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19 February 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Swiss say they widen probe of former Yeltsin aide.
2. Novaya Gazeta: Alexei Arbatov, ON RUSSIA'S RELATIONS WITH THE WEST.
3. Reuters: Chechnya war wrong but necessary-Russian expert.(Sergei
4. Moscow Times: Jonas Bernstein, Paroxysms of Sycophancy.
5. RFE/RL: Frank Csongos, Chechnya: Russian Lawmaker Issues Grave
Warning. (Sergei Kovalyev)
6. Peter Ekman: Putin's income and expense.
7. RIA Novosti: POLL SHOWS RUSSIANS POSITIVE ABOUT THE ARMED FORCES.
8. Yuri Dzhibladze: anti-war rally in Moscow Saturday.
9. BBC MONITORING: RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AGAINST CENTRALIZATION
OF POWER. (Samara Region governor Konstantin Titov)
10. Summary Public Russian Television (ORT) Sergey Dorenko’s Program
11. THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION PRISM: Tatiana Matsuk, HOW RUSSIA WAS
Swiss say they widen probe of former Yeltsin aide
By Elif Kaban
GENEVA, Feb 18 (Reuters) - A Swiss money-laundering probe of Russian state
official Pavel Borodin has uncovered new evidence of alleged bribes of tens
of millions of dollars paid into Swiss accounts of Kremlin officials, a top
prosecutor said on Friday.
Geneva's chief prosecutor, Bernard Bertossa, told Reuters that the probe,
initially focused on payments allegedly made to Borodin and other Kremlin
officials by Lugano construction firm Mabetex, had widened to another Swiss
firm, Merkata Trading.
Bertossa alleged that Merkata, a construction company also based in Lugano,
made payments of $60 million to top Kremlin officials in return for
Company officials could not be contacted for comment.
Swiss magistrates in December issued an arrest warrant on money-laundering
charges for Borodin, who was a key aide to former Russian President Boris
Yeltsin and headed the Kremlin's property empire.
Swiss prosecutors accuse Borodin, now Russian state secretary responsible for
the Belarus-Russia union, of taking bribes in return for giving the
Swiss-based companies lucrative government contracts to renovate the Kremlin.
Borodin, Mabetex and others involved in the case have denied any wrongdoing
and, on Friday, a Borodin spokeswoman labelled the whole matter "absurd."
"No one gave him (Borodin) any bribes and he did not take any bribes," the
NO RESPONSE ON WARRANT
Bertossa said the Swiss had received no response from Russia so far on the
warrant for Borodin.
"Our goal is to capture this man and have him sent to Switzerland," he said.
"We have money-laundering charges against him."
A Swiss federal police spokesman said Borodin risked extradition to
Switzerland if he travelled to the West.
Swiss prosecutors are looking at Kremlin contracts won by Mabetex and Merkata
totalling more than $500 million.
"Merkata is one of the companies that have paid commissions into the Swiss
bank accounts of officials of the (former) Russian presidential
administration," Bertossa alleged.
The Swiss newspaper Le Temps first reported the expanded investigation on
The Kremlin renovation is at the heart of the Swiss laundering probe in which
Swiss magistrates have said they expect to issue two more arrest warrants.
Mabetex carried out building projects in Russia during the 1990s starting in
Yakutsk when Borodin was the town's mayor.
Borodin was ousted from the Kremlin in January but the Swiss warrant, the
first against a serving Russian politician, was issued when he was a top
He was a close associate of Yeltsin, who resigned unexpectedly on December
31. Immediately after becoming acting president, Vladimir Putin signed a
decree for Yeltsin and his family, guaranteeing immunity from prosecution.
Novaya Gazeta No. 6
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
ON RUSSIA'S RELATIONS WITH THE WEST
By Alexei ARBATOV,
D.Sc. (History), State Duma deputy from the Yabloko
deputy group, deputy chairman of the State Duma
Russia's relations with the West are becoming more and
more tense, especially with the United States. Despite
Clinton's statement that Russia's strikes against Chechnya can
be justified and understood, and despite a negotiated
agreement on a write-off of a part of the nation's debt,
mistrust and tension are felt in the West's attitude towards
Russia. Neither side is taking steps to ease tensions. Now,
there is a period of a relative lull in Chechnya, but it is
obvious that the terrorists will make a counter-attack around
February 23. Pressure on Russia will increase again.
As a politician, I was shocked to learn that Yevgeny
Primakov refused to take part in the presidential elections. I
think all major figures must take part in such elections, even
if they have poor chances to succeed. Otherwise there will be
no alternative in the elections. I think Russia will not be
able to survive without a strong and well-structured
Chechnya war wrong but necessary-Russian expert
COPENHAGEN, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Russia's military campaign in Chechnya was
wrong and mismanaged but was necessary to hold the country together, a
Russian political analyst said on Friday.
Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the presidium of the Council of Foreign and
Defence Policy, an independent think-tank, said Russia was winning the war
against Chechen rebels.
``The military are winning, in a very bad way, but they are winning,''
Karaganov said in a lecture at Copenhagen University at the invitation of the
Danish Institute of International Affairs.
