This Date's Issues: 4169 4170
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15 March 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Profil: RUSSIA'S POPULATION DECREASES.
2. RFE/RL: Michael Lelyveld, Official Echoes U.S. Plea For Closer
Relations. (Brent Scowcroft)
3. Boston Globe: Charles Radin, Chechnya tactics rapped. Ex-premier urges antiterror strategies.
4. Financial Times (UK): High entry costs inhibit infant industry's
expansion: THE INTERNET IN RUSSIA by Andrew Jack in Moscow: Even the most optimistic estimates, prepared by
Rocit, an industry research body, suggest that only about 5m people are using the internet in
5. AFP: RUSSIAN VOTE RIVAL CALLS PUTIN TO DEBATE HIS PAST ON TV.(Skuratov)
6. Ira Straus: Re JRL 4168 Filipov on "freedom fighters"
7. Peter Heinlein: Re Robert Bruce Ware and Ira Strauss in JRL 4169.
8. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Lidiya Andrusenko, TEN YEARS OF PRESIDENCY.
The Time Political Rivalry Began.
9. Krasnaya Zvezda: ALEXEI ARBATOV: "WE WILL HAVE TO FIGHT FOR PEACE YET". (Interview with Alexei
ARBATOV, deputy chairman of the Duma defence committee)
10. Reuters: Mortgage Fund Launched For Middle Class Russians.
11. The Times (UK): Paul McCann, Who wants to be a president?
12. AFP: Putin Berates Staff Over Chechen Fund Payout Failure.]
Profil, No. 7
[translation from RIA Novosti fo personal use only]
RUSSIA'S POPULATION DECREASES
By 2115, Russia's population will decrease by 5%.
According to the forecast of the acting chairman of the Russian
state committee for statistics Vladimir Sokolin, in 2015 the
population of the country will be no more than 138 million.
Considering that on January 1, 1999 Russia's population was
about 145.5 million, over 15 years the number of Russian
citizens will decrease by 7.5 million.
"Regrettably, the causes lie in the way of life which we
created for man in the past, in the colossal demographic
tragedy the Russian people experienced in the 20th century",
says Vladimir Sokolin. "This is the first world war, the civil
war, the hunger of 1932, the second world war..." The reforms
which have been effected in the last few years and as a result
of which the population of Russia has markedly decreased could
be added to the above factors. Thus, according to the data
provided by the state committee for statistics, over the past
eight years the population of our country has decreased by 2.8
million, or by almost 2%. Say, in 1999, 1.2 million children
were born in Russia and 2.1 million people died. As a result,
last year the natural decrease of the population (the excess of
the number of those who died over the number of those who were
born) reached 0.9 million against 0.7 million in 1999. This is
the most impressive index of the reduction of Russia's
population since 1992. Regrettably, at present, there are no
grounds at all to think that the results of 2000 will be more
Russia: Official Echoes U.S. Plea For Closer Relations
By Michael Lelyveld
A top former U.S. security official has urged closer ties between the United
States and Russia through the creation of a new group within the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe. RFE/RL correspondent Michael Lelyveld
Boston, 14 March 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Brent Scowcroft, the national security
adviser in the administration of former U.S. President George Bush, told a
weekend gathering of scholars at Harvard University that new efforts are
needed to overcome what he characterized as a loss of direction in
In his keynote address to the conference on Friday, Scowcroft said the United
States and its allies had started with a conscious policy of engaging Russia
after the fall of the Berlin Wall rather than emphasizing its weakness. But,
Scowcroft said, the United States "gradually began to ignore the Russians,
except when we wanted something from them."
He cited examples including the current U.S. initiative that seeks to modify
the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to allow for development of a national
missile defense system.
But Scowcroft suggested that the attitude began long before with the decision
to expand NATO in spite of strong objections from Russia. He recommended a
freeze on further NATO expansion, to be balanced by greater efforts to bring
new members into the European Union instead. He also urged "the construction
of a broader security architecture" to include Russia.
Scowcroft said the new structure could be "a directorate within OSCE -- a
directorate composed of the United States, Russia, a member from the EU and a
member representing the neutrals in Europe." Its mission would be "to look at
the problems, the issues of security in the great Atlantic community as a
whole, not as a part of a defensive alliance."
The three-day conference entitled "Ten Years after the Fall of the Wall"
brought together 10 separate schools and programs at Harvard to analyze
events in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Topics covered a broad
range of issues from German reunification to investment and arms control.
A Saturday panel on economic reform led by Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs
produced a spirited discussion of the relative successes in Eastern Europe
and more limited progress in Russia and other countries of the region.
Janos Kornai, a Harvard economist, said that privatization in the region had
essentially followed two paths. The first was a strategy of "organic
development," stressing the sale of state-owned property for "genuine" prices
without "giveaways." Kornai said the second approach was "accelerated
privatization," which assumed that elimination of state ownership was the
most important task. These programs included sales at giveaway prices and
Kornai argued that the first theory based on more gradual sales of state
property at genuine prices had proven more successful. He pointed to
Hungary's higher growth in productivity since 1989 compared with the Czech
Republic, which relied on voucher privatization. The pattern of faster
privatization but slower growth also appeared to hold true in the case of
Russia, he said.
