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Johnson's Russia List


March 23, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4191  4192  

Johnson's Russia List
23 March 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
IMPORTANT WARNING!!!: JRL is on the verge of going off the air.
An errant computer server in Australia is bombarding my email
address with thousands of bounced messages from Efforts to find and correct
the problem have so far failed. This will likely swamp the address. Alternatively, you can contact
me at but I will not be able to continue JRL
from that address. Keep your fingers crossed.

1. Reuters: POLL-Russia's Putin has clear lead before Sunday vote.
2. Reuters: Putin Heading for Election Win, Astrologer Says.
3. Moscow Times: Jonas Bernstein, Pondering President Putin's 
First 100 Days.

4. Nezavisimaya Gazeta - Stsenarii: Sergei Korolev, THE OUTSIDERS' 
AMBITIONS. Yhe Last Who Would Never Become the First.

5. Leonid Sborov, The New 4-Year Plan. German Gref)
6. Moscow Times: Boris Kagarlitsky, Propaganda Gives Military
Pyrrhic Victory in Chechnya.

7. Reuters: Leading Russian liberal says Putin is no democrat.

8. Itar-Tass: Observers to Be Briefed Before Going to 

9. Kitty Dolan: re: Russian constitutional reform.]


POLL-Russia's Putin has clear lead before Sunday vote

MOSCOW, March 22 (Reuters) - Final opinion polls ahead of Russia's 
presidential election predicted an outright win for Acting President Vladimir 
Putin on Wednesday. 

Two leading pollsters forecast that Putin, who has led the race throughout, 
would gain more than 50 percent of the vote in Sunday's election with a 
turnout of around 65 percent. 

VTsIOM and ROMIR said their final surveys were based on fresh opinion polls 
and historical voting data, providing their best guess of the actual result. 

Following is a summary of the surveys, showing change on the previous poll in 
brackets. Where VTsIOM gives a range the percent change is on the median 

ROMIR shows a jump of seven percent in Putin's rating, an apparent correction 
on an anomalous 10 percent fall in the previous poll. 

March 17-20 March 18-19
Acting President Vladimir Putin....... 53-55 (-4) 57 (+7) 
Gennady Zyuganov, communist........... 22-24 (+2) 25 (+3) 
Grigory Yavlinsky, Yabloko............ 5-6 (+0.5) 6 (+1) 
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, LPDR............ 3-4 (+0.5) 3 (-2) 
Aman Tuleyev, Governor of Kemerevo.... 3-4 (+1.5) 3 (+1) 
Ella Pamfilova, For Civic Dignity bloc around 1 (0) 1 (0) 
Konstantin Titov, Governor of Samara.. 2 (+1) 1 (0) 
Stanislav Govorukhin, parliamentarian. around 1 (0) under 1 (0) 
Yuri Skuratov, Prosecutor General..... around 1 (0) under 1 (0) 
Alexei Podberyozkin................... under 0.5(0) under 1 (0) 
Yevgeny Savostyanov+.................. not given under 1 (0) 
Umar Dzhabrailov...................... under 0.5(0) under 1 (0) 
'None of the above' on ballot paper... 2 3 (+1) 
Spoilt ballot papers.................. 2 not given 
Predicted turnout on March 26......... 64-65 pct 65 pct 

Savostyanov said on Tuesday he would drop out of the race in favour of 
Yavlinsky. The Central Election Commission said on Wednesday he had been 
officially withdrawn. 

Polls conducted by VTsIOM canvass 1,600 people across Russia and those by 
ROMIR canvass 1,500. Both pollsters publish their surveys on websites. 
VTsIOM's can be found at while ROMIR's is 


Putin Heading for Election Win, Astrologer Says

MOSCOW, March 22 (Reuters) - Even the planets are with him. 

If one of Russia's leading astrologers is to be believed, Acting President 
Vladimir Putin is heading for victory in the first round in Sunday's 
presidential election, ushering in a lengthy period of stronger, centralised 

That was the conclusion of an analysis of the position of the planets 
announced on Wednesday by Georgy Rogozin, former official astrologer to the 
Kremlin under Boris Yeltsin and former deputy chief of Yeltsin's security 

"There is such thing as political astrology, which allows us to see how the 
situation will develop in a week, a month, three months and several years' 
time," he told a news briefing. 

"The elections will be held in a good atmosphere, will be settled in one 
round and won by Vladimir Putin." 

Rogozin, said to have wielded considerable power at the highest level, joins 
opinion pollsters, political pundits and local media in backing the runaway 

But he broke the mould of received wisdom in his forecast of who would be 
runner-up, saying it would be veteran liberal Grigory Yavlinsky rather than 
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who has been placed second in the 
opinion polls. 

Rogozin produced detailed graphs outlining hour-to-hour astrological 
developments during the day of the ballot. 

One illustration showed how Putin would face a steadily rising trend of 
negative forces countered by two "splashes" of positive energy which would be 
enough to pull him through. 

Reflecting the view of many commentators, the astrologer said Putin's victory 
would lead to a more authoritative style of leadership. 

"We expect that as a result of such an outcome in the vote, a fairly strict, 
centralised power will be established." 

Rogozin said Putin and his team would focus on controlling Russia's big 
business as a source of budget revenue, after Mercury fell into line with the 
movement of other planets on March 13, encouraging greater economic clarity. 

