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Johnson's Russia List


November 12, 1999    
This Date's Issues: 3620  3621   

Johnson's Russia List
12 November 1999

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Business Week: Russians Are `Ready to Accept an Iron Hand'
2. Itar-Tass: Condolise Rice Calls for Political Settlement in Chechnya.
3. Moscow Times: Yevgenia Albats, Kremlin Fears Disarming Its Own Generals.
4. Financial Times (UK): Chechen tinderbox. John Thornhill and David Stern ask if Russia can contain conflict in the Caucasus and nationalism at home.
5. International Herald Tribune: Max Jakobson, Russia Heads Off Toward a 
Solution of Its Own.

6. Kennan Institute events.
7. the eXile: Edward Limonov, Copying the European Monkey.
8. Russia Unleashes Final Offensive on Chechnya.
9. Reuters: Does Russia need food aid?
10. AP: McCain Urges Toughness vs. Russians.
11. Reuters: Pushkin Gets Birthday Makeover in West.] 


Business Week
November 22, 1999
[for personal use only]
Russians Are `Ready to Accept an Iron Hand'

After weeks of relentless air strikes, thousands of Chechen civilians and 
Russian soldiers have died in the Kremlin's latest attempt to subdue its 
rebellious republic. Despite the specter of a protracted war, evidence of 
human-rights violations, and the reintroduction of Soviet-style press 
controls, Russians are cheering the man leading the campaign, Prime Minister 
Vladimir V. Putin.
His authoritarian approach has clearly struck a chord with Russian voters. 
Tired of humiliation abroad and a sickly President at home, they yearn for a 
decisive leader. ``Apparently, I have simply hit the nail on the head. I'm 
doing what [people] have wanted for a long time,'' Putin boasted on TV. In a 
Nov. 6 poll asking Russians whom they would vote for in a presidential 
election, Putin led the pack at 29%, up from just 2% in September. Other 
presidential contenders, Communist Party leader Gennady A. Zyuganov and 
former Prime Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov, now trail him with about 20% each.
BIG SHIFT. Even if Putin flames out--for example, if the war becomes 
unpopular because of a rising army body count--a strongman now seems likely 
to win next July's presidential elections. ``Society is ready to accept an 
iron hand,'' says Nikolai Petrov, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center. 
``Democratic needs are on the back burner,'' adds Igor Mintusov, chairman of 
Moscow political consulting agency Niccolo M.
That's a big shift since the summer, when Primakov was the front-runner. 
At that stage, most Russians wanted ailing President Boris N. Yeltsin to be 
succeeded by a moderate elder statesman like the 70-year-old Primakov. That 
changed after a spate of terrorist bombings--which the Kremlin blames on the 
Chechens--claimed 300 victims in Moscow in September. Instead of the 
stability Primakov personifies, Russian voters now want a younger, more macho 
leader who can ensure their security. ``Putin's willingness to bomb Chechnya 
suits the new public mood,'' adds Mintusov. Diplomats worry that the 
prominence now given to security by voters could translate into progress by 
anti-Western parties in December parliamentary elections and a more 
intransigent Russia on issues such as arms control.
MAKEOVER. An adulatory press has aided Putin's rapid ascent. The Russian 
media have changed the 47-year-old's image from that of a gray desk jockey 
and former KGB operative to a steely strategist and Rambo-style leader. With 
limited access to war zones, Russian TV has toed the government line 
slavishly, including flat denials of allegations from Human Rights Watch and 
the International Red Cross that the army knowingly targets civilians.
Indeed, Putin has used his rising political fortune to reinstate controls 
on the media. He let the newly created Press Ministry close two regional TV 
stations for allegedly unfair election coverage. And he has used the war to 
distract voters from economic and social problems. Money-laundering 
investigations and probes of Kremlin finances are totally out of the news.
The European Court for Human Rights and others are crying foul over the 
arrests and deportations of Chechen residents from Moscow. But most Russians 
have yet to bat an eyelid. That may change if Putin tries to redeem his 
pledge to continue the war until all Chechen rebels are crushed. Military 
experts say that will require extensive ground fighting, heavy casualties, 
and probably another defeat at the hands of Chechen guerrillas.
Political intrigues have already started against Putin inside the Kremlin, 
and Yeltsin may well fire him before the July election. But no doves need 
apply to replace him. If he goes, another young hawk is likely to be his 

By Margaret Coker in Moscow 


Condolise Rice Calls for Political Settlement in Chechnya.

WASHINGTON, November 11 (Itar-Tass) - Condolise Rice, the senior foreign 
policy adviser of Texas Governor George Bush-junior, who is believed to have 
good chances to win the upcoming presidential elections in the United States, 
believes that political ways should be sought to normalise the situation in 
Chechnya. Interviewed by Itar-Tass, Rice said she knew that Maskhadov was not 
in control of everything that was happening in Chechnya. He admits this 
himself, she said, but Russia needs somebody to negotiate with, needs a 
partner in Chechnya, and I think that it will be difficult to find such a 
partner as long as force is being used there. 

Rice said that she did not see any similarity between what had recently 
happened in Kosovo and the anti-terrorism operation of the Russian federal 
forces in Chechnya, primarily because Chechnya is an autonomous region within 
the Russian Federation. 

The problem for the West, she believes, is Russia's haphazard use of force in 
Chechnya and apparent lack of any political goal. I am very much concerned 
about this, she stated, expressing the hope that Moscow would find a 
political goal, towards which it could press in Chechnya, and would clearly 
announce it. 


