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Johnson's Russia List
9 January 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Xinhua: Russian Citizens' Income down 15 Percent in 1999.
2. Washington Post editorial: Russia's King Vlad.
3. Viktor Kalashnikov: Putin's Background.
4. Ed Spannaus: Alexei Arbatov at Atlantic Council.
5. Reuters: Russia, Chechen rebels fight war of words.
6. Boston Globe: David Kramer, The next move. What little we know
about Vladimir Putin suggests that he is more interested in confrontation than reform.
7. The Independent (UK): Helen Womack, Russia's 'Bears' roar for Putin.
8. RUSSIAN ELECTION WATCH: Grigory Yavlinsky, YABLOKO'S EXPLANATION FOR
ITS SHOWING IN THE DECEMBER 19 ELECTIONS.
9. RUSSIAN ELECTION WATCH: Vyacheslav Nikonov, THE KREMLIN ADVANTAGE.
MOSCOW USED ITS RESOURCES TO WIN, AND DEMOCRACY LOST.
10. Itar-Tass: Teachers in Russian Regions Not Paid for Months Minister.
11. Arun Mohanty: The Putin Enigma.
12. The Observer (UK): Jamie Doward, Russia Y2K bill 'shows West
Russian Citizens' Income down 15 Percent in 1999
MOSCOW (Jan. 9) XINHUA - The 1999 year witnessed Russians' real income
dropping 15 percent from 1998, said the Russian Economy Ministry Sunday.
Preliminary reports said that the nominal designated average monthly wage
received by workers of state-run and small enterprises amounted to 1,565
rubles (57 U.S. dollars) in December 1999, which was 49 percent more than
that in December 1998.
But in dollar terms the average monthly wage stood at 67-68 dollars over the
past four months of 1999, against 74 dollars in December 1998.
Particularly, the real designated wage of a worker, with consumer prices
taken into account, decreased by over 20 percent in comparison with 1998's
9 January 2000
Russia's King Vlad
THE BETTING IN Moscow now makes Acting President Vladimir Putin a shoo-in to
win a five-year term as president in the special election March 26 -- a
coronation, it's being called. President Clinton and his administration
profess themselves delighted; it's all going according to the constitution,
they say, so this is a great victory for Russian democracy. From the critics
comes an opposing point of view: Because Mr. Putin is sure to win, this is no
democracy at all -- it's a sham. Neither camp has it quite right.
Mr. Putin was a little-known bureaucrat until President Boris Yeltsin
elevated him to the prime ministership last summer. He quickly made the most
of his chance, soaring to become Russia's most popular politician -- in fact,
its first genuinely popular politician in a long time. Russians' approval of
him stems in large measure from his prosecution of a war against separatists
in Chechnya. The Chechens are widely disliked within Russia; they are blamed
for terrorist attacks against Russian civilians; and the Russian campaign has
been portrayed in the media as competent and successful. This has cheered an
electorate accustomed to weakness and bumbling in the Kremlin. Mr. Putin
projects an air of calm command. He has made sure to pay overdue wages and
pensions. And he has benefited from a small upturn in Russia's economy, the
first in years.
Now, thanks to Mr. Yeltsin's surprise resignation on New Year's Eve, Mr.
Putin is the acting president, well-positioned for the coming election.
There's no question that much of his strength stems from undemocratic
features of the Russian political landscape. The Kremlin and its allies
control two of three national television networks, and use them brazenly to
tear down political opponents and puff up allies. Mr. Yeltsin's resignation a
half-year before the expiration of his term, while constitutional, was a kind
of cheap trick; it pushed the election back from June to March, aiding Mr.
Putin (Mr. Yeltsin's favored candidate) while his popularity remains high and
giving opponents little time to mount a campaign. It was a short-circuiting
of the democratic norms that Russia is just now seeking to institutionalize.
But it's also true that opponents will be free to run and campaign. Much can
change in 10 weeks; the coronation may not be as automatic as now assumed.
And if it is, the main reason will be that more Russian voters favor Mr.
Putin than, say, liberal economist Grigory Yavlinsky or Communist Gennady
Zyuganov, both of whom are likely to run.
Many Americans may not like the result. They may worry, and with good cause,
about Mr. Putin's appeal to nationalism and his willingness to build
popularity atop the war crimes of his troops in Chechnya. They may be
nauseated, again with good cause, by Mr. Clinton's everlasting justifications
of Mr. Putin's war, as in his recent description of Russia's efforts to
"liberate" Grozny, Chechnya's capital. But it's important to separate
judgment about outcomes from condemnation of process. Mr. Putin is heavily
favored now largely because he's most popular; that doesn't necessarily make
him the best choice, but it doesn't make him a czar, either.
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2000
From: email@example.com (Viktor Kalashnikov)
Subject: Putin's Background
Summarising several commentators' views, Mr. Putin's
allegiance towards modern technology and pro-Western
concepts can be traced back to his participation in industrial
espionage in Dresden. But, evidently, his evolution didn't
Upon the DDR's breakdown, he was transferred to St.
