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Johnson's Russia List


December 21, 1999    
This Date's Issues:3698   3699  3700

Johnson's Russia List
21 December 1999

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Times EDITORIAL: What Will Kremlin Do With Win? 
2. Moscow Times: Andrei Zolotov Jr., Big Winner Unity Still An Enigma.
3. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, Russian voters hand mandate to 

4. Financial Times (UK) editorial: Putin's day.
5. BUSINESS WEEK ONLINE: Paul Starobin, Communists Face Loss of Power in 
Russia's Elections.

6. The Independent (UK): Helen Womack, Old Soviet faces make way for 

7. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Academic Sees Russia Rivaling Top Industrial 

9. OSCE report on Russian election.] 


Moscow Times
December 21, 1999 
EDITORIAL: What Will Kremlin Do With Win? 

There is no particular reason to believe that Unity is "centrist," unless 
"centrist" is another word for "unknown." And there is no particular reason 
to believe that the Union of Right Forces will advocate or achieve real 

But what seems clear is that the Kremlin has been dealt a winning hand - or 
the Kremlin has dealt itself a winning hand, depending onone's point of view. 
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be dealing with friends in the Duma. The 
stock market is buoyant, and the international news wires are upbeat about 
the defeat of "the Communists" by "centrists" and "reformers." 

So what we have here is an opportunity - even if it is based more on 
perceptions than on reality. Elections, even flawed ones, can provide a 
momentum and a legitimacy that should be capitalized upon. Putin, Unity and 
the rightists could serve Russia best by: 

-Moving toward a cease-fire in Grozny. It is a myth pushed by the 
bloodthirstily hysterical that this would somehow "play into the hands of 
'terrorists.'" Russia controls much of Chechnya; but Moscow has a well-known 
history here, and the onus is now on Russia to demonstrate that it can 
administer at least the peaceful north in a civilized way. So far that has 
yet to be proved. 

-Pushing through at least the most obvious of economic reforms, such as 
cutting and simplifying taxes. In past, these reforms were purportedly held 
up by the Communists; it will be interesting to see what the Kremlin will 
achieve now, with a free hand. 

-Tending relations with the West. These are at a low point - largely because 
of Western carelessness and error. But if the West is applauding "centrists" 
and "reformers," there is an opportunity here for some coolly handled 
fence-mending. We don't all have to be "friends," but at bare minimum we do 
all have a responsibility to seek cordial relations between the world's two 
great nuclear-armed camps. Why not pass START II now? 

We at The Moscow Times have repeatedly noted that we share the view of some 
European observers that this vote was neither free nor fair; that point 
having been made, we would move on to ask: What next? 

One lesson that could be drawn from the war-time climb of Unity and the 
rightists is that the secret to the hearts of the people is to sell them a 
national security state on ORT. 

Another lesson could be that the people are yearning for public order, for 
real economic reform and for new faces. 

Which lesson will the Kremlin draw? Which will it act upon? 


Moscow Times
December 21, 1999 
NEWS ANALYSIS: Big Winner Unity Still An Enigma 
By Andrei Zolotov Jr.
Staff Writer

The Bear smashed all. 

The Unity bloc, also known as Medved, or the Bear, surpassed all expectations 
with a striking 23.37 percent of Sunday's vote, according to Monday evening's 
preliminary vote results. 

The bloc owes its triumph to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who endorsed 
Unity days before the vote; to a general yearning for "order" and for new 
faces in politics; to an unprecedented propaganda campaign in 
state-controlled media; and to the active support of a number of regional 

So what is Unity? 

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov's description is worth quoting, as it 
differed little from that offered by many Russian political observers on 

"Unity is a bloc that was hastily cobbled together, which has used all the 
modern [electoral] techniques, which has been fed by unprecedented 
administrative and financial resources, and which has not offered the society 
even an elementary program," Zyuganov said Monday. "They have twisted the 
arms of everybody, from the Defense Ministry to the Railways Ministry, [to 
win support]. They have worked personally with every head of administration 
and governor, and have used all mechanisms of pressure." 

Unity's three leading members helped the party mold its image of being a 
collection of tough men resolved to install order in lawless Russia - 
Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, wrestling champion and tax 
police officer Alexander Karelin and one-time organized crime fighting chief 
Alexander Gurov. 

Yet beyond those three, practically nothing is known about the bloc. 

In its program, Unity promises to "destroy the bureaucratic system;" to end 
the practice of Duma elections by party lists; to support the army, the law 
enforcement organs, sports and the public health care system; and to "uproot 
terrorism." In the economic field, Unity says it will lower taxes while 
"increasing government's role" in the economy. 

But even political analysts, such as Sergei Markov of the Institute of 
Political Studies, confessed Monday to have never read the official Unity 
program. As Markov put it, the program is "absolutely irrelevant." 

"They have no political program," Markov said. "But instead, they have a 
general cultural attitude to power: pragmatism and authoritarianism. ... 
Society is tired of old politicians, it is looking for someone new and it is 
looking for tough solutions." 

There are several well-known governors considered founders of Unity - 
Alexander Rutskoi of Kursk, Yevgeny Nazdratenko of Primorye, Kirsan 
Ilyumzhinov of Kalmykia, and so on. 

