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Johnson's Russia List
1 November 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: Ukrainian Leader May Face Runoff.
2. Financial Times: Charles Clover, UKRAINE: Ballot rigging claims.
3. Bloomberg: Bradley Criticizes Clinton-Gore Policy Toward Russia.
4. Ray Finch: Chechen Reaction.
5. Helsinki Commission Announces Hearing: "The Chechen Crisis and Its
Implications for Russian Democracy"
6. MSNBC: Nabi Abdullaev, Chechnya, same war, new Russian tactics.
7. Los Angeles Times: Raymond Garthoff, A Loss for the U.S. in World.re test ban treaty)
8. The Russia Journal: Vera Kuznetsova, Kremlin maneuvers before the
9. Newsweek: Mikhail Gorbachev, 'Doomed to Disappear'. The reformer on
the last days of the wall and why communism crumbled.
10. The Times (UK) letter: The West must not ignore Chechnya>From the Director of The HALO Trust.
11. AP: Russia Denies Targeting Civilians.
12. Reuters: British reporter says Russians greeted him as spy.(Anthony
13. AFP: Hares and tortoises: a decade in ex-communist Europe.]
Ukrainian Leader May Face Runoff
October 31, 1999
By SERGEI SHARGORODSKY
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Incumbent Leonid Kuchma held the lead in vote counting
in Ukraine's presidential elections, but appeared headed for a runoff, early
results showed Monday.
With about 17 percent of the ballots tallied from Sunday's election, Kuchma
was in first place with 37 percent, the Central Elections Commission
reported. Communist Party head Petro Symonenko was second with 22 percent.
If the trend continues, Kuchma will win and face the next highest vote getter
among his several left-wing opponents. The initial results indicated that a
second on Nov. 14 would be between Kuchma and Symonenko.
Earlier, a nationwide exit poll commissioned by the independent Democratic
Initiatives Foundation showed Kuchma winning with 41 percent of the vote,
short of the more than 50 percent majority required to avoid a runoff. The
poll, which was based on interviews with 6,000 people across Ukraine, had a
margin of error of about 5 percent.
Voter turnout was 69.82 percent, election officials said. That was slightly
higher than in 1994, when Kuchma, a former missile plant director, was
The election was a key test of Kuchma's popularity after five years of
cautious, often flawed market reforms. He faced strong competition from
several left-wing candidates who had advocated a return to Soviet-style state
economic controls and closer ties to Russia.
Kuchma's main rivals were Symonenko; radical Marxist Natalia Vitrenko; Yevhen
Marchuk, a moderate ex-prime minister who favors pro-Western reforms; and
Oleksandr Moroz, head of Ukraine's Socialist Party.
``I'm not clinging to power,'' a tired-looking Kuchma said after voting in
downtown Kiev. ``I voted for a better life for Ukrainians, which can only
happen if we continue the present course.''
It is that course that many of Kuchma's opponents want to change in this
country of 50 million people. The incumbent ran against 12 other candidates
``I've lived under Communism and I want to live under Communism and have a
secure life,'' said Anna Palenova, a World War II veteran who voted for
Symonenko in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol.
Opponents accused Kuchma of stifling the media and blocking their electoral
efforts during the heated and often dirty presidential campaign. On Sunday,
Kuchma's camp accused its rivals of campaigning on election day while
opponents charged the president's followers with trying to rig the vote.
Kuchma has failed to halt the worsening economic situation in Ukraine, once
the Soviet Union's breadbasket and a major industrial zone.
Rampant corruption and red tape, paltry foreign investment and growing
unemployment along with wage and pension debts have plagued his term in
office, though he did manage to avoid civil unrest and improve Ukraine's
Kuchma's foes ran on platforms ranging from populist socialism to a limited
market economy with varying state involvement. Many candidates advocated
close relations with Moscow and opposed Kuchma's pro-Western bent.
``The Ukrainian people must choose whether they go in the direction of Europe
or the opposite way, to direct dependence on Russia,'' said Hennadiy
Udovenko, an ex-foreign minister and minor candidate.
Symonenko attempted to dispel fears of a Communist comeback, pledging to
fight bureaucracy and protect honest businessmen. Symonenko has a large
following in Ukraine and his chances were boosted by backing from a hard-line
Financial Times (UK)
1 November 1999
[for personal use only]
UKRAINE: Ballot rigging claims
By Charles Clover in Kiev
Millions of Ukrainians turned out to vote in presidential elections
yesterday but many of the 14 candidates running in the election complained
of election violations such as ballot-stuffing in favour of Leonid Kuchma,
Mykhailo Ryabets, head of the election commission, denied that there had
been any violations that could have a significant impact on voting process.
He said preliminary results would be known by this morning.
For months, opposition candidates have been complaining that Mr Kuchma has
utilised the state apparatus to promote his candidacy, and have repeatedly
voiced fears that the vote will be rigged.
"Unfortunately the results of the election today do not depend only on the
voters but on those who are trying to use their authority to preserve this
system," said Petro Simonenko, a candidate from the Communist party.
A spokesman for Mr Simonenko said that thousands of ballots marked with
Kuchma votes had been located throughout Ukraine.
