This Date's Issues: 3593 • 3594
Johnson's Russia List
29 October 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: Luzhkov, Primakov Accuse Yeltsin.
2. Interfax: Putin--Russian Economy Not To Remain Transitional.
3. Moscow Times: Andrei Zolotov Jr., Papers Say Kremlin Made Budget Deal.
4. The Independent (UK): Patrick Cockburn, Starving Chechens scramble to
5. Jerry Hough: Response.
6. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, Armenia's troubled present.
7. NCEEER reports.
8. Dale Herspring: Re: 3592-Stowell/Hough,Richmond/Hough.
9. Ken Duckworth: Visas.
10. AP: Judith Ingram, Former U.S.S.R. United by Violence.
11. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Interview with U.S. Ambassador James Collins.
12. AP: Russians Search American's Apt.(Josh Handler)]
Luzhkov, Primakov Accuse Yeltsin
October 28, 1999
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
MOSCOW (AP) - A political group accused President Boris Yeltsin's office on
Thursday of meddling in the campaign for parliament as part of a bid to block
``The presidential office is openly interfering in the parliamentary election
campaign in violation of law and democratic norms,'' Moscow Mayor Yuri
Luzhkov and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov said in an open letter to
Yeltsin, which was carried by the Interfax news agency.
Luzhkov, Primakov and St. Petersburg governor Vladimir Yakovlev, who also
signed the appeal, lead the Fatherland-All Russian bloc, which hopes to make
a strong showing in Dec. 19 parliamentary elections.
That would strengthen the position of Luzhkov and Primakov if either decides
to run for president next year. Both are considered top prospective
candidates, but neither has yet expressed a clear intention to run.
A Yeltsin aide said the president supports free elections.
``It's necessary to do everything so that the elections go correctly and
peacefully,'' said Igor Shabdurasulov, a first deputy chief of Yeltsin's
In remarks carried by the Interfax news agency, he said the letter's authors
were ``nervous'' about their own electoral chances.
Both Luzhkov and Primakov were once staunch allies of Yeltsin, but they have
become increasingly bitter foes in recent months.
In their letter, the party leaders urged Yeltsin to reshuffle his senior
``The state has fallen hostage to the interests of the presidential
administration and a small group of insiders, who have effectively taken
leadership in the country,'' they said. ``We are calling on you to show your
will and end your political isolation.''
Shabdurasulov said Yeltsin will make up his own mind on personnel issues and
did not address the accusation of special interests in the administration.
Yeltsin's opponents have accused the Kremlin of circulating compromising
material about them and even recruiting the security services to help mar
Putin--Russian Economy Not To Remain Transitional
KHABAROVSK. Oct 27 (Interfax) - Russian economy
should not stay transitional "eternally," and "we must think how economic
and political reforms can affect Russia's future outlook," Russian Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin said at a session of the inter-regional Far East
and Baikal Region association in Khabarovsk on Wednesday.
Putin said that "the market is not only U.S., Japan, and European
Community countries," but also "Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, and many other
states not included in the number of the economically advanced countries."
Putin believes that Russia should not "be satisfied with a secondary
position" in the world. However, "to be honest, so far, we are moving in
this direction," the Prime Minister said.
He said that industrialized countries consume two-thirds of the world's
UN statistics show that about 500 transnational corporations control
two-thirds of world production. Of Russia's enterprises, only Gazprom can
claim transnational status, Putin said.
The leaders on the global capital market that has shaped over the last
20-30 years are U.S. investment funds and banks: "Merryl Lynch, Goldman
Sax, Morgan Stanley," according to the prime minister. "Neither European
nor Asian financial giants can face them as equals," the prime minister
said. The assets of all Russia's banks and financial companies combined,
he said, are "less than the assets of any financial institution on the
list of 100 major ones."
"We are actually squeezed out of the world's science-intensive
production markets, excluding the market of arms and military hardware.
In some areas, we lag very much behind, in some most likely forever,"
However, the situation is not "hopeless," Putin said. The government feels
that the potential of Russia's military industrial complex remains very
high, and "in many ways, the country is maintaining its quite competitive
Putin spoke of his conviction that, "simultaneously with the solution of
pressing tasks, " the country "should immediately begin drafting a
long-term national economic and social development strategy."
"It is necessary to stop the process of our lagging behind the world's
economically advanced countries, and find our way so that Russia will be
able to assume a worthy position among the industrialized nations in the
21st century," the prime minister said. BBCCMM [Description
October 29, 1999
Papers Say Kremlin Made Budget Deal
By Andrei Zolotov Jr.
When the Communist-led State Duma gave preliminary approval to the
government's budget this week, several newspapers speculated that the leftist
deputies had made a deal with the Kremlin.
In exchange for their votes on the budget, the theory went, the Kremlin
promised them support in the upcoming parliamentary campaign.
With the Fatherland-All Russia movement representing a major threat to the
Kremlin's interests, pumping up the Communists and their Agrarian allies
would make sense for President Boris Yeltsin's entourage, analysts said
Thursday. But any direct bribery would seem unlikely, they said.