Sachs, a former consultant to the governments of Poland and Russia, argued
that faster privatization was driven by the need to take irreversible steps
for political reasons.
"This was Central Europe trying to escape from the Soviet domination," said
Sachs. "It wasn't just economic calculation." The rush to privatize later
turned out to be unnecessary, but no one could have known that at the time,
The greatest tragedy for Russia, according to Sachs, was the giveaway of
shares in energy giants like Gazprom and Lukoil to insiders. The government
could have raised $50 billion or more on Gazprom alone by bringing in
international investors, he said.
But Andrei Kozyrev, the former foreign minister of Russia, questioned whether
future governments could have been trusted to use the profits from oil
companies wisely if they had remained in state hands.
"What is better monopoly or oligopoly? Isn't oligopoly already (a) step
forward from the monopoly?" Kozyrev asked. In the past, the Soviet government
used Russia's energy resources to fund its arms race with the United States
and repress individual freedoms, said Kozyrev. There is at least hope that
Russia's oligarchs will invest some of their riches in their own country, he
On Sunday, Kozyrev appeared to echo Scowcroft's call for a new grouping to
deal with the changed nature of the U.S.-Russian relationship since the
collapse of the Soviet Union.
"In this decade, there is not a single new institution created to address
this tremendous change in the world," said Kozyrev. Old institutions have
simply not been up to the task, he said.
15 March 2000
[for personal use only]
Chechnya tactics rapped
Ex-premier urges antiterror strategies
By Charles A. Radin, Globe Staff
Former Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin said yesterday that Moscow
should put aside its massive military operations in Chechnya in favor of
Israeli-style antiterrorist strategies.
The same day Russia mourned 84 of its paratroopers killed in fighting in
Chechnya, Stepashin said that the conventional use of force that leveled the
Chechen capital of Grozny and the Argun Gorge village of Komsomolskoye was
working against the long-term resolution of the problem.
''The operations should continue in that heads of terrorist groups should
either be liquidated or captured,'' said Stepashin, who preceded Vladimir
Putin as prime minister. But he added: ''We must delineate people who
suffered from the bandits from the bandits themselves.''
If this is not done, the conflict could become insoluble, to the sorrow of
Russians and Chechens alike, Stepashin said in an interview before a speech
at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Russians tried to suppress Chechen separatists three times in the 20th
century, once after the Communist revolution, once after World War II, and
once in the 1990s. Relations between the two peoples also were uneasy during
At present, most of the potential leaders have fled Chechnya and are
reluctant to return because of fear of Russian troops and security forces.
''Over 500,000 Chechens have left their region ... due to what is going on
there,'' Stepashin said. ''These are the better-trained, better-educated
people, people who ran their own businesses.'' Unless they return, there is
little hope either for peace or reconstruction, he said.
It is particularly important for acting Russian president Putin, who has
defined his leadership by his hard-line stand on Chechnya, to shift from
general military sweeps of the region to targeted efforts, Stepashin said.
In the 1990s, ''Russians were nonchalant about Chechnya, they were ready to
let it split off,'' Stepashin said, ''but now people will say, `come on, we
have to finish them off.'''
Though they differ on Chechnya strategy, Stepashin said in his speech that he
and Putin agree on steps to take to combat the rampant corruption that is
hobbling attempts to modernize and revitalize the Russian economy.
If Putin rolls to a landslide victory as president on March 26, he may be
free of the political debts that impeded former president Boris N. Yeltsin's
administration after the 1996 election, Stepashin said.
Stepashin, who is chairman of the corruption commission of Russia's
parliament, said Putin has embraced a national anticorruption plan the
commission submitted three weeks ago.
However, Marshall Goldman, professor of Russian economics at Wellesley
College, said corruption is unlikely to be eradicated.
''These people are very powerful and will be around a long time,'' Goldman
said. ''It is an important signal if Putin says, `We have to try to do this,'
but it is hard to see how he can succeed.''
Financial Times (UK)
15 March 2000
[for personal use only]
High entry costs inhibit infant industry's expansion: THE INTERNET IN
RUSSIA by Andrew Jack in Moscow: Even the most optimistic estimates,
prepared by Rocit, an industry research body, suggest that only about 5m
people are using the internet in the country
There could hardly be a more appropriate location for the office of Andrei
Kotov, one of his country's web pioneers of and a self-confessed "social
worker" for Russia's fledgling but fast-growing internet industry.
In the heart of Moscow, in the building of an obscure division of the
former Soviet's "medium-sized machine tools ministry" - a pseudonym for the
nuclear weapons sector - he sits in a specially insulated room that used to
house a giant computer.
But the tables have sharply turned - and not simply in the reduction of
space required for ever-more powerful computers. In the decade since the
collapse of the Soviet Union, the internet has turned into the antithesis
of everything the totalitarian state attempted to construct: an anarchic
model which resists interference from above and from centrally-planned
control, promotes communication between all levels of society - and is
Even Vladimir Putin used the internet to announce his outline election
programme, just after being made acting president following the surprise
resignation of Boris Yeltsin at the end of last year.
