that if the U.S. builds a missile
defense, America could (or worse, and probably more accurately, might
believe it could) launch a massive attack on Russia or China and then
attempt use missile defense to wipe out any retaliatory attack. And, in
fact, the U.S. does have a first strike option in its Strategic Integrated
Operational Plan (SIOP). (Russia has one as well.)
This is the bizarre but powerful and accurate rationale behind the ABM
Treaty - defenses make you less safe. To insure its forces would have the
best chance to avoid destruction by an attack, and to overwhelm any
defense, Russia maintains two thousand strategic warheads on high alert.
Getting the number of missiles down and reducing that alert level should be
a much higher priority than defending against a very small, potential
attack from North Korea, Iran or Iraq.
A generation from now, yes, there may well be countries other than Russia
and China that will be able to threaten the U.S. directly. But far far
better to slowly pursue national missile defense, to make sure it works,
while focusing primarily on verfiably reducing the real current threat that
missile defense will never be able to defend against - the massive Russian
nuclear arsenal. To rush ahead without Russian consent only invites
disaster, not security.
And, finally, Weeks praises poet who saide the "good fences make good
neighbors" approach. Frost, the poet in question, was being sarcastic - he
believed the opposite, as a reading of the poem will tell.
BIPARTISAN GROUP LED BY BRZEZINSKI CALLS ON CLINTON TO SUSPEND IMF
LOANS IN PROTEST OF RUSSIAN ATTACKS ON CHECHNYA
Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe
2000 P Street, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036
Tel.: (202) 466-7105 o Fax: (202) 466-7140 o email: <email@example.com>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: IRENA LASOTA
OCTOBER 26, 1999 TEL.: (202)
P R E S S A D V I S O R Y
A bipartisan group of thirty-five former high-ranking foreign policy
officials, human rightsactivists, and intellectuals appealed in a letter to
President Bill Clinton on Monday, October 25 toend its weak response to the
brutal attack on Chechnya by the Russian Federation and called on
theAdministration to immediately demand the suspension of all Russian
loans by the IMF and WorldBank.
The signers include former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski,
Richard V.Allen, and Robert C. McFarlane; former U.S. Senator Dennis
DeConcini (D-Az) and formerCongressman Stephen Solarz; former Assistant
Secretary of State and human rights activist PatDerian; former Deputy
Director of Defense William Howard Taft IV, former Undersecretary ofDefense
Paul Wolfowitz, and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle;
formerAmbassadors Morton Abramowitz and Richard C. Burt; and former CIA
Director James Woolsey.
The letter was also signed by human rights leaders Bette Bao Lord,
chairman of FreedomHouse, George Biddle, President of the International
Crisis Group, Nin Banj-Jensen, President ofthe Coalition for International
Justice, and Sheppie Abramowitz, Director of the International
RescueCenter, as well as by authors Francis Fukayama, Joshua Muravchik, and
Weekly Standard Editor-in-Chief William Kristol. One signer, Balkan Action
Council President James R. Hooper, was one ofthree active foreign service
officers who resigned over the Administration's weak Bosnia policy.
The letter notes that Russia's assertions that it is fighting terrorism
are baldly untrue and thatRussia is using particularly lethal weapons
against peaceful civilian populations in an attempt tosubdue Chechnya and
impose on it a government friendly to Russia. The result is hundreds of
killed,tens of thousands wounded and displaced, and a policy of repression
against all Caucasian-lookingpeople in Moscow and other areas of Russia.
The Administration must vigorously protest these anti-human policies and
use both carrots and sticks to promote a genuine change in Russian
Federationpolicy in the Caucasus. Only suspension of IMF loans, the signers
argue, has the chance to changeRussia's path away from reckless and
counterproductive military campaigns back towards reform.
October 21, 1999
The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
We hope you will vigorously use American
influence, in diplomacy and public statements, to
halt the second disastrous war in Chechnya. This
war, in addition to its tragic consequences both
for the Russian and the Chechen peoples, is also
beginning to threaten Azerbaijan and Georgia. We
therefore, hope that America will act, in our
traditional way, to relieve the humanitarian
consequences of these new strikes while seeking to
terminate the hostilities.
