This Date's Issues: 4101
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11 February 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-Tass: Poll Says About 60 Percent of Russians Believers.
2. Reuters: Sebastian Alison, Russian land reform no simple task.
3. Interfax: PM DOESN'T NEED TOUGH ELECTION CAMPAIGN - UES CHIEF.(Chubais)
4. The Moscow Tribune: John Helmer, ATTACK OF THE KILLER BEES. Bury the cash to save it.
5. Summary of Public Russian Television (ORT) Sergey Dorenko’s
program February 5, 2000.
6. Eurasia Foundation: New "Eurasia Partners" Listserve.
7. gazeta.ru: Interview with Andrey Babitsky's wife.
8. Robert Donaldson: Beeston's Exaggerated Alarms/4100.
9. Moscow Times: Matt Bivens, Putin Leads 'Petersburg Emigration'
10. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Primakov Voters May Back Yavlinskiy for
11. The Times (UK): Giles Whittell, Putting a human face on KGB
12. APN: Nature does not abhor a vacuum. (re Putin's PM)
13. Moscow Times: Brian Humphreys, Chubais Defends His Record as
Poll Says About 60 Percent of Russians Believers
MOSCOW, February 9 (Itar-Tass) - About 60 per cent
of residents of Russia consider themselves to be believers. This
follows from the results of a public opinion poll, conducted by the
ROMIR independent research centre, which were submitted to Tass.
According to the results of the public opinion poll, 60.1 per cent of
Russian residents profess this or that religion, while 26.9 per cent
say they are non-believers. 4.4 per cent are staunch atheists, and 8.6
per cent have not formed an opinion on the problem.
In the opinion of 55 per cent of the polled, religion gives adequate
answers to questions connected with morals. 23 per cent do not think
so, and 22 per cent failed to answer the question.
Some 42 per cent of the polled think, that religion gives adequate
answers to questions connected with family relations. 34.7 per cent of
the polled are of a different opinion, and 22.9 per cent of the polled
found it difficult to answer the question.
The smallest percentage of the polled are inclined to believe that
religion can give answers to questions on social problems facing
Russia. Only 17.7 per cent think that religion can provide such an
opportunity. 53.1 per cent of the polled are of a different opinion,
and 29.2 per cent have no opinion on the problem.
Responding to the question on whether or not a baby should be
baptized soon after birth, 67 per cent of the polled answered in the
affirmative and 22.4 per cent answered in the negative. 13.5 per cent
of the polled did not give any answer at all. 46.3 per cent of the
polled believe that a wedding ceremony should be held in church. For
40.2 per cent of the polled church wedding is not important, and 13.5
per cent did not give any answer at all. 69.2 per cent of the polled
attach much importance to church funeral, while for 18.6 per cent of
the polled it is not important. 12.2 per cent found it difficult to
answer the question.
ROMIR conducted the public opinion poll according to a representative
selection principle in 41 subjects of the federation. 2,000 people were
ANALYSIS-Russian land reform no simple task
By Sebastian Alison
MOSCOW, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Russian Acting President Vladimir Putin is willing
to tackle land reform head on, but economic analysts see a tough battle ahead
over one of the country's most intractable and bitterly disputed issues.
Putin has said he may call a referendum on allowing private land ownership, a
right which ordinary Russians have never had.
"It must not just be a closed circle which decides this issue," he said on
Wednesday, adding that it was "fully possible" he would hold a referendum
after the March 26 presidential election.
He had said in a phone-in with readers of a newspaper that he was most
concerned with agricultural land and "farmers should not have any fears that
someone could take away their land."
Economist Roland Nash of Renaissance Capital brokerage in Moscow said land
reform was the most symbolic act Putin could undertake on coming into power.
"Since 1861 it's been tried and generally failed by just about every Russian
leader," he said. "Putin is sending a signal that he wants to change the
Only a small elite of private citizens owned land in tsarist times. Until
1861 they owned not only the land, but also the serfs who worked it.
Emancipation of the serfs in 1861 was not accompanied by land reform, so
although they had a degree of freedom, they had no right to own land and
became effectively indentured labourers rather than chattels.
BOLSHEVIKS NATIONALISED LAND
After the 1917 Bolshevik revolution all land became the property of the state
-- a position that deputies from the Communist and Agrarian parties in the
State Duma lower house of parliament want to see retained.
This will lead to lengthy political wrangling, Andrei Sizov of agricultural
consultancy SovEcon said.
"I think (Putin-backed Duma party) Yedinstvo and the Communists will argue
over this, because the Communist Party will never allow the land code, they
will always be against it."
He added that the smaller Agrarian party was even more vehemently opposed to
land ownership, as this was its only real platform and without it "they would
lose their very meaning."
Sizov said in theory the right to own land already existed.
"Why there should be a referendum is not clear, because the right to private
land ownership is already guaranteed by the constitution," he said, though in
practice ownership is limited to small plots for building houses and growing
Nash said there would be three advantages from introducing real private
ownership of agricultural land.
"It would have a symbolic benefit, it would have a benefit on agriculture,
and finally it would have a benefit on foreign investment, because you're
going to feel more comfortable about investing into a country if you know you
own the land."
