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Johnson's Russia List


December 30, 1999    
This Date's Issues: 3714  3715 

Johnson's Russia List
30 December 1999

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Final results of Russia Duma poll for party lists.
2. Itar-Tass: Suspended Prosecutor Wishes Happy New Year to Russia.

3. Moscow Times: Garfield Reynolds, Putin Gives People Paternal 


5. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Igor Kharichev, TO BE TESTED BY REAL ECONOMY
Will the Right Forces Actualize Their Success?

6. Interfax: Aksyonenko denies claims Russia may use loans for Chechnya.
7. Yevgeny Ozhogin: RE 3713-Shukla/Yearender.
8. Washington Times: Arnold Beichman, KGB REDIDIVUS.
11. RFE/RL: Paul Goble, Deadlines Military and Journalistic.
12. Moscow Times: Dmitri Glinski Vassiliev, A Logical Vote to Wait.
13. Financial Times (UK): Russia's refusal to bow out gracefully. 
Moscow could do worse than follow the example of Britain's dignified 
withdrawal as the sun set on its empire, writes Quentin Peel.

14. Baltimore Sun: Will Englund, For Siberia, a new fur trade.
Large dogs taken as pets for Chinese or, some say, dinner.] 


Final results of Russia Duma poll for party lists

MOSCOW, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Russia's Central Electoral
Commission on Wednesday released final official results for the
225 seats contested in the December 19 parliamentary election on
the basis of party lists.

The remaining 225 seats in the State Duma lower house are
contested on an individual constituency basis.

Final results for the individual constituencies have not yet
been published because in nine of them the election must be held
again due to irregularities the first time round. The rerun has
been set for March 19, 2000. A party needed at least five
percent of the vote to win seats in the Duma. Only six of the 26
parties contesting the Duma election cleared the five percent



Communist Party 67 16,195,569 (24.29)
Unity 64 15,548,707 (23.32)
Fatherland/All Russia 37 8,886,697 (13.33)
Union of Right-Wing Forces 24 5,676,982 (8.52)
Zhirinovsky Bloc 17 3,989,932 (5.98)
Yabloko 16 3,955,457 (5.98)


Suspended Prosecutor Wishes Happy New Year to Russia.

MOSCOW, December 29 (Itar-Tass) - Suspended Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov 
wished a Happy New Year to the people of Russia on Wednesday, saying that the 
most important event in the forthcoming new year should be improvements in 
living standards of the population and elections of a new and worthy 
president. Skuratov is pinning his own hopes for the New Year because he was 
born in the year of Dragon by the Japanese calendar believed to be lucky for 
people born in years of Dragon's rule. 

"The role played by state power in Russia is great and a lot depends on 
Russia's leader - its president," Skuratov said. 

"I want Russia to have a new president on the threshold of the new millennium 
who will be worthy of the great country he represents," Skuratov said. 

"Russia has a potential for economic and industrial growth in all the 
directions and therefore, I want Russia to develop a new national idea so 
that people would not leave Russia, but stay here to live for ever," Skuratov 

Commenting in his own future, the suspended prosecutor general declared that 
he was hoping "for things to develop in his favour so that a series of 
misfortunes which befell me be over". "The Year of the Dragon is my year and 
it would be twice wrong if my affairs did not improve," Skuratov said. 


Moscow Times
December 30, 1999 
Putin Gives People Paternal Patriotism 
By Garfield Reynolds
Staff Writer

In his first major political and economic policy statement, Prime Minister 
Vladimir Putin announced that the people want a "paternalistic" state, and he 
intends to build for them a strong government that will invest in the 
national economy, subsidize exporters and stamp out corruption. 

"Society wants the restoration of a guiding and regulatory role of the state 
to the extent dictated by national traditions and the state of the country," 
Putin wrote, in a statement posted on the Internet at, a new Russian government web site. 

Putin's soaring popularity has made him the runaway front-runner to replace 
President Boris Yeltsin in elections due June 2000. His vision of Russia in 
the 21st century particularly focused on maintaining public order, and he 
pledged to fight organized crime and corruption on several separate occasions 
in his policy statement. 

The document was released Tuesday, as Putin was attending the founding 
congress for the government-aligned political movement Unity, or Medved. So 
the statement could well be seen as supplying Unity with the one thing party 
members freely admit is still lacking: an ideology. 

Much like Yevgeny Primakov - Putin's current main rival for the presidency in 
next year's vote - Putin stresses stability and a mix of market and statist 
policies, along with patriotism and the need to fight corruption and 
organized crime. 

Putin tracks Russia's decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union. He lays 
much of the blame for the nation's descent into poverty and disorder at the 
door of the Soviet Communist Party. But he also is critical of "radical" 
reforms that had attempted to "transplant to Russian soil abstract models and 
schemes derived from foreign textbooks." 

Putin called for the creation of a new national idea - something Yeltsin has 
also called for over the years - prefacing his remarks by cautioning that 
such a national idea was already incubating and taking shape, from 
"primordial" Russian traditions. 

The section on the Russian idea was the most detailed, and was grouped under 
four sub-headings: Patriotism, Belief in Russia's Greatness, Statism and 
Social Solidarity. 