Petersburg university and later into vicinity of Sobchak and
Chubais. According to press reports, these positions
belonged to a special system of 'civil' employment which was
widely used during the post-Communist power transformation
in Russia. Some researchers even suggest that both history
and essence of those events should be (re)considered
accordingly. This notwithstanding, acting side-by-side with
leading democrats may easily have brought Mr. Putin to
acquire more of reformist and democratic ideas. Later, he
found an extensive area to apply them at his posts in
Moscow. As to St. Pete's land-slide criminalisation after Mr.
Putin's departure, the causal relationship here appears
questionable but still invites for further scrutiny.
Finally, the fact that Germans have now exposed Russia's
waiting-president the way they did (Re: JRL 4020), is very
remarkable. One only wonders what kind of contributions to
Mr. Putin's CV could appear next. Anyway, Russia-observers
may prepare refocusing their attention from New York, Zurich
and Cayman Isles to some other places.
If the allegations prove, Putin's record would include violation
of Russia's major creditor's sovereignty. Moscow's
international appearance would get a very special touch as
well. Surely, there's another case of malicious conspiracy
aimed at undermining centrist, pro-reform forces in Russia.
Date: Sat, 08 Jan 2000
From: Ed Spannaus <Spannaus_E@mediasoft.net>
Subject: Alexei Arbatov at Atlantic Council
A CASE OF DEAFNESS AT THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL
By Edward Spannaus, Executive Intelligence Review
WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (EIRNS)--For the second time in less than
a year, the Atlantic Council of the United States hosted a visit
and speech by Alexei Arbatov, a deputy in the Russian State Duma
of the pro-reform Yabloko bloc.
Last April, Arbatov -- hardly an anti-Western hardliner --
had spoken in quite dramatic terms about the crisis in
U.S.-Russian relations as a consequence of the NATO bombing of
Yugoslavia, and he had described in some detail, how
anti-Americanism on an unprecedented scale was sweeping Russia.
Speaking again on Friday in Washington, Arbatov declared
that what is going on in Russia today should not come as a
surprise. This situation has been building up for several years,
he said, citing two factors in particular.
First, is the "failed economic reform." Russia's effort to
get out of its economic crisis is aggravated by its dependence on
foreign financial aid, which has very stringent conditions which
sometimes contradict Russia's attempts to get out of its crisis.
Secondly, he said, there are external events which have had
a big influence. Some people had been warning their American
colleagues, that things that were done by the United States and
the West might affect Russian developments in a negative way.
"The double shock of NATO extension and NATO's war in the Balkans
certainly marked a turning point, in both Russian domestic
affairs, and the Russian attitudes toward the United States and
the West," he stated.
Arbatov said that the shock of the Balkan war is not
forgotten in Russia, and he said that the ongoing war in Chechnya
"is directly related to the war in the Balkans." The methods
being used by Russia are an attempt to emulate what NATO did in
Kosovo, and the lessons that Russia drew from NATO's actions in
Kosovo are now being applied by Russia in Chechnya.
These lessons are: (1) that NATO's actions removed the
taboo in Russia, since the end of the first Chechen war, on the
use of force in such situations; (2) that the goal justifies the
means, (3) that military force is an efficient problem-solver, if
applied massively and decisively, (4) that negotiations are a too
long and controversial means to resolve political issues and
ethnic conflict, (5) that the legality of an action is of
secondary importance, when national interests are at stake, (6)
that humanitarian consequences are simply collateral damage which
can be tolerated, and that to cut losses among your own troops,
you may inflict excessive damage and devastation on the property
and peaceful population of the other side.
"The opinion of the West, about what Russia is doing, is as
of little importance, as was Russian opinion, about what NATO was
doing in the Balkans in Spring and Summer of this year."
"The slogan which has common support in Russia now, is that
if NATO assumes a self-proclaimed right to use force against a
sovereign state in such situations, then Russia all the more has
the right to use force in its domestic affairs."
Arbatov pointed out that the recent elections in Russia
took place in a situation of war hysteria, and with strong
memories of what the West did in Kosova. The war was the primary
issue in the parliamentary elections, and it certainly will be
the primary issue in the forthcoming presidential elections.
Following Arbatov's presentation, former U.S. Ambassador to
Moscow (1981-87) Arthur Hartman, presented a commentary, in which
he disputed much of what Arbatov had said.
"What we see going on in Russia is not caused by Kosovo,"
Hartman declared. "There's a 100-year history behind what is
happening in Chechnya. unfortunately, Russia is dealing with its
Manifest Destiny problems about a hundred years too late -- if
you think about how we dealt with them in the 19th century."
Regarding NATO expansion, Hartman said he initially opposed
it, but then accepted it, and disagreed with Arbatov that this
has had any great effect on Russia.
Hartman further said he does not agree that the reforms were
a total failure, for the following reason: "My investment fund,
is an example that that is not the case. We have backed small and
medium-sized entrepeneurs who are very successful -- more
successful today after the failure of the economic policy last
August when the ruble fell, because we have less foreign
Russia, Chechen rebels fight war of words
By Elizabeth Piper
MOSCOW, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Russia's military and Chechen rebels stepped up a
war of words on Sunday, with Moscow hailing its successes in the breakaway
region's mountainous south and the Chechens saying they were fighting back
Action in the war-ravaged province turned to Chechnya's rugged southern
mountains for the second day after Moscow announced a partial suspension of
its offensive against the capital Grozny, where troops are facing stiff rebel
NTV private television reported that Russian had blockaded two villages,
Simsir and Sterch Ketch, about 70 km (40 miles) southeast of Grozny and news
agencies said warplanes had pounded rebel bases across the southern
mountains. It said troops had killed 60 rebels.