Moscow Times
November 12, 1999 
Power Plays: Kremlin Fears Disarming Its Own Generals 
By Yevgenia Albats 
Yevgenia Albats is an independent political analyst and journalist. Party 
Lines will now appear on Saturdays. 

The talk around town is that Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev and General 
Anatoly Kvashnin have threatened to resign if the Kremlin tries to constrain 
their aspirations in Chechnya. The Kremlin and the president, who usually 
react harshly to such ultimatums, are keeping silent and apparently don't 
know how to get themselves out of the dead end they've driven themselves 
into. On one side, they have the reputation of the Kremlin in the eyes of the 
world community - which passed its friendly judgment on the brutality of 
military actions in Chechnya and the don't-give-a-damn attitude of Russian 
authorities toward the refugees. On the other, we have the Kremlin's fear of 
causing an explosion in the military. 

It may be that the Kremlin could not care less about its reputation - but on 
Dec. 2, the deadlines for payments on London Club loans are coming up, and it 
had better not be counting on leniency this time. Western democracies will 
use this opportunity to make Russia understand it has a choice: either to 
have credits and indulgences on debts, at which point it should bring its 
imperial ambitions into proportion with its financial possibilities, or not 
to have credits or indulgences and become a pariah nation. However, Kremlin 
fears that the generals could react harshly to attempts by civilian 
authorities to lower tensions in the war are also founded. 

"The military won't allow Moscow politicians to take away its victory" is the 
slogan of the past few weeks. This slogan, endlessly repeated by the generals 
in Mozdok, testifies that the military's hands have been untied, that it has 
been given the opportunity to avenge its defeat in the last Chechen war and 
that it is ready to exploit it to the fullest. 

The last few weeks have clearly shown that the solving of political problems 
in the Caucasus has been farmed out to the military. 

The evidence: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin finds out about this or that 
special operation there post factum; the government and the Kremlin are 
constantly forced to adjust to decisions made and executed not by them but by 
the men in epaulets. Today it seems that no one any longer recalls the 
original goal of the new Chechen war - creating a "sanitary" zone around the 
rebellious republic. It is now obvious that storming Grozny is only a 
question of days. It is just as obvious that neither Moscow nor military 
headquarters in Mozdok has any idea of how - or why - they would storm it. 
One feeling moves everything: revenge. 

But no one is asking this question: What happens if the generals - having 
vented their revenge on Chechnya - want to vent it elsewhere? Like, for 
instance, on the Moscow politicians about whom they couldn't care less and 
whom they are in no hurry to obey? Can it really be the Kremlin didn't 
understand that handing political decisions over to the men in epaulets 
jeopardizes not only the democratic achievements of the country - small 
though they may be - but even their own survival? 

It is clear that there is no simple solution anymore - things have gone too 
far. To stop the generals like they were stopped in 1996 is too dangerous: 
They won't tolerate such an insult again. But the current state of affairs is 
intolerable. The Kremlin has a difficult choice ahead of it. 


Financial Times (UK)
12 November 1999
[for personal use only]
RUSSIA: Chechen tinderbox 
John Thornhill and David Stern ask if Russia can contain conflict in the 
Caucasus and nationalism at home

As the Russian assault on Chechnya enters its seventh week, the government in 
Moscow is discovering that it is far easier to start wars in the Caucasus 
than to stop them.

Encouraged by its early successes, the Russian army is growing increasingly 
assertive in the region, flushing Moslem militants out of Dagestan, which 
borders the breakaway Chechen republic to the east, and threatening 
retaliation against the independent state of Azerbaijan, which Moscow accuses 
of supporting Chechen terrorists. Its bombardment of Chechnya has caused 
hundreds of civilian deaths and prompted the flight of about 200,000 
refugees, causing terrible hardship as winter starts to grip.

It is because of this that a meeting of the Organisation for Security and 
Co-operation in Europe, to be held in Istanbul next week, has assumed 
critical importance. It will be the only chance foreign leaders will have to 
put personal pressure on Boris Yeltsin, the Russian president, to bring the 
war in Chechnya to a speedy conclusion.

It is not known how Mr Yeltsin is likely to respond, or whether he will even 
agree to discuss the conflict, which Moscow regards as an internal affair. 
The Russian government insists it is conducting an anti-terrorist operation 
that is strongly supported by the local Chechen population. US officials fear 
the west's relations with Russia could plunge to the coolest temperature 
since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

But it is not only the international community that worries about an 
escalation of the conflict in Chechnya. Inside Russia, some politicians fear 
the war is feeding an ugly nationalism that could engulf the country's 
fragile democratic institutions.

Vladimir Averchev, an MP from the liberal Yabloko party, says it is becoming 
difficult as a Russian to speak out against the excesses of the Chechen 
campaign without automatically being branded as someone who is unpatriotic 
and soft on terrorism.

"There has been much talk about Russia searching for a new national identity. 
I am afraid that Russia has just found that idea in this war," he says.

Mr Averchev believes the conflict has brought militarists and nationalists 
together in a potent new political force.

The Communist party, which remains the biggest parliamentary faction in 
Russia, has temporarily buried its differences with the Kremlin and hinted it 
might support Vladimir Putin, President Yeltsin's prime minister and heir 
apparent, if he perseveres with his hawkish stance towards Chechnya.