Putin stressed that patriotism is a fine, nation-building quality - provided 
it does not lapse into imperialism. 

He then plucked out for praise the rather archaic and imperial term 
***derzhavnost,**** or belief in the state's greatness. The word is derived 
from ***derzhava,*** the orb that was part of the tsarist regaliaand which 
signified the imperial global reach. 

Under ***gosudarstvennichesvto,*** or statism, Putin wrote: "Russia will not 
soon become, if it ever becomes, a second copy of, say, the U.S. or England, 
where liberal values have deep historical traditions. Among us the state, its 
institutions and structures, have always played an exclusively important role 
in the life of the country and the people. A strong state is for Russians not 
an anomaly, not something that must be fought against, but on the contrary is 
the source and guarantor of order, the initiator and main driving force of 
all change." 

In his statements about social solidarity, the prime minister argued that 
individualism is far less important for Russians than communal ties. "The 
collective form of lifestyle has always dominated over individualism," he 
wrote - adding that this communalism expresses itself in a national desire 
for a "paternalistic" regime. 

Putin pledged to build such a state by launching a rational restructuring of 
government departments, by turning the civil service into a meritocracy that 
would advance the best "specialists," by increasing "discipline" in 
government and by declaring war on corruption. 

He cautioned that an overly strong executive arm of government is a potential 
danger to democratic freedoms - freedoms he said that Russians have come to 
cherish as the only firm basis for a stable regime. His solution for checking 
executive power was to strengthen the "partnership between executive power 
and civil society," and to fight corruption. 

Some political observers have argued that Russia's Constitution, with its 
tsar-like presidency, is also part of the danger to democracy. But 
president-in-waiting Putin wrote that he opposes any constitutional reform. 
"We have a very good constitution," Putin wrote. "The section devoted to 
rights and personal freedoms is considered the best constitutional act of its 
sort in the world." 

Last, and perhaps least, Putin turns to the economy, where he offers a vague 
mix of the kind of "guiding hand" policies pushed by Primakov. 

He gives most weight to the need to encourage investment. 

"Investments into the real economy sector fell by five times in the 1990s, 
including by 3.5 times into fixed assets. The material foundations of the 
Russian economy are being undermined," he wrote. 

"We call for pursuing an investment policy that would combine pure market 
mechanisms with measures of state guidance." 

Tax and budgetary reform will be pursued, he wrote, as will restructuring of 
the banking sector and the elimination of barter and other non-cash forms of 

Putin is also eager to better integrate Russia with the world economy, 
stating that membership in the World Trade Organization is a priority. 

Putin wrote that he also wants to ensure active state support for exporters - 
and said that the time may be ripe for creating a government agency to 
provide guarantees for export contracts. 

He pledged to "resolutely combat the discrimination against Russia on the 
world markets of commodities, services and investments, and to approve and 
apply a national anti-dumping legislation." 

Russian steelmakers have been shut out of the United States this year by U.S. 
anti-dumping cases. 



MOSCOW. Dec 29 (Interfax) - Big business will back Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin's candidacy in the presidential elections in 2000,
prominent Russian businessman and coordinator of economic and industrial
programs of the Trans World Group in the countries of Eastern Europe and
the CIS Lev Chernoi has said.
"So far, I do not see any other worthy candidate for the post of
the head of state than Putin," Chernoi told Interfax on Wednesday.
It is Putin who will be able "to continue reforming the country's
economy," the businessman said. "All forces of society that are
interested in Russia's following the way of reforms and developing the
domestic economy must unite and support this very candidacy," Chernoi
Commenting on businessmen Roman Abramovich's and Boris Berezovsky's
active participation in Russian political life, Chernoi said, "It is
getting harder and harder to keep out of politics these days. If you do
not engage in politics, politics will engage in you." "I am personally
more interested in economics, although I do not make a secret of the
fact that I take certain steps to consolidate all the healthy forces,
including the political ones, in our society. But most of all, I do this
in order that Russia's economy becomes more stable and efficient,"
Chernoi said.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta
December 29, 1999
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
Will the Right Forces Actualize Their Success?
By Igor KHARICHEV, Director, Applied Election Techniques Center

Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin will enjoy the support of the
new Duma, and a weighty one, too, even if not absolute. The prime
minister will have people to rely on in implementing his
policies, especially economic one. Now the question is, what is
Putin going to do? What kind of support will he ask for?
The triumphant march of the Russian army across Chechnya
gives us hope that the stage of active fighting in the North
Caucasus will soon be over, at the same time arousing concerns:
what next? The general situation in Russia cannot be overhauled
by establishing the constitutional order in one rebel region, and
the prime minister is perfectly aware of this. Even back in the
fall, he started making statements on economic issues. Those were
very general, but landmark, like his words that no redistribution
of property can be expected.
What can Putin do in 2000, leaning heavily upon the support
of loyal factions in the Duma? He is no economic expert, but his
past "power" position dictates very special solutions to
political and economic issues alike. The temptation is very
strong to use administrative levers to establish the long-desired
order in this country, and give a fresh impetus to the waning
Russian economy. Here Putin, and Russia as a whole, risk getting
into a trap. Having opted for the government regulation of the
economy, one can unconsciously slide beyond the boundaries of a
market approach.
The government's role in the economy must be that of a
touchstone to check the commitment to a real reform. The
right-wingers who insist on a liberal approach do not deny the
need to regulate the economy. It does not mean centralized
planning, like in the socialist command economy, where companies
were dictated what they were to do, but to regulate with the help
of economic instruments.
The market approach does not imply the government's rescuing
its citizens all the time, as benefactor and provider; it 
rather implies creating an environment in which citizens could
advance initiatives and relying on private initiative in
practically all the spheres of production. This is the way the
economy functions in all the prospering counties.
Will Putin succeed in overcoming his thinking stereotypes
acquired over the time he served with power agencies? This will
largely depend on his own flexibility, and also on the
counsellors he will use as exerts and on the political forces on
which he will rely.
Naturally, the movement Unity will be his biggest supporter,
as it was created for him and will faithfully serve him. However,
there are two many chance people in that movement because it was
formed in great haste. Besides Unity has no clear-cut ideological
framework. It is blurred and amorphous. Sergei Shoigu even
emphasized that the bloc's members value specific deeds more than
an ideology. However, specific deeds imply a certain approach to
problem-solving. Otherwise, the boat will put to sea without a
sail or a navigation map. Putin won't be able to do entirely
without any ideology.
There is only one association which can act as the
intellectual pillar for the prime minister, and largely for the
Kremlin -- the Union of the Right Forces -- a democratic
coalition and a faction of the same name, standing firm on a
clear ideological position and the most professional of those
represented on the new Duma. It would be a bad mistake not to use
this potential, to keep the right forces' success in the December
19 election from being translated into reality.


Aksyonenko denies claims Russia may use loans for Chechnya

MOSCOW. Dec 29 (Interfax) - Russian First Deputy Prime Minister
Nikolai Aksyonenko has categorically denied the claims of human rights'
groups that the loans by international financial institutions to Russia may
be used to finance the hostilities in Chechnya. At a Wednesday news
conference in Moscow he said that the $100 million disbursed by the
World Bank on Tuesday will be spent on restructuring the coal
industry, not any other purposes. He said he could not describe as human
rights activists those who denounce Russia's operations in Chechnya and
suggest that international financial institutions stop lending to Russia.
Aksyonenko urged them "to take the place of the people" who lost their
friends and families due to the actions of Chechen terrorists. He said
Russia stands by all economic terms coordinated with the IMF and other
international financial groups. "We are not deviating a single bit, but
now politics instead of the economy is having its say," Aksyonenko added.
He hoped that the outcome of the Duma elections would force Western
politicians to alter their attitude to Russia. The results demonstrated
Russia's adherence to economic reforms and the transition to a market
economy, he said. Aksyonenko said that attempts to distort the situation
in Russia, in Chechnya in particular, using the media will continue. "But
all these declarations prove a media bluff and are not confirmed in
practice," he said.


From: "Yevgeny Ozhogin" <>
Subject: RE 3713-Shukla/Yearender
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1999

Russia's dusk? Mr. Shukla, I strongly disagree - even if you really meant
it, mind you, all dusks are followed by dawns, and why Russia shoul dbe

I mean, we Russians have not been exterminated as such (like Hitler used to
want), we have not lost our creative and reproductive potential. So, whu is
it 'dusk'? I remember an interview with Mr. Topol (author of several
pennydreadfuls on Russia) who used to say the Russians' main flaw was
inability to get up on their feet after having been knocked down. I believe
it is not the fact and the very existence of the Russians as a peopel and
their nation as a state testifies to it.

Yevgeny Ozhogin
Military University (Moscow)


Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1999 
From: Arnold Beichman <>

December 29, 1999
By Arnold Beichman

I read this December 21 Reuters dispatch with a sense 
of horror:{ep} 

MOSCOW -- President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister 
Vladimir Putin, in line with Russia's current hard-line mood, 
heaped praise on the Soviet-era KGB secret service and its 
"Several years ago, we fell prey to an illusion that we have 
no enemies," Itar-Tass quoted Putin as telling a meeting of top 
security officials Saturday, marking the Day of Security Bodies, 
founded 82 years ago, December 20, 1917.{ep} 
"We have paid dearly for this," Putin said. "Russia 
has its own national interests, and we have to defend them."{ep} 
On Saturday, Yeltsin sent a special message to security 
bodies, the Kremlin press service said.{ep}
"The history of the Federal Security Service [the biggest 
successor body to the KGB] is part of the country's history. 
Brilliant victories and bitter defeats are inseparable in it," 
the message said.{ep}

