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Johnson's Russia List


February 6, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4092


Johnson's Russia List
6 February 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: Charges in Russia Journalist Slaying. (Dmitry Kholodov)
2. AP: New Russian Doctrine Includes West.
3. Moscow Times: Jonas Bernstein, Property Means State Power.
4. The Independent (UK): Chechnya's civilians put to the sword. By Paul Wood on the Chechen Border.
5. Branko Milanovic: Electoral Fraud.
6. Jim Vail: Newsweek article. (re Orthodox Christians)
7. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Yekaterina GRIGORYEVA and Olga TROPKINA, REGIONS STAND TO LOSE SOVEREIGNTY, YELTSIN'S PRESENT. MPs Hard Put Formulating Subject of Two Chambers' Discussion.
8. Robert Bruce Ware: Was There a Kremlin Conspiracy in the Caucasus?]


Charges in Russia Journalist Slaying 
The Associated Press
Feb. 5, 2000

MOSCOW Russian prosecutors have charged five paratroop officers and a
security guard in the 1994 slaying of a Russian journalist, news reports
said Saturday. 

The six men are charged with killing Dmitry Kholodov, a 27-year-old
journalist for the outspoken daily Moskovsky Komsomolets. Kholodov was
investigating military corruption when a briefcase supposedly provided by
an informant exploded in his hands and killed him. The newspaper said the
explosion was connected to Kholodov's investigations. 

The killing attracted nationwide attention, and the case was taken on by
the Prosecutor General's office, the country's top prosecutor. That office
has now turned the case over to Moscow central military court for trial,
the daily Kommersant and ITAR-Tass news agency reported Saturday. No trial
date has been set. 

The Prosecutor General's office and the military court would not confirm
the reports. 

The motive for the killing was "career advancement," Kommersant said.
Russian media have suggested the suspects were trying to protect or impress
superiors accused of corruption. Journalists have criticized prosecutors'
delay in wrapping up the case, saying it reflects the government's
inability or unwillingness to solve Russia's frequent contract killings. 

The five soldiers charged in Kholodov's case are retired Col. Pavel
Popovskhikh, former head of intelligence in the paratroop forces; former
paratroop officer Konstantin Mirzoyants; and paratroop intelligence
officers Vladimir Morozov, Alexander Soroka and one identified only by his
last name, Barkovsky, ITAR-Tass reported. The report did not give the
security guard's name. 


New Russian Doctrine Includes West 
The Associated Press
Feb. 5, 2000

MOSCOW Russia's new national military doctrine does not preclude forming
partnerships with the West, a top general said Saturday. 

The presidential Security Council adopted the new doctrine on Friday,
replacing a doctrine drawn up in 1993. 

Acting President Vladimir Putin said at the council meeting that the new
doctrine was prompted in part by NATO's new concept allowing it to make
military decisions without approval of the U.N. Security Council. 

Col. Gen. Valery Manilov, deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, told
NTV television that the idea of forming partnerships is a "thread through
the entire content of the military doctrine." 

"Russia sees all world states as its partners in the cause of ensuring
stability of international security and peace, except for states that
harbor aggressive plans, and are trying to realize them and are acting
outside the boundaries of the U.N. Charter," Manilov said. 

Adoption of the new military doctrine follows the approval last month of a
new national security doctrine, which broadened the Kremlin's authority to
use nuclear weapons and accused the United States of trying to weaken
Russia and become the world's dominant power. 

At that time, Manilov also claimed that the security doctrine included
plans for expanding partnership with the West. But 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

The new Russian military doctrine still needs to be signed by Russia's
president to become law. Manilov told a news conference on Friday that the
document should be ready in a month. 

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

The Associated Press
Saturday, Feb. 5, 2000; 6:01 a.m. EST

MOSCOW Russia's new national military doctrine does not preclude forming
partnerships with the West, a top general said Saturday. 

The presidential Security Council adopted the new doctrine on Friday,
replacing a doctrine drawn up in 1993. 

Acting President Vladimir Putin said at the council meeting that the new
doctrine was prompted in part by NATO's new concept allowing it to make
military decisions without approval of the U.N. Security Council. 

Col. Gen. Valery Manilov, deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, told
NTV television that the idea of forming partnerships is a "thread through
the entire content of the military doctrine." 

"Russia sees all world states as its partners in the cause of ensuring
stability of international security and peace, except for states that
harbor aggressive plans, and are trying to realize them and are acting
outside the boundaries of the U.N. Charter," Manilov said. 

Adoption of the new military doctrine follows the approval last month of a
new national security doctrine, which broadened the Kremlin's authority to
use nuclear weapons and accused the United States of trying to weaken
Russia and become the world's dominant power. 

At that time, Manilov also claimed that the security doctrine included
plans for expanding partnership with the West. But 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

The new Russian military doctrine still needs to be signed by Russia's
president to become law. Manilov told a news conference on Friday that the
document should be ready in a month. 

