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3 March 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Times EDITORIAL: A Vertically Integrated 'Good Tsar'?
2. Segodnya: The Administration Will Be Cleansed. VOLOSHIN-BEREZOVSKY TEAM MAY SUFFER SERIOUS CASUALTIES.
3. WPS: ANTI-PUTIN CAMPAIGN ON TV? YAVLINSKY MEETS WITH SERVICEMEN.
4. Andrew Gentes: Brief comment on crime's rise.
5. Segodnya: ORWELL INSIDE OUT. Vladimir Putin to "freeze" Russia. (Interview with Leonid
6. The Times (UK): Alice Lagnado, Russia 'wants nuclear waste'
7. Frank Durgin: Superb book on Russian agriculture by Stephen
8. Summary of Sergey Dorenko’s Program on Public Russian Television
9. PONARS Memo: Henry Hale, Is Russian Nationalism on the Rise?
10. Itar-Tass: Putin Sets out Campaign Principles. (Address to campaign workers on 28th February)
11. New York Times: Celestine Bohlen, Some Skeptics See Iron Hand In Putin's Glove.]
March 2, 2000
EDITORIAL: A Vertically Integrated 'Good Tsar'?
There is a foggily reasoned argument that goes something like this: The
nation has become a "weak state;" this has led to corruption, particularly in
the regions, where governors rule like feudal princes; and this corruption
and crime has crippled the entire national economy. So the answer is to work
toward "a strong state." This is essentially understood as moving away from
democracy and decentralization and toward authoritarian rule from Moscow.
Such has been the ideological drift ever since the ruble sank in 1998 and
dragged Sergei Kiriyenko's government with it. First we had candidate-Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin promising "an economic dictatorship," whatever
that might be. When he failed to impress, the Kremlin turned to the KGB
crowd, and the nation was treated to a series of spetzsluzhby prime
Yevgeny Primakov talked of "optimizing" the use of jails by filling them with
"economic criminals," of scrapping democratic elections for the nation's 89
regional princes; instead, the Kremlin would appoint its own princes.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has this sort of an authoritarian
arrangement. He calls it his prezidentskaya vertikal, his "presidential
vertical" (in the jargon of the business world, it could be translated as "a
vertically integrated executive branch"). The terminology is intended to
evoke images of a resolute president picking up the telephone and getting
obedient results in a distant corner of his land. Primakov's proposal was
also billed, in a nod to Lukashenko, as a presidential vertical.
Next came Sergei Stepashin, who as prime minister felt the need to volunteer
that he would not be Augusto Pinochet. And now we have Vladimir Putin, ex-KGB
and proud of it, who this week graciously agreed to consider staying in
office for the next 12 years or so, and wrote in a letter to the voters that
"democracy is the dictatorship of the law."
Putin has yet to weigh in on the revived proposal from a troika of governors
- led by Novgorod's "young reformer" Mikhail Prusak - that governors be
chosen by the Kremlin and not the people.
So the nation is feeling its way toward authoritarian rule, and this is sad
indeed. Because anyone who believes that less democracy, less accountability
and less transparency will somehow also result in less corruption is living
in a dream world. Show us that great dictatorial regime that is not corrupt.
China? Indonesia? Kazakhstan?
Reviving the economy does indeed mean reining in corruption. But doing this
means bringing in more democracy, not a 12-year vertically integrated
presidency and some sort of "dictatorship of law."
- Matt Bivens
Russia Today press summaries
March 2, 2000
The Administration Will Be Cleansed
VOLOSHIN-BEREZOVSKY TEAM MAY SUFFER SERIOUS CASUALTIES
According to Segodnya sources, after the March 26 election there will be
spring cleaning in the presidential administration.
The future of head of administration Aleksander Voloshin is not clear yet,
but his closest aides will definitely leave their posts. The list of
officials sentenced to dismissal opens with first deputy head of presidential
administration Igor Shabdurasulov, even though he still continues to build
Putin's Unity party. Next is the head of the Control Department, Yevgeny
Lisov. Two other deputy heads of presidential administration, Jahan Pollyeva
and Sergey Prihodko, will possibly stay in office.
Presently, Putin simply doesn't have enough candidates for all the Kremlin
administration posts -- his Petersburg and FSB reserves of personnel are
almost exhausted. Eventually all of Yeltsin's clan will be substituted with
The "shadow political bureau" - staff and volunteer advisors of the head of
the presidential administration - will also be changed. Putin has also made a
decision with respect to the "oligarchs", having declared a principle of
equal distance from all of them. The first oligarch from whom Putin tried to
"distance" himself was media tycoon Boris Berezovsky. The refusal of the
Press Ministry to extend the ORT television license was definitely a serious
blow to Berezovsky, now a Duma deputy. The Ministry for Anti-Trust Issues is
also actively investigating the deal that Berezovsky and oil tycoon
Abramovich reportedly concluded with aluminum stock.
Mar 2, 2000 -- (WPS) TODAY'S NEWSPAPERS
ANTI-PUTIN CAMPAIGN ON TV?
