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24 February 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-Tass: Rebels Harbour Plans to Kill Putin -Ivanov.
2. Interfax: Most Russians approve of Putin's policy in Chechnya.
3. APN: Babitsky is in Russian special services` hands.
4. Interfax: YELTSIN TO WORK WITH PUTIN AFTER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
5. Reuters: US says Chechen warnings fall on deaf Russian ears.
6. Jerry F. Hough: Dissidents.
7. Ira Straus: What should be US policy on Putin's centralism? on his authoritarianism?
8. RFE/RL: Lisa McAdams, U.S.: Views Differ On Engagement Policy
9. Paris' Le Monde editorial: Putin and Westerners.
10. Moscow Times: Catherine Belton, Foreign Business Upbeat On Putin.
11. Interfax: Ten-year development program being worked on.(Center for Strategic Projects)
12. Interfax: Elections: Chubais blasts Zyuganov.
13. AFP: Putin expresses sympathy for Chechens as war rages on.
14. BBC MONITORING: CHECHEN OFFICIAL CALLS FOR TRIAL OF RUSSIANS
RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECHEN WAR.]
Rebels Harbour Plans to Kill Putin -Ivanov.
MOSCOW, February 24 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei
Ivanov said he had no information to indicate that Chechen rebels are
preparing at attempt on the life of acting President Vladimir Putin these
"I do not have concrete information indicating that a concrete attempt on the
life of Russian acting President Vladimir Putin is being prepared today,
tomorrow, the day after tomorrow," Ivanov said in an interview with ORT
However, general information suggests that rebels harbour such a plan, he
Ivanov cited a television footage, which he said had been shown in passage,
of a Turkish mercenary captured in Chechnya with a a passport that security
services said showed a telling gegraphy of terrorism.
The mercenary also carried a letter of Aslan Maskhadov, Chechnya's president,
in which he called on his suppoprters to make a terrorist act against Putin.
"For this reason, such a possibility is in principle realistic, it is not
excluded, special services and the federal guard service ary carrying out
relevant work," Ivanov said.
Most Russians approve of Putin's policy in Chechnya
MOSCOW. Feb 23 (Interfax) - A majority of Russian citizens (52%)
support acting President Vladimir Putin's policy in Chechnya, according
to a recent poll.
This data was derived from a survey of 1,600 Russian citizens
conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Center on February 21.
In a similar poll taken by the Center in 1996 as few as 6% approved
of then President Boris Yeltsin's policy in Chechnya.
More than one third (34%) regard Putin's performance in the Chechen
events as satisfactory compared to 24% for Yeltsin in 1996. Of those
polled, 6% regard Putin's performance as unsatisfactory compared with a
40% disapproval rate for Yeltsin in 1996. Eight percent and 12%,
respectively, were undecided.
The performance of the Russian federal troops is regarded as good
or very good by 57% (13% in 1996). Thirty percent view their performance
as satisfactory (28% in 1996) and 5% as unsatisfactory (40% in 1996).
Eight percent (in 1996, 19%) were undecided.
23 February, 2000, 21:34
Babitsky is in Russian special services` hands
APN reporter quoted the source within Ministry of Internal Affairs of the RF
as saying that Radio Liberty correspondent Andrei Babitsky had not been given
up to Chechen militants but detained by Russian special services on the
territory of Daghestan or Ingushetia.
According to the source, in late January a group of Chechen field commanders
appealed to Russian authorities with a request to exchange Radio Liberty
correspondent Andrei Babitsky for Russian prisoners of war. But the swap had
not taken place as Chechen field commanders failed to come to the place of
meeting for some reason.
Russian special services` officers (the source evaded a question which
special service he meant) took this opportunity to prolong Babitsky`s
detention. According to the source, at present the correspondent is on the
territory «of one of north-Caucasus republic boarding with Chechnya»
(Daghestan or Ingushetia – the source refused to give more accurate
The source thinks special services officers informed their commanders on the
details of the operation. Acting President of the RF Putin was also informed
Andrei Babitsky is considered a valuable source of information from viewpoint
of Russian military intelligence service. His long-term detention is likely
to be explained by this circumstance.
The source insists that Babitsky`s state of health is satisfactory and he is
likely to be released shortly.
The source found it difficult to answer in what way long illegal Babitsky`s
detention will be presented before world community.
YELTSIN TO WORK WITH PUTIN AFTER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Moscow, 23rd February: Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin has welcomed
Vladimir Putin's first steps as acting head of state.
"He has opted for the right course, which was approved when I was in office,
and is rigorously pursuing this course," Yeltsin told Interfax today.
Yeltsin described Putin as a "strong-willed, firm and resolute person who
understands people, which is very important." "Therefore, people will rally
around him," he said.
"I do and will support him until voting day. And then we will work together,"
the former president said.
US says Chechen warnings fall on deaf Russian ears
By Elif Kaban
GENEVA, Feb 23 (Reuters) - A senior U.S. official said on Wednesday appeals
to Moscow not to harm civilians in war ravaged Chechnya had fallen on deaf
David Scheffer, Washington's roving ambassador for war crimes, also urged
Moscow to restore its international standing by allowing a credible
investigation into what he called substantial allegations of abuses by its
At a news conference, Scheffer said ``the larger picture'' seen from
Washington of Russia's military campaign in Chechnya was ``the indiscriminate
shelling of civilian areas, and that raises profound questions under
international humanitarian law.''
