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CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List
 

 

November 3, 1999    
This Date's Issues: 3602  3603 

 



Johnson's Russia List
#3603
3 November 1999
davidjohnson@erols.com


[Note from David Johnson:
1. The Independent: Patrick Cockburn, These desperate, dispossessed people on the edge of Europe are victims of a dirty war the West chooses to ignore.
2. The Guardian: Ian Traynor, Chechen children shelled as they played bombers.
3. Boston Globe: Dmitry Shalganov and David Filipov, Russians pilots jubilant as Chechnya toll mounts.
4. London's Al-Sharq al-Awsat: Chechen Leader Ruslan Khasbulatov Calls for Negotiations.
5. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Yevgeniy Vasilchuk, Transatlantic Lectures Are Good for Russia's Health.
6. Bloomberg: Russia's Soviet-Era Technology May Avoid Y2K Computer Problems.] 


******


#1
The Independent (UK)
3 November 1999
[for personal use only]
These desperate, dispossessed people on the edge of Europe are victims of a 
dirty war the West chooses to ignore 
By Patrick Cockburn in Ingushetia (cockburn@netvision.net.il)


The shrapnel from a Russian rocket that hit Megamed Makh-mayev when he went 
to buy bread for his family in Grozny, the Chechen capital, had made the 
flesh of his right leg look like a half-eaten joint of raw meat. 


In a hospital just across the border from Chechnya he watched stoically as a 
doctor fished for fragments of metal and broken bone in the deep wounds. 
"Maybe, if the main blood vessel has survived, we won't have to amputate," 
the doctor said dubiously. 


In another ward Fatimat Ablusheva, a four-year-old Chechen girl, was crying 
and clinging to her mother, Amina. At first I thought she had got hold of 
some lipstick, because the skin around her lips, nose and eyes, over half her 
face, was bright red. But Amina said: "They are burn marks. A shell set fire 
to our house in Grozny and we could not get out before Fatimat was caught by 
the flames." 


These are the lucky ones in Russia's six-week war in Chechnya, fortunate 
enough to cross into the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia before Russian 
troops closed the border. In Grozny itself, without food, electricity or gas, 
conditions are far worse. Mr Makhmayev said he was only driven, half-dead 
from loss of blood, across the frontier because "the hospital in Grozny was 
full of dead and wounded and there was no doctor to help me". 


Yesterday a woman died as a desperate crowd pressed against razor-sharp 
barbed wire at a tiny border checkpoint. 


"People are going mad; they are throwing themselves at the wire," said a 
woman who managed to get through after a week-long wait. 


By now the shape of the Russian invasion of Chechnya is becoming clear. 
Intent on keeping down its own casualties, the army has avoided hand-to-hand 
fighting with Chechen guerrillas. Instead it is clearing its way with a 
massive and indiscriminate artillery and air bombardment of Chechen towns and 
villages. The Russian air force commander complained this week that his 
pilots had dropped so many precision-guided bombs that they were running 
short. The result of the assault is that one-third of the Chechen population, 
numbering in all about 1 million people, is now in flight. Some 193,000 have 
reached Ingushetia. The same number or even more have fled their homes but 
cannot get out of Chechnya because of the Russian blockade, according to 
Tarja Halonen, the Finnish Foreign Minister who had just led a European Union 
delegation to the area, 


What is happening is a tragedy equal to anything witnessed in Kosovo and East 
Timor earlier in the year. If the Russian army continues with its 
meat-grinder tactics, soon half the people in this tiny republic will be in 
flight. 


The Russian leaders defend themselves by saying that, after the air campaign 
against Serbia, no member of Nato can criticise their bombardment of 
Chechnya. In fact, the Chechens face a double threat. 


They are being bombed, just as Nato bombed the Serbs, but they are also being 
evicted from their homes, just as the Serbs drove out the Kosovars. Sergei 
Kovalyov, a human rights activist and member of the Russian Duma, says: "In 
Chechnya, Russia is using Nato's methods to achieve [Slobodan] Milosevic's 
ends." 


In one respect the Chechens are much worse off than either the Kosovars or 
the East Timorese. Little of what is happening appears on Western television. 
A few days ago I was on the main road back into Chechnya. Several thousand 
Chechens were frantically trying to return to their country to bring out 
relatives. A Chechen veteran who had lost a leg in the Second World War was 
trying to get through on crutches. 


Russian troops, clutching their sub-machine-guns, were having none of it. An 
army lieutenant came up to me and said: "I warn you to get the hell out of 
here, because the soldiers will start shooting soon." A loudspeaker told us 
that either side of the road was mined. 


On the other side of the border a 10-mile queue of cars and trucks filled 
with refugees has been trying to pass through Russian lines for days. We saw 
one man try to run across a field out of Chechnya, but he was quickly caught 
and arrested by a squad of Russian soldiers. 


The International Committee of the Red Cross says that a little further down 
the road on the same day Russian planes attacked five of its vehicles, 
killing two of its staff and at least 25 civilians. On the borders of Kosovo 
earlier in the year similar scenes were recorded by a dozen television 
cameras. 


On the main crossing point into Chechnya I did not see a single one. The 
American networks show little interest. 


Even ABC Television had only a 45-second slot for the carnage in Grozny 
market place when Russian missiles killed more than a hundred people last 
month. 


The official reason for this is the danger of kidnapping. This is real 
enough, but the risk can be minimised by armed guards from the Ingush or 
Chechen interior ministries. Unfortunately, many television correspondents in 
Moscow, quite willing to cover the war despite the threat of abduction, find 
that kidnapping provides a perfect excuse for their head offices not to cover 
a war they do not much want to report on anyway. 