Most of the claims and counter-claims are unlikely to be properly
substantiated, but allegations of fraud seemed more credible to
international observers after the heavy handed campaign run by President
Kuchma, in which the media has faced heavy pressure and opposition
candidates have been harassed.
"I'm afraid the incumbent may have already lost the benefit of the doubt as
a result of his campaign" said a western diplomat in Kiev.
Mr Kuchma has maintained that the voting was free and fair.
Bradley Criticizes Clinton-Gore Policy Toward Russia: Comment
Washington, Oct. 31 (Bloomberg)
-- Following are comments by Democratic Party presidential candidate
Bill Bradley on U.S. policy toward Russia. Bradley, on CBS's ``Face the
Nation,'' was asked whether President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al
Gore, the front-running Democrat, had linked U.S. policy too closely to the
fate of President Boris Yeltsin.
``The Cold War is over and now we communicate primarily to the leader of the
country. And therefore, to Russians, the Yeltsin government becomes the
United States,'' Bradley said. ``We need to continue to reach out to the
people of Russia and the other republics, and that's why I think things like
massive exchange programs among students is enormously important. Our peoples
have to get to know each other. And the last things we want to do is have
ourselves become hostage to whoever the leader is in the country.''
Bradley noted the poverty and social distress that afflicts Russia and said:
``I think we made a big mistake by not reaching out more to the Russian
people so that they know what we're hoping for and let them know we
understand the pain that they're in the middle of in their country and the
fear that they have about their future. Right now we've become, in the best
of circumstances, irrelevant to their economic circumstance; and in the worst
of circumstances, we're blamed for their economic circumstances.''
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1999
Subject: Chechen Reaction
From: "Ray C. Finch" <email@example.com>
Perhaps some of you Russian watchers missed a small, but what I consider
to be prophetic
article concerning the security of Russia’s chemical stockpile ("Battle
Chemical Weapons are Sufficient for Thousands of Terrorist Actions"), by
Moskovskiy Komsomoletz, 28 Oct 99. The gist of the article consists of
an interview with
the Russian General in charge of chemical and biological defense,
Stanislav V. Petrov. He
talks about the financial problems facing his organization and explains
why Russia has
been unable to destroy some of its treaty-specified munitions. Despite
the lack of adequate
funding, however, he assures the readers that these stockpiles are under
firm and reliable
control. At the end of the article, Ms. Kalinina reminds her readers
(Chechnya) has never signed the treaty forbidding the use of these
Now imagine this: your family, friends and land are being systematically
destroyed by the
overwhelmingly superior (at least in equipment and manpower) Russian
military. This is
not war or police-action or even destroying bands of rebel gangs, but
back is literally to the wall, and there is zero chance that foreign
pressure will stop the slaughter. What are your options?
I recall an interview which Shamil Basayev gave during the last Chechen
he commented that the advent of weapons of mass destruction had forever
traditional understanding of correlation of forces. Where 200 years ago,
his namesake and
forerunner, Shamil, had little hope of defeating the Russian army, today,
weaponry, at least hypothetically, has made it possible for a single
individual to bring a nation to its knees.
Given the tenacity and memory of the Chechen people, the scale of the
indiscriminate Russian slaughter, and the huge, deteriorating stockpiles
of chemical and
biological stocks within the Russian arsenal, I suspect that the Chechens
will soon resort
to unconventional means. If nothing else, I would advise against
foreigners visiting Russia in the near future.
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999
From: "Gore, Chadwick" <Chadwick.Gore@mail.house.gov>
Subject: Helsinki Commission Announces Hearing: "The Chechen Crisis and Its
Implications for Russian Democracy"
CSCE NEWS RELEASE
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
234 Ford House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-6460
Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Co-Chairman
Contact: Chadwick R. Gore
Helsinki Commission Announces Hearing: "The Chechen Crisis and Its
Implications for Russian Democracy"
For Immediate Release
Chadwick R. Gore
October 29, 1999
Washington, D.C.- Today the Commission on Security and Cooperation
in Europe announced a hearing:
The Chechen Crisis and Its Implications
for Russian Democracy?
Wednesday, November 3
10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
Room 2226, Rayburn House Office Building
Open to all Members, Staff, Press and the Public
Witnesses shall include:
Dr. John Dunlop, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Dr. Fiona Hill, Eurasia Foundation
Lyoma Usmanov, Representative of the Chechen Republic to the United States
Yo'av Karny, journalist, author
The Commission has requested a representative from the U.S. State
Department and has extended an invitation to His Excellency Ambassador
Ushakov of the Russian Federation to make a presentation.
Background: In response to Islamic extremist armed incursions into
Dagestan in August and September, and in the wake of unsolved terrorist
bombings in Russia that killed almost 300 persons, Russia has renewed its
war against Chechnya as the alleged culprit behind Russia's problems with
terrorism. At least 150,000 persons in Northern Chechnya have been
internally displaced, and the death toll may be in the hundreds. The
capital, Grozny (Djohar), is under siege by the Russian army, and a Russian
rocket attack on a market in the center of town reportedly killed scores
of persons. Some believe that Moscow, supported at present by Russian
public opinion, is endeavoring full-blast to revenge its humiliating loss
of Chechnya in the 1994-96 war.
