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Johnson's Russia List


January 24, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4061 4062 4063

Johnson's Russia List
24 January 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
1. The Russia Journal: Andrei Piontkovsky, Six kilometers of hell.
2. Reuters: Russia's Putin says needs liberal support in Duma.
3. Reuters: Putin sets no time limit to Chechen campaign.
5. Christian Science Monitor: Ian Bremmer and Tom Corcoran, Pipeline politics and Chechnya.
6. Newsweek: Owen Matthews, Chechnya; 'Like a Meat Grinder.' Inside Grozny: The Russian Military's 'Final Assault' on the Capital City is Slow, Chaotic and Bloody.
9. Reuters: Chechen first lady stays with her people. (Kusama Maskhadov)]


The Russia Journal
January 24-30, 2000
Six kilometers of hell
By Andrei Piontkovsky
(Andrei Piontkovsky is director of the Center of Strategic
Research in Moscow.)
A scathing attack on the war in Chechnya and the heads of the Russian 
intelligentsia - Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar.

A swindler, close to the highly unpopular Kremlin "family," hated and held in 
contempt by the whole country, toured Russia a few months before elections 
persuading governors to unite and form a new pro-Kremlin party. Three or four 
of the governors most mired in corruption scandals and one directly 
implicated in the murder of an opposition journalist took up the proposal.

A couple of months later, this new "party" swept to victory in parliamentary 
elections. So what happened over that couple of months, and how was it that 
the swindler, who poured money into what looked like a doomed enterprise, 
turned out to be so far-sighted?

Nothing particular happened, just Shamil Basayev's raid on Dagestan that 
killed hundreds of Russian soldiers and Dagestanis; just explosions in Moscow 
and Volgodonsk that killed some thousand more people; mass bombings and 
full-scale war in Chechnya with hundreds of more dead soldiers and an unknown 
number of civilian casualties. And there's plenty more blood and death yet to 

Meanwhile, the TV screens regale us with a decisive macho man, sometimes 
dressed like the Prince of Wales in various military uniforms, sometimes like 
a medieval samurai in a black-belted kimono, leading us from victory to 
victory. Our aviation "is working" on Bamut, and our special forces troops 
are "cleansing" Shali for the second time. 

Three parties, three sources and component parts of "Putinism," have shaped 
its core of support -- corrupt governors, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and the
lights of the Russian intelligentsia -- Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar. 

Chubais and Gaidar have finally seen their dream of a Russian Pinochet come 
true -- the man who will lead Russia with an iron hand toward liberal reforms 
and a state of well-being. True, thousands or, more likely, tens of 
thousands, will lose their lives on the road to this radiant future. But, as 
the swindler and founding father of the new party once said "well, there'll 
be a bit of killing, but then, there always is a bit of killing going on 
somewhere or other."

There are bad Chechens, we are told. It was bad Chechens who blew up our 
homes. The authorities repeat it so incessantly it looks like they are trying 
to convince themselves of the fact. 

There are good Chechens, as well. They are the ones we are liberating from 
the bandits. The best, most pro-Russian and most legitimate Chechen is Malik 
Saidullayev -- chairman of the State Council of Chechnya -- elected to his 
post to by Doku Zavgayev's 1996-model legitimate Supreme Soviet.

Saidullayev relates what happened in his native village after it was 
liberated: "The soldiers chased people from where they had been hiding in 
basements. Some of those people were carrying small children in their arms. 
The soldiers lined them up and forced them to run six kilometers to the next 
village. They promised that whoever ran the distance would live. Tanks fired 
after them as they ran."

Now we can be certain that hell on earth exists. We create this hell every 
day with our high-precision "grad" and "uragan" artillery. And if hell also 
awaits beyond the grave, then somewhere in its labyrinths is a six-kilometer 
field torn to pieces by artillery shells. It is across this field that 
Gaidar, Chubais and their charming wives, Irina Khakamada and her handsome 
husband with his curly locks flying, will run for all eternity.

They, but not Hero of Russia Gen. Vladimir Shamanov. There is no hell for 
single-celled organisms. The Shamanovs of this world are innocent, for they 
know not what they do.

Among those singing the praises of this shameful and criminal bloodbath, 
dubbing it the Renaissance of Russia and its army, Chubais and his friends 
are the most intelligent, best educated and the most talented. And therefore 
the lowest of the lot. 


Russia's Putin says needs liberal support in Duma
By Oleg Shchedrov

MOSCOW, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Russia's Acting President Vladimir Putin said on 
Sunday he needed the support of liberal groups to push legislation through 
parliament and described Communist renationalisation proposals as 

``The package of draft laws waiting for the Duma (lower house) approval are 
mainly aimed at promoting the market economy and we will largely count on 
liberal deputies to pass them,'' he said. 

But he made clear in an interview with RTR television that he would not get 
involved in the latest parliamentary row triggered by a power-sharing deal 
between the Communist Party and his supporters in the Unity bloc after 
December elections. 

Nor would he resort to undemocratic means to defend liberal allies. 

The deal, under which the Communists got the Duma speakership and split most 
of the committee chairmanships with Unity, prompted a Duma walkout by four 
outraged liberal and centrist groups. 

``Communist Party statements about the need to redistribute property, or, as 
their documents put it, resort to confiscation and nationalisation, are 
unacceptable for us,'' Putin told. 

