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26 January 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. RFE/RL: Robert Lyle, Russia: Capital Flight Continuing.
2. BBC MONITORING: RUSSIAN RADIO COMMENTATOR SAYS PUTIN LYING TO
WEST, MEDIA OVER CHECHNYA.
3. AFP: Putin steps into international spotlight at summit.
4. Geoffrey Forbes: Research on the hiring of Russian locals by Western
5. Wall Street Journal Europe: Michael Reynolds, Central Asia Is No
6. APN: Parliamentary crisis in Russia - Bear`s disservice to Putin.
(Interview with Vladimir Semago)
7. BBC MONITORING: NTV interview with Irina Khakamada, leading member
of the Union of Right Forces)
8. Rossiiskaya Gazeta: PUTIN STRONG LEADER RUSSIA WANTS. Nikolai PAKLIN reports from Paris and Milan.
9. Wall Street Journal: Gary Anderson, Urban Warfare: Russia Shows
What Not to Do.]
Russia: Capital Flight Continuing
By Robert Lyle
When the citizens and businesses in a country are not confident of the future
of their economy or their currency, they tend to send their savings outside
of the country for safe-keeping. That's called capital flight. RFE/RL's
Robert Lyle reports from Washington that Russia continues to suffer from it
in a big way.
Washington, 25 January 2000 (RFE/RL) -- The global organization of commercial
banks, investment firms and insurance companies -- the Institute of
International Finance (IIF) -- says that capital flight from Russia continues
to be substantial and should be around $20 billion again this year.
The institute says the flight of capital from Russia has been at about that
level annually for the past year or two.
Charles Dallara, managing director of the institute, told reporters in
Washington on Monday that the problem for Moscow continues to be a lack of
solid reforms and stable policies:
"Obviously, it will be important for Russia to find some policy framework
that will stabilize and turn around that situation at some point, but we
don't have a clear sense that that's in the cards."
The director of research for the IIF, Kevin Barnes, says there was some
reduction in the amount of capital flight from Russia in December. But he
says even if that continues it will not have a major impact on the forecast
of $20 billion fleeing this year.
Overall, says Barnes, there are a lot of uncertainties ahead for Russia.
"Perhaps the removal of some of the political uncertainty that we fear
through a prolonged election period could make the situation even more
difficult. That will not happen. We are having to reevaluate a number of
developments. Russia has been helped by strong oil prices, still very
uncertain on capital flight and what will happen on the debt picture."
The institute says Russia's capital flight and other problems will turn
private capital flows into the country from positive to negative this year --
with more money leaving than coming in.
For the rest of what the IIF calls "emerging Europe" -- Bulgaria, the Czech
Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey -- the picture is
very positive. Private capital flows, which had dropped markedly during the
1998 crisis, are beginning to return and are estimated to have hit nearly $32
billion in 1999. They should climb another $500 million this year.
Barnes says these countries are drawing external financing because of their
progress in reforms:
"We've seen some encouraging steps, such as in Bulgaria. But there needs to
be continued efforts in that area to work toward the goal of convergence with
the European union. In several of those economies, we see encouraging
progress, but still more to be done."
Capital flows into all of the emerging economies in the world are expected to
increase from just below $150 billion in 1999 to nearly $200 billion this
year. That all depends, of course, says the IIF, on a continued strong U.S.
economy and no major crises anywhere in the world this year.
RUSSIAN RADIO COMMENTATOR SAYS PUTIN LYING TO WEST, MEDIA OVER CHECHNYA
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 1647 gmt 24 Jan 00
Acting President Vladimir Putin is lying to the West when he says the Chechen
war is just an antiterrorist operation, according to Russian Ekho Moskvy
radio observer Andrey Cherkizov. He said in a commentary on 24th January that
it is also untrue that there were no alternatives to this operation.
Cherkizov was commenting on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe debate on Russia and Chechnya. The following is the text of the radio
[Announcer] Here is Andrey Cherkizov.
[Cherkizov] There is some talk emanating from Strasbourg, and it is talk that
is very worrying for Russia. The Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe [PACE] today recommended that the issue of the mandate of
the Russian delegation be placed on the agenda of its session. PACE Chairman
Lord [David] Russell-Johnston said the issue would be discussed on Thursday
[27th January] after an emergency debate about the conflict in Chechnya.
When I said in Moscow that this issue was not on the agenda I was only
stating the situation at the time, the lord explained. This issue has now
been put on the agenda and PACE has made a decision on it. Lord
Russell-Johnston also said that during his recent visit to Moscow and the
North Caucasus he had the opportunity to get a general picture of what is
happening in Chechnya. His picture is this:
Banditry and hostage-taking are in fact rife in Chechnya, but part of the
blame for this was attributed by Russell-Johnston to the Russian authorities,
who failed, in his view, to prevent the situation turning out this way in
that Caucasian republic.
That is perfectly true. The lord also said, and I quote him, that the Council
of Europe did not doubt the need for antiterrorist action but said they
thought that operations on the scale they are, with heavy weaponry deployed,
could not be justified.
By Monday evening [24th January] we heard that PACE had refused to confirm
the mandate of the Russian delegation.