Both the incursions into Dagestan and the heavy-handed Russian
reaction threaten the entire Caucasus with armed conflict and humanitarian
tragedy. Moreover, there is concern that heavy-handed military solutions
and Russia's attempts to combat terrorism with a campaign of harassment
against Caucasian minorities in Russia may presage a move away from rule
of law, civil liberties and democratic development.
Russia is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on December 19.
Chadwick R. Gore
U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
234 Ford House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6064
(202) 225-1901; fax (202) 225-4394
Chechnya, same war, new Russian tactics
By Nabi Abdullaev
Nabi Abdullaev is a freelance journalist based in Makhachkala, Dagestan.
ON THE DAGESTAN-CHECHNYA BORDER, Oct. 30 Russia's military commanders and
the Kremlin leadership are boasting of success in the so-called
anti-terrorist operation now underway in Chechnya. A town taken here, arms
factories bombed there — always delivered without any acknowledgement of
civilian casualties. Moscows claims remains cause for speculation. However,
one thing is clear: the military tactics Russia's army has employed show
that its commanders learned important lessons from the disastrous Chechen
conflict of 1994-96.
ISLAMIC rebels gained de-facto independence after the last war and, at one
point, appeared to be moving toward official recognition of that fact in
Moscow. But over the past three years, the elected Chechen president, Aslan
Maskhadov, has proven unable to control militant warlords who have launched
regular raids on the surrounding Russian republics.
Their most recent attacks, from August through September, involved an
estimated 3,000 rebels who invaded the neighboring republic of Dagestan to
try and set up an Islamic state. That incursion, and a series of bombings
in Moscow and another Russian city that left more than 300 civilians dead,
was cause enough for Russia to risk a second invasion.
The decision to re-engage this fight was not taken lightly. The first
Chechen war was disastrous, costing an estimated 80,000 civilian lives and
thousands of Russian conscript solders. It also tarnished Russias
reputation and dented the pride of a military that only 10 years before was
considered on par with Americas.
Russia's military did not shy away when given a chance to reverse this.
Determined to avoid the pitfalls of the first war particularly the
meat-grinding quagmire of street fighting in the rebel capital, Grozny,
Russian commanders have adopted a very different plan of attack.
BOYS TO MEN
Perhaps the most important change relates to personnel. To minimize the
human losses among federal troops, the Russian Ministry of Defense has
adopted a policy that keeps fresh recruits, who were the cannon fodder of
the first war, away from battle this time. Officials claim that only
professional soldiers or draftees who have served more than a year and
volunteer to remain in the battle zone are involved in combat.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree to that effect after
complaints from the Russian Republic of Tartarstan, which lost several
young recruits in the Dagestan fighting at the end of the summer.
Whether the decree has been enforced is another question. There are signs
that young recruits are still fighting in Chechnya. Fresh-faced
18-year-olds are regularly shown on Russian television. Russian commanders
have sought to explain their presence by pointing to the quick order to
deploy around Chechnya after the raids in Dagestan.
A number of Russian regions including Tartarstan, Moscow and Nizhny
Novgorod have sent special commissions to the Caucasus to ensure Yeltsins
decree is enforced. According to the Defense Ministrys provisional press
center, anyone having served less than six months is automatically assigned
duty in non-conflict areas in the republics surrounding Chechnya, helping
the local law-enforcement structures. The ministry explained the presence
of young recruits seen on television by saying that it had to transfer men
to the North Caucasus quickly when the fighting began and therefore did not
have time to ensure that only experienced soldiers were sent. A number of
soldiers returning from Chechnya confirmed that the recruits are serving in
combat, and that many have decided to stay with their units.
Still, it is widely accepted that some effort is being made to ensure that
experienced soldiers do the bulk of the fighting. That is a big change from
NEW CONFLICT, NEW TACTICS
Another change is battlefield tactics. Former Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev's boast that his troops would take Grozny in two days in December
1994 became a sad joke as hundreds and then thousands of soldiers were
killed. This time, Russian troops have followed a careful script, quickly
occupying the Russian majority regions of northern Chechnya and then moving
with deliberation to the area around the capital.
with deliberation to the area around the capital.
Russian commanders estimate the
rebels potential to be between 20-30,000. So far, Russia has amassed over
100,000 troops in and around Chechnya.
Ground air support has improved, as has coordination between the army and
the air force. Intensive and continuous long-range bombing precedes every
ground move by the troops. A number of Russian warplanes, including the
SU-25 fighters and SU-27 bombers some equipped with precision munitions,
according to Russian official sources, fly on average 10 missions a day.
The federal troops also are better equipped this time around. Armored
vehicles and long-range howitzers are being used in great numbers. The
Chechen village of Bamut the citadel of the separatists has been
regularly shelled from a distance of 12 miles. Its a tactic that that makes
nonsense of Russian declarations about hitting precise targets and
inflicting minimal losses among the civilian population. But it has also
allowed Russian forces to pound rebel positions without fear of
Russia's initial success could have been predicted. The wide and flat
steppe of northern Chechnya is an area the rebels cannot defend. Their
tactics, which consist mainly of fighting units making hit-and-run attacks
on Russian field bases, require the cover afforded by the more rugged
terrain of the south and southwest.
