Center for Defense Information
Research Topics
CDI Library
What's New
CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List


February 25, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4131 4132


Johnson's Russia List
25 February 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Putin's rating overestimated.
4. Central Asia Proving Easier than the Caucasus for Russia to Swallow.
5. Ira Straus: Dissociating the U.S. from disintegrationists.
6. Nicolai Petro: Prusak not of Pskov.
7. The Moscow Tribune: John Helmer, PUTIN & THE PALLADIUM PLOT. Conspiracy & stupidity are the same thing.
9. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Holidays mark two viewpoints on Chechen strife.
10. Erin Powers: New PONARS memos.
11. PONARS: Georgi Derluguian, Reflections on Putin's Rise to Power.]


Putin's rating overestimated

MOSCOW, Feb 24 (Reuters) - A leading political analyst on Thursday
doubted that Acting President Vladimir Putin would win next month's
presidential election in the first round, saying many Russians would
probably not turn out to vote. Dmitry Olshansky, head of the Centre of
Strategic Analysis and Prognosis, said public opinion polls had
overestimated Putin's lead in the runup to the March 26 presidential poll.
"Putin has below 50 percent of support according to our latest research,"
Olshansky told a news conference.
If no candidate gains 50 percent of the vote in the first round of the
election, the two leading vote-winners must contest a second round runoff
three weeks later.
Other opinion polls have given hot-favorite Putin more than 60 percent of
the vote, but Olshansky said he believed that not all of Putin's supporters
were going to vote. "I'm talking about those who are going to vote, not
about people's love," he said. "I can love my mother-in-law, but I will not
vote for her as president." Olshansky said Putin's main problem was that he
lacked charisma, a clear program and colorful slogans. He said Russian
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who is placed second in the polls
with around 15 percent, could raise his rating to 30 percent with his
populist program and highly organized supporters. But that would be his
limit, he said. "He will not get that much if his rivals work against him."
Olshansky said liberal Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky and
left-leaning Siberian governor Aman Tuleyev could get 10 and eight percent
respectively. The other seven contenders would struggle to get even one
percent apiece. "This will be a dull campaign," he said. "Mostly this
campaign will be about how the Acting President fulfils his duties".


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 4, No. 39, Part I, 24 February 2000

interview with "Segodnya" on 24 February, the chief of the
information department at the Justice Ministry, Andrei
Morozov, said that the government's Commission on
Operational Issues will examine legislation about
information security on 28 March--two days after the
presidential elections. Morozov said that he hopes the new
regulations will defend the interests of citizens, legal
entities, and the government. When asked whether sites such
as will continue to exist after the
new regulations have been enacted, Morozov said "soon some
norms will be written which will allow the removal of such
sites.... Everything that is distributed on the Internet
will be placed on the same footing as a document that
should be examined in court." Last month, acting President
Vladimir Putin signed a law expanding the Internet
surveillance project SORM. JAC

specialist Anton Nosik told RFE/RL's Moscow bureau last
month that in order to curb the freedom of the Internet
media, the government will have to broaden its attack on
all media: "In order to forbid something, authorities will
first have to forbid everything." According to "Segodnya"
on 24 February, the "popular" Internet site,, was closed during the morning of
23 February but was back online by the evening of the same
day. Russia-On-Line head Andrei Kolesnikov said the site
was blocked because its owner owed money. However, the
site's owner, Sergei Gorshkov, said that the debt suddenly
appeared and that "people from some special department of
the Interior Minister" had visited his Internet service
provider. The newspaper alleges that the owners of several
Russian sites specializing in "kompromat" have been advised
by their friends in the Federal Security Service not to
talk to their sources by any kind of phone. JAC


Parlamentskaya Gazeta
February 22, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only] 
The events of the country's political life over the past 
few months have confirmed our worst misgivings. However, 
something has prompted us that a different path will be taken, 
not the one planned by Yeltsin's retinue. Let us look at how 
"different" this path might be.