I should add to that what the executive secretary of the Russian Union of
Committees of Soldiers' Mothers, Valentina Melnikova, had to say. She
attended a meeting between human rights people and Lord Russell-Johnston on
the day the PACE delegation arrived in Moscow. She gave an interview to our
radio, saying: I should say the attitude of the members of the commission is
by no means as favourable as some of the media try to portray it. Not a
single sentence was said at the meeting indicating that the members of the
commission think that military operations on this scale are normal or in line
with Russia's obligations. End of quote.
We can see what the military operation is like from the TV footage, from the
way the operation to capture Groznyy is going, from the way officials in the
Defence Ministry painstakingly conceal the number of casualties and from
their anger whenever our colleagues contrive by some indirect means or other
to get hold of casualty data. Remember the ban on access to information
placed on the NTV film crew after their report from the Rostov special
laboratory [where dead soldiers are identified].
Virtually everyone has realized by now that the war in Chechnya is no
antiterrorist operation but is really simply a war to destroy an enemy, a war
with the objective of conquering a rebellious territory. It can be denied
only by professional liars, which, after all, is their job.
[Acting President and Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin, the organizer and
inspirer of this war, is now telling his Western contacts, as Lord
Russell-Johnston can testify, that Russia had no alternative in the specific
circumstances when the conflict started. Here Putin is lying. He is lying
like a professional KGB man.
There were alternatives. Both military men and politicians have referred to
them. But this recently appointed upstart needed a quick and clear victory.
But it didn't happen. After a while Putin will pretend to have been a
trusting little sheep led astray by the pushy generals. The most astounding
thing is that most of us, I am afraid, want to believe him. We shouldn't do
Putin steps into international spotlight at summit
MOSCOW, Jan 25 (AFP) -
Russia's acting President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday took over the reins of
the 12 former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States
giving his standing a new boost ahead of elections.
Putin, thrust into the international spotlight for the first time since
arriving in the Kremlin following Boris Yeltsin's New Year's Eve
resignation, was elected chairman of the CIS at a closed-door meeting.
Putin quickly took charge, moving one of his favorite themes --
international terrorism -- to the top of the agenda. The 12 leaders agreed
to draft an international programme to fight terrorism and extremism.
They also discussed the volatile North Caucasus region where Russia is
waging a war against the breakaway republic of Chechnya, but the leaders
gave no details of what issues were covered.
Observers said Putin could give the moribund CIS grouping a much-needed
boost, but first he has to be elected president. The vote for the new
president is on March 26.
Though Russian voters have yet to speak, CIS leaders threw their support
"We demonstrated our trust in Putin. He's the man we would like to see
elected president of Russia," Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliyev said
after the summit.
"The title 'acting' does not perturb the CIS leaders," said the daily
Vremiya, commenting on the prospect of Putin heading the CIS.
The CIS leadership was supposed to have passed to Tajik President Emomali
Rakhmonov, who threw his support behind Putin on Monday after the two
The summit was the first time Putin has appeared on the international stage
since taking office.
"Putin had to be presented to show that he is able to perform the role of a
Russian political leader," Alexei Malachenko of the Carnegie Institute told
The weekly Moscow News praised on Tuesday the acting president's style on
the eve of the summit.
"While Yeltsin crushed his partners with the size of his welcoming
temperament and the familiarity of a welcoming host, Putin has shown a
diplomacy which we have not felt in past years," the newspaper said.
Yeltsin's health problems also were blamed for the ineffectiveness of the
CIS, which in the past often cancelled meetings or cut them short with few
But Tuesday, the leaders agreed to draft a programme to fight international
terrorism and extremism and leaders discussed joint efforts to fight
"The discussion was frank and open," Interfax news agency quoted Putin as
The programme was proposed by Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov and his
Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev.
"Everyone supported the president of Kazakhstan's proposal for a program to
deal with terrorism and examining the idea of creating a unified
anti-terrorism center," Putin said.
Russia has portrayed its massive military intervention in Chechnya as an
anti-terrorist operation designed to wipe out Islamic extremists blamed for
two incursions into southern Russia and a wave of bomb attacks in September
which killed 292 people.
Karimov and Nazarbayev have said the Chechens fighting Russia and attacks
and hostage-taking by Islamic extremists in Central Asia all receive
support from extremist organisations in Afghanistan and other Islamic
Karimov, who has ruled his Central Asian republic with an iron fist, has
repeatedly accused Central Asian neighbors of not being tough enough on
fighting Islamic extremism.
Last February, a series of blasts in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, killed 16
people and wounded 128.
In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Islamic extremists seized several mountain
villages in August and took hostages, including four Japanese geologists
who were released after two months following intense negotiations.
From: "Geoffrey Forbes" <email@example.com>
Subject: Int'l Human Resource Management Research at Purdue
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000
I am conducting research on the hiring of Russian locals by Western
multinational enterprises at their Russian facilities. I would be grateful
if managers at such enterprises who have been involved in hiring Russians
would be willing to take 5 minutes to fill out my survey. I will be pleased
to send it to you by e-mail. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Geoffrey A. Forbes
From: email@example.com (Michael Reynolds)
Subject: Central Asia Is No Game
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000
My piece below appeared today in the Wall Street Journal Europe.