He has since created an election site ahead of voting on March 26, in both
Russian and English.
Moscow might seem a long way from Silicon Valley or the growing "internet
bubbles" of London or Paris, yet it, too, has its equivalent of "First
Tuesday" - the Moscow Internet Exchange, at which potential funders and
project developers meet once a month to network and match-make. In March,
the Russian capital also hosts the latest in a series of internet trade
While Moscow and a handful of other cities, such as St Petersburg and
Ekaterinberg, have dominated the market so far, there are some other
pockets of internet growth and talent which may seem surprising to outsiders.
Consider the city of Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia located half way
across the Russian Federation, for example. Its historic concentration of
scientists, many the products of Akademgorodok, an academic campus which
was purpose-built at the time of Nikita Krushchov in the late 1950s, has
created a high density of computer engineers.
Many of the local universities' more entrepreneurial graduates have left
the region or even the country in search of work, but an important pool
remains locally. The Dusseldorf-based software company, Novolabs, has even
practically relocated its main office to Novosibirsk.
An estimated several hundred other local programmers operate from home,
serving clients around the world by e-mail.
Across the country, there are some 400 internet service providers. And Mr
Zotov argues that there is huge capacity in the infrastructure now, which
already allows for high quality, high speed services. The latest figures
suggest that there are up to 40,000 sites.
Overall, however, there is little doubt that the industry remains in its
infancy in Russia. Even the most optimistic estimates prepared by Rocit, an
industry research body, suggest that only about five million people use the
internet in the country. More conservative commentators argue that a
meaningful figure is less than half that level.
That reflects, above all, the high entry-costs, with even cloned and
counterfeit computers proving beyond the means of most ordinary Russians.
Low average incomes also provide a formidable barrier for swiftly
generating any significant sales from electronic commerce, or even taking
out subscriptions to service providers.
Even so, there is a huge appetite for access to information for a country
the vast majority of whose citizens were until recently so systematically
deprived of it. And there is a strong propensity to use computers, in a
country in which science was so revered for such a long period in its
Given the huge distances and the logistical difficulties of face-to-face
contact, the internet offers a powerful alternative to physical travel. And
while the English language - and notably US sites - dominate among users,
the Russian language offers potential, not only because of the number of
native speakers in the former Soviet Union, but also because of the
millions of others on higher incomes who have emigrated, and are based in
Israel, the US and elsewhere.
The low cost of well-trained programmers is also a tempting consideration
for foreign companies interested in the sector, and starting to suffer from
severe labour shortages among qualified personnel, such as Jorg Resche,
founder of Novolabs. Even if he does caution that modest Russian salaries
have so far had to be offset against the higher costs of tight Western
There are some areas of software development where Russian programmers may
also prove far more advanced than their Western compatriots. Mr Resche
highlights the field of artificial intelligence, for example, which was
highly developed as a research specialism in Soviet times.
For investors, Russian internet companies have other advantages.
The academic and background and frequent western orientation of their
founders, their low-profile, lack of assets and absence of short-term cash
flow means that they have not usually proved targets for criminals, nor the
domain of preference for some of the more aggressive local executives who
have short-changed foreign shareholders over the last few years.
The internet boom has certainly been slow in coming to Russia. Delayed by
the financial crisis in August 1998, it was only last year that a handful
of web entrepreneurs, including Mr Zotov, found backers. But in the last
few months, that has changed considerably.
Peter Kirkow, an analyst with ICE Securities in London, has closely
followed the growth of the sector. Before he could close several deals
recently, however, a number of projects that he had identified over the
last few months were snapped up by competitors.
It looks like the beginning of an internet bubble, he warns. Suddenly, many
of the leading international banks, as well as Russian-based ones such as
United Financial Group, and a range of venture capitalists, are building
specialist funds. Private investors, and telecoms companies, have been
among those making acquisitions.
There are specific on-going fears in Russia about the extent of computer
hacking and its threat to the security of electronic payment systems; and
about periodic calls for tighter attempts to introduce government
regulation. And there worries about legislation which now forces internet
service providers to provide, at their own cost, the FSB - the successor
body to the KGB - with a means to access all electronic mail.
But these concerns have so far done little to dampen rising interest.
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
RUSSIAN VOTE RIVAL CALLS PUTIN TO DEBATE HIS PAST ON TV
March 14, 2000
Russia's acting President Vladimir Putin faced a rare call Tuesday to
answer delicate questions about his past when an anti-corruption election
rival challenged him to a television debate.
Former chief prosecutor Yury Skuratov, who is basing his campaign for the
March 26 elections on his anti-corruption drive, said he had searching
questions to put to Putin concerning his previous incarnations as deputy
mayor of Saint Petersburg and head of Russia's Federal Security Service
"If such a debate could take place I would ask him a whole range of
questions," Skuratov told journalists, noting that "unfortunately he will
not take part in television debates.
"I get the impression that he can just read out prepared texts for the
cameras, but he cannot take part in discussions and answer unexpected
questions," the former prosecutor said.
