This Date's Issues: 4104 4105
Johnson's Russia List
13 February 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Film Uses Pushkin to Strafe Russian Politics.
2. AFP: Russian forces bombard civilian homes to cut off rebel retreat.
3. The Times (UK): Putin's 'liberators' find a welcome. The Chechens
of Tolstoy-Yurt are weary but grateful for Moscow's war, writes Janine di Giovanni.
4. The Guardian (UK): Amelia Gentleman, Chechens trapped in the
factory of death. Russia holds hundreds in the hunt for rebels.
5. Financial Times (UK): Sale may signal business clean-up.
6. Moscow Times EDITORIAL: A Predictable Duma Rout For 'Liberals'
7. RFE/RL: Paul Goble, The End Of The Post-Cold War Era.
8. Robert Cutler: Re: JRL-4103/NG poll.
9. Novye Izvestia: FAREWELL TO ARMS. Does Russia Need "National
Egotism"? (re START 2)
10. The Electric Telegraph (UK): Guy Chazan, Putin to restart military training for schoolboys.
11. the eXile: Sasha's Other Enemies. (re Alexander
12. the eXile: Putin's Anal-Retentive Characteristics.]
Film Uses Pushkin to Strafe Russian Politics
February 12, 2000
By Alastair Macdonald
BERLIN (Reuters) - In Russia, some things never change, reckons Alexander
Proshkin -- strife, love, corrupt rulers, brutality, deceit and generosity
have always mingled.
So his film of Alexander Pushkin's novella ``The Captain's Daughter,'' given
an international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday, has plenty
to say about next month's Russian election amid epic scenes from an 18th
century civil war.
``Pushkin understood that there are certain laws of our society,'' Proshkin
said of the film, produced for the bicentenary of the national poet's birth
``In the 200 years since he was born, much has changed. But in essence things
are the same. This Russian drama from the 18th century we see repeated daily.
There's a war going on right now, in Chechnya, and blood on our television
screens every night.
``The whole of our 20th century was a permanent civil war.''
The story centers on a teenage ensign's love for his captain's daughter in a
remote eastern garrison and his efforts to preserve their honor amid the
brutal violence and torn loyalties of the Pugachev revolt of the 1770s, when
Cossacks led a rebellion against the Empress Catherine the Great.
``God save us from a Russian revolt, senseless and merciless'' -- Pushkin's
famous lines, recited over scenes of bloody clashes on the snowbound steppe,
linger in many Russian minds today.
BETRAYAL IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY
Neither side in the war comes out of it well, not the German-born Catherine,
with her debauched court and her husband's murder on her conscience, nor the
illiterate Pugachev and his band of thieves and cut-throats, who go along
with his story that he is the ``murdered'' tsar, Peter III.
Betrayal is the order of the day, from the highest to the lowest, in matters
of state and in personal friendship.
``Those were immoral times, of quick money and quick promotions,'' Proshkin
said. ``Today things are very similar.''
``Pugachev is an imposter, an actor, a grandiose character. He is in the very
nature of Russia, like the actors in our politics -- you can see candidate
Pugachev any day of the week.''
Russians go to the polls on March 26 to elect a president to succeed Boris
Yeltsin, a larger-than-life figure who occasionally referred to himself as a
new tsar after destroying communism. Acting President Vladimir Putin, a
former KGB spy and Yeltsin's nominated successor, is expected to win.
For all Proskin's depressing assessment, shining through the grim tableaux of
Pushkin's tale is the romance of the two young people and it is this,
Proshkin says, that is his message of hope.
THE YOUNG ARE THE HEROES OF OUR TIME
``In our time, too, these 16- and 17-year-olds, who haven't had time to
devalue the old values, are the heroes of our time and Russia's hope for the
future,'' he said.
Odd perhaps, then, that the lead roles are played by Polish teenagers,
Mateusz Damiecki and Karolina Gruska.
``The Poles,'' Proshkin says, ``Have bounced back much more quickly. They're
closer to Puskhin's time. But we'll get there.''
``The Captain's Daughter,'' titled ``Russky Bunt'' (Russian Rebellion) in
Russian, in competition with 20 other films from 16 countries for the Golden
Another film competing for the festival's top prize, ``The Beach'' by British
director Danny Boyle, was a focus of attention on Saturday thanks to its
star, Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio.
In the film, DiCaprio plays a bored American backpacker addicted to
electronic games and devoid of values in search of adventure. DiCaprio and
two fellow travellers learn about a secret island in Thailand unspoiled by
More than a thousand teenage fans crowded behind police barricades for a
glimpse of the 25-year-old star of the 1997 blockbuster ``Titanic'' who told
reporters he feels that his celebrity image is at times out of control and he
wishes he could escape to a secret island.
A Berlin tabloid newspaper offered 1,000 marks ($500) in a page one challenge
for any Berlin girl who manages to steal a kiss from the American actor.
Russian forces bombard civilian homes to cut off rebel retreat
URUS-MARTAN, Russia, Feb 12 (AFP) -
A string of Chechen villages was ruthlessly bombarded by Russian forces
attempting to block Chechen fighters escaping from Grozny, witnesses told an
AFP correspondent who was trapped in the area by the fighting for 10 days.
