This Date's Issues: 4097 4098
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9 February 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Gorbachev Speaks in Switzerland on Putin.
2. Reuters: INTERVIEW-Russia changes to take a generation-IMF.(Michel
3. AP: Radio Liberty Reporter Feared Dead.
4. Moscow Times EDITORIAL: Come On, Putin, Show Us the Plan.
5. Newsweek: Arms Control, Behind the Scenes.
6. Interfax: DUMA DEFENSE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN FAVORS START-2 RATIFICATION.
7. Interfax: RUSSIAN MILITARY DOCTRINE MEANT TO GUARANTEE NATIONAL
INTERESTS - RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER.
8. Jerry Hough: Elections.
9. Interfax: WEST MUST SUPPORT RUSSIA'S EFFORTS AGAINST EXTREMISM -
10. RFE/RL Newsline: PUTIN: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY?
11. The New York Times editorial: Russia's Empty Victory.
12. APN: The Central Election Commission chairman stated that the
elections to the Russia's State Duma could have been partially forged.
13. smi.ru: "SEGODNYA" FOLLOWS UP ON RUMORS OF TAILORING THE
CONSTITUTION TO SUIT PUTIN'S NEEDS.
14. smi.ru: ON THE U.S. "IRON LADY" AND GRIGORY YAVLINSKY.
15. Interfax - Vremya: WHAT PRESIDENT DO WE NEED? Brains and Uprightness Vs. Ideology. (poll)
16. Kommersant - Vlast: PUBLIC OPINION POLL REVEALS PEOPLE'S ATTITUDE TO PARTIES AND POLITICIANS.
17. AFP: Putin 'in denial' over Chechnya, may move on ABM revision:
18. Moscow Times: Oksana Yablokova, Child Death Rates Reach 60,000
Gorbachev Speaks in Switzerland on Putin
5 February 2000
[translation for personal use only]
Report by Irina Denisova: "M. Gorbachev Knows V. Putin as
Intelligent and Serious Man Although He Could Also Vote 'Against Everyone'"
Geneva has proved yet again that it is not only a
diplomatic capital but a banking one too. The 14th
International "Transition to a Market Economy" Conference has
been held in Geneva, in which famous parliamentarians and businessmen
from Russia, Switzerland, and France took part.
State Duma Chairman Gennadiy Seleznev; Duma committee chairmen
Aleksandr Shokhin and Aleksandr Zhukov; Andrey Shapovalyants, Viktor
Gerashchenko, Aleksandr Pochinok, Oleg Morozov; Vladimir Petrovskiy,
chairman of the "Regions of Russia" deputies' group and general
director of the UN European department; and many famous leaders of
Russian and European banks.
The delegates were particularly interested by the debate on changes
to the banking legislation of the EU countries and Switzerland and their
influence on international financial cooperation, including the struggle
The Swiss press has long been discussing this topic without
hesitating to present Russia as the main protagonist in illegal deals to
launder "dirty" money. But Mr. Khuber [surname as
transliterated] leader of the Swiss police department for combating
money-laundering, evaded a direct question, failing to name a single
Russian company or person, not to mention Russia's percentage compared to
the other European countries in terms of money-laundering.
Mikhail Gorbachev met with the conference participants. Finding
time after the International Green Cross session, he urged the banking
elite to support the unified Social-Democratic Party, which, it is
believed, should unite 12 separate movements and act as a powerful
reformed bloc with an updated personnel in four years' time at the next
State Duma elections. In response to a question from hour correspondent
about who he will support at the forthcoming presidential election in
Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev replied: "I know Putin. He is an
intelligent and serious man. But to elaborate my position I must see
who he will rely on and how he will work with and what aims he will set.
"I spent two years trying to persuade everyone and myself that
the best choice for those four years was Yevgeniy Primakov. A serious
and solid man on whom one could rely. He is well known in Russia and
the West and that is what would have been needed. But you know
yourselves what they did to Primakov, what primarily the mass media did
to Primakov. he did not withstand the ordeal and here we must call
things by their names. His knees gave way. I do not know now but so
far I can see no one to vote for. Perhaps I shall vote 'against
everyone.' We shall wait and see."
INTERVIEW-Russia changes to take a generation-IMF
By Janet Guttsman
WASHINGTON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - It will take many years to transform Russia's
economy, but much has been achieved and the switch to a market economy is now
irreversible, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.
Michel Camdessus, in one of his final interviews before he leaves the fund
next week, told Reuters that all players had miscalculated the scale of
Russia's problems and the time it would take to transform its economy.
``It was a gigantic task, it will be continued, but it will have to be the
task of a generation,'' Camdessus said.
``Along with the Russians and the rest of the world, we certainly
miscalculated how difficult it had to be to change 70 years of
Marxist-Leninism, ending up with Brezhnevism, which was one of the most
perverse forms of it, with all the elements of corruption, of lack of
maintenance and the concentration in the military industrial apparatus.''
The IMF loaned Russia more than $20 billion in the eight years following the
collapse of the Soviet Union, promising time and again that an end to
Russia's painful and protracted economic slump was just around the corner.