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


Moscow Times
February 5, 2000 
PARTY LINES: Property Means State Power 
By Jonas Bernstein 

With opposition journalists starting to disappear - or being "disappeared," » 
la Latin America of old - it might seem late in the day to start rehashing 
the issue of why Russian reform failed, and how the West contributed to the 

It is anything but pointless. If Russia is now moving on an overtly 
anti-democratic path, it is not a detour, but a natural consequence of 
decisions taken during the Yeltsin years - and made with the approval, or at 
least acquiescence, of the West. Worse still, the emerging consensus on what 
went wrong is drawing precisely the wrong conclusions. 

The new conventional wisdom, which has become the central tenet of acting 
President Vladimir Putin's otherwise vague ideology, is that Russia needs a 
"strong state" - meaning that, since 1991, it has been weak. The theme is a 
favorite of Putin's mentor, Anatoly Chubais, and International Monetary Fund 
director Michel Camdessus touched on it this week. The outgoing IMF chief, 
apparently trying to justify his less-than-stellar record vis-»-vis Russia, 
said one of the reasons it had been so hard to help Russia "rebuild itself" 
after the fall of the Soviet Union was the fact that central power extended 
"not very far beyond the walls of the Kremlin." 

The "weak state" theory may be useful for faux liberals like Putin and 
Chubais, who yearn to "consolidate power." But it is a red herring. Camdessus 
notwithstanding, what is striking about the Russian state post-1991 is how 
much it is like its Soviet predecessor. Just take, for example, the Kremlin's 
"property department," whose former head, Pavel Borodin, this week became a 
wanted man in Switzerland. 

The creation of the Kremlin property department was a conscious attempt not 
to reform the Soviet-era state apparatus, but to co-opt it. It came into 
being in 1993, when Yeltsin issued two decrees legalizing the Kremlin's 
nationalization of the property that had belonged to the Soviet Communist 
Party. The value of that property is a matter of debate: In an interview last 
year, Borodin bragged that it was worth $600 billion (yes, billion). While 
that seems high, it is worth noting that the Kremlin refurbishment contracts 
with the Swiss firm Mabetex alone cost hundreds of millions of dollars. 

In any case, the Kremlin's property empire includes 3 million square meters 
of office space in Moscow, including the Kremlin, the White House, the State 
Duma and the Federation Council buildings; regional government installations, 
dachas and rest homes, apartments, hotels, hospitals and medical centers 
throughout Russia; various businesses, in agriculture, construction, etc.; 
the government airline company Rossiya; and Russian property in 78 countries 
(worth $50 billion, according to Borodin). 

Did Camdessus & Co. ever ask Yeltsin & Co. whether it was appropriate in an 
emerging market democracy for the president's office to own such things as 
the Tavriya fitness complex in Yalta, the Kirov Yusengi Holiday Hotel in 
Kabardino-Balkaria and a furniture factory? The real issue, of course, was 
not economic efficacy, but political control. The Yeltsin administration used 
this "distribution system" to supply housing and other privileges to the 
12,000 top state and government officials from all branches of government, in 
exactly the way the same property was used to service - and control - the 
Soviet Communist Party nomenklatura. 

This distribution system further undermined the separation of powers, which 
were already weak thanks to the constitution adopted in 1993, to the applause 
of the Yeltsin administration's Western patrons. One need only recall the 
April 1998 parliamentary debate over whether to confirm Sergei Kiriyenko as 
prime minister, when Yeltsin told State Duma deputies that he had ordered 
Borodin to take care of their "needs" if they showed "a constructive 
approach" to the confirmation vote. 

Whatever Putin's plans may be for reforming the state, they apparently don't 
include the Kremlin property empire. In fact - surprise, surprise - he 
recently appointed Vladimir Kozhin, an old associate from St. Petersburg, to 
head it. Nor has Putin said anything about cutting the size of the state 
bureaucracy - even though it grew, according to Kiriyenko, by 1.2 million 
people from 1992 to 1997. 

The problem with the Russian state is not that it's too weak. The problem 
with the Russian state is that it is utterly unaccountable to those it is 
meant to serve, just like in the bad old days. And deporting an inconvenient 
journalist to a rebel enclave, without putting him on trial or even formally 
charging him, is not a move in the right direction. 


The Independent (UK)
6 February 2000
[for personal use only]
Chechnya's civilians put to the sword 
By Paul Wood on the Chechen Border 

The Russian army's triumphant entry into the Chechen capital, Grozny, last
week should have been the end of an ordeal for the city's besieged
population but Chechen civilians told of fresh terror as groups of
soldiers ran amok, looting and carrying out summary executions. 

The allegations centre on the Staropromyslovsky district of Grozny, where
the Human Rights Watch organisation has been given the names of 36 people
few, if any, young men of fighting age said to have been murdered by
Russian troops. 

Lena Goncharuk, aged 38, said that she was the only one to survive out of a
group of six who were ordered out of the cellar where they had been hiding
and shot at point blank range. Resting in her hospital bed, her voice
barely rising above a whisper, she said she had survived only by pretending
to be dead. 

