This Date's Issues: 4136 4137
Johnson's Russia ListReturn to CDI's Home Page I Return to CDI's Library
28 February 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Russia Journal: Andrei Piontkovsky, Zyutin vs. Puganov.
2. Reuters: Russia's Putin woos party with unity call.
3. Ira Straus: small is ugly.
4. Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (Moscow): Report on anti-war actions.
5. Tom Manson: A personal memory of Anatoly Sobchak.
6. Gordon M. Hahn: on Chazan and Herspring on New Decree on Special Departments in the armed forces.
7. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Among the ruins. War crimes are suspected in a devastated
8. The Russia Journal: Otto Latsis, Chubais revolution continues.
9. The Guardian (UK): Western visitors a PR dream for Putin.]
The Russia Journal
February 28-March 5, 2000
Zyutin vs. Puganov
By ANDREI PIONTOVSKY (firstname.lastname@example.org)
All the post-communist countries, even the more prosperous ones like Hungary,
Poland and the Czech Republic, went through a stage of putting left-wing
social democrats in power. The left-wingers rode to victory on platforms
defending those who had suffered the most during market reforms. Poland still
has a left-wing president today, while the Czech Republic has a left-wing
Compared to the relative success of Eastern European countries, reforms in
Russia have brought catastrophic results. More than a third of the Russian
population lives below the poverty line and the country's natural resources
have been plundered by the oligarchs who privatized state power.
Karl Marx would have found in present day Russia enough convincing material
for several more volumes of his "Das Kapital." So why, unlike their East
European colleagues, have Russian communists not come to power?
The paradoxical answer is that they never left power. Russia's political and
business higher circles are made up entirely of the same people who formed
the Soviet political class. They did not give up power in 1991, but simply
converted the collective power of the party nomenklatura into the economic
and financial power of individual members of that same nomenklatura.
The Communist Party - KPRF - for its part, is a rather complex and
heterogenous entity. The party's ordinary members and the millions who vote
for it are people who have lost out in a decade of pseudo-reform, and they
hope that the KPRF will defend their interests. But the party apparatus is,
for the most part, made up of the same old Soviet party nomenklatura. The
only difference between them and their counterparts in the "party of power"
is that the communists missed out when the best slices of the state assets
pie were handed out.
Although these people like to spout rhetoric about fighting a regime they say
oppresses the people, they are really more interested in becoming an
integrated part of this regime, both politically and financially. Recent
times have seen this trend become more clear. The communist faction in the
new Duma counts a greatly increased number of successful businessmen in its
These communists are wholly interchangeable with their pro-government
colleagues from the Unity (Yedinstvo) party - the same background, social
status, political instincts and even physical appearance. The union formed by
these two parties in the Duma isn't just a tactical alliance; on the
contrary, it is a metaphysical union.
This is all the more true as lately the party of power is itself undergoing
significant change in both political language and views. In the early 1990s,
the nomenklatura cloaked the plundering of state property in what was for it
an alien rhetoric of "democracy," "the market," "human rights" and "a return
to European values."
Today, the moment has come to give the results of this thievery official and
legal force. The only way to do this is through "consolidation" of society
around hatred of common enemies: Chechens, traitors and the West, which
refuses to issue visas for some oligarchs and issues arrest warrants for
others. In line with this, official rhetoric has changed and now bears no
difference to that of the KPRF's most fundamentalist circles.
If KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov were able to get across clearly and
convincingly that the choice between he and Putin is a choice between social
democracy and oligarchy veering toward nazism, he would sail through to
victory. But Zyutin won't want to beat Puganov.
(Andrei Piontkovsky is director of the Center of Strategic Research in
Russia's Putin woos party with unity call
By Artyom Danielyan
MOSCOW, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Acting President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday
Russians were tired of confrontational politics and he vowed to unite the
nation behind ``common values.''
Speaking to a conference of the pro-Kremlin Unity party one month before he
contests the Russian presidency in a March 26 election, Putin also called for
a modern party system to help cement the country's fledgling democracy.
``Today it is clear to all that political confrontation has had its day in
Russia. The citizens of Russia are bored with ideological battles,'' Putin
said, referring to years of conflict between market reformers and communists.
``We are determined to find common values capable of supporting the
development of the state, of a powerful national spirit,'' said Putin.
Putin, who became acting president after Boris Yeltsin's surprise resignation
on December 31, is runaway favourite to win the presidential election and has
the support of much of the political establishment and state-run media.
Unity, set up last autumn to back Putin's presidential bid, is the second
biggest party in the new State Duma lower house of parliament after the
Communists following a surprisingly strong performance in December's
UNITY AIMS TO BECOME STRONG NATIONAL PARTY
Putin said he wanted Unity, whose political programme other than loyal
support for the acting president remains vague, to become a strong,
nationwide party to rival the Communists.
``You can say what you like about Communist ideology, you can criticise or
support them, but we have to admit that they already are a nationwide
party,'' Putin said.
The Communists benefit from a nationwide organisation inherited from Soviet
times. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov is Putin's main rival in the
presidential election, though opinion polls give him only about 18 percent of
the vote against about 59 percent for the acting president.
``I hope that Unity too will become a truly representative, strong and solid
political force able to exert real influence on the fate of the country and
its regions,'' Putin said.