As is known, the real candidates for the presidency are 
Vladimir Putin, the acting Russian president and head of the 
government, and Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the country's 
strongest and most influential party - the Communist Party of 
the Russian Federation (KPRF). The former represents the party 
of power, and the latter - the opposition.
There is one more candidate supported by real, though not 
the most influential liberal-democratic forces. I mean Grigory 
Yavlinsky. However, today Yavlinsky's electoral possibilities 
and prestige in society are weak. This is shown by the latest 
parliamentary elections and public opinion polls. The Yabloko's 
leader's rating is only a few percent. In the opinion of the 
majority of analysts, this is the result of several factors.
Firstly, many former Yavlinsky's supporters are 
dissatisfied with his position of an eternal critic of whatever 
is done by others, though he declines to participate in any 
concrete deed. Whoever offered him high posts in the 
government, he rejected them putting forward the demands which 
could not be met. As a result, the opinion has prevailed that 
Yavlinsky is afraid to start doing anything concrete, as he is 
not confident of himself.
Secondly, Yavlinsky has failed to separate politics from 
human rights activities which, influenced by the dissent 
culture, is understood here only as the struggle against the 
authorities and the state. His present position on the Chechen 
issue is the logical continuation of the stand declared by him 
during the first Chechen campaign. At that time, being a 
parliamentarian and a candidate for the post of the Russian 
president, he suddenly offered himself, "for the sake of 
peace," as hostage to the rebel leader Gen. Dudayev. This is 
Thirdly, Grigory Yavlinsky is not in his best form now.
His arguments are not so persuasive as they used to be. He is 
losing the duel with strong political opponents, like Anatoly 
Chubais or Sergei Kiriyenko, for instance. I do not rule out 
that over the time left till the presidential elections he will 
attain a better form to be able to show his worth. But he will 
hardly be able to rise even to his former popularity rating of 
6-8 percent.
There are some other candidates for the presidency, but 
the wide-spread opinion is that their social support is 
minimal, except Aman Tuleyev perhaps. As for the Kemerovo 
governor, he is no doubt an outstanding personality, who, as 
far as I can judge, has not spoiled his reputation by any 
wrongdoings. However, one cannot count on his big electoral 
success in the present situation. The reason for this is not 
only his limited financial and especially informational 
possibilities compared to the above-mentioned candidates. The 
thing is that today our society wants to rally around more 
promising parties and candidates for elected posts. I regard it 
as a promising tendency. We can only welcome the people's 
striving to unite and overcome the long-lasting division into 
the "Reds" and the "Whites."
Of course, it would be natural to see the centrist forces' 
leaders among the presidential candidates. However, it so 
happened that the most influential and promising of them, i.e., 
Yevgeny Primakov and Yuri Luzhkov, who had been seen as sure 
favourites of the presidential race a mere half a year ago, 
quit the game. As a man who openly sympathised with them, I 
think I have the right to say that dirty election technologies 
was not the only reason for their decision. There were some 
objective factors in the form of Russians' moods and 
preferences in concrete circumstances, when the struggle was 
launched against Chechen terrorists and bandits. There were 
some blunders and mistakes made by these leaders and their 
allies. In short, the Kremlin and the "family" had "outplayed" 
them easily. 
As for the leaders of the presidential race, i.e.
Vladimir Putin and Gennady Zyuganov, each of them deserves a 
special talk. One of them will become Russia's next president.
Most analysts think that it will be Putin and only Putin, but 
he himself cites the old Russian proverb in this connection:
"Don't count your chichens before they are hatched." And he is 
quite right. Anything might happen in the life of such a 
complex country as Russia.


#4 Commentary
Central Asia Proving Easier than the Caucasus for Russia to Swallow
February 23, 2000

Over the past six months Russia has begun to reassert its influence 
throughout the former Soviet Union. Russian tactics vary depending upon the 
region targeted. In the Northern Caucasus, Russia has launched a costly war 
to reclaim control over a small amount of territory with a population of 
approximately one million. Russia lacks the capability to replicate this 
strategy on a larger scale. Yet in Central Asia, unlike in the Caucasus, 
Russia will not have to kick in any doors to re-establish its dominant role. 

In fact, a few of those doors are already being held open. On Feb. 22 the 
pro-Russia Kyrgyz communists won the most seats in Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary 
elections. That same day Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov stated that 
Tajikistan alone is unable to stop the inflow of drugs from Afghanistan, 
implying that Russian assistance is needed. Kazakstan's prime minister 
reiterated his country's strong support for the Russia-dominated Caspian 
Pipeline Consortium projects for extracting Kazak oil and transporting it to 
market. Three days earlier, Turkmenistan was negotiating a multi-billion 
dollar deal to provide upwards of 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas over 
the next 30 years to the Russian petroleum company Gazprom. 
These events in Central Asia are part of Russia's growing influence 
throughout the former Soviet Union. Russia enjoys a number of advantages in 
Central Asia that it lacks elsewhere. 

First of all, the Central Asian states are very weak, partly because of their 
artificial borders. They lack political legitimacy, a means of leadership 
succession and a basic sense of nationality. As a result, these states are 
vulnerable to Russia's offers. And now, those political, military and 
economic offers are becoming harder to ignore. 

Second, there are sizable factions within some of these states that would 
welcome a greater Russian presence. In today's Kyrgyz parliamentary elections 
the Communist Party, a faction that supports Kyrgyz membership in the 
Russia-Belarus union, received 27 percent of the vote. The communists are set 
to become the largest faction in the new parliament. 

Moscow's supporters in Central Asia are not limited to opposition groups. The 
Tajik president relies upon Russia to supply troops to patrol the Afghan 
border. Today's statement is merely the most recent appeal to Moscow for 
assistance. Kazak President Nursultan Nazerbayev also realizes with one-third 
of his country's population being Russian, he must always maintain a friendly 
line with Moscow. 

Third, relations among the various Central Asian states are often times 
frosty. This grants Russia the ability to divide-and-rule. In late January, 
Kazakstan and Uzbekistan had a sharp border disagreement; such disputes are 
common. If these disagreements ever come to blows, there is only one party 
with the proximity and the power to settle them - Russia. 

This regional hostility often prompts the weaker Central Asian states to 
invite Russia in as a counterweight to a sometimes aggressive Uzbekistan. 
Tajikistan prefers Russian troops to Uzbek troops on its border with 
Afghanistan. Last August Kyrgyzstan asked Russia - not Uzbekistan - for 
assistance in quelling a minor Islamic insurgency. 

Fourth, when the Central Asian states do decide to work together, Russia is 
the logical coordinator for any actions. All of the Central Asian states fear 
a rise of Islam-inspired terrorism. Consequently, the primary topic of the 
last CIS summit was establishing a multilateral body to combat various forms 
of terrorism throughout the former Soviet Union. The first joint exercise to 
operationalize this effort - Southern Shield 2000 - occurred Feb. 12-18 in 
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan under Russian leadership. 

