This Date's Issues: 4007 4008
Johnson's Russia List
4 January 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Isabella Ginor & Gideon Remez: Maria Eismont.
2. AP: Putin Putting Stamp on Kremlin. (Tatyana Dyachenko out)
3. Irish Times: Anatorl Lieven, Unattractive under Putin, could be
4. Toronto Sun: Matthew Fisher, Yeltsin limps off into the sunset.
But even as Boris surrenders power, cynics wonder 'What's in it for him?'
5. Newsday: Dimitri Simes and Paul Saunders, Russia's Dangers Increase.
6. Jamestown Foundation Monitor: DID "KOMPROMAT" FORCE YELTSIN OUT?
7. John Danzer: The Control Type of Personality & Russia's Future.
8. Reuters: Yeltsin didn't want to go, Gorbachev says.
9. Los Angeles Times: Richard Paddock, 11th-Hour Act by Yeltsin Aids Putin
10. Baltimore Sun: Kathy Lally, An improbable and unsinkable hope.
Despite failed dreams and heavy burdens, Russians look ahead.]
Date: Mon, 03 Jan 2000
From: Gideon Remez <email@example.com>
Subject: Maria Eismont
Does anyone know what has befallen Maria Eismont, the outstanding and
intrepid Reuters correspondent whose courageous coverage of Chechnya was
frequently featured in JRL? According to last week's Moscow News, which
has just reached us, Maria was arrested upon returning to Moscow after
drugs had been planted in her belongings.A Chechen journalist, Raziyat
Iliasova, who was travelling with her was arrested after a similar plant
of three bullets. An RFE/RL reporter, Andrei Babitsky, phoned the
information from the police station to Moscow News the day after the
arrests. This was shortly after Maria's widely quoted despatch about
having seen 100 dead Russian soldiers in Grozny's Minutka Square. The
last Reuters story quoting her that we have seen was dated December 24.
As far as we know, Reuters published nothing about her arrest.
If Maria has not yet been released I think all consciencious journalists
and readers ought to protest strongly to the Russian authorities.
Isabella Ginor & Gideon Remez
Putin Putting Stamp on Kremlin
3 January 2000
By JUDITH INGRAM
MOSCOW (AP) - Moving to establish himself as master of the Russian
government, acting President Vladimir Putin dismissed Boris Yeltsin's
daughter Monday in one of his first official acts.
The speedy removal of Tatyana Dyachenko from her Kremlin post as ``image
adviser'' sent a clear message to the Russian public that Putin wants to
sever ties with the scandal-tinged Yeltsin administration.
The terse announcement of Dyachenko's dismissal marked Putin's first
personnel change since taking office Friday. It suggested that he wants to
quickly cut ties with corruption-tainted members of Yeltsin's inner circle,
whom many Russians have come to despise, and prove that he is his own man.
Dyachenko had been accused of exercising undue influence over government
policy, and has recently been a focus of an investigation into allegations of
Putin, who is seen as the strong front-runner in presidential elections
expected March 26, has indicated that one of his main goals is to clean up
the widespread corruption that may be the single biggest obstacle to Russia's
development. He has sternly warned government bureaucrats that he won't
tolerate criminality or favoritism.
But many analysts have questioned whether he will go beyond window-dressing.
``The problem of anti-corruption campaigns is that unless you start at the
top, there's no point,'' Margo Light, a Russia expert at the London School of
Economics, said Monday.
Putin granted Yeltsin immunity from prosecution on Friday, almost immediately
after the aged president resigned unexpectedly and named him acting
president. However, while the decree protected Yeltsin and made it impossible
to subpoena his papers, the immunity did not extend to his family.
Neither the substance of Dyachenko's job nor the extent of her influence were
ever clear. Regardless, it was a position that gave the former computer
engineer a Kremlin office, access to her father in an official capacity and a
great deal of behind-the-scenes influence.
She shied away from public attention, but Russian media persistently linked
her to several powerful businessmen who have allegedly used their wealth and
media holdings to try to manipulate government policy and acquire privatized
state assets through sweetheart deals.
Yeltsin's erratic moves - especially his abrupt firing of four successive
prime ministers - often provoked speculation that his daughter and her allies
were pulling strings.
Most recently, Dyachenko has been at the center of a probe into allegations
of massive kickbacks that plagued the Kremlin during Yeltsin's last year in
Swiss and Russian prosecutors have been investigating whether Dyachenko and
her sister Yelena Okulova, as well as other Kremlin officials, took bribes
from a Swiss company, Mabetex, that won lucrative Kremlin construction
contracts. The money reportedly went to Kremlin property manager Pavel
Borodin, who oversaw the renovation work, and was made available to Yeltsin
and his family.
Swiss authorities were also reportedly monitoring a bank account opened by a
Svetlana Dyachenko, which they suspected was actually set up for Tatyana.
Though the corruption allegations against Yeltsin and his administration have
been swirling for months, no senior officials have been charged with any
Putin removed three other officials from their Kremlin posts on Monday:
presidential spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin, protocol chief Vladimir Shevchenko,
and presidential office chief Valery Semyonchenko. However, Kremlin chief of
staff Alexander Voloshin then appointed Yakushkin as one of his deputies.
