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29 January 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Los Angeles Times: Robyn Dixon, Attack on Chechnya Reportedly Planned
in March. Russia: Assertion by ex-premier fuels conspiracy theories about apartment bombings. Analyst calls conflict a 'cynical Kremlin PR campaign.'
2. Jamestown Foundation Monitor: INVESTIGATOR SAYS BEREZOVSKY MAY SOON
3. Reuters: Russia's Communists deny alliance with Putin.
4. Moscow Times: Brian Whitmore, Bear Hug Pulls South Closer.
5. Reuters: Russia's Putin faces hard choices on army.
6. Interfax - Vremya: Expert Opinion. THE FIRST SET IS OVER. (Views of
Mikhail DELYAGIN, Sergei KAZENNOV, and Sergei MARKOV)
7. Wall Street Journal: William Odom, How The Russian Army Got So Inept.
8. Interfax: Igor Denisov, DEMOCRACY WITHOUT OPPOSITION.]
Los Angeles Times
January 28, 2000
[for personal use only]
Attack on Chechnya Reportedly Planned in March
Russia: Assertion by ex-premier fuels conspiracy theories about apartment
bombings. Analyst calls conflict a 'cynical Kremlin PR campaign.'
By ROBYN DIXON, Times Staff Writer
MOSCOW--Raising questions about the Kremlin's justification for the war
in Chechnya, former Prime Minister Sergei V. Stepashin said Thursday that
Russia planned its invasion of the separatist republic in March--months
before a Chechen attack in southern Russia that the government cited in
sending in troops.
After an August attack by Chechen rebels on Dagestan, a neighboring
southern republic, and bomb attacks on a mall and apartment buildings in
Moscow and southern Russia in August and September, anti-Chechen sentiment
was at an all-time high. Russian leaders, blaming Chechens for the bombings,
launched an offensive in the republic soon after.
But concrete evidence that Chechens were behind the apartment bombings,
which killed about 300 people, has never emerged, and there has been
speculation that Russian authorities may have been involved in the attacks.
Stepashin's comments, which Russian authorities have denied, are fuel
for the conspiracy theories. They come as Russian troops continue their
struggle to gain control of a strategic square in Grozny, the Chechen
capital, and as the government takes steps to try to limit the negative
information seeping out about mounting Russian casualties.
His remarks also suggest how far the Russian military has diverged from
what he says was its original plan: to occupy only the northern sector of
Chechnya. The Russians have thrust farther south, taking key towns and
villages before being inevitably drawn into an attack on Grozny, which is
heavily fortified by rebels.
Stepashin was interior minister in March and in a position to know of
plans then to invade Chechnya. He later served a brief term as prime minister
before being replaced by Vladimir V. Putin, now acting president, in early
August. He says Putin, who was head of Russia's security service in March,
knew about the plans to invade Chechnya.
After becoming prime minister, Putin reaped political benefits from his
tough handling of the war; his popularity soared, and he is favored to win
the presidential election in March.
Some military analysts now suggest that the Kremlin had planned the
Chechen operation with popular opinion in mind.
"I am absolutely convinced that from the very beginning the war was
planned as a powerful and extremely cynical Kremlin PR campaign," said
retired Col. Alexander I. Zhilin, military analyst with the weekly
Moskovskiye Novosti. "It became clear to everybody quite a while ago that
notorious [Chechen] terrorists [Shamil] Basayev and Khattab were puppets used
by their masters in Moscow to make this war as popular as possible with the
Basayev and Khattab, who goes by one name, led the August attack on
Dagestan and later were surrounded by Russian troops but managed to escape
into Chechnya with the bulk of their forces.
"I am also sure that the real reason why Stepashin was fired was that he
was not prepared to play the Kremlin game eagerly enough, and the Kremlin
decided they could not quite trust him to conduct this PR war raging now in
Chechnya with such tragic results," Zhilin said.
Stepashin told Interfax news agency Thursday that the Chechen invasion
was planned in March after the kidnapping of a Russian general by Chechen
bandits, but he said it was never envisioned as a full-scale war.
"Terrorist camps throughout Chechnya were to be discovered and
destroyed. But there were not supposed to be full-scale hostilities,"
Stepashin said Thursday, repeating earlier comments made to the Russian
newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
"There were plans to form security zones in Chechnya and reach the Terek
River," he said, referring to the river separating the northern third of
Chechnya from the southern section.
In the earlier interview he said: "The plan of action in [Chechnya] was
being elaborated starting in March. We were planning to reach the Terek in
August to September. This would have happened even if there had been no
explosions in Moscow."
Stepashin is a member of the liberal Yabloko opposition faction, but he
recently made supportive remarks about Putin.
According to Russian officials, 93,000 troops are fighting in Chechnya.
Russian military leaders remain upbeat about the war despite the difficulties
faced in Grozny.
Defense Minister Igor D. Sergeyev said Thursday that the battle is
reaching a turning point and that rebels in Grozny will soon be wiped out.
With military leaders eager for progress and the presidential election
approaching, one military analyst charged Thursday that the Russians are
using fuel-air bombs in Grozny, where thousands of civilians are trapped in
basements. The use of such bombs in a city would be highly controversial
because they target large areas and can kill people hiding underground.
