Center for Defense Information
Research Topics
CDI Library
What's New
CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List


January 16, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4040 4041

Johnson's Russia List
16 January 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
1. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): Philip Sherwell and Tony Paterson, Putin accused of blackmail plot to defend Yeltsin family.
2. The Sunday Times (UK): Mark Franchetti, Germans flush out Putin's spies. Fears that KGB ring is still active.
3. The Guardian (UK): Amelia Gentleman, Russia faces slow march to victory. Putin's entire career is based on the elimination of terrorists in Chechnya.
5. Moscow Times: Genine Babakian, An American Khrushchev. (Sergei Khrushchev)
6. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): Marcus Warren, Chechen 'spirits' haunt Russians.
7. Natalya Babasyan, BEREZOVSKY LOST PUTIN TO CHUBAIS: The war among Kremlin clans is only about to begin.
8. Reuters: Chechens say they blocked Russian advance.]


The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
16 January 2000
[for personal use only] 
Putin accused of blackmail plot to defend Yeltsin family
By Philip Sherwell and Tony Paterson

RUSSIA'S acting president Vladimir Putin played a key role in a dirty-tricks 
campaign that sabotaged a corruption investigation into Boris Yeltsin's 
family and friends, a new book will allege this month.

The inquiry ground to a halt following the broadcast of a video apparently 
featuring Yuri Skuratov, the prosecutor-general, cavorting naked with teenage 

Mr Skuratov, whose investigations were alarming the Yeltsin camp, says that 
last March, Mr Putin - then head of the FSB secret police and a former KGB 
spy - telephoned him ordering him to resign over the compromising footage.

Mr Skuratov, who insists the video was a fake, refused to back down, and the 
footage duly appeared on Russian television. Although the video was widely 
believed to be the work of the KGB's successor organisation, Mr Putin's FSB, 
it is the first time that he has been directly accused of political blackmail.

The chief prosecutor, who is now suspended, will make the startling 
allegations in a book to be published this month. "It was simple blackmail," 
he told the Danish newspaper Ekstrabladet in his only comments ahead of 

Mr Putin, 47, has publicly insisted that the video was not a fabrication. 
Asked about the acting president's alleged role in conspiring against Mr 
Skuratov, a Kremlin spokeswoman said yesterday: "We have no information about 
this matter."

Five months after the video was broadcast, Mr Yeltsin, who was then 
president, appointed Mr Putin prime minister. Then, upon retiring at the New 
Year, he declared him his acting successor. The anointed heir now seems 
certain to win presidential elections in March.

The meteoric rise to power of the dour judo black belt owes much to the black 
arts he acquired during his 16 years service in the KGB. Despite recent 
setbacks in the offensive against Chechen rebels, it was the early success of 
the military campaign that transformed Mr Putin from a faceless former spy 
into a political strongman in the eyes of many Russians.

The mysterious bombings of apartment blocks that killed more than 300 people 
in September in Russian cities provided the pretext for the war in the 
Caucasus. Chechen militants were officially blamed for the atrocities, 
despite the lack of evidence. But in Moscow there is growing belief that the 
attacks were planned from the Kremlin, only a month after Mr Putin was 
installed in office.

Last week's conveniently timed discovery of explosive devices in three Rostov 
apartment blocks - just as the first Russian media criticism of the war began 
- has fuelled suspicions that his security services are promoting 
anti-Chechen hysteria. The bombing campaign bears all the hallmarks of an 
operation by the old KGB, the organisation for which Mr Putin worked from 
1975 until the Soviet collapse.

The once-enthusiastic Communist made clear last week that he still regarded 
the West as Russia's main enemy as he approved a new national security 
strategy significantly lowering the threshold for Moscow to resort to nuclear 

Mr Putin's shake-up also calls for the security services to be bolstered as 
he attempts to restore what many Russians still view as Soviet-era 
"greatness". Such Cold War sentiments send ominous signals to Western leaders 
who will have to do business with him.

Little has previously been disclosed about his KGB career. However, The 
Telegraph can reveal that one of his most important tasks during his five 
years in East Germany was to garner military secrets about the Eurofighter 
aircraft, a defence project involving Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain. 

Horst Jehmlich, a former adjutant with East Germany's Stasi intelligence 
agency who worked with Mr Putin in Dresden from 1985 to 1990, said the KGB 
major was responsible for recruiting agents to carry out industrial espionage 
in West Germany. These were frequently disaffected East German scientists who 
had applied for permission to leave for the West: spying duties for Moscow 
were the required "payment".

Mr Putin's time in Germany overlapped with a crucial period for the 
Eurofighter scheme as the design plans were finalised between 1985 and 1988. 
"There was a huge amount of technology exchanges going on between all these 
countries at the time," said a military analyst.

West Germany was highly fertile territory for Communist spies during the Cold 
War and they had already obtained secrets about the Tornado fighter from a 
German company. As well as targeting the Eurofighter scheme, Mr Putin used 
his agents to penetrate the Siemens electronics giant via its East German 
partners, Robotron.

Major Putin was officially head of the House of Soviet-German Friendship in 
Dresden. In reality, he worked from the KGB's residence in the Loschwitz 
district. The two-storey villa, which was a stone's throw from the city's 
ugly concrete Stasi headquarters, is today a centre for natural medicine.