Again his star gazing produced conclusions similar to those of more 
conventional forms of analysis -- that the country's industrial leaders could 
face an uncomfortable time under Putin. 

Rogozin was prepared to stick his neck out on a number of points. Firstly, 
Putin would probably rule for 12 years. 

Second, there would be two possibly successful attempts on the lives of 
leading Russian political figures -- the first in Russia in May and the 
second overseas in November. 


Moscow Times
March 22, 2000 
Pondering President Putin's First 100 Days 
By Jonas Bernstein
Special to The Moscow Times

While there is little mystery about the identity of the next head of state, 
officialdom is still being coy. Asked this week whether any foreign trips 
have been scheduled for the new head of state - whoever he might be - a 
Foreign Ministry spokesman deadpanned: "None so far." 

Despite the ministry spokesman's diplomatic answer, it is unlikely that 
acting President Vladimir Putin has been waiting for the results of the March 
26 vote in order to start filling in his travel itinerary. The Times of 
London reported Tuesday that Putin plans to visit London before the end of 
March. He and British Prime Minister Tony Blair apparently hit it off during 
Blair's visit to St. Petersburg earlier this month. 

Other observers predict that soon after his all-but certain victory at the 
polls, Putin will visit a number of key capitals in both the West and the 
"near abroad." 

Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Politika research institute, said he 
expects Belarus, Ukraine and China to be among Putin's destinations, along 
with Okinawa, the Japanese island prefecture which will host the G-8 summit 
conference in July. 

"He might visit Japan a littler earlier, for bilateral meetings," said 
Nikonov. "As far as I know, they are planning around 12 foreign policy trips 
this year." 

Assembling a Cabinet 

Foreign trips aside, Putin, once elected, will immediately face some very 
important administrative tasks - including the crucially important one of 
choosing a Cabinet. 

The betting among Moscow's political observers is that Putin, who now holds 
the positions of both acting president and prime minister, will choose First 
Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to head the new government. 

Kasyanov is a Finance Ministry veteran who has long served as a foreign debt 
negotiator and is thus a known quantity in the West. On the other hand, he is 
widely viewed as being close to some of the key Yeltsin-era "oligarchs," 
including Sibneft oil company chief Roman Abramovich and Moscow banker 
Alexander Mamut. 

This may explain why some media have been throwing around the names of other 
possible candidates for prime minister. The newspaper Izvestia wrote last 
week that Anti-Monopoly Minister Ilya Yuzhanov is the front-runner to head 
the government. Like Putin, Yuzhanov is a St. Petersburg native who was in 
the past associated with the "team" put together by another transplant from 
Russia's second city, Anatoly Chubais. Chubais today heads Unified Energy 
Systems, the electricity grid - making him an "oligarch" in his own right - 
and Yuzhanov's elevation would be a sign that he continues to wield 

Other observers, however, say that the days of oligarch-watching may be 
coming to an end - and that Russian politics could be in for a big change, in 
both style and substance. 

Oligarchs as a Class 

As practiced by Putin's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, politics consisted of 
balancing and playing off the interests of competing financial and regional 
elites. One argument is that this is about to give way to a more centralized, 
disciplined method of administration. 

In his policy statements and interviews - including the recently released 
book, "In the First Person: Conversations With Vladimir Putin" - the acting 
president's main message has been the need to "strengthen the state" and 
create a "level playing field" for all economic actors. And in an interview 
last week with Mayak state radio he vowed that, as part of his overall drive 
against crime and corruption, the "oligarchs" will cease to exist "as a 

Putin has been vague about how he plans to accomplish this. But he has hinted 
at radical steps. 

There have also been rumors - denied by sources in Putin's team - that he 
plans to impose strict central control over Russia's 89 regions. Now the 
regions are run by elected governors, who often control everything in their 
fiefdoms (including elections). Putin, who says he won't scrap elections, has 
said there needs to be a way for the Kremlin to remove governors. 

And some of the changes being discussed might include turning the governors 
into Kremlin-appointees and herding the regions into several larger bodies, 

How radically Putin moves could depend in part whether he wins outright on 
March 26 or garners less than 50 percent of the popular vote and is thus 
forced into a runoff election on April 16. 

Some analysts believe that some within the powerful financial and regional 
elites, who have both the financial and administrative resources to deliver 
votes for a given candidate, are trying to engineer a second around. This 
could force Putin into asking them for help to ensure a second round victory 
- and make him less likely to challenge their power and privileges once he is 

"If he wins in the first round, there is a small chance that he will take 
unexpected steps, like changing the governors, criminally prosecuting some 
members of the current State Duma, or even [seeking criminal] convictions 
against some of the oligarchs," said Andrei Ryabov, a political analyst at 
the Moscow Carnegie Center. "If he wins in a second round, I think it will 
mean a continuation of Yeltsin-era politics for another three or four months 
- meaning the continuing battles between the main political-financial groups, 
and scandals around the government and prime minister that he names." 

Ryabov said that it remains an open question whether Putin will move in 
earnest to overturn the Yeltsin-era "divide-and-rule" method of governance. 

But other analysts were more convinced that such changes are in the offing. 

A New, Faceless Era? 

"In my view, Putin doesn't like independent centers of power," said Nikonov. 
"He wants to control the whole thing. And, of course, he will not like 
competition inside the branches of power or between them, and he will do his 
best to eliminate that competition." 