Yakushkin told Echo of Moscow radio on Monday that Yeltsin would maintain an
office in the Kremlin, and that he would continue meeting with officials on
an informal basis.
January 3, 2000
Unattractive under Putin, could be worse
By Anatol Lieven
Anatol Lieven is an expert on Russia at the Institute for Strategic Studies
Will Russian democracy survive Putin ? A cynic might reply that if it could
survive Boris Yeltsin, it can survive anything; or that indeed Russian
democracy at present is not much to speak of in any case. For democracy of
course is not simply - as too many Western spokesmen and commentors have
taken it to be - the holding of ostensibly free elections.
Democracy as now understood in the West requires that at some stage those
elections should provide a change in the groups holding power. It also
demands that the institutions of state power should operate in a more-or-less
democratic fashion, and should be backed up by effective, democratically
controlled judicial and other institutions. Russia is still far away from
this - but then so too are many other states we are prepared to accept as
Concerning Putin, there are two more immediate questions: Firstly, to what
extent is he his own man? And if he is his own man, what kind of man is he?
The first is of key importance because for much of the 1990s, Russia has been
plundered by semi-criminal financial magnates, the so-called "oligarchs", in
alliance with senior members of the Yeltsin regime. Their dominance,
especially over the sectors of banking and the extraction of raw materials
for export, had cost the state immense revenues. Perhaps more importantly, it
has also played a critical role in preventing the emergence of a working free
market, and in discouraging the foreign investment that Russia so desperately
Putin has clearly been chosen to succeed Yeltsin, with the approval of the
Yeltsin "Family" and its business associates. Without question, he has
promised to protect the Family from future prosecution for corruption. But he
does not appear to be the personal choice of Boris Berezovsky or Roman
Abramovich, the most important financial figures linked to the Kremlin.
This fact, and his youth, gives some hope that he will be a much more
independent and effective economic leader than the jaded, decayed Yeltsin,
let alone Yeltsin's various prime ministers. In St Petersburg, where he was
Deputy Mayor, Putin had a reputation for relative personal honesty.
However, he also had a reputation for considerable ruthlessness, as befits
his background in the KGB. And there's the rub. However understandable
Russian anger with the various threats emanating from Chechnya over the past
two years may be, the ruthless conduct of the campaign there is not an
encouraging sign for Putin's conduct of his presidency.
Putin's independence and effectiveness are liable to derive to a considerable
extent from his security background and his personal grip on the security
services. This obviously presents real dangers for Russian democracy, since
it seems to me highly unlikely that Putin, any more than Yeltsin or so many
other rulers around the world, will ever surrender power to an opposition
figure or party.
On the other hand, it may well be impossible to create an effective state in
Russia by purely democratic methods; and as now recognised by Robert
Skidelsky and other "conservative " free market thinkers, a limited but
effective state is absolutely necessary if the conditions for a working free
market are to be created. Somehow, the power of the oligarchs and of
organised crime has to be curbed, and a measure of discipline and honestly
restored to the state service and in particular the tax authorities. So when
Putin speaks of the need for a stronger state, he is reflecting not just the
Russian tradition but also Russian realities.
In terms of his professed beliefs and aims, Putin's statements so far give
grounds for a measure of hope. In his longest written statement since
becoming President, he has declared the need for a strong state, which he
says is part of the Russian tradition. He does not give much space to
democracy, and there is an ominous-sounding warning against partisanship and
against what he calls "civil accord" being disturbed in the course of
However, he firmly eschews any desire for an official state ideology,
condemns totalitarianism, and speaks of Russian attachment to "universal
human values"; admittedly, these words have been found on the lips of many a
dictator. He speaks of positive patriotism, "free of tints of nationalist
conceits and imperial ambitions". This reflects the extremely unideological
mood of the great majority of younger Russians. Putin, remember, is only 47
On the economy, what he says about the need for a state-led investment
strategy in manufacturing industry coupled with strong encouragement of
foreign investment sound sensible enough in itself. But it has been said by
several prime ministers before him, with very little effect. At present, the
relative health of the Russian economy, the source of some of at least of
Putin's popularity, is derived above all from a mixture of high oil prices
and the relative weakness of the rouble.
When it comes to really reforming the Russian economy, Putin will be limited
by the weakness and corruption of the Russian central state, and by the
relative strength of the provincial governors and elites. On the brighter
side, however, this will also make it very difficult for him to create an
effective authoritarian state covering the whole of Russia.
The Kremlin will grow stronger, and local rulers will have to make more
compromises, but they will also retain a great deal of power. I would
therefore envisage an interlocking set of semi-authoritarian, semi-democratic
regimes dividing power between themselves, with a central state which is
strong in some areas and weak in others, and less corrupt than today, but
still very corrupt.
The economy will improve enough to reconcile most of the population to the
new order. without leading to Russia becoming a new South Korea. Democracy
will be largely a matter of rhetoric, but so too will be militant
nationalism. If this is how a Putin presidency turns out, Russia will not be
a very attractive sight - but it might be a lot worse.