Pavel Felgenhauer, an analyst with the daily newspaper Sevodnya, said
Russian forces had used the TOS-1 in Grozny. The TOS-1, which Russia showed
for the first time last year at a military fair, is a multiple launcher that
fires 30 unguided rockets armed with fuel-air explosives.
Russia has been under Western pressure over the civilian cost of its
Chechen campaign, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who flew to Moscow
on Thursday, is expected to renew calls for peace talks when he meets with
Russia avoided embarrassment Thursday when Europe's supreme human rights
body, the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly, voted against a
proposal to expel the Russian delegation or suspend its voting rights.
Instead, the body gave Russia until April to show progress toward peace in
Jamestown Foundation Monitor
January 28, 2000
INVESTIGATOR SAYS BEREZOVSKY MAY SOON BE CHARGED.
The Swiss and Russian law enforcement authorities are not only zeroing
in on Pavel Borodin, the long-time associate of Boris Yeltsin who until
recently controlled the Kremlin's property department. Another
more well-known member of the Kremlin "Family," as Yeltsin's inner
circle became known last year, was in the spotlight yesterday. In
an interview published in the French newspaper Le Monde, Nikolai
Volkov, who is heading the probe by the Russian Prosecutor
General's Office into alleged money laundering from the state
airline Aeroflot, said that Boris Berezovsky may soon be charged
with embezzlement of state funds and money laundering. Volkov said
that, early next month, Swiss prosecutors will send their Russian
counterparts documents which will provide the basis for these
charges. Last year, Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov launched an
investigation into allegations that Berezovsky had illegally used
several Swiss front companies to manage Aeroflot's revenues from
ticket sales abroad, amounting to several hundred million dollars
a year, and that some of those funds were embezzled. In his
interview published yesterday in Le Monde, Volkov said that if the
documents from Switzerland make the case against Berezovsky, his
office will immediately file charges of embezzlement and money
laundering against the Russian tycoon. These charges, Volkov
noted, can result in a sentence of up to ten years in prison. At
the same time, the Russian Finance Ministry is carrying out an
investigation to determine how much of Aeroflot's money went
missing (Russian agencies, January 27; Segodnya, January 28).
Early last November, Volkov announced that the Prosecutor
General's Office had decided to drop one of the charges against
Berezovsky related to the Aeroflot case--of "illegal business
activities"--because the material provided by the Swiss
authorities was inconclusive (Russian agencies, November 5). Later
that month, however, Volkov said the Aeroflot case had not been
closed and that new charges could be brought against Berezovsky
(Russian agencies, November 10, 17).
Berezovsky reacted quickly yesterday to Volkov's interview with Le
Monde, accusing the investigator of "unprofessionalism" for having
dropped and then revived the charges against him. He also claimed
that Volkov had been removed from questioning witnesses in
Switzerland for having commented publicly on the interrogations.
"Today Volkov demonstrated again his unprofessionalism,"
Berezovsky said in reaction to the Le Monde interview, adding that
if Volkov continued to make such comments, he, Berezovsky, would
ask his lawyer to bring charges against the investigator (Russian
agencies, January 27).
Even if charges are brought against Berezovsky in Russia, he has
immunity from prosecution, having won a seat in the State Duma in
last December's election. That immunity can be withdrawn if a
majority of the 450 Duma members vote to do so, but, according to
one estimate, such a move would garner only 120-130 votes. Viktor
Pokhmelkin, a deputy with the Union of Right-Wing Forces, is
currently leading a campaign to do away completely with immunity
from prosecution for Duma deputies, but the initiative is also
unlikely to win approval. In addition, some observers believe
Berezovsky has strong influence over the Prosecutor General's
Office, including personnel issues. Indeed, suspended Prosecutor
General Yuri Skuratov was quoted today as predicting that the
office's top officials would try to "cool" Volkov's "ardor" for
the Aeroflot case (Segodnya, January 28). Yuri Chaika is currently
the acting prosecutor general.
Russia's Communists deny alliance with Putin
MOSCOW, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov denied on Friday
his party was in alliance with the main pro-government bloc but said the era
of fierce confrontation that marked the rule of former President Boris
Yeltsin was over.
Talk of an alliance between the Communists and the Unity bloc, which backs
Acting President Vladimir Putin, was sparked after the two parties agreed on
a share-out of parliament jobs.
The deal provoked a boycott of parliament by liberal and centrists groups,
one of which is also allied with Putin, and raised questions over Putin's
``There was no alliance, and no alliance is expected,'' Zyuganov told
``The fact is that we have 150 deputies and the Unity bloc has 130, so we are
obliged to hold a dialogue.''
The deal between the Communists and Unity led to the division of the
chairmanship of committees and gave the post of speaker of the State Duma
lower house of parliament to the Communists.
The four political parties who walked out decided on Thursday to end their
boycott on February 9, partly thanks to the mediation of Putin.
The boycott had seemed unlikely to harm Putin's chances in a presidential
election on March 26 but had cast a shadow over his image of enjoying a wide
consensus in the Duma. An alliance between a pro-government party and the
Communists, traditional foes of the Kremlin, had also looked strange.
Zyuganov criticised Putin for having unclear policies on the economy but made
clear his opposition was not of the fierce kind that marked Yeltsin's rule,
when the Communists tried to have the former president impeached.