Nikonov was among a group of experts asked this week by Vlast magazine what 
awaits the oligarchs. 

He predicted that they would not appear again as a class for the next 50 

Others said that they would continue to exist, albeit with limited power; 
still others predicted that Putin would "appoint" new oligarchs. 

As for Putin's likely policy toward the regions, Nikolai Petrov, a specialist 
on the regions with the Moscow Carnegie Center, said that it is unlikely he 
will quickly push through radical institutional changes - for example, 
attacking the governors' popularly elected status. 

However, he added, "It is possible to change the system, to introduce a kind 
of semi-police state, without changing the constitution." 

Overall, Putin's new government will be very different from its predecessors, 
Petrov predicted. 

"It will look more like a machine in which you cannot distinguish between 
different elements, which will all work together as small pieces of this 
whole entity, this machine," he said. 

"There will not be independent politicians with well-known faces. ... What we 
are seeing now is the final stage of more-or-less public politics, with 
public conflicts between different elite clans. It will be hidden, an 
under-the-carpet game, and it will be closed for the general public." 


Nezavisimaya Gazeta - Stsenarii No. 3
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
Yhe Last Who Would Never Become the First 

Putin, Zyuganov, Yavlinsky... It is this troika, and in 
exactly this order, albeit with large gaps between the first 
and the second candidates and between the second and the third 
candidates, that features in most election forecasts. But the 
leisurely race towards the Kremlin involves also nine other 
politicians. Sociologists say that seven of these can hope to 
get no more than 0.5-1.5% of the vote (2% at the best, and less 
than 0.5% at the worst). Since these figures are not a shock 
for the participants, the logical question is: Why are they 
running at all? Are they driven by petty political ambitions, 
banal vanity, or unsatisfied appetite for fame?

Hang the Authorities 
Film director and deputy member Stanislav Govorukhin is a 
bright and inordinate person. He has had a difficult life (his 
father was persecuted in 1936, when Stanislav was born). He 
made many films, including the shocking "This Is No Way to 
Live." It is said that its demonstration during the 1st 
Congress of the People's Deputies in 1990 convinced vacillating 
people and helped Yeltsin to win the post of chairman of the 
RSFSR Supreme Soviet, with a tiny margin of four votes. 
Govorukhin defended the Russian White House and welcomed 
the ban on the Communist Party in August 1991, but subsequently 
grew cool towards Yeltsin and his team and scathingly 
criticised the authorities. 
As a politician, Govorukhin has worked in many political 
structures, including the Russian National Assembly, Nikolai 
Travkin's Democratic Party of Russia, the Congress of Russian 
Communities, and the People's Patriotic Union of Russia. In 
1995, he created the Election Bloc of Stanislav Govorukhin 
(0.99% of the vote), was a member of the Power by the People 
Duma faction of Nikolai Ryzhkov and Sergei Baburin, and 
supported Alexander Lebed -- only to denounce him later. Now he 
walks together with Luzhkov's Fatherland. An eventful political 
biography, filled with dramatic U-turns...
I don't think this is a coincidence, for Govorukhin is a 
born opponent, pessimist and reasoner, denouncer and exposer. 
In other words, he is a classical representative of that part 
of the protest electorate, which votes "against all." A man 
like this can hardly become established in any political camp 
or find his own political niche.
Everything seems to be clear with Govorukhin's involvement 
in the presidential race: he has joined it to openly tell the 
authorities what he thinks of them. Tell it, and feel better. 
And if possible, spit in the unpleasant face of the Kremlin and 
the White House residents. 
His chances? No more than 1%.

Ella and the Electorate
Ella Pamfilova took part in virtually all elections that 
were held in Russia. She has a nearly perfect democratic 
biography: trade union committee, party committee, people's 
deputy of the Soviet Union, the Inter-Regional Deputies' Group, 
the Supreme Soviet commission on privileges, and voting for the 

cancellation of the notorious Article 6 of the constitution on 
the guiding role of the Communist Party at the congress of 
people's deputies... Next she worked for the Ministry of Social 
Protection. Ella fell out of Gaidar's nest in 1994, soon after 
Yegor Gaidar left the Chernomyrdin government, and began an 
independent political career amidst the rough seas of Russian 
politics. Regrettably, she is moving ever closer to the 
marginal zone.
The latter is partially a result of a sceptical attitude 
to women in politics, traditional for Russia. On the other 
hand, this is logical for a country that is still largely 
traditionalist. But this marginal status is due largely to 
Ella's activities. Or rather, to the emanation of her ego, 
which makes her act in this, and only this, way. 
By her speeches, Pamfilova stresses her political 
soundness and independence, but her tone bespeaks her weakness 
and feminine hunger for a male defender. One can hear touching 
traditionalist tones in her addresses. She implies that women 
are softer and more peaceful. "Male politics has discredited 
itself," she says, "and we must do something about this." A 
weak but ambitious woman provoking men's compassion. This type 
has only a limited appeal in ruthless Russian politics. 
On the other hand, Ella says the right things, yet they 
sound as an imitation. 
She lacks political individuality. However, she has a 
small electorate (1-1.5% of the total), who regards her -- let 
this not strike you as strange -- as well-nigh a charismatic 
leader, or simply as an upright person.