Komsomolskaya Pravda, March 2, 2000, p. 5
Between March 3 and 24 Russian television will be screening a soap opera
entitled "The Election Campaign". Some famous TV villains are expected on the
screen, and presidential front-runner Vladimir Putin may become their victim.
Our sources say that the soap opera is being directed and produced by tycoons
Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich, who recently bought a large slice of
the Russian aluminum industry. It is common knowledge that Putin has promised
to have the anti-monopoly authorities investigate these purchases.
There are rumors that the anti-Putin campaign will be waged on TV-6, NTV
(allegedly, Berezovsky already has Rem Vyakhirev's agreement to sell him 15%
of NTV stock owned by Gazprom), ORT (Russian Public Television), and even
Russian Television (RTR).
This turn of events is facilitated by the splits and scandals in Putin's own
campaign team, where Muscovites are fighting the people from St. Petersburg.
According to some rumors, it is precisely because of this that Putin told his
old pal Sergei Stepashin to forget about running for governor of St.
Petersburg. It is said that Stepashin will be given some senior post close to
Some sources say that Anatoly Chubais, another man with a lot of clout, may
also be brought closer to Putin soon.
YAVLINSKY MEETS WITH SERVICEMEN
Trud-7, March 2, 2000, p. 9
On February 29, Yabloko leader and presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky
visited a military unit near Moscow, which guards the General Staff's
Talking to servicemen, Yavlinsky said that corruption is one of the worst
problem Russia faces. Taxes were discussed as well. Yavlinsky insists that
they should be lowered. He says that once taxation rates become more
bearable, enterprises and companies will stop hiding their profits from the
state and everybody will be better off.
Yavlinsky: The army lives on taxes. I seem unable to explain one simple
thing: the lower taxes are, the more Russians pay them. That means less of
the ubiquitous shadow economy, and more money in the state budget...
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000 11:45:48 -0500
Subject: Brief comment on crime's rise
From: Andrew A Gentes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Concerning the story "MOSCOW, March 1 (Reuters) - Acts of crime and
corruption by Russian
government officials rose by more than 35 percent in 1999, the Interior
Ministry said on Wednesday."
This may reflect, rather than an absolute rise in crime, the possibility
that the government is now going after corrupt officials with more zeal.
Indeed, this possibility would correspond to the Center TV report that
Putin is restraining the oligarchs' influence on state officials.
The statistics, then, may represent the beginning of a decrease in
Andrew A. Gentes
Department of History
March 1, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
ORWELL INSIDE OUT
Vladimir Putin to "freeze" Russia
Segodnya's observer Natalya Kalashnikova talks with the
dean of the political science department of the Higher School
of Economics, Leonid Ionin, about possible variants of the
development of the political situation in Russia.
Kalashnikova: The current situation does not correspond to
the notion of the presidential race at all. What do you think
is the nature of this unanimity concerning elections?
Ionin: The thing is that all our politicians, except
Putin, strange as it may seem - are politicians of the Yeltsin
era, his staff members, close associates, friends or enemies.
At least, this is how society sees them. This is first. Second,
he is the first and the only one who has demonstrated the
ability to make decisions, implement them and assume
responsibility. As a result, Chechnya has proved the lever with
which he is prepared to upturn Russia.
As to other, "non-Chechen" problems, he was half-joking
when he said that did not publish his program because everybody
would immediately come down on it and tear it to pieces.
Indeed, it would be criticised - and not to the point - in
actual fact, there are very few realistic alternatives. The
program is one for all. And, in fact, Zyuganov has the same
program, which differs from Putin's only in rhetoric. Reforms
will go on all the same, there are no variants here. From the
point of PR of Putin's campaign, there is a very interesting
phenomenon in this silence of his: open horizon mesmerises
people and they are impatiently looking into to the future:
here he comes and something happens... I think that this is a
very effective PR policy.
K.: How would you characterise the oncoming political
period, what will it be - an upheaval of foundations,
stabilisation, a leap forward or stagnation? By what events
will it be marked in the political sense?
I.: I think that this will be a turning point. In this
connection, I would like to cite the words of Konstantin
Leontyev: "Russia needs to be frozen." We need this now, too.
In what way this "freezing" will be done and in what forms?
First of all, a drastic change in ideological reference-points
will take place. There will be a sharp turn from fluctuations
between those who look up to the west and those who believe in
the Slavic potentiality to the Atlantic side. Human rights
ideology will become the basic one. All people are equal,
wherever they live.
First of all, this is non-counterposition to the Third World
and partnership with the west. Human rights are not only a
slogan, but also instrumental ideology. The tendency which this
ideology is acquiring proves to be utterly ambiguous. Take, for
example, Kosovo: all that was happening here was taking place
under the slogan of human rights defence. That is, human
rights ideology is actually becoming grounds for state
interference, and not only on an international scale but also
for state interference in the affairs of citizens and
communities. On this basis we could streamline, consolidate
K.: What will this mean for Russia? In the Yeltsin era,
the watershed of human rights perception passed along the line
of "communists - anti-communists." Now it seems to be shifting
to the position "etatists - non-etatists." In other words, the
rights of what people will this idea defend in the Putin era?
