This Date's Issues: 4080 4081
Johnson's Russia ListReturn to CDI's Home Page I Return to CDI's Library
31 January 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Opinion poll puts Russia's Putin below 50 percent.
2. The Russia Journal: Andrei Piontkovsky, Spy who climbed into the
3. AFP: Soros says IMF should pull out of Russia.
4. Financial Times (UK): Andrew Jack and John Thornhill, Chechnya
assault 'a long-term plan'.
5. AP: Albright in Moscow To Size Up Putin.
6. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, Putin deftly dodges foreign
critics of war in Chechnya. Russia's leader may come under pressure this week, with Secretary of State Albright in Moscow for talks.
7. The Times (UK) editorial: WAR, OIL AND BORDERS. Chechen anxieties for
Russia's Caucasian neighbours.
8. Reuters: Pro-Moscow Chechen leader doubts rebel surrenders.
9. The Times (UK): Villagers stay fearless as Russians attack. FROM ALICE LAGNADO IN
10. Itar-Tass: Stronger Judicial System Is RUSSIA'S Priority for
11. Itar-Tass: Political Scientist Predicts PUTIN'S Victory in Elections. (Alexander
12. International Herald Tribune: David Hoffman, A Russian Spy Story: Putin Emerges From the Shadows.
13. Reuters: Russian Orthodox patriarch backs Chechnya war.]
Opinion poll puts Russia's Putin below 50 percent
MOSCOW, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Acting President Vladimir Putin's popularity
rating in an opinion poll published on Sunday slumped below 50 percent, the
level required for him to win a March presidential election outright in the
The poll conducted by the VTsIOM organisation and announced by Russian state
television, gave Putin a 48 percent rating among 1,600 respondents asked how
they intended to vote on March 26.
The outcome was a seven point decline from a poll released the previous week
by the same organisation.
Far behind in second place in the latest survey stood Communist Party leader
Gennady Zyuganov, a declared presidential candidate, on 13 percent, a
one-point rise over last week.
Following in succession were ex-Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov with six
percent, Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the liberal Yabloko party, with four
percent and ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, with three percent.
Yavlinsky and Zhirinovsky have said they will challenge Putin in the
presidential contest. Primakov has said nothing about his plans since his
Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) party did less well than expected in December's
The latest poll was conducted after three reformist and centrist parties
began boycotting parliamentary sessions in protest at a deal on sharing top
committee jobs between the Communists and the Yedinstvo party linked to
But it took place before the acting president helped resolve the row by
meeting leaders of the parties involved.
The row was believed to have provided a rallying point for Putin's rivals.
Officials close to the acting president have hoped the election can be
decided in a single round.
Putin, acting president since Boris Yeltsin resigned as president on New
Year's Eve, had a poll rating as high as 62 percent in a VTsIOM survey
conduced in mid-January.
Putin's strong showing is linked primarily to a tough position on Russia's
military campaign in separatist Chechnya, but the drive to secure the
region's capital Grozny has bogged down in recent weeks.
The Russia Journal
January 31-February 6, 2000
Spy who climbed into the cold
By Andrei Piontkovsky
At the beginning of January, somewhere in the center of Chechnya, stands an
elderly man with the face of a simple Russian peasant, more good-natured
than cruel. He'd likely make a good mate for a round of beer, or he'd be
good company up in the stands, rooting for Spartak, or for CSKA.
He's the chief Russian general in the Caucasus. Listen to what he has to say:
"As of now, we will consider women, males under 10 and over 65 as civilians.
We'll sort out the rest with the utmost toughness."
Comrade Stalin had hungry boys from 12 up sent to labor camps for gathering
ears of grain in the collective farm fields. Comrade Putin intends to torture
Chechen boys from 11 up in filtration camps. All, without exception, and not
even for taking ears of grain.
Given the situation in Chechnya, the measure is justified and even logical
from a purely military point of view , taken to its absurd extreme. On the
threshold of the 21st century, we're busy declaring urbi et orbi that we are
waging war against a hostile and criminal ethnic group, against the Caucasian
untermenschen. Our great Reich needs this piece of land and needs it cleared
of Chechen males over 10.
"Why was no effective cleansing carried out?" ask the TV commentators, public
indignation rising in their voices. "Cleansing, cleansing, cleansing, when
will we see real cleansing?" chorus millions of everyday Joes glued to their
Cleansing? It's already over. The cleansing of what remained of your minds,
the ranks of the public "rising from its knees" to enter the era of Russia's
Renaissance ushered in by Anatoly Chubais.
Our Renaissance is incarnated by a slight lieutenant-colonel who has been a
universal soldier of the Party, the KGB, St. Petersburg mayor's office and
presidential administration. In all his various missions assigned by his
various bosses, he proved his worth: obtained NATO secrets for the
Motherland, controlled the financial jungles of St. Petersburg, certified the
authenticity of a disgraced prosecutor general's genitals and wiped Yury
Luzhkov and Yevgeny Primakov out in the toilet.
But today, he finds himself for the first time at the cold summit of power
where there is no one to give him orders and no boss above him. He feels lost
up there, like a spy who can't make contact with Headquarters.
