This Date's Issues: 3628 •3629
Johnson's Russia List
17 November 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Interfax: YELTSIN APPROVES OF ELECTIONS COMMITTEE EFFORTS - SPOKESMAN.
2. Reuters: Bush outlines foreign policy ideas ahead of speech.
3. Reuters: Russian Jews unite to fight rising anti-Semitism.
4. Interfax: RUSSIAN JEWISH CONGRESS DENIES BEING FINANCED FROM ABROAD.
5. Moscow Times: Yulia Latynina, War Victories Can't Save a Falling Empire.
6. Reuters: Russian bear shows its nuclear claws before summit.
7. Reuters: Maria Eismont, Chechens cling to white flags to survive
8. Holt Ruffin: re Uhler review of "Sword and Shield"/3625.
9. Anne Nivat: stories about Chechnya.
10. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): Marcus Warren, Police are ridiculed by
11. Financial Times (UK): Igor Ivanov, West's hypocrisy over Chechnya.
12. Ed Lozansky: Does Jewish Community have a position on the War in
13. St. Petersburg Times: Melissa Akin, It's Official: Reforms in
Post-Soviet Russia Failed, Says Report.
14. Interfax: 25% OF RUSSIANS SEE PUTIN AS NEXT PRESIDENT.]
YELTSIN APPROVES OF ELECTIONS COMMITTEE EFFORTS - SPOKESMAN
MOSCOW. Nov 16 (Interfax) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin approve
of the principled stance of the Central Elections Committee (CEC) and is
closely following the unfolding election campaign, Yeltsin spokesman
Dmitri Yakushkin said Monday evening on NTV television, in comments on
Yeltsin's Monday morning meeting with CEC chairman Alexander Veshnyakov.
"I cannot say that he [Yeltsin] is fully satisfied. Not everything
is ideal. But he thinks that a step forward has been taken as compared
with the previous parliamentary elections," he said. Yakushkin
reaffirmed Yeltsin's determination to leave the presidency in the summer
of 2000. "It is a matter of honor for him to step down on time, to see
the elections held on June 4, and leave [office]," Yakushkin said.
He dismissed as "gibberish" claims that Yeltsin "is clinging to
power and will never leave."
"This is absolute nonsense. It by no means conforms with the
president's current mindset," Yakushkin added.
Bush outlines foreign policy ideas ahead of speech
November 16, 1999
By Alan Elsner, Political Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Texas Gov. George W. Bush, under pressure to show he
is not a foreign policy lightweight, Tuesday outlined some of the ideas he
will deliver in a address on international affairs later this week.
Bush, who leads the race for the Republican Party's presidential
nomination, is scheduled to speak Friday at the Reagan presidential library
in Simi Valley, California.
The address, his first on foreign policy, has taken on additional
importance following Bush's performance when he was recently asked by a
television interviewer to name the leaders of four foreign hot spots.
Bush not only did not know the names but reacted defensively to the
questions and appeared to condone a recent military coup in Pakistan.
To keep that from happening Friday, a team of speechwriters and foreign
policy advisers, including former National Security Council official
Condoleezza Rice and former Pentagon official Paul Wolfowitz, have been
laboring for a month over the text.
REVIEWED SPEECH WITH AIDES
Bush reviewed the speech with his aides for the past three days, going over
the draft during the weekend and holding lengthy sessions Monday with
another planned Tuesday.
The governor gave a preview in an interview on NBC's ``Today Show''
Tuesday, in which he said he would speak about how he intended to lead the
nation and keep the peace should he be elected next year.
``I'm going to talk about making sure we strengthen the military, we
strengthen our alliances, we strengthen the international economy through
free trade,'' Bush said.
``I'm going to talk about China and Russia, our own neighborhood here that
surrounds America,'' he said.
Bush also launched a new television advertisement in South Carolina
Tuesday, appealing especially for the votes of military veterans who have
also been targeted by the rival campaign of Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Against an image of a little girl in a deserted and ruined military base,
Bush intones: ``Today we live in a world of terror, madmen and missiles.
Our military is challenged by aging weapons and low morale. Because a
dangerous world still requires a sharpened sword, I will rebuild our
Political scientist John Pitney, at California's Claremont McKenna College,
said a text written by speechwriters could not in itself erase doubts about
``The test will be in exchanges with citizens and reporters that show he
has some understanding of the issues,'' Pitney said. ``Right now, the best
you can give him is a barely passing grade.''
After declining to take part in candidates' debates and skipping two in New
Hampshire, Bush has agreed to participate in three debates next month.
On Russia, Bush said the United States needed to remind Moscow that obeying
the rule of law and respecting individual freedom were essential.
``And I think we can work with Russia, not only to stop proliferation but
also to develop anti-ballistic missile systems that bring certainty into an
uncertain world,'' Bush said.
If elected, Bush said he would try to persuade Russia to amend the 1970
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and develop its own anti-missile defense
A senior adviser said Bush would try to set clear priorities in foreign
policy in the speech as well as reminding Americans that the rest of the
world was important to them.
