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Johnson's Russia List
4 April 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-TAss: PRIVATE PLOTS SUPPLY OVER 50 PER CENT OF FOOD IN
RUSSIA - SURVEY.
2. BBC MONITORING: RUSSIA HIGHLIGHTS EXTENT OF CRIMINAL INVOLVEMENT
3. Itar-Tass: Russia Population May Decrease Considerably-MP.
4. Itar-Tass: Russian Culture Figures Outraged at Anti-Russia Campaign.
5. Reuters: Russia's economy seen booming in Q1; Q2 seen harder.
6. Reuters: G7 backs tightening of Russia debt flows - report.
7. Moscow Times: Jonas Bernstein, Deterrence, Oligarch-Style.
8. Reuters: Russia's military doctrine in wrong direction-NATO.
9. The Russia Journal hosts ANDREI PIONTKOVSKY forum in Moscow April 5.
10. Robert Service: Lenin Lives!
11. Los Angeles Times: Mayerbek Nunayev and Robyn Dixon,
Fatigue Thins Chechen Rebels' Ranks.
12. VOA: Peter Heinlein on media and election.
13. Rossiiskaya Gazeta: Excerpts from the book "In the First
Person. Conversations With Vladimir Putin" I BELIEVE THE STATE
14. ASN CONVENTION/FINAL PROGRAM NOW ON THE WEB.]
PRIVATE PLOTS SUPPLY OVER 50 PER CENT OF FOOD IN RUSSIA - SURVEY
Moscow, 3rd April, ITAR-TASS correspondent Aleksey Filatov: Private
subsidiary plots and garden allotments account for more than 50 per cent of
food consumption in Russia, according to the results of a survey carried out
in January among managers and specialists in the rural sector by the Centre
for Economic Conditions under the Russian government and the Federal Agency
for Government Communications and Information. The results of the survey
reached ITAR-TASS today.
The overwhelming majority of those surveyed (79 per cent) noted an increase
in consumer demand for agricultural raw produce and domestically produced
food products, and more than 45 per cent pointed to an improvement in the
quality of domestically produced meat, meat products and bread products.
Moreover, 42 per cent drew attention to a decline in trade security for
producers at large and small wholesale food markets.
Many of those surveyed (84 per cent) noted a faster rate of increase in
prices for food products compared with the growth in people's incomes, and
nearly half believe that the state has relaxed control over observation of
maximum mark-ups for staple food products. Also, 23 per cent pointed to other
trends: an increase in demand for locally produced food products, a wider
choice, an improvement in the marketing and quality of food products, an
abundance of food products alongside low purchasing power among the
population and an increase in the consumption of cheap food products, the
ousting of local producers from food markets and their capture by second-hand
dealers, and a decline in food supply security in the regions.
A total of 1,522 managers and specialists in the rural sector from 38 regions
took part in the survey.
RUSSIA HIGHLIGHTS EXTENT OF CRIMINAL INVOLVEMENT IN ECONOMY
Text of report by Russian Public TV on 3rd April
[Presenter] Russian criminals control more than 40,000 enterprises in this
country. More than 500 organized crime groups, made up of at least 4,000
active members, operate within the economic sphere. These figures were
reported to the RIA-Novosti news agency today at the Prosecutor-General's
Office's scientific research institute into the problems of strengthening
legality and enhancing law and order.
It was noted that nowadays organized crime does not strive only to gain
control of existing enterprises and banks but sets up commercial and lending
structures of its own. More than 2,000 firms and 700 banks actively receive
and launder money that has been earned by criminal means.
Russia Population May Decrease Considerably-MP
MOSCOW, April 3 (Itar-Tass) - Russia's population may decrease by 29 million
to 121 million people by the year 2050, Svetlana Goryacheva, Chairwoman of
the State Duma's Committee for Women, Family and Youth Affairs, told a press
conference on Monday.
The demographic situation is very serious, Goryacheva said, noting that it is
particularly typical of Russian rural regions. The number of old people is
much more than the number of the youth in 25 Russian regions.
Besides, the number of marriages has decreased by half in the country, with
half of the marriages ending in a divorce.
The situation is caused, in particular, by the low level of life and poor
possibilities to find a job for young specialists, Goryacheva believes.
In this connection, the committee headed by Goryacheva plans to initiate a
number of bills aimed to facilitate granting of housing subsidies for young
families, employment and entrepreneurship for the young.
Russian Culture Figures Outraged at Anti-Russia Campaign.
MOSCOW, April 3 (Itar-Tass) - Prominent domestic culture and science figures
are indignant over the anti-Russian campaign involving some Western
The campaign linked with the developments in Chechnya is openly of a biased
nature, believe the participants of a press conference that was held in
Moscow on Monday.
At the press conference, the speakers presented their address to Russian and
foreign mass media. They noted that the West seriously discussed imposing
sanctions against Russia, international embargo on trade with the country and
suspending Russia's membership in some international organisations.