Sizov agreed that investment would be boosted.
"Land could then become a form of collateral, so a bank could lend funds and
give seasonal credits, and that's what we don't have now. At the moment there
are no alternative financial resources except those that come from the
RUSSIAN FARMS LACK CASH
State farm funding is woefully inadequate, with shortages of fuel, seeds,
fertilisers and other inputs a regular problem.
So bad have things become that the country suffered its worst grain harvest
in over 40 years, 47.8 million tonnes, in 1998, and was forced to ask the
United States and the European Union for aid to tide it through the crisis.
This was followed by another poor harvest, 54.7 million tonnes, last year,
and Russia is still awaiting a decision from the U.S. on a second consecutive
request for aid.
By contrast, the three percent of land which was privately owned in the form
of small plots in 1998 produced 46 percent of the country's food.
But Sizov said this was misleading, as small farmers raised, for example,
cows or hens on these plots, while the grain to feed them came from state
farms, making it hard to establish a true breakdown on where the food was
PM DOESN'T NEED TOUGH ELECTION CAMPAIGN - UES CHIEF
MOSCOW. Feb 10 (Interfax) - Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin
does not need to conduct a laborious election campaign, board chairman
of Russian Unified Energy Systems (UES) Anatoly Chubais has said.
"I do not think that extraordinary efforts are needed to this end,"
he said at a Thursday news conference at the Interfax main office.
Chubais, who was instrumental in the reelection of President Boris
Yeltsin, said he is not planning to join Putin's election headquarters.
The exchange of Radio Liberty reporter Andrei Babitsky was "an
indisputable and definite mistake of the authorities," Chubais said.
"I cannot say at what level the decision was made, but there is no
doubt that in its essence and in its political consequences it was bad
for Putin, among others," he said. Chubais said he is sure that "the
situation will be settled."
Chubais said he has known Putin for a long time and "nothing
revolutionary has happened that would have changed my personal attitude
Commenting on the appointment of Leonid Melamed to the post of
first deputy chairman of UES, Chubais said he disagreed with the opinion
that the appointment was the result of lobbying by Duma member Boris
"Berezovsky is omnipresent, but not to that extent," he said,
adding that they had not discussed the matter with Berezovsky.
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Helmer)
The Moscow Tribune, February 11
ATTACK OF THE KILLER BEES
Bury the cash to save it
By John Helmer
The community of bees is a very orderly thing.
Bees know how to respect leadership, delegate responsibility, work hard,
build efficiently, sacrifice for the greater good. The hive has its supreme
authority, the queen-bee; its technical specialists; its worker-bees. For
centuries mankind has admired the hive, and, although unfashionable now,
philosophers have thought of it as a model for human governance.
Killer-bees are something different. They grow fat by attacking the
hives, and exploiting the vulnerability which orderliness and predictability
give to ordinary bees. When they smell honey, killer-bees massacre their
All societies have their hive stages, and their killer-bee attacks.
You might say that for the past decade Russia has suffered one attack after
another of killer-bees. You might even say that Russia was ruled by
killer-bees. But if the new governance of the country means what it says
about orderliness and security, it will have get rid of them.
For all that has been said about the rouble crash, and the financial crisis
that followed, it was not the end of the killer-bees. Not by a long shot.
All that happened was that devaluation replaced one swarm by another that is
just as aggressive. The outcome can be easily observed at the hives of
industry. At the steelmills and aluminium smelters, the oil and gas wells,
the precious metal and diamond mines, what happened was this. Cheaper
roubles have lowered the cost of production in relation to the dollar value
of output. Rising international prices for steel, aluminium, nickel, copper,
oil, gas, platinum, and diamonds have boosted the revenues of their Russian
producers and exporters. For the first time in their short histories as
private enterprises, these companies found they were generating cash
surpluses. Better than that, they were amassing colossal mountains of cash,
instead of pyramids of debt.
That cash has been like honey to the bees, except that in the normal
bee kingdom, it would be properly stocked, cultivated, invested. In
Russia, the new cash has attracted a new mutation of killer-bees. They
are now attacking the managements of any company they can find that
has cash. The evidence is in the lock-ins and lock-outs, the court-appointed
management takeovers, and all the litigation you can find over who owns
what, or who controls cashflow.
Mostly, these attacks are between Russians. Sometimes, they are between
Russians and foreigners. This week, one of the most important state
officials in charge of the honey declared himself on the side of the
In December Valery Rudakov was appointed chief of the Gokhran, the state
agency which manages Russia's stockpiles of diamonds and precious metals.
Rudakov, a mining expert from a family of miners, is one of the most
experienced administrators in this industry, having worked his
way up the old diamond mining administration in Yakutia to become
head of the Soviet gold and diamond agency. After the collapse, he was the
founding president of Almazy Rossii-Sakha (Alrosa), Russia's diamond miner.
Rudakov has been a worker-bee; he has been a queen-bee. Respect for his
education, wit, and honesty is universal. Compared to his immediate
predecessor, he knows how to speak properly. Compared to the predecessor
before that, he knows how to act properly.