``The speech will focus on the big relationships with Russia and China and
our allies in Europe and the Far East. He will make the point that we need
to tend our relationships with our allies all the time -- not just turn to
them when we need them,' said the adviser, who asked not to be named.
Bush's lead over the rest of the Republican presidential field remains
solid but McCain has been moving up the polls in New Hampshire, which holds
the first primary Feb. 1.
Bush said in the interview McCain was a good man who had done a fine job
and he expected a competitive battle in New Hampshire.
``The people of New Hampshire expect me to come up and talk about my views
for education and tax cutting and strengthening the military and that's
exactly what I intend to do,'' he said.
Russian Jews unite to fight rising anti-Semitism
MOSCOW, Nov 16 (Reuters) - For the first time since the Soviet Union broke
up in 1991, Russian Jews have formed a united front in response to
resurgent anti-Semitism, Head Rabbi Berel Lazar said on Tuesday.
The new Federation of Jewish Communities will represent 80 Jewish groups in
dealings with the government and in monitoring and responding to fresh
anti-Semitism in the country, Lazar, who was elected to head its council,
said by telephone.
President Boris Yeltsin sent a message to the federation's two-day founding
congress offering his ``heartfelt greetings.''
``For centuries in our country more than 100 nationalities have lived side
by side in peace and accord,'' Yeltsin said. ``Today we should do all we
can so that this strong friendship between the peoples of Russia does not
Between 1.5 and two million Jews live in Russia, whose population is 150
million. Jewish community leaders say many more Jews who renounced or hid
their identity during the Soviet era are starting to reclaim their religion.
When the officially atheist Soviet Union fell, Russia's Jewish groups split
apart, with some emphasising emigration to Israel and others trying to
restore religious life in communities where it had been wiped out, Lazar
``There's never been a voice representing all the Jewish communities,'' he
Russian Jews say the country has seen a recrudescence of anti-Semitism this
year. There have been several attacks on synagogues, and last year a
Communist lawmaker stirred controversy by making anti-Jewish speeches.
RUSSIAN JEWISH CONGRESS DENIES BEING FINANCED FROM ABROAD
MOSCOW. Nov 15 (Interfax) - The Russian Jewish Congress [RJC] led
by Vladimir Gusinsky has denied assertions that it is being financed
"The Russian Jewish Congress did not receive and does not plan to
receive any financial aid from abroad. It is being financed exclusively
by Russian sponsors," says an RJC statement circulated on Monday. The
statement was signed by Chief Rabbi and member of this organization's
presidium Adolf Shayevich and RJC's Executive Vice President Alexander
"We are authorized to state that the Russian Jewish community has
never been and will never be a "fifth column", the document says. It
also says that "the RJC's sole goal is to make its contribution to the
development of a united Jewish community in a free and prosperous
Russia." "All other interpretations are either a delusion or a
provocation," the document says.
November 17, 1999
INSIDE RUSSIA: War Victories Can't Save a Falling Empire
By Yulia Latynina
In his noted book, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," it seems that
Edward Gibbon first noted that you can't save a failing empire even with a
victorious war. Because if a lost war ends with a loss of territory, then a
victorious war ends with the death or retirement of the successful commander,
who invariably ends up being accused by an envious palace clique of a
One of the best examples of this is Belisarius, the great Roman commander who
managed to free Italy from the Ostrogoths in 535 with only 6,000 soldiers. As
a result, the emperor Justinian, spooked by Belisarius' successes, started
setting limits on his commander and fired him, confiscating most of the
fortunes he'd pillaged in Italy and Africa. The war in Italy continued for
another 10 years and ended with its complete devastation.
Some of the problems of a crumbling empire are not alien to Russia, and
within Russia's elite the question is asked more and more frequently: Will
the hero of the Chechen war, Vladimir Putin, duplicate the fate of
Belisarius? In other words, is the prime minister too strong for the weak
My acquaintances among Putin's Kremlin image-makers brighten up and announce
that all the Kremlin's resources are directed toward supporting Putin and
that no one in the Kremlin, besides him, is considered presidential material.
People who are close to the leadership of Fatherland-All Russia, however,
tell a totally different story. They say that members of the "family" -
namely Alexander Voloshin - and the prime minister are already squabbling
over power. The prime minister brings his people into the ranks, "family"
members bring theirs, and this has led the weak Kremlin to fear and loathe
the strong Putin, who they say will likely be fired in December or January.
The folks over at Fatherland-All Russia demonstrate this in various
analytical ways, saying the Kremlin considered three candidates for the prime
ministerial post: Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov (who was scrapped because of
his close ties to Yevgeny Primakov); Emergency Situations Minister Sergei
Shoigu (who was scrapped because of his low ratings); and Interior Minister
Vladimir Rushailo, the former powerful director of the organized crime
division, who as a result of that job has the most exhaustive knowledge of
the ill doings of the oligarchs. He is Putin's most likely successor, they
There is probably a grain of truth in all of this. In any case, it's not good
for Fatherland-All Russia to make up fibs about poor relations between the
Kremlin and Putin as that will just boost his ratings.