Thought it might be of interest to JRL's readers.
Wall Street Journal Europe Tuesday, January 25, 2000
"Central Asia Is No Game"
By Michael A. Reynolds
Mr. Reynolds writes on Russian and Near East affairs from Istanbul.
"The East is a vexingly delicate affair," said Comrade Sukhov in "White
in the Desert," a popular Soviet film about the struggle to bring Bolshevik
"culture" and "progress" to the lands of Central Asia and the Caucasus. It
is only fitting that now, as America pursues its own mission to bring the
gifts of free markets and democracy to that region--and take back some oil
and gas--that the English-speaking world's super agent, James Bond, should
too find himself in Azerbaijan in "The World Is Not Enough," his latest
Reflecting a similar hunger for drama and exotic color, analysts tell
story of the West's role in that part of the world in terms of the "Great
Game," a reference to the 19th Century struggle between the British and
Russian Empires for influence in the region. The resumption of Russia's
bloody and centuries old conflict with Chechnya, and its threats against
Georgia and Azerbaijan, would seem to be perfect material for the latest
chapter in this, the second Great Game.
But it is a dangerous mistake to think of these events in this light,
not just because the shattering of bones and lives in Chechnya is no game.
For starters, the original Great Game involved one global empire at its
height, Britain, and another that was rapidly growing in might, Russia. Both
were strong, and neither, in fact, had all that much at stake.
Today, one burgeoning power confronts another that has been in steady
political, economic, and demographic decline for at least two decades, and
shows little sign that it has halted that decline, let alone reversed it.
Indeed, although many are shouting the alarm that Russia's renewed drive to
reconquer Chechnya represents a renewed bid for empire, Russia's campaign in
tiny Chechnya actually illustrates Russia's impotence, frustration, and
In order to begin to resolve its economic, ecological, and staggering
health problems, Russia needs first to resolve its question of political
order. Acting President Vladimir Putin has pointed to the Kremlin's
battering of Chechnya as heralding the dawn of a new age of no-nonsense
order and stability in RussiaIn fact, the war in Chechnya gives every sign
of having been exploited for the Kremlin's benefit in the past parliamentary
and upcoming presidential elections. The triumph in the December elections
of an array of politicians who share no clear ideology, let alone program,
demonstrates that Russia is far from developing the political institutions
that will provide it the stability and political ideas it needs to rebuild
None of this is cause for complacency. Russia's war in Chechnya is
and the Russian government's--and particularly Mr. Putin's--repeated and
bold-faced lies about Russian actions betray a chilling contempt for world
opinion and the integrity of their own people. In dealing with Mr. Putin,
the U.S. is dealing with a thug.
Mr. Putin's campaign in Chechnya has stalled, and it is doubtful that
ill-funded and ill-trained Russian armed forces will be able to subdue the
whole Chechen nation, a nation that has forged its identity in over more
than two centuries of resistance to Russian and Soviet rule. That will leave
Mr. Putin the option of either attempting to open up negotiations with the
Chechens, who would only agree to unequivocal independence, or attempting
the total destruction of the Chechen people--an option with historical
precedent in Russia's Caucasus.
Mr. Putin's decision to single out Chechnya as the test case for
revival, even survival, marks the second way in which today's Eurasian
politics differ radically from those of the Great Game. The current struggle
threatens core interests both of the U.S. and Russia, not peripheral ones.
The Kremlin, rightly or wrongly, believes the Russian Federation's viability
rests on its ability to compel Chechnya to remain part of it. Although there
is little reason to believe that the granting of independence to Chechnya
would lead to the dissolution of the Russian Federation, Mr. Putin has
staked the Kremlin's credibility on Russia's ultimate triumph.
For the U.S., the stakes are prestige, its bilateral relations with
and the future of NATO. The securing of an energy corridor that would pass
through Azerbaijan and Georgia, and thereby link the former Soviet republics
of Central Asia and the Caucasus to Western markets, has been a major
foreign policy project of U.S. President Clinton's administration. Now
Moscow has been exerting severe pressure on Azerbaijan and Georgia, angrily
accusing them of supporting the Chechens, and has even dropped bombs in
Georgian territory several times. The possibility that Moscow might assault
these countries is real.
Such a stroke by Moscow would swiftly threaten the Clinton
aims in the Caspian region. To forestall such a possibility, Washington is
relying upon its strongest regional ally, Turkey, to back up Georgia and
Azerbaijan. This past week, Azeri President Heidar Aliev rushed to Ankara,
after which Turkish President Suleyman Demirel flew to Tblisi to hold talks
with Georgian President Edouard Shevernadze. While the official reason given
for this flurry of diplomatic activity was negotiation of mundane details of
the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project, the real issue was the Russian threat.
But if Turkey backs Georgia and Azerbaijan, who will back up Turkey? The
lack of a clear commitment from the U.S. has many Turks openly worried that
their country is being used as a pawn in a dangerous gambit.