``It's clearly been distressful to us that so much of the concern expressed
about Chechnya appears to have fallen on either deaf ears or ears that wish
to focus on other issues rather than what needs to be focused on,'' he said.
``The first priority that needs to be achieved in Chechnya is for the Russian
government to properly and thoroughly investigate in a transparent way the
allegations of human rights abuses and criminal activity in Chechnya.''
Moscow denies its forces carried out systematic abuses in Chechnya but has
blocked rights groups access to the region.
Scheffer called on Moscow to investigate in Chechnya ``a substantial number
of allegations of violations of the Geneva conventions and of international
``It is hoped that the Russian government will step forward and answer very
obvious questions that are being raised in the international community about
those shellings and the fate of prisoners of war,'' he said in response to a
``Russia will only alienate itself as a consequence of this and its own
credibility in the international community is clearly going to suffer if it
cannot turn this around.''
Russia is under fire over allegations of massacres, torture, rape and summary
executions in its five-month military campaign in the breakaway southern
Human Rights Watch on Wednesday named 50 people it said were civilians killed
by Russian troops in a ``pattern of summary executions'' in the Chechen
capital Grozny this month.
It said it believed at least 62 civilians were murdered in a killing spree in
a Grozny neighbourhood on February 5 after rebels pulled out.
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <email@example.com>
I have not wanted to participate in the debate on dissidents, and
still have little to say. But I would like to remind people that there
were dissidents within the Establishment as well as outside--the people
like Burlatsky, Sheinis, Bogomolov, Simonia, Shakhnazarov, Frolov, etc.,
etc. My own judgment is that they played a bigger role in undermining the
old system than the dissidents outside, but at a minimum they should not be
forgotten. I think that one of the best books I ever wrote was Struggle
for the Third World: Soviet Debates and American Options. It was titled
as it was to protect the guilty. It was really about how Soviet scholars
were undercutting Marxism in published sources. Rozman's book did the same
thing. Archie Brown was one of those looking at those in political
science, as was Ron Hill. My book is never cited in a discussion of
domestic politics, and that is a major mistake. The same is true of the
others. Russia has been through a revolution, but the time has come for
Russian scholars to begin to look not at those like Conquest, but those
who really understood the post-Stalin Soviet system and to begin
understand the nature of the political struggle of the time. As the
American historians begin moving to study the 1950s and 1960s, they need
to look at the same literatures as well.
The striking thing about the within-system dissidents is that
they did little better than the outside-system dissidents. Often they
were around Gorbachev, but it never worked out. Yeltsin totally
abandoned them. They were social democrats, and Gorbachev and Yeltsin
favored monetarist economists, often of a different generation and
usually with little role in bringing down the old system. One of the
reasons was the censorship. The older generation learned how to undercut
the ideology in a series of subtle ways, but it could not publish
concrete proposals. Hence it did not develop them. Power went to those
with simple practical answers that the West validated. It still is a
problem, for the Westerners know nothing about the tsarist economic
system, nothing about early democracy, nothing about Chinese and Asian
reform, nothing about how the corporate American economy operates, and
they talk only about what they do know--a very simple ideology.
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000
From: IRASTRAUS@aol.com (Ira Straus)
Subject: What should be US policy on Putin's centralism? on
I liked your jibe a few weeks ago, about US advisers who have been preaching
de-centralization and how they are going to swallow Putin's
re-centralization. At least, I liked it as a jibe.
As to policy-making, that's a different matter. I hope the American advisers
will indeed swallow Putin's policy on recentralization, no matter how
embarrassing it may be to them. Because I think Putin is right on this one.
Where he's been dangerously authoritarian is in other regards, notably the
As you know, I have always opposed the small-is-beautiful line of advice. So
I don't have anything to be embarrassed about here.
I attach below eight policy prescriptions on these matters, which may be of
interest to JRL readers.
- - - - -
What policy should America follow on Putin's recentralizing efforts, and on
authoritarian trends in treatment of the media?
1. Oppose the repression, not the centralization. Distinguish clearly between
centralization and repression. Thus:
a) Criticize the moves toward repression of journalists and of free press.
Follow up with diplomatic efforts, and with assistance to Russian
journalists and independent media.
b) Reserve judgment on the moves toward centralization of state subsidies to
local media. The provincially-controlled subsidies had been used for blatant
control of the media. Federal media have been far more diverse.
c) Support centralization in principle where it is needed for nationwide
coherence of law and a nationwide market (see 3 below).
2. Continue well-aimed assistance programs. Continue to learn from past
mistakes in assistance. Continue to think about waiving or changing economic
conditionalities where they have proved overly rigid or misguided. Resist
public mood swings about giving up on Russia and on assistance. Resist
pressures from anti-Russia lobbies for applying ridiculously unrealistic
forms of conditionality. Develop some new conditionalities relevant to
maintenance of basic freedoms, particularly press freedoms.