Several Russian newspapers reported earlier this week that Deputy Prime
Minister Viktor Khristenko had a secret meeting with Agrarian leader Nikolai
Kharitonov on Saturday and offered him support in the elections, including
financial "aid" to deputies trying to hold onto their seats in the lower
house, in exchange for their vote on the budget. The Kremlin administration
and the Agrarian faction denied the reports.
On Monday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with Communist leader Gennady
Zyuganov and other leaders of his Duma faction. Tuesday, the budget was
The newspaper Kommersant reported Wednesday that earlier in October, Kremlin
officials got together to discuss election tactics. They decided to make
peace with the Communists and with Yabloko in an effort to take votes away
from the Fatherland-All Russia bloc of former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov
and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, the report said. The Kremlin would provide the
parties access to the mass media it controls or influences, which would, in
turn, refrain from attacking them, said Kommersant, which is owned by
Kremlin-connected tycoon Boris Berezovsky.
The Communists and Agrarians denied the allegations. "It is all lies and
slander," Agrarian Party spokesman Pavel Yemelin said Thursday.
Alexei Podberyozkin, a left-wing Duma deputy who used to be one of Zyuganov's
close advisers but has since split with the Communists, said Thursday that
reaching a truce with the Kremlin or accepting Kremlin bribes was
"impossible."But he said the presidential administration and the Communist
leadership have "normal political relations."
"They [contacts between the Kremlin and Communists] can be of various kinds,
they can be confidential, but I do not think you can speak of bribery,"
Vladimir Pribylovsky, president of the Panorama research center, said that
over the past years, the Duma's left has always provided enough votes for the
budget to pass. "There is always bargaining, and Communists always agree," he
Pribylovsky agreed it would make sense for President Boris Yeltsin's team to
give some support to, or at least not hinder, Communists in the Duma
elections. If the Communists go into the 2000 presidential elections from a
position of strength, that would allow the Kremlin to re-create the 1996
situation, in which Zyuganov was the main threat. Then, the Kremlin was able
to rally votes by warning of a Communist revanche.
The Independent (UK)
29 October 1999
[for personal use only]
Starving Chechens scramble to flee homeland
By Patrick Cockburn on the Chechen border
Russian tanks and armoured personnel vehicles roared across the
Ingush-Chechen border yesterday bringing more fear and despair to the
refugees trudging in long columns in the opposite direction from the lethal
battles taking place inside the breakaway Chechen republic.
Vakha Sultan a Chechen farmer on the move told me: "Our children cry when
they hear the explosions. We are going crazy from it."
Colonel Valery Kuksa, the Minister for Emergency Situations in the republic
of Ingushetia, is already looking after between 140,000 and 170,000 refugees.
"I expect there are another 100,000 waiting to cross", he said yesterday.
The Russian commander of the main border crossing point had told Colonel
Kuksa he was under orders to open the border early today. Some 6,000 Chechens
are already packed into an old stationary train a mile from the frontier
between Ingushetia and Chechnya. It shakes at night from the roar of Russian
But despite Colonel Kuksa's efforts, the refugees are hungry and anxious.
Vakha Kagirov, a bus driver from Grozny, the Chechen capital, said: "They
give us food you would not feed to dogs."
An aid worker confirmed that the refugees were living on canned meat, mostly
long past its expiry date. He said: "The main problems are that there is not
enough food and the cold. We need to keep these people warm or they will not
If Russian troops open the Chechen border today, as promised, another 100,000
refugees may flood out of the country to escape the bombing. That would mean
one-quarter of the population of Chechnya would have fled since the Russian
army began to advance a month ago.
The refugees are deeply conscious that their plight receives nothing like the
international attention given to those from Kosovo or East Timor. Mr Sultan
is quietly furious. He asked: "When 45 Albanians were killed in Kosovo you
journalists made a great fuss, so why don't you report it when thousands of
Chechens are dying?"
The answer is simple enough. The Albanians did not kidnap or kill aid workers
and journalists. In the three years of Chechnya's de facto independence,
Chechen bandits and warlords did both. Even travelling to the border with
Chechnya, the Ingush government provides us with heavily armed guards. Mr
Sultan accepts the explanation, but hints that the Russians themselves may
have had a hand in the kidnapping.
Russia may come to regret restarting this war, but for the moment its troops
are very much in control of the border. As we drove down a dirt track to the
train where the refugees are living, we passed a column of 10 armoured
personnel carriers from the Russian 58th Army, stationed in Ossetia to the
west. The soldiers looked relaxed and confident.
The refugees have a sophisticated view of Russian strategy and its grim
impact on their own lives. "I don't think the Russians will attack Grozny,"
said Mr Kagirov. "I think they will first surround it then they will bomb and
shell it, destroying all our homes as they did before."
