This Date's Issues: 3624 •
Johnson's Russia List
14 November 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Washington Post editorial: No Funds for Russia's War.
2. New York Times: VLADIMIR PUTIN, Why We Must Act.
3. The Guardian (UK): Amelia Gentleman, Truth becomes first victim in
blitz against Grozny. Kremlin's PR onslaught.
4. Financial Times (UK) letter: Russia is striking at terrorists from
5. Financial Times: RUSSIA: Clouds lift over Black Sea coastal resort.
Soviet-era Sochi is reviving as Russians holiday at home, says Andrew Jack.
6. The Guardian (UK): Neal Ascherson, The Russian bear will be back.
7. Baltimore Sun: Jonathan Weisman, Clinton pursues a legacy of peace.
President hopes to foster calm in Eastern Europe during his final year.
8. Reuters: Ukraine votes amid fears of ``red menace''.
9. Los Angeles Times: Robyn Dixon, Russia Justifies War in Chechnya to U.N.
Chief. Conflict: Premier says Moscow won't negotiate with terrorists despite
Western pressure for a settlement.
10. The Russia Journal: Otto Latsis, Season's dull political rhetoric buries
news of real sensations.]
14 November 1999
No Funds for Russia's War
NO U.S. POLITICIAN would propose helping pay for Russia's war in Chechnya.
Yet that is what U.S. taxpayers, indirectly, are doing. The International
Monetary Fund, which gets about one-quarter of its money from the United
States, lends billions of dollars to keep Russia's government afloat. Now
that Russia is spending money to destroy villages and create refugees in
Chechnya, it seems fair to ask -- as presidential candidate and Republican
senator John McCain did last week -- whether such assistance should continue.
In principle, the IMF does not get involved in "political" questions such as
the legitimacy of Russia's war against its breakaway province of Chechnya.
The fund is neither equipped nor chartered to make such judgments. To the
extent it deviates from its core economic mission, it can only weaken itself.
That is why an IMF mission in Moscow last week could approach this question
only obliquely, by asking whether Russia's war would require a fiscally
unacceptable rise in military spending.
In Russia's case, there are especially compelling reasons not to cut off aid.
The United States will not be well served if the Russian economy spirals
downward. U.S. officials rightly want to retain connections -- to stay
engaged -- with Russian officials, to maintain some leverage in favor of
reform, to continue a dialogue with a nuclear-armed and unstable giant.
Yet there must be some behaviors that are so repugnant that they override all
such sensible arguments, and it is hard to view Russia's brutality against
the people of Chechnya in any other light. Few would oppose a Russian
campaign to eliminate terrorism, the stated purpose of its military action.
But Russia's violence against Chechen civilians has become so indiscriminate
and massive that no one can take seriously any longer the official
justifications. Just on Friday, a Russian deputy prime minister stated flatly
that Chechnya's capital will be destroyed.
Due to relentless bombing of cities and towns, some 200,000 residents have
fled Chechnya, mostly to the neighboring province of Ingushetia. Many are
subsisting on tea and bread and sleeping in unheated tents or even open
fields as temperatures plunge below freezing. But these refugees are the
fortunate ones. Those left behind -- mostly the elderly and infirm -- are
cowering in basements, without water or electricity, short on food and in
constant danger of bombardments. Red Cross convoys have been attacked. Russia
has rejected efforts by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe to gather information or help those at risk.
Judging by the very public divisions and recriminations among officials in
Moscow, Russia may not have any defined strategy in Chechnya. To the extent
that the military is pursuing a plan, however, it appears to be aimed at the
destruction of an entire population. U.S. ability to influence Russia now may
be limited; but at a minimum, the United States should not be complicit in
New York Times
November 14, 1999
Why We Must Act
By VLADIMIR PUTIN
Vladimir Putin is the prime minister of Russia.
MOSCOW -- When President Clinton and I met in Oslo earlier this month, we
discussed the situation in Chechnya. Accounts of that conversation in the
American media, understandably, emphasized the president's warnings about the
impact of Russia's military operations. Because we value our relations with
the United States and care about Americans' perception of us, I want to
explain our actions in clear terms.
To do so, I ask you to put aside for a moment the dramatic news reports from
the Caucasus and imagine something more placid: ordinary New Yorkers or
Washingtonians, asleep in their homes. Then, in a flash, hundreds perish in
explosions at the Watergate, or at an apartment complex on Manhattan's West
Side. Thousands are injured, some horribly disfigured. Panic engulfs a
neighborhood, then a nation.
Russians do not have to imagine such a calamity. More than 300 of our
citizens in Moscow and elsewhere suffered that fate earlier this year when
bombs detonated by terrorists demolished five apartment blocks.
Consider another unthinkable scenario. A long simmering dispute between one
of your states and your federal government causes political unrest in that
state. Armed militias arise, similar to those found in your states of Montana
and Idaho. Eventually, they are assisted by foreign adventurers with their
own agenda who use that troubled region as a base to launch violent raids
against a neighboring state. Lives and property are destroyed -- as a means
of expanding the chaos.