The Inertia of Delusions
The situation of Samara governor Konstantin Titov is very 
strange (strange in terms of world politics, but quite ordinary 
in terms of Russia). The bloc which he joined for the Duma 
elections, SPS, did not support him unequivocally or directly.
Indeed, why quarrel with Putin over 2-3% of the vote, which the 
Samara governor could earn? In that situation, the 
self-nomination of Titov looked amateurish from the political 
viewpoint, and shifted him as a politician to the level of Ella 
Pamfilova or Yuri Skuratov, ideologically-minded but non-party 
It appears that Titov took part in the presidential race 
by virtue of inertia. This act could have had a serious 
political meaning a year or half a year ago, "before Putin." 
But today the personal decision of Governor Titov looks as an 
act of inertia, as inability to review one's stand and possibly 
look back...
The methods of his election campaign are depressing and 
disappointing. Titov's repeated calls to Yavlinsky to withdraw 
from the elections and hand over his votes to him, remind one 
of traditional gubernatorial cries for financial assistance 
from the federal budget. 
Before asking someone to give you his votes, one should 
first prove that he has an electoral potential of his own. 
Titov has not provided any proof, and opinion polls promise him 
a bitter disillusionment at the elections.
It is clear that Titov is a perfect case of unsatisfied 
ambitions. We saw the outbursts of these ambitions in the past 

few years. 
On the other hand, the situation with Titov cannot be 
explained only by excessive and pathological ambitions of a 
provincial leader. His participation in the current 
presidential elections spotlighted an element that Russia and 
Russian politics need -- an alternative to Putin on the right 
flank, a more liberal set of policy principles than the one 
which we can expect the acting president to carry out (provided 
he honours liberal values at all). 
No matter what U-turns the Russian political history made 
in the past decade, liberalism remains a basic global ideology, 
because it embodies the deep-going trends of world development. 
I am truly sorry that we have virtually lost the liberal 
alternative owing to constant wrangles and loss of morale by 
Russian liberals. For it is only with major reservations that 
the phenomenon of Titov can be regarded as a liberal 
alternative to the Kremlin party of power, which upholds the 
conglomerate of bureaucratic and oligarchic interests. 
Besides, the country is not ready to support such an 
alternative. In today's parlance, there is no demand for it -- 
and this is the historical, if you want it, tragedy of the 
Samara governor. On the other hand, if society showed even a 
feeble sign of readiness to regard such an alternative, and if 
the SPS risked nominating a candidate, it would not have been 
Titov at all.

Monarchist, Prosecutor, Et All
The participation of Aleksei Podberezkin in the 
presidential elections could be regarded as a symbolic act. 
Judging by all appearances, Podberezkin is the only candidate 
advocating the monarchial idea, which was an archetype of 
national awareness and the cornerstone of the "national idea" 
in Russia for many long ages. It rests on centuries of the rise 
and development of the Russian statehood and a powerful 
tradition of power. It is a symbolic ideological and political 
pole, although hardly visible today through the thick crowd of 
Russian communist and post-communist cataclysms. 
However, of late Podberezkin has been putting forth his 
monarchial views with certain timidity. He more willingly 
speaks about "the imperial idea," the Russian Way, and even 
aristocratic democracy. But we know that monarchists, like 
officers, never retire. 
The participation of a monarchist candidate in the 
presidential elections is a somewhat disconcerting fact. It is 
even stranger that the monarchial idea is advocated by a 
yesteryear member of the communist faction in the Duma. This 
does not affect the virtues of Aleksei Podberezkin as a person. 
But damn it all, why is he doing this?
The answer to this question is especially interesting 
because Podberezkin's Spiritual Heritage, which cut its 
umbilical cord with the Communist Party, got only 0.1% of the 
vote at the latest Duma elections... 
As for Yuri Skuratov, politics in general and the current 
campaign in particular have become to him a natural way of 
survival -- political, moral, and possibly, physical. Because 
the prosecutor general faces not just political oblivion, like 
many other candidates, but the notorious house of corrections. 

The authorities mulled over the problem and decided to expose 
not just Skuratov's fondness of prohibited sexual comforts 
(which is not illegal), but also his love of expensive suits 
paid for by somebody else. 
The recent history of Russia shows that only mass 
political support, the voice and the will of the people can 
protect one from prison, if not poverty. However, Skuratov's 
rating shows that the voters, most of whom hate corruption, do 
not regard him as an irreconcilable fighter with this evil. 
For Yevgeny Savostyanov, the forthcoming elections are his 
last resort, the last attempt to resurface from political 
oblivion. The previous attempt, made with Fatherland, did not 
Savostyanov decided to resurface as a first-wave democrat.
But society is not prepared to go back and begin a new 
democratic revolution, and hence many democratically-minded 
voters regard Savostyanov only as a chekist, Putin's colleague 
and former head of the Moscow directorate of the KGB, the 
Security Ministry and the Federal Counter-Intelligence Service. 
Savostyanov can be regarded only a parody of Putin today: 
a man from the services on his way to the Kremlin. But a 
different man with a different life...
And then there is Umar Dzhabrailov, a very rich Chechen 
businessman with the looks of a DJ. Unlike some other runners 
in the race, he knows very well why he is running and how to 
convert the privileges granted him by the presidential campaign 
into something more palpable... 
Thus the primitive picture of petty individual ambitions, 
cravings and hungers is partially destroyed or concretized.
Candidates have different goals, some very noble, and different 
truths. Most of the so-called outsiders are bright and original 
figures, while others are upright people, or at least 
attention-worthy. But tell me, please, what does this have to 
do with genuine, big-time, and not toy politics?!
Rather, it is the non-participation of such political 
heavy-weights as Yevgeny Primakov, Yuri Luzhkov and once very 
popular premier Sergei Stepashin in the race that has a 
connection with big-time politics. This is a genuine political 
fact, while all the rest are funny and often symptomatic 
(nothing more) grimaces of plurality in a country with as yet 
unstable party system and an all-powerful political elite, 
which has a hand everywhere. 


