This Date's Issues: 4005 4006
Johnson's Russia List
3 January 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AFP: Russian democracy needs to be defended, Gorbachev says.
2. Time.com: No Tears for Boris.
3. AP: Yeltsin Said To Be in Great Mood.
4. Reuters: Frozen Swiss accounts may be linked to Yeltsin-Newsweek.
5. AP: Clinton Hails Yeltsin.
6. Time magazine: Bill Clinton, Remembering Yeltsin.
7. AFP: In word and deed, the Putin style seduces Russians.
8. AP: Putin Fate May Depend on Chechnya.
9. Gleb Glinka: Re 4003-Stratfor/How the West Killed Yeltsin.
10. Tom de Waal: Re North Caucasus/Future of Chechnya/Ware.
11. Patrick Jones: re Stratfor.com article Presidents and the price of
12. Nat Hooper: why is Acting President Putin reffered to as the "Master
13. Boston Globe editorial: Yeltsin and history.
14. Yevegeny Ozhogin: re Stratfor.com, How the West Killed Yeltsin.
15. Washington Post letter: An Unhealthy Russia.
16. BUSINESS WEEK ONLINE: Paul Starobin, Vladimir Putin: More Questions
Than Answers So Far. He's young and is supported by key elites, but most Russians don't know what he stands for or where he's headed.]
Russian democracy needs to be defended, Gorbachev says
WASHINGTON, Jan 2 (AFP) -
Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev on Sunday called the ascension of
acting President Vladimir Putin "a good transfer of power" but said democracy
in Russia needs to be defended.
"In principal, I think this is something to welcome. It would have been
better if it happened a year or two ago," Gorbachev said on NBC's "Meet the
Former president Boris Yeltsin resigned Friday and handed power to his
hand-picked successor until elections scheduled for March.
But Gorbachev said that amid severe economic privations and growing
anti-Western sentiment, "we have to protect democracy."
"We have to defend democracy in our society because people are saying that
this is a democracy which has led to a situation where 80 percent are below
the poverty line," he said.
"If (Putin) takes the course of Yeltsin, copying what Yeltsin's been doing,
that would be a mistake ... we need a strong state, but a democratic one."
"We want everyone to feel he is protected by the state, the businessman and
the ordinary worker, that his rights are being protected by the constitution."
Asked whether Chechnya would become "a domestic Afghanistan," Gorbachev said
the Russian government was doing everything it can to avoid excessive
"The mood (in Russia) is that this wound should be stanched but we shouldn't
set off the mechanism to allow dramatic or tragic events to occur," Gorbachev
"It's important not to permit the destruction, and prevent the sufferings of
thousands of peaceful citizens and also our soldiers, our Russian soldiers
shouldn't be throw-aways," Gorbachev said.
Within hours of becoming Russia's acting president, Putin, 47, flew to the
North Caucasus for a morale-boosting visit to troops fighting rebel forces in
Chechnya, ringing in the new millennium while flying in a military helicopter.
Gorbachev was also asked whether Putin did the right thing in granting
Yeltsin and his family immunity from criminal prosecution -- one of Putin's
first presidential acts.
"If the question arises of responsibility for specific criminal misdeeds,
then of course, the law will go into action," Gorbachev answered. "I don't
think Putin or Yeltsin or anyone else can do anything about that."
Yeltsin and his family have been accused of illegal business practices, and
his aides of money laundering.
"It was a good transfer of power, it occurred in a democratic fashion,"
2 January 2000
No Tears for Boris
Boris Yeltsin's top strategists began plotting his early resignation as
early as last May, TIME's Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge reports. Gleb
Pavlovsky, the political consultant who is one of the Kremlin's main
political strategists, told TIME that he proposed the idea last summer.
Pavlovsky said two conditions had to be fulfilled for the gambit to work: The
president needed a successor he could trust completely, and all serious
contenders for the presidency would have to be weakened beyond the point of
presenting any danger. "The final decision," Quinn-Judge writes, "was
probably made last Wednesday evening--a fact that suggests there was
considerable debate within the Yeltsin camp on the desirability, or perhaps
feasibility, of persuading the President to step down." Palovksy tells TIME
the biggest threat facing Putin is dramatically inflated popular
Yeltsin Said To Be in Great Mood
2 January 2000
MOSCOW (AP) - Boris Yeltsin has been in a great mood since he resigned last
week as president, a top Kremlin official said Sunday.
``I know that on January 1 ... Boris Nikolayevich was in a very pleasant
disposition, so to speak, and in a good mood,'' said Igor Shabdurasulov, the
first deputy head of the presidential administration.
``He even said that this is perhaps the first New Year in recent years that
he has been in such an elated mood,'' Shabdurasulov was quoted as saying by
the ITAR-Tass news agency.
Yeltsin shocked Russia on Friday by stepping down six months before the end
of his term and naming his prime minister, Vladimir Putin, acting president.
Shabdurasulov said that Yeltsin had made the decision on his own.