But it took a painful debt default and a massive slump in the value of the
Russian currency in 1998 to catapult the economy toward growth. Russia's
state statistics committee says it expects 1999 data will show growth of 3.6
percent, almost reversing the 4.6 percent fall recorded in 1998.
The IMF, angry at sluggish reforms, halted disbursements from its latest loan
last month and it says no more money will be forthcoming until Russia has
completed crucial structural reforms, including boosting cash payments for
utilities and bringing in new bankruptcy laws.
But the IMF also admits Russia has done better than expected on macroeconomic
targets agreed with the fund, and Camdessus said some changes were
irreversible in Russia, the world's largest country by area and the largest
single borrower from the IMF.
``The Russians took too much for granted...and they had unsurmountable
problems in getting solid consent to changes from an old Communist,
Brezhnevist Duma (parliament),'' he said.
He added: ``But I am happy that the thing which was the basic purpose of our
task is there, namely to introduce the basis and make irreversible the
orientation to a market, and to make irreversible the orientation toward
democracy and integration with the rest of the world.''
Camdessus told a news conference earlier that the IMF had repeatedly been
frustrated at Russia's half-hearted implementation of economic reform
``We were disappointed by the lack of support, or the insufficient support,
of the State Duma, by the delays in adopting the indispensable legislation
for creating a level playing field (for investors),'' he said.
``But that was not a reason for us to say 'basta ya' (enough already),'' he
added, lapsing into Spanish for effect.
Radio Liberty Reporter Feared Dead
February 8, 2000
By ANNA DOLGOV
MOSCOW (AP) - A Radio Liberty reporter is missing - and his colleagues fear
he may be dead, another casualty of the war in Chechnya.
Russian military officials claim to have turned over Andrei Babitsky to
Chechen rebels nearly a week ago, but he has not been heard from since.
Chechen commanders say they don't have him and never did.
``If Andrei was with Chechen field commanders, he would have certainly found
a telephone,'' Radio Liberty's Moscow bureau chief, Savic Shuster, said
Tuesday. ``If he is alive and keeping silent, there is a reason for that. Or
he is not alive.'' The private Radio Liberty is funded by U.S. Congress.
Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said Tuesday that Babitsky was
alive and well, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. It said he did not
Russian authorities have tried to tightly control information about the
Chechnya offensive that began in September, mindful of the public outrage
that marked the 1994-96 Chechnya war.
Babitsky had angered the government by questioning its reports, and some
Russian officials even accused him of fighting with the rebels.
Babitsky, 35, last called home on Jan. 15. Ten days later, the Russian
government said he had been arrested but would be released soon. Then, the
government announced that Babitsky was turned over last Thursday to the
rebels, at his request, in exchange for three Russian prisoners of war.
The swap raised fears for his safety, as the Russians said they no longer
bore any responsibility for Babitsky's life.
``It could not even be characterized as barbarity, but as savagery,'' Genri
Reznik, a lawyer for U.S.-sponsored Radio Liberty, told a news conference
Suspicion is also mounting about whether the swap ever took place at all.
``I do not believe my husband is alive and well,'' Babitsky's wife, Lyudmila,
said after the Russians announced the exchange.
Presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky showed reporters what he said was
Babitsky's written statement agreeing to the exchange.
Babitsky's colleagues called the document an ``unprofessional fabrication.''
``If it had been done professionally, Babitsky would have read on camera the
statement that he has supposedly written,'' Shuster said.
The official reason for Babitsky's arrest was that he did not have a
government permit to report in Chechnya. Other Western reporters have been
detained for the same reason, but quickly released. Accreditation is only
issued to Russia's pro-government media, which back the official view of the
Babitsky has worked for Radio Liberty since the early 1990s and reported on
the earlier Chechnya war. He is not the only reporter to question the
government, but he has reported primarily from rebel-controlled areas.
The government heavily criticized him after he reported Russian losses in a
rebel attack in December on Minutka Square in Grozny. The Russian military
initially denied its troops entered the square, although several journalists,
including an Associated Press reporter, counted the bodies of more than 100
Babitsky also gave the rebels a lot of coverage at a time when the government
was urging reporters not to put ``terrorists'' on the air.
At Radio Liberty's request, leaders in Chechnya's separatist government have
been checking with field commanders about Babitsky - but to no avail, Shuster
said. The station also has been unable to reach the Russian soldiers
supposedly exchanged for Babitsky.
``It is now clear that the rather mystical exchange ... is a sleight of hand
meant to conceal an obviously unlawful action - or, more likely, a heinous
crime,'' Boris Pustintsev, head of the civil rights group Citizens' Watch,
wrote in an article published Tuesday in the Moscow Times daily.
Pustintsev also suggested the case illustrated the heavy-handed methods of
acting President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer. Putin is seen as a
shoo-in in Russia's March 26 presidential election, although he remains a
largely enigmatic figure.
If Putin ``was from the start aware of this operation - and we can smell his
KGB methods from miles away - then there's no doubt what life under this
guarantor of rights will be like,'' Pustintsev wrote.
Putin, meanwhile, insisted Tuesday he would protect press freedoms.
