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Johnson's Russia List
28 December 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Boris wishes Bill warm new year despite chilly '99.
2. Moscow Times: Sarah Karush, Fatherland Speaks Out Against Chechen War.
3. Interfax: UNION OF RIGHT FORCES TO BACK PUTIN'S BID FOR PRESIDENCY -
4. Russia TV: RUSSIAN POLITICIAN BORIS NEMTSOV COMMENTS ON DUMA ELECTION
5. Moscow Times EDITORIAL: A Reformer Speaks Out On the War.
6. Interfax: COMMUNISTS WON'T RAISE CONFIDENCE IN GOVT ISSUE IN
7. Mikhail Kazachkov: Re: jonas bernstein comments/3709.
8. BBC: A Chechen view of Russia's war by Dr Aslambek Kadiev.
9. Patrick Jones: Unsolicited Advice for V. Putin
10. RFE/RL: Sophie Lambroschini, Yeltsin Enters Final Year in Power.
11. AP: Young Russian Soldiers Reconsider.
12. Voice of America: Peter Heinlein, Yearender on Chechnya.
13. Russia TV: RUSSIA' PUTIN LEADS IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE BY LARGE MAJORITY
14. Segodnya: Avtandil Tsuladze, POSSIBLE LINE-UP OF POLITICAL FORCES IN
AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.]
Boris wishes Bill warm new year despite chilly '99
December 27, 1999
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin sent warm holiday wishes
to U.S. President Bill Clinton Monday, but acknowledged that 1999 was a
chilly year for ties between the two countries.
``1999 was not an easy year for Russian-American relations, and it required
no small effort to support and strengthen the positive start to cooperation
between Russia and the United States,'' Yeltsin's annual Christmas and New
Year card to the White House said.
This year Russia's relations with the United States reached their lowest
point since the end of the Cold War.
Wars in Kosovo and Chechnya were the most public spats, but the two sides
have also railed at each other over arms control, Iraq and a handful of
high-profile spy cases.
Earlier this month Yeltsin, on a visit to China, accused Clinton of
forgetting ``for half a minute'' that Russia had nuclear arms.
But in their two public meetings, in Cologne and Istanbul, Yeltsin and
Clinton did manage to maintain some of the public bear-hugging and personal
bonhomie that characterized East-West relations in the early and mid-1990s.
Yeltsin's greeting, released by the Kremlin Monday, said the two meetings
proved ``that at stressful times in our relations and the international
situation, we have no trouble jointly finding mutually beneficial solutions
for the most complicated problems.''
Yeltsin also sent holiday greetings to Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister
Tony Blair of Britain, Emperor Akihito of Japan, German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder, President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and Prime Minister Massima D'Alema
of Italy, French President Jacques Chirac and Canadian Prime Minister Jean
Two former leaders who had close ties with Yeltsin during their terms --
former U.S. President George Bush and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl --
were also on the Russian president's Christmas card list this year, the
December 28, 1999
Fatherland Speaks Out Against Chechen War
By Sarah Karush
Opposition to the war in Chechnya gained political momentum this weekend,
when the centrist Fatherland-All Russia coalition joined the liberal Yabloko
party in criticizing the Russian military's actions in the breakaway
In a discussion on NTV's current affairs program Itogi, newly elected
Fatherland-All Russia deputy Georgy Boos said that what began as an
"anti-terrorist operation" had escalated into a full-scale war, which the
bloc could not support.
Throughout the election campaign, Fatherland-All Russia leader and Moscow
Mayor Yury Luzhkov wavered in his position on Chechnya. The bloc as a whole
was reluctant to take a unified stance and most of the members, including
bloc leader Yevgeny Primakov, did their best to steer clear of the subject.
It seemed as though Luzhkov & Co. were not ready to question a popular war
and the popular prime minister waging it.
But on Sunday's "Itogi," Boos, who headed the Fatherland-All Russia's
campaign headquarters, laid out the party's criticism.
"We supported the government as long as we were dealing with an
anti-terrorist operation, and not a large-scale ... war, which was not
prepared for, on a territory with a large civilian population. And right now
that is what is happening," Boos said.
In the hodgepodge coalition of Fatherland-All Russia, Boos is allied with
Luzhkov, who is hardly known to be a champion of rights, let alone the rights
of Chechens. When two Moscow apartment buildings were bombed in September,
Luzhkov further tightened his restrictive registration system for nonresident
"guests of the capital" and Chechens in Moscow said they were harassed by the
police and denied registration.
But in the last weeks of the election campaign, Luzhkov was quoted in the
Russian press criticizing the high number of civilian casualties in much the
same tone as Boos used Sunday, though he later retreated slightly.
Boos extended his criticism to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whose
popularity left him virtually untouchable during the often harsh campaign.
"At this point his actions are only the actions of a strong hand bringing
order to Chechnya. There are no economic actions, no victories on the
international arena," Boos said. "Here we see only - and I apologize -
Boos said that if the government did not rethink its strategy in Chechnya,
"we may have to review our support of the government in this area."
It is not clear to what extent Fatherland-All Russia will remain a unified
force in the State Duma.
The bloc essentially split last week, when its leaders decided to create one
eponymous faction and two smaller groups. One of them, Russia's Regions, will
unite regional forces supported by powerful governors who tend to be more
willing to cooperate with the Kremlin than Luzhkov. The other gro up will
consist of Agrarians who broke from the Communists to join Fatherland-All
While most commentators are portraying the bloc's plans to form separate
groups as a schism, the bloc's leaders maintain they are still allies and
will form a joint council to coordinate the work of all three groups.