Russian scientists, actors, writers and artists are particularly distressed
by the fact that their respected Western colleagues are also involved in the
Nikita Mikhalkov, Chairman of the Russian Union of Cinematographers, told the
press conference that it was a rather alarming sign, and it could be viewed
as nothing but an attempt to shift the problem from the political sphere to
the field of mass consciousness and thus to start forming a new "image of an
According to Mikhalkov, it is "peremptory and limitless interference into our
His viewpoint was shared by Russian Art Academy President and pianist Nikolai
Petrov, Russian Academy of Sciences Vice-President Nikolai Laverov, and
singer and composer Alexander Gradsky. Speaking at the press conference, they
noted that Russia's citizens had clearly expressed their will by electing
Vladimir Putin new president, the man who has assumed responsibility for the
operation in Chechnya. The speakers called for taking the will into
Russia's economy seen booming in Q1;Q2 seen harder
By Julie Tolkacheva
MOSCOW, April 3 (Reuters) - Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail
Kasyanov on Monday painted a glittering picture of the country's economic
performance in the first quarter but said foreign debt payments would cloud
the second quarter.
Strong revenues led to a first quarter budget surplus of 0.7 percent of gross
domestic product, he told a news conference.
``A stronger level of macroeconomic stabilisation was reached in the first
quarter, stabilisation which is a necessary precondition for sustainable
economic growth,'' he said.
First quarter revenues were 218 billion roubles ($7.5 billion), or 17.7
percent of GDP. Spending was 210 billion roubles, or 17.0 percent of GDP,
preliminary results indicated.
Kasyanov, widely tipped as a candidate for Prime Minister in President-elect
Vladimir Putin's cabinet, said the primary surplus, calculated before debt
servicing costs, was 3.5 percent of GDP, also more than expected.
``The positive tendency which began last year strengthened in the first
quarter,'' he said. ``The wave of inflation is over.''
Consumer price inflation was 0.6 percent in March after one percent in
February and hit 4.1 percent in the first quarter.
Kasyanov also referred to a survey of industry managers' expectations showing
strong positive growth. ``The results give us grounds to expect wider
business activity which is one of the factors of economic growth,'' Kasyanov
He said the second quarter would be more difficult primarily because of
higher foreign debt payments, which would include payments to the Paris and
London Clubs, and long May holidays.
He said Russia was due to repay $3.1 billion in foreign debt in the second
quarter after $2.4 billion in the first quarter. April payments would be $1.0
billion, rising to $1.25 billion in May and falling to $0.85 billion in June,
But the government expected a budget surplus in April and possibly in May as
well and would try to abstain from borrowing from the central bank, like it
did in the first quarter.
``May will be the most difficult month. We are taking all necessary measures
to achieve a surplus,'' Kasyanov said.
He also said IMF Acting Managing Director Stanley Fischer, who is coming to
Moscow on Wednesday, would hold preliminary dicussions on the country's
programme for 2000 and beyond. Fischer may also meet Putin, he said.
But Kasyanov said even the encouraging economic performance would not bring
Russia an upgrade of credit ratings before it closes a restructuring deal
with the London Club of private creditors, expected in the second quarter.
``Everything which is going on today, including the closure of the deal, is a
reason for an improved rating, but a serious ratings change will only happen
when there are results of structural changes,'' he said.
Russia's current international credit rating is selective default.
($ - 28.78 roubles)
G7 backs tightening of Russia debt flows - report
BERLIN, April 3 (Reuters) - The Group of Seven (G7) major industrial nations
want to reduce the amount of international loans made to Russia amid
persistent evidence that the cash was being misused, a newspaper reported on
Citing a G7 draft paper, the Financial Times Deutschland said the
International Monetary Fund and World Bank would in addition be urged to
impose strict conditions on future loans.
``Net transfers of fund resources to Russia must in the mid-term be
reduced,'' it quoted the draft as saying.
It said the move towards a tighter credit policy was based on repeated
evidence that international loans to Russia were misappropriated by the
business elite there.
It said finance ministers from the G7 nations -- the United States, Japan,
Germany, France, Italy, Britain and Canada -- decided to consider a tighter
credit policy towards Russia at a meeting in January and that the move could
be agreed at the forthcoming G7 talks in Washington.
No one was immediately available at the German Finance Ministry to comment on
April 1, 2000
PARTY LINES: Deterrence, Oligarch-Style
By Jonas Bernstein
So here we are, six days into the post-Yeltsin era. While the outcome of the
March 26 election was no big surprise, it was a historic watershed, a
sea-change in Russian politics, etcetera.
Or so we are told. Why, then, do things feel ... well, the same?
There have been, of course, ominous noises emanating from the Kremlin about
the oligarchs' days being numbered, the state preparing to lay down the law
and so on. Vladislav Surkov, deputy Kremlin chief of staff, even compared
Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky this week to "bacteria" living inside
a decaying body, hinting they would be the first tycoons to be booted out of
the corridors of power.
Pretty scary stuff. Yet at least one member of that oligarchical duo - it's
not hard to guess who - is not acting like a man facing imminent eradication.