Rebel spokesman Movladi Udugov told Reuters by telephone Chechen fighters had
driven Russian troops out of Argun, to the south of Grozny, and were fighting
for control of Shali, towards which columns of Russian tanks were moving.
``Chechen troops have freed the town of Argun and Mersky Yurt, they are now
under the control of Chechen forces,'' Udugov said. ``Today, three hours ago,
Chechen forces went into Shali, there is fighting there now and about half
the town has been freed of Russian forces.
``There has been no action in Grozny,'' Udugov said, denying some media
reports of fierce fighting between Russian troops and rebels in the bombed
Udugov also denied that Russian troops had cut off Vedeno, saying it was
impossible to surround the mountainous town. NTV reported that Sergei
Makarov, commander of the eastern division, had begun talks with elders in
RUSSIAN TROOPS FACE TOUGH STRUGGLE IN MOUNTAINS
More than three months into Russia's campaign in the rebel region, Grozny and
the high southern mountain bases are the last areas still under rebel
control, but they are far tougher targets than the lowland towns and villages
Moscow has captured so far.
In the mountains, Russian forces are attacking from three directions,
pressing up from the lowlands in the north, sending marines across mountain
passes from the east and dropping paratroopers along the southern border with
Udugov said the 100,000-strong force besieging Grozny was quiet on Sunday. He
said some of the troops were heading to support forces in the mountain towns.
Russian forces in and around the Chechen capital were regrouping on Saturday
after the Kremlin announced a partial suspension of their offensive for
Acting President Vladimir Putin said the attack had been suspended partly
because of celebrations of Christmas by Orthodox Christians and Eid al-Fitr
by Moslems, the feast marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
SOME MEDIA SAY RUSSIA PREPARING FOR NEW GROZNY OFFENSIVE
Putin also made little of an announcement that two new generals in Chechnya,
Vladimir Shamanov and Gennady Troshev, were being replaced. One senior
commander had said it was due to the slowdown in the military's advance in
Makarov, Troshev's replacement, told ORT television on Saturday that the
troops had been given new, ``more complicated'' tasks for the Chechen
offensive. Some media suggested they were preparing for a larger-scale
onslaught on the battered capital.
The generals said the offensive had been slowed to allow civilians to leave
The Russians said this week rebels were using 20,000 civilians as human
shields in Grozny. The separatist fighters say 40,000 civilians remained
trapped in grim conditions by constant Russian bombing and artillery fire.
9 January 2000
[for personal use only]
The next move
What little we know about Vladimir Putin suggests that he is more interested
in confrontation than reform
By David J. Kramer
Six months ago, nobody was mentioning Vladimir Putin as a possible prime
minister of Russia, let alone president. Six months ago, few people were
talking about Chechnya as the defining issue in Russian politics. Ten days
ago, virtually no one expected to wake up to the New Year's Day news of Boris
Yeltsin's resignation. Making predictions about Russia, in other words, is a
It may not be wise, then, to virtually cede Russia's presidential election in
March to Putin, as conventional wisdom seems already to have done. But, for
the moment, it's hard to imagine any other political figure in Russia -
including the top challenger, Yevgeny Primakov - being able to unseat Putin,
whose ratings hover around 70 percent support.
So what might a Putin presidency have in store? While Putin is a relatively
unknown figure, what we do know of him is cause for concern.
He is a man whose past political debts will probably keep him on a course
more status quo than reformist, despite the claims of some of his backers.
More important, his pursuit of what he sees as Russia's national interest,
including the current savage campaign in Chechnya, suggests confrontation
ahead between Russia and the West.
Indeed, the West should be thinking of how to deal with a man in the Kremlin
who - unlike Yeltsin - has shown little concern for diplomatic good will.
Although Putin has called for ratification of the START II agreement, during
Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott's recent trip to Moscow, Putin
showed no willingness to negotiate on antimissile defense issues and rejected
Western criticism of Russia's policy in Chechnya. Those actions do not augur
well for Russian-US relations.
The efforts by Putin's supporters to describe him as a reformer are rather
unconvincing when one looks at his KGB background and his responsibility for
the Chechnyawar. In fairness, Putin's lengthy career in the KGB during the
Soviet period, including a tour in East Germany, does not automatically make
him retrograde - just as his tenure as deputy mayor of St. Petersburg in the
1990s under progressive Mayor Anatoly Sobchak does not ipso facto mean he is
After being brought to Moscow in 1996 to serve in the presidential
administration under Pavel Borodin, a man steeped in corruption allegations,
Putin became chief of the Federal Security Service, the successor agency to
the KGB, and later head of the president's Security Council. On Aug. 9, he
was tapped to become Yeltsin's fifth prime minister in 18 months.
Putin, therefore, is no stranger to the system that has been in place for the
past decade. Both Anatoly Chubais, former top economic adviser to Yeltsin and
darling of the Clinton administration, and Boris Berezovsky, the
controversial oligarch close to the Yeltsin family and recently elected to
the Russian parliament, claim to have been instrumental in Putin's rise.