``There are no grounds to say there was some strategic deal (with the 

He said he hoped the parliamentary row would be sorted out soon and added 
that he needed the liberal support in the long run. 


``So as a prime minister I would indeed be interested in consolidating 
liberal forces and giving them more than they would normally get,'' Putin 

``But as an acting president I think I have no such right because the balance 
of forces in the Duma should reflect the balance of forces in the nation.'' 

Putin, who became Russia's most popular politician by conducting a war 
against separatist rebels in the North Caucasus region of Chechnya, became 
acting president after Boris Yeltsin resigned on December 31. 

He is seen as the strongest candidate in a presidential election due on March 

The acting president shrugged off criticism that the parliamentary deal 
between the Communists and Unity could be a prelude to a new dictatorship, 
saying his main efforts would be aimed at strengthening state institutions. 

This, he said, was crucial for providing a favourable atmosphere for a market 

But he added: ``When we talk about strengthening the role of the state in the 
economy, we in no way mean the state should interfere directly in the 

The key task of the state was to set and maintain the rules of the game. 

``If the government fails to guarantee that the rules of the game are 
observed, we will never create a good investment climate,'' he added. 


Putin sets no time limit to Chechen campaign
By Oleg Shchedrov

MOSCOW, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Russia's Acting President Vladimir Putin, 
preparing for a presidential poll in March, said on Sunday he would not push 
troops fighting rebels in Chechnya to time the end of the campaign to a 
specific date. 

``The timing of the operation is fully decided by military considerations,'' 
Putin told RTR television. ``It will not be timed to any date on the 
political calendar.'' 

In an indication of the ferocity of fighting in the breakaway southern 
province, the military said they had found the body of a general killed last 
week when he led soldiers in a street battle in the Chechen capital Grozny. 

In the neighbouring region of Ingushetia, the wife of Chechen rebel leader 
Aslan Maskhadov denied reports issued by the Russian military that he was 
wounded. She said her husband was in good spirits and committed to crushing 
the latest onslaught. 

Despite severe winter weather, Russian forces continued to hammer rebel 
positions in mountain gorges and in the shattered capital. But they reported 
little headway in their gruelling week-long drive to storm the city. 

Warplanes and helicopters flew more than 100 sorties over Chechen targets, 
Interfax reported from Russian headquarters. 

It quoted military reports as saying heavy fighting was under way in the 
city. Russian troops had taken complete control of a bridge over the Sunzha 
river which bisects the city but were still fighting for the central Minutka 


The four-month long operation in Chechnya has made Putin the most popular 
politician in Russia and the strongest candidate in the presidential polls 
called for March 26 after the surprise resignation of Boris Yeltsin. 

But after an initially smooth advance, in which the Russians seized northern 
and central Chechnya, the troops hit well-organised resistance in Grozny and 
faced hit-and-run guerrilla war in other parts of the region. 

The Russian military have said there was no definite front line in Grozny and 
street battles raged in almost every corner. 

Last week, Major-General Mikhail Malofeyev, one of key commanders in the 
area, went missing in Grozny and the rebels said they had captured him. 

On Sunday, the military, quoted by Russian news agencies, said rescue teams 
had found Malofeyev's body in a trench close to where he led soldiers in his 
last attack. 

``He was a hero,'' Itar-Tass news agency quoted a Russian commander in 
Chechnya, Viktor Kazantsev, as saying. 

``When an attack unit of the Interior Ministry forces messed up, he stood up 
and led a group of soldiers to cover the backs of the main force.'' 


The Russian military say that despite difficulties, they were capable of 
taking the operation to the end. But Maskhadov's wife Kusama, who keeps in 
touch with her husband, said the Chechens were defiant. 

``We believe that victory will be ours,'' she said told Reuters in a refugee 
camp on the fringes of the Ingushi town of Sleptosvsk. 

``Our cause it right. We are not fighting on the territory of others. We are 
defending our people who they are out to destroy.'' 

Kusama, who says she is not controlled by the Russians despite living in 
Russian territory, denied Russian reports that her husband was wounded in the 
southern mountains. 

``He is alive and well,'' she said. ``He is in good spirits. They all feel 
like that.'' 

The other main focus of fighting is the mountains in the south, part of the 
Caucasus, Europe's highest range. 

Russians on Saturday seized Vedeno, the largest village in the mountains. But 
guerrillas still maintain bases in the steep Argun and Vedeno gorges, all but 
impenetrable in winter. 

Malik Saidullayev, a pro-Moscow Chechen businessman, was due to fly to 
Chechnya from Moscow on Sunday to meet the leaders of armed groups and 
negotiate bringing them to Russia's side, but he postponed his visit to later 
this week. 

The rebels have dismissed his initiative. 


Text of report by Russian Mayak radio on 23rd January 

[Presenter] Vladimir Putin, the prime minister and acting president, has been 
interviewed by the "Zerkalo" programme on the state-run Russia TV channel. 
During the interview, he raised a whole host of issues. Discussing short-term 
economic goals, Putin in particular outlined the role of the state in 
building a new economy for Russia. This is what he said. 