``The era of confrontation went with Yeltsin's departure,'' he said. ``Now it
is time for serious dialogue. I invite Putin to participate in debates on one
of the goverment TV channels to discuss the main problems in the state.''
January 29, 2000
PARTY LINES: Bear Hug Pulls South Closer
By Brian Whitmore
It's the southern Caucasus, stupid!
With all the attention focused on Russia's military campaign in the Northern
Caucasus, i.e. Chechnya, another more subtle Kremlin initiative to the south,
with much wider geopolitical implications, has proceeded virtually unnoticed.
As Russia continues to battle Chechen guerrillas bent on independence, the
Kremlin is also trying to bring the independent states of the southern
Caucasus region closer to Moscow's orbit.
Last week Russia and Georgia announced the two states would conduct joint
patrols of the Georgian-Chechen border. For Georgia's President Eduard
Shevardnadze, the move - which means more Russian troops will be stationed on
Georgian territory - marked a major climb-down after weeks of pressure from
Since the start of the war in Chechnya, Russia has been leaning heavily on
Georgia. Moscow has accused Tbilisi of assisting Chechnya's separatist rebels
and demanded that Russian troops police the border.
Shevardnadze responded by trying to bring Georgia closer to the West. In
October, he told the Financial Times that he intended to "knock loudly on
NATO's door." This obviously served to further anger Moscow, which then
turned up the heat a notch. Just day's after Shevardnadze's statement, the
Tbilisi offices of Georgia's Border Guards were evacuated when a live
antipersonnel mine was discovered in an office that had been occupied by
Then in November, Russian helicopters dropped mines on Georgia's border with
At the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit in
Istanbul, Georgia again tried to appeal to the West for help in fending off
Four Soviet-era Russian military bases on Georgian territory provide Russia
with considerable leverage. Shevardnadze managed to secure a deal blunting
Moscow's influence in Georgia by reducing Russia's military presence on its
territory. Under the accord, Russia agreed to close two of the bases by 2001.
But Georgia failed in its efforts to get Russia to reduce its troop presence
in Georgia to less than the republic's own forces. In other words, Russia's
military presence in Georgia is greater than Georgia's own.
Not only Georgia, but Azerbaijan and - surprisingly - Armenia have stepped up
efforts to diminish Russian influence in the southern Caucasus.
While Georgia's and Azerbaijan's relations with Moscow have been strained,
Armenia, which has more than 4,000 Russian troops on its soil, has been
Russia's best ally in the region. Armenia maintained close ties with Moscow,
mostly due to its long-standing conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed
Nagorny Karabakh region.
In Istanbul, Armenian President Robert Kocharyan joined Azerbaijan's
President Geidar Aliyev in calling for a south Caucasus security pact that
would include the United States, Turkey and Russia.
The pact would forbid foreign troops being stationed on its members' soil - a
not-so-subtle reference to Russia.
Some analysts attributed Armenia's about-face to jitters following the
shocking assassination of the country's prime minister and legislative
speaker on the floor of parliament in October. After the killings, Russian
seemed eager - for some in Armenia, overly eager - to send military
assistance to Armenia, and immediately dispatched an elite commando unit from
the Federal Security Service. Georgia and Azerbaijan have continued meeting
with Turkish officials to discuss trade, oil and security matters. And just
last week, Georgia called for OSCE observers to monitor the situation on
their volatile border with Chechnya.
In addition to its geopolitical significance, the south Caucasus is a major
transit point for oil from the Caspian Sea basin. The Kremlin is fuming about
being shut out of a pipeline deal that would transport Caspian oil from
Azerbaijan through Georgia, bypassing Russia.
Russia's new national security doctrine, published earlier this month,
harshly criticized outside powers - an opaque reference to the United States
and Turkey - for trying to interfere in the Caucasus and exclude Russia from
the Caspian oil rush.
What lies behind Georgia's about-face on joint border controls is still
unclear. But the Kremlin is going to go to great lengths to avoid being shut
out of a region that it sees as its rightful sphere of influence.
ANALYSIS-Russia's Putin faces hard choices on army
By Martin Nesirky
MOSCOW, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Acting President Vladimir Putin is already making
moves to strengthen Russia's armed forces but he will face some uncomfortable
choices if he is elected to run the country in March as expected.
Long-neglected ground and air forces are stretched in Chechnya, funds are low
even for elite nuclear forces and rumours are rife about who will be defence
minister. Ties with the West are strained despite signs Putin wants to change
``They have to do something drastic, and soon,'' said a Western diplomat who
monitors the Russian military.
On Thursday, Putin said Russia would increase weapons procurement by 50
percent this year, and not just because of the war he launched against
Chechen rebels four months ago.
``The problem is a little deeper,'' he said during the weekly cabinet
meeting. ``For a few years the armed forces have not been sufficiently
financed and that has led to a negative impact.''
Putin's campaign is built on restoring Russian self-esteem. The military
usefully symbolise lost might and potential power.
Yet defence analysts say Moscow can ill afford to boost the once-mighty
defence industry and finance the 1.2-million-strong armed forces at the same
time, even though high world energy prices have taken some of the pressure
off Russia's budget.
The forces have already been significantly slimmed down, but Charles Dick of
Britain's Conflict Studies Research Centre said more cuts were needed.
