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Johnson's Russia List
2 November 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Outline of parties contesting Russian election.
2. Financial Times(UK): UKRAINE: President plays on public's fear of red
revanchism. With GDP and real incomes down by 25%, Leonid Kuchma would have
trouble winning on his record of five years in power alone, says Charles Clover.
3. Itar-Tass: US May Feel Invincible if it Secedes from Abm
4. Moscow Times: Brian Whitmore, CEC Puts Limits on Freedom Of Press.
5. Itar-Tass: Russian State-Run Media Should Be Best -Russian Pm.
6. Itar-Tass: Yabloko Leader Confirms Commitment to Economic Reforms.
7. Vladimir Shlapentokh: book project.
8. Gideon Remez: Re Finch/Chechen Reaction.
9. Brian Whitmore: Alexei Yablokov.
10. Jamestown Foundation Monitor: KREMLIN-MEDIA COORDINATED FRONT SHOWS
SIGNS OF WEAR.
11. Reuters: Chechens face cold night, Russia faces criticism.
12. Itar-Tass: Chechen Issue Can Be Settled through Talks with
13. Russian Elections Study Group in Washington.
14. Dale Herspring: Visas to Russians -- One More Time.
15. RFE/RL: Michael Lelyveld, Caucasus: Scholars Ponder Prospects For
16. Izvestiya: The Kremlin Has Its Gazprom. THE FUEL AND ENERGY SECTOR IS
BEING CLEARED OF OLIGARCHS.
17. Reuters: Swiss probe focuses on Russia payments.
18. World Socialist Web Site: Nick Beams, Market reform in Russia brings"dire economic situation"]
Outline of parties contesting Russian election
MOSCOW, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Russia's central election commission added the
Women of Russia party on Monday to its list of parties and blocs registered
to run in a December 19 parliamentary election.
The deadline for parties to submit registration documents expired last month
and the commission has said it must process all applications by Wednesday.
Following is an updated list of the major parties and blocs whose federal
lists of candidates have been registered for the election and which may start
campaigning for the State Duma (lower house) election.
Parties need to win five percent of the ballot to secure seats. Some see the
election as a launching pad for a presidential poll next year.
FATHERLAND-ALL RUSSIA - Left-leaning centrist coalition led by former Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and other powerful
regional governors, leads in opinion polls. Also includes a large part of the
Agrarian Party, which split from its former Communist allies.
LEADING CANDIDATES - Primakov, Luzhkov and Vladimir Yakovlev, governor of St
PROSPECTS - Likely to do well, although other groups like the new, but yet to
be registered, Yedinstvo bloc may court its electorate.
COMMUNIST PARTY - Left-wing party advocating redirecting economic reforms,
including more state protection for industry, slower privatisation and a wide
social security net, as well as voluntary rebuilding of the Soviet Union. It
has the steady support base of about 20 percent of the electorate.
LEADING CANDIDATES - Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, State Duma speaker
Gennady Seleznyov and Vasily Starodubtsev, a one-time member of a group of
plotters who tried to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev as Soviet president in
PROSPECTS - Won more than 22 percent of the vote in 1995, more than any other
party. The Communists may not do quite so well this time as rivals will be
gnawing at their protest electorate, but they will remain a key force.
YABLOKO - Liberal party which promises more reforms, campaigns against
corruption and vows to defend the middle class. Its leader, Grigory
Yavlinsky, has declined posts in government and is not tainted with blame for
unpopular reforms as are most other liberal leaders. He has lured popular
former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin to stand with him in the poll.
LEADING CANDIDATES - Yavlinsky, Stepashin and Vladimir Lukin, a former
Russian ambassador to the United States.
PROSPECTS - Came fourth in 1995 with 45 seats of the Duma's 450. Opinion
polls predict similar results in 1999.
OUR HOME IS RUSSIA - Centre-right bloc created in 1995 by then Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin with Kremlin blessing to contest parliamentary elections.
Chernomyrdin's sacking as prime minister pulled the rug from under the party,
previously seen as the ``party of power.'' Forward, Russia!, a small party of
former Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov, has joined its bloc.
LEADING CANDIDATES - Chernomyrdin, parliamentary faction leader Vladimir
PROSPECTS - Won over 60 seats in 1995, the second biggest showing after the
Communists. In disarray since Chernomyrdin's sacking and will be lucky to
pass the five percent barrier.
WOMEN OF RUSSIA - Centre-left women's group consisting of mainly former
communists. It supports moderate reforms and wants to increase the role of
women in decision-making bodies.
LEADING CANDIDATE - Alevtina Fedulova, ex-head of Soviet Women's Committee.
PROSPECTS - Won 8.1 percent of the poll in 1993, but narrowly failed to hit
five percent in the 1995 election. It is not represented in the current Duma.
UNION OF RIGHT-WING FORCES - Coalition of ``young reformers,'' who held
senior positions in the cabinet and whose names are associated by many with
hardships suffered during economic reform. Links the New Force movement of
former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko and the Right Cause movement of former
First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov.
LEADING CANDIDATES - Kiriyenko and Nemtsov.
PROSPECTS - The group has a large campaign war chest, but its main task will
be to clear the five percent barrier. Opinion polls show it is unlikely to
achieve that goal unless helped by some inspired last-minute campaigning.