Russia began with the bombing of Grozny
and Chechen villages. Now the Russian government
has moved on to a ground invasion and recognition
of a puppet government, overturning the democratic
elections of 1997. The indiscriminate bombing, and
shelling with inaccurate area weapons such as the
and Uragan rocket systems, remains the most
unacceptable Russian action. The stated rationale
was to attack the Islamic terrorist groups who
invaded the neighboring province of Daghestan and,
allegedly, were responsible for bombings of
apartment houses in Moscow. (The Russian
government, however, has produced no evidence
linking the appalling apartment-house bombings to
Chechens.) Terrorism by Islamic extremists in the
North Caucasus is, indeed, a serious problem,
which menaces us as well as the Russians. But the
main Russian targets have been the Grozny airport,
oil refineries, fuel storehouses, Chechen
government television, cellular telephone towers,
radio transmitters, bridges, roads, villages, and
sometimes columns of refugees fleeing from the
destruction. The real objective of Russian
bombing seems to be destroying what remains of the
economy, infrastructure, and civilian life after
the war of 1994-96. At the same time, the Russian
government has cut off gas and telephone links,
and ceased paying Soviet-era pensions.
We cannot know Russian intentions, but the
effect is to depopulate Chechnya, as the Serbs
tried to empty Sarajevo by shelling. In any case,
these actions against civilians are inhumane and
violate universally acknowledged laws of war.
The likely effects will be to make
terrorism worse. The extremist Islamic groups are
well funded and armed by Arab and Pakistani
sources; as ordinary life becomes even more
impossible, they will be more attractive to young
men. Every recent traveler's account agrees that
fundamentalist views are unpopular among most
Chechens, who want to live a normal life. By
making this impossible, Russia will drive more and
more of the population into the terrorists' camp.
Certainly Russia has made the position of
President Maskhadov, who was cooperating with
President Yeltsin and Prime Ministers Primakov and
Stepashin on a moderate policy, simply impossible.
Finally, the bombings are already producing
masses of refugees; these will burden the weak
economies of the North Caucasus republics (and
possibly of Georgia), increase ethnic tension, and
provide easy camouflage for terrorists.
The ground invasion, given threatened
peoples' obsession with borders, will turn a
debate about the status of self-governing Chechnya
into an eternal grievance. Finally, Russia has
repudiated the internationally monitored, free
election that elected Aslan Maskhadov as
President, and recognized again a "parliament"
that was fraudulently elected during the first
Chechnya war, was regarded by most Chechens as a
quisling regime, and vanished from Grozny with the
Russian army. Doing this not only removes Moscow's
only possibility of a settlement by dialogue, but
calls into question Russia's commitment to
democracy. Can Russia be considered democratic if
one province is an imperial possession openly held
All these factors make it important for
the United States to take a very strong stand. We
are pleased that our State Department has opposed
the bombings, pointing out that they are not in
Russia's own interests. But words alone will not
shorten this disastrous war. American laws, and
still more American tradition, call on our
government, in giving foreign aid, and in voting
in international financial institutions, to
promote human rights. It is not appropriate to
give new foreign aid to the Russian central
government, or to facilitate loans from the IMF,
while the Russian government is targeting civilian
populations. It is simply fact that waging this
kind of war will sour the climate here for a
cooperative relationship with Russia. Our
government needs to explain this frankly. No
official statements, unfortunately, have
identified the importance of maintaining
democratically elected government in all of
Russia's 89 provinces. In Chechnya this means,
until the next scheduled election, the Maskhadov
government. We ought to offer generous
humanitarian assistance directly to all the
victims and refugees, whether in Daghestan or in
Chechnya, through Russia and through Georgia. The
United States government should expect the
governments involved to provide access and
security. Finally, we should offer to join Russia
in an international effort to promote regional
economic recovery in the North Caucasus.
If you wish to reply, or there are
questions or comments they should be directed to:
Irena Lasota, President, Institute for Democracy
in Eastern Europe.
Ambassador Mort Abramowitz
Ms. Sheppie Abramowitz
Mr. Richard V. Allen
Ms. Nina Bang-Jensen
Mr. Kurt Bassuener
Mr. George Biddle
Mr. John Bolton
Mr. Hyman Bookbinder
Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
Ambassador Richard Burt
Mr. Hodding Carter
Mr. Dennis DeConcini
Ms. Patt Derian
Dr. Paula Dobriansky
Dr. Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr.