Also significant is the fact that Anatoly Kvashnin, head of the army's 
general staff, chose to give one of his very few interviews about Chechnya to 
Zavtra, an ultra-nationalist newspaper.

"The fate of Russia today is being decided here in the Caucasus!" the 
newspaper trumpeted, urging the army to finish the job it had begun in 
Chechnya. In the interview, Gen Kvashnin promised to "free the Chechen people 
from the medieval yoke of bandits and murderers".

It is this rising militarist tide in Russia, rather than the rights and 
wrongs of the Chechen conflict itself, that is generating unease among the 
independent republics of the Caucasus.

Georgia, a small former Soviet republic that shares a common border with 
Chechnya and still has Russian military bases on its territory, feels 
especially vulnerable. Georgia shares a border with Chechnya and has had to 
cope with an influx of refugees. In addition, it has problems with breakaway 
movements of its own, and it suspects that Russian agents may be aiding the 
destabilisation of Georgia.

Peter Mamradze, chief of staff to President Eduard Shevardnadze, says that 
"living next to Russia is like living on the side of a volcano".

"Even now there are reactionary forces in Russia who never could accept that 
Georgia and the other republics are fully independent," Mr Mamradze explains. 
"The plan is to restore the Soviet Union."

Mr Shevardnadze told the Financial Times in an interview last month that if 
he won a second five-year presidential term next April, he would be "knocking 
very hard" on the door of Nato to apply for membership. "The Georgian people 
cherish independence and will not exchange it for anything," he said.

Oil-rich Azerbaijan, too, is afraid Russia has broader designs on the region. 
It has been stung by Moscow's accusations that it has been sheltering Chechen 
terrorists. "The active attacks on Baku [capital of Azerbaijan] from Moscow 
are conducted with the goal of weakening Azerbaijan's position before the 
forthcoming OSCE summit in Istanbul," says Vilayat Guliyev, the Azeri foreign 
minister. "This is a conscious provocation on the eve of the summit."

The military campaign against Chechnya has caused concern among Russia's 18m 
Moslems and outrage in the Islamic world at large.

Islamist Virtue, Turkey's main opposition party, has accused Russia of 
conducting genocide in Chechnya. Iranian politicians are also concerned about 
the fate of their Moslem brothers inside Russia. The Turkish government, 
which has been trying to reassert its influence in the Caucasus since the 
collapse of the Soviet Union, has held tentative talks with Azerbaijan about 
opening a military base in the fellow Turkic country.

But although the western powers may turn up the rhetoric of outrage at the 
Istanbul summit, there are three reasons why they are likely to be ambivalent 
about taking action against Moscow.

First, Moslem militants based in Chechnya undoubtedly provoked Russia by 
conducting military raids into neighbouring Dagestan and - if Moscow is to be 
believed - by bombing several apartment blocks in Russian cities, killing 292 

The Chechens have hardly endeared themselves to world opinion by kidnapping, 
torturing, and killing several foreign visitors. Russian embassies around the 
world have been playing on this sense of repulsion by sending out grisly 
videos recording the torture of hostage victims. In addition, Interpol has 
put several Chechen military commanders on its most wanted list.

Second, foreign governments continue to regard Chechnya as a constituent part 
of the Russian Federation. Therefore, there is little international support 
for Chechen independence.

Third, although the western powers hardly like to admit it, the moral waters 
have been muddied by Nato's bombardment of Serbia.

Victor Chernomyrdin, the former Russian prime minister who helped broker the 
peace in Yugoslavia, tapped into a deep vein of national feeling in Moscow 
this week when he accused western human rights activists of ignoring the 
civilian casualties of Nato's bombing of Kosovo while highlighting those in 

"Chechnya is an internal Russian matter and to put pressure on our country on 
this question is senseless," he said.

As he has done at several critical junctures in the past, Mr Yeltsin may pull 
himself back from the brink and prevent a full-scale assault on Chechnya's 
bigger towns - although whether the army would obey such orders must be open 
to some doubt.

But short of Mr Yeltsin's intervention, few politicians in Moscow see much 
hope of halting the unfolding tragedy - even though they can foresee its 
terrible consequences.

With an alarming sense of fatalism, Mr Averchev says: "If there is a military 
'victory' in Chechnya it will give an enormous boost to the Communists and 
nationalists. But in case of a defeat - or a perceived defeat by holding 
negotiations - then there will be serious political consequences.

"There is no good outcome in this situation," he says.

Additional reporting by Andrew Jack in Moscow and Leyla Boulton in Ankara 


International Herald Tribune
November 12, 1999
[for personal use only]
Russia Heads Off Toward a Solution of Its Own
By Max Jakobson
The writer, a former Finnish ambassador to the United Nations, contributed 
this comment to the International Herald Tribune.

HELSINKI - Western governments judge Russia by its progress, or lack of it, 
in a transition to Western-style democracy and market economy. The goal was 
set at the triumphal summit meeting of the Conference on Security and 
Cooperation in Europe held in Paris in November 1990.

The heads of state and government there, including the Soviet leader Mikhail 
Gorbachev, undertook to ''build, consolidate and strengthen democracy as the 
only system of government for all the nations of Europe.''

When Mr. Gorbachev signed the Paris declaration, it was probably not because 
he had been converted to Western ideology but because he desperately needed 
support to keep the Soviet Union intact. The Baltic peoples were duly advised 
by Washington not to rock the boat, and President George Bush traveled to 
Kiev to lecture the Ukrainians on the evils of nationalism.