The Chechens, probably wisely, are not gathering for any mass confrontation
with the Russians. Instead, they work together in small formations: a
sniper, a grenade cup discharger and one or two machine-gunners. The groups
fire on Russian checkpoints and sentry posts and then melt away. As Russian
forces advance south of Grozny, their positions will be harder to defend
from the rebels.
VETERAN CAUCASUS FIGHTERS
Russian commanders estimate the rebels strength to be between
20,000-30,000. So far, Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops in and around
Chechnya. Most are marines, paratroopers and spetsnaz, elite anti-terrorist
troops, collected from all over the Russia. Some of them have already
fought in Chechnya and are bound to feel a thirst for vengeance coming back
to the Caucasus.
While some may be back to avenge fallen colleagues, most of the returning
veterans were attracted by the relatively high wages the Ministry of
Defense has started to pay professional servicemen.
In some cases, salaries approach $1,000 per month about 20 times the
average monthly income of the average Russian. Even regular soldiers in
Chechnya have been promised $35 daily, compared to their usual
There are also indications, Russian officials claim, that the guerrillas
may lack the manpower needed to take on Russias offensive. A much-heralded
mobilization announced by Chechen President Maskhadov has been deemed a
failure by Russian analysts. Russian television recently showed video of
prisoners from Grozny jails winning their freedom for joining the rebels
something armed forces do only in desperate times.
In the cold, value-neutral world of military analysis, Russias tactics, so
far, have been flawless. Public opinion around the world was outraged last
week when Moscow fired Scud and SS-21 missiles into a Grozny marketplace,
killing dozens of civilians.
But the public relations disaster did not slow the Kremlins military
machine. Russian troops crept ever closer to the capital this week, moving
from about 12 miles out to the very city limits. Other troops, meanwhile,
pushed eastward in what appears from the outside to be a classic pincer
movement. Storming Grozny, while not ruled out by military commanders, may
not be necessary.
Los Angeles Times
October 31, 1999
[for personal use only]
A Loss for the U.S. in World
By RAYMOND GARTHOFF
Raymond Garthoff, Retired Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute, Served as
Counselor to the U.s. Mission to Nato and as U.s. Ambassador to Bulgaria. His
Books Include "The Great Transition: American-soviet Relations and the End of
the Cold War."
WASHINGTON--Real U.S. security interests were damaged not only by what
the recent Senate rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty does, but
also by what the stand represents. In effect, the Senate jeopardized a half
century of bipartisan support for a responsible international U.S. role. To
be sure, it was easier to create consensus during the Cold War, when the
United States faced an implacable foe, but that is the point: We are defining
the U.S. role in the post-Cold War world. The Senate's action goes a long way
toward telling the world that the United States places not only its own
parochial interests, but even domestic partisan interests, above its
responsibilities in the world.
The Senate's rejection of the test-ban treaty does not stand alone in
cultivating that impression. The world's wealthiest country persists in
thumbing its nose at the international community by failing to pay its agreed
share of financing for the United Nations. Now, the world's mightiest nation,
which has conducted more nuclear-weapons tests than all other countries
combined, airily declines to ratify a treaty that would require us to accept
a modest constraint on what remains an unparalleled technological capability
for preserving and even enhancing U.S. nuclear-weapons superiority.
Washington declares it will not even join the lesser nuclear powers
(committed to real constraints) in taking a cautious step toward our end of
the deal with nonnuclear countries in forging an international regime of
nuclear weapons nonproliferation, a matter of great importance to U.S., as
well as world, security.
The most dedicated opponents of the test-ban treaty saw its defeat as
the first major step in rolling back the existing arms-control regime. They
do not just oppose a test ban; indeed, it probably doesn't even rank high in
their concerns. But it was the most vulnerable. The Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty is next. If so, then strategic-arms limitations: the Strategic Arms
Limitations Treaty of the 1970s, through the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
I, the START II Treaty still awaiting Russian ratification and,
prospectively, a START III treaty.
The same hard-line opponents of the test-ban treaty already argue that
the ABM treaty is defunct because the Soviet Union no longer exists. It is an
untenable position, but Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) has insisted that the
protocols on ABM treaty succession be considered by the Senate together with
amendments to START II and promised to press for renunciation of the ABM
treaty. The greater threat, however, is that the pursuit of a national
missile defense system, now accepted by both Congress and the Clinton
administration, may lead Russia to renounce all strategic-arms control.
The rejection of the test-ban treaty is a challenge to strategic
stability that defies common sense. The purported reasons for rejecting the
treaty are, if not contrived, weak. If some small nuclear tests could evade
detection by our existing technical means, that would, of course, also be
true under the treaty--but the treaty provides additional verification and
recourse for clarifying possible noncompliance, as well as the sanction of an
internationally approved repudiation of any testing. In the unlikely event
that U.S. national-security interests were threatened by any evasion of
compliance (or the actions of a nonsignatory) the treaty provides for
withdrawal. We would be no worse off then had the treaty and its powerful
inhibitions on testing not been in effect.