"They [the Russian soldiers] were asking for cigarettes, then they asked,
'Do you have a radio,' and they said, 'Give it to us'," she said,
explaining that the four women and two men were sent back down into the
cellar after handing over their valuables. 

"We hadn't even sat down," she went on, "then they began throwing grenades
into the cellar and shooting. We all were crying and suffocating, the smell
was unbearable. We were crying out, we could not see anything but they
continued to shoot. 

"We said, 'Guys what are you doing? We are civilians'. They stopped
shooting and they said to come out of the cellar. Our legs and heads were
wounded and we could hardly move but we got up, supporting each other. 

"The first out were two Russian women, Luda and Natasha. We were standing
inside the garage over the cellar and they started shooting at point blank
range. The others were twisting in pain, half of Luda's fingers were shot
off, Natasha was lying dead already, they were shivering on the ground. 

"There was one old man with us. His head was covered in blood while he was
still standing and I saw his brains on the floor. They were very light like
an animal's. Here, we eat animal's brains as a delicacy, and it struck me,
how can we do that when they look so like human brains? 

"I was afraid to make a sound because they were shouting and quarrelling
between themselves. One was saying, 'Why are you shooting?' The other was
saying, 'Shoot them and finish it'. Then they started firing again. 

"If I had looked up I would have been shot. I opened my eye just a little
bit, all I saw was the muzzles of their guns and their boots." 

Two beds down from Lena was another woman injured in Staropromyslovsky. But
Hedi Makhauri, a 40-year-old Chechen mother, had not been trapped there
throughout the siege. She had been a refugee in neighbouring Ingushetia. 

At the end of last month, with Russian troops establishing themselves in
the city, she had thought it safe to go back and check on her house. 

"They said it was a liberated area," she said, frail and thin, clutching
her hospital sheet to her chin, telling us that when she got to her street,
she and two other Chechen women saw Russian soldiers loading stolen goods
from the houses into one of their armoured vehicles. 

"They took us to the armoured vehicle and they said to go inside. We were
afraid as they put blindfolds on us. We said, 'Why, we are not criminals,
we have just come to see our houses'. They said it was orders. 

"They said they would take us to the police headquarters, but they just
took us around the corner. It was just ruins all around. Me and my
neighbour were clutching each other's hand. We said: 'Why are you taking us
here, there are no police here.' They said: 'Just wait, they will come.' 

"The other woman said, 'Take whatever you want, we have children, just
don't kill us'. They made us go into one little room. They just shot her in
the head. She didn't even have time to say, 'Let me go'. They just shot
her." Hedi said that the Russian soldiers were tugging at the gold ring on
her finger. 

"It slipped off just as they decided to get a knife to sever her finger and
the ring along with it. They also took her ear-rings and her money, 400
roubles, about 8. 

"Then they put an old mattress over her body, poured petrol on, and lit it.
The mattress was wet and did not catch light, only smouldered as they
walked away. If I cried they would have killed me," she said. 

The Russians hoisted their flag outside the former residence of Chechnya's
President, Aslan Maskhadov, on Friday, right in the heart of Grozny. At the
same time, their commanders announced that they would soon bring home the
bulk of the 100,000 strong army inside Chechnya. 

Russia's foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, said he was disappointed that the
West did not seem to understand Moscow's war aims in Chechnya. President
Maskhadov's government appealed for the UN and the Organisation for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to send observers to Chechnya
saying the world was doing nothing as civilians were killed. 

As well as Lena and Hedi, we heard other accounts of killings in the
Staropromyslovsky district of Grozny. One family showed us photographs of
the bodies of a mother and son. They showed us their clothes, covered in
blood and full of small holes, which the family said were made by a knife. 

Human Rights Watch says it has so far collected about a dozen completely
separate eye-witness accounts of summary executions there and is issuing a
report this week. 

This does not appear to be a Yugoslav style massacre carried out according
to orders from above but Human Rights Watch says that the Russian high
command is still responsible. "The high command must take responsibility
for the actions of its soldiers and stop these abuses. But up until now we
have seen very little action," said spokesman Peter Bouckaert. 


Date: Sat, 05 Feb 2000 
From: (Branko Milanovic)
Subject: Electoral Fraud

On electoral fraud. Clearly, no one knows if there was or was not fraud in
the December elections. But one way of checking for it, suggested by Shenfield
and Hahn (both in JRL No. 4083) is certainly not correct. They argue that the
fraud was quite likely basing the conclusion on significant discrepancies
between the opinon-tracking polls before the elections and the election
Shenfield mentions VCIOM specifically, which is probably one of the best
and attitude survey agencies in Russia.

Yet, there are several problems with their conclusions:

(1) If my memory is correct, there were several articles on JRL claiming
that various polling agencies were paid by different parties to report
results. Now, if agencies were suspect themselves, how is it that somehow
results should be used as a yardstick to infer the "true" election outcomes?

(2) Now, take VCIOM data with which I have worked, and which are probably
the best. VCIOM sample is fairly small (between 2,000 and 3,000 infividuals
across whole of Russia), and even if the sample is representative (as the
claims), the standard error which attaches to such estimates is large. It
may be
(my guess) 5-6 points. In addition, a significant percentage of undecided
who, after all, might decide to vote, further blurs the picture and increases
the standard error.