Mr Jehmlich told The Telegraph: "Putin was an ambitious career KGB officer, 
but he was just part of their team. If anything, he stood out because of his 
good manners. He did not drink like the rest of them and was keen on sports. 
I would not have imagined that he would become acting Russian president. He 
did not seem the type."

Mr Putin's close relations with his German counterparts earned him the 
nickname "Stasi" - he is still known by that name - and he was decorated for 
his services by the East Germans in 1988. His KGB colleagues regarded him as 
pedantic and humourless - more German than Russian.

He was an efficient operative but not a high-flier. The Russian security 
services now appear to be trying to bolster his KGB reputation by planting 
stories in the German media suggesting that he was expelled by Bonn in the 
Seventies for spying while working there as a journalist.

The German counter-espionage agency denied last week that he had been in the 
West at that time. He joined the KGB only after completing a law degree at 
Leningrad University in 1975, and was not posted abroad until he attended the 
prestigious Red Banner Institute of Intelligence in 1984.

He did, however, make visits to the West. German intelligence has pictures of 
him visiting the KaDeWe department store in West Berlin. By the late 
Eighties, he and his colleagues had a further role: to try to persuade their 
hosts of the merits of perestroika. When East Germany's hard-line communism 
crumbled in 1989, Mr Putin sought to recruit Stasi officers to spy for the 

Shortly after his return to Leningrad (now St Petersburg) in 1990, Mr Putin 
made an inspired career move, becoming an assistant to the democracy activist 
Anatoly Sobchak, his former law professor. In 1991, Mr Sobchak was elected 
mayor and Mr Putin left the KGB to be his most trusted lieutenant.

St Petersburg gained an infamous reputation for corruption and shady 
privatisations during the transformation to "gangster capitalism". Indeed, Mr 
Putin was censured when a city commission said he had improperly issued 
lucrative export licences.

But Mr Sobchak stood by his man and, in 1994, Mr Putin was introduced to Mr 
Yeltsin aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia during the Queen's first visit to 
Russia. Two years later, he was brought in to the Kremlin team. Since then, 
he has been on a fast track upwards.

Mr Putin has reached the top, not by political back-stabbing, but by making 
himself indispensable to his backers. Drawing on his KGB grounding, he 
stockpiled information and kompromat (compromising material) - as Mr Skuratov 
discovered. His old tutors at the Red Banner Institute should be proud.

Additional reporting by Alice Lagnado in Moscow and Peter Almond in London.


The Sunday Times (UK)
January 16 2000 
[for personal use only] 
Germans flush out Putin's spies 
Fears that KGB ring is still active 
By Mark Franchetti, Dresden 

GERMAN authorities have launched an intelligence operation to track down 
spies recruited by Vladimir Putin, Russia's acting president, during his 
years as a KGB agent in Dresden in the last days before the fall of the 
Berlin Wall. They fear many of them may still be working for Moscow. 

Several high-ranking officers of the former East German Stasi secret service 
who knew Putin personally were questioned recently in an effort to identify 
some of those he is believed to have recruited. 

The government in Berlin is especially concerned about the success of a 
top-secret KGB operation to gain economic secrets that was set up in Germany 
during Putin's posting there in the late 1980s. 

Codenamed Luch - Russian for sunbeam - the operation set out to build a 
network of spies across a divided Germany that would continue supplying 
Moscow with intelligence should the communist state collapse. German 
authorities suspect that some agents recruited by Putin and the KGB as part 
of Luch are still active. 

Details of the shadowy past of the man expected to be confirmed as Boris 
Yeltsin's successor in the election on March 26 emerged in a week in which 
Putin alarmed the West by approving a new security doctrine that increases 
the circumstances in which Russia would be prepared to use nuclear weapons. 

German intelligence officers from the Bundesverfassungschutz - the equivalent 
of MI5 - questioned former Stasi agents late last year who had worked with 
the Russians in Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig to establish what they knew about 
Operation Sunbeam, and to show them pictures of KGB agents, including Putin, 
who worked in Germany. 

They are also believed to be studying a file on Putin's activities compiled 
by the authorities in Dresden from Stasi archives retrieved after the fall of 
the Wall. The 10-page document, which was sent to the capital for further 
examination last week, is all that specialists combing the archives were able 
to find on Putin. 

The document is believed to contain the name of at least one East German whom 
Putin almost certainly sought to win over to the KGB. The Stasi recorded the 
name after the future Russian leader - a KGB lieutenant-colonel at the time - 
filed a typed request asking the head of the Stasi's Directorate XV to 
install a secure telephone in the man's flat. 

Putin's file also records the names of those present at a ceremony held in 
Dresden's Stasi headquarters to mark the 70th anniversary of the Russian 
revolution in 1987. It was during that event that General Horst Böhm, the 
notorious local Stasi head, rewarded Putin for his services with a gold Stasi 
medal. Böhm committed suicide two years later. 

"The Germans are really worried that some agents recruited as part of 
Operation Luch during Putin's time here may still be working for the 
Russians," said Horst Jemlich, Böhm's personal assistant and a Stasi agent 
for 30 years who remembers Putin from his days in Dresden. 

"They questioned me about it for hours. But we in the Stasi knew nothing 
about the operation. The KGB mounted it behind our backs, recruiting in 
utmost secrecy. The plan was to prepare one day to let us fall and have new 
guys supply them with information. I only found out about Luch recently and 
felt betrayed. The Russians were playing a double game." 