But none of those governors is actually on Unity's party list - the roll call 
of future Unity Duma deputies. Instead, that list is a hodge-podge of 
veteran's group leaders, third- and fourth-tier local officials, businessmen 
and random professionals, including an ambulance doctor and a public notary. 

The Unity lists also include a large number of mid-range show biz 
personalities: Valery Komissarov, the mustachioed host of chat show Moya 
Semya on RTR, which talks about unfaithful husbands and tormented wives; 
Alexander Abrakhimov, the voice of news on Radio Maximum; several executives 
from other FM radio stations; and TV-6 talk show host Arina Sharapova. 

Most of the show biz crowd are representatives of an ultra-liberal political 
grouping called Free Generation, which speaks for gay rights and legalization 
of prostitution. 

In a way, Unity's showing is the ultimate tribute to the highly personalized, 
image-based voting habits of the Russian people. This style pays little or no 
attention to platforms or substantive differences among the parties. 

"I don't even know their program - all programs are the same," said Tatyana 
Gladkova, a middle-aged journalist who voted Sunday for Unity in a 
prestigious area of southwestern Moscow. "We need entrepreneurial, energetic 
people, who will stand up to defend Russia's dignity." 

Businessman Svyatoslav Zhuravlyov, 50, said simply that he voted for Unity 
because of Putin. 

"[Shoigu] is active, he has good relations with Putin, and Putin is our 
future president," Zhuravlyov said. "It is important for parliament to 
support the [executive] power. We are tired of every party pulling in its own 

Deputy chief of presidential staff Igor Shabdurasulov, who was seen as a key 
campaign operator for Unity, on Monday attributed the bloc's "revolutionary" 
victory to Putin's "consolidatory role." 

Unity members made crystal-clear their intention of creating a pro-Putin 
majority in the Duma, Shabdurasulov told reporters. "Voters were impressed by 
the toughness and clarity of this position," he said. 

As the Kremlin's chosen bloc, Unity had an added advantage: Analysts have 
long said that a substantial part of the Russian electorate are "government 
loyalists" who traditionally vote for the "party of power." 

"A nation of subjects does not turn overnight into a nation of citizens," 
Igor Bunin, director of the Institute of Political Technologies, said on NTV 
during the election results coverage Sunday night. 

Some of Unity's showing is surely also attributable to a massive propaganda 
campaign carried out by pro-Kremlin media, mainly the national channels ORT 
and RTR. 

For a large portion of the Russian public, they are the only sources of 
information, particularly in remote and rural areas where Unity got its 
highest rating. 

"We have not seen such propaganda since 1937," said Vsevolod Vilchek, a media 
sociologist and the head of NTV's sociological service, of ORT coverage. "It 
was at the Stalinist-GÚbbelsian level." 

In areas where people had alternative sources of information, such as Moscow 
and other big cities in European Russia, Unity did not do as well, Vilchek 
said in a telephone interview. 

ORT in particular is seen as beholden to Kremlin insider Boris Berezovsky. On 
Monday, Mayor Yury Luzhkov - whose anti-Kremlin Fatherland-All Russia bloc 
was sunk by Unity and by ORT - sarcastically suggested that Berezovsky lead 
the party's Duma faction. 

"This will enable him to legitimize himself in the top bodies of authority," 
Luzhkov was reported by Interfax as saying. 

The European Institute for the Media, which has monitored the election 
coverage of Russian television since the beginning of November, said in a 
report released Monday that ORT newscasts devoted 28 percent of their airtime 
to Unity - twice as much as to Fatherland-All Russia. The pro-Kremlin bloc 
was presented largely in a positive light while Fatherland was covered 
negatively more than half of the time. 


Christian Science Monitor
21 December 1999
[for personal use only]
Russian voters hand mandate to Kremlin
Results of Sunday's election lay the foundation for a Putin presidential bid. 
By Fred Weir, Special to The Christian Science Monitor

"We woke up in a new country," the tycoon Boris Berezovsky declared 
yesterday, after reading the latest results of Russia's third post-Soviet 
parliamentary election. 

Mr. Berezovsky, a longtime Kremlin insider on his way to winning his own Duma 
seat, had reason to exult. The pro-Kremlin Unity party - which didn't exist 
three months ago - garnered one-quarter of the votes counted, running a close 
second to the Communists. The Union of Right Wing Forces (SPS), a Unity ally, 
took about 9 percent. "The new Duma will be more controllable, less 
oppositionist, than the previous one," says Nikolai Petrov, with the Carnegie 
Endowment in Moscow. "This really alters the political balance of forces in 
this country." 

But analysts caution that if the Duma vote demonstrates anything, it is that 
Russia's political sands can shift very suddenly. 

The war in Chechnya, influential in this ballot, could be a critical factor 
in the presidential election next June. Sunday's vote shows the country 
almost evenly divided between hard-core opposition to the Kremlin and 
supporters of President Boris Yeltsin's chosen successor, Prime Minister 
Vladimir Putin. The Prime Minister wasn't on the ballot Sunday but gave 
public blessings to Unity, a party created to give Mr. Putin a parliamentary 
base. He has been riding high in opinion polls, thanks to the largely 
successful military campaign to reassert control over the breakaway Caucasus 
republic of Chechnya. 

Sunday's result launches Putin's presidential campaign nicely. 

But another 25 percent of voters backed Russia's unsinkable Communist Party, 
giving the party its best performance ever in a parliamentary election. 