Taken with the illusion that it was engaged in a romantic adventure in
exotic lands, the Clinton administration brought the U.S. to this dangerous
juncture by committing several serious errors. First, rather than recognize
the systemic nature of Russia's problems, it has preferred to portray Russia
as something like a version of an internet IPO, great earnings potential
packaged with "bold young" management. Not only has the administration
allowed its spin to deceive itself and the American people, it lent
America's name to cover the colossal looting of Russia during the Yeltsin
Second, although the U.S. opted to engage in a bold attempt to exclude
Russian influence in the Caucasus and Central Asia, it failed to push that
policy with the determination such a cutthroat challenge demands. The
centerpiece of this policy is the proposed Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. Yet plans
for the pipeline were formally approved only this past November at the OSCE
Summit in Istanbul, despite years of publicity. Construction has not begun,
and it remains doubtful whether the pipeline will ever be built.
Third, the U.S. administration seemed seemed all too ready to believe
its own rhetoric that a new era in international affairs had dawned after
the NATO intervention in Kosovo. Now that rhetoric rings hollow as the
administration refuses to employ even economic sanctions against Russia for
its attack on Chechnya.
The events unfolding in the Caucasus today are not a game. They never
for the region's inhabitants, and no longer are for the world's great powers
either. To avoid further dangerous missteps, the U.S. had better watch less
James Bond, and think a lot more about what it is doing, and why.
25 January, 2000, 19:10
Parliamentary crisis in Russia - Bear`s disservice to Putin
Crisis in the State Duma still goes on. Three factions, FAR (Fatherland
all Russia), URF (Union of Right Forces) and Yabloko, stand their ground:
they will not participate in plenary sessions of the lower house and in the
work of its Council until unfairness towards them is eliminated (in fact they
were withdrawn from participation in heading Duma`s main committees). In
Federation Council chairman Egor Stroyev`s opinion, parliamentary crisis may
entail political complications.
What was the actual reason of this crisis? Who should we thank for it? That
was the subject of APN reporter Boris KROTKOV`s interview with Vladimir
SEMAGO, Deputy of the State Duma of first and second convocations, former
- How could it happen that CPRF and Unity which have absolutely different
ideological positions formed an alliance?
- Unity is to be blamed for the crisis. This alliance could take place but
conflict and scandal it led to happened only due to the lack of
professionalism of so-called "bears".
- To tell you the truth I did not understand you fully. Explain your
- Unity should not have withdrawn its candidate for Duma chairman. No
instructions came from the Kremlin. One must not elect speaker with voting by
show. There was no instructions on this point from the president`s
But "bears" are inexperienced in politics, I nearly said «ignorant», it was
easy for the Communists to win the game. They understood that with secret
vote Seleznyov might not come first. That is why it was very important to
conduct this non-democratic voting by show.
- You said there were no such orders from the Kremlin? And what was the
Kremlin's position, in your opinion? I spoke to many URF and FAR deputies and
they are determined that everything was orchestrated from there.
- The Kremlin's position was as follows: it was necessary to quickly appoint
the technical director of the State Duma. By the way, the speaker is anything
but the forth important person in the state. It is a person who is supposed
to coordinate the work of the lower house of the parliament, as it is in
Britain, for example. And, as they said in the Kremlin, it shouldn't be made
a big deal of.
There is no third, forth, fifth most important persons in the state. There
are two most important people: the President and the Premier. Everything else
- So you think that Gennady Seleznyov is just a technical director of the
parliament, and not its head? To be more precise, technical director of one
of the houses of parliament.
- Absolutely correct! There is no such thing as head of the Russian
parliament, read the Constitution. Chairman of the State Duma is a person who
expresses consolidated, joint opinion of all the factions and deputy groups.
And that's all. And they are all very different.
- Why is, in your opinion, that as far as the speaker is concerned, Unity
came to an agreement with the Communists, and not FAR, URF, not with
Yabloko, at least? They are closer ideologically, closer to the ruling
regime. They have five former prime ministers of the Yeltsin's era, and Putin
is Yeltsin's successor.
- They considered everything in the Kremlin. If one candidate from the right
could have been nominated, everything would be different. But it was clear
that FAR would insist on their candidate, URF - on theirs, Yabloko - on
theirs. And bears with their allies would want their own special candidate.
And by the way, whom did they nominate? Sliska? Who is that? Who in Russia
knows her? It is another proof of the fact that they don't have trained
people for serious political activity.
In short, the rights had no consolidated figure, that's why the decision was
made that a technical director like Seleznyov would do. But everything was
done in such an incompetent way that a scandal broke out. It is solely the
result of Unity's non-professionalism.
RUSSIAN LOWER HOUSE CRISIS A TEST FOR ACTING PRESIDENT, RIGHT-WINGER SAYS
Source: NTV, Moscow, in Russian 1600 gmt 23 Jan 00
A leading member of the Union of Right Forces, Irina Khakamada, has discussed
the deadlock in the State Duma and acting President Vladimir Putin's future.