Russians do not need to view the latest James Bond movie to see that macabre
story unfold. Rather, we saw it in all-too-real life as guerrillas based in
Chechnya mounted bloody raids on neighboring Dagestan. They forcibly occupied
several communities, terrorizing the inhabitants. The stated goal was to
establish an "Islamic republic," an idea thoroughly alien to the vast
majority of local citizens.
To Americans, these scenarios must seem rather far-fetched. The notion of
armed guerrillas roaming through the countryside, intimidating citizens, is
something to be found in bad movies or second-rate novels. Yet in the
southern corner of my country, they are as real as the freshly turned
cemetery plots that have chronicled the violence over the last several years.
No government can stand idly by when terrorism strikes. It is the solemn duty
of all governments to protect their citizens from danger. Americans obviously
understand this concept. When two United States embassies in Africa were
blown up, American warplanes were soon dispatched to bomb suspected terrorist
facilities in Sudan and Afghanistan. Americans also have had first-hand
experience with religious fanaticism financed from overseas sources. The
World Trade Center bombing in New York City was the sad result of such
Terrorism today knows no boundaries. Its purveyors collaborate with each
other over vast distances. We know that a great deal of the violence
emanating from Chechnya is financed from abroad.
The same terrorists who were associated with the bombing of America's
embassies have a foothold in the Caucasus. We know that Shamil Basayev, the
so-called Chechen warlord, gets assistance on the ground from an itinerant
guerrilla leader with a dossier similar to that of Osama bin Laden. And one
of your television networks recently reported that -- according to United
States intelligence sources -- bin Laden himself is helping to finance the
We also know that most Chechens -- whatever their feelings about Russia --
are neither fanatics nor willing hosts to the extremists who seek to
transform Chechnya into a killing field. No rational people desire their
territory to become a permanent playground for murderers and kidnappers, even
if the perpetrators cloak their cause in religion.
Reluctantly, we have intervened. Our immediate aim is to rid Chechnya of
those who threaten the safety of Chechens and Russians. We also seek to
restore civil society to the Chechen people, who have been victims of
deprivation, living in the grip of armed criminal gangs for years.
American officials tell us that ordinary citizens are suffering, that our
military tactics may increase that suffering. The very opposite is true. Our
commanders have clear instructions to avoid casualties among the general
population. We have nothing to gain by doing otherwise. The Chechen citizens,
after all, are our citizens too. Our land and air forces strive to target
only opposing armed forces. The whole reason we chose accurately targeted
strikes on specifically identified terrorist bases was to avoid direct
attacks on Chechen communities.
Exactly the same tactics were deployed during Operation Desert Storm, in the
bombing of the former Yugoslavia and in the various Unites States attempts to
strike back at the world's most wanted terrorist -- Osama bin Laden. Yet in
the midst of war, even the most carefully planned military operations
occasionally cause civilian casualties, and we deeply regret that.
Refugees fleeing the violence -- many of whom feared that the terrorists
would try to use them as "human shields" -- have experienced hardship.
However, confusion at border checkpoints that resulted primarily from the
inexperience of local officials in dealing with difficulties of this nature
has been resolved. People can now move in both directions.
Refugees still in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia are getting shelter,
food and medical care. Many are returning home to areas firmly controlled by
the Russian government. Our great task now is to rebuild infrastructure and
social institutions that were degraded during several years of turmoil. We
must reopen schools and hospitals. For years, federal payments intended for
workers and pensioners have been diverted illegally. We will make sure that
these funds go to the proper recipients. In brief, we are striving to replace
strife and chaos with peace and normal life.
The antiterrorist campaign was forced upon us. Sadly, decisive armed
intervention was the only way to prevent further casualties both within and
far outside the borders of Chechnya, further suffering by so many people
enslaved by terrorists. As the United States media frequently point out, we
have other pressing challenges that demand our resources.
But when a society's core interests are besieged by violent elements,
responsible leaders must respond. That is our purpose in Chechnya, and we are
determined to see it through. The understanding of our friends abroad would
The Guardian (UK)
14 November 1999
[for personal use only]
Truth becomes first victim in Russia's blitz against Grozny
Kremlin's PR onslaught
Amelia Gentleman in Moscow
As the Russian Army pushes further into the heart of Chechnya, the Kremlin is
congratulating itself on its successful handling of the battle for public
Most Russians find the west's alarm about the intensifying crisis in Chechnya
hard to understand and support for the war remains solid. These convictions
owe much to the media coverage in Russia of the war.
Government officials have worked hard to co-ordinate their propaganda
strategy, making the most of the recently resurrected Ministry of Press and
creating a new government press centre (the Rosinformcentre in Moscow) -
complete with freshly trained spin-doctors.
To ensure that the military does not deviate from the official line, all
departments have been sent precise instructions on how to handle the press.
Guidance includes a glossary setting out the language military press officers
should use. This stipulates that Chechen fighters must be referred to as
'terrorists' and refugees as 'resettlers'.