Without question, Putin owes his ascent from obscurity to Yeltsin and ''the
family,'' defined as Yeltsin's daughters, sons-in-law, and a select group of
close advisers, Chubais and Berezovsky included. Without them, Putin would
not have become prime minister - and acting president today.
Thus, even as the clear front-runner in the March 26 election, Putin must
walk a fine line in maintaining their needed backing while not appearing to
be in their pocket.
The most disturbing part of Putin's record is the war in Chechnya. That Putin
is clearly behind and responsible for the military campaign was exemplified
by his decision to visit Russian troops fighting in the breakaway republic
the day after assuming the presidency.
The Russian military launched its campaign in response to Chechen rebel
incursions in August into neighboring Dagestan, and after Moscow's wholly
unsubstantiated claims that Chechen ''terrorists'' were responsible for four
bombs in Russia in September that killed nearly 300 people. (There is
widescale speculation among Muscovites that Russia's security services played
a role in the bombings to provide a cover for invading Chechnya.) The brutal
military action, which has killed countless civilians, has won widespread
support among the rest of the country.
The perception among many Russians that Putin has acted in a tough,
no-nonsense fashion in responding to the Chechen threat has translated into
phenomenal political support for him personally and for the two political
parties that he endorsed in the recent Duma, or parliamentary, campaign.
Support for his Chechen strategy could prove tenuous, however, if the
campaign takes a bad turn for Russian forces, and signs of such a shift are
emerging. After moving into the northern third of Chechnya with relative
ease, Russian forces have encountered stiff resistance in their efforts to
take Grozny and the body count among Russian soldiers is on the rise.
Even Kremlin-backed efforts to control media coverage of the war may not be
able to hide the military's mounting troubles. Yeltsin's resignation, in
moving the election up from June to March, shortened the window for things to
go badly in Chechnya and thus damage Putin's standing. Some people are even
predicting that Putin, barring disaster in Chechnya, could win in the first
round of the election on March 26. But as we've seen before, three months can
be an eternity in Russia.
If Putin does win big, post-Soviet Russia would for the first time have a
strong, vibrant president in a strong presidency, heightening the fears of
many who worry that the 1993 constitution endows the executive with
Because of ill health and political inattentiveness, Yeltsin did not exploit
those powers. Last summer, with the Kremlin in decline and opposition leaders
on the rise, there was hope for much-needed constitutional reform in Russia
before the scheduled June presidential election. The idea had been to reduce
the powers of the presidency and enhance the judicial and legislative
branches to reduce the possibility that Yeltsin's successor would misuse his
Now, with Chechnya and Yeltsin's resignation having turned the political
stage upside down, constitutional overhaul is a dead issue, and Putin
inherits the office with vast authority unchecked.
He also inherits an economy that averted the collapse that many predicted
following the 1998 ruble devaluation and debt default. But catastrophe was
avoided less because of concerted government policy and more due to higher
prices for oil on which Russia's economy is so dependent. A decline in energy
prices could easily unravel the country's modest economic advances.
While Putin has called for a stronger state role in the economy, his economic
platform, like so much else about him, remains unknown. Before the Dec. 19
Duma election, he endorsed the Union of Right Forces, a faction led by
Chubais and reform-minded figures like former prime ministers Yegor Gaidar
and Sergei Kirienko, as well as the Unity faction, which offered no program
Chubais and others in the Union hope Putin's rise will pave the way for their
return to power. Yet that is probably wishful thinking, for it is hard to
imagine that Putin would bring back someone so widely hated. Even if Chubais
were to return in some official capacity under Putin, the West should not
take comfort, for Chubais, Gaidar, and others in the so-called reform camp
are among the strongest backers of Putin's policy in Chechnya - a position in
stark contrast to their opposition to Russia's first war there, in 1994-96.
Yeltsin invariably sought good ties with the West, and Putin claims he wants
that, too. He should be given a chance to prove his proclaimed good
intentions on the foreign and domestic fronts, but the initial indications,
unfortunately, do not bode well.
The Independent (UK)
9 January 2000
[for personal use only]
Russia's 'Bears' roar for Putin
By Helen Womack in Moscow
Surprised by their own election success, the "Bears" of Russia are hastily
inventing themselves. Animals without a party, their only policy so far has
been to support Vladimir Putin, the likely new master of the Kremlin. They
follow his lead and seem hardly to know yet whether they are cuddly teddies
or roaring grizzlies.
If acting President Putin, 47, a former KGB agent, is an enigma whose motives
and intentions remain unclear, then the movement is even more of a mystery.
Unity or "Medved" (the acronym from Inter-regional Movement for Unity but
also the Russian word for "bear") was formed a mere three months ago to give
Mr Putin, then Prime Minister, a base of support in the State Duma.
After its astonishing performance in the Duma elections in December (it came
second after the established Communist Party), Unity held a congress in
Moscow at which Mr Putin was idolised. Lazy workers were warned that they
would be "made to work" and delegates called for the founding of a movement
of "Young Bears".