3. Publicly express support in principle for centralization in the sense of:
a unified nationwide rule of law,
direct applicability of Federal law throughout the Federation,
direct Federal taxation instead of tax farming,
nationwide freedom of the market from provincial tariff and non-tariff
nationwide freedom of the market from provincial mafias and
At the same time, reserve judgment on how such centralization is implemented
4. Promote democratization in the regions, not further decentralization or
autonomy from Moscow.
In advice to and assistance programs in the regions, work for
anti-corruption, integrity of government, and the autonomy and pluralism of
the media, NGOs and parties. Cut out any "small is beautiful" anti-Moscow
rhetoric. Publicly lambaste the corruption and lack of democracy in the
regions. Make a point of the fact that there is more democracy and pluralism
on the Federal level than is the norm on the regional level, and that the
lack of democracy and pluralism in regions correlates to the extent of their
autonomy from Moscow.
5. Promote a genuine federalism, not a further de-centralization along
pyramid-feudal lines as at present.
Federalism does not mean de-centralization; rather, it means a different
structure of relations between center, provinces and citizens, one in which
the central government is usually made stronger not weaker. In a federation,
both central and provincial governments are elected separately rather than
pyramiding one on top of the other, and both can apply their laws directly to
the citizens rather than depending on the other for implementation of law and
policy. Russia has made significant progress toward federalism, through
elections on all levels. Much of Putin’s "recentralization" would be further
progress toward federalism.
For a genuine federalism, the most important steps at present are: (a) legal
re-centralization, in the sense of uniform nationwide application of Federal
law, and reconciliation of provincial laws to Federal norms; (b) a nationwide
market unfettered by local controls and mafiyas; (c) preservation of
electoral processes on all levels and extension of their pluralistic
democratic character. The first two points are areas for agreement and
cooperation with Putin against corrupt regional resistance; the third point
is an area for potential disagreement, including potential support for some
regions against Putin.
6. Make it clear to Russians that the U.S. is on the side of the cohesion and
integrity of the Russian Federation. Make this clear in deed not just in
word; and in consistency of word and rhetoric, not just in pro forma
declarations about support for Russian territorial integrity while proceeding
in practice to preach things that smell of support for disintegrative trends.
Disabuse dis-integrationists of the notion that they have U.S. support.
7. Remember that this is a wartime situation. Speak in a way that keeps
visible the possibility of a normal evolution after the war winds down, i.e.
one in which wartime misdeeds do not continue. Treat this as the mainstream
prospect to which Russian planning ought to adapt itself.
8. Continue to reserve judgment on Putin. He is a work in progress. Don't cut
ourselves out from the shaping of the work; don't shape him negatively
through self-fulfilling prophecies of doom. Keep open the lines of
communication. Keep open the lines of cooperation on mutual interests.
U.S. Coordinator, Committee on Eastern Europe and Russia in NATO
U.S.: Views Differ On Engagement Policy With Russia
By Lisa McAdams
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made the case for continued U.S.
"engagement" with Russia last week, saying it would be a huge mistake to try
and recreate a Russian enemy. Her comments echo sentiments expressed in a
recent U.S.-Russia foreign policy experts group briefing, hosted by the
Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International peace. But, as RFE/RL's
Lisa McAdams reports, that is where the similarity in views ends.
Washington, 23 February 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Secretary of State Albright's
comments were made before the House International Relations Committee, where
she testified last week in full support of President Bill Clinton's fiscal
year 2001 foreign funding requests.
Albright noted what she called her "reasonably good meeting" in Moscow
recently with acting Russian President Vladimir Putin. She said they agreed
on everything except Russia's military campaign in breakaway Chechnya. Still,
Albright said she believes that it is in America's best interest to remain
engaged with Russia, in order to better press reform.
Albright said troubles with Russia were "easy enough" to find, without
manufacturing them. Thus, she said the U.S. should work hard to maintain
existing U.S.-Russian relations.
A report recently released by the U.S. working group on U.S. Russian
relations agrees that Washington needs to pursue a policy of broad engagement
with Russia. But where the report differs with the Clinton Administration is
in how that policy of engagement should ultimately be carried out.
Tom Graham, a former U.S. diplomat in Russia who presented the report at the
Washington think-tank, explains:
"The (Clinton) Administration over the past six or seven years has expected
and demanded too much from Russia in the foreign policy behavior, in the
domestic politics and in their economic developments. The administration, in
our view, has been deeply involved in Russia's domestic politics, actively
taking sides supporting one group against another in Russia's internal
affairs, and we wound up being too closely associated with (former Russian
President Boris) Yeltsin and a small group of reformers that pursued policies
that many Russians believe ultimately brought their country close to ruin."
Graham says the report's authors concluded that a "sober" appreciation that
the problems facing Russia are too entrenched to be fixed simply by changes
of personnel could help avoid the cycle of enthusiasm and disappointment that
characterized the 1990s.
He said the U.S. working group report also takes a more somber stance on the
current state of U.S.-Russian relations. According to Graham, the working
group finds the relationship "deeply troubled."