Skuratov said Putin should explain his involvement in a series of
questionable export-import 'barter deals' that he oversaw while holding
high office in Saint Petersburg in the early 1990s.
He also demanded an explanation as to why Putin as FSB chief got involved
in a criminal case launched against Skuratov last year that resulted in his
suspension as prosecutor general.
Skuratov maintains the case, predicated on a video that showed him
cavorting with two prostitutes, was bogus and aimed at stifling his
corruption probes that led up to the walls of the Kremlin itself.
Such challenges to the frontrunner have been rare in a tepid election
campaign in which Putin has established such a strong lead over his rivals
that he has refrained from campaign activity and television debates.
Analysts believe the only vague threats to Putin's Kremlin bid come from
voter turnout, which must top 50 percent to make the election valid.
"The threat exists" of a high abstention level, admitted Dmitry Medvedev, a
member of Putin's campaign team. "We would be happy if Putin won on the
first round (but) a second round would not be considered a defeat," he added.
The other 11 candidates have been forced to spoil for second place in the
hope that Putin garners less than 50 percent in the first round, which
would result in a run-off on April 16.
But Putin won even more support Tuesday when a leading Russian liberal
party threw its weight behind his candidacy - despite the fact that it has
a presidential contender among its own ranks.
The Union of Right Forces overlooked Samara region governor Konstantin
Titov in favour of the interim Kremlin chief.
"There were people who supported Konstantin Titov, but all the same the
majority of the faction and its coordinating council voted today to support
Putin," said faction leader Sergei Kiriyenko in remarks broadcast on NTV
"We think that the victory must happen in the first round otherwise we will
artificially inflate the authority of (Communist leader Gennady) Zyuganov,"
said Kiriyenko, a former prime minister.
Zyuganov trails far behind Putin according to latest opinion polls that
give the acting president 59 percent of voting intentions to 22 percent for
the Communist chief. Liberal Grigory Yavlinsky is given four percent, with
the other nine candidates not even at the races.
Skuratov sought to give his campaign a shot in the arm by publishing a book
about his ouster as prosecutor and vowing to blow the whistle on Russia's
mafia chiefs by publishing a who's who of the country's most corrupt figures.
"I wrote my book to show the extent of corruption which threatens Russia,"
Skuratov said. "Corruption has penetrated the walls of the Kremlin. It
exists within the presidential entourage."
Skuratov said his list would detail all those already punished for
corruption in Russia, as well as those under investigation and those who
have thus far escaped justice altogether.
From: IRASTRAUS@aol.com (Ira Straus)
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000
Subject: Re JRL 4168 Filipov on "freedom fighters"
It seems to me that David Filipov scores a few easy points against Nick Petro
but is mostly talking past the point. He devotes his commentary to denying
that the Chechen rebels "are usually described as freedom fighters", by
documenting at length that the phrase "freedom fighters" is not much used by
the Western media in this connection. However, Petro hadn't put the phrase in
quotation marks. He used it descriptive.
The grammatical implications of this distinction are basic. The meaning of
Petro's comment, without any extra pair of quotation marks, is that the
rebels are usually described in a way that amounts substantively to treating
them as freedom fighters. It is irrelevant whether the phrase "freedom
fighters" is used in news reports. Actually it'd be extremely surprising if
that phrase were used. It's the usual practice of some politicians to
describe warriors on their side as "freedom fighters", but it's very unusual
for reporters to be using this phrase. In any case, it would have been more
interesting if Filipov had looked into the substantive point about how the
fighters are pictured, rather than going to such lengths to investigate the
use of the phrase "freedom fighters". He might well have concluded that the
substantive point was on balance true.
It reminds me of the jibe about the role of media ombudsmen: they are there
to head off any real criticism of the media.
The strength of sentiment shown in the Western media is something that hasn't
been lost on Russians. They have come to realize that the political
correctness of the media can too easily lend itself to a herd spirit, ganging
up on anyone who is fingered as a bad guy. They readily pick up on the
underlying identification against Russia in this war; it is tangible in the
very way in which Western reports are framed. They can see that the routine
language is accusatory toward Russia and is often extreme. They can also see
how the debate is framed on the editorial pages - the constant attacks on the
Western governments for not coming down harder on Russia, the defensive
statements by Western officials that they are indeed coming down hard on
Russia. They can see some journalists rallying others to a "correct"
position, and labelling it a "repetition of Russian propaganda" when an
occasional writer breaks ranks. They can see the use of epithets like
"appeaser" or "coward" for anyone who is not hardline enough (like the recent
attacks on Tony Blair, Clinton, and others for saying nice things about Putin
and not punishing Russia over Chechnya). If most Westerners do not notice any
of this, it is only because they are standing so deeply inside a monolithic
consensus that they are unaware of the possibility of standing outside it or
even of viewing it critically.
These are phenomena that have serious implications and deserve an analysis in
their own right. Unfortunately it seems that we'll have to wait for Mr.
Filipov to get to that another time. :)
From: "Peter Heinlein" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Robert Bruce Ware and Ira Strauss in JRL 4169
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000
(Peter Heinlein VOA Moscow bureau chief. These views are those of the
author, and are not those of VOA or any other organization.)
