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25 February 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Putin's rating overestimated.
2. RFE/RL NEWSLINE: INTERNET REGULATIONS TO INCREASE AFTER ELECTIONS... AS ONE SITE EXPERIENCES TEMPORARY SHUT DOWN.
3. Parlamentskaya Gazeta: TOWARDS THE FORTHCOMING ELECTIONS
4. Stratfor.com: 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.
8. WPS Media Monitoring Agency: THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
AS REPORTED BY THE CENTRAL MEDIA.
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
INTERNET REGULATIONS TO INCREASE AFTER ELECTIONS... In an
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 http://www.compromat.ru 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
...AS ONE SITE EXPERIENCES TEMPORARY SHUT DOWN. Internet
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,
http://www.compromat.ru, 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
February 22, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
TOWARDS THE FORTHCOMING ELECTIONS
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
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"
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.
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: IRASTRAUS@aol.com (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
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" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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" <email@example.com>
Subject: PUTIN & THE PALLADIUM PLOT
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000
The Moscow Tribune, February 25, 2000
PUTIN & THE PALLADIUM PLOT
Conspiracy & stupidity are the same thing
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
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 UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AS REPORTED BY THE CENTRAL MEDIA
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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 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
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 <email@example.com>
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
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: http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~ponars
Program on New Approaches to Russian Security (PONARS)
Davis Center for Russian Studies * Harvard University
Reflections on Putin's Rise to Power
By Georgi Derluguian
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
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
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.
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