"The Kremlin created Unity to defeat the Communists, but that hasn't worked," 
says Vilen Ivanov, an analyst with the independent Institute of Social and 
Political Studies in Moscow. "The Communists are stronger than ever." 

Another surprise, which may deeply impact the coming presidential contest, 
was the relatively dismal performance of Fatherland-All Russia (OVR), the 
vehicle for Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, former Prime Minister Yevgeny 
Primakov, and several powerful regional leaders. The bloc took just 11 
percent of the popular vote, though many forecasts had given it almost twice 

Last Friday Mr. Primakov officially launched his own presidential campaign, 
though he may now be wondering if his fortunes can be turned around. Just 
four months ago he was rated Russia's most popular politician. He has since 
been overtaken by the phenomenal success of Putin, whose public approval 
level topped 75 percent this month, a post-Soviet high. 

Mr. Luzhkov was handily reelected as Mayor of Moscow in concurrent voting, 
with more than 70 percent backing. But he expressed bitterness about OVR's 
weak showing in the nationwide Duma contest. He blamed the Kremlin's 
near-monopoly of Russian television - which was fully deployed in support of 
Unity - and the savage mudslinging that characterized the three-month 

"By their unprecedentedly dirty methods the authorities again got the results 
they wanted," Luzhkov said. 

"I have been studying Russian election campaigns for 10 years, and I find 
this Duma campaign to have been the worst from the point of view of obvious 
violations of the rules and abuses by state authority," says Michael McFaul, 
a Russia specialist with Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. 

For Berezovsky, a businessman close to the Yeltsin family, winning a seat in 
Russia's powerful lower house also conveys parliamentary immunity. Less than 
a year ago he was facing an arrest warrant on charges of embezzlement and 
money-laundering issued by the government of then-Prime Minister Primakov. 

Half the Duma's 450 seats are determined by proportional representation 
through nationwide voting on party lists. A party must win at least 5 percent 
to be gain entry to the Duma. 

Only six groups surmounted that 5 percent barrier Sunday. They included one 
major surprise: The liberal SPS, led by former prime ministers Yegor Gaidar 
and Sergei Kiriyenko, was widely expected to be wiped out by a Russian 
electorate furious over a decade of painful and futile market reforms. But 
the bloc finished with almost 9 percent of the popular vote, giving it a 
solid place in the new Duma. The ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky won 
around 6 percent, as did the social-democratic Yabloko party of Grigory 

"This Duma will be less complex than before, with fewer parties," says Andrei 
Zubov, an expert with the Carnegie Endowment in Moscow. 

"Everything depends on how the parties choose up alliances. But on the whole, 
it looks like a victory for the Kremlin." 

The other half of Duma seats are chosen by single-mandate local constituency 
races. It will take some time before the outcomes of all those races become 
known and are factored into the overall political balance. 

But analysts say the Communists, who enjoy strong grass-roots organization 
across Russia's 11 time zones, are likely to pick up more constituency seats 
than anyone else. 

"These elections were just the warm up for the presidential contest that's 
coming," says Mr. Zubov. 

"Putin looks very strong as a result. But it's just the first round. Things 
change very fast in this country." 


Financial Times (UK)
21 December 1999
RUSSIA: Putin's day 

There is both good and bad news in the Russian parliamentary election 
results. The good news is that the new Duma is likely to be younger, and 
somewhat more sympathetic towards economic liberalism, than the last one. The 
Communists may end up as the largest group, but they are still likely to be 
in a minority in the parliament. The bad news is that political liberalism 
has been sacrificed in the process.

The big victor from the poll was undoubtedly Vladimir Putin, the prime 
minister, whose ruthless prosecution of the war in Chechnya has won him a 
dramatic rise in popularity. The bloc he invented, known as Unity, has 
emerged with almost as many votes as the Communists, despite having no policy 
platform, and no regional organisation. It is simply the Kremlin's party.

The economic liberalism should come from the Union of Right Forces, 
containing many of the young economic reformers of recent years, like Anatoly 
Chubais and Sergei Kiriyenko. They also benefited from Mr Putin's tacit 
endorsement, winning nearly 9 per cent of the vote, and are likely to line up 
with Unity.

Quite where the majority lies in the new Duma will depend on the large bloc 
of independent members directly elected from the provinces. The chances are 
that most will side with the Kremlin, because President Boris Yeltsin and his 
government control the purse-strings. So for the first time the government 
may have a Duma with which it can do business. That is one reason the Russian 
markets responded so positively yesterday.

On the other hand, the Kremlin's triumph was not really a victory for 
liberalism. The voters were not voting for economic reform. They were voting 
for Mr Putin and the war in Chechnya. Moreover, the victory was achieved with 
some blatantly undemocratic methods. In particular, the media was strongly 
opposed to the Fatherland-All Russia alliance, headed by Yevgeny Primakov, 
the former prime minister, who is Mr Putin's main rival to succeed Mr Yeltsin.

The only real representatives of political liberalism, the Yabloko party 
headed by Grigory Yavlinsky, saw their vote slump to 6 per cent, not least 
because he had argued for a political solution in Chechnya. This was a 
wartime election, which saw the electorate rally to the national banner. Mr 
Putin hopes to pull off a similar trick to win the presidency next year.