So it wasn't carelessness when Rudakov announced this week that he is
"categorically opposed" to any foreign company mining diamonds in Russia. He
dismissed foreign mining investment in Russian gold, claiming that not a
single gram has been raised by foreigners at such well-known deposits as
Sukhoi Log and Nezhdaninskoye. He didn't mention platinum and
palladium, but no doubt Rudakov would say, if asked, that that
should be the monopoly business of Norilsk Nickel. And why stop there?
If Russian skill is "inferior to nobody", as Rudakov suggested, why
not bar foreign investment in any and all of the metals and minerals,
including oil and gas?
It's a strangely contradictory position for Rudakov. In his private
business, he represented a Russian company, quite a cash-rich one,
which tried to interest every major gold-mining company in the world
to develop a deposit which Rudakov could find neither local expertise,
nor cash, to develop. At the helm of Alrosa, Rudakov didn't think
it amiss to promote his company to develop diamond deposits in North
America and Southern Africa.
Rudakov never thought a foreign mining company should develop Sukhoi
Log, but there is no Russian mining company that claims to have the
investment funds to do so, or the willingness to risk funds for the
length of time required for payback. What Rudakov omitted to mention
was whether he thinks it right for Sukhoi Log to be given to anyone
with the local influence and connections to seize the licence -- in short, to
And who is foreign, and who is Russian any more? Rudakov knows the
great capital of Russia is offshore in foreign companies, controlled by
Russians, but withheld from Russia, because the rates of return
are higher or safer or less heavily taxed elsewhere. What kind of bee
makes calculations like that? Does nationality matter?
Rudakov tried to cast his vision of the future of Russia in simple terms.
Either Russians develop the resources, or they should stay in the ground.
There, he implies, is where they will be safe for the hive -- secure
from the killer-bees.
There is no mistaking the equation. The foreigners are the killer-bees,
lured by Russian cash.
After a decade of being victimized, Russian state interests demand deserve
protection from killer-bees. But Rudakov's version is nonsense. It is
also a pity that one of the most civilized men in
Russia made such a mistake, and chose to do so, of all places, on the
property of the man most Russians consider the most notorious killer-bee of
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2000 19:37:41 -0500
From: Olga Kryazheva <email@example.com>
Subject: Dorenko's program
Public Russian Television (ORT)
Sergey Dorenko’s Program
Saturday, February 5, 2000
Olga Kryazheva, Research Assistant
Center for Defense Information
“There are some good warriors among the enemy, but we are better,” one of
the Russian soldiers in Chechnya stated. Dorenko noted that this soldier
would not allow the enemy to humiliate his army and his country. Russia is
proud to have soldiers like this. Dorenko reported from the Minutka Square
in Grozny where Russian military was concluding its attacks in the region.
He introduced General Kazantsev’s plan and said that the war in Chechnya
would not be over until the terrorists’ nest was completely destroyed.
Soldiers want to kill every single fighter and will fight until absolute
victory. They want to complete the war that was not completed in 1994-96.
Russian guerilla forces informed ORT staff that there were a lot of
mercenaries from Russia, Baltic region, former Soviet republics, and Middle
East among Chechen fighters. Some soldiers pointed out that every single
one of the mercenaries was being executed, unlike most Chechens who were
taken as prisoners.
Dorenko emphasized the importance of remembering those who died in this
war, heroes of Russia.
General Kazantsev noted that the most important part of the war was finding
and uncovering Chechen leaders like Shamil Basayev. A. Gusak was one of
those few FSB agents who were involved in such operations in Afghanistan
and later Chechnya. When FSB officials ordered him to kidnap and kill
people the officer did not follow the orders, FSB started to blackmail him.
He was uncovered as an FSB agent to the criminals, and later arrested.
People who worked with him were tortured and threatened in order to give
false evidence against Gusak. According to Dorenko, FSB official N. Kovalev
and Moscow’s mayor S. Luzhkov head the hunting on such FSB agents. Dorenko
introduced A. Litvienko’s case, another example of Luzhkov’s hunting of FSB
Dorenko informed the audience that Russian tanker Volgoneft-147 detained by
the U.S. military had been moved to the port Maskhad in Oman. No
information about tanker’ cargo was received. According to Russian
officials, the tanker was transporting Iranian black oil to Saudi Arabia.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov demanded the release of
Volgoneft-147. ORT reporters noted that the U.S. government closes its eyes
on oil trade between Iraq and Turkey, however it stopped Russian tanker
basing its actions on the trade embargo with Iraq. Dorenko stated that
according to international law the U.S. actions were legitimate, although
dictated by the U.S. economic interest in this region. Russia has a few
prospects for Russia-Iraq oil trade, and Russian officials intend to be in
Iraq the day the embargo ends. The U.S. has the same projects and tries to
keep Russia away from the region.
Dorenko summarized ORT surveys’ statistics on future presidential
elections. On the question “Who will be the president in the elections if
they are to take place today?” 53% named Putin (54% last week); Zyuganov
gathered 14 % (same results for the past three weeks), Primakov 6 %,
Zhirinovsky 4 %, Yavlinsky 3 %, Tuleyev 2%; Lebed and Titov gathered 1%
each. Primakov officially informed the media about his decision not to run
for the presidency.
