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Johnson's Russia List


February 5, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4091


Johnson's Russia List
5 February 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Times: Jen Tracy, Primakov Clears The Way For Putin.
2. Reuters: Russian media slam reporter exchange in Chechnya.
4. Izvestia: Andrei Stepanov, LIKE QUESTION, LIKE ANSWER.(re polls and Chechnya)
5. Robert Teets: 19 December-Russian Duma Election-Voting Fraud Rumors.
6. Tate Ulsaker: Cultural Superiority.
7. Financial Times (UK): Stefan Wagstyl, Illegal capital flight halved.
8. Olga Kryazheva: Summary of Sergey Dorenko's program on Public Russian Television (ORT).
9. AP: Russia OKs Draft Military Doctrine.
10. Harvard's Russian Election Watch.
11. The Independent (UK): Patrick Cockburn, Moscow orders troop pull-back before election.
12. World Socialist Web Site: Andy Niklaus and Peter Schwarz, Russian President Putin introduces widespread state monitoring of the Internet.]


Moscow Times
February 5, 2000 
Primakov Clears The Way For Putin 
By Jen Tracy
Staff Writer

Yevgeny Primakov said Friday he would not run for president, bringing down 
the curtain on a once-formidable challenge to the Kremlin - and clearing one 
of the last obstacles from the path of acting President Vladimir Putin. 

Putin was already a heavy favorite for the March 26 early election triggered 
by Boris Yeltsin's surprise resignation Dec. 31. 

Speaking on national RTR television, Primakov described his decision as "not 
a simple one" but said that the Duma campaign showed him that Russian 
politics was not democratic enough for him to win. 

"After Dec. 17, 1999, when I agreed to participate in the presidential race, 
I received thousands of letters of support," he said on RTR television. 
"However, during the [State Duma] elections and when work began in the Duma, 
I realized how far our society is from ... true democracy. I don't think that 
the situation can change in a radical way in a few months." 

Only six months ago, Primakov was a formidable contender for president, one 
of the leaders of an alternative "party of power" that drew other politicians 
to his banner like a magnet. Putin, named prime minister Aug. 9, was a 
little-known former spy agency head. 

Russia's invasion of Chechnya in late September, however, quickly pushed 
Putin to the leading spot in presidential polls. 

Then came the offensive from the Kremlin political machine, put together by 
Yeltsin's team to secure their goal of Putin as his successor. 

First, Primakov and his allies were roughed up by state-run television 
coverage during the campaign for the Dec. 19 State Duma election. Then, in 
the election itself, the pro-Putin Unity bloc ran ahead of Primakov's 
Fatherland-All Russian coalition with Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. 

Fatherland-All Russia began the Duma campaign as a favorite, but got only 
12.64 percent of the vote, while Unity, neck and neck with the Communists, 
gathered a surprising 23.37 percent. Governors, a key support for 
Fatherland-All Russia, began defecting to Putin. 

Then Yeltsin resigned, moving the election up from June and giving Primakov 
little time to recover. 

Political analyst Yevgeny Volk of the Heritage Foundation said Primakov's 
decision a was realistic one. 

"It was quite a natural decision because he had no chance of winning. In the 
best case he would have come in third or fourth - but he has lost out to a 
young, resolute and initiatory Putin," Volk said. 

During eight months as prime minister in 1998-99, Primakov had earned 
plaudits for stabilizing the economy in the wake of the August 1998 crash. 
After he became too independent and ambitious, Yeltsin fired him, setting him 
up as a potential opposition contender. 

Last summer, Primakov kept the political establishment waiting for months 
before joining the alliance of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's Fatherland party 
and the All Russia group of regional leaders. 

But when Primakov announced on Dec. 17 that he would run for president, he 
was already viewed as a minimal challenge. Rather, it was seen as a desperate 
attempt to give a late boost to Fatherland-All Russia. The end came when 
Primakov was pushed out of contention for the post of Duma speaker. 

Fatherland-All Russia, Yabloko, Union of Right Forces and Russia's Regions 
walked out of the first Duma session on Jan. 18 in protest after being left 
out in the cold when Unity cut a deal with the Communists to elect a 
Communist speaker, Gennady Seleznyov, and divide up most of the committee 
posts among themselves. 

"Primakov was a threat before Yeltsin resigned," Volk said, "but he 
disappeared as a threat when Seleznyov was elected speaker. "The only major 
threat to Putin now is Chechnya - the war isn't over just because they 
crushed Grozny. The rebels will preserve their stronghold," Volk added. 

The leading challenger now is Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, who finished 
second to Yeltsin in the second round in 1996. Analysts say Zyuganov, thanks 
to a stable electorate of about 25 percent of voters, has a good chance of 
making a runoff if no one gets over 50 percent. But he has little chance of 

Other challengers, such as Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky and flamboyant 
Duma Deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky, are lagging in the single digits. 

Primakov did not say whom he would support for president, and said he didn't 
think he was finished with politics and government. 

"I also want to add," he said, "that my decision not to run for president 
does not mean I'm going to give up all my strength, knowledge and experience 
to serve Russia and Russians in other posts ... ," he said. 