``There was nothing secret or extraordinary,'' he said. ``There is not and
cannot be any man who would be able to make Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin do
anything that would not be in line with his understanding and conviction.''
Shabdurasulov said that Yeltsin's daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, would probably
no longer hold her job in the Kremlin. She has served as Yeltsin's image
maker and has been one of his closest advisers.
``I think that Tatyana Borisovna will change her status,'' Shabdurasulov
said. ``I think that's obvious. Not that there's any hurry, no one is running
anywhere and rushing to sign decrees.''
Dyachenko and other members of Yeltsin's inner circle have been linked to
corruption allegations that have kept the Kremlin under constant political
attack over the past year.
Prosecutors in Switzerland and Russia have been investigating the
allegations, but no charges have been filed.
Shortly before leaving on an Orthodox Christmas pilgrimage to holy sites in
Israel and the West Bank, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II expressed
thanks to Yeltsin on Sunday ``for everything he has done over the eight
years,'' the Interfax news agency reported.
He expressed particular gratitude for Yeltsin's support of the Orthodox
Church, and said that Yeltsin's arrival in the Kremlin had opened the way for
the revival of religious life in post-Communist Russia.
``Whenever we turned to Yeltsin for help, he always supported us,'' Alexy was
quoted as saying.
Frozen Swiss accounts may be linked to Yeltsin-Newsweek
NEW YORK, Jan 2 (Reuters) - A dozen bank accounts containing more than $15
million frozen by Swiss authorities investigating Russian money laundering,
are suspected of being linked to Boris Yeltsin, Newsweek reported on Sunday.
While Yeltsin's aides have consistently denied that he has any foreign bank
accounts, unnamed sources say the accounts in question are not in Yeltsin's
name, but rather are held by offshore companies or in the names of individual
businessmen, both Russian and foreign, Newsweek reports.
The Swiss authorities, which froze the accounts last summer, suspect they may
be linked to former president Yeltsin, who resigned last Friday, according to
the latest edition of Newsweek. The news magazine does not indicate why Swiss
authorities suspect a link.
Swiss prosecutors are investigating an alleged multi-billion dollar Russian
money laundering scheme linked to Russian politicians, businessmen and their
family members, and a separate case involving claims of bribes paid to
They also believe there are links between accounts in a Bank of New York
money laundering case and the frozen Swiss accounts.
The Kremlin denies the charges and Russian politicians have said the
allegations were politically inspired ahead of elections.
The freezing of the accounts does not necessarily imply any wrongdoing, but
Yeltsin has been dogged by corruption charges since last summer, when
political foes raised the issue and forced an impeachment vote. Yeltsin won
Yeltsin, 68, who resigned suddenly from office on the final day of last year,
and his family have been given guarantees of immunity by Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin, who was appointed acting president by Yeltsin.
Newsweek said informed sources told them Yeltsin made his decision to leave
office on Dec. 24, less than a week after his Unity party's success in
Russia's parliamentary election. It remained a tightly held secret for a
Although Yeltsin insisted he was not stepping down because of his health,
Newsweek reported sources saying his overall health had worsened
significantly in the last few weeks.
Clinton Hails Yeltsin
2 January 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Clinton hailed Boris Yeltsin in a magazine essay
as the ``Father of Russian Democracy'' but said how Yeltsin's successor
handles such ``unfinished business'' as corruption and the war in Chechnya
will determine Russia's place among nations.
Yeltsin's successor, Vladimir Putin, has been a moving force behind Russia's
attack on the rebellious region of Chechnya, a campaign of which Clinton has
been an outspoken critic. Clinton suggested that the outcome in Chechnya
would set the tone for relations between the new leadership in Moscow and
``The question for President Yeltsin's successors is not only how to liberate
Grozny without killing thousands of civilians; it's also whether this war
becomes a model for how to deal with other problems involving terrorists and
separatists,'' Clinton wrote in the essay that appears in the Jan. 1 issue of
``Russia has to find the right balance between the use of effective force and
decent respect for individual rights and international norms,'' Clinton said.
In addition to helping the Russian economy grow, Putin must do more to fight
crime and corruption, Clinton said.
``Unless that battle is joined ... the democratic norms and the market
economy that have been Yeltsin's prime focus can be undone,'' he wrote.
Clinton also noted there have been ``plenty of strains'' in U.S.-Russian
relations and that many observers have questioned the value of partnership
between the two nations.
``President Yeltsin and I believed our countries should, whenever and
wherever possible, work together on our many common interests and work hard
to keep our disagreements from preventing us from cooperating in other
areas,'' Clinton wrote, listing the dismantling of 5,000 nuclear weapons, the
withdrawal of Russian troops from the Balkans and efforts to liberalize the
Russian economy and bolster democracy as successes of the policy of
``If Russia's new leaders - the generation to whom Boris Yeltsin gave the
stage last Friday - endorse this as firmly as he did, they will find in
America an eager and active partner,'' Clinton said.