In the segment “Words Above Deeds” Dorenko expressed his doubts that
Luzhkov would finish his term as mayor of Moscow. He noted that Moscow
residents started the campaign in support of Luzhkov’s resignation. The
campaign started in Butovo, one of the small Moscow districts, where the
construction of high voltage transmission lines had recently begun by
Luzhkov’s order. The residents of Butovo state that construction breaks all
medical and environmental norms and regulations and causes leukemia and
other oncologic diseases. According to ORT statistics, in the nearby region
where the same high voltage transmission line is located 17 cases of
teenage cancer had been registered. Moscow residents stated that it was not
Luzhkov’s first action to violate human rights. They also protested against
the mayor’s involvement in Russia’s internal affairs and intention to
provide Chechen refugees with new apartments in Moscow.
The last week’s episode about cheap labor of Moscow’s non-residents made
the Russian militia take immediate actions. The construction sites
introduced in the last program where non-residents were used as slaves had
been closed during the past week. “Slaves” were gathered and expelled from
Moscow. S. Luzhkov offered to design special signs for registered Moscow
non-residents so Moscow authorities could identify them. Dorenko commented
that this measure had already been used in Fascist Germany in the beginning
of the thirties.
From: Molly Rushefsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: New "Eurasia Partners" Listserve
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000
New "Eurasia Partners" Listserve
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From: "Kirill Bessonov" <email@example.com>
Subject: Interview with Andrey Babitsky's wife
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000
Please find enclosed an article with an exclusive interview that Andrey
Babitsky`s wife, Ludmila Babitskaya gave to Gazeta.Ru on Wednesday. Those of
your readers who are interested in Russian original text can find it on
Babitsky`s wife: My children and I are outcasts.
The journalist Andrei Babitsky, whose name has now become known throughout
the world, lives in a small two room flat in a concrete apartment block in
the gloomy district of Vykhino on the eastern edge of Moscow. Andrei's wife
and three daughters, aged from 3 to 18, and his wife's younger sister, who
is studying journalism, were happily living together with him. But all that
changed on January 16th, when, for the first time in five years, Andrei
failed to get in touch with them. His wife Ludmila has told Gazeta.Ru about
- He never usually appears in my dreams, but that night I had a real
nightmare. There was some strange stairway and people in balaclavas were
dragging Andrei down it. They were dragging him by the shoulders, collar and
hair. I was trying to save him, to tear him away from those vile hands, I
screamed and my scream woke me up. And, you won't believe me, last night I
also hardly slept after seeing 'Glas Naroda' ('Vox Populi'), I was gripped
with horror. Again something terrible was happening to Andrei. I woke up at
around 4 a.m. trembling with fear. My whole body was numb - I could not
move. Then the phone rang. It was Mario Corti. "There is a video with
Andrei, - he said, - NTV will show it at 6 a.m."
We are sitting in the Babitsky's tiny kitchen and while a CNN crew set up
their equipment, Liudmila has time to drink another cup of coffee. She
consumes loads of it and chain smokes.
- Don't write that I started smoking, my mother might read it and it would
upset her. Well, such trifles don't matter now.
She's small with the looks of a teenager. She tries to pull herself
together. Her nights are filled with horror, but during the day she has to
fight for Andrei, take care of the children and talk to journalists.
- I saw the video at six, at eight and at ten. I realized that it was
Andrei, but I could not recognize my husband. His nose and lips were
swollen. Even his voice was swollen. O God, I am tired of suspecting
everyone and everything. But the story with the video still seems strange to
me. Who are the people that brought it (to Moscow-ed.) and was it really
filmed on February 6th? And the main thing - where is my Andrei?
- I was so against this last trip of his! Three days before the New Year. I
begged him to stay so at last we could spend New Year's Eve together. But
who can stop Andrei? He had a presentiment that Grozny would be stormed, but
no one from Radio Liberty was there. I helped him pack. Because Andrei is
very disorganized, he is especially careless with his papers, I myself put
in his wallet the Foreign Ministry accreditation and that ill-fated document
with signatures and stamps of field commanders saying that no harm would
come to him. You know when he got it? During the last war. He never thought
about it much. He even went swimming with it once. I then ironed it dry.
- And how did you meet Andrei? It seems he never had time to meet anyone?
- It's a funny story. I moved to Piategorsk from my native Sevastopol to
look after my sick grandmother and her son, my uncle, was driving Andrei
around Chechnya during the last war. One day, in the summer of 95, Andrei
stopped by in Piatigorsk for his birthday. He proposed to me that very
evening. I, of course, only laughed. But one must know Andrei. Every
Saturday he would come to town to transmit his tapes to Moscow and every
Saturday he would propose to me. All my uncle's neighbors were crazy about
him and his coming was like a holiday for them. He is an amazingly merry and
generous person. I was the last to surrender. I understood that it is no
easy matter to be the wife of such a man. Forget about peace and a stable
life! He is a fanatic worker.