Putin, who speaks German fluently, was in Dresden from 1984 to 1989, deployed 
with a group of eight Russian agents under the command of General Vladimir 
Shirokov. The unit, referred to by Stasi colleagues simply as "the friends", 
worked out of a nondescript two-storey villa at 4 Angelikastrasse in 
Dresden's Waldschlossen district, a residential area where most high-ranking 
Stasi officers lived. 

Across the road, a sprawling 1970s Soviet-style building housed the Stasi's 
headquarters, from where Böhm co-ordinated the work of thousands of 
informers. Nearby was the Soviet army base in Dresden, a massive sealed-off 
compound where Putin's wife, Lyudmila, shopped in Russian stores and the 
young couple went to the cinema to watch Russian films. 

Off-bounds even for Stasi officers, the KGB villa in the Angelikastrasse is 
where Shirokov, Putin and his comrades planned dozens of undercover 
operations to recruit agents across West and East Germany who reported to the 
KGB station in Berlin and back to Moscow. 

It was a prestigious posting for a young and ambitious officer. One of only 
five cities in the former Soviet bloc with a micro-electronics industry, 
Dresden was home to Robotron, a state company that provided mainframe and 
personal computers to the entire Soviet bloc, including the KGB. 

At times working in concert with the Stasi's foreign intelligence section, 
Putin's station exploited well-established contacts between Robotron and 
western giants such as Siemens and IBM to steal high-technology secrets for 
Moscow. Both services had full-time agents working within the company. 

Robotron and Dresden's large university also made the city a focal point of 
contact with western businessmen, technology experts and academics who often 
travelled to and from West Germany and other western bloc countries. 

The two-way traffic gave both Putin's station and the Stasi unparalleled 
opportunities to recruit agents and establish sources in the West from the 
field of technology and business. It also enabled them to recruit East 
Germans who were sent across to the West to work in economic espionage. 

"It was simple," said one high-ranking former East German officer who headed 
the Stasi's Directorate VIII in Dresden, which was in charge of surveillance 
and intelligence-gathering operations. 

"We didn't have the money or resources to compete with the West in the field 
of technological research. So we let the West do the job and stole the end 
results to copy their technology without the costs." 

Co-operation between the two services was extensive, with the KGB making use 
of the Stasi's own huge network of informers, said to have been several times 
the size of that in Nazi Germany. 

"Whenever our friends needed to send an East German across to West Germany to 
work for them, they would come to us," recalled another former Stasi agent 
who once saw Putin - known for his abstemious nature - pour his glass of 
vodka into a house plant during an official Stasi ceremony. 

Putin also often travelled to nearby Leipzig, where he was officially in 
charge of the House of Soviet-German Friendship, as well as to Bonn and 
Hamburg, where he sought to develop contacts in the world of German politics. 

In Dresden both the Stasi and Putin's station invested much energy in 
monitoring the flow of visitors from the West at the Bellevue, the city's 
best hotel, where prostitutes were used as bait with businessmen deemed of 
interest for information-gathering purposes. 

"The world of the KGB runs in Putin's blood," said another former Stasi 
officer, who for years was in charge of operations inside the hotel. "He was 
always very restrained, very careful and constantly under an iron form of 
self-control. He worked behind the scenes without attracting attention. You 
just didn't notice him. He is a very clever man. Silent but effective." 

The details that have gradually begun to emerge of Putin's espionage 
activities seem likely to heighten his standing at home, where latest polls 
suggest continued strong support, with only 4% of ordinary Russians disliking 

The only question mark is over Chechnya. Feted by Russians for his tough - 
and apparently successful - stance as prime minister in waging war in the 
breakaway republic, Putin knows his ratings could plummet if, as now appears 
possible, the war goes badly wrong over the next two months. 

Nearly three weeks have passed since the Russian army promised to take 
Grozny, the bombed-out capital. But last week the prospect of a swift Russian 
victory to coincide with the forthcoming elections seemed as elusive as ever. 

Television coverage within Russia - once reassuringly jingoistic - is also 
beginning to become more critical. For the first time since the campaign 
began in September, viewers are seeing footage of dead soldiers. 

Nevertheless, Putin remains virtually unassailable, his position further 
strengthened last week by the announcement by Yevgeny Primakov - whom he 
replaced as prime minister - that he was stepping down from the presidential 


The Guardian (UK)
16 January 2000
[for personal use only]
Russia faces slow march to victory 
Putin's entire career is based on the elimination of terrorists in Chechnya
Amelia Gentleman, Moscow

Russia claimed to have killed 58 Chechen fighters trying to escape from the 
besieged capital of Grozny yesterday, as thick black smoke curling above the 
battered city indicated that the bombardment had intensified once again. 

It was not clear whether the claim of heavy rebel casualties was just the 
latest strike in a continuing propaganda war. 

A Chechen rebel commander retorted that his men had slaughtered 28 Russian 
soldiers in the capital early yesterday. Neither claim could be verified. 

It has been a nasty week for Russia's generals. After preening themselves 
over the praise meted out by Yeltsin in his final days - that Russia's army 
had conducted a 'flawless' campaign in Chechnya - the high command was in for 
a rude shock. 

Seizing their moment carefully, Chechnya's rebels suddenly rounded on their 
attackers and orchestrated lightning raids on several strategically crucial 
Russian-held towns. The military could not disguise its humiliation, 
conceding that it had suffered the worst losses of the campaign so far. 