PLEASE. Mr. Ware and Mr. Strauss. Stop trying to blame the media for the
damage done to relations between Moscow and the West by Russia's inhuman
behavior in Chechnya. Yes, as you point out, western journalists have
claimed that Russia has grossly manipulated its own media, and attempted to
manipulate the foreign media as well. Can that be seriously argued? And
yes, western journalists have focused to a great extent on the brutality
of Russian troops. Brutality, it seems, is too kind a word for the things
we have seen and heard.
So, as you ask, has anyone gotten the full story? Of course not. And we
may never get it, unless the international community demands an impartial
investigation; something that, unfortunately, is unlikely to happen. But
the little we know has mostly come courtesy of the very journalists and
human rights investigators they so roundly criticize. The problem with
many of the arguments put forward by Mr.Ware and Mr. Strauss is that they
are based largely on hearsay, the legitimacy of which is open to question.
Kidnapping for ransom, they say. Yes, unquestionably kidnappings have
occurred. But kidnapping has been used as a weapon by both sides in this
war. It has been used to discredit Chechens, though we'll never know how
many kidnappings were actually done by gangs of Chechen rebel fighters,
and how many were done by anti-rebel (read pro-Russian) groups to keep
alive the belief, already widespread in Russia, that Chechens are a bandit
people. Yes, the hostage taking drove all international organizations out
of Chechnya by the end of 1997, but as with so many unsolved crimes that
happen in Russia, one must ask "Who benefited from that?"
It is naive, bordering on foolish, to blindly assume that the rebels were
responsible for all the events that so badly damaged their reputation,
resulted in their isolation, and eventually led to Russia's invasion of
Chechnya last September. And yet Mr. Ware and Mr. Strauss use these events
to argue that western journalists are wrong to focus on the atrocities
committed by Russian forces against the civilian population of Chechnya.
Mr. Ware and Mr. Strauss also cite the invasion of Dagestan to support
their conclusions. This "invasion" has become part of the conventional
wisdom about why the war started. It should be remembered, however, that
we still only have one side of the story about the invasion, the Russian
government version. And it is beyond doubt that Russia has blatantly
massaged the truth to justify its actions in Chechnya. Again, ask "Who
benefited by the invasion?" And ask yourselves "Could Shamil Basayev, who
may be many things but is not stupid, really believe that he could somehow
invade Dagestan and take it away from Russia. Surely he, who grew up only
5 miles away from the Dagestan border, knows about the mixture of 30 or
more ethnic groups in the region that makes Ware and Strauss's
generalizations about Dagestanis laughable.
The most ridiculous generalization, however, is that "If Russia does not
succeed in imposing law and order in Chechnya, people living near Chechnya
will be tortured and murdered once again. That's how the people of the
region see it". The "people of the region", do not think as a bloc.
There are many differing opinions, not all of them pro-Russian. And many
people there believe that whether or not Russia succeeds in imposing law
and order in Chechnya in the short term, there is going to be a lot of
blood shed in the region for a long time to come.
One last point. Mr. Ware and Mr. Strauss seem to question the
credibility, or at least the impartiality, of international human rights
groups which have done a remarkable job of documenting Russian atrocities.
As one who has seen first hand the horrors inflicted on Chechen civilians,
I would suggest these investigators have only touched the tip of a
monstrous iceberg. Mr. Ware and Mr. Stauss accuse western journalists of
failing to provide the broad context of the war, and ignoring the Russian
"frame of reference". They seem to blame the media for creating, or at
least aggravating tensions between Moscow and the West. They should look
March 15, 2000
TEN YEARS OF PRESIDENCY
The Time Political Rivalry Began
By Lidiya ANDRUSENKO
March 15th is a special date of the event-studded calendar
of Russia's recent history. Ten years ago, Presidency was
introduced in what used to be the Soviet Union on March 15.
For a country in which undivided authority was always the
principle of power it was the only way to pursue Mikhail
Gorbachev's reforms and preserve the very essence of the state
at the same time. At least, the architects of his perestroika
hoped for this when they agreed to get the sixth clause of the
Soviet Constitution on the leading role of the communist party
abrogated. They could not but understand that the CPSU was the
pivot of the existing system without which a powerful state
could collapse like a house of cards, on the one hand. But
there was no stopping a wide and powerful democratic movement
and the party they headed had to make concessions to save its
face, on the other.