Dr. Frank Fukayama
Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin
Mr. John Heffernan
Mr. James Hooper
Mr. Bruce P. Jackson
Mr. Robert Kagan
Mr. Adrian Karatnycky
Mr. William Kristol
Mr. Robert McFarlane
Dr. Joshua Muravchik
Mr. Richard Perle
Mr. Gary Schmitt
Mr. Stephen Solarz
Mr. Helmut Sonnenfeldt
Mr. William Howard Taft IV
Dr. Paul Wolfowitz
Mr. R. James Woolsey
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999
From: Toivo Klaar <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: 3588- Ware/West Does Not Understand Chechnya,
I was quite amazed at Robert Bruce Ware's assertions about the war in
Chechnya. It seems that the old adage that one man's freedom fighter is
another's terrorist is still very relevant, but that is not the amazing
part. What I wonder about is whether Mr. Ware would dare say the same words
about the East Timorese, as he said about the Chechens? Or that he would
say that one shouldn't be too hard on the Indonesians or to have criticized
British colonialism in Africa?
Granted, this does not justify the kidnapings that did take place in and
around Chechnya, or any other actions by Chechens or their sympathizers
which were aimed against innocent civilians. (I don't include the Moscow
bombings, unlike Mr. Ware, because I have yet to see any proof of any
Chechen involvement there and because the principle of 'innocent until
proven guilty' should apply also here). It does however put the conflict in
Chechnya into the context of colonies' wars against their colonial masters,
where it rightly belongs. The fact that it is an area contiguous to Russia
does not make it any less a colony than, say, most of Africa was for the
British or East Timor was/is for the Indonesians. After all, the Russians
only occupied this area in the middle of the last century. If one looks at
things in this context the logical question should not be 'how dare the
Chechens reject Russian rule?', but 'why is Russia still clinging on to its
There exist of course instances where colonies have chosen to stay with
their imperial motherland - numerous French dominions around the world
testify to this fact - but this has been done by winning over hearts and
minds, not by bombing civilians.
I venture to make what some will probably call a very rude statement. But I
believe that we will continue to see tensions between the rest of the world
and Russia and between Russia and its colonies until the leadership in
Moscow realizes that in today's democratic world, of which Russia claims to
wish to be a part, empires are not kept together with bullets, but through
negotiations, if at all, and that nothing - nothing - justifies the killing
of women and children.
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999
From: Isabella Ginor <email@example.com>
Subject: Yakovlev, contract killing & St. Petersburg election
Thought you might be interested in the following, which I have just submitted
for publication in Ha'Aretz.
Best regards, Isabella
Trojan Horse or Victim of Circumstances? Yakovlev, Contract Killings and the
St. Petersburg Election
By Isabella Ginor
Forthcoming in Ha'Aretz (Israel). May be quoted with credit. Full reproduction
by permission of author.
>From the inception of the "Fatherland-All Russia" bloc for the December 19
election, rumors were rife that the #3 candidate on its list, St. Petersburg
Governor (that is, Mayor) Vladimir Yakovlev, would be its undoing. Yakovlev
figures on the list just after the bloc's founders, Former Prime Minister
Yevgeny Primakov and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, two of the most popular
politicians in Russia. The law stipulates that if any of the of the three top
candidates on a list resigns or is disqualified, the entire list goes by the
Speaking with Ha'Aretz last week during a visit to Israel (where he opened an
exhibition of St. Petersburg artists and accompanied a delegation of religious
pilgrims), Yakovlev clarified that he had no intention of exchanging the
mayor's chair for a Duma seat:. "I declared so from the outset for all the
city's voters to hear. My objective is to assist [the bloc's] candidates in
entering the Duma, while I remain Governor." To achieve this end, Yakovlev saw
to it that the municipal election, which was due to take place only next
spring, was brought forward to coincide with the Duma vote -- which would both
assure a higher turnout and enable him to ride the coattails of Primakov and
Luzhkov. But if he does not want to be elected to the Duma instead, how can he
avoid resigning the list and thus bringing it down?
Some Russian commentators therefore predicted Yakovlev would withdraw under
pressure from the Kremlin, which sees the Primakov-Luzhkov ticket as the most
powerful threat to its authority. Yakovlev avoided any direct comment on this
scenario. "There is a lot of such talk. You may have noticed that in our
country as soon as a president or governor is elected, people start saying he
has to go. The same is happening to the cabinet. So whatever the talk may be,
we have formulated our position clearly and we will stick to it."