Russia had suffered serious setbacks already in the course of this war, but 
managed to conceal the extent of the problems from the electorate. Last week 
Russia's independent papers splashed pictures of gruesomely wounded Russian 
soldiers on their front pages for the first time, and even pro-government 
publications began to question the wisdom of the war. 

As troops scrambled to regain control, military spin doctors sought to 
retrieve the situation before popular opinion had a chance to crystallise 
against acting president Vladimir Putin's fundamental project - the 
'elimination of terrorists' in Chechnya, the campaign on which his entire 
future career is based. 

Desperation pushed the military to adopt astonishingly harsh measures against 
the civilian population - with the region's senior commander Colonel-General 
Victor Kazantsev announcing that the key mistake his men had made was the 
rather unlikely error of being excessively 'tender-hearted', and that such 
soft ness was to be eliminated immediately. In this vein he announced that 
Chechen males - including children as young as 11 - were henceforth to be 
regarded automatically as rebels. 

Further evidence of the military's disarray was displayed last week in the 
undignified accusations of blame flung between the different arms of the 
Russian forces. Kazantsev accused the Interior Ministry troops, whose job it 
was to protect the conquered territory, of failing to perform their jobs 

Preferring to sweep the disaster under the carpet, Defence Minister Igor 
Sergeyev announced that the rebels' advance should not be seen as a Russian 
failure. Meanwhile the Kremlin - determined to bolster wavering popular 
support for the war - issued a video which it claimed proved that militants 
in the separatist region masterminded the terrorist bombings across Russia 
last autumn that killed almost 300. The video appeared to be designed to 
stamp out rumours that the government itself orchestrated the attacks, in an 
attempt to stoke up nationalist support. 

Military officials have been forced to acknowledge that rebels are still 
hiding inside areas supposed to be under Russian control and have admitted 
that further counter-attacks are eminently possible. 

The most surprising element of last week's events is that the Russian 
generals failed so dismally to prepare for the possibility of these 

As the officers responsible face uncomfortable recriminations, defence 
analysts have been expressing amazement that the army failed to learn two 
crucial lessons from its 1994-96 war with Chechnya. 

The first was that wresting the Chechen capital Grozny from the rebels would 
be a very bitter and prolonged operation. The second was to have forgotten 
the effective ness of the rebels' favourite tactic - swift but devastating 
raids into Russian-held territory. During the last war, Russia won most of 
Chechnya before promptly losing it again, as a result of the rebels' 
persistence under pressure. 

Russia also began the conflict on the edge of winter, with fog and mist 
making it easy for rebels to sneak through Russian lines. 

Alexei Malashenko, of the Carnegie Institute in Moscow, said: 'Russian 
generals had begun to believe that they were capable of anything they wanted 
to do on Chechen territory. That was a bad mistake.' 

By the beginning of this year, the army had moved its élite forces to Grozny, 
leaving poorly trained conscript brigades to look after the rear. These 
demoralised young fighters represent the Russian army's main weak spot. 

Anatol Lieven of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and 
author of a book on Russia's last war with Chechnya, said: 'Often the 
soldiers simply don't want to fight, they huddle behind barbed wire rather 
than going out on patrol especially in the fog or at night. 

'If you are a young conscript who has been beaten by older soldiers for the 
last year, if you are aware that the senior officers are selling off your 
weapons on the black market and stealing your pay, you're likely to feel 
rather demotivated.' 

The military dismissed unofficial reports of soaring casualties as 'lies' but 
the Soldiers' Mothers Committee, a Moscow pressure group which campaigns for 
the rights of conscripts, insisted that the true figure was at least double 
and possibly four times the 700-odd dead admitted by officials. 

Yet, despite these mistakes, there is little doubt that Russia is capable of 
defeating the rebels. Lieven said: 'The Russians have unlimited ammunition. 
If they keep their nerve and continue to hammer away, they will win.' 


January 13, 2000
[translation for personal use only]

The Don Cossacks Song and Dance Ensemble, that celebrated its sixtieth
anniversary three years ago, that was applauded by audience in thirty three
countries, that was awarded the Order of People's Friendship and honored
with academic title, was rightly considered one of the bearers of Russia's
cultural diversity. All of a sudden, it has been struck by a scandal. After
a three-month tour in the United States and Canada, the longest in the
ensemble's history, a half of its members did not return home. <...>

The contract for the tour had been signed with Columbia Artists Management
Inc. back in 1996. America met the artists with loud applause and excited
press reviews. The team gave its performances in twenty-seven states. The
company that had offered the contract extended the frame of the tour and
provided the opportunity for the ensemble to perform in Canada. At each of
the sixty two performances, the audience was full. The smallest audience
consisted of 1,500 seats, and the largest one amounted to about 6,000. The
respect accorded to our Cossacks by the receiving side was evident, among
other things, in the fact that the ensemble performed in the top cultural
sites of the country. For example, the Kennedy Center in Washington, where
the Don Cossacks sang and danced within half an hour from the famous Placido

And then, the last performance came - in Tampa, Florida. Soon, a van was
going to drive the artists to the airport. But Fyodor Ishchenko, the
director of Rostov Philarmony and the coordinator of the tour, saw his
artists arrive without their suitcases. Earlier, he had heard talks about
how good it would be to stay longer, to extend visas, but he could have
never expected that the total of thirty two artists would stay abroad.