January 3, 2000
Yeltsin limps off into the sunset
But even as Boris surrenders power, cynics wonder 'What's in it for him?'
By MATTHEW FISHER
Sun's Columnist at Large
Boris Yeltsin's resignation provided Russia with one, final
Yeltsin's emotional announcement from the Kremlin on Friday that he was
quitting after eight tumultuous years and that presidential elections would
be held by the end of March was a shocker because, for once, there had been
no rumours the president was about to quit or be forced from office by his
generals or those around him.
But the Russian president's departure from office on the eve of the year
2000 was not a surprise. It has been in the cards every single day since
Boris Nikolayevich suffered a severely debilitating stroke during the 1996
Having cleverly managed parliamentary elections to their own advantage two
weeks ago, Yeltsin's handlers seemed to have already stacked the deck heavily
in their favour for presidential elections which had to be held by next June,
anyway. Thanks to fortuitously timed, and as yet unexplained bombings in
Moscow and the Kremlin's hugely popular war in Chechnya, the Yeltsin team's
man, Vladimir Putin, had suddenly become the overwhelming favourite to win
So why accelerate the ascension process?
Figuring out what really goes on inside the Kremlin is a never-ending game
at which westerners are hopeless. But there are several plausible
explanations for Yeltsin's dramatic nationally televised statement a few
hours before Muscovites gathered in Red Square to welcome the new millennium.
It is, of course, possible Yeltsin felt that because of his failing health
and flagging energy it was time for him to go. Or, as he put it in his
farewell speech, "I understand that I must do it and Russia must enter the
new millennium with new politicians, with new faces, with new intelligent,
strong, energetic people ... "
But that's far too simple an explanation to satisfy most western Kremlin
watchers or Russians who also speculate endlessly about what is really going
A theory with more appeal, because it has a dark twist, is that in return
for quitting now Yeltsin received ironclad guarantees from his heir
presumptive, Putin, that he and his family will be granted immunity from
corruption charges once he is gone from office.
If this is true, it would fit with another possible explanation for quitting
now. Yeltsin's inner circle may have concluded it was better to have an
election in March than in June because despite the army's repeated claims of
imminent victory, the war in Chechnya will not be easily won, if it can be
won at all. Voters' views of the conflict, and of Putin, who is
quarterbacking it, might be much different by summer than they are now or at
the end of the winter.
If Putin stumbles because of Chechnya, the most likely outcome would be
victory for Evgeni Primakov.
Like Putin, Primakov has a KGB background, but based on his brief record as
one of Yeltsin's many former prime ministers, Primakov would probably be much
less gentle with Yeltsin's daughter, Tatyana, who has been implicated in
dubious financial dealings and with others such as billionaire Boris
Berezovsky, who profited enormously from Russia's curious privatization of
By quitting now rather than at the end of his term, Yeltsin gives Prime
Minister Putin a three month run as interim president. This is a big
advantage for would-be heads of state anywhere, but especially in Russia
where the Kremlin controls the police and the two largest television networks
and where it can casually print and distribute billions of rubles to
pensioners and unpaid workers just before Russians vote.
Putin is an avowed admirer of the economic reforms and authoritarian rule of
the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet. What the West will be keen to
see is whether Putin will tend toward the former or the latter.
At the very least Putin offers beleaguered and dispirited Russians the hope
of a more vigorous president. It is most unlikely Putin will embarrass his
countrymen with bizarre behaviour such as threatening nuclear Armageddon as
Yeltsin did last month while visiting China.
In bidding Russia goodbye and endorsing Putin as his successor, Yeltsin was
uncharacteristically apologetic for "having failed to jump in one leap from
the grey, stagnant, totalitarian past to the clear, rich and civilized
He concluded by saying, "I am leaving. I've done what I could."
Oh, that Boris Nikolayevich had.
3 January 2000
[for personal use only]
Russia's Dangers Increase
By Dimitri K. Simes and Paul J. Saunders. Dimitri K. Simes is
president of the Nixon Center. Paul J. Saunders is the center's
IN THE END, Boris Yeltsin left office just as he ruled -by using
democratic rhetoric to camouflage that he had once again put himself
ahead of the Russian Constitution and the development of Russian
Although Yeltsin did not violate the letter of the constitution
(which he has not hesitated to do in the past) through his sudden
resignation Friday, he certainly violated its spirit. In Russia's
super-presidential system, even more than in the United States, the
resignation of the president is an extraordinary event; it is not
intended as a political tool allowing a hand-picked successor to
campaign as an acting president and exploit the advantages of
Yet Yeltsin quit not because of any extraordinary circumstances or
health concerns-his physical condition appears no worse than in the
past-but as a result of political and personal calculations on his
Yeltsin guaranteed that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin would become
acting president for three months. In his first act, Putin signed a
decree protecting Yeltsin from future prosecution and providing him with
a residence, a pension and other benefits. In return, his chances of
being elected president were significantly strengthened. Thus, Yeltsin
may have been remarkably frank when he rhetorically asked why he should
interfere with "a strong man who is worthy of being president" in order
to "hold onto power for another half-year." In a country with an almost
imperial presidency and one true political party-the discredited
Communists-the Kremlin inner circle apparently preferred this gamble to
risking a decline in Putin's popularity.