Russian spokesmen are clearly fighting what they call the "information war" 
using Nato's presentation of the air war against Serbia as a model. The 
propaganda is heavy-handed, but the absence of television eases their task. 
Generally, spokesmen respond to accounts of the killing of civilians with 
outraged denials. 


Early last month I visited Elistanzhi, where Russian aircraft dropped 30 
bombs, killing 35 people. The explosions tore apart the village school. 


In the nearest hospital, at Shali, the mother of a nine-month-old boy called 
Sheikh Mansur, whose left foot had been amputated, was trying to comfort him 
with a Mars bar. In another bed Alet, aged four, had just had shrapnel taken 
out of his stomach. The Russian air force denies it ever attacked Elistanzhi. 


It may be the air force and army do not know what they are hitting. Experts 
say many pilots now get only 100 hours' flight training a year. Almost 
everywhere I have been in Chechnya the most common sound is the roar of the 
notoriously inaccurate Grad missile launcher. 


But Moscow also shows few signs of caring about accuracy. It says the attack 
on the Red Cross convoy did not take place, despite the testimony of 
survivors. Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, says that "no 
large-scale errors" have been made by Russian bombers. He has shown no 
embarrassment at having denied the army destroyed the Grozny market place at 
the same moment a military spokesman was confirming it was blown up because 
it was "an arms bazaar". 


What makes the suffering even worse than in Kosovo and East Timor is that 
Chechnya had not begun to recover from the last war. Grozny is a sea of 
ruins, pulverised by Russian artillery in 1994-96. 


Now the Russian army has told civilians to leave Grozny and Gudermes, the 
second Chechen city, to escape the bombs. But at the same time its aircraft 
are strafing roads and have blocked the route to Ingushetia. Only 170 to 180 
people are let through each day. 


Yesterday, President Ruslan Aushev of Ingushetia said there was a casual 
cruelty in this, since the Russian announcement that a passage to the border 
was open drew refugees on to the roads, where they were vulnerable to air 
attack, but it then allowed only a trickle of desperate people to reach 
safety. 


******


#2
The Guardian (UK)
3 November 1999
[for personal use only]
Chechen children shelled as they played bombers 
Ian Traynor in Sleptsovsk


A shell from a Russian tank exploded in a village playground as a group of 21 
Chechen teenage boys were playing football, the Guardian has learned. 


Seven boys were killed outright and 14 were severely maimed in one of the 
most grievous atrocities yet in the Russian onslaught on the breakaway 
republic. 


News of the massacre, in the village of Novy Sharoy, came as thousands of 
grieving women thronged a key crossing point kept closed by the Russian 
authorities yesterday in an attempt to flee the increasingly indiscriminate 
bombing of Chechnya. 


At least one woman collapsed and died as desperate men and women pressed 
against barbed wire barriers trying to pass through a tiny checkpoint. 


The Ingush president, Ruslan Aushev, whose impoverished region has taken most 
refugees, said four people died overnight at the border. He said Russia's 
forces held the refugees "in contempt". 


The shelling at Novy Sharoy took place on October 24, 10 miles from the 
chaotic border crossing. 


Yusup Magomedov lay on a hospital bed yesterday, five days before his 14th 
birthday, with bandaged stumps where both his legs used to be. He had seen 
seven of his village friends killed and another 13 badly wounded. The 
victims, all boys aged from nine to 18, were playing on the street. 


"All I remember is one minute we were running around, playing with a ball. 
The next I lost consciousness," Yusup recalled yesterday. 


"Then I woke up. I looked to the front and to behind me. Everyone was lying 
around. There was blood everywhere. I was crying and crying. Seven of my 
friends died. It was a picture of horror." 


In the bed next to him in the main hospital of this small town on the Chechen 
border, Sultan Dzhevbatirov, nine, gripped a Nintendo Gameboy and brooded 
silently, his left leg shattered in three places from the blast. 


His brother Salman, 13, was one of the seven who died. A man, Lomali 
Khalikov, who villagers said was 50 years old, was walking past the playing 
boys at the time and was also killed. 


The day before the Novy Sharoy massacre the Russians closed the border 
crossing at Sleptsovsk. It remained closed yesterday - except for the passage 
of four busloads of women and children - sending some 20,000 queuing refugees 
on both sides of the border point into a state of hysteria and panic. 


About 180,000 Chechen refugees have crossed into Ingushetia in the past two 
months. Until the Russians blocked the crossing on October 23, most of the 
refugees had arrived here. Aslan Maskhadov, the president of Chechnya, 
accused the Russians of "acting like barbarians." 


Yusup's mother, Leyla Magomedova, left her three daughters, Liza, Siyeda, and 
Roza, aged eight, 10, and 15, behind when she took her son to hospital. She 
has no idea what has become of them because the Russians are keeping the 
border closed. 


Russian tanks, armoured cars and sneering young soldiers touting 
rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns stood in line yesterday 
confronting a throng of desperate women who shouted insults and taunted them 
with jeers. 


"You should be ashamed of yourselves," they yelled. "Look, these are our 
Russian liberators. Do we look like terrorists? We just don't understand 
this. What are you trying to prove?" 


The Russian commanding officer refused to speak. He only shook his head when 
foreign journalists requested access to the other side of the crossing where 
20,000 people were said to be queuing. Russian television had been given free 
access. 


The officer would not give his name and refused all access and comment, then 
sent a message agreeing to a brief interview in return for $250 (150). The 
offer was declined. 