``They will probably have to have another reduction. They can't support 1.2
million men and have them sufficiently equipped,'' he said. ``They need some
800,000, possibly 600,000 and properly equipped.''
CHECHNYA LEFT RUSSIA EXPOSED
Some Russian defence experts, such as leading security analyst Alexei
Arbatov, advocate deeper cuts, to around 500,000.
``They wouldn't even be able to finance that if they want to renew equipment
as well,'' said the Western diplomat.
The war in Chechnya, which has made Putin Russia's most popular politician
and favourite for the election, has soaked up more money than Moscow
expected. The casualty rate has been higher than first reported. Some 1,100
servicemen have died.
The emphasis in spending and reform under Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev, a
former missile chief, has been to favour the nuclear deterrent as an umbrella
under which conventional forces can either be cut or promoted at a slower
Chechnya showed Russia exposed in some regards, for example combat pilots had
had precious few flying hours and ground forces equipment is often outmoded.
Putin's procurement plans are aimed at redressing the balance, although
atomic forces remain the key weapon.
``The nuclear forces are priority number one,'' said defence industry chief
Ilya Klebanov, a deputy prime minister. ``They are the basis for Russia's
This strategy is firmly enshrined in Russia's new national security concept,
which sets out Moscow's view of the world and its priorities for tackling
perceived threats. Putin, a former KGB spy who has vowed to boost
intelligence services as well as the armed forces, approved the concept
earlier this month.
WHO WILL BE NEXT DEFENCE MINISTER?
The concept lists the main military threats as NATO'S eastward enlargement
and new strategy, the possibility of military bases bordering Russia, a
weaker role for the United Nations and a lack of integration among former
A more narrowly defined military doctrine is expected to be approved in a few
days. This will focus minds still further on what Russia wants to do with its
NATO is eager to discuss the concept and doctrine with Russia, and Putin
seems ready to restart the dialogue frozen last year after the alliance began
His tone toward the West has been relatively moderate since he took over from
Boris Yeltsin on New Year's Eve, tacit acknowledgement that Russia has to
avoid isolation. It remains to be seen whether that tone will be maintained
``The West backed (Soviet leader Mikhail) Gorbachev and Yeltsin to varying
degrees,'' said one Western diplomat. ``Now they are working out whether to
Putin has already appointed close associates to key security positions,
including the secretary of the Kremlin's influential Security Council and the
chief of FSB domestic intelligence.
If elected president, Putin will probably appoint several new ministers.
Military analysts and diplomats are trying to figure out who could be defence
minister. It is not easy.
Sergeyev is already past retirement age but Yeltsin decreed he should stay.
Putin may not extend his contract, although Russian defence experts say it is
The Chief of General Staff, Anatoly Kvashnin, seems to be the main contender,
although the experts say his star has waned.
Strategic Rocket Forces chief Vladimir Yakovlev and former border guards
chief Andrei Nikolayev, now chairman of the parliamentary defence committee,
are also mentioned as contenders. Yet experts doubt either will make the
Interfax - Vremya No. 4
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
THE FIRST SET IS OVER
Russia will have a new president in two months -- unless
some extraordinary event cancels the elections. Few people
doubt that Putin will be our new chief executive. The current
acting president is a reliable successor of Boris Yeltsin.
Consequently, the question is not how Putin will defeat his
rivals, or how many rivals he will have, but what will happen
after March 26. What Russia will we have under Putin? What will
facilitate his new victory? Should we expect extraordinary
developments? And who will be the first victim of the new
political age in Russia?
We offer you the opinion of Russian political scientists.
THE FUTURE OF RUSSIA DEPENDS ON PUTIN'S TOUGHNESS
Dr. Mikhail DELYAGIN (Economics), Director of the
Institute of Globalisation Problems
Trowels and Mortar
The December 1999 parliamentary elections created a
fundamentally new situation in the country. In fact, we are
witnessing the birth of an unlimited one-man power system.
What are the vectors of this unlimited power?
The first, traditional vector is the law-enforcement
structures. I would like to draw your attention to the
appointment of Sergei Shoigu to the post of a vice-premier. It
was more than simple payment for the successful elections. Now
that the powers of the president and premier are merging,
Shoigu might assume operational control of the law-enforcement
structures. In this case, his position of the head of a
law-enforcement structure will become considerably stronger
The second vector is control of the mass media, which we
clearly have now but which looks completely democratic.
I agree with Sergei Markov, one of our best political
scientists, in that control of the mass media is facilitating
the creation of the so-called manipulative democracy. Under it,
democratic institutions exist but produce only such results as
ordered by the state. The use of the currently popular
information technologies make manipulative democracy more
effective than before. The 1999 elections is an example of this.
In addition, everything Putin will do and say is not the
product of his ideology, but of information technologies.
The third vector is the outside support of the current
regime. There are many prejudices over the bad attitude of the
West to Russia because of Chechnya and corruption. Many people
wonder if the West will close its eyes to what it regards as
the information blockade and crimes in Chechnya.
I am absolutely sure it will. The West always supports the
stronger party. The world needs only one thing from the Russian
authorities in the current situation: To maintain relative
stability, so that there would be no global nuclear or
ecological catastrophe, and so that millions of refugees would
not spill over the state border into foreign countries. The
rest are aesthetic niceties.