Unity delegates later elected Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shoigu as its
formal party leader. Shoigu, who is also emergencies' minister, was a
founding member of Unity. Boris Gryzlov, its parliamentary chief, was elected
as his deputy.
Putin remains formally unattached to any party. Yeltsin too refused to head a
political party during his eight years at the helm, saying that as president
he had to represent all Russians.
Putin, 47, said he wanted to see about three or four strong parties to
dominate Russian politics in the future.
He has so far said little about the kind of policies he will implement if
Putin has expressed broad support for Yeltsin's market reforms but has made
the restoration of order his top priority, triggering worries among Russian
liberals that he may try to revive some of the country's more authoritarian
PUTIN WINS BACKING OF FORMER FOE
On Sunday, Vladimir Yakovlev, governor of St Petersburg and a founding member
of an anti-Kremlin political bloc, became the latest Russian politician to
throw his weight behind Putin.
Interfax news agency quoted Yakovlev as saying Putin was a man of action with
a clear vision of Russia's future.
Ironically, commentators say the pro-Putin Unity party is largely the
creation of Kremlin insiders who wanted to undermine the Fatherland-All
Russia bloc of Yakovlev, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Moscow
mayor Yuri Luzhkov.
Primakov and Luzhkov, once tipped as strong presidential candidates, decided
against challenging Putin after their bloc won fewer seats than expected in
the Duma poll. This followed a relentless smear campaign against them by
From: IRASTRAUS@aol.com (Ira Straus)
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000
Subject: small is ugly
On the latest JRL (4135): "With few exceptions, human rights nongovernmental
organizations (NGO's) documented and reported on human rights violations
without governmental interference or sanctions. However, some LOCAL
officials harassed human rights monitors and, in some cases, arrested them."
-- 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Released by the Bureau of
Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor U.S. Department of State, February 25,
2000 (my emphasis)
Almost weekly, reports like this one come in. Whether the subject is media
pluralism or religious freedom or NGOs, it's almost always the locals who are
in the forefront of suppression of freedom. The Feds, if they play any role
at all, almost always play a role of restraining the local repressiveness.
And almost no one ever draws any local conclusions from this.
Evidently Americans today are lacking the theoretical and moral equipment for
drawing simple logical conclusions from this kind of evidence. They seem to
know how to draw only decentralizing conclusions.
Someone ought to check the correlation between the evidence on this subject
and the opposite conclusions drawn by Americans. Given how much repeated
evidence there has been from which no logical conclusions have been drawn,
while the opposite decentralist conclusions and prescriptions keep getting
made, the negative correlation ought to be quite robust empirically, with a
predictive significance for policy-prescription failure by Americans on this
Poor Madison must be spinning in his grave. Did he write The Federalist No.
10 in vain? Can the vast American political science industry, which has
turned No. 10 into the foundation of modern empirical political science, be
almost totally lacking in appreciation of its basic message, which is about
the correlation between the widening of the sphere of democracy and the
protection of freedom from factional intolerance?
From: "Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights"
Subject: report on anti-war actions
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000
Attached please find a report about the anti-war demonstration in Moscow on
February 19 and the Petition Against the War in Chechnya. Both documents are
in English and Russian. Please accept our apologies for the large size of
the files. We will be glad if the documents will be useful to you and/or if
you could distribute them. Photographs can bee found at the Web site of the
Committee for Anti-War Actions at http://www.hro.org/war/index.htm . We
would like to thank everybody who has expressed their support to our
Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights
ul. Volkhonka 14, 4th floor, Moscow, 119842 Russia
tel.+fax (095) 203-9196
Committee for Anti-War Actions
COMMITTEE FOR ANTI-WAR ACTIONS
(095) 208-49-02 (11am-7pm Moscow time), email@example.com, http://www.hro.org/war
MASS ANTI-WAR DEMONSTRATION IN MOSCOW ON FEBRUARY 19 MARKS THE BEGINNING
OF ACTIVE PROTESTS OF RUSSIAN CITIZENS AGAINST THE WAR IN CHECHNYA
Despite of the claims of the Russian authorities and the affiliated media
about unconditional and unanimous support by the Russian people of the
government's policy in Chechnya, a considerable part of the Russian
population does not approve of the operation in the North Caucasus and
demands immediate stop of the military actions. Millions of Russians are
concerned about gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law in
the course of the "anti-terrorist operation" and heave political, social,
economic, legal, and humanitarian consequences of the war which, in the
opinion of many experts and citizens, may hinder the process of rebirth of
Russia for decades and push the country away from the path of civilized and
democratic development for good.