Chechen fighters fleeing Grozny ahead of a Russian advance on January 30
moved through a series of villages in an attempt to reach rebel strongholds
in the southern mountains.
Each village was bombarded by Russian forces, killing a total of at least 400
civilians, while the rebels, seeking to avoid drawing Russian fire on
inhabited areas, did not shoot back, the witnesses said.
From January 30, the suburb of Alkan-Kala, southwest of Grozny, was bombarded
for four days by Russian artillery and planes. At least 10 civilians were
killed and 30 wounded. The wounded civilians were evacuated by Russian
troops. AFP found 200 homes which had been destroyed in the attack.
In Katyr-Yurt, 30 kilometres (18 miles) farther southwest, four-fifths of the
buildings were destroyed. Survivors, still struggling to pull bodies from the
wreckage of their homes, told AFP at the scene that 260 people were killed
between February 2 and February 12.
"We were bombarded by helicopters and rocket-launchers," said Ibragim Saligov.
Katyr-Yurt was totally surrounded by the Russians for several days,
preventing civilians from fleeing the scene.
In Gekhi-Chu, where inhabitants said 50 people were killed, AFP found at
least 100 buildings destroyed. Zakan-Yurt and Chaami-Yurt, which were also on
the fighters' escape route, were also partially damaged.
The string of villages became a Russian target when first a vanguard of 1,500
then the main body of 3,000 Chechen fighters abandoned their defence of
Grozny and set off southwest.
According to fighters and the surgeon at the hospital in Alkhan-Kala, Khasan
Bayev, the separatist units walked into a minefield just outside the Grozny
suburb of Kirova.
Chechen commander Shamil Bassaiev is said to have lost his right foot to a
mine, while other senior separatist figures, including Grozny's mayor, Letcha
Dudayev, the military commander in Groany, Aslambek Ismailov, and commander
Khunka Pasha Israpilov, were killed instantly.
"I received 200 injured, and performed an average of 23 amputations per day
between January 30 and February 2," Bayev said.
When the Russian troops entered the village 90 separatists were still in the
hospital. They were placed on three buses by the Russians and sent in the
direction of Tolstoy-Yurt, north of Grozny.
The number of Chechen fighters killed by mines and in the fighting was
impossible to verify at the scene. The Russian military claims that several
Witnesses in Alkan-Kala told AFP they had seen Russian troops collect the
corpses of at least 30 separatists.
The Times (UK)
12 February 2000
[for personal use only]
Putin's 'liberators' find a welcome
The Chechens of Tolstoy-Yurt are weary but grateful for Moscow's war, writes
Janine di Giovanni
HERE in Tolstoy-Yurt, a desolate place that feels like the end of the earth,
the war is being fought on a different level.
Tolstoy-Yurt is a bleak Chechen village where families have farmed on a
small scale and bred cattle for generations. They say they are proud Chechens
who respect their ancestors and their traditions, but here there is no great
love for the boyaviki, the Chechen fighters who fled Grozny last week and are
now living in the mountains.
This is a pro-Russian town, a place where villagers took up arms to defend
themselves against the Chechen fighters. It is a place where Russian soldiers
are seen as liberators, and where they are kissed, hugged and fed by local
people. Next to the Russian Emergency Ministry base where I am staying is a
camp run by the soldiers of Ruslan Gantemirov, the pro-Moscow Chechen, the
former Mayor of Grozny, who was imprisoned for suspect deals.
He was released at the start of the war to lead his own band of rogue
fighters and to become head of the temporary council of the Chechen
pro-Russian Government. These are a rough lot. Gold-toothed, unshaven,
reeking of garlic and onions, wearing filthy uniforms, they scoff at the fact
that they took up arms against their Chechen brothers.
"It was more fun that way," Mousa, the commander, says. "We went to war
because we never got paid by [President] Maskhadov. It didn't hurt us to
fight in the battle of Grozny. We had to get rid of the fighters. The people
who came out of their cellars, when we went in, greeted us like liberators."
It is strange to be so close geographically to the fiercely loyal Chechen
villages where I stayed last week, but to be so far apart philosophically.
There, Chechen fighters were harboured by villagers, fed and clothed by local
women. Everyone except a few informers backed the fighters and loathed the
Russian occupiers; even old men took up their hunting rifles against the
invaders. Here, it is another world. Said, a local man who is voting for
Vladimir Putin in the March elections, says: "The Chechen fighters never came
into this village. We took up our own guns and had a stand-off with them. In
October and November we had no electricity. Then the Russian soldiers arrived
and they took the strategic heights and life got better. They brought some
Tolstoy-Yurt is the birthplace of Ruslan Khasbulatov, the most powerful
Chechen in Russian politics and one of the leaders of the October 1993 White
House rebellion. Rosa Vakhaievna, the headmistress of the only school, is
proud of that fact. She is also proud that the village elders refused to
rename the town, called after the great Russian writer, to a Chechen one.
People here refer to the country as the Chechen Republic of Russia, not
Ishkeria, the Chechen name. "President Maskhadov tried to get us to teach the
children in Chechen instead of Russian," she says, "but we refused. We are
loyal to Moscow. We educate good pupils. We don't educate fighters."
Rosa is also a fan of Mr Putin. "He is small but tough," she says. "He got
the job done. It wasn't easy to get rid of those Chechen fighters. They were
well armed and well trained. But it had to be done."