The despair on the train is almost palpable. The refugees sense that this war
is different from the one the Chechens won three years ago. "How can you even
call it a war?" asked Mr Sultan. "There is no resistance. Even if a fighter
has a gun it is only a Kalashnikov rifle. What can a fighter do against
rockets, planes and missiles?"
For the moment, the Russian army is fighting the sort of war it wants to
fight. Its tanks and mechanised infantry are edging forward slowly, using
heavy artillery and air strikes. Colonel Kuksa, a former infantry commander
in the Soviet army, said: "The Russians are fighting a much smarter war than
three years ago. Then they sent in their infantry first. Now they use their
The refugees believe Russia is not interested in distinguishing between
Islamic militants and ordinary Chechens. Zara Tsugayeva said: "They are
rounding up Chechens all over Russia. My two sons were arrested for
nothingand thrown into jail for 15 days. The Russians are forcing our
children to steal, rob and kill."
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There have been many responses to my comment on visas. First, I
gather there are very arbitrary decisions being made. In an age of
computers when they can enter someone's name who is entering and someone
who is leaving, I see no excuse for problems on short-term visas when the
person is visiting someone in the US and that person can be contacted easily.
Second, I have no problems with exchanges or even with brain
drain. The answer to my first point is that this is a country that
wants illegal immigration, but doesn't want to admit it. Therefore, it
doesn't have the controls on visitors it should, and this introduces
arbitrariness when individual officials happen not to like illegal
immigration. If money is infinite, let a thousand programs bloom,
including for the nomenklatura.
But, third, there is not infinite money, and it is silly to say
that ability to write the "right" proposal in the right language is not
strongly correlated with privilege and contacts. This is even more true
of foundation grants in Russia than of exchanges. If this is the price
of exchanges or if one wants to make the case that the children of the
nomenklatura will have the skills and insider contacts to do the needed
economic projects when the economy turns around, I can buy this argument
in the case of exchanges.
What really gets me is the argument that what is being done is
the way to promote democratization. We are selecting the people who,
even if not nomenklatura, are already the extreme Westernizers and who
generally have been supporting the authoritarianism of Yeltsin in the
name of democracy. They are precisely the people who have given
democracy such a bad name in Russia. The Democratization Program is a
branch of Treasury Department, and when people such as McFaul start
exploring in print whether an economic policy responsive to the public is
part of the meaning of democracy, then I will not have such feelings of
contempt for the Program. I may have overreacted to the latest letter
because of intense memories of its author's last letter to the New York
Times that enthused that the Yeltsin democrats, not the State Department,
should get credit for the Taliban victory in Afghanistan.
But my ultimate point is that we need not simply have exchanges
with the provinces, but exchanges that go beyond the extreme Westernizers
and reach people who really need to know about America. There are extreme
Westernizers in the provinces. If these are payoffs for support of US
foreign policy, that is one thing--and surely counterproductive for their
political position in Russia. If we are looking for those who are
crucial in democratization, we need to reach those who are not fluent in
English. We need to develop teaching programs in Russian in the
provinces that reach the next generation of students and that teach what
Americans really mean about democracy when they think of the US.
We need to reach large numbers of students and that can only be done on
the ground in Russia.
Christian Science Monitor
29 October 1999
Armenia's troubled present
US mediator is headed back to Yerevan after a terrorist attack left eight
By Fred Weir, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
The post-Soviet Caucasus has been erupting in violence for most of the past
decade. The fighting might have been dismissed by the rest of the world if it
weren't for Saudi-scale pools of oil thought to lie beneath the Caspian Sea.
This hoped-for bonanza may even have been a factor in the terrorist attack
that killed eight top lawmakers in Armenia's parliament this week, analysts
Five gunmen who burst into a parliamentary question-and-answer session and
opened fire, killing Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisyan and seven others,
surrendered yesterday after a night-long standoff with special troops in the
Armenian capital, Yerevan.
Their 40 hostages, mostly lawmakers, were released. But there are still no
clear answers as to why the group carried out the bloody and apparently
senseless act of terror.
"It's a very strange thing, but they had no demands other than to broadcast a
statement on TV," says Vartan Toganyan, press spokesman for the Armenian
Embassy in Moscow."They apologized for killing everyone except the prime
minister, who they said deserved to die."
The gunmen surrendered after President Robert Kocharyan personally granted
them the right to make their statement and guaranteed them a fair trial.
Attacker Nairi Unanyan, a former member of a banned ultranationalist party,
delivered a general tirade against corruption, ill leadership, and national
betrayal. But the statement contained few hints about his motives. "We wanted
to save the Armenian people from perishing and restore its rights," he said.
"Those responsible for robbing the country must face trial along with us."
The attack came just as Armenia appeared ready to settle its bitter feud with
neighboring Azerbaijan over the Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno
Karabakh. A war between the two former Soviet states ended in 1994 with de
facto Armenian control over the disputed territory, but peace has yet to be
concluded. For Armenian nationalists, any move toward compromise is seen as
US Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott held talks with Armenian President
Kocharyan and the now-deceased prime minister on Wednesday, and left Yerevan
just hours before the attack. High on the agenda was an American-authored
plan that would attach Karabakh to Azerbaijan as an "autonomous republic"
with its own army and currency. Mr. Talbott has now been ordered back to
The US is a co-chair, along with France and Russia, of the "Minsk Group" that
has been attempting to mediate the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.