Both in university and at the KGB school, he always passed his "scientific
atheism" exams with full marks. Now, he's suddenly become a religious man,
sharing his thoughts on theological matters with the public and explaining to
us all "why the Savior came into this world." He tries to meet more often
with the church's top officials, probably in a subconscious attempt to
re-establish contact through them with Headquarters.
But the church officials can't help him. They feel a genetic fear in his
presence. They know him too well. It was precisely his kind -- scrupulously
polite, proper, cultivated majors and lieutenant-colonels with cold, harsh
gazes -- who "oversaw" their church careers from the very beginning.
He returns to the Kremlin and reads the latest reports on losses in the war.
These are the real reports that we don't see. He recalls Macbeth and
prophetically predicts new explosions in our cities
"I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more
Returning were as tedious as go o'er."
(Andrei Piontkovsky is director of the Center of Strategic Research in
Soros says IMF should pull out of Russia
US financier George Soros said on Sunday the International Monetary Fund
should pull out of Russia in view of the current political climate there.
Foreign institutions and investors "have lost the ability to influence the
direction of events" in Russia, Soros, chairman of the influential Soros Fund
Management, told a news conference at the World Economic Forum meeting.
"My personal belief is I do think that with the political developments moving
in the wrong direction, the IMF should pull out of Russia," said Soros, asked
whether the IMF should withdraw funding.
"For 10 years ... we had the ability to influence things in Russia and move
them in the right direction and we flubbed it," Soros told reporters.
He pointed to the conflict in Chechnya as a worrying sign of political trends
Civilian deaths and the high number of refugees - up to 250,000 have fled
Chechnya since the fighting began - have prompted international criticism of
the war, which is popular among Russians.
On Saturday, the IMF's No.2 official said the fund may delay paying Russia
the second US$460 million installment of a US$4.5 billion loan until after
presidential elections in March.
Stanley Fischer told reporters there is little evidence to suggest Moscow has
made progress with some economic reforms crucial to approving the installment.
The payment originally was due in September, but was delayed after the IMF
imposed new conditions amid international concern about what happened to
The Russian government is counting on receiving four IMF installments of
US$460 million each in 2000 to help finance its budget.
The IMF agreed to the loan programme last July, releasing US$640 million at
US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers Sunday urged the Russian government to
rebuild its economy around the "rule of law," taking steps to combat
corruption and revive confidence among both local and international investors.
He said Moscow should rely on sound economic management, and not capital
controls, to staunch the flood of capital out of the country.
Summers met on Sunday with Mikhail Kasyanov, Russia's finance minister.
The two discussed economic conditions in Russia and - "in general terms" -
Moscow's rocky relationship with the IMF, he said.
Financial Times (UK)
31 January 2000
[for personal use only]
Chechnya assault 'a long-term plan'
By Andrew Jack and John Thornhill in Moscow
The Russian government's carefully crafted efforts to portray its military
action in Chechnya as an "anti-terrorist" operation have come under fresh
assault from an unexpected source: Sergei Stepashin, the former prime
In an interview last week, Mr Stepashin firmly contradicted the official line
that the campaign begun in September was a response to the invasion of
neighbouring Dagestan by Chechen rebels last August, and to four subsequent
apartment explosions that the government also blamed on them.
When he was still interior minister in March last year, five months before
the Dagestan rebel attack, Mr Stepashin says there was already a plan to
create a "buffer zone" occupied by federal troops in the northern third of
Chechnya, as far as the Terek river.
"It was Russian territory from time immemorial," he says. "It was a dangerous
thing for Krushchev to hand it to Ingushetia-Chechnya in 1957."
He says active preparations for an invasion - and for "tough economic
sanctions" against the Chechens - continued throughout his period as prime
minister, from May until August, when he was sacked by former President Boris
Yeltsin in favour of Vladimir Putin just as the rebels crossed the border and
Mr Stepashin does not drift too far from the official party line. He echoes
current government policy by arguing that it is impossible to negotiate with
Aslan Maskhadov, the Chechen president, whom he says no longer controls the
situation in the republic. He says Mr Maskhadov's mistake was to not condemn
those who do: the warlords such as Shamil Basayev who launched the incursion
He dismisses as "gibberish, and I know what I'm talking about," allegations
that the apartment bombings in Moscow, which killed nearly 300 people and
helped mobilise Russian public opinion in favour of the current campaign,
were in fact engineered by the government.
He also rejects any connection with the parliamentary elections last
December, in which the pro-government parties performed strongly on the back
of the military operation. Even so, the timing was convenient since under the
constitution, December was the latest date by which the elections could have
But his suggestion that the military operations in Chechnya had been planned
so long in advance are nonetheless embarrassing for the government, which has
used the justification of anti-terrorist action as the leitmotif of its
repeated justifications of the campaign to Western nations and international
Mr Stepashin also concedes the "blitzkrieg" of Grozny is not the best
approach, and that it will prove difficult to win back Chechen sympathy
towards the Russian state for years after the conflict.