Some statements made after the resignation of Boris
Yeltsin prompt the idea that the West, and above all the USA,
will use not Chechnya, but the struggle against corruption and
its unofficial symbol, Boris Berezovsky, as the litmus paper to
test Putin and the new state power in Russia.
This is the best gift imaginable for Russia. A relatively
soft but democratic removal of Berezovsky before the
presidential campaign or immediately after it would greatly
raise Putin's rating and suit everyone, including Putin. In
this way, Putin will escape the psychological dependence on
Yeltsin and "the family." For if they part well, Berezovsky
will hardly make loud statements. In this case, the struggle
against corruption could be limited to this ritual sacrifice,
or a series of other ritual sacrifices, which would not affect
unsuitable witnesses of how the 1999 elections and other things
had been organised.
So, the current Russian leaders have the above three key
elements, vital for ensuring unlimited control of Russian
society. They only have to deal with trifles now, such as less
important structures that can create only temporary problems.
The State Duma is the brightest structure on this list.
But I think the executive power will control the Duma, too,
since there is no opposition as such in the Duma offices.
Moreover, there will be no opposition in the country at
all, as a combination of financial, information and power
methods can suppress any opposition, so that it would be happy
to be allowed to keep silent. I don't envy the fate of the
remaining opposition structures -- Yabloko and the OVR. The OVR
can be destroyed by pressure put on all governors who support
it. And there is no sense in talking about Yabloko, as the
style of leadership in that party and its defeat at the
parliamentary elections are good enough reasons to stop
seriously considering it.
The budgetary code and the redistribution of property will
be the stick and carrot for the governors and a very effective
instrument for creating a harsh vertical of power.
How to Measure the Depth of Our Bog
For the country as a whole, there is nothing dangerous in
the existence of strong power. So, the negative and positive
effects of the above on society as a whole (and not the
individuals living in it) will depend on how the new power will
tackle the problems facing it.
Here is a short list of these problems.
1. Chechnya. It looks as if Russia is learning to fight,
but there are no signs to prove that it has learned to restore,
build or sensibly spend state money.
2. The need for an in-depth restructuring of the state
3. The deterioration of the economic situation. We twice
buried the possibilities created by the 1995 and 1999 economic
stabilisation in Chechnya. The effect of the devaluation of the
rouble has been virtually exhausted. Analysts are convinced
that the world oil prices will fall. Russian economy has been
soaring on two wings -- the consequences of devaluation and the
high world prices of oil. But it will lose these wings after
the presidential elections.
4. The budgetary and debt crisis. Russia must repay 3
billion dollars of the external debt in the first quarter of
this year and 10.2 billion dollars within this year. Unless we
negotiate a restructuring of the debt by mid-March, we will
have to repay 15 billion dollars. The current Russian currency
reserve equals 8.5 billion dollars in hard currency and 4
billion dollars in gold.
5. The continued exodus of capital.
6. The fuel crisis: Russia is still safe thanks to a mild
7. One more grain crisis, engendered by the terrible
situation in the national agriculture.
8. The depreciation of fixed assets. Two negative effects
will overlap in 2003. The first will be the peak of repayment
on debts created by Kiriyenko, and the second, the depreciation
of fixed assets will reach a level beyond which lies the mass
collapse of all life-support systems. The state has not stopped
to ponder these problems yet.
9. For the first time since the beginning of the reforms,
we are facing the problem of the shortage of human resources.
You May Not Be an Economist, but You Must Be a Citizen
I have few worries about Putin in view of the above. I see
that he is a man with an absolute will for power, who is clever
enough to grasp it.
But by creating an effective system of one-man power, he
will have to tackle colossal, above all economic, problems.
Regrettably, he has only two men on whom he can rely. They are
Berezovsky and Chubais, the oligarchs who brought him to power.
In fact, the secret of Putin's victory is that he was the first
man after the 1996 elections to again make Berezovsky and
Chubais work together.
It is apparent that a harsh, strong and largely one-man
power could be a boon for Russia, provided it is conscious. Or
it could be an evil, if it is mindless. The helplessness of the
state when it comes across problems that cannot be settled --
Chechnya and economic problems -- can engender terror. But the
economy is not Putin's strong point. It is most probable that
he would act as Yeltsin did in this sphere.
So, Putin's team (meaning the groups of Chubais and
Berezovsky) will write on this tabula rasa. If Putin removes
the latter before the elections, he will get the IMF loans in
And Chubais will once again suggest his favourite recipe, total
liberalisation, for reforming the economy.
Instead of Epilogue
This course of developments is not set, but highly
And I don't see any acceptable prospects for Russia. We are
heading for a liberal dictatorship, greater degradation of the
population, the emigration of the healthy part of society, and
the inability to handle the 2003 crisis.
POST-YELTSIN RUSSIA IS LESS CONTROLLABLE. PUTIN WILL
WIN, BUT HE WILL HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO WITH HIS VICTORY
Sergei KAZENNOV, head of the sector of geostrategic
problems of the Institute of World Economy and International
Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences
The elections will be held and Putin's victory at them is
assured, provided there is no catastrophic or dramatic
deterioration in the economy and on the Chechen front.