Among the other four politicians participating in Sunday's "Itogi," only
Yavlinsky was critical of the government's Chechnya policy.
Sergei Kiriyenko of the Union of Right Forces, flamboyant nationalist
Vladimir Zhirinovsky - who declared Sunday he would make a third bid for the
presidency next year - and Ivan Melnikov, deputy leader of the Communist
Party, all reiterated their support for the government's policy.
As a self-proclaimed liberal, Kiriyenko was put in a tough spot during Sunday
night's discussion, during which host Yevgeny Kiselyov asked him if his party
might become an ally of Yabloko's on the Chechnya issue.
"I don't think this is a topic for discussions about allies or enemies. This
is a tragedy for the country," he said.
UNION OF RIGHT FORCES TO BACK PUTIN'S BID FOR PRESIDENCY - KIRIYENKO
MOSCOW. Dec 27 (Interfax) - Union of Right Forces leader and former
Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko has reaffirmed his support for Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin's bid for the Russian presidency in 2000.
Putin is "the most suitable" candidate for president, Kiriyenko
told NTV television.
However, Russians should not pin their hopes for the future on one
individual, Kiriyenko said. This situation "should change," he said.
A leader of the Fatherland-All Russia movement, Georgy Boos, links
Putin's rising popularity ratings to "a longing for the past, a longing
for a strong hand."
Putin has so far demonstrated his abilities only in Chechnya. "I do
not know how Putin would score when a full-scale war begins," Boos said.
"We have not seen Putin take steps in the economy or score
victories in the international arena. It is premature to speak about a
bright future," he said.
However, leader of the Fatherland-All Russia election alliance
Yevgeny Primakov's work as prime minister "gave hope for a future," he
said. Boos said he does not know whether Primakov will change his mind
as to running for president. Primakov is "a firm, decisive, extremely
reliable and decent person," he said.
Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has
expressed his confidence that Primakov will not run for president.
Zhirinovsky named four realistic presidential bidders: Putin, Communist
Party of Russia leader Gennady Zyuganov, Yabloko party leader Grigory
Yavlinsky, and himself.
Zyuganov will not make it to the second round of voting, and
Yavlinsky will notch up the same percentage as in 1996, Zhirinovsky
The LDPR leader did not offer precise estimates of his own chances,
adding that his "star hour" will come in 2008. The West has been trying
to destroy Russia over the past few years and a tougher person than
Putin will be needed, he said.
Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky reaffirmed that his party
will take part in the presidential elections.
Communist Party of Russia deputy leader Ivan Melnikov said that new
figures might emerge during the presidential campaign. "Not everyone who
can do it has announced" their intentions, he said.
Equal conditions must be created for all candidates and steps must
be taken to prevent any vote rigging or other election fraud, he said.
Most Communists and their supporters expect Zyuganov to represent
his party in the elections.
RUSSIAN POLITICIAN BORIS NEMTSOV COMMENTS ON DUMA ELECTION RESULTS
Source: Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1500 gmt 26 Dec 99
["Pered Zerkalom" Presenter] Hello. We present another view on the
parliamentary [State Duma] elections that have taken place and a fresh view
on the new Russian State Duma, which hasn't started work yet. On "Pered
Zerkalom" we have one of the leaders of the Union of Right Forces' bloc,
[Video shows close-up and mid-shots of the presenter and Nemtsov sitting in
the studio. Nemtsov no longer has permed curly hair. It is straight and
combed off his face]
Boris Yefimovich, there has been a great deal of talk about the fact that it
[election result] was a victory for the Union of Right Forces. Meanwhile, the
Union of Right Forces probably didn't get that many votes. It wasn't even 9
per cent, isn't that right?
What do you think - was this a victory, or what?
[Nemtsov] It was undoubtedly a victory if you remember what the analysts
predicted for us - that was 1-2 per cent - so of course this was a victory.
Why? In my view, for two reasons. You've already focused on one of them in
your programme. For the very first time in recent Russian history, Russian
liberals took patriotic positions - open, clear and tough. We supported
[Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin. We took a tough position on Yugoslavia - do
you remember that? In the defence of national interests, we undoubtedly -
[Q] - with regard to the West, in connection with Yugoslavia?
[A] Yes, yes. It was undoubtedly our priority. Then there's the second
reason, a very important one. The point is that, on the eve of 2000, our
people want to see new people in power. They don't want political news to
emanate just from the Central Clinical Hospital [referring to Yeltsin's state
[Q] Excuse me for this sharp question, but do you consider your own face to
be a new one?
[A] You know, I'll say this: In comparison with some other people, about whom
you talk such a lot in your programmes, we [Union of Right Forces] are
undoubtedly completely new - simply youthful - I'd even put it that way. In
voting for a new generation, Russia was in effect voting for the future. I
think that this second reason is no less important than the ideological
reason that we were talking about...
[Q] Generally, the main sensation in connection with your appearance in
[election to] the Duma lies in the fact that, less than one and a half years
ago, at the end of August 1998, you were simply removed, as it were, from
politics, in an amicable way.
[A] I'd even go as far as to say buried.