Russian media slam reporter exchange in Chechnya
By Elizabeth Piper

MOSCOW, Feb 4 (Reuters) - ``The Kremlin has worked out how to win the 
information war,'' Russia's Sevodnya newspaper wrote on Friday, criticising 
the handover of a journalist to Chechen rebels in return for captured 

Russian newspapers, almost in unison, expressed their shock over the swap on 
Thursday of a Russian correspondent of U.S.-funded Radio Liberty, Andrei 
Babitsky, for two soldiers, captured by rebels in the North Caucasus region. 

Sevodnya called Babitsky ``the Kremlin's Caucasus prisoner,'' saying that the 
Russian authorities had sentenced the reporter without a trial and had 
silenced the press. 

Babitsky, whose reports from rebel-held Chechen territory have infuriated 
Russian officials, had been held by Russian troops since last week accused of 
lacking the proper accreditation to work in the war zone. 

Russian officials also said he may have participated in armed rebel groups. 

``The authorities say that after the exchange they cannot answer for the 
journalist's fate. That sounds like a sentence,'' the newspaper said. ``The 
authorities had panicked about Babitsky turning up in Moscow...What secrets 
does the journalist know?'' 

Business daily Kommersant called the move absurd and ``an encroachment on 
free speech.'' 

Nesavisimaya Gazeta said the bizarre exchange was ``a blow to Russia's 
international prestige.'' 

It said: ``it is obvious that the initiators of Babitsky's arrest worked 
independently and more than likely without the sanction of the country's 
political leadership.'' 

In a more sinister editorial, Izvestiya said Thursday's exchange was a 
brilliant piece of political engineering. 

``For propaganda purposes -- it was genius,'' it said. ``If Babitsky does not 
phone in another couple of days, the Chechens will be blamed.'' 

Babitsky last contacted colleagues at Radio Liberty in Moscow on January 15 
from Grozny, saying he was ready to return to the capital in a few days. 
Babitsky's wife and Radio Liberty said on Thursday they feared for his 

``Between the security forces and journalists there has been a long-standing 
battle,'' Izvestiya wrote. ``Only now the game has got dangerous.'' 


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 4, No. 25, Part I, 4 February 2000

Andrei Kokoshin, a former Defense Council secretary and
currently a State Duma deputy of the Fatherland-All Russia
alliance (OVR), told the annual "prayer breakfast" meeting
organized by the U.S. Congress in Washington on 3 February
that the West is to blame for its worsening relations with
Russia. According to Interfax, Kokoshin pointed to NATO
enlargement, the alliance's bombing campaign last year in
Yugoslavia, an IMF policy that he described as
"disproportionate to Russian conditions," and U.S. plans to
set up a limited national defense system as contributing to
that state of affairs. And he also remarked that events in
Chechnya are becoming a "source of what in the mildest terms
can be described as a growing lack of understanding in
relations between Russia and Europe." U.S. President Bill
Clinton attended the meeting, and, according to Interfax,
leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were
also present. JC

"Kommersant-Daily" on 4 February, the Military News Agency
reported that the resignation of Marshal Igor Sergeev from
the post of defense minister has already been decided and
General Andrei Nikolaev, who recently became chairman of the
State Duma's Defense Committee, will take his place. However,
the newspaper cited its sources in the Kremlin as saying that
the report is premature, although "Putin has not been
particularly impressed with the results of the last two-and-
a-half years of military reform." The daily added that the
"new union" between Nikolaev and the Kremlin is "strange" in
light of some of Nikolaev's past statements, such as "any
thinking person supports socialism." Nikolaev also predicted
that Unity would not overcome the 5 percent barrier for entry
in the Duma and criticized the military for understating its
losses in Chechnya. And he supports the creation of a 15-
kilometer military control zone around the republic. JAC

Vladimir Filippov told reporters on 2 February that the
federal government hopes to introduce in the next three to
four years a 12-year educational program for Russian
students. Children would start school at the age of six and
complete it at 18. He added that over the next few years, new
textbooks and school programs are being prepared. According
to Filippov, the demographic situation in the country is
changing, and there will be 1.3 million children in their
final year of school in 2009 while the number of free places
in higher educational institutions will total 1.7 million.
Meanwhile in Arkhangelsk Oblast, some 400 first-grade classes
have been closed at state schools in the oblast as the number
of children there has dwindled following the drastic decline
in the region's birthrate in the early 1990s (see "RFE/RL
Russian Federation Report," 2 February 2000). JAC


February 4, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only] 

Recently, official sources have begun speaking more and
more often about the popularity of military operations in
Chechnya. Nobody has paid any attention to this until suddenly
it transpired that the popularity of the Chechen campaign was
not just high - it was growing!