2 November 1999
[for personal use only]
UKRAINE: President plays on public's fear of red revanchism
With GDP and real incomes down by 25%, Leonid Kuchma would have trouble
winning on his record of five years in power alone, says Charles Clover
For all its similarities to the Oscars - the popping flashbulbs, the black
ties, sleek evening gowns, ostentatious one-upmanship, and accusations that
the selection process is dominated by the establishment - Ukraine's
Politician of the Year award, presented every March at a gala dinner, is
seldom accompanied by much suspense.
Since its inception in 1997, it has gone to Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine's
But not this year. Last March, more than a few heads turned when the award
went to Petro Simonenko, head of Ukraine's Communist party, who yesterday
came in second in Ukraine's presidential elections, which means he will face
Mr Kuchma in a run-off on November 14.
Mr Simonenko's most noteworthy accomplishment for the past year has been that
he has advocated the end of Ukraine's existence as a sovereign state. He
would like to see Ukraine as part of a "equal union of independent states"
with Russia and Belarus, practically the same words that described the old
And the award was just one of many indications that, while Mr Simonenko
doubtless enjoys the undying loyalty of Ukraine's proletariat, his most
ardent fan is Mr Kuchma himself.
If Mr Simonenko had bowed to other opposition candidates to withdraw from the
race, Mr Kuchma would probably have faced a moderate leftwinger in the second
round and, according to most polls, lost. Instead, most observers think Mr
Kuchma is likely to win by a handy margin by playing on fears of red
Mr Kuchma would have trouble winning on his record alone. Both gross domestic
product and real incomes have fallen by 25 per cent during his five years as
And so Mr Kuchma's election strategy will be similar to that of Boris Yeltsin
when he ran again for the Russian presidency in 1996: control the media,
ensure the co-operation of friendly regional governors and make sure one's
main opponent is viewed by many as an extremist - in Mr Yeltsin's case,
Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist party chief.
"In some sense, they are trying to recreate Russia in 1996," said a senior
western diplomat in Kiev.
While other candidates have failed to get television air time and have even
had trouble getting the forms required to register as candidates, Mr
Simonenko has had few troubles.
"Kuchma has been very soft on Simonenko," said Hrihory Nemyria, head of the
Renaissance foundation, a political think tank in Kiev. "Kuchma's people have
been very effective in making Simonenko believe he can win."
But some feel that Mr Kuchma is playing a dangerous game. Many analysts have
noticed that while he does well in the polls, he is in precisely the same
position that Leonid Kravchuk, Ukraine's former president, was in 1994 when
he unexpectedly lost to Mr Kuchma.
In elections in 1994, a clear division between east and west Ukraine emerged.
The west voted for the incumbent Mr Kravchuk, who styled himself in the same
way Mr Kuchma is doing today: a pro-western nationalist. The east voted for
Mr Kuchma, who promised to make Russian a second official language, and bring
closer ties with Russia.
The east-west division - "a cold civil war" in the words of Kiev journalist
Mikola Riabchuk - is likely to remain a factor in these elections as well.
While Mr Kuchma won the first round with 36 per cent to Mr Simonenko's 22 per
cent, the votes yesterday for the top three leftwing candidates, Mr
Simonenko, Olexander Moroz and Natalia Vitrenko, added up to 45 per cent.
Much will depend on how those candidates' supporters vote next time.
Sergei Svobodin, an activist working for Mr Moroz in the eastern Donetsk
region, says he will now support Mr Simonenko. He does not take seriously the
pledge to recreate the Soviet Union and thinks the most important thing is to
end crony capitalism. "The Communists won't stay in power long. The important
thing is to get Kuchma out," he said.
US May Feel Invincible if it Secedes from Abm Treaty-Ivanov.
MOSCOW, November 1 (Itar-Tass) - While a year ago Moscow considered the
problem of nuclear proliferation as a possible danger, "today it is a
tangible threat", Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said.
In an interview with the newspaper Moskovskiye Novosti to be published
Tuesday, Ivanov said the second serious threat to humankind comes from
regional wars which "were in the shadow in the past but now have moved to the
"The third threat is everything that is connected with organised crime: drug
and arms trafficking, corruption, money laundering," Ivanov said.
"Fourth, ecology," he added. If the United States "virtually secedes from the
ABM Treaty and revive the star wars programme, it will feel invincible at
some point and then they may try to dictate conditions to Russia and China",
"What should be Russia's and China's response be like?" Ivanov asks. "Very
simple: either they deploy their own missile defence system, which is
extremely hard and expensive, or they create such means that will downgrade
the U.S. 'umbrella', which is much cheaper," he said.
Asked if there is a possibility that the U.S. and China may lock in an armed
confrontation, Ivanov stressed that "in principle, we cannot rule out such a
scenario.... Diplomats always consider many options, and subconsciously we
should get ready for the worst scenario".
November 2, 1999
CEC Puts Limits on Freedom Of Press
By Brian Whitmore
In the interests of free and fair elections, the Central Election Commission
wants to temporarily suspend freedom of the press in Russia.