A few of the "cubs" gathered in Moscow last week in a small office rented
from the Society of Young Nobility. They seemed unsure what to do next, apart
from vote for Mr Putin in presidential elections, which, because of Boris
Yeltsin's early retirement, have been brought forward to 26 March.
Grigory Amnouel, a 43-year-old former cinema director, jokingly called
himself an "old Young Bear". He did most of the talking for the less
articulate and more natural "cub", 25-year-old Alexei Loktionov, a graduate
in law from Moscow State University.
A poster on the wall showed the Unity bear, dressed in weightlifter's
combinations, taking the wolf of corruption by the scruff of the neck and
disposing of him like rubbish.
"Sometimes you must have courage to take tough decisions. Medicine is not
always sweet," continued Mr Amnouel, referring to the "anti-terrorist
campaign" in Chechnya that has propelled Mr Putin into power. "Unfortunately
there are victims. You cannot make an omelette without cracking eggs," he
added, endorsing the end-justifies-the-means doctrine of so many politicians.
Mr Amnouel denied that the war, which has made Mr Putin so popular, could be
seen as a plot by Mr Yeltsin to promote a successor who would protect him
from prosecution for corruption. But he did let slip one revealing notion.
Chechen guerrillas had invaded Dagestan in August as a result of
disinformation from Moscow that led them to believe the Dagestanis would rise
up and support them. "They were made to think it would be easy but it was a
trap," he said. Before August, Chechens had been regularly raiding
neighbouring regions and taking hostages for ransom and the Russians,
humiliated in the last war from 1994-1996, wanted to put a stop to that.
Disinformation was an art form of the old KGB, for which Mr Putin began his
career as an agent in East Germany. Mr Amnouel said the West should not worry
about the acting President's KGB background.
"The best people in the Soviet Union were either dissidents or worked for the
KGB, whose graduates were the most educated and professional people, who had
been to our equivalent of Oxford or Cambridge." He explained that Mr Putin
was a liberal from Russia's most Western-leaning city, St Petersburg.
"No Russian leader before him ever visited troops at the war front. Stalin
never did it and all those who followed him just stayed in the Kremlin or
rested at their dachas. Putin has human qualities that are normal in a
Western politician but still very unusual for us."
Unity now faces the challenge of becoming a proper political party. It fought
the Duma elections as an umbrella movement bringing together Christian
Democrats, representatives of Russia's non-Christian faiths, Afghan war
veterans, small businessmen and the youth organisation, Generation Freedom.
"Do not be afraid of the new force of the Bears," said Mr Amnouel. "If Russia
has a chance to be a normal country, in the first instance for its own
citizens, and then for the rest of the world, then it is linked only with
Unity and President Putin."
RUSSIAN ELECTION WATCH
No.6, January 8, 2000
Harvard Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project
YABLOKO'S EXPLANATION FOR ITS SHOWING IN THE DECEMBER 19 ELECTIONS
By Grigory Yavlinsky
The election campaign began with the explosions in apartment buildings
which killed hundreds of people and continued in the context of war
hysteria. In such situations citizens' parties face many difficulties.
Yabloko conducted its campaign standing in opposition to two blocs of the
criminal nomenklatura. One of these blocs, Unity, represented the Kremlin
and the government while the other, Fatherland-All Russia, represented the
governors. Vladimir Lukin was completely accurate when he said that all the
power of state institutions was focused on providing the best results for
the state apparatus which participated in the elections under the "masks"
of Unity and the Union of Right Wing Forces, disregarding all rules,
principles and laws. Based on the level of greed and manipulation of
public opinion, this has been an unprecedented campaign." Three days
before the elections, the governors reported by phone to the Prime Minister
what percentage of their regions would be with Unity. The Perm governor,
apparently unaware that at that moment their conference was being shown on
TV, told Putin: Unity has gained the requisite amount - 18%. Yabloko
practically did not have access to the most powerful propaganda resources.
The amount of airtime that different parties received on different TV
stations was completely incomparable. It was not hard to notice that the
resources spent by today's leading parties are inconsistent with the amount
of funds officially allowed by law. We observed multiple violations of the
election law, which created conditions for falsification. The most
scandalous occurred in three places: (1) in Bashkortostan, where the
president of the republic, Murtaza Rakhimov, right there at the voting
station called for people to vote for his bloc - this was all shown on
television; (2) in Moscow, where at voting station number 391 it was
announced at 3:00 p.m. that there were no more ballots and that since 25%
had already voted, that was enough; and (2) in Kalmykia, where on the day
of the elections, when all kinds of campaigning are forbidden, leaflets, in
which Kolesnikov was called a "member of the national-social group called
"Yids" and Yabloko was called a raging Semitic faction, were distributed.
Yabloko did not use "dirty PR," did not use means and methods which
discredited our opponents. But to struggle using democratic methods in the
conditions in which we found ourselves is almost impossible. Such methods
do not exist. Therefore, 6 percent is a good result. Yabloko would not
want to have received 5 or 10 percent more votes but remember for our whole
lives that when the war began in Chechnya, we said that it was necessary
to fight down to the last Chechen and the last Russian soldier, as our
RUSSIAN ELECTION WATCH
No.6, January 8, 2000
Harvard Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project
THE KREMLIN ADVANTAGE
MOSCOW USED ITS RESOURCES TO WIN, AND DEMOCRACY LOST
Vyacheslav Nikonov, Director
"Politika" Foundation, Moscow
* The Kremlin deter-mined the make-up of the new Duma, as abuses by those
in power plagued the elections.