The main source of optimism are the results of public
opinion polls conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (the
Russian acronym is FOM), which is close to the Kremlin.
According to its data, over the past two months, the number of
Russians approving the activities of the federal forces
increased by 3 percent, accounting for 67 percent of the total
population now. Twenty-two percent of Russians disapprove of
what is going on in Chechnya. True, the data of other
services, which are farther from the Kremlin (like the ROMIR
polling agency) say that their number is much greater - about
38 percent, while "enthusiasts" /of the Chechen campaign/
account for about 52 percent, and that there is no "growth"
One can assume that sociologists, who do not want to
spoil their relations with the Kremlin, prefer not to ask
people directly whether they "approve or not". Neither do they
want to compare poll returns for different periods in order to
find out what is really growing and what's falling. Questions
are asked in such a way as to make it difficult to come to any
precise conclusions about the matter. The All-Russia Public
Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM), for instance, wanted to know
recently how many people shared the opinion of the well-known
military strategist Alexander Rutskoi that "Chechnya should be
turned into a Gobi desert." Practically all services find
pleasure in asking "leading questions" which require quite
predictable answers as to whether we should yield to Western
cavils about the Chechen operation, etc.
Surely, Russians do not want anyone to interfere in their
internal affairs. As to the real "popularity" of the
operation, any conclusion about this could be made only on the
basis of indirect data. Sociologists note, for instance, that
the share of those who think it is high time to go over to
non-military methods of resolving the problem is rapidly
People's opinions largely depend on the content of
information accessible to them. FOM says, for instance, that
67 percent of Russians are dissatisfied with the volume of
information they get on the Chechen events. Over the past two
months, the number of such people increased by 12 percent.
Only 12 percent of Russians, according to the Agency for
Regional Political Studies (APRI), think that reports on the
principal issue - the number of the federal units' losses -
are true. These figures are not at all ignored by people.
VTsIOM, for instance, found out that only 17 percent of
Russians would volunteer to go to the zone of battles (last
year, the figure was 19 percent), while 68 percent would
refuse to do so.
Forty percent of the country's citizens are sure that
they are told lies, and another 38 percent - that something is
concealed from them (according to VTsIOM's data). Comparing
these figures with the data testifying to the popularity of
the war we see that the number of people who "would gladly be
deceived" in this country is fairly high.


Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2000
From: Robert Teets <> 
Subject: 19 December-Russian Duma Election-Voting Fraud Rumors

As an expatriate American living in Russia for several years and
currently a visiting law professor at the Institute of State and Law, I
cannot directly shed light upon your unverified report in #4082. But at
least one source of concrete evidence of what worked (which was what I
observed) in December does exist (also including the possibility of
things going awry) and of course it should be pursued. That is, I was
but one of literally hundreds of foreign observer teams of the Duma
elections who were certified by the Russian Election Commission and (as
Laura Belin has correctly noted in #4086) we collected in locales all
across the 11 time zones of Russia certified copies of election result
protocols from precinct officials after watching along with domestic
observers the physical tally of bulletins (as the ballots are termed in
Russian) into the wee hours of Monday, the 20th of December.

The OSCE, under whose auspices I served, received and has all of those
originals and presumably has already done a crosscheck as part of their
more detailed report which is now two weeks overdue. My e-mail query to
them on 21 January about that report and its status has so far elicited
no response.

I should think that the Johnson List readership would likely already
know of the OSCE-ODIHR election monitoring role and their coordinate but
perchance it is news or otherwise useful to anyone -- Ambassador Edouard
Brunner was the head of that mission with Ms. Linda Edgeworth and
Eugenio Polizzi as his co-deputies. Their Mission was out of
ODIHR-Warsaw (48-22-520-06-00; fax 48-22-520-06-05). The only e-mail
address which I have is for Election Advisor, Rainer Hermann

Since unverified rumors can be as pernicious as tangible proof, I am
confident that they will be pleased to comprehensively report upon what
the "big picture" was and that their collected data should be a
sufficient predicate to either snuff out this putative "story" or to
move it out of the twilight and into the realm of probable notariety.


From: "Tate Ulsaker" <>
Subject: Cultural Superiority
Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2000

The USA had hard and fast cultural norms. Like a frat house, our culture
pretends to be fun but is actually a sophisticated game called "Race to the
Void". In this game, you are expected to dress a certain way, have fun a
certain way, be with certain people, like certain music, work for certain
goals, get certain things, go into certain debt... The result of spinning
our wheels of self-discovery in this direction for so long is that we lose
our own identity. Uncertainty about who we are creates resistance at first.
Resistance to this is seen in our violent youth culture and in our creative
fringe music. Most people eventually succumb and proudly wear the label
"good citizen" because there is hardly room for half-way in this game.

As we move East, the Europeans demonstrate a different game. They play
"Work to Live" by their own admission.

As we move further East, we eventually come into contact with what makes the
whole Eastern Block so interesting. Russia. The game in Russia is void of
rules. It is the last cultural frontier. The only significant power left
on earth which hasn't been tamed by the power of advertising.

Tate Ulsaker
Direct Info, Inc


Financial Times (UK)
5 February 2000
[for personal use only]
RUSSIA: Illegal capital flight halved 
By Stefan Wagstyl, East Europe Editor

The Russian authorities have cut in half the flow of capital illegally 
leaving the country, according to Victor Melnikov, deputy governor of the 
Russian central bank.

Tough new regulations introduced in mid-1999 reduced the capital flight to 
$15bn last year from $25bn in 1998, Mr Melnikov said on Friday. The current 
outflow was about $1bn a month, compared with more than $2bn in 1998.

"Capital flight is an evil and in the government's view it is definitely a 
threat to national security," Mr Melnikov said in London.