Every day the Rosinformcentre details the advances made by the army,
describes the damage done to 'terrorist bases' and provides useful
soundbites. It also releases figures for Russian army losses (always low) and
casualties among Chechen fighters (always high). These figures are contested
daily by Chechen sources, but the media has no way of verifying them
independently. Reports that any civilians have been killed have been flatly
denied by officials.
Commentators argue that this new approach to controlling media coverage owes
much to Nato's PR operation in Kosovo.
The government's drive to crush opposition to its campaign has been helped
enormously by public acceptance of its claims that Chechen terrorists caused
the apartment-block explosions which killed 300 Russian civilians in
The Kremlin has also informed journalists that there is a moral dimension to
their coverage. A spokesman said that President Yeltsin believed a
'responsible' press approach was vital 'because any rash word could play into
the hands of the terrorists'.
In this climate, self-censorship has developed; some journalists have
complained that it is difficult to criticise the war without triggering
During Russia's 1994-96 conflict with Chechnya, newly independent Russian TV
stations took pride in debunking official declarations and broadcasters
showed harrowing footage of wounded civilians. This fostered hostility to the
This time, viewers have been spared uncomfortable pictures of refugees in
favour of strategic reports on Russia's advances.
Western journalists have been denied free access to Chechnya.
Financial Times (UK)
13 November 1999
Russia is striking at terrorists
>From Mr Andrei Olenin.
Your editorial "Russian terror in Chechnya" (November 10) claims that Russia
is not "behaving like Nato over Kosovo. But with every passing day it appears
to be behaving more like Milosevic's Serbian forces".
You are correct. Russia is not behaving like Nato, whose forces unleashed a
war against Yugoslavia, something that was a gross violation of the UN
Charter and all norms of international law. Nato countries played down in
every way the scale of that humanitarian catastrophe that caused hundreds of
thousands to flee the country.
James Rubin, the US State Department spokesman, claims not to understand
Russian policy. The aim of Russian policy in Chechnya - an inalienable part
of the Russian Federation - is clear: it lies in eliminating the bandit
formations that have entrenched themselves in the republic and that have
turned it into a base for international terrorism and a mafia state within a
Under the additional protocol to the Geneva Convention signed in 1957, each
state has the right to use armed forces in an internal conflict to protect
law and order, the country's national unity and territorial integrity. Russia
is not striking at some faraway land where Bin Laden the bogeyman has his
lair, as the US saw fit to do, but striking hard against terrorists within
its borders whose hands are still bloody from atrocities carried out on
innocent Muscovites in their apartment blocks.
Today the people guilty of the Balkan tragedy are accusing Russia of
commiting illegal actions.
The political bias of their "concern" is obvious. The aim is to undermine
Russia's prestige and weaken her and to bring about a break-up of the
country, perhaps along the lines of the Yugoslav scenario?
Your editorial's further point about Russia possibly being about to violate
Conventional Forces in Europe arms control commitments is ironic, when it is
the US Senate that has set the precedent of reneging on the carefully crafted
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
Russian Information Agency,
3 Rosary Gardens,
13 November 1999
[for personal use only]
RUSSIA: Clouds lift over Black Sea coastal resort
Soviet-era Sochi is reviving as Russians holiday at home, says Andrew Jack
In the Black Sea resort of Sochi, even the taxi drivers are happy this year.
As the Russian tourist industry takes stock at the end of the 1999 season,
many are delighted at the extent to which holidaymakers stayed within the
"I'm very optimistic about our future," says Sergei Panob, deputy director of
the department of resorts and tourism in Sochi. "From a low of 620,000
visitors in 1993, we had more than 1.4m this year."
The Soviet-era resort, which was largely developed under Joseph Stalin,
bustled with visitors throughout the summer and autumn. As much of the
country began to experience sub-zero temperatures in the past few days, the
climate on the Black Sea remained balmy.
Sochi certainly has many things to commend it. The many ugly concrete
buildings are compensated for by sub-tropical weather, and the mixture of
natural park, mountains, seafront and health spas that have given the coastal
town a strong appeal to Russians over many decades.
But its biggest advantage this year was quite simply that it lies within
Russia. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, other resorts along the Black
Sea have been lost to neighbouring Ukraine to the west and Georgia to the
east. Sochi is one of the few domestic beach destinations that remains.
With the financial crisis in August last year, which cut the value of the
rouble fourfold, many Russians could not afford to travel abroad, even to
nearby budget destinations. Mr Panob points out that the earthquake in Turkey
and the conflict in Yugoslavia also played in Sochi's favour.
He still reminisces about the Soviet era. "Finance was centralised," Mr Panob
says. "It was near to the ideal form of society. We just asked for however
much money we needed each year. Every citizen had the right to a share of the
sun. People didn't want to leave. It was like paradise."
Some claim that in its Communist heyday, Sochi attracted up to 10m visitors
each year, with long queues of hungry customers outside all the restaurants.