The one who could have changed the situation was Professor Anatoly Kvasov,
the Laureate of the Glinka State Award. For thirty years, he has been the
artistic director of the ensemble. He is one of those to be credited for the
worldwide fame of the team. But, ironically, his own daughter Valentina was
among the first to announce her intention to stay abroad.

Fyodor Ishchenko was left with no other choice than to order those declining
to come back formally to resign as members of the ensemble. They wrote their
resignation letters. With a clear understanding that there will be no way
back to their old jobs.

What happened with the artists? Most of them are young people, aged twenty
five to thirty five, only three of them are close to fifty, the youngest
dancer is twenty years old. <...> Everyone gave one single reason for their
unwillingness to come back: money. At home, the artists' earnings were
between 500 and 1000 roubles per month And even this was not paid
regularly. <...> The ensemble's top balalaika-player, Vladimir Sedykh,
worked after rehearsals as truck loader. <...> Other highly qualified
artists had to overcome their shame and sell pies and linen on the local
flea market.

<...> The Cossack dancers and singers who decided to stay in America split
into several groups. A few people joined the artists of Stavropolye, a
folklore ensemble that did not come back to Russia after a US tour back in
April. Six of the Cossack artists entertain the audience of Russian Samovar,
a New York restaurant. Still others dispersed across the country where they
perform in restaurants and hotels. Some are satisfied with low-skill labor,
working as housemaids.

Are they to blame? Regional authorities supervising cultural institutions
have been divided. Can the artists be punished? Should one go through the US
immigration officials and try to make the artists expelled from the US?
According to the law, the artists should have had obtained foreign contracts
first, before leaving the country. But in this case, they would have to pay
3,000 to 4,000 dollars for a US visa and a ticket. No one of them has this

<...> This case is not an ordinary one. An artists' flight on such a large
scale did not occur in Soviet times, when only a handful of individuals were
able to escape from the supervision of cultural authorities and state
security organs. Nor did it happed afterwards, when emigration became
legally possible, and conspiratorial
methods seemingly became unnecessary.

But, as we can see, they didn't. The story of the Cossack ensemble is but
one of the symptoms of a grave illness. <...> A large number of those who
have been traditionally considered the source of pride for the Russian art,
since long ago are only tangentially related to Russian life. Where are now
most of the leading professors of the Moscow Conservatory? Either in Germany
or in Sweden. As for the team of the State Symphony Orchestra, it is at the
brink of falling apart. The Moscow Philarmony Orchestra is in a similar


Moscow Times
January 15, 2000 
An American Khrushchev 
By Genine Babakian 

Tucked away in a tiny academic office the size of a broom closet, Sergei 
Khrushchev, the son of the late Soviet leader, is hard at work putting the 
finishing touches on his latest manuscript, "Creation of a Superpower." In 
profile, he bears a striking resemblance to his father, Nikita. Only when he 
looks up from his work do his sparkling blue eyes beckon his visitors to take 
a seat among the clutter of black and white photographs from the Soviet era. 

A map of the United States nearly covers one wall, marking the cities where 
Khrushchev has lectured. When he is not traveling, the recently naturalized 
U.S. citizen teaches international studies at Brown University. In December - 
when Russia's president was still Boris Yeltsin - Genine Babakian went to 
Providence, Rhode Island, to meet with him. 

When you became a citizen of the United States last summer, newspapers quoted 
you calling your new home a kind of "paradise." What is it about your life 
here that you so enjoy? 

When people ask me, "How do you like living in America?" - how do I know what 
it is like to live in America? I live in Rhode Island ... What do I like 
about living here? First of all, it's warm - like in the Ukraine. Second of 
all, I never liked big cities. I don't like Moscow, or even Paris. I never 
liked snow, or cold. I always thought it would be nice to retire in the 
Ukraine, where it is warmer. And I always thought that when I got older it 
would be nice to create something. I was invited here to work at [Brown] 
University. And they want me to do what I find interesting - write books. 

So why am I here? Because here are all the elements that I could want in my 
later years. A warm climate, ideal working conditions, a comfortable 
lifestyle. If I could have created these conditions in another 
English-speaking country - New Zealand, for example - I would have gone 
there. But they did not invite me. 

In your travels around the country, do you meet up with people who want to 
drive home the point that America's political system is the best? 

America probably does have the best system. I do not dispute that point. 
Americans are not mistaken when they take pride in their country. (Everyone 
should.) Theyare mistaken when they try to tell others, "Do everything our 
way, and everything will work out for you." Not only in Russia, but in Europe 
as well. Then again, it is not America's fault if some idiots come to power 
in Russia and say we need to do everything as they do in America. A smart 
person knows his country, and the more he knows about other countries, the 
better he can adapt those conditions to his own country and make life there 
better. [Yegor] Gaidar, [Anatoly] Chubais, [Boris] Fyodorov - they are all, 
as [Alexander] Solzhenitsyn would call them, obrazovantsy: people who read a 
lot but know nothing. They present a formula, and say it works. But economics 
is not a science - it is knowledge. You can write a formula about the 
trajectory of a rocket, because it will not fly any other way. But economics 
is more like medicine. 

You have to know the patient. 

You have to know the patient, and you have to know the illness. 

Do you see such a person in Russia ? 

That's difficult to say. Russia needs a person who is honest and experienced 
enough, and of those on the horizon, the only one I see who might be able to 
do something is [Yevgeny] Primakov. But the illness has developed to such a 
degree, it is difficult to say whether he will be able to manage. 