She suggested that Putin faced a choice between being a strategic president
concerned with reforms in Russia or a tactical president concentrating on
preserving power. Her movement would decide whether to support Putin on the
basis of his actions, she said, adding that Putin needed the right-wingers on
his side to carry out reforms. The following are excerpts from an interview
with Khakamada broadcast by Russian NTV on 23rd January:
["Itogi" presenter] We will discuss this week's major political scandal in a
live broadcast with representatives of parliamentary factions. Our studio
guests are leading member of the Union of Right Forces [URF], Irina
Khakamada, who was third on the URF party list, leading member of
Fatherland-All Russia [FAR], Stanislav Govorukhin, who is more and more often
presenting and championing its position and who made more news last week by
announcing his decision to run for president, and our third guest is Yabloko
leader Grigoriy Yavlinskiy...
Rumours are persistently spreading that Unity and the Kremlin which stands
behind it will break their temporary tactical alliance with the Communists
after the presidential election [on 26th March] and turn to the
right-wingers, to Yabloko and to Fatherland, in order to create a
[centre-right] alliance, which was quite possible, as you have said, and to
dismiss [Duma Chairman Gennadiy] Seleznev. Or maybe they will not dismiss
him, because people say he is ready even to quit from the Communist Party to
hold on to the post of speaker. The majority can do whatever they want:
[Duma] committees chairmen can also be replaced. As a result, a new
anti-Communist majority would be created. What do you think about all this?
Does these rumours have any foundations? Can you strike such a deal after
what has happened?
[Khakamada] I would like to divide two political issues: the behaviour of the
URF faction in the parliament and our relations with [acting President
Vladimir] Putin before the presidential election and after it. It would not
be politically mature to directly link our support for him to the fact that a
certain [Duma] faction has not got certain committees. This question is
broader and more politically important.
So far we have no grounds to support Putin or not to support him. We do not
know whom we are backing or not backing. We can only assess his actions.
[Presenter] And how do you assess them?
[Khakamada] Today I can assess only the absence of any action. Putin has not
made any statement. I am sure that this rude and clumsy technical operation
has been carried out in the parliament according to a strategy approved by
Putin. The essence of it is actually to destroy the Communists by drawing
them [into an alliance] and making them a controllable opposition. Another
goal is to stimulate opposition moves by democratic forces, thus getting rid
of independent people. This is an important point because it is very
difficult to control and command these people. Instead of them, people who
are not independent and who will strictly follow orders will be recruited to
the power structures.
I think that Putin has agreed with this strategy. At the same time, I am sure
that this man, who has become acting president very quickly, is facing a
dilemma. Either he is a strategic president thinking about what he will do
with Russia in 10 years, in which case he should surround himself with people
able to implement his strategy tactically, or he is a tactical president
surrounding himself with people able to solve only tactical tasks of
preserving his power...
I want to explain why Putin's silence is so long. It is very important for
him to clarify the situation, to find out who has made tactical mistakes, and
to decide what he is going to do in the future, what kind of opposition he
needs and who must be in opposition. He will speak out only after he makes
all the decisions and provides for their implementation. I am sure that he
will make some kind of public statement. He will either support this
aggressive and primitive majority or make an attempt to find a compromise.
I'm sure that two groups are struggling around Putin. One of them says things
like: Let's chatter less and work more in a tough, simple and military
manner. We do not want talkative politicians, we need people able to obey
commands, like in the army.
There is definitely another group which tells Putin that he is a young and
energetic politician at the beginning of his career, and he should think
about something more important than 26th March or the forthcoming year or
even four years of his presidency. He should think of eight years, of a new
decade. For [Boris] Yeltsin it was easier to start a new decade. He had to
fight the old system and initiate reforms. Putin needs a breakthrough. He can
carry out a breakthrough only with right-wingers, with 30m voters whose voice
is the voice of the future.
This is why I am sure that after he becomes a president - [changes tack] As
for the life of the parliament, nothing will change. Unity cannot - [changes
tack] No treaty was ever signed. Seleznev will remain [speaker] for four
years because he is controllable and convenient. Unity will behave
differently in the vote on particular issues, depending on the president's
policy. We cannot make forecasts until he shows us his face and we discover
what our president is.
[Presenter] Will the right-wingers, who have always supported Putin's
presidential bid, change their position if he finally speaks in support of
this aggressively obedient majority?
[Khakamada] In this case the position of right-wingers will be as follows:
They will denounce Putin's statement, they will return to the parliament,
they will reject any posts in the committees and just work as rank-and-file
deputies. After that we will hold a congress and analyse the whole political
situation, including Putin's statement, as well as all other issues. In fact,
it is childish to say that our support of Putin should completely depend on
intrigues in the parliament. We are concerned about Putin as a future
president having most chances of winning. We are interested in a dialogue
with Putin to convince him that he is responsible for something more
important than his personal power. He cannot repeat Yeltsin in later years,
who cared about his personal power alone. He must be an early Yeltsin, but
even more energetic. He must carry out an economic breakthrough in Russia,
and this is impossible with the people he is gathering around himself now...
January 25, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
PUTIN STRONG LEADER RUSSIA WANTS
Nikolai PAKLIN reports from Paris and Milan
Acting president Vladimir Putin is the talk of
the day in the West. Hard-nosed scribblers and political
scholars alike are trying to picture him as a human being and
politician in an attempt to visualise him as a Russian
president. Nobody seems to doubt that Putin will shortly be
elected to the high post.