[Q] Well, yes, I put it more delicately. Buried, and indeed not even one and
a half years have passed, and you're already here [in the Duma]. What's the
[A] You know, it became clear that there simply wasn't an alternative to a
liberal economic policy... In short, all the ideas that we were forwarding
turned out to be the right ones... Second, we have one team, a united team...
And the last point, for the first time in many years, the country's
democratic forces came out in a united front...
I consider it a key political task for the Union of Right Forces to defend
Putin in the State Duma. I think that the Communists [Communist Party of the
Russian Federation] and to all appearances radical representatives of
Fatherland [-All Russia] will want, whatever happens, to dismiss Putin. We
will not allow this to happen...
December 28, 1999
EDITORIAL: A Reformer Speaks Out On the War
"It is impossible to resolve the problem of a legal and political settlement
in Chechnya with force. It is [also] impossible to deal with terrorists in
any other way. We will have to resolve the problem of a legal and political
settlement in Chechnya with legal and political methods. The country is
standing before a very dangerous boundary - of becoming infatuated with
solving problems through force, of going beyond the boundary of acceptable
measures for combatting terrorism. It is a very thin line. And this is the
main danger today for the country. Because we will resolve nothing today
through the use of force. This is the responsibility of the politicians
sitting here today. [However,] We cannot stop the military operation and
bring the troops home. We must find a way of gradually turning the use of a
force operation into a political-legal settlement. For this there are ways
- Sergei Kiriyenko, leader of the Union of Right Forces.
So let's get this straight. To hear Kiriyenko tell it, regarding Chechnya:
a) "Force" will solve nothing.
b) Terrorists must be dealt with, however, by "force."
c) The country is too enamoured of using "force."
d) To reiterate, we will solve nothing today through the use of "force."
e) So of course we cannot stop the military operation. (After all, as General
Vladimir Shamanov told us this weekend, it is "a sacred thing.")
f) We must find a way of turning the "force operation" into a political-legal
settlement - which, however, is impossible.
g) For all of this there are ways and proposals.
This was the scene on Sunday's "Itogi" program as Russia's shiniest new
reform penny twisted and turned - trying to keep his liberal credentials,
while simultaneously trying to evade even the slightest whiff of questioning
the war that propelled the young reformers back into relevance.
Kiriyenko's lone intellectual ally was Communist Duma Deputy Ivan Melnikov,
who said of Chechnya, "The vector of development is headed in the right
By contrast, Fatherland-All Russia's Georgy Boos, was reasonably articulate
in questioning the morals of a war that is falling so heavily and recklessly
on civilians. Vladimir Zhirinovsky was at least clear in his argument that
Vladimir Putin is a wimp and the war needs to be more vicious. And Grigory
Yavlinsky again proved himself the lone Russian liberal - Yavlinsky from the
start said he supported an anti-terrorist operation, and then, in response to
escalating civilian casualties, called for a rethink. He's right.
COMMUNISTS WON'T RAISE CONFIDENCE IN GOVT ISSUE IN DUMA
MOSCOW. Dec 27 (Interfax) - The Communist Party (KPRF) is not going
to raise the issue of confidence in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's
government in the newly-elected Duma, KPRF deputy chairman Ivan Melnikov
said on Sunday.
" Discussing this issue is harmful " while the anti-terrorist
operation is underway in Chechnya, Melnikov told the NTV channel.
KPRF is supporting the government course in Chechnya.
Former Fatherland-All Russia election headquarters leader Georgy
Boos is confident that the issue of confidence in the government is
purely theoretical and it would not be debated in the lower house.
However, the situation in Chechnya has "almost become critical,"
Boos said. It needs a serious analysis. A precise anti-terrorist
operation must be carried out in Chechnya instead of a large-scale war,
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky expressed a
full support of the government operation in Chechnya and called for
Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky said that a real war is
being waged in Chechnya rather than an anti-terrorist operation. "This
must be brought to an end. The outcome would be shameful and Russia
would not bear it for a second time," Yavlinsky said.
Date: Sat, 25 Dec 1999
From: Mikhail Kazachkov <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: jonas bernstein comments/3709
Jonas Bernstein the other day added a post scriptum to his sarcasm about
Martin Malia's OpEd which I, incidentally, found much more insightful than
the vast majority of what is being lately written about Russia in the West.
Here is his post scriptum verbatim
PS: Prof. Malia writes indignantly in his op-ed: "A commentator on the
Lehrer News Hour insinuated that the Yeltsin government had blown up Moscow
apartments last September to justify the war in Chechnya." Is there anyone
among JRL's readers and contributors who would categorically rule out this
possibility (if the term "Yeltsin government" is broadened to include
Russia's rival ruling financial-political clans)?
Yes, I am among the JRL's readers and I can rule out Mr. Bernstein's
supposition. During the 15 years I spent in the Soviet GULAG I shared my
confinement with every KGB and GRU officer sentenced -- and not executed --
for helping the West. These professionals taught me a very simple rule:
"If you are an operative and your operation is going as planned most
probably it is not your operation." Meaning, the other side is in control.
Meaning, conspiracies are very difficult to pull off. That was true even
in the times of almost complete KGB control and no domestic publicity.
Today, with a plurality of centers of power in Russia and a media lurking
for sensational stories it is utterly unimaginable a conspiracy as huge as
exploding a few apartment buildings could have been pulled off with no
leaks. And if you are ready to believe this is doable, what would have
been the problem with framing a few Chechens and presenting them to a court?