Fifth, Moscow's economic grip on Central Asia remains firm. Despite 10 
years of halting efforts at economic diversification, the Central Asian 
economies remain tightly linked to the former imperial center. The Uzbek and 
Turkmen cotton industries were designed to service the Soviet market; they 
now remain dependent upon Russian purchases. Kyrgyzstan's electronics 
industry and Kazakstan's heavy industry were both designed to support the 
Soviet military machine. As the Russian military fell into disrepair, the 
Kyrgyz and Kazak economies followed suit. The recent Turkmenistan-Gazprom 
negotiations and Kazakstan's keenness on a Russian-backed oil pipeline 
illustrate this continuing dependency. 

Finally, the most important tool Russia holds is the perception in Central 
Asia that there are no options beyond Russia. The Caucasian states can seek a 
Turkish or Iranian counterbalance to Russian influence. Ukraine and the 
Baltics can always turn to the West. There is no outside power with the 
desire and means to compete in Central Asia. That leaves the five "Stans" 
with a choice between integration on Moscow's terms or total isolation - and 
Central Asia can be a very lonely place. 


From: (Ira Straus)
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 
Subject: Dissociating the U.S. from disintegrationists

A few notes on the problem of disabusing dis-integrationists inside Russia of 
the notion that they have U.S. support.

It is appalling that people in Dagestan and Chechnya could have had the 
impression that the U.S. was supporting the rebels, as Robert Bruce Ware has 
reported. It is appalling that Maskhadov could have stated that he was the 
only person in the Caucasus who was still supporting Russian interests 
instead of Western interests, and if the Russians weren’t nice to him, he’d 
have to go over to the side of the West, too. This means he takes it for 
granted that Russian and Western interests in the area are mutually opposing, 
and that the West is supporting rebellion and separation from Russia.

It is also appalling that Russians overwhelmingly have the same impression. 
On this, we have some public opinion polls that ought to have served as a 
wake-up call. For example, in November 1998, 37% said the U.S. was trying to 
break Russia into pieces, 41% said it was trying to reduce Russia to a Third 
World country, only 15% said it was trying to help Russia. Other polls have 
shown similarly depressing distributions of opinion.

The U.S. has to ask some tough questions about the impression it has given. 
Why weren’t the U.S. and NATO convincing, when they proclaimed time after 
time that they saw their role and Russia’s role in the Caucasus as compatible 
not zero-sum? Were these seen as pro forma diplomatic denials? Did people on 
the ground feel that "deeds spoke louder than words", and what deeds did they 
interpret as having the opposite meaning? Did some of the other words and 
advice of the U.S. leave, unconsciously, an impression of actually aiming at 
weakening and dividing Russia? Further: Could this impression of American 
intentions serve, unintentionally, as an encouragement to rebellion and 
secessionism? Could it have set up Chechens to fight and get slaughtered? 
Could it be setting up Georgia and Azerbaijan to take an anti-Russian line, 
which the West in the end would not back up? And has it caused Russians to 
get up their backs against the West and kill more Chechens, as a way of 
fighting against the supposed Western plot to split up Russia? 

Many activists in the U.S. are concerned, justifiably, that U.S. policy 
should not be one that encourages Russia to go on fighting and killing 
Chechens. However, it should be considered that it is equally dangerous to 
encourage the other side to go on fighting, too. It was assumed at first, 
with what in retrospect looks like an exaggerated self-assurance and contempt 
of Russia, that Russia was bound to lose this war, so the only thing to do 
was to urge it to pull out as fast as possible for its own good, and this 
equated to stopping the fighting. However, it now seems possible that there 
is no way the Chechen fighters can win this war, at best they could just drag 
it on for a long time; in which case, the thing that ought to be stressed 
from a humanitarian standpoint is to persuade them to stop fighting as soon 
as possible.

The U.S. is not in fact encouraging Russia to go on fighting, and I see no 
reason to believe that a more punitive policy toward Russia would accomplish 
anything at all except to get Russia's back up and make sure that it would go 
on fighting come hell or high water. Activists have yet to pay attention to 
the evidence that U.S. policy has left widespread impressions of wishing for 
a Russian break-up, which in turn serves to give encouragement to rebels and 
secessionists in the Caucasus. The overwhelming support for the anti-Russian 
side of this war in the Western media and NGOs could similar serve, 
unintentionally, to help perpetuate the fighting. It is a very dangerous 
thing, for people to get the illusion of being protected by a subtle 
undeclared U.S. support. It can make them think that they are guaranteed an 
ultimate victory, since the only remaining superpower is on their side.

The U.S. needs to figure out how to change its words and deeds so that the 
impression of supporting disintegration does not continue. The formal caution 
of U.S. policy on Chechnya is not enough to change this, although it may have 
prevented the damage from getting much worse. Other, more innovative 
approaches are needed. Some general all-Russia approaches to this end were 
laid out in my 8 prescriptions on JRL 4129; more specific Caucasus-oriented 
ones need to be devised as well.


Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 
From: "Nicolai N. Petro" <>
Subject: Prusak not of Pskov

RIA Novosti's translation of Andrei Makarkin's article in Segodnya 
(February 23, 2000) which appeared in JRL #4130, incorrectly identified 
Mikhail Prusak as the governor of Pskov.

No, he has not moved. He is still the governor of Novgorod 
oblast. Curiously, the original article identified him correctly, but 
something got "lost in the translation."


From: "John Helmer" <>
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 

The Moscow Tribune, February 25, 2000
Conspiracy & stupidity are the same thing
John Helmer

In some people's minds, power and money have the same effect. They
create conspiracies to get more, to protect against raids, and to
deprive others of these benefits. The facts of life make politicians and 
speculators natural conspirators.