There is no need for testing for the United States to assure reliability
of proven nuclear weapons, and no identifiable requirement for any
nuclear-weapons designs that would require testing. The test ban would,
however, constrain potential proliferation. The real concern underlying these
objections is one of principle: Blanket opposition to U.S. participation in a
global security regime. There are those who do not favor international arms
control any more than they do gun control at home.
The impact of the Senate action on U.S. relations with Russia is
indirect, but not inconsequential. It was seen as but the latest sign of U.S.
arrogance and unilateralism. From the Russian standpoint, the United States
first chose the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, rather than the
Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, which includes Russia, as
the principal security organization in Europe; then it expanded NATO to the
East over Russian objections and with no evident need to do so; and, finally,
it abandoned its reassurances that NATO was just a defensive alliance and
bulldozed through a NATO intervention in Kosovo without mandate from either
the U.N. Security Council or the OSCE. Now, the United States has abandoned
the collaborative effort to build a global nonproliferation regime with the
comprehensive test ban as a key component. And it has announced another "not
whether but when" decision to proceed with a national missile
defense--regardless of the outcome of talks with Russia on amending the ABM
Senate rejection of the test-ban treaty is widely recognized to have
been a serious failure of U.S. responsibility as a world power. Even many who
had reservations about terms of the treaty, including some senators who voted
against ratification, have conceded that there would be adverse international
repercussions. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of the senators signed a letter
urging that a vote not be taken at this time. Yet, it was held, and, on
nearly straight party lines, the treaty was rejected.
Predictably, Democrats (and some Republicans) blamed the rejection on
the capitulation of GOP leadership to a strident minority determined to both
trash the treaty and deal a blow to President Bill Clinton and the Democrats.
And Republicans (and some Democrats) have put much of the blame on Clinton
for a poorly managed effort to push the treaty through, gambling on
traditional reluctance to undercut not only a president but also U.S.
standing. Blame enough to share there may be, but the rejection of the treaty
bespeaks insufficient awareness in the Senate, and the country, of the wide
repercussions and extent of the damage.
It is ironic that the strategic-arms-control regime now threatened by
GOP attack largely rests on achievements of GOP administrations (albeit with
Democratic support): SALT and the ABM treaty under President Richard M.
Nixon; the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty under President Ronald
Reagan; and START under President George Bush. And, of course, the
Comprehensive Test Ban has been a goal of all administrations, beginning with
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 41 years ago.
But, as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) remarked after the Senate vote,
"There are some who just want to have Fortress America." This reflects the
real agenda of those who maneuvered a minority of Republicans into a partisan
majority. They are not isolationist, as some have labeled them. They are
unilateralists, who want the United States to call the tune, and go it alone
when necessary. Many are also supremacists, who think Washington can, and
should, use its power, unfettered, to manage the new world order.
Paradoxically, this turn toward unilateral supremacism undermines the
U.S. leadership role in the world. This was clear when the Senate ignored a
rare appeal by President Jacques Chirac of France, Prime Minister Tony Blair
of Britain and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, all staunch U.S.
Another disturbing aspect of the Senate action is its reflection of a
new partisanship. It is sad when knowledgeable and responsible members of
either party, in this case, Republicans such as Sen. Richard G. Lugar of
Indiana, Sen. Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico, Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia
and Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, bow to partisan discipline in support of
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's deference to such hard-liners as Sen.
James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Helms. Rancor is
high, and some Republicans are too eager to find any way to vent their
hostility to Clinton.
The test-ban treaty was, in effect, a stand-in victim of impeachment.
Nonetheless, it is a sad and dangerous matter when U.S. security interests
and a constructive role in the world become a political football. World
politics do not wait on hold while U.S. politics are indulged. We need to
think more seriously about creation of a new world order and our role in the
process. We must all strive to make the Senate's recent action on the test
ban an exception rather than see it establish a new broader pattern. *
The Russia Journal
November 1-7, 1999
Kremlin maneuvers before the finish line
By VERA KUZNETSOVA / Special to The Russia Journal
Judging by recent tradition, President Boris Yeltsin's public affection for
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin bodes no good. During their time as prime
ministers, Viktor Chernomyrdin, Sergei Kiriyenko and even Yevgeny Primakov
all earned praise from Yeltsin. And where are they all now? Dismissed.
Meriting more attention than Yeltsin's meaningless declarations of love are
recent Kremlin maneuvers, which, of late, are looking increasingly illogical.
The Kremlin already seems to have given up on the December parliamentary
elections as a lost opportunity to further its own cause. That means all
attention is on presidential elections next June. But what can Yeltsin
actually do except appoint (or abstain from appointing) a new prime
minister? Everything else - the war in Chechnya, the parliament, the
budget, International Monetary Fund money and corruption scandals - are
just secondary considerations in the Kremlin's overarching strategy, if one
The ultimate aim in retaining or sacking prime ministers is to arrive at a
successor for Yeltsin, a matter that has still not been settled upon by the
"family" of Kremlin insiders.
The Kremlin decided last spring that Yevgeny Primakov was an ideological
danger to the whole of Russia. After his dismissal, however, the
president's advisers sank into confusion. In the end, presidential
administration chief Alexander Voloshin took the initiative, saying that
not a single candidate but three or four should be primed for the
It all began with Sergei Stepashin who - although soon also dismissed from
his post as prime minister - remains a potential candidate for successor.