Analysts say the outlines of a breakthrough in the process were clearly
"Every time there is an attempt to settle the Karabakh problem through
negotiations with Azerbaijan, something happens," says Alexei Malashenko, a
Caucasus expert with the Carnegie Endowment in Moscow. President Kocharyan -
who is a native of Karabakh himself - and even Sarkisyan, were ready to sign
on to the deal.
Closely connected with this, some analysts say, is the battle for control of
anticipated oil flows from the recently-discovered Caspian Sea shelf. Michael
Lynch, an oil researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in
Cambridge, says, "The [Caspian region] has about 30 to 40 billion barrels
that are pretty clearly there. There may be another 200 billion barrels, but
Output of Caspian oil has so far been disappointing, and the welter of ethnic
conflicts in the post-Soviet Caucasus has profoundly discouraged both
investors and world political leaders. But the struggle over how to divide
the oil, and the vast revenues it would generate, is well under way. Three
major routes for transporting the oil to world markets are under
consideration. All of them are currently stymied by war, instability, and
political intrigue. The first is an existing pipeline that passes through the
breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya to Novorossysk, on the Black Sea
Moscow favors this route, but has been unable to convince the international
community that it can provide adequate security. The second, already in
limited operation, passes through Georgia to the Black Sea terminus of Supsa.
But Georgia, too, has been wracked by civil war and secessionist struggles.
The third option, strongly favored by the US, would pass from Baku, the Azeri
capital, through Armenia to ports on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. This
route would bypass Russia's sphere of influence and also reward Turkey, a
NATO member that has suffered greatly from the cutoff of Iraqi oil to its
Mediterranean ports in this decade.
"Finding a solution to the Karabakh conflict is the key to solving a huge
geopolitical problem for the West. And that is closely bound up with how to
securely extract and transport the Caspian oil," says Vitaly Naumkin, a
geopolitical analyst with the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow.
Armenia has been nearly bankrupted by years of post-Soviet isolation and the
costly war with Azerbaijan over Karabakh. Though it has been a close ally of
Moscow - and even hosts Russian troops on its territory - that approach has
paid few economic dividends. "Armenia is on the verge of a radical strategic
shift, away from Russia and toward the West," says Mr. Naumkin. "There is no
doubt that Talbott brought a package of incentives to Yerevan, to encourage
the Armenians to sign on to peace with Azerbaijan.
"That may have included development loans and other aid, but the big carrot
is the future prospect of the oil pipeline, with the vast revenues it would
generate for Armenia in transit fees," he says.
But any accommodation with Azerbaijan or Turkey, which is still blamed for
its genocide against Armenians early this century, would be viewed by
Armenia's nationalist groups as selling out Karabakh and betraying the nation
to its enemies.
"These killings were a clear warning to President Kocharyan to tread more
carefully in his approach to the Karabakh problem," says Sergei Arutunyan,
head of the Caucasus department of the Institute of Ethnology in Moscow. "The
people who committed that act may have been crazy extremists. But anyone can
read, and would be foolish to ignore, the message they sent."
From: "Jon Hutzley" <email@example.com>
Subject: NCEEER reports
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999
Dear Mr. Johnson,
Bob Huber asked me to send you this list of articles that NCEEER has
recently distributed to various people. He said that you would put these on
your listserve. Thank you very much in advance for your help concerning
"Creating Social Capital in Russia: The Novgorod Model" by Nicolai N. Petro,
The University of Rhode Island
"Civil War, Social Integration and Mental Health in Croatia" by Robert M.
Kunovich and Randy Hodson, Ohio State University
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999
From: Dale R Herspring <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 3592-Stowell/Hough,Richmond/Hough
Visas to Russians. I would like to say something about the Russian visa
question from a very different perspective. Permit me to begin by saying
that I agree with Yale Richmond that visas to students were one of the
best things we ever did. My conversations with individuals like Oleg
Kalugin convince me that even if they did go to KGB types, in the long run
they had a positive impact.
Rather than support the obvious, I would like to say something about the
beleagured consular/visa officers in Moscow. I know what they are going
through. I was a visa officer although my experience was in Poland
(Warsaw) rather than Moscow. However, but the process is about the same.
When I was issuing visas in Warsaw we had the highest refusal rate in the
world -- about 60%. We did studies which showed very clearly that the
overwhelming majority of those who received visas went to work in the US
and that it took about 18 months to get them deported. Poles with whom we
spoke confirmed what we already knew. And then there was the pressure
from Washington to play a hard line (INS, unions and others were putting
pressure on the Department).