Bankers, while admitting it was difficult to calculate capital flight, 
confirmed Mr Melnikov's view that there had been a decline since Russia had 
tightened economic controls following the 1998 financial crisis.

Mr Melnikov said he expected two more anti-flight measures to be passed soon. 
A new law would require the compulsory registration of companies, which would 
make it more difficult for fraudsters, sometimes using the names of dead 
people, to set up temporary paper companies for channelling funds abroad.

Also, the government planned to give banks powers to suspend for up to five 
days suspicious foreign exchange deals and report them to the authorities. 
Public officials would have up to 30 days to investigate.

Mr Melnikov suggested a proposed rule requiring exporters to convert all 
earnings into roubles - which was shelved in January - would come under 
renewed consideration later this year.

Mr Melnikov detailed tricks used by currency fraudsters. For example, 
exporters would prepare false sales invoices for official purposes, with 
falsely low prices. They would then retain overseas the difference between 
the official and the actual price.

In a more sophisticated ruse, an exporter would prepare a false sales 
agreement which set very high quality standards and a big penalty if the 
standards were not met. When the goods failed to meet the required standards, 
as intended, and the penalty was paid, most of the money would go to the 
exporter - into an overseas bank account.

Other devices included over-invoicing for imports and borrowing overseas at 
deliberately inflated interest rates of up to 50 per cent.

Mr Melnikov said transactions were treated as suspicious if they involved any 
of the following six conditions: if a Russian company less than three months 
old was involved; if the foreign company receiving Russian exports was 
different from the company making the payment; if there was no penalty for 
the non-fulfilment of a contract; if the advance payment on an import order 
was above 30 per cent; if a foreign loan carried a very high interest rate; 
if the foreign party to a contract was based in an offshore tax haven.


Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2000 
From: Olga Kryazheva <>
Subject: Dorenko, Jan. 29

Public Russian Television (ORT)
Sergey Dorenko’s Program
Saturday, January 29, 2000

Olga Kryazheva, Research Assistant
Center for Defense Information

Dorenko briefly discussed the results of the of the World Annual Forum in
Davos. He stressed that world economists discussed further development of
the leading economy branches, such as Internet, telecommunications,
biotechnology and possibilities of the future globalization of economy. He
emphasized that world powers agreed that the United States is an absolute
and unquestionable leader not only as a “soft [intellectual] power,” but
also as an economic magnate. European counties’ officials, especially
French economists, feel irritated by the fact that the U.S. dictates its
will in economy, and hence, in world politics.

For Russians, the purpose of participation in Davos Forum was finding
investors of capital into the Russian economy. Kasyanov, the head of
Russian delegation in Davos, in his interview with Dorenko, noted that
finding foreign investors would be especially hard due to the fact that
Russians hardly ever kept their promises in the past. 

Russia’s participation in the Council of Europe was questioned at the last
session of the Council. Russia was deprived of the right to vote due to the
military actions in Chechnya. Vladimir Zhirinovsky stressed that this
“parenting” action was aimed on scaring Russian officials. At the same
session Chechen officials emphasized that Chechnya never agreed to be a
part of Russia, hence, it would continue its struggle for independence.
The Foreign minister Igor Ivanov achieves European Council’s
reconsideration and convinced it to keep Russia in the Council. 

Dorenko summarized ORT surveys’ statistics on future presidential
elections. He stated that Putin’s support is slowly decreasing. Putin now
has 54 % of votes (57 % last week); Zyuganov has 14 %, Primakov 7 %,
Zhirinovsky 3 %, Yavlinsky 4 %. Luzhkov and Shoigu gathered less then
0.5 % of possible votes, and informed the media about their decision to
remove their candidacies. 

According to ORT reporters, the Duma crisis has come to an end. Union of
Right Forces stated that the “boycott” is over and it is ready to cooperate
with Fatherland All Russia. Dorenko stressed that this cooperation seemed
to be most effective. Both parties have similar ideological and economic

In his interview with ORT, Boris Nemtsov, the Union of Right Forces
representative, said that anti-democratic principles and lack of
alternatives in the Duma speaker elections made the Union of Right Forces
boycott the Duma. He stressed that most of the right-wing parties and
everybody who went to the elections on December 19 with democratic slogans
abandoned their democratic principles and now support the communist
majority. He also expressed his disagreement with the fact that the
communists run the Mass Media Committee, and recently passed laws, that are
aimed at mass media censorship and control. 

Next Dorenko noted that humiliation and blackmail are the fate of everybody
who illegally resides in Moscow. Moscow police utilizes illegal residents
as slaves, making them work on construction sites for no reimbursement.

In conclusion, Dorenko stated that Luzhkov’s attorneys did not consider the
Arizona Court Notification requesting Luzhkov’s presence at Paul Tatum’s
case hearing valid and advised Luzhkov to remain silent. In addition,
Luzhkov started a suit against Dorenko on the hospital building in
Budenovsk case and denied that he provided Chechen refugees with apartments
in Moscow.


Russia OKs Draft Military Doctrine
4 February 2000

MOSCOW (AP) - The presidential Security Council on Friday approved a new 
national military doctrine, which Moscow says is its response to a perceived 
growing threat from NATO in the West and from Islamic militants in the east. 