Rosa acknowledges that getting the job done - that is, wiping Grozny off the
map - came at a high cost to the civilians who live there.
Many refugees are being brought to Tolstoy-Yurt, to the muddy fields where
Russian soldiers are preparing refugee centres. Said says: "I feel sorry for
them, but many of the people who stayed in Grozny were taking mafia money.
And the soldiers were the ones who created this terrorist ring and kidnapping
operations. The only way to get rid of them was to bomb Grozny. They didn't
fight in the name of the people. Those bandits fought for themselves."
Part of the frustration of the villagers lies in the corruption of the recent
Chechen regime. No one was paid. Rosa's school, which is empty save for the
odd poster of a Swiss Alpine scene tacked to the wall, is receiving finance
from its twinned town in Russia.
She has her own views about the war - she believes that the Chechens who
prefer fighting are "mountain people" who are brought up in a hostile, tough
environment. "We are flat-landers, we are more educated," she says.
The town's hospital - if it can be called that - lies at the end of an
unpaved road. Your feet sink ankle-deep into mud as you get out of the car to
be greeted by the director, Elizabeta Davutkhatshieva, who wears a clean
white coat and a starched white hat. Despite her touching attempts at looking
official, her face looks defeated. "We have no medicine, no facilities, and
don't even mention salaries," she says in a resigned voice. "In June, it will
be four years since we have been paid."
To earn money to eat, Elizabeta, a doctor, resorts to the few chickens she
has at home to bring in some income. She has no patients. "They come and we
prescibe medicine, but no one has the money to pay for it," she says. "So
they never come back." There is a TB epidemic in Tolstoy-Yurt, and the flu
virus struck earlier this month as violently as in England. "But there was
nothing we could do.
"There is one surgeon, a refugee from Grozny, but he's got nothing to operate
Elizabeta is also voting for Mr Putin. She feels the Russians have more
chance of restoring order. Most of her one-story hospital is taken up not by
the sick, but by refugees who fled Grozny in November and December.
"A lot of people here in Tolstoy-Yurt have not given up the idea of
independence," Said says. "But they realise that under the Russians, life is
But a peasant woman standing near him, Birlan Hisara, interrupts.
She says she has six children, one of whom is an invalid, and lives on 230
roubles (less than £6) a month. To earn her living, she sells raisin cakes
which she bakes every morning.
"No one has been paid under Chechen rule, it's true," she says. "But how can
we expect the Russians to help us? They promise golden mountains, but they
don't really do anything. They're hungry themselves."
about a licence to reproduce material from The Times, visit the Syndication
The Guardian (UK)
13 February 2000
[for personal use only]
Chechens trapped in the factory of death
Russia holds hundreds in the hunt for rebels
By Amelia Gentleman
It is an ugly name for an ugly place. Outside Chernokozovo 'filtration camp'
relatives wait for news of their menfolk. Inside, according to human rights
groups, Russian soldiers are beating, raping and torturing Chechen prisoners.
Chernokozovo, with about 700 detainees, is the largest of four camps in which
the Russians are 'separating' terrorists from civilians. Many of the men have
been summarily arrested on the flimsiest of pretexts.
The camp, a former Soviet factory 30 miles north of Grozny, has been thrown
together from red brick and barbed wire. The factory's tall water coolers
have been converted into watchtowers; high walls make it impossible to see
what is happening inside.
News from behind the huge sliding doors is scarce. Relatives of those
detained wait in the nearby market place for scraps of informa tion brought
out by locals employed in the prison.
Magomadovo Umarovna was yesterday waiting by the gate holding five garlic
heads which she hoped to be able to pass to her detained son, Adlan Basayev.
The orderly who serves food to the inmates had managed to smuggle out a note
from him, begging her to send some kind of medicine to protect against
In detention since 13 January, her son's only crime was to have the same
surname as the Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev. 'They checked his papers and
decided he must be a relative. Why should he suffer because of his surname?
None of us have ever even set eyes on Basayev. The system is very cruel,' she
'He wrote that there was a TB epidemic inside. I can't get the right tablets
to send him. I hope the garlic may help.' His note had given few details of
life within the camp. 'They're scared to write much, in case the letter goes
astray. But I know things are bad for him there. Someone who was recently
freed told me my son's nose was broken when he was beaten in the toilets.'
This is the detention centre where Russian war correspondent Andrei Babitsky
- arrested for reporting from Grozny without military permission - was
allegedly held by the Russian security services, before being handed over to
Chechen fighters last week in a prisoner swap. He is thought to have been
badly treated during his stay. On Friday a funeral was held in Chernokozovo
for another inmate who died after being beaten. 'Sometimes at night people
living near the prison say they can hear the noise of people being tortured,'
Last week a letter detailing the brutality of the camp regime, apparently
written by a Russian soldier there, was leaked to the media. He described how
Chechen inmates were being systematically beaten, raped and killed. He said
that Babitsky 'was beaten so badly that his glasses were flung in the air,
poor guy'. The soldier expressed his sense of guilt at his participation in
Human rights organisations have also expressed concern at the conditions
within these centres, set up with the aim of filtering out fighters from
civilians. There is evidence that large numbers of young Chechen men are
being rounded up arbitrarily and detained.
Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch's representative in the region, said:
'These men are being taken to unknown detention facilities and their families
are not being informed of where they are. Some men are never heard of again.
Given the massive abuses that took place in these centres during the last
war, we are gravely concerned about this developing trend.'
Explaining the scale of what the Russians insist on calling a 'cleansing
operation', he said he had evidence that 120 men had been arrested en masse
in Shami-Yurt, near Grozny, earlier this month. Fighters and civilians are
arrested together, but there is no information to explain if and how the
Russian military sets about distinguishing between the two categories. No
international monitoring organisation has been permitted to visit any of the
four main camps.
The camps became notorious during Russia's last war with Chechnya, when many
Chechen men died during their detention and many more died shortly after
their release. Then human rights activists gathered horrific stories of
torture - with former inmates describing being held in airless cells, or in
dark mud pits dug out from the ground, often knee-deep in water. Many said
they had been the victims of both psychological and physical torture.
In Grozny, the war goes on. And not all of the city's residents are entirely
hostile to the Russian forces. Some of Grozny's residents say they are
grateful to the Russian soldiers for their drive to clear the city of
fighters. Standing outside the blackened remains of the grandiose entrance to
Grozny's main park (still named the Park of Culture and Rest in the name of
Lenin), Pyotr Sidorov, 64, a Russian who has lived in Chechnya for most of
his life, said he approved of the campaign.
Behind him as he walked to collect a bucket of water for his family, a
panorama of total destruction was visible. Not a single building in Grozny
remains intact. 'The Russians were right to do this. We need to fight to put
a sensible government in power here,' he said.
Financial Times (UK)
12 February 2000
[for personal use only]
RUSSIA: Sale may signal business clean-up
By John Thornhill in Moscow and Charles Clover in Kiev
Trans-World Metals, the UK company that is one of the most powerful aluminium
traders working in the former Soviet Union, on Friday confirmed it was
negotiating to sell some of its interests in the region.
Industry sources in Moscow suggested that a group of Russian investors,
including the leading shareholders in the Sibneft oil group, was preparing to
pay in excess of $500m for Trans-World's assets in Russia.
The combination of Sibneft's oil business and Trans-World's metal assets
would create one of Russia's richest and most powerful financial-industrial
groups, with significant export sales.
The move comes at a time when several of Russia's business oligarchs are
making efforts to "clean up" their businesses in anticipation that Vladimir
Putin is elected president in March.
Mr Putin has stressed he wants to create equal rules of the game for all
businesses in Russia and is increasing the pressure on Russia's oligarchs to
invest at home rather than siphon their cash abroad.
The major shareholder in Sibneft is believed to be Roman Abramovich, the
former oil trader who last year emerged as one of Russia's most powerful
oligarchs with particularly close links to President Boris Yeltsin's family.
Another of Russia's influential oligarchs, Boris Berezovsky, is also believed
to be a significant shareholder in Sibneft, although the company has made
strenuous efforts over the past few months to distance itself from the
controversial media tycoon.
Trans-World has significant stakes in Krasnoyarsk and Bratsk aluminium
smelters, the two largest in Russia.
The company formerly held stakes in Russia's third largest smelter, at
Sayansk, but was pushed out in 1997 and is suing its former partners.
Together, the three smelters have combined annual sales of about $3bn.
The company is mainly owned by David and Simon Ruben, British metals traders
who started the company in 1978. Trans-World began working in Russia in 1992,
in partnership with a Russian businessman, Lev Chernoi, through a company
called Trans-Cis Commodities.
In addition to its aluminium smelters, Trans-World has bought stakes in coal
mines, alumina plants and power stations in Russia and Kazakhstan.
Last autumn Geneva magistrates began investigating Mr Chernoi for alleged
The Rubens have said publicly that they and Mr Chernoi are going their
February 12, 2000
EDITORIAL: A Predictable Duma Rout For 'Liberals'
On Friday, the Kremlin-Communist bloc that dominates the State Duma again
sneeringly flexed its muscles. Already the Communists and Vladimir Putin's
pet bloc, Unity, have divided up all of the Duma's top jobs and committees.
On Friday they added insult to injury: Each party in the Duma gets to appoint
a deputy speaker - but the Kremlin-Communist bloc gleefully rejected the
candidates from Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces, or SPS.
The jobs in dispute are not in themselves terribly important; deputy speakers
have little power. But that just made the symbolism of the affair all the
more frank: Liberals need not apply to run anything in the Duma.
This was a predictable development. There has never been much difference
between Unity and the Communists. Their members are practically
interchangeable - Gennady Seleznyov, Alexander Rutskoi, Nikolai Kondratenko,
Yevgeny Nazdratenko. Both parties are packed with careerists and
opportunists, both pay lip service to civil liberties and free markets, both
support the suppression of Chechnya, both advocate "a stronger state" and
more state intervention in the economy ... in fact, the only differences we
can see are that the Communists also talk about social welfare concerns,
while Unity talks about land privatizations.