[Putin] The state should have some kind of institution to safeguard the 
interests of all levels of society. It would have one other important purpose 
and function - to safeguard the rules of the game. This really is a very 
important function. It's important not only in politics but in economics as 
well and perhaps in economics even more so, because even if we're talking 
about a stronger role for the state in the economy we must never say that the 
state ought to directly intervene in the economy. Or that it should give the 
orders or restore the command economy, or assume direct management. Although 
there should be enterprises and sectors of the economy in which the state has 
to retain that function, and we have in Russia what we call treasury 
enterprises. These are in the defence sector and some other areas. 

But overall, the state should perform a different function. It should create 
clear and understandable and fair rules. And most importantly, it should 
create a system for observing and upholding these rules. Unfortunately, our 
judicial system is still not doing its job properly, moreover this applies in 
all areas. The general courts and arbitration tribunals and antitrust 
authorities are, unfortunately, being used not in the interests of the state 
and market players but often in the interests of cronies and groups, in the 
interests of some business figures against others. As part of competition 
between businesses. This should not happen. If we don't stop it and if we 
don't make sure that the state can safeguard the rules of the game, then 
we'll never create a good investment climate. And then all our billions in 
resources will not be put to proper use. 

This is something that we really must do. Not only that, but in my opinion, 
the active public support for our actions in the Caucasus is due not only to 
a sense of hurt national identity but also to a vague feeling - and rightly 
so, the ordinary man may not formulate it as such but it is a correct feeling 
- that the state has become weak. And it ought to be strong. 


Christian Science Monitor
January 24, 2000
Pipeline politics and Chechnya
By Ian Bremmer and Tom Corcoran
Ian Bremmer is president of the New York-based consulting firm Eurasia 
Group, and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York. Tom 
Corcoran is executive director of the Eurasia Group and a member of the 
Council on Foreign Relations Russian Economic Task Force. 

International outrage over Russia's Chechnya strategy once again draws 
attention to how energy markets affect the course of current events. In 
short, Russia's ability to prosecute the war in Chechnya is abetted by the 
current high price of oil. 

The rise in oil prices has given the Russian economy a boost, building acting 
President Vladimir Putin's popularity and providing the Kremlin with funds to 
pay the last installment of debt to the International Monetary Fund. 

This has led many to recommend that the US draw down its oil reserves to 
depress the market. When the price of oil drops, the reasoning goes, the 
Kremlin's campaign in Chechnya will be severely impaired. 

Whatever you think of the Chechnya crisis, this suggestion illuminates a 
paradox in the keystone of US policy on Eurasia - the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, a 
project of multinational oil companies aggressively lobbied for by the 
American government. 

Stretching from Kazakhstan through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, 
Baku-Ceyhan is the only policy initiative for the region with wide bipartisan 
support in Washington. 

The basic idea is to strengthen the nascent states of the Caspian region by 
weakening Russia's hold over them. All but one pipeline originating in the 
Caspian presently travels through Russia. Accordingly, Russia benefits from 
the transit fees on oil and gas passing through its territory. Russia also 
benefits politically - by owning most of the routes to market it effectively 
has a stranglehold on the Caspian economies. 

Therefore, Baku-Ceyhan subverts Russian influence in an effort to strengthen 
the independence of the new states of the so-called southern tier. 

Baku-Ceyhan is also self-defeating - its success depends on conditions that 
undermine its ends. 

The pipeline is extremely expensive; the estimated cost of construction is 
roughly $3 billion over the course of the next four to eight years. Thus the 
commercial viability of the project depends on high oil prices sustained over 
a prolonged period, because oil companies are not interested in making the 
capital investments required without margins sufficiently wide to justify the 

But high oil prices provide the Kremlin with the resources to be mischievous 
in Chechnya, exporting its power and ignoring international pressures. 

Indeed, it provides the Kremlin with the resources to consider other forms of 
adventurism all along its southern border. 

The conditions necessary for the construction of Baku-Ceyhan subvert the very 
goals its backers seek to achieve. Nor does Baku-Ceyhan advance US policy 
goals. The Clinton administration ostensibly supports continued engagement 
with Russia, working to bring Moscow closer to the Western orbit. But by 
supporting the construction of Baku-Ceyhan, the administration sends the 
message that it wants to weaken Russia's influence, hardly the best way to 
solicit Russian cooperation. Indeed, by sending a hostile message to Russia, 
the administration's policy provides the Kremlin with persuasive reasons to 
obstruct US initiatives in the region whenever it can - that is, whenever the 
price of oil rises. 

With Boris Yeltsin gone, Russian foreign policy will become less quixotic. 

Mr. Putin is a pragmatic statist, likely to attack attempts to undermine 
Russia's influence in its backyard. With the resounding success of 
pro-Kremlin forces in recent parliamentary elections, Putin probably believes 
he would enjoy the public's mandate to do so. So now is the ideal time to 
remold US foreign policy with an eye toward practical ways to meet policy 

Baku-Ceyhan is self-defeating, serves no one's interests in the end, and will 
continue to undermine the stability of the Caspian. 