Yet once the Soviet Union had fallen apart as a result of the power struggle 
between Mr. Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, the West rushed to recognize the 
former Soviet republics as sovereign states and to admit them to 
international organizations. But the ''only system of government'' has not 
advanced beyond the Western borders of the three Baltic nations. The men who 
run the Community of Independent States pay lip service to democracy but in 
fact govern in the old Soviet manner.

In Russia itself, the pretense of liberal reform has come to an end. Opinion 
surveys show a large majority of Russians blaming Western-style reforms for 
their present misery. The liberal reformers are out. President Yeltsin now 
relies on strongmen like Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whois trying to 
restore the popularity ofhis master with a show of force in Chechnya. Have 
they not read what Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote in his monumental study of 
the Soviet gulag - that of all the people he met in the camps and in exile, 
the Chechens were the only ones who never submitted to Russian authority?

Having rejected the Western model, Russians are searching in their past for 
guidance. One who has found it from history is Yevgeni Primakov, the former 
prime minister and foreign minister who may soon return to power, either as 
president or as head of a coalition government.

In a speech on the 200th anniversary of the birth of the 19th century 
statesman Alexander Gortsakov, Mr. Primakov recalled that in 1856, when his 
illustrious predecessor was appointed foreign minister, Russia had suffered a 
humiliating defeat in the Crimean War and many people believed that this was 
the end of the Russian empire and the beginning of inevitable decline to a 
second-rate power.

Gortsakov insisted that an internal renewal of Russia's strength could be 
achieved only under cover of an active foreign policy. He used divisions 
between Turkey and European powers to regain the right to maintain a Black 
Sea naval base and fleet. The parallels between then and now are obvious.

Mr. Primakov identifies himself with Gortsakov. He rejects the view that 
Russia now is too weak to carry out an active foreign policy and should 
concentrate on improving its economy and reforming its armed forces and 
should return to the world stage only after it has regained enough strength.

Such a policy, he said, would create a dangerous power vacuum along Russia's 
borders. An active foreign policy was necessary to ensure its territorial 
integrity - meaning, I presume, that secessionist tendencies in Chechnya and 
elsewhere must be resisted.

According to Mr. Primakov, the independence of the former Soviet republics 
must be respected, but one of the most important tasks of foreign policy is 
to bring about integration of the CIS countries into a united economic area. 
Between the lines we can discern the goal of reconstituting Russian sway over 
former Soviet territory, although not, I trust, on the Soviet model.

Drawing his inspiration from Russian history, Mr. Primakov nevertheless ends 
up defining his foreign policy in terms of his country's relationship with 
the United States. For him, the goal of Russian policy today is to act as a 
counter to American hegemony. Under the banner of defending a ''multipolar'' 
world order Russia can attract important allies, China and India for 
instance, in support of its role as a world power.

The Primakov vision appeals to patriotic Russians who see the Western 
attitude as patronizing. It is designed to restore the self-respect of the 
Russian people without risking dangerous external conflicts. It enables 
Russia to continue an open relationship with the Western world without having 
to suffer from a sense of subservience.

Although much can still happen between now and next July, President Yeltsin's 
successor may well be elected from the Primakov platform.

>From a Western point of view, the Primakov vision by no means excludes 
constructive cooperation. Yet the Kosovo conflict revealed a fundamental gap 
between Western and Russian perceptions of the evolution of international 

The concept of humanitarian intervention was alien to Russian thinking. It 
was dismissed by Russian politicians and generals as a disguise for America's 
geopolitical ambitions. Having cowed Serbia, Russia's ally in the Balkans, 
the United States was suspected of planning to go next for Belarus, on the 
pretext of defending the human rights of its people.

Such paranoid fantasies are taken seriously in Russia. They reflect a deeper 
difference between developments in the West and in Russia. The primacy of 
human rights in Western policies is a function of the profound integration 
that has taken place between open societies. Russia has not yet been 
transformed by that process.


Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999
Subject: Two new events

is pleased to invite you to a seminar with guest speakers

Mikhail Nikolaev
President, Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russia; and
Chairman of the Northern Forum

Walter J. Hickel
former Governor, Alaska; former U.S. Secretary of the Interior; and
Secretary General, the Northern Forum

John F. Doyle
Executive Director, the Northern Forum

Vasili Pavlov
Deputy Minister of External Relations, Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russia

Current Prospects in Russia's Northern Regions:
The Northern Forum and International Cooperation
Wednesday, November 17, 1999
3:30 to 5:30 P.M.
Flom Auditorium, 6th Floor
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
The Ronald Reagan Building
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC
If you need directions, please call us at (202) 691-4100
Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Please bring picture
identification and allow time to get through the Wilson Center's security



is pleased to invite you to a seminar with guest speaker

Mikhail Alekseev
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Appalachian State University, and
former Title VIII-Supported Research Scholar, Kennan Institute 


The Current Crisis in Dagestan and Chechnya: 
Will the Federation Emerge Intact?