In a paper I wrote with Ethan Kapstein ("Dividing the spoils:pensions,
privatization and reform in Russia?s transition" soon to be published as World
Bank Research Working paper; the paper can be downloaded it in a week or two
or if one wants it now, she can send me an Email) I looked at who voted for
Yeltsin in the 1996 elections (second round). We run a nice probit regression
which tries to isolate the factors associated with people's decision to
vote for
Yeltsin (e.g. education, income, region, optimism re. the future etc.). All
variables come from contemporaneous VCIOM surveys. The vote variable is the
self-reported claim of people for whom they _actually_ voted (the survey was
taken in July and September 1996). The VCIOM results are 67.7% for Yeltsin;
32.3% for Zyagonov. The actual results were 53 to 40. There are two
possibilities for this discrepancy, and both may be partly to blame: VCIOM's
tracking is less than perfect, and people tend to identify with the winner to
the extent that they "forget" for whom they actually voted. But whatever is
true, it suggests caution in using the opinion polls. If tracking
(representativeness of the sample or too large standard error) is the problem,
then this problem exists both in pre-election and post-election polls. If
people's responses are a problem, then the obverse of the "bandwagon
effect" is
people's not making a final decision whom to support until the very last
or giving intentionally misleading answers (if they are embarassed to openly
declare whom they support). This was the problem in the past with Zhirinovsky
who always did worse in the polls than at the ballot-box. The same thing was
true recently regarding Heider's support in Austria.

The bottom line is: to use the polls as a yardstick with which to check the
electoral results is wrong because (i) polls themselves may be intentionally
biased, and (ii) even if not, there are huge problems tracking opinion in a
country as diverse as Russia, with insufficiently coalesced party structure
(Yedinstvo came out of nowhere), and a large percentage of undecided voters.
This does not imply that I believe that there was no fraud (I have zero
information on that). It is just that I doubt that the poll results can
the correct "antidote."

Best regards
B. Milanovic
Development Research Group
World Bank, 1818 H Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20433
tel: 1-202-473-6968
fax: 1-202-522-1153


From: (Jim Vail)
Date: Sat, 5 Feb 2000
Subj: Newsweek article

I feel in the spirit of the barage of Jewish journalist protests to Baltimore 
Sun Will Englund's mistaken reference to the only Jewish general in WWII, I 
should also issue a protest against silly & incorrect journalism. In 
Newsweek Bill Powell's article 'Mothers & Sons,' he writes: 'Galina Karpova 
were tending their sons' graves; they brought orange slices and biscuits to 
lay on top of them. To Orthodox Christians, the spirits are alight in the 
morning and need to be fed.'
Speaking on behalf of Orthodox Christians, no where do we believe spirits of 
the dead need to be fed. I'll bet anyone Mr. Powell made that assumption and 
never even thought of checking his facts.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta
February 4, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
MPs Hard Put Formulating Subject of Two Chambers' Discussion

A joint session of the State Duma's and the Federation
Council's members is a very rare occurrence, indeed. The two
chambers of Russia's parliament have something to ponder, and not
only law-making. 
The session, at which the upper chamber's members met their
colleagues from the newly elected lower house, was an intimate
affair held behind closed doors. Commentaries offered in the wake
of the meeting by the participants greatly differed, especially
on the matter of possible amendments to the Constitution, a
matter which interests all. 
Gennady Zyuganov, for one, said the matter had been on the
agenda, while Grigory Yavlinsky said it hadn't. And the upper
chamber's constitutional legislation committee chairman Sergei
Sobyanin suggested that the Basic Law could well be improved by
way of introducing additional laws, leaving the existing ones
The MPs' sly behaviour can well be seen as denoting no great
achievements in building bridges of understanding between the two
houses. But then, nobody had seemed to expect much. Nevertheless,
the participants recommended staging such meets quarterly--for
the sake of greater efficiency. Also, they decided that all bills
would be considered by the two houses' ad hoc committees. 
Thus far, the two chambers have not managed to discuss a lot
of things: to quote Yavlinsky, they had not held the planned
discussion of the war in Chechnya. Moreover, many influential
regional leaders simply ignored the meeting.
The month that has passed since Boris Yeltsin's resignation
has shown that the Kremlin's relations with the two chambers of
parliament would now be built on novel principles. Even the upper
chamber's members have felt that they might no longer be the
supreme rulers of their territories under Putin. 
The first Russian president's epoch is fast becoming a thing
of the past along with the good old "rules" (if one is permitted
to employ the term) of the Kremlin-regions interaction. Boris
Yeltsin had long been taking no part in the regions' life, and
even the idea of the governors' round-table meetings in the
Kremlin had been forgotten. Not surprisingly, many regional
leaders privately admit they have lately been on their own. 
Judging by everything, Vladimir Putin has decided to
reinforce the weakened power vertical. The acting president has
already promised that regional laws would be brought in line with
the Federal legislation. Governors would not like this, of
course, for the unification of legislations means, apart from
diminishing powers, a potential reduction of incomes derived from
all sorts of legal gimmicks, let alone limited control over money
The process would not be easy. President Mintimer Shaimiyev
of Tatarstan, for one, has told this newspaper that the process
of amending legislations can only be a two-way street. It means
the regions are prepared to amend their domestic legislations
only if Moscow makes reciprocal steps on the federal level. 
Shaimiyev is positive that the Russian Constitution needs to
be improved, all the more so because it has been adopted later
than the Tatar Basic Law.
A couple of quotations of his are conspicuous.
"Our people, the republic's president included, are not
prepared for any infringement." And another one: "A freedom
gained is not easily parted with."
Still, there is every reason to believe that Putin intends
to take regions in hand and the governors will have to eventually
bow their heads to the acting president just like the Duma
minority has done. 
Still Putin may have to make some concessions. Even Yegor
Stroyev, the Federation Council speaker who is known to be highly
cautious in his pronouncements, supported Shaimiyev yesterday and
said the Constitution needed to be amended. It is easy to imagine
the amendments they would want to see introduced.
The Duma has long been trying to expand parliament's powers
and somewhat limit the president's authority. For the sake of
this, the upper chamber's members may agree to sacrifice a part
of their sovereignty, and if this "swap" materialises, it would
be the most painless option. 
But there may be another scenario. Increasingly more
frequent reports have indicated lately that the Kremlin is
pondering a cardinal reform of the federal setup, according to
which governorships would stop being elected offices. 
According to this scenario, all regional bosses would be
directly appointed by the president. But the plan is feasible
only in theory, and such leaks of information are probably
designed to tell the governors that "Putin is the boss."


Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2000 
From: (Robert Bruce Ware)
Subject: Was There a Kremlin Conspiracy in the Caucasus?

Robert Bruce Ware
Department of Philosophical Studies
Southern Illinois University Edwardsvile

Was There a Kremlin Conspiracy in the Caucasus?

Events around the beginning of August 1999, at the onset of the insurgency
Dagestan, are certainly more complex than has been determined thus far.
yielding too much to speculation it would be difficult to ignore claims and 
counter claims about responsibility for the apartment block blasts, rumors
of an 
intercepted conversation between Basayev and Berezovsky, and Sergi
recent claim that an invasion of Chechnya had been planned since March 1999. 
Stepashin's claim has received support from Boris Kagarlitsky, a member 
of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Comparative Politics. In
Gazeta, Kagarlitsky claimed that the bombings in Moscow and elsewhere were 
arranged by the GRU, which used members of a group controlled by Shirvani 
Basayev, to plant the bombs. Kagarlitsky further claimed that Basayev's 
invasion of Dagestan by was pre-arranged with a senior Kremlin leader at a 
meeting in France in July. While there is not yet sufficient information for 
the conclusive evaluation of such claims, the following considerations may
prove useful:

1. Russian troops inexplicably were withdrawn from the Dagestani border in 
the area of the insurgency just prior to the onset of the conflict.

2. Basayev exited the republic with an ease reminiscent of Raduyev's 
departure from Pervomaiskoye. The Dagestani Avar leader, Gadji Mahachev,
that his requests that Russian troops should mine Basayev's exit routes were 
unheeded. Of course it is easier to request mines than it is to plant them
in rugged western Dagestan, and it is far from certain that mines would have
effective, but it seems that Basayev got into, and out of, Dagestan far too 

3. On the surface, Stepashin's claim appears to be trivial. Given the 
situation a year ago in Chechnya, the Kremlin would have been remiss had it
not had contingency plans for an invasion. 

More than 1000 Russian citizens had been kidnapped and held under brutal 
conditions in Chechnya. I can affirm from personal observation that the 
populations of the surrounding regions were existing in a prolonged state of 
heightened terror. Most states would have made plans to protect the
fundamental rights of their citizens.

The question is not whether there was a plan but whether there was a 
decision to implement it. Presumably, such a decision would require 
presidential authorization. Was that authorization received? Unless such 
information emerges Stepashin's admission remains inconsequential.

4. Stepashin's further claim to have supervised troop preparations was not 
obviously supported by the performance of the Russian military during the
two weeks of August. Having been present in Russia, within the Dagestani 
community, from 4-17 August 1999, and being in close contact with many who
in Dagestan throughout the insurgency, I can affirm the appearance that the 
invasion caught federal forces by surprise and that they were not at all 
prepared. Indeed, it was necessary for Dagestani authorities to appeal to
federal counterparts for support. Only after such appeals did federal
defense mechanisms appear to start functioning.