March 22, 2000
The New 4-Year Plan 
By Leonid Sborov 

German Gref, the Chairman of the Center for Strategic Developments, on 
Tuesday announced that in May, Vladimir Putin would deliver a speech on the 
new budget policy. The Government is planning a four-year economic plan. 

German Gref made the announcement at the conference ‘The Russian economy 
on the eve of the presidential elections’, organized by the European 
Business Club and held in Moscow. He claimed that the four-year plan budgets 
would be the best way to encourage foreign investors. 

So it looks like the Government is forming a clear concept of its new 
economic policy. Deputy head of RF Ministry for State Property German Gref 
has published the guidelines of the new policy. He heads a group of several 
dozens experts, including ministers, economists and analysts working on the 
new program. 

Firstly, the Government is proceeding from the assumption that the 
current economic growth in Russia will continue in the near future. According 
to forecasts made by Evgeniy Yasin, the head of the Expert Institute and 
member of the parliamentary economic policy group, the rate of economic 
growth will be approximately 4-6% per annum. However, the state cannot do 
without foreign investment. 

“It will be impossible to secure the essential rate of growth even if 
we managed to concentrate domestic capital and sharply decrease the tax 
burden,” said Gref. He added that attempts to attract investors by using 
administrative measures are doomed to fail. 

The four-year budget plan will be adopted in one to one and a half 
months and is designed to attract foreign investors. We must give businesses 
a signal, says Gref, and inform them of what we expect to happen in the near 
future so that companies can plan their strategy not for one, but for four 
years. If potential investors have a clear idea of what the situation will be 
like in 4 years and have faith in the government, they are sure to invest. As 
soon as the first budget plan is approved, the future president will deliver 
a statement and determine the economic priorities of his first term of 

Secondly, Gref’s center is working on amendment of certain economic 
legislation, including the Law on Realty Rights and Transactions 
Registration, to improve protection of small shareholders’ rights, further 
guarantees for direct investments and the implementation introduction of 
municipal land allotments. 

Thirdly, the Government intends to essentially decrease the rate of 
income tax. Putin has instructed the Finance Ministry to prepare several 
variants for prospective tax reform, said Gref. Work on the projects will be 
completed at the same time as the budget and published in May. Investors have 
already responded to the Government’s new initiative. The deputy head 
Chairman of the RAO United Energy Systems of Russia board Yakov Urinson, told 
Gazeta.Ru that if the plans reported by Gref are implemented, RAO UES, and 
all western investors would benefit. 

Kirill Lebedev, head of Emerson Electric’s Russian office also hopes 
it will be easier to do business in Russia if Gref’s plans are implemented. 
We greatly want to invest. Many projects have been prepared. We are glad to 
hear that the Russian Government is willing to promote them. Now everything 
will depend on successful cooperation with the Duma, Lebedev said. 

We dare add that everything will also depend on the outcome of the 
presidential elections and whether or not the one who is planning to deliver 
the revolutionary budget concept will be elected. 


Moscow Times
22 March 2000
Propaganda Gives Military Pyrrhic Victory in Chechnya
By Boris Kagarlitsky
Boris Kagarlitsky is a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences 
Institute of Comparative Politics. He contributed this comment to The Moscow 

Remember the old Soviet joke about Waterloo? While watching a parade on Red 
Square, Napoleon sighs and says, "If I had tanks like that, I wouldn't have 
lost the battle at Waterloo." Brezhnev, standing beside him, answers, "And if 
you had newspapers like we have, no one would have known you lost the battle 
at Waterloo."

Our political and military leaders are convinced you can win a war on 
television. Every day, the television broadcasts the confident faces of the 
generals, telling about grand victories. The majority of enthusiastic reports 
about the war are written either in Moscow, thousands of kilometers from the 
line of fire, or under the control of military censors in Mozdok. There is 
evidence that TV "war" footage is often filmed dozens of kilometers from the 
line of fire. Only occasionally do you see flashes of the actual face of war 
in the background: wrecked machinery by the side of the road, tormented 
soldiers wandering in the mud.

The sameness of newspapers and television is striking. The very journalists 
who five years ago were digging up stories, are today, with a serious 
expression, repeating any nonsense thought up by military propagandists — 
such as the Chechens themselves are releasing poisonous gases over their own 
positions. Various journalists, having suddenly lost their individual style, 
have started writing in the official jargon of army political workers. One 
gets the impression that all these articles are written somewhere in the same 
place. But there are exceptions. General Shamanov, who on television speaks 
in telegraphic commander-style, suddenly starts speaking in the language of 
the Chekhovian intelligentsia on the pages of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, showing a 
deep understanding of history, culture and morality.