But while Yakovlev was touring Israel, a leading member of the city council,
Victor Novoselov was assassinated in St. Petersburg. Even the city that holds
the Russian record for contract killings, this one stood out for the sheer
insolence of its execution: the hit man simply walked up to the victim's car
when it stopped for a red traffic light and placed a bomb on its roof, right
over the head of Novoselov (who had lost both legs in a previous attempt on
life). By the time the charge exploded a few seconds later, Novoselov's
bodyguard had jumped out of the car and fatally shot the assassin, saving his
own life in the process. Another suspect was arrested. Grisly footage of
Novoselov's decapitated body was shown on all of Russia's national TV
and most of the media was quick to link Yakovlev with the murder of his
supposed shoo-in candidate for speaker of the council in a vote that had been
slated for the same day. Not that Yakovlev was accused of plotting the removal
of his reputed protege, but that Novoselov's demise revived longstanding talk
of both men's underworld connections.
Hardly had the police finished collecting evidence at the scene of the crime
when it became known that someone had removed a large safe from Novoselov's
office. It had been bruited that he had colluded with Yakovlev in bringing
forward the municipal election, but nonetheless the vote on this measure in
council had to be forged. A number of members discovered that their electronic
voting cards had been reproduced and used by others. They lodged a formal
complaint, and judicial hearings on the case, with Novoselov named as a star
witness, were due to begin -- also on the very day of the assassination.
One version holds that that Novoselov had helped Yakovlev bring forward the
vote in return for his own promotion to speaker, and his safe contained
documents proving how the council vote had been doctored. Another version had
it that Novoselov had actually intended to back someone else for mayor.
the Russian media, especially the outlets controlled by enemies of
such as Boris Berezovsky, stressed that under Yakovlev's tutelage St.
Petersburg had become the capital of Russian crime.
Speaking with Ha'Aretz three days before Novoselov's death, Yakovlev was asked
whether he expected a kompromat campaign to begin against him. He hinted at a
positive answer: "During the previous municipal election campaign so much mud
was slung at me. But people are gaining a better grasp of this. Six or eight
years ago, yhey took it differently. Today people understand. They judge a man
by his deeds. If he has achievements to point at, they will support him."
But even as Yakjovlev landed in Israel, word spread among his welcoming party
that the visit would be cut short due to the publication of kompromat against
Primakov in Moscow a few days before. The new date set for his departure was
the day of Novoselov's assassination. Berezovsky's ORT TV channel said the
visit to Israel had been shortened because of the murder. Anyone who recalled
that Yakovlev didn't interrupt a skiing vacation in the Alps after the
of Galina Starovoitova in his city last year could hardly escape the
observation made by veteran council member Vladimir Goldman: the mayor had
out of town during all of its four most notorious contract killings of the
two years: Deputy Mayor Mikhail Manevich, Starovoitova, Pavel Kapish and now
If Yakovlev is now forced to drop out of the "Fatherland-All Russia" list (or
opts to do so), and the list is therefore disqualified while its electoral
prospects are good (according to Yakovlev) to excellent (according to the
polls); and if he is re-elected as Governor in the election he took care to
reschedule -- many will see the combination as circumstantial evidence of a
deal with the Kremlin. In the interview last week, Yakovlev sounded remarkably
kind toward Proime Minister Vladimir Putin, the present standard-bearer of
Yeltsin's clique, especially in the context of his campaign against Chechnya.
"He is gaining popularity. His latest meeting with the governors proved
is on the right track, moving from talk to concrete action. Please God that
this should continue." Remarkably warm praise for a former arch-rival: Putin
was the right-hand man of Anatoly Sobchak, whom Yakovlev supplanted as
mayor in the previous election.
Proving or disproving such a deal will depend on whether the surviving suspect
in the Novoselov assassination fingers the issuer of the contract. One way or
the other, the upcoming election will remain even more tainted than it already
27 October 1999
[for personal use only]
Russian Police Relying on Soviet-Era Tactics
By Michael Slackman. MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT
Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia - The moment he closed his office door,
the detective cranked up the volume on his television set. Then he swung
around, slugged the handcuffed teenager in the stomach, shoved him to
the floor, tied him with rope and began punching his ears.
Maxim Podsvirov screamed as each blow surged through his head and
neck like a jolt of electricity. For what seemed like an eternity, the
detective pounded away until Podsvirov's ears were black and
blood-stained, his nose swollen and blue, his eyes glassy and red fromfever.
Nearly seven hours later, the 17-year-old broke down and implicated
his older brother, Alexei, in the assault of a police officer. But the
statement proved useless when police found evidence that led them to
Each year, about one of every six Russians are detained in a system
where police rely on torture as their primary investigative tool.