December 20, 1999
Communists Face Loss of Power in Russia's Elections
By Paul Starobin in Moscow
The success of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's Unity Party puts him on track 
to replace Yeltsin, but the pro-business, pro-West pol still faces several 
obstacles, including Chechnya -- and Yeltsin himself -- in a presidential bid

After yesterday's State Duma elections, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin 
towers over Russia's political terrain. He has an opportunity to set a 
post-election agenda for a new, more Kremlin-friendly parliament -- and he 
has established himself as the front-runner to succeed lame duck Boris 
Yeltsin in the presidential election set for June, 2000. "Without any doubt, 
Putin is the favorite in the presidential race," says Igor Mintusov, a 
political consultant in Moscow.

The election's big losers: Moscow Mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov and former Prime 
Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov, whose new Fatherland-All Russia Party did much 
worse than expected.

With slightly more than 80% of the votes counted, the Putin-backed Unity 
Party, created by the Kremlin a few months ago to counter the 
Luzhkov-Primakov coalition, is running alongside the Communist Party in the 
popular Duma vote. Unity and the Communists are each garnering nearly 25% of 
the vote. Fatherland-All Russia is collecting only 12%.

Given the surprisingly good showing from the Unity-aligned Union of Right 
Forces (with 9% of the vote), the the balance of power in the Duma can be 
expected to shift from the Communists and their allies toward a Unity-led 
pro-government coalition.

"ECONOMIC LIBERAL." This should ease passage of Kremlin-supported initiatives 
that the Communists have thwarted. Although Putin has defined his program 
only in general terms, he is a supporter of a market economy backed by strong 
state intervention to promote and develop Russian industry. Western investors 
say they can work with him. "He is an economic liberal who has spent an 
enormous amount of time with Western investors listening to their concerns," 
says investment banker Charles Ryan, chairman of United Financial Group in 

However, Unity's robust performance reflects not so much a renewed public 
appetite for Western-style capitalism in Russia, but widespread approval of 
Putin's aggressive military campaign to subdue the rebel province of 
Chechnya. One sign that the election was about more than economic reform is 
that Yabloko, the party that has stood most clearly and consistently in favor 
of a pro-market policy over the last three Duma elections, did poorly 
yesterday. Preliminary results show it collecting 6% of the popular vote, 
down from 7% in 1995.

Many voters view Putin as a can-do leader who has asserted Russia's national 
interests at a time when the country has suffered from economic malaise and a 
loss of its Soviet-era clout in the global political arena. He's a 
media-savvy figure who has cultivated his image as a patriotic strongman. 
Three days before the election, Russian television displayed a white-robed 
Putin pinning his opponent to the mat in an exhibition of judo, in which he 
holds a black belt. Potential opposition to the war in Chechnya has been 
muted by the Kremlin's tight control of casualty figures and other 
information that could weaken support for the cause.

Putin's first test will be patching together a parliamentary coalition 
favorable to his aims. He will draw some support from the more than 100 
independents expected to fill the new Duma, which convenes on Jan. 19. But 
declared pro-Kremlin blocs range from right-wing nationalists to 
Western-oriented free-marketeers who agree on little except opposition to the 
Communists. Having shown that he has the influence to attract votes, Putin 
now must display a talent for pragmatic governance.

There remain several possible obstacles to Putin's ascension to the 
presidency. One potential hurdle is the often capricious Yeltsin himself -- 
who in the past has become jealous of successful Prime Ministers and ousted 
them from office.

Another possible stumbling block is Chechnya. Although Russia's brutish
assault on the province has damaged its image in the eyes of the U.S. and 
world opinion, Putin's persistence in the campaign in the face of such 
criticism has boosted his standing among many ordinary Russians, who like the 
idea of a leader who doesn't kowtow to the West. But the Chechens are 
fighters of proven resolve, capable of delivering a surprise blow to greener 
Russian forces. A military setback could puncture Putin's popularity at home.

WESTERN PUPPET? The Communists, moreover, can be expected to paint Putin as a 
puppet of greedy Russian and Western financiers. Putin is vulnerable to 
caricature because he is far from well-defined in the public's mind. Some 
voters see him as a shadowy figure -- a front man for the so-called "family" 
of Kremlin-connected power brokers, whose ranks include business titan Boris 

Still, no other powerhouse candidates have emerged. Communist Party Chairman 
Gennady Zyuganov is expected to run for President, but he was beaten by 
Yeltsin in the 1996 presidential race and nothing in yesterday's contest 
suggests that Russian voters aspire to be ruled by the Communists. Luzhkov, 
another possible candidate, remains highly popular in Moscow, whose citizens 
yesterday re-elected him as mayor with more than 70% of the vote, but the 
Duma election suggests his appeal outside the capital is limited. Primakov 
climbed in popularity during his nine-month tenure as Prime Minister, which 
ended in May, but at 70 years of age, he is a figure from a past generation.

Putin, who's only 47, represents a newer cadre of leaders. And, at least for 
now, he's the man to watch.

The Independent (UK)
21 December 1999
[for personal use only]
Old Soviet faces make way for fortysomethings 
By Helen Womack 

The younger generation of Russians is coming into its own. Sunday's 
parliamentary election gave a huge boost to Boris Yeltsin's chosen successor, 
the scourge of Chechnya, Vladimir Putin. At the same time it introduced the 
world to the young politicians likely to work with Mr Putin, the Prime 
Minister, in the 21st century. 