The list also includes Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky. Not that the
Kremlin is placing its stakes on Yavlinsky, but it has given the command
not to cut off funding for Yavlinsky's election campaign as it did in 1996.
Just in case.
Also on the list is Krasnoyarsk governor Alexander Lebed, arch-"oligarch"
Boris Berezovsky's "adopted son." Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Interior
Minister Vladimir Rushailo are also candidates.
Further up the list is Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, just
about the only government member as of yet untainted by political intrigue.
And Putin is in the top spot.
Putin's growing popularity - some surveys even put him ahead of current
public favorite Primakov - doesn't guarantee the Kremlin will stick with
him. Information from Yeltsin's press secretary Dmitry Yakushkin and
presidential administration deputy chief Igor Shabdurasulov - both close to
Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin's all-important daughter and closest adviser -
suggests Putin's days are numbered.
Yakushkin said recently that the premier shouldn't be seen as Yeltsin's
successor. Putin, he said, has his own business to attend to as prime
minister, a 24-hour-a-day occupation that shouldn't leave him time to think
Following these clarifications about Putin's status as successor came
rumors about a Cabinet reshuffle. Kremlin rumor-mongers dangled three names
before the press - Rushailo, Ivanov, and Shoigu. The Kremlin's public
relations whizzes leaked information saying a presidential decree
appointing the promising, young and relatively democratic Shoigu prime
minister was already drawn up.
Some observers find such a turn of events strange indeed. After all, if
Shoigu is named prime minister, the Kremlin-built Yedinstvo (Unity) bloc he
leads will cease to exist. People in the know in the Kremlin say, however,
that the "family" has already resigned itself to the fact that Yedinstvo
hasn't worked out and that there's no point putting further money into a
party that has virtually no chance of success in December's parliamentary
Putin, for his part, has said he has "very good" relations with the
president at present and sees no reason for his own dismissal.
But Putin faces what is ultimately an impossible task. To keep his place as
top candidate for presidential successor, he must continue to wage a
successful campaign in Chechnya - without fighting. He must also produce
results in the economy, primarily by fulfilling this year's budget and
meeting IMF commitments (while at the same time pumping money into the war
in Chechnya). And he cannot lose the parliamentary elections - that is to
say, he must prevent the Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) bloc - the Kremlin's
nemesis led by Primakov and powerful Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov - from
sweeping into a majority.
Obviously, Putin won't be able to completely fulfill any of his tasks. But
even that isn't the issue. The Kremlin does not usually dismiss prime
ministers for specific actions, but rather for lack of loyalty to the
"family." Putin's loyalty is not altogether clear.
Yesterday, he might have seemed entirely devoted, but tomorrow, his
popularity might arouse the envy of someone on the presidential team. The
"family," after all, is a fairly irrational, emotional institution.
(Email Vera Kuznetsova at firstname.lastname@example.org)
November 8, 1999
[for personal use only]
'Doomed to Disappear'
The reformer on the last days of the wall—and why communism crumbled.
By Mikhail Gorbachev
The Berlin Wall didn't come down in a day or even a season. The crisis in
East Germany began four years before the dramatic events of 1989, and many
miles away—with perestroika and democratization in the Soviet Union. By the
time discontent in East Germany had been transformed into a mass movement,
the people there knew that my policy of "freedom of choice" was not just a
propaganda slogan. They knew there would be no repeat of the events of the
Prague Spring in 1968, and that Warsaw Pact tanks would not intervene. So
they exercised their free choice by breaking down the wall.
I never regretted my decision. To resist the will of a people to save the
doomed regime of Erich Honecker would have been hopeless. The use of force
could have resulted in a huge bloodbath—after all, the desire for
unification had seized millions of Germans in the fall of 1989—and might
have led to a military confrontation between the superpowers. Even if we
could have avoided that, intervention would have meant reversing the basic
principles of my political philosophy. Military action would have ruined
the trust that was developing with the West and the United States, and
would have cut off vital foreign economic and political support for
perestroika. And it would have meant shooting ordinary people, which was
against my moral principles. The cold war would have been revived and my
political position as a whole would have been discredited.
At the time, nobody argued otherwise. None of the members of the Politburo,
or indeed anyone from the senior Soviet leadership, suggested the use of
force. Nobody recommended that Soviet troops in East Germany be mobilized.
It's true that several generals privately discussed such a possibility—and
openly criticized me later for not sending in troops. But at the time, not
even Marshal Yazov, the Defense minister and future coup leader, lobbied
What was there to fight for? Communism—as the inventors of the theory
imagined it—never existed anywhere: not in Eastern Europe, not in the
U.S.S.R. What did exist was Stalinist socialism. That system had exhausted
itself and was doomed to disappear. As early as 1988, I insisted that the
party abandon its monopoly on power, on property, on ideology. The idea was
to liquidate the political power structures which had ruled Russia since
Once the forces of glasnost and democracy were let loose, they worked in
unpredictable ways. They were decisive in spurring changes in Eastern
Europe, but I can't deny that those same forces encouraged separatist
tendencies in the national republics of the U.S.S.R. Now I see no threat to
Russian security because of the entry of Eastern European countries into
NATO. Yet their understandable early aversion to their "big brother to the
East" has turned into a policy of refusing to have any significant
relations with Russia. This is not good for Russia, nor for East Europe,
nor the world.