``I think what Russia is doing in Chechnya is wrong (but) we could not do
otherwise...there are times when you have to withstand right criticism in
order to save your country.''
One reason why the war had dragged on for five months and become so brutal
was Russia's inability to provide its military with enough so-called smart
munitions, or precision-guided weapons, due to lack of funds, he said.
In Moscow, Interfax news agency quoted a senior Russian general on Friday as
saying the army was in the final stage of its campaign in Chechnya.
Karaganov said victory was crucial for Russia's future as a society. ``The
army has invested all its moral capital in the suppression of Chechnya,'' he
``Either we suppress the insurrection and the international terrorism there
or all the structures (in Russia) fall apart,'' he said.
Western calls for political negotiations were not practical, Karaganov said,
because independence for Chechnya was a non-issue.
The Chechnya conflict would be a blemish on relations between Russia and the
West for a long time, he said.
February 19, 2000
PARTY LINES: Paroxysms of Sycophancy
By Jonas Bernstein
The "energetic young reformers" -- the term of endearment that the mainstream
Western media once used for the "liberals" Boris Yeltsin kept around to
impress Western lenders - have reached new lows in their craven groveling
before power. Take, for example, former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko's
performance Thursday. The previous day, the Central Election Commission, or
CEC, had thrown out an initiative of Kiriyenko's Union of Right Forces, or
SPS, to hold a national referendum on four questions: whether or not to widen
the protection of private property, use only military volunteers to fight in
"hot spots," end immunity from prosecution for parliamentary deputies and
limit the president's powers to dismiss the Cabinet. The CEC had ruled that
only 1.7 million of the 3.6 million signatures SPS had collected in support
of the referendum were valid.
With the referendum seemingly dead in the water (Kiriyenko & Co. plan to
appeal the CEC's decision to the Constitutional Court), acting President
Vladimir Putin suddenly decided to declare his backing for it - or at least
for all of them except the measure that would limit the president's powers.
No matter: Three out of four was enough for Kiriyenko, who, in a fit of
sycophancy, gushed about how "very pleasant" it had been to get Putin's
"The fact that the acting president and presidential candidate so clearly and
unequivocally expressed his position is very good and correct," cooed the
As Samara Governor Konstantin Titov noted, however, it would have been better
if Putin had come out in support of the referendum before the CEC decided to
deep-six it, rather than afterward. Kiriyenko & Co., however, are less
fastidious. For example, the fact that the pro-Putin Unity faction in the
State Duma this week decided to cut SPS some slack and let them have a
symbolic, largely meaningless Duma deputy speaker post, had SPS leaders like
Nemtsov waxing euphoric over the new reformist and "centrist" (yes, we're
back to that clichÎ from the recent past) consensus in the lower house of
parliament. It was reminiscent of their paroxysms of ecstasy right before
last December's State Duma election, when the Kremlin deigned to let
Kiriyenko be filmed handing the then-prime minister a copy of SPS's weighty
(literally) economic program, and Putin promised he would read it with
Judging by recent comments from Putin and other top officials, it would seem
that the acting head of state is more likely to use that manifesto as a door
stop. Just take the interview with First Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail
Kasyanov, the man most likely to become Putin's prime minister after March
26, as published this week in Ekspert magazine. Kasyanov dismisses the idea
that there will be a "radical tax reduction" anytime soon, or even much lower
taxes. He also declares that since "market mechanisms" had failed to
stimulate the agricultural sector, the government was considering the
introduction of a system of state-guaranteed prices.
Then there was Kasyanov's stopover in Minsk this week, where he declared that
"different opinions" among members of the government over Russia-Belarus
integration had disappeared, and that steps toward union had to be taken "as
quickly as possible." Or Putin's statement this week that he was
"categorically opposed" to breaking up Russia's natural monopolies, including
Gazprom, the natural-gas giant, electricity grid Unified Energy Systems and
One might have expected a few words of protest, or at least disagreement,
from the SPS crowd over these policy statements - especially given how
Kiriyenko has repeated, ad nauseam, that SPS's "mutual relations" with Putin
are based not on support for a "personality," but for "programs and actions."
Yeah, right. These "mutual relations" wouldn't have anything to do with SPS's
"support for" parliamentary offices, aides, faxes, travel expenses and the
hope that Vladimir Vladimirovich might throw them a low-level Cabinet post if
they're good boys and girls.
But the overall winner in this week's do-the-right-thing sweepstakes goes to
the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, or FNPR, whose General Council
passed a statement in support of the acting president. In a pre-vote
"debate," one union official noted that the FNPR, which belongs to Yury
Luzhkov's Fatherland, would have preferred to see the Moscow mayor or former
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov become president. But since they are not
running, and the "opposition's" campaign is "sluggish," Putin is the real
So what to do? Endorse him yourself, of course.