Shortly before election day, for example, Berezovsky displayed his
magnanimous side in an interview with the newspaper Vedomosti, saying that
Vladimir Putin, once elected, should be allowed to make his own mistakes - as
a learning experience. The tycoon added that Putin's talk about eradicating
the oligarchs, while "normal" and "absolutely right," was no more than grist
for the electorate. This week, Berezovsky's Nezavisimaya Gazeta published a
front-page analysis proclaiming the oligarchs a spent force and even urging
Putin to reassert state control over ORT Public Television, which is
generally thought to be under Berezovsky's control. One could almost see the
Berezovsky is not coy when he is in real trouble. Just recall Yevgeny
Primakov's tenure as prime minister, when Berezovsky had to flee abroad ahead
of an arrest warrant. The tycoon and his media screamed about how Primakov
and the Communists were plotting to restore the old system. This was
hyperbolic nonsense, of course, but a clear sign that Berezovsky was in
trouble. Today, Berezovsky merely says: Sure, Putin might jail me. Meanwhile,
the tycoon sits calmly in Moscow.
It seems clear that Berezovsky is not relying only on parliamentary immunity
to protect him. Take this week's interview in Kommersant, another Berezovsky
property, with a Swiss prosecutor who has been investigating the alleged
laundering of bribes from a Swiss construction-engineering firm to Kremlin
officials. In connection with that probe, the Swiss authorities earlier this
year issued an arrest warrant for Pavel Borodin, the former head of the
Kremlin's "property management" department, for money laundering. The
investigator told Kommersant that it is "more than possible" that the Swiss
authorities will bring charges against other Russian officials.
Who used to work as Borodin's deputy? And who recommended Borodin for the
post of Russia-Belarus union state secretary? Putin, of course.
While it's only a theory, a possible reason why the post-Yeltsin era looks
and will continue to look very much like the Yeltsin era, is that kompromat -
compromising materials - has created a "balance of terror" among the
oligarchs and other key power-brokers in Russian politics. If they all have
reams of lethal dirt on one another, to be made public should something
untoward happen to them - a kind of doomsday device - then it would be
irrational to go nuclear. The result is deterrence. This does not, however,
preclude low-level skirmishes, the functional equivalent of proxy wars,
between the oligarchs through their respective media. In fact, the system is
characterized by perpetual low-level warfare under overall strategic
But the system's potential Achilles' heel is the masses. So with the elite
now "consolidated," the next step, as Berezovsky told Vedomosti, is to
"consolidate society." This requires a unifying myth. The Chechen war was the
first step in its creation, and it is interesting in this regard to note how
Berezovsky, in his interview, stressed the need to "renew" the Orthodox
The reason why the state is increasing its pressure on some media, including
Gusinsky's Media-MOST, is that they refuse to return to myth-making.
Many Western observers seem to assume that there only three possible routes
for Russia: toward democracy, corrupt oligarchy or centralized dictatorship.
Yet it has been a blend of all three for the last decade or more - without,
of course, any rule of law whatsoever. There is no reason why this pattern
will not continue, perhaps with the authoritarian element becoming ascendant,
as in South Korea under military rule or Serbia today.
Which is why Media-MOST better be packing its own doomsday device.
Russia's military doctrine in wrong direction-NATO
VILNIUS, April 3 (Reuters) - Russia's new military doctrine, approved in
February but as yet unsigned by President Vladimir Putin, is a step in the
wrong direction regarding ties with the West, NATO's European commander said
``This new strategy represents a turning away from the previous policy of
increased openness and cooperation with the West, which the Russian military
put in place in the early 1990s,'' Wesley Clark, NATO Supreme Commander,
Europe, said in a speech in Lithuania, a former Soviet republic.
In February the Kremlin's Security Council approved a new military doctrine
-- meant to replace a 1993 version -- which is intended to spell out Russia's
Though it has not been published, officials have said the doctrine recognises
Russia can no longer ward off a conventional NATO attack without using
The draft was approved during Putin's three months as acting president -- but
before his election and before Russia resumed formal ties with the Western
alliance that had been damaged by the Kosovo conflict.
The final version was expected to be signed by him within two months.
``I am a little bit concerned by the (way) that this Russian doctrine views
the world,'' he said, adding it emphasised Russia's need to protect its own
interests rather than cooperation.
Clark said ``a revision of this doctrine to restore to a more prominent place
the policy of increased cooperation and welcomeness would be welcome.''
NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson said in October that the alliance was
concerned by its confrontational tone.
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000 1
From: Sandeep Goel <email@example.com>
Subject: ANDREI PIONTKOVSKY forum
The Russia Journal is hosting a forum with Russia's leading political
scientist Andrei Piontkovsky on..
"RUSSIA - THE NEW PRESIDENT AND FOREIGN BUSINESS"
The forum will try to analyse the effect of the recently concluded
Presidential elections on business in Russia - especially foreign
businesses; who are the people that will run the country for the next 4
years?; what are their political, ideological and economic views?; what will
be their policy towards foreign business and investments?.. and many more
questions about post-election Russia.