"We may disagree over the time when the serious deterioration set in -- many
people look to the decision on NATO enlargement in the Spring of 1997. I
myself look to the financial collapse in Russia in August, 1998 as the
watershed event. But it is clear that the last year and a half has been
troubled. There's been the financial collapse, (disagreements over) Iraq,
Kosovo, national missile defense, the bank of New York scandal and now
Graham said the report's authors believe that to a certain extent this
"cooling" was inevitable after the initial euphoria at the end of the Cold
War, particularly, the report cites, as Russia itself began to articulate its
own national interests. The report also singles out lack of political will
and imagination on both sides for further blame.
At the same time, Graham says, the U.S. needs to build a broader network of
contacts, both in Moscow and in the regions, to guard against tunnel-vision
(a narrow outlook) and to restore the reservoir of goodwill that has been
strained over the past seven years.
U.S. working group panel member Chip Blacker, a former Senior Director at the
National Security Council, spoke to the part of the report that seeks to
assess future chances for a serious improvement in the U.S.-Russia bilateral
Blacker said the group agrees -- much like the current U.S. Administration --
that the main emphasis between now and the presidential election cycles in
both countries should be on preventing further damage to the existing
relationship. But Blacker said there was one potential "starter" in the
"The single most important factor driving the bilateral relationship between
now and November will be the President's decision -- sometime this summer --
on whether or NOT and under what conditions this country would proceed with
national missile defense. And I would predict that the odds are better than
even that the U.S. will reach agreement on this complex of issues -- ABM
(Anti-ballistic-missile defense), NMD (national missile defense), Start II
and Start III, sometime between Putin's election in late March and August."
Blacker said the "narrowing" of the U.S.-Russian relationship to just this
small set of arms control issues may be "regrettable." But he said dispensing
of these issues was essential, if the bilateral relationship is to begin the
long and painful process of recovery that all the U.S. working group members
agree is so needed.
At the same time, the group notes that the best intentions of the United
States will lead nowhere, if Russian officials do not act responsibly, or if
they forsake engagement.
For example, the report authors note that "without a concerted, equitable
effort by the Russian government to deal with high-level corruption and an
end to Moscow's military campaign in Chechnya, it will be impossible to
create and sustain public support in the United States for broad engagement
Further, they said that just as the U.S. should prepare the ground for
renewed engagement once a new Russian leadership is in place, so Russia
should prepare to take advantage of opportunities to engage the United States
as a new Administration takes office early next year.
As for economic policies, the report's authors note that the United States
needs to rethink its strategy toward economic reform and recovery in Russia.
The U.S. working group says what is needed is a "rational" economic program
that enjoys sufficient political support so as to have reasonable chances of
being implemented. Further, the U.S. working group believes the United States
needs to leave the initiative for developing an appropriate program in the
hands of the Russian government, while at the same time reassuring them that
U.S. is prepared to help, if the program makes sense.
Paris Editorial Questions US, EU Attitude Toward Russia's Putin
Paris' Le Monde
February 19, 2000
[translation for personal use only]
Unattributed editorial: "Putin and Westerners"
"Do not humiliate the Russians." The remark
was made by Jacques Chirac. However, this leitmotiv that is being
heard from Washington to Paris summarizes the general Western attitude
toward Moscow. At a time when the Kremlin's men are having a part of
their population, the Chechens, crushed by bombs, we rather feel like
asking Messrs. Chirac, Blair, Clinton and Schroeder, "How much longer are
you going to let yourselves be humiliated by the Russians?" We really
do have a feeling of deep humiliation in view of the accommodating
attitude shown by the United States and the European Union toward what is
taking place in Chechnya.
Even if we are cautious to a fault, there can hardly be any doubt
about the facts. When a government endeavors to stop the press from
working in the field; when it makes one of its own citizens disappear,
reporter Andrei Babitski, because he saw too much; when information
gathered by the local human rights agencies, Memorial, the Glasnost Fund,
corroborate witness accounts gathered by courageous Western journalists
who are still in the region; there is some reason to worry and start
looking at reality square in the face. The Russians are massacring
civilians, destroying entire villages, interning part of the population
in camps where torture is meted out systematically.
Western governments have timidly stated their "concern". However,
it is clear they do not want to bother Vladimir Putin. "He is a man we
can talk to (...), a direct strong and effective man (...) determined,
intelligent," said President Clinton admiringly on Monday. Upon their
return from Moscow, Europeans who rushed to greet the new master of the
Kremlin, rivaled in their praise. Just this week, NATO
Secretary-General George Robertson went to "normalize" the Alliance's
relations with Russia. Private western banks that form the London Club
have just erased $10 billion in Russian debt. The Kremlin can finance
We can understand Americans and Europeans are happy that a young man
has taken on the task of restoring the rule of law to a country bled
white by the Yeltsin years. But what if they are committing a
monumental error on the nature of Mr. Putin's regime? Disquieting
indications are mounting. FSB [former KGB] units have reintegrated the
army; a branch of the FSB has just been given responsibility for
maintaining surveillance over the press (which is feeling more and more
under threat). Courses in "military education" are again mandatory in
school, just like in the good old soviet days. The defense budget has
again become the top priority.