Preliminary results suggested yesterday that the Communists would remain the 
biggest single party in the 450-seat State Duma. But the combined strength of 
pro-Putin parties would be greater and, for the first time since Russia 
launched its market reforms, the government could rely on the backing of the 
lower house. 

Mr Yeltsin, who has vowed to leave the Kremlin on time in June, dreamt of 
such support throughout his presidency, which he spoilt because of his 
character flaws but which was also hostage to the obstructive Communists. Now 
he is a lame- duck President and Mr Putin, if he does win the Kremlin next 
year, will benefit from the renewal of the Duma. 

The election was in effect a referendum on the war Mr Putin has pursued in 
Chechnya and the result shows Russia is in patriotic mood. The way voters 
could express their approval for Mr Putin, a former KGB agent, was to opt for 
the new Unity or Bear Party, led by the Emergencies Minister, Sergei Shoigu, 
a friend of the Prime Minister. Or they could vote for the Union of Right 
Forces (URF), led by the former prime minister Sergei Kiriyenko, who early in 
the campaign made clear he would back Mr Putin for president. 

The success of the Bear, which did not exist three months ago, attested to 
the power of the media, especially the first and second television channels, 
which unashamedly favoured the Kremlin. Likewise, Mr Kiriyenko, whose chances 
looked slim, as he was remembered for bringing down the economy in August 
1998, could thank the media, which began to promote him after he declared his 
loyalty to Mr Putin. 

So powerful was the propaganda that poor Russians, who had suffered from the 
bungling and corruption of the Yeltsin years, turned to the parties of the 
very Kremlin that had crushed them. "In Russia we like to vote for those who 
beat us," was the cryptic comment of a man leaving a Moscow polling station 
where, he seemed to be saying, he had voted for a pro-Putin party. 

The assessment of Grigory Yavlinksy, leader of the liberal Yabloko party, 
which scraped into the Duma, was that Russia was still essentially Soviet, 
because its inexperienced voters could be manipulated and pushed. The tricks 
from the Kremlin were certainly dirty and another former prime minister, 
Yevgeny Primakov, and the Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, blamed them for the 
disappointing showing of their non-Communist opposition bloc, Fatherland-All 

Yet not all voters could have been as meek as lambs. Perhaps they found Mr 
Yavlinsky too idealistic, always criticising but never prepared to get his 
hands dirty by taking part in government. Perhaps they thought Mr Primakov, 
70, and Mr Luzhkov, 63, were not sufficiently different from the Communists 
and too old. 

It is hard to under-estimate the shame Russians feel when they see Mr Yeltsin 
lumbering across the world stage, reminding them of Leonid Brezhnev. The 
younger generation yearns for leaders who do not have one foot in the grave 
but, interestingly, so do many older Russians. Take, for example, Galina 
Alexeyevna, a pensioner. She gained nothing from the Yeltsin reforms, as she 
lives on bread and cannot even afford a copy of the newspaper Izvestia , for 
which her late husband worked for 45 years. Yet she said on Sunday that she 
had voted Bear because, at 47, Mr Putin had the advantage of being "not 

Equally, however else you describe them, you cannot accuse of senility the 
young politicians who will share power with Mr Putin if he inherits the 
Kremlin. Mr Shoigu, 44, who might become his Prime Minister, is popular with 
citizens because they have seen how, as Emergencies Minister, he has sent 
teams to rescue people from the many disasters Russia manages to produce. He 
has also enhanced its international prestige by contributing to rescue 
efforts abroad, for example in earthquake-racked Turkey. 

Mr Kiriyenko, 37, nicknamed "Kinder Surprise" after the German chocolate eggs 
that are popular with Russian children, may take a leading role running the 
economy for Mr Putin. That might not be as bad as it sounds. 

For, while Mr Kiriyenko did announce the rouble devaluation and debt default 
last year, he could hardly take the entire blame, as he had only been in 
office a few months and had inherited a mess. 

Many young Russians were euphoric yesterday at the advent of politicians cool 
enough to use the Internet. But warning voices were also raised. The analyst 
Lilia Shevtsova said she was disturbed by the rise of leaders about whom 
Russia and the world knew far too little. Mr Putin's only policy so far had 
been to bomb and shell Chechnya. When things began to go wrong for federal 
forces in the Caucasus, as she predicted they would, to what would Mr Putin 
turn next to maintain his popularity? 

"Will he find other internal enemies? Or will he whip up the anti-Western 
mood?" she asked. For Ms Shevtsova, at least, there was something potentially 
frightening about the fresh blood now transfused into Russian politics. 


Academic Sees Russia Rivaling Top Industrial Nations 

Rossiyskaya Gazeta
17 December 1999
[translation for personal use only]
Andrey Domnich record of contribution to "Continuing a Theme" debate 
by Nikolay Petrakov, Russian Academy of Sciences academician and director 
of the Institute of Market Problems: "Capital Has Nowhere To Run To"; 
first paragraph is introduction 

More and more distinguished economists and 
politicians are becoming involved in the debate about why the powers that 
be in the West find it profitable to cause a commotion over the 
"criminalization" of Russian capital and its "flight" abroad. Nikolay 
Petrakov, Russian Academy of Sciences academician and director of the 
Institute of Market Problems, has the floor today. He effectively 
suggests to the reader that the West is simply afraid of strong 
competition in the shape of the most respectable Russian entrepreneurs. 