As Dan Hites, an American who has settled in the region and is helping to
develop the tourist industry, says wryly: "Of course it was full back then.
Everything was given out for free."
Employees received vouchers granting them paid annual trips. Children living
in the harsh extreme north of Russia received extended stays. Top party
officials had access to luxurious spas and private dachas, which are still
used today by President Boris Yeltsin, Yevgeny Primakov, his former prime
minister, and other leading figures.
With the collapse of the USSR, and the crumbling of many of the trade unions
that operated holiday complexes, tourist numbers fell. As international
travel became both legally possibly and financially easier for the nascent
middle class, Sochi and other Russian resorts lost their appeal. The 1991 war
in Abkhazia, a neighbouring breakaway region of Georgia, also discouraged
Some aspects of the old system remain. Privatised companies have inherited
sanatoria, and many have kept them going. Some allocate the more luxurious
accommodation to top executives or offer places to politicians and other
influential people as a way of buying favours. More rudimentary lodgings are
available to their employees, often in lieu of wages.
But some locals fear Sochi is slipping back into a complacency it can ill
afford in the new Russia. The international airport terminal begun a decade
ago has still not been completed, restricting tourist numbers. Barriers to
foreign investment are keeping out leading hotel developers.
"The problem is that we are living in a period of wild capitalism," says
Sergei Belov, a local hotel owner and newspaper proprietor. "The season was
over-crowded this year, so prices trebled. I'm afraid that if we just grab
the money now, visitors will be frightened and not come back."
Mr Hites says: "Sochi is still oriented to Soviet-style package tours with
people lying on the beach. There is not much originality and nothing for the
young to do.
"Sochi has been isolated for so long that they still have the mentality here
of 'Take the money from visitors and get them out'. But even in its present
condition, it has a lot to offer."
The Guardian (UK)
14 November 1999
[for personal use only]
The Russian bear will be back
'The unpredictable thing about Russia,' they used to joke, 'is Russia's
past.' Today, in the post-Communist, post-modern world, we know that everyone
rewrites history. Democrats don't airbrush faces out of old photographs or
shoot proponents of the wrong hypothesis about Stonehenge. They just pass
over things. But passing over in the end becomes concreting over.
Prowling last week from one 1989 commemoration to another, I was fascinated
to see how the myth of what happened 10 years ago is changing. The
Revolutions, velvet or bloody, now seem to have been all about unity, the
passion to 'join Europe'. The moral drawn in 1999 is that we (the West) have
betrayed them (the East). They rebelled in order to share our wealth and
freedom. But we have been unwilling to share. At least three things about
1989 are being airbrushed away by this sort of account. One is nationalism:
the basic force which was the vehicle for the revolutions. A second is the
vision. Most of the opposition groups who led the revolutions dreamed of a
free, self-managing society in which workers ran their own enterprises - a
socialist dream which blew away within weeks of the fall of Communism. And
the third absence - a huge one - is Russia.
Because Russia today has dwindled to a distant horror story, a flat-broke
state which utters truculent words and torments obscure minorities, people
find it hard to reconstruct the proportions of 1989. And yet the Soviet Union
was considered to be the central, the decisive player in the whole drama. You
can say with truth that the initiative and the glory of those months belong
to 'the people'. They belong to those who walked in the Leipzig
demonstrations, or jingled their keys in Wenceslas Square, or built
barricades under police rifle fire in Timisoara. But the ultimate power, to
let the Berlin Wall stay open or use tanks to close it again, lay in the
Kremlin. Those who rightly honour Mikhail Gorbachev today can't forget that
he and the Soviet Union would be overthrown only two years later. That
hindsight makes it hard to remember that the USSR still felt like an
invulnerable superpower in 1989. Stranger still is the assumption that
Russia's weakness is permanent. The commemorators insist that Russia as a
Power is over - that Great Russia is history. Its turmoil is not only going
to be indefinite but it is also going to be dangerous to the rest of the
The most obvious danger is the presence of nuclear warheads, tempting to
warlords, Mafiosi or international terrorists. I am reminded of the haunting
words of a man recently back from Moscow. 'They talk about the difficulties
of transition to a capitalist democracy. But Russia isn't in transition.
Russia has arrived. This is it! This - chaos, Mafia, inflation, pauperism,
lawlessness - is how it's going to be from now on.' But I do not believe it.
Sure, it seems to me unlikely that Russia will become a liberal democracy
with a free-market economy. The long wave of attempted reform which began in
the Eighties with Gorbachev's perestroika has simply petered out in failure.
But it's even less likely that Russia will remain for ever on the margins of
A powerful, formidable Russian state will return to the centre of the stage
in 10 years or maybe even less, and will resume its old top-table seat. It
may be an ugly, unlikeable Russia. But it will be back. Russia, with more
than 147 million people in the present Federation, is too large to fail. The
threat that it might break up into independent warlord domains scattered
across the 4,000 miles from Baltic to Pacific was averted in the years after
the Soviet collapse. The Russian sense of national cohesion proved tough
enough to survive dislocation which would shatter another country to
fragments. And these millions, inhabiting one of the world's biggest reserves
of natural and industrial resources, also form a colossal potential market.