January 30, 2000
[for personal use only]
Chechnya; 'Like a Meat Grinder' Inside Grozny: The Russian Military's 
'Final Assault' on the Capital City is Slow, Chaotic and Bloody 
By Owen Matthews

>From a shell-pitted apartment block on Grozny's Kasiora Street, the besieged 
capital city of Chechnya spreads out in a low lying ruin of smoke, fire and 
shattered concrete. Incessant bombardment from Russian artillery and 
200-kilo bombs dropped by attack planes send thundering detonations through 
the town. Jets scream overhead every few minutes. But there is also another 
constant: the uninterrupted crackle of rebel machine-gun fire.

For months the bombs have fallen. Day after day, night after night, the full 
might of the Russian Army's heavy artillery and Air Force has been 
concentrated in a massive attack on Grozny. The aim has been to annihilate 
the city's Chechen defenders. Last week it was the infantry's turn to try to 
make good on the Russian military's boast that the recapture of Grozny was 
imminent. But a NEWSWEEK reporter's trip into the city last Saturday shows 
just how slow, chaotic and bloody that assault has become for the Russians.

In north Grozny, Chechen irregular troops loyal to Moscow have succeeded in 
pushing back rebel fighters just 400 yards in the past week. Their 
commander, Beslan Gantemirov, says his reconnaissance groups are now scouting 
the center of the city, two and one-half kilometers from the federal front 
lines. Compared to the last assault on Grozny (in 1994-95), this is much 
slower and much more messy," says Gantemirov, the former mayor of Grozny and 
once an ally of the late Chechen president Dzhokar Dudayev. Boris Yeltsin 
released Gantemirov from jail in September where he was serving a sentence 
for embezzlement so that he could head the pro-Moscow Chechen forces. "Our 
opponents are good fighters. Even though they are my enemies I can say as a 
Chechen that I am proud that they are fighting so bravely."

Russian officials claim that there are only 700 fighters left in the burning 
ruins of the city. A more realistic figure seems to be around at least 
1,500. But however few their numbers, the rebels who remain in networks of 
heavily fortified dugouts throughout the city are putting up a deadly fight. 
The Russian force in Chechnya is 100,000 strong, but its progress last week 
in the "final assault" on Grozny was punishingly slow. Like Gantemirov's 
troops, some of Russia's Interior Ministry troops managed to push the rebels 
into a retreat from some sections of Grozny, but in the process they took 
casualties far higher than the seven to 10 per day admitted to by Moscow's 
Defense Ministry. And the rebels, even in retreat, managed to score a 
significant psychological victory when they wounded and captured (according 
to their account) one of the commanders of the Grozny assault: Maj. Gen. 
Mikhail Malofeyev, deputy commander of the Federal Forces' Northern Group. 
His unit was ambushed in a nighttime rebel raid on Grozny, when a group of 
fighters crawled through sewer pipes to reach the Russian unit's location, 
catching it completely unprepared for an assault.

The level of concern in Moscow with the increasingly deadly war in Chechnya 
is now obvious. Last Saturday acting president Vladimir Putin replaced the 
Interior Ministry commander in charge of troops in Chechnya, including those 
leading the assault on Grozny. He also again adopted the tough-guy pose that 
has boosted his popularity among Russian voters before the forthcoming 
presidential election. While insisting, as he has repeatedly, that the 
Grozny operation was going to plan, the acting president warned Russians to 
be prepared for further terrorist attacks on Russian soil. He reminded 
everyone of the bombs that went off in Moscow, Buinaksk and Volgodonsk in 
late August and early September, which Moscow said were set by Chechen 
terrorists. Putin said the bombs went off because "we socked the bandits in 
the mug in Dagestan ... when they found they were powerless in a straight 
battle with us."

But the idea that the Chechens are "powerless" is sadly mocked by the 
mounting number of zinc coffins carrying Russian soldiers home every week. 
As even some Russian military officers admit, it is their infantry, composed 
mostly of teenage conscripts, that is unprepared for the war. Their enemies, 
for the most part, are hardened veterans of the last Chechen war who are once 
again demonstrating their skill as guerrilla fighters -- both in the capital 
city and in the fighting that continues in the mountains to the south. Igor 
Ivanikov, a major commanding Interior Ministry forces for Moscow, concedes 
his troops are no match for their opponents. "I see these 18-year-old kids 
coming back from fighting in the hills and their eyes are dead," says 
Ivanikov. "It's as though they are already prepared to die. Like they are on 
death row."

All too many are. In Grozny last Saturday, Said, one of the Chechen 
irregulars fighting for Gantemirov, told NEWSWEEK that "these kids just panic 
when a sniper opens fire." One of their men was shot by a sniper and the 
driver of their armored personnel carrier reversed in panic. He backed into 
a house and crushed one of his own boys to death.

Such chaos among Russia's forces is not uncommon. When Gantemirov's men took 
a building on Kasiora Street after a lengthy battle last week, they found 
themselves under attack again -- this time from "friendly" federal artillery. 
One of his men was killed in the shelling. "My radio battery gave out and I 
had to send a man back with a message that they were shelling their own 
people," says Omar Dagarov, one of Gantemirov's commanders. Admits 
Gantemirov: "There is no coordination between different federal forces. Our 
radios don't work, there is no unified command. We have to buy our own 
ammunition and my troops are not paid. Everyone is fighting separately -- 
the Interior Ministry forces, the Army and us." And the biggest problem of 
all, says Dagarov, is that the young, inexperienced federal forces "don't 
know how to fight."