The years of unbridled privatization saw not just the redistribution of 
capital in Russia itself, but also the unprecedented concentration of it. 
A great deal has been written and said about this capital's going abroad. 
Although there has been much less discussion about another more important 
aspect. It is that the Western economy certainly does not want this 
Russian capital (and various estimates put it at $200 billion at least) 
because it is already overheated by its own accumulation of capital. So 
what you find behind the emotional reaction to the well-known banking 
scandals concerning the laundering of dirty Russian money is prosaic 
economic interest. 

The main question is not whether Russian money "has been laundered or 
has not been laundered -- the West simply does not want it. OK, have your 
villas and yachts, but don't poke your nose into big business. In this 
connection it is easy to foresee that Russian capital is doomed to return 
to Russia in the form of investments. It is clear that this flow will be 
ten times stronger than all Western credits. 

Those people in the West who have always identified the process of 
Russia's "decommunization" with the loss of its geopolitical importance 
and even the total breakup of the state sense most the real possibility 
of Russia's rapid economic revival. Brzezinski is rightly regarded as the 
chief ideologist behind this idea. His views are shared in a veiled form 
by various influential and practicing politicians. I believe they are 
building an entire system of measures to block Russia's escape from the 
economic crisis. 

You have the constant efforts to preserve the managerial inferiority 
complex in the country's leading nucleus. You have as a permanent feature 
the absolute authority of Western advisers, whose advice is intentionally 
nonstrategic. As a result two birds are killed with one stone: On the one 
hand, the basic incompetence of Russian specialists is implicit, as it 
were, and, on the other hand, avoidance of responsibility for the overall 
results of economic development is assured. 

Moreover, Russia is facing vigorous, organized resistance in those segments 
of the world market where it has or may have good chances of success. You 
find accusations of dumping and the wrecking of contracts for the 
construction of nuclear power stations and for supplies of nuclear fuel. 
The acquisition of blocking shareholdings by foreign investors and 
subsequent refusal to provide promised investments fall into this category. 
Add to that the setting up of a double "cordon sanitaire" around Russia 
(East European and Baltic-Black Sea). There are political as well as 
economic objectives here. For instance, the plan is to gradually raise 
the customs barriers to our goods and tariffs for the supply of oil and 
gas and for carriage of goods on railroads. 

But Russia itself is entirely capable of making a swift escape from the 
crisis, rebuilding the lost production potential, and taking its place 
alongside the top-rank industrial countries. In fact, it remains a 
country with unique natural resources. And this uniqueness resides not so 
much in their abundance as in their variety. World copper, zinc, and tin 
prices have fallen, but oil prices have risen -- and we can now dispense 
with the humiliating IMF tranches. 

So, given a sensible economic policy, Russia can cut a dignified figure 
in the most diverse world market conditions. Consequently, if Russia 
demonstrates that it is economically effective to deal with it, then it 
can fear no political blockades. 



MOSCOW. Dec 20 (Interfax) - Russians differ a lot in their
assessment of Joseph Stalin's historic role.
Nearly one third, 32% of Russians consider Stalin a cruel tyrant
responsible for millions of deaths and the same number hail his
leadership as enhancing the USSR's victory in World War II, according to
an opinion poll of 1,600 Russians conducted by the Public Opinion Fund
ahead of Stalin's 120th anniversary since his birth.
Respondents were offered 3 options. The option "We do not know the
whole truth about Stalin and his actions," was upheld by 30% of
Some 21% of the respondents said that "only a cruel ruler could
have maintained order in the conditions of acute class struggle,
external threat and overall turmoil which raged 50 to 70 years ago."
One fifth, 20% of those polled consider "Stalin a wise leader who
promoted the USSR's power and its flourishing."
Stalin's policies resulted in Russia's poor preparation for World
War II, according to 18% of the respondents.
Another 18% agree that "our people cannot manage without a leader
of Stalin's type and he will emerge and restore order sooner or later."
Stalin misinterpreted Lenin's ideas and established a state, which
deviated from genuine socialism, according to 8% of Russians.
However, 6% are sure that Stalin continued Lenin's course.
Five percent of respondents maintain that "Stalin is condemned by
those people who do not care about Russians and our country."
Eight percent were in doubt.
Some 22% of Russians assess Stalin's rule as "only beneficial or
rather more good than bad."
At least 44% see it as "equally good and bad."
One fourth, 25% said that "it was harmful rather than beneficial.
Nine percent remained undecided.


OSCE Report
International Election
Observation Mission
Russian Federation
Election of Deputies to the State Duma (parliamentary)
19 December 1999 

MOSCOW, 20 December 1999 The International Election Observation Mission for 
the 19 December 1999 election of Deputies to the State Duma (Parliament) of 
the Russian Federation issues this statement of preliminary findings and 
conclusions. The observation mission is a joint effort of the Organization 
for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office of Democratic 
Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Council 
of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, and the European Parliament.

Ms. Helle Degn, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for the 
State Duma election and President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, leads 
the OSCE Election Observation Mission. Ambassador Edouard Brunner leads the 
OSCE/ODIHR long-term Election Observation Mission. Mr. Ernst Muehlemann leads 
the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly delegation. Ms. Constanze Krehl 
leads the European Parliament ad hoc delegation for observation of the State 
Duma elections.