All of this is happening under the authority of a man whose climb to
power is closely entwined with the dirty war being waged in Chechnya.
There seems to be enough to, at the very least, keep at arm's length a
regime that Westerners, far from "humiliating", are embracing with
February 24, 2000
Foreign Business Upbeat On Putin
By Catherine Belton
Foreign businessmen said Wednesday they were cautiously optimistic about
Russia's future business environment under acting President Vladimir Putin
and that, despite a lack of specific details, they saw the first shoots of
opportunity for progress on reforms after years of stagnation and frustration
under the Boris Yeltsin regime.
"There seems to be an impressive consensus across the board f from members of
Putin's economic think tank to State Duma members f that the economy must be
reformed," said Scott Blacklin, the head of the American Chamber of Commerce.
His comments came after German Gref, the head of Putin's economic think tank,
the Center of Strategic Research, addressed the foreign business community at
a conference organized by the American Chamber of Commerce.
The message sent by Gref and one of the founding members of the think tank,
former Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin, was a clear call for progress to be
made on cleaning up the battered economy.
They said short-term reforms would focus on taxes, customs and property
rights. But they also placed an emphasis on greater state intervention to
make sure businesses stuck to the rules of the game.
However, like other statements made by Putin and his economic team in the
run-up to the election, more exact information on what a future government
under Putin might do remained scant.
"There was a very upbeat message promising action. But there was a great lack
of specifics. It seems we've been in the desert for so long that we cheer any
drop of water when we really need a whole glass," Blacklin conceded.
Investing in the Russian economy has not exactly been a bed of roses for
foreign businesses on the market for the long term. The immense gains to be
milked from investing in a once high-yield treasury bill market disintegrated
in the August default of 1998, souring the investment climate for outside
investors and leaving behind the bare bones of a corruption-ridden economy.
Foreign investors have slammed the many cases of property rights violations
last year. The most prominent example came when oil multinational BP Amoco
threatened to pull out of the Russian economy completely after Tyumen Oil Co.
made an aggressive bid to take over bankrupt BP oil holding Sidanko.
The American Chamber of Commerce is proposing amendments to bankruptcy
legislation f one of their main demands for change from the new government.
"One of the main lessons learned from BP Amoco's experiences with Sidanko is
that existing bankruptcy law still allows for violations of shareholders'
rights. The way external managers are appointed and the length of time in
which a business is in bankruptcy yet can still operate leaves a lot of
opportunities for abuse," Blacklin said.
He said the chamber was going to send a joint address to U.S. President Bill
Clinton and Putin addressing their concerns, which also include the need for
major improvements in intellectual property rights, stopping counterfeits,
introducing sensible legislation, removing barriers for Internet businesses
and e-commerce, and greater protection of shareholders' rights.
Yasin promised to address some of these requests.
He said, first, measures expected to be passed by parliament would include
the second part of a long-awaited tax code, a land code, amendments to the
bankruptcy law and legislation on shareholders' rights, Reuters reported.
Gref added that particular attention would be paid to fighting off
infringements on intellectual property rights f an area so unprotected at the
moment that 90 percent of all computer discs are unlicensed.
Even BP Amoco's long-suffering spokesman Howard Chase said he left
Wednesday's meeting with the feeling that the business climate would improve.
"There was clear support for foreign investment," he said.
"But the most important task before the government at the moment is a
step-by-step approach to rebuilding confidence. It needs to meet its
obligations first and then move forward."
The former head of the Federal Securities Commission, Dmitry Vasilyev, who
has been one of the nation's most vocal advocates of liberal reform, said the
ground had been laid to make progress on reform.
But he warned that the president-to-be was going to have a tough fight taking
on the entrenched interests of the ruling elite who are living "just fine"
under the status quo.
"Gref did not leave a bad impression. His statements on how the role of the
state was to act as regulator and set the rules of the game were very
sensible," Vasilyev said after the meeting.
"But it's going to be very difficult to overcome the existing interests of
the bureaucratic elite who will continue to attempt to work by their own
rules; I should know f I had enough trouble myself trying to impose reform
while I was at the Federal Securities Commission, and in the end I still
lost," he laughed.
"Reforming the state might take a whole century. And, if Putin tries to do
this by acting to level out the playing field for business there is
inevitably going to be a fight," he said.
Vasilyev said, however, that the area in which important reform could be
carried out in the next two years would be taxation law.
"There is a great recognition of the need for change in the tax system f from
the population to the government and the State Duma," he said.
Vasilyev said one of the main reforms crying out to be carried out was
canceling the profit tax altogether.
"This would do a great deal to make Russian businesses more transparent and
would help wipe out corruption," he said.
"Income tax also should be lowered," he added.
Vasilyev played down remarks made by First Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail
Kasyanov in an interview last week when he said he doubted taxes would be
significantly lowered or reformed in the near future.
"There is too much momentum building up behind tax reform. Kasyanov will be
left behind if he does not follow," he said.
Western economists also said they thought it was finally time for change for
the Russian economy.