``I am deeply convinced that there will be no development, no future at all
in the country if we suppress civil rights and freedom of press,'' Putin said
in an interview on ORT television.
February 9, 2000
EDITORIAL: Come On, Putin, Show Us the Plan
We are still waiting to hear Vladimir Putin's thoughts on some of the matters
that trouble us - particularly, how Putin feels about the Interior Ministry's
decision to sell an irritating journalist into Chechen slavery, or worse.
As we see it, so far either a) acting President Putin approves of what has
happened to Radio Liberty's Andrei Babitsky; b) Putin does not think it
worthy of comment; or c) Putin disapproves - but is incapable of condemning
it, or unwilling to.
Take your pick. None offers a very heartening commentary on our
For that matter, we would still like to know what Putin thinks about the
Interior Ministry's thuggish intimidation of another journalist, Alexander
Khinshtein of Moskovsky Komsomolets; and we are all ears as to how Putin
feels about the Swiss arrest warrant out on one of Putin's current officials
and former bosses, Pavel Borodin.
We have asked such questions before, without a clear reply. But on Tuesday,
Putin did provide an indirect answer of sorts - a kind of commentary on his
willingness to participate in a democratic give-and-take.
The acting president was shown on ORT television speaking to university
students about a program of action he is developing. As Putin explains, he
does not want this program to become "an object of attack," and so chooses
not to share the details until after the March 26 election.
"As soon as it is made public, it will be gnawed at and torn to pieces,"
So Putin chooses not to make it public. He apparently enjoys that luxury. He
is riding high in the polls, and every other serious contender has stepped
aside. At this juncture, March 26 seems sure to pit Putin against Communist
Gennady Zyuganov for an easy first-round win, while also-rans Yury Skuratov,
Grigory Yavlinsky and Vladimir Zhirinovsky look on.
Given his all-but-certain election, we can't help thinking Putin could be a
bit more generous and share his program. After all, it is being produced at a
think tank headed by a deputy Cabinet minister and funded largely by
state-owned institutions like Gazprom, Transneft and UES - in other words, by
Of course, there would be criticism and discussion - that's the sort of
exchange of ideas and arguments that is at the heart of democracy. Putin may
be the shoe-in president, but in theory, he is not above the democratic
process, and it would do him no dishonor to bow to it a bit.
- Matt Bivens
February 14, 2000
Arms Control, Behind the Scenes
After her first meeting with Russia's Acting President Vladimir Putin last
week, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was upbeat. One reason: there's
been more progress in behind-the-scenes talks on arms-control issues than
either side has publicly acknowledged. NEWSWEEK has learned that in
mid-January Under Secretary John Holum handed his Russian Foreign Ministry
counterpart Yuri Kapralov two documents: a proposed modification of the 1972
ABM treaty and a draft of a START III nuclear-arms-reduction treaty. Both
were "informal" proposals, based on what one source called the "quite
detailed discussions" that the two countries began last August.
By offering these ideas to Moscow now, sources say, President Clinton hopes
to jump-start formal negotiations after Russia's March presidential election.
The administration's proposed ABM-treaty amendments are minimal, allowing
only bare-bones defenses against North Korean missiles. Clinton, sources say,
has decided to leave to his successor the problem of negotiating the more
extensive defenses needed against Iran and Iraq. On START III, the
administration is sticking to the 2,500 strategic-weapons cap Clinton and
Boris Yeltsin agreed to in the mid-1990s. The Russians have said they want to
lower the cap to 1,500. Washington may give on START III in exchange for
Russian ABM concessions. "Putin didn't throw [the proposals] off the table,"
says one U.S. official. "How much of that is just his style, we'll have to
DUMA DEFENSE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN FAVORS START-2 RATIFICATION
MOSCOW. Feb 8 (Interfax) - Chairman of the State Duma Defense
Committee Andrei Nikolayev (of the People's Deputy group) has said he
favors the ratification of START-2. However, "there should be no
hurrying to ratify the treaty," he told Interfax on Tuesday.
Acting President Vladimir Putin and the government share the
opinion, Nikolayev said. "The country's leadership is not rushing to
ratify the treaty because there are issued Putin brought up during his
meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and these
questions require further consideration," he said.
Nikolayev reported plans for setting up a working group in the Duma
to consider the political and military-technical aspects of
The document should be studied in light of the 1972 ABM treaty and
the U.S. intentions to make certain amendments in it with which Russia
does not at this point agree, he said, noting that the United States had
actually refused to support the convention on the general and complete
ban on nuclear arms testing. "This also requires serious thought and the
acting president also talked about this with Albright," he said.
"There is the question of the actual state of the Russian strategic
nuclear force," which is directly linked with the tasks facing Russia of
reforming its army and developing its armed forces, Nikolayev said. "We
have to analyze how prepared we are for the unconditional implementation
of START-2, if it is ratified," he said.
"Such a combination of problems does not permit us to hurry with
the ratification of this document today," Nikolayev said. "In this case
we should not try to benefit fleeting political interests, but rather
Russia's security interests," he said.
START-2 ratification will be on the agenda for the Duma's spring
session, Nikolayev noted.