Many of the women who have managed to cross in recent days said they were 
forced to pay Russian soldiers thousands of roubles to be allowed through. 


Zara Dokayeva, 47, from Grozny, was one of perhaps 100 people to be allowed 
through yesterday. She brought her five children with her, but left her 
husband and brother behind. 


She said two women, one Russian and one Chechen, died in the queue crush. The 
crush happened after the Russian authorities announced five days ago that it 
was being reopened, sparking a rush for the border as the Russians 
intensified their bombing. 


Tamara, 35, a personnel worker from Grozny, said the announcement of the 
border opening was a deliberate act of cynicism by the Russians. 


"The soldiers pretend they're helping us and then this," she said. "They step 
up the bombing. Everyone believed it when they said they were opening the 
corridor." 


She said the refugee train stretched back 10 miles into Chechnya and that 
Russian troops had used them as human shields when advancing to Grozny. 


Mrs Magomedova knew four of the seven boys killed in Novy Sharoy. 


"I'm going mad," she said. "He cries and then I cry. I ask him if it's 
because of the pain from his legs. But he says, 'No, it's because of 
everything.'" 

******


#3
Boston Globe
3 November 1999
[for personal use only]
Russians pilots jubilant as Chechnya toll mounts 
By Dmitry Shalganov, Globe Correspondent and David Filipov Globe Staff


MOZDOK, Russia - The Su-25 ground assault jet glided onto the tarmac at the
Russian military base, two tons lighter than when it had taken off for
Chechnya full of bombs, rockets, and bullets. 


With a triumphant wave and a confident grin, the pilot, Major P., gave an
upbeat report of his 25-minute bombing run over Gudermes, Chechnya's
second-largest city. The crescendo of international criticism about the
mounting civilian death toll from Russian air strikes is not a problem here
in Mozdok, Russia's staging center for the offensive against breakaway
Chechnya.


''If you're asking whether I wasted any Chechens, yeah, I blew away a lot
of them,'' Major P. said in an interview just after landing from his sortie
Sunday. Like all Russian pilots flying in the Caucasus war zone, he spoke
on the grounds that his full name not be published, to prevent some
victim's vengeful relatives from tracking him down later.


As Russian planes and artillery again pounded Gudermes and Chechnya's
capital, Grozny, yesterday, President Clinton met with Russian Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin in Oslo to express US concerns about the fate of
the estimated 200,000 refugees.


''We stressed that it's not in the interest of any country ... to try to
resolve internal problems at the price of a major loss of life of innocent
people,'' a senior administration official told reporters in Oslo.
''Political dialogue has to be the absolute foundation for a successful
solution because we don't see how a military solution is going to work in
this situation.''


But Putin made it clear that Russia would not ease its onslaught against
Chechnya, saying Islamic militants in the breakaway republic must be
destroyed before any negotiations can begin. And Russian military continued
to block the border of the rebellious region, refusing to let refugees from
the fighting leave Chechnya.


Yesterday, federal troops and local police scuffled briefly at the border
crossing into the Russian republic of Ingushetia, when police demanded that
refugees be let out of Chechnya. Crowds of desperate refugees pushed to be
let through. One woman died, apparently of a heart attack.


''The Russian military is just mocking civilians, what they do is an act of
lawlessness,'' said Ingushetia's leader, Ruslan Aushev.


Major P., the jet fighter pilot, has no regrets about what he does. He
knows that Chechen separatists have already brought down at least two
heavily armored attack planes like his own. He knows he is fighting the
''bandits'' and ''terrorists'' Moscow has vowed to wipe out in Chechnya.
His job is to kill as many of them as he can.


''The Chechen fighters call themselves wolves, but they call the Russian
pilots flying wolves,'' Major P. said, ''because they kill so many Chechens.''


The Russian military claimed that yesterday's raids killed 100 to 150
fighters. The separatist Chechen government said the civilian death toll
from a month of fighting had risen to 3,600. Neither figure could be
confirmed.


Russia says it is targeting only rebel positions, not civilians; on Sunday,
Putin dismissed reports of civilian deaths as ''evil-minded propaganda of
the terrorists.''


Others are not so sure. Yesterday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch
released a report saying dozens of innocent victims had died in the Russian
assault. And in Moscow, where the war is popular, some commentators
attacked the Russian campaign as a cruelly flawed recipe for disaster.


''For each dead [Chechen] fighter we are going to kill 10 civilians,''
wrote veteran political commentator Andrei Piontkowski in the weekly Novaya
Gazeta. ''Each one of them has relatives, and they will take the place of
that dead fighter.''


The Russian military has portrayed its advance into Chechnya so far as a
relatively easy one. Russian armor, aviation, and artillery have pounded
rebel positions in the plains and low mountains north, west and east of
Grozny, allowing the federal units to gradually push back the lightly armed
rebels while trying to minimize their own losses.


The generals say this tactic is the fruit of lessons learned during
Russia's disastrous 1994-1996 war in Chechnya, when federal troops
sustained heavy losses and flattened most of the region's towns, but failed
to crush the separatists. The military now portrays that war as a defeat
caused by meddlesome politicians in Moscow and this new conflict as
something totally new and different. Some commanders are predicting victory
by the end of the month. Almost everyone in Mozdok is convinced that an
assault on Grozny, something the military ruled out at the beginning of the
conflict, is now inevitable and imminent.


There are several problems with the Russians' rosy outlook. One is that
Russia admits to having lost far more soldiers - 133 - than it lost in the
first four weeks last time. Yesterday, the Soldiers' Mothers Committee, a
respected nongovernment group, accused the military of deliberately
underreporting its casualites. The real number, they said, is closer to 600.