December 25, 1991 marks the official end of the Soviet 
empire. What the new Russia has to show for itself after eight 
years is praise, as we read in the above Reuters dispatch, by 
Russia's President and Prime Minister for the Soviet secret 
police, before whose achievements Hitler's Gestapo were rank 
amateurs, and for its successor FSB.{ep}
Michael Dobbs in his book, "Down With Big Brother: The Fall 
of the Soviet Empire," wrote: "Big Brother may be dead, but the 
specter of communism will continue to haunt us for decades to 
come." And so eight years later we must face the reality of a 
resuscitated cold war declared against the rest of Europe and, 
above all, the United States. 
For after all, about whom was Prime Minister Putin talking 
when he told the ex-KGB gangsters: "Several years ago, we fell 
prey to an illusion that we have no enemies. We have paid dearly 
for this. Russia has its own national interests, and we have to 
defend them"? What the Russian people are being told is that 
Russia's "enemies," who have been ladling out billions of hard 
currency dollars for eight years into a Russian rathole, are the 
ones responsible for Russia's economic decline and everything 
In eight years we have watched the Kremlin move from rule by 
a ruthless nomenklatura to a rule by an equally ruthless 
Mafiatura. A onetime KGB executive, whose crimes are hidden in 
KGB archives, is now Prime Minister and is a possible future 
President. The last time the secret police achieved such power 
was in December 1992 with the rise of Yuri V. Andropov, one time 
KGB chairman, as president of the Soviet Union.{ep}
Last year Yeltsin praised those Muscovites who after the end 
of the empire assembled at KGB headquarters and celebrated their 
new-found freedom by dragging the statue of Feliks Dzerzhinski 
off its pedestal. But then came this frightening Yeltsin 
"As I look back, I realize that we nearly overdid it when we 
exposed the crimes committed by the security services, for there 
were not only dark periods, but also glorious episodes in their 
history, of which one may really be proud."{ep} 
"...glorious episodes in their history, of which one may 
really be proud"? So that's what it comes down to: Yeltsin led a 
counter-revolution which ended with the rehabilitation of the 
secret police.{ep}
We in the West have nothing yet to fear from a resurgent 
Russia. But there are those who have reason to fear: the 
countries on Russia's borders. A journalist I know from a Central 
European country called me yesterday to tell me that his 
government, which has lost what little faith they ever had in the 
Yeltsin regime, was worried stiff that the war in Chechnya might 
augur badly for the onetime Soviet satellites, NATO or no NATO. 
"It's the Red Army once more and it has tasted blood," said 
the journalist morosely.
The impending big date for Russia is the presidential 
election next summer. It may be Russia's last chance and a last 
chance for a Europe at peace.

Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, is 
a Washington Times columnist. He is the editor of the forthcoming 
"CNN's Cold War Documentary: Issues and Controversy" (Hoover 


By Interfax analyst Viktoria Lavrentyeva

MOSCOW. Dec 29 (Interfax) - Russia and the International Monetary
Fund are entering next year with a sour mutual relationship that recalls
the end of 1998.
There was tension last year between Russia and the IMF caused by
Russia's financial crisis, a month before which the IMF released a loan
of nearly $5 billion that dissolved into Russia's financial markets
without a trace.
Today, Russia is accused of all sorts of things, from letting IMF
loans go astray and allowing money laundering via the Bank of New York,
to the war in Chechnya.
"Throughout the year, we have been punished for things that have
nothing to do with the economic program agreed on with the Fund," a
senior Russian official said in frustration.
"There has been no such a deadlock throughout the history of
Russia's relations with the Fund," he noted.
But the situation is apparently worrying the IMF as well as Russia.
"The Fund in a way feels guilty of wronging Russia and would like
to break the current deadlock as soon as possible," the IMF executive
director for Russia, Alexei Mozhin, has said.

Remarkably, the World Bank released two $50 million tranches of a
second coal loan this week after Russia fulfilled conditions for it last
To release the money, the Bank required and received a positive IMF
evaluation of the macroeconomic situation in Russia.
Moreover, the IMF had been insisting that the World Bank provide
Russia with money while the Fund was withholding its loans.
The war in Chechnya has been the main reason for the Russia-IMF
friction, although the Fund has not admitted this.
The IMF has still not decided on whether to send a mission to
Moscow in the last two weeks of January, when Russia would like to
present the Fund with an economic program for 2000.
It is also relevant to mention that IMF Managing Director Michel
Camdessus is resigning in February and that his successor has still not
been named.
Sources in IMF headquarters have told Interfax a struggle for the
seat is going on behind the scenes.
First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer will provisionally
head the IMF. But analysts say the question of who will de facto be
making decisions during the interregnum still remains.
In other words, it may be a long time before Russia receives its
loan if the money does not come before Camdessus goes.
Nor will it cut any ice that Martin Gilman will remain chief IMF
officer in Moscow until spring 2001, because implementation of economic
programs is obviously not the basis for the Fund's decisions where
Russia is concerned.
Meanwhile, Russia's financial system faces a test of its solidity
in the first quarter of next year, when the country will have to pay $3
billion to foreign creditors.
With Russia's tax collection usually poor at the beginning of a
year, raising that sum would be a difficult task even if international
financial bodies gave the country all the support it is asking for.


Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1999 
From: "Amanda Lahan" <ALahan@CSIS.ORG>

Speaker: Alexander Rahr, German Society for Foreign Affairs
Date: Tuesday, January 6, 2000
Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1800 K Street, NW
Washington, DC
To Register, please contact Jeff Thomas or Amanda Lahan at 202-775-3240


Analysis from Washington - Deadlines Military and Journalistic
By By Paul Goble

Washington, 29 December 1999 (RFE/RL) - The competing imperatives of military 
operations and journalistic responsibility have been highlighted this week by 
Moscow's simultaneous attacks against Chechnya and against Western coverage 
of its actions there. 