JANUARY 1, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 1
BY BILL CLINTON
When I spoke to Boris Yeltsin by phone on New Year's Eve, shortly after he
announced his resignation, he conveyed a mixture of relief that a tough
choice was behind him and confidence that it was the right choice for his
The manner of his leaving the presidency was vintage Yeltsin--bold, blunt,
even defiant, but rooted in his core belief in the right and the ability of
the Russian people to choose their own leaders and their own course for the
I met him for the first time in June 1992, when I was still a candidate for
the presidency and he was fairly new in his own job. Since then, in the 19
times we've met, I have often heard him speak, with unmistakable and
sometimes pugnacious pride, about his greatest achievements and, with equally
straightforward candor, about where he still had work to do to build a
genuinely democratic, prosperous and modern Russia, pursuing its national
interests while cooperating with other great nations and international
In his statement on Friday he took obvious delight in scoffing at predictions
("lies," he called them) that he would never give up power voluntarily. His
critics and rivals wanted to cast him as an autocrat. But the single idea I
heard Boris Yeltsin utter more than any other was that his country must never
go back to a dictatorship of any kind, especially to the communist system he
so clearly detested. His enduring commitment to democracy was evident in his
resignation statement, when he said that Russia's recent parliamentary
elections, which brought forward a "new generation of politicians," had
persuaded him that he had finished "the main job of my life."
Now Yeltsin's designated successor, Vladimir Putin, must be the custodian of
Russia's democracy while running for its presidency in March. If Russia is
successful in passing power from its first democratically elected President
to its second, then the country's direction will be in the hands of a new
elected President and Duma, as well as the thousands of elected officials who
now run local governments. Multiple parties vie for power through the ballot
box. There are some 65,000 nongovernmental organizations and approximately
900,000 private businesses where there were none a decade ago. A pluralist
political system and civil society, competing in the world markets and
plugged into the Internet, have emerged from a totalitarian monolith that was
closed off from the outside world and implacably hostile to our values and
No one deserves a larger share of the credit for this transformation than
Yeltsin himself. For all his difficulties, he has been brave, visionary and
forthright, and he has earned the right to be called the Father of Russian
In saying farewell, Yeltsin was characteristically frank about what hasn't
gone right under his leadership. He asked "forgiveness" for hopes that
haven't been realized. "What we thought would be easy turned out to be
painfully difficult," he said, acknowledging that along with new
opportunities for some, the past decade has brought deep hardship for others.
From our many meetings, I know that no problem he has faced has been as
frustrating, year in and year out, for Yeltsin as turning the economy around
and giving Russians better lives. He has always seen himself as their
champion. Despite Russian citizens' difficulties, there are some signs of
economic growth, and there was no sign in last month's elections that they
have given up on reform. Indeed, many of those who did best in Duma elections
told the people there has been too little reform, not too much.
The economy is not the only piece of unfinished business that Yeltsin leaves
behind. There are three others that he and I have often talked about. First
is crime and corruption. Unless that battle is joined and, over time, won,
the democratic norms and the market economy that have been Yeltsin's prime
focus can be undone. Russian citizens, like those of other democracies, need
confidence that theirs really is a government of laws. Otherwise, they will
turn to other leaders, and perhaps even to other forms of government.
Then there is the immediate issue of the war in Chechnya. We have a profound
and open disagreement with the Russian government, not on its right to oppose
violent Chechen rebels but on the treatment of refugees. The question for
President Yeltsin's successors is not only how to liberate Grozny without
killing thousands of civilians; it's also whether this war becomes a model
for how to deal with other problems involving terrorists and separatists.
Russia has to find the right balance between the use of effective force and
decent respect for individual rights and international norms. In Chechnya
that balance has not yet been found.
Finally, there is the overarching question of Russia's relationship to the
outside world. President Yeltsin and I believed our countries should,
whenever and wherever possible, work together on our many common interests
and work hard to keep our disagreements from preventing us from cooperating
in other areas.
Though the chemistry between us was good, the partnership we established has
been subject to plenty of strains. Most have been on specific issues--NATO
enlargement and its actions in Kosovo, Chechnya, and antimissile defenses.
But there has been a growing tendency lately in both countries to question
the premise of partnership--to cast doubt on whether Russia and the U.S. do
indeed have common interests outweighing our differences. Whether the issue
at hand is arms control or nonproliferation, peace in the Balkans or in the
Middle East, opening up the international economy or shutting down terrorism,
I believe Russia and America have far more to gain by approaching these
problems cooperatively than by falling into the trap of zero-sum politics.
For those with doubts, look at the years since 1991: 5,000 strategic nuclear
weapons have been dismantled; U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons are no longer
targeted at each other; nuclear weapons have been removed from the other
former Soviet states. Russia has withdrawn its troops from the Baltics, and
it has played a positive role in the Balkans; now Russian troops serve
alongside Americans in Bosnia, and Russian diplomacy was instrumental in
achieving peace in Kosovo. The machinery of communism has been dismantled,
and the vast majority of Russians work for private employers--not the state.