Significantly, Putin's ascendance will probably block constitutional
changes empowering Russia's parliament, which were favored by most
opposition presidential candidates. Putin last week described the
Russian state's "exclusively guiding role in the life of the country and
the people" and called a strong state "the source and guarantor of
order, the initiator and driving force of all change." The prospect of a
ruthless ex-KGB man as a semi-monarch in a vast nation with thousands of
nuclear weapons can be described only as disturbing.
While Putin's policy goals remain unclear, his record raises serious
A KGB operative stationed in East Germany until about the fall of
the Berlin Wall, Putin appears to have been involved in fighting
communism's collapse there.
As head of the principal successor agency to the KGB, Putin used his
powers to protect Yeltsin, rather than the constitution, by helping
discredit a prosecutor who attempted to expose corruption in the Yeltsin
entourage. He was among the architects of the unfair 1999 Duma elections
Putin's association with corrupt and cynical tycoons around Yeltsin
also does not inspire confidence. A substantial share of the so-called
oligarchs united to promote his candidacy in an effort to protect the
status quo. These people have a powerful interest in preventing anyone
from questioning the illicit gains of Russia's crony privatization.
Though more bad news for foreign investors seeking transparency and
other reforms, Putin's assurances that even illegitimate privatization
decisions will not be overturned was welcome.
Should Putin be elected to a full term in March, it will also
represent the triumph of nationalist sentiments in Russia. His two
accomplishments as prime minister-the brutal war in Chechnya and
Moscow's rejection of western criticism of the fighting-make this clear.
Still, too much is at stake in Russia to allow well-justified skepticism
about Putin to dominate the U.S.-Russian relationship. He appears a
pragmatic, decisive leader. As a young man relatively new to high-level
politics, he has time to grow. If he comes to understand that achieving
power in Russia and governing it effectively require different
strategies, he may decide to seek political legitimacy through a genuine
assault on corruption and a new beginning with the West. Putin might
live to surprise both his supporters and his detractors.
Taking into account this uncertainty, the United States should
approach the new Russian president with not only open eyes, but also an
open mind. We should not preemptively demonize Putin; instead, we should
be prepared to judge him on his actions. The Clinton administration must
indicate, however, that it will neither be intimidated nor once again be
taken for a ride by lip service to reform as a substitute for deeds.
Jamestown Foundation Monitor
January 3, 2000
DID "KOMPROMAT" FORCE YELTSIN OUT? A conventional wisdom seems to be
emerging that Russia's first democratically elected head of state
spontaneously stepped down on the eve of the new millennium in order, as
Yeltsin himself said in his resignation speech, to ensure a smooth
transition to a new generation of politicians. "Mr. Yeltsin," as the New
York Times put it, "for one last time, seemed to be betting that an
impulsive, bold move would turn Russia toward a more promising future" (New
York Times, January 2). While this view of Yeltsin's New Year's Eve
resignation is undoubtedly what the Kremlin's myth-makers wanted to get
across--and seems to have been wholeheartedly accepted by world leaders,
including U.S. President Bill Clinton--it is unlikely that Yeltsin was
primarily motivated by a concern for democratic principles and his
historical legacy. In fact, Yeltsin's pre-term resignation means that
Russia will not, as hoped, see one democratically elected leader directly
transfer power to another. Indeed, the move, as the Washington Post aptly
noted, has injected "the sour odor of a cooked deal into democratic
Russia's first transition" (Washington Post, January 1). What is more,
Yeltsin's resignation was in all likelihood not a personal decision at all,
but rather a consensus decision of some or all of Russia's power brokers.
Put another way, Yeltsin was most likely helped along in his leap into
retirement--or even, perhaps, pushed.
The reasons why the power brokers would have wanted to get Yeltsin off the
political stage ASAP are clear enough. First, his physical and mental
health seemed to be deteriorating rapidly, as was evident during the
December 9 Russia-Belarus Union treaty-signing ceremony in the Kremlin,
when he appeared disoriented and lost his balance, and in his anti-U.S.
saber-rattling the next day during a meeting with Chinese leader Li Peng in
Beijing. Second, and more important, they must have felt it necessary to
capitalize sooner rather than later on the popularity which Vladimir Putin
and his political instrument, the Unity Party, had gained from the Chechen
war, given that the Chechen rebels were putting up much stronger resistance
than anticipated. The presidential election will probably be held March 26,
and military sources were quoted as saying that they plan to have the
military operation completed by precisely that date (Russian agencies,
January 1). In other words, a March election will give the Russian army
enough time to drive the rebels out of the Chechen capital and allow Putin
to declare victory before the rebels can regroup for the inevitable
protracted guerrilla war.