Do you think that Primakov will be able to fight corruption? 

He began to do so. They removed him because he started to battle with 
criminal elements. And he lost that round. The criminal element is very 
strong. Take [Boris] Berezovsky, for example. He is simply the Professor 
Moriarty of the 21st century. 

If a political player like Primakov is to succeed in pulling Russia out of 
economic crisis, what measures need to be taken? 

They need to create conditions for the small businessman. The oligarchs are 
not capitalists - they are just thieves. Conditions in Russia today don't 
support businessmen, but criminals. To support small business, you have to 
lower taxes. To lower taxes, you have to increase federal budget revenues. To 
increase federal budget revenues, you have to return to government control of 
the profit-bearing industries, such as gas, oil, aluminum, alcohol, etc. Then 
today's Russians will start to work, and in five years there will be a more 
or less functioning economy. But to return that money to the federal budget - 
to take away Sibneft from Berezovsky or [Roman] Abramovich - I would not try. 

Are there any elements of your life in Russia that you miss? For example, I 
understand you built a banya here in your home. 

We built our own banya in the basement. By the way, you can make great veniki 
here - better than in Russia. We make them from oak. You just have to know 
when to cut the branches. When the leaves are not too tough, but not too 
young and soft. 

How did your children [who are living in Moscow] react to your decision to 
stay here? 

How should they react? Had I stayed in Moscow, they would have been obliged 
to feed me [in my old age]. And from here I can send them presents. When we 
planned to submit our application for citizenship, I asked them what they 
thought about it. And they said do what you want. 

America is a more ideological country than Russia. America still lives in the 
Cold War. For them the fact that Khrushchev became a citizen is the same as 
when [Josef] Stalin's daughter fled to America at the height of the Cold War. 
But I didn't run anywhere. I was invited to come and work. And if I don't 
like it, I can go back to Russia at any moment. And I think that the majority 
of Russians understand this [difference] better than most Americans. 

Do your children in Moscow have any difficulties as a result of your decision 
to stay in the United States? 

I don't see them having any difficulties. However, if [Vladimir] Putin comes 
to power - God forbid - that would scare me. He is a KGB man, and has no 
understanding of what to do in the country other than exert pressure. 

Your books focus on the Khrushchev era. Isn't it difficult to be objective 
when writing about your father? 

I never said that Khrushchev was right about everything, that everything 
during his period was rosy and beautiful. There was no kind of democracy 
then. But during his era, the first step towards democracy was taken. But the 
transition to democracy is a very painful, gradual process. 

What would have happened had he stayed in power, nobody knows. 

I understand that when you first came to America in the early 1990s, you 
intended to get involved in some kind of business. Was this in some way 
connected to your former profession as a rocket engineer? 

When I first came here my money - just like everyone else's in Russia - had 
disintegrated. So I tried to buy and sell some things. I was like everyone in 
Russia - naÕve. But it soon occurred to me that my money was not 
accumulating, but disappearing. I don't know how to make money. If you want 
many, many millions, buy a lottery ticket. You don't need anything else. I 
buy them sometimes. I even won five dollars recently. And the losses are less 
than if I had gone into business. 

Do you ever miss your former profession as a rocket scientist? 

By the time I came here I was already not a rocket scientist. I had finished 
editing my father's memoirs, and I had reached a point in life when I wanted 
something new. Just then this opportunity appeared. 

So your career at Brown is like a second youth for you? 

Even a third. The second occurred when they [the Soviet authorities] 
transferred me - against my will - from the rocket industry to computers. 

Then, it was a warning from the authorities not to work on my father's 
memoirs. At first I didn't want to go, but then I found it very interesting. 
Youth ends when you lose interest. And for me life is still interesting. 


The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
16 January 2000
[for personal use only] 
Chechen 'spirits' haunt Russians
By Marcus Warren in Staraya Sunzha, Chechnya

THE swaggering confidence of the Russian army in Chechnya is ebbing, with 
belief in a swift victory being replaced by mounting alarm at the enemies' 
ability to survive the relentless onslaught. 

Shades of Afghanistan: Russian soldiers see the Chechens' guerrilla tactics 
as sometimes almost supernatural 
On the outskirts of Grozny, in the mountains and even on the plains that the 
Russians believed they had under control, the guerrillas are putting up 
dogged - and highly effective - resistance. What once looked like a race to 
take the Chechen capital by an army that had rediscovered its pride in itself 
now threatens to turn into yet another war of attrition that Moscow can win 
only at huge cost.

As the bombardment continued with no let-up, the combined firepower of an air 
force, heavy artillery, tanks and soldiers has failed to budge the city's 
defenders from its outskirts. The high-rise flats that mark the boundary 
between Grozny and the village of Staraya Sunzha still defied the besieging 
army, just as they had a fortnight ago.

>From the peaks of the Caucasus, Europe's tallest mountain range, the 
landscape now reminds some officers of their nighmarish times in Afghanistan. 
While in towns such as Shali and Argun, briefly but dramatically overrun by 
the Chechens last week, Russian troops still had little idea where their 
enemies had sprung from - or when they would return.

The soldiers call them "spirits", just as they did the Afghan mujahideen, a 
nickname justified by the rebels' ability to appear from nowhere in force and 
then slink back where they came from, even deep behind Russian lines.