If Russia's new leaders--the generation to whom Boris Yeltsin gave the stage
last Friday--endorse this as firmly as he did, they will find in America an
eager and active partner.
In word and deed, the Putin style seduces Russians
MOSCOW, Jan 2 (AFP) -
He has a black belt in judo. He calls criminals "rats" to be "exterminated."
He says Russia is a "great" nation and tells its tired people that he has the
will and the means to make sure it remains so.
With carefully-chosen words and a few well-orchestrated deeds, Vladimir Putin
is winning hearts and minds in Russia and has concocted a style designed to
convince the population that they have a new and competent protector.
"When the leadership is indecisive, the people will not forgive it ... when
civil peace is endangered, the government must act forcefully and
effectively," Putin said last year as he launched an offensive in Chechnya.
The contrast between the 47-year-old Putin and his predecessor, Boris
Yeltsin, 68, could not be more stark: the former, physically able and sharp,
the latter feeble and often visibly distracted.
In a relatively short period of time, Putin has played on this distinction to
demonstrate, convincingly to increasing numbers of Russians, that he is
capable of assuming the highest duties of state.
Alternating between street slang and high political rhetoric, Putin has in
recent weeks become the champion of a "new state ideology based on patriotism
... by reviving a feeling of national pride among a humiliated citizenry,"
one political analyst said.
The key to Putin, said this and other experts, is that he "stays on message,"
and that message is: Russia is still a great power and should be treated like
"Russia will not be dictated to, and will use all diplomatic and
military-political means at its disposal" to prevent this, Putin said
recently, as he recalled that the country was still protected by a "nuclear
As part of his crusade, Putin has also gone out of his way to stroke the
military at each opportune occasion.
In a gesture that recalled the slick calculation of many Western political
campaigns, Putin spent this historic New Year's Eve uncorking a bottle of
champagne in a military helicopter over Chechnya, where he rallied the troops
and passed out commendations.
When accounts of heavy losses among Russian troops in Chechnya began
circulating last month, Putin was the first to deny and denounce them.
"This is total stupidity which has no basis in fact," Putin said. Journalists
accounts of seeing the bodies of dozens of Russian troops killed in Grozny
were nothing but "pure propaganda and lies," he stormed.
In addition to his midnight New Year's chopper ride, Putin was shown last
October 20 making another visit to the conflict zone, that time in the back
seat of a Sukhoi-25 fighter plane flying over Chechnya.
Analysts say that his words and deeds serve to project a confidence in
himself and, by implication, in Russia that has not been seen in this country
in many years.
As his judo instructor told a television station, Putin "is a sportsman with
an unshakeable will, who always achieves his goal and who does not hesitate
in making his decisions."
Putin Fate May Depend on Chechnya
2 January 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) - Though his hard line on Chechnya has driven up his
popularity, acting Russian President Vladimir Putin's political future may
depend whether he settles the conflict peacefully, top Clinton administration
officials said Sunday.
Having ascended to the presidency following Boris Yeltsin's surprise New
Year's Eve resignation, Putin is the early favorite in the March elections.
But a Chechnian quagmire may bring him down, the officials said.
``Chechnya now is a dilemma,'' National Security Adviser Samuel Berger said
on ABC's ``This Week.'' ``If it goes on too long, or if it begins to cause
increasing Russian casualties, as we seem to be seeing now, with an
intensified resistance, this could become something that mires Putin down,
and the wave he rode up could become the wave that engulfs him.''
Putin has been an outspoken supporter of Russia's military intervention in
Chechnya, defending it against criticism in the West. On his first full day
as acting president, he visited Russian forces in Chechnya to praise them for
But the Chechnya war won't be settled on the battlefield but around a
negotiating table, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said on NBC's ``Meet
``There can only be a political solution to this,'' Albright said.
The outcome of the war also will set the tone for relations between Moscow
and other nations, President Clinton said in a farewell essay to Yeltsin
published in Time magazine.
Meanwhile, Clinton administration officials said the peaceful handoff of
power to Putin bode well for Russia's democratic future.
``This transfer of power is something we believe has taken place
democratically,'' Albright said.
Still, there was an element of uncertainty with Putin, aides warned.
``So far, we're pleased with the statements that he's made about affirming
Russian democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of
conscience, private property,'' Berger said. ``But I don't think we yet have
all the answers as to where Mr. Putin - what direction he intends to lead
Russia. We hope that it will continue to be the democratic direction.''
Administration officials noted that Putin was a member of the KGB, the
Russian spy agency, but also was part of the reformist government of the city
of St. Petersburg. ``He has been a prime reformer,'' Albright said.
And Dmitri Yakushkin, Russian deputy chief of administration, said Putin's
KGB pedigree should not be of concern.
``I can name you a number of Americans who worked for the CIA and became
great statesmen,'' Yakushkin said on NBC. ``The KGB was part of the
government structure. People who worked in the KGB were very professional.''
Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2000
From: Gleb Glinka <email@example.com>
Subject: Read #9 -- it's absolutely correct! (4003-Stratfor/How the West
There is no question, certainly, that the struggle for Caspian oil--an eerie
echo of the politics that ushered in the last century--is a major factor in
battle for Chechnya. Having returned from Moscow in November, though, I am
also convinced that a principal motive for this second campaign, despite the
disaster of 1996, is the universal feeling of terrible vulnerability among
ordinary Russians after the series of gruesome apartment bombings in Moscow
Volgograd (to say nothing of the vicious three-year history of kidnappings,
hostages, sadistic maimings, televised beheadings of journalists and aid
workers, rapes of mothers looking for their children lost in 1996, etc.). Do
not underestimate the psychological impact of such random violence, Bruce.
Imagine Iran acting this way in New York City or Washington. In the final
analysis, I think, the assault on Chechnya is not only a claim to Caspian oil,
but part of a developing solidarity and self-definition in the face of the
realization that Russia must fend for itself.
On the significance of Yeltsin's passing, #9 by Stratfor seems to me to be
right on target, though I firmly believe that our own interests are
not well served by having a compliant puppet in power in Russia, but by being
seen as willing to support Russia in re-emerging on her own terms.
Friendship, rather than manipulation, ensures loyalty.
Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2000
From: "Tom de Waal" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re North Caucasus/Future of Chechnya/Ware
The future of Chechnya is indeed a fiendishly complicated issue. I don't
want to engage here in another round of detailed debate with Robert Bruce
Ware. Suffice it to say that, although I totally reject his views, I believe
he does raise two important questions, which deserve closer attention: What
kind of political settlement is possible in Chechnya? And what can be done
to maintain security in the North Caucasus as a whole?
A few brief comments:
1. The generals have no political strategy. The position of Ware and other
apologists for the military solution is to give the green light to the
Kvashnins and Shamanovs, whose place, as far as I am concerned, is not in
political negotiations on Chechnya but in a war crimes tribunal in The
Hague. But of course the military option merely destroys the political
option. Dr Enver Kisriev of Makhachkala put it better than I could when he
said (I paraphrase) "The campaign is a crime because the Russian army can go
ten times to the Georgian border and back again and they will still not have
come up with a political solution to the problem."
2. Any regional stability won through military means will be extremely
short-term. Even if there is a short-term victory in Chechnya, it would be
extremely naive to believe long-term stability in the North Caucasus can be
won by means of Russian military rule. As Emil Pain pointed out recently: in
the spring of 1995 Chechnya was 90 percent occupied by Russian forces, but
they could not keep hold of it and gradually lost everything again. At that
point the Kremlin decided to call in its North Caucasian specialists again.
This time Moscow is merely inviting guerrilla warfare, continued resistance,
perhaps acts of terror. The poverty and political alienation which are at
the root of the problem will not have gone away. Moscow needs a sustained
economic and social policy for the North Caucasus, based less on power
politics and more on the needs of the population.
3. Maskhadov. Yes, Moscow has done everything possible to ignore,
marginalize and destroy the man it still recognizes as legitimate leader of
Chechnya, Aslan Maskhadov. But to listen to the North Caucasian leaders,
such as Aushev, Dzasokhov and Magomedov and also ordinary Chechens, any
political dialogue must involve the Chechen president. Anything else is an
insult to the region. His role may now be limited to negotiating an end to
the war, rather than discussion of any big political structures, but even
that is an important role. By the way Maskhadov, pace Ware, did try to crack
down on kidnapping and lawlessness. His Anti-Terrorist unit, which I visited
in 1998, fought several bloody battles with kidnap gangs. But they were also
desperately under-resourced (they had only just got their first photocopier
when I saw them), while the kidnappers had grown rich on million-dollar
ransoms. Had Maskhadov had some decent support from Moscow he might have
made more headway.
4. Political solutions anyone? God knows, Moscow has no moral authority left
in Chechnya. Basayev and co also have dwindling authority. Does anybody
remember the joint patrols, staffed by both Russian soldiers and Chechen
fighters, that operated in Chechnya in the autumn of 1996? That seems a
pretty remote possibility now, but only some kind of joint police force
would keep the Russian soldiers in check, while Russia makes another attempt
to administer Chechnya.
From: "Patrick Jones" <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2000
Subject: Stratfor.com article Presidents and the price of Pardon/4003
Rick Jones, Managing Director Baxter Corp Holdings Ltd
Stratfor's argument that Acting President Putin has at his disposal
only two policy alternatives that are likely to result in
the return to Russia of large amounts of capital by the Russian
oligarchs is overly pessimistic and ignores a more nuanced and
The two alternatives that Stratfor posits are day and night
opposites that stand little chance of being implemented let alone of
being successful. It is very difficult to believe that an oligarch
would return his ill gotten gains after so much effort for the
promise of a pardon and the permission to keep a portion of his loot
"to live comfortably". Thus the oligarch promises not to be naughty
and earns a tip. Not likely.