While it is impossible to say with certainty that Yeltsin was made an offer
he couldn't refuse, there are some hints of this. The first is the decree
Putin signed on December 31--his first decree as acting head of
state--granting Yeltsin and his family full life-long immunity from
criminal prosecution. Not only does this suggest that Yeltsin's resignation
was far from the "impulsive, bold move" conjured up by the New York Times'
editorial board, it also strongly suggests that Yeltsin had something to
fear. Indeed, Yeltsin may have been presented with two sets of
documents--one outlining the immunity deal and the other privileges he
would receive upon resignation, the other outlining what he would be
prosecuted for if he refused to step down with alacrity. It is worth noting
that Ruslan Tamayev, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation into
whether Kremlin officials received bribes from the Swiss construction firm
Mabetex, announced on December 24 that he had decided to extend the probe
for six months, so that investigators could conduct a detailed review of
the presidential administration's finances (Moscow Times, December 28).
According to numerous press reports in Russia and the West over the last
year, Kremlin "property manager" Pavel Borodin--a long-time Yeltsin
associate--and other top Kremlin officials allegedly received kickbacks
from Mabetex in return for lucrative contracts to refurbish Russian
government buildings, including Yeltsin's old office in the Kremlin. Some
media alleged last year that Mabetex provided Yeltsin and his two daughters
with credit cards. It is entirely likely that investigators uncovered much
more than what has been leaked, and that this material was tucked away for
future political use. Indeed, Newsweek is reporting this week that a dozen
bank accounts frozen by Swiss authorities last year and containing more
than US$15 million are suspected of being linked to Yeltsin. The magazine
is also quoting informed sources as saying Yeltsin made his decision to
step down on December 24--the same day it was announced that the Mabetex
investigation had been extended for six months (Reuters, January 2).
Acting President Putin, it should be noted, first worked as one of
Borodin's assistants in 1996 after then Kremlin administration chief
Anatoly Chubais brought him from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Putin then
became head of the presidential administration's control department, and
then became head of the Federal Security Service. All of these posts gave
him excellent access to "kompromat" (compromising material). Kremlin
administration chief Aleksandr Voloshin, whom Putin re-appointed as
presidential chief of staff over the weekend, has also had access to such
material. Voloshin is a long-time associate of the tycoon Boris Berezovsky.
From: Telos4@aol.com (John Danzer)
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000
Subject: The Control Type of Personality & Russia's Future.
"Control Types" and Russia's Future.
When discussing human behavior you can never make absolute
statements but you can make accurate generalizations. Hopefully
that will clear the way for me to make some generalizations.
Democracies work AFTER issues of control have been settled.
Democracies usually aren't attractive environments for people who
are interested in control. The American presidential system seems
to attract people who are primarily interested in fame and issues
of self esteem. Parliamentary systems attract a more diplomatic
and fraternal type who are focused on compromise and harmony to get
Russia still hasn't settled issues of control. Because of the
overwhelming authority given the President you could probably
define the Russian government as a constitutional dictatorship.
This kind of government attracts people who want control.
Gorbachev,Chernomyrdin and Primakov would fare well in a
parliamentary type of government. They are good at working for a
consensus and arranging compromises so that the ribbon cutting
ceremonies can proceed uninterrupted. Chubais and Nemtsov would be
good candidates for an American Type of Presidency. They want to
look good and act smart.
This leaves us with the control types who actually get power in the
Russian situation. Let's look at a brief taxonomy of control types
and see where Putin fits in.
There are basically three types of people who crave control but
differ in how they achieve satisfaction of this desire.
1. Yeltsin type. This type wants control but doesn't want to have
to work at it. This is the classic bully. He wants control but
has no plan and no vision. He allows things to run wild as long as
everyone acknowledges he's the boss. When he gets the feeling
someone is encroaching on his power he gets rid of them even if
they have good ideas that would eventually enhance his power.
Control requires making a lot of decisions. This type has only one
decision in his repertoire and relies on a simple internal gut
assessment of whether someone is a threat or not. If they are then
the decision is clear - fire them. Eventually the only one Yeltsin
could fire was himself. If he waited for the elections he would
have had to surrender control. He got the last word.
2. Putin type. This type wants control and hopes to maintain power
by means of a plan. The plan is everything. All decisions must be
according to a preset plan. This may be a good strategy for
climbing to the top of an organization where following a plan is
rewarded with promotion. But all plans fail sooner or later
because they are based on a perceived reality not reality itself.
This is especially true when a plan involves human beings. This
type does well as long as he can report to his superiors that he
followed the plan to the letter but and failed only because his
superiors gave him a bad plan. As President he not only has to
follow the plan he has to take responsibility for the plan. When
his plan fails he will have to answer to the people - and there are
no more promotions. So far the Chechnyan war plan has worked. It
has placed Putin in power and made him popular and safeguarded the
"Family's stolen property. Putin is just another tranistional
figure. When the plan inevitably fails the people will see that he
is merely an advertised leader working for a pack of thieves. The
alleged goal of the Chechen War is to hold the federation together.