Commission chairman Alexander Veshnyakov says the media is forbidden from
campaigning for or against any candidate. And, according to Veshnyakov, any
news reporting or editorializing that portrays one candidate or another in
either a positive or negative light can be labeled as "agitation." Offending
media outlets run the risk of being shut down.
ORT television's controversial news anchor Sergei Dorenko became the first to
feel the heat last week after the election commission filed a complaint
against him for "agitating against" former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov,
leader of the Fatherland-All Russia electoral bloc.
Dorenko's offense? He re-broadcast a Radio Liberty interview with a former
U.S. intelligence officer who accused Primakov of planning the assassination
of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. Veshnyakov's commission ruled that
this was "electoral agitation" against Primakov and filed a complaint with
the Press Ministry, which will rule on the matter later this week.
Press Ministry spokesman Yury Okenshin said if the complaint is ruled valid,
ORT could be punished with anything from a warning to having its broadcast
To clear the air, Dorenko invited Veshnyakov to be a guest on his weekly
current affairs show Sunday night.
"Are you telling me that if I have information that candidate X stole a
wallet from somebody on a tram, I can't report that because he is a
candidate?" Dorenko asked.
Veshnyakov evaded the question but implied that the answer was no.
The rule could prove problematic for anybody attempting to print the facts
about any of Russia's leading figures. Many of those running for office are
also frequently subjects of scandals, and even criminal allegations.
Veshnyakov says he is attempting to root out what he says is campaign
advertising disguised as reporting in the run up to December's parliamentary
elections. Media executives say Veshnyakov's crusade violates the
Constitution and plan to continue reporting the news as they have been.
"Veshnyakov has confused information with agitation," NTV's news editor
Vladimir Kulistikov said, adding that his channel has no plans to alter their
coverage of the elections in any way." The public has a fundamental right to
have access to information about candidates, and the Central Election
Commission is trying to limit this," Kulistikov added.
"If in an election a journalist is forbidden from providing information about
candidates, then what can he do?" said Oleg Panfilov of the Glasnost Defense
Fund, a free press advocacy organization.
Veshnyakov says that he is simply implementing the election law passed by the
State Duma earlier this year that puts strict limits on campaign "agitation,"
defined as an attempt to persuade voters to vote for or against a candidate
or party. Media, in Veshnyakov's reading of the law, cannot engage in
agitation and face sanctions if they do.
And what about the Constitution and the law on mass media that are supposed
to protect press freedoms?
Igor Yermakov, a spokesman for the elections commission, said journalists are
only allowed to print or broadcast "unbiased information" about candidates
during the election campaign.
He could not say who decides what constitutes bias.
Reporters, editors and media executives said that while Veshnyakov's
statements worried them, they weren't planning on changing anything.
"We don't plan to change anything and are ready to go to court if the
electoral commission decides to come after us. What takes precedence here,
the election law or the Russian Constitution? The answer is obvious but can
only be decided conclusively by the Constitutional Court," Izvestia editor
Mikhail Kozhokin said.
Likewise, Mikhail Berger, editor of the daily newspaper Segodnya, said that
he plans no changes in the paper's editorial policy.
"I am afraid that the law leaves a lot of room for arbitrariness," he said.
"The state is not ready for the level of free speech that exists today. What
is needed is a court case, a legal precedent to establish freedom of the
Asked if he planned to provoke such a precedent setting case, Berger laughed
and said, "We will see."
Last month, the Press Ministry temporarily pulled the plug on St.
Petersburg's Channel 5 over a broadcast that portrayed the political party
Right Cause in a negative light. ORT was also given a warning by the Press
Ministry for re-broadcasting the program.
Dorenko is a controversial figure in Russian journalism and has long been
seen as a mouthpiece for Berezovsky.
Lately, Dorenko has been viciously attacking Primakov and Moscow Mayor Yury
Luzhkov, who lead the anti-Kremlin political bloc Fatherland-All Russia.
Last week, in addition to accusing Primakov of plotting to kill Shevardnadze,
Dorenko tried to show that the former prime minister was physically unfit to
govern by broadcasting bloody footage of a hip operation like the one
Primakov apparently underwent in Switzerland.
Reporters and editors across the board condemned the attack on Dorenko,
though most also pointed out that they were not crazy about what he has been
doing on his program.
"This is not about Veshnyakov or Dorenko; it is a question of principle,"
Izvestia's Kozhokin said.
Russian State-Run Media Should Be Best -Russian Pm.
MOSCOW, November 1 (Itar-Tass) -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on
Monday met here with heads of the regional state-run television and radio
broadcasting companies. "The state should have its own media outlets to be
able to bring the official position of the government through to the public,"
He stressed that the material base of the state-run media should be also the
best as "you can take advantage of all the administrative and organization
opportunities of the state."
The premier pointed out the information priorities for the state-run media to
cover. Despite the acuteness of the Northern Caucasus related problems, top
priority should be given to the economic problems, Putin said. According to
the Russian premier, "if the economic problems are not solved, if the federal
force in the Northern Caucasus have no necessary military equipment, if the
troops have no proper footwear and clothes, we shall never reach the goals we
have set, as all this is impossible without expanding the production."