We had a religious wedding in Grozny. Andrei is a very devout man. And after
one of Zavgayev's ministers personally registered our marriage, that same
evening we got married in a dilapidated church. It was so quiet, as though
there was no war.
As we were talking, a lady who looked like she was from the Caucasus,
entered the kitchen several times and quietly attended to some casseroles on
- Wife of a field commander? - I awkwardly joked.
- Marina, a refugee from Abkhazia. If it hadn't been for her, the children
would go hungry. She came as soon as she heard that something had happened
to Andrei and she's been with us all these days. And you know how she first
appeared in our house? Four years ago Andrei went outside to buy something
in a kiosk and saw a weeping saleswoman. This was Marina. She had no money
to pay for her rented room and they were going to throw her and her children
out onto the street. Andrei brought Marina home and demanded $150 from me.
For a total stranger. After that Andrei became like a saint for Marina.
- I know that your neighbors and friends are doing their best to help you.
But have any official figures shown concern?
- I remember that when something unfortunate happened to a certain British
man in Chechnya, Yastrzhembski called his wife the same evening. My phone
hasn't stopped ringing, because Andrei's friends call all the time, but
there was not a single call from the top. As though my children and I are
outcasts. Two days ago, I lost patience and, together with Andrei's ex-wife
Inna, faxed Yastrzhembski a letter for Putin. No answer. Today Putin is
holding a "hotline" interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda readers. Apparently,
Radio Liberty correspondents have arranged it with Komsomolka that from 1 to
2 p.m. I will be able to call him. I will say to him: "Vladimir
Vladimirovich, please return the father to his children. You have two
daughters as well."
Liudmila Babitskaya spent a whole hour on the phone but she could not reach
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000
From: Robert Donaldson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Beeston's Exaggerated Alarms/4100
Richard Beeston's claims (Times of London,"Putin's Empire Begins to Grow,"
JRL #4100) that Russia's new leaders have "embarked on an aggressive
foreign policy" are based on a distorted reading of available evidence.
Beeston repeats the misreading of Russia's new security doctrine to suggest
that a significant change has taken place it Moscow's policy regarding
first use of nuclear weapons. The statement in the revised doctrine, that
Russia would use nuclear weapons to defend itself and its allies "against
an armed aggression if all other means have been exhausted or have proven
ineffective" is not different from the standard used by the U.S. and other
nuclear powers, and hardly bespeaks an "aggressive" posture.
By citing the delivery of a Sovremennyi-class destroyer to China as
evidence of Putin's harder line, Beeston overlooks the minor detail that
this deal was concluded long before Putin came to power. His discussion of
the friendship treaty just concluded with the "pariah" regime in North
Korea fails to take account not only of the recent dealings that
Washington has had with this "pariah," but also of that fact that the new
treaty, unlike the one it replaces, does not include a pledge of military
assistance. Finally, no serious observer would expect that Russia would
agree to turn over its territory in the Kuriles to Japan just prior to a
presidential election; its failure to do so during Ivanov's trip to Tokyo
is hardly evidence of "growing empire."
For a number of years Russia has been conducting a foreign policy that
pursues its national interests, even when these collide with objectives
pursued by the West. There is no reason to expect Putin to abandon this
approach, thereby committing political suicide. If Russia's policies
reflect a desire for "rivalry, not partnership," how would Beeston
characterize recent British and U.S. policies in the Balkans and Iraq, as
well as the open-ended enlargement of NATO -- all of which have been
pursued in utter disregard of Russia's interests?
February 11, 2000
Putin Leads 'Petersburg Emigration'
By Matt Bivens
ST. PETERSBURG -- For nearly three centuries this city has carried on a
rivalry with Moscow, and in recent years it has been losing on every front.
It's not the banking and finance capital, as it once proudly hoped; it's
hardly the cultural capital, as former President Boris Yeltsin once dubbed
it; and the squalid label that has stuck more firmly with each new contract
murder is of Russia's crime capital.
But St. Petersburg believes its day has arrived - because suddenly the halls
of power in Moscow are filled with native sons and daughters.
Acting President Vladimir Putin is a former St. Petersburg deputy mayor;
during his time at Smolny, St. Petersburg's City Hall, Putin would cooperate
with Sergei Stepashin, who then ran the city's KGB successor agency. Duma
Speaker Gennady Seleznyov was the editor of St. Petersburg daily newspaper
Smena back in the perestroika days - when Smena was busy giving a sympathetic
hearing to the escapades of a youthful Anatoly Chubais and his famous
"Petersburg clan" of pro-free market economists.
The St. Petersburg emigration to Moscow has been going on steadily for years,
but has accelerated again under acting President Putin. And it is even more
dramatic at the second tier of fame and power.
Among the Cabinet ministers are many from Petersburg - including Deputy Prime
Ministers Valentina Matviyenko and Ilya Klebanov, Communications Minister
Leonid Reiman, Health Minister Yury Shevchenko, Cabinet secretariat chief
Dmitry Kozak, Anti-Monopoly Policy Minister Ilya Yuzhanov and Nikolai
Patrushev, chief of the Federal Security Service, or FSB.