'Oriental Salon' on the Seine
I once met an interesting man in Paris. He is Spanish or
his parents came from Spain, to be more precise. He spent his
childhood near Moscow and speaks Russian like a Russian. His
Spanish father was then sent to China to teach Spanish to the
Chinese. His son graduated from a Chinese school and a
university. His Chinese is as good as his Russian.
He returned to Russia in time to see perestroika set in.
He did not want to be widely known in the narrow circle of a
small town near Moscow and went to work for a French public
His career is a success story. His French is as good as his
Spanish, Russian and Chinese.
When in Paris, he, an expert on China as he was, began
meeting with other experts on other countries of the Orient,
Russia included. Their meetings became regular. What they
formed was a sort of a salon of intellectuals--a very
This correspondent has worked in India for nine years and
made many trips to the neighbouring countries. But his
hint--that he was eager to attend a meeting of the salon--was
The selected few discuss the political aspects of
East-West relations in a very informal atmosphere. Judging by
all, they meticulously prepare for their meetings to the point
of writing papers.
Here is a conclusion the man says they have made:
"The West, the US in the first place, intends to work for
Russia's disintegration. The priority task is to separate the
European part from the Asian. The division line is seen as
passing from the Caucasus along the Volga to the Arctic Ocean.
Mostly non-Russians live along the line. A rise of Moslem
nationalism in the conditions of Moscow's weakened power and
accelerated centrifugal trends would result in the formation of
a number of independent, mostly Islamic, states.
"Once separated from the European part, which is denser
populated and better developed than the rest of the country,
Siberia and the Far East would fall into the hands of Japan and
China which have long been keeping them in sights.
Territorially, Russia would return to the times of the Moscow
Rus..." Is the above a political fantasy? If it is, what about
the events in Chechnya? Is not Islamic nationalism on the rise
in Tatarstan and some other republics?
Vladimir Putin warns: "We would not resolve any
problems--economic or social--in the conditions of the state's
This means the process of Russia's disintegration has to
be stopped. More power for the regions weakens both political
and economic ties with the centre and between the regions. The
fabric of statehood eventually breaks.
The West would welcome this turn of events. It would have,
on its Eastern borders, something amorphous that can be
virtually ignored, rather than a single and strong neighbour
which the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union have been.
Some respected American political scientists claim that
the Soviet Union entered a period of inevitable historic
decline in the mid-1980s and that Russia continues sliding
There is no historic fatalism about it. The country's
decline is a result of fatal mistakes of Russia's leaders and
ruling classes. Russia's sliding into the precipice can and
must be stopped. The task of exterminating terrorism in
Chechnya is a priority in this respect.
The small Caucasian republic has become a test of strength
for the Russian state. If it loses the war with terrorism which
marches under the banner of Islamic separatism today, Russia's
disintegration would be assured: other nationalist groups would
challenge Moscow tomorrow.
Putin is hell bent to bring the combat against terrorists
in Chechnya to conclusion, proceeding from the national
interests of Russia and the vital interests of Chechnya ruled
by criminal warlords.
The West has seen Putin's resolution and the support for
him on the part of Russia's population and all political
parties, as well-nigh an 'aggression.' The respected Washington
Post dubbed the counter-terrorism operation in Chechnya the
Kremlin's wild war.
Barrels of dirt and insinuations were poured on Russia and
Putin personally. Propaganda has a field day. TV footage and
newspapers are dominated by two topics: Russians razing Chechen
villages and towns, and fleeing peaceful civilians. The
civilian population are only defended by bearded rebel
militants, armed to the teeth.
But nothing is said of the roots of the tragedy provoked
by the armed extremists.
Please rest assured that Western readerships believe the
insinuations. The Russians are seen as making a short deal with
the Chechens the way the Serbs were recently doing with the
Albanians of Kosovo.
Both instances are big lies. For the Russians, peaceful
Chechens are as Russian as they are, the way the Albanians are
Yugoslavs for the Yugoslav Serbs. But frenzied separatism
cannot peacefully exist in a single multi-ethnic country.
Chechnya and Kosovo are not the only examples. But separatism
becomes much more dangerous and destructive when assisted from
Characteristically, the more successful is the course of
the operation in Chechnya, the more exalted becomes the
criticism by the West, although many Western states are
suffering from terrorism, especially Islamic terrorism.
The West demands that Putin should immediately stop
hostilities and sit at a negotiating table with rebels or, in
the very least, with the 'lawfully elected president' Aslan
Maskhadov of Chechnya.
The West even makes threats to buttress its demands. The
impression is it wants to save bandit formations from the
imminent rout and keep the separatist-minded 'leaders' ruling
in Chechnya. Is this not the intention which has been discussed
in the 'Oriental salon' on the Seine?
Trade Representative Sues L'Express
Vladimir Putin's appointment to the Russian premiership
has not been hailed in the West. One obvious explanation is
that Boris Yeltsin had announced him, for all the world to
hear, his successor, while the vision of Yeltsin was very
negative in the Western capitals by that time.