In London and New York this week, the evidence of a conspiracy to drive
up the spot-market price of palladium is so obvious, it has led to a new
question: Is acting President Vladimir Putin one of the conspirators,
along with the Central Bank of Russia, the state stockpile agency Gokhran,
the Ministry of Finance, the Russian palladium trader Almazjuvelirexport,
Norilsk Nickel, the miner, and its owner Rosbank?

Putin's role in the conspiracy, according to the market rumour, is to
deliberately withhold his signature from the presidential decree authorizing
this year's quota of palladium exports. That signature is necessary before
export licences can be issued, and deliveries of the Russian metal start.

Government officials have been saying since last year that this time there 
would be none of the delay that has affected this process in past years.
In 1999, Russian exports didn't start until late April. 

The same officials have been saying that all the visas required for the
quota decree have been issued by the ministries for weeks now. They keep
claiming there is no obstacle to the signing. But it hasn't happened.

This week, Yury Kotlyar, a senior executive of Norilsk Nickel, claimed
there was a conspiracy of a sort, but he called it bureaucratic ineptitude,
compounded by the distractions of a new president running for election.
A conspiracy of stupidity, not cupidity.

Kotlyar's view is understandable. His company is the world's largest
producer of palladium, and this year's turmoil damages Norilsk Nickel's
reputation as a reliable supplier. Worse, when palladium reaches $800 on
the spot market, and there is no metal to be found, the major car
manufacturers of the US and Japan are forced to accelerate their research
to develop a palladium substitute for their catalytic converters. If they
succeed, Kotlyar knows he will be mining a metal that in five years,
or ten, noone will need half as much as now.

The world supply of palladium is very limited, and almost all of it comes 
from Russia and South Africa. Kotlyar said the Russian government had been 
stupidly playing into the hands of the South African producers, more than 
doubling the price they are earning on their sales this year.

But Kotlyar isn't saying all he knows. And the Central Bank of Russia isn't 
saying much at all. 

In London and New York, it is rumoured that the Central Bank has been 
conspiring with a well-known trading company to ensure that Putin doesn't
sign; that Russian deliveries are postponed; and that the two companies,
and perhaps some German or Swiss banks, will extract the profit of the 
speculation in the form of hidden loans, collateralized by palladium.

What makes this credible is that the Central Bank is such a dishonest 
organization. That opinion in the international markets is reinforced
by the findings of the Russian state auditor, the Accounting Chamber. So
afraid of the Chamber is the Central Bank, it is defying the law to prevent
auditors examining its precious metal records.

A year ago, the Central Bank conducted a series of transactions known as 
swaps, in which at least 32 tons of palladium were transferred to European
bank vaults as collateral for loans which the Central Bank may, or may not, 
have intended to repay. The metal was hidden from the State Duma, which had 
legislated to ban such transactions altogether in December 1998. It was
revealed when it appeared in Swiss import statistics, apparently when 
a transfer from vault to vault crossed the German-Swiss border.

It is thus conceivable that the Central Bank is secretly doing the same again,
although, legally, it should not be exporting palladium, unless and until 
Putin signs his authority. Only a fool would accept the Central Bank's 
reasoning that transfer of collateral in this circumstance is not an export.
And neither Viktor Gerashchenko, chairman of the Bank, nor Putin falls into
that category.

Russian commercial bankers are just as ready to believe the Central Bank is
engaged in the palladium conspiracy as the London and New York traders. The
Russians say openly the Central Bank is acting, not as a state organization, 
but as a purely commercial one. From an audit of the Bank's personnel
records and payroll in 1998, it is known that Central Bank officers make
money for their own pockets when they execute transactions like these.

With a huge stockpile of palladium on its hands -- the estimates range 
between 300 and 600 tons -- the Central Bank can be expected to extract as
much liquidity from the metal as it can. That means cash. It cannot supply 
the spot market, unless the rest of the government agrees. The others, 
including Norilsk Nickel, won't do that, because they regard the Bank as a 
dangerous competitor with stocks big enough to destroy price stability.

If the Central Bank has found a German or Swiss bank to take palladium for
a cash loan, then the value of the deal depends on how high the spot-market
price can be jacked upwards, and what discount to that the bankers can agree. 
If the speculation drives palladium to $800 per ounce, double the regular 
price, then the Bank doubles its cash proceeds.

This would produce almost half a billion dollars in profit. That's the profit
from Putin's delay. The longer it lasts, the more natural it is to
suppose that Putin and Gerashchenko have reached an agreement to share in
the half-billion. That's cupidity, and Kotlyar is right about one thing:
it would take a conspiracy of fools not to obtain Putin's signature after
so long, with so much money at stake.


WPS Media Monitoring Agency
#52, 23 February, 2000

The following is a weekly survey of press reports, commentaries and 
analysis of events taking place in Russia in connection with the recent 
parliamentary election and the coming presidential campaign.

This survey is updated on this Web page every Wednesday. You may 
request this survey to be delivered to you by e-mail at the rate of $8.00 per 
month. Click here to subscribe to the e-mail version. To request original 
backgrounding articles in Russian please contact WPS Russian Monitoring 
Agency at Back issues are stored here.