The second problem is that the Russians' stated goal to kill all the
''terrorists,'' when combined with Putin's vow to fight ''to the end, until
complete victory,'' looks like a blueprint for eternal warfare in Chechnya.
Or as former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin put it, ''to win this war, one
has to destroy the entire male population of Chechnya.''


So far, Russian units have yet to encounter serious resistance from the
rebels, whose combined forces federal commanders estimate at anywhere
between 8,000 and 40,000. By all accounts many of those men are now in
Grozny waiting for the Russian army to come in and fight them in the
streets, where the bullets, bombs, and rockets of Major P. will not be able
to prevent a bloodbath.


Dmitry Shalganov reported from Mozdok; David Filipov from Moscow. 


******


#4
Chechen Leader Ruslan Khasbulatov Calls for Negotiations 


London Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Arabic
28 October 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Interview with 
Russian Opposition Leader of Chechen origin Ruslan Khasbulatov by Sami 
'Amarah: "Khasbulatov Says the Chechens Are Entitled to an Independent 
State; the Russian Opposition Parliamentarian from Chechnya Speaks to the 
Al-Sharq al-Awsat; Khasbulatov Says the Former Agreement With Yeltsin 
Acknowledges the Independence of Chechnya; Khasbulatov Says Aslan 
Maskhadov is Weak and Unfit to be President of Chechnya" -- date not 
given 