He predicts the military phase will continue until Grozny has been captured
within another six to eight weeks, followed by an "anti- terrorist" phase in
the mountainous south where rebels have their strongholds. The timing
coincides with the build-up to presidential elections on March 26, in which
Mr Putin, the man seen as masterminding the Chechen operation, is considered
Mr Stepashin's rejection of negotiations with Mr Maskhadov is a blow to
members of his own adopted party, the liberal Yabloko, which called for a
faster shift from military to political solutions in Chechnya. He openly says
that Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader, has little chance of winning the
Sitting in the billiard room of the large official house that he is allowed
to maintain for a year after his dismissal, Mr Stepashin appears a little cut
off from the centre of decision-making. He uses a computer connected to the
Russian press agencies to keep in touch with the country's fast-changing
But he seems keen to re-establish a role in the future administration,
stressing his links with Mr Putin, a fellow native of St Petersburg. "He is
pro-market, pro-government but in moderation. . . a man who realises that
Russia should be strong but not isolated."
He argues that Mr Putin, a long-standing KGB operative, needs to be trained
in civil rights and democracy, but suggests the interim president will show a
style that is more open to the West once the Chechen campaign comes to an end.
He suggests that at present there is a war of influence between the rival
"oligarchs" Boris Berezovsky and Anatoly Chubais for control of Mr Putin,
each with his own business and political interests. He says he hopes Mr
Chubais, another St Petersburg wayfarer who became deputy prime minister and
is now chairman of the electricity company UES, wins out.
Shortly after the elections, he predicts that the tactical alliance between
the pro-Kremlin Unity party and the Communists in the parliament will
crumble, and that key figures in the presidential administration including
Alexander Voloshin, its top official, will be gone.
Albright in Moscow To Size Up Putin
January 30, 2000
By BARRY SCHWEID
MOSCOW (AP) - Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Sunday that Russia's
acting president is ``riding a tiger'' by pushing a military offensive
against rebels in Chechnya.
``There is no question the war is popular,'' Albright told reporters as she
flew here to size up Vladimir Putin and push arms control.
Albright noted that casualties are mounting and said Russia faces more
isolation in the international arena as the war drags on. ``They have to hear
over and over again that this is not working for them,'' Albright said.
She said he was ``hoping to have a meaty session'' with Putin when they get
together this week.
Persistent U.S. appeals to Russian leaders to end the conflict and negotiate
with the Chechnya separatists have failed. Albright did not predict success
this time, either, and she ruled out U.S. economic sanctions if persuasion
does not work.
Still, Albright said, ``It is very clear to me that Russia is hurting itself
because of Chechnya.''
In what could turn out to be a tradeoff, Albright was ready to discuss sharp
cuts in U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear arsenals while urging Putin to
approve ``modest adjustments'' in a ban on missile defenses.
Just before landing in Moscow, she said talk of such a tradeoff is
A deal would make it easier for the Clinton administration to go forward with
a $6.6 billion plan for a defense against missiles fired from Iran, North
Korea or other countries the United States considers rogue states.
Before taking off, Albright warned in a speech to the World Economic Forum
that ``economic anxieties'' in countries with democratically elected
governments were prompting the people to turn to authoritarianism and other
She said life in parts of the former Soviet Union often is tougher for
ordinary people than when Communists ruled.
``A majority of citizens in these countries have come to equate democracy
with inequality, insecurity and the unraveling of the social fabric,'' she
said. ``We are concerned that in many countries, the arrival of electoral
democracy has been accompanied by economic expectations that are, as yet,
Her scheduled meeting with Putin will be the first by a top-ranked U.S.
official since Boris Yeltsin quit as president New Year's Eve and named the
former KGB domestic intelligence chief as his successor. Elections are due in
Albright ``wants to get a firsthand assessment of how he intends to operate
now that he's the acting president, which brings additional
responsibilities,'' the State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said last
Albright has described him as a leading reformer, but also said the
administration was not ``starry-eyed'' about Russia's future.
Russia has registered its opposition to missile defense systems as
potentially fueling a race to develop more powerful nuclear weapons to
A 1972 U.S.-Russia treaty bans missile defenses, but the Clinton
administration wants to make changes in it to go ahead with its program.
At the same time, Russia wants to go further than the United States has
proposed in cutting nuclear missile stockpiles.
Albright intends to renew a U.S. pitch that the Russian parliament ratify the
1993 START II treaty, which calls for reducing the U.S. and Russian arsenals
of long-range nuclear warheads to 3,000 to 3,500 apiece.
But even Yeltsin's endorsement failed to convince nationalists in the
parliament to approve the agreement. It also did not persuade some Russian
military chiefs who object to the treaty partly because it eliminates
Russia's edge in some weapons and would require large outlays to build
allowable weapons in other categories.
The Clinton administration has proposed a follow-up START III treaty, setting
a ceiling for both Russia and the United States of 2,000 to 2,500 warheads.
Russia wants even deeper cutbacks, possibly to 1,500 strategic warheads on
That could ease the economic strain of building up to allowable ceilings in
some weapons categories.
Rubin said these approaches have been under discussion with Russia for
several months, and the talks will continue during Albright's visit.
At the same time, he said, Albright would like to see Russia agree to
``modest adjustments'' in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that banned
national missile defenses on the theory that the prospect of devastating
retaliation would forestall a nuclear attack.
``Any recognition by Russia that amendments to the ABM treaty can be
accomplished without undermining the fundamental purpose of the ABM treaty
would be a welcome step in the right direction, because it would mean that
they have understood that there are dangers,'' Rubin said.