A mass demonstration against the war in Chechnya on February 19, 2000 in
the center of Moscow has become an evidence of the fact that more and more
Russian citizens are making a step from silent condemnation of the war to
active civic resistance to militarism and lawlessness. By different
accounts, from 800 to 1200 people participated in the event organized by
the Committee for Anti-War Actions. Proponents of the peaceful resolution
of the crisis in Chechnya gathered at 2 PM on Teatralnaya Square in central
Moscow carrying the following slogans: "No to war in Chechnya!," "War kills
freedom," "War bankrupts Russia," "Let's stop the war not for the sake of
Europe but for the sake of Russia," "What if you neighbor happens to be a
bandit… Should your house be bombed then?," "Putin, where is Babitsky?,"
"Freedom to Dmitry Neverovsky!," No to military censorship," FSB +
militarisation of all nation = new national idea?," "The war kills both
Chechens and Russians," "Today - cleansing of Chechnya, tomorrow -
cleansing of Russia?," "Murder of one person is a crime, murder of ten
people - a terrible crime, murder of ten thousand - antiterrorist
operation?," "State terrorism is more dangerous than terrorism of
The participants were addressed by the following speakers: Mr. Oleg Orlov,
Chair of the Board of "Memorial" Human Rights Center; Mr. Valery Borshchev,
deputy of the first and second State Duma and the Chair of the Chamber on
Human Rights of the Political Consultative Council at the President of
Russia; Ms. Svetlana Gannushkina, co-Chair of the Public Committee for Aid
to Refugees and Forced Migrants "Civic Assistance;" Ms Eliza Musaeva, a
teacher and a refugee from Chechnya; Mr. Naum Nim, Editor-in-Chief of
"Index: Dossier on Censorship" journal; Ms. Ludmila Obraztsova, member of
the Board of the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees of Russia; Mr.
Vladlen Toupikin, representative of the Anarchist Anti-War Movement and
member of the collective of the "Utopia" journal; Mr. Lev Ponomarev,
co-Chair of the federal party "Democratic Russia" and chair of the
All-Russian Movement "For Human Rights," Mr. Nickolai Khramov, secretary of
the Antimilitarist Radisal Association; and Ms. Valeriya Novodvorskaya,
chair of the Democratic Union party. The demonstration was facilitated by
Ms. Irina Bogantseva, chair of Democratic Perspective NGO, and Mr. Yuri
Dzhibladze, president of the Center for the Development of Democracy and
Human Rights. A message from Grigory Yavlinsky was read to the
participants. In his message chair of the Yabloko movement promised "to
make everything possible to stop the war, senseless and cruel," and stated
that "criminals should be punished and people should be protected," and
that "soldiers should return home safe and with clear conscience." After
the speeches the participants released hundreds of blue air balloons with
the words "No to War" written on them as a symbol of their civic resistance
to violence and peaceful alternative to war. Organizers announced about a
launch of a petition signing campaign against the war. Text of the Petition
Against the War in Chechnya addressed to acting President Putin and
prepared by the Committee for Anti-War Actions was read to the
participants. The Petition demands immediate stop of the military actions
in Chechnya, beginning of negotiations of the Russian government with
legitimate authorities of the Chechen Republic, immediate investigation of
all war crimes conducted in Chechnya and bringing the guilty to justice,
ending of information war waged against the Russian population; provision
of truthful information about the situation in Chechnya, abolition of the
illegal military censorship, immediate provision of all necessary
assistance to refugees from Chechnya, provision of unconditional access for
international and Russian observers to the conflict zone.
After the end of the rally participants of the action walked with anti-war
slogans to the memorial to the victims of the GULAG, the Solovetsky Stone
at Lubianka Square. After the introductory words by Mr. Alexander Daniel,
member of the Board of the "Memorial" Society, the participants held a
moment of silence in memory of the victims of the war in Chechnya and laid
the flowers down to the memorial stone thus underlining that what is
happening in Chechnya today is as much a violation of human rights as the
Stalinist repressions. After the mourning ceremony more speakers addressed
the audience: Ms. Nadezhda Avdeeva, member of the Mothers of Kuban NGO from
Krasnodar, Mr. Pyotr Kaznacheev, chair of the Anti-Fascist Youth Movement,
and Dr. Alexander Krasnov, professor at the Moscow Conservatory.
Representatives of the Buddhist Order read an appeal to peace. The
organizers announced their plans for continuing actions of civic resistance
Anti-war actions in Moscow are supported by activists in other cities in
Russia. On February 19 a demonstration against the war Chechnya and the
government's treatment of Andrei Babitsky took place in Yekaterinburg. The
action, organized by the Committee for Defense of Andrei Babitsky,
Committee for Anti-War Actions, Memorial Center, Movement Against Violence
and other NGOs, gathered more than a hundred activists. The city residents
could see anti-war slogans "Murder of one person is a crime, murder of ten
people - a terrible crime, murder of ten thousand - antiterrorist
operation?," "Yesterday's school children shouldn't be sent to trenches,"
"Babitsky's "case" is an act of lawlessness by the government," "Freedom to
the prisoner of conscience Dmitry Neverovsky!" Participants were signing
letters with demands to stop the bloodshed in Chechnya and conduct official
investigation of the disappearance of Mr. Babitsky. The demonstration was
the largest but not the last action in Yekaterinburg. Activists from the
Urals have made a decision to conduct weekly pickets in the center of the
city - Peace Vigils against ht war in Chechnya, in defense of freedom,
democracy and the right to life. During the anti-war picket in
Yekaterinburg on February 23 passers-by were stopping at a photo display
with pictures of Chechen children wounded during the "anti-terrorist
operation" while the activists distributed leaflets of the Committee for
Defense of Andrei Babitsky and the Committee for Anti-War Actions and
information materials of the Human Rights Network and Memorial. Despite of
the fact that the action was officially permitted, the police detained
briefly two participants and exposed their film rolls.