So, we did our best to make certain that the majority of those who
received visas were legitimate visitors (even though we knew that most of
them would work). In the meantime, we were clobbered from the other side
-- from the Hill in particular. Why won't you permit Pan X or Pani Y to
visit the US? The fact that they were going to visit an aunt they had
never seen, that they were one of 8 kids on a 10 hectare farm had little
or no impact on our Congressional representatives. We were beaten up
daily - and there were even hints from the front office that our efforts
to carry out our jobs in an even handed fashion was not particularly
Now to Russia. I have not been in the consular section in Moscow (I was
in the political section many years ago), but I can't help but believe
that our consular officers are facing the same pressures that we did. A
good number of Russian students probably do decide to say in the US -- why
not? Look at what they have to go back to? So, should they be issued a
visa? The law (unless it has changed), puts the decision in the consular
officer's hands -- not even the Ambassador can override him or her. And
he or she is under pressure not to issue such visas.
In short, my plea would be to lay off the consular officers. They have a
hard enough job as it is. The New York Times article was really a cheap
shot aimed at these men and woman who are already overworked. While I am
certain that there are some who don't give a damn, my own exerience is
that some of the most dedicated officers in the Foreign Service worked in
the consular cone. Certainly my boss in Poland, the late Alan Otto was
one of the most considerate human beings I encountered in my more than
twenty years in the Foreign Service.
This is a Washington issue, not one for bashing consular officers in
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999
From: Ken Duckworth <email@example.com>
Several subscribers have expressed dismay at the
recent article in the New York Times regarding the
increase in visa refusals at the U.S. Embassy in
Moscow and also the Embassy in Kiev. They have
expressed that the system is arbitrary, that visa
applicants are given short shrift and are often
treated rudely by consular officers, and that very
many people with legitimate reasons for going to the
United States are denied visas on what are seemingly
often tenuous grounds.
I am not a consular officer, but I do have some
understanding of the difficult and thankless job that
many of them have. They do not take joy in denying
visas to people. However, U.S. law on visa issuance
and immigration is very clear. All applicants for
visas to the United States are to be considered
intending immigrants, unless they can prove to the
satisfaction of the consular officer that they intend
to return to their country of origin when they have
concluded their legitimate business in the United
States. The burden of proof is on the applicant to
prove they he/she has significant ties to the country
of origin that require such return. Such ties may
include family, property, a job, studies at
university, significant sources of income, etc.
Unfortunately, the economic situation in Russia and
Ukraine make it difficult for a majority of visa
applicants to meet such criteria. On what grounds can
a consular officer believe that a school teacher
making the equivalent of $40 to $50 a month will
return to her job in Orenburg after visiting her dear
friends in the United States? Of course, those of us
who have spend any significant amount of time in
Russia know that very many Russians have sources of
income and resources outside their official salaries
that may afford them a vacation or trip to the U.S.
But what documentation can they provide to prove this?
I recently had a discussion with a consular officer
from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. We discussed the
situation of my sister-in-law, who was granted a visa
to the U.S. for my daughter's christening. She is a
schoolteacher in Zaporozhye with an official income of
$35. She earns additional money on the side teaching
English (which brings her income another $50 - $60 a
month), works part-time for a radio station, and does
a wonderful job designing beautiful western style
clothing for private clients. All in all she is able
to bring in between $150 to $200 per month. She was
able to pay for her own ticket to the U.S., and to
even bring some additional spending money. On the
face of the facts presented to any consular officer,
she would not have been a winning candidate for a U.S.
visa. One writer has pointed out that consular
officers may have to have a better understanding of
the "real" economy in these countries to know that
very many people's resources outstrip their official
means, and that a salary of $200 - $300 per month in
Ukraine is actually very good money. This particular
David Wheeler writes about his dismay that his friend
was denied a visa, and that even after writing to a
U.S. Senator was told there is no appeal. This is
also due to the structure of U.S. law governing the
issuance of visas. There is no right to a visa. This
was recently upheld by Judge Stanley Sporkin of the
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in a
case brought against the State Department by a
dismissed employee who claimed he was let go because
he refused to follow consular practices - the use of
profiles based on, among other factors, race and
economic status - at his post (Sao Paulo, Brazil) that
he deemed to be discriminatory and illegal under U.S.
law. Judge Sporkin upheld the former employee's claim
and remanded his case back to the Foreign Service
grievance board while holding further that the court
does not want to set precedent by granting that all
visa applicants have a "right" to appeal. Setting up
an appeals process would imply that an individual has
a "right" to a visa. This is simply not so. (I
cannot recall the full name of the case at this point,
but if anyone wishes to e-mail privately I can find it
Finally, I would also like to express my frustration
at the treatment I, and perhaps others, have received
in trying to obtain visas to Russia. I have been
charged anywhere from nothing to over $300 dollars for
Russian visas. I have had to pay "dummy" tour
agencies and visa services money to obtain an
invitation or voucher to go to Russia (their fees -
$50 to $90, are not included in the visa processing
and visa fees I must pay to the Russian consulate.
Yesterday I paid $120 for a single entry, 30 day visa.