The adoption of the military doctrine follows the approval last month of a 
new national security doctrine that broadened the Kremlin's authority to use 
nuclear weapons and accused the United States of trying to weaken Russia. 

Russia ``cannot help noticing changes in the strategy of NATO,'' acting 
President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. 
``We must react appropriately (to avoid) running into surprises.'' 

Many Russian officials see the Western military alliance as a growing threat, 
particularly because of NATO's eastward expansion and the airstrikes against 

The new Russian military doctrine, which would replace one adopted in 1993, 
must be signed by Russia's president to become law. The government intends to 
put finishing touches on the draft before it is sent to the president. 

Putin said the process could take about two months. But deputy chief of 
Russia's General Staff, Col. Gen. Valery Manilov, told reporters the document 
should be ready in a month. 

The heightened emphasis on nuclear weapons in Russia's security policy 
reflects the weakness of Russia's conventional forces, which might not be 
able to defend the country against attack, military experts say. 

Russia's new security doctrine allows the country's leaders to use all 
existing forces ``including nuclear weapons'' to oppose any attack - nuclear 
or conventional - if other efforts fail to repel the aggressor. 

The previous doctrine stated that Russia would use nuclear weapons only in 
cases when its national sovereignty was threatened. 

NATO officials who have seen the document described it as having a much more 
aggressive and confrontational tone than its predecessor. However, security 
experts have pointed out that the new stress on nuclear weapons sounds like 
NATO's own doctrine. 

Few details were released about the new military doctrine, but it is expected 
to follow similar lines. 

Manilov said the doctrine is aimed at preventing armed conflicts and stresses 
Russia's wish for ``partnership'' with other nations. 

Still, ``the doctrine spells out very firmly what Russia must have, and what 
it is allowed to do,'' he said. Russia ``must have a determent potential - 
both nuclear and conventional - adequate to a real military threat.'' 

Approval of the new security and military doctrines comes at a time when 
relations between the United States and Russia have soured, with sharp 
differences over Washington's desire to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile 
Treaty to protect itself from rogue states like North Korea. 

Russia claims that pulling back from the treaty risks upsetting the strategic 
nuclear balance and could unleash a new arms race. 

Beside NATO and the United States, Russia is also worried about the threat of 
Islamic militants, who are battling Russian troops in Chechnya and are 
feuding with the governments of several former Soviet republics in Central 
Asia, Putin said. 

``We know what problems Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are facing 
these days,'' he said, referring to the ex-Soviet states that have been 
plagued by conflicts. 


Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2000 
Subject: Harvard's Russian Election Watch

Harvard's Strengthening Democratic Institutions (SDI) Project has just
the February issue of Russian Election Watch, available at This edition features
SDI's answer to the "who is Putin" question, a concise examination of Putin's
first month as acting President, the latest polls, a breakdown of the
composition of the new Duma, direct contributions from Russian political
and leading Russian analysts (Nikonov, Markov, Boxer, Gelman, Golosov, and
Communist representative Peshkov), and much more!

If you would like to receive future issues of Russian Election Watch
directly by
email (as large Adobe and Microsoft Word attachments), please send a note to with the words "Subscribe Election Watch" in the
subject line and please provide other contact information in the body of the

We always welcome comments, criticism and especially suggestions for
from our readers. Please address any such mail to Emily at the above address.

Henry Hale, Editor
Russian Election Watch
Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project
Harvard University


The Independent (UK)
5 February 2000
[for personal use only]
Moscow orders troop pull-back before election 
By Patrick Cockburn in Moscow 

Russia is to withdraw a considerable part of its forces from Chechnya, 
claiming this is possible because of recent military successes. 

General Valery Manilov, the Russian deputy chief of staff, said yesterday 
that "following the defeat of large rebel formations, including those in 
Grozny, the size of the federal force will be reduced". He dismissed 
statements by the Chechen fighters that they would now wage a guerrilla war, 
as they have pledged to do. 

"A guerrilla war is a war waged by the people and broadly supported by the 
people," General Manilov told a press conference. "What we are witnessing is 
a complete rejection of bandit and terrorist formations by the people." 

The announcement is probably geared towards the presidential election on 26 
March, which acting president Vladimir Putin is expected to win. But a public 
declaration that the war is won and forces are being withdrawn will make it 
difficult for the army to call up reserves to fight a prolonged guerrilla war 
in Chechnya. Despite General Manilov's claim, this is now considered 
inevitable by military analysts. 

If the Kremlin now feels it must reduce the number of its troops in Chechnya 
rather than reinforce them, it will have little option but to look for some 
form of negotiated settlement. 

The Russian army is portraying the two-month long siege of Grozny as a 
successful military operation in which the Chechen fighters suffered heavy 
losses. Marshal Igor Sergeyev, the Minister of Defence, claims that Chechen 
losses totalled 1,500 men. 

The Chechens say that they staged a tactical withdrawal, successfully eluding 
Russian troops surrounding Grozny, and will fight on in the southern 
mountains. But they admit that they lost several senior commanders in their 

Despite these casualties there is little doubt that the Chechens will fight 
on, while the Russians will have to use some of their units to garrison 
Grozny. In 1995 the Chechens lost the capital, but recaptured most of it the 
following year. 