During the weekend after the Moscow demonstration anti-war activists in
Saint Petersburg organized a series of actions, including a punk-hardcore
music festival against the war on Chechnya with groups from St.Petersburg,
Moscow, Vyborg and Finland on February 25 and an anti-war picket at the
corner of the main city avenue, the Nevsky prospect, and Malaya Sadovaya
The Committee for Anti-War Actions plans continuation of weekly pickets in
Moscow, a petition-signing campaign, organization of a "Joint Wave" - a
series of simultaneous anti-war actions in different cities in Russia and
other countries in mid March, anti-war concerts, collection of humanitarian
aid for the civilian population of Chechnya, etc. Anti-war actions are also
being planned in Chita, Sakhalin, and other regions of Russia.
Committee for Anti-War Actions is a coalition of Russian NGOs and
movements. Established in 1995, it conducted anti-war pickets and
demonstrations during the first war in Chechnya, and renewed its activities
in January 2000. The Committee is comprised of representatives of the Human
Rights Center "Memorial," the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees of
Russia, Democratic Perspective, Antimilitarist Radical Association, Center
for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Youth Human Rights
Center, Anarchist Anti-War Movement, Human Rights Network, Movement Against
Violence, Democratic Union party, Anti-Fascist Youth Action, Youth Human
Rights Movement, Information Center of the Independent Women's Forum,
Nonviolence International and other groups as well as individuals not
affiliated with any NGOs or movements.
PETITION AGAINST THE WAR IN CHECHNYA
To: Acting President of the Russian Federation
Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation
Mr. Acting President;
We, the undersigned, are sending you this petition; by doing so, we realize
our right to appeal to organs of state power guaranteed by Article 33 of
the Russian Constitution.
We declare our strong protest against the continued military hostilities in
Chechnya. We can see that behind the veil of official rhetoric about "the
fight against terrorism" a real war against all Chechen people is going on.
We do not believe that the mysterious explosions which occurred in living
quarters of some Russian cities - regardless of who, in fact, caused these
explosions - can justify the destruction of dozens of towns and villages,
the deaths of thousands of peaceful civilians, as well as Russian soldiers
and officers, and the plight of thousands of refugees, given that no known
terrorists have been detained and prosecuted as of now.
We express our strong protest against the increasing militarization of all
aspects of life in Russia, and the crackdown on the media freedom which are
taking place in the context of the new Chechen war.
We demand that you take all measures required
· To put an immediate end to hostilities waged by the federal armed forces
· To start negotiations between the Russian federal authorities and the
legitimately elected government of the Chechen Republic, in particular,
with the Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov whose legitimacy is recognized
by the Council of Europe, and was recognized, until recently, by the
· To initiate an immediate investigation into all military crimes committed
in Chechnya, and to prosecute offenders;
· To end the information war against the Russian society by the federal
authorities, to provide accurate information about the events in Chechnya
to the Russian public, and to prohibit the illegal military censorship;
· To provide, without delay, all types of assistance needed to refugees who
have fled Chechnya;
· To ensure free and unconditional access to the conflict zone for
international and Russian observers.
This petition was initiated on February 19, 2000 by the Committee for
Anti-War Actions which includes representatives of Russian NGOs:
Memorial Human Rights Center, Union of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia,
Democratic Perspective, Antimilitary Radical Association (ARA), Radical
Party, Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Human
Rights Youth Center, Anarchist Anti-War Movement, Human Rights Network,
Antifascist Youth Movement, Democratic Union, Independent Women's Forum
Information Center, Non-Violence International, Human Rights Youth
Movement, and other organizations, as well as individuals not associated
with NGOs and movements.
Committee for Anti-War Actions
103045 Moscow, #6 Pechatnikov Pereulok, the Radical Party
phone. (095) 208-4902, fax (095) 208-1805; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web Site:
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000
From: Tom Manson <email@example.com>
Subject: A personal memory of Anatoly Sobchak
It was Monday 19th August 1991 and we awoke in Leningrad to find that
only one televison channel was working at it was showing a dreary film
about life on a collective farm. A friend telephoned with the
unbelievable news that there had been what appeared to be a coup but all
seemed normal, even when we went to a meeting in the Marinsky Palace.
Our discussions there were, to say the least of it, nervous, and then in
afternoon we went to the University and met a Professor who was in
despair. That very day, a notice had been put up requiring the students
to go to dig potatoes in Karelia. The Professor, whose early working
life had been in the last years of the Stalin era was convinced that
repression and forced labour was back. It turned out that the notice was
not connected in any way with the coup, but the coincidence certainly
unnerved the Professor.
Then along Nevsky Prospect where we were astonished to see pasted up in
prominent position Yeltsin's ukase, as President of the Russian
Federation, declaring the coup to be illegal. A small crowd had
gathered, but all around, Leningraders were acting as if nothing had
We then went to Park Pabeda where we saw one demonstrator with a sign
saying "Muzhiki! Resist the coup!". At the time, with my non existent
Russian I found it difficult to understand the nuances of the word
Muzhik and still do. We discussed it over supper and vodka with Misha in
his communal flat: he, his wife, two children and a dog had two rooms
and shared the kitchen and bathroom with three other families. Misha and
I feared the worst, feared that the short period of relative freedom and
openness was about to end.