The consequence is that Russia will be in danger of even greater
3. Lebed type. This type wants control and hopes to maintain power
by doing whatever the situation dictates. There is no plan
incubated in the imagination and only the hint of a vision. This
type is continuously searching for areas of opportunity. Lebed
shows up when the situation is right and the situation calls for
immediate action. Lebed's connections with Berezovsky could have
easily won him Putin's position IF Lebed would have agreed to the
plan of protecting Yeltsin and the other thieves. That would not
have been perceived by Lebed as a real opportunity. Pardon the
Lebedism, but Lebed would want to be the HAND not the PUPPET.
This type offers the best chance for a transition from a
constitutional dictatorship to a democracy where control is
governed by law. After the Sheriff cleans up the town he gets on
his horse and rides off into the sunset.
So much for my generalizations about "control" types. My
prediction for Russia is a further weakening of the center. More
territories will seek independence. Finally, there will be a
collapse of the center and the establishment of a confederacy of
independent Russian States.
Yeltsin didn't want to go, Gorbachev says
ROME, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Boris Yeltsin was persuaded to quit as Russian
president by his daughter, doctors and entourage, but he did not want to go,
former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said in an interview published on
Gorbachev told the Italian daily La Stampa that acting President Vladimir
Putin was undeniably Yeltsin's man and nothing would change at the Kremlin
under his rule.
Business magnate Boris Berezovsky -- backed by Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana
Dyachenko -- and the head of the Kremlin administration, Alexander Voloshin,
were the key figures in convincing Yeltsin to resign, Gorbachev said.
``It's those three who devised the Putin operation and have now made the
decisive move,'' said Gorbachev, who referred to a ``heated debate'' at the
Kremlin over the presidency.
``Yeltsin did not want (to go). He resisted with all the strength he had
left. They effectively threw him out. It seems the doctors were the decisive
factor, after a consultation. They told him that any further effort would
have been fatal. And, of course, he was assured of total immunity,'' he told
Dyachenko had an official role as Yeltsin's image adviser, but Russian media
say she played a far more influential role in advising him on policy.
Berezovsky, one of Russia's business ``oligarchs'' and the financier of
Yeltsin's 1996 re-election campaign, has said frequently that his influence
on the Kremlin is overestimated.
Yeltsin shocked the world on Friday by announcing his early resignation. But
though dogged by illness in recent years, he said he was not stepping down
because of his health.
Yeltsin's protege Putin, whom he immediately named as acting president, moved
swiftly to sign a decree giving the outgoing Kremlin leader immunity from
``Putin gave all the guarantees -- he's their man,'' said Gorbachev, long a
bitter rival of Yeltsin.
Gorbachev said the fact Yeltsin had been given immunity from prosecution
meant nothing would change in the Kremlin. ``The regime won't change, there
won't be a fight against corruption, the interests and the privileges of the
oligarchy will be fully protected,'' he said.
``If it continues like this, Vladimir Putin will soon see his popularity wane
because people will see they have been tricked.''
Gorbachev was sceptical about the fairness of presidential elections,
expected on March 26. Prime Minister Putin emerged as the big winner in
parliamentary elections held last month. ``After what we have seen in this
election campaign and in this vote count, the idea of free and fair elections
in Russia is simply ridiculous,'' said Gorbachev.
Los Angeles Times
January 3, 2000
[for personal use only]
11th-Hour Act by Yeltsin Aids Putin Candidacy
By RICHARD C. PADDOCK, Times Staff Writer
MOSCOW--A top Kremlin official predicted Sunday that acting President
Vladimir V. Putin will easily win the Russian presidency in March--in part
because a law signed by former President Boris N. Yeltsin on his last day in
office will make it tough for rival candidates to get on the ballot.
Igor V. Shabdurasulov, Putin's deputy chief of staff, said an election
law approved by Yeltsin three hours before he resigned Friday will require
each candidate to collect the signatures of 1 million registered voters in
less than six weeks to win a place on the ballot.
"This means that there is simply no time left," Shabdurasulov said at a
Kremlin briefing. "One million signatures is needed by every candidate to get
registered. This is enormous work."
Yeltsin's unexpected resignation New Year's Eve was apparently designed
to keep power in the hands of Russia's ruling elite--a group of wealthy
oligarchs and Kremlin insiders known as "The Family."
As a result of Yeltsin's stepping down, a presidential election that had
been scheduled for June is now tentatively set for March 26, cutting in half
the time the candidates have to mount their campaigns. Under the previous
election law, presidential candidates also had to collect 1 million
signatures to qualify for the ballot, but if an early election was called,
that number was slashed to 500,000.
The March election date works greatly to the advantage of Putin, who is
at the peak of his popularity as prime minister but could lose support if the
ongoing war he has spearheaded in the southern republic of Chechnya begins to
The signature requirement brought to light Sunday by Shabdurasulov is
seemingly yet another going-away gift from Yeltsin to ensure victory for
Putin, whom he designated his preferred successor when he appointed him prime
minister in August.
Putin, who controls vast resources as head of state, is likely to have
little trouble rounding up the million signatures he needs while conducting a
vigorous campaign. But for his rivals, who have just finished a grueling
parliamentary race, collecting them is likely to be a daunting task.