"Putin is actually going to implement something which will be a change from
previous years," said Roland Nash, an economist at investment bank
"The question is what that something is going to be f market reforms or
Ten-year development program being worked on
MOSCOW. Feb 23 (Interfax) - A program for Russia's strategic
development for the next ten years, which is being worked up by the
Center for Strategic Projects, will be ready by the time the new Russian
government is in place, Center President and First Deputy Minister for
State Property German Gref said at the "Russia and the U.S. in the Year
2000" conference in Moscow on Wednesday.
The program has four main aspects, the first being the development
of a new civil society in Russia and the creation of such a society's
main institutions, Gref said. "In order to build a liberal state, equal
rules must be created for all," he said.
The second aspect of the program is the definition of Russia's new
international position and new role on international markets, he said.
"We are working to define Russia's new interests and how they
should be implemented in the 21st century, and to determine Russia's new
role in the international division of labor," he said.
The third aspect has to do with the modernization of the Russian
economy, which implies the creation of equal conditions for market
competition in Russia, a radical restructuring of the country's tax
system, revamping the system of customs duties and payments, and
creating guarantees for the right of ownership in the Russian
Federation, he went on.
Last but not least, is the formation and development of a market
infrastructure in Russia, Gref said. Here, a system of state-policy
priorities has to be worked out, structural reforms implemented at the
macro and micro levels, the laws governing corporate management and
financial markets improved, reform of the educational system carried out
and a stop put to capital flight, he said.
Gref has told Interfax that acting President Vladimir Putin's
economic program, which will be announced on February 25 as earlier
planned, will be based on Russia's development program for the next ten
years. "However, Putin's program is being drafted by Putin's campaign
staff, not by the Center for Strategic Projects," he said.
... as economy expected to grow 1.5-2% annually
MOSCOW. Feb 23 (Interfax) - Russian GDP will grow by 1.5-2%
annually over the next two to three years, a prominent economist said
Wednesday at a conference on the investment climate in Russia.
However, this is not enough for Russia, Yevgeny Yasin, the director
of the Expert Institute, added.
The situation in the Russian economy on the whole is favorable, he
went on. Private Russian investment has been growing since August-
September 1999, "and this is a sign that we are entering a phase of
economic growth," he said.
"Russia today is on the eve of large-scale economic restructuring,"
On the whole, the crisis of 1998 was just an episode and healthy
trends now dominate the economy, he said.
Elections: Chubais blasts Zyuganov
MOSCOW. Feb 22 (Interfax) - The top management of Russian energy
monopoly Unified Energy Systems (UES) has launched an unusually
sharp verbal attack against Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov,
who had leveled allegations against the company a few days ago.
Zyuganov's allegations against the company and its CEO Anatoly
Chubais amount to "electoral spring dementia," says a company press
release released in Moscow on Tuesday.
"Comrade Zyuganov should have been sued for slander, but this would
only make him newsworthy," head of the UES press department Andrei
"Comrade Zyuganov seems to have nothing to offer the electorate, so he
tries to score points by attacking Chubais," Trapeznikov said.
What Zyuganov does not like is that the situation in the energy
industry has tangibly improved since Chubais took over the company," he
"The tight fiscal policy pursued by the UES management might harm
organizations that support the communists. This is quite possible, as
the turnover of shadow and semi-shadow businesses has shrunk by over $1
billion," he said.
Zyuganov sent a letter last Friday to acting President Vladimir
demanding that Chubais be sacked. "Chubais and our government are plunging
Russia into darkness," he wrote.
Zyuganov demanded that the Prosecutor General's Office and the Audit
Chamber carry out full audit of UES.
Putin should urgently annul as unconstitutional the cabinet order
approving Chubais as head of UES, the communist leader told the press
Putin expresses sympathy for Chechens as war rages on
MOSCOW, Feb 23 (AFP) -
As Chechnya commemorated the anniversary Wednesday of Stalin's deportation
of its population, the man behind Russia's latest attack on the republic
expressed his sympathy for its people.
Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin was speaking as increasingly
confident federal forces, themselves celebrating Russia's Army Day, tightened
security in Chechnya and pounded the rebel republic from the air.
"I offer all my compassion to all those who suffered from illegal repressions
and who endured this tragedy," Putin said of Stalin's mass deportation of the
Chechens and their neighbours the Ingush, the agency Itar-Tass reported.
But Putin defended the operation he launched last year as prime minister to
crush separatist rebels in Chechnya.
"What we went through (in World War II) obliges us to treat our tasks of
reinforcing stability and re-establishing peace and order in the north
Caucasus in a reposible way," he said.
Later Putin travelled to Saint Petersburg, arriving safely despite a report
on the television network RTR that police had learned of an assassination
plot against him, the agency Interfax reported.
The police and the FSB security service in Saint Petersburg denied any
knowledge of an assassination attmept, which the report claimed they had
learned would take place during Putin's trip to the city.
Police sources had earlier warned that a rash of guerrilla attacks had been
timed to coincide with the 56th anniversary of the day when hundreds of
thousands of Chechens were shipped in cattle cars to Central Asia for having
supposedly collaborated with the Nazis.