As they have throughout the three-month-long campaign, Russian commanders 
insist that they have conducted their campaign with honor and that they will 
soon defeat the Chechens. And Russian officials are sharply criticizing both 
human rights organizations and Western journalists, almost all of whose 
reports suggest the contrary. 

On Tuesday, for example, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev announced yet 
another "breakthrough" in the war, one that he said would soon bring a 
Russian victory. And Col. Gen. Valery Manilov, the Russian army's deputy 
chief of staff, said that "the capture of Grozny is a matter of days," with 
mopping up operations to take no more than two or three months. 

In the past, Russian predictions of a quick and easy victory over the 
Chechens have not proven true. And outside coverage of the battle of Grozny 
suggests that Sergeyev and Manilov are probably being overly optimistic in 
their projections. 

Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov said Monday that his forces will defend 
Grozny to the last man. Ruslan Aushev, the president of neighboring Republic 
of Ingushetiya, predicted on Tuesday that the battle of Grozny will last a 
long time because the Chechens "are excellently armed and will resist 

Western news reports from the front also suggest that Russian forces are 
facing ever greater resistance and taking ever more losses as they fight 
their way into Grozny and the mountainous portion of Chechnya. Indeed, 
Western journalists have quoted Russian officers on the scene to that effect. 

And these reports have led ever more Western officials to urge Moscow to 
begin negotiations, something the Russian government has made clear that it 
is not going to do anytime soon. Lord Robertson, secretary general of NATO, 
on Tuesday became the latest such voice to call for talks. 

Arguing that any military victories Russian forces might achieve would not 
solve Moscow's longterm political problems with the Chechens and other 
minorities in Russia, Robertson said on Tuesday that "what Russia is doing is 
not only bad in principle ... it is bad in practice." 

At the same time, Western human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, 
have their own reporters on the scene and have documented what Human Rights 
Watch on Tuesday called "serious war crimes committed by Russian troops in 
the village of Alkhan-Yurt in Chechnya." 

Not surprisingly, Russian officials have lashed out at both Western coverage 
and these conclusions. Last week, they attacked Radio Liberty's reporter 
Andrei Babitsky for his on-the-spot coverage of the battles. And on Tuesday, 
in the face of even more criticism, Russian officials stepped up these 

Col. Gen. Manilov said none of the Western claims about Chechnya were "based 
on reality." And Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin 
denounced Amnesty International's report as "biased and tendentious" and 
claimed that its allegations "provoke indignation" in Moscow. 

At the same briefing, Rakhmanin said that Georgia has "launched a hostile 
propaganda campaign against Russia" because Tbilisi has not disassociated 
itself from what he called "the anti-Russian concoctions" of participants in 
a recent conference in that country. 

And in an action clearly intended to send a signal that Moscow will ignore 
Western coverage and criticism of its campaign, Russian President Boris 
Yeltsin awarded a gold hero's star to General Vladimir Shamanov, the officer 
in command of the Russian unit which reportedly massacred 41 Chechen 
civilians in Alkhan-Yurt. 

In making the presentation, Yeltsin contrasted the Russian army's performance 
during the 1994-96 war with its activities now. "Of course, there were 
smaller mistakes, which led to big mistakes" in the earlier campaign, Yeltsin 
said. "But now the army is behaving excellently." 

Another contrast between 1994-96 and now is that during the earlier fighting, 
the Russian media were extremely critical of what the Russian army was doing 
in Chechnya. Because of a shift in popular attitudes and because Moscow has 
been more adept at news management, Russian media have been more circumspect. 

But as the fighting has continued and as Russian forces have suffered more 
casualties, that is beginning to change, and that shift in turn explains both 
the efforts of the generals to bring the war quickly to a victorious 
conclusion and of the politicians to denounce any reports which call into 
question Russian claims. 

It is an old observation that in war, truth is often the first casualty. But 
the events in Chechnya and Moscow's reactions to them show that it is far 
from the last. 


Moscow Times
December 30, 1999 
A Logical Vote to Wait 
By Dmitri Glinski Vassiliev 
Dmitri Glinski Vassiliev is a research associate at the Institute of World 
Economy and International Relations. He contributed this comment to The 
Moscow Times. 

Last week, the mainstream Western press was applauding the success of 
Russia's rejuvenated "reformers" and "centrists" in the Duma election. A 
handful of observers countered that our voters were disoriented and 
manipulated by the media. 

Both sides showed their inclination to wishful thinking. The majority that 
emerged from the Duma election is dominated by the fairly radical right. A 
parliamentary coalition directed by Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Zhirinovsky 
and Anatoly Chubais - the individuals that lead or stand behind the three 
pro-government parties in the Duma - would be considered extremely 
conservative by any Western standards. Does anyone expect them to encourage 
economic competition and curb the power of monopolies? No way. Prepare 
instead to see the bureaucracy consolidate its grip upon the "market," along 
with continuing privatization of the state. 