In one of his latest interviews to the newspaper "Vedomosti" Anatoly Sobchack 
agreed to comment upon the phenomenon which this newspaper called "the 
paradox of Putin" - the unexpected huge support of the acting president by 
the electorate. As it is known, Putin, Sobchack's former student and, later, 
first deputy, has recently appointed him his proxy at the upcoming election. 
"This is not a paradox," Sobchack said. "I would call it the phenomenon of 
Putin, when an obscure state official becomes political figure number one 
within a few months." In Sobchack's opinion, this testifies to the fact that 
"we do not know our own people, do not know their true expectations." The 
matter is, as the former St. Petersburg mayor, one of first-wave romantic 
democrats, put it, "people are tired of disbelief... An urgent social need to 
believe in something, to trust somebody has arisen and Putin appeared at the 
right moment. I do not think there is any mystery in it." At the same time, 
Sobchack did not deny that Putin may actually become "the Russian Napoleon", 
since his objectives and tasks coincide with those of this historic figure: 
"Restoration of state power, restoration of the state apparatus destroyed by 
the revolution and by the latest events... Putin will have to restore the 
structure of state power, revive trust for state authorities and, first and 
foremost, will have to integrate security structures, the army, the police, 
justice, the prosecutor's office in the system of the new democratic state... 
Putin's task is to make them a natural part of the new democratic Russia." 
The subject of people's expectations which came true with the appearance of 
Putin (according to the law formulated by Pushkin - "The time has come, she 
fell in love") is still being discussed by other central media. However, 
there are not many of those who believe in democratic aspirations of the 
acting president, as Sobchack does. Alexander Tsipko, a political observer of 
"Literaturnaya Gazeta", is one of them. "Putin's weak point," Tsipko writes, 
"is not that he does not express his positive attitude towards democratic 
values, but, on the contrary, that he proclaims them absolute." This trend, 
from the point of view of the political observer of "LG", is proved, in 
particular, by the fact that the acting president links the current 
"problematic social and economic situation in the country" only to the 
"Soviet heritage." At the same time, liberals themselves - for instance, many 
members of Gaidar's team - have come to the conclusion that "both shock 
therapy and total privatization according to Chubais were mistakes and market 
reforms could be implemented less painfully for the population." This makes 
Tsipko remark: "I have an impression that he has not overcome the romantic 
liberalism of the early 90s yet." 

The weekly "Kommersant-vlast" assesses Putin's views and intentions 
differently. In its opinion, the acting president's strong point is "not 
strategy, but tactics." As a "good pragmatic tactician", he does not pay much 
attention either to strategy, or to ideology. However, Putin has already 
formulated his main principle: "the policy must be moderately liberal." 
Besides, he instructed the Strategic Development Center headed by Herman Gref 
to create a complex long-term program "which must include everything - from 
the national idea to an answer to the question of what should be done with 
the national economy." However, as "Kommersant-vlast" reports, the SDC, from 
the point of view of Alexander Voloshin, head of the Presidential 
Administration, "has been producing overly liberal ideas so far". On the 
other hand, the weekly continues, Gref's center is not the only source of 
program documents for Putin. There are also "traditionally independent and 
socially active" security services. For example, not long ago the Economic 
Counterintelligence Department of the Federal Security Service has publicized 
its own analysis of the situation and strategic projects. "The conclusion is 
simple," "Kommersant-vlast" writes, "the state must regain control over 
economy." According to the information of the weekly, Putin supports 
Voloshin's opinion in regards to the harm of "excessive liberalism". This 
means that regardless of what exactly Gref's center will produce, Putin will 
begin by strengthening the state. The main, and yet unanswered, question is 
whether he will be able to stop when it is necessary. The reaction of 
political opponents of the former "Family" to such articles is of great 

Commenting upon the information about the alleged agreement between Putin and 
Voloshin, and the acting president's intention to take the projects of 
special services into consideration, Yevgenia Albats writes in "Novaya 
Gazeta": "The Kremlin political strategists, experts in manipulating public 
opinion, seem to be trying to drive Putin into a corner by making him come 
into conflict with the intellectual part of society." The purpose of this, in 
the opinion of the journalist, is to make the new Kremlin master face facts: 
"We told you, Mr. Putin, that for those intelligentsia and liberals you are 
nothing more than a KGB-officer, they will be in opposition to you no matter 
what you do or say, which is why, dear Mr. Putin, you can count only on us - 
your loyal and unscrupulous political strategists." In Albats' opinion, this 
position is explained by the usual disinclination of the Kremlin manipulators 
to search for new appointments, as is the tradition when a new boss appears. 
Therefore, the main goal of the president's circle today is to "prove that it 
is indispensable" by usual means. "We need a party of power? No problem, we 
will create it within three months. The parliament must be turned into an 
institution fully dependent on the Kremlin - OK, we'll do that." At the same 
time, from Albats' point of view, the game started by Putin's closest circle 
is rather dubious and dangerous for him personally, first and foremost: "The 
political technique of making fools of the electorate was successfully 
applied at the parliamentary election in regards to the faceless and 
programless Unity movement. It may fail at the presidential election." 

Copyright © 1999-2000 WPS Media Monitoring Agency
Address: P.O. Box 90, 113191, Moscow, Russia
Phone ++7 095 955-2708/2950,
Fax ++7 095 955-2927/2986 


Boston Globe
24 February 2000
[for personal use only]
Holidays mark two viewpoints on Chechen strife 
By David Filipov

GROZNY, Russia - Maria Iblayeva was 24 when Soviet dictator Josef Stalin 
ordered her and the rest of the Chechen people rounded up, packed into cattle 
cars, and shipped en masse to the frozen steppes of Central Asia and Siberia.