Only the Communist Party--the one nationwide grass-roots organization in
Russia--has the structure in place to mount a quick signature drive to put
its candidate, most probably party leader Gennady A. Zyuganov, on the ballot.
For the Kremlin, Zyuganov would be Putin's ideal foe. The pugnacious
Communist leader lost to Yeltsin in 1996 and has little chance of polling
more than the Communists' core constituency, less than a quarter of the
At the same time, the million-signature rule will pose an especially
large burden for Putin's biggest rival, former Prime Minister Yevgeny M.
Primakov, who took a pounding when his loosely organized Fatherland-All
Russia movement finished behind the Putin-backed Unity bloc, 13% to 23%, in
the Dec. 19 parliamentary elections. Not only will he need to rebuild his
image quickly, but he will have to find the resources to collect a million
The signature requirement could also drive some of the lesser candidates
out of the race. Since Yeltsin resigned, only Putin has declared his
"In my opinion, Yeltsin's decision to resign brought nothing but grief
to the contenders for the presidency except for Vladimir Putin, whose
position has been strengthened," Shabdurasulov told reporters. "All the other
candidates must have been disappointed big time."
The million-signature requirement was part of a 330-page election bill
passed by parliament that includes other features that also turn out to favor
Putin. It is unclear whether these provisions were deliberately factored in
to aid the Kremlin.
While Putin, as acting president, will get plenty of free media
exposure, candidates will be permitted to conduct campaign activities only in
the final six weeks before the election. In addition, no candidate will be
allowed to spend more than 25 million rubles--less than $1 million--to
If on Wednesday the upper house of parliament sets the election for
March 26, as expected, the law will require candidates to submit their
million valid signatures by Feb. 10. That would give them just 40 days to
collect signatures--assuming they have already started.
In California, by contrast, where activists commonly use petition drives
to put initiatives on the state ballot, the law allows 150 days for the
collection of 371,000 registered voters' signatures.
Shabdurasulov said the Kremlin expects Putin to capture more than 50% of
the vote, win the election in the first round and avoid a runoff--though such
a goal has not been set.
"As the presidential administration, we must consider all possible
options of the outcome of the elections," he said. "The option where Putin
loses the elections is not considered realistic by us."
Putin has already shown he will be a tough campaigner. On New Year's
Day, his first full day as acting president, he dashed off to northern
Chechnya on a campaign-style trip to give gifts to Russian soldiers fighting
Chechen militants. But Shabdurasulov said Putin does not plan to do more than
hold his twin posts of acting president and prime minister. He will not
campaign like Yeltsin, who in one well-known incident in 1996 jumped onstage
in Rostov-on-Don and danced with a rock band.
"His [Putin's] activity in the capacity of chairman of the government as
well as acting president will be a sufficient form of waging an election
campaign," Shabdurasulov said. "There is absolutely no need for any
overindulgence in all this 'two-steps-three-claps' business. Besides, this is
not in Putin's nature."
Alexei V. Kuznetsov of The Times' Moscow Bureau contributed to this
3 January 2000
[for personal use only]
An improbable and unsinkable hope
Despite failed dreams and heavy burdens, Russians look ahead
By Kathy Lally
Sun Foreign Staff
MOSCOW -- By the time Boris N. Yeltsin relinquished the presidency on the
last day of 1999, the magnificent promise of his decade had long since
tarnished into dreary, everyday despair.
The president, who had assumed office in 1991 assuring his people of
prosperity, had failed at his great task. Life had grown worse. And as
Yeltsin resigned, he asked forgiveness, sounding as if fate had ordained
Russia's eternal suffering.
It was a bitter end to the 1990s, a sad welcome to 2000 and the wide future
beyond. Or it would be, except that more and more Russians have stopped
looking above for help and have started looking within. They are changing
their own lives and, some distant day, they will change Russia's as well.
Improbably, as one setback after another darkened the national prospects
during the past two years, life has grown ever brighter for 10-year-old
Yevgenia Slivkina, known as Zhenya.
Two years ago, Zhenya lived with her parents, Yelena and Nikolai, and their
two dogs, in one12-by-16-foot room in a communal apartment. An article in The
Sun shortly after Christmas 1997 described the boundaries of Zhenya's life,
the family's poverty, the tiny corner that Zhenya could call her own.
Zhenya was dreaming then of the New Year, when Grandfather Frost, the Russian
Santa Claus, arrives with toys for good children. Zhenya was hoping for a
ballpoint pen, a thick notebook and any toy at all. Her parents reminded her
no child could have everything.
Her mother, who had worked in a laundry before Zhenya was born, was jobless.
Her father, a poorly paid electrician, was working as a gypsy cabdriver.
They had little but each other, and they made that more than enough.
Today, Zhenya and her parents, known as Lena and Kolya, are a family
transformed, looking ahead to the next century with confidence, satisfaction
-- and a new color television.
"I feel rich -- almost," Zhenya says.
"If Mama bought a washing machine, then we would be rich."
By most measures, life has grown steadily worse for Russians in the past few
years. The gross domestic product dropped nearly in half in the 1990s, making
it 10 times smaller than the United States' and a fifth the size of China's.