The distribution of wealth may be grossly unjust. But the wealth is there,
with an angry nationalism to protect it. Just as Russia won't bust up into a
string of UN protectorates, so it won't decay into a concession territory
pillaged by Australian mining corporations and kept alive by Oxfam. The
notion that Russia is over is as daft as that other post-89 notion,
Fukuyama's 'end of history'. It means that nobody now bothers to think about
what life will be like when Russia is again a major player. But some guesses
can be made.
First, Russia will probably try to rebuild its inner confidence by an
outgoing, vigorous foreign policy. As ex-Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov
recalled the other day, that is how Russia recovered after defeat in the
Crimean War, when everyone thought the Russian Empire was out for the count.
As the new Russia is likely to be authoritarian rather than liberal, this
will be an alarming and unpredictable period. The new Russia will be driven
by resentment of American hegemony. To the extent that the Cold War was about
American-Russian rivalry, rather than about the advance of Communism or the
defence of freedom, this suggests that elements of the Cold War will return.
And although it's deeply incorrect to say so, a warm relationship will
develop between Germany and this Russia. Germany has no use for a weak
Russia, but finds a strong one almost sexually fascinating. Given Germany's
position in the EU, this relationship is unlikely to go beyond trade and
culture. But the rest of Europe will have to keep a cool head. For the last
few years, and especially since the crash of the Russian economy in 1998, the
West has grown used to leaving Russia out of its policy calculations. But
Russian weakness is only a window. Before it shuts, necessary things have to
be done. This means, above all, the next enlargement of Nato to include the
Baltic and Danubian states. For Europe, re-learning how to live with Russia
will be a stormy time. The best preparation is to make sure that the
furniture is securely bolted to the deck.
14 November 1999
[for personal use only]
Clinton pursues a legacy of peace
President hopes to foster calm in Eastern Europe during his final year
By Jonathan Weisman
Sun National Staff
WASHINGTON -- Bill Clinton, the most traveled president in U.S. history,
heads abroad today, trying to place his foreign policy exploits into a
coherent framework of peacemaking that would shine in the history books,
White House officials say.
The president's trip to Turkey, Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Kosovo
will bring to 62 the number of countries he has visited during his seven
years in office. By comparison, Ronald Reagan, the most recent two-term
president, visited 26 countries during his eight years.
Clinton's goals for this 10-day trip -- and his remaining year in office --
are nothing if not ambitious: to bring peace, stability and prosperity to the
last swath of Europe that remains in a state of conflict. The Clinton
administration is using an expansive definition of Europe to encompass a
troubled region stretching from Chechnya to Kosovo.
"We can eliminate that zone of instability if we meet the remaining
challenges," the president's national security adviser, Samuel R. Berger,
said Friday, "by promoting stability in the Balkans, democracy in Serbia,
reconciliation in the Aegean, a settlement on Cyprus, peace in the Caucasus
and the integration of Russia into the global community."
Clinton will meet with the leaders of Turkey and Greece in Ankara to discuss
a settlement of their long-festering conflict over the divided island of
Cyprus and will sign a security charter in Istanbul at ameeting of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He plans to confront
Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin about the conflict in Chechnya and sit
down with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to address the bloody
conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
In Athens, Clinton will discuss increasing U.S. private investment in Greece.
He will then address the people of Kosovo, whom he helped return to their
homes, and attend a "pre-Thanksgiving" feast with U.S. troops serving as
peacekeepers in the Yugoslav province.
White House officials acknowledge that such intractable problems as Cyprus
and Nagorno-Karabakh will not be solved during this trip. But some foreign
policy experts say that whether the president can fulfill those ambitions
might be less important to his legacy than his high-profile involvement in
hot spots around the world.
Historians might never link Clinton's foreign policy to an overarching
doctrine or philosophy, but White House advisers hope that he will be
remembered as a tireless peacemaker, even if he cannot claim an indisputable
crowning achievement, said Robert Dallek, a presidential historian.
No unifying doctrine
For all his globe-trotting, Clinton has yet to establish a unifying doctrine
for his foreign policy that could help burnish a legacy tarred by scandal and
indelibly marked by his impeachment, said Stephen Schlesinger, director of
the World Policy Institute at New York City's New School, who has written
widely on the Clinton foreign policy record.
Harry S. Truman is known for the containment of communism, Ronald Reagan for
the rollback of Soviet influence and Jimmy Carter for the insertion of human
rights into foreign policy. Clinton is difficult to peg.
"He has had important achievements all along his two terms, but there's no
all-encompassing message he has delivered to his countrymen or the world,"
Schlesinger said. "He's scrambling to save his legacy in foreign policy."
This month, Clinton traveled to Norway to mark the fourth anniversary of
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination and to rekindle the
Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
His September trip to a Pacific economic forum in New Zealand was meant to
project an image of a peaceful, prosperous Pacific Rim.