But it would be self-delusion to blame everything on the misinformation of 
the voters. True, millions of Russians have no opportunity to read Moscow 
newspapers or to watch anything except RTR and ORT. But most of these people 
never appeared to be attracted by anything in between the status quo and the 
Communists. Why was it that the better informed voters turned lukewarm to the 
real center, such as Fatherland-All Russia and Yabloko? 

After a decade of electoral politics, Russians have learned that it is 
counterproductive to invest their energies in political change in the absence 
of a self-confident opposition committed to protecting its followers. After 
1991, the punishment struck all those who had hoped that "democratic" 
politicians would bring more justice and political freedoms and curtail 
nomenklatura privilege. They were rewarded by "reforms" that converted 
bureaucratic privilege into private property and took away the means that had 
allowed them to enjoy political freedoms. Meanwhile, the "democrats" were 
neither able nor willing to go to the streets, to rally foreign public 
opinion while it still had any clout in Russia, to risk anything to protect 
their followers. In fact, most became indistinguishable from the "reformers." 
In August 1998, a similar experience befell the tiny middle class that was 
barely emerging like Aphrodyte from the foam of the reforms: its savings were 
taken away, the domestic market for production and services shrank, foreign 
commerce and contacts were cut down. Again, no force was out there to stand 
firmly for these people's interests. Lessons were learned. 

In these elections, the right wing brazenly conducted negative campaigning 
against all rivals, presenting them as weak and cowardly, while projecting 
its own self-confidence and elemental will for power. One commercial of the 
Bear party depicted its enemies through powerful folklore images: a red pig 
with a sickle and a hammer on its breast, a hare with the core of an apple 
and a wolf that seemed to stand for a terrorist or criminal - three small 
creatures hiding from the enormous, good-looking bear. No less aggressivea 
campaign was waged by the Union of Right Forces, whose point man Sergei 
Kiriyenko demonstrated the certainty of a high-tech engineer at an army's 
headquarters. The message from the right was plain and simple: give us 
legitimacy, and we will protect you from all these many threats - criminals, 
Chechens, Communists and the West. Otherwise, we will find ways to stay in 
power, but with less obligation to you. 

The opposition kept itself busy reacting to attacks, leaving it little time 
or resources to assert itself. It did not contest the virtual reality of a 
nation besieged by terrorists, communists, and foreign agents as shown on the 
television screen. And no one capitalized upon those events where society had 
shown itself to be strong - such as the takeover of the Vyborg Pulp and Paper 
Mill by its employees. 

Meanwhile, Fatherland-All Russia's attempts to rally regional authorities 
against the Kremlin were seized upon by the government to remind the people: 
The last time you helped change those in power - in 1991 - it was at the cost 
of breaking the nation apart. This time, few would like to see Russia carved 
up any further by ethnic minorities and regional barons. And the eagerness of 
Western hardliners (identified with the West as a whole) to profit at 
Russia's expense negated the impact of any Western-generated allegations of 
corruption. Unless the West finds another approach to Russia, our 
presidential elections six months down the road will be about choosing the 
best commander-in-chief, rather than the best economic and political 

Over the past years, the elite has integrated itself into the global economy, 
while much of the nation has slipped into the Third World. In this condition, 
the gulf in power and morale between Russia's consolidated oligarchy and its 
domestic (and domesticated) opponents is so large that it renders electoral 
competition less than meaningful. The concentration of economic and political 
power in one set of hands was unabashedly demonstrated by Chubais - who 
operated the Union of Right Forces campaign while holding his fingers on the 
electricity switchboard of a nation where energy prices are rising, and most 
of his customers can't pay their debts. And it was predictable that a man 
named Roman Abramovich could warm the hearts of the Chukotka natives to his 
Duma campaign - simply by paying to deliver several ships of coal to the 
region, where heat is severely rationed. 

An average Russian who wants to go on with his business finds himself in the 
political field one-on-one with somebody who can switch off the lights when 
in rage, but who can also show benevolence when his belly is full. Given this 
"correlation of forces," it just does not make sense to infuriate the beast. 
It is much safer to make it feel good and to feed its better instincts. At 
least until someone appears who will call the beast its name and show how the 
weak may suddenly become strong. 


Financial Times (UK)
30 December 1999
[for personal use only]
Russia's refusal to bow out gracefully 
Moscow could do worse than follow the example of Britain's dignified
withdrawal as the sun set on its empire, writes Quentin Peel

The 20th century is ending with the grim images of a declining empire
trying to bomb its rebellious citizens into submission.

On this occasion, the empire is that of Russia, and the rebels are the
Moslem inhabitants of Chechnya.

If we look back 100 years, expectations would have been very different.
Then, the only empire worth bothering about was the British one, and it was
just getting embroiled in a tiresome rebellion in South Africa: the Boer War.

At the beginning of the century, of course, the British empire was
certainly not declining. It was at its peak. It was the greatest empire the
world had ever seen. A forecaster might have been forgiven for expecting
that in 1999 it would still be fighting to protect its territorial

That is not what happened. Perhaps one of the most remarkable achievements
of the 20th century was the very largely peaceful dissolution of the
British empire. It is an achievement that is in danger of being forgotten.