First, there are no signs to expect the above in the next
two or three months, and second, nothing of the kind will
happen thanks to the factor of inertia. The inertia of Putin
the victor will continue working even when his rating starts to
fall. The current resources will suffice until the elections.
Putin will win. But he will have to decide what to do with
Nobody knows what can happen after he is elected president.
How will the situation develop? What will Putin do when he
becomes the president elected by the people? What will he do
with his victory? I must say that he will not rely only on
Unity, as he does now.
On the one hand, there is little room for manoeuvre or for
pursuing a certain policy. The current domestic policy can be
only rather harsh and regulated by the state and the president.
In this sense, Putin will surely pursue exactly such policy.
There is no alternative to this.
On the other hand, he has changed many things and has not
stopped yet. It does not matter who he replaces. The question
is, why is he doing this? To stabilise the situation? To carry
out genuine reforms? Or to create the impression that something
is being done?
Besides, we underestimate the factor of Yeltsin's
resignation. He was feared by the West and the governors alike.
His absence can make post-Yeltsin Russia less controllable, and
there are no conditions for a dramatic improvement of the
situation. I don't see domestic catalysts for beginning the
process of restoration; we will have to built our policy on the
Nothing will happen to the oligarchs, who are playing a
certain stabilising part in the country. They are outfitted for
any crisis. Some of them might be removed from the breeding
ground, but Berezovsky will hardly be one of them. He is too
big to swallow. They will choose somebody smaller.
The reign of Putin will be very difficult both for him and
for us. It will be very difficult to simultaneously consolidate
society, lead the country out of the economic bog, develop
relations with the West and settle the North Caucasian problems.
It is possible that demonstration trials of those who have
ruined Russia will be the rays of light in the forthcoming
Putin will do what Primakov failed to do, and society will
allow him to do this. This is the only way. Remember that Putin
proclaimed the struggle against crime (which is not a criminal,
but a political problem in Russia) as the priority task.
I THINK PUTIN WILL REPEAT DE GAULLE'S FEAT
Sergei MARKOV, Director, Institute of Political Studies
The scenario of the presidential elections is transparent.
In fact, there are only two questions.
The first question is: At which round will Putin be
elected president? Victory in the first round would give him a
carte blanche for pursuing his own policy, and make him a much
stronger, more influential and independent president.
Consequently, his staff will focus its attention on attaining
The second question is: Will Yevgeny Primakov participate
in the elections? I think the Kremlin would like to see not
Primakov, but Gennady Zyuganov as its main rival.
According to the Kremlin strategists, the country should
have two main parties. One should be pro-governmental and have
the form of either Unity, or a coalition of Unity withy the
LDPR and the SPS. It should join forces with the SPS above all
on questions of carrying out the economic reforms. The other,
alternative, party should be a large party of the left
opposition, which has no chances of ever becoming the ruling
party. It will have only one task, partially forced on it --
the task of scaring the people with its horrible communist
The Kremlin will try to reach a compromise with Primakov
by giving him a serious state post. In return, Primakov will
refuse to run for president and even support Vladimir Putin as
the only candidate of all Russian people.
Pragmatically speaking, this would suit Primakov. But we
know very well that he does not always accept compromises.
Besides, he was seriously offended by the campaign, which the
Kremlin launched against him and the OVR in 1999.
And yet, the OVR and Yabloko are the main candidates for
extinction. Yavlinsky's party might survive by turning into a
midget party (it will have a chance for revival only if Putin
starts to act as a dictator), while the OVR has no chances at
all. For the niche of the power party, for which the OVR was
created, has been occupied by Unity.
And what about the regional leaders and oligarchs? On the
one hand, the regional elites will compete in their support of
the acting president. On the other hand, they are not eager to
have a strong president. For the main task of a strong
president will be to limit the powers of the regional barons
and the untouchability of the governors.
The overwhelming majority of oligarchs will bow to Putin
and fight for the right to finance his election campaign. His
problem will be not to convince the oligarchs to give more
money for his campaign, but to choose who to allow, and who to
prohibit to do this.
I think Putin will get rid of the word "acting" and get
rid of those who have too many obligations to different groups.
He will create his own team, and we will see rather many new,
young faces in it.
There will be two changes. Putin will give the green light
to new people and new oligarchs and will try to teach everyone
to play by the rules tentatively called "more equal
possibilities." By the way, oligarchs need this, too. They will
have more property, influence and power in conditions of stable
rules of the game.
However, we should not forget that some scenarios provide
for Putin's defeat at the elections.
In point of fact, none of the presidential candidates
present a serious threat to Putin. But the current Russian
realities are unpredictable and fraught with major problems.
And these realities can deal a painful blow at Putin's
What possible scenarios can we see in this sphere? In
principle, Putin need not fear a military defeat in Chechnya.
The federal forces dominate in that republic and are close to
routing the terrorist army and establishing control over the
entire territory of Chechnya.