Putin further noted that the government was counting on the "talented support
to be given by the media to all the positive steps taken by Moscow," and
appealed to the heads of the regional television and radio broadcasting
companies "not to be afraid of showing the corrupt officials whatever their
rank, and to bring into spotlight the harmful ambitions of administrative
staff standing in the way of the economic development of the country."
Yabloko Leader Confirms Commitment to Economic Reforms.
MURMANSK, November 1 (Itar-Tass) - The leader of the Yabloko faction, Grigory
Yavlinsky, on Monday launched his election campaign in Russia's city of
Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula, where he confirmed his commitment to
reforming Russian economy.
If Yabloko wins seats in the new Duma, it will start drawing up a new
programme, dubbed Ten Years After Yeltsin. Yavlinsky makes no secret of his
intentions to participate in the presidential election next summer.
"I have much bigger ambitions than to just take the presidential seat,"
Yavlinsky said. His cherished dream is to bring together "the brightest
brains of Russia" to revive with their help the country, so that it could
take the place which a great power deserves.
One of the participants in the meeting remarked that Yabloko speaks a lot but
does a little for the country. Yavlinsky did not deny that, stressing only
that "the time of deeds instead of words" has come for his party and him
Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999
From: Vladimir Shlapentokh <email@example.com>
Subject: book project
I have collected a lot of materials for the project--book " How the
Soviet Union was perceived by its contemporaries,insiders and
outsiders,intellectuals and the masses". I wrote most chapters in a very
rough form and in a not very good English (some of them were however already
edited by my assistant).I look for a scholar who will join me for this
project as second coauthor who should make additional research for various
topics related to the images of the USSR held by inside and outside the
country.I chose the USA as a representative of foreign countries.I ask for
collaboration because I am involved in several projects and have no time to
finish this one.
Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999
From: Gideon Remez <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Finch/Chechen Reaction
Mr. Finch's concern about the use of non-conventional weapons by the Chechens
(JRL #3598, item 4) is well-taken, though it should be kept within appropriate
proportions. During the previous conflict with Russia, when the Chechens'
situation looked even more desperate than it does today, even the Russians
attributed to them only one such incident and that too was by way of warning,
not actual mass destruction (the planting of minute radioactive materials in
Moscow). This, of course, does not preclude some Chechens' resorting to such
weapons, especially if they have or get access to gadgets like the portable
nuclear bombs described, and listed as missing, by Messrs. Lebed and
However, Ms. Kalinina's suggestion that this danger is stressed by Ichkeria's
non-adherence to this or that international treaty is ridiculous. Ichkeria
recognized as a sovereign state by any other state or international
and it could not have signed any such treaty even if it had begged to do
fact I'm sure the Chechens would be delighted at an invitation to join, as
could be presented by them as the first step toward recognition. Whether a
signature would have diminished the risk is quite another question.
Head, Foreign News Desk, Israel Radio
Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999
From: brian whitmore <email@example.com>
Subject: Alexei Yablokov
I incorrectly identified Alexei Yablokov as director of the USA and Canada
Institute in my Oct. 30 story on Josh Handler titled "Agents search US
activist's Moscow apartment."
In fact Yablokov is a prominent biologist, a member of the Russian Academy
of Sciences, and an environmental activist. In the early 1990s he was
President Yeltsin's adviser for environmental issues until this position
was abolished and he became a full-time activist and a lecturer. At the
moment he serves as a co-chairman of the Socio-Ecological Union.
Jamestown Foundation Monitor
1 November 1999
KREMLIN-MEDIA COORDINATED FRONT SHOWS SIGNS OF WEAR. While Russian
officialdom seems to maintain a united propaganda front in defending the
military action in Chechnya, cracks are appearing in the Russian media's
coverage of the conflict. Yesterday, for example, NTV television placed a
large question mark over Putin's claim that the Russian armed forces in
Chechnya have made "no large-scale errors" in their attempts to bomb
Chechen fighters. The channel showed footage taken in a Chechen hospital of
Chechen children who had limbs blown off. It also aired footage shot by
Reuters television in Achkoi Martan, a Chechen town which has been the
target of airstrikes over the last few days. This footage showed destroyed
homes, dead bodies on the street and terrified local inhabitants cowering
in their basements who asked why they were being targeted for death.
However, the NTV correspondent traveling with Russian forces in northern
Chechnya was careful in assigning blame for the October 29 attack on the
refugee convoy. He noted that military officials there "categorically deny"
that such an attack took place and claim that Chechen fighters deliberately
use refugee columns for cover (NTV, October 31).