Newspaper editors, induced by "patriotic" motives, refuse to print anything 
other than enthusiastic reports about victories and flattering panegyrics to 
the generals or acting President Vladimir Putin. The general rule formulated 
by cynical journalists is this: When writing about Putin, write as you would 
about someone who is dead — either something good, or nothing at all. This is 
redolent of the Brezhnev period: News is confined to reports about official 
business and incomprehensible reports on victories. Pre-election scandals 
spice things up a bit, but even those will soon end.

After losing the first Chechen war, the generals have decided that the 
journalists are to blame. The Chechen fighters won the information war of 
1994-96, and the army leadership lost; that's an obvious fact. But the 
generals have forgotten this: If the fighters were beaten in the mountains, 
the sympathy of the Moscow intelligentsia wouldn't help the Chechens.

Our military and political leaders think a victory like the one in Kosovo 
will justify everything. But will there be victory? While the media writes 
about the Chechens gassing themselves, symptoms of self-poisoning propaganda 
are becoming more noticeable in the Russian camp.

But the generals' protestations that during the 1994-96 war all the press was 
against them do not jibe with reality. First, anti-military reports began to 
appear only after the failure of the New Year's storming of Grozny in 1994. 
Who hindered the generals from quickly finishing off the enemy and "closing 
the topic" before anti-military attitudes developed in the rear? Second, 
Channel 2, NTV, Moskovsky Komsomolets and Izvestia took up an anti-war (and 
not "pro-Chechen") position only when Channel 1 tried, through titanic 
efforts, to change public perceptions. They brought Alexander Nevzorov on 
board (no matter what you think of him, he is one of the most talented people 
in Russian television). He was given the best time slot and a sizable budget. 
But in the final analysis, this was a complete information defeat, for the 
simple reason that there was more truth in the programs of NTV than on 
Nevzorov's show.

Having watched television reports from Kosovo, our generals and ministries 
understood at long last what they didn't have: Although the Americans didn't 
have high-class PR, the State Department and Pentagon were able to stem the 
flow of negative information from the zone of conflict. From our generals' 
point of view, this was the main reason for NATO's success. And now, for a 
few months our army has been conducting a war in Chechnya with one goal: to 
present material for a powerful propaganda campaign. Alas, not a single war 
has ever been won in this fashion.

The story of Radio Liberty correspondent Andrei Babitsky has shown what will 
happen to journalists who don't play the Kremlin's game. But in this case, 
the authorities clearly didn't get the reaction they counted on. More than a 
dozen major publications — from the liberal Segodnya to the radical communist 
Sovetskaya Rossia — united in protest against Babitsky's treatment in a 
special, jointly produced edition of Obshchaya Gazeta.

It is said that the Russian people support the war in Chechnya. But after you 
talk to the man in the street, it becomes clear that this popular support is 
a bluff. Putin's rating is dubious. And the few surveys of public opinion 
that seep through the pages of our newspapers show that 42 to 46 percent of 
Russians are in favor of instituting talks with the Chechens.

Our military and political leaders think a victory like the one in Kosovo 
will justify everything. But will there be victory? While the media writes 
about the Chechens gassing themselves, symptoms of self-poisoning propaganda 
are becoming more noticeable in the Russian camp.

How long can this continue? Optimists believe that propaganda is 
all-powerful. No matter how bad things are in reality, the leadership can, 
with the support of TV, successfully fool people ad infinitum. The 
pessimists, on the other hand, insist that sooner or later the truth will 
out. Then there will be an enormous scandal that will make the military and 
information defeats of the first Chechen war seem like child's play. After 
all, from 1994 to 1996 the press enjoyed a certain authority, earned in 
covering the war in Chechnya for the support of the leadership during the 
presidential elections — support for the very leadership that started the war.

The Kremlin played that game successfully. Now it's another story. How long 
the people can be fooled depends not only on events in Chechnya. If the war 
were the only problem the leadership had, all would work out fine. But the 
war is just a side effect of a general crisis in the regime. And the crisis 
will grow for objective reasons. The 1993 model of government and society we 
had in 1993 has run its course, so explosions are inevitable.

In this situation, it is becoming very hard to maintain the "information 
positions." Every propaganda machine has its limits. Pushing false 
information now is having an opposite effect. Military censorship isn't 
helping. Today the "Ministry of Truth" is working at maximum capacity. Sooner 
or later the money will run out — both for the war and for propaganda (lies 
are more expensive than cannons). When the winter fog lifts in the mountains 
of Chechnya and the snow melts from Moscow political circles, they'll find 
that virtual victory can't hide real defeat. But a military failure will turn 
into a propaganda catastrophe. Say what you will, the sword is more powerful 
than the pen — even the most poisonous.


Leading Russian liberal says Putin is no democrat

MOSCOW, March 22 (Reuters) - Grigory Yavlinsky, the leading liberal candidate 
in Russia's upcoming presidential election, said on Wednesday that 
front-runner Acting President Vladimir Putin was a ``secret Communist'' and a 
danger to democracy. 

Yavlinsky, leader of the liberal Yabloko party, lags way behind Putin in a 
new opinion poll, which indicated a possible first-round victory in Sunday's 
election for the former KGB spy. Yavlinsky was predicted to get around 5 
percent of the vote. 

``Yes, I think Putin is dangerous for Russia's democracy. That's why I'm a 
candidate,'' Yavlinsky told a news conference, adding he welcomed the 
decision of outsider Yevgeny Savostyanov to drop out of the race in his 

Yavlinsky said Savostyanov's decision, announced on Tuesday, was the first 
significant step towards building a ``broad social democratic right-wing 
coalition'' which could act as Russia's democratic voice. 