Dr. ANDREI PIONTKOVSKY (Ph. D) is one of Russia's most celebrated columnists
and political commentators. He was invited to speak at the World Economic
Forum in Davos Switzerland and various other important forums. He has been
as associate of the Soviet Union's Academy of Sciences, Cambridge
University's Emmanuel College. A regular contributor to BBC Radio, National
Public Radio (Washington), Novaya Gazeta and Radio Liberty, he is currently
the executive director of the Strategic Studies Center's World Laboratory in
The forum will take place as follows:
VENUE: HOTEL PRESIDENT, MOSCOW (RUSSIA)
DATE: 5 APRIL, 2000
TIME: 5 PM
Those interested in attending should contact Vladimir Chuvilin at fax
7-095-959 2408 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for registration.
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000
From: Robert Service <email@example.com>
Subject: Lenin Lives!
I am grateful for Albert Weeks's comments on my article in The Guardian
newspaper and hasten to assure him that my book 'Lenin: A Biography' deals
at some length with the two matters he mentions, namely the impact of his
brother's execution on Lenin and the interfusion of narodnik-terrorist and
Marxist ideas in Leninism.
When Alexander Ulyanov was hanged for attempting to assassinate Emperor
Alexander III, young Vladimir Ulyanov (later Lenin) was as traumatised as
every other member of his family. It was this event that turned him from
being an obedient, hard-working gimnazia student into a supporter of the
narodnik-terrorists; it also led him to start his lifelong study of
Marxism. On a more personal level the execution changed the balance of
relationships in the Ulyanov family. From 1887 Vladimir was the uncontested
golden boy, to whom all the others - with the partial exception of his
younger brother Dmitri - deferred. This had a large effect upon his ability
in later years to sustain revolutionary activity even in the dispiriting
conditions of the Russian political emigration.
As to the narodnik-terrorist element in Lenin's thinking, it was there from
the start of his political career. His early organisational affiliations
were of this sort; and even when he adopted the economic and social
doctrines of Marxism, he continued to revere his old terrorist heroes such
as Tkachëv and to incorporate some of their assumptions into what became
known as Leninism. It ought to be borne in mind too that narodnik-terrorist
and Marxist doctrines were not universally thought mutually exclusive in
the 1880s at least in the Russian Empire.
Of equal interest to the readers of Johnson's List, moreover, is the
ideological legacy of Leninism in post-communist Russia. Perhaps Putin
carries the bacillus more deeply nowadays than Zyuganov and the prime
doctrinaires of the Russian Communist Party
Robert Service (St Antony's, Oxford)
Los Angeles Times
April 3, 2000
[for personal use only]
Fatigue Thins Chechen Rebels' Ranks
By MAYERBEK NUNAYEV, ROBYN DIXON, Special to The Times
URUS-MARTAN, Russia--Said Adiyev is a 24-year-old Chechen from one of
the toughest guerrilla warrior forces in the world, yet with some mighty
battles behind him, he has run out of places to take refuge from a vast and
Exhausted and weak, he has put down his weapon and does not want to
Adiyev's is a story of desperation: In February, he spent weeks
wandering with other rebels in the mountains of southern Chechnya, freezing,
sick and half-starved, living on wild garlic grass, running low on ammunition
Dogged by Russian bombers, the men saw their situation grow so dire
that, by early March, they abandoned the mountains and descended to the
village of Komsomolskoye, 15 miles south of the Chechen capital, Grozny.
But from there, escaping through the Russian lines, across heavily mined
terrain, was even more hellish, Adiyev said in an interview in this Chechen
town last week.
For the rebels, who are fighting to make their republic an independent
state, the battle cry in the war against the Russians has been to fight until
the last drop of their own blood is spilled. And as the war pounds on in
southern Chechnya, they are having to face the grim choices those words
Many are fighting on, or are merging into the civilian population, to
rest and fight another day.
Others have made good their pledge to fight until the end--like a few of
the 1,500 rebels trapped in Komsomolskoye last month. Concealing grenades,
they walked across to the Russian side in feigned surrender, then blew
themselves up in one last effort to kill a few more of their enemies.
But, while Russia mourns the deaths of 37 elite Interior Ministry
servicemen killed in a rebel ambush last week, the war also has taken a heavy
toll on the Chechen fighters. And some, like Adiyev, have had enough.
With 80,000 Russian troops pitted against a few thousand rebels, the
fighters have been forced to break into smaller groups, fleeing from the
plains to the southern mountains, then in desperation back to the plains
For Adiyev and his unit, the war began well. After Russian ground troops
entered Chechnya in late September, the guerrillas let the Russians swoop
into the republic's northern territory while they fortified their capital and
resisted in the southern and eastern villages. Even as Grozny came under
ferocious Russian attack in January, morale was high.
"We knew the city like the back of our hands and killed inexperienced
[Russian] soldiers like grouse on their mating ground," Adiyev said.