I find it an ironic proof of genuine Russian improvements (see Dr. Malia's
OpEd) that conspiracy theory mentality is now championed by Westerners
rather than by my compatriots...
30 Stone Avenue
Somerville, MA 02143-3006
tel. 617-623-3452; fax 617-639-0800
26 December, 1999
A Chechen view of Russia's war
By Dr Aslambek Kadiev
Chechnya's special representative in Europe
There are two main reasons for the two wars which Russia has launched
The first is economic: Russia wants to control the Caucasus oilfields
and pipeline routes.
The second is connected with the political situation in Russia, and
particularly inside the Kremlin.
The political purpose of the first Chechen war was to increase Boris
Yeltsin's popularity and get him re-elected president in 1996.
The main aim of this second war is to ensure that Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin, a former spy and President Yeltsin's anointed heir,
becomes president at the next elections.
The apartment bombings in Russian cities early this year were used by
Russia to justify its invasion.
Moscow blamed Chechens for these terrorist attacks.
The Chechen Government offered to co-operate in the arrest and
extradition of suspects if the Russian authorities could provide
evidence to support their claims.
But the Chechens received no response, no co-operation and no evidence.
The bombings are therefore comparable to the burning of the Reichstag in
Nazi times, or Stalin's assassination of his rival, Kirov - which he
then used as a pretext for repression and the usurpation of power.
It is still unclear who carried out the bomb attacks in Russian cities,
but all the world knows who bombs Chechen civilians in cities, towns and
villages. Even hospitals, schools and public markets are under attack.
The unprecedented ultimatum to citizens to get out of Grozny or to be
destroyed as if they were bandits, amounts to terrorism conducted by the
The international community can stop this war. There are international
mechanisms and political institutions which proved themselves effective
in resolving crises in East Timor, Bosnia and Kosovo.
>From these institutions and the international community, Russia must get
a clear message: it cannot continue the war in Chechnya because this is
a war against civilians and the Chechen people.
Russia is contravening the Geneva Convention by committing a mass
violation of human rights.
It is a war that is dangerous not only for Chechnya, but also for Russia
itself, as it could affect the way the country develops. Will Russia
remain a democratic state or will it become another nationalist or
Now there is a chance to establish peace in Chechnya and to save Russia
as a civilised country. Later on it will be much more difficult.
After the humiliating defeat of the Russian army in Chechnya in 1996, a
ceasefire was signed, which paved the way for a peace agreement signed
on 12 May 1997 by Boris Yeltsin and the Chechen President Aslan
Both sides agreed to renounce the use of force or the threat of force in
resolving disputes, and to conduct relations within the framework of
After that, the Chechen president and government have tried constantly
to establish a dialogue with the Russian president and government on
many issues, including the subject of fighting terrorism. The Russians
refused to respond.
The Chechen Government is willing to negotiate a solution to the
But if Russia will not negotiate, Chechnya will continue to fight until
the last Russian soldier leaves Chechnya.
From: "Patrick Jones" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 1999
Subject: Unsolicited Advice for V. Putin
The writer is the Managing Director of BAXTER CORPORATE HOLDINGS which
assists western equipment manufacturers to obtain financing for their
customers in Central and Eastern Europe.
I am enclosing in an attachment a few paragraphs relating to the
recent Duma election in Russia. Hopefully, you and your readers will
find it useful.
Unsolicited Advice for Vladimir Putin
The good showing that centrist and rightist parties made in the latest Duma
elections has been attributed to the popularity of Premier Putin and the
desire of the Russian voters that their country be taken seriously by the
rest of the world, especially the western world.
What does Mr. Putin do so that Russia is taken seriously by the world? Some
would argue that Russia needs to develop its military capability to show
everyone that they cannot be marginalised without unpleasant repercussions.
Hopefully, Mr. Putin knows that Russia does not possess the resources to be
a major military power now. With the exception of an ageing stockpile of
nuclear weapons it does not have the military infrastructure to project
military might around the globe. The fact that it takes 100 000 Russian
troops to defeat 5000 Chechen resistence (bandits, if you like) fighters
holding Grozny is a strong indicator that Russian military prowess is not
at its zenith.
Perhaps Mr. Putin understands that the quickest way for Russia to be taken
seriously internationally is for Russia to become an important economic
No one needs to repeat the mantra that Russia possesses all the natural and
human resources to be a first class economic power. It is obvious and
self-evident. What is not obvious and self-evident however, is that Russia
is needlessly inflicting upon itself great harm by putting off genuine
Premier Putin needs to convince his supporters that Russian patriotism is
connected to those things that make Russia strong and important. Chief
among them is legislative changes designed to make Russia a real global
economic player. Russia's voice will not be taken seriously by reminders
that they have nuclear weapons. That's old news. Its voice will be taken
seriously when Russia has something valuable that foreigners (westerners,
if you like) crave: a great market. hat's right, a market to invest in,
buy goods from and sell goods to.
Once Mr. Putin has had his "vision" on the road to his Damascus can he take
the steps necessary to inform the "naughty boys" of the old Soviet
nomenklatura who have shamelessly enriched themselves at the expense of
Russia that a new day has dawned. Surely, a President Putin will have the
leverage to convince the oligarchs that it is in everyone's best interest
to go legit and allow the economic pie to grow for all.