Firing Putin could turn into a catastrophe for the Kremlin: Forcing Russia
into trusting another prime minister would require not the help of PR people,
but a sorcerer with a love potion. Plus, naming the authoritarian and
decisive Rushailo would take the collision of "strong prime minister" versus
"weak Kremlin" to even sharper levels.
The members of the "family" who are in conflict with Putin over who to name
as the head of the Federal Securities Commission - as an example - cannot be
missing this point. And why not? The Belisarius syndrome is something that
affects every falling empire. In Italy, they knew Belisarius's sacking would
lead to the destruction of the country. But the little selfish considerations
in the Italian court meant so much more.
Yulia Latynina writes for Segodnya.
Russian bear shows its nuclear claws before summit
By Peter Graff
MOSCOW, Nov 16 (Reuters) - The Russian bear showed its claws on Tuesday
before a summit with Western leaders, saying it had tested nuclear-capable
missiles as a possible response to the United States pulling out of a
The commander of Russia's navy was quoted as saying that test-firings of
three submarine-based Stingray missiles on October 1-2 were a partial
response to possible U.S. plans to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic
Missile (ABM) treaty.
RIA news agency quoted Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov as saying the launches
should be seen as ``one of the elements of Russia's asymetrical response to
the possible withdrawal of the United States.'' .
By ``asymetrical response,'' Russian officials appeared to be referring to
a build up of Russia's offensive nuclear strike capability in response to
the U.S. move.
The statement, the latest in a series of increasingly alarmist Russian
remarks over ABM, came just before a European security summit in Istanbul,
where presidents Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton are expected to have their
iciest encounter ever.
Yeltsin's spokesman has said ABM will be on the agenda when he meets Clinton.
The Cold-War-era ABM treaty banned systems designed to shoot down enemy
missiles, under the logic that such defences would have spurred the United
States and Russia to build ever larger arsenals of nuclear warheads to
break through enemy shields.
Now, with the Cold War over, the United States wants to deploy a system to
defend itself against a possible launch from North Korea, Iran or another
of what it calls ``rogue states.''
U.S. administration officials have asked Russia to amend the pact to allow
Washington to deploy the new system. Moscow says doing so could trigger a
new nuclear arms race.
Last month Yeltsin warned Clinton of ``extremely dangerous consequences''
if the United States goes ahead with its plans.
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Anatoly Kvashnin said on Monday Russia was
convinced Washington intended to break the treaty. Russia planned to
respond by beefing up its own nuclear arsenal.
Tuesday's statement was the first time that Russian officials have directly
linked the test of an offensive nuclear strike weapon to the arms control
A Russian general made a similar statement last month about the test of a
Russian anti-missile rocket, a defensive weapon.
Russia's cash strapped military rarely test-fires expensive missiles.
Officials earlier said the Stingray tests were aimed at determining whether
the missile's shelf life could be extended.
Defence analysts say Russia is working on a new submarine launched
ballistic missile to match its latest generation of land-based Topol M
Chechens cling to white flags to survive bombings
November 16, 1999
By Maria Eismont
NEAR NOVY SHAROI, Russia (Reuters) - White flags are in big demand in
Everyone seems to have one -- from refugees hoping to cross to safety in
neighboring Ingushetia to shepherds tending flocks in meadows beside the
main road out of the breakaway province.
``There is nothing like a white flag to save you from death,'' said Aysad,
a middle-aged woman in a crowd of refugees. ``People say that once a pilot
did not fire a missile on a car when a woman jumped out of it and waved a
``He had already fired once and was diving for a second shot,'' she said.
This story is making the rounds among Chechens hoping to flee Russia's
seven-week-old bombing campaign against rebels, prompting nearly everyone
to clutch pieces of white cloth.
``Does Putin not have a mother and a father? Does he not have children.
Can't he do it any other way?'' asks Leyla Ayubova of Russia's prime
minister, Vladimir Putin. Her house in the village of Alkhan-Yurt has been
turned to rubble after three Russian rocket hits.
Putin sent troops into Chechnya to pursue Islamic rebels who twice invaded
the neighboring region of Dagestan and whom Moscow blames for staging
devastating bomb attacks in Russian cities killing nearly 300 people.
The rebels deny responsibility for the blasts.
CHECHENS IN GROZNY COWER IN CELLARS
In Grozny, residents of the Chechen capital have been spending days in
their cellars, praying for respite from the continual bombings.
``There are 18 children still hiding in the cellar. They are my kids and
the kids from next door who came because we have a big cellar. I can't take
them outside,'' Ayubova said.
Alkhan-Yurt is on the edge of Russia's seven-week-old advance into
Chechnya. About 200,000 Chechens have fled their homes, most ending up in
Russia's impoverished region of Ingushetia, which is struggling to cope
with the crisis.
Many people leave children and relatives behind to first make sure that the
road to Ingushetia is open. They then return to fetch their loved ones,
after a long wait at the border.
Those who have reached the relative safety of the border area finally
realize how lucky they are to be alive.
Ayza Ikayeva, from the town of Urus-Martan, which, she says, is being
flattened by bombs and rockets, says her neighbors were killed two days ago
in a bombing raid.
``They had eight small children and the children are still there. There was
nothing I could do to help them. They lost their mum and dad at once. I
don't know if they have anything to eat out there,'' she said.