La Repubblica, a well-informed Italian paper quoted its
source in Washington as saying that the last drop that made the
US Administration's cup of patients overflow is the now
ex-president's refusal to sign the law on combating capital
drain abroad, approved by the Duma twice.
The law had been advocated by the US authorities in order
to enable international agencies to bloc the 'black dollars'
which flowed en masse from Russia and onto secret accounts in
foreign banks. The suggestion was that the funds are parts of
financial assistance given to Russia.
In the last few months of 1999, Paris vendors started
selling popular magazines with large photos of a grimacing
Yeltsin on their cover pages. The French weekly L'Express
provided a caption for one such photograph: Depraved and
corrupt Czar. A study of a Czardom's end. A lampoon featured
Yeltsin closely resembling the late 'Yugoslavia's blood stained
The Russian premier was not spared either. He was dubbed
Vladimir the Terrible who is "grinding Chechnya into dust." "I
was deeply angered by the anti-Russia propaganda campaign,"
Russia's trade representative in Paris Viktor Yaroshenko says.
"Its aim was to discredit the Russian bodies of authority,
leadership and state. The military, the ministries of the
interior, of foreign affairs and of defense, the General Staff,
the premier and the president were denigrated.
"I deemed it my civic duty to address the supreme court in
Paris with a slander suit against L'Express in order to defend
the honour and dignity of the Russian state. The weekly was
spilling over with humiliating reports and lies. I warned that
if my suit was not satisfied, I reserved the right to appeal to
the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, because such
publications trample my civil rights..." What are the claims
openly made to Putin in the West? In a bid to save the state
from disintegration, he intends to strengthen the protective
means--the military and secret services. This is not to Western
politicians' liking, of course.
My opponents from among French diplomats in Paris tried
to convince me that this is a dangerous trend which can "tip
the balance of forces in the world." NATO's enlargement to the
East, meanwhile, and the formation of a European army for the
alliance is okay: this would not 'tip the balance', in the
opinion of Western strategists...
There Is No Escaping Russia
But opinions do differ in the West. There are people there
who understand they have to deal with Russia and its new leader.
That there is no escaping Russia.
President Bill Clinton of the US is about to make a visit
to Moscow. He was invited by Boris Yeltsin to come to Russia
this coming spring. The invitation stands. The US president has
already conferred with Putin on at least two occasions, and had
substantive talks with him--before the memorable New Year's eve.
Putin was then acting in another capacity.
Sources in the Russian government have specified: the
visit will be made after the March 26 presidential election.
But preparations have been launched. State Secretary Madeleine
Albright is in charge of them. She will travel to Moscow to
attend, on the ministerial level, a session of the group for
multilateral talks on the Middle East settlement, to be held on
February 1. One can expect that Putin will receive the State
Department's boss lady.
Judging by all, Putin is ready to continue the
Russian-American dialogue on the summit level. He has
repeatedly stated that it is important for Russia to maintain
good relations with the US. Experience indicates that our
countries have always been allies at history's crucial moments.
The American approach is more pragmatic. The US is ready
to assist Russia in nuclear weapons control, i.e. in cutbacks
of its nuclear arsenal. Washington openly acknowledged that
this, plus political stability in Russia, is in the US national
Well, thanks all the same.
President Jacques Chirac of France has spoken in support
of Putin. His statement has been unexpected: the French
president was one of the most ardent critics of Russia's
actions in Chechnya.
And prime-minister Massimo D'Alema of Italy has phoned
Putin to invite him to make an official visit to Italy. The two
officials then agreed that the Russian-Italian relations have
become relations between partners and a crucial factor of
Russia Awaits Guests
It looks as if the Western business community displays the
keenest interest in Russia. I have attended a round-table
discussion in Milan, hosted by Banca Commerciale Italiana. The
topic was Italy's economic interaction with Russia. The huge
conference hall was packed: the discussion was attended by all
leading industrialists. Effectively all speakers spoke of their
interest in the Russian market and of the need to integrate
Russia in the European economy.
"Europe has the greatest need for Russia," Dr.
Alessadrelli, chairman of the Italian-Russian Chamber of
Commerce and president of Technimont, a major company, said.
"We are already meeting an appreciable part of our requirements
for natural resources thanks to imports from Russia."
Renato Macasso, general director of the well-known Italian
company Merloni, was even more outspoken: "We came to the
Russian market way back in the 1970s. Our company not only
exported 'white technologies' to the Soviet Union and then to
Russia. We brought projects, techniques and built facilities.
Ten percent of Merloni's exports go to Russia. We believe in
its stability, capacities and prospects and intend to stay in
Russia." Echoing these sentiments, the newspaper of Italian
business circles Il Sole-24 ore wrote: It looks as if Russia
has found in Putin the strong leader it has been seeking.
Characteristically, many Western business people who do
business in Russia often have a better understanding of its
historic specificities than politicians do. Their beliefs tally
well with Putin's words to the effect that liberalism,
American- and British-style, does not fit into Russian
No pen can cross out the decades of Russia's socialist
development. Social justice and solidarity have deep roots in
the Russian soul.