There is a timetable for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict that could bring a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East by
September, in time for Clinton to preside over a signing ceremony before
leaving office. But administration officials are playing down any
expectations of such a monumental accomplishment, turning their attention to
It is not unusual for a chief executive in the twilight of his presidency to
turn to foreign travel. By then, presidents have typically achieved the
easier elements of their domestic agenda and are facing the task of pushing
more difficult domestic proposals through a Congress marked by hardening
"They're lame ducks," Dallek said of such presidents. "Their capacity to
wheel and deal and trade is diminished."
By contrast, the latitude that a president has in foreign policy and the
esteem that a seasoned world leader might hold abroad usually prove seductive
to a chief executive, said Stephen Hess, a presidential scholar at the
In 1959, for example, Dwight D. Eisenhower began to assume a far higher
profile in foreign policy, traveling to Europe, Africa and Asia that year,
then touring Latin America during his final year in office.
At the height of the Watergate scandal, Richard M. Nixon toured Egypt, Syria,
Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, then headed to Moscow to begin negotiating
his second strategic arms limitation treaty.
Reagan swept into office on the strength of a powerful domestic vision, but
in his second term, he turned afield. In October 1986, Reagan and Soviet
leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev mused about nuclear disarmament in Reykjavik,
Iceland. In June 1987, Reagan stood before the Berlin Wall and challenged
Gorbachev to tear it down. Then, during his final year in office, he
journeyed for the first time to Moscow to sign a treaty reducing the nuclear
arsenals in Europe.
"Presidents, like nature, abhor a vacuum," Hess said. "They have more power
in international relations than domestic relations. They think they can do
something if they turn to international relations, and they often enjoy it."
As the only elected president to be impeached, Clinton has more reason than
most of his predecessors to look abroad for accomplishments. The president
has achieved notable successes this year, including securing funds for hiring
100,000 new teachers and directing investment into poor regions of the
country. But his more ambitious proposals have gone nowhere.
Congress ignored his call to invest some of the Social Security surplus in
the stock market. His proposal to link federal education aid to student
achievement died quietly. His broad Medicare reform plan, including a call to
add a federally funded prescription drug benefit, was never seriously
In defiance of the president, Congress also rejected gun control legislation,
a minimum wage increase and a managed-care "patient's bill of rights." The
Senate shot down the centerpiece of Clinton's arms control agenda, an
international treaty to ban nuclear weapons testing.
Abroad, however, Clinton is apt to receive near-rapturous attention. Still,
Clinton's travel and foreign policy activism have not yielded a coherent
legacy, Schlesinger said.
Diplomatic and military interventions in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo did begin
to yield what some White House officials called the Clinton Doctrine.
Clinton seemed to sum it up after NATO prevailed in Kosovo, when he declared,
"Whether you live in Africa or Central Europe or any other place, if somebody
comes after innocent civilians and tries to kill them en masse because of
their race, their ethnic background or their religion, and it is within our
power to stop it, we will stop it."
But that doctrine carried glaring inconsistencies, from U.S. inaction during
the Rwandan genocide to Washington's modest response to the bloodshed in East
Timor, an Indonesian territory that had voted for independence.
Dallek suggested that the lack of an overarching theme in Clinton's foreign
policy was to be expected in a post-Cold War world not dominated by
"What historians are going to say is that this is all part of an evolving
post-Cold War search for coherence," Dallek said. "It's not simple, and it's
not easy to find."
If Clinton can build on the gains he has made in pursuing peace in Northern
Ireland, Israel and the Balkans, and add movement toward a resolution of the
Turkish-Greek standoff in Cyprus, that would make for a powerful legacy,
Dallek said, adding, "I hope he can."
Ukraine votes amid fears of ``red menace''
By Dmitry Solovyov
KIEV, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Ukrainians voted on Sunday in a presidential
election, with unpopular incumbent Leonid Kuchma vowing to press ahead with
reforms and playing on fears of Soviet-style repression if his Communist
A confident-looking Kuchma, accused by Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko
of manipulating the media, denounced the opposition-dominated parliament as
he cast his ballot in central Kiev, calling it an obstacle to economic
``If parliament remains inefficient then no reforms can be put in place,''
Kuchma told reporters. ``We will have the same swamp as we have now.''
Kuchma, the 61-year-old former director of the world's largest missile plant,
wants to amend Ukraine's constitution to replace the current single-chamber
parliament with a bicameral legislature.
Symonenko, looking sombre and sounding pessimistic as he voted, told
reporters the powerful state media had been biased and accused the
authorities of dirty tricks to ensure victory.
``It looks like I have not managed to completely dispel the myth of a 'red
menace','' he said. ``Yesterday, Ukrainian television was especially
disgraceful, denigrating human values, showing films which had a
psychological impact on our voters.''
State television has fed viewers a steady diet of films painting a grim
picture of the Soviet era in recent days.
``If the elections took place objectively, then it would not be easy for the
current president to win,'' Symonenko said.