[Question] What is the truth about the current 
situation in Chechnya? 
[Answer] The situation is tragic. It is very bad. Unfortunately, the second 
phase of the war, or the new war, has already begun. There is a great 
difference between the former war and the current war. This point should 
be asserted. If you may recall, I said that the former war was completely 
unjust. I criticized the authorities of the Russian federation. I 
demanded a halt to military operations and a shift to peaceful 
negotiations. The present situation is very difficult and complex. Of 
course, the present situation is not in favor of the Chechen leadership. 
[Question] What do you mean by a difficult and complex situation? 
[Answer] The difficulty rests in the cliques of armed men who have been 
committing acts of aggression on the friendly neighborly state of 
Dagestan. For centuries, the peoples of Chechnya and Dagestan have been 
linked with ties of fraternity and friendship. They have always helped 
each other. Suddenly, armed cliques of robbers began staging attacks on 
Dagestan. They set up in Dagestan what they called Islamic systems based 
on the Shari'a. 
The truth however, is that these cliques were not associated with Islam 
in one way or another. They were carrying these attacks for the purpose 
of looting. I personally know the areas around the Butlikh village in 
Dagestan. It is about 30 to 40 kilometers away from my home town of 
Kharatchoy in Chechnya. I am an honorary citizen of Butlik. The residents 
of the village gave me a house as a present. The people of Dagestan are 
peaceful. They are made up of various nationalities, such as the Afars, 
Russians, Chechens, and Georgians. People there are living together in 
peace and harmony. 
Attacking them was an act of barbarism. The attackers looted their homes, 
beat them and raped their women. They also abducted people there. The 
residents of the Caucasus and Dagestan were very indignant at these 
barbaric acts. Under such circumstances, the Russian forces moved in to 
punish the aggressors. 
[Question] You have said that you cautioned Chechen President Aslan 
Maskhadov. What was his reaction? 
[Answer] I have warned him several times. I have talked to him more than 
once. During the last war, I met with him in 1994, 1995, and 1996. I also 
met with Maskhadov, Bandriyev, Chechen ministers and parliament deputies 
in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Last summer, I met with the parliament speaker, 
the prime minister and the first deputy prime minister of Chechnya. 
I have been advising them all the time on economic questions since I 
am an economic expert. I also gave them political advice. I told them 
that they should stop these acts of looting, robberies and the abduction 
of individuals. I also told them that they should settle their 
differences with the Russian leadership, not because I like Boris 
Yeltsin, but because it would be in the interest of Chechnya to do so. He 
is the president of Russia and you should coexist peacefully with him. 
You should find a common language with the Russians and search for 
conciliatory solutions. 
I have always cautioned them that if they continued their actions, an 
excuse could easily be found to start a more ruthless war against them, 
and they would be destroyed. I have warned them plainly against the 
consequences of their actions. 
Now that the second war has already been launched, one cannot 
objectively say that the Russians were looking for a pretext. I believe 
that if the Russians did not act, the people would have reacted in fury 
and dismay at the crimes that have been committed. The people want these 
acts of aggression by the outlaws and robbers stopped. 
[Question] Does this mean that the public opinion has changed from the
way it 
was in the past? 
[Answer] It certainly did. Today's public opinion is very different from
what 
it used to be in the past. I must admit that the pubic opinion in Russia 
is now strongly hostile to the rulers of Groznyy. The same thing applies 
to the Caucasus. The acts of aggression committed by forces of Shamil 
Basayev against Dagestan have generated negative reactions, even against 
the Chechen people themselves, although the Chechen people were not 
responsible for these acts of aggression. 
We cannot victimize one million people for acts of aggression carried 
out by a clique of Muslim individuals. Nevertheless, the result was that 
the attitude of the Russian people in the various Russian cities became 
unfriendly toward the peaceful Chechens who were either studying or 
working in these Russian cities and who had nothing to do with these acts 
of aggression. 
[Question] There are reports to the effect that President Aslan Maskhadov
has 
lost control of the situation in Chechnya. How true is this? 
[Answer] Unfortunately, this is true. I have supported the election
campaign 
of Maskhadov. I thought that he was the presidential candidate who would 
be more cultured, a presidential candidate who had an integrity of 
character. I thought that he would pay attention to the interests of the 
people and that he can find a common language for dialogue with the 
Russian federal authorities. 
However, unfortunately, he was not up to our expectations. He turned out to 
be a very poor statesman and a short-sighted ruler. Perhaps the most 
horrible thing about him, as it is confirmed now, is that he does not pay 
any attention to the interests of the people. Some 99 per cent of the 
people in Chechnya are unemployed. They live on the aid sent to them by 
their relatives who left the Republic of Chechnya and are residing and 
working abroad. They have no other income other than this aid. 
Maskhadov has not done anything to help the people. He has not built even
one 
plant or inaugurated a hospital or a school or any other public facility. 
He has not provided any employment opportunities for the people or done 
anything for his people who are struggling for survival. He does not 
think about these things at all. The only thing that he is telling them 
is that they should live according to the rules of the Islamic Sharia. 
People in Chechnya are ridiculing him and saying, "You have been an officer 
in the Russian army for 25 years. How did you live there? Did you live 
according to the rules of the Islamic Shari'a? Without you, we were 
praying and performing our religious rites. We have been travelling to 
the Muslim holy shrines to perform the pilgrimage rites whenever we could 
do so. We have done all this without you. We have known Islam without 
you. What we need you to do is provide us with jobs and security. We want 
you to defend us against the robbers who abduct people and abuse their 
treatment." 
Nevertheless, Maskhadov appears on the television screen and talks to the
people 
about what kind of Muslim dress women should wear and what kind of Muslim 
clothes men should wear. Of course, this is not the business of a 
president. 
[Question] How do you explain the differences that exist between President 
Maskhadov and the Mufti of Chechnya, Ahmad Hajji Qadrov. 
[Answer] The issue is not one of differences between the two. I know the 
mufti very well. He is a very intelligent and a very religious man. He is 
widely respected by the believers. I know that the mufti is pained from 
the depth of his heart at this situation. It is noteworthy that the mufti 
described each of Basayev and Maskhadov as unbelievers. He said they were 
not thinking or paying attention to the welfare of their own people. He 
also criticized them for the aggression they have committed against our 
Dagestan brethren. 
Thus the mufti has angered the clique of robbers, as I call them, such as 
Basayev and others. I think that Basayev and his clique exerted pressure 
on Maskadov to dismiss the mufti from his post. In fact, Maskhadov signed 
a decree to this effect. However, I do not believe that the Muslim 
clergymen and believers will allow anyone to harm this man, because he is 
held in a very high esteem by the people. 
[Question] You have talked about the cliques of robbers. I know that you
have 
suffered from them. They have abducted your brother. Is that not so? 
[Answer] They kidnapped my brother in 1996 shortly after the Russian army 