Democratization of society declared by Gorbachev changed
his own status as the head of state: the CPSU central committee
general secretary voluntarily declined all party duties and
became the President of the USSR. But our institute of
presidency had nothing in common with the democratic structure
of power which existed in the developed countries. It was
contemplated that the power of the CPSU would be gradually
transformed into the power of Soviets. But that was, in fact,
the case of six of one and half a dozen of the other, because
all central and local bodies of power were headed by reliable
and tested party functionaries. So, having declared the need to
introduce the presidency at the February plenum of the CPSU
central committee, Gorbachev trusted the elaboration of this
idea to the presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, which he also
headed. Gorbachev's comrade and close friend, Anatoly Lukyanov,
who was the first deputy chairman of the Supreme Soviet, headed
the commission which was to prepare proposals for the
institution of the presidency. As an experienced lawyer,
Lukyanov could not but know that the President of a country is
elected by popular vote. In addition to observing the generally
recognized procedure of elections, this variant of universal
secret ballot could ensure Gorbachev, the President, absolute
legitimacy and truly strong positions. According to our
information, precisely Lukyanov tried to talk Gorbachev out of
the idea to hold national elections, persuading him that he was
no longer very popular in the country and could lose to
"rebellious trouble-maker" Yeltsin (about whose popularity
rating there was also some ground to doubt at that time).
Gorbachev flinched, as he was frightened, especially because
Lukyanov persuaded him that the Supreme Soviet could very well
be passed for the "college of electors" in the presidential
election, though the amended Soviet Constitution stipulated
universal secret ballot.
Lukyanov might have been preparing the post of the head of
state for himself, because after the presidential election he
would become the chairman of the Supreme Soviet (and all power
was to be transferred to the Soviets). In that case the post of
the President automatically became rather ornamental. Gorbachev
realised that in a short while, when the "parade of
sovereignties" and inter-ethnic conflicts began in the country.
The President could only adopt documents qualifying separatist
decisions as illegitimate and declare that he had nothing to do
with such developments, but he was unable to influence them.
Having become the President of the USSR, Gorbachev was actually
unable to get any serious decision adopted.
Yeltsin did not repeat Gorbachev's mistake. There is no
ground to say that he was more oriented to the assertion of his
personal authority than Gorbachev. But at that time he did not
have such a "reliable friend" as Lukyanov behind his back.
Yeltsin, who was the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the
RSFSR, agreed to hold national presidential elections and won
by netting 57% of the vote. Having become the legitimate head
of state and making the Russian model of state construction
look more like the generally recognized democratic model based
on the presidency, Yeltsin declared a struggle against
communists (which won him additional popularity rating) and
against the Soviets. Presidency helped him to proclaim Russia a
sovereign republic within the USSR but did not save him from
the "headache" Gorbachev had - separatist sentiments of local
authorities in constituent territories of the Russian
Federation. On June 12, 1991, when Yeltsin was elected
President of Russia, Tatarstan elected its own President -
Mintimer Shaimiyev. As the time went, Yeltsin, who was afraid
that the Federation might disintegrate like the Soviet Union,
had to offer "local presidents" to take as much sovereignty as
they needed. At the same time, he did his utmost to strengthen
his own presidential powers. In our country, local democratic
power always proves to be stronger than federal and gradually
turns into the omnipotent rule by local lords. Yeltsin was
unable to fight local separatism but he won a real victory in a
clash with the Supreme Soviet which had been growing stronger
than the Kremlin. He was forgiven this because he was the
President elected by the nation.
We will have new presidential elections on March 26. If
communists come to power (which is rather improbable), we will
have to forget about the institute of Presidency, unless
Gennady Zyuganov gives up the main slogan with which the KPRF
he heads is going to the election: "No to the Presidency in
Russia!". It goes without saying that the structure of power
built on the principles of collegial leadership by the party's
political buro is much closer to communists. As in the past,
the General Secretary would rely on party discipline and the
KPRF top functionaries would head parliament. To achieve this,
however, they will have to change the structure of local power
by turning all local presidents either into the heads of
regional legislatures or leaders of grass-roots party
organisations. If Vladimir Putin wins, Yeltsin's Constitution,
which already gives the President almost unlimited authority,
will not be enough for him. Hence the discussion of the idea to
extend the term of the Presidency and to nominate the heads of
the constituent territories of the Federation, which was
triggered by a letter from three Russian governors. The desire
to consolidate any state authority is probably prompted by
Russian mentality, regardless of the model of state
March 10, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
ALEXEI ARBATOV: "WE WILL HAVE TO FIGHT FOR PEACE YET"
Alexei ARBATOV, deputy chairman of the Duma defence
committee, interviewed by Vitaly DENISOV of Krasnaya Zvezda
Question: You were on the inter-faction group of deputies
who returned from Chechnya a few days ago. What are your
impressions? And what will you tell the Duma Council?
Answer: I was most impressed by two things. Both concern
differences between the first and the second Chechen campaigns.
The first is that the army is better organised and armed and is
fighting better now.
But the most important thing is the morale, which proved
to be much higher and stronger than I expected. The units of
the armed forces are not just combat-ready and able to fight,
but want and can win. I inspected the situation in the Joint
Group of Forces and can tell you confidently that the success
of the federal forces was predetermined by the clever use of
troops and equipment, a reliable collaboration of army units
with the troops of the Interior Ministry and other
law-enforcement agencies, and good logistics.
On the other hand, I expected the local population, sick
and tired of the fighters' arbitrary actions, lawlessness and
their own helplessness, would be more loyal to the federal
forces, which are actually fighting to liberate them. I thought
the people would be more loyal even despite the losses and
inevitable adversities which the peaceful population suffers in
conditions of war. Regrettably, this is not true for Chechnya.