He said Putin was indistinguishable from the number two in the race for 
president, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, who polls indicate could win 
about 25 percent of the vote. 

``There's no difference between Zyuganov and Putin. Zyuganov simply likes a 
red flag and Putin doesn't care about that,'' Yavlinsky said. 

Yavlinsky pointed at Putin's past as a KGB spy and his prosecution of the 
bloody war in Chechnya to support his point of view. But Putin has shrugged 
off similar criticism and has pledged to uphold democracy if elected. 


Observers to Be Briefed Before Going to Constituencies. 

MOSCOW, March 22 (Itar-Tass) - Foreign observers to the forthcoming 
presidential elections in Russia on March 26 will be thoroughly briefed at a 
special closed-door meeting before they get their assignments, the head of 
the mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, 
Eduard Brunner, said. 

He told Itar-Tass on Wednesday that organisational issues will be discussed 
among other things at this meeting. Observers should know what to do, where 
to go and what to check. Since they arrive from different parts of the world, 
they need to have a full picture of events in Russia, he said. 

Parliamentarians who will also monitor elections in Russia will be briefed 
separately. They are experienced politicians and when they arrive several 
days before elections, they are interested more in the political mood in the 
country rather than in the every-day work of observers, Brunner explained. 

Informed sources told Itar-Tass that observers will be briefed on the rules 
of behavior and methodology of monitoring on election day, on the political 
and social climate in the country before elections by using information 
collected by long-term observers. 

In addition, observers will be told about the possibilities provided by 
Russian legislation and its application, the voting and vote-counting 
procedures. They will get plans of deployment and assignments, and will be 
briefed on security issues and on how to respond to press reports. 

Observers will get booklets with general information about the country, 
including emergency telephone numbers and a map of all constituencies. 


From: "Kitty Dolan" <>
Subject: re:Russian constitutional reform
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 

The question of revising Russia's constitution is an interesting one, as are
Donald Jensen's comments (JRL # 4186 ). However, one has to question
whether amending the constitution in and of itself is sufficient to bring
about the results Jensen and others hope for. After all, as Judge Learned
Hand once said, for a constitution to be effective it must be written in the
hearts of the people as well. Can some readers of JRL point to any
initiatives that have been taken to bring that part of the equation into
play? I have in mind basically civic education in the schools. What, if
anything, is happening in that area, and with what results? As to the
general feasibility of reforming a constitution of a corrupt state, I offer
a rather lengthy quotation by Machiavelli (from The Discourses, Ch. 18)
whose analysis of the feasibility of changing a state's constitution and
attaining or maintaining a democracy seems in many ways applicable to
today's Russia:

"I believe it will not be amiss to consider whether in a state that has
become corrupt a free government that has existed there can be maintained;
or if there has been none before, whether one could be established there.
Upon this subject I must say that either one of them would be exceedingly
difficult. And although it is impossible to give any definite rules for such
a case, (as it will be necessary to proceed according to the different
degrees of corruption,) yet, as it is well to reason upon all subjects, I
will not leave this problem without discussing it. I will suppose a state to
be corrupt to the last degree, so as to present the subject in its most
difficult aspect, there being no laws nor institutions that suffice to check
a general corruption. For as good habits of the people require good laws to
support them, so laws, to be observed, need good habits on the part of the
people. Besides, the constitution and laws established in a republic at its
very origin, when men were still pure, no longer suit when men have become
corrupt and bad. And although the laws may be changed according to
circumstances and events, yet is it seldom or never that the constitution
itself is changed; and for this reason the new laws do not suffice, for they
are not in harmony with the constitution, that has remained intact. To make
this matter better understood, I will explain how the government of Rome was
constituted and what the nature of the laws was.

"And the truth that the original institutions were no longer suitable to a
corrupt state is clearly seen in these two main points -- the creation of
the magistrates, and the forms used in making the laws. As regards the
first, the Roman people bestowed the consulate and the other principal
offices only on such as asked for them. This system was very good in the
beginning, because only such citizens asked for these places as deemed
themselves worthy of them, and a refusal was regarded as ignominious; so
that every one strove to make himself esteemed worthy of the honor. But when
the city had become corrupt, this system became the most pernicious; for it
was no longer the most virtuous and deserving, but the most powerful, that
asked for the magistratures; and the less powerful, often the most
meritorious, abstained from being candidates from fear.

"Now as to the mode of making the laws. At first a Tribune or any other
citizen had the right to propose any law, and every citizen could speak in
favor of against it before its final adoption. This system was very good so
long as the citizens were uncorrupted, for it is always well in a state that
every one may propose what he deems for the public good; and it was equally
well that every one should be allowed to express his opinion in relation to
it, so that the people, having heard both sides, may decide in favor of the
best. But when the citizens had become corrupt, this system became the worst
for then only the powerful proposed laws, not for the common good and the
liberty of all, but for the increase of their own power, and fear restrained
all the others from speaking against such laws; and thus the people were by
force and fraud make to resolve upon their own ruin.