If Mr. Putin can work out this strategy and make it his own and
subsequently implement it then he, like of Saul of Tarsus before him, can
become a new man. And Russia will be taken very seriously by friend and foe
Russia: Yeltsin Enters Final Year in Power
By By Sophie Lambroschini
Entering the year 2000, Russia is due to see the first handing over of the
presidency since Boris Yeltsin was elected in 1991. There is little doubt
about the political necessity or the legal obligation for Yeltsin to leave
power in June. However, some have suggested that those around him might
resist his departure unless they can secure their personal safety and assets
through an acceptable successor. Increasingly, it looks as though Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin will be that person. In this year-end report, RFE/RL
Moscow correspondent Sophie Lambroschini looks at the year now passing in
Russian politics and at the year ahead.
Moscow, 27 December 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The growing conflict between Yevgeny
Primakov and the Yeltsin clan enveloped the Russian political establishment
in an air of nervousness during much of 1999.
The upcoming presidential elections mean not only Yeltsin's departure, but
also threaten the circle of figures surrounding him. It comprises what has
become known as the family -- a close circle of family members and oligarchic
financial and economic tycoons. They have built their influence on a system
of personally granted privileges shortcircuiting more transparent and
The emergence of a viable non-Kremlin backed candidate in the person of
Primakov revealed a potential threat to the Yeltsin circle. And the tensions
were laid bare in the clashes that shook the Russian political world during
the past year.
When Yevgeny Primakov became Prime Minister after the August, 1998, crisis
which shook Yeltsin's authority as never before, he was hailed as a savior
for insuring relative economic and political stability. For a short while,
Yeltsin resorted to a divided executive power. Primakov, working
independently, leaned on the leftist Duma and even pulled off the unforeseen
feat of coaxing the deputies into adopting the most austere budget yet.
The threat to Yeltsin and especially to the people around him became more and
more clear as Primakov set about establishing an independent power base by
consolidating moderate political forces and regional elites. This was a long
way from Yeltsin's usual divide and rule tactics.
Carnegie Fund analyst Nikolai Petrov has told RFE/RL that Primakov became a
threat to Yeltsin's circle because he stood a chance of building enough
support in the regions and among the middle ranking oligarchs to counter the
reigning order. The support given by Primakov to Russian prosecutor general
Yuri Skuratov, who was investigating corruption allegations against the
Russian leadership, came as a warning. Also, Primakov's working relationship
with a Duma about to bring to a final vote an impeachment procedure against
Yeltsin for the first Chechen war, among other counts, also indicated the
possible shaping of a parallel and autonomous executive power structure.
Therefore, says Petrov, once Yeltsin's circle saw an opportunity, they went
about the effort of destroying Primakov's political future.
Petrov says: "Their task was not to let power glide out of their hands. If
Primakov's [Fatherland-All Russia bloc] had won [parliamentary] elections, it
would have [meant] the beginning of an inevitable and inescapable process of
giving up power. When Primakov appeared, he became a probable person to bank
on for many of the clans inside the elite, including the regional elite. I
think Primakov was the hope for a more or less peaceful and relatively easy
transfer of power from Yeltsin. By refusing to cooperate with Primakov,
Yeltsin and his circle showed that they don't want or are not thinking at the
moment about a transfer of power."
According to Petrov, Primakov was a guarantee of a peaceful transition
because as an old Soviet apparatchik, he would have offered Yeltsin the
protection given to ousted Soviet officials. Like Nikita Khruschchev, Yeltsin
would have disappeared from power quietly with the assurance that he wouldn't
be prosecuted for any alleged criminal wrong-doing.
According to Carnegie associate Lilya Shevtsova, part of the political class
in Russia began to understand this year that Russia's problems are not only
linked to Yeltsin's person and his incapacity of coping with the mechanisms
of governing. Rather, she says an awareness grew that Yeltsin's inner circle
-- including its nepotism and infighting -- presented a real problem.
After his ouster last May, Primakov soon emerged as a seemingly unbeatable
opposition candidate, especially after gaining support of powerful regional
leaders like Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. It seemed improbable the Kremlin
could come up with an electable opponent.
But then Vladimir Putin was pulled away from his state security posting to
become prime minister. Since then, in leading Russia into a war in Chechnya,
he has benefited from a so far successful effort of playing on the pride of
the Russian people and on the image of the country as a rejuvenated power.
Putin's emergence as the Kremlin's anointed heir and Primakov's setback
during December parliamentary elections may have defused some of the tensions
within Yeltsin's circle over the handing over of power.
French political analyst Jean-Robert Raviot has told RFE/RL that 1999 also
reveals how little is likely to change regardless of who succeeds Yeltsin.
Raviot says the inquiry of Yeltsin's circle led by Skuratov and the
impeachment vote by the Duma both failed due to the institutions' complete
lack of autonomy.
Raviot says this system will not change whether the president is Primakov,
Putin, or someone else because it serves the ruling elite which is constantly
circumventing the state to gain economic favors.
Raviot says: "Everything leads me to believe that Russia's political system
is well anchored, whatever changes in its message to the public. The Russian
political elite is relatively homogenous and united by the connivance and
collusion that are the real power in Russia today. It seems to me that this
elite seems to be confusedly searching for a vertical power structure, the
kind that was incarnated earlier by the Communist Party existing outside the
The Carnegie Fund's Petrov warns that another worrisome factor is Russian
society's apparent readiness to accept an authoritarian leadership in
exchange for promises of stability. He says the enthusiasm with which voters
supported a prime minister who built his image on war reveals the Russians
hunger for what they call "a tough hand". And this, Petrov says, undermines
Petrov says: "We have an evolution in an extremely negative direction.