There are virtually no contacts vital for the gradual
transition from war to peace. Of course, there is a measure of
collaboration in the commandants' offices and administrations
restored in the liberated regions. But the general masses are
This is a serious problem, because the successful
completion of the military operation provides for the
unconditional restoration of genuine sovereignty of Russia, law
and order, and economic and social stability. This cannot be
assured without the desire and the good will of the Chechen
population. Regrettably, there is neither the desire, nor the
good will. And we are still very far away from comprehensive,
guaranteed peace in the republic.
Question: The active phase of the counter-terrorist
operation is nearly over. Maybe tomorrow we will have to
determine the political status of Chechnya and its
administrative structure. What do you think of this?
Answer: The main thing is to avoid a repetition of the
1995-96 mistakes, which would entail the same result. We have
no right to step on the same rake twice.
I think we should introduce the state of emergency in
Chechnya. We can no longer operate without it, because the
legal basis of all actions of the federal centre is very
"weak." The state of emergency is necessary also because there
are no firm guarantees of the non-resumption of hostilities,
for example, in early summer.
To minimise the possibility of separatists launching a
guerrilla war, we should enact a whole package of measures that
would regulate the limitation of some civil rights and freedoms
(such as the right to the freedom of movement, mass meetings,
etc.) and provide legal backing to the checking of passports,
searches of residential premises, arrests and detainments.
All this is possible only in conditions of the state of
emergency. Of course, we need a new law [on the state of
emergency] that would meet modern demands, but for the present
it would be enough to approve requisite amendments to the
The state of emergency should be introduced not only in
Chechnya, but also in the adjacent territories of other
federation members. It would not be done to create a buffer
zone, but to ensure the safety of people living in these
So far, the administrative borders are too transparent, as
proved by the "transit" of journalist Andrei Babitsky from
Chechnya to Dagestan in the boot of a car. Likewise, terrorist
Khattab and several hundreds of kilograms of hexogen can be
delivered to any settlement in the region.
Next, there must be no playing with local self-governments.
Much time will pass before we understand who is really
respected by the local population and who we can trust in
Until then, power must be held by the military commandants and
the Russian administration of cities and regions. Their tasks
should include: the timely payment of pensions and wages to the
public sector staff and pensioners, the safety of
communications, minimum restoration work necessary for ensuring
the normal life of the people, and the struggle with the
residues of terrorism and rebel activities.
They should not seek the liking of the local population.
They must only ensure law and order in their territory, which
will soon ensure us at least the neutrality of common people.
In a few years, after we stabilise the situation, we will
be able to start creating local bodies of power, which would
gradually take over the powers of the provisional
administrations. Next we could ponder the possibility of
elections at all levels and comprehensive restoration of the
Question: And the political status?
Answer: The political status is clear: Chechnya is a
constituent member of the Russian Federation. And all our
actions must be based on this precept. It would be naive to
think that we will resolve all problems by declaring this. It
will take years to undermine the foundation of separatism, to
make the people see the advantages of life in integral Russia,
ruled not by the Shariat laws, but by the constitution, which
says everyone is equal before it.
Question: Did you discuss the possibility of permanently
deploying federal troops in Chechnya during your trip?
Answer: The question has been settled. A motorised
division of the Defence Ministry and a brigade of the Interior
Troops of the Interior Ministry will be deployed in the
republic. But the question is, Will this be enough? And how
should these troops be organised so as not to become hostage of
the situation and the object of endless provocations and
attacks by bandits? Certainly, the military specialists have
the final say in this matter.
These troops should be made up of contract servicemen,
possible those who fought in the first and/or the second
Chechen campaigns. And their remuneration should correspond to
the conditions of their service. They should get a 50% addition
to their wages and the so-called "fighting" money. Their status
should be sealed in a law stipulating guarantees to them as
participants in the clearing up of the consequences of an armed
Question: What should we do with the external border, in
particular the 80 km-long border with Georgia?
Answer: We should use the experience accumulated by the
Federal Frontier Forces in, say, Mountain Badakhshan, where
Russian border guards are successfully protecting a similar
stretch of the Tajik border. I think we can, and must, cover
this part of the border in the south of Chechnya.
But this is not all. I think the Russian border guards
should also protect the administrative border of Chechnya along
its perimeter. This does not mean that we are treating the
republic as a foreign state. We must speedily approve a law on
rebel territories, which would seal the right of the state to
use its frontier troops for the protection of adjacent
republics, territories and regions from the forays of
terrorists and separatists.
Mortgage Fund Launched For Middle Class Russians
MOSCOW, Mar 15, 2000 -- (Reuters) A U.S. investment fund which aims to help
establish a stable Russian middle class announced a groundbreaking $100
million home mortgage program on Tuesday.
DeltaCredit, the mortgage lending arm of the U.S. Russia Investment Fund,
aims to lend $100 million to local banks this year for on-lending to average
Russian home buyers. It has lent $1.5 million so far, bankers told a news
"This is really the key to building a middle class in Russia," said James
Cook, a senior vice-president. "It is also a way to bring about stability, to
get money straight into the hands of average Russians."