* Of the 3 Kremlin-supported parties, only one, the Union of Right Wing
Forces, can be called democratic, and it lost its liberal innocence by
supporting operations in Chechnya.
* Opposition parties contain more reformers than the parties of the
* There will be at least 10 factions in the new Duma.
A fairly popular interpretation of the Russian election results for the
State Duma is that they represented a triumph of Russian democracy,
demonstrated the administration's adherence to democratic processes,
brought success to the democratic pro-Kremlin forces and created the
conditions for a breakthrough in reformist law making.
In my opinion, one must be endowed with a great sense of humor in order to
come to these conclusions.
The main factor that determined the distribution of power in the future
Duma were the administrative re-sources of executive power, which chose a
legislature for itself.
The Kremlin was the principal campaign headquarters, which, while directing
the departmental head-quarters established in each of the Ministries,
allocated uncontrollably enormous sums of budgetary and non-budgetary money
in support of parties and candidates sympathetic to it.
The Kremlin chose a legislature for itself.
Included amicably in this game were the governors, who could hope for
federal subventions only on the condition of support for the
pro-administration bloc, Unity.
The Kremlin instituted strict control over the primary mass media that are
sustained with taxpayers' money, and introduced for all intents and
purposes censorship on the activities of the opposition.
The unraveling of the pro-administrative parties was brought on through
association with Premier Putin, who appeared as the "heroic suppressor of
Chechnya" and the embodiment of Russians' aspiration to the "hard hand,"
and not at all to democracy.
Moreover, the powers that be had an unlimited capacity to openly destroy
the election legislation (which, by the way, directly pro-hibits any
administrative interference in the course of elections), confident of the
full loyalty of the regula-tory and judicial organs.
And once again the wise and exceptionally democratic idea of Comrade Stalin
was adopted: "It is not important how the people vote, but who counts the
vote." Information on serious abuses during the calculation of the votes
this time was by far greater than and other time.
Putin appeared as the "heroic suppressor of Chechnya."
The idea that elections can be "clean and honest" went into the realm of
idealistic human rights folklore.
Of the three parties supported by the Kremlin, only one can be called
democratic - the Union of Right Wing Forces (URWF), which, in truth, also
lost its liberal innocence having fully supported the military operation in
The idea of "clean and honest" became nothing but folklore.
The virtual bloc Unity having kept its program in secret until the end of
the elections, presents in its ranks an amalgam of unknown statesmen of
very different orientations - from liberals to more or less communists,
from nationalist traditionalists to advocates for the legalization of
And even the person with the biggest sense of humor would not call the
Kremlin supported operetta-like bloc of Zhirinovsky democratic.
Even if one were to suppose that the pro-Kremlin forces are all entirely
democratic, it is unlikely that their success may be considered
indisputable. The rightists, Unity and Zhirinovsky combined took away
fewer votes than their opponents did from Yabloko, Fatherland-All Russia
and the Communist Party.
Nevertheless, reformers numbered even greater in the ranks of Kremlin
opponents Yabloko and Father-land-All Russia than in the parties of the
This election produced no winners.
The elections had barely ended when the process of propagation of factions
in the future Duma began. The largest parties delegate a portion of their
supporters to attract inde-pendent deputies, chosen from the single-member
districts, to new factions.
The KPRF will try to form satellite groups of agrarians and industrialists,
Unity into the faction Peoples' Deputies, and Fatherland-All Russia will
reconstitute a faction that existed in the last Duma, namely Rus-sia's
Thus in the new Duma there will be no less than ten factions, not one of
which will have a deciding influence. And all of them will carry on with
political wrangling with each other, creating the most whimsical
coali-tions under the influence of pressure from different groups.
It goes without saying that this election produced no winners. The Kremlin
family and existing premier gained a relative victory, never before having
had so many of its supporters in the Duma. And the Communist party, as
well, was a relative victor, having received more votes than ever before in
parliamentary elections of the 1990's.
On the losing side - the democratic princi-ples of "rule of law," "fair
play" and accountability of power.
Teachers in Russian Regions Not Paid for Months Minister.
MOSCOW, January 8 (Itar-Tass) - The delay in the payment of wages to teachers
in some regions of Russia has reached several months, Minister of Education
Vladimir Filippov said.
In an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station broadcast live on
Saturday, Filippov said teachers in rural schools of the Altai region have
not been paid for 9-12 months. Wages have been paid on time only in those
regions which have no problems with tax collection, he said.
Asked about students' stipends, the minister said they were doubled in 1999,
adding that a proposal to increase stipends for students of higher
educational institutions will be put forth at the upcoming conference of
teachers at the Kremlin on January 14- 15.
The stipends will be increased gradually within five years, he explained.
The conference, which is expected to be attended by more than 5,000 people
from all regions of Russia, will also adopt the National Education Doctrine
for the next 25 years and the Concept of Public Education which provides,
among other things, for obligatory 10-year education and 12-year secondary
Filippov said 12-year education will be introduced "not earlier than in three
to four years". Senior students will undergo vocational training, which will
enable them to enter higher educational institutions without examinations.