That's why the death toll for Moscow is mounting, even as their troops make 
incremental gains in the capital. According to Chechen reports, one Russian 
combat unit of 40 men was either killed or captured last week. "Out of our 
company of 75 men, only 25 are left," one shell-shocked Russian sergeant told 
Russian television. "It was like a meat grinder."

One top commander, Gen. Gennady Troshev, flew into Grozny last week to buck 
up one unit that had refused to advance any farther after taking a brutal 
beating in a firefight on the northern outskirts of the city. Their 
commander had to call in more experienced Army troops to bail them out. At 
an impromptu medals ceremony the soldiers "stood with their heads down, their 
faces black with dirt and shook hands with Troshev as if they were zombies," 
said one Russian journalist who witnessed the scene. "All they wanted to do 
was not go back to the front lines."

But back they will go. At the weekend the Russian attempt to capture the 
capital was still in progress -- though in slow motion. The weight of the 
sheer numbers meant that "victory" in Grozny is inevitable for Moscow. But 
as in the last Chechen war, victory could mean occupying a city the rebels 
consider theirs -- and becoming targets for the deadly hit and run attacks 
that are sure to come.

With Bill Powell in Moscow


January 23, 2000
By Alexander Tsipko 
Special to The Daily Yomiuri 
(Alexander Tsipko is director of the Political Research Center in Moscow.) 

If a Russian presidential election were held now, there is no doubt that 
acting Russian President Vladimir Putin would win. Polls show that 55 percent 
of voters support him and his policies. Sixty percent of Russians share his 
firm resolve to win victory in the fighting in Chechnya. 

Putin is a real national leader, a favorite of the people. He charms Russian 
Philistines with his energy and strength. He does not need to use 
undemocratic means to ensure an election victory. He ingratiates himself with 
the West even less than the Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov. He is tough 
enough to insist on Russia's right to solve the Chechen problem with the use 
of force. 

Putin's mild anti-Westernism and enlightened nationalism have already made 
him Russia's most popular politician, and, given the right conditions, these 
factors will see him elected president. 

But Putin's popularity among patriotic Russians as well as his independence 
from the "Washington Party Committee," are at the same time major risks and 
threats for his presidential campaign. 

The interests of the post-Soviet Russian intelligentsia, for many reasons, 
are different from the hopes of common voters. The intelligentsia is afraid 
that if Putin gets supreme power, he will limit freedom. Russia's 
intellectual elite, including Moscow's political elite, is both pro-Western 
and cosmopolitan. They think that Putin's state leadership will inevitably 
lead to another iron curtain and to limitations on human rights. 

Many treat Putin as another Stalin, but there is no factual basis for such 
fears. He seems more Western than many human rights defenders. But the fears 
and syndromes of the communist era are sometimes stronger than common sense. 

The potential split between liberal pro-Western intelligentsia and the acting 
president were realized after the Kremlin administration supported Communist 
candidate Gennady Seleznyov for the post of chairman of the Duma, the lower 
chamber of parliament. 

Nobody knows who initiated the creation of a Duma majority by associating the 
pro-Putin "Unity" faction with the communists. But the alliance itself gave 
the liberals a chance to accuse Putin of pro-Communist sympathies and of 
intending to make a bureaucratic-Communist union the social basis of his 

Of course, Putin supported Seleznyov not because he shared his communist 
views but in order to restrict Yevgeny Primakov from becoming chairman and 
restricting his own ambitions. Putin's actions were purely pragmatic. 

Seleznyov is weak and obedient. Moreover, he is a "fellow countryman," in 
other words a member of the "Leningrad (St. Petersburg) community." On the 
other hand, Primakov is still a rival in the presidential race. 

Putin's tactics have been considered a strategy, and his "Putin-communists 
union," has been opposed by all liberal factions. 

After Jan. 18, Russia entered a period of a balance of power headed by what 
looks like a so-called Russoist state party including factions of Unity, the 
Communist Party and the People's Deputies. Liberal opposition, including the 
Union of Right Forces, Yabloko and Fatherland, looks like a party of 

We have had to deal with confrontation between so-called Russoists and 
Westernizers before in Russia. 

In the new power balance there are some obstacles blocking Putin's way to 
being enthroned in the Kremlin. He gains no profit from the identification of 
his name with patriotic etatists, among whom former communists play a leading 

The problem is that the liberals who are currently rallying around 
Primakov--and will most likely name him as their candidate for the 
presidency--have always overpowered the patriots. That occurred in August 
1991 and again in the autumn of 1993. 

The Liberals have always been stronger in intellectual, financial and 
information spheres. If Putin loses the support of energetic liberals like 
Anatoly Chubais, his team may become significantly weaker. Until recently, 
many thought that Chubais would head Putin's campaign headquarters. 

If popular liberals join Primakov's team, the number of Putin supporters 
among the voters might decrease. If the liberal opposition, headed by 
Primakov, Sergei Kiriyenko and Grigory Yavlinsky, starts a serious campaign 
against Putin, his chance of taking over the Kremlin will become smaller. 

The liberal opposition now has enough force to prevent a Putin election 
victory. Firstly, liberals control popular television channels like NTV, 
TV-Centre, radio station Moscow Echo and part of the press. Media reports 
after Jan. 18 started to expose "the threats of a Putin dictatorship." 