The momentum behind the war, launched on 1 October, always came from the 
Kremlin's determination to win the Duma elections last December and the 
presidential election in seven weeks time. Mr Putin, unknown when appointed 
in March, is now firm favourite to win the presidency. 

General Manilov gave no date for the reduction in the number of the 
93,000-strong Russian force in Chechnya, nor did he say how many soldiers 
would be withdrawn. 

Nevertheless, his statement may indicate that the Kremlin has now decided 
that the war is a vote loser. Mr Putin's popularity has been sinking in 
recent weeks. The war was at first popular in Russia, after bombings blamed 
on the Chechens killed 300 people, but few people want to go to fight. The 
call up of 20,000 reserve officers created deep anxiety. General Manilov said 
that 1,290 Russian servicemen had been killed and 3,970 wounded since 
fighting started in the North Caucasus last summer. 

Meanwhile, film purporting to show the exchange of the correspondent of Radio 
Liberty detained in Chechnya by the Russian army being swapped for three 
Russian soldiers held by the Chechens has sparkedfears for his safety. 

The film, shot by the FSB security service, shows an unshaven Andrei Babitsky 
walking towards an unidentified man. He has spoken neither to his family nor 
his lawyer since he was arrested. 

Even sections of the Russian media normally supportive of the war have 
reacted with outrage to Mr Babitsky's treatment. "It was a very good trick 
from a propaganda point of view," said the daily Izvestiya. "If Babitsky 
fails to survive the Chechens are to blame." 

During his two week detention, Mr Babitsky was not allowed to make contact 
with independent observers. He was accused of taking part in guerrilla 
actions against the Russian army and even of the theft of a valuable icon. 
This was taken to Moscow for examination by experts who said the icon was 
worth about 40p. 


World Socialist Web Site
February 4, 2000
Russian President Putin introduces widespread state monitoring of the Internet
By Andy Niklaus and Peter Schwarz 
4 February 2000

Russia's acting President Vladimir Putin has substantially strengthened the 
rights of the secret services and granted them extensive monitoring powers 
over the media, including the Internet.

At the beginning of January, Putin put a law into effect that grants eight 
different security authorities direct access to all Internet transactions. 
Beside the domestic secret service FSB, other agencies given access to 
Internet monitoring include the tax police; the Interior Ministry; the border 
guard; the customs committee; the security agencies of the Kremlin, the 
president and parliament, as well as the foreign intelligence agency.

The FSB had already forced all Russian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to 
provide cable links to the secret service at their own expense. This not only 
establishes unrestricted control over Internet access, but also cuts off 
smaller ISPs that cannot pay the cost of the hook-up to the FSB. The 
remaining large providers can be more easily controlled, not infrequently 
they belong to the financial oligarchs that stand close to the Kremlin anyway.

Officially, Internet monitoring is said to aid the fight against widespread 
crime and corruption. The electronic bugging system carries the name "Sorm," 
the Russian acronym for "Rapid Investigation System”. In reality it is
used as a means of censorship. This can clearly be seen from the fate of a 
report dealing with corruption accusations against Putin, stemming from the 
time when he was the right hand man of the St. Petersburg mayor Anatoly 
Sobchak. The report, which was disseminated by an Internet Service Provider 
called Lenta, disappeared without trace after a few hours.

Television and newspapers are also being subjected to intensified censorship. 
The private station NTV, whose reporting is generally patriotic and quite 
friendly towards the government, was excluded from all organised journeys for 
journalists to Chechnya, after it dared to question the official numbers of 
Russian soldiers killed. Based on interviews with employees in military 
hospitals and railway officials, NTV concluded that the actual number was 
about ten times higher than officially admitted. Pavel Borodin, a key figure 
in Kremlin corruption scandals, who has since become under-secretary for the 
Union with White Russia, even threatened to have NTV closed down.

The journalist Alexander Chinstein, who had accused Kremlin financier Boris 
Berezovsky on Moscow television station TV Zentr of secret complicity with 
Chechen separatist leaders, was visited afterwards by armed militiamen 
wanting to commit him to a psychiatric hospital. The pretext was the claim 
that Chinstein had acquired his driving licence without a psychological 

The strengthening of Kremlin control over the media was also accomplished by 
a decree by Putin placing the payment of state subsidies for local newspapers 
under the control of the Press Ministry in Moscow. Previously it was local 
government that had been responsible for it. Officially, this is supposed to 
end the power of provincial governors over the press. In fact, the papers are 
simply being placed at the mercy of central government, which can determine 
who will be supported or not.

Putin's efforts to bring the media into line are more than a tactical 
manoeuvre to secure his victory in the forthcoming presidential election on 
March 26. Since the former secret service man stepped into the political 
limelight, he has continually stressed that he regards his most important 
function as the stabilisation of the state apparatus-the police, army and 
secret services.