Nonetheless, Russia's liberals are now moaning that they have been "betrayed"
by Unity. On the contrary, it is the liberals who betrayed the people - back
in December, when they so eagerly embraced the government's war and its dirty
Liberalism is supposed to stand for democratic views - for respecting and
valuing the individual. Instead, the SPS crowd cheerily benefited from the
GÚbbelsesque propaganda on Kremlin-loyal television; and when SPS icon
Anatoly Chubais called Yabloko's Grigory Yavlinsky "a traitor" for
questioning the war, no one at SPS even blinked.
Afterward, while the SPS team was giddily congratulating itself on its
newfound "relevance," the Kremlin was quietly gathering those people who
speak its language - the Communists and the LDPR - and establishing a
Yabloko, Fatherland-All Russia and SPS boycotted it briefly. Eventually they
gave that up; Sergei Kiriyenko even claimed victory, saying he had struck a
deal under which the SPS economic agenda was going to be adopted immedi ately
And now look: Liberals can't even get a few token sinecures; on Friday they
couldn't even get Andrei Babitsky's fate put on the agenda. Liberals are less
relevant than ever - and the only surprise in this is how many people are
indignantly surprised, including the SPS crowd themselves.
- Matt Bivens
East/West: Analysis From Washington -- The End Of The Post-Cold War Era
By Paul Goble
Washington, 11 February 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's delivery of two modern
warships to China this week is the clearest indication yet that the post-Cold
War era is rapidly coming to an end and that the world is rapidly moving into
a new and potentially more dangerous period.
This action--which involved the sale of two $800 million destroyers--suggests
that Moscow's reentry onto the geopolitical playing field will increasingly
be directed at challenging the United States. That in turn implies that this
re-entry will consist of Russian efforts to mobilize others disturbed by or
angry at American power around the world.
And perhaps most disturbingly of all, this sale suggests that Moscow and its
new allies will increasingly focus on military and economic strength rather
than on any extension of democratic values -- the values many in the West had
thought were the defining principles of development in the post-Cold War
Over the six months, Moscow and Beijing have entered into an ever closer
strategic relationship. Despite past differences, including military clashes
in 1969, the two are now coordinating their military doctrines and staging
joint exercises. And 2,000 Russian scientists and technicians now work in
Chinese military research institutions.
Some have dismissed these activities, especially the sale of military
equipment, as an example of Russia's continuing search for hard currency and
China's inability to produce cutting edge military goods. And many more have
suggested that tensions between the two may ultimately drive them apart.
Both these perspectives may ultimately prove to be the case. But when put in
the context of other recent Russian actions, the latest Russian sale appears
to be part of a broader strategy.
Ever more often in recent months, Moscow has sought to challenge the United
States -- in Kosovo by its unexpected troop movements to Pristina last year,
in Iran and Iraq, and especially in Europe. Such a stance plays well among
many Russians angry at their current situation and eager to find someone to
Moreover, it has distinct foreign policy advantages. Many other countries are
angry at the sole remaining superpower and are only too willing to band
together with a country that promises to end what Moscow calls the current
unipolar world. China certainly fits in this category, but so do Iran, Iraq,
Libya, Cuba, and even some West European states.
Moreover, this policy does not necessarily compromise Russia's relationship
with Western donor countries. Many of these governments are prone to explain
away Russian excesses by suggesting that Moscow is playing to a domestic
constituency with its nationalistic behavior or by noting that Russia is not
the power it once was.
And few of them are willing to impose any sanctions on Russian behavior out
of a fear that such sanctions could backfire. Thus, even while decrying
specific actions, these government are likely to continue to provide
assistance in the hopes that Moscow will change direction or that at least
some reforms there will continue.
Given this situation, Moscow has a relatively free hand to try to promote
ties with these aggrieved countries and thus assume a leadership defined
primarily by opposition to the United States.
But this role increasingly appears to include not only a geopolitical
dimension but a political one as well, not only opposition to American power
around the world but also opposition to ideas like liberal democracy which
many associate with the United States.
With the exception of Western Europe, where Moscow so far has had the least
success in currying favor, all of the countries Moscow has been reaching out
to as part of this strategy are opposed to the democratic ideals many had
thought triumphant after 1989 and 1991.
Some of them argue that they must pursue economic reform first. Others argue
that they have a special third way to the future. But all are antagonistic to
the values of liberal democracy.
Because of its current weakness and because of the strength and
attractiveness to many of American values, Moscow is unlikely to succeed in
this attempt. Indeed, many of its own people are likely to oppose it.
But even if the Russian government does not succeed, its effort to move in
this direction appears likely to end the optimism of the post-Cold War world
and to lead ever more people to search for a more adequate description of a
more competitive and more dangerous geopolitical system.
From: <email@example.com> (Robert Cutler)
Subject: Re: JRL-4103/NG poll
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000
I doubt that I am the only one of your readers to observe this but I am
compelled to write about it. The NG poll showing how Yavlinsky's
popularity has allegedly soared is really meaningless. Aside from the fact
of its being an "Internet poll" (meaning respondents are self-selected and
not prevented from responding multiple times), it recalls most analogously
the famous polls predicting Dewey's victory over Truman in 1948. It is
sometimes forgotten that the error in those polls was due to the fact that
they were conducted by telephone, and that in 1948 those voters having
telephones were more likely to be affluent hence more likely to be
Republican hence more likely to vote for Dewey.