Back in 1990, when Moscow's grip was clearly starting to weaken, Douglas
Hurd, then British foreign secretary, made an eminently sensible speech in
Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. Russia could do much worse, he dared suggest,
than learn from the experience of Britain and France in dismantling their
empires over the previous 40 years.

His message was not well received in Moscow. It suggested the Soviet Union
was an empire, not a happy agglomeration of freedom-loving peoples. And it
implied the end was nigh.

So did the British really get it right? And what lessons could they teach?

A few months ago, a little-noticed centenary was celebrated in London, when
the Corona Club marked its 100th year, and decided to disband. It was an
annual dining club for former British colonial servants, and they had
realised they were becoming too few and elderly to keep it going.

The occasion was marked, however, by the publication of a fascinating
history* of the colonial services, which were finally wound up in 1997,
with the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule.

Its author, Professor Anthony Kirk-Greene, is undoubtedly sympathetic to
his subject, of which he was himself a member in the latter days. But that
is no bad thing, given the rotten press and image that most servants of the
British empire have been given, not least by US film studios.

Even the phrase "colonial servant" sounds curiously old-fashioned today.
And yet they saw themselves as just that: dedicated to public service, not
just of the empire (whose ignorant guardians in London they sometimes
cordially despised), but also of the peoples they had been sent to rule.

They did come from a pretty narrow background, as leftwing critics
correctly pointed out. "We were the younger sons of the professional middle
class," according to K.G. Bradley, an administrator in pre-war Northern
Rhodesia. They were overwhelmingly educated in British boarding schools,
and at Oxford or Cambridge universities, thus combining "the tough
character-training of the boarding school and then the broad training of
the mind provided by the older universities".

But they were by no means the stuffy, narrow-minded racists of the
Hollywood stereotype. According to a confidential Colonial Office
memorandum, the postwar Colonial Service officer "must above all not be
infected with racial snobbery. Colour prejudice in the colonial civil
servant is the one unforgivable sin".

What seems more remarkable is how few they were, and how many were involved
in very practical occupations. Thus in Nigeria in 1926, a country of
373,000 square miles and some 20m inhabitants, the colonial service staff
consisted of just 2,200 people. The largest group (462) worked on the
railways. There were 252 in public works, 204 doctors and health workers,
and 101 in education.

Their job was described by Sir Alan Burns, former governor of the Gold
Coast (now Ghana), in a summer school lecture in 1947. "In its early
stages, colonial administration is a comparatively simply matter," he said.
"It consists merely of maintaining order, of opening up the country by
means of roads and railways, and of giving justice to the people."

But as the end of empire became apparent, after the second world war, he
admitted that "the task is going to get harder and harder each day".

"We are there to teach and help, not to govern by the strong hand," he
said. "Our main job is to teach the Africans and other Colonials to take
our places in the administration. We must try and teach them to do the work
we are doing ourselves, in order that they may replace us . . . We must
accept a certain amount of inefficiency, a certain amount of criticism even
from those we are trying to help. We must accept cheerfully the fact that
we are training the men who in the end must take our places from us. You
will get little thanks, but does this really matter?"

The one thing the British sought to ensure was that the institutions of
government and the judiciary were in place. Lack of education was probably
the greatest shortcoming. And the whole process happened in a dreadful
hurry. But it was amazing there was not more bloodshed.

Britain is said to have won its empire in a fit of absent-mindedness. It
seems to have let it go with equal insouciance. Or as John Smith, last
chairman of the Corona Club, said: "Nothing so became the British in their
imperial mission as the leaving of it."

It is a tragedy that Russia does not seem able to learn that lesson today.
Bombing Chechnya into a wasteland is not going to keep the Russian empire
intact. It is just going to postpone the evil day. 

*On Crown Service, by Anthony Kirk-Greene, published by I.B. Tauris, price
25. E-mail Quentin Peel at:


Baltimore Sun
29 December 1999
[for personal use only]
For Siberia, a new fur trade
Large dogs taken as pets for Chinese or, some say, dinner
By Will Englund 
Sun Foreign Staff 

KRASNOYARSK, Russia -- They only come for the big dogs. Across Siberia, 
they're taking the mastiffs, St. Bernards, Afghans and German shepherds -- 
dogs that in every sense are members of the family in a Russian household and 
not pets at all.

By fair means and foul, predatory traders are getting their hands on Russian 
dogs and packing them off by the busload across the border to China to supply 
a booming demand there. Thousands of animals have been taken out of Siberia, 
in a business that's ruthless, dishonest and violent -- and that is breaking 
the hearts of Russia's dog lovers.

"It's a tragedy," says Nelli Ratkevich, who covers the canine beat for the 
newspaper Komok. "We don't have any dogs left here."

Local gangs buy some dogs and steal others. They intimidate owners into 
selling their pets for a few rubles and snatch dogs out of the hands of 
children walking them. They then find accomplices willing to provide phony 
veterinary, pedigree and customs documents.

The Chinese who have come to Krasnoyarsk tell the dog traders that the boom 
began when a Chinese law prohibiting large dogs was rescinded and they 
immediately became a prestige item among the newly rich.