During the harsh 13-day journey and the 12-year exile that followed, at least 
200,000 Chechens, one third of the population, died of hunger, cold, and 
disease. Iblayeva was the only one in her family of seven who survived.

Yesterday, as Iblayeva and other Chechens marked the anniversary of their 
deportation in 1944, they faced what they and human rights activists describe 
as a new campaign of bloody reprisals as Moscow's forces drove south through 
Chechnya in an effort to wipe out separatist militants.

''I survived back in 1944,'' Ilbayeva said at a humble market stand in the 
village of Avtury, 16 miles south of Grozny. ''But now I wish I hadn't.''

The mood, however, was festive among the officers and troops in a Russian 
artillery division dug in across a muddy field from Avtury. For the troops, 
yesterday was Army Day, a traditional celebration of the military that has 
taken on an added meaning this year.

As acting President Vladimir V. Putin put it this week, the war in Chechnya 
has raised soldiers' spirits and improved ordinary Russians' attitude toward 
the military.

The two holidays underscore the deep psychological differences between 
Russians and Chechens that make the conflict in Chechnya so intractable.

Russian officials say they are fighting the good fight by cracking down on 
''bandits'' and ''terrorists'' whom they blame for a spate of deadly bombings 
and attacks on neighboring regions last year. They say their troops are 
restoring order in a region beset by lawlessness since the Chechen rebels 
drove out the army after Russia's failed 1994-96 campaign.

But the way many Chechens and some outside observers see it, Moscow has not 
only forgotten the crimes it once committed against the entire Chechen 
nation, it is repeating them, forcing 300,000 Chechens from their homes and 
fueling the anti-Russian mood which portends further turmoil in the republic.

''The deportation of the Chechens in 1944 for Chechen consciousness means 
about the same thing that Hitler's genocide means for Jews or the 1915 
massacre means for Armenians,'' Russian writer Dmitry Furman observed 
recently. ''It was a horrible trauma, and the memory of it and the terror of 
the possibility of a repeat is something that every Chechen feels.''

When Russian troops entered Avtury in December, the villagers chose to force 
rebels out of town rather than fight. This was a tactic chosen by residents 
of many Chechen towns who had seen enough death and destruction in the 
1994-1996 war. But the tensions in Avtury are still high. Men are silent when 
Russian soldiers are nearby but express animosity when they are alone.

''There will be war here. I know it,'' said Adram Rakhmanov, 19. ''There is 
tension. The Russians take boys away; not all of them come back. There are no 
fighters here, but they are turning us all into rebels.''

Human Rights Watch, citing witness testimony, said yesterday that Russian 
troops killed at least 62 civilians earlier this month on the outskirts of 
the Chechen capital. The alleged massacre in Aldi is the third mass killing 
of civilians that the group says it has documented. The group reported a 
massacre of some 40 civilians in Alkhan-Yurt in December and an ensuing 
rampage in Grozny's Staropromyslovsky region in which 41 people died.

''It is becoming increasingly clear that these are not isolated incidents,'' 
Holly Carter, who directs the group's Europe and Central Asia division, said 
in a statement. ''We are uncovering a pattern of summary executions 
throughout Grozny.''

Russian soldiers sealed roads yesterday and banned civilian movement between 
settlements. Police have stepped up security in Chechnya and across Russia in 
recent days to prevent possible rebel attacks to mark the anniversary of the 
1944 deportation. But Russian officials vehemently denied that federal troops 
took part in any atrocities against civilians.

''Recent months have proven that all that talk about our army falling apart 
and losing preparedness are all blatant lies,'' Putin told officials Tuesday 
in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad. ''We need not blush for our soldiers, 
officers, and generals acting now in Chechnya.''

Stalin ordered the deportation of the entire Chechen nation because he 
believed the Chechens, always hostile to Russian rule, would aid the German 
force that had invaded the Caucasus. 

In a gesture to Chechens and other nationalities deported under Stalin, Putin 
issued a statement yesterday offering his ''sincere sympathy to those who 
suffered under the illegal repressions.'' He added, ''We have always been 
together, sharing our joys and sorrows.''

Some Chechens did cooperate with the Germans during the Nazi occupation of 
the Caucasus, but many others fought the Nazis on Soviet front lines, 
Caucasus specialist Azer Mursaliyev wrote in Tuesday's edition of Kommersant 
Vlast magazine. The Soviets court-martialled Chechens of all stripes, branded 
them enemies of the people, and sent them into exile.

Mursaliyev said leaders of today's rebels learned the lessons of the gulag - 
''believe nothing, fear nothing, ask nothing.'' Yesterday, the rebels shot 
down a Russian helicopter and damaged three others, the military said today.

Russian Major General Sergei Makarov, whose troops in Avtury have been 
shelling the separatists daily, said victory was near, even though thousands 
of rebels were believed to be at large in Chechnya.

Makarov's troops said the rebels pose as civilians by day while attacking 
Russian positions at night.

Certainly Makarov's men thought the war was close to ending as they 
celebrated Army Day.

As the general handed out awards - plastic watches, framed pictures of tanks, 
and photo albums inexplicably titled ''Love Scenes,'' the men and officers 
talked about going home.

''I think we will be able to look each other in the eye and say, `job well 
done,''' said Colonel Nikolai Musyenko, whose wife traveled from Volgograd to 
visit him at the front. He raised a vodka toast to a quick end to the 

Later that evening, at the Russian military base on the outskirts of Grozny, 
gunfire filled the night as troops opened fire in the Chechen darkness.