At the start of the military campaign, Moscow dismissed all reports of
civilian casualties, saying it was targeting only ``international
terrorists.'' It later admitted civilians had died in the attacks, but
called such instances ``tragic mistakes.''
Western nations have criticized Russia for what they say is an
``indiscriminate'' use of force in Chechnya, expressing concern over the
exodus of refugees.
``All who could flee have fled. The ones who have stayed are so poor they
cannot go anywhere,'' Ikayeva said.
Many in the queues have little money for food and most complain of being
hungry. Those who, in search of food, venture into the nearby village of
Novy Sharoi, are shown the remains of an air-to-surface missile sticking
out of a clearing.
Three weeks ago the missile killed eight children who were playing there
and blew off the legs of several others. Under a tree eight pairs of small
boots form a makeshift memorial to the slaughtered children, where their
parents still grieve.
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999
From: Center for Civil Society International <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: from Holt Ruffin, re Uhler review of "Sword and Shield"/3625
I write to object to the bizarre review by Walter Uhler of
Christopher Andrew's "The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive
and the Secret History of the KGB." The book is a sober and judicious
piece of history. It may have "created a sensation throughout the
Western world;" but there is nothing sensationalistic about it.
Uhler seems to have almost deliberately misread the book, starting
with his claim that Andrew "inadvertently" raises doubts about the
value of intelligence operations in both the political realm and
scientific or technological fields. With respect to the latter, "The
Sword and the Shield" clearly suggests that the investment Stalin
made in scientific and technological intelligence paid large
dividends in accelerating Soviet development of nuclear weapons.
As to political intelligence, one of the important lessons of the
book is that "stealing secrets" is only half the battle. Good
intelligence is useless unless the intended users can analyze it
dispassionately and appreciate it for what it is. In the case of
nuclear secrets, the USSR had the scientific talent to undertand the
value of intelligence coming from Klaus Fuchs and others involved
with the Manhattan Project. But the mind of Stalin worked very
differently from that of Kurchatov. For a time in the thirties
Stalin utterly failed to consult high-level intelligence being
provided by Britain's "Magnificent Five" (Philby et al.) simply
because it included no reports on British plots to overthrow the
Soviet government. Stalin "knew" such plots existed; if his agents
in the British government were failing to report their existence, it
meant they were very probably double agents.
In the post-Stalin period, one of the most interesting aspects of
Andrew's book is what it reveals about Andropov--a point to which
Uhler alludes. In contrast to Western news accounts when he became
General Secretary that the former KGB chief was a Scotch drinker,
listened to jazz, and was plausibly a democratizer, "The Sword and
the Shield" portrays an implacable enemy of any movements for
democracy, independence, openness, whether originating inside the
Soviet Union or in the Warsaw Pact nations.
For reasons impossible to fathom, Uhler insists on seeing the "The
Sword and the Shield" as a slam on "the enormously talented Russian
people," "the great achievements of Soviet scientists," and at
bottom, as "yet one more book that concludes that the Soviet Union
failed because its system was not like ours and implies that Russia
will fail if it does not adopt to our system." These charges, along
with Uhler's classification of the book as "Post-Cold War
Triumphalist Revisionism," constitute such gross
mischaracterizations, such cartoonish statements, that they might
safely be ignored, were not the book so much deserving of fairer
treatment and, indeed, critical approbation.
Andrew's book in no way purports to be an assessment of science and
technology in the Soviet era. It is a remarkably documented piece of
research on the KGB, a Soviet institution which has defied
comprehensive study or public understanding throughout its life. The
sense of caution and responsibility that pervade the writing in "The
Sword and the Shield" give the reader some confidence that here is
one treatment, at least, of the KGB's foreign intelligence operations
which will not be polemical or sensational. For those with an
interest in this subject, the book deserves a respectful, and
intelligent, reading--no more, no less.
Center for Civil Society International
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999
From: "Anne Nivat" <email@example.com>
Subject: stories about Chechnya
I don't know if you and the List are interested in some stories from
Chechnya but I am coming back from three trips there where I have been
filing almost every day for the French daily LIBERATION
One of my stories was also published in the last issue (November, 15th) of
the US weekly US News and World Report.
Correspondent for Ouest-France, Le Soir, Radio Canada and Radio Monte Carlo.
The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
16 November 1999
[for personal use only]
Police are ridiculed by Kremlin 'terrorists'
By Marcus Warren in Moscow
MOSCOW'S police have been exposed as a shambolic rabble worthy of the
Keystone Cops in an exercise to test their awareness.
Security in the city was so lax that an undercover squad from the interior
ministry recently planted a dummy bomb next to police headquarters, flaunted
a grenade launcher as they drove through the streets and ordered guards at a
reservoir to disarm. They also talked their way with fake ID cards into the
arms storerooms of police stations, roamed freely through secret parts of the
Metro and videoed their adventures to inflict maximum embarrassment on the
After showing the video on television the host of a current affairs programme
said to Nikolai Kulikov, the city's police chief: "Don't you consider you are
personally just not up to the job? I think so." Such incompetence is
especially shocking as Moscow is still recovering from two bomb attacks and
is meant to be on the alert for more in retaliation for the military campaign
in Chechnya. Ominously, the exercise and the publicity it was given on state
television also showed how far the Kremlin would go to discredit Yuri
Luzhkov, mayor of Moscow.