RUSSIAN MILITARY DOCTRINE MEANT TO GUARANTEE NATIONAL INTERESTS -
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER
MOSCOW. Feb 8 (Interfax) - Russia's new military doctrine is meant
to guarantee Russia's national interests and security and is not meant
to be threatening to any other country, Russian Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov has said.
"It reflects today's international realities," Ivanov told the
press on Tuesday.
"Russia does not threaten anybody," he said. It simply has to take
into account the developments in and around Yugoslavia, NATO's adoption
of a new military doctrine, the enlargement of that alliance from 16 to
19 countries and "several other threats that have cropped up in the new
situation," the foreign minister said.
On the subject of START-2, Ivanov said that its ratification "in is
our interests." At a meeting in Cologne, the presidents of Russia and
the United States agreed to hold consultations" on the entire agenda of
the 1972 ABM treaty and the future START-3, he noted. "The possible
parameters" of the latter document were at issue, he added.
Experts are still working at this stage, only consultations are
being held, and there have been no official talks on this subject,
The possible ratification of START-3 is directly linked with the
ratification of START-2, and "the preservation of the ABM treaty in its
present form is a mandatory condition for the continuation of strategic
arms limitation," he said.
Asked about the seizure of a Russian tanker in the Persian Gulf,
Ivanov referred to the problem as "technical." There is "no scandal," he
said, and the Russian stance "was perfectly clear from the very start."
"We support the observation of U.N. Security Council resolution [on
sanctions against Iraq] in all its dimensions," he said.
"There are appropriate bodies that will decide on the origin of the
fuel oil found on board the Russian tanker, and if the Security Council
resolution was violated the receipts from the sale of the confiscated
oil will be directed to the U.N. fund," he said.
Thus from the very start the commercial aspects of the case "were
set aside," Ivanov said. On the Russian side the talks to settle the
conflict were conducted primarily "to guarantee the security of our
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Rightly or wrongly, I never took these elections seriously and
did not any polling this time but decided to wait until afterwards so
that the elections do not cut into the response rate. As such, I have no
data to add to your debate on fraud.
I certainly have my suspicions when the heart of the Yeltsin
support in the Duma--Zhirinovksy and the reformers--both unexpectedly get
just above the 5 percent minimum. However, I would have guessed that
this kind of few percent "adjustment" is more likely than truly
large-scale fraud. Poll data has to be used with care in Russia. A
lot of non-voters say they will vote, and they tend to distribute to
known quantities like Primakov. The Communist voters don't hesitate to
identify now, and the large numbers who blow off pollsters during
elections may go in other directions.
But in general it seems to me that the talk about fraud misses
the real point. Elections are about choice. The New Hampshire voter
may have preferred Dole or Gephardt, but did not have that choice.
The essential assumption in democracy is that the choices emerge fairly
autonomously in response to public moods and forces. This is relatively
true in the US, but even here choices can be skewed. Every industrial
country has comprehensive health care and favors it by 80-90 percent.
The structure of campaign finance and nature of the media has had an
impact. Candidates must include the insurance companies in their plans,
and this drives up the cost so much that the plans really are too expensive.
But still when economic hard times come and health costs really get too
much, some candidate will buck the insurance companies and win.
In Russia, as in many countries, the choice is far more
restricted. In three Duma and two presidential elections, there never
has been an opposition governor running. There has never been a broad
left-center or right-center party like the Democrats or Republicans.
When someone wants to finance such a party, they are told that they must
pay their tax-writeoffs or will get no loans. The media absolutely
distorts the opposition. The Korzhakov memoirs are never cited. He
says that the Communists and everyone else was told that they would not
be allowed to come to power. The public was told that a Communist
victory would lead to civil war--that is, that Yeltsin forces would not
let them come to power. Surely the Yeltsin-Communist "deal" that
brought Putin to "power," the Communists to a strong position in the Duma,
and brought Belarus into the Union must have had this character too.
Most important, the system of non-monetary, state-directed
distribution of goods allows local towns, factories, and farms to be
threatened with the loss of electricity, oil, gas, "loans" if they vote
wrong. The Ivanovo governor in the 1993 referendum spoke all the time
that Yeltsin was the source of cotton, etc., and that if people voted against
his social policy, Ivanovo would be cut off. The economic policy is
more painful for Ivanovo than anyone else, but they still voted
against. Only the black earth area with a surplus of agricultural
production can afford to vote opposition.
As a result, fraud is not all that necessary. The local
collective farm chairmen and local small town mayors are told to pass the
word and to meet the quota. In 1996, the geographers were, in fact,
told to calculate how much each region would be expected to vote for Yeltsin
based on earlier votes, their predictions were closely met, and they were
thanked on television on election night. (Peter Craumer is the person to
write about this.) If the population doesn't get the message, I assume
that they adjust the count, but my guess is that they usually don't have
to do so by much.
What has been maddening about so many political scientists
writing about democracy in Russia is that the structuring of choice has
not been included in their definition of democracy. One assumes that this
year is so raw that even the worst offenders will come around. If
Borodin's boss joins him on the Russian-Belarus Council after the
"election," I hope that this will add to the cynicism--that is, realism.