When the rebels finally decided to retreat from Grozny in early
February, he was part of a column of between 3,000 and 4,000 guerrillas who
marched into the hills, losing a few hundred fighters in minefields. Six
times during the hurried retreat, he recalled, they also walked right into
Russian lines and had to fight their way out, leaving even more dead warriors
"But we learned the most shocking news only when we got to the
mountains," he said. "There were no food and ammunition bases there. All of
them had been found and destroyed by the Russian aviation. It meant the end
for us, and all of our plans and hopes crashed. There was nothing left in the
mountains but bare rocks and snow.
"All of us were physically exhausted," Adiyev continued. "We had a lot
of wounded and frostbitten men among us. We were starving and some of us were
on the verge of breakdown."
Trapped on a peak and pounded by Russian bombers, the rebels decided to
move once again to the plains. About 1,500 men under commanders Arbi Barayev
and Ruslan Gelayev entered Komsomolskoye beginning March 5. But as they tried
to prepare their defense, they found the village was bare.
"The thing that shocked us most of all was the fact we could not find
any gardening tools around--no spades, no shovels, no axes, nothing.
Everything had been plundered and taken away. We could not even dig in and
fortify our positions. We managed to find only five rusty spades in the whole
village," Adiyev said.
"The Russians had no mercy. They hurled everything at us. We tried to
hide, but there were not very many places in town where we could find decent
shelter. And we did not have enough ammunition to fire back," he said.
The battle of Komsomolskoye began March 7 and raged for two weeks as the
Russians bombed and shelled the settlement house by house. Rebel casualties
were high, including 50 wounded fighters killed in a direct hit on the
basement where they were sheltering.
The rebel commanders ordered their men to split into small groups of
about 10 each to try to fight their way out. But the escape routes were
"I am the only one who survived in my group of nine people," Adiyev
said. "The rest were killed by Russian booby traps."
Interviewed in the village of Lermontovo last week, another veteran of
the Komsomolskoye fighting, 28-year-old Taus Kirimov, said the rebels, armed
mainly with Kalashnikov automatic rifles, were vastly outgunned.
"There were a lot of people who were suffering from severe festering
shrapnel wounds, a lot of people with blown-off limbs. It was cold, and all
of us were starving," Kirimov said.
Some of the wounded wanted to surrender to Chechen militiamen fighting
on Moscow's side, but the Russians insisted that the fighters surrender to
"After that, our fighters did not have any choice but to take hand
grenades, pull the pins out, walk up to the Russians as if surrendering and
blow themselves and the invaders up," Kirimov said. After several such cases,
he said, the Russians refused to accept any more surrendering Chechens.
Kirimov decided that his only chance of escape was to travel alone at
night. He crept along a river that bisects Komsomolskoye, cutting reeds and
floating them downstream.
"There were booby traps everywhere," he said, "and wherever a reed got
stuck, I knew there was an obstacle, most likely a booby trap. I was extra
careful in those places, skirting them or stepping over them. That's what
saved my life."
By dawn, sick, hungry and emaciated, he had reached the next village,
Alone, Kirimov posed little threat to the civilians he encountered. But
earlier, in Komsomolskoye--a settlement of 5,000 people--the rebels' arrival
was bad news for the residents. When the first fighting broke out soon
afterward, the population began to flee northward.
"We had no illusions about what the federals [Russian forces] would do
if they knew the village was occupied by Chechen fighters," said Rukman
Aliyev, 48, a resident of Komsomolskoye who was interviewed last week in a
The column of refugees was stalled at a checkpoint on the road north for
four days, from March 8 to March 12. The Russian forces said women and males
younger than 10 or older than 60 could leave, while the rest had to stay--but
the women refused to go without their husbands.
On the first day, Russian officers at the checkpoint gave the refugees
an hour's grace to return to the village and collect their belongings before
aerial attacks started, Aliyev said.
"Everybody rushed back into the village. But hardly 20 minutes had
passed when the bombing began," he said.
Uvais Pashayev, 65, waited at the checkpoint while his wife, brother and
granddaughter returned to retrieve the family possessions.
"They were killed by Russian bombs; what else can I say? It is difficult
for me to talk about it," he said.
Pashayev saw the bodies when he returned during a lull in the bombing.
Unable to bury the corpses, he pulled two mattresses over them and left.
"I have no house, no family, no documents. My will is paralyzed. I am
alive, physically, but my heart and soul are dead," he said.
Khazim Tunsoyev, 52, was among the refugees who waited in heavy rain in
a muddy field near the checkpoint for four days, collecting rainwater to
drink. There was almost no food, he said, and refugees could only watch as
Russian forces hauled truckloads of booty out of the village.
Turpal Khasayev, 41, another of the refugees--interviewed last week in
Urus-Martan--said the four-day standoff at the Komsomolskoye checkpoint ended
only when pro-Kremlin militiamen, some themselves residents of the village,
aimed their weapons at the Russian soldiers and told the refugees they could
"The Russians knew our police would shoot to kill if they displayed any
violence toward us," he said.
Special correspondent Nunayev reported from Urus-Martan and staff writer
Dixon from Moscow.
Voice of America
TITLE=RUSSIA ELECT / MEDIA
INTRO: The conduct of Russia's media during the
recent presidential election campaign has raised
questions about just how free the country's press is.