Gorbachev's new book, "On My Country and the World," will be published on
The Times (UK)
November 1 1999
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The West must not ignore Chechnya
>From the Director of The HALO Trust
Sir, Your leading article (October 29) covered the Chechen situation
particularly well, and the West's lack of fuss over Russian action in
Chechnya compared to similar scenarios in Kosovo and East Timor.
You say that "Russian troops are moving into the outskirts of Grozny, raising
the spectre of more monstrous urban slaughter if they are reckless enough to
seize the devastated streets where tens of thousands of families live". HALO
is presently working in Chechnya, and we can assure you that the "if" should
The HALO Trust is the only international aid agency left in Chechnya, and we
are witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe. Every day the Russian military is
launching salvo after salvo of rockets and artillery into towns and villages
across the country. Grozny is being pounded district by district.
All electricity has been cut, making Grozny's 17 water-pumping stations
inoperable. Not one hospital has electricity or water, yet they are full of
casualties. Everyone stays in dark cellars, and movement on the streets is
literally Russian roulette with the incoming rockets. Most of this week the
borders have been sealed, though it is rumoured that the Russians will reopen
them to refugees except for men between the ages of 15 and 55, who will be
left to their fate in Chechnya.
Our own teams and vehicles have switched from our three-year mine-clearance
programme to installing generators in hospitals and trying to move medical
supplies, but things are not easy - and three staff were killed in a
multiple-rocket attack on Tuesday.
Under the weight of the Russian arsenal, with a ferocity not seen in
Afghanistan or the Balkans (where HALO also works), the Chechens are being
The priority is to get the Russians to stop their artillery and allow in
humanitarian aid. Now is the time for Western governments to display the
spine they showed against Belgrade and Jakarta.
The HALO Trust,
PO Box 7712, London SW1V 3ZA.
Russia Denies Targeting Civilians
31 October 1999
By RUSLAN MUSAYEV
GROZNY, Russia (AP) - Despite reports by medical workers and Chechen
officials that civilian causalities were mounting across Chechnya, Russian
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin insisted Sunday that his forces were not
targeting ``peaceful residents.''
Federal jets and artillery blasted Grozny and other towns Sunday across the
breakaway region, leaving dozens of dead and wounded, officials and medical
``Everything that concerns the bombing of peaceful residents is the
ill-intended propaganda of terrorists,'' Putin said Sunday in an interview on
the Echo of Moscow radio station.
Putin claimed that Islamic militants were shooting civilians, but added that
there may have been ``some mistakes'' by federal forces.
Hospital and Chechen officials said 22 people were killed over the weekend in
two bombings - one in Kurchaloi, about 30 miles east of here, and Chiskhi,
about 20 miles south.
Chechen leaders claim some 3,600 people, mostly civilians, have been killed
in Russian attacks since September. No independent confirmation is available,
although medical workers have reported hundreds of civilian deaths.
Also Sunday, Russian security officials worked to secure the freedom of a
French journalist who was taken hostage in Chechnya. Russian officials didn't
say how long Brice Latieu had been captive, but French news reports said it
was since Oct. 1.
It wasn't clear who had kidnapped Latieu, but Russian Federal Service
spokesman Alexander Zdanovich said the freelance photographer ``is a hostage
of the bandits in Chechnya.''
About 1,300 people have been kidnapped in and around Chechnya over the past
three years by gangs seeking ransom. More than 700 of the hostages have been
``Any hostage in a Chechen prison, be it a Russian soldier, civilian or a
French journalist, undergoes enormous suffering,'' Zdanovich said.
A videotape played on Russia's NTV television Sunday showing Latieu pleading
for help and saying his captors beat him regularly.
Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov said Sunday that Russian warplanes were
``killing women, children and old people trying to leave the battle zone to
save their lives.''
Russian and Chechen commanders both reported more fighting on Sunday, with
ground clashes around Gudermes, the breakaway republic's second largest town.
There were also clashes around Grozny, the capital.
Russian forces claimed to have encircled Gudermes, trapping rebel forces in
the town. But Magomed Khatuyev, the town's Chechen commander, denied the
Russian officials said border crossings would be reopened Monday to allow
some 20,000 Chechen refugees to cross. The refugees have been trapped on the
Chechen side of the border since Russia closed the border last week.
Up to 200,000 people are thought to have fled Chechnya to escape the fighting
since Russia began its offensive in September.
Russia sent troops into Chechnya at the end of September, ostensibly to
liquidate Islamic militants who invaded neighboring Dagestan this summer and
were blamed for a series of apartment explosions in Russia that killed some
British reporter says Russians greeted him as spy
LONDON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - A journalist working for Britain's Times
newspaper was quoted on Monday as saying he had been greeted as a spy
during detention by Russian forces in Chechnya.
Anthony Loyd and U.S. freelance photographer Tyler Hicks, who had both been
covering the conflict in Chechnya, were released on Sunday after three
nights in detention.
``We are physically well and the questioning was usually correct and
professional,'' Loyd was quoted as saying by the Times.