"For Russians, a strong state is not an anomaly that must be eliminated," he 
wrote in an article published at the end of last year on the web site of the 
Russian government. "Quite the opposite, they regard it as a source and 
guarantor of order, and as an initiator and main driving force of every 

Putin appeals to the authoritarian and chauvinist traditions that made 
Tsarist Russia a symbol of reaction throughout Europe. In this, he receives 
the support of those sections of the Russian intelligentsia who went into 
raptures about Gorbachev at the end of the 1980s. This layer, which enthused 
over neo-liberal economics at the beginning of the 1990s, lost not only their 
illusions in Western capitalism with the financial crash of 1998, but also 
the major part of their fortunes. Now they rouse themselves for Russian 
values and greatness, and crowd around the new master in the Kremlin, the 
prospective election winner of March 26.

The Moscow correspondent of the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 
Kerstin Holm, described this "eerie play" as follows: "In Russia, a feverish 
movement is collecting around the desired successor to Yeltsin. Since his 
election victory at the end of March seems already decided, politicians from 
across the entire spectrum—including political opponents of the past, even 
allegedly ideologically incompatible communists, and stars of cultural life 
and the intelligentsia—are hurrying to pay homage to the new ruler, so that 
they may one day stand close to his throne."

A modern Fouché

With Putin, a man has reached the pinnacle of the Russian state whose actions 
and thinking are marked in every regard by the police mentality of the 
professional informer. It brings to mind Joseph FouchĂ©, who in the 
revolutionary France first served the Jacobins as police chief, then the 
Thermidorians, Napoleon and in the end the Bourbons—with the difference
Putin never came into contact with the revolution.

Putin operated for fifteen years as a foreign agent for the Soviet secret 
service KGB. Between 1998 and 1999 he headed the FSB, the KGB's successor. 
Today, he openly admits to this past with pride, even though the KGB was 
responsible for the worst crimes in Soviet history and murdered hundreds of 
thousands of the political opponents of Stalinism. In his New Year speech, 
Putin promised to extend the power of the secret services even further.

The Russian journalist Dmitri Furman pointed out that it is no coincidence 
that a former KGB man has become the saviour of the criminal elite gathered 
around the Yeltsin family. Professional conditions inside the KGB, he writes, 
called on its employees to possess abilities that are also characteristic of 
the Mafia: The secret service occupied itself with bugging, covert 
surveillance, intimidation, extortion, theft and murder. The KGB developed 
its own values. The professionalism of an agent concerned the question of 
whether a matter was carried out well or badly, and this was more important 
than whether the matter itself was good or bad.

Putin's professional and political career is marked by numerous scandals, 
which have always remained in the dark and were never completely cleared up. 
As a KGB agent in Germany, he recruited agents, spied upon and blackmailed 
Western visitors to the Leipzig trade fair.

At the beginning of the 1990s, he began his political career in St. 
Petersburg, and under Anatoly Sobchak rapidly ascended to become his 
right-hand man. Responsible for foreign trade matters, he maintained close 
relations with Western enterprises and was by no means unselfish in his 
actions. The head of the town council, Alexander Belyayev, accused him of 
spying inside the foreign trade committee, gathering information about 
companies that he then sold to foreign competitors. He was also accused of 
violating the privatisation laws in the sale of a five-star hotel, and of 
abusing his official position to conduct illegal trade. Finally, in order to 
avoid legal action for the theft of state property, Putin's sponsor Sobchak 
fled to Paris. Putin helped Sobchak get away and then moved himself to Moscow.

Putin was also involved in numerous scandals there. As head of the FSB, he 
played a key role in suppressing the corruption and money laundering scandals 
around the Yeltsin family and their financier Boris Berezovsky. The FSB 
produced a video showing the Attorney General Yuri Skuratov, responsible for 
conducting the investigation into the Yeltsin scandal, with two prostitutes. 
According to reports in the Russian press, the house where the incriminating 
video was made was also used personally by Putin.

The Chechnya war finally created the conditions under which this modern 
FouchĂ© could ascend to the apex of government. Here also, it seems there was 
far more political planning and preparation in play than might appear at 
first sight.

In Moscow, rumours persist that the bloody bombings of Russian homes, which 
fundamentally changed the climate in Russia overnight and boosted the mood of 
support for the war in the general population, were committed by the FSB. 
Without providing any proof, the government made "Chechen terrorists" 
responsible for the explosions and thus justified the attack on Chechnya.

A recent interview by Sergei Stepachin, Putin's predecessor as Prime 
Minister, with the press agency Interfax, acknowledged the suspicions that 
the long hand of Russia had prepared the Chechnya war. According to Stepachin 
, President Yeltsin and the government had already decided in March last 
year—long before the invasion of Chechen separatists into Dagestan and the 
bombings in Russia—on a military intervention.

The invasion should have taken place in August. However, only a "security 
zone" up to the river Terek was to be occupied and individual Chechen 
separatist guerrilla camps taken out. An attack on the capital Grozny and the 
conquest of all Chechnya were not planned.

The German daily SĂĽddeutsche Zeitung commented on the interview with the 
words: "Stepachin's utterances, rejected by prominent military figures as 
untrue, are explosive. Some Russian and international observers suspect that 
Moscow regarded the military campaign mainly as a means of making the Kremlin 
popular again and to facilitate the installation of an acceptable successor 
to Yeltsin."