Then at 8.30, the television stopped showing Moscow programmes and cut
to the local Lenningrad studio. It appeared to be plainly furnished and
poorly lit, but we saw Anatoly Sobchak and heard him denounce the
plotters in Moscow and demand that legitimate government continue. My
friends have since told me that he gained huge impact because he spoke
good Russian, clearly and without notes. It was so different from the
previous leaders who mangled the language and most could not string two
thoughts together. Sobchak clearly was taking a risk, and this was
underlined by the fact that the studio was so shabby, but from then
onward it was clear to me that the coup was in trouble. It had two days
to go, collapsing in the pouring rain on the Wednesday but to me the
defining moment was the half hour of Sobchak, before the television
returned to the Moscow studio and we again saw the plotters and heard
their turgid prose promising to maintain the Soviet system.
Anatoly Sobchak's death brought those days back to me. His instant
reaction of opposition was like Yeltsin's one of the key factors that
saved Russia. In all the controversy today about where the country is
going, does anyone seriously believe that the people would be better off
if the coup had succeded? He played an important part in his country's
development and I am sure that history will treat him well.
Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000
From: "Gordon M. Hahn" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Hahn on Chazan and Herspring on New Decree on Special
A few comments for JRL on the new decree confirming a statute on special
administrations in the armed forces. First, Herspring is right that Chazan
confuses the issue. On 7 February 2000, acting president Putin signed a
presidential decree confirming a new statute on "special departments" in
the armed forces replacing the legal force of a February 1993 statute.
[Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii No. 318, "Ob utverzhdenii
Polozheniya ob upravleniyakh (otdelakh) Federal'noi cluzhby bezopasnosti
Rossiiskoi Federatsii v Vooryzhennykh Silakh Rossiiskoi Federatsii, drugikh
voiskakh, voinskikh formirovaniyakh i organakx (organakh bezopasnosti v
voiskakh)", 7 Fevralya 2000, Rossiiskaya gazeta, 12 February 2000, p. 6.]
The ukaz does not mark the recreation of the osobye otdely. They may never
have been abolished and if they were then they were reinstated by a 1993
decree. This first decree approved a statute on special departments, but it
is not clear that it recreated them. Like the recent decree, it seems to
have simply changed the legal status, functions and place in the state
structure of these organs.
Second, as Herspring I think is aware but Chazan surely is not, the
political commissars as well as the political officers of the Main
Political Administration (MPA) had little in common with the special
departments which were a KGB organization. The MPA was a CPSU structure
with the status of a Central Committee department until early 1991 when (in
accordance with decisions of the XXVIII CPSU Congress, an early September
1990 USSR presidential decree, and December 1990 proposals from all the
power ministries) it was "statized" and handed over the USSR Defense
MInistry and renamed the Main Military-Political Administration in
accordance with Gorbachev's policy of differentiating (razgranichenie)
party and state functions. Its functions were ostensibly changed from
ideological and political training to preparing officers to defend
themselves legally and "socially," supposedly providing legal advice,
assistance with living condition problems, and political problems such as
the loss of privileges in the rebelliuos republics and in Russia itself.
However, it appears that the old functions persisted in many units until
the August 1991 coup attempt. The CPSU and political officers were
compensated for their loss in part by new offices with the creation of
party committees with their own apparatuses in party organization in the
various power ministries and their armed units. In the KGB and its Border
Troops, they may have tried to adapt the osobisties' functions in the some
way as a result of these reforms.
An FSB spokesman Aleksandr Zdanovich claimed that the "security organs
within the [armed forces] are not receiving any additional power" and that
the new directive "only brings the security organs into conformity with the
existing structure of the armed forces, where over recent times reforms were
carried out" and is based on the federal law on the security organs, which
"carefully maps out" the powers of the FSB. I do not have the 1993 ukaz
with me here in Moscow, so I cannot compare the two. The question therefore
persists for me whether there really is no significant change, and if the
new ukaz does not differ from previous ukaz why did Putin sign it and why
at this time when he does not want to alienate the military?
It appears Putin has moved to strengthen the FSB in ways that appear
consistent with his goal of strengthening the state, law enforcement and
weeding out some forms of corruption. The decree is therefore likely
targetted at the problems plaguing the armed forces such as crime,
corruption, dedovshchina, and the general lack of discipline and/or at
There is one other perhaps more remote but nevertheless possible reason
for the execution of this new statute. Some observers in Russia and the
West have argued that Yeltsin's resignation and Putin's appointment as
designated heir were the results of a secret putsch by generals who feared
that Yeltsin would abandon the campaign in Chechnya under pressure from the
West. If this is true, even in part, then Putin has reason to fear that
upon successful conclusion of the military campaign in Chechnya might seek
a greater role in politics or resist professionalization or other reforms.