The preliminary statement is issued before the final certification of the 
election results and before a complete analysis of the International Election 
Observation Mission?s findings. The OSCE/ODIHR will issue a comprehensive 
report on the State Duma election within approximately a month after 
publication of the final results. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will report 
to its Standing Committee in mid-January. The Council of Europe delegation 
will report to the Parliamentary Assembly in January. The European Parliament 
will also prepare a report. Each of the institutions taking part in the 
International Election Observation Mission will include recommendations in 
their reports.

The International Election Observation Mission wishes to express appreciation 
to the Presidential Administration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the 
State Duma, and the Central Election Commission of the Rusian Federation for 
their assistance and co-operation during the course of the observation.

Preliminary Conclusions

The 19 December 1999 election of Deputies to the State Duma marked 
significant progress for the consolidation of democracy in the Russian 
Federation. This election, the third since the end of single party rule, has 
taken place under an amended election law that has improved with each poll. 
The law is consistent with internationally recognized democratic principles. 
The law provides the framework for parties and blocs to enter the political 
arena on an equal basis, and ensures a level playing field for all 
candidates. Indeed, this election was competitive and pluralistic. Moreover, 
the law provides for a significantly increased level of transparency in all 
phases of the electoral process. The Central Election Commission endeavored 
to implement fully the electoral legislation.

The Chechnya conflict was not a contentious issue in this campaign, although 
it provided the political backdrop for the election and affected the outcome. 
Public support for the military action insulated the Government from 
criticism on significant domestic issues.

While the media in the Russian Federation is pluralistic and diverse, most 
important segments of the media failed to provide impartial and fair 
information about the political choices on offer to the electorate. 
Commercial media conglomerates have absorbed much of the independent media 
and have become major stockholders in the state-controlled media. The 
pre-election period was marked by a campaign in which candidates and the 
media waged negative attacks on their opponents, often crossing the line to 
slander and libel. Penalties levied against offenders have been insufficient 
to deter repeat violations. In addition, campaign expenditure often appeared 
to exceed legal limits and should be controlled more effectively.

Similar problems sometimes occur in other democracies. However, many problems 
are specific to Russia?s transition and must be addressed in particular. 
Observers noted interference by executive authorities in the election 
process, for instance: failure to allow opposition parties and candidates to 
arrange public meetings; dismissal from employment; initiation of 
extraordinary tax inspections, administrative fines, and criminal 
investigations that were subsequently proven groundless.

Notwithstanding these deficiencies, the high voter turnout in this election 
indicates confidence in the democratic process. The large number of domestic 
observers on election day undoubtedly increased this level of confidence. On 
election day, irregularities noted by observers were mostly due to inadequate 
polling facilities. Otherwise, election commissions managed the proceedings 
well. In the end, the vigorous competition during this election contributed 
to a generally positive assessment by international observers, despite the 
shortcomings detailed in the preliminary statement. These shortcomings must 
be addressed in future reforms.

Preliminary Findings

Constitutional and Legislative Framework

The constitutional and legislative framework for the 19 December 1999 State 
Duma election is consistent with internationally recognized democratic 
principles, including those formulated in the OSCE Copenhagen Document of 
1990. The framework provides a sound basis for the conduct of orderly, free, 
fair, transparent, pluralistic and accountable elections. This State Duma 
election, the third since the end of a single party rule in the Russian 
Federation, takes place under an amended election law that has improved with 
each poll.

In a difficult and complex political environment, the election law provides 
the framework for parties and blocs to enter the political arena on an equal 
basis, and ensures a level playing field for all candidates with campaign 
finance, financial disclosure and media access provisions that are generally 
consistent with international standards. Moreover, recent amendments to the 
law significantly increase the level of transparency in all phases of the 
electoral process, particularly with regard to the rights of domestic 

However, notwithstanding the Central Election Commission?s efforts to 
implement fully the provisions of the election law, concerns remain. For 
infractions of election finance provisions, the law provides only for the 
rejection or annulment of registration, or removal of the mandate. While 
these provisions were designed to exclude potential candidates with links to 
criminal activities, violations of financial reporting requirements, 
regardless of the gravity, resulted in the rejection of over 100 candidates 
at the Federation level. A more significant concern remains the unequal 
enforcement of the rule of law, extending beyond the electoral framework.

Electoral Campaign

The 1999 elections to the State Duma offered voters an opportunity to choose 
from a broad spectrum of parties, blocs and candidates, many of whom were 
strong contenders. Ultimately, 26 parties and blocs were eligible to 
participate in the federal list ballot – as opposed to 43 during the
1995 election, and three to 24 candidates appeared on the ballots for the 
single mandate constituency contests. With the exception of the Communist 
Party and Yabloko, other political parties and blocs competing in these 
elections were formed around prominent individuals rather than 
distinguishable political platforms.

The Chechnya conflict undoubtedly provided the political backdrop for the 
election and significantly affected the outcome. The war in itself was not a 
contentious issue between the parties, blocs, and candidates during the 
electoral campaign. Public support for the military action throughout the 
campaign period, in effect, insulated the Government from criticism on 
significant domestic issues, which had previously been at the forefront of 
the political debate.