The U.S. charges Russians $45 for a similar visa. A
one year multiple entry visa is $150. Where is the
reciprocity in this?). I have been denied visas
without cause. Then there is also the issue of your
sponsore and visa registration with OVIR, which
further complicates matters, and the required purchase
of bogus health insurance (in Ukraine) when you come
over the border. This something not explained to you
when you apply for and get your visa. It appears to
me that the whole Russia/post-Soviet visa regime is
set up to be as expensive and opaque as possible.
This is only another factor that contributes to the
lack of foreign investors to engage in Russia. And it
certainly does not do much to increase travelers'
perceptions of Russia when they are trying to go
Former U.S.S.R. United by Violence
October 28, 1999
By JUDITH INGRAM
MOSCOW (AP) - The assassination of Armenia's prime minister in the assault on
parliament was the latest convulsion of violence to grip the former republics
of the Soviet Union as increasingly radical fringe groups take up arms.
In some republics, the violence has erupted between secular governments and
religious movements; in others, bloody conflicts have arisen between
political opponents. Hopes that democracy would flourish across the former
Soviet Union are threatened by growing political polarization.
Many of the radical groups have taken root in the economic desperation that
has gripped much of the region since the Soviet collapse in 1991.
``Our fathers and grandfathers, who spared no effort and sacrificed
themselves to build this country, have been doomed to a half-starved and
miserable existence,'' Nairi Unanian, the leader of the gunmen who killed
Armenian Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, proclaimed in a televised
``Thousands of our children have no school books and shoes to go to school,
our economy has been ruined, social unrest has risen to an unbearable level
and there is a looming threat of losing our independence.''
It was not clear whether Unanian and the other four gunmen who burst into the
Armenian parliament on Wednesday represented a wider group. But their message
would resonate with many in Armenia, one of the poorest nations to emerge
from the Soviet Union.
Poverty has toppled successive governments in Christian Armenia; in the
Islamic republics of the former Soviet Union it has fueled militant religious
movements that have challenged state authorities.
The last few months alone have seen a violent incursion by a radical Islamic
group into Kyrgyzstan, which had been the most stable former Soviet republic
in Central Asia; a militant Islamic offensive in the southern Russian region
of Dagestan, which drew Russia back into war with separatist Chechnya; and a
series of terrorist bombings in Russian cities that killed about 300 people
and were blamed on Islamic fighters from Dagestan and Chechnya.
Caucasus expert Alexander Iskandaryan said that high unemployment among young
people, against a background of widespread corruption, made republics such as
Dagestan ripe for the spread of radical Islam.
``All of this leads to the popularity of slogans about social equality,
unmasking of corrupt officials and criticism of the social mullahs, who are
sullied by luxury and hypocrisy,'' Iskandaryan wrote in The Moscow Times this
Earlier this year, terrorists unleashed car bomb attacks against several
government buildings in the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan, where the
secular government of President Islam Karimov has been doing its utmost to
stifle what it considers a growing threat of militant Islamic fundamentalism.
The government has banned political parties based on religion and prohibits
the teaching of religion in schools.
Human rights advocates say that such a climate of confrontation has
encouraged the growth of radical movements - especially in the Central Asian
nations, where political life is dominated by authoritarian leaders.
``The real problem is that the population is experiencing extremely difficult
circumstances, and there are very few avenues for them to address their
discontent,'' said John Schoeberlein, chairman of the Central Asian Forum of
Aside from poverty and the struggle for power, the former Soviet republics
are united by growing ties between politicians and criminals, and easy access
to weapons. These factors have fed the growth of violent, radical movements.
``Huge stocks of weapons have been accumulated almost everywhere and there is
no way of preventing them from spreading,'' said Nikolai Petrov, a political
analyst at the Moscow office of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace.
He also noted that soldiers, who gained combat experience in the regional
wars that broke out in the years following the Soviet breakup, provide ready
recruits for militant groups.
``Mostly, they are unemployed, feel themselves alienated from society, and
try to make their living with the help of guns,'' Petrov said.
Moscow Daily Cites Ambassador Collins
27 October 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Account of U.S. Ambassador James Collins' replies to questions from
Rossiyskaya Gazeta journalists during 22 Oct visit to editorial office;
account "prepared by" Anatoliy Shapovalov and carried under "From the
Horse's Mouth" rubric: "James Collins: Chechnya Is Part of Russia and
Must Live According to Russia's Laws" -- first paragraph is introduction
Last Friday [22 October] James Collins, U.S.
ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Russia, visited the
Rossiyskaya Gazeta editorial office. He answered journalists' questions.
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] Mr. Ambassador, have you gotten used to the climate in
Moscow, and how do you feel as ambassador?
[Collins] I have been ambassador for a little over two years. And this is
fourth time in Moscow. I have acclimatized. Now a few words about the
realities of Moscow life or, to be more accurate, the changes in it. I
first visited Moscow in 1965 as an exchange student. After that I twice
worked at the embassy -- in the early seventies and in the eighties. I
think I can make comparisons. There are a number of differences. In my
view, in the view of my government, the unique thing is that your country
is now on the threshold of significant changes.