withdrew from Chechnya and a presidium was installed in power. This was a 
victory for Chechnya. My brother is a professor of history. He has never 
worked in politics or business. We knew later that they had kidnapped my 
brother because they were afraid that I might nominate myself to the 
presidential elections. They were afraid that I might receive the votes 
of the majority of the voters. So they abducted my brother to prevent me 
from participating in the presidential election campaign. 
The truth is that I had never intended to participate in the 
presidential election campaign. I only wanted to offer help, but not in 
my capacity as president of the republic. When they abducted my brother, 
I told Maskhadov that this will make things worse. I advised him to 
exercise his authority on all the armed factions and disarm them. I told 
him that he could keep a small army of some 2,000 men. I explained that 
agreement on this could be reached with the Russian government, and that 
it will certainly agree to this arrangement. I knew that it was going to 
agree. I told Maskhadov that the remaining anarchic factions should be 
dismantled and disarmed. He agreed and said, "yes. Yes." But he never did 
anything about it. 
[Question] Was it that Maskhadov could not exercise any pressure on Basayev 
and his men? 
[Answer] Maskhadov lacked a strong personality, and he did not want to 
exercise this kind of pressure. 
[Question] Was it that he did not wish to exercise pressure or he could
not? 
[Answer] I believe that he could have exercised pressure, particularly at
the 
early phases of his presidency. He could have exercised the pressure as a 
president elected by the people. If he had the determination to do it, he 
would have done it. But he was a man who lacked firmness and willpower. 
Perhaps he was afraid. But if this was the case, why should he become 
president then. 
[Question] Perhaps Moscow needs a figure like Maskhadov, at least to
conduct 
a dialogue with? 
[Answer] It is difficult to predict what is in the minds of others.
However, 
I believe that if a man is reluctant and not firm, he should not become 
involved in politics or become a president. We are not living in the era 
of the former Soviet Union when the secretary of the Communist Party 
committee in the region was sitting in an office perhaps doing nothing 
while the bureaucracy was active in performing all the required work. The 
person of the secretary was not important in this context. However, 
things are different now. Officials should be involved with the people on 
daily basis and they should be able to make decisions. 
[Question] Maskhadov is proposing to negotiate with Moscow. However, Moscow 
is 
demanding that the terrorists, or what they call the criminal robbers, be 
handed over to the Russians as a condition for starting the negotiations? 
[Answer] If Maskhadov cannot hand over the terrorists to the Russians, he 
should say so and quit the office of the presidency. He cannot claim to 
be a president of a republic if he cannot act. I cannot imagine that a 
person who runs the affairs of a country cannot act. However, if it is 
true that he cannot act, he should quit his post, or he will bear the 
consequences. 
[Question] But if he quits the presidency, Basayev will replace him? 
[Answer] What if Basayev replaces him? At least we will have a clear and 
definite situation at hand. 
[Question] What if Moscow installs as president of Chechnya a figure such
as 
[Malik Saydalev]? Would you support him? 
[Answer] No. Of course, not. This is artificial and wrong. On the other
hand, 
the Russian prime minister might be looking for someone who can leave a 
psychological impact on Groznyy. Otherwise, he would not pay much 
attention to what kind of government is installed in Chechnya. Perhaps we 
can see things this way. In any case, this issue is not that important to 
me. 
[Question] Perhaps another qualified leader might rise and can keep things 
under control? 
[Answer] This leader should appear from within the Republic of Chechnya 
itself. The initiative should be made by the Republic of Chechnya, by the 
people who live in it, not the people who left it and are now living 
somewhere else. 
[Question] What if you are offered the leading position in the Republic of 
Chechnya? 
[Answer] If the initiatives comes from the people there so that I can help 
the Republic of Chechnya, my people and the federal authorities, of 
course, I will accept the offer. I was trying to do something in any 
case, because I do not want this catastrophe to continue indefinitely. I 
said at an earlier oe is busy trying to resolve his problems. This is 
another indication that my position was the sound one. Had Yeltsin not 
shelled the parliament, the parliament would have helped stop the 
deterioration of the the Republic of Chechnya? 
[Answer] Such a topic is not being discussed at present. In 1996, the 
Republic of Chechnya gained its independence. Regardless of what has been 
said about this independence, the Russian forces withdrew from Chechnya 
and the [Khasaf-Yourt] [as transliterated] peace agreement was concluded 
with the Russians. It was Maskhadov who signed the peace agreement with 
Yeltsin. It was also Maskhadov who signed several other treaties with 
Chernomyrdin. According to all these documents that have been signed, the 
Republic of Chechnya was declared an independent and sovereign state. 
Nonetheless, the crucial question is how did the Chechen leaders utilize this 
independence and sovereignty. Had they achieved economic prosperity and 
cultural development in the last three years since independence, they 
could have said that they have done something for their people. The 
international community would have said in this case that they were 
entitled to independence because they have achieved prosperity for their 
people. 
But what have they done? They have turned the Republic of Chechnya into 
a detention camp. I am of course, against an, "independent" detention 
camp. A detention camp means a loss of freedom. During my frequent visits 
to the Republic of Chechnya, I saw with my own eyes the horrible things 
they were doing. I have always criticized and rebuked them, because I am 
not afraid of anyone. I only fear God. They have always listened to me 
respectfully, but they have never done anything about it. 
[Question] What about the future of Chechnya? What about the question of
its 
independence? Would you accept some kind of independence similar to that 
Tatarstan? 
[Answer] No. I am not thinking on these lines as yet, because this has to
do 
with the distant future. We should think about the near future. Let us 
take a look about the conditions of the Republic of Chechnya at present. 
At one point, Groznyy was a capital inhabited by 400,000 people. It is a 
large city. It was one of the largest industrial and cultural centers in 
the northern Caucasus and southern Russia. Groznyy now has a population 
of 120,000 people only. The remaining population fled the city to live as 
refugees in other places. Some 150,000 of these refugees are now living 
in Ingushetia, although the population of this republic is no more than 
150,000 people of the Ingush. In other words, the Republic of the 
Ingushetia received the same number of Chechen refugees as that of its 
own population. 
Moreover, Dagestan has accepted some 20,000 to 30,000 Chechen refugees 
despite 
the maltreatment of the Dagestan people by Basayev and his men. There are 
also Chechen refugees in Georgia, Azerbaijan and the [Stavrobil and 
Osetia] [as transliterated] region. One should think about all these 
refugees. They should be supported, particularly at this initial phase of 
their exodus. 
Meanwhile, the Russian army is advancing to Groznyi. Russian air strikes
will 
inflict casualties on the peaceful citizens. We have to give this a 
serious thought. We have to think how peaceful negotiations could be held 
between the Russians and the Maskhadov regime. I think that the Maskhadov 
regime should destroy the terrorists, or force them to leave the Caucasus 
region once and for all. 
[Question] Can you serve as a mediator in this conflict? 
[Answer] Yes, if they ask me to do so. Otherwise, I have no desire to play 
the role of mediator. I would like to repeat that the criminal acts of 