Albright also is bound again to register strong U.S. condemnation of the
Russian military assault on Chechnya, even while supporting Russia's
authority to counter terrorism and secession in the rebellious republic.
On Monday, she is to have three meetings with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
and to see Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy and Prince Saud, Saudi
Arabia's foreign minister. They will be in Moscow for a meeting Tuesday of
Arab and Israeli officials on ways to promote economic development of the
King Abdullah of Jordan said at the economic conference on Sunday that
economic cooperation is ``the way of the future'' in the Middle East.
Christian Science Monitor
31 January 2000
Putin deftly dodges foreign critics of war in Chechnya
Russia's leader may come under pressure this week, with Secretary of State
Albright in Moscow for talks.
By Fred Weir, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
As Russia's military campaign against breakaway Chechnya slides deeper into
quagmire, all eyes are on the war's prime architect, Acting President
Vladimir Putin, to define what the end game is going to be.
So far Mr. Putin, who faces his first electoral challenge in a presidential
vote less than two months away, has hinted at several different possible
long-term plans for Chechnya, but committed himself to none.
"The Kremlin's task right now is to get Putin elected by building up his
popularity rating," says Alexander Iskanderyan, director of the independent
Center for Caucasian Studies in Moscow. "After the voting on March 26, that
task will either be fulfilled, or not. Then we can expect the strategic
decisions about the war to be made."
One solution may be to distract voters with other issues and project Putin as
a leader who is capable of restoring Russia's prominence in global affairs.
This week, for the first time in more than three years, Russia will host
multilateral Middle East peace talks.
The talks, set to begin tomorrow, will be chaired by Russian Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Representatives
from Israel and several Arab states will be discussing cross-border issues
such as arms control, the environment, water, Palestinian refugees, and
Dr. Albright will also meet with Putin during her visit, with Chechnya a
likely topic of discussion.
At the world economic conference in Davos, Switzerland, over the weekend,
Albright praised Putin as a reformer, but said the Clinton administration was
not "starry-eyed" in its assessment of the new Russian leadership.
For more than a month, Russian forces have been bogged down in Chechnya's
capital, Grozny, and in the republic's near-impenetrable mountainous south.
Even by its own dubious official count, Russian casualties are rising
For the past week, Russian efforts have been focused on trying to take
strategic Minutka Square, in the center of the city.
The Kremlin's priorities for the moment are seemingly to ensure that Russians
continue to view the war as just, necessary, and successful. "The people want
order to be introduced in Russia," Putin said in an interview earlier this
month. "And we are acting in the north Caucasus. I can firmly say we are
doing this on the instruction of the Russian people, who are tired of our
sloppiness and irresponsibility."
He denounced a series of lightning Chechen-rebel counterattacks, which struck
deep behind Russian lines, in remarkably revealing terms. "That was rather a
propaganda attack in reality," he said. "Though a dangerous one."
The danger is apparently that bad war news might sour public opinion. "You
must remember that there are two wars going on," says Mr. Iskanderyan.
"There's the one being fought on the TV screens, and the real one. Only the
first really matters to the Kremlin at the moment. The second must not be
allowed to interfere."
The trick is to get through the election campaign. Analysts believe there is
still a chance for a credible anti-Putin candidate to emerge, though a fading
one. The most frequently mentioned alternative champion is former Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who remains highly respected among the elite and
Russians at large.
Two weeks ago in the newly elected Duma, or lower house of parliament, a
strange coalition between the opposition Communist Party and the pro-Kremlin
Unity Party succeeded in blocking Mr. Primakov's candidacy as parliament
Speaker - electing Communist Gennady Seleznyov. The Speaker's position is a
high-profile one and would have conferred enormous political advantages on a
Primakov presidential run. In response, several parties staged a brief
boycott before agreeing to return to their seats Jan. 27.
Whoever runs against Putin will be obliged to concentrate criticism on the
Chechen war, since that is virtually the only policy the acting president has
clearly laid stake to. Even a few serious battlefield setbacks might
disenchant Russia's notoriously mercurial electorate.
"Much will depend on Moscow's capacity for blocking information from the area
of combat operations and its ability to create the illusion of a successful
outcome," says Lilia Shevtsova, an analyst with the Carnegie Endowment in
Moscow. "But even now it can be seen how difficult it is becoming for our
illusionists. Since this war is impossible to win, Putin needs to be thinking
about how to distance himself from it."
International criticism over Chechnya has been sporadic. Wrapping up a Moscow
visit on Saturday, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan repeated his
call for an end to the fighting.
"No one can support or encourage terrorism," Mr. Annan told ITAR-Tass news
agency, but "all measures should be taken to ensure that civilians do not get
caught in the middle."
Last week the 41-member Council of Europe eased off a threat to suspend
Russia from its ranks over the military operation, giving Russia three months
to begin cease-fire talks and improve conditions for Chechen civilians.