The top brass were as confident as ever of defeating the enemy. "We have not 
come to fight for Yeltsin or Putin," Gen Gennady Troshev announced during an 
appearance at a mountain-top camp in the snows near Zamai-Yurt. "We have come 
here to defend Russia and to shed the bandits' blood."

Grozny was one of his main concerns, he admitted, before trying to clear up 
another - the confusion over his own status. Last weekend the general had 
been relieved of his command; now he was boosting morale on a tour of his 

As for the deadlock at Staraya Sunzha, his troops there were not supposed to 
advance - they were "blocking". Then he listed the acronyms of all the 
supposedly elite units that would go into Grozny when the time came.

The troops from OMON, SOBR and the MVD, all from the Interior Ministry rather 
than the regular army, have so far made heavy work of the three-week-old 
attack and taken even heavier casualties.

One local in Staraya Sunzha had his own cynical explanation for the slow 
progress of the Russian troops based in his backyard. "They live in our 
houses, fuel their fires with our furniture and eat our food," he complained. 
"Why hurry when every day without moving forward is another day without 
risking their lives and another day closer to going home?"

Reports emerged yesterday that Chechen villagers have been forced to bribe 
Russian generals not to shell their homes, with the sums involved sometimes 
running into thousands of pounds. While Interior Ministry troops take the 
brunt of the fighting in the towns and villages, the regular army watches 
from a distance. For the time being, its role is to provide support when 

The din from the "support" laid on by an artillery battery echoed through the 
mountains on Friday. Asked to explain what they were firing at, Col Vladimir 
Kruglov, a paratrooper, replied: "What they need to fire at." The 
paratroopers, the most combat-ready units in the Russian army, have, along 
with the marines, done much of the fighting for control of the peaks of the 

And near Zamai-Yurt they even had a uniformed Orthodox priest to help out. "I 
tell the troops that they are doing God's work by defending Russia's land," 
said Father Safroniy, a bearded monk. Over a lunch of beef and beetroot salad 
in the officers' mess, Col Kruglov bemoaned the state of the armed forces and 
the fact that the paratroopers had turned into workhorses, always doing jobs 
too difficult for the rest of the army.

He was proud of his men, convinced that they were the army's elite. But 
having disparaged the rest of the military, he found nothing inconsistent in 
suggesting that the biggest challenge should be left to others. "As for 
Grozny, I don't think it is a job for paratroopers," he said. "I think there 
are other units much better trained for fighting in cities."


January 11, 2000
Natalya Babasyan
The war among Kremlin clans is only about to begin
[translation for personal use only]

With regard to the government shakeup, Vladimir Putin declared: "These are
minimal modifications that do not change anything from the functional point
of view." It looks like Vladimir Vladimirovich sought to underplay his
accomplishment: as the proverb says, a small coin still a golden coin. Even
though pundits rushed to comment that Putin finally signaled his
independence from the Kremlin and started assembling his own team, it is
quite clear that the key role in it will be played by the Chubais people.

Still, there is every reason to see some changes in the government as real
signals of change. In the first place, this refers to the dismissal of Pavel
Borodin, presidential chief manager - who has not only been one of the most
prominent business administrators in the country and the hero of multiple
scandals related to the Family bank accounts, but also one of the most
unswerving upholders of the Familial honor. Over the course of the scandal,
Pavel Pavlovich never admitted the existence of Yeltsins' foreign bank
accounts. It cannot be ruled out that for this very reason after his
patron's resignation he was honorably demoted - not to the job of a yardsman
in a Moscow suburb, but to nothing less than the future state secretary of
the Russian-Belorussian Union. And no matter how excited is the Russian
political establishment with the Acting President's outstanding courage
shown by the dismissal of "a man of this stature", this firing is of a
Khrushchevian style - a soft one, if not honorable.

The appointment of Sergei Shoigu as Deputy Prime Minister, in addition to
his job as Minister for Emergency Situations, is no less of a signal. On one
side, it means that Shoigu begins to receive the payoff for his services in
the Duma electoral campaign. On the other side, it suggests the Kremlin has
far-reaching plans with regard to Shoigu. Most likely, he will be allowed to
work as Deputy Prime Minister until the presidential elections, and then
promoted to a top position in the government - the one of Prime Minister or
First Deputy Prime Minister. For the financial clans, Shoigu may be most
advantageous candidate for any of these positions. He has a track record of
loyalty, while having little idea about the workings of the economy. And if
put in charge of portentous macroeconomic decisions, first of all for the
financing of major industries, these decisions will be taken in fact by
those who will stand behind him.

There is almost no doubt that this someone will be anybody but Boris
Berezovsky who took such an active part in the emergence of the Bear Party.
His main proxy in the cabinet - Nikolai Aksyonenko, has been moved, however
smoothly, from the seat of the First Deputy Prime Minister with almost
unlimited authority with regard to the economy and finances, to his more
habitual place of Railroads Minister. The vacated seat was occupied by
Mikhail Kasyanov, the Finance Minister, and a Chubais man. The job of second
First Deputy Prime Minister has been abolished, but Viktor Khristenko, the
holder of this job and another representative of the Chubais team, moved
just one step down, becoming Deputy Prime Minister.