Thursday, November 18, 1999
3:30 to 5:30 P.M.
Flom Auditorium, 6th Floor
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
The Ronald Reagan Building
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC
If you need directions, please call us at (202) 691-4100
Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Please bring picture
identification and allow time to get through the Wilson Center's security


the eXile
November 5 - 18, 1999 
Copying the European Monkey
By Edward Limonov

>From the time of Peter the Great, Russia is copying Europe. That copying 
process has costed us a lot of blood, probably enormous millions of liters of 
blood every century. Construction of only one city of St. Petersburg on the 
Baltic coast in the midst of swamps, so-called "Window to Europe," been paved 
by hundreds of thousands of lifes. Citizens have died of malaria and hard 
labor to satisfy European dream of tzar, who wanted to have his own 
Amsterdam! Our tzars have carefully copied European militarism, capitalism, 
and colonialism. Our revolutionaries have chosen to copy European anarchism 
and socialism and finally Marxism. Eventually Russia even surpassed the West: 
we constructed socialist dream. We never wanted to be ourselfs. We always 
wanted to be Westerners.

Nowadays is not different from good old days. In 1985, Gorbachev, guided by 
Mr. Yakovlev (USSR's ambassador to Canada), long-time admirer of West have 
started global changements in structure of socialist society, called 
"perestroika." Yakovlev and Gorbachev have been excited by Western values: 
human right, freedom of press, etc. So, fourteen years later, Russia, having 
lost one third of its territory with a half of its population is living in 
bloody mess. But even harsh lesson of perestroika haven't stopped Russian 
from copying the West.

Sudden and bloody invasion of Mr. Putin's armed forces into Chechnya are 
obviously copied from NATO's bombardment of Kosovo. Obviously very impressed 
by cold-blooded European murderers from the sky, Russian generals are happily 
working on Mr. Putin's promotional presidential campaign. "Piar" [Ed.--that 
is, public relations], is a la mode, much used word on Russian territory. 
"Piarshchik" is highly fashionable profession. All the girls now wants to 
meet "piarshchik" and marry such man. Bloody "piar" in going on steadily, 
slowly, in pace with translation from English (as Russian generals don't read 
English) of details of NATO's Kosovo operation.

>From 1990 Russia is being introduced to Western model of "free elections." 
Our "chinovniks" (functionaries) immediately felt in love with a free 
elections. Unfortunately for free elections and for general population. By 
1999, Russian "chinovniks" have adapted free elections to Russian needs 
completely. In other words, they are looking like an election in Auschwitz 
concentration camp, or GULAG if you wish. They surpassed their Western 
colleagues by sadism, tenacity, and religious belief in its values. It is 
enough to watch on television Mr. Veshnyakov, head of Central Electoral 
Commission, to understand that man is sick, that he needs a psychiatric help 
as soon as possible. Because he is deciding who going to be allowed to 
participate in "free election," who is going to be forbidden to participate, 
Mr. Veshnyakov is sick with its own importance. His voice is charged with 
psychotic force, with sadistic details he is counting nondeclared cars, 
bicycles, undeclared thousands of rubles. Non-finished garage was reason for 
non-registration for elections of ex-minister Mr. Mikhailov. Not that anybody 
regrets ex-minister, fuck him, but why non-finished garage or two thousand 
undeclared rubles (less than $100!) should be a reason for non-participation 
of that or another individual or a party in elections? For a Christ sake, we 
live in country known for its monstrous corruption! Bank of New York scandal 
alone is concerning 7 billion dollars!

A masterpiece of hypocrisy, "Electoral Law of 1999" is allowing to get rid of 
every candidate, as candidate or entire party can be accused on eighteen 
different counts! Suddenly very important participants of 1999 elections are 
Ministry of Interior (controlling criminal records), FSB (other records), and 
even Road Police! Former Small Business Minister and now ally of Borises 
Nemtsov and Fyodorov in so-called "Pravoye Delo" [Just Cause], Irina 
Khakamada have had an old car of her husband registered (after "piar," 
"register" and "registration" is highly popular words in Kafka's country of 
Russia) under her name. So, Electoral Commission have threatened to exclude 
her. As Khakamada is liberal politician she was left alone. If she was a kind 
of Makashov in skirt, she wouldn't be allowable in elections. One wonders 
what the world thinking about us Russians, watching all those electoral 
perversions and pornography? I bet, electoral perversions they think we are 
born idiots, with soft brains!

The most shameful thing about that sadistic selection--that it is a 
performance, spectacle, made to hide a few open dirty secrets.

First Dirty Secret: From a list of 132 All-Russia political organizations, 
only ten or twelve are real organizations. Other 120 are fakes, nonexistent, 
"virtual." Virtual is "Spas" [Savor], headed by Mr. Davidenko, who gave a 
first place in "S[as" electoral list to [Russian National Unity head] 
Alexander Barkashov. Also virtual is "Conservative Movement of Russia," 
headed by old dissident Mr. Uboiko. How come?

By Russian law, political organization can be registered as "All-Russian" if 
it has local organizations in not less than forty-five from eighty-nine 
regions of Mother Russia. Mr. Davidenko and Mr. Uboiko have a difficulty to 
get together three or five people, not speaking of forty-five local 
organizations. When applied for registration they have submitted to Ministry 
of Justice a lists of Dead Souls, falsified ones. (Note to reader: All-Russia 
registration is mandatory for participation of block in Parliamentary 
Elections.) Ministry of Justice perhaps have known about that, perhaps 
not--anyway, both parties were considered harmless, as "Spas" registered 
itself without Barkashov. Different fate is given to them now by Central 
Electoral Commission. "Conservative Movement of Russia" is registered for 
elections because Mr. Uboiko is harmless and eccentric old man whose movement 
will take some votes from opposition parties. "Spas" ambitions will be killed 
on November 2, because Mr. Barkashov is not harmless old man, instead 
portrayed by media as "Russian Fascist." 