International observers gave a relatively positive
verdict on the election. But as V-O-A Correspondent
Peter Heinlein reports from Moscow, some media critics
and watchdog groups say press freedom is at its lowest
point since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
TEXT: When Vladimir Putin was asked during a pre-
election interview to outline his plans for Russia, he
bluntly told a reporter, "I won't tell you." In most
countries, such a remark would have provoked outrage.
But not in Russia.
Here, the state-run television channels that most
Russians rely on as their only source of news
completely ignored the remark. Media researcher Igor
Galin, who studied the campaign coverage, says only
positive images of Mr. Putin dominated the airwaves.
/// GALIN ACT ///
We have a situation where about 50 percent of news
coverage was about Putin and what he did during the
campaign. Not exactly about him campaigning, but about
his being acting president. /// END ACT ///
Media watcher Alexei Pankin, publisher of a weekly
journalism review, says even the independent N-T-V
channel, which favored liberal economist Grigory
Yavlinsky, was careful not to offend Mr. Putin,
knowing he was certain to win, and as president would hold
vast power it.
/// PANKIN ACT ONE ///
N-T-V was playing funny games at the same time, trying
to look critical as not to antagonize Putin strongly
enough that he demands they pay their unpaid debts.
/// END ACT ///
Mr. Pankin says the Russian press is extremely
vulnerable to government pressure. This is because few
media organizations pay taxes, knowing that
authorities usually look the other way (ignore the
violations). But Mr. Pankin says independent
newspaper publishers and broadcasters know that if
they offend local bureaucrats, they might suddenly
find the tax collector at the door.
/// PANKIN ACT TWO ///
Basically, it's their own corruptness above all. If
you're not paying what you owe, if your transactions
are mostly in black cash, you are extremely
vulnerable. The media loves to be fed by the state,
and then to call itself independent.
/// END ACT ///
Those newspaper publishers who choose to remain
completely independent find themselves facing fierce
competition from well-financed state-run publications.
Eventually, most find themselves with a stark choice:
either accept government subsidies, and the state
control that goes with them, or go bankrupt.
/// OPT /// Yefim Shusterman is one exception.
His independent weekly paper in the southern city of
Volgograd, known as "Inter", has nearly twice the
circulation of the largest state-run daily. His
business is surviving, though he says it is a day-to-
day struggle. He adds, however, that hard times
(financial difficulties) have forced most of his
colleagues to sacrifice their principles.
/// OPT // SHUSTERMAN ACT - IN RUSSIAN
- FADE UNDER TRANSLATION ///
The authorities know perfectly well that
hardships these days make the press become
prostitutes, to submit to the governor. Those who have
little conscience have given in to him already.
/// END ACT // END OPT ///
Media watcher Robert Coalson of the U-S government-
funded National Press Institute says that by
controlling the regional press and the main national
television channels, Russian authorities maintain firm
control over public opinion.
/// COALSON ACT ONE ///
It's not an accident that the state has kept tight
control over papers and less control over (regional)
TV because the combination of nationally controlled TV
and locally controlled papers is such an effective way
of manipulating public opinion.
/// END ACT ///
/// opt /// Mr. Coalson points out that the
government has another weapon that effectively
silences all election campaign coverage in the influential
/// OPT COALSON ACT TWO ///
The election law is written is such a way basically
that any material about any candidate or any party
could be considered some sort of agitation. Or some
sort of libel. And most papers are in such a
vulnerable position that they didn't participate at all.
/// END ACT // END OPT ///
Mr. Coalson says a review of regional papers in the
week before the presidential vote revealed that most
of them had no election coverage whatsoever. He
lashes out at international observer groups which
effectively gave the election, and Russian democracy,
a stamp of approval.
/// COALSON ACT THREE ///
The idea that democracy is flourishing is a
misconception. The fact is even in the Soviet Union
they had elections and people voted and it wasn't a
democracy and they fact they have election now is not
a sign it has democracy. An election process without
the active and informed participation of the electorate
is just a sham.
/// END ACT ///
Several observers say another disturbing sign is the
number of incumbents who win with overwhelming
majorities, even in regions where anti-government
sentiments run high. One example is the northern
Murmansk region, where the governor was re-elected
last month with 98 percent of the votes.
So while Europe's main security organization, the O-S-
C-E, gave the election its preliminary approval,
several independent analysts have concluded the vote
was a farce, and question whether it may have done
more harm than good to the cause of democratic development in Russia.
April 1, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
Excerpts from the book
"In the First Person. Conversations With Vladimir Putin"
I BELIEVE THE STATE MUST...
The Army will Return to the Barracks
Question: Your objective in Chechnya is more or less clear:
to exterminate bandits. Do you know what you want to do in
Answer: Right. The military operation has to be completed
first. What does that mean? It means routing large bandit
formations, of a dozen terrorists plus. In parallel, the
law-enforcement agencies should be reinforced, and the bodies
of authority and management restored. Then come social
objectives--schools, hospitals. The next step is to actively
create new jobs. Lastly, stage elections.
The republic must have a Duma member of its own, elected
in an additional voting. Direct presidential rule may be
introduced depending on the situation.