The second scenario which could be properly described as the "fire
and brimstone approach" of mass arrests, property confiscations,
terror is also rather remote. Given the fact that most of the "loot"
is outside of Russia the results of the operation would most probably
not be very effective in recovering the stolen capital. Not to
mention the bad publicity of a return to "repressive measures".
More likely, Mr. Putin will weave a policy of incentives, reforms,
and not so subtle threats to woo the capital back into Russia in the
form of investments. Investments can include the purchase of
government bonds and the funding of needed programs to reanimate the
Relying on the old adage that often honey is more effective in
catching flies might just be the cornerstone of Mr. Putin's program.
A complex program of tax reform, property protection, judicial
overhaul, tax holidays and incentives, bank restructuring is the sine
quo non to attract capital into Russia not only by oligarchs but also
by more conventional investors.
We will soon learn if Mr. Putin is as smart as his resume indicates.
Let's hope that he is.
From: Nat Hooper <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: why is Acting President Putin reffered to as the "Master spy"?
Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2000
Frankly, as an observer, I am baffled at the almost universal reference to
Mr. Putin as a "Master Spy"? If we (and his political enemies) view that as
a black mark, why was there so little mention of ex-President Bush's
background as, no less, the Director of our own CIA?
I see Putin's remarks to the effect that Communism was out; Democracy,
land ownership and citizen protection was in, though there was a need for
stronger government controls, as right on the mark. I cannot see how anyone
can argue with his view that Russians lack the centuries old legacy of the
Magna Charta and therefor will need more time to develop into a truly free
society. It seems pretty obvious that the past decade of "anything goes"
without legal structure and enforcement was not in the interest of the
majority of Russian citizens. I think it's clear that Russia needs stronger
What's published of Acting President Putin's background suggests that he is
a man of his word - he will do what he says he will do. A refreshing breeze
in the typically fetid atmosphere of politics today - anywhere.
Paul Goble reports that in Washington "...others will now be able to raise
their voices to argue that this is exactly the right time to send Moscow a
message." Evidently Suggesting a stern one. Forgive me, but I totally
disagree. Mr. Putin has held a number of important, responsible positions,
but none that approach the awesomeness of the summit where he stands now,
quite alone. Surely he has enough to deal with at home without us burdening
him any further. Now is the time to offer him friendship and support. I
believe this would go much further towards insuring future peace in the
world than anything that might be perceived as imperialistic intrusion.
an interested observer
in Oxford, Arkansas, USA
2 January 2000
Yeltsin and history
Exit Yeltsin, not with the bang of standing atop a tank turning back an
attempted putsch by old-line Soviets, but with a whimper, looking old and
sick, and asking his country's forgiveness. Part buffoon, part hero, and a
political operator of great skill, Boris Yeltsin, who resigned his presidency
on the last day of the old century's last year, will be remembered as the man
who brought forth a reconstituted Russia from the ruins of the Soviet Union.
He had been a Communist leader in the town where the last czar and his family
were murdered. And when events overran the Soviet Union's last leader,
Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin was the man of the hour. He rescued Gorbachev from
a coup attempt, and managed the nascent democracy that, however tarnished,
has succeeded the most powerful and long-lived tyranny of the century.
As the empire that Peter the Great had started began to disintegrate and
break up into 15 countries, Yeltsin pulled together its largest and strongest
element, the Russian Federation. Peter's white, blue, and red flag flew once
again over Moscow, consigning the hammer-and-sickle banner to the ashcan of
If ever a man resembled his country's symbol - the bear - it was Yeltsin.
Sometimes, it was a large and lumbering circus bear, getting dead drunk,
falling in rivers after illicit visits. At other times, he was the rearing
angry bear, swatting his enemies, and nothing can ever take away from him his
moment of glory rescuing Russia from the hounds who would have restored
Not quite a true democrat, Yeltsin never had much respect for parliaments,
but the fact is that, however imperfect, Russia's rulers are elected now by
popular vote, and that had not been true in the thousand years of Russian
Yeltsin's last years were dogged by illness and by hints of scandal, and his
chosen successor, who will face an election in 90 days, is Vladimir Putin,
whose fortunes will rise or fall in the Stalingrad-like ruins of Grozny,
where a war rages with no end in sight.
From: "Yevegeny Ozhogin" <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2000
Re: Stratfor.com, How the West Killed Yeltsin, 2 Jan. 2000
1. Though I, in general, agree with Stratfor's view of their side of the
coin, I'd like to stress that there are other factors, in addition to the
ones listed in Re:, which caused Yeltsin's resignation.
First of all, the Russian people's being fed up with its president whose the
only successful coup was his disgraceful leadership in ruining the Soviet
Union. Afterwards, everything he tried to do ended up in failure (corrupt
privatisation, failure of governmental and economic reforms, Russia's
national ethinic policy, losing Russia's stature in the world arena, just to
name a few). This and many other failures caused immense economic hardships
on the people whose rights and well-being Yeltsin as prsident was supposed
to be a guarantor.