The Times (UK)
31 January 2000
WAR, OIL AND BORDERS
Chechen anxieties for Russia's Caucasian neighbours
The latest outbreak of trouble in Chechnya may at first have seemed no more
than a revived local difficulty to many Western governments. Uncertainty
about how to judge, or react to, Russia's abruptly more assertive policy led
most simply to avert their eyes as, after Chechen raids into Dagestan, Russia
sent 100,000 troops into Chechnya last autumn on what Moscow called an
anti-terrorism operation. But gradually this bitter but remote conflict has
taken on a broader regional significance.
Russia today is a bear growling more fiercely than it did during the entire
post-Soviet Yeltsin period. Since Kosovo, there has been a sharp rise in
anti-Western feeling and a corresponding growth in Russian nationalism. The
country now also has an energetic new Russian leader determined to reverse
old humiliations and make his country great again, and a Duma ready for the
first time to back the Kremlin. Russia has long measured its destiny in
military terms; and one of the earliest decisions by Vladimir Putin, the
acting President, has been to strengthen Russia's security and intelligence
apparatus and ailing armed forces. His latest signal, last week, was to
announce a 50 per cent increase in defence spending next year.
Russia's southern neighbours are rightly alarmed by the twin phenomena of
Russia's new nationalist energy and its huge military presence in and around
Chechnya, which lies just inside Russian territory but close to their own
lands. In the Yeltsin era, Russia's many diplomatic or military attempts to
turn the Caspian into its chasse gardée backfired; now, small neighbours
worry, a more ruthless Moscow might go further to get what it wants.
In the nine years since they escaped from being Soviet republics, Georgia and
Azerbaijan have cultivated ties with the United States. Their main selling
point is the big stakes held by Western companies in the huge oilfields off
Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea coast, which Washington sees as the world's next
strategically vital oil centre, the "Gulf of the 21st century".
The red line that Washington is watching most closely is the Georgian
frontier. Moscow has never fully come to terms with Georgia's independence;
and since fighting started in Chechnya, Russia has castigated Georgia for
allowing entry to 6,000 refugees and accused Georgia's President, Eduard
Shevardnadze, of allowing weapons to reach Chechen rebels. Russian bombs
have, accidentally, fallen on Georgian territory three times; nothing has
come of Russia's promised investigations. Mr Shevardnadze made a conciliatory
visit to the Kremlin last week. On American advice, he has also, as
insurance, requested the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
(OSCE) to monitor the Georgia-Chechen border. The aim is to deprive Russia of
any pretext to deploy troops from Chechnya, or its 18,000 soldiers still
based in a reluctant Georgia, to impose "discipline" on its neighbours.
The West has, queasily, accepted Moscow's case for cracking down on terrorism
emanating from Chechnya. It is aware that, as Turkey in particular has
cautioned, the bandits and Islamist extremists who are exploiting anarchy
there could imperil the entire Caucasus. But the danger, which the US is
rightly determined to avert, is that Moscow might draw the conclusion that it
has carte blanche further afield.
Pro-Moscow Chechen leader doubts rebel surrenders
By Karina Melikyan
NAZRAN, Russia, Jan 31 (Reuters) - A pro-Moscow Chechen leader denied
separatist fighters had laid down their arms in the battle for Grozny,
dismissing Russian reports of mass surrenders.
Malik Saidullayev also told Reuters on Sunday he would present his own plan
for peace to Chechnya's separatist president.
Visiting Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was expected to
be the latest senior Western visitor to try to persuade the Kremlin to move
towards a political settlement after four months of fighting in the region.
U.S. President Bill Clinton described the conflict last week as ``a cruel and
Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov are on Tuesday scheduled to
attend the first multilateral conference on the Middle East in three years.
On Wednesday, Albright meets acting President Vladimir Putin, chief architect
of the Chechnya campaign and heavy favourite in a March presidential
Russian aircraft intensified air raids on Grozny, Chechnya's devastated
capital, at the weekend and troops were struggling to capture strategic
Minutka Square. Rebels remained in control of mountain areas to the south.
Officials announced that more than 150 rebels had given themselves up in and
around Grozny and the head of a pro-Moscow Chechen militia predicted more
would follow, to take advantage of an amnesty due to expire on Tuesday.
But Saidullayev, speaking in the adjacent Russian region of Ingushetia, said
he believed none of the reports of surrenders.
``As far as I know, no fighters have surrendered in Grozny or turned in
weapons,'' he said. ``This isn't true. They showed five or six people, but
they weren't the ones doing the fighting.''
Saidullayev, head of a pro-Moscow Chechen State Council with limited
credibility in Chechnya, said talks between Russian authorities and rebels
had been confined to removing dead and wounded from Grozny's streets.
PRO-CHECHEN LEADER TO MEET SEPARATIST PRESIDENT
He planned to travel into Chechnya on Monday to meet separatist President
Aslan Maskhadov, who remained, he said, crucial to any negotiations despite
his inability to control radical warlords. Russia has rejected calls to talk
``Whatever one might say today, this is the man who was legitimately elected
(in 1997),'' he said. ``You have to come to an agreement with him.''
Saidullayev held talks this month in Moscow with some rebel leaders, but
acknowledged he had no agreement with more radical figures accused by Moscow
of planting bombs which killed nearly 300 people in Moscow and other Russian
cities last autumn.