Western business people are solidary with Putin's visions
of Russia's road of economic development: a combination of
universal market economy principles and Russia's specific
conditions. There is no reason to doubt that Vladimir Putin
will introduce substantial reforms in the economy, writes
Anders Aslund, a leading staffer of the Carnegie Foundation and
formerly an adviser to the Russian government, in The New York
Efficient development of the real sector of the economy
alone will enable Russia to return to the ranks of great powers
and oppose in deed, rather than in word, the enlargement of the
sphere of US influence and build a multi-polar world.
Some people in the West refer to Russia as the sick giant.
But everybody agrees that Russia's recovery is the doing of the
Russians and their new leaders, above all. The Russians feel:
recovery is imminent.
Wall Street Journal
January 25, 2000
[for personal use only]
Urban Warfare: Russia Shows What Not to Do
By Gary Anderson, chief of staff of the Marine Corps Warfighting
Laboratory, which is responsible for urban warfare experimentation.
It was 1995 when the Russians were first humiliated in Chechnya. Their
navigation and communication systems didn't work in the urban canyons of
Grozny. Their poorly trained conscript soldiers were not prepared to
conduct room-to-room combat. Rebels stayed close to civilians, forcing
Russians to either root them out in close combat or knock down whole
buildings. When the military chose the latter solution, the CNN effect was
devastating and helped end the war on unfavorable terms to the Russians.
Five years later, the Russians are again stumbling blindly. Troops with
inadequate equipment look to be suffering systematic slaughter at the hands
of well-prepared Chechen fighters. Heavy artillery is having little effect.
A top Russian commander, Maj. Gen. Mikhail Malofeyev, was found dead over
the weekend. Journalists who showed up for a symbolic flag-raising
ceremony--meant to demonstrate Russian control over the city--were turned
away amid heavy fighting.
Going to Grozny
How did a major military power end up blundering the same war twice? The
answer is that the Russians have done little to ready themselves for what
is increasingly the most common type of warfare: urban combat. Their
ill-preparedness for this new approach to conflict is a cautionary tale for
our own political and military leaders.
Two major missteps got the Russians into their current mess. In both
instances, the civilian leadership in Moscow bears some of the
responsibility, though much of the blame falls squarely on the military.
Nor can the military's mistakes be chalked up to ignorance. The Russians
seem to have done their homework, and much of their literature analyzing
the last conflict is quite good. But they have not applied the lessons of
The first mistake was to fixate on a supposed "stab in the back," blaming
foreign and domestic journalists for turning Russian and world opinion
against the first war. As with the U.S. armed forces after the Vietnam War,
this rationalization for defeat allowed the leaders of the Russian military
to hide from their own mistakes, while alienating otherwise sympathetic
reporters and other observers.
This first mistake led to the second. In preparing for this war, the
Russian military had two alternative courses of action. One was to invest
in its forces, fixing the tactics, training and equipment that didn't work
the first time. The other was to ignore the CNN effect and level Grozny.
The second option, Moscow thought, was easy, allowing the military and its
civilian leaders to skirt hard choices. They were wrong. Now they have no
In Russia's debacle is a timely lesson for U.S. military and civilian
leaders. The Marine Corps has conducted a series of experiments in an
attempt to solve the problems the Russians are currently experiencing in
Grozny. The simulated casualty rates have been very high, showing just how
unprepared our troops our for urban warfare.
The real-world stakes are high. Some 80% of Army and Marine deployments
since the end of the Cold War have been in urban areas. Most of these have
been evacuations, humanitarian missions or peacekeeping operations, and
have not erupted into full-scale fighting. But they could.
Given the danger, some generals have suggested that we simply not fight in
cities. The flaw in that logic is obvious: If the enemy knows we won't
fight in urban areas, that's where he will go. The U.S. already has an
example of what can happen when we are not ready to face an urban enemy. In
October 1993, 18 Army Rangers were killed and dragged through the streets
of Mogadishu, Somalia, because they lacked the proper tactics and equipment
to deal with Somali guerrillas.
The U.S. armed forces, and especially the Marines, have been trying to
better prepare our troops for urban combat. We are teaching troops not to
bunch up--communicating more with handheld radios--so that one sniper can't
kill an entire squad with a single burst of fire. We are also coaching them
to make better use of combined-arms techniques, including some nonlethal
weapons, for use when civilians are mixed with enemy fighters.
We are also developing new equipment, including satellite-based radio
communication and navigation systems that work in urban canyons. We are
creating small ground and air robots that will guard us from hidden enemy
fighters. We are even developing an automatic system that will locate and
return a sniper's fire immediately after he pulls the trigger.
While the U.S. develops new finesse in urban warfare, Russia continues to
use its old bulldozer methods, wasting countless lives. The primary mistake
the Russian armed forces made this time wasn't just that they failed to fix
their equipment, or that they thought they could intimidate the Chechens
with threats to destroy Grozny. Their big mistake was in actively pushing
their government into yet another war, an urban war, for which their
military forces are woefully unprepared. That is inexcusable
incompetence--and the Russian troops floundering through the streets of
Grozny are now paying a high price for their leaders' shortcomings.
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