The main thing is that for the first time your country is going to
freely choose not only its leadership but also new approaches and new
paths for the next decade, century, and even millennium.
I am among those who are deeply convinced of something, incidentally,
that President Clinton has often said to me, namely: The American people
and the American state are extremely keen for Russia to be a stable,
progressive country and a good trade partner and partner in the security
sphere vis-a-vis America.
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] Consultations about the ABM Treaty are being held in
Is there a rapprochement between positions over the American scenario for
modernization of the treaty?
[Collins] I would like to note that the discussions currently being held
a continuation of the dialogue of the last several months. Everything is
being discussed in a very businesslike atmosphere and in the most serious
A very important problem facing our President and people and also your
president and your people is the threat of the proliferation of missile
technology and missile weapons. The question is this: What should be done
to ensure collective defense in the event that these weapons get into the
hands of hostile leaders and countries?
President Clinton has clearly indicated that a number of problems
the ABM Treaty must be solved. And in this connection he has also clearly
indicated that this must be done in cooperation with Russia and while
retaining the ABM Treaty as one of the fundamental elements of our
strategic relations. We are now discussing this issue. There are a whole
series of different considerations. Some mass media reports about this
are accurate, others are marred by inaccuracy. We are fully determined to
conduct these discussions, this dialogue in such a way that the
legitimate security interests of both countries are taken into account.
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] Suppose it isn't possible to reach agreement. What
-- a return to Cold War?
[Collins] Our President, I repeat, is trying to find ways of solving this
problem retaining the ABM Treaty as one of the main elements of our
strategic relations and taking into account the security interests of
I would not like to speculate now about how this will be achieved. And
I would not like to speculate about a negative result whereby a
confrontation between our countries was possible.
We have substantial experience of the period since the end of the Cold
War, a period during which we have encountered a whole series of complex
problems. And when such things have happened, we have done everything
possible to solve these problems. And so far we have succeeded in this.
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] Recently the Russian press has often begun to write
the U.S. Government has a direct influence on the decisions made by the IMF.
Is this true?
[Collins] It is a fact that the United States is the biggest shareholder in
the IMF and as such has quite a sizable say. But this is just one voice
among many, and it is not we who decide on allocating credits. As for the
IMF decisions concerning Russia, before they are made there are
consultations with Russian Government representatives. Therefore there
are no surprises, everything is discussed in advance and plans, programs,
and guidelines are worked out. After this the Russian Government is
expected to implement the package of agreed measures.
The IMF has now asked Russia to account for the use of IMF tranches. And
the Russian Government, for its part, has agreed to certain procedures to
ensure greater openness in these matters. Talks are currently under way
aimed at finally coordinating positions and the necessary procedures. The
U.S. Government supports the IMF's desire to secure greater openness_--
such measures are necessary if Russia is to become attractive to foreign
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] Official U.S. organs recently published a list of
international terrorists. It included Bin-Ladin, but not Basayev and the
Jordanian Khattab, although it is known from the mass media, including
the American media, that there is only indirect evidence of crimes
against Bin-Ladin. But there is direct proof against Basayev and Khattab,
and it has been presented by the Russian side. Nevertheless, these
terrorists did not feature on the list. Why this strange selectiveness?
Isn't it because Bin-Ladin is suspected of harming the United States
directly, while Basayev and Khattab are suspected of harming only Russia?
[Collins] I haven't seen this list, although I have heard of it. I can say
one thing: There is no doubt about the U.S. Government's intentions and
desire to support your government in its fight against terrorism.
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] Including in Chechnya?
[Collins] We intend to support the fight against terrorism regardless of
it spreads. We will also seek to ensure that international conventions
are heeded and human rights observed in this fight.
All I can say about the list is that it reflects the proof that the
United States has at the moment in question. The list in no way claims to
include all terrorists.
Concerning Chechnya. We fully realize that Chechnya is part of the Russian
Federation and as such it must and will live according to Russian laws.
On the other hand, this implies observance of certain rights and a
certain responsibility on the part of both the Russian and Chechen
authorities. We hope that these rights and this responsibility will be
reflected in some way as progress is made in the quest for a political
settlement of this problem in the long term. We hope a final solution
will be found concerning Chechnya's status whereby it will become a safe
place for Chechens and all other Russian citizens to live.
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] Our newspapers recently published an impressive list
American funds and public organizations that are supporting particular
Russian parties ahead of the elections.
[Collins] I cannot speak on behalf of private organizations providing
assistance. If the Central Electoral Commission had approached American
state agencies, we would have shared our experience and our technologies
concerning how to hold elections, poll the electorate, and ensure an
honest expression of voters' will.
In the past some of our government organizations, at the request of
certain party organizations from Russia, helped them with advice. That
work was carried out at the request of any party that needed this.