It has been very sad that so many young political scientists and
economists have just mouthed the orthodoxy of Chubais and/or the
"democrats." Russia is one of the great case studies of the character
of early democracy and early markets and the reasons that institutions do
not work as they are supposed to. Those who have teethed on it for ten
years have a wealth of knowledge. As someone who had a good predictive
record from 1978 to 1988 but an absolutely terrible one in 1990-1991, I
would say that one can survive bad predictions. There is a difference
between scholarship and astrology (prediction). If young scholars begin
looking at Russia in comparative perspective--that is, spend a lot of time
researching and teaching about the experience of other early democracies,
early federalisms, and early markets, they will find that Russia will
look differently and that they will be able to discuss Russia without
either apologetics or mea culpas.
Andrei Sogrin suggests that turnout may fall beneath 50
percent. It certainly would be under 50 percent in a normal election.
But half the population lives in cities of under 80,000. My prediction
is that officials will get the turnout one way or another. There's a
lot of people getting a lot of subsidies at work, in housing, in
utilities. A quiet threat that if you haven't voted, don't come to us
will do wonders, and a stern "vote for Putin" will leave them wondering
if the ballot is really secret.
WEST MUST SUPPORT RUSSIA'S EFFORTS AGAINST EXTREMISM - PUTIN
MOSCOW. Feb 8 (Interfax) - The West should be interested in
supporting Russia's struggle against terrorism and extremism, acting
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.
"It is not just a question of Chechnya," Putin said during a Monday
evening interview with Russia's ORT television. Chechnya is only a part
of extremist plans for dividing the world, noting the armed conflict in
Tajikistan in the 1990s, last year's invasion of Kyrgyzstan by extremist
groups and attacks by Chechen militants on Dagestan.
Attempts on the lives of the Georgian and Uzbek Presidents Eduard
Shevardnadze and Islam Karimov were organized by Chechen extremists,
Putin charged, adding that support for Russia's efforts against
extremism is also in the West's interests.
Putin confirmed Russia's alliance with Belarus and preparedness to
defend it if the need arises. Protecting Belarus is protecting Russia's
own national interests, he said.
Asked who Russia's allies around the world are, Putin named among
them the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, many
European nations and "everyone who shares the idea of a multi-polar
RFE/RL Newsline, 2/8/00
PUTIN: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY? "Novoe vremya" reported
in its February issue (no. 5) that acting President Putin
remains a mystery for both Russian and foreign political
analysts. It argues that Putin is best understood not in
terms of his professional biography since he was a "nobody"
in the KGB. Rather, Putin's intellectual framework is closest
to former Soviet leader Yurii Andropov. The publication cites
the striking similarity between an article by Andropov in the
journal "Kommunist" near the "beginning of his rule" and
Putin's more recent explanation of the "credo proposed to
Russia by the pro-Kremlin movement Unity." Andropov's article
appealed for the Soviet people "to try to look around and try
to understand where we are," while Putin suggested that
Unity's basic aim is to achieve Russia's "national revival."
The New York Times
February 8, 2000
Russia's Empty Victory
The year may be 2000, but Grozny could easily be mistaken for the smoking
rubble of a European city circa 1945. Russian forces, using the blunt weapons
of World War II, have shelled and bombed the Chechen capital into an
uninhabitable hell, a city so devastated that it will most likely be
abandoned by the Chechens who long called it home and by the Russians who now
cruelly declare that it has been "liberated." For a world that has watched
the Russian military offensive with revulsion, the Russian tricolor flag that
now flies over Grozny seems a symbol of shame.
It did not have to be this way. When Chechen fighters raided the neighboring
Russian region of Dagestan last summer, Moscow justifiably used military
force to repel them and talked of carving out a buffer zone within Chechnya.
After bombings last fall in Moscow and other cities for which Russian
authorities blamed Chechen separatists, Russian security forces set out to
hunt down suspected terrorists, a reasonable response. The Kremlin at one
point said it would work with moderate Chechen leaders to strengthen the
uneasy peace that followed the 1994-1996 conflict between the rebels and
Russia, a peace that gave Chechnya near-autonomy.
But it is clear that preventing Chechen terrorism was never the Kremlin's
primary purpose, and these moderate approaches were soon overtaken by a war
strategy. The central aims were to avenge Russia's military defeat in 1996
and to lift the political fortunes of Vladimir Putin, the prime minister who
became acting president when Boris Yeltsin resigned on Dec. 31. Both goals
have been achieved, at a heavy cost in blood and principle.
Russia's generals have demonstrated that a scorched-earth campaign can drive
guerrillas into the hills, demolish a sizable city and kill thousands of
civilians trapped in the combat zone. More than 200,000 Chechens who were
lucky enough to survive have fled Chechnya. Many of Russia's sons were also
sacrificed. Since October more than 1,000 Russian soldiers have lost their
lives in Chechnya, and almost 3,400 have been wounded there.
Mr. Putin, for his part, has exploited public support for the war to make
himself the leading contender in presidential elections next month. Few
Russian politicians have summoned the courage to question the carnage in
Chechnya and the damage it has done to democratic values in Russia. Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright was right to challenge Mr. Putin on the war
during her recent visit to Moscow. An end to combat in Grozny should not
bring an end to American criticism.