The FSB's first deputy, Viktor Cherkessov, is also a St. Petersburger; so are
Deputy Finance Ministers Alexei Kudrin and Anatoly Zelinsky; Deputy
Privatization Minister German Gref; Viktor Ivanov, a former KGB man who now
handles personnel matters in the Kremlin administration; Vladimir Kozhin, who
has replaced Pavel Borodin at the Kremlin's household affairs directorate;
Igor Sechin and Dmitry Medvedev, both now deputy heads of the Kremlin
secretariat; Valery Yashin, general director of state-owned Svyazinvest; and
Igor Kostikov, the new head of the Federal Securities Commission.
Gleeful St. Petersburgers are suddenly ticking off all of those familiar
names - to say nothing of others who have been in and out of government
before, like former Cabinet ministers Sergei Belyayev, Alexei Bolshakov,
Alfred Kokh, Sergei Vasilyev, Pyotr Rodionov, Vadim Gustov and others.
And Petersburgers are talking boldly not of being the cultural capital, or
the crime capital, but of having quietly and triumphantly seized the actual
St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev has gone so far as to suggest
moving parliament to St. Petersburg. He has been backed up by the medi.
"These Petersburgers [in government service] are a powerful argument for
returning to St. Petersburg its status as the capital," argued the city's
leading newspaper, Delovoi Peterburg, in an editorial last month. "Otherwise
the expanded government meetings will have to be carried out in the sleeping
cars of the Red Arrow," the elite overnight train between Moscow and St.
Putin so far isn't taking the bait. In an interview on ORT television this
week, he said it would be "absurd" to move the capital. "It would be too
expensive and unjustified in my view," he said.
That position was backed to the hilt by Anatoly Sobchak, the first mayor of
St. Petersburg, who is now a mere law professor at St. Petersburg State
University. When Sobchak was mayor, Putin was his first deputy; these days,
as Putin is busily calling his old allies up from the minor leagues, there is
much talk of Sobchak soon getting a federal government job as well.
But at a press conference Thursday - one Sobchak called in Moscow to announce
his opposition to talk of moving the government back to St. Petersburg - he
denied he had been offered a job and said he wasn't seeking one.
He also derided what he described as newspaper articles about "the rise of
Putinburg on the banks of the Moskva River." And he got in some not-so-veiled
digs at his successor, Governor Yakovlev. Like Putin, Yakovlev was once Mayor
Sobchak's lieutenant; but ever since he ran for election four years ago and
won, Sobchak has taken to calling him a "Judas."
In Sobchak's opinion, St. Petersburgers are so charmed at the idea of
one-upping Moscow because the city suffers from an inferiority complex. "This
constant talk of being the capital - the cultural capital, the criminal
capital - is initiated precisely by the loss of status as the capital," he
Perhaps, but in the early 1990s Sobchak himself vowed to turn the city into
Russia's banking and financial capital - a policy goal that has gone
dramatically unrealized, as the vast majority of money and high finance is
St. Petersburg was Russia's capital city under the tsars. But under Soviet
power Lenin ordered the government transferred to Moscow.
And while Putin is frankly stacking the government with his hometown friends,
the real explanation of the emigration to Moscow is probably the mini-tragedy
of St. Petersburg - a major world city of nearly 5 million people, but one
with such a stunted economy that it provides too few outlets for talent.
So Moscow skims off the cream - whether in public service, journalism, the
private sector or even the theater and arts world.
"It's the dual position of the city," said Fyodor Gavrilov, editor of
Kariera-Kapital, a St. Petersburg weekly about careers and business. "It's a
big metropolis, with educated people, but there is almost no work, and no
pay. And worst of all, no one recruits you."
Gavrilov is a St. Petersburg patriot and he says Petersburgers can also be
attractive candidates for jobs precisely because they are "outsiders" in
"I go to Moscow and I visit a university there and I say, 'Who's that girl
smoking in the stairwell?' [And I'm told,] 'Oh, she's Boris Pasternak's
granddaughter.' 'Who's that?' 'Oh, he's [Leonid] Brezhnev's son.' Everyone
has connections," he said. "By contrast, Petersburgers are fresh, hungry
people. They are ready to work."
Primakov Voters May Back Yavlinskiy for President
February 8, 2000
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Lev Petrov: "Who Will Inherit Primakov's Votes"
It has already been reported that Fatherland-All
Russia [OVR] leader Yevgeniy Primakov has announced that he is refusing
to run for the presidency.
Well, this decision by Yevgeniy Maksimovich was generally predictable. The
OVR did not do too well in the fall parliamentary campaign, to put it
mildly, demonstrating quite convincingly that Primakov has no real chance
of winning the presidential election. And, clearly, Yevgeniy Maksimovich
did not fancy the idea of getting embroiled in the election marathon
purely for fun, being certain that the press would relish spending a few
months putting him under the microscope.