One cannot help but wonder whether the non-universality of Internet access
in Russia, access that is required in order to cast a "vote" at a website,
could account for this "result": let alone the fact that the question
asked was apparently, who did the respondent think would win, rather than
whom did the respondent prefer. As is so much the case in the Russian
press, the significance of this artefact-result is in the fact of its
being reported and commented, as opposed to any attention that the "event"
(to use the term loosely) intrinsically merits.
In light of a recent exchange in JRL about Russian media personalities
hopping back and forth to and from positions of government responsibility,
I am obliged also to wonder, whether the West has anticipated Russia in
this aspect of "reporting" as well. Karl Kraus had a number of acid
comments about this in the 1920s and 1930s, of which the most famous but
least often attributed, is that many problems in international affairs are
due to the fact that statesmen and ambassadors regularly lie to reporters
yet then turn around and believe what they read in the newspapers.
The proliferation of such things as the NG poll illustrates that this
capacity is no longer limited to the political elite, who now in concert
with the "means of mass information" (also called under the Soviet period
the "means of mass information and propaganda" or SMIP) generously provide
the "masses" with the means to mislead themselves, so as to be able
concentrate their own attention on more pressing matters. But, of course,
this happens only because democratization has yet fully to be realized.
February 10, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
FAREWELL TO ARMS
Does Russia Need "National Egotism"?
The Yabloko, OVR and SPS factions announced at a press
conference in the State Duma about their common stand on the
issue of START-2 ratification. Sergei Ivanenko, deputy faction
leader of Yabloko, said this "treaty suits the interests of
Russia and must be ratified." This final, and rather tough,
stand of an experienced Duma faction will launch a new stage of
the ratification process, which has been feared to last for
ever only recently.
Once the Soviet armed forces were larger than the armies
of NATO countries, Japan and China taken together. This means
not just manpower, but also armoured vehicles, missiles,
aviation, air defence, submarines, ballistic missiles, ABM
anti-missiles, and everything else. Russia inherited its
military might from the Soviet Union -- but with considerable
losses. The economic crisis delivered another blow at the army
and the defence industries.
Russia's nuclear missiles are the genuine prop of its
status on the world political scene. Russia is a superpower in
this sense. Its nuclear forces are the apple of the military
policy's eye. But the maintenance of strategic nuclear forces
is truly expensive. A lion's share of the 90-billion-rouble
defence budget was spent on nuclear forces in 1999.
The START-2 treaty signed in early 1993 provided for a
radical reduction of Russian and US strategic weapons by the
year 2003. The USA ratified the treaty in early 1996, but it
was pushed under the carpet in Russia, first by the Supreme
Soviet and later by the State Duma.
The situation changed, although only slightly, in 1998,
when the Duma was ready to put the treaty up for ratification.
But the deputies were hindered by two factors of international
significance: the US and British missile strikes at Iraq, and
the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia. The wave of outrage,
which swept the Duma, forced the government to withdraw its
ratification proposal in view of imminent failure.
Later the Duma committee on international affairs
suggested that the issues of START-2 ratification and the
situation around the ABM treaty be put on the agenda of the
spring session. The OVR, Yabloko and SPS factions are the most
ardent advocates of this. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky more
than once spoke on this subject, thus paving the way to debates.
In fact, there are serious pro and contra arguments. It is
clear that a positive decision would create additional
possibilities for the Russian economy. To begin with, Russia
will be no longer regarded as an ambitious beggar armed to the
teeth with nuclear warheads. This will raise the investment
attractiveness of the country. Second, it will become easier to
service the nuclear arsenals. The situation is paradoxical now,
with Russia's GDP equal to 2.5% of the US GDP, and its spending
on the armed forces amounting to 2% of the corresponding US
outlays. And third, a definite stand on START-2 would give us a
chance to resolve also the problem of the ABM Treaty.
But there are rather aggressive opponents of ratification
in the State Duma. In particular, Dmitry Rogozin, chairman of
the Duma committee on international affairs, thinks that Moscow
should be guided by the principle of national egotism in its
attitude to START-2. The communists have a roughly similar view
on the problem.
It is difficult to say how the egotistical sentiments of
some deputies will influence the incomes of the people who
elected these deputies. But there are other sentiments in the
Duma. For example, the Yabloko faction addressed the issue of
drawn-out ratification of START-2 from a purely professional
viewpoint several years ago. Aleksei Arbatov, an expert on
international security, carefully analysed the treaty and
stated that "only a strong and democratic Russia would have no
antagonistic contradictions with the West." Grigory Yavlinsky
chimed in to say that only a state, which is rising not as an
"authoritarian empire, but a democratic European state" will
"have the inalienable right to an independent foreign policy."
So, we have two stands in the new Duma: of the left forces
(nationalist) and of the liberally-minded right forces
(pragmatic). The fate of START-2 will reveal the true spirit of
the new Russian parliament.
The Electric Telegraph (UK)
13 February 2000
[for personal use only]
Putin to restart military training for schoolboys
By Guy Chazan in Moscow
MILITARY training for Russian schoolboys, including lessons in patriotism,
has been ordered by the country's acting president, Vladimir Putin, in a move
which analysts see as a worrying return to the Cold War era.