According to interviews with prosecutors, current and former police
officers, members of the judiciary and human rights activists, torture
is commonplace, even defended in official circles. Interrogators
regularly use techniques such as the "little elephant" where a gas mask
is put on a suspect and the oxygen slowly clamped off, or tear gas or
insecticide sprayed into the mask. Another favored technique, called
"crucifixion," involves the use of a metal bed frame, handcuffs
"Torture is a widespread phenomenon here," said Sergei Pashin, a
federal judge who fought to retain his seat on the Moscow bench after he
was fired for finding too many defendants not guilty. "In every case
that comes through my court, there are people who say they were beaten,
and in seven cases out of 10 there is evidence of that." Ten years after
the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is stuck in a kind of limbo,
saddled with many of the Soviet Union's worst characteristics -a bloated
bureaucracy and widespread disregard for the rule of law- but none of
the former superpower's levers of control. At the same time, Russia is
struggling with added burdens brought on by a shriveled economy and a
deep-seated social feeling that the individual is expendable.
Nowhere are these characteristics more evident than with the police,
an institution that polls show inspires more fear than armed criminals
or even wild dogs. What happened to Maxim Podsvirov explains why.
On Jan. 6, in a dreary residential part of this city high on the
banks of the Volga River, a police officer was jumped and beaten. The
assailant escaped, leaving a trail of evidence that vanished a few
blocks away. Police theorized that the man who lived nearest to where
the trail ended must have been the culprit. His name was Alexei
Podsvirov, a 24-year-old laborer who lived with his wife and 3-year-old
son in a one-room apartment on the first floor.
Three days later, police took Podsvirov in for questioning, along
with his brother Maxim, who still lived nearby with their parents. The
brothers told police they were elsewhere the night of the incident.
Police then sent them home, and the brothers thought that was the end ofit.
Maxim is a tall young man with light brown hair who smokes
cigarettes with slow deliberation, his eyes tight and downcast. He still
has trouble speaking about what happened five days after the first
interrogation, when a police officer pulled him out of his college
class, where he is studying to be an electrician.
"The minute I walked out, they put handcuffs on me and told me I
will not escape," he recalled in a recent interview.
Maxim remembers the police station where he was brought, a drab
beige building where the hallways were dark, the floors buckled in spots
and the stairs made of cold stone. On the second floor, a wooden door
swung open and inside was Det. Alexei Ivanov, a tall, lanky investigator
about 25 years old.
"First he hit me in the stomach, then with his fists on my ears,"Maxim
"I bent over and he hit me on my side. He grasped me and put me onthe
Then he took a rope and tied it around my ankles, then my neck and
then he pulled it through the handcuffs and pulled my hands up toward
the back of my head." For the next 90 minutes, Maxim said, his ears rang
and his head, back and neck burned from the blows, until finally, "It
was impossible to bear, so I invented names. I thought if I told them
who did this they would let me go home." They didn't. The police took
their witness to the local passport office to search for the individuals
he identified. Of course, he could not find them.
They were fictional. So it was back to Ivanov's office for
"They put me on the floor again, tied me again and began to beat
me," Maxim said, his words coming out cool and flat, his cheeks turning
red at the thought of what came next. The detective told him they wanted
him to provide a statement against his brother, which he first refused.
But the beatings continued until finally, "I surrendered, I agreed." He
falsely told Ivanov that his brother had confessed to him about theassault.
Then he was placed in a cell, his wounds ignored.
At home, his mother and father had grown worried when he did not
arrive for dinner and guessed, correctly, where to go to find him.
"When they brought Maxim to me, I asked them, 'Why is my son in such
a state?' They could not answer me and I cursed them," said Maxim's
mother, Natalia Podsvirova. "I was astonished." "He was holding a belt
and his shoe laces and he was almost unconscious. His ears were black
and bloodied, his nose was broken and blue and he was walking like he
would drop." Police said Ivanov was at a conference and could not be
interviewed. The commanding officer of his station, Pavel Zheltov, said
that while he cannot be certain, he does not believe the beating
occurred. "My opinion is Ivanov is a very calm, reserved person and I
don't think he could have done this." Ivanov denied the beatings in a
statement he later gave prosecutors.
But the region's chief prosecutor, Alexander Fedotov, acknowledged
there were elements of violence in his jurisdiction.