[Editor's note: In what seemed to be a last minute glitch, the Electoral 
Commission actually registered the Barkashov-headed "Spas," declaring the 
block to be in "full compliance with all applicable laws." As this issue went 
to print, Justice Minister Yuri Chaika was vowing to bar the block from 
participating via the Supreme Court, while the Electoral Commission in turn 
was seeking to refer Chaika's motion to a lower court. Rumors and blatant 
hypocrisy run ever more rampant, but we still say there's not a chance in 
hell that "Spas" will be allowed to run in the Parliamentary elections with 
Barkashov at the top of their candidate list.]

Second Dirty Secret: By Electoral Law, 200,000 signatures have to be 
collected in order to participate in elections. With possible exception of 
Communist Party of the Russian Federation, most of so-called "All-Russia" 
political organizations have bought a computer database of citizens' names 
and signatures for copying by their activists into registration petitions. 
This because a task to collect 200,000 is impossible for an organization with 
a few dozens of activists. Sad picture.

Wanting to become Europeans, we are becoming cheaters, rip-off artists, 
falsificators. It is better to be ourselfs: nice, open, honest, violent as we 
are, close brothers of Asian tribesmen, of Kazakhs, Tadjiks, or Uzbeks. We 
should stop to make a monkey of ourselfs. 


Global Intelligence Update Russia
Russia Unleashes Final Offensive on Chechnya
12 November 1999


After weeks of demanding that they alone be allowed to determine the course 
of the 2 and a half month Chechen conflict, Russia's military leadership is 
suddenly indicating that it is willing to shorten the war. On its face, it 
appears that the military is capitulating to intense domestic pressure. But 
the military will in fact use the calls for negotiations as cover for an 
intensified offensive. Winter is setting in. The Russian Army is strained. 
And it is now poised to seize victory quickly, most likely leveling the 
capital, Grozny.


Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev told the Interfax news agency on Nov. 11 that 
the Russian offensive in Chechnya might be over by the end of the year. 
Shortly after, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters that the Russian 
government was eager to end the conflict quickly and "start the process for a 
political settlement." 

Until now, the Russian military has very publicly insisted that it be allowed 
to run the war its way – and complained bitterly at even the hint of 
interference from civilians. Both men's comments contrasted sharply with a 
Nov. 10 statement by Gen. Viktor Kazanstev that the conflict could continue 
for as long as three years – unless the full might of the military was 
unleashed, in which case the war would take one week.

But the latest turn of events does not in fact point toward negotiations 
between Moscow and Grozny, as Western governments are increasingly demanding. 
Both Russia's military and civilian politicians have said that the only 
successful resolution is the reclamation of Chechnya. Even leftist political 
leader Grigory Yavlinsky, the harshest critic of the campaign, has demanded 
that the rebels lay down their weapons before any peace talks begin. As the 
rebels are unlikely to do this, there is little danger of this sort of 
political solution. 

Even though Russian forces are enjoying a vast advantage over the rebels, 
internal and external pressures are mounting to bring a quick end to the 
conflict. The Russian military has Grozny in a state of siege, subject to 
air, rocket and artillery attacks. Novye Investia reports as many as 100,000 
Russian troops are deployed in the breakaway republic, many occupying the 
Terek range above Grozny, and surrounding Chechnya's second largest city, 

Some of this military advantage will disappear with the onset of winter. Some 
of Russia's front-line aircraft -- such as the Su-25 and Su-24 warplanes, and 
the MI-25 attack helicopters -- are not well-suited for winter sorties. In 
addition, a long, cold winter siege is both expensive for the army and hard 
on personnel. These concerns argue for pushing the military campaign forward, 
and soon.

Politically, the war's popularity is waning in Russia and it is increasingly 
time to find and claim victory. The chief sponsor of the war, Prime Minister 
Putin, has been buoyed by the conflict, which remains relatively 
casualty-free. Putin's popularity among voters has reached a record level. 
The private Public Opinion Foundation reports 29 percent of voters intend to 
vote for Putin in the presidential election, Agence France Press reported 
Nov. 3. Putin does not want to see the reputation of his war tarnished.

Yet on the cusp of Duma elections, public opinion may be turning. Though 
political polling in Russia is often unreliable, only a third of Russians 
surveyed in a recent poll said that they believed their forces would win the 
conflict. In another poll, two-thirds of Russians said that they were 
concerned or "ashamed" about the conflict, the London Guardian reported Nov. 
11. Civilian politicians in Moscow are also growing squeamish about Western 
calls for negotiations with the rebels. Alarmed at civilian deaths and the 
flow of refugees, the European Union is increasing pressure on Russia to 

The Europeans in turn are pressuring the United States to confront Russia. 
State Department spokesman James Rubin accused Russia on Nov. 10 of violating 
the Geneva conventions. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in 
Europe (OSCE) is reportedly planning to force the issue with Russia at an 
upcoming summit in Istanbul, Turkey on Nov. 17. More than mere criticism, 
politicians in Moscow are worried about the eventual impact on Western 
investment and loans.

But there is no way that the Russian military will let politicians snatch 
defeat from the jaws of victory. In advance of any kind of political 
settlement, the military is likely to push forward – decisively – to
its gains and grab as much of Chechnya as possible. The military is eager to 
claim the victory it was denied in 1996 when one of their own, Gen. Alexander 
Lebed, arrived for truce negotiations; the generals are not about to let 
politics interfere in Grozny this time. Playing the leading role in Russia's 
foreign policy, the military-security apparatus is equally disinterested in 
how this all plays in the West.