5. Kagarlitsky's chronology appears to be problematic. Wahhabis began 
infiltrating villages of Dagestan's Tsumadinsky and Botlikhsky rayons from 
Chechen bases at the end of June and the beginning of July. They entered the 
villages in small numbers and made their presence felt as their numbers 
gradually grew. Generally, they were courteous to the locals, paid for 
everything they required, and harassed no one, except in so far as they
alcohol. They did not confront local law enforcers, who would have drawn
their families for support and revenge. Hence, the first skirmish did not
until 2 August when Dagestani police forces were dispatched from Buynaksk and 
Mahachkala to reestablish administrative authority in the region. The
resulted in deaths on both sides. Shamyl Basayev used the skirmish as a
to invade Dagestan, evidently failing to foresee that he thereby would enrage 
the Dagestanis and bring the wrath of the Russian military upon his
Kagarlitsky's account is problematic not only because the insurgency
appears to 
have been underway in advance of the alleged July meeting, but because the 
initial resistance came from Dagestani, not from federal, authorities. It
might be speculated that the Kremlin prompted Mahachkala to dispatch the
contingent of 
police on 2 August, but at the very least the scenario is less clear, and
less predictable, than Kagarlitsky appears to allow. Moreover, the reverse
was, in 
fact, the case. After 2 August, it was necessary for Mahachkala to appeal to 
Moscow for support. Kagarlitsky's chronology is also at odds with statements 
made, and strategies adopted by Basayev as early as April 1999 at the
Congress of the Peoples of Ichkeria and Dagestan (below).

6. It is far from obvious that the Kremlin would have wished to lure 
Basayev into Dagestan in order to start the war. Moscow has long failed to 
understand Dagestan, and Russian officials and Caucasus experts had assumed
Dagestan was lurching toward instability and separatism. Even in Dagestan,
would have been difficult to predict, last July, how the Dagestani population 
would respond to an incursion from Basayev. Thus if it had intentionally 
fomented the insurgency the Kremlin would, from its own perspective, have
risking civil war in Dagestan, the dramatic expansion of rebel forces, and
the creation of an internationally financed radical, hostile, sustainable,
state with a Caspian seaport on its southern flank, severing it from its 
interests in the Transcaucasus. This would seem a desperate gamble indeed.

Of course, one might speculate that Vladimir Putin's position in the FSB 
might have lent him a leading role in such a desperate wager. Perhaps the
FSB realized, as others in the Kremlin almost certainly did not, that the 
overwhelming majority of Dagestanis would resist the invasion. And perhaps 
Putin's role in planning the trap was the original source of his distinction, 
and part of the reason for his promotion to prime minister. However, my 
experience with the views of Russian officials concerning the situation in 
Dagestan, leads me to doubt that there was an accurate understanding of that 
situation prior to August 1999.

And if the Kremlin were interested in bribing Basayev to commit a raid 
on Russian territory in order to fire popular opinion in support of an
of Chechnya, then surely it would have been preferable for the Kremlin to 
instigate a raid into Russian ethnic territories in Stavropol or Kalmykia. 
Anti-caucasian prejudices, and the general Russian expectation that Dagestan 
would follow Chechnya, would render Russians less likely to support
against Basayev than to support members of their own national group.

7. It is equally difficult to understand why Basayev might have accepted a 
Kremlin bribe to invade Dagestan in order to justify a Russian invasion of 
Chechnya. Here the difficulty is not in imagining that Basayev, and indeed 
Dagestani Wahhabis, could be bribed by the Kremlin. That is well within the 
realm of possibility. The problem comes in imagining that any bribe could 
persuade Basayev to attack his ethnic and Islamic cousins in order to
the Kremlin's destruction of his homeland. Surely Basayev would know that
an arrangement would be difficult to conceal, and he certainly would know
that its revelation would mean the end of his life at the hands of his own 
compatriots and, probably at the hands of his own teip.

Any deal that might justify the Russian conquest of his homeland would 
seem to be completely out of character for Basayev. And contrary to
reports, Basayev's power within Chechnya was not clearly waning in the
summer of 1999. Indeed, it appeared to be growing.

8. In the short term, unsupported claims by Stepashin are likely to have
effect in Dagestan, where neither Stepashin nor Yeltsin were highly regarded, 
and where there is now much support for Putin and his campaign in Chechnya. 
Were it proven that there was a Kremlin conspiracy to use Dagestanis as
pawns to 
justify a Russian invasion of Chechnya, then Dagestani reactions would
likely be 
mixed. Since some Dagestanis, who regard themselves as fighters superior to 
Chechens, were insulted by Basayev's incursion, there would be those who
derive a grim satisfaction from the notion that it required a combination of 
Russians and Chechens to mount even an unsuccessful invasion. Beyond this
would be much anger, but while Dagestan's present honeymoon with Moscow would 
likely come to an end, it is far from clear that the marriage would be over. 
Many Dagestanis have warmed to the idea of increased funding and recognition 
from Moscow. Even more are relieved that Moscow has finally done something 
about Chechen lawlessness, which was terrorizing most Dagestanis and
rendering life in the republic unbearable.

9. Conspiracy theories that have been floated would help to account for the 
first two points above. They encounter difficulties as a result of the 
following five points. A simpler explanation begins like this: 

In Grozny, on 17 April 1999, the second Congress of the Peoples of Ichkeria
Dagestan took place. The Congress included 297 delegates from 25 Dagestani 
djamaats (villages) located in rayons including Buynaksky, Gunibsky,
Khasoavjurttovsky. From Chechnya there were 195 official representatives
plus 200 invited guests. 