The best that can now be hoped is that Russia will let international aid
organizations provide humanitarian relief to Chechen civilians, and will make
good on its 1996 promise to help rebuild the shattered ethnic enclave. Moscow
will be fortunate if the war does not produce retaliatory terrorist attacks.
Many Russians seem to think the capture of Grozny is cause for celebration.
Mr. Putin does his countrymen no favor by encouraging that misguided
8 February, 2000, 15:13
The Central Election Commission chairman stated that the elections to the
Russia's State Duma could have been partially forged
Chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Russia Alexander
Vyeshnyakov stated that «results of the December election to the State Duma
should be checked additionally in several regions of Russia due to possible
violations.» He also said that the CEC commission is going to check
Tatarstan, Stavropol region, St.Petersburg and Saratov region.
So Veshnyakov practically partially agreed with Gennady Zyuganov's (chairman
of the Communist Party of Russia's Central Committee) statement about the
mechanism of forging existing in several Russia's regions. Zyuganov's and
Vyeshnyakov's lists of these regions are different, though. Both lists
include two subjects of the Federation - republic of Tatarstan and Saratov
"SEGODNYA" FOLLOWS UP ON RUMORS OF TAILORING THE CONSTITUTION TO SUIT PUTIN'S
Quoting certain unnamed "sources close to the Kremlin Administration", the
"Segodnya" paper follows up on the rumor that draft amendments of the
Constitution have been prepared in the Administration, prolonging the Russian
President's term of office up to seven years. That is, the maximum time a
single person can remain President will be 2 times 7 = 14 years. The
"sources" attribute the authorship of the idea to Vladimir Putin personally.
The paper says that the comments on this story given in the apparatus of the
head of state are "cautious": essentially, there are no comments at all.
"Regarding the Constitution, the Acting President has not in a single speech
called it imperfect or spoken in favor of amending it", a Presidential
Administration representative told the paper's reporter. "Segodnya" bases its
conclusion about the possibility of lobbying the hypothetical constitutional
amendments through both parliamentary chambers on the structure of state
power being developed by Putin, who prefers to promote obscure people "from
the shadows", pushing political "heavyweights" aside. An eloquent example of
this cited by the paper is the Duma, which has entered "an era of total
unknowns getting to the political Olympus".
Comment: To sum up, the paper has failed to think up anything new in a whole
week, but the paranoid insistence with which "Segodnya" speaks of possible
constitutional amendments prolonging the President's term cannot fail to put
one on one's guard. Especially as, this time, the paper has not given a
single fact to support its guesses, not even a single "indirect indication".
Nevertheless, the idea itself of structuring a country's Principal Law to fit
that country's Number One is quite appropriate to the logic of any power
structure. Yeltsin tailored the 1993 Constitution to suit his own needs -
what's to prevent Putin from trying to do the same? Unfortunately, all this
is nothing but guesswork so far. But, for some reason, the paper has stumbled
over it. Or is it just the first act of a "ballet" staged by the
"choreographers" from Media-Most?
"Segodnya": A Term Has Been Measured off for Putin
SMI.RU: The President Must Be President for a Long Time?
ON THE U.S. "IRON LADY" AND GRIGORY YAVLINSKY
The "Noviye Izvestiya" paper comments on the meeting between Madeleine
Allbright and the leader of the "Yabloko" ("Apple") party, Grigory Yavlinsky.
For some reason, the material is published as late as Saturday, February 5,
although the meeting itself took place many days ago. The conclusion made by
the paper is rather unexpected: "Washington no longer regards either the
Communists or the "New Rightists" as a force really influencing Russian
politics. It is to 'Yabloko' that the U.S. assigns this part".
Comment: Yavlinsky is the only first-rank politician who conscientiously
sacrificed his ratings on the eve of the Duma election and spoke against the
war in Chechnya. He never tired of explaining his position on the issue, the
position of a politician guided solely by the interests of the State, one who
wanted to stop terrorism, but by constitutional means only: "a war can be won
by force, but peace cannot be established by force". "Yabloko" lost a
considerable part of its voters over this, but it remained true to its
opinion. After the election, one could hear a lot of voices expressing
solidarity with Yavlinsky. But that was after the election. The Americans
seem to believe, and not without good reason either, that the voice of
Yavlinsky, always articulating ideas opposed to the status quo, will be heard
for a long time to come - and this will be certainly useful for the U.S. in
playing out its political combinations.
"Yabloko": Debate between Grigory Yavlinsky and Anatoly Chubais on Chechnya
Interfax - Vremya No. 6
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
WHAT PRESIDENT DO WE NEED?
Brains and Uprightness Vs. Ideology
The future Russian president must above all have brains and
intellect, say 66% of the Russian people, or 6% more than before
the 1996 presidential elections, the National Public Opinion
Research Centre (VTsIOM) told Interfax.
The respondents were offered five variants of answers.
As many as 63% chose honesty and uprightness (57% in 1996),
48% chose political experience (49%), 38% chose strong will
(34%), and 37% chose economic experience (38%).