Russia, meanwhile, kept the Chechen border shut to civilians for the second
day Wednesday. One soldier told NTV television that all traffic had been
halted inside the republic and that Russia reserved the right to destroy any
vehicles found on the roads.
"This order applies to the army as well," the officer said.
Chechen rebels have dismissed speculation that they would stage terrorist
strikes on Russian territory and no incidents of violence were recorded by
One woman named Zulai, 50, speaking in Achkhoi Martan, southwest of Grozny,
said the deportation date meant little now that the republic was torn apart
"The elders used to reminisce over the deportation. But now we have more
important things to discuss, such who has been seen dead or alive," she said.
Putin's popularity has profited handsomely from the Chechen war ahead of
March 26 presidential elections. He solemnly laid a wreath in commemoration
of army day at the Kremlin wall's eternal flame.
The Russian military's mood was visibly more jovial in Chechnya. Senior
General Gennady Troshev received a decorative flask filled with vodka from
one his subordinates as a gift.
"We will drink this flask when we conclude the war," Troshev told NTV
television with a laugh from his position in the Chechen mountains. "You need
to fight with a sober head."
His forces pounded the last rebel stronghold in Chechnya's rugged southern
mountains on Wednesday with renewed force. Russian aircraft and artillery
zeroed in on a 2,700-strong Chechen force trapped in the Shatoi region.
Troshev said his troops would not march into Shatoi until the Chechen
positions had been sufficiently weakened by air and artillery bombardments.
The air bombardments have been condemned by the West for their heavy toll on
civilians. But visiting British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook admitted that
the West was powerless to interrupt the campaign.
"It is important that we are frank and robust in our concerns but it is
equally important that we retain a relationship with Russia that enables us
to work together constructively," he told reporters.
Still new war crime allegations emerged Wednesday with the release of a
report detailing the alleged massacre of dozens of Grozny civilians by
Russian soldiers in a single day earlier this month.
The US-based Human Rights Watch group gave the names and ages of 62 Grozny
natives allegedly killed by the Russians on February 5 in southern Grozny's
It quoted witnesses as saying that the rampage had been led by an estimated
force of 100 Russian soldiers. Russians looted and burned down houses while
demanding money from civilians, promising to spare their lives in return.
One witness said at least two Chechen women were also raped.
The report said an investigation into the incident has been hampered by the
army's attempts to cover up the crimes. Moscow issued no comment on the story.
CHECHEN OFFICIAL CALLS FOR TRIAL OF RUSSIANS RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECHEN WAR
Source: Kavkaz-Tsentr web site, in Russian 0600 gmt 23 Feb 00
A commentary by the chief foreign policy adviser to the Chechen president has
described Russia's mass deportation of Chechens in 1944-56 as genocide.
Said-Khasan Abumuslimov said that according to official Russian data, 520,000
Chechens and Ingush, mostly women and children, died in the deportations.The
killing never stopped he said, with 120,000 Chechens dying in the 1994-96 war
with Russia and over 70,000 were "killed, tormented and maimed" in the
current hostilities. Abumuslimov contrasted the way Germans came to grips
with the crimes committed during the Nazi period with the chauvinism of the
Russians and their lack of shame and guilt for the centuries of repression
against the Chechen nation. Noting that the Nuremberg trials had allowed the
German people to see the "monstrous, amoral and antihuman nature of
chauvinism", Abumuslimov said that specific individuals with responsibility
for the treatment of Chechens should be put on trial to act as a deterrent to
"every would-be chauvinist maniac" in the future. The following is the text
of the report by the Kavkaz-Tsentr news agency web site
23rd February: Forty-six years ago Russian (Soviet) chauvinism treacherously,
cruelly, ignobly and insidiously deported the Chechen people to Siberia,
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Another act of large-scale genocide was committed.
It was the 11th since the Chechen people had the misfortune to become
Russia's neighbour. And such forms of genocide as repression, killings, moral
and spiritual genocide - they never stopped.
As the great historian and political scientist A. Avtorkhanov used to note,
the history of mutual relations between Chechnya and Russia is the history of
the mourning of the Chechen people!
The losses of the Chechen people as a result of the 1944-56 genocide were
great. According to official Russian (Soviet) data, the number of Chechens
and Ingush was 520,301 people at the time of the deportation and fell to
23,967 by 1956. The overwhelming majority of those killed were children and
women. The reasons for the deaths were mainly hunger and infectious diseases.
The period from 1957 to 1991 passed under the weight of the moral and
spiritual genocide drying out the soul of the Chechen people; indirect forms
of genocide were used: cultivation of tobacco plantations, the construction
of production facilities harmful for the life and health of the population,
the creation of conditions forcing the Chechens to leave their motherland,
and so on.
The aggression by the Russian chauvinism of 1994-96 took the lives of 120,000
people. Russia's current aggression has turned into an open killing of the
Chechen people. Over several months of the war more than 70,000 people have
been killed, tormented and maimed. And again, the overwhelming majority of
the victims of the genocide have been children and women!
The latest killing of the Chechen people is continuing with the silent
consent of the so-called world community.