Now those who voted OVR will face the question of whom to vote for 26
March. Pro-Communist-minded commentators are rushing to assure all and
sundry that the lion's share of the Primakov electorate will go to
Zyuganov, who is allegedly also identified by the country's citizens with
hard-line opposition to the government. Nor do they forget to mention the
fact that the Primakov cabinet included representatives of the Communist
Party of the Russian Federation [CPRF], which allowed certain political
scientists to describe it as "pinko." But these arguments are somewhat
stale -- in January, we would recall, the CPRF entered into a Duma
alliance with the party of power.
The OVR is now in an opposition coalition with Yabloko, whose leader
once suggested Primakov for the premiership. From this we can assume that
Yavlinskiy may win some of Primakov's electorate.
Other Russian Federation presidential candidates are also eyeing Yevgeniy
Maksimovich's electoral legacy too. But only time will tell which one
will really inherit the lion's share and how big that legacy will
actually prove to be.
The Times (UK)
11 February 2000
[for personal use only]
Putting a human face on KGB hard man
FROM GILES WHITTELL IN MOSCOW
SIX weeks before an election that he seems certain to win, Russia's acting
President is taking no chances. With the help of a fluffy white poodle and
a casual new wardrobe, Vladimir Putin and his campaign team have launched a
concerted push to reinvent him as the magnanimous peacetime leader that his
country sorely needs.
Mr Putin announced yesterday the allocation of about 50 million for the
rebuilding of Chechnya's devastated economy. He told his Cabinet that the
region's healthcare, education and energy sectors should become top
priorities and declared that Chechen teenagers should be inculcated with
ideals of kindness and not violence.
The remarks were in stark contrast to the furious four-month bombardment of
Chechnya that Mr Putin himself unleashed. He also raised eyebrows this week
with a tightly-controlled phone-in with readers of a Moscow newspaper,
among them a 13-year-old girl who begged to be allowed to help with his
Yet it is the appearance of a poodle in the Putin political family that is
likely to be remembered longest. The dog, called "Chiapa", an affectionate
Russian term for dogs meaning "pooch", scampered across the acting
presidential lap during a long interview on state-run television. He
starred in a carefully staged scene aimed at putting a human face on a man
known hitherto as a career spy, an unsmiling technocrat and a champion of
"You have a very playful and touching dog," Mikhail Leontyev, the
interviewer, noted. "Is it your dog, your wife's or your childrens' dog?"
Mr Putin replied that his family, about whom almost nothing is known, had
lost a much larger dog in a car crash and for years could not bring
themselves to adopt another - "but the children wanted to have a little
doggy and they talked us into it. It's hard to say whose dog it is. It just
sort of lives here on its own."
"So it plays the part of a cat?" Mr Leontyev asked.
Putin: the stern face of a former KGB man Mr Putin, sitting on an orange
sofa in his government dacha and dressed in a grey crew-neck sweater,
replied in a parody of the icy tone he uses against Chechen rebels: "Do not
insult our dog. It doesn't do a cat's job. A dog is a dog and we are very
fond of her."
The exchange removed any doubts that Mr Putin cares deeply about how he is
perceived both by voters and abroad, even though most recent polls suggest
that he will win the election on March 26 outright, with no need to
continue to a second ballot. Thanks to his wartime poll ratings, he is
running virtually unopposed.
"There is no question that this is part of a calculated bid to recast Mr
Putin as a people-friendly leader before the election," Masha Lippman,
editor of the respected Itogi weekly, said. "He has a strong team of
image-makers, most of whom worked on President Yeltsin's reelection
campaign in 1996. The fact that he re-hired them shows how seriously he
takes his image."
Igor Mintusov, Moscow's busiest political consultant, put it more pithily:
"They're trying to make him white and fluffy, like his dog."
Fighting like cats and dogs
Gennadi Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader, can claim to have started
the pets trend when he revealed his devotion for his cat Vaska, a red and
yellow tabby, the same colours as the old Soviet flag. Grigori Yavlinsky,
head of the liberal Yabloko movement, then spoke of his two dogs, a
pedigree Alsatian and a mongrel stray. Aleksandr Lebed, governor of
Krasnoyarsk, has revealed that the real loves of his life were Cheswick,
an English sheepdog, and Kuza, a cat.
10 February, 2000, 18:20
Nature does not abhor a vacuum
Practically nobody doubts that Putin will be President of this country. But
it is absolutely unclear who will be the future Prime Minister. Meanwhile
given Putin`s indefinite approaches to economy this issue turns out to be
exclusively important. Until recently first Vice-Premier Mikhail Kasyanov had
been considered more probable candidate for this part. But recently various
lobbyist forces have been putting forward Duma budget committee chairman
Alexander Zhukov. Behind him are Chubais`, Luzhkov`s and Gusinsky`s clans.
Whom Putin will prefer? The question was addressed to a number of known
Russian political analysts.
Putin should be more definite in his views
Sergei Gurginyan, President of Experimental Creative Center foundation: I`m
sure neither Zhukov, nor Kasyanov will take the post of Prime Minister. After
Putin winning the election this key post would be held by a significant
figure. Uncertainty in Putin`s political views will be unmasked with
appointment of the head of the government.