these cliques are evident to every body. Therefore, I have no desire to 
defend them. However, I have a desire to protect the innocent people who 
are suffering. 
The speaker of parliament spoke to me by telephone from Groznyi, or 
rather from an adjoining village, this morning. I have told him what kind 
of resolutions the parliament should issue. I have told him that the 
parliament should make Maskhadsov comply with finding these terrorists 
and handing them over to the Russian side. However, if he is incapable of 
keeping the situation under control, the parliament should take the 
initiative of taking action. It should form a government under its 
control. The parliament in Chechnya is a legitimate parliament. I have 
personally watched how it was elected. 
[Question] But will the parliament continue to be active after the
formation 
of the Islamic Shura Council? 
[Answer] The parliament is functioning normally. I have suggested to the 
parliament to form a government, to impose parliament's control on the 
president himself and to request him to keep all the armed factions under 
control. If this is done, an initiative could be made to hold 
negotiations with the Russian authorities, particularly as the parliament 
is not involved in any criminal actions or excesses. The parliament 
consists of 50 deputies. Most of them are men who are worthy of respect. 
I have given them these pieces of advise and they should benefit from 
them. 
[Question] What do you have to say about the accusations leveled by the 
Russians that the Arab countries are involved in supporting Chechen 
fighters? 
[Answer] I have spoken about this subject in my interview with "Argumenti i 
Fakti" if you read it. I expressed my dissatisfaction with this kind of 
propaganda. I do not believe that the Arab countries are involved in 
these issues. I do not also believe that Usamah Bin-Ladin came to this 
region of Dagestan and the Republic of Chechnya. I receive accurate 
information from my supporters. I believe that my information on this 
subject is more accurate than the information which the intelligence 
services have. 
I am dissatisfied with this situation and with the propaganda that is 
being reiterated day and night concerning Muslim fundamentalists and 
extremists. Religious extremists exist among Christians and Jews as well 
as Muslims. However to single out Islam as being the cause of military 
and social conflicts or to portray people who believe in Islamic values 
as being extremists is a notion that will inflict a grave damage, even on 
Federal Russia itself. 
Regardless of the things which have been said, the former Soviet Union 
adopted 
a wise and appropriate policy toward the countries of the Orient, 
including the Arab countries. The former Soviet Union maintained good 
relations with the Arab states. However, Russian policy has now spoiled 
relations with East and West alike. It has spoiled relations with all the 
peoples. Arab and Islamic countries remained the only countries which 
Russia did not spoil relations with completely. 
What is being sought now is to open a new front for confrontation with 
Russia. I believe that Russia will not hold out in this confrontation, 
particularly when overt acts of subversion are started within Federal 
Russia itself. 
[Question] You have said in the interview referred to above that the United 
States is the major beneficiary from what is currently taking place in 
Chechnya? 
[Answer] Of course. Since 1997, the United States has announced that
Central 
Asia and the Caspian Sea and Caucasus region are extremely vital to the 
interests of the United States. In fact, the United States has spread its 
influence to the areas beyond the Caucasus. The oil pipelines run through 
the Caucasus. Therefore, any conflict there is of no benefit to the Arab 
or Islamic countries, but is of benefit to the unipower. I believe that 
the United States, more than other countries, has an interest in the 
outbreak of crises in these regions. 
[Question] What do you think about what is being said that there are people 
who
are benefiting from these conflicts, such as the Jewish multi-millionaire 
Boris Berezovskiy? 
[Answer] My attitude toward Boris Berezovskiy is somewhat different. I
would 
not want to call him a devil and attribute all the bad things that are 
happening to him. This is an exaggeration. Why Berezovskiy and what are 
the reasons? It was not Berezovskiy who created these conflicts and he 
was not the cause of these conflicts. 
What we should blame is the circumstances which allow people like 
Berezovskiy to prosper. These circumstances can be found in the 
corruption of the political system and the bureaucracy, favoritism, 
unconstitutional practices, the absence of popular and parliamentary 
control, and the illegal and unethical practices of the authorities. 
Therefore, we do not have to keep looking for the ghost of Berezovskiy. He 
and 
others whose names are often mentioned in a negative context are well 
known. The bigger danger rests in the persons whom nothing is known 
about. We do not even know their names. However, they influence decision. 
This constitutes a bigger danger to the state and the people as far as 
the Caucasus war is concerned. 
[Question] You are an expert known for your knowledge and experience. How
do 
you view the current events in Chechnya? 
[Answer] The way out of the predicament is now more difficult than it was 
three years ago. Nevertheless, in the final analysis, all wars are ended 
with negotiations. This is a must. Therefore, Groznyi and the Kremlin 
should begin negotiations urgently. However, they will not be concluded 
like the previous negotiations which led to the signing of the five-line 
agreement of [Khasaf-Yourt] [As transliterated]. 
I have announced that I have made public the seven-page text of the 
treaty which I have drafted for signature by Federal Russia and Chechnya. 
I have spelled out the rights and duties and the actions which should be 
taken by each side. I have drafted a balanced text which will make each 
side feel self-confident. I wanted to make sure that none of the two 
sides would feel that it was cheated. 
However, regardless of the position toward the [Khasaf-Yourt] agreement, 
neither Groznyi nor Moscow had done anything about the agreement three 
years after it was concluded. The developments that followed were 
irrational. People were hungry and without jobs. The youth was full of 
vitality and energy. They could not spend this energy at work; so they 
spent it at carrying and using firearms. 
Something had to be done. Families had to be fed. People carried arms and 
became involved in illegal operations, including the practice of a very 
dangerous profession; namely, abducting people and selling them like 
slaves. Many people have followed this path out of despair. Therefore, 
employment opportunities should be provided and the economic situation 
should be restored to normal. People like Basayev should be removed and 
referred to trial by the Republic of Chechnya, or the Republic of 
Dagestan or any other republic concerned. 
I believe that the following measures should be taken to resolve this 
crisis: 
First, the persons who committed aggression and whom the war started 
because of them should be handed over, not to the Russian authorities, 
but to the Dagestan authorities. The Dagestan authorities should be able 
to try these persons who attacked Dagestan. 
Second, the Republic of Chechnya should be given the opportunity to elect 
its parliament, president and prime minister. 
Third, the Russian air bombing and other military operations against 
Chechnya should be stopped. Such bombings and operations can only lead to 
the death of peaceful people. 
Fourth, I am personally not trying to stay away from this difficult 
situation. If the Chechen or Russian sides needed me, I am prepared to 
work for resolving the outstanding problems. 
[Question] What do you think about the idea of a plebiscite on the future
of 
the Chechens, which is being raised by some politicians? 
[Answer] I do not think that the people are currently thinking about a 
plebiscite. The situation is very bad. We need to restore normal life to 
the people first before we can think of anything else. 