Globe correspondent Brian Whitmore contributed to this report from Moscow.


Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000
From: Erin Powers <>
Subject: PONARS memos

Hi David, new policy memos posted:

104. Reflections on Putin's Rise to Power, Georgi Derluguian
105. Hobbling Along: Russian Banking Reform, Astrid Tuminez
106. Power as Patronage: Russian Parties and Russian Democracy, Regina Smyth
107. Will Russia Go for a Military Victory in Chechnya? Pavel Baev
108. The Prospects for ABM Treaty Modification, Alexander Pikayev
109. A History of the ABM Treaty in Russia, Paul Podvig

Erin R. Powers
Assistant Director
Program on New Approaches to Russian Security (PONARS)
Davis Center for Russian Studies * Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138
tel: (617) 496-3426 * (617) 495-8319
program website:


Program on New Approaches to Russian Security (PONARS) 
Davis Center for Russian Studies * Harvard University
Memo #104
Reflections on Putin's Rise to Power
By Georgi Derluguian
Northwestern University
January 2000

Suddenly, something in the mysterious and unpredictable realm of Russia
looks not merely predictable but destined to happen. It is almost
embarrassing to analysts, who are used to the bubbling contingency and the
byzantine, robust action of Yeltsin's decade. Mr. Putin is considered
unstoppable in his march to the Russian presidency by virtually
everyone, significantly including his opponents. It is indeed the ultimate
degree of power when challenges seem improbable to the potential
challengers themselves.

The big question now is what can a ruler endowed with such hegemonic powers
do? But first we must address the nasty speculations surrounding the
miracle of Putin's political birth. 

"Wag the Dog" Suspicions 

Supposedly, the imminent presidency of Putin can be derailed only by some
extraordinary revelation--namely, the one regarding the origins of
terrorist blasts in Russia in 1999. Yet even this obstacle is probably
just an unlikely possibility. In the short run, Putin is safe on this
account. After the decade of "compromising material" wars, it would be
next to impossible to make a convincing case, even if his putative
opponents acquire direct evidence of satanically dirty provocation.
Arguably, counter-evidence will follow immediately. "Kompromat" is
effective as a psychological weapon only under certain conditions. It is
not a legal factor in Russia, where the judiciary (like the rest of the
state) is semi-privatized by the competing political cliques and, not too
unjustly, is taken practically for granted as one among several weapons of
intrigue that constitute the advantages of state office. 

The longer-term prospects look less encouraging. The muted controversy
surrounding the origins of the bombings reveals the reigning mistrust in
the Russian political class and society at large. Putin must eventually
produce convincing evidence of Chechen or Islamist conspiracy (I earnestly
hope that he will offer something credible and independently
verifiable)--or nasty suspicions will be waiting to return with a vengeance
at the first crisis of his popularity. Thus, the fall 1999 bombings (and
the even more suspicious failed attempts) threaten to remain a persistent
political nightmare--hardly helped by the fact that in this case the old
principle of cui bono falters completely, for there are too many plausible

n the one hand, this is an instance where hideous conspiracy is a credible
possibility. "Wag the Dog" became a cult movie among the new breed of
mercenary Moscow spin doctors and media propagandists. This example
perfectly illustrates the brutish provincialism of new Russian elites
vis--vis the West that developed in the late 1990s. (The attitude of "been
there, screw them all" is just another stage of provincialism--what Turkish
sociologist Faruk Birtek wryly calls "YuPPPism," from "Young Urban
Peripheral Provincial pfessionals.") The film, which to Americans is a
wildly grotesque satire, only confirms the conviction of many "nouveaux
Russians" that it is the actual way things are done in the hypocritical,
capitalist West. The subtlety of satire is lost and the fictional plot,
taken at face value, actually licenses the behavior that it satirizes. Of
course, the authors of "Wag the Dog"(Mamet, De Niro, Hoffman) are no more
guilty than the authors of "The Godfather," which was exploited to refine
and institutionalize the professional culture of actual Mafiosi. The
problem already existed. Among the people who are in and particularly
around power in Russia, blunt cynicism and immoralism amount to a
consciously made, existential option. 

Therefore the doubt is not so much whether Putin's incredible rise to
national leadership was inspired by an American film, or whether the
current Kremlin goblins were morally prepared for absolutely anything--but
whether they had the organizational capability to calculate, execute, and
keep secret such an outrage. We must admit that we often underestimated
their (likely intuitive) astuteness. It might be added that we probably
focus too much on the traditional coercive institutions--either state (such
as the numerous successors to the KGB) or classically criminal. This
ignores the fact that nowadays these are rather the poles of a continuum
where the sprawling middle is occupied by the hundreds of private security
agencies, some arguably better financed, equipped and professionalized than
their state counterparts. 

On the other hand, I see at least equally many reasons why a Chechen group
could have conducted the bombings--punishing the enemy population when one
cannot protect one's own is a tactic recognized at least since the aerial
campaigns of World War II. Practically all Chechen military leaders, with
the stubbornly noble exception of President Maskhadov, are on record openly
threatening the populations of Russia with terrorism and (in the case of
Shamil Basayev in 1995) the "hypocritical" West. The previous war in
Chechnya began with a bizarre series of hostage-takings around the Minvody
airport that seemed genuine. It is unlikely that the trade in hostages and
the many assassinations of the last three years were entirely foreign
provocation. (Here we may find the origins of recently manufactured
Russian weapons captured in Chechnya: guns could have been supplied
instead of money ransoms. It would clearly be much cheaper for Russian
officials. This looks scandalously irresponsible, but significantly less
hideous than what is now suggested.) As to the Chechen rationale and
motives, it is apparent that Basayev, Khattab and Udugov could be carried
away by their and their retainers' restless machismo and amateurish
ideological fantasies. 