``But there were tense moments. We were being held inside Chechnya during a
Russian push into the western part of the country.
``The commanding officer at the border had a daily greeting for us. It was:
Russia's FSB domestic security service said on Sunday that Loyd and Hicks
had been released after being held for questioning by the military.
A spokesman said they had been stopped at a roadblock on Thursday when
trying to enter Chechnya from the neighbouring Russian region of Ingushetia.
They had no proper authorisation to work in Chechnya, the spokesman said.
Russia sent troops into separatist Chechnya last month to pursue Islamic
rebels it accuses of two incursions into neighbouring Dagestan and
devastating bomb attacks on Russian cities. The rebels deny involvement in
Hares and tortoises: a decade in ex-communist Europe
VIENNA, Oct 31 (AFP) - The decade since the fall of the Berlin wall has seen
dramatic changes across central and eastern Europe, with some states poised
for entry into the European Union and others on the verge of bankruptcy.
Following is an overview of developments from the Baltics to the Balkans
since the events of 1989-1990.
- The ex-Soviet Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
After declaring independence in 1990 and 1991, the three ex-Soviet Baltic
republics have spectacularly transformed their economies, helped notably by
their Scandinavian neighbours, while successfully negotiating tense
post-communist ties with Moscow. Estonia was among the six first-wave
European Union candidates which started membership talks with Brussels in
November 1998, while Latvia and Lithuania are due to begin next year. Clouds
remain however: the Baltic trio want to join NATO, something that Russia
adamantly opposes, while their continuing trade links with Russia led to
recessions earlier this year in Estonia and Latvia, following Russia's
- Poland: central Europe's powerhouse
Warsaw spearheaded the region's anti-communist revolution even before the
fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989, and Poland remains the region's
biggest country by population (nearly 40 million) and by economic muscle. But
the path has not been all smooth. Ex-communists returned to power in 1993,
and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, elected president in 1990, was ousted by
ex-communist Aleksander Kwasniewski in 1995. Current centre-right Prime
Minister Jerzy Buzek came to office in 1997 pledging to speed up reform, but
is facing widespread social unrest, notably among farmers and miners angry at
the hardships the reforms are causing. Warsaw began EU membership talks in
November 1998, and joined NATO in March this year.
- Czech and Slovak republics: velvet divorcees
The former Czechoslovakia split into two new states in the so-called "velvet
divorce" of 1993. Slovakia was widely considered the poor relation, notably
under authoritarian prime minister Vladimir Meciar, who ruled for much of the
1990s. However since his ouster last year the new pro-EU government has made
huge strides and hopes to begin EU entry talks next year. Meanwhile the Czech
Republic powered ahead under former dissident Vaclav Havel, starting EU talks
last year and joining NATO in March this year. But political problems which
have left Prague without a strong government since 1997 have coupled with
economic backsliding to put a question mark over its front-runner image.
- Hungary: foreign investors' favourite
Hungary, the inventor of "goulash communism" and the country that first
breached the Iron Curtain in 1989, has, like Poland, proved a solid
frontunner ever since, attracting the largest proportion of direct foreign
investment of any country in the region. Gyula Horn, who as foreign minister
cut the barbed wire on the Austrian border, was rewarded with the premiership
in 1994 elections. However, he was ousted in a 1998 vote by the young
conservative Viktor Orban, who appears set to fulfil Budapest's EU
aspirations. Hungary joined NATO this March.
- Romania and Bulgaria: impoverished Balkan cousins
Romania and Bulgaria, where reforms were delayed the longest, were the
impoverished cousins of the ex-communist bloc even before this year's Kosovo
crisis. The impact of the war on their economies, notably through the
blockage by destroyed bridges of the Danube River, a key transport route, has
not helped matters. Romanian Prime Minister Radu Vasile is struggling to keep
the economy afloat with the help of International Monetary Fund credits. In
Bulgaria, pro-reform Prime Minister Ivan Kostov has done much to restore
confidence since ousting ex-communists amid an economic crisis in 1997. But
delayed reforms are biting hard, and he has a long way to go. Romania and
Bulgaria were both told they might be offered EU entry talks next year -- but
only on condition they made progress on key issues.
- Ex-Yugoslav independents: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macedonia
Slovenia and Croatia both declared independence from Belgrade in June 1991,
in Slovenia's case after 10 days of fighting. Lubljana has since become the
success story of ex-Yugoslavia, joining the first wave of EU entrants.
Croatia has been held back by question marks over its political leadership.
The EU has made clear its disapproval of President Franjo Tudjman's decision
to hold elections in Christmas week, viewed as politically motivated. Bosnia
was wracked by war from 1991 to 1995 and is still struggling with the
aftermath. Macedonia has also been overshadowed by events in neighbouring
Yugoslavia, notably during this year's Kosovo crisis.
- Rump Yugoslavia: the Balkan pariah
Belgrade has spent most of the 1990s as the Balkan pariah, fighting
secessonist movements in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and most
recently in its southern province Kosovo, which crippled it economically.
President Slobodan Milosevic came to power just as communist leaders were
being booted out in 1989, and has maintained his position by manoeuvring
adroitly and exploiting nationalist currents. Yugoslavia has little prospect
of democratic development until he leaves office.