Chechnya: Russian Lawmaker Issues Grave Warning
By Frank T. Csongos
Sergei Kovalyev is a prominent Russian human rights activist and a deputy of
the state Duma. Kovalyev spoke about the current Chechen war at a briefing
last night at RFE/RL offices in Washington. He said the conflict was "close
to genocide." And he predicted it will turn into an Afghan-type
mini-guerrilla warfare. Senior Correspondent Frank T. Csongos reports:
Washington, 18 February 2000 (RFE/RL) -- A leading Russian human rights
activist predicts the Chechen conflict will turn into a protracted guerrilla
The assessment was made last night (Thursday) by Sergei Kovalyev, a deputy of
the Russian state Duma, at a press briefing held at RFE/RL in Washington.
Kovalyev said the Russian military offensive against the breakaway republic
is "close to genocide" because of high civilian casualties inflicted as a
result of relentless bombardment of populated areas.
In a subsequent interview with RFE/RL, Kovalyev amplified his comments this
"The future of Chechnya? So look at Afghanistan. You will see the future of
Chechnya. We have created the situation by our own hands. A mini Afghanistan
on the Russian soil. There will be a constant guerrilla war. All the time.
And no one can win a guerrilla war. There is only one way to win a guerrilla
war -- through genocide."
Kovalyev, who spent 10 years in the Soviet gulag for his dissident
activities, said he believes gradually increasing Western pressure on Moscow
might have softened Russia's initial tough stand on Chechnya.
He said the Russian political elite would have thought twice about waging
such a brutal campaign against Chechnya had it been a concerted Western
approach to counter it. But now, he says, it is too late to talk about such
Kovalyev also predicted that freedom of press in Russia will diminish as time
In the interview, he was asked about what could be done to facilitate the
freedom of RFE/RL correspondent Andrei Babitsky, who was arrested by Russian
military authorities in Chechnya a month ago for allegedly not having proper
accreditation to cover the war. Babitsky's whereabouts are not known. Moscow
says he was exchanged for captured Russian soldiers.
"I think that the public opinion in Russia - the so-called human rights
active public - and the international community have one standard. They have
to knock at every door and express their concern all the time. They have to
put pressure on authorities all the time. Moscow authorities in this
situation with Andrei Babitsky are constantly trying to hide the ants in the
water -- we shouldn't let them do it."
Kovalyev also said that the Chechen war has given to the rapid political rise
of Vladimir Putin, picked by then Russian President Boris Yeltsin last year
to become prime minister. Yeltsin resigned Dec. 31 and was succeeded by
Putin, a former KGB operative, to be acting president.
Russia is scheduled to have presidential elections late next month. Putin is
viewed as the front-runner to become the next leader of Russia.
Kovalyev says Putin came from nowhere in the political spectrum and now has a
chance to govern Russia for years to come because he is identified with a
He said Putin is viewed by many voters as a man who can re-establish law and
order in Russia.
From: "Peter D. Ekman" <email@example.com>
Subject: Putin's income and expense
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anybody,
but Acting President Putin appears to be cheating on
his income declaration given to the Central Election Commission.
According to the Moscow Times (2/16 p.3), he declared a total income for
1998 and 1999 of 265,699 rubles with his wife earning another
43,167 rubles. With exchange rates of between 6 and 26 rubles to
the dollar during this period, it is impossible to give an exact dollar
equivalent, but it's almost certainly less than $10,000 per year for
Mr. and Mrs. Putin together.
According to Izvestiya (17 February) "Putin And His Children"
(JRL #4116) "The family paid 14,256 DM annually for the tuition."
That's a little over $7000 per year. I haven't checked Izvestiaya's
tuition estimate, but it certainly can be checked - the German language school
where Putin's 2 daughters went is located near in the old East
German embassy residential complex near Metro Yugozapadnaya
and is run by the German government.
Income less than $10,000 per year, tuition expense more
than $7,000 per year. They must live frugally.
POLL SHOWS RUSSIANS POSITIVE ABOUT THE ARMED FORCES
Moscow, 17th February: For the first time in recent years most Russian
citizens have started to view the armed forces positively. This is shown by
a poll conducted in Russia by the Public Opinion Foundation in mid February.
In 1998 and 1999, 56 per cent of respondents said that a negative attitude
to the armed forces prevailed in Russian society, while now this number has
fallen to 29 per cent. Also, 45 per cent of those asked thought that a
positive attitude to the armed forces prevailed, compared with 21 per cent
in February 1998 and 19 per cent in February 1999. Nineteen per cent think
that society has neutral attitude towards the armed forces.
There have also been fundamental changes in the evaluation of the armed
forces' potential. In 1999, 51 per cent of respondents said that Russia's
armed forces were not in a condition to ensure the country's security,
while this time only 27 per cent held that opinion, and 62 per cent were
sure that the armed forces were in a condition to ensure Russia's security.
A year ago only 35 per cent thought that, compared with 45 per cent two
Meanwhile, 63 per cent think Russia must reform the armed forces, one per
cent less than a year ago. However, around 70 per cent are against cutting
the armed forces' numbers, as in previous years.
Respondents named the poor nourishment of soldiers, hazing and bullying,
corruption and theft, officers' poor material situation and poor discipline
among problems in the armed forces requiring immediate solutions.