I realise some of the western readers of the JRL would draw my attention to
the fact that it was under Yeltsin that Russia experienced freedom of
speech, election, economy, etc. Well, my answer would be simple enough - by
the time the August 1991 coup d'etat attempt, the people of the then USSR
were so much fed up with Communist rule that they'd have demanded (and, I
believe, gotten) all the above freedoms - Yeltsin or no Yelstin. The course
of history led to that, not Yeltsin. We can only guess how the situation
would have developed, if the democratic reforms had been headed by some
2. Also I'd like to quote the last paragraph of Re:
"But this much is clear. The fall of Yeltsin represents the end of the
of automatic Russian subordination to Western strategic initiatives. It will
usher in an era of greater confrontation with the West. Yeltsin was
Washington's last real friend in Moscow. With Kosovo, President Clinton
killed him politically. It was the last humiliating straw in the West's
relationship with Russia."
If Washington's last friend in Moscow was the one who "represents... the
of automatic Russian subordination to Western strategic initiatives", then
it is good for Russia that he has resigned.
And if it is such people that Washington wants to be in the Kremlin for the
Washington to be Russia's friend, then God forbid us from the 'friends' like
that. as to our enemies, we'll deal with them on our own.
2 January 2000
An Unhealthy Russia
The Dec. 13 editorial "What Russia Is" argued for remaining engaged with the
people of the Russian Federation, even in the face of renewed saber rattling.
A particular area worthy of engagement concerns the health of the Russian
As the editorial noted, throughout the '90s, the Russian population has been
shrinking. Longevity has reached a low of 57 years for males. Most affected
by health concerns are adult males in their most productive years. This
demographic and public health crisis is unprecedented in a time of peace.
Half of the increased mortality is due to cardiovascular disease -- heart
attacks and stroke -- reflecting both unfavorable social habits (smoking,
alcohol, obesity, poor diet) and the inadequate identification and treatment
of hypertension. Russia also is experiencing an epidemic of tuberculosis,
with a prevalence more than 10 times that in the United States. Among Russian
prisoners, the reported case rate is 50 times the civilian rate.
Until now U.S. foreign assistance to social safety net matters in Russia has
been uneven and, at times, counterproductive. A stable Russia is in the
interest of the United States. We need a coherent policy and program for
health assistance to Russia to serve both humanitarian and security goals.
EDWARD J. BURGER Jr.
Institute for Health Policy Analysis
BUSINESS WEEK ONLINE
January 2, 2000
[for personal use only]
ANALYSIS by Paul Starobin
Vladimir Putin: More Questions Than Answers So Far
He's young and is supported by key elites, but most Russians don't know what
he stands for or where he's headed
It's not just Western leaders who are scratching their heads. Boris Yeltsin's
surprise appointment of Vladimir Putin as Acting President comes as a relief
-- and a question mark -- to most Russians as well. Hobbled by poor health,
Yeltsin has behaved erratically in recent years, but the younger Putin is
seen as a force for political stability. And he seems to have sensible
instincts, if not well-developed ideas, for helping Russia to climb out of
But to make progress, Putin will have to rally a change-weary public that
knows little about him personally and that distrusts established leaders of
all types. He will also have to have to risk alienating some of the forces
that have propelled him to power, particularly the big-business titans who
are largely responsible for the endemic corruption of post-Soviet Russian
capitalism. Altogether, it's a tall order.
Tapped just four months ago by Yeltsin to serve as Prime Minister, Putin now
is the strong favorite to triumph in presidential elections set for late
March. Not many attractive challengers are on the horizon, and the public,
for now, takes a favorable view of Putin's management of the war in Chechnya.
BEYOND THE BATTLEFIELD. On Dec. 31, the day after his appointment, Putin
reinforced his tough-guy image by swooping into Chechnya and awarded
government-inscribed hunting knives to Russian soldiers. But before the
election, he'll aim to show that he's more than a war leader. He's likely to
unveil an economic program featuring tax cuts and simplification, and to
bring in his own team of Ministers.
An important powerbroker in Putin's emerging regime is Anatoly Chubais, a
familiar figure to Western leaders, who remember him as the guy who led the
first charge for free-market reforms for the Yeltsin regime in the early
1990s. These days, Chubais is reviled by many Russians as the architect of a
privatization program that enabled Russia's new class of business lords to
buy lucrative state-owned assets at bargain prices. But he has agile
political skills and long, close ties to Putin. Both are from St. Petersburg.
In 1996, Chubais recruited Putin to leave a position in the mayor's office in
St. Petersburg for new work in Moscow.
Putin, 47, has no political base of his own. He has never before run for
political office, having spent most of his professional life working for the
KGB. He enjoys support from three of Russia's most powerful elites: the
military, the reform-minded political class, and big business. But he could
stumble quickly if he challenges any of these pillars of support.