Thus, in fact, Berezovsky lost his opportunities to influence the
distribution of financial flows through the government. His proxies now find
themselves on the roadside, while Aleksandr Voloshin, although connected to
Berezovsky for a long time will, it seems, do his best in the current
situation to preserve his position under Putin, which means he will prefer
to refrain from lobbying the oligarch's interests. The only serious and
influential figure from among the Berezovsky cadres remaining at the top is
Vladimir Rushailo, Minister of the Interior. Rushailo himself can hardly be
satisfied with the current political configuration. Some believe that the
role currently played by Putin was originally designed for Rushailo, but in
view of the independence and unpredictability of the latter, the preference
was given to Putin. At the same time, Rushailo has in his hands not only the
interior troops, but also a variety of kompromat against many participants
of the ongoing political events and representatives of financial groups. And
against the background of Putin's first failures in Chechnya and the
aggravation in his relationship with the top brass, no other than Rushailo
may assume the role of a counterbalance to the Acting President, with
support from Berezovsky who is displeased with the current design of the

Some rumours about a new information war initiated by Berezovsky against
young oligarchs have already appeared (see Pravda Online). However, before
the government shakeup the motivation of this would-be war looked rather
flimsy: the main reason was Putin's rejection of Berezovsky's services in
the former's presidential campaign. After Putin's edicts, there are good
reasons for the start of a warfare. It cannot be ruled out that the first
issue of a thriller series about the life of the mammals will be displayed
before the eyes of the citizenry this coming Sunday by Sergei Dorenko. And
its scenario will be written on the basis of the documents obtained from
Mr.Rushailo. At the same time, the first strikes will be directed not
against Putin, but against Berezovsky's main rivals from the Chubais
entourage: for the purpose of the campaign is not a strategic one - to
remove Putin, but a demonstration of capabilities ("let us strike a deal").
It is also unlikely that Chubais will tolerate Berezovsky's actions and will
not respond with moves of his own. And if the war between recent allies will
flare up, then it is most likely that Rushailo will become the proximate
target for removal from the government.


Chechens say they blocked Russian advance
By Patrick Lannin

MOSCOW, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Chechen rebels fighting in the breakaway region 
said on Sunday they had blocked the advance of Russian forces and one 
official was quoted as saying a hit-and-run war had been declared on Moscow's 

But Russia said it had continued attacks on rebel positions and killed many 
fighters. Russian television correspondents, reporting from the Mozdok 
military base outside Chechnya, said a steady stream of warplanes was taking 
off to bomb rebel targets. 

Acting President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that the offensive, on which 
he has largely built his popularity, was going according to plan despite 
setbacks last weekend when the rebels launched several surprise raids on 
Russian positions. 

Rebel spokesman Movladi Udugov said clashes had taken place in the southern 
villages of Duba-yurt and Serzhen-yurt on Saturday and that Russian forces 
were beaten back. 

``Fierce battles continue but the Russians cannot move forward,'' said 
Udugov, speaking by telephone from an unknown location. 

He said Chechen forces had re-established control over strategic heights 
outside Duba-yurt after the encounter. The Russian Defence Ministry was not 
immediately available to comment on Udugov's statements. 

Udugov also said that Russian warplanes were concentrating their bombing on 
several villages in the south on Sunday, including Vedeno, Sharoi, Shatoi and 

However, Russian news agencies quoted the military at Mozdok as saying that 
more than 100 rebels were killed in fighting over the last 24 hours and that 
the guerrillas were concentrating their forces in several regions in the 

Both sides have made exaggerated claims about each other's losses, although 
one independent source, the senior secretary of the Committee of Soldiers' 
Mothers, told Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio that the death toll among Moscow's 
forces was 3,000. 

This was far higher than the figure given by the military, which says the 
death toll is almost 600, including troops from the Interior Ministry and the 
regular army. 

Russia's four-month-old campaign against the rebels went forward quickly 
until its forces came up against strong resistance in Grozny and in the 
south, the rebels' traditional mountain stronghold. 


Chechen Defence Minister Magomed Khambiyev was quoted by Russia's Interfax 
news agency as saying that rebel commanders had decided at a meeting to 
declare a hit-and-run war on Russia. 

``The period of battles for strategic positions is coming to and end. From 
now on the tactic of a partisan war will mainly be used,'' the agency quoted 
Khambiyev as saying. 

``We do not set ourselves the aim of entering populated areas and holding 
them, our aim is to smash separate units and to retire to repeat the 
operation in a new place,'' he said. 

The rebels carried out raids on Russian-held positions last weekend, catching 
Moscow's forces by surprise. However, Putin said the attacks did not mean the 
offensive was going wrong. 

``We will finally take Grozny, this will be the first stage. The second stage 
is that we will finish the operation in the mountains, no matter who is 
running around and hiding in caves,'' he said on Saturday, referring to the 
southern mountains. 


Putin leads opinion polls for a March 26 presidential election, although 
political analysts say any sharp turn for the worse in the Chechen campaign 
could hit his popularity. 

Russia's campaign and its treatment of refugees, most of whom have fled to 
the neighbouring region of Ingushetia, was due to come under further 
international scrutiny, this time by a team from the parliamentary assembly 
of the Council of Europe. 

A delegation from the body, which monitors human rights, was due to arrive in 
Moscow on Sunday before heading to the North Caucasus on Tuesday and 
Wednesday to meet Ingushi President Ruslan Aushev and other regional leaders. 

The delegation would also hold talks with Putin on Tuesday before visiting 
Russian-held areas in Chechnya. 


Web page for CDI Russia Weekly:


Return to CDI's Home Page  I  Return to CDI's Library