Question: Direct presidential rule? For how long?
Answer: For 18-24 months. The time may be used to restore
in full all bodies of authority and management and launch other
political procedures: elect local governments and a head of the
republic, having first built an appropriate base and duly
trained people that can be relied on.
Question: Moscow's appointees? Russian? Or Chechens?
Answer: There may be options, mixed leadership included.
Possibilities are many. A decision must be made. People must be
picked according to their business qualities, rather than
Question: We have had it all, albeit in a different
form--elections, bodies of authority, and social welfare. And
then bandits won Grozny back--easy. There is no guarantee
against a repetition.
Answer: You want to know whether there is a guarantee? Let
me repeat: bandits will be exterminated. He who takes up arms,
will be annihilated. The rest we are prepared to deal with. Let
them elect the republic's head. We are ready to sign an
agreement with Chechnya. Do you know how many agreements on the
delineation of powers we have signed? Humankind has amassed a
wealth of experience of different nations coexisting in one
state. Yes, a compromise solution must be found, and we will
seek it. But nobody will ever force a decision on us.
Question: Don't we force a decision? Do you really think
there is a single Chechen who will not seek revenge for
Answer: Russia has been provoked into doing what it is
doing. Bandits have plundered their own people, Chechnya. For
three years, they have been stealing wages, pensions and
bonuses from people. The majority of people of Chechnya are now
placing the blame at the door of those who have been running
Chechnya all these years.
Question: You are trying to dictate conditions, aren't you?
Answer: Absolutely not. We are applying force to bandits,
not to people. They have been trying to dictate to Chechens a
way of life to live and even a way to pray to Allah. We will
establish order, and when the republic is tranquil and
peaceful, we will stage elections and will agree with the new
leadership on the delineation of powers between Chechnya and
the federal center, provided there is the understanding that we
will live together, no matter what.
Is there an alternative? Leave again, withdraw again and
wait till we are attacked again? Was this not a crime? We have
abandoned the common Chechens and betrayed Russia.
Question: What about the army?
Answer: The army will do its job and return to the
We Are Europeans!
Question: Chechnya is only a part of Russia. What do you
think the country needs above all? The main thing?
Answer: To clarify objectives. And to address the matter
directly. The objectives must be understandable to and
acceptable by all. Just like the code of the builder of
Question: What will you begin the new code with?
Answer: Moral values.
Question: Will you seek to devise a special way for Russia
Answer: There is no need to; everything has been devised.
It is the road of democratic development. Of course, Russia is
more than a very diversified country, but we are a part of the
West European culture. This is, in fact, our value. Wherever
our people may live--the Far East of the South--we are
Question: I wish Europe thought likewise.
Answer: We will seek to remain where we are geographically
and spiritually. Now if they try to force us out, we will have
to form alliances and get stronger. There is no other way,
Would You Turn the Plane Back?
Question: Why are our relations with NATO strained?
Answer: We do not feel ourselves equal participants in the
process. Now when we are equal participants in the
decision-making, I see no problems.
Question: The situation in Yugoslavia indicates that
decisions can be made without Russia.
Answer: Exactly. And we have no need for this kind of
Question: You were the secretary of the Russian Security
Council at the time of the events in Yugoslavia. Did the
president and the premier seek your opinion?
Answer: The president made decisions in direct contact
with the defense ministry and the foreign ministry.
Question: Would you turn the plane back over the Atlantic
if you were in Primakov's shoes?
Answer: I might. Primakov was in a very precarious
situation. True, he could reach Washington and use his visit to
voice Russia's stance. But the Americans could also use it for
their own purposes. They could interpret the Russian premier's
arrival as a sign that Russia agrees with the proposed variant
of settling the Yugoslav issue.
The method of settling problems that has been picked for
Yugoslavia, has become unavoidable after the USSR's
Question: Why resort to demarches if the weakened Russia
can do nothing at all?
Answer: Wrong. Russia can do a lot as it is. We should
have analysed the situation and identified resources of
influencing our partners' decision well in advance, before the
bombings of Yugoslavia began. We could have more actively
interacted with those countries who did not want such a turn of
They Will Be There and Then -- Where and When We Tell
Them to Be
Question: Back to Chechnya, since we have started talking
of integrating into Europe. Can you visualise a situation where
a peace-making force could be introduced in Chechnya?
Answer: Out of the question. It could if we acknowledged
Chechnya's independence. It could then invite any peace-making
force it wanted.
Question: The pledge was that Kosovo would stay in
Yugoslavia, and troops were introduced.
Answer: This is why we reject all variants the type of
Kosovo. There cannot be, nor should there be, anything
reminding the Yugoslav events. Moreover, everything the allies
have attained has proven to be contrary to the initial NATO
Question: You say: We disagree. Has anybody asked?
Answer: They offer a mediator, say, for the settlement of
the Chechen conflict. But we need no mediators there. Mediation
is the first step to internationalising a conflict. First come
mediators, followed by somebody else, observers, military
observers, a limited military contingent, etc.