On the other hand, Yevgeny Kiselev, host of Itogi, NTV's Sunday evening
news analysis show, noted that Putin's popularity could be adversely
affected by such reports of civilian deaths, as well as by reports of
Russian military losses--both of which, he said, were bound to increase as
the war continued. NTV's correspondent in Chechnya said Russian officials
there had angrily denied earlier television reports of dead or wounded
among the Russian troops, insisting that five or six soldiers have been
removed from the front daily in recent days simply due to illness (NTV,
NTV--which last week aired a discussion with Western journalists which was
highly critical of Russian media coverage of Chechnya (see the Monitor,
October 28)--became famous for its critical coverage of the 1994-1996
Chechen war. This time, however, its apparent sudden swing toward an
opposition stance may have less to do with journalistic conscience than
power politics. The journalist Yulia Latynina, citing an anonymous NTV
employee, recently said that NTV, like Russia's other main television
channels, had been deliberately reporting "artificially inflated" poll
numbers for Putin. According to Latynina, NTV, which is part of Vladimir
Gusinsky's media empire and sympathetic to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov,
planned to undermine Putin's popularity by suddenly reporting the truth
about what is going on in Chechnya (see the Monitor, October 21). This may
be what NTV is now doing. It is worth noting that several weeks ago, as
Putin's numbers continued to climb, Itogi suddenly dropped its weekly
practice of reporting the results of a presidential preference poll
regularly taken by the Public Opinion Foundation, one of Russia's major
For its part, Russian Public Television (ORT), which is controlled by Boris
Berezovsky, broadcast a softball interview with Putin yesterday evening. On
its October 30 evening news program, ORT had reported the results of its
own weekly presidential preference poll. It found Putin in first place,
with 25 percent support (up 3 percent from the previous week), former Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov in second, with 16 percent (4 percent down from
the previous week), and Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov in third place,
with 16 percent (unchanged from last week) (ORT, October 30).
With foreign criticism of Russia's military campaign also growing, Putin
today declared that his government is not seeking to conquer Chechnya, but
"to destroy the terrorist stronghold in Chechnya and make its revival
possible." Speaking to the heads of Russia's regional television, radio and
telecommunications companies, the prime minister said that the federal
authorities would "deal there with all political forces but we will never
sit at a negotiating table with gangsters who have blood on their hands"
(Russian agencies, November 1). Putin put forward a similar message in a
letter published today in the Norwegian daily Dagbladet. Putin is due to
travel to Oslo today for ceremonies marking the fourth anniversary of the
assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Meanwhile, a newspaper warned today that Russia could face sanctions from
the West over its actions in Chechnya, including the withholding of a
US$640 million tranche from the International Monetary Fund (Vremya-MN,
Chechens face cold night, Russia faces criticism
By Maria Eismont
ON THE CHECHEN BORDER, Russia, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Thousands of refugees
suffered another wait in bitter cold overnight as Russia again broke its
pledge to let them escape its air war in breakaway Chechnya.
Their plight is sure to make the West more critical of the Russia's Chechnya
campaign as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin faces an international meeting in
U.S. officials say President Bill Clinton will urge Putin on Tuesday to
restrain Moscow's ground and air offensive.
``The president will express his deep concern at the continuing violence and
indiscriminate use of force,'' said a U.S. official, who asked not to be
named. ``He'll be fairly tough on Putin.''
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters that Clinton would tell
Putin he was particularly troubled by ``the indiscriminate use of force on
Russian guards opened Chechnya's western border with the neighbouring North
Caucasus region of Ingushetia for only a few hours on Monday, telling huge
crowds of those waiting to cross the border that they should come back the
Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik also voiced concern over
Russia's action, saying Chechnya would dominate this month's summit of the
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe unless the fighting ends.
PUTIN ADOPTS TOUGH STANCE
Russia says it launched the advance almost six weeks ago to destroy Islamic
militants it accuses of regional subversion and masterminding bomb blasts in
Russian cities. Russian troops control over a third of Chechnya and are
closing in on the capital Grozny.
Putin has stuck to his tough stance on Chechnya -- a popular policy at home
-- saying that Moscow's aim is to destroy the Islamic ``terrorists'' and that
troops are not bombing civilians but the fighters, their bases and camps.
``We have not attacked anyone and we are not encroaching on anybody's
territory,'' Putin told Russian television before leaving for Oslo on Monday.
He has refused so far to listen to European and U.S. calls for the scaling
down of the offensive amid mounting civilian casualties and a mass exodus of
Ingushetia has so far received the vast majority of the nearly 200,000
refugees fleeing the fighting.
A Reuters photographer who crossed Chechnya in the past week said by
telephone that in Grozny and Chechnya's second city, Gudermes, at least 60
percent of residents had fled since the Russian campaign began.
Refugees at the border with Ingushetia said they were give no chance to cross
to safety. ``This was no opening. This was some kind of advertisement,'' a
woman called Madina said, adding her family were trapped in the Chechen town
Chechen Issue Can Be Settled through Talks with Maskhadov.
WASHINGTON, November 2 (Itar-Tass) - To resolve the Chechen problem, it is
necessary to start talks with representatives of "real authority" in the
republic and to declare amnesty to those who will surrender weapons and who
did not participate in terrorist acts, said here on Monday Governor of the
Samara Region Konstantin Titov, speaking at Washington's Carnegie Foundation
for the promotion of universal peace.
Titov stressed in an interview with Itar-Tass that "President Aslan Maskhadov
represents real power in Chechnya". "We should conduct a dialogue with those
who were empowered by people and not with those who try to grab this power,"
The governor described as quite correct actions by the Russian armed forces
which liberated Dagestan "from the invasion of terrorists". He noted at the
same time that he opposed a large-scale military operation in Chechnya, since
Russia must not "bring the situation in the North Caucasus to a humanitarian
He stressed in this connection that the only way out of the present situation
is "to sit at the negotiating table with real Chechen authorities and to
declare amnesty to those who will surrender weapons and did not participate
in terrorist acts".
