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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
6. The Independent (UK): Helen Womack, Old Soviet faces make way for
7. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Academic Sees Russia Rivaling Top Industrial
8. Interfax: RUSSIANS DIFFER IN ASSESSING STALIN'S ROLE.
9. OSCE report on Russian election.]
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?
December 21, 1999
NEWS ANALYSIS: Big Winner Unity Still An Enigma
By Andrei Zolotov Jr.
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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.
BUSINESS WEEK ONLINE
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
"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
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
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
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
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.
RUSSIANS DIFFER IN ASSESSING STALIN'S ROLE
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 â€“ 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
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
Mr. Egbert Ausems of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, in
Mr. Jan Jooren, Press Counselor of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, in Moscow
(+7.095.929.8520) or mobile (18.104.22.168.80);
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
Tel:+7 095 937 8253Fax:+ 7 095 937 8200 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org