Prices have grown steadily higher, with much of its food costing as much as
in the West, although incomes are pitifully lower. Many pensioners receive
less than $20 a month, and a teacher or doctor does well to earn $100.
But there are families who are surmounting all odds and improving their lives.
Determined to get ahead, Kolya put the household on a near-impossible budget
of $10 a day for food and household expenses.
They shared an apartment with two other families.
A family of four, including a teen-age son and daughter, lived in the
12-by-16-foot room next door.
An elderly woman lived in the other room.
The three families shared the bathroom and small kitchen.
Then, last spring, a near-miracle occurred.
After 10 years of waiting, the family of four got their own apartment in a
distant Moscow neighborhood.
Zhenya's family -- waiting 15 years but lower on the list because they have
only one child -- acquired the vacant room.
Now they have two rooms and share the bathroom and kitchen with only one
"Fifteen years in one room," Lena exclaims. "I don't know why I didn't lose
Now the parents use one room as a combination living room and bedroom, and
Zhenya has the other room to herself, her bedroom the size of what had been
their share of the apartment.
It might as well be a mansion, rather than two little rooms in a five-story,
shabby building known as a Khrushchevka because it was built during the rule
of Nikita S. Khrushchev 40 years ago.
"I was in such a small corner," Zhenya says, pinching two fingers close
together. "Everything is changed."
Also last spring, Lena got a job cleaning the apartment of a foreigner.
The extra money means regular milk and juice for Zhenya, meat for more meals
and new clothes.
The long years of scrimping have paid off. The family bought a tiny log cabin
in the country, where they spend weekends in the summer.
The cabin has no electricity or running water, and Kolya and Lena worked hard
to repair it, but they could afford the $3,800 price, and it gave them a new
world of greenery and fresh air.
"Zhenya was always sick before," Lena says. "Now she hasn't had even a
This year, Zhenya's wishes grew large.
She asked for a Barbie doll, a stuffed animal, a game and a vase, and
Grandfather Frost indulged her with those once-unimaginable luxuries.
Two years ago, Zhenya was in a program training Olympic gymnasts, working out
every day after school until 9 p.m. Lena and Kolya took her out of the
program last year and enrolled her in a school for the arts, where she
Lena, driven by the idea that Zhenya must have a good education above all
else, was worried that her daughter would find herself at 15 sorted out of
Olympic competition and with no real preparation for life.
Lena is hugely satisfied with the new school.
"Before, she got bad marks, not because she was stupid but because she had no
time for school," Lena says.
"She lived her life as if in a tunnel. Now she reads books, she watches
television, she studies well. She has time for a real life."
Now, Zhenya gets all A's and B's. She's doing particularly well in English
"I don't miss gymnastics," says Zhenya.
"I remember I was very small, like a doll, and it was very hard. Now I like
my dancing. And the teachers are all good, except for one. I don't like that
one because she puts a bad mark in your grade book if you drop something
Her world has grown ever larger over the past two years. On one occasion, a
family friend took her to McDonald's, where Zhenya opened up her Happy Meal
to find a handsome prince.
"He looks just like Mr. Rochester," she gasped happily, thinking of the hero
in the novel "Jane Eyre," a book her mother has read (in Russian translation)
eight times and has watched repeatedly on video. ("He conquered my heart,"
says Lena, who sometimes sighs that Kolya is not Mr. Rochester.)
Later, walking along a tony Moscow street, Zhenya exclaimed over a doorman
dressed to look like an English footman. "Has he lost his mind?" she
Her parents have great hopes for her.
"My task is to help her reject the negative influences in life," Lena says.
"We need to give her a good moral education. Sometimes I don't sleep at
night, wondering how I can do it. I only have this one child."
Deep inside, she expects good things from the years to come, despite all the
"I will grow older -- and thinner," Lena says with a laugh.
"I'll work, and my life will be richer. We have a lot of plans."
The next century belongs to Zhenya, who points out it has yet to begin.
"I think the next century will be even better," Zhenya says, "although Mama
told me it doesn't officially start for another year.
"I'm not an expert on such things," she says gravely, "but I hope prices
won't be too high. I hope prices will be lower so when we go to the market
Mama won't be so upset at the prices we see."
Her family has few regrets that the Yeltsin era has passed. They have doubts
about the age to come, especially since Yeltsin elevated Prime Minister
Vladimir V. Putin as acting president. Putin, a former KGB man, is considered
likely to win a special election in March.
"I don't like Putin," Zhenya says. "I don't even know why."
For them, it doesn't matter.
They rely on themselves.
And while they are not typical of every Russian -- Moscow is more privileged
than the great expanse of Russia -- families like Zhenya's insist that after
so much suffering, hope still prevails over despair.
Perhaps Yeltsin meant his last official words for them.
"As I bid you farewell," Yeltsin told the nation, "I would like to say to
each and every one of you, be happy. You have deserved happiness. You have
deserved happiness and tranquillity.
"I congratulate you on the new century, my dear fellow Russians."
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