Some military experts view the step as a signal that Mr Putin, the favourite
to win next month's presidential election, is less interested in democratic
reforms than in restoring the prestige of the Russian army and security
services. Earlier this month Mr Putin called up 20,000 reservists and
announced a 50 per cent increase on arms spending.
"This is more proof of the militarisation of Russian society under Putin,"
said Pavel Felgengauer, a defence analyst. "They want to train kids to be
Russian patriots and prepare them for war - just like the Nazis did with the
Hitler Youth." Mr Putin, a former KGB spy and head of Russia's domestic
intelligence agency, signed the decree on military training on December 31,
the day Boris Yeltsin resigned and appointed him acting president.
The decree calls for boys from the age of 15 to be taught "the basics of
military service" and "civil defence", and receive "a military-patriotic
education". An official at the education ministry said they would spend five
days training at their local army base where they would be taught how to
shoot and march in formation, and learn the essentials of army life. This
would be complemented by weekly "professional orientation" lessons in school
on the legal and technical aspects of national service.
"They'll also learn about the heroism of our great military commanders, both
Russian and Soviet, and be taught to love the fatherland," said Boris Mishin,
the ministry's specialist on secondary education. "Some things are still
sacred in this country, and our military past is one of them." Girls will
also be given combat training and firing practice as well as lessons in first
aid and self-defence.
A defence ministry spokesman said the army has long wanted to reintroduce the
subject, which will be included in the curriculum from this September. He
said the final syllabus will be worked out jointly by the defence and
education ministries. "The point is to give boys a clear idea of what to
expect from their national service," he said.
Russians over the age of 20 still have vivid memories of NVP, or Primary
Military Training. In a typical lesson schoolchildren would be shown how hand
grenades and mines worked, and taught to strip and reassemble Kalashnikov
rifles. There were also outings to shooting ranges and local army bases. But
the lessons were also fiercely ideological, with teachers, usually retired
army officers, warning of the ever-present threat to Soviet security posed by
the country's capitalist enemies.
The subject was taught from 1968, the year the Soviet army crushed the Prague
Spring, to 1991, when the Soviet Union fell apart. NVP was replaced in 1991
by a demilitarised course encompassing lessons in first aid and hygiene, a
basic fire drill and the Russian equivalent of the Green Cross Code. But some
educationists have welcomed the decision to revive military training.
"Ever since the end of the Komsomol [the Communist Youth League], children
have lost their moral compass, some even vandalise military cemeteries," said
Olga Maksimovich, editor of the Teacher's Gazette. The church has also joined
forces with the defence ministry in organising summer camps for Russian
Metropolitan Pitirim, a senior figure in the Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate,
was recently quoted as saying that children should be taught to love the
smell of barracks and soldiers' boots.
February 10-17, 2000
Sasha's Other Enemies
It has commonly been reported that the forces responsible for ordering the
commission to a mental hospital of Moskovsky Komsomolets reporter Alexander
Khinshtein were the highly-placed officials of the Russian government who had
recently been subjects of his articles. But Khinshtein had other enemies, as
these transcripts from his TV show "Sekretniye Materili" show. This segment,
recorded on November 21, 1999, included information about the activities of
some well-known American ex-pats in this city-including one who until very
recently was running an internet grocery store business. What is the position
of the American secret services on the Khinshtein incident? Read on and see
for your self:
Khinsthein (interviewing former State Property Chief Vladimir Polevanov):
Tell me, Viktor Pavlovich, do you know exactly how Chubais reacted to
official report sent to him by the state security structures informing him
that his advisor, Johnathan Hay, is a regular staffer of the CIA?
Polevanov: Chubais didn't leave his signature anywhere. He was an out-and-out
party functionary. And he left all the paper-pushing to his assistant. His
verbal reaction to it was hysterical. He kept trying to play rough with me
over the telephone, constantly ordering me, threatening me, commanding me,
among other things, not to touch Jonathan Hay, not under any circumstances to
come near my advisors, and not under any circumstances to evict them from the
State Property Committee offices. I, having heard out his routine hysteria
(by the way, he's very weak when direct resistance is exerted against him),
just asked him to give me a written report on everything he said. And I, as a
law-biding bureaucrat, will carry out this written order, but I won't do it
out loud. He'll contradict this, that, and the other. Not once has Chubais
given me any of this in writing.
Khinshtein: The results of Chubais's privatization were monstrous. The most
lucrative enterprises were bought for next to nothing. Whole industries. But
even that wouldn't have been so bad. Through middleman companies, foreigners
and foreign special services took control of several defense factories and
military research facilities. How can one even talk about national security
when this kind of thing goes on?
Polevanov: The activity of the foreigners advanced to a degree that in any
normal country would be impossible. For instance, the "Komponent" factory,
which took 100% of its orders from the Russian General Command, was bought by
an American company through the Brunswick investment company. The firm bought
ten percent of the shares, which gave them the right according to our laws to
put one of their people on the board of directors and have access to all
their secret projects. Even Bulgakov couldn't have even dreamed of such
things taking place. The Siemens corporation bought 28 percent of the shares
in the Kaluzhky turbine factory, which specializes in the construction of
turbine engines for atomic submarines. The thing that really struck me was
that that very Jonathan Hay bought 30 percent of the shares of the Moscow
Electrode Factory, the only one its type in the country, and with it its
subsidiary, "NII Grafit", which makes the technology for invisible attack
planes along the lines of the "Stealth" system...And immediately after he
obtained his bloc of shares, Hay blocked all further orders for this kind of
technology from the Russian side, and lobbied instead for the factory to take
orders to produce material for American "stealth" technology for use in
American projects. In sum, that which even in the most backward colonial
country happened in our very own homeland.