The main spokesman for Maskhadov's government also denied the surrender
reports. The government's new Chechnya spokesman, former Kremlin
troubleshooter Sergei Yastrzhembsky, hailed the reports as a turning point in
Grozny was shrouded in thick smoke during most of Sunday as snipers, often
operating from the gutted shells of tall buildings, kept Russian troops from
Russia's Orthodox Patriarch told troops they were right to proceed with the
war despite reports of civilian suffering.
``I am convinced that we are dealing with international terrorism and we have
to put an end to it. Otherwise, we will never live peacefully,'' Alexiy II
said after presenting awards to top generals and politicians.
Putin failed to attend the event as expected.
The acting president has built much of his popularity on the Chechnya
campaign. But a poll broadcast on state television on Sunday showed him
slumping seven points to 48 percent -- below the 50 percent needed to win
outright in the election's first round.
The Times (UK)
31 January 2000
[for personal use only]
Villagers stay fearless as Russians attack
FROM ALICE LAGNADO IN GOTTY, CHECHNYA
SEVEN kilometres south of Grozny the harsh boom of shells and bombs is
constant and Chechens living in this village go to sleep fully clothed for
fear that aircraft hammering the capital down the road will hit their homes
again as they have done before.
Goity was bombed without warning in December and at the beginning of January,
according to residents, who claimed that up to 60 people were killed and the
local hospital destroyed. Now the bombing has stopped but residents cannot be
sure they will not be targeted again and have to cope with another danger:
the occupying Russian Army.
Last week a 15-year-old boy was in the nearby forest collecting firewood when
he was attacked by Russian soldiers who beat him severely, according to
Malkan, 42, her father Saidamin, 73, and other people living in the village.
"We think this is a common occurrence" Malkan said.
Refugees leaving the relentless bombing in Grozny are still facing horrific
dangers. On December 5 two busloads of refugees left Grozny on a road leading
to Goity and Urus Martan. Approximately 40 were killed by soldiers who shot
at the convoy, Goity residents claim. "They killed the ones who had only been
wounded and took everything, gold, documents. They even took the clothes off
some of them," Saidamin said. He said the bodies were only handed over to
relatives a month later.
In mid-January a group of refugees left Goity to go to Nazran in the
neighbouring republic of Ingushetia. A couple of miles down the road two
armoured personnel carriers drew up and soldiers shot at the bus killing five
people, according to Saidamin. In the village bazaar the soldiers' typical
greeting to locals is: "We'll shoot you. We'll kill you!"
Saidamin, a grizzled, bespectacled Chechen who worked as a lorry driver
before he retired, vividly recalls spending 17 days and nights in a goods
train packed with other Chechens when Stalin deported them to Kazakhstan in
1944. Many died on the way but he survived and today longs to be with his two
sons, 24 and 29, fighting in Grozny. "I was tough then and I'm tough now," he
laughed. "I feel ashamed that I cannot fight. I can still pull a trigger!" He
is concerned about his sons but proud that they are fighting. Like all the
Chechens I have met he appears fearless. "There is a popular film here called
Khattab Umar in which Libya is at war with Italy. The hero when he is about
to be hanged says that God gives you life and He takes it away. Every man has
to die and death comes in its own time."
Saidamin also expresses a common accusation that the Russians are guilty of
turning Chechnya into a crime-ridden region. "Maskhadov was unable to do
anything. The Jews in Russia have paid a lot of money to turn things upside
down here. Vladimir Putin must have been brought up in a Jewish way - though
not all Jews are bad."There are ten people living in six tiny rooms with
Saidamin and that feels relatively luxurious: in December they had refugees
packed into the house as well. There is no electricity or gas and there is
only one wood stove, so only one room has any heat. It is dangerous to go to
the forest for firewood because of mines.
Stronger Judicial System Is RUSSIA'S Priority for 2000.
MOSCOW, January 30 (Itar-Tass) - Strengthening of the Russian judicial system
will be a state priority in 2000, speakers at the nation-wide conference of
republican, territorial and regional courts said earlier this week.
Acting President Vladimir Putin called for enhancing the role of courts and
urged the judicial system to enlarge the state role in regulation of the
market and provision of fundamental rights and freedoms. A stronger judicial
system corresponds to the interests "of stability of the Russian market and a
favorable climate for investments," Putin said. In his words, courts shall
focus on a greater tax discipline, measures against money laundering and
illegal capital exports.
Russia has been having a court reform for eight years. A court department has
been formed to provide for courts' financing, and a department of bailiffs is
functioning to implement court resolutions. The financing of the court reform
has been scant and much is still to be done. This year's budget stipulates 7
billion rubles worth of allocations to finance the activity of courts.
By representing interests of the state, the judicial system must remain
independent, Putin said. The financing of judges' salaries became stable in
1999. The salaries would be increased by a total sum of 184 million rubles
this year, he noted.
The country still has two-three times less judges than Western states. On
December 30 Boris Yeltsin increased the number of Russian judges by 1,000 but
that did not solve the problem. In the words of the Supreme Court, judges
have to do a bigger job year by year. About 5 million civil cases and 1.2
million criminal cases were considered last year alone. The law on justice of
the peace, adopted two years ago, might settle the situation. Some 4,000
justices of the peace will be appointed by the end of this year to tackle the
simplest civil and criminal cases.