The commentary in the government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta that
accompanied the new statute and the ukaz that put the statute into effect
cast the military in anything but a favorable light while it lamented the
KGB's castration "in the times of 'universal democratization'
demonstrations." Specifically, it reminded readers that "the army...itself
can conceal a potential threat for its own citizens. Powerful weapons, in
particular weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of servicemen, and
any unsanctioned action with them can lead to unforeseeable results. In
order to safeguard the country, its constitutional order, citizens, and in
equal measure the Armed Forces themselves, the state stipulates an entire
system of defensive measures." [Boris Saltykov, "Ne dumai ob ugrozakh
svycoka," Rossiiskaya gazeta, 12 February 2000, p. 6.]
Gordon M. Hahn
27 February 2000
Among the ruins
War crimes are suspected in a devastated Grozny
By David Filipov, Globe Staff, Globe Correspondent, 2/27/2000
GROZNY, Russia - The names have no streets in the sprawling mass of ruins
used to be Grozny. The ceilings have no walls, the fences have no houses, the
splintered branches strewn across the muddy earth have no trees.
Chechnya's capital, once home to more than 400,000 people, has become a
nightmare of jagged and jumbled war debris, where ghastly secrets are buried
under the rubble with the dead.
After 60 days of constant Russian bombardment and the fierce street fighting
between Russian troops and separatist militants that ended this month, just
about everything has been shot full of holes, blown up, burned, or flattened.
Packs of dogs and flocks of crows roam the ruins. They feed on the remains of
soldiers, fighters, and civilians who died here, Russian troops say.
Some of the Russian soldiers who captured the city say the ruins should just
be plowed under rather than repaired. But then the truth about the looting -
as well as the torture and summary executions that rights groups and Chechens
accuse the Russians of committing - would be lost forever.
At the moment, this grim landscape of ruins, mud, and shrapnel has been
closed to the rest of the world by the Russian military. The official reason
is that unexploded mines and rebel fighters still hiding among the rubble
make Grozny unsafe.
But others express concern that the army is covering up evidence of war
crimes. The New York-based Human Rights Watch says it has evidence that
Russian soldiers have executed more than 150 civilians in Grozny.
A Boston-based group, Physicians for Human Rights, released preliminary
findings yesterday of a survey that indicated the killing may have been more
widespread: Of 326 Chechens interviewed at refugee camps in Ingushetia,
across Chechnya's western border, 44 percent said they had seen civilians
killed by Russian forces.
Such reports have raised calls for independent investigations and greater
access to Chechnya. The calls were intensified by footage shown on Russian TV
of soldiers dumping a pile of male bodies into a pit, their legs bound in
wire and an ear of at least one of the bodies cut off. Russian authorities
said the videotape was a fake, and have dismissed most allegations of
atrocities as rebel propaganda.
The only people allowed in Grozny are 6,000 to 10,000 stranded civilians,
ekeing out an existence among the ruins because they have nowhere else to go.
Then there are Russian police and Interior Ministry Army units, and the
occasional journalists they bring in for a closely guarded look.
One such tour on Thursday started on the muddy, debris-strewn path that used
to be the main route leading into Grozny from the north, the
Heavily armed Interior Ministry commandos accompanied the reporters atop two
armored personnel carriers. Every house along a row of formerly neat
one-story homes had been damaged. Some had ragged holes in their roofs,
blown-out windows, burn marks on their walls. Others were nothing but four
''People Live Here,'' pleaded signs hanging on some fences.
But they no longer live there.
''House for Sale!'' read other signs, the exclamation point adding a touch of
urgency, quite gratuitously.
This neighborhood is the place where, according to Human Rights Watch, about
50 Chechen civilians were shot and killed in their yards by Russian soldiers
combing the area for rebels this month. Some of the survivors appeared to
confirm the shootings.
''Lots of people were shot - we found one old woman in a home for the
elderly, they shot her in the head and left her there in her wheelchair,''
said Malika Kurbanova, who lives with her family in a cellar.
Another woman began describing how Russian paramilitary units fired on
civilians who tried to prevent looting.
''You can't go to the house when the troops are there, or else they start
shooting,'' said the woman, who only gave her first name, Teresa. ''We hated
the rebels, but [the Russians] were just as bad, if not worse.''
A police major escorting the journalists tried to shout down the woman. He
asked her whether she had seen the damage done by the apartment bombs that
killed 293 people in Moscow and other cities last summer, which Russian
authorities blamed on Chechen rebels. No one ever proved the Chechens'
responsibility in those blasts, and the bomb sites were buried almost
''You set those bombs off yourselves to justify invading Chechnya!'' Teresa
The woman was shouting, ''We have no hope! We have no future!'' when the
major and his men pulled the reporters away.
The Russians wanted to show their side of the story - the site of a battle
with rebel fighters in which their unit, the 21st Interior Ministry Brigade,
lost 43 men.
On the former intersection of 9th Avenue and Tashkala Square stood the
rusting hull of an armored troop carrier, blown up by a Chechen antitank
grenade during fighting last month.
Russian Noncommissioned Officer Filippov died here as he tried in vain to
pull three comrades out of the burning tank, said the 21st Brigade's
commander, Colonel Anatoly Yepifanov.
''All the civilians were in bomb shelters when we arrived,'' Yepifanov said,
denying his troops committed atrocities. ''All we found here was a lot of
fighters, and you can see the damage they did.''
Both sides had done visible damage during the five-day battle for 9th Avenue.