``If we had objective elections, I am 100 percent sure that we would win.
Unfortunately, today we have another situation,'' the Communist leader said.
KUCHMA HOPES YOUTH WILL COMBAT NOSTALGIA
Kuchma, who says his campaign has been clean, beat Symonenko in the first
round, heading a field of 13 with 36.49 percent of the votes to Symonenko's
22.24 percent despite economic decline and widespread disenchantment with his
But Sunday's race could be much tighter as Symonenko, who wants to resurrect
socialism and forge closer links with neighbouring Russia, may win a good
share of the votes cast for leftist candidates who came third and fourth.
Most pollsters say Kuchma has a good chance of winning if usually apathetic
young people turn out to counterbalance elderly well-disciplined Communist
supporters who are nostalgic for the stability and welfare guarantees of the
The race bears a striking similarity to Russia's presidential election three
years ago, when an unpopular Boris Yeltsin won a second term by beating
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov.
The Central Election Commission, which has promised a fair vote, said
turnout by midday (1000 GMT) was 28.31 percent of the 37 million electorate,
compared with 30.37 percent at the same time in first round voting two weeks
The final turnout in the first round, which international observers described
as generally fair, totalled 70 percent.
Mostly middle-aged and elderly people showed up early at polling stations.
Some said they had voted for the incumbent.
But other elderly people said they had chosen Symonenko, a 47-year-old
Soviet-era party functionary. Pensioners make up around 14 million of the 37
``I've been a (Communist) activist all my life. I don't believe the current
president can change anything,'' said Lyudmila, 69. ``Symonenko is younger,
he'll form a new team.''
Voting was to close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) and preliminary results were likely
to be made public early on Monday.
Los Angeles Times
November 14, 1999
[for personal use only]
Russia Justifies War in Chechnya to U.N. Chief
Conflict: Premier says Moscow won't negotiate with terrorists despite
Western pressure for a settlement.
By ROBYN DIXON, Times Staff Writer
MOSCOW--Russia's prime minister told U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
on Saturday that Russia has right on its side in the war against Chechnya,
demonstrating his government's determination to pay no more heed to Western
criticism than NATO did to Kremlin opposition to its bombing of Yugoslavia
The Chechen war has strong media backing in Russia, and popular support
for it remains high. With anti-Western sentiment on the rise, some analysts
say the growing U.S. and European pressure for a political settlement is only
strengthening Russia's military resolve.
Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin's 20-minute phone conversation with
Annan came as Russian planes relentlessly attacked Chechen towns overnight
and throughout the day, flying a record number of bombing missions for the
Russian military officials announced Saturday that warplanes had carried
out 120 sorties against the separatist republic in the previous 24 hours, and
helicopter gunships 60 more, causing massive damage in the capital, Grozny,
and other population centers. Chechen leaders said many civilians had been
killed in the attacks.
With the West pushing hard for a political settlement, Putin told Annan
that Russia will not negotiate with "those who posed next to the corpses of
Putin characterizes the war as part of an international struggle against
terrorism and, at the same time, insists that it is purely an internal
"From the moral point of view, our position is absolutely transparent
and substantiated," the prime minister said at a meeting of the powerful
Security Council in the Kremlin later Saturday. "We shall never sit down at
the negotiating table with bandits."
Annan had issued a strong statement Friday arguing that Russia's bombing
is killing innocent people and far exceeds what is necessary to destroy
terrorists. But after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's air campaign
against Yugoslavia last spring, Western moral suasion lacks much force in
Analyst Victor A. Kremenyuk, deputy director of the USA-Canada Institute
in Moscow, said the differences over Chechnya could presage a sharp
deterioration in Russia's relationship with the West.
"The pressure that the West and primarily the U.S. is trying to put on
Russia is totally counterproductive, shortsighted and, to put it bluntly,
stupid," he said. "It pushes the Russian military to display more resolution
in their drive to destroy the terrorists in Chechnya--whatever the cost--and
it makes them even more willing to bomb the whole of Chechnya to smithereens
in order to achieve the victory the public now expects of them."
Kremenyuk said President Boris N. Yeltsin and Putin now cannot afford to
back down on Chechnya.
"The growing Western pressure makes their position on Chechnya even more
irreversible," he said, predicting that the wave of nationalist sentiment
engendered by the war will have a significant effect on the presidential
election scheduled for next summer, in which Putin has said he will be a
"If Putin comes to power on the wave of the strongest pro-military and
anti-Western mood in decades, he will not be able to return to normal
dialogue with the West for some time," Kremenyuk said.
He added that the Western pressure has also toughened the Russian
media's pro-war stance.
"Major TV channels and newspapers just can't risk having their
popularity destroyed. For them to take up or even slightly follow the Western
stance in their Chechen coverage would be suicidal, especially in the light
of the coming elections," he said. In addition to next year's presidential
vote, parliamentary elections are set for Dec. 19.