A total of 31% of the respondents think the president must
have the talent of listening to others and accepting compromises
(30%), while 29% want him to have the leader traits (30%), and
20% think he should be a cultured, educated person.
Nineteen percent think selflessness is a vital trait for a
president (18%), while 17% opted for a balanced, tranquil nature
(20%), 8% think ideological convictions are vital (13%), and 5%
want the president to be charming (7%).
One percent chose other qualities (1%) and 2% could not
answer this question at all (5%).
It would be interesting to compare these answers with the
people's choice of party candidates to the State Duma in December
1999. It turned out that the supporters of the Union of Right
Forces (SPS) mostly opt for brains, intellect, honesty and
uprightness, while only a few of Zhirinovsky bloc's electorate
think the same.
Yabloko supporters think political experience is vital,
while the SPS voters disagree. Strong will was the choice of
Zhirinovsky bloc's electorate, while few Fatherland-All Russia
(OVR) voters think the same.
The OVR voters think economic experience is the most
important trait, while the Zhirinovsky electorate think nothing
of it. The ability to listen to others and accept compromises is
supported by mostly the SPS, and only by a few OVR, voters. The
Zhirinovsky electorate want the president to be the leader, while
the KPRF voters don't need such president. Instead, they want a
selfless president, with which few SPS agree.
A balanced and tranquil nature is valued by mostly the
Yabloko electorate, while the KPRF and Zhirinovsky's voters do
not regard it as a must. On the other hand, the Zhirinovsky and
KPRF electorate uphold ideological convictions, while the Yabloko
voters don't think they are vital. They think personal charm is
very important, but the Zhirinovsky and KPRF voters disagree.
These are the results of a representative poll of 1,600
adult citizens of the Russian Federation on January 24, as
compared to a similar VTsIOM poll held before the 1996
presidential elections. The probable statistic error does not
...But Stop the Chechen War
Most Russians (56%) want the future president to end the
Chechen war and this is what they would vote for during the
elections, VTsIOM told Interfax following a poll of 1,600
respondents on January 21-24. The respondents, aged over 18, live
in 83 settlements in 31 regions of Russia. The probable statistic
error does not exceed 4%.
Speaking about other tasks of the future president, 55% of
the respondents said he must regain the status of a great power
for Russia. He must also ensure law and order (54%) and a fair
distribution of incomes in the interests of all (43%), repay the
money which the people lost as a result of the reforms (38%), and
strengthen the role of the state in the economy (37%).
The president must carry on the reforms, but pay more
attention to the social protection of the population, say 35% of
the respondents. Twelve percent think he must keep Russia on the
Ten percent of the respondents think the president must
pursue a policy designed to ensure the reunification of Russia
with the republics of the former Soviet Union, while 8% think he
must work for rapprochement with the West, and 2% suggested other
priority tasks for the future president.
The respondents could choose several variants from the list,
and hence the total sum exceed 100%.
Kommersant - Vlast No. 4
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
PUBLIC OPINION POLL REVEALS PEOPLE'S ATTITUDE TO PARTIES AND POLITICIANS
I. How did your attitude to politicians change after the
conflict in the State Duma? (%)
It slightly improved 7 8.4
It improved considerably 3.1 2.3
It slightly worsened 7.1 11.9
It worsened considerably 6.5 9.7
It did not change 56.6 48.5
I'm not interested
in this 8.4 8.4
I don't know 11.3 10.8
It slightly improved 6.4 5.7
It improved considerably 2.6 2.1
It slightly worsened 14.3 12.6
It worsened considerably 9.1 11.5
It did not change 51.5 48.1
I'm not interested
in this 6.7 9.3
I don't know 9.4 10.7
II. How do you perceive the refusal by the OVR, Yabloko and
the Union of Right Forces factions to participate in the voting
on the election of the State Duma chairman? (%)
1. Deputies' routine work --- 25.2%
2. Shameful flight by
loser parties and
movements --- 32.1%
3. Fair protest against
collusion of the KPRF
and Unity --- 14.7%
4. I'm not interested in this --- 10.6%
5. I don't know --- 17.4%
The poll was carried out by ROMIR on January 22-23 and
involved 1,500 respondents in 94 populated settlements in 40
constituent members of the Russian Federation.
Putin 'in denial' over Chechnya, may move on ABM revision: Albright
WASHINGTON, Feb 8 (AFP) -
Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin is "in denial" over Chechnya, but has
however shown signs he might agree to amendments to the key ABM defense
treaty, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Tuesday.
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee concerning the
proposed fiscal 2001 foreign operations budget, Albright said that during her
recent meeting with Putin in Moscow, she had found him to be "a mixed bag."
"There are certain parts about him that I see as being very pragmatic and
problem-solving and other cases (in which) I think I found him in denial,"
she said. "Chechnya is one of those cases."
Albright's three-hour meeting with Putin on February 2 was the first such
encounter between the acting president and a senior US official since Putin
took office, replacing Boris Yeltsin, on New Year's Eve.