A row of apartment buildings had become a frozen cascade of concrete, plaster
and brick. In what was once a leafy park, trees and shrubs were cut into
splinters. A burned-out tank lay under a sign on one chopped-up trunk that
read ''No trash - 200 ruble fine.''
The 10-minute drive into the center from the north was an obstacle course of
10-foot-deep craters from the 1,100-pound bombs Russian jets dropped on the
city. Only two buildings on the road escaped destruction - Cafe Linda, and a
small store with a sign offering Internet services.
Handfuls of civilians roamed the pathways, many tugging crude handcarts full
of plastic bottles of diesel fuel they found at abandoned warehouses.
''No food, no help, no safety,'' muttered Lyudmila Kurbanova, as she tugged
her cart through the mud. ''I don't know who is right. I lived in a basement
all December and January. There was a direct hit on our house. Mama died in
January ... some soldiers came and took our mattresses and rugs.''
The Russians have set up soup kitchens and a field hospital closer to the
center, but the escort did not let the journalists stop. Instead, the armored
personnel carriers rumbled on to the center of the city that Russia destroyed
This was where the main fighting took place in the first two battles for
Grozny, in 1995 when the Russians took the city, and in 1996 when the Chechen
rebels reclaimed it. Much of the center was ruined in the first battle, and
thousands of people were killed. Only 150,000 residents remained when Russian
troops reentered Chechnya in October, but those who could fled before the
city was retaken.
On Thursday, the central Independence Square was just a flat, desolate plain,
littered with empty rocket casings, bullets, and gravel. A lone staff bearing
a tattered rebel flag was the only thing standing on the east side of the
Across a wrecked bridge over the Sunzha River, Avturkhanov Avenue was pocked
with deep craters from Russian bombs and shells. ''Dial 01 in case of a
Fire'' said the remains of one sign. The ''Ocean'' food store was gone, as
was the hotel, the Orthodox church, the apartment buildings and the pharmacy.
Even the ruins that used to be here were gone.
The Russian troops stopped their armored personnel carrier at Minutka Square,
a huge interchange south of the center. Dmitry Mokrushkin commanded a platoon
that battled the rebels hand-to-hand for the square. Out of Mokrushkin's 30
men, 10 survived. When the Russians captured Minutka, they blew up the
remains of the high-rises that once had ringed the square.
''I have no regrets,'' Mokrushkin said. ''We should plow the whole city under
the ground. Otherwise, the bandits will be back one day.''
Russia says it has the rebels trapped in the mountains south of Grozny. But
the troops know it is not quite like that. Mokrushkin said the separatists
have split up into small groups. Some are pretending to be civilians; others
probe Russian positions at night.
''We get shot at each night,'' Mokrushkin said. He professed to know nothing
about the theory favored in some political circles: that the Kremlin
organized the war to help Acting President Vladimir Putin win next month's
election. Mokrushkin only found out this month about Boris Yeltsin's
resignation and Putin's ascension to power on New Year's Eve.
''All I know,'' Mokrushkin said, looking at the leveled battlefield, ''is
what they did to our guys.''
The journalists were driven past the monument where Chechnya's rebel leaders
held public executions in 1997, infuriating Russia and disturbing many in the
West. They drove past the place where in January, Globe correspondent Dmitry
Shalganov found Svetlana Kapustina wandering the ruined streets, hoping for
news of her daughter Irina, 15, who had been abducted in Grozny in November.
She was one of nearly 1,800 kidnapping victims in Chechnya since Russian
troops left after the 1994-1996 war. Now the troops are back, and hostages
are being rescued. Russian TV reported six hostages were freed yesterday,
among them Svetlana's daughter. A new problem arises: how to find Svetlana in
A column of Russian trucks drove by, filled with mattresses, chairs, rugs and
furniture, past the ruins of Grozny's central market, destroyed in a Russian
rocket attack that killed over 150 shoppers in October.
A team of riot police in battle gear moved cautiously along 9th Avenue,
aiming at the ruined buildings. Someone had just discovered unexploded mines,
and explosives specialists were moving in.
A shock wave and a bright flash preceded the blast.
''We find stuff every day,'' said Lieutenant Roman Krivosheyev, commander of
the bomb squad. ''No one will be able to live here for a long time.''
The Russia Journal
February 28-March 5, 2000
Chubais revolution continues
By OTTO LATSIS
The spate of forceful company takeovers rocking Russia has now hit Moscow. An
armed attempt was made at Moscow's Moskhimfarmpreparaty pharmaceuticals
company to take control of the premises and install new management.
But this case was not entirely the same as other recent "hostile" takeovers
at the Achinsk clay plant, Nizhnetagil metallurgical plant, Kachkanar mineral
enrichment plant, Vyborg paper mill and the Lomonosov porcelain factory.
For one thing, the takeover attempt failed. The workers didn't let the new
security men and director onto the premises, having no incentive to do so as
the old director was running the place just fine and paying wages on time.
The second difference was that this was a fight for control of a state
enterprise and not a private company. The status of the company wasn't the
issue, but rather the wish to grab a profitable business whether it had been
privatized or not.
The third difference was that for once, the government stepped in, and Deputy
Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov decided to take the situation under his control.
One detail is of interest in all this: Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, a constant
critic of privatization a la Chubais and always ready to add his pinch of
salt to events concerning privatization, barely reacted to a conflict taking
place in Moscow itself.