"I'm glad that these aspects are now present in the statement of the Russian
government," the governor concluded.
Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999
From: "Amanda Lahan" <ALahan@CSIS.ORG> (
Subject: Russian Elections Study Group
War and Elections: Is the Russian Military Gaining a New Voice in Politics?
November 10, 1999
Speaker: Dr. Eva Busza, College of William and Mary
Time: 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
Location: International Foundation for Elections Systems, 1101 15th Street
NW, Third Floor, Washington, DC
To register, please call Amanda Lahan or Jeffrey Thomas at 202-775-3240
Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999
From: Dale R Herspring <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Visas to Russians -- One More Time.
Visas to Russians -- One More Time. I have had several responses
concerning my earlier comment on the plight of consular officers -- all of
them suggesting that consular officers act arbitrarily and capriously.
For the record, permit me to note:
1. Congress sets the ground rules -- not the Department of State nor the
2. The system is set-up to be arbitrary in the sense that the rules are
there to be interpreted by the Consular Officer. If the rules were firm
and not subject to interpretation, Consular Officers would be beaten up
for being too rigid. It is much like being a referee or an umpire. There
are rules, but much is open to interpretation. And I must admit as a
former football coach, I sometimes dispute the referee's calls. Without
them, there wouldn't be a game.
3. Consular Sections are notoriously understaffed. If Congress would give
the Department the kinds of funds it needs to spend time with every visa
applicant, the situation might be different, but that is not the case.
One often has only 60-90 seconds per applicant.
4. While those on the outside may think that consular officers live the
"good life," I suspect that they have never had to go through pressure of
issuing visas. The only benefit most visa officers have (vis-a-vis
political officers) is that they usually go home at a decent hour and
generally do not have to work on weekends. The posh life style so
romantized in the media exists primarily in the outsider's life. I could
provide many examples of the other side of the coin.
5. Criticizing consular officers is a case of setting up a straw-man.
Congress sets the rules (and violates them too), not the consular officer.
If you don't like the system, tell your elected representatives about it
-- and tell them to fund enough positions so that the job can be done the
way it should be handled.
6. If you don't like the treatment you are given, go to the Chief of the
Consular Section. If there are problems, it is critical that he or she
know about them.
Finally, the current situation is far from perfect -- and I don't know of
a single visa officer who would question that statement. Someone once
said that certain things run down hill and this is what we have in most
consular sections. Don't blame the messenger, blame those who set-up and
structure the system.
Caucasus: Scholars Ponder Prospects For Caspian Stability
By Michael Lelyveld
Boston, 1 November 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Scholars at Harvard University pondered
the prospects for succession and long-term stability in the Caspian region
last week during a period of both rising violence and hopes for peace.
The long-scheduled seminar on the challenges of transition and policy toward
the Caucasus and Central Asia coincided with dramatic events in Chechnya and
Armenia, giving a heightened sense of urgency to the meeting.
The Harvard effort is part of a new Caspian studies program and an
"Azerbaijan Initiative" at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, funded
by the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce and a consortium of companies.
Speaking to an audience at the start of the three-day session last Tuesday,
Araz Azimov, Azerbaijan's deputy foreign minister, stressed regional security
as a major factor in the speed of his country's development.
"We're concerned with the increased military pressure in the northern
Caucasus," Azimov said, citing the large numbers of Russian armored vehicles
brought into play by the Chechnya offensive.
Azerbaijan and Georgia both seek an eventual international agreement to
exclude any foreign military presence in the area in exchange for the
elimination of Russian threats to security, Azimov said.
Much of the public discussion was devoted to the region's petroleum
development and the outlook for pipelines. Former U.S. Central Intelligence
Agency Director John Deutch voiced skepticism that any of the planned
pipelines would be built "in the next dozen years." Ashton Carter, a former
U.S. assistant secretary of defense, cited the risk of failure unless all
regional interests, including Iran, share in the benefits of pipeline
Much of the work of the program is being conducted in closed meetings of
experts who are studying regional policy. The groups are working toward a
series of policy recommendations for the U.S. government, said Graham
Allison, chairman of the program and director of the Belfer Center at the
Last week, expert panels dealt with issues of succession in the region, where
threats to stability are combined with concerns about the age or health of
several national leaders.
Prospects are uncertain for peaceful transition to the next generation of
power across a wide area stretching from the Black Sea to the borders of
China. The concerns have been compounded by war, ethnic tensions, and sudden
violence, such as last week's assassinations in Armenia.
In a paper presented to the conference, Martha Brill Olcott, senior associate
at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said the
issue of succession appears to be developing under three different models.
The first is dynastic, in which aging leaders hope to pass their power to
family members. The second is democratic, relying on institutional
development. The third is simply unplanned, or what Olcott calls "avoidance"
of the succession question. All present risks and problems, she said.
Azerbaijan was cited most clearly as falling under the "dynastic" category
because of speculation that Ilham Aliyev, the vice president of the state oil
company, will succeed his father Heydar Aliyev as president.