At its most farcical those carrying out the exercise placed a dummy 25lb
explosive device by the walls of Petrovka 38, the city's police headquarters
round the corner from the office of The Telegraph. "Elite" paramilitary
police carrying machineguns patrol the building in pairs day and night. But
the bomb, planted to coincide with a conference of top officers inside, was
left untouched for 36 hours.
The film's voice-over said: "Open to doubt is the police officers'
professionalism," an assessment borne out by the sheep-like behaviour of
other policemen. One group of dummy terrorists dressed in camouflage did
everything possible to attract the police's attention: changing their
vehicle's number plates next to a shopping arcade and parading a
grenade-launcher and automatic weapons inside. Even driving recklessly, at
one point swerving and braking sharply in front of a police car, failed to
The group later linked up with accomplices who had disarmed police guarding a
water reservoir and ordered them to maintain radio silence before planting
another dummy bomb there. Another interior ministry squad visited major
police stations and, displaying police ID cards full of errors, persuaded the
staff to allow them into the arms storerooms and to show them classified
The station staff were most accommodating, even when the visitors started
calling each other by different names and signed in with passes valid from
Dec 1, 1999. When pressed as to whether he should resign, a miserable-looking
Mr Kulikov said: "The minister takes decisions and it is his job to resolve
problems like this. I take orders from him." He tried to minimise his
embarrassment by accusing the television channel of giving terrorists ideas.
The police officers' incompetence and deference to armed strangers in uniform
waving strange ID cards will come as no surprise to Moscow residents. What
will alarm many people, however, is the terrorist expertise those behind the
exercise displayed, especially when some Muscovites suspect the authorities
themselves of planting the bombs that destroyed blocks of flats in September.
Financial Times (UK)
16 November 1999
Comment / Personal View
Igor Ivanov - West's hypocrisy over Chechnya
The author is foreign minister of Russia
Criticism of Russia threatens the success of this week's European security
summit in Istanbul, warns Igor Ivanov
This century's last summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation
in Europe is to open in Istanbul on Thursday. The nations of the continent
expect a lot from it. The outcome of this meeting will be important in
determining the nature of further developments in the area of security:
whether there is going to be a meaningful step towards creating a common
European security architecture or a throwback to confrontation and military
Throughout the preparations leading up to the Istanbul summit, Russia has
consistently sought to develop common principles that would allow Europe to
leave behind, finally, the abyss of the cold war and to build, in
co-operation, a stable and prosperous region in the 21st century.
Together with our partners, we have managed to achieve a great deal. We have
come to Istanbul with a number of important draft documents - first and
foremost, the European Security Charter and the adapted Treaty on
Conventional Forces in Europe.
I hardly need to explain how important it is for all OSCE member states to
adopt these documents, which could become the bedrock of a common European
Recently, however, Nato member states have started to inflame artificially
the atmosphere surrounding the Istanbul meeting. The formal pretext for this
is the Chechen conflict, which everyone admits to be Russia's internal
affair. Relying on rumours spread in the western media by the sponsors of
Chechen terrorists, an anti-Russian campaign is being widely promoted in some
Nato countries in the best traditions of the recent past. Especially loud in
this choir are those who advocated the barbarian bombardments of cities and
villages in the sovereign Yugoslavia.
In their rush to criticise Russia, some countries have gone as far as to
claim that, in Istanbul, Russia will be called to account for its actions in
Chechnya. But the conveniently forgotten fact remains that the Russian
leadership is fighting international terrorism in Chechnya - and all states
have undertaken to support each other in eradicating this evil. Some people
seem to have forgotten that flirting with terrorists is like playing with
fire: the flames can quickly spread to your house, too.
Under such circumstances, a legitimate question inevitably arises: is
everybody truly committed to the success of the Istanbul summit? In the light
of the campaign launched in the Nato states, people in Moscow are starting to
doubt whether Nato is really prepared to comply with the documents that are
to be signed in Istanbul.
I have to admit that the Russian public has good reason for these sorts of
apprehensions. In our country everyone remembers that last spring Nato openly
violated the UN Charter by unleashing aggression against Yugoslavia. The OSCE
fundamental principles and norms were defied.
Suffice to recall here that such principles of the Helsinki Final Act include
the non-use or threat of force, inviolability of frontiers, territorial
integrity of states, non-interference with internal affairs.
By its actions, Nato openly challenged the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the code
of conduct relating to the politico-military aspects of security.
The question often raised in Moscow is whether Kosovo and Chechnya are links
in a chain of steps towards the creation of a one-dimensional, Nato-centred
world. Is Chechnya being used as a smoke-screen for preparing Nato to assume
the role of a world policeman, for undermining the fundamental components of
strategic stability and reversing the disarmament processes? Has the
anti-Russian campaign over Chechnya been launched to force Russia out of the
Caucasus, and then out of central Asia? And these are by no means the only
concerns that have arisen in Russian public opinion with respect to the
actions - or, sometimes, the lack of actions - of our western partners.