They will probably soon start to publish compromising details about Putin, 
unmasking his connections with the so-called Yeltsin family and the 

There is a possibility that liberal journalists will run from Putin to 
Primakov, thus weakening the intellectual resources of the acting president. 

Secondly, the liberal opposition could attract the support of the West--who 
view Putin with suspicion and feel uneasy about his tough persona and 
demonstrative independence. One should take into account that Yeltsin made 
Putin his successor against the opinion of the West. 

There can be no doubt that if Primakov decides to run for the presidency he 
will receive information and financial support from the United States and 
Western Europe. 

The International Monetary Fund has already frozen its loans to Russia for 
ideological reasons. It is also likely that there will be attempts to limit 
Russia's oil and gas exports. 

Thirdly, the liberal propaganda campaign will play an important role in the 
guerrilla war in Chechnya, in which the number of federal troop losses is 
increasing--misfortunes in Chechnya may also reduce Putin's popularity. 

Fourthly, Primakov's popularity is also an important point. If he takes part 
in the race and if Yavlinsky steps aside in Primakov's favor, the latter may 
jump ahead of Zyuganov in first-round vote. In that case, the second round 
becomes the real election. Aggravation of the economic situation may also 
contribute to a reduction in Putin's popularity. 

Fifthly, one of the opposition's resources is the reputedly rebellious Moscow 
region led by Mayor Yury Luzhkov. The region contains 10 percent of Russian 
voters. By confronting the united liberal forces, Putin could alienate the 
region and find himself facing a powerful political foe. 

It is therefore too early to talk about an inevitable victory for Putin in 
the March 26 presidential election as there are a lot of unexpected things 
that could happen during the next 60 days. 

Putin still does not have total control over the security and police forces. 
The Ministry of Internal Affairs is subordinate to Boris Berezovsky's friend 
Vladimir Rushailo. If Berezovsky, who controls the most popular television 
channel, ORT, sides with the liberals, Putin's position will be considerably 

Putin has the means to enforce his authority and to protect his high 
popularity, as he enjoys the support not only of a parliamentary majority, 
but also of most regional governors. Provincials traditionally do not like 
metropolitan liberals and always prefer to join forces with their rivals. 

The Russia Regions faction in the Duma that had cooperated with Primakov 
eventually sided with the Duma majority. So the consolidation of governors 
around Putin will continue. 

Putin might still make peace with the West. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine 
Albright recently made a gesture of peace calling Putin a reformer. The next 
move is up to Putin, but he has a difficult time ahead and must proceed 
cautiously. He must not make any more political enemies. He cannot fight 
simultaneously with both liberals and Communists. And Zyuganov will at least 
have to pretend to fight Putin for the presidency. Putin is now entering a 
political minefield where one false step may end in defeat. 


Source: Russian Public TV, Moscow, in Russian 1800 gmt 22 Jan 00 

There is no military solution in Chechnya, a political accord must be 
reached, Russian tycoon MP Boris Berezovskiy has told Russian Public TV's 
analytical "Vremya" programme in a live interview on 22nd January. He also 
spoke of the newly-elected parliament and of prominent Russian politicians. 
The text of his interview follows. Subheadings have been inserted 

[Presenter] I propose that we now go over to a positive analysis of the 
situation in the State Duma... 

Our guest is [State Duma] Deputy [Boris] Berezovskiy... 

I would like to know your opinion of the situation. Every situation has its 
pros and cons. And, in my opinion, the State Duma crisis, apart from the 
obvious cons has some pros. Could you describe these pros in a nutshell?.. 

[A] I would like to say that the 1999 elections to the State Duma totally 
differ from the 1996 presidential elections as regards their impact on 
people's mentality. It seems to me that this is the main achievement of the 
1999 parliamentary elections. In contrast to the 1996 elections, when the 
Communists thought they would be able to take revenge later - yes they lost 
[the elections] but they thought they would be able to take revenge - 
nowadays the Communists are well aware that it is unrealistic for them to 
take revenge... 

[Q] It's absolutely shocking, but [Union of Right Forces leader Boris] 
Nemtsov today spoke in Nizhniy Novgorod and evidently he banned a video tape 
with his speech from being broadcast, because TV companies that were present 
at that news conference not only refuse to pass the tape to their friends or 
counterparts but even refuse to sell it, which is an unprecedented thing. He 
said that [acting President Vladimir] Putin is not an independent man - I 
quote: the situation is being controlled by [tycoon Roman] Abramovich, 
Berezovskiy, [Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana] Dyachenko, [chief of the 
presidential administration Aleksandr] Voloshin and others. Therefore, 
nothing much should be expected from Putin. With each passing day, the 
illusions which all thinking people in the country had about Putin are 
vanishing away, said B. Nemtsov, according to Interfax. 

[A] Well, I can only- 

[Q] Well, we'll talk about this a bit later because - [changes tack] Really, 
are there many chances that this union is possible- 

[A] But I would nevertheless like to comment on this, at least in a nutshell, 
now that you have touched upon this particular issue. Yes, I read this 
report. True, in this particular case I am upset only by the fact that Borya 
[diminutive form of Boris] Nemtsov cannot learn things. About a year or a 
year and a half ago, I said that Nemtsov was Boris Yefimovich, that in some 
ways he was Boris Abramovich [Berezovskiy] but that he wanted to be Boris 
Nikolayevich [Yeltsin]. So, nothing has changed as far as his self-perception 
is concerned. Boris Nemtsov still wants to be the first, he wants to be the 
boss - and this is, generally speaking, not a bad wish, but he should then 
speak the truth instead of engaging in populism... 