Paradoxically, it is the victory in the Chechen campaign
that could prevent Putin from becoming president. Suppose the
federal forces suppress the main zones of organised resistance,
establish control over Chechnya and defeat the main bandit
groups in the next six to eight weeks. The reply to this will
be Chechen revenge, most probably in the form of terrorist acts
designed to kill as many innocent civilians as possible. They
might use chemical weapons. In this case, the president -- or
acting president -- will have to introduce the state of
emergency, under which elections are not held. The cancellation
or postponement of the elections will change the situation
dramatically, and it will become much more difficult for Putin
Or take another example. More statements about the mass
detainment of men aged 15 to 60, or information about the
drunken outrages of armed Russian troops can provoke an
outburst of anti-Russian sentiments in the West, forcing the
Western leaders to introduce economic sanctions against Russia,
and engender a psychological warfare between the Russian
leadership and Western leaders. The results will be the fall of
the rouble, price hikes and panic on commodity markets. Will
the Russian citizens want to vote for Putin in this situation?
It is not politicians, but the policy of Russia that
threatens Putin. He alone will be guilty if one of the above
scenarios is enacted. So far, he has been trying to do
everything correctly, but he can easily fall into the hole dug
for him by his predecessors.
But I am an optimist and think that Vladimir Putin can
repeat the feat of de Gaulle, whose harsh policy revived France.
Wall Street Journal
[for personal use only]
January 28, 2000
How The Russian Army Got So Inept
By William E. Odom, a former U.S. Army general and director of the National
Security Agency. He is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
One might have thought Russia's first defeat in Chechnya had taught it some
lessons. Yet Chechen forces are today bleeding Russian forces, just as they
did in January 1995, in the same place and in the same way. Once again the
Russians indiscriminately bomb, while the Chechens greet them with accurate
small-arms fire, efficiently piling up the Russian dead.
The disastrous performance can understandably cause onlookers to wonder
whether the Russian military hasn't always been in such disarray, even in
Soviet times. Decay had set in by the late 1970s, greatly accelerated
during perestroika and continues today. As the Russian military bogs down
in Chechnya, and in the context of Russian electoral politics and
economic-reform dilemmas, the West has a greater ability to influence the
outcome than its leaders appear to understand.
Last fall the Russian generals appeared to have drawn the proper lessons
from 1995. By proceeding slowly, massing forces and consolidating the open
countryside as they took it, they managed to avoid urban combat and keep
casualties low as they encircled Grozny and surrounding towns. They also
caught Chechen forces less prepared than previously; rebel commanders were
quarreling and the Chechen people did not uniformly support them.
That all changed, however, when the Russian military plunged into Grozny,
inserting itself into the same urban combat that was its undoing in 1995.
Russian forces recently admitted to 1,173 killed since August, but the
Russian Soldiers' Mothers Committee reports 3,000 dead and 6,000 wounded.
Acting President Vladimir Putin, the architect and profiteer of this war,
has toned down his optimism about an early victory, though with an upcoming
presidential election he is desperate for the army to seal a victory.
Meanwhile, he has started to spin the bad news from Grozny in ways to lower
The beginning of the country's military woe reaches back to the end of
Soviet times, and continues today. Several factors have combined to turn
what was once a strong military power into a surprisingly weak one.
First, Soviet military forces deteriorated more during perestroika than is
generally recognized. Top generals contributed by resisting "systemic"
reforms urged on them at the time, hoping some enemy of Mikhail Gorbachev
would emerge to save them. The Russian generals continue this behavior
today. They are eager to fight the Chechens not because their forces are
ready, but because they see Mr. Putin as their long-awaited savior.
Second, in the ground forces, which are crucial in Chechnya, the
deterioration is worse than in other branches. They are woefully short of
troops and without money for training. Commanders often rent their soldiers
as serf labor to civilian enterprises, pocketing the income. Junior
officers are caught between repressive and corrupt commanders above and few
and poor troops below. Pay is erratic, food inadequate and weapons poorly
Third, to understand what this has done to morale, consider the words of
the Chechen foreign minister, Ilyas Akhmadov, speaking recently in
Washington. Asked about a report that Russian forces sell weapons to
Chechens, he answered quietly that Chechen forces can buy supplies from
Russian units anywhere, even from those on the front during lulls in the
Fourth, small-unit cohesion is rare. Combat formations in Chechnya have
been filled by soldiers drawn from units throughout the country--a dozen
from here, a score from there. No time is available to weld them into
combat teams. This is a huge impairment when fighting the type of urban
combat that takes place in Grozny, which requires specialized training and
minutely coordinated operations. The lightly armed Chechen troops have the
enormous advantage of the defender over the attacker in cities.
In short, the situation is delicate, and now may be the time for the West
to exert greater pressure to end the conflict. The sooner it does, the
better for Russians, Chechens and countries supplying Russia with aid.
Russia has already doled out five billion rubles (about $175 million) on
the effort, far more than the original expectation of three billion. As
these costs continue to mount, they carry disturbing implications for the
overall state budget and the future of Russian reforms.
Given Mr. Putin's efforts to diffuse Western outrage--persuading the
Council of Europe not to expel Russia and sending his spin master, Valentin
Yumashev, to the U.S.--the West has more influence on, and more complicity
in, the outcome of this war than it wants to believe. Now is the time to act.
DEMOCRACY WITHOUT OPPOSITION
By Interfax observer Igor Denisov
MOSCOW. Jan 28 (Interfax) - In just a little while Russia may
revisit the fate of the former Soviet Union in the sense that there will
be no more opposition to the official authorities. At least, this is a
conclusion that could be drawn from the recent Duma crisis.