The number of those believing that the armed forces' leadership is not up
to the job has fallen by almost half from 1998 to seven per cent in
From: "Yuri Dzhibladze/CDDHR" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: anti-war rally in Moscow
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000
I am a long-time reader and admirer of your list which is an invaluable
source of information for us. However, I have never written anything to it.
I would like to ask you to post the following message in the list
today. It is an announcement about an anti-war rally in Moscow on Saturday.
We are trying to have at least a thousand people there but it turns out to
be very difficult to get the announcement through the mainstream Moscow
media. Our posters and stickers are being torn down almost immediately
from subway and public places. Many people living in Moscow read your list
on a daily basis, and this could be very helpful for spreading the word
about the event. I realize this may be a deviation from your policy but we
would really appreciate your help if you could make an exception.
Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights
ul. Volkhonka, 14, 4th floor, Moscow, 119847, Russia
tel. + fax (095) 203-9196
Committee for Anti-War Actions
tel. (095) 2084902
The Committee for Anti-War Actions announces a mass anti-war rally in the
center of Moscow on Saturday, February 19. The rally starts at 2 PM on
Teatralnaya ploshad' at the monument to Karl Marx (in front of the Bolshoi
Theatre). Human rights activists, politicians, refugees from Chechnya, and
media professionals will speak at the demonstration for one hour. At 3 pm
participants will start their walk to the Lubyanka square where at the
Solovetsky stone memorial to the victims of Stalinist repressions flowers
will be laid and prayers read for the victims of the war in Chechnya.
The Committee is a coalition of more than 15 nongovernmental organizations
such as Memorial, Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees of Russia,
Democratic Perspective, Antimilitarist Radical Association, Center for the
Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Human Rights Network Group,
Anarchist Antiwar Movement, Democratic Union party, Information Center of
the Independent Women's Forum, and others. The Committee was active during
the first Chechen war and has renewed its actions in January this year. The
principal goals of the Committee are to build a massive anti-war movement,
provide alternative information about the events in Chechnya, and
demonstrate to the government that there is no unanimous support to its
policy in Chechnya. The Committee organizes weekly pickets, holds mass
rallies, distributes printed materials, and organizes press-conferences.
Main demands of the Committee are: immediately stop the war in Chechnya, put
an end to gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law by the
federal troops, start negotiations with the legitimate authorities of
Chechnya, cease information blockade, provide status of forced migrants to
the people who have fled the war zone and provide them with adequate aid and
protection, guarantee access by international and independent Russian
observers to the conflict zone. The organizers are launching a nation-wide
civic petition campaign with these demands at the rally on Saturday.
The following slogans will be used at the rally: "War kills freedom," "War
is blood, war is lie, war is the future of Russia?..", "No to the war in
Chechnya," "Putin, where is Babitsky?", "Freedom to Dmitry Neverovsky!",
"FSB + militarization of all nation = the new national idea?", "Let's stop
the war not for the sake of Europe but for the sake of Russia," "Stop
military censorship," "If you neighbour turns out to be a bandit, should
house be bombed?", "State terrorism is more dangerous than terrorism of
individuals," "Killing of a single person is a crime, killing of dozens is a
terrible crime, killing of thousands - an antiterrorist operation?", "The
war kills both Chechens and Russians," and others. The organizers invite to
come to the rally everybody who believes that the military operation of the
federal government in Chechnya is a crime and will not lead to a solution of
the problem, that the war will make Russia terrible political, social,
human, economic and moral damage, who thinks that the government should know
that not everybody in Russia approves of the massacre in Chechnya.
RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AGAINST CENTRALIZATION OF POWER
Source: Centre TV, Moscow, in Russian 1700 gmt 17 Feb 00
Samara Region governor Konstantin Titov, registered as a presidential
candidate today, said he was against the current trend toward centralizing
power in Russia. In an interview to Russian Centre TV on 17th February, he
said the regions should be allowed to decide what form of land ownership
they want. He agreed with Moscow mayor Luzhkov that the market had to be
brought into line, and said that market infrastructure should now be built.
He said a lot was not clear in the case of missing journalist Andrey
Babitskiy. Titov said Samara had had successes in fighting corruption and
building roads. The following are excerpts from the interview 17th February:
[Presenter] [Samara Region governor] Konstantin Alekseyevich Titov was
registered [as a presidential candidate] at the Central Election Commission
[CEC] and received his ID card, which we will see now, but this places
certain limits on us. Good evening.
[Q] We have just been talking about corruption. Samara Region has an
anti-corruption programme. How effective is it?
[A] It is really effective, and now we have come to the next problem. We
have agreed to subject ourselves to an international inspection. There is
an international committee on anti-corruption activity. It checks the
budget, the spending of budget money, the Regional administration's
financial flows and the banks we work with, then issues a verdict. After
this verdict, they say yes, corruption here is minimal and people can
invest their capital, and it will be reliably protected by the law and the
[Q] Does this exist on a national level in Russia now?
[A] No this does not exist on a national level in Russia. Although there
are very effective pension systems in the world, like Argentina's. But we
need lots of money to introduce it, and so as to get this money to
restructure the pension system, of course we have to subject ourselves to
that kind of inspection, at least of extra-budgetary sources.