Irrespective of its orientation and outside the election campaign
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] As a student, you studied in Russia at the Lomonosov
State University. What could the American educational system borrow from
the Russian system, and in what respects are we ahead of you in this
[Collins] The educational systems themselves are very different. Yours has
always been more selective, thanks to which exceptionally good training
of specialists is ensured, in my view. I would say that your system is
coping superbly with its tasks in certain spheres of education such as
mathematics and foreign languages.
The American educational system and its strength are based on the fact
that it is more open to anyone. Anyone can choose whatever attracts him.
The student himself decides what to study and how far. In practice this
means that over 40 percent of the population in the United States is
involved in various methods of training. The quality of knowledge may be
lower, but the breadth is much greater. There is another important
aspect. Young Americans know in advance that they will have to change
occupation more than once during their lives and retrain several times.
It is even known that they will have to do this between seven and 10
times on average. So young people try to structure their education so
that they have a basis for picking up various specialties when necessary.
The concept of narrow specialization from university onward can be said
to be gradually dying out in the United States.
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] We regularly watch American movies and never tire of
cursing them. Is this the real American cinema, or are less than the best
examples being sold cheaply to us?
[Collins] As for cinema as an industry, this problem does not boil down to
movies alone. A very great many TV programs are also made, including
entertainment programs. They are called movies, but they are really TV
programs. There is all kinds of stuff -- from the most inferior films to
masterpieces of world cinema. Naturally, there is more that is bad than
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] How does your family feel in Moscow?
[Collins] I have two adult sons, both in the United States. Incidentally,
of them is currently trying to become a scriptwriter. As for my wife, I
don't see her that often since she is working in Washington. When she
comes here we enjoy Moscow. Personally I very often stroll around Moscow
and travel on the subway....
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] You may have been informed of the conflict that has
emerged over the payment of taxes by Russian citizens working at the U.S.
Consulate in St. Petersburg and the embassy in Moscow. Our tax organs say
that the U.S. side is failing to provide realistic information about
these Russians' earnings. But you feel confusion when you know how
careful people in America are about taxes. What is the truth, what is the
situation in reality, can this problem be solved?
[Collins] We want to have law-abiding Russian citizens working for us.
staffers bear responsibility before the tax services and we expect them
to precisely fulfill their duties as taxpayers. On the other hand, we are
bound by certain international conventions and rules by virtue of which
we must not provide information about people who are not citizens of our
country. There are also tax problems concerning citizens working at your
embassy in our country. And vice versa. All this is attributable to the
fact that our tax systems are different from each other. We are
discussing these problems with your government.
[Rossiyskaya Gazeta] Concerning the scandal over Russian money laundering
America, is there more crime or politics in this affair, in your view?
[Collins] A number of people have been charged with violating U.S. laws
concerning banking activity. Some of the money involved in these offenses
comes from the Russian Federation. We do not know the specific
individuals and specific organizations, but we do know the money came
from Russia. The investigation is continuing. Three staffers have been
charged with illegal activities. But apart from them no one is being
accused by the U.S. Government.
I do not have any facts concerning anything else. At the same time, as
representatives of Russian official circles have said, the problem of
corruption in Russia exists. Russia is not the only place it exists, but
it definitely exists in Russia.
There was a meeting of the justice ministers of the G-8 countries in
Moscow the other day which examined the problem of corruption from a
multilateral standpoint. During the conference the Russian Federation
prime minister announced that Russia intends to move toward elaborating a
new law on money laundering. It was also stated that Russia intends to
accede to the European convention on combating money laundering.
Russians Search American's Apt.
October 28, 1999
MOSCOW (AP) - Russian security agents searched the apartment of an American
researching environmental hazards posed by nuclear facilities in Russia, the
Interfax news agency reported Thursday.
The FSB, a successor agency to the KGB, searched Josh Handler's apartment in
Moscow and took away notebooks and a computer, the report said.
Handler, who was researching his Princeton Ph.D. thesis, was invited to
Russia by the U.S. and Canada Institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The institutes' director, Alexei Yablokov, denied Handler did anything wrong
and protested the search, Interfax reported.
The report did not say if Handler was present during the search, or if he had
been questioned or detained.
Yablokov said the search fits a pattern of harassment against environmental
researchers in Russia.
There is widespread concern about the threat posed by Russia's nuclear waste
facilities, whose condition is difficult to assess because the Russian
government tries to keep information about waste dumps secret.
In 1996 the FSB arrested former naval officer Alexander Nikitin, who had
written a report on decaying nuclear waste dumps in the Russian Arctic. He
was held in solitary confinement for 10 months on charges of spying. His case
has not been resolved.
The FSB has said foreign spy agencies are gathering environmental information
aiming to damage Russia's security, but have provided no evidence.
Handler had been gathering material about the Russian navy's policies in
handling nuclear material. His dissertation was on how non-governmental
groups like Greenpeace can force governments to solve environmental problems.
Such groups have revealed that the navy has put spent nuclear fuel rods in
cracked and leaky drums in open fields.
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