The conference was opened by Shamyl Basayev, who served as Chair 
throughout. He declared the formation of a "Military-Political Council"
and a 
"Security Council", as well as an "Islamic Legion" and a "Peacekeepers
comprised of a few thousand well-trained militants. According to Basayev, 
"these troops (were) needed for the implementation of the resolutions of the 
Congress, the major goal of which (was) the creation of an independent
state." This declaration served to justify the existence of his military 
training camps on Chechen territory.

In his report on activities during the preceding year, Basayev mentioned 
the measures which were conducted by the Congress. He emphasized meetings of 
Chechen and Dagestani activists and intellectuals dedicated to the one 
hundred-year anniversary of Uzun-Khadji Saltinsky. This Avar sheik from the 
village of SaltŠ was a distinguished leader of the civil war in Dagestan and 
Chechnya, who effectively resisted Denikin's White Army forces in 1918,
when the 
latter temporarily occupied the plains of Dagestan and Terskaja. Basayev
noted the Congress had sponsored a welfare assistance program for "brothers
need" and founded the "peace-keeping Caucasian forces." He made the latter 
claim, again, as a justification for the forces he was amassing in training 
camps that he operated in conjunction with the Wahhabi leaders, Emir al
Khattab and Bagautdin Magomedov, for purposes of invading Dagestan.

Among the leadership of the Congress was the Avar poet, Magomed Adallo. 
He condemned current Russian occupation of the Immamat, the so-called state
Shamyl created during the Caucasian War and uniting the highlands of Dagestan 
and Chechnya. Also among the leadership at the conference was Zelimkhan 
Yandarbiev, who sought to quell the animosity between tariqatists and
by calling upon all Muslims to "abandon their ambitions" and to "stop wasting 
their strength seeking for enemies among brothers in faith." Yandarbiev, who 
supported the Wahhabis, may have been directing his remarks, in part, at 
Basayev, who half a year earlier had declared that he was "disappointed in
the Wahhabis".

As tension mounted, leaders of the opposition openly made personal 
threats against Dagestan's highest officials. Dagestani authorities clearly 
realized the growing danger in the republic, and official statements
concern about cooperation between opposition forces in Chechnya and Dagestan. 
Yet no precautionary measures were taken, and it appeared that no one knew
what to do. 

The events of April 1999 clearly indicate Basayev's intent to unite with 
opposition elements in Dagestan in order to "liberate" Dagestan from Russian 
control. Indeed, throughout 1998-9 there was increasing coordination among 
opposition elements in Chechnya and Dagestan, with deep implications for the 
efficacy and stability of regimes in both republics. 

Hence, a simple explanation of events in August and September is that Basayev 
became over-confident as a consequence of surrounding himself with 
representatives of that small minority of Dagestanis who supported him, and
appear to have misled him concerning the support he was likely to receive
the broader Dagestani population. It is likely that Basayev concluded, as 
indeed the Kremlin appears to have concluded, that most Dagestanis would join 
him in an attack upon Russian forces, which indeed were not popular in
until later on when they began to defend the Dagestanis against Basayev.
Thus Basayev undertook the invasion because, like virtually everyone else
outside of 
Dagestan, he simplistically assumed that separatist elements in Dagestan
were in he ascendance.

Along with the virtue of simplicity, this explanation has the merit of 
accounting for points 3-7 above. Without sacrificing simplicity, it is
to account for the first two points by postulating low-level, as opposed to
high level, conspiracies:

Scenario 1: Basayev bribes Russian officers near the Dagestani border to 
permit him access by retracting their troops just prior to his advance and
later permitting his escape.
Scenario 2: Russian officers on the ground in Dagestan, who are familiar 
with the Dagestani people and realize that most of them will resist Basayev, 
pull back to allow him to enter Dagestan, because they anticipate that the
will weaken or destroy Basayev. Basayev's escape is due to his well-known 
skills combined with well-documented Russian incompetence.

Yet even if it were revealed that Basayev had been lured into Dagestan, by
most elaborate of conspiracies, it would not alter what Stepashin claims as
fundamental cause of the plan. People in the Caucasus were exhausted with,
terrorized by, the chaos that had overtaken them from Chechnya. Dagestani
women, and children were held in Chechnya for exorbitant ransoms that
the resources of entire clans, when relatives saw their loved ones being 
tortured on Chechen-produced video tape. 

If proven, a government plot to use its own citizens as bait would be 
worse than reprehensible. Yet as we seek the truth we should not forget that 
the terror and suffering of those who live near the Chechen border could not 
have been tolerated any longer.

If it were eventually revealed that Basayev had been lured into such a 
trap it would change little from either a moral or a political point of
Revelations of such a plot would surely hurt Putin, and many Dagestanis and
Russians would be outraged to find that they had been treated as pawns.
But in 
Dagestan, as elsewhere in Russia, there is a general commitment to the
course of action that transcends its immediate causes. In Dagestan, even
than in the rest of Russia, the commitment to the war is ultimately based
upon moral considerations, the most enduring foundation for any war.