At the same time, he admitted that it will not be easy to do this, especially
in rural schools.
Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2000
From: "ARUN MOHANTY" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: The Putin Enigma
The Putin Enigma
ARUN MOHANTY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR,
MOSCOW CITY UNIVERSITY
The enigma of Vladimir Putin, Russia's crown prince under the retiring
Czar, gets further strengthened as he makes more and more statements on
different issues, and is unlikely to be unfolded before the Presidential
election, scheduled for 26th March.
Putin's current statements on vital issues are often contradictory and seem
to be designed to please various sections of the electorate as well as the
elite before the crucial election rather than a manifestation of his real
Hence, his deeds rather than his words should be used as the yard-stick
to judge his intentions and policies.
In my view, Putin's past as a career KJB officer should not be the key to
understand the man and can hardly be taken as an yardstick to predict his
policies in coming months for number of reasons.
First of all, loyalties of the KJB officers after the soviet break-up were
split up between entirely different political organisations and groups.
While some of the officers embraced the dramatic changes in the country
following soviet collapse, some others owed their allegiance to the left
opposition and yet others supported the nationalists.
While some of the former KJB officers became successful businessmen taking
advantage of the reforms with the help of their old connections, some
worked in analytical centres of leading banks, companies, yet others
preferred to form 'krisha' or mafia gangs to collect booty from companies
by providing them unlawful protection .
Secondly, KJB of perestroika years, was no doubt, very different from its
predecessor NKVD and enjoyed a reputation of sheltering the most
honest, well-informed, patriotic-minded and elegant officers as admitted
by no less a person than Andrei Sakharov, himself a victim of the agency.
To reinforce the argument a bit, it may be recalled that most of the KJB
officers remained neutral during the so-called 1991 August coup, although
it was, by all accounts, led by the agency's chief Vladimir Kruchkov,
while his number two in the organisation Shevarshin was reported to have
spent the whole coup-eve day in playing tennis.
The agency also played the same role refusing to take part in the power
struggle between the Supreme Soviet and the President in the fall of 1993
when Yeltsin shelled his parliament to concentrate power in his hands.
KJB of pedestrians and post-perestroika years can be to a certain extent
compared with the intelligence agencies of other countries, trying to
play by the rules of the game.
So, Putin's KJB past, cannot be considered as a serious argument in
assessing the course of his future policies.
Rather, his later career as a civil servant in the Leningrad city
administration looking after its foreign economic relations, then as
deputy mayor of St.Petersburg, his close association with the city mayor
Anatoly Sobchak, described as the mirror of russian corruption by the local
press, his Moscow postings as the deputy head of the Kremlin management
and his association with his boss Pavel Borodin, highest level corruption
tainted kremlin official; as deputy head of presidential administration
in the capacity of head of anti-corruption department(glavnoye kontrolnoye
upravleniye), as a member of the interdepartmental commission on economic
security under the powerful security council, as the first deputy head of
the presidential administration, as director of FSB, the successor to KJB,
then as FSB director combining with the secretary of the Security Council
should be taken into account in order to get an insight about Mr putin and
make a guess about his future policies.
The people behind Putin's meticulous rise can also provide some clue as
to making of his future policies.
Three persons who claim credibility for Putin's steady rise to power are
Sobchak, Chubais and Berezovski, all notorious for their reported
monumental corruption and villains of Russia's recent history.
While Chubais definitely played a crucial role in the rise of Putin to
the helm, the other two also have made significant contributions in
shaping his political destiny.
Sobchak, who had fled the country fearing imprisonment for his corrupt
practises, returned to Russia after months of self-imposed exile soon
after Putin became the Prime Minister, and the criminal cases involving
Berezovski were dropped immediately after Putin taking charge as Prime
More over, Putin's hasty, enthusiastic public pleading in the capacity of
FSB chief about the authenticity of video tapes displaying prosecutor
general Skuratov in bed with two prostitutes before it was really
established (In fact the authenticity is yet to be proved) also can provide
some thoughts about the man.
It is obvious, Skuratov had to pay a heavy price after refusing to stop
the investigations involving the 'family' and its friends, first of all,
Berezovski and Borodin.
According to local press, the tapes were the handiwork of a private
security agency called 'Atol' owing allegiance to Berezovski, and worse ,
the agency is reported to have collected compromising materials against
Russia's first family also.
Berezovski's agency was reported to be gathering compromising materials
against all top people who matter, so that they do not dare go against his
interests at any time.
Could Putin really remain outside the orbit of the activities of this
It can be said with some degree of certainty that Berezovski never
promotes a man to a position of power unless there is some compromising
material against him, so that he can hook the later at the time when he
refuses to serve.
Chubais says his shock-therapist boys would soon be back in key positions
of the government.
Berezovski is making alliances with other oligarchs like Lev Chorny, who
controls Russia's lucrative metallurgy industry, in order to build up
large funds for investing in Russian politics.
As more and more bank accounts of Russian tycoons get frozen abroad ,and as
more and more countries refuse entry visas to Russians with dubious
records, Russian oligarchs have received the right signal and concluded
that investing in russian politics for making it a safe haven would come
cheaper for them.