The Communist Party leaders can continue arguing as much as they
please that the agreement with the pro-government Unity faction was
exclusively tactical and was to ensure Gennady Seleznyov's election to
the post of Duma chairman.
Whatever they may say, by striking an alliance with the Unity, the
Communists openly admitted their position as Russia's largest political
party that has no chances of becoming "a party of power." The left-wing
forces are demonstrating their increasing support for acting President
Vladimir Putin, support which would have been unthinkable in the times
of the outspoken anti-Communist Boris Yeltsin.
"Hopefully, Putin will not continue Yeltsin's cause," Communist
Party ideologist and Duma deputy Alexander Kravets has said, hinting
that if Putin had not promised not to review the results of
privatization, the left "would have had many more reasons for
establishing contacts with him." If we saw that he is a state-oriented
person who wants to resolve the crisis in Russia, we would cooperate
with him with pleasure," said Kravets.
But then, "if's" in this particular case are no more than words and
attempts to save face. In point of fact, the communists have given up
the struggle to win the Kremlin. Of course, the leader of the Communist
Party and its Duma faction Gennady Zyuganov will not drop out of the
presidential race. What really matters is that the outcome of the
presidential campaign and Zyuganov's chances do not cause doubt among
A statement by Kemerovo region Governor Aman Tuleyev, who was fourth on
the Communists' federal election ticket during the parliamentary
elections, speaks volumes in this respect. Tuleyev, who is also running
for president, is convinced that Putin will win and that Zyuganov
"simply has no chance." "A party should not nominate a candidate who was
already defeated once," Tuleyev told Interfax, referring to Zyuganov's
defeat in the 1996 presidential elections.
It is not to be ruled out that during the next elections which, if
nothing unexpected happens, will be held again in four years, the left
will nominate another politician, current Duma speaker Seleznyov for
instance. Seleznyov, incidentally, has made it understood that he may
join the 2004 presidential race. But this is a thing of the future. If
we talk about today, it is a lot more important that Seleznyov suits
both the Communists and the party of power that gave him its votes in
his current capacity.
Perhaps Seleznyov does not quite suit the other pro-government
faction - the Union of Right Forces (SPS). But this is the only small
difference between the Kremlin and the right-wing forces. In any case,
SPS, which hurdled the 5% barrier and made it into the Duma largely due
to Putin's support, is in no way opposed to the acting president. And
this can be seen from the fact that SPS leader Sergei Kiriyenko and
leader of the Unity faction Boris Gryzlov hurried to see Putin in the
Kremlin the moment they made it in.
Incidentally, the right-wing forces following this meeting stopped
issuing vague statements to the effect that they had not decided yet who
they would back during the presidential elections on March 26. The self-
nomination of Samara Governor Konstantin Titov, who is one of the right
forces' leaders, does not change anything. As we now know, Tuleyev will
run alongside Zyuganov_
After Kiriyenko, an invitation to visit the Kremlin was sent to
Kiriyenko "comrade-in-arms" and another protester from among the Duma
minority, the leader of the Fatherland-All Russia faction (OVR) Yevgeny
Primakov. The result is well known: Primakov, who has managed to save
face, said that he was profoundly satisfied with his meeting with Putin
which, he said, was very constructive, and that his supporters are
returning to the Duma.
Primakov did not say anything about his plans to run for president,
although not long before the parliamentary elections he kept saying that
he would contest the presidential seat. Now the situation has changed.
One of Primakov's Duma colleagues, OVR faction member Stanislav
Govorukhin, who is known to the Russian public as a film-director, said
that he had done everything he could to convince Primakov that he should
take the plunge and enter the presidential race. All in vain. As a
result, Govorukhin himself has decided to run, while the OVR faction
(Primakov always keeps his promises) will vote in the Duma for market
reforms, faithful to its commitments to SPS.
The position of the Liberal-Democratic Party, or the Zhirinovsky
Bloc as it is now called, is well known. This party has more than once
demonstrated its loyalty to the "party of power" whoever heads it -
Yeltsin or Putin. Zhirinovsky, as in 1996, intends to run for president,
but there is no talk going around about any opposition stance regarding
the authorities now. Zhirinovsky himself is not raising this issue this
And now for Yabloko. Party leader Grigory Yavlinsky, who has
announced his own plans to run for president, is known in the West as a
consistent supporter of liberal ideas and democratic values. His image
is a little different in Russia. He is in the opposition, always and on
almost every issue. It is not surprising therefore that he, unlike
Primakov and Kiriyenko, has not met with Putin. At least, there have not
been any official reports of this.
But Yabloko has issued a statement which says that "Russia has
lived in a new political reality for several weeks now."
"The main sign of this reality," Yabloko said, "is the complete
replacement of concepts: instead of an anti-terrorist operation Russia
is waging a bloody war in Chechnya; instead of free parliamentary
elections we witnessed a cynical and brazen manipulation of the
citizens' will; and instead of a democratic continuity of presidential
authority, we can see how Kremlin is being "handed down."
The statement does not mention Putin's name. But this is of no
fundamental importance. What maters is that Yabloko is once again in the
opposition and on its own. Will not the Kremlin start supporting Yabloko
if things keep on developing this way? As we well know, democracy cannot
exist without opposition. Maybe only serious setbacks in the war in
Chechnya will change the status quo.
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