According to the SĂĽddeutsche Zeitung, the Chechen assault on Dagestan that 
had preceded Russia's attack on Chechnya is also "placed in another light 
following Stepachin's interview: Possibly, the rebels were trying to disturb 
Russian preparations to establish a new front for their invasion. And in fact 
the Russian army only invaded Chechnya at the beginning of October, after 
weeks of fighting in Dagestan."


Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2000 
From: "Kirill Bessonov" <> 
Subject: Russian Views on US Presidential Elections

Dear David,
Please find enclosed another article from Gazeta.Ru International edition
( This is also our exclusive material
and I hope your readers will find it amusing as well as interesting.
Best regards,
Kirill Bessonov.

Russian Views on US Presidential Elections

Gazeta.Ru has interviewed three Russian politicians to find out how well
informed they are about the American presidential elections and which
candidate they would prefer in the White House. We asked them all the same
question: "In economic and political terms, which candidate would be
preferable for Russia? Gore, Bush or McCain?

While in American Gore and McCain lead the opinion polls, Russian
politicians favour Gore and Bush who has suffered two poll setbacks in two
days; Wednesday in South Carolina and Thursday - New Hampshire.

The Communist Party leader Gennady Ziuganov was the first to respond and,
once again, demonstrated party discipline. Below is a slightly shortened
version of his fax.

-'We are closely following the process of the US presidential election
campaign and we are asking ourselves whether it is possible that the trick
played by Yeltsin here in Russia, could happen in America. For example, is
it possible that Clinton will stand down early in order to give Albert Gore
an advantage? The answer; "No, it's not possible." If this were to happen,
it would cause a political crisis and a public scandal, which would
completely destroy Gore's and the Democrats' chances of success. Or would it
be possible in the USA for Vice-President Gore not to leave television
screens from morning till night, while you could only see his opponents
after a long search in the dark with a candle? The answer again is "no".
However, despite the fact that American democracy is highly developed, we
are far from happy with that country's foreign policy, including the
attitude towards Russia and the 'policy on Russia' proposed by most of the
presidential candidates. Undoubtedly. There is no doubt that the
Clinton-Gore administration's esteem in Russia has greatly suffered due to
their firm backing of the Yeltsin regime. All the current pronouncements by
Albright, Gore and company on this issue are nothing more than attempt to
save face. There are absolutely no fresh ideas in Washington's approach to
relations with our country and the Republican opposition are absolutely
right to criticise the ruling party for this.
On the other hand, to blame the Republicans for their laissez-faire attitude
towards the corruption of the Yeltsin leadership and the economic anarchy in
Russia is justified. The Republicans' own on Russia differs only in its
hawkish and highly negative attitude towards Russia, exploiting Americans'
unrealised illusions about the future of Russia. As far as we know, the
winner of the primaries in New Hampshire John McCain expressed an even
harsher attitude towards Russia than his party opponent, Texas governor
George Bush junior.
History indicates that once in power, the Republicans, being pragmatic and
less ideological, usually establish calmer and smoother relations with our

Igor Lebedev (Zhirinovskii's son), the new leader of the LDPR faction
(Zhirinovskii's party), also agreed to answer our questions, giving an
interview on a political issue for only the second time in his life (his
only previous interview was given to Kommersant Vlast magazine shortly
before). He was short.
- Gore would be a better U.S. president For Russia. But the LDPR is
spiritually closer to the Republican party and Bush.

Ella Pamfilova, a presidential candidate, gave a thorough analysis :
- I suppose that Gore will win. For us, however, at present the "raw
materials processing" Bush would be better. The thing is, in my opinion,
Russia must change its strategic interests and shift the emphasis from raw
materials to high technologies and know-how. On the other hand, it does not
matter for us who wins in their country because any U.S. president will
traditionally defend the strategic interests of his own country. And
finally, we should determine our strategy and doctrine. Although we have
practically no choice now to go forward or back. There is no way back to the
communist past - the Communist party has became the Kremlin`s pocket
scarecrow. The strengthening of our state must be achieved through character
development. Weak individuals can be driven into any political camp.
- Who do you find the stronger personality; Gore, Bush or McCain?
- McCain. He has very strong connection with collective sub consciousness.
- What is this?
- He can sense the essence of the people`s tendency - Americans have
probably reaching saturation point and have started to sense that they are
being manipulated. I think that this tendency has not yet matured in
American society and thus, McCain will not win.

Businessman and presidential candidate Umar Jabrailov answered our questions
with great pleasure:

- Bush, because he was already president once.
- Sorry, but we are talking about his son.
- A-a-a: I don`t know his son: McCain then. Isn't he The tall one? The
Basketball player. I have common acquaintances with him - a man in
intelligence, he simultaneously worked for us and for them in soviet times.
- Why McCain?
- It would be easier for me to get in touch with him through that
intelligence man. Easier to find a way to the U.S. President: Umm, wait a
minute; the basketball player is Bradley, not McCain. Isn't he running?
- It looks like he's not.
- A-a-a. Gore then.
- Why Gore?
- Because I know him. We met at a reception. I was there for business
purposes. I was not in politics at that time. I met him twice in two years.
We talked. For five to ten minutes. No, Gore, absolutely! He's clued up
about Russia-U.S. relations. He would not have to start from scratch on the

Elena Aleksandrova, staff writer.


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