To a lesser extent, Kazakhstan may fall into the same category because of the
role of President Nursultan Nazarbayev's family in politics, Olcott said. So
far, neither leader has shown signs of stepping down. Armenia and Georgia are
seen as most likely to rely on elections for future transitions, although
both countries are deeply troubled. Kyrgyzstan may also come under the
democratic category, although doubts have risen as the country's economy has
soured, Olcott said.
But the deepest uncertainty surrounds Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, where
reliance on one-man rule has created an institutional void and barred even
talk of a peaceful succession. Olcott believes that these countries will
ultimately prove to be at the greatest risk of instability.
In Uzbekistan, opposition to President Islam Karimov has already turned
violent and could take over in his absence, although the outcome is
unpredictable. In Turkmenistan, there is difficulty in identifying any group
that could serve as an alternative to the cult of President Saparmurat
Niyazov, Olcott said.
The irony of the study is that the countries with the tightest internal
security may face the greatest threat to future stability, unless their
leaders find new formulas for passing on power.
Russia Today press summaries
31 October 1999
The Kremlin Has Its Gazprom
THE FUEL AND ENERGY SECTOR IS BEING CLEARED OF OLIGARCHS
A severe battle for financial control of the country’s energy sector is
taking place at the highest levels on the eve of presidential elections. Last
week premier Putin signed a decree, according to which fuel and energy
tycoons will no longer be voting participants in the Fuel and Energy
Ministry. Thus, only state officials - not Anatoly Chubais (chairman of UES),
Rem Vyahirev (chairman of Gazprom) or Vagit Alekperov (chairman of Lukoil) -
will make decisions affecting the branch accumulating the largest state
revenues in Russia.
The Prime Minister made this decision because he realized how much politics
and oil are intertwined in the country. And this has become especially
obvious in Duma debates on the 2000 budget. One strict condition deputies
have fronted for its passage was that Sergey Bogdanchikov should stay on in
his position of Rosneft chair. The deputies were not very interested in
Bogdanchikov himself but were opposed to strengthening Anatoly Chubais, who
was lobbying for his protegee to become the head of Rosneft.
The government is conducting a war in the Caucasus. Thus, it wants to limit
all spending for non-budgetary needs. And fuel and energy oligarchs are known
to have definite political biases towards certain parties.
At the same time, the Kremlin has started its own advance at the largest
financial empire in the country - the gas monopoly Gazprom. They have
organized simultaneous audits of Gazprom by the Prosecutor General, the Tax
Police and the Accounting Office. The final objectives of these inspections
is to oust Rem Vyahirev from his company and to deprive the OVR party of the
money that it is getting from Gazprom.
According to Kremlin administration plans, Rem Vyahirev would be replaced
with someone who would direct the financial earnings of Russia’s largest
company to the Kremlin. If this works, NDR leader Victor Chernomyrdin will
also be deprived of Gazprom’s financial support as the Kremlin doesn’t want
to share with him.
Swiss probe focuses on Russia payments
1 November 1999
ZURICH (Reuters) - Geneva's top prosecutor said his office was investigating
payments to people linked to Russia's government as part of money laundering
``For us, this is about an investigation into payments to people with close
or more distant association with the Russian government who could not
immediately justify them (the payments),'' Bernard Bertossa said in an
interview with the daily Tages-Anzeiger published Monday.
``But I am not revealing sums, names or banks,'' he added.
However, he said, it could not be ruled out that some individuals under
scrutiny by his office might also be tied to a U.S. probe into money
laundering allegations concerning the Bank of New York.
U.S. authorities are investigating charges of massive money laundering
through the Bank of New York. Three defendants have been indicted for
allegedly transmitting about $7 billion through accounts at the bank.
``In the current phase we are trying to unravel the different strands to get
an overview of what happened in Switzerland,'' Bertossa said, adding that the
Bank of New York probe primarily affected New York and London, not Geneva.
Little has surfaced in Switzerland on tangible links to the U.S. case apart
from a trickle of revelations on frozen accounts. It emerged last month that
Swiss banks, under new laws obliging them to report suspect funds, had frozen
$17.2 million that may be tied to the case.
Geneva prosecutors are probing charges that Swiss construction company
Mabetex paid the Kremlin bribes to win renovation contracts. They are also
looking into alleged money laundering linked to a list of 24 Russian
politicians, businessmen and their family members.
Mabetex and the Kremlin deny the charges. The Kremlin and Russian politicians
have said the allegations are politically inspired ahead of elections this
year and next.
Bertossa said Mabetex was one of many companies being investigated.
He also said it was likely some financial institutions in Switzerland had
been infiltrated by individuals seeking to launder substantial sums with
``This hypothesis is likely in certain cases we are currently investigating.
I cannot go into details,'' Bertossa said.
He said he was also frustrated by what he saw as a different approach to the
investigation by authorities in Zurich and abroad: ``There have rarely been
cases in which the Zurich authorities spontaneously offered to take over a
part of the investigations.''
Hansruedi Mueller, a Zurich public prosecutor who handles cases such as money
laundering and organised crime, told Reuters he could not understand
Bertossa's remarks, saying his canton investigated every report of money
``We were never under the impression that there was a problem on his
(Bertossa's) part concerning the canton of Zurich. He never said anything of
the sort,'' Mueller told Reuters.