Negative first of all because the Constitution practically doesn't limit the
president in anything, what some political scientists call an elected
monarchy. It is [doubly] sad now because society doesn't [want] to limit the
power of the president either. Society is now more troubled, more divided and
more ready to accept anything than it was in 1991 when Yeltsin was first
elected and in 1996 when he was reelected.
Petrov says Putin's popularity has demonstrated the effectiveness of building
support through finding an outside enemy.
Young Russian Soldiers Reconsider
December 27, 1999
By ANDREW KRAMER
SLEPTSOVSKAYA, Russia (AP) - As Russian forces intensify their offensive
against the Chechen capital Grozny, columns of tanks and armored vehicles
rumble every day toward the breakaway republic, bristling with machine guns,
rockets and grenade-launchers.
The teen-age crews that man them look far less fearsome.
``I don't feel safe in this machine at all,'' confided a soldier who gave
only his first name, Sasha, as he stood by an overheated tank hissing steam
near the Adler Checkpoint, on the border between Chechnya and the neighboring
Russian region of Ingushetia.
``I don't understand why we're fighting,'' he said.
Despite government assurances that no conscripts with less than a year of
military experience would be sent into battle, several soldiers in Sasha's
unit said they had been drafted just six months ago, after graduating from
high school. Sasha, from the Ural Mountains city of Chelyabinsk, was drafted
in June, when he was 18.
``This is the first day of the war for me,'' he said as he watched a line of
army trucks rumble by on the way to Chechnya, carrying long, gray Grad
rockets stacked up like logs. Helicopters clattered overhead, flying under a
low ceiling of snow clouds.
Soldiers in Sasha's unit sat on their tanks, their felt collars turned up
against a bitter wind blowing off the Caucasus Mountains from the south.
Their hands were jammed into pockets or grasped cheap cigarettes between
fingers covered with black grease from working on the engine of the
When asked if his men were ready for battle, the 25-year-old unit commander,
who identified himself as Yuri, thought a moment and said, ``Somewhat.''
``We shouldn't be going at all,'' he added.
After three months of fighting, the Russian army and Interior Ministry troops
have taken control of the plains and foothills of northern Chechnya and are
now fighting to take control of Grozny. The city is defended by
battle-hardened guerrilla fighters, many of them veterans of the 1994-96 war.
That war was deeply unpopular among ordinary Russians, in part because of the
army's practice of sending raw recruits into battle without enough training.
Many young conscripts were picked off by guerrillas as they rode their tanks
into the center of Grozny during the army's first, ill-fated attempt to storm
the city on New Year's Eve in 1994; others were burned alive when anti-tank
grenades hit their armored vehicles.
Pointing to a battered tank stenciled with the number 60 in white paint, Yuri
said his unit had a lucky charm: The tank survived a grenade attack in the
``It's our lucky tank,'' he said.
Voice of America
///// ED'S: ONE OF TWO REPORTS WAR IN CHECHNYA. /////
INTRO: Russia ends the decade of the 90'S at war with
itself for the second time in its brief post-Soviet
history. Moscow Correspondent Peter Heinlein notes
that unlike the first war that began 1994, the current
conflict enjoys widespread public support, and has
boosted the popularity of its chief architect, Prime Minister
TEXT: On his first full day in the prime minister's
office -- August 10th -- Vladimir Putin served notice
that restoring order in the restive northern Caucasus
was at the top of his agenda. After a strategy
session with President Boris Yeltsin, the tough
talking former K-G-B spy boldly predicted an Islamic
uprising in the republic of Dagestan would be crushed.
/// PUTIN ACT ONE - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER ///
He said -- today in the Caucasus, especially in
Dagestan, we have a massive rise of terrorism and
lawlessness. This cannot be tolerated.
Fighting between Russian troops and Islamic rebels had
broken out in Dagestan a few days earlier, a short
distance from the Chechen border.
The clashes began almost exactly three-years after a
truce was signed in Dagestan ending the last Chechen
war. Russia suffered a humiliating defeat in that
conflict, and was forced to pull all its troops out of
Chechnya. This time, Russian commanders made clear
they were intent on getting even.
Two-days after Mr. Putin's appointment, Air Force
commander Anatoly Kornukov revealed that a NATO-style
air campaign was underway, with 200 missions in two days.
/// KORNUKOV ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER ///
General Kornukov says -- we have inflicted heavy
losses. He predicted the job would be finished in less than a week.
But it quickly became clear that the main target was
not Dagestan, but Chechnya. Within a week of his
appointment, Prime Minister Putin accused Chechen
warlords of staging an uprising in Dagestan, and vowed to crush them.
/// PUTIN ACT TWO - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER ///
He says -- there will be bombing in Chechnya. He
added -- Chechnya is Russian territory, and we will
destroy bandits wherever they are.
As news of the military offensive spread, war-weary
Russians braced for another bloody Caucasus campaign.
The previous one, that began in 1994, claimed an
estimated 80-thousand lives in less than two-years.
But that war-weariness quickly evaporated this time.
Bombings at four apartment buildings in early
September, two of them in Moscow, killed hundreds of
people in their beds. Russia was outraged. Moscow
Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said what everyone was thinking --
Chechen terrorists were to blame.