[Q] Are you not afraid that you will be accused of wanting to bring Russia
to its knees, make its budget transparent and eventually damage its
national dignity, ie, open it up to someone?
[A] You know the feeling of national dignity is a very good feeling, and if
you are honest before the people there is nothing shameful in the whole
world knowing you are honest...
[Q] The CEC took another decision today: it rejected the proposal by the
Union of Right Forces [URF], with which you are allied to, to hold a
referendum on private land ownership. What is your particular position?
[A] I have no particular position or complaints against the CEC. They are
professional people and work professionally. We probably made mistakes when
we were collecting these signatures. But I have to correct you. This is not
about a law on private land ownership. This is about guarding private
ownership, about making private ownership a priority. There is currently no
point in holding a referendum on private ownership of farm land, I assure
you. Eighty per cent of people will vote against it.
[Q] This is your particular position within URF, since this was a URF
initiative and you think it is not relevant.
[A] I think that we need to pass a law that corresponds to the federative
structure of our state. The law should be a framework. Each region, its
legislative body, should decide what form of ownership there should be for
farm land. Saratov Region, Tatarstan and Samara Region have already passed
these laws. Leningrad Region is preparing to pass one. The regions must be
given freedom, then this process will start to work, without being forced,
in the interests of those bodies of power who understand this task and the
interests of farmers, who also understand that land being in circulation is
good for them.
[Q] When you talk about freedom for the regions, are you not worried that
you are going against the current tendency to create a vertical
presidential chain of command, the amalgamation of Russia's regions and the
appointment of governors? What is your position here?
[A] I am categorically against this. I think that we got very little during
radical reforms, but we got freedom of speech and of the press, and most
important we got democracy, elected bodies of power - municipal, regional
and national. This is a very great achievement of democracy. It is very
easy to take a step backwards. We must take a step forward. We have to give
the people of the regions more opportunities, then Russia will simply
[Q] Is there a danger of a step backward from democracy in Russia now?
[A] If we start appointing officials again, then they will above all be
appointed according to personal loyalty, then by whether they are a friend
[Q] By officials you mean governors?
[A] It doesn't matter, it is not important. The people trusted us, and then
for you the next day of work is the next election campaign [as received]...
[A] If you have more freedom you have more possibilities, so why run from
this family [a federative country]? But if in this family you are always
been squeezed, if you always being told that there is a centre of power and
you must obey it, then you want to run away. Federalism is not separatism,
it is a construction that allows the state's integrity to be preserved,
national peculiarities to be taken into account and everyone to develop
equally within this system.
[Q] It is it true that your wife rides a Harley Davidson motorbike?
[A] Yes, and better than me.
[Q] But as far as I know Harleys are not offroad bikes - are there decent
enough roads in Russia?
[A] Yes, at least in Samara Region.
[Q] So Samara's roads are like America's highways?
[A] You know, if we are moving toward the market, we have carried out two
radical reforms: privatization and the liberalization of prices. The next
reforms should be construction. We must build market infrastructure, then
roads - goods must be transported along good roads. We have approved a
programme to the year 2001 proposing to link all Samara Region's built-up
areas with European-class roads. As of today, we have built 1,870 km out of
2,100 km. This year we will complete this programme a year ahead of the
[Q] I feel that your wife supports you, at least in this matter.
[A] You know, like the wife of a Decembrist she is against, but she is
going with me.
[Q] On a Harley Davidson. Not bad. Thus, speaking about trade and
infrastructure [changes tack] Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov has just said that
the markets that sell all sorts of food right on the ground or in
containers and without cashier's receipts will be closed and trade should
become civilized. How are things in Samara?
[A] It's the same as with Luzhkov. He is right here. We have been through
the first stage already when the president ordered trading everywhere and
of everything because there was a crisis and inflation at the time...
Today a civilized stage of the market has started...
[Q] Speaking about [Radio Liberty journalist] Andrey Babitskiy who as Putin
said "is far from agricultural workers" and "is not even a producer of
agricultural produce" [changes tack] Putin said this in Krasnodar. Can you
do anything about this case, or how may this situation be resolved?
[A] A lot is not clear in this situation. First, we have to say that a
Russian cannot be exchanged for a Russian. This is nonsense. Moreover, he
is a journalist, that is the second. Third, we do not understand a lot and
many things have not been explained...
I think that all "t"s should be crossed and all "i"s should be dotted.
Somebody has to be responsible for this.
[Q] What would be a mechanism to do that? How it can be done?
[A] You know, the mechanism is very simple. They often tell us about the
vertical structure of power, about the appointments of the governors
forgetting that a constitutional right in a democratic state divides power
into layers and that there is also a horizontal structure of power. There
are prosecutor's offices, the investigation directorate of the Interior
Ministry, the Federal Security Service, the tax investigation police and
people who know a thing or two and are ready to share their knowledge with
the corresponding agencies if an investigation starts. In other words the
state is supposed to do all this.
[Q] Thus you want to say that all these agencies-
[Titov interrupts him] They have to be faced with this task...