Finally, we cannot exclude the exotic possibility that somebody else (Osama
bin Laden or not) from far outside the former oviet realm managed to
recruit a local group of followers and strike for whatever purposes in
Russian population centers. Bombings in Tashkent in early 1999 at first
looked so puzzling that they were almost automatically blamed on the
arguably despotic President Karimov himself. Only later we learned about a
certain Mr. Pyatnitsa Namanganskiy (Juma'a Namangani) and equally
sinister types lurking behind the backs of Afghan Talibs. Stranger things
have happened. The Reichstag fire of 1932, historians now believe, was not
a Nazi provocation, but an opportunity that was readily exploited by the
Nazi machinery of repression and propaganda, which was already positioned
for a witch-hunt. 

The sober conclusion to be drawn from all this is that we should probably
not expect to learn the truth or, perhaps, we shall never feel confident
that we know all the truth even if it eventually resurfaces in the murky
whirlpool of post-Soviet intrigues. 

Chechnya for the moment should not be Putin's major worry either. As long
as Russian troops avoid the glaring stupidities of the last war, there will
be no major setbacks to hurt Putin. In any event, he is not Pavel Grachev,
whom the majority of Russians expected to be inept and reptilian in the
first place. Putin's reputation is opposite that of court eunuch, and can
absorb even some Russian casualties if they are presented as eroic--a
propaganda task both likely and attainable insofar as many Russians seem
ready to venerate a few new heroes. 

Professional Spies on the Road to Public Power 

The medium-term balance can be established with sufficient confidence. The
long-standing guesses regarding a military coup in Moscow were misplaced
all along. In the Soviet framework the military was not the prime coercive
apparatus. Obviously, it was the KGB, and it did try a coup in 1991
(probably in several other instances as well). The rapid and profound
reorganization of the Russian political/power field since August 1999
amounts to a very successful coup. The December elections to the Duma make
the monopolization of the central political arena and the governmental
bureaucracies a fait accompli. The Russian provinces, including the
variously separatist non-Russian republics, are left to negotiate the
length of their leash under the new regime.

The question is what can Putin do with this concentration of power, beyond
merely enjoying its fruits? It is very unclear whether, once firmly in
office, the new President Colonel Putin will feel obliged to honor his
debts to the vested interests whose machinations helped bring him to power.
Putin's projected role of steely-disciplined, patriotic and ascetic
leader (a typical Soviet-era idealization of the KGB officer) suggests no
reason for enjoying a continued association with the infamous figures of
Yeltsin's court--except blackmail. 

The movement of KGB veterans to the Kremlin began more than a year ago,
under the premiership of Primakov. It seems that we are poised to see in
the near future the realization of Andrei Sakharov's most scandalous
political prescription made in the early days of perestroika--to combat the
pervasive corruption (i.e., oligarchic privatization of the Soviet state)
by relying on the cadres of the most closed and presumably the least
corrupt of Soviet institutions, the KGB. Andrei Dmitrievich thus showed a
good sense of sequencing--democracy could not develop unless the
bureaucratic vested interests were reigned in, and the KGB appeared to him
the best available tool under the circumstances. It was (ironically yet
true) a relatively neutral force, an institution that under Andropov
cultivated the imageries of exclusive heroic professionalism (to distance
themselves from the dirty and often plain stupid things they were actually
doing) and abstract patriotism (for how could anyone feel sincerely
patriotic to the USSR of Brezhnev) .

This shouldn't surprise or scandalize us too much, for Sakharov was
essentially a humanistic reformer. In retrospect he appears a far more
practical thinker than anyone acknowledged during his lifetime. He was, as
all revolutionaries, a man of utopian vision, but he was not a doctrinaire
maximalist. Sakharov's political plan was a mental experiment, an attempt
to name the minimal conditions that would allow institutionalization of
basic intellectual, moral, political and economic freedoms. It is
admittedly a fuzzy vision, in part evidently because Sakharov could not
help noticing the critical gaps and contradictions in his own plans. 

Yeltsin's reign ended amidst the conditions that one could have projected
long ago, given the structures of Soviet power and their Russian legacy.
In fact, these are fundamentally the same problems and constraints
reminiscent of Brezhnev's twilight--twenty years later the problems remain
quite familiar--only worse and flagrantly more explicit. Therefore the
situation now bears similarity with the period leading to perestroika
(1982-84). The comparisons drawn between Andropov and Putin are not merely
superficial. But of course Putin is Putin, not Andropov today, and the
year 2000 is different from 1982 (when Brezhnev departed from the scene) in
many respects, including that there have been the revolts of 1989, 1991 and

Structures propose and humans dispose, and at the end of the day transient
political moves and differences of personal experience or disposition could
themselves become new structural constraints. The personality of Putin and
the circumstances of his rise to power will themselves likely structure
conditions of major consequence. The transient power struggles and even
personal traits may leave a strong imprint on the emergent institutions.
It is why we should be concerned with Putin's unknown personality, the
anonymous circle of his friends and allies, and especially with the
circumstances of his meteoric rise to power. 


Web page for CDI Russia Weekly:


Return to CDI's Home Page  I  Return to CDI's Library