But the director of the Beijing office of the International Fund for Animal 
Welfare, Grace Ge Gabriel, says the law is still in effect, though in parts 
of the country it might be indifferently enforced. Perhaps some dogs are 
being sent on to Taiwan, where demand for pets is huge, but she worries that 
many Russian dogs are being used as breeders -- to supply the Chinese market 
with dog meat.

Ratkevich says the pelts of some short-haired breeds are used in making 
ceremonial drums.

The police have proved generally indifferent, and customs officials say they 
can do little if the exporters provide documen-tation. At one border 
crossing, in Blagoveshchensk, a two-day drive along winter roads from 
Krasnoyarsk, 833 dogs have been legally exported this year -- coming not only 
from Siberia but as far afield as Moscow and Lithuania, according to Ivan 
Nesterenko of the veterinary control department there.

Dog advocates in Krasnoyarsk say the number of illegal exports is far higher 
-- from their city alone. "People in the business say you can take the number 
of legal exports and multiply it by a factor of 10," says one, writer Yevgeny 

Yelena Tulayeva is a wiry, tough-talking dog breeder and trader in 
Krasnoyarsk. She deals with the Chinese, though she says it doesn't give her 
any pleasure to do so. "But a dog means money," she says.

Tulayeva buys dogs and resells them to customers from across the border. She 
also provides dog club documents that lend some sense of pedigree and 
legitimacy to her clients' purchases.

She says she doesn't do anything illegal. Some people want to get rid of 
their dogs because they can't afford to keep them. Others find that their 
pets are ill-tempered. The way she sees it, she's doing a service.

But it's not quite like charity work. "People are cruel to dogs, and they are 
greedy. The Chinese have to pay everywhere -- to our border guards, to their 
border guards, to the police, to the tax people. We are cheated. Chinese are 
cheated. You can even be killed."

Recently a competitor called and said she wanted to breed a dog with one of 
Tulayeva's. The competitor arrived with two big men, who rushed into 
Tulayeva's apartment and beat up her husband, Andrei, with brass knuckles.

It had something to do with a debt. The competitor made off with two of 
Tulayeva's dogs.

"There is nothing awful about this business," she says. "Some people are 
honest. Some are crooks."

Her Chinese customers generally want dogs with pedigrees, though most don't 
know enough about dogs to tell the difference, she says. This, at least, 
suggests that they are planning to sell them as pets. But she also sees 
Chinese traders buying sick and exhausted dogs, fattening them up before 
taking them out of Russia.

"I'm not sure," she says, "that they're not buying them for food."

Luba Skvortsova is director of a dog club in Krasnoyarsk. One day a friend 
was walking Skvortsova's bull terrier when a man approached. "Sell the dog. 
Two thousand rubles [about $80]," he said. The friend refused. "You don't 
understand. You're selling the dog," the man said. Then he struck 
Skvortsova's friend on the head, knocked him down and stole the dog.

Olga Yudina's 9-year-old Afghan hound, Lord, was stolen off the street a year 
ago because, she later found out, someone in China had put in a request for 

"Some babushkas [old women] who stand there on the sidewalk selling things 
told me an imported luxury car had driven up and these guys with cell phones 
had gotten him into it," she says. "Evidently, they had a dog in heat with 

She went to the city market and talked with some of the women who sell cats 
and dogs there. "I was lucky -- one of the women knew the Chinese who had 
come here to buy dogs," she says.

She arranged to meet the buyer and warned him that Lord was old and sick, and 
probably wouldn't survive the trip to the border. (Ratkevich and others say 
that as many as one-third of the dogs die in transit.) The buyer, Yudina 
says, returned the dog to the go-between in the market later that day.

But the market woman, rather than giving Lord back to Yudina, spirited him 
away to a village out in the country. Again, Yudina began making inquiries, 
and some other people involved in the dog trade told her where Lord was.

Her son and some friends drove out to get him. "The girl who had him started 
to cry and said she wasn't to blame," Yudina says, "and she gave the dog 
back. It took three days for that dog to get back into his right mind."

Lord never goes out now except on a leash.

Chinese traders started coming to Krasnoyarsk for dogs more than a year ago. 
Olga Khrolina, director of an animal club, says they first came to the clubs 
looking to buy dogs but found the prices too high, so they began dealing with 
local middlemen instead. Gangs soon formed to handle the dog trade, and now, 
with dogs getting scarce, the competition is turning nasty.

"They love big dogs -- bull mastiffs, anything that looks like a German 
shepherd," Khrolina says. "Anything like that disappears from the city."

Some people, she concedes, believe that there's nothing wrong with selling 
unwanted dogs to foreigners, that the animals might even be better off.

"I disagree," she says. "If you're disappointed that there's some defect in 
your dog, well, he's your friend, and it's immoral to sell your friend. 
There's something unclean about it."

Masha Vorontsova, director of the Moscow office of the International Fund for 
Animal Welfare, is hoping to secure a grant so she can send a team to Siberia 
this winter to investigate the Chinese trade.

The IFAW, which has its headquarters in Yarmouthport, Mass., is particularly 
concerned about Chinese breeders who are reportedly raising St. Bernards for 
sale as meat. Because large dogs have been banned in China, the breeders need 
to import breeding stock.



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