The military is now likely to break out of its combination of siege and air 
strikes to unleash a renewed offensive against three targets: the cities of 
Gudermes, Grozny and Bamut. The second-largest city in Chechnya, Gudermes is 
surrounded and troops are reportedly set to occupy the city. Tanks are now 
within range of Grozny, according to the military. And 200 tanks are reported 
in the area of Bamut. Apparently fearing a new offensive, President Aslan 
Maskhadov, has intensified calls for talks.

>From there, Russian forces could easily push remaining rebels into the 
southern mountains, isolating them in the winter and picking them off as 
opportunities allow. This would also easily set the stage for eventual 
Russian probing – if necessary – along the Georgian border. Instead of 
peace, renewed war is in the offing.


ANALYSIS-Does Russia need food aid?
By Sebastian Alison

MOSCOW, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Russia is waiting for the United States to decide 
whether to grant it food aid for the second year running, but analysts 
question whether any help is needed as economic indicators move in Moscow's 

When Russia first negotiated a package for three million tonnes of food aid 
from the United States last November, it was still suffering from a crippling 
currency devaluation less than three months earlier. 

Its main hard currency earners, oil and gas, were near 25-year lows in real 
terms. Front month benchmark Brent crude oil futures on London's 
International Petroleum Exchange averaged $10 per barrel last December. 

Last summer's harvest yielded just 47.8 million tonnes of grain, the lowest 
in over 40 years. And U.S. soft red winter wheat was worth over $110 per 


A year on, every indicator has moved Russia's way. 

On Wednesday Brent crude futures touched $24.81 per barrel. U.S. soft red 
winter wheat now costs less than $100 per tonne. 

Russian gross domestic product is growing, probably by two percent this year. 
Al Breach, a Goldman Sachs economist in Moscow, calls this Russia's best 
economic recovery in a decade. 

This year's grain harvest, though low at a probable 54 to 55 million tonnes, 
is still likely to be around 15 percent up from last year. And bumper crops 
in Australia, the United States and Argentina are keeping global supply high 
and prices low. 

International Grains Council data show a global grain harvest of 1.481 
billion tonnes in agricultural year 1998/99 against consumption of 1.468 

Although the IGC forecasts a tiny deficit this year, it still expects closing 
stocks in June 2000 to be 278 million tonnes. Grain is plentiful and cheap. 

So why does Russia need an extra five million tonnes of U.S. aid to feed 
itself? The European Union, currently a donor, says it does not. 

"We don't think food aid is necessary as the budget and foreign exchange 
circumstance don't demand it," Ottokar Hahn, ambassador at the delegation of 
the European Commission in Moscow, said. 

Nathan Hunt, president of Skylight Inc, a U.S.-registered meat, dairy and 
grain trading company based in Moscow, said aid was damaging Russian 
agriculture and commercial traders. 

"We've been opposed to humanitarian aid for some time because the fact is 
that Russia is perfectly capable of paying for the products that its 
population needs," he said. 


Hunt said aid was used to help pay budgeted pension arrears rather than to 
feed the needy. 

That made it similar to a World Bank loan, plugging budget gaps in social 
spending rather than keeping a hungry population alive. And the aid came 
without the requirements for Russian reform that had put current World Bank 
lending on hold. 

"It doesn't help the country and it hurts people that try to trade 
commercially," Hunt added. 

Russia will need 71 million tonnes of grain next year, deputy food minister 
Vladimir Alginin said on Wednesday. With closing stocks of three million 
tonnes expected at the end of next June, this puts the deficit at up to 14 
million tonnes. 

Economist Alexei Zabotkine of United Financial Group in Moscow said revenues 
had greatly increased over this year but Russia could still not afford to buy 
this volume. 

"The fiscal situation is not much better compared to the beginning of the 
year overall. It is better on the revenue side but expenditure is more 
pressing," he said. 

Zabotkine said Russian governments had previously underfinanced their budgets 
by, for example, simply not paying teachers, pensioners and other groups. 

"But this is a pre-election year and the budget simply cannot afford delaying 
some of the payments to state employees." 

Russia is also fighting an expensive and so far popular war in Chechnya, 
another priority in the run-up to elections. With pensions being paid off by 
proceeds from selling foreign food aid, more budget money is available for 
the war chest. 


McCain Urges Toughness vs. Russians
November 11, 1999

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - Presidential candidate John McCain, criticizing 
President Clinton's approach to the conflict in Chechnya, said today that 
Russia should lose international funds if the aggression doesn't soon stop. 

Campaigning for the Republican nomination in this initial primary state, the 
Arizona senator said that if he were president he would give Russia one week 
to settle the dispute. The region will be destabilized if the conflict isn't 
resolved, he said. 

``I think the United States had better get very serious about this problem, 
including giving serious consideration to telling the Russians there'll be no 
more IMF funding until there is a peaceful resolution of the conflict,'' he 
told reporters aboard his campaign bus. 

The United States holds great sway over International Monetary Fund 

``I would threaten to cut off IMF funding if there is not a peaceful 
settlement,'' McCain said. How long would he give Russia to resolve the 
dispute? ``One week,'' McCain replied. 

Dropping the funding would help ease the conflict, he said, asserting that 
Russia is using international aid to pay for its military effort. 