/// LUZHKOV ACT- IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER ///
He says -- we name Chechen bandits as the source of these terrorist acts.
No proof was found, but tens-of-thousands of dark-
skinned Caucasians were ordered out of Moscow.
Overnight, public support crystallized for a punishing
campaign against what were called Chechen terrorists
and bandits. Air strikes were intensified.
/// ARTILLERY SOUNDS - FADE UNDER ///
The roar of artillery ripped the air as Russian tanks
rolled back into Chechen territory after a three-year
absence. Moving in from the sparsely-populated north,
Russian forces met little resistance as they advanced
to within 20-kilometers of the capital.
Within weeks, nearly 50-percent of the rebel republic
was back under Moscow's control.
News that Chechnya was being retaken sent an almost
palpable surge of pride through Russia - and with it,
a surge in Prime Minister Putin's popularity.
Psychologist Farida Asadullina says the war united a
nation shamed by a long string of military setbacks
from Afghanistan to Kosovo to its complete impotence
in the face of NATO's eastward expansion.
/// ASADULLINA ACT ///
People were not aware three-years ago that we
lost this, so to say, Cold War to NATO. But
after this operation of NATO in Kosovo, Russian
self-esteem, so to say, was put down -- very
dramatically. The self-esteem was wounded.
People became aware this is the country of
losers. Our geo-political area of interests is
shrinking dramatically. These three-years
really showed that Russia does not have any
influence anymore on the countries that we
thought would ever be with us. /// END ACT ///
Analyst Alan Rousso of the Moscow Carnegie Center says
the prospect of a victory, even in a small rebel
republic such as Chechnya, became a rallying point for
a country longing for a semblance of its former superpower status.
/// ROUSSO ACT ONE ///
Chechnya has allowed people to feel more
confident in themselves. It has provided an
issue for the Russian people to get together on
a single issue they all believe in strongly --
to support Russian forces in Chechnya. So in
this sense, it has been a catalyst, a cathartic
moment in Russian politics at a time when the
country was feeling weak, disoriented, a
chastened former great power. /// END ACT ///
The war also came at a time when Russia was preparing
for nationwide parliamentary and presidential
elections. Analyst Alan Rousso says in hindsight, the
conflict could not have come at a better time for
embattled Kremlin political strategists who, just
four-months earlier, seemed on the verge of losing power.
/// ROUSSO ACT TWO ///
So the consequences of the conflict might make
one believe that by doing sort of a backward
induction that it had to have been planned by
the Kremlin because it worked out too neatly. I
do not think we have any evidence to demonstrate
that that is the case. But certainly, the
consequences of this conflict fit very neatly
into a kind of diversionary war-type scenario,
in which an embattled and weak center decides to
create a diversion, which is known to create a
rally-round-the-flag effect and distract
people's attention from their own domestic
problems. The Chechen conflict has had this effect.
/// END ACT ///The war has sent Prime Minister Putin's
ratings soaring. The newly-formed party he backed in
recent parliamentary elections swept to a surprising
second-place finish, making him the clear favorite to
become Russia's president in elections next June.
But analysts warn that if a war can so quickly boost
political fortunes, it can just as easily damage those
fortunes when battlefield losses start to mount.
With parliamentary elections completed, Mr. Putin is
saying Russian forces are on the verge of winning the
war in Chechnya. But with more than five-months to go
before the presidential vote, he faces an even bigger
challenge if he is to complete his quest for the
presidency. He must win, and hold, the peace.
RUSSIA' PUTIN LEADS IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE BY LARGE MAJORITY - POLL
Source: Russia TV channel, Moscow, in Russian 1700 gmt 26 Dec 99
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is the most popular candidate for president in
a poll shown on Russia TV's "Zerkalo" programme on 26th December.
Putin gained the support of 36 per cent of respondents, Communist Party of
the Russian Federation leader Gennadiy Zyuganov got 10 per cent, chairman of
the Fatherland - All Russia coordination council Yevgeniy Primakov came third
with 7 per cent, Unity leader and Russian Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoygu
took 3 per cent, while Yabloko leader Grigoriy Yavlinskiy, Union of Right
Forces leader Sergey Kiriyenko and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
leader Vladimir Zhirinovskiy had 2 per cent each.
The poll also asked in which Russian politician people have the most
confidence. The answers were:
\ \Putin - 37 per cent
\ Zyuganov - 15 per cent
\ Primakov - 9 per cent
\ Shoygu - 6 per cent
\ Yavlinskiy, Kiriyenko and Zhirinovskiy - 4 per cent each.
The answers to both questions were practically the same a week ago.
Meanwhile, the answers to the third question, which was who respondents
thought would become president, have changed significantly. They were:
\ \Putin - 52 per cent (45 per cent)
\ Zyuganov - 5 per cent (6 per cent)
\ Primakov - 5 per cent (2 per cent).
The rest of the politicians gained less than one per cent each.
The number of those who gave no definite answer dropped to 32 per cent from
41 per cent.
The All-Russian Centre for Public Opinion Research (VTsIOM) carried out the
poll on 17th-20th December. The sample size was 1,600 people and the margin
of error was 3.8 per cent.
In a phone poll the programme conducted, 16,434 callers answered the question
as to which event in Russian politics was the most important in 1999.