There also are very detailed medical records. Maxim's parents filed
a complaint with authorities and the court ordered a medical review. For
a system that virtually never polices itself, the doctor was unusually
direct, concluding in a report to the court: "Bruises and swelling on
ears and the area around the ears. Bruises and wounds on face and left
leg. Wounds on both wrists. Wound on his left ankle caused by a blunt
object. It is not excluded that these wounds could have been inflicted
on the 14th of January, 1999." Not even the official medical finding has
changed things. Ivanov continues to work as a detective and the
authorities say there is very little they can do.
"There must be really serious grounds for his resignation," said
Fedotov, who uses his booming voice to shout over objections and
questions. "As a prosecutor, I need really serious proof that he was the
person who beat him." Asked if he was looking for that proof, Fedotov
said: "The application was submitted too late." "We're no better and no
worse than any other region in Russia," he said.
"Violence is used quite often. The problem is the criminal code and
criminal law is not perfect and the other reason is there is not a very
high professional level in the police." Each year as many as 25 million
Russian citizens are detained by police and as many as 50,000 to 60,000
each day are held in what is known as pre-investigation detention, and
the number will likely rise in the wake of recent bombings. The Moscow
Helsinki Group, a human rights foundation, said the vast majority who
have contact with the system are at best treated badly; at worst,
severely tortured. In a report this month, the group examined practices
in 30 of Russia's 85 regions, reporting instances of police abuse and
torture in each.
At the core of the problem is what often lies at the heart of
Russia's ongoing woes. The economy remains wretched and police are
poorly paid, about $50 a month, making it difficult to hire capable and
experienced people. Nor has Russia broken with Soviet ideas that placed
a premium on productivity. The police are judged entirely on statistics:
how many cases they close, suspects they detain, summonses they issue.
Officials say this puts great pressure on police to close cases, and not
be overly picky about finding the guilty.
"Today, all of the honest police have been pushed out," said Mikhail
Pashkin, a police captain and chairman of the Moscow Police Trade Union.
"With a salary of $50, it is impossible to survive. That's why those who
go to work for the police, go to steal." But most of all, some say, the
central government is so weak and unable to enforce its own laws outside
of the capital that it can't possibly control the police. In Soviet
times, the average citizen could at least turn to the Communist Party to
redress a grievance, but no one appears in charge now.
"Though I was against communism, there was a system, it was
effective, and there were controls," said Valeri Abramkin, a human
rights activist who spent six years as a political prisoner in the
infamous Gulag. "You could at least appeal to the regional party
committee. Now it is an empty place. Many links dropped from the system
and nothing replaced them." Officials in the Interior Ministry in Moscow
refused repeated requests to be interviewed. But those charged with
policing the police acknowledge there are problems, then shrug their
shoulders and turn away.
"Too many times they are using violence not only against suspects
but against witnesses, and those who have committed administrative
violations," said Irina Dunyakova, a supervisor in the Moscow
prosecutors unit that investigates police corruption, adding: "This is
what we are facing. How can we fight that?" Some officials concede that
methods are cruel and inhumane, but say there is a need for these
techniques in a society that has fallen as far and fast as Russia. They
say the police are so poorly trained and equipped, and the public so
destitute, that without physical violence there would be no way tocombat
"I don't think there is a single detective who hasn't used torture,"
said Igor Ogorodnikov, a former detective who works as a human rights
lawyer. "The majority of crimes in Russia are not possible to solve by
Agatha Christie methods. People are stealing to survive, robbing to
survive. That's why you cannot frighten people, or use psychological
pressure, to get them to confess.
The only way to create pain is to focus on all people have
left-health and freedom." That's just what police in Tula, a city about
100 miles south of Moscow, used on Alexander Volodko, accused of firing
shots at a police officer. The case sparked a national outcry when he
managed to smuggle out his prison diary. In it, he detailed
extraordinary claims of abuse, allegations that authorities have not
refuted. For days, he says, he was beaten, threatened, shocked with
electricity, burned with cigarettes, hung by his neck and almost
drowned. About his first interrogation, he wrote: "The last time they
offered me to confess, I refused, they hit me in the stomach with the
butt of the machine gun. They dragged me by the feet to the river. They
put my head into the water, silt and stones. Because I was turned upside
down, the water came straight into my nostrils giving me very strong
pain and I was swallowing water and silt with my mouth. I said farewell
to my relatives and that very moment they took me out. They didn't let
me take even a breath and continued beating me." Two days later, he
wrote, it was back to the river.
"They put my head into the water, pressed it with their boot intothe
Drown and beat. Drown and beat. After all that I screamed 'Mother.'"
"When a grown up man is calling his mom, this is it. That's the edge.
After that, there is emptiness."