I.: Human rights is the basis of etatism, of course. Under
this slogan state interference for overcoming separatists
trends inside Russia is possible. That is, the center monitors
human rights defence. /TV broadcasting in one of the regions is
banned - but this is a violation of the right to get
information. And this is only one example/. In this way it is
possible to turn the country into a single whole, without
resorting to totalitarian and authoritarian methods. Although
they are authoritarian in essence, they should rely on human
rights ideology. This is a kind of 21st-century
"neototalitarianism," "Orwell inside out," on the basis of
human rights. It seems to me that the basis of strengthening
statehood is precisely a certain universal ideology, which
human rights is, rather than the national idea or originality.
There is a vast potential of expansion here, of course, and the
west is availing itself of this. If Russia counts on its
originality, it will remain a closed, isolated nation, the more
so that there are many original, distinctive cultures in
Russia, which leads to a split. The turn is already taking
Vladimir Kalamanov has been appointed the Russian government's
special representative on human rights in Chechnya. It is hard
to say yet what will be the results. However, it is important
that this is a step towards a new model, a signal that Russia
is sending the world.
The Times (UK)
2 March 2000
[for personal use only]
Russia 'wants nuclear waste'
FROM ALICE LAGNADO IN MOSCOW
MOSCOW is intensifying efforts to attract countries the world over to dump
nuclear waste in Russia for cash, according to reports.
Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry has long vied for contracts to store and
reprocess nuclear waste. But reports in Berliner Zeitung and Russia's
Segodnya newspaper suggest that in recent months a Russian government
company, Kozhema, has held intense negotiations with French nuclear officials
to secure reprocessing contracts. Under the deal France will provide Russia
with modern equipment and technology in return for reprocessing at a former
factory at Zheleznogorsk in the Krasnoyarsk region, which is currently under
Igor Farafontov, a spokesman for Greenpeace in Russia, said that deals to
reprocess nuclear waste from across the world were closer to confirmation
than ever before although the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry has denied the
plans. Yuri Bespalko, a spokesman, told Segodnya on February 23 that the
reports were untrue. He said that at the moment Russian law forbids the
reprocessing and storage of waste from abroad. But nuclear officials have in
the past expressly advocated dumping foreign waste in Russia in order to
bring in cash and the strength of the nuclear lobby in Russia means that the
law can probably be changed.
Yevgeni Adamov, the Atomic Energy Minister, claimed that Russia could make
£30 billion in foreign contracts if the laws on the environment changed and
remove the need for IMF loans.
Mr Adamov believes that Russia could make more money than other countries by
offering cheaper reprocessing and then leaving the waste in Russia for a fee.
European countries normally send back waste to its host country once it has
An American company, the Non-Proliferation Trust, is already courting Moscow.
It plans to build and operate a temporary storage facility in Russia and
donate the projected £7 billion in profits to Russia during the next 40
However, Russian environmentalists say that there is a danger of nuclear
accidents while the fuel is being transported to Russia, a chance the
plutonium yielded by reprocessing could be used to make crude nuclear bombs,
and that the dumping could be exploited to provoke anti-Western hysteria. But
by far the worst fear centres on Russia's poor record of managing its own
From: "Frank Durgin" <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000
Subject: Superb book on Russian agriculture by Stephen Wegren
Dr Stephen K Wegren, a former Center for Defense Information intern
and now a professor of Political Science at Southern Methodist
University, was awarded the American Association for the Advancement
of Slavic Studies prestigious Edward A Hewett Book Prize for
1999. The Prize is awarded each year to the outstanding
English language publication on the political economy of the
centrally planned economies of the former Soviet Union and
East Central Europe and their transitional successors.
His book was "Agriculture and the State in Soviet and Post-Soviet
Russia", University of Pittsburgh Press. Following are the Judges'
comments that accompanied the award:
"Stephen Wegren's monograph represents serious scholarship on the
political economy of a vitally important, yet understudied, area -the
transformation of Russian agriculture and of rural society. Wegren's
book ranges from a description of Soviet and post-Soviet developments
in the agrarian sector based on field research and a close reading of
the literature to a broad synthesis that challenges the conventional
view of post-Soviet Russia as a "weak state." At least in the case of
agriculture, he demonstrates the centrality of the state in
determining the process of privatization and restructuring in the
"Wegren explains the Soviet legacy for the
agrarian sector by providing a detailed history of the major policy
decisions affecting the rural economy and by analyzing their lasting
consequences. In a forceful analysis that is rich in detail and
specific case evidence, Stephen Wegren shows how state policy
formulated agricultural reforms and imposed them from above, and how
the social and structural legacies of the Soviet system interacted
with these reforms to create incentives that undermined the state's
intentions. Thus reform, rather than creating a modern rural economy
based on private farming, has impoverished Russian agriculture, and,
above all, the private agricultural sector. The reform's land
distribution and financial policies have also frozen into place
inefficient economic organizations and relations that were inherited
from the Soviet era.