Primakov has been marginalized, Putin has moved to the centre 

Now I would really like to answer your question about the pros. I would like 
to repeat that nobody planned them. Maybe somebody planned, after all, but I 
can describe what happened as follows: first, the right-wingers, undoubtedly, 
have become more consolidated. Second, [Fatherland-All Russia leader 
Yevgeniy] Primakov has been cut off by the left-wingers. And some time ago, 
he was looked at as a symbol of the new left-wingers. And, finally, third, 
some of those who had supported Putin on the right wing moved to the right of 
him, and some of those who had not supported him on the left wing, moved 
towards him, and this, in my opinion, further improves the chances that Putin 
may be elected, with this new make-up of political forces being as it is now. 

[Q] In other words, Putin has moved closer to the centre? 

[A] It seems that he has moved closer to the centre. 

I believe that my stand on [Gennadiy] Seleznev - and I voted in favour of 
electing Seleznev [to the post of State Duma chairman] was immoral, but I 
acted as my conscience prompted me to do, despite the fact that I consider 
myself to be a fully-fledged right-winger. But there was a choice and 
political expediency. And there was only one option - either Seleznev or 

[Q] And why do you think that Primakov is less useful, so to speak? 

[A] I - [changes tack] It's a common thing in Russia to think less of those 
whom we know, and to think more of those whom we do not know - we presume 
that some positive qualities may still show themselves. Unfortunately, I 
happened to get to know Primakov, to get to know him in a very concrete 
situation. When I learned that Primakov had ordered that [Yabloko movement 
leader Grigoriy] Yavlinskiy and [first deputy chairman of the Media-Most 
board of directors Igor] Malashenko be shadowed - I later talked to 
Malashenko and he confirmed that he knew about that - and when one 
high-ranking employee of Russian special services refused to do this, and I 
learned about this- 

[Q] He refused to shadow them? 

[A] He refused to shadow them, having given quite a specific explanation: he 
said Yavlinskiy is a deputy and he had no right to do this because this would 
be in violation of the law - which, of course, is absolutely beyond 
Primakov's comprehension - and Malashenko was playing in the president's team 
during the presidential election and it had to be the president's team. 

I came to Yevgeniy Maksimovich [Primakov] and said to him absolutely openly: 
Yevgeniy Maksimovich, you are doing an absolutely wrong thing. This is a 
different country now. Don't take us back. 

And he said, looking straight into my eyes: Boris Abramovich, I swear to you 
on the memory of my late son [that I am not taking the country back]. 

You know, I have long been thinking whether or not I should say that this is 
not true, whether or not I should say this here in this studio, and I doubted 
whether or not I should disclose that private conversation to such a vast 
audience. But, after all, I would like people to know this as well, because 
Primakov still remains an important political figure. He could have become 
president in real terms - we know this. He is the man who - [changes tack] 

I told Yevgeniy Maksimovich: Yevgeniy Maksimovich, you have no right to say 
this to me. You know little about me. So why should you say this so openly, 
why should you swear on the memory of your child, the more so as he is no 
longer alive? 

At that moment, I understood that I made a very serious enemy for the rest of 
my life, the enemy who just hates me. But I do not regret at all that all 
this happened because I also got to know perfectly well what Yevgeniy 
Maksimovich Primakov looks like from within. This is why I decided that he 
was a great danger to society. 

There can be no military solution in Chechnya, only political 

[Q] Russia's main internal political problem now, or one of the most 
important ones, is Chechnya. Should the Duma deal with such issues or not at 
all? Is the Duma only about legislative work, or should it also concern 
itself with such serious problems? If so, what should it resolve? What will 
you vote for or propose as an expert on this problem? 

[A] Yes. I think that the Duma should, without fail, concern itself with all 
questions of fundamental importance for the country- 

[Q]Not only legislative work. 

[A] Not only legislative work. That is why, from my point of view, the Duma's 
foremost task is to evaluate what is taking place in Chechnya. Let me tell 
you something of fundamental importance here, as it were. It boils down to 
this: that in 1994, 1996 and up until the Chechen attack on Dagestan what 
made most Chechens tick was the desire for independence which they regarded 
as achievable. 

The situation is different now. I think that most of them probably continue 
to want independence, but an overwhelming majority, I do not think I will be 
far wrong if I say more than 90 per cent regard Chechnya's independence as 
unattainable right now. That is why the approach ought to be completely 

I categorically disagree with you that a stronger pressure is one such 
approach. I want to say that the problem of the Caucasus for Russia is a 
perennial problem, there is no final solution to the Caucasian problem. 

However, the solution which is, at long last, achieved and it will be 
achieved, I have no doubt about that, can only be based on acceptance on the 
part of Chechen society and the Russian society as a whole. There does not 
exist another solution to the problem there. 