Russia's Soviet past left no tradition of mortgages, despite the more recent
mass privatization of apartments. Mortgage plans have been further hampered
by spotty laws, investors unwilling to provide funding and fallout from the
1998 financial collapse which busted banks as well as impoverishing citizens.
But the investment fund, backed by the U.S. Congress to help build a Russian
market economy and drawing funds from the U.S. Treasury, says the mortgage
market will be huge and the time is right for Russians to buy.
The crisis-hit real estate market is finally rising.
PROPERTY MARKET HAS HUGE POTENTIAL
"For Moscow alone we estimate the potential market is $5 billion," Cook said.
He hopes more foreign funding will follow, and there are already a few local
Bankers said average borrowers will muster a family income of about $1,000
per month, many times Russia's average monthly income but well within reach
of many in Moscow and St Petersburg, the focus of the program.
Dollar loans of up to $150,000 will be offered for up to 10 years, an
extremely long horizon in Russia's topsy turvy financial climate, at interest
rates of 11-15 percent per year.
Borrowers will be saddled with currency risk of borrowing dollars and limited
to monthly payments of 40 percent of family income to guard against another
Russians are already extremely wealthy in property terms, thanks to
privatization which lets any Russian claim his apartment for a few dollars,
putting average Russians ahead of citizens of many emerging market economies,
He expected by spring to launch a program to make it easier to trade up
apartments so that Russians would not have to sell one apartment before
buying the next.
The middle class is being contacted by foreign financiers as never before.
Foreign banks traditionally working with businesses have begun taking retail
accounts from households, aiming at the estimated $50 billion in savings by
ruble and bank-wary Russians hidden in jam jars and under mattresses.
Mortgages could also entice Russians to bring untaxed earnings into the
To buy an apartment with cash, one attracts the interest of tax authorities,
while payments on a loan are much less noticeable and then the government
offers tax breaks for home buyers.
Next year Delta hopes to roll out ruble loans and in about two years turn
mortgages into securities, as in the United States, thus at one stroke
offering a savings bond of sorts in a market short on investments and freeing
up cash for new lending.
The Times (UK)
15 March 2000
[for personal use only]
Who wants to be a president?
BY PAUL MCCANN, MEDIA CORRESPONDENT
WHILE Americans face months of television debates between George W. Bush and
Al Gore, the Russians have pitted four presidential hopefuls against each
other on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
The politicians will be seen on Saturday, a week before the country goes to
the polls, fielding general knowledge questions from Dimitry Debrov, Russia's
Chris Tarrant, in a one-off episode from which all winnings will go to
Of the four presidential candidates who took part in the programme, which was
recorded two days ago, the highest-scoring was Evgeny Savostianov,
secretary-general of the Souz Truda party.
Despite answering a string of tough questions correctly, including one on the
English author G. K. Chesterton, he stumbled on one relating to his own
country. After using up two lifelines, he incorrectly answered the
250,000-rouble question: asked whether loyalty, nobility, magnanimity or
honesty was symbolised by the colour red in the pre-revolution Russian flag,
he replied loyalty. The correct answer was magnanimity. But he still raised
32,000 roubles (£1,000) for charity.
Ella Pamfilova, chairman of the Healthy Russia party, was asked which
chemical element was named after the Scandinavian term for "bad spirit". The
correct answer was cobalt, but she replied tungsten. She also won 32,000
Most impressive was Stanislav Govoruklin, of the People's Patriotic Party,
who correctly named Paul Gauguin as the subject of a Somerset Maugham book.
But both he and Umar Dzhabrailove, an independent candidate from Chechnya,
won just 1,000 roubles.
Russia's acting President, Vladimir Putin, the favourite to win in the real
poll, was unable to appear because he was meeting Tony Blair when the
programme was recorded.
Putin Berates Staff Over Chechen Fund Payout Failure
MOSCOW, Mar 15, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Acting President Vladimir
Putin on Wednesday berated officials over the failure to pay out millions of
dollars in aid to Chechnya designed to ensure farmers can plant crops this
Putin summoned top officials to the Kremlin for a brain-storming session on
how to rebuild the breakaway republic, devastated by two wars in the past six
Restoring local administration, constitutional order and the social services
infrastructure was "the most urgent task today," Putin said in comments
broadcast by state-run ORT television.
And he continued: "Despite the decision to allocate 342 million rubles ($12
million) for planting seeds this spring, the money has not yet arrived.
"There's a document for my report (on Chechnya) which says money has already
arrived in Mozdok," in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia, he said.
"What's it doing there, why isn't it in Chechnya?"
With two weeks to go to polling day, Moscow has been anxious to proclaim the
end of the war, the successful prosecution of which has catapulted Putin to
the top of opinion ratings and into the Kremlin.
With his economics and energy ministers attending the round table alongside
security chiefs, Putin urged a frank debate about how to rebuild a republic
devastated by two wars with Russia in three years.
"All the resources which exist in Chechnya must be mobilized to revive the
republic," Putin said, ITAR-TASS reported.
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