Khinshtein: More and more often I become convinced that all of this could not
possibly have happened solely as a result of our own stupidity. One can send
some invisible hand at work here, actually better to say hands.
(Nikolai Kovalev, former FSB chief): In just the last year, in the year since
I returned, it's difficult for me to even come up with usable numbers, since
I haven't been there to see the changes. But I remember a time in my tenure
when we were capturing some 14 agents a year. We hadn't seen those kinds of
numbers since World War II.
Khinshtein: Until very recently, one Dmitri Rurikov served as Boris Yeltsin's
aide to foreign policy matters. Currently, he's the ambassador to Uzbekistan.
His daughter is married to an American--a Mr. Dmitri Simes, head of the Nixon
center, and a consultant of the national council on CIA affairs. I don't
exclude that the relationship of these two people is not strictly a familial
one. But former Foreign Minister Andrei Kozirev doesn't have a son-in-law
there, but that doesn't change matters.
Note: the eXile reported on the Siemens-Kaluga connection two years ago.
Putin's Anal-Retentive Characteristics
By Dr. N. I. Kimmelman
[Ed. note: Dr. N. I. Kimmelman is a licensed Russian psychologist we met
several months ago on an overnight train to Moscow from St. Petersburg. A
friendly enough if somewhat dry and serious-minded academic in his fifties,
Naum Ignatovich had recently divorced his wife quite abruptly after
twenty-seven years of unacrimonious marriage, and was moving to Moscow to
take up a new practice. We kept in contact with the good doctor, and have
lately decided to take advantage of his lack of paying patients to hire him
to psychoanalyze Russian politics for us. This article, the first installment
in what we hope will be a regular feature, concerns the underlying
psychopathology of the Vladimir Putin phenomenon.]
These days, as many ponder Vladimir Putin's spectacular rise, we believe that
the instrument of psychoanalysis may provide a particularly fruitful insight
into the underlying mechanisms of his sudden popularity.
First, we must consider the psychodynamic implications the changes in Russian
society over the last decade had for public psyche. Of these changes, the
deprivation of the nourishing structure and feeling of security offered by
the Soviet regime had the most traumatic effect. It resulted in the Russian
public's development of an oral passive or, as observed in leaders and
supporters of some political parties, oral aggressive character. This type of
character in individuals stems form the trauma of weaning, and weaning was
precisely the symbolic essence of the collapse of the Soviet nourishing
structure. The needs of oral character are centered around pleasures
associated with the mouth, and being fed is the most important of such
The combination of oral-passive character of the public with the phallic
character of the leadership (to be discussed in greater detail in later
issues) has resulted in a peculiar type of neurotic symbiosis. In this,
quasi-paternal figures like Yeltsin or Luzhkov respond to the people's cry
for oral gratification by feeding them phallic symbols. This pattern has
survived since the Soviet time, and is manifest in the extreme social and, at
times, political importance of objects like kolbasa, cigarettes, and vodka
(especially as drunk iz gorla).
This situation is not healthy, nor is it consciously gratifying for the
people. There is an overwhelming want for a new, non-phallic type of leader.
And Vladimir Putin may be the answer.
We believe that Putin is a perfect example of a purely anal-retentive
character. According to Freudian theory, this type of character results from
the conflict occurring at the potty-training phase. A child whose parents are
weak and submissive soon finds that he can effectively control them by means
of his bowel behavior. This produces the anal-expulsive character (also
represented on the Russian political stage, as we will see later). Meanwhile,
a dominating father, who demands structure and discipline in everything,
including defecation, may at this stage lay ground for an anal-retentive
personality, for which the control of holding-in and letting-go is of
We know little, if anything, about Mr. Putin's childhood. However,
anal-retentive traits are clearly present in his behavior. This certainly
includes his fondness for structure and discipline, his reported admiration
of the German culture (an anal-retentive society par excellence), and his
recent Freudian slip when he promised to zamochit' banditov even when they
are v sortire, the loo here apparently having the meaning of sanctum
sanctorum for an anal personality. In addition, consider the symbolic
importance of retaining Chechnya, a task of vital importance for Putin.
The longing for an anal-retentive leader is deeply rooted in Russian culture,
starting from the invitation of varyagi, the Scandinavian warlords, to rule
Slavic tribes, to the adoption of the German bureaucratic system in the
17-19th centuries. We believe that Mr. Putin's rule may offer new hope for
Russia, or at least break the neurotic oral-phallic dependence of both Soviet
and Yeltsin regimes. There are certain dangers inherent, however. First, as
is known from clinical experience, when significantly frustrated in his
activities, an anal-retentive personality may revert to anal-expulsive
behavior, which would result in a rather nauseating dependence pattern in
combination with oral-passive character of the public. On the other hand,
Putin may be seduced into assuming phallic traits in his rule. This is an
even greater danger, since phallic ambitions in an anal retentive individual
are an ultimate recipe for dictatorship.
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