"Wegren clearly shows how the continuing efforts
of the urban center to control the direction and pace of agricultural
transformation have undercut the development of non-state actors who
could fulfill essential intermediating functions that are not provided
by the state but that are necessary for the success of private
agriculture. Thus he provides an important, if not uncontroversial,
analysis and explanation of how Russian agriculture came be made up of
large, inefficient, privatized yet "socialist" agricultural
enterprises, on the one hand, and of a new private sector of
inefficiently small farms, on the other. He further shows how policies
towards agriculture have stimulated the rise of political forces,
including the Agrarian Party of Russia, that act as further barriers
to the true structural reform so necessary to modernize Russian
"Reflecting years of serious fieldwork and archival
research, this monograph is clearly written and cogently argued, and
it stands as a model of serious scholarship on the political economy
of the transition process. Its careful research and the judicious
weighing of evidence provide a significant argument on a truly
important aspect of the political economy of Russia."
Also David, given the many misconceptions floating around regarding
the Russian land question, I would highly recommend Wegren's 1998
piece on the "Russian Land Market" in Problems of Post-Communism. It
appeared in the July-August issue.
Public Russian Television (ORT)
Sergey Dorenko’s Program
Saturday, February 26, 2000
Prepared by Olga Kryazheva, Research Assistant
Center for Defense Information
The former mayor of St. Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak’s death is a tragedy,
the result of persecution, stated Vladimir Putin. On February 24, Sobchak
was buried in the Nikolayevskoye Cemetery next to Galina Starovoitova in
St. Petersburg, Russia. The betrayal of people devoted to him before
Sobchak was expelled from the government and Yeltsin’s “family” became a
major disappointment for Sobchak. Four days before his death in the
interview with Alexander Gabnis Sobchak stated that he was expelled from
the government in 1997, when he suggested Chernomyrdin as the replacement
for Yeltsin due to the former president’s health condition. Anatoly Sobchak
was suspected in abuse of power and corruption. In the same interview
Sobchak stated that he had nothing to hide and was never involved in any
criminal activities. “I stood against changing the election date, which
lead to my break up with Yeltsin’s team,” said Sobchak. He was criticized
by both Yabloko and Communists and was scared that he would be shot like
Starovoitova and dozens of others in St. Petersburg. He fought against
legalizing mafia activities in St. Petersburg and said that if anything was
to happen, people should look for a murderer in the mayor’s office.
Dorenko reported that an episode presented by the Western media agencies on
the Russian Army torturing and killing the Chechen prisoners was an
absolute provocation. The German Television Company N-24 admitted that they
bought the tape with the episode from a Russian journalist. The Russian
military denies these reports and states that the corpses shown on the tape
are not the corpses of the tortured Chechen prisoners, but of the fighters
mutilated in the battles. Dorenko has noted that the Western media is known
for its speculation on Russia reports since the events in Kosovo. The
Russian media authorities and the Izvestiya newspaper are ready to sue N-24.
Dorenko presented several interviews with civilian Russians residing in
Chechnya, specifically in Shelkovskoy region. They said that since 1996
Russians constantly disappeared or were kidnapped by Chechens in this
region. They were found later in the woods killed or raped. In 1996-1999
there were twenty murders investigated in Shelkoivskoy. Russians can not
get used to the fact that from now on there will be Federal Forces in the
region protecting their lives and human rights. Dorenko pointed out that
for the first time since the Soviet Union collapsed Russian people
celebrated February 23, the Russian Military Day, with pride for their
According to this week’s Public Opinion Fond surveys, 55% support Putin;
16% give their votes to Zyuganov (18% last week); 5% support Yavlinsky; and
4% - Zhirinovsky. Tuliyev’s rating is slowly increasing to 2%, and Titov’s
remain the same - 1% of votes.
In his interview with Dorenko Gennady Zyuganov said that the Chechnya war
turned into war across the Southern part of Russia. He pointed out that
this war is the game of five politicians: Yeltsin, Chernomyrdin, Grachev,
Burbulis, and Gaidar. Only they have to be blamed for this long and painful
war. His solution would be to find and imprison every single fighter, and
after the war is over develop oil, gas, and agricultural industries in this
area under the strong control of the central government. As a president,
Zyuganov would increase the minimal salary up to 1,000 rubles, nationalize
major monopolies such as TEC and RAO EUS, limit exports, and improve the
Sergey Dorenko reported that Yury Luzhkov visited Mikhail Shemyakin’s
exhibition in the Russian embassy in Washington, DC. The main focus of the
exhibition was the statue called “Children: Victims of Adult Vices.”
Luzhkov noted that vices was not expressive enough and volunteered to pose
for the statue.