For an explanation, let's look closer at the property revolution underway in
Critics of Russian privatization reproached it above all for being political
rather than economic. There is truth in those assertions, but all the blame
can't be laid at Anatoly Chubais' feet. Such large-scale privatization in
such a short time couldn't be done any other way, nor could it just be put
The textbooks said that bankruptcies would force bad managers out and bring
good ones in. Practice hasn't disproved this theory, it's just that real
life is always more complicated.
People's interests get in the way, especially the interests of those in
power. Regional governors are actively involved in these new asset carve-ups,
as is clear in Krasnoyarsk, the Kuzbass and Yekaterinburg. Federal
authorities aren't just on the sidelines either, as was seen in the latest
conflict in Moscow.
The obvious weakness of the judicial system is another element to take into
account. It's often impossible to resolve property disputes through the
courts. Economic realities also play a part, again as illustrated by events
When ZIL, one of the giants of socialist industry, was privatized, Luzhkov
was up in arms about it having gone to a private firm for a mere $4 million.
Some politicians said it should have fetched $2 billion. But serious
economists gave it a negative value, as it would have required investments of
at least $1 billion to turn out competitive products.
But Luzhkov didn'™t listen to the economists. Moscow bought ZIL back from its
private owners and began financing it from the city budget. The project was a
failure. ZIL is still struggling to survive, and the city doesn't have the
money to keep it propped up.
The Moscow authorities criticized the government for giving away industry at
bargain basement prices but then followed that approach when privatizing an
even more significant asset -- housing.
Again, they didn't listen to economists who said that this kind of
privatization program would have a negative social impact, widening the gap
between different groups. The state was handing out free housing, but not all
of it was the same size, and higher earners ended up with more than people on
The Moscow government rejected the proposed federal housing reform program.
But here too, economic reality has come to show what's what. Owners of large
apartments profited at first from the emergence of a real estate market. Then
the Moscow government discovered it had no money to subsidize utilities
There has not been any real housing reform in Moscow. Utilities are still run
as monopolies. Waste and inefficiency are still rampant in the housing
sector. But payments for this wastefulness continue to rise. From Feb. 1,
housing and utilities payments will increase by 20 percent in Moscow.
Nobody has looked at this news in the light of the conflict at the
pharmaceutical plant because, at first glance, they seem unrelated events.
But this isn't so. Both cases show that you can't deceive the market economy
or avoid its laws, no matter what your ideological motive.
The Guardian (UK)
26 February 2000
[for personal use only]
Western visitors a PR dream for Putin
Guardian staff and agencies
Like a tsar-in-waiting, Mr Putin has been sitting amid the refurbished
splendour of the Kremlin for the past month courteously receiving one western
visitor after another while his troops simultaneously smash a city the size
of Edinburgh to pieces, beyond the point of reconstruction and recovery.
Madeleine Albright from the US, Hubert Védrine from France, Joschka Fischer
from Berlin, Lord Robertson from Nato and, finally, Robin Cook - the first
British cabinet member to meet the new leader - have been charmed by the
ex-KGB man who is a month from being crowned Russia's new democratic leader ,
even though he has never contested a democratic vote in his life.
Mr Cook and Mr Putin laughed at one another's jokes.
"It's all gone surprisingly successfully for the acting president," said the
Moscow paper Kommersant. "Cook was clearly against putting pressure on Russia
because of Chechnya. The west has done its bit to ensure Putin's election as
It is hard to escape that conclusion in Moscow. If Ms Albright reckons that
Mr Putin is "a liberal reformer" and President Bill Clinton writes that Mr
Putin is "liberating" Chechnya, British officials confided that their first
encounter with Mr Putin could not have gone better.
For the Chechens, last Wednesday was neither pleasant nor encouraging. It was
the anniversary of the day in 1944 when Stalin's henchman, Lavrenty Beria,
started rounding up more than half a million Chechens, putting them in cattle
wagons and sealed lorries, and deporting them to central Asia and Siberia to
almost certain death.
There is not a Chechen family untouched by the atrocities of 56 years ago.
Amid further reports of Russian atrocities against Chechen civilians this
week, Mr Cook's first words to Mr Putin on Wednesday morning referred to the
two countries' alliance in the second world war. That past alliance should be
transformed into a future "strategic partnership", with Russia a "top
priority of British foreign policy".
Chechnya, Moscow assumes, will not get in the way of realpolitik. Of the
recent western visitors, only Hubert Védrine, the French foreign minister,
had "a tense and difficult" session with Mr Putin, although the Germans are
also less effusive than the Anglo-Americans.
But while Mr Cook claimed that western protests about Chechnya "have not
fallen on deaf ears", David Scheffer, the US state department's human rights
and war crimes official, said: "It's clearly been distressful to us that so
much of the concern expressed about Chechnya appears to have fallen on either
deaf ears or ears that wish to focus on other issues."
Mr Putin is not yet confirmed in office. His intentions and policies remain a
mystery. Western governments say they will judge him by his actions, not his
words. His most salient acts as prime minister and acting president have been
to deploy an army of 92,000 to vanquish an area about the size of Wales,
uproot 300,000 civilians, and utterly destroy a city once home to 400,000.
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