RUBBER STAMPER? Putin has given the armed forces a free hand to conduct an
aggressive operation to subdue the breakway province of Chechnya, after the
Russian army's humiliating defeat in an earlier Chechen campaign launched in
1994. Although the Kremlin's media shapers cast Putin in the role of war
commander, Moscow political insiders say his role is largely to ratify the
recommendations of the generals and present them to the public in winning
terms. Putin has also cooperated with the military in creating an
information-control strategy that has kept journalists from learning what's
really going on in Chechnya.
Nevertheless, liberal reformers such as Sergei Kiriyenko, leader of the Union
of Right Forces, view Putin as acceptable because he's broadly supportive of
a market economy and open to advice from Russia's most Western-minded
economists. This crew, which has intermittently had Yeltsin's ear, hopes to
persuade Putin that Russia has no choice but to proceed with bold moves in
such contentious areas as land privatization. To the extent that Putin now
has any economic philosophy, he leans in favor of the German-style of state
capitalism that took root in West Germany after World War II. Putin speaks
German fluently and is an admirer of German culture.
Kremlin-connected business titans have backed Putin because he has
accommodated himself to Russia's corrupt, crony-capitalist economy. Putin,
unlike many Russian pols, hasn't been accused of lining his pockets with
ill-gotten money. But he hasn't seemed uncomfortable with the way the current
system works, either.
UNSAVORY TIES. His ties to the Russian business mavens loom as his trickiest
political problem. He owes his standing in part to Boris Berezovsky, who
controls Russia's most powerful state-owned television channel. But
Berezovsky is the embodiment of evil for many ordinary Russians -- the
leading symbol of the gross inequities that have colored Russia's effort to
replace communism with capitalism. If Putin aims to bust public perceptions
that he's little more than a creature of Russia's new business elite, he'll
have to find a way to break with this crowd.
The only powerful organized forces that stand against Putin are the Communist
Party and a political coalition led by Moscow Mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov. But
neither has a strong hand. The Communists lack an attractive political
candidate. Their veteran leader, Gennady Zyuganov, is a paunchy, camer-inept,
backroom pol who was beaten by Yeltsin in the 1996 political election and
would be unlikely to do any better this time around.
In the recent elections for the State Duma, Luzhkov challenged the
Kremlin-backed Unity Party with an alliance that featured former Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov and some powerful regional governors. But the
coalition, known as the Fatherland-All Russia party, fared poorly in the
elections and is now splintering. Primakov plans to run for President, but
he's an aging figure whom younger Russians associate with the Soviet era. The
Communists remain the single largest faction in the State Duma and may be
able to muster sufficient opposition to block any programs proposed by Putin.
But that's not a tactic likely to increase their popularity beyond their core
support of 25% of voters, many of them struggling pensioners.
HIS TO LOSE. One wild card: Zyuganov could bow to pressure from inside his
party and not run for President, and then the party could throw all of its
support to Primakov. But there's a problem with that strategy, too: Some of
the folks who now support Primakov would bolt if the Communists backed him.
So it's Putin's election to lose. And he's already busy introducing himself
to the Russian public. In a statement posted last week on a Russian
government Web site, Putin said he favored a market economy, underpinned by
"a strong state." He called for the development of "a new Russian idea,"
which he described as an alloy of "universal general humanitarian values with
traditional Russian values." He said "it will not happen soon, if it ever
happens at all, that Russia will become the second edition of, say, the U.S.
The most optimistic way to look at the Yeltsin-Putin hand-off is that it
reflects the conviction of both men that a struggling Russia needs new, bold
leadership. In his televised resignation address to the Russian people,
Yeltsin showed considerable emotion. "I want to ask you for forgiveness,
because many of our hopes have not come true, because what we thought would
be easy turned out to be painfully difficult," he said.
UNUSUAL CANDOR. Putin describes the new Russia as a country where the economy
has nearly halved in the 1990s and where "the real incomes of the population
have been falling since the beginning of the reforms." He also admits that
"problems in this renewal process" are "the results of our own mistakes,
miscalculation, and lack of experience."
Taken at face value, such candor is refreshing. But the Yeltsin-Putin
exchange can also be seen in dark terms. Russia previously had an election
set for June. By now giving his Prime Minister supreme powers as Acting
President, Yeltsin, in effect, preempts a decision that in a healthy
democracy is made by the people. Moreover, Putin signed a decree that legally
immunizes Yeltsin and his relatives from any future prosecutions on charges
of corruption or any other crimes. Cynics see Yelstin's surprise turnover to
Putin as a shoddy backroom deal to avoid legal difficulties.
Since the Cold War ended, Russia has been unable to develop either the
democracy or the economy that its people -- and the West -- were so eager to
see. In the early hours of the New Year, a group of thirtysomething Russians
sipped champagne and cognac at a Moscow jazz club and talked about the day's
dramatic political events. Nobody had anything especially negative to say
about Putin, but the discussion was laced with question marks. Why Putin?
What does he stand for? To outsiders and Russian citizens alike, the
country's politics remain as murky as ever.
Starobin is Moscow bureau chief for Business Week
EDITED BY DOUGLAS HARBRECHT
Return to CDI's Home Page I Return to CDI's Library