The institute of the jury is another problem of Russia. Only nine regions
have that system now. Only 422 cases were considered by the jury in 1999, and
it was about 2,000 cases in the past six years. A reason is the delayed
adoption of related bills and the lack of money by federation constituencies.
However, the core of the court reform's concept is changes in the Civil Code
of Practice, the Criminal Code of Practice and the Administrative Code.
It is hard to say how radical the Russian court reform will be. In the words
of Putin, courts may be given the exclusive right to warrant arrest and
custody but that will not happen in the near future.
A concept of finalizing the court reform for 2000-2005 will be approved in
the next few months. Key components of the reform are expected to be approved
at a nation-wide conference with the theme "Russian State and Law on the
Millennia Boundary" to take place at the Russian Academy of Sciences on
Political Scientist Predicts PUTIN'S Victory in Elections.
PARIS, January 30 (Itar-Tass) - Russian political scientist Alexander
Zinovyev, who has lived in the West for 20 years, gave an exclusive interview
to Itar-Tass in Paris on Sunday. He attended an international colloquium on
the role of mass media in Western society.
"I think that the office of Vladimir Putin is the first serious attempt of
Russia to resist americanization and globalization, which comes from the
country's internal needs," he said. "I have a feeling that neither the West
nor the predecessor of Putin who made the appointment realized the potential
of that man. I think that the very appointment of Putin to the top state post
is a genius move. Be the matter delayed till summer, the global super-society
of the West would have taken measures to prevent Putin from taking the
In the opinion of Zinovyev, the rating of Vladimir Putin could have dropped
by sociological laws. The election marathons are gone, it is time for sprint
distances when weeks matter. An analysis of the political situation in Russia
and methods used by Washington show that it has missed time for trying to
create an alternative for the future presidential elections in Russia, more
acceptable for the United States, Zinovyev said. He thinks that Putin can win
the elections in the first round with 54-55 percent of votes.
International Herald Tribune
January 31, 2000
[for personal use only]
A Russian Spy Story: Putin Emerges From the Shadows
By David Hoffman Washington Post Service
DRESDEN, Germany - First of two parts
In a gray villa at No. 4 Angelikastrasse, perched on a hill overlooking the
Elbe River, a young major in the Soviet secret police spent the last half of
the 1980s recruiting people to spy on the West.
Vladimir Putin looked for East Germans who had a plausible reason to travel
abroad, such as professors, journalists, scientists and technicians, for whom
there were acceptable ''legends,'' or cover stories.
The legend was often a business trip, during which the agents could covertly
link up with other spies permanently stationed in the West.
According to German intelligence specialists who described the task of Mr.
Putin, now acting president of Russia,
First of two parts
the goal was to steal Western technology or NATO secrets.
A newly revealed document shows that Mr. Putin was trying to recruit agents
to be trained in ''wireless communications.''
But what purpose such training would serve is not clear.
To this day, Mr. Putin defends the Soviet-era intelligence service. In recent
comments to a writers' group in Moscow, he even seemed to excuse its role in
Stalin's brutal purges, saying it would be ''insincere'' for him to assail
the agency where he had worked for so many years.
Fiercely patriotic, Mr. Putin once said he would not read a book by a
defector because ''I don't read books by people who have betrayed the
Such is the professional background of the man who emerged unexpectedly at
the end of December to take over from President Boris Yeltsin.
As acting president, Mr. Putin is the clear favorite to win the March 26
elections for a four-year presidential term. A review of his career shows
that Mr. Putin previously thrived in closed worlds, first as an intelligence
operative and later in municipal government in St. Petersburg.
Until he was picked in August by President Yeltsin to become prime minister,
Mr. Putin had never been a public figure. He spent 17 years as a mid-level
agent in the KGB's foreign intelligence service, rising only to the rank of
lieutenant colonel. Later, as an aide to a prickly and controversial mayor of
St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city and Mr. Putin's home town, he
made a point of staying in the background.
Yet Mr. Putin's career also suggests that he witnessed firsthand the
momentous finale of the Cold War. From the front line in East Germany, Mr.
Putin saw how the centrally planned economies of the East staggered to
In St. Petersburg, he had a taste of the ragged path of Russia's early
transition to a free-market, democratic system.
What Mr. Putin has taken from these experiences is not entirely clear. He has
embraced the conviction that ''there is no alternative'' to market democracy,
and soberly acknowledged Russia's economic weaknesses.
But he also has expressed enthusiasm for reasserting the role of a strong
state. He has said the Russian economy had been ''criminalized,'' but so far
only hinted that he would tackle the powerful tycoons who lord over it.
Mr. Putin has vowed that Russia will not revert to totalitarianism, but he
has not demonstrated much skill in working with Russia's fledgling
competitive political system.
Mr. Putin has never campaigned for office and he told an interviewer two
years ago that he found political campaigns distasteful. ''One has to be
insincere and promise something which you cannot fulfill,'' he said. ''So you
either have to be a fool who does not understand what you are promising, or
be deliberately lying.''
Mr. Putin, an only son, was born in Leningrad, now back under its original
name of St. Petersburg, to a factory foreman and his wife in 1952, the year
before Stalin's death. He entered the Leningrad University School of Law in
Valeri Musin, then a university lecturer, said the Law School was mainly a
training ground for the KGB, the regular police and the bureaucracy.