Dorenko finished the program by commenting on Yury Skuratov’s
dissatisfaction with “Yeltsin’s family.” As a member of this “family”
Skuratov continuously received “small presents from the president.” The
government gave him two new apartments and paid up to $80,000 for the
reconstruction of each of them. The deputy Sergey Shamurin, who does not
hide his criminal past, suggested that politicians like Skuratov,
Geraschenko, Primakov, Luzhkov, and Yeltsin should confess to the people:
“We rob together, we should confess together.”
Program on New Approaches to Russian Security (PONARS)
Policy Memo Series
Is Russian Nationalism on the Rise?
By Henry Hale
Harvard University--February 2000
Recent developments in Russian politics have been widely interpreted as
signaling a groundswell of public support for aggressive Russian nationalism.
The story goes like this: Prime Minister (and now acting President)
Vladimir Putin rode the brutal war in Chechnya to the top of the
presidential polls. Candidates for Duma seats competed to whip up ferocious
bloodlust. The parties that most closely associated themselves with Putin's
cruel operation won. Having tasted the electoral fruits of mass murder,
Putin will find other victims after dispatching with the Chechens.
This is a serious--and potentially dangerous--distortion of Russian public
It is true that recent Russian polls show that over 70% of the population
favors continuing the military operation in Chechnya, while only 20% think
it is time for negotiations. Russians also clearly want to be respected as
a "great power" again.
But such sentiments do not mean that public opinion is driving a resurgence
of Russian imperialism and aggression. Five factors make this clear.
* While polls do show Russians no longer trust the West, they also show
Russians very much want to cooperate with it. Although a July 1999 poll
commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League found that 96% of Russians said
that NATO's bombing of Serbia was a "crime against humanity," 84% said that
despite their objections to NATO's actions, Russia should cooperate with
Western countries to establish peace and stability in Serbia and the Balkans.
* Chechnya is a localized issue focused around the specific perceived
threat of terrorism, not a symptom of naked Russian aggression.
One must recall the events underlying public support for the war. Late last
summer, Chechen warlords invaded the loyal but highly combustible
Russian region of Dagestan, declaring their aim to establish an Islamic
Then, in September, terrorist bombs decimated two crowded apartment
buildings in the middle of the night in Moscow--buildings that looked just
like those to which most Russian city-dwellers return home every evening.
Rightly or wrongly, Russians believe that the terrorism originated in
Chechnya. Stories also flood Russia about kidnapping rings and a Slavic
slave trade based in Chechnya.
The public, therefore, supports the war because it wants to counter what it
sees as a serious and very immediate threat to its security, not because
a majority harbors a desire to reestablish imperial rule over a wayward
In fact, a late December poll from the VTsIOM agency showed that even among
war supporters, a whopping 59% would accept an independent Chechnya, and
21% would actually be "happy" for this to occur.
All this certainly does not excuse the reckless, vengeful killing that
Russian troops have perpetrated on the hapless civilians of Chechnya.
But it also means Russians are unlikely to support similar aggression in
other foreign policy spheres in the absence of horrific episodes like
apartment bombings to strike terror in their hearts.
* Putin's support is broader than the Chechen War. Russians clearly want a
strong leader, capable of bringing order to their tragically
Putin and his handlers have skillfully used the Chechen war to demonstrate
his qualities as an effective leader. These qualities (decisiveness,
youthful vigor, and effectiveness) have a value that transcends the war
itself and leads the public to support Putin even were he to pursue a very
different policy on Chechnya.
When VTsIOM asked Russians whether they would support ending the
hostilities and solving the Chechen problem by negotiations if Putin
proposed it, 48% said they would, while just 42% said they would not.
* The pro-Putin parties in December's parliamentary race did not win mainly
on the basis of blood lust. While both Unity and the Union of Right-Wing
Forces (URWF) sought to perch firmly on Putin's coattails, they both also
enjoyed the advantages of favorable media coverage on two of Russia's "Big
Three" TV networks.
In effective campaigns, they stressed not Putin's brutality but the ideal
of youth and effectiveness he represented--an important contrast to the
geriatric "stagnation" image of Boris Yeltsin, the Communists, and their
leading rival, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.
* Finally, the pro-market Yabloko Party performed dismally not because it
took a stand against the war, but because it failed to do so. When people
were looking for strong leadership, Yabloko's leaders waffled on Chechnya,
at first supporting the military operation, then expressing doubts as
events progressed, ultimately failing to communicate a firm stand that
could have won over many of the 20% who thought it was time to negotiate.
Exacerbating this problem, Yabloko also dropped its longtime opposition to
the Russian-Belorussian Union, supporting it in a highly visible Duma vote
shortly before the election (the Union of Right-Wing Forces, to the
contrary, maintained its strong stand in opposition to this union).
Russians want cooperation, not confrontation. They are unlikely to support
belligerence in other foreign policy areas in the absence of provocation
commensurate with the apartment bombings.
Since Russia is both powerful and notoriously unpredictable, the US must
always be prepared for unexpected Russian aggression, since aggression
usually comes from leaders rather than populations. Indeed, current events
are certainly cause for concern, especially if rumors prove true that the
Russian secret services intentionally set off the apartment bombs in order
to get Putin reelected and settle the score with Chechnya.