All these questions need to be answered before we take serious, epoch-making
decisions on Europe in Istanbul. If some of our partners are not prepared to
take into account Russia's opinion on those problems that are of vital
importance to us, then perhaps it would be better to take one's time and
wait, as we say in Russia, for better times.
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999
From: Lozansky@aol.com (Ed Lozansky)
Subject: Does Jewish Community have a position on the War in Chechnya?
Does Jewish Community have a position on the War in Chechnya?
During the recent events in Kosovo, the American Jewish community was very
vocal in expressing support for NATO. The general wisdom was that if US and
allies had bombed Hitler in 1937, there would have been no WWII or Holocaust.
One could question the comparison of Milosevich to Hitler, as well as the
wisdom of the policies pursued by NATO, but the thing that we want to stress
here is that Jewish community took a definite stand on an international issue
which had only a remote relation to its own current problems. It is not clear
why the Jewish community is silent now, when there is a war in Russia and the
consequences of this war will have a direct impact on the security of the
United States and Israel.
One does not have to be a prophet to see that, in the next century,
international terrorism will be the greatest danger to the world's security.
If no drastic action is taken it is only a matter of time before terrorists
will acquire the most lethal weapons, chemical, biological and nuclear.
Today, it happens that Russia has found itself on the front line of the fight
with terrorists, who are trained and financed by the same fources that
exploded American embassies and Israeli buses. These people under the flag of
Islam declare a holy war on "unbelievers", meaning Christians, Jews, as well
as secular Moslem states. They preach that death in this holy war is the
highest honor which can be bestowed upon a person by Allah. Trained in this
manner, terrorists are engaged in explosions of buildings, kidnappings, and
outright invasions of sovereign states.
Of course, it would be a mistake to place the blame on Islam, a
long-established religion which, when interpreted in an enlightened fashion,
has played a tremendous civilizing function. But it would also be a mistake
to dismiss the role of Islamic fundamentalist convictions and organizations
in the terrorist actions which are taking place around the world and
presently in Russia.
There is also a strategic opportunity in it for America and Israel: to make
friends with Russia and India, the societies most threatened (alongside the
peaceful mainstream of the Moslem populations themselves!) by the new trend.
The West has long needed a strategic friendship with Russia and India and
now, by grace of a genuine common threat the world's Jewish community can
play a pivotal role in seizing this opportunity.
Presently the international community is concentrating on criticizing Russia
for failing to make an adequate effort to minimize civilian casualties in
Chechnya. The concern is justified. We should expect the Russian Army to
respect all international conventions on warfare. And we could help it to do
so, since we have the latest technical means for this and Russia does not.
But what we hear very little is the expression of our support for Russia in
its struggle with terrorism. The USA and its allies, including Israel, can
offer their knowledge and expertise in planning and in preventive measures,
as well as in intelligence and special operations. Joining forces with
now will also help Jews and pro-Western democratic forces inside Russia and
will shape future U.S. - Russian relations in a more positive way. Presently
there is a historic opportunity for the world Jewish community to express
support to Russia in its fight against terrorism. Failure to use this chance
would be a tragic mistake.
President, American University in Moscow
St. Petersburg Times
November 16, 1999
It's Official: Reforms in Post-Soviet Russia Failed, Says Report
After a dramatic and often murky decade of attempts at change, Russia is a
long way away from becoming a market economy, according to a survey just
out. Melissa Akin reports.
RUSSIA'S various attempts at reform have resulted in a poorly-governed,
inegalitarian, corrupt and economically backward country, one where a
growing proportion of the population lives below the poverty line. That's
the grim picture that emerges from a report just released by the European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development, "Transition Report 1999."
Over the 10 years since the Berlin Wall came down, Russia's Gini
coefficient - a standard measure of inequality - grew faster than almost
every other country in the former Soviet bloc. And on the EBRD's transition
indicators index, Russia is one of just five countries - along with
Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and recidivist Belarus - to have
regressed. These countries recorded a negative change in transition
indicators, a measure of progress in core aspects of reform - markets and
trade, enterprises and financial institutions.
In the early 1990s, a plan for swift liberalization and mass voucher
privatization programs looked to be taking Moscow in the right direction,
according to the EBRD report. However, the EBRD - which was set up by
European governments to boost private investment in transition economies of
Eastern Europe - says that the reforms were hijacked by self-serving
individuals at the very start.
The consequences have been disastrous.
While the patchy nature of Russia's reforms presented a small elite with
the opportunity to make millions of dollars, the rest of the population
have seen their standard of living plummet.
"Before the transition began, the centrally planned economies enjoyed a
relatively egalitarian distribution of income, compared with developing
economies," the report says. "During the transition, however, income
differentials have widened considerably. This is most notably the case in
Russia, where inequality is now comparable to that in some of the most
unequal Latin American countries."
Russia now has some of the trappings of a market economy thanks to the
privatization process and several other reforms. Indeed, 70 percent of
Russia's Gross Domestic Product is produced by the private sector. That's a
greater level of privatization than exists in some potential members of the
European Union, including Poland.