"It was necessary therefore, if Rome wished to preserve her liberty in the
midst of this corruption, that she should have modified her constitution, in
like manner as in the progress of her existence she had made new laws; for
institutions and forms should be adapted to the subject, whether it be good
or evil, inasmuch as the same form cannot suit two subjects that are
essentially different. But as the constitution of a state, when once it has
been discovered to be no longer suitable, should be amended, either all at
once, or by degrees as each defect becomes known, I say that both of these
courses are equally impossible. For a gradual modification requires to be
the work of some wise man, who has seen the evil from afar in its very
beginning; but it is very likely that such a man may never rise up in the
state, and even if he did he will hardly be able to persuade the others to
what he proposes; for men accustomed to live after one fashion do not like
to change, and the less so as they do not see the evil staring them in the
face, but presented to them as a mere conjecture.

"As to reforming these institutions all at once, when their defects have
become manifest to everybody, that also is most difficult; for to do this
ordinary means will not suffice; they may even be injurious under such
circumstances, and therefore it becomes necessary to resort to extraordinary
measures, such as violence and arms, and above all things to make one's self
absolute master of the state, so as to be able to dispose of it at will. And
as the reformation of the political condition of a state presupposes a good
man, whilst the making of himself prince of a republic by violence naturally
presupposes a bad one, it will consequently be exceedingly rare that a good
man should be found willing to employ wicked means to become prince, even
though his final object be good; or that a bad man, after having become
prince, should be willing to labor for good ends, and that it should enter
his mind to use for good purposes that authority which he has acquired by
evil means. From these combined causes arises the difficulty or
impossibility of maintaining liberty in a republic that has become corrupt,
or to establish it there anew. And if it has to be introduced and
maintained, then it will be necessary to reduce the state to a monarchical,
rather than a republican from of government; for men whose turbulence could
not be controlled by the simple force of law can be controlled in a measure
only by an almost regal power. And to attempt to restore men to good conduct
by any other means would be either a most cruel or an impossible

Submitted by Kitty Dolan
American Institute of Business and Economics


ANALYSIS-Putin talks up industry but depends on oil
By Sebastian Alison

MOSCOW, March 22 (Reuters) - Russian Acting President Vladimir Putin has kept 
busy ahead of Sunday's presidential election, reviewing the crown jewels of 
Russian industry. 

He has flown to war-torn Chechnya in a Sukhoi-27 jet fighter which he 
described as ``beautiful.'' He has ridden a shiny new suburban electric train 
to Moscow. 

On Tuesday he dropped in on weapons plants in Nizhny Novgorod east of Moscow, 
and was present later in the day when Russian carmaker GAZ GAZA.RTS signed a 
deal with Italy's Fiat to produce cars jointly in the town. 

He has talked up Russian industry and said the country needs annual economic 
growth of ``seven to eight, or better 10 percent'' to prevent it from lagging 
further behind the West. 

His message, aired at length on pro-Putin news channels, is simple: Russia is 
a great industrial power which can get back on its feet through its own 


The problem for Putin and for Russia is that, although the country produces a 
handful of internationally sought-after manufactured goods, most of its 
revenues owe nothing at all to industry or to the skills and talents of the 
Russian people. 

On the contrary, Russia's wealth comes from nature. It is rich in oil, gas, 
minerals, metals and timber -- the source of 75 percent of the country's hard 
currency export earnings. 

While Putin may talk of boosting growth, Russia's economic status, as with 
all countries so heavily dependent on globally traded commodities, is, at 
least for now, determined elsewhere. 

As if the Acting President needed reminding of this, the price of oil, 
Russia's most important hard currency earner, has tumbled by $6.50 per barrel 
in just a few days. 

After hitting a nine-year high of $31.95 per barrel, benchmark Brent crude 
futures, against which Russia's export blend crude is priced, were trading at 
$25.40 per barrel on Wednesday -- a 20 percent fall in two weeks. 

The reason? The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries -- by 
chance holding its next summit the day after Russia's presidential election 
-- is expected to raise output. 

Prices may fall further and Russia can do nothing about it. 

Russia exports around 850 million barrels of crude per year, so a dollar off 
the price means $850 million in lost revenues. This year's high prices have 
provided a welcome windfall but the price slide in the last two weeks alone 
works out at a notional $5.5 billion lost over a year. 

True, Fuel and Energy Minister Viktor Kalyuzhny said recently that Russia 
would cut its own oil exports to counter the effect of any OPEC increase and 
help keep prices up. 

But Russian energy ministers have made similar noises before. By and large 
the market ignores them, knowing full well that Russia simply cannot afford 
to do anything except export to the maximum. Russia is a price taker, not a 
price setter. 


Analyst Ruslan Nickolov of Nomura International in London thinks Putin is 
serious about restructuring the economy by developing other selected sectors, 
and this could cut dependence on raw materials -- if he can tackle 
bureaucracy and corruption. 

``The essential question is the corruptibility of the government and its 
institutions. If Putin does not address that issue if and when he is elected, 
the chances of Russia becoming just a raw materials appendix to the world 
economy will proportionately increase.'' 

If Putin can reform bureaucracy, the legal system and the structure of the 
economy, Nickolov sees Russia's intellectual potential, experience and 
know-how allowing the economy to diversify and industry to grow relatively 

But even so he expects any president to depend on raw materials for years 
before Russia can be considered a fully industrialised country rather than a 
commodities-based economy. 

``If the most optimistic ideas are realised then perhaps within the next 10 
years Russia will move away from its overdependence on the energy sector. 
Otherwise it may never really happen.'' 


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