But it would be a sad mistake to assume that further aggression is
inevitable due to a serious misinterpretation of Russian public opinion.
The main danger lies in Russia's leadership, not its population.
Putin Sets out Campaign Principles
ITAR-TASS in Russian
February 28, 2000
[translation for personal use only]
Opening graf is monitor-supplied summary
In an address to his campaign workers on 28th
February transcribed by ITAR-TASS, acting President Vladimir Putin
stressed the need to make plans that the Russian people understand
the need for and follow them up with specific
action. He said official corruption and cronyism in business must be
rooted out. He stated the importance of clear rules of the game,
applied equally to all in Russia. The Russian state must intervene in
the economy, but competently and sensitively and without going back
on the established basic principles, he said. The authorities must
listen to the people but not be afraid to take tough and unpopular
decisions, Putin said. He said Russia must not simply rely on its
natural resources to gain it a place in the world, but must take an
inventory of all its resources, natural and intellectual, and mobilize
them. Putin said Russians have a right to a life worth living, and
providing for this should be the main aim of any government. Putin
warned his supporters against using questionable campaign methods.
The following is the text of the transcript:
Moscow, 28th February: Today acting President Vladimir Putin spoke at
a meeting with his election campaign officials that took place in the
ITAR-TASS conference hall. The text of his speech has been transcribed
from an audiotape:
Good afternoon, dear friends! First of all I want to thank you for
gathering here. I am happy to see such a representative audience here,
to see many familiar faces, people that I have known for years. Thanks
for your sympathy and active work in resolving the matters that, I hope,
we will be resolving together now.
I am not going to set out any kind of detailed programme, but
nevertheless I would like to set out some theses so that we can use them
in our future work, since I realize that for various reasons you have
much more opportunity to meet the voters than I do. Anyway I am very much
counting on you taking an active position.
Naturally, this position has to be, and can be, connected to our
mutual understanding of the tasks the country is facing, to an understanding
of what powers and means we have at our disposal and should use to achieve
our mutual goals.
I think that we should not conduct the election campaign around a
concrete and even political figure. Realistically we can only unite around
a certain political line, around certain ideas that should be made attractive
to the overwhelming majority of Russia's population.
I don't think it is necessary to speak in detail about the problems
that branches of industry are encountering. You are well aware of the
situation in your regions; there are many people from the regions here. You
know the situation in various areas of your work but we have to deal with the
main problems and determine the priorities.
Our political will and the voters' support are also very important
for the success of our mutual programme. Moreover, I am sure there is a need
in society to support and adopt a concrete plan of action; a plan whose aims
are distinct and clear and are close, as I already said, to the overwhelming
majority of the population.
I don't think it's correct to say that our people are passive and
indifferent to what's going on in the country. Events in the country and
abroad and the experience of the last few months, especially the results of
the [Russian State] Duma elections, have revealed that this is not true. Our
people are very active politically; sometimes they are even far more active
than we expect. In fact, there is no apathy at all. That is where they are
active beyond our expectations. They are also expecting change and really
The people who work in the power structures need this feedback most
of all. I hope that the election campaign will refresh communication with
the people. Events like this give people who have risen to the top in
various power structures and sit in big rooms with many telephones the
opportunity to feel and understand how the people live and how they feel
I think that our meeting today and our work during the electoral
campaign are very important even if just in the light of such things. The
more so that the people who gathered here are well known in their regions
and in the branches of industry where they work. Those are well-known
people who have achieved much in life themselves, and the average person
trusts such people as are gathered here.
At the same time I know that practical work and campaigning have
already begun and many friends and colleagues of mine, who are in this
hall, are working rather actively. I would strongly ask you to act
carefully. Everything is good in moderation. We certainly have to avoid
questionable methods of campaigning. We do not need them at all. They
can only do harm to the country, to your candidate and to the goals we
have set for ourselves. Of course, we must be proactive, but in no way
should we create a sugary image of the candidate.
Let me concentrate on several key points of the ongoing campaign.
High morale and common goals that really unite the whole nation have
always been a distinctive characteristic of the Russian people. They
helped people to survive and to win in the hardest, extremely hard years
before the [World] War [II], after the war and during the war. It does
not mean that we must resume the search for the much-touted national idea.
Many people talk about this a lot, often and, alas, fruitlessly.
I think that this idea already exists. It has already manifested
itself in society. This is a need for clear and realistic goals. This is
a demand that the authorities be responsible, that their words and promises
are followed by concrete action and results. People in power have to begin
with themselves, to demonstrate strong character, firmness and will. They
should not stick their heads in the sand in the face of problems that seem
hard to solve, but work, come in direct confrontation with major problems in
the economy, in state construction, and in the humanitarian field, and not
be afraid of difficult and unpopular decisions or of responsibility for
When I am reading through analyses of different countries' economic
development in recent decades - yes-terday I and one of my colleagues
read the analysis of the development of the leading countries of the world
in the last 100 years - I cannot say that I am depressed, but, of course,
there is a feeling of disquiet about this country's fate, about Russia's
future. Of course, we are a vast country. Of course, Russia is invincible.