*******


#5
US Seen Trying To 'Humiliate Russia' 


Rossiyskaya Gazeta
29 October 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Yevgeniy Vasilchuk under the "Apt Remarks" rubric: 
"Transatlantic Lectures Are Good for Russia's Health" 


The heavy-handedness with which the United States 
attempts to humiliate Russia is the stuff of anecdotes. The US State 
Department in all seriousness makes representation to the Russian 
ambassador in Washington regarding its "concern" over the nature and 
dynamics of the situation in Chechnya. Al Gore, US vice president and 
clear contender to be the Democrats' successor to Clinton, publicly 
expresses doubt about the Russian president's ability to lead the 
country. And it is better not to mention the kind of expressions used by 
leading European Union people to Russian Government Chairman Vladimir 
Putin to voice their discontent at events in Chechnya -- if only out of 
respect for their historical predecessors. 


The West's attempts to "dent" Russia's national dignity have long ceased 
to be news. Sharp objections are prompted by the stance of our country's 
political and business elite. Or, to more accurate, by the absence of 
such a stance. Yevgeniy Primakov's refusal to hold consultations with the 
president during a very difficult domestic and foreign policy situation 
is regrettable. One of the leading designers of modern Russian policy 
could also have disdained his own personal electoral interests. 


The roots of the West's current Russophobia are deeper and more 
poisonous than the fear of a revival of Russian military might. The West, 
above all the United States, is seeking to carry out pragmatic 
geopolitical tasks which fit neatly within the framework of the age-old 
concept of pax americana. This concept is the core of the American 
national ideal, which several generations of Americans have been unable 
to abolish and without whose realization the United States sees no point 
to its own existence. America does not have the many centuries of history 
of Europe, Asia, or Russia. If America renounces the strategy of global 
expansion, albeit hypothetically, its historical place will quickly 
recede close to zero. 


Therefore, the United States has no friends but only interests. It is 
possible 
to seek agreement with it, but only on paper; it is essential that 
agreements reached be implemented as quickly as possible -- before the 
ink dries. 


You can joke as much as you like, but you must not underestimate your 
opponent. The speed with which US diplomacy has consigned to the 
wastepaper basket all the negative aspects of NATO's military adventure 
in the Balkans is worthy of respect. Costly and ineffective maneuvers 
have been replaced by the classic scenario of destabilizing the internal 
political situation in Slav countries deemed undesirable. Russia has, by 
all accounts, occupied top place of honor on this list since July 1999. 
To say that America has turned its back on Russia would be wrong -- it 
has never turned its face toward us. The moralizing on the part of the 
keepers of double standards from Washington does, of course, irritate. 
But that is why it is regularly done. 


There is no point in reacting at an official level to every such instance. 
The United States is afraid of the consistency of Russian policy, its 
independence, and the skill in achieving the maximum result at minimum 
cost. Fear is generated by Russia's implementation at the end of the 20th 
century of a geopolitical minimum program. Russia is entering the new 
millennium with a maximum program which has been formed by a new 
diplomatic school and is attractive to all the countries that are 
Russia's strategic partners. It is based on the picture of a multipolar 
world, forbearance, and the consideration of the interests of partners 
plus other values which America, has apparently partly forgotten about 
since the collapse of the Soviet Union. 


Russia has made quite a few mistakes and is economically weak, but it does 
have something to offer the world. We have colossal potential in 
resources and manpower, thousand-year-long spiritual traditions, and a 
clear understanding of our domestic economic tasks and national 
historical mission. In these matters the United States has obvious 
shortcomings. And this generates an understandable desire to lecture and 
admonish others. Okay, let us take note.... 


******


#6
Russia's Soviet-Era Technology May Avoid Y2K Computer Problems

Moscow, Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Agency for International Development
said it expects few disruptions in Russia caused by Year 2000 computer
problems because most of the country's Soviet-era technology is not prone
to date-related glitches. 


``We don't expect major failures in Russia,'' said Andrei Barkin, head of
the Y2K information center at USAID in Moscow, at a briefing. ``It's still
pretty much a Soviet-technology civilization, based on old analogue
technology, not digital, which is much less prone to the change of dates.'' 


The year 2000 glitch refers to a problem with computers that read only two
digits for dates. These systems are expected to face some snafus if they
can't differentiate between 1900 and 2000. 


The U.S. government said Russia's power industry is most prone to
disruptions linked to Y2K and the State Department is allowing diplomats
stationed there to leave their posts temporarily because of possible power
disruptions. 


Russia's government began to deal with the problem ``unbelievably late,''
Barkin said. ``Key organizations moved ahead when the government told them
to in January.'' 


Most testing at telephone and electricity companies and banks took place in
the past two months, he said. 


Actions not Words 


``The situation changed radically,'' Barkin said. ``Companies moved from
words and statements to tests.'' 


Four regional telecommunications companies and OAO Rosetelecom, the
long-distance telephone provider, carried out system tests in September and
experienced no disruptions, he said The central bank also organized testing
in several banks in October. Electricity companies and nuclear plants also
conducted successful tests, he said. 


RAO Unified Energy Systems, the country's power monopoly, is most prone to
computer problems in its financial department, rather than in power supply,
Barkin said. 


RAO Chief Executive Anatoly Chubais said the company doesn't expect major
blackouts linked to Y2K. 


``I am convinced not one U.S. diplomat will notice any problems,'' Chubais
said at a briefing today. 


Still, USAID said official government information on Y2K preparation is
scarce. 


The State Department advised Americans to defer travel to Russia, Belarus,
Moldova and Ukraine ``until the extent of Y2K- related disruptions''
becomes clear. 
*******






 

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