[A] A big tragedy happened today in the village of Privolzhye [in Samara
Region]. A gas container exploded there. I hope it was not an act of
terrorism. The investigation will make it clear. A woman was killed in this
accident and a man was heavily wounded. I am very sorry for them. We will
give them all necessary help. The Region's administration is already
dealing with this. As for the other things - we try to be civilized in
relation to human rights and objective economic laws.
We [behave] as if we are for the state [not the other way round]. We still
have that mentality that we are [living] for the state. However, we have to
understand that its the state which is for us. It creates our living
conditions. And the democracy is to select the officials who will create
favourable conditions for us.
[Q] You sound as if you have come from some other world.
[A] Come to Samara.
[Q] This is a human rights category. People say that the Russians
absolutely don't understand this. This is a western story. We have our own
ways. Do people in Samara understand you at all?..
[A] When one is independent and justifies people's trust one can do a lot
even within the present meagre possibilities of federalism that exist in
Public Russian Television (ORT)
Sergey Dorenko’s Program
Saturday, February 12, 2000
Olga Kryazheva, Research Assistant
Center for Defense Information
ORT states that Russian military starts to use 1.5 ton bombs in Chechnya.
The military depots contain tremendous amount of arms and provide weaponry
and equipment for this war. The battlefields have moved to Argun and
Vedeno Gorges. The Russian military considers the Chechen guerilla war
threats “a complete bluff” and states that Chechens do not have enough
resources to fight them. ORT reported that this “bluff” resulted in the
explosions of the two special military trains in the Argun region.
Imprisoned Chechen fighters admit that many of their commanders are killed.
Russian military makes vain attempts to find Shamil Basayev. Imprisoned
Chechens testified that Basayev fled to Bavaria through Ingushetia. If
this is the case, Russian officials will confront Ingushetia on the
question of supporting Chechen militants. ORT reported that 140 Chechen war
prisoners would be sentenced to up to five years of imprisonment,
“ridiculously short time,” Dorenko noted.
S. Dorenko discussed the reason why Y. Luzhkov and Y. Primakov refused to
run for office. Yury Luzhkov stated that both Primakov and himself were
unfairly accused, and “ORT’s dirty slander campaign” decreased their
ORT briefly covered the recent Duma crisis. The SPS and OVR representatives
Vladimir Lukin and Boris Nemtsov were not approved as the nominees for the
Duma’s vice speaker position. A number of accusations were addressed to
both nominees. Vasily Shandibin, a representative from the workers, called
Nemtsov “a fierce anti-communist and an enemy number one of all people and
the whole country.” Lukin’s politics were called pro-American and
According to the weekly ORT surveys on future presidential elections, on
the question “Who will win the elections if they are to take place today?”
55% answered Putin (53% last week); Zyuganov gathered 15 % (14% last week),
Primakov, who refused to run for the office, 5 %, Zhirinovsky 3 %,
Yavlinsky 3 %, Titov 2%; Tuliyev - 1%.
Interview with one of the candidates for president and leaders of “Yabloko”
Gregory Yavlinsky followed. Yavlinsky noted that in the next 1.5 month the
rating of the acting president Putin should go down due to the measures
like increasing prices for vodka, military training, and politics towards
Babitsky’s case. Yavlinsky stated that Putin’s politics never agree with
his words. If this continues, on March 26 he will lose a large number of
Running for office for the second time, Yavlinsky represents all of the
anti-communist and non-gangster Russia now. He hopes that his forthcoming
presidential campaign would bring him large support from the people.
In regards to Babitsky’s case, he said that exchanging one citizen to
another was an absolutely unacceptable thing to do. The state should be
responsible for each of its citizens, he said. Dorenko gave examples from
the past few years when Russian authorities traded soldiers and hostages
and asked Yavlinsky if he accepted such trade. He added that Babitsky
worked for American media. The Yabloko leader emphasized that he does not
support and would stand against any kind of trade of citizens.
The question of Swiss financial support to the Nazi Germany during World
War II is being currently discussed, ORT reported. The International Jewish
Organization accuses Switzerland of financing Germany’s war campaigns with
bank loans and buying its stolen gold. Without Swiss support Germany would
not have been able to conduct World War II for such a long time.
Switzerland made $1 billion 250 million on this war. Swiss attorneys do not
plead guilty and emphasize that Swiss monetary aid in support of the
Holocaust victims is clearly an act of humanity.
The militia (police) have a very busy and stressful work schedule and do
not have enough employees to conduct an effective job, Dorenko said. One of
the reasons for the Militia’s lack of forces is the fact that 1002
militiamen work as security guards for Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov and his
family, in the “Sicilian sense of this word.” 229 militiamen only guard
Luzhkov’s dacha in Molodenovo. ORT states that these security forces are
being paid with the taxpayers’ money.
THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION
A MONTHLY ON THE POST-SOVIET STATES
February 2000 No. 2 Part 2
HOW RUSSIA WAS LOST
By Tatiana Matsuk
Tatiana Matsuk is a senior researcher with the Institute of Employment
Issues at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The euphoria of the early years of perestroika and the beginning of the
reforms in Russia has been replaced by a deep sense of disillusionment
brought on by the collapse of hopes and dreams. Russia and the West are
moving rapidly in different directions, and are practically on the brink of
cold war. The West really is losing Russia. I think the most important
things is to try and establish why this is happening rather than who is to
There are very different ideas about this in Russia and the West, though it
is quite clearly the collapse of Russia's reforms that is at the root of
anti-Western sentiment in Russia. If we gather the threads of the media
reports that Russians are offered, a generalized version of the Western
viewpoint, seen from a Russian perspective, might look like this:
"In Russia the West encountered a number of situations for which it had no
recipes. The West backed President Yeltsin and his circle; it thought that
democratic reforms were underway in Russia, and offered assistance to
Russia's leaders, but it turned out that this was not the case. By voting
against the communists, Russians were hoping that the quality of life might
be improved, but it transpired that the democrats did not know how to do
this. Russians are accustomed to a one-party system, and do not want to join
political parties, so parties are created from above. During the long years
of serfdom, people grew accustomed to debasing themselves, and are prepared
to pay for things they are entitled to by law. The West should not helped
individual politicians, but instead should have assisted in forming social
institutions--improving the constitution, strengthening parliament, raising
the profile of judges. Due to the West's support for Yeltsin, the Russian
people have lost their respect for America. Another mistake was cutting
Russia out of the process of resolving international problems, the
diplomatic marginalization of a nuclear power. We must now monitor Russia's
use of Western credits very strictly, and, on the basis of the events in
Chechnya, we must threaten to deny loans to Russia's leaders, warn them that
they risk entirely losing their reputation in Europe, and demonstrate our
coolness towards Moscow, because Moscow can only understand pressure."
A generalized Russian response might be:
"If the West had a poor understanding of the situation in Russia and didn't
really know how to deal with the problems, then why did it offer advice to
Russia's leaders and set such tough conditions for securing credits? Was it
perhaps because all these experts and advisers were making a killing, with
their 5000-dollar-a-month salaries plus US$2,000 for accommodation and their
'hardship allowance,' not to mention extra for business trips? Or perhaps
because it was advantageous for many people to destroy any potential
competition? Russians realized that Yeltsin was no democrat back in 1993,
when he unleashed the tanks on the parliament building, and the last Chechen
war underlined this. (There were never in fact any real democrats in power.)
But for some reason the West has only just realized this, just as it has
only just realized that there is outrageous corruption among Russian
officials. This means that back then it was expedient not to notice these
things, whereas now it is expedient to notice them. If that is the case,
there can be no talk of 'ideals.' Who should Russia try to emulate and why?
The West? Well, Russia's generals are doing this in Chechnya: If the
military operation in Kosovo had not taken place, there would have been no
operation in Chechnya--at least not in the form it is taking now. And Boris
Berezovsky says that the notorious Kremlin 'family' which basically rules
Russia today is a perfectly normal phenomenon: The influence of money on the
authorities is even greater in other countries. Do you think Clinton doesn't
consult leading companies on the Iraq question and so on? Nonsense. In the
directory for 1993 there were already thirty-four parties listed, more than
half of which were led by complete unknowns. And later nearly all active,
thinking Russians, seeing their powerful nation going to the dogs, were
ready to form their own party. But the only parties which had any chance of
making a real breakthrough into big-time politics were those which were
formed 'from above,' because the others did not have the money or other
resources to do so. Or perhaps the West supported Yeltsin because Russia was
useful merely as a source of raw materials and a market for its goods?
Ordinary people bribe officials to avoid being humiliated by them, because
the country's legal system doesn't work properly, laws are not enforced and
the laws aren't created for the sake of the people anyway. But the West gave
these officials huge loans which went goodness knows where. And now there is
US$1,000 worth of foreign debt for every Russian citizen. What is Russia's
reputation in the West worth to Russia now, when Russians themselves no
longer respect the West? Isolation may be better for the country than the
current position; we would stop accepting loans, we would begin developing
our own industry and capital would stop fleeing the country. The more the
West pressurizes Russia now, the less it will achieve in the long run.
Especially since everyone here understands that buyers will always be found
for our natural resources, arms and technology, and that nobody walks away
voluntarily from such a huge market. And no one will risk threatening a huge
nuclear power with force."
There is a grain of truth to both sides of this argument. But I think that
what is needed now is not mutual recrimination, threats and abuse, but a
deeper examination of the reasons for the failure of Russia's reforms. To my
mind, they were doomed from the start, because they were carried through
with the aim of maintaining the type of state which suited the ruling
Many people are now saying that there is a nomenklatura state in Russia, but
they use the concept to mean different things. I do not think that Russia's
nomenklatura is something specific which was created entirely in the bowels
of the Soviet system or that is related only to the planned economy. When
creating his empire, Stalin modeled the nomenklatura along the lines of the
nobility. In different periods in Russia's history, the role of the
nomenklatura was played by different social groups, but its essential nature
was always the same: At every level, power in Russia has always been wielded
predominantly by people who could not have achieved what power gave them in
any other way.