Mr. Putin later recalled that the KGB had targeted him for recruitment even
before he graduated in 1975. ''You know, I even wanted it,'' he said of
joining the KGB. ''I was driven by high motives. I thought I would be able to
use my skills to the best for society.''
After a few years spying on foreigners in Leningrad, Mr. Putin was summoned
to Moscow in the early 1980s to attend the elite foreign intelligence
training institute, and then was assigned to East Germany.
He arrived in Dresden at the age of 32, when East Germany was a major focus
of Moscow's attention. The German Democratic Republic was a base for 380,000
Soviet troops, tanks, aircraft and intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
Berlin was a constant source of Cold War tensions and intrigue.
At the time, several thousand KGB officers reported to a headquarters at
Karlshorst, outside Berlin. Soviet military intelligence also was stationed
in East Germany. But the biggest intelligence operation was the East German
secret police, the Stasi, who monitored hundreds of thousands of citizens and
kept millions of documents on file.
The broad Stasi network was often used by the KGB and the unevaluated
intelligence material was sent directly to Moscow. The East German
dictatorship, headed in those years by Erich Honecker, remained steadfastly
rigid even as the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, was beginning to
experiment with political and economic reforms at home.
In Dresden, the KGB outpost at No. 4 Angelikastrasse was located directly
across the street from the city's main Stasi headquarters. The Stasi poked
into every aspect of life.
There is little information about Mr. Putin's specific tasks in Dresden, but
specialists and documents point to several assignments, including recruiting
and preparing a-gents. The work likely involved Robotron, a Dresden-based
electronics conglomerate that was the Soviet bloc's largest mainframe
computer maker and a microchip research center.
At the time, a major KGB effort was under way to steal Western technology.
The presence of Robotron may have provided Mr. Putin with ''legends'' for
sending technicians to the West, or for recruiting Westerners who came to
East Germany from such large electronics companies as Siemens or IBM.
Mr. Putin may also have been interested in military electronics and
intelligence about NATO from informers.
The KGB was known to the Stasi as ''the friends,'' and it relied on the Stasi
for support. For years, the Stasi prepared fake passports and driver's
licenses for ''the friends'' to create cover stories for agents. Tens of
thousands of people in East Germany were ''registered,'' or marked in the
secret files of the Stasi, as being ''of interest'' to the KGB.
According to the German specialist, some were marked because the KGB was
searching for people with plausible cover stories for trips abroad.
''You needed a guy with a background that looked good, a professor who had to
go to an international conference or had to do business in the West,'' he
said. ''You needed such a legend.''
Mr. Putin also turned to the Stasi for help with routine logistics, such as
obtaining a telephone - they were strictly controlled - and apartments. He
was formally assigned to run a Soviet-German ''friendship house'' in Leipzig
and he carried out those duties. But this assignment was apparently his own
''cover story'' as a reason to be abroad.
Intelligence specialists and political scientists said Mr. Putin may have had
a political assignment to make contact with East Germans who were sympathetic
to Mr. Gorbachev, such as the Dresden party leader, Hans Modrow, in case the
Honecker regime collapsed.
Mr. Putin's work with the Stasi won him a bronze medal in November 1987 from
the East German security service, but the reasons for the award are unknown.
It was described by one source as the next level up from the lowest basic
award for service.
Next: Return to Russia
Russian Orthodox patriarch backs Chechnya war
MOSCOW, Jan 30 (Reuters) - The patriarch of Russia's Orthodox Church urged
the army on Sunday to proceed with its war against Chechen separatists to
wipe out ``terrorism'' and ensure peaceful lives for ordinary people.
``I am convinced that we are dealing with international terrorism and we have
to put an end to it. Otherwise, we will never live peacefully,'' Patriarch
Alexiy II told reporters after a ceremony bestowing awards on top generals
Acting President Vladimir Putin, who owes much of his high poll ratings to
the Chechnya campaign ahead of a March presidential election, failed to
attend as expected.
Religious medals or icons were presented to Armed Forces Chief of Staff
Anatoly Kvashnin, his deputy and to three former prime ministers at Moscow's
vast, newly rebuilt Christ the Saviour Cathedral.
Alexiy conducted prayers for the 93,000 servicemen fighting in Chechnya and
the more than 1,200 who have already died. He dismissed suggestions in the
West that the campaign had caused suffering among the region's civilians.
To suggest this, the patriarch said, was to forget apartment building bomb
blasts that had killed nearly 300 people in Moscow and other Russian cities
last autumn and waves of kidnappings attributed to lawless Chechen gangs.
Russian authorities blame the bomb attacks on Chechen militants, who deny all
``It is often said we must think about civilians,'' he said in televised
comments. ``It was civilians who were killed in Moscow and Volgodonsk, who
were taken hostage and ransoms demanded for them. And if no ransom was
received, they were killed.''
The Orthodox Church, whose priests were repressed or forced to cooperate with
the Kremlin under communism, now plays a big role in post-Soviet affairs of
The patriarch is an honoured guest at virtually all major public events and
leading politicians ensure that they are seen taking part in major religious
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