Putin should be more definite about his views , unveil what policy he is
going to pursue. Therefore, depending on this policy both Anatoly Chubais and
Arkady Volsky or any 28 year boy which will be declared to be a brilliant
economist may become premierâ€¦
At any rate, Alexander Zhukov is not a «significant figure» which the new
president is in need of. He is quite featureless.
As to rumours about his future appointment I think that is a part of
disorienting rumours acting president`s allies and foes launch.
Zhukov is a public figure
Sergei MARKOV, director of Institute of Political Research: I suppose that
Alexander Zhukov`s chances to head the government are higher than Mikhail
Kasyanov`s ones. I think he would be a better premier. He is more of a public
figure. His political views are attractive to various political forces. He
knows how to act in public unlike Kasyanov who has minimal experience in this
Besides, there are obscure rumours circulated concerning Kasyanov`s
relationship with people from so-called Boris Yeltsin`s «family. Zhukov was
never considered to be «somebody`s».
Mikhail Kasyanov`s scope of activity is a negotiator. He has more experience
in loans, while Alexander Zhukov`s activity is much wider. He also has vast
experience in various fields of economy. Above all, he understands that the
cabinet`s policy should be both in economics and politics but not in
Power has no time to experiment
Andrei FYODOROV, director of Political Research Foundation: In my opinion,
Mikhail Kasyanov is most likely to be premier in the Putin government. He is
the most neutral among candidates for this post in contrast to, for instance,
Zhukov who is tied with certain political forces.
In addition, Kasyanov is a person Putin shouldn't be afraid of. He is able to
head «technocratic government» taking into account the fact that ideology of
the Russian power will be defined by the president himself.
Moreover, Zhukov doesn't have experience in practical work in the government
and Kasyanov does. Zhukov has never worked in real economy. Zhukov`s
appointment premier would be an experiment for Putin but the latter has no
time for experiments.
It`s a quite different matter that Kasyanov is a good premier for «normal»
life. In case of crisis Zhukov will not help. Putin will have to apply
non-popular measures and to address those who are able to execute them. For
One might say as a whole that Kasyanov`s future will clarify itself shortly.
Some day soon talks with London Club of Loaners will be resumed. Kasyanov is
regarded an expert in that. If the talks are of success he can be considered
to have got premier's post. If they are not, prospects of his public career
might not be so brilliant.
February 11, 2000
Chubais Defends His Record as UES Chief
By Brian Humphreys
Anatoly Chubais defended his record as head of state-owned electric monopoly
Unified Energy Systems on Thursday, while lashing out at government officials
who have criticized him in recent weeks.
The criticism, which included a jibe from acting President Vladimir Putin,
has fueled speculation that Chubais might be removed from his job soon.
While harsh in his criticism of political enemies in "certain ministries" and
regional administrations, Chubais was careful at the news conference not to
burn any bridges with Putin, who is widely expected to win the March
In response to a question from a Radio Liberty correspondent about Andrei
Babitsky, Chubais said the government had handled the situation badly.
"I think the exchange of Babitsky is absolutely and unconditionally a mistake
made by the authorities," Chubais said. "It is clear by the totality of the
resulting political consequences - and consequences for acting President
Putin as well - that the decision must without doubt be viewed negatively."
However, he took care to avoid pinning blame for the decision directly on
"I can't say on what level or through what mechanism the decision [to trade
Babitsky] was made," Chubais said.
Chubais declined to directly answer questions regarding Putin's harsh
criticism of UES for inefficiency, saying only that the episode, which took
place at the end of last month, was the result of a misunderstanding over
Meanwhile, Chubais presented statistics to the press in an effort to
demonstrate that UES had become more efficient since he took over the reins
in 1998 after leaving his post of deputy prime minister.
Chubais claimed as his chief accomplishment at UES an increase in cash
collections from 19 percent at the end of 1998 to 49 percent at the end of
"This is revolutionary," he said. "We have banned the word 'supply' at UES.
Now, we only sell electricity to customers."
Chubais admitted that other statistics, such as a 5 percent increase in power
generation and a reduction in wage arrears from 2.6 months to 1.6 months,
were less impressive.
"The statistics aren't fantastic or record-breaking, but nonetheless, for a
huge company like ours, they reflect a change from long-standing decline to
growth," he said.
He also repeated earlier assertions that electricity rate hikes would be
necessary. Chubais' government critics had seized on the issue of rate hikes
when beginning their public attacks last month.
However, analysts said that Chubais' record was beside the point, as the
increasingly public struggle for power and influence at UES has little to do
with his job performance.
"The question of Chubais' professional qualifications is largely irrelevant,"
said Andrei Ryabov, a political analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center. "The
main question is the one of his political position."
Chubais' most severe criticism was aimed at those with the least ability to
hurt him politically.
He fired broadsides at Viktor Kaluzhny, the fuel and energy minister, who has
been one of his harshest critics of late. He also blamed regional authorities
in Primorye for the power outages in the Far East region.
"The problem is one with absolutely subjective causes, namely the
incompetence and total inability of [regional Governor] Yevgeny Nazdratenko
to carry out needed changes in his region," he said. "We are trying to
overcome this, but God himself would find it difficult to overcome such a
position of the local authorities from Moscow."
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