Such people exist in every country. They always aspire to power for the sake
of the particular opportunities it offers, and they form a bureaucratic and
often corrupt part of the civil service, the oligarchy and so on. But where
there are not enough natural resources, and the social sphere is not
particularly diverse or is not doing too badly, or, for example, in the
United States, where professionals from all over the world go in search of
the best way to fulfill their potential, society offers great resistance to
this type of person. Society does not allow them to increase their numbers
or to use power and the state predominantly for their own interests.
Russia and some Latin American countries (the comparison is appropriate) are
a different matter. Russia is very rich in natural resources, but living in
it, even if only due to the climate (unstable agricultural zone) and large
uncultivated swathes of land, is difficult. Those professionals who want to
fulfill their potential, and have the creative gifts to do so, do not
usually have enough time and energy for anything beyond work and the daily
round. A significant section of the population has always lived in poverty,
marginalized because they could never see much difference in the relative
standard of living of those who worked and those who didn't, while the
country's riches always somehow supported a sizable army of spongers. But
the more people there are who rely on the fruits of other people's labor,
and the greater the difference in standard of living and quality of life
between various segments of the population and between different regions,
the stronger the position of those who control the levers of government and
hand out benefits.
So those people who set themselves the task of gaining as much benefit from
power as possible usually achieved this aim. Aware that they would not be
able to hold on to the positions they have gained without other people like
themselves, they have always known how to close ranks at the right time. And
when there were too many of them, and too many people at the margins on whom
they depended, and the country's economy began to burst at the seams, then
wars or reforms would be arranged. There would be changes at the
top--sometimes quite major ones--but the clan would hang on to its position
overall. Even revolutions and countless victims could not shift Russia from
this state of equilibrium, though there have always been vacillations, and
some of them have been very significant. But after each period of upheaval,
there has always been a return to a state ruled by a privileged clan of
"animals that are more equal than others".
Whatever words have been used to describe the Russian state over the last
three hundred years--feudal, socialist, capitalist--it has at heart always
been a nomenklatura state. And in such a state, power always adapts to the
winds blowing from above, and values services rendered not to the people but
to those who have more power, money and clout.
Gorbachev's perestroika was nothing more than another attempt by the
nomenklatura to introduce reforms as a way of preserving its precarious
position. But after the failure of the 1991 putsch, the country had the
opportunity to break out of the vicious cycle. This, however, would only be
possible if the disorientated and unnerved nomenklatura could be removed
from power, perhaps even by bequeathing it the property which to all intents
and purposes it already owned. (This is, incidentally, exactly what the
"young reformers" Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais now say was the
intention--to swap property for power.) Without power, people of mediocre
ability--who were accustomed to pretending to do useful work rather than to
actually do it--would be incapable of holding on to their property in real
market conditions. Given time, this property would be transferred to the
professionals who were keen to get involved in small and medium business and
who could have become effective managers and done a proper job of reforming
But the right people did not have enough money, experience, contacts or
information, and the nomenklatura was very well aware of the danger
threatening it. This is why they co-opted their own children, who had the
reputation of being democrats and Westernizers, but who had never been on
equal terms with everyone else. And it was through them--with the help of
high taxes, financial pyramids (including GKOs, or short-term government
bonds), western credits, voucher privatization, fraudulent auctions and all
the other delights of the Russian "reforms"--that the nomenklatura
practically destroyed its main rivals and potential grave-diggers--Russia's
real professionals. And the West helped--partly through a lack of
understanding, partly because it was afraid to take risks, partly through a
desire not to see their own profits disappear, and partly because it has its
own parasites too. Bureaucrats of all countries always find a common
language and common interests.
Now, Russia's officials--who number twice as many as the USSR's--and those
people who have dubbed themselves the political and business elite, have
both property and power, which they supposedly acquired legally and which
they are not planning to relinquish to anyone. The numbers of people on the
margins of society have risen tremendously. Crime and power are rapidly
becoming intertwined. Meanwhile, those who have a realistic chance of
getting the country off its knees are eking out a miserable existence while
vigilant western officials refuse them visas to enter their countries.
People are living in poverty, another war is raging and the specter of
another revolution or dictatorship stalks a nuclear power.
On top of this, the West threatens Russia with isolation and complains that
it is fed up with Russia's problems. This is the equivalent of saying that
you're fed up with earthquakes and trying to isolate yourself from them when
you live on a fault-line. This can only be done by moving house--but I don't
think that those living in the opulent West are ready to move to the Moon.
So what can realistically be done in this situation? Just one thing: Offer
support, at long last, not to those who hold power in their hands--or will
hold it after the upcoming elections (only very rarely do people unconnected
with the nomenklatura or criminal circles break through into real
power)--but to those who, given time, could create an alternative, true
market economy, based on developing small and medium business, and a
different type of national administration. These are the professional
people, not very rich and not very well known, who have given up hoping for
credits, investment, open markets and support for their ideas and
undertakings from their rich neighbors on this planet. If they end up with
nothing once again, then I fear that the West will lose Russia altogether,
and will leave itself with a host of serious problems for many years to come.
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