They will not spare any effort to see that Putin works in their interest.
Chubais, Berezovski and Sobchak are extending full-throated support to
Putin claiming he is their man, though the later is trying to maintain a
distance from these odious figures in public.
So, the trio in fact constitutes the most disturbing and worrying element
while assessing Putin.
One has to see how far these people would be in a position to control
Putin, how long would these people remain as king-makers, how long would
they continue as the real power behind the throne.
Can Putin really break away from these people?
Can the new leader free himself from the tight grip of the Kremlin
family, which by all accounts still control all the levers power.
These are all difficult questions to answer right now.
Putin's one time mentor Anatoly Sobchak says that Putin is very faithful
and can never betray.
Sobchak's assessment can be partly correct as far as Putin's faithfulness
Maybe. Putin is always faithful to his boss and plays by the rules of the
game of the particular time.
During the soviet days, he was faithful to the soviet state and his boss,
during the years of Yeltsin, he was faithful to the 'democratic' state
and the-then boss.
And now, when Putin himself is going to be his own boss having nobody
above him, he can remain faithful only to his state and himself, changing
the rules of the game to defend national interests as his latest
Putin can also emerge as an independent political figure refusing to play
by the rules set by the oligarchs and the 'family'.
Russian history is in fact replete with events when the one-time mentors
are relegated to the history by the former proteges after rising to the
zenith of power.
Khrushchev was consigned to history by his one-time protege Brezhnev,
Gorbachev threw his mentor Gromiko to the dustbin of history by a single
stroke of his pen. Yeltsin forced his mentor Gorbachev to eat a humble pie.
One should not be surprised if Putin does that with his former mentors,
but that could be expected from him only in the post-election period.
Right now, his statements look designed more to woo different sections of
the Russian society than signal any policy statement.
While his statement not to review the privatisation is aimed at pleasing
the oligarchs who have amassed huge amount of wealth through criminal
privatisation and hold the reins of real power in the country, his love for
liberal values are meant for consumption by radical democrats, and his
sympathy for a strong and prosperous state with a bigger role in shaping
country's economy, is designed to woo the patriotic section of the
society desiring to retrieve the past glory.
Putin's efforts to take the major part of the society along with him
through repeated meetings with the leaders of different political parties
including the opposition , which was a rare sight during the previous
years,and build up some kind of wide consensus in russian society on issues
of national importance, no doubt, augurs well for a country divided by
barricades during the past eight years of Yeltsin's rule.
Then ,on the other hand, his fulsome praise for Russia's lopsided
constitution,a potential source of tension in the society, an obstacle on
way of development of Russia's fledgling democracy and his denial to
reform it, notwithstanding the fact that all major political parties across
the country stand for such reform, his uncalled for statement for
decisively crushing any attempt to violate the constitution form a
Any way, the world is unlikely to see the real Putin until after the
presidential election, scheduled for 26th March 2000.
The Observer (UK)
9 January 2000
[for personal use only]
Russia Y2K bill 'shows West overreacted'
By Jamie Doward
Russia spent just $200 million on preparing for the millennium bug - 2 per
cent of the United States' bill, the expert handling Moscow's Y2K problem
told The Observer this weekend.
The disclosure by Professor Andrey Nikolaevich Terekhov, head of Russia's
Competency Centre for Y2K issues and the country's leading authority on the
problem, will bolster claims that the West massively overestimated the extent
of the problem - and overspent.
Last week a number of agencies suggested the threat had been dramatically
over-hyped, resulting in a pay bonanza for information technology experts.
Influential IT analysts International Data Corporation estimated that the US
might have wasted $40 billion. The British government and its agencies spent
£430m tackling the issue, and the total cost for UK businesses will run into
BA alone spent £280m, compared with the $1m devoted to the problem by
Aeroflot, the Russian airline. Overall, analysts at the Gartner Group believe
up to $600bn will be spent worldwide.
'Nobody knows exactly what Russia spent because a lot of the information is
not published, but I estimate that the government and its agencies -
including the military - spent around $50m and Russian businesses around
three times that,' Terekhov said.
The Russian government passed a decree forcing companies to deal with the bug
problem only in December 1998, giving Russian IT experts little time to fix
it. The West had already been dealing with the issue for several years.
'You cannot imagine how bad the problem was a year ago. Before the decree
nobody believed there was a problem, and then when it was passed, everyone
started scrambling to try to work out what to do,' Terekhov said.
'But we had no money to fix the problem. The World Bank gave us $14m but this
just went on consulting fees and paying the hotel bills of their
He said that the lack of money available to deal with the Y2K problem,
coupled with the dilapidated state of computer systems in Russia - many of
which used pirated software and cloned IBM hardware from the Seventies -
meant that updating the technological infrastructure was impossible. Instead
the Russian authorities had to adopt a fire-fighting approach, minimising the
threat of a disaster.
Staff maintaining crucial IT systems were taught to ignore glitches occurring
around 31 December, while many computer systems were simply 'clocked' by
making them believe the date was 1970 rather than 1999. They could be
Vivek Wadhwa, chief executive of US-based Relativity Technologies, who
advised Terekhov, said: 'The problem in the West was blown out of all
proportion. A lot of people made a lot of money.'
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