But we will not go far if we limit ourselves to these considerations.
We must realize that we have very serious rivals in the competition
between countries going on in the world arena. Look at the progress being
made by many Asian and Latin American countries, not to mention Europe and
the world leaders in North America. We should not just focus on the fact
that we have huge resources and think that is enough. We must gain a clear
idea of efficient ways
for the country to develop and take responsible de-cisions, even not very
popular ones, if we are sure that they will benefit the country and its
future. That is why we need capable, responsible and persistent authorities.
We need a professional, dynamic and disciplined civil service, not a
bloated and out-of-hand bureaucratic world unto itself that is indifferent
Another serious problem that we are facing now relates to the complex,
but universally recognized rules of the game, the rules that should be
followed both by the citizens and the state bodies. It relates to compliance
with the law and constitutional discipline. It relates to law and order
in the country. I believe that this is the biggest and most acute problem
for today's Russia both in politics and economics. We need every participant
of the game to enjoy absolutely equal conditions. No one should be allowed
to gain any advantages by getting closer to the authorities from left or
right. This is very important
for both domestic and potential foreign investors. Nothing at all can be
achieved without resolving this issue.
In connection with this building a legal structure and fighting
corruption become paramount. This is not just work in the field of law
enforcement. This is in fact the creation of a new mindset for Russia.
Naturally, he who starts bringing order to a house should know well
what it contains. And we have serious problems in this aspect as well.
I have mentioned this earlier. When I said there should be a stocktaking
in the country, I meant the following: we need a clear picture of our
resources, both natural and intellectual, a clear understanding of the
actual possibilities of the state,
of state property and private owners, of everything Russia owns, uses and
has at its disposal today.
However, we are in need of another stocktaking as well: a stocktaking
of moral values, appropriate landmarks, general aims, criteria and
evaluations. Only by looking at the real bottom line we will be able to
understand how much and how little we have in reality - how little due to
our own incapability to command all these resources.
Rich Russia will not forgive anybody for humiliating the people by
poverty. In essence I am ready to repeat the thesis from my letter to
voters: we are a rich country of poor people. And this is an intolerable
This is why it is our priority to make life worth living. Any poll on
the subject of what worries the ordinary citizen will show that a man has
the right to live with dignity, and wants to. I believe that the
achievement of this goal
is the moral and political duty of any authorities. In the long run, the
well-being of the people, well-being of the average citizen is the final
goal of any authorities.
On the issue of inventorization, it seems to me we must not confuse
two things: summing up the results and reviewing the fundamental
principles. You and I will never go as far as reviewing any fundamental
principles. Guarantees of property rights and reliable protection of the
market from official and criminal rackets will not be subject to any
revision. And what I am saying about property rights is extremely important,
this is very close to the problem that I was talking about earlier.
Making sure all subjects of the market being equal before the
authorities, while owners' rights are guaranteed, is one of the
cornerstones in the fields of politics and economics. It is clear that if
the state does not deal adequately with the tasks I have just named, with
the functions I have just
named, if it does not set guaranteed rules of the game, then the field
will be occupied by players from the shadow economy. This is the breeding
ground for all the so-called criminal protection rackets. This is a sign
of the weakening of the state. These protection rackets are simply
surrogates for the state in these function it is supposed carry out but
is not carrying out.
The other side of this problem is ensuring competent and, I would
say, sensitive work with the market. State regulation is of course
necessary. Without it the country is not, and will never be, strong.
However, regulation does not mean suffocating the market, but helping it.
This means creating equal conditions for all participants in economic
activity, which I have already mentioned. Only this will create the
conditions for honest and effective business. Linked directly to this is
the private sector's trust in the state,
which affects how much tax the state collects, and so the wages of
officials, judges, doctors, teachers and so on. All this is inextricably
One cannot have a strong state without each citizen possessing
personal dignity and the country possessing national dignity as a whole.
These fundamental principles lie at the heart of approaches to our
domestic and foreign policy. It seems to me that we are in a position to
mobilize all the
state's resources, all the strength of society, the labour of all of
Russia's citizens. I think that in the end my main aim, and the main aim
of all those who are present in this hall today, will consist in this.
I would very much like a flow of feedback from the average person,
the average Russian, the country's population, to be set up during the
course of our work, so that the mandates you hear and receive from
citizens get to the government and to the presidential bodies. For my
part I promise this.
Thank you very much for your attention.
New York Times
March 2, 2000
[for personal use only]
Some Skeptics See Iron Hand In Putin's Glove
By Celestine Bohlen
MOSCOW -- With less than one month to go before Russians vote in an
election that is almost certain to be won by Acting President Vladimir V.
Putin, some of the liberals who hailed his rise are voicing fears that
there may be authoritarian instincts lurking beneath Mr Putin's well-turned
With a war raging in Chechnya on Russia's southern border, tight
restrictions imposed on information and a propaganda campaign glorifying
the military and security services, members of Russia's small liberal elite
say that Mr. Putin's pledges to observe human rights and to respect legal
and democratic norms are still promises waiting to be fulfilled.