While making scant mention of civilian Chechen casualties in the
bombings, the Russian media have paid substantial attention to the facilities
the government has provided in the Russian-controlled northern sector of
Chechnya, reporting that schools, clinics and power sources are operating.
Even the NTV network, which usually broadcasts a line critical of the
Kremlin, has been supportive of the war. The network has evinced little
sympathy for the Chechens since paying an undisclosed ransom in 1997 to free
a journalist and two crew members held hostage for three months by Chechen
Oleg B. Dobrodeyev, NTV's director general, who met with the kidnappers
in Chechnya five times, says the station's view of Chechnya has altered
dramatically since the 1994-96 war there. During that conflict, NTV
fearlessly exposed Russian military bungles leading to the slaughter of
"The idealized view of Chechnya that existed back then is no longer
there," Dobrodeyev said. He denied the coverage is slanted, however,
contending that Chechnya is different and arguing that the Chechens are to
blame for the fact that his crews cannot work in the Chechen-held southern
"It is not us, not NTV, that has changed. The Chechen leaders have done
all this themselves. I personally had been involved in this situation on a
daily basis for too long. I know the problem and the people way too well," he
The war has also produced a flurry of Cold War-style rhetoric from top
Russian military commanders, the latest from Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov,
who wrote Saturday in the military newspaper Red Star that the West wants to
push Moscow into conflict with the Muslim world.
"The forces that want to consolidate their victory in the Cold War are
now trying to destroy Russia's position on the Eurasian continent,"
Sergei L. Loiko of The Times' Moscow Bureau contributed to this report.
The Russia Journal
November 15-21, 1999
Season's dull political rhetoric buries news of real sensations
By Otto Latsis
Many Russian politicians appear determined to maintain their focus on empty
election rhetoric while ignoring real issues and solutions as long as
A few days ago, ITAR-TASS gave information on an investment project at
Russia's largest steelworks, Magnitogorsk. An oxygen converter has begun
operation that will enable more efficient steel production. Newly installed
uninterrupted flow technology will replace the outdated ingot method of
production and a state-of-the-art, non-furnace-based processing unit will
improve metal quality.
In other words, the Magnitogorsk steelworks will have an ultramodern
production unit turning out 9 million tons of metal per year. This will place
the plant on a technological par with similar U.S., Japanese and South Korean
enterprises. Moreover, with lower wage costs, Russian workers can hope to be
competitive in any market.
This also means employment and reliable salaries for thousands of people, and
the vital news for Russia that, despite all of today's difficulties,
large-scale investment in the manufacturing sector of the economy is possible.
This is sensational - a bit of good news against a bleak backdrop. It should
have made the front pages and TV news, but not one of the country's leading
papers or TV channels even made mention of the ITAR-TASS brief.
Perhaps style was to blame - the brief was written like an anachronistic
piece of Soviet propaganda announcing the latest success. More decisive was
the fact that today's media have little demand for real information about
Newspapers report from the front lines of political battles, while TV screens
are ablaze with the artillery fire of information wars. The news amounts to
what such and such candidate said about his opponent, and what scandal such
and such deputy or official is mixed up in.
The information wars overshadow Russia's real problems and the solutions to
these problems, with the one exception being the fight in Chechnya against
terrorism. Even coverage of Chechen events is colored by political sympathies
for or against the government. Most parties and blocs have no clear economic
program, and hold no serious discussion amongst themselves on solutions to
social and economic problems, or ways out of the crisis.
For people with common sense and responsibilities to shoulder - above all,
businesspeople - this is a matter of concern. After the August 1998 financial
crisis, a group of young businessmen and managers founded "Club 2015" to
study possible paths for Russia's development over the next 15 years and find
ways of influencing events.
The group working on the development scenarios included many well-known
scientists, politicians and publicists. On the morning of Nov. 7, when many
politicians were busy scoring points haranguing the crowds at Moscow's street
rallies, members and guests of Club 2015 gathered at the
Radisson-Slavyanskaya hotel for a conference called "Scenarios for Russia"
(political and economic strategies for future Russian authorities).
Three primary scenarios - ranging from optimistic to catastrophic - were
presented. These were not only in scientific-political form, but also in
artistic-literary form with a book of scenarios written by Alexander Kabakov,
Alexander Gelman and Denis Dragunsky. The scenarios were based on Club 2015's
Two former prime ministers were present - Yegor Gaidar and Sergei Kiriyenko.
Former Economy Minister Yevgeny Yasin gave a presentation. The participants
learned not only about the work of Club 2015; consulting company McKinsey
gave a presentation on the results of research on Russian industry, and the
Cambridge Association for Energy Research presented a report on prospects for
the energy industry.
The conference confirmed that there are plenty of intelligent and responsible
people in Russia who are genuinely concerned for the country's future and
ready to make perfectly realistic suggestions on surmounting the present
But the riddle is: Though the press has mentioned more than once both Club
2015 and the McKinsey report, not a single politician or party has paid any
attention to them or wanted to make use of them, even if just in the
interests of their own election campaigns.
Life and politics continue to follow different roads.
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