But the problem is that simple headline figures such as these tell only
part of the story. In any country, the private sector does not function in
a vacuum. It depends on a legislative and economic framework whose
parameters are to a large extent set by the government sector.
And in Russia, the government has done an appallingly bad job at fostering
an attractive business environment.
The country had the fourth-worst governance rating in the EBRD report,
ahead of only Romania, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova. The EBRD rating was compiled
from a poll conducted by the EBRD and the World Bank of 3,000 businesses in
20 countries across the former Soviet bloc. The firms were asked to rate
the state's performance within the country where they were based according
to four areas - macroeconomic performance, microeconomic performance,
infrastructure and legal framework.
In many ways, Russia had ended up with the worst of both worlds, according
to the report. For example, Belarus is rated significantly above Russia.
While that might surprise many observers familiar with the capricious
authoritarianism of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, the EBRD
explained the better rating by saying that Minsk's unreformed state
controls are at least capable of keeping the lid on vested interests. In
contrast, Russia went halfway, removing state controls but failing to
institute and enforce clear regulations to take their place.
Countries such as Russia, "that have introduced partial reforms have begun
the process of dismantling the state's capacity to govern the economy
according to the requirements of the command system without developing the
new institutions on which a market based form of governance could be
established," the report says.
Drawing a direct contrast to Poland, which has begun to emerge as the new
powerhouse of Eastern Europe, the EBRD says that the so-called shock
therapy approaches of acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar in 1992 and of
Privatization Minister Anatoly Chubais in 1993 through 1995 acted to hobble
Russia's chances of economic growth. Sold at the time as bold, radical
programs, liberalization - and later, the loans-for-shares privatization
scheme of 1995 - were in fact deeply compromised from the start.
l In Russia, the early liberalization of prices was patchy and inconsistent
and offered scope for enrichment by the few who had access to the levers of
power, the report's introduction reads. The privatization process, and
particularly the notorious loans for shares scheme of 1995, offered scope
for further concentration of wealth and income through manipulation by
those who had benefitted from the defects of the liberalization earlier in
the decade. Together, flawed liberalization and privatization left enormous
power in the hands of a few oligarchs.
Neither Gaidar nor Chubais responded to repeated requests for comment on
However, several economists defended the pair's actions, saying that their
principles were sound.
The reformers "faced a choice of privatization or no privatization," said
Paul Reynolds of the Adam Smith Institute in London. "No privatization at
all would concentrate more and more wealth in the hands of a few. At least
this held out prospects of some dispersal of ownership."
But the new elite - little more than the old elite in capitalist disguise -
had little interest in institution building and sound business practices,
the EBRD says. Instead, they played by their own rules, championing reform
when it suited them and using their influence however they could to hold it
up when it threatened them, the bank said.
l These vested interests had little incentive to press for reforms which
could establish a level playing field for competitors, which could lower
barriers to entry and to new initiatives, and which could improve corporate
governance, the report said.
As a result, earlier expectations that market institutions, macroeconomic
stabilization and sound business practices would naturally develop in
response to demand from profit seeking players on the new market were not
The lack of planning was understandable - to be fair, no one knew quite
what to plan for, said Ben Slay, chief economist at PlanEcon consultancy in
"It's a lot easier to liberalize prices than it is to create a
well-functioning legal environment," Slay said. "And it's really hard to
design regulations for economic behavior that doesn't exist yet."
"It's sort of hard to blame the people that were in early on, even in the
first government, to be aware of what would actually happen," said Peter
Westin, an analyst with the Russian European Center for Economic Policy in
Moscow. He pointed to the influence of Western advisers fresh from the
Polish experience, where concentration on macroeconomics paid off but
dawdling on privatization led to asset-stripping by some managers.
Usually, critics of Russia's troubles tend to point to structural
difficulties that could have been solved through better policies. A classic
example is the banking sector, which never saw reform in time to stave off
the effects of the Aug. 17, 1998 debt default and devaluation.
However, the EBRD says it is now focusing on more subjective factors - the
"social capital" or behavior patterns that it now believes made the
difference between success and failure for the reform programs carried out
by different regimes.
And for businesses operating here, despite some outward signs of progress
such as new company laws, firms polled by the EBRD say the behavior factor
is still a crucial negative in their day to day operations. Rule of law is
still sketchy, and what is still needed to get ahead, they say, are
old-fashioned political connections and bribes.
A poll by the EBRD and the World Bank of 3,000 businesses in 20 countries
found a telling statistic: Businesses in Russia were paying heavy tolls in
bribes and time just to get business done, shelling out a bribe tax to the
tune of 4.1 percent of revenues.
Nearly 30 percent of Russian businesses polled said that unofficial payouts
were made frequently. The burden appears to lie heaviest on smaller firms -
especially startups - across the region, especially in the Commonwealth of
Independent States, where they tend to pay larger and more frequent bribes.
In addition, senior managers said they were paying a heavy "time tax" in
Russia, spending nearly 15 percent of their time dealing with public
A key indicator of trust in the government's ability to govern, the report
says, is companies' faith in the security of property and contract rights.