"What he says about rights corresponds to my understanding about rights,"
said Yelena Mizulina, a lawyer and member of Parliament for the liberal
opposition party Yabloko. "But what he does does not correspond to what he
Even as skepticism about Mr. Putin drifts to the surface, few expect it to
have any effect on the elections. Not only is Mr. Putin's popularity still
high, but the war in Chechnya is still backed by an overwhelming majority
of Russians, many of whom either do not know or do not want to know about
growing reports of atrocities committed by the Russian military and
documented by human rights agencies.
Furthermore, Russia's liberal politicians -- the same ones who backed
President Boris N. Yeltsin in 1991, many of whom rode with him to power --
are proving unable to summon up any kind of broad-based opposition either
to Mr. Putin, or to the war with which he is so closely identified.
"All of politics are now restricted by Putin's ratings," said Oleg Orlov,
director of Memorial, the human rights organization founded by Andrei
Sakharov, the late nuclear physicist and Soviet-era dissident. "People are
afraid to speak against public opinion."
Still, as the campaign for the March 26 election formally gets off the
ground, some people have begun to raise their voices in protest. Yuri
Lyubimov, the world-renowned theater director who was shown on television
just a month ago endorsing Mr. Putin at a star-studded gathering at
Moscow's President Hotel, recently criticized him in a radio interview.
For Mr. Lyubimov and others, the spark was the case of Andrei Babitsky, a
reporter for Radio Liberty, who was detained in Chechnya and later
exchanged by Russian authorities in a mysterious, dubious prisoner swap
with Chechen rebels. [Mr. Babitsky resurfaced in Moscow on Feb. 29, saying
he had been held in a Russian detention camp outside Chechnya. He traveled
to the Russian capital after Mr. Putin said he should be released by
authorities who had arrested him in the Russian republic of Dagestan after
he got out of Chechnya.]
Mr. Putin, in an open letter to voters published on Feb. 25, did state that
the state should be the first to obey the law. "It must set equal rules and
comply with them," he wrote.
Critics note, however, that Mr. Putin has also tolerated an increasingly
aggressive information policy, articulated by his chief spokesman on the
north Caucasus, Sergei Yastrzhembsky who belligerently turns aside
questions about Mr. Babitsky while attacking reports of atrocities in
Chechnya as "propaganda."
"The Babitsky affair has had a big effect," Mr. Orlov said. "Among the
intelligentsia, it was a turning point, after which it has become no longer
possible to close one's eyes to the nasty things going on."
Vladimir Voinovich, an author who was forced out of the Soviet Union in the
1970's because of his mockery of the Communist system, had been dubious
about Mr. Putin from the start, given the acting president's background as
a K.G.B. agent. But, writing recently in the Moscow News, Mr. Voinovich
said he had very much wanted to give the new president the benefit of the
"I listened to what he was saying about market economy, democracy, human
rights and distancing from the past," wrote Mr. Voinovich. "Let God be my
witness, I tried hard to believe him. But the Babitsky case turned out to
be an exam at which he failed."
"When a person with supreme power, or his representatives, begin to lie,
they obviously want people who say the truth to shut up," Mr. Voinovich
noted. "As they say, we have been there and done that. Lies coming from the
state are dangerous above all to the state itself."
George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who has followed Russian
affairs closely, has already concluded that a Putin presidency will be
"authoritarian and nationalistic." In a book excerpt published here this
week, Mr. Soros said that "the state built by Putin is unlikely to be based
on the principles of an open society."
Supporters of Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of Yabloko and now the main
liberal opposition candidate, contend that Mr. Putin's emphasis on a strong
central state is a legacy of his years as a K.G.B. agent.
"For him, the state is his whole life, it represents his values," Ms.
Mizulina said. "I want a president who puts the value of human life first."
One of the first skeptical portraits of Mr. Putin was presented as comedy
on the popular television program "Kukly," a puppet show that has been
skillfully skewering public figures for the past six years. On one show,
Mr. Putin was portrayed as a surgeon in a hospital where the patients have
been clamoring for a doctor. The Putin character appears at last, and
reaches for his instruments: a hachet and a blowtorch.
The show drew a public rebuke from former colleagues of Mr. Putin at the
state university in St. Petersburg, a reaction that has been seized upon by
many as an ominous sign of the times. "Such letters never appeared during
the Yeltsin era," said Viktor Shenderovich, author of the Kukly program.
"Nobody would have allowed themselves, in his name, to write anything like
Gleb Pavlovsky, the director of the Foundation for Effective Policies and
one of the Kremlin's media advisers, believes that the liberals' failure to
engage Mr. Putin and his government in a dialogue about the Chechen war and
other issues is the result of their own "intellectual collapse."
"The Moscow intelligentsia is searching for alibis," he said. "They have a
lot of negative things to say, but what they are really doing is avoiding
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