Chauvinist maniac Putin [Russia's acting president], addressing the Russian
masses which is stupefied with the chauvinist poison, makes this appeal: we
should not feel guilty before the Chechen people. Hitler, Putin's spiritual
father, also demanded that the German masses, stupefied with the chauvinist
poison, should not feel guilty before the victims of the Nazi genocide.
Forty-five years have passed since the end of World War II, but the German
people feels guilty before the victims of the German chauvinism: it has
repeatedly offered its apologies and penitence in the person of its leaders
before the peoples who suffered from the German chauvinism and has done and
is doing everything to reimburse their moral and material damage.
It has all become possible because the Nuremberg trial took place in 1946.
Afterwards, mini "Nuremberg trials" followed and they still continue. This
allowed the German people to see the entire monstrous, amoral and antihuman
nature of chauvinism and of a state based on this ideology.
Russian chauvinism has been the commanding ideology of the Russian state for
several centuries already and polls conducted among the Russian population
concerning their attitude to the killing of the Chechen people show that its
positions are still strong. And this is all despite the fact that over the
past four to five centuries, Russian chauvinism has killed tens of millions
of people, destroyed or ousted dozens of nations from their motherland. And
with all this, the Russian chauvinists like to describe themselves as
softhearted and as the most humane people. And they even claim the title of
benefactor of the nations they have killed!
It is known that German Nazis were quite sentimental, they loved Mozart's and
Bach's music and thought of themselves as humanists.
An important factor which provided for such a durable and stable existence of
chauvinism as the Russian state's real ideology is its hypocrisy (e.g. rough
openness was typical of German chauvinism) and its ability for mimicry.
Whichever forms the Russian state took (tsarist, communist or democratic), in
essence it has always remained a proponent of great power chauvinism: while
adopting, in line with the spirit of the time, laws and a constitution which
declared the most democratic principles and rights of peoples. In practice,
the Russian state subjected the peoples, who tried to exercise the principles
and rights declared on its behalf, to repression and genocide.
According to eyewitnesses, when emigrants from the Soviet Union staged
anti-Stalin demonstrations in the West, they were advised to go back home and
re-elect Stalin using the rights granted to them by the most "democratic"
constitution in the world - the USSR constitution.
Bill Clinton, the US president, has recently said that unlike Milosevic, who
conducts a policy of ethnic cleansing, the Russian leadership does not set
the aim of ousting the Chechen people from its Motherland. Though for any
unprejudiced politician, the identity in the essence between the Serbian and
Russian (and the German as well) chauvinism is obvious. The differences are
only about the methods and the forms. Let alone the fact that such a
comparison is, in itself, amoral, inhuman and is, in fact, a repeat of the
approval, expressed by him in 1994, of Russia's "small-scale" war against the
Chechen people fighting for their freedom and dignity. The use of
arithmetical categories to define the value of a human life seems amoral and
Some Western politicians, probably Clinton is one of them as well, explain
their passive position concerning the Russian genocide against the Chechen
people by the fact that decisive actions might destroy the "fragile
democracy" in Russia. These people should set themselves a question and try
to answer it: why all attempts of democratic reforms in Russia over the
recent 200 hundred years ended with repression and the establishment of
dictatorial regimes. Over 10 years have passed since the Russian leadership
announced the conduct of large-scale democratic reforms. However, the
situation in Russia's economy not only has not improved, but on the contrary,
has worsened. The only achievements of the reforms - freedom of speech and
the press - turned out to be temporary: there have been no really free media
in Russia for several years already. The information blockade, created by
Russia's top leadership concerning the Russian aggression against Chechnya,
the arrests of journalists [Andrey] Babitskiy, [Anne] Nivat and others, shows
that freedom of speech has been officially finished with as well. Against the
background of the Russian genocide against the Chechen people and repression
against Russian citizens of Caucasian origin, there is no need to talk about
human rights and rights of peoples declared by the Russian democrats! Russian
"democracy" is acquiring more and more features of the heinous Stalin-Beria
"democracy". As has repeatedly happened in Russia's history, everything has
turned full circle. And this will be the case until the Russian people
purifies itself and its state from the great power chauvinism and until it
uproots this killing plague from all the pores of its soul.
We must get the Russian people to have such a desire. And for this the
Russian people and the entire world need to see the monstrous face of Russian
great power chauvinism through the eyes of its victims - tens of millions of
killed, tormented and maimed people and nations, who have been ousted from
their motherland, and the Russian people need to get a feeling of shame,
guilt and responsibility for its role as a submissive tool in the hands of
the great power chauvinist maniacs. Russian great power chauvinism must be
put on trial.
It is also necessary to put specific nation killers on trial: those of the
past and the present, dead and alive, so that every would-be chauvinist
maniac know that a severe punishment for a crime against the life, freedom
and dignity of a human and nations will always and everywhere befall him.
Said-Khasan Abumuslimov, chief foreign policy adviser to the president of the
Chechen Republic of Ichkeria,
Special representative of the president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria
in foreign countries,
Authorized by the Chechen Republic to investigate Russia's war crimes against
the Chechen people and other Caucasian peoples
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