Asked whether they agreed that the legal system would uphold their contract
and property rights in business disputes, nearly 75 percent of businesses
polled said they strongly disagreed.
Analysts say Russia's dismal levels of foreign investment, which fell
further in 1999 after the August crisis, can be blamed in part on poor
defense of their rights. Indeed, in "advanced transition" countries such as
tiny Estonia, where more companies appear to trust the government to defend
their property and contract rights, per capita foreign direct investment
stood at $241 compared to Russia's $20.
Analysts point out that corruption is endemic to many emerging markets and
some say Russia should not be singled out. In Russia, however, mere
influence peddling is just the tip of the iceberg.
The bank says that undue influence by vested interests - in Russia's case,
the oligarchy - on the government's relationship with business that allows
to manipulate policy to the benefit of their businesses and the detriment
of the overall business climate.
To show the degree to which "state capture" is affecting businesses here,
40 percent of Russian firms polled by the EBRD said the sale of
parliamentary votes and presidential decrees had an impact on their
business. The only countries where influence buying was worse, the poll
said, was in former Soviet republics Moldova, Ukraine, and oil-rich
Azerbaijan. By contrast, only about 5 percent of businesses polled said
they could influence the content of new federal laws, rules, regulations or
decrees that could affect their businesses, and nearly 10 percent said they
influenced similar decisions made by local governments.
In economies like Russia's, the EBRD says, high state capture has a dismal
correlation with dismal corporate governance - a list of basic state
provided services required for the market to function: law and order,
infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, and a transparent tax and
So strongly has the state in Russia fallen under the sway of vested
interests, that many observers now feel that real change can only come
through a grass-roots desire for change similar to the surprising wave of
revolutionary fervor that helped to sweep away the Berlin Wall and then the
There is a growing consensus that sweeping, top-down efforts at reform have
proven to be Russia's undoing.
Arnab Das, a sovereign credit strategist at JP Morgan who studies emerging
markets, says the absence of a ground-up political consensus was one factor
that put Russia's reforms at the mercy of individual whims in the first
The haphazard enforcement of the rules and corruption that now plague
Russia are "symptoms of a deeper malaise. That is a lack of political
consensus about making Russia a modern market economy."
The privatization and liberalization programs that marked Russia's first
transition efforts "can be done at the wave of a hand - the things more
important for the long run, the more involved, micro-level reforms - they
require a lot of political changes and huge cost in terms of welfare."
"For that it turned out the political backing was not there - to make
changes that would be economically better in the long run, but politically
difficult in the short run."
The EBRD believes that the fewer political holdovers to the old Communist
regime, the better. The report pictures Russia, however, at the center of a
camp of reform laggards whose leaders are almost always drawn from the
former leaders of the old Communist nomenklatura.
"You have to remember there was no popular revolution in Russia," said
Reynolds of the Adam Smith Institute.
For now, the bank - which lost millions of dollars invested in failed banks
and has scaled back lending to Russia - is taking a wait-and-see approach
to Russian reforms, saying radical changes were unlikely in the runup to
December parliamentary elections and June presidential elections. Instead,
the bank says Russia's near-term "key challenges" are limiting political
disruption during the election season and the achievement of a new
constitutional arrangement that would cut economic dependence on President
Boris Yeltsin and his power of decree and shift authority to other branches
That would limit the ability of one powerful individual to wield influence
over the economy.
A more difficult question is how to put a leash on the vested interests
that exert more furtive control over the economy.
Analysts agree it will be difficult to legislate market players' behavior -
though some say distilled regulation might help.
"The most important thing is to have a clear conception of the rule of
law," said Westin of RECEP. "A lot of the corruption is systemic, and so
the system needs strengthening."
Slay of PlanEcon suggested a policy move that could restart reforms the way
they began in 1992: From the top down.
"If instead of thinking the war in Chechnya is going to solve all of
Russia's problems the government were instead arresting people who had
absconded with millions of dollars of people's money - two or three
incidences and that would have an impact. But that is not what politicians
in Russia are concerned about. They are concerned about parliamentary
elections, they are concerned about presidential elections, they are
concerned about feathering their nests - their concerns are not with
policies to change people's behavior."
25% OF RUSSIANS SEE PUTIN AS NEXT PRESIDENT
MOSCOW. Nov 15 (Interfax) - A fourth of Russians, 25%, see Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin as the next president, according to an opinion
poll of 1,600 Russians conducted by the Public Opinion Fund between
November 5 and 8.
Communist Party of Russia leader Gennady Zyuganov follows suit in
the popularity rating with 8%. Former Prime Minister and current leader
of the Fatherland-All Russia election alliance Yevgeny Primakov
collected 5%. Just 2% of those polled named Moscow Mayor and Fatherland
movement leader Yuri Luzhkov.
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Yabloko party
leader Grigory Yavlinsky, Unity leader Sergei Shoigu, Our Home Is Russia
leader Viktor Chernomyrdin, Rightist Union leader Sergei Kiriyenko and
Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Lebed collected around 1% each.
Furthermore, 1% of the respondents named other politicians.
Over half, 53% did not say who is likely to win the presidential
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