The United States has expressed deep concerns over Russia's ongoing offensive
in the breakaway province of Chechnya since the campaign began last fall. It
has condemned the loss of life and suffering caused to civilian populations
and has urged Moscow to enter into a dialogue with Chechen leaders.
At the same time, Washington has stressed that it respects Russian
sovereignty over Chechnya and understands Moscow's concerns about terrorism.
The Russian government has blamed Chechen terrorists for a series of deadly
apartment building explosions last year.
But Albright told the lawmakers that she, along with the other members of
President Bill Clinton's administration, believed the onslaught against
Chechnya was not the right way to tackle the problem, which had its roots in
the Chechens' fierce desire for independence.
"I think that the Russians have decided for their own reasons that they have
to take Chechnya -- from their perspective, liberate it," Albright said,
adding "I don't agree with that ... They see it all in terms of terrorism,
which it is not."
She added that she believed the Russians, faced with continuing heavy
fighting and escalating casualties among their troops, would eventually move
to a position where a dialogue with the Chechen leadership might be possible,
but not in the near future.
"The war will go on," she said, rejecting Russian claims that their capture
of the Chechen capital Grozny late last week would bring a quick end to the
"I think ultimately they (the Russians) see a political dialogue -- but not
at any pace that we're looking at, at their own pace," Albright said.
On possible amendments to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which
Washington has proposed in order to allow for the creation of a National
Missile Defense system, Albright said that although Putin had expressed
opposition to the proposal that the treaty could be amended, he had not
categorically rejected the idea.
"I did not find him in a total 'Nyet' mode," she said, using the Russian word
The United States is interested in creating a missile defense system in order
to counter the threat from long-range missiles which it believes could be
fired by so-called 'rogue states', but Russia has been strongly opposed.
Albright said Putin did not deny the existence of the 'rogue state' threat
and she believed he understood that there "needed to be a way to deal with
February 9, 2000
Child Death Rates Reach 60,000 in '99
By Oksana Yablokova
According to pediatricians, nearly 60,000 Russian children died last year,
the combined result of high rates of infant mortality, birth defects and
The number could have been much lower, doctors say, if children had timely
access to proper medical care.
Even though the mortality rate among Russians age 17 and younger is growing
less dramatically than that of the country's adult population, facts like the
1999 statistics are reason for concern, said Professor Alexander Baranov,
head of the Russian Pediatrician's Union, which met this week in Moscow for
its sixth annual congress.
"For Russia, the problem [of the high number of children's deaths] is
especially acute, because we have a sharp decline in the overall population
that makes the life of each child more valuable than it is in other
countries, like China, for example," Baranov said Monday.
With deaths outnumbering births and immigration to Russia decreasing, the
country's already shrinking population took its largest-ever post-Soviet
plunge in 1999, dropping by 0.49 percent or 716,900.
Baranov said that of the total number of children's deaths, infant mortality
- death that occurs during the first year of life - accounts for some 30
percent; accidents, including outdoor injuries and poisoning, account for
another 30 percent. The remaining 40 percent, he said, include a number of
causes ranging from teenage suicide and drug abuse to illnesses,
misdiagnoses, medical negligence and murder.
Statistics also vary from region to region, with more deaths registered in
the North Caucasus region and the remote Siberian regions of Altai and Tuva,
Nikolai Vaganov, chief doctor at Russia's biggest pediatric medical center,
the Republican Children's Hospital located in Moscow, said prenatal disease,
birth defects and accidents top the list of causes of children's mortality in
"Those are the three main causes weakening our country's population
potential," said Vaganov, who together with some 2,000 other pediatricians
from throughout Russia attended this week's four-day congress, dedicated this
year to examining emergency care for children.
Vaganov said the number of infants who die in the first weeks of life is
relatively high in Russia because fewer women have access to prenatal care
here than in the West.
The number of infants and older children dying from birth defects could also
be lowered if adequate treatment was made available in cities across Russia
and not only in Moscow.
Thousands of Russian parents are forced to travel with their sick children to
the capital city, which is often the only place in the country where advanced
treatment for birth defects can be found, he added.
Medical treatment - including even the most expensive and sophisticated
surgical procedures - remain free in Russia, but waiting lines can last
months and years, and children often die before their turn arrives.
"Every year in Russia, 6,500 babies are born with heart defects, most of them
requiring surgery," Vaganov said. "Meanwhile, last year, only some 300
children actually underwent surgery."
Another leading cause of deaths, accidents, typically occur in children over
5, the age when many children begin being left by themselves, Vaganov said.
Baranov said the number of children who die at home without receiving medical
care has doubled over the past five years, adding that such deaths occur when
doctors make bad diagnoses or fail to insist upon hospitalization, thinking
their young patients' symptoms are not sufficiently serious.
The fact that parents often avoid calling for medical help - mistaking
serious illnesses for simple colds - also contributes to the problem, Baranov
Flyura Akhmerova, who traveled to the congress from Naberezhniye Chelny in
Tatarstan, where she has been treating children for more than 45 years, said
the worst problem she and her colleagues face in their work is the lack of
proper diagnostic equipment.
"Modern equipment is basically all we need to be able to treat children and
feel confident that we are doing everything right," Akhmerova said.
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