That is why I think that already a month ago we should have altered our 
priorities completely. Yes, the action in Dagestan was absolutely sensible, 
absolutely essential, it was essential to take a ruthless stance. I do not 
want to speak about how the situation in Dagestan emerged in the first place, 
when four prime ministers calmly watched trenches being dug there. However, 
all subsequent actions were, from my point of view, perfectly proper, up 
until a certain point in time. 

I do not want to be platitudinous, but you can't score a victory over a whole 
people and Chechens are a people... 

Outlines his plan for a settlement in Chechnya 

A month and a half ago I proposed a plan for a settlement in Chechnya. Its 
essence is made up of two most important elements: Chechnya is an inalienable 
part of the Russian Federation, we are never going to give up our territorial 
integrity, at any rate not at this juncture in history, let us put it this 
way. This ought to be acknowledged by the Chechens. Secondly, a military 
solution does not exist there. That is why my proposal consisted in this: OK, 
we did exert this pressure and it was essential and now we ought to be clear 
in our minds that there are no people who regard Chechnya's independence as 
attainable. That is why those who shed blood right now are those who are 
trying to save their own lives and, first and foremost, those who are in 
charge of these people. This, then, is the reason why I thought that it was 
necessary to make it possible for these people to leave the territory of 
Russia, there are not many of them, five or 10 people and subsequently to 
bring them to justice according to the norms of international law. Yes, they 
must be put on trial, without fail. However, we must not now chase these 10 
or so people, because, in principle, it is 10 people that control things 
there, and shed colossal amount of blood in the process... 

[Q] Who is [field commander Shamil] Basayev, who needs Basayev? Let us assume 
that Basayev leaves and, say, is accepted in Jordan. Let us then assume, 
although it is a certainty, that in half a year, laden with explosive 
substances and what have you and accompanied by his gangs he again turns up 
in this or that place and he will turn up, without fail, it is his whole 
life, he cannot live any other way. 

[A] I stated perfectly clearly that there must be guarantees that these 
people will be tried according to the norms of international law. 

[Q] This means that we are making it possible for others to interfere, 
someone ought to take them out. 

[A] But no simple and clear-cut solution exists here. There does exist a path 
towards a solution which is implementable and I am only talking about this. I 
would not speak about these people if I did not know what makes them tick, if 
I had never met them. Let me recall that Basayev used to be the first deputy 
chairman of government of the Republic of Chechnya when we held talks with 
Chechnya. [Movladi] Udugov and others, who today are really implicated in 
terrorism, well, let me assure you, they are no Che Guevara, neither of them 
and that is precisely why I proposed this solution, in order to reduce the 
number of casualties, a position of principle, absolutely so and in order to 
ensure that no strategic opportunities are created for a return to such 
methods of war... 


INTERVIEW-Chechen first lady stays with her people
By Olga Petrova

SLEPTSOVSK, Russia, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The wife of Chechnya's President Aslan 
Maskhadov has chosen to stay on enemy territory to be closer to her people 
while her husband leads the battle against Russian troops in the breakaway 

Kusama Maskhadov, a shy woman in her 40s whose blonde hair is tinged with a 
touch of silver, spoke to Reuters in the Russian region of Ingushetia 
bordering Chechnya on Sunday. She said she shared her husband's struggle to 
avert what she called the genocide of the Chechens. 

``I move freely, I live where I want to live and I am under no one's 
supervision other than God's,'' Kusama Maskhadov said in a tent on the 
fringes of a refugee camp near Sleptsovsk, just over the Chechen border. 

A month ago Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has since become acting 
president, caused a stir by announcing that Maskhadov's family was on Russian 
territory and being protected by the country's secret services. 

Putin said Kusama Maskhadov and other family members had been taken to an 
undisclosed location away from Ingushetia, a region which has provided refuge 
for more than 200,000 people fleeing the conflict. 

But on Sunday, she was at the refugee camp in Sleptosvsk, watching a small 
anti-war rally quietly from a large white jeep. She was accompanied by one 
Chechen man and two women, with no security guards in evidence. 

An interview was conducted under some secrecy. 

``Follow the jeep and you can talk in one of distant tents,'' her companion 
said. In the green army tent equipped with a stove the president's wife was 
making herself comfortable on a sofa. 

``I live with refugees, but not in this camp,'' Kusama said. ``I could leave 
if I chose, but I don't want to. I want to stay with my people.'' 

Kusama, who wore a black coat and headscarf, said her grown-up daughter was 
living with her but not her son. 


She said she was in fairly regular contact with her husband and fully 
supported his cause, spearheading resistance to Russia's four-month-old 
onslaught in Chechnya. ``We are often in contact,'' she said without 
elaborating. ``Sometimes once in a month, sometimes twice.'' 

Kusama denied a report by the Russian military that the Chechen president had 
been wounded, saying she had spoken to him after the report. 

``He is alive and well,'' she said. ``He is in good spirits. They all feel 
like that. 

``In Chechnya a real genocide is taking place, and this is not the first 
time,'' she said. ``It has lasted for ages.'' 

But Kusama said she remained optimistic for the future -- as did her husband 
and other rebels who thwarted Russia's first attempt in 1994-96 to subdue 
Chechnya's independence drive. 

``We believe that victory will be ours,'' she said. ``Our cause it right. We 
are not fighting on the territory of others. We are defending our people whom 
they are out to destroy.'' 


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