``It seems to be that the Clinton administration is, if not ignoring it, 
certainly hasn't paid enough attention to'' the conflict, McCain said. ``We 
have failed to understand the implications of this conflict.'' 

The United States is the biggest shareholder in the 182-nation IMF and the 
Treasury Department usually gets its way when it wants loans approved for a 
particular country. European nations such as Germany and France feel the IMF 
should be more independent and less willing to do U.S. bidding. 

McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, is in a dead heat in New 
Hampshire polls with GOP front-runner George W. Bush. The Texas governor 
served in the Air National Guard during Vietnam and has little foreign policy 
experience, a contrast McCain hopes to exploit. 


Feature-Pushkin Gets Birthday Makeover in West

LONDON, Nov 12 (Reuters) - The father of Russian literature is being given a 
birthday makeover in the West with top poets and Hollywood heart-throbs all 
jumping on the Pushkin bandwagon. 

This month sees the release of Eugene Onegin the movie, based on Alexander 
Pushkin's classic novel in verse, and the publication of a collection of his 
poems, reworked by top writers of today. 

Better late than never, say Pushkin devotees, who this year celebrated the 
master's 200th birthday. 

Indeed, descendants of Pushkin -- so prodigious he gave away plots to Gogol 
and has inspired more than 4,000 pieces of music -- are relieved the master 
is finally winning the respect in the West that is routinely afforded back 

"There is not a man, woman, child or taxi driver in Russia who cannot quote 
Pushkin, and usually with tears in their eyes. This couldn't be more 
different from how Germans treat Goethe or we treat Shakespeare," Marita 
Crawley, Pushkin's great-great-great-granddaughter, told Reuters in an 

"Pushkin virtually single-handedly created the Russian literary language so 
it really is about time that people discovered him in the West and actually 
read him," said Crawley. 


Realistically it will be Ralph Fiennes the movie star rather than Ted Hughes 
the late poet laureate who spreads the word. 

While American Liv Tyler is the leading lady, "Onegin" the movie is very much 
a British family affair. 

Starring Ralph, who won fame in "The English Patient," the film is directed 
by his sister Martha, the music is written by brother Magnus and girlfriend 
Francesca Annis has a cameo role. 

Fiennes says he has been "haunted" by Onegin since discovering it at drama 
school in 1984 and even tried to learn Russian so he could get to the heart 
of a big-hearted man. 

He failed, but his Onegin remains a serious interpretation of a classic that 
should continue to captivate modern audiences. 

"I do not speak Russian and I do not understand it but...a dead writer can 
still be a contemporary writer," Fiennes said. 

"Changes of time, place, custom, manners and language can alter our 
perspective on a great writer, but they cannot extinguish the power of his 
words on the page. Our film, however wayward, is a response to that power." 

Fiennes has the looks and the languor to play Onegin but some purists don't 
like his sister's spin on the old classic. 

"As an outsider I can't afford to be inhibited by the cultural baggage of the 
work," she said of her award-winning film debut. "I have to look at the 
bigger picture. Of course people will have criticism, but this film must be 
appreciated by people who've never heard of Pushkin." 


An unknown to many, Pushkin is all but a god in his native Russia, which 
celebrated his birthday with rapture in June. 

"He is the father of Russian literature. All the poets and prose writers who 
came after him acknowledge their debt," Elaine Feinstein, an acclaimed 
Pushkin biographer and herself a poet, told Reuters in an interview. 

"What an amazing man he was. What a dramatic life he led. Most poets lead 
rather boring lives but his was immensely exciting. This was an intriguing, 
paradoxical figure." 

Now the paradoxical poet has won a new lease on life from 19 of the world's 
best contemporary poets, of all ages and nations, from Britain to New 
Zealand, Ireland to the United States. 

The group has come up with a contemporary slant on the Romantic master, 
mixing translation with interpretation as they rework tender lyrics and bawdy 
romps alike. 

Ranjit Bolt's version of "Tsar Nikita" captures all the lewd humour and 
ingenious rhyme that Pushkin deployed when he first told the tale of 40 
princesses born without sex organs. 

The 1999 re-mix of the classic "I Loved You Once" conveys pure Pushkin 
passion, while two poets join forces to tackle his powerful paean to St 
Petersburg in "The Bronze Horseman." 


There was no shortage of takers. 

Nobel Prize-winning writer Seamus Heaney said he couldn't resist taking a 
stab at reinterpreting Russia's greatest poet for the ground-breaking 

For Hughes, who was Britain's poet laureate until his death last year, the 
"After Pushkin" collection was payback time. 

"We owe Pushkin so much," he said. 

Only one of the 19 poets knew Russian -- translations and transliterations 
were supplied -- but language does not appear the major barrier. Indeed, 
those who speak with the loudest voice capture Pushkin's spirit without 
drowning out their own. 

"Pushkin is very, very hard to translate so the idea was to do something 
risky in the spirit of the man himself," said Feinstein, who edited the 
anthology. "What I hope is that they would write their own poems. Quite 
appropriately, many voices blend together to suggest a man of many faces." 

Carol Ann Duffy, one of Britain's finest poets, has no problem capturing 
Pushkin's tart tongue in her work "Style," showing in just four lines that 
dead poets aren't dullards. 

"Grace in anything eludes you. 

Style and you are worlds apart. 

When you're clever, thought deludes you. 

When you're beautiful, you fart." 


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