People in the Caucasus were completely exhausted with, and increasingly 
terrorized by, the chaos that had overtaken them from Chechnya. By the end
of 1997, all international relief organizations, and virtually all foreign 
journalists, researchers and tourists had been driven out of the North
by the Chechen-based kidnapping industry. Around this time, kidnappers
began to 
focus in earnest upon the locals. Local men, women, and children were seized 
and held for exorbitant ransoms that exhausted the resources of entire clans, 
when relatives saw their loved ones being tortured on video tape. This
on a scale so great that every Dagestani that I know had a relative,
friend, or 
neighbor who was kidnapped, that is, if they were not kidnapped themselves. 
Between my visits to Dagestan in 1997 and 1998 the mood of ordinary
had changed profoundly. By the summer of 1998 ordinary people were living in 
constant fear of kidnappers, and there was a palpable atmosphere of terror. 
These conditions were intolerable. Yet they were endured for a full year
after the summer of 1998. They could not have been endured for much longer.

Moreover, criminal gangs in Chechnya were coordinating increasingly with 
criminal and opposition elements in neighboring republics. In Chechnya
Islamic elements were increasingly coming to prominence, often with 
international funding, and expansionist agendas. By the summer of 1999, the 
situation in Chechnya had come to be incompatible with political stability in 
neighboring republics. Outside of the region, most people do not realize
there has been trouble along the Chechen border nearly every day for the last 
three years.

The international community did nothing about this situation. It simply 
withdrew and turned its back upon region. Relief and human rights
had no presence in the region. (Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International 
still have not visited the Dagestani victims of Chechen kidnapping, or the 
21,000 Dagestani refugees who remain homeless after Basayev's incursions.)
They did nothing to assist the locals and little to publicize their plight.
journalists rarely ventured south. No Western governments condemned the 
situation. Neither the OSCE nor the Council of Europe offered to help.

Finally, Moscow did something. The Russian government had a moral 
responsibility to defend its citizens, which it finally accepted. Moscow 
thereby secured the gratitude of the people in the region. Regardless of
machinations may have precipitated the fighting, Chechen lawlessness
established the moral foundation for the war. 

Moscow's stated objectives are to crush the criminal gangs of Chechnya, 
to establish the rule of law, and to initiate a permanent military presence. 
The first two of these objectives are worthwhile in and of themselves. Their 
realization would do at least as much to benefit the people of Chechnya as to 
benefit their neighbors in the region. The third objective is a regrettable 
necessity. It is regrettable that any people should endure military
for that is what a Russian military presence would be for years to come.
But it 
is necessary because Chechnya's de facto independence has been incompatible
the human rights of neighboring populations.

It is particularly difficult to accept Moscow's objectives when its 
methods are brutal, and admittedly, at times, unconscionable. But if we
the objectives then it appears that we must tolerate some of the methods,
for it 
is unlikely that the objectives could be achieved with methods that were 
substantially different. It would be difficult for Moscow to dispense with 
indiscriminate bombing and shelling since 1) Chechen militants purposefully
refuge among, and are often indistinguishable from, civilians, 2) Russia
the capability for remote precision attacks, and 3) it would be difficult or 
impossible for Russia to achieve its objectives by fighting largely in close 

Nor is it worthwhile to hope for the establishment of a security zone 
around Chechnya. It would be impossible to enforce such a zone in the rugged 
highlands along much of the Dagestan/Chechnya border. Even in the lowlands 
border guards would either yield to bribes or become targets for constant 

Regrettably, the choice in the Caucasus is not between, on the one hand, 
a set of massive human rights abuses that Russia is presently committing in 
Chechnya, and on the other hand, no human rights abuses. Rather the choice
is between the set of massive human rights abuses presently occurring in
and on the other hand, another set of massive human rights abuses that 
previously occurred in the surrounding republics as a consequence of Chechen 

Negotiations eventually will prove necessary as the only faint hope of 
ending otherwise interminable guerrilla warfare. But a political solution
is not 
possible now for four reasons: 1) So long as those Chechen warlords who 
perpetrated atrocities upon the people of the region survive, kidnapping, 
murder, torture and slavery will continue. 2) There simply is no one in 
Chechnya, least of all Maskhadov, who is capable of delivering upon any
terms of 
agreement. 3) Since the Maskhadov regime has been linked to the kidnapping 
industry (Washington Post 27 November, 1999, A. Lieven, JRL #4031, 13
2000), and since the Chechen-based hostage industry has long terrorized the 
people of the region, the Maskhadov regime is a terrorist organization. 
Governments responsible for the safety of their citizens do not netgotiate
terrorist organizations. 4) The only long-term solution to the problem is
mutual readjustment of Russian and Chechen cultures, and, as the last three 
years have indicated, and as has often been the case at other points in
in other parts of the world, this could not be achieved without war.


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