Bertossa said his policy of investigating every case of suspected money
laundering was also hampered by difficulties in obtaining supporting evidence
World Socialist Web Site
Market reform in Russia brings "dire economic situation"
By Nick Beams
1 November 1999
A report by the global management consultant firm McKinsey has highlighted
the devastating economic collapse which has taken place in Russia since the
introduction of “market reform” and privatisation in 1992.
The report, issued earlier this month, describes Russia as being in a “dire
When the Soviet Union collapsed at the beginning of this decade its demise
was hailed as irrefutable proof of the historical superiority of capitalism.
Not only had the “free market” won the great ideological battle of the 20th
century, it would now be able to work its “magic” on the territory of the
In the light of these assertions, it would be an interesting exercise to
compare the economic advances made in the period from 1917 to 1927 with the
results of the past decade. Together with the recent UN Human Development
report on the former Soviet republics, the McKinsey report, which examines 10
key industries, provides a sweeping indictment of the “free market” program.
“Market reforms,” it states, “so far have failed to improve Russia's economic
performance. Although the efficiency (productivity) with which companies
produced goods and services in the Soviet times was already low compared to
the best practice in the world, it has gotten worse since the reforms
Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has fallen by as much as 40 percent
since 1992 and is now only 15 percent of the US level. Unemployment is
officially at 12 percent with “many more people ... now engaged in
subsistence forms of employment.”
“The investment picture,” the report notes, “is even more dramatic; during
the same period, business investment dropped by around 60 percent and is now
less than 13 percent of GDP, with very little foreign direct investment.”
This latter statistic is a refutation of claims that the introduction of the
market would see an inflow of investment.
The McKinsey report found that in the ten industries examined—software,
steel, general merchandise and food retailing, hotels, oil, housing
construction, cement, confectionery and dairy—overall labour productivity was
“very low,” averaging only 19 percent of US levels. The highest was software
at 38 percent and the lowest cement at just 7 percent.
The fact that the report has been prepared by advocates of “market reforms”
adds weight to some of its findings on their impact.
For example, it notes that while what it calls “Soviet legacy assets” were
roughly 30 percent as productive as US assets in 1992, they have had their
productivity almost halved since then.
Furthermore, assets added since 1992 are “surprisingly unproductive” with
“almost no new capacity [being] added in the oil and consumer goods
industries, the sectors of the economy with the greatest potential for fast
While labour productivity in the old assets—those put in place before
1992—declined from 30 percent to 17 percent of the US level, this decline has
not been compensated for “by a rapid growth of a new and productive economy”.
“New assets (put in place since 1992) employ less than 10 percent of the
Russian workforce and surprisingly, achieve only 30 percent of the US
productivity level on average.”
According to the proponents of the market, the solution to all problems of
productivity is increased competition, and this is the opinion of the
report's authors. But as they acknowledge in the Russian situation despite
“high competitive intensity,” the competition is unequal and actually leads
to low productivity. “Price decontrol did successfully stimulate competition.
Paradoxically, however, in Russia the more productive firms are often the
The report also provides a refutation of the claim by the most fervent
proponents of “market reform” that Soviet industry was so backward that its
only future was the scrap heap.
There is no question that decades of Stalinist bureaucratic mismanagement and
the distortions produced by isolation from the international division of
labour—itself a consequence of the Stalinist program of “socialism in one
country”—resulted in considerable technological backwardness.
But even with this historical legacy, the report found that “about 75 percent
of Russia's inherited assets (put in place before 1992) would still be viable
if upgraded and managed according modern principles.” Such an upgrade would
allow production in these assets to increase by about 40 percent on average
for a relatively small investment of around 5 percent of GDP for five years
and could achieve up to 65 percent of US productivity.
But the methods advocated by McKinsey and other proponents of “market reform”
to bring about such an advance amount to more of the same policies which have
resulted in the economic disaster in the first place.
The theme running through the report is that less productive sections of
industry should be shut down in favour of the more productive, a more “level
playing field” should be established in the market through the abolition of
subsidies and that Russia needs to follow more closely the Polish model.
While such policies may increase the opportunities for profit, they are
hardly a prescription for social and economic advance as the social crisis in
Poland demonstrates. In the mining and metal industries alone more than
120,000 workers are facing the sack as part of the program to prepare the
Polish economy for entry into the European Union while in the countryside
unemployment is running as high as 60 percent.
While the McKinsey report concentrated on the situation in industry, it had
some pertinent comments on the broader economy. It noted that lack of trust
in both the ruble and the banks “deters people from making their savings
available for subsequent lending by the banks” and that savings are mostly
kept at home in dollar notes. Barter relations are prevalent in about half
the economy, involving transactions between industrial concerns and between
industry and the government.
And it warned that the apparent recent revival in the finances of the
government “should be little cause for comfort.”
“Around 40 percent of budget revenues still depend on extremely volatile oil
and gas prices, which have fortunately soared in 1999. ... Capital flight,
rational when economic policies discourage investment within Russia,
continues. Finally, the rise in industrial production, which followed the
August 1998 devaluation, should be seen as a one-time adjustment due to a
sudden rise in prices of imports, rather than the start of a prolonged