Choosing from answers suggested by the programme, 10,529 said that Putin's
appointment as prime minister was the one, 3,070 mentioned the military
campaign in Chechnya and 2,835 said the results of the recent State Duma
December 24, 1999
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
POSSIBLE LINE-UP OF POLITICAL FORCES IN DUMA AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF
By Avtandil TSULADZE, sociologist, master of art (political sciences)
Although the Duma has not been formed yet, various forecasts
of its future have already been made. The following are some of
1. The "party of power" has presumably won, and the
government receives a "lap dog" parliament.
2. The Duma will be split into two warring camps, each
having practically the same number of votes. They can block each
other's initiatives but neither will be able to have the
3. The left forces have received fewer votes, and the Duma
has become more liberal.
4. Communists have won a conclusive victory and will again
stymie the work of the government, etc.
When defining the pro-government and the oppositional camp,
the following picture is usually described. The pro-government
camp is to include Unity, the Union of Right Forces (SPS), the
Zhirinovsky bloc and a number of deputies elected in
single-mandate districts, while the oppositional camp is to
comprise the KPRF, Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) and partly
Yabloko. Yabloko is, in general, regarded as a shuttle travelling
between the two coalitions. Let us, however, take a closer look
at possible scenarios of developments. Is it all really so simple
Let us begin by outlining the context which will determine
the behaviour of deputies and factions. It is undoubtedly the
coming presidential elections. What are the likeliest contenders
to the Presidency? They are, above all, Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin, Yevgeny Primakov and Gennady Zyuganov. Grigory Yavlinsky's
chances are less preferable. Sergei Shoigu can become a hopeful,
too, now that he has made such a stupendous step up to the top of
the Russian political Olympus. Analysts are discussing the
possibility of the Putin-Shoigu and Primakov-Zyuganov tandems.
However, there is much more ground for differences than for
cooperation between these politicians.
Indeed, why should Shoigu yield the Presidency to Putin if
his popularity ratings jumped higher than Putin's in counted
weeks? Behind Shoigu is a representative faction and he is now a
first-echelon politician. It will be very difficult to make him
retreat to second plane now. Objectively Putin would rather have
not the Bear (the other name for the Unity bloc), which can show
his temper at any time, but a few loyal "Bear cubs" who are too
weak to assume an independent stand yet, taken as a whole, would
allow to block communist initiatives. But no one could expect
Unity, or Bear, to have got so many votes. The plan was obviously
overfulfilled. So, Putin has ample ground for anxiety. Given the
wish, his popularity rating can go down as quickly as it went up.
What is more, Shoigu is trying to intercept the initiative in the
Caucasus, by displaying activity in the section where Putin's
positions are rather vulnerable - concern about the refugees,
elimination of the aftermaths of hostilities, etc. Shoigu is
restoring what Putin is breaking - such is the latent intrigue
which is to be made more obvious shortly.
Concerning the Primakov-Zyuganov tandem, it is clear that
their cooperation cannot be cloudless. Both rely practically on
the same electorate with minor adjustments. But even if they
unite, they will not get the required majority. They need an ally
capable of attracting to their side a more liberal electorate.
That is why the Primakov-Zyuganov alliance looks rather
Luzhkov and Primakov are to divorce, judging by everything.
Primakov has failed to live up to the hopes pinned on him and has
given Yuri Luzhkov additional difficulties, instead of expected
ratings, by practically identifying the OVR and the KPRF.
Luzhkov's interests have no chances to co-habitate with communist
interests. So, the Moscow Mayor will search for new allies.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, as usual, will stick to the only party
to which he is loyal to the end - the party of the strongest. His
behaviour will be in a way the indicator of the influence of one
or another alliance.
Yavlinsky, on the contrary, will confront the strongest,
also representing a rather reliable compass.
So, what alliances can be formed in the near future? Putin
can find common interests with Luzhkov. The latter needs a
reliable political "roof" at the federal level, because he
personally is integrated into the executive branch and should, by
definition, search for compromises. Putin would gain by support
from Moscow and a number of regions which voted for Luzhkov at
the Duma elections. So, there is vast ground for cooperation
between these two, especially as Luzhkov seems to have given up
the dream of the Presidency. He is a pragmatist by nature and
will obviously prefer a bird in the hand for two in the bush. All
the more so as "the bird in the hand" - Moscow - is worth a great
Shoigu may try to find a common language with Primakov.
Though his Unity (Bear) has taken away a tangible part of the
OVR's electorate, going a little left won'd do him any harm on
the eve of the election. A union with communists is too risky,
while Primakov has a more "rosy" image. Primakov for his part
needs to search for access to the administrative resources of the
ruling elite and, if possible, to regain the lost votes. The
problem is that these politicians are too ambitious to cede the
first place at the decisive moment. As of today, they regard one
another far less dangerous rivals than Putin. And the weaker are
to unite against the stronger. Such is the elementary political
Under such kinds of a line-up Zyuganov risks to remain a
proud but lonely hopeful. However, he has a secret patron who
will not let him look dejected. It is the country's main
puppeteer - President Boris Yeltsin. Zyuganov is Yeltsin's club
which he would actively use to pacify those of his favourites who
would display too much zeal or go too far. There will be no easy
life for them, indeed. Yeltsin needs a successor who will stay in
suspense even after he is elected, because an independent and
full-fledged new Kremlin boss may show black ingratitude towards
his former patron. Yeltsin strives to secure himself as much as
it is humanly possible.
By and large, we are in for an interesting and fascinating
intrigue. It is difficult to say today how it will all end. But
anyway, living in the next century will be much jollier.