Media and the Pre-Election Campaign

The Central Election Commission attempted to neutralize political bias in the 
media by interpreting the law in such a way as to restrict the mass media 
itself from campaigning in favor of or against candidates, parties or blocs. 
Interpreted strictly and enforced consistently, the Central Election 
Commission?s interpretation of the law would have precluded any journalist 
from discussing the elections in a meaningful way. In practice, the 
resolution was subject to widespread violation, and when election commissions 
referred such violations to government agencies, they failed to levy 

The media in the Russian Federation is pluralistic and diverse. In recent 
years, the emergence of independent media with private ownership has been 
significant. However, commercial media conglomerates have absorbed much of 
the independent media and have become major stockholders in the 
state-controlled media. Powerful, politically motivated and wealthy media 
owners have been key players in the electoral campaign, in particular, on the 
television channels that dominate the field as the public?s chief source of 
news and information. During the period leading up to the elections, a media 
war was waged between conglomerates siding with, or controlled by the 
Presidential Administration, and its chief rival, the Fatherland-All Russia 
bloc. Notably, attacks and counter-attacks were fueled by journalists and 
commentators, rather than by representatives of the political blocs.

The pre-election period has been marked by campaigning in which candidates, 
parties, and the media have waged negative attacks on their opponents, often 
crossing the line to slander and libel. A lack of ethical discipline in this 
regard, combined with the civil code?s failure to provide sufficient 
deterrence, left the most offensive perpetrators free to continue unfettered. 
In spite of attempts by the Central Election Commission to seek prosecution 
against ORT, the State-controlled channel, for example, for the often 
slanderous attacks against leaders of the Fatherland-All Russia bloc, the 
Ministry of Press, Broadcasting and Mass Communications was soft in its 
findings. A successful lawsuit filed by a candidate resulted in the 
imposition of a relatively small fine, and ORT continued its attacks in the 
weeks that followed.

In certain regions, local media were restrained by the same regional 
executive authorities also responsible for media subsidies and support. 
Electronic media and regional editions of national newspapers could not 
freely express views critical of local power structures. In Primorski Krai, 
the Republics of Kalmikiya, Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, some broadcasters 
and publishers lost their leases on premises controlled by local 
administrations, and some journalists lost their jobs.

Research by the European Institute for the Media (EIM), funded by the 
European Commission, concluded that most important segments of the Russian 
media failed "to provide impartial and fair information about the political 
choices on offer to the electorate". Bias was noted in news and analytical 
programs. The EIM analysis shows that "no national commercial broadcaster 
sought to provide impartial coverage of the elections." The print media was 
equally partisan, but due to the great number of newspapers, a broader 
pluralism of opinion was available.

Interference by Executive Authorities

In addition to abuses noted in the treatment of regional media, executive 
authorities also interfered improperly in other areas of the election 
process. Reported incidents of interference include: failure to allow 
opposition parties and candidates to arrange public meetings; dismissal from 
employment; initiation of extraordinary tax inspections, administrative 
fines, and criminal investigations that were subsequently proven groundless. 
Although there is a universal recognition that incumbency has certain 
advantages, there is evidence to suggest that some officials combined 
political and official functions in violation of the law. The most serious 
incidents were associated with specific regions, especially where regional 
governors were up for election. Moreover, with the further devolution of 
power to the regions, governors were more interested in ensuring the election 
of local and trusted representatives to the State Duma. At times, the actions 
of these governors bordered on serious abuse of power. Clearly, any such 
abuses of power have no place in a democratic election process and should be 
investigated by the appropriate authorities.

Election Day Findings

On election day, the high voter turnout indicates confidence in the 
democratic process. Domestic observers, partisan and non-partisan, present in 
an overwhelming percentage of polling stations undoubtedly contributed to 
this level of confidence. On election day, irregularities noted by observers 
were mostly due to inadequate polling facilities, including overcrowding and 
lack of privacy. Otherwise, election commissions managed the proceedings in 
accordance with the law. In addition, reports from international observers 
indicate that the counting and aggregation of the results were conducted in a 
transparent manner and in accordance with the law. 

At this stage, reports received from international observers confirm that the 
19 December election day marks a noticeable improvement compared with 
previous elections.

The preliminary statement is based on findings of the OSCE/ODIHR Election 
Observation Mission established on 5 November 1999 in Moscow and 11 regions 
throughout the Russian Federation. Their findings include the pre-election 
preparations, the election campaign, and the media. The statement is also 
based on the election-day findings of the International Election Observation 
Mission?s more than 400 short-term observers, including more than 130 
parliamentarians from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of Europe 
Parliamentary Assembly, and the European Parliament, who visited some 4,000 
polling stations across the country.

For further information, please contact

Mr. David Lowe of the European Parliament ad hoc Delegation for the 
Observation of the State Duma Elections, in Moscow (+7.095.967.5915 in 
Brussels (; 
Mr. Egbert Ausems of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, in 
Strasbourg (+; 
Mr. Jan Jooren, Press Counselor of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, in Moscow 
(+7.095.929.8520) or mobile (; 
Ms. Helene Lloyd, Media Officer of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation 
Mission, in Moscow (+7.095.937.8253); or Mr. Rainer Hermann, ODIHR Election 
Advisor, in Warsaw (+48.22.520.0600).

OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission
6th Floor Smolensky Passage
Smolensky Square 3
Moscow 121099
Russian Federation 
Tel:+7 095 937 8253Fax:+ 7 095 937 8200 E-mail:

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