Question: What about observers from, say, the OSCE?
Answer: In Chechnya? After the hostilities are over and
bandit formations are exterminated. They will be there--where
and when we allow them to be and as far as we think they are
Question: Being a part of Europe seems to be out of the
question, what with this approach.
Answer: That depends on what Europe is meant. Let's try to
clarify things. The world has changed, and so has Europe. This
is an open secret. The UN Charter was written with allowance
for a different balance of forces in the world--we were then
the main victors in the Second World War.
Alas, we have become weaker now, but the UN Charter works.
Not everybody likes this situation. They try to amend it or to
replace it with NATO decisions, for instance. There is no way
we can agree to this...
Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000 17:22:47 -0400
From: Dominique Arel <Dominique_Arel@Brown.edu>
Subject: ASN CONVENTION/FINAL PROGRAM NOW ON THE WEB
ASN CONVENTION/FINAL PROGRAM NOW ON THE WEB
5th Annual Convention of the
Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN)
"Identity and the State:
Nationalism and Sovereignty in a Changing World"
Columbia University, 13-15 April 2000
FINAL PROGRAM NOW ON THE WEB
The ASN Convention continues its impressive growth. The 5th Annual
Convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN)
will feature the unprecedented number of 101 panels, almost twice the
size of the convention two years ago, spread over eleven sessions
from Thursday April 13, 1 PM, to Saturday April 15, in the evening.
Close to 500 people will be on panels. The final program is now
available on the ASN web site: http://asn.uno.edu.
All post-Soviet areas will be covered in tremendous depth, with
twelve to fourteen panels each on the Balkans, the Russian
Federation, Ukraine, Central Asia, and Central Europe, as well as six
on the Southern Caucasus, three on the Baltics, and almost two dozens
on thematic and cross-regional themes. Special events will include
roundtables on the recent work of Jack Snyder, Misha Glenny and
Valery Tishkov, the INCORE Tip O'Neill Annual Lecture, delivered by
Fernand de Varennes on minority rights, and several panels devoted to
the recent/ongoing wars in Kosovo and Chechnya.
Panels on the Russian Federation at the convention will include:
Dagestan in Comparative Perspective
State Formation in the North Caucasus: History, Prospects, and Problems
Military Tactics and Operational Art of Yeltsin's Second Chechen War
The Russian-Chechen War(s)
State Formation in the North Caucasus: History, Prospects, and Problems
Why Do Conflicts Not Turn Violent?: The Cases of Tatarstan, Ajaria, and Crimea
Russia's Regions and Republics
Ethnicity and Regionalism in Siberia
Nationalism and Federalism in the Russian Federation
Russia In Search of Itself
Extremist Variants of Russian Nationalism
Orthodoxy, Ethnicity, and Civil Society in Russia
Conflict and Identity in Russian Foreign Policy
Nations and Empire in Russia
The Kosovo War: Perceptions, Representations, Myths
The convention is unveiling a full section devoted to new
documentaries and feature films exploring ethnonational and identity
issues in the post-Communist world. No less than five films will be
devoted to Chechnya: THE MAKING OF A NEW EMPIRE (Netherlands 1999), a
documentary on a Chechen warlord; IMMORTAL FORTRESS (US, 1999),
featuring interviews with Shamil Basayev and Salman Raduyev; THE DARK
SIDE OF THE EARTH (Czech Republic, 1999), filmed last December in
Chechnya; along with CHECKPOINT (Russia 1999) and PURGATORY (Russia,
1998), two feature films set during the first Chechnya war. The
Balkan wars will also be featured prominently with the documentaries
A CRY FROM THE GRAVE (UK, 1999), on Srebrenica; THE VALLEY (UK,
1999), on events in the Drenica Valley of Kosovo in Summer 1998; THE
AVOIDABLE WAR (USA, 1999), on misguided foreign intervention in the
former Yugoslavia; as well as a panel on The Yugoslav Wars on Film.
Other films to be shown include TRADING STORIES (US, 1999), on
Jewish property and restitution in the Czech Republic; BLACK WORD
(Slovakia, 1999), on a Roma settlement in Eastern Slovakia; and HERR
ZWILLING UND FRAU ZUCKERMANN (Austria, 1999), on an elderly couple
from Chernivtsi (Chernorwitz), in Ukraine. All screenings will be
followed by discussion with the audience.
The convention is consolidating its status as the World Annual Event
on Nationalities Studies. Over a hundred panelists will be travelling
from overseas for the event (plus an additional three dozens from
Canada). Almost forty percent of paper-givers are international
participants (and this does not include the large amount of non-US
born participants currently residing in the United States).
LOCATION. The convention will be taking place in the International
Affairs Building (IAB) of Columbia University, 420 W. 118th St.
(metro station: 116th St., on the Red Line). Registration will be on
the 6th Floor of IAB and the panels will be held on several floors.
REGISTRATION. Registration fees are $30 for ASN members, $50 for
non-members, and $15 for students. A registration form can be
downloaded from the ASN web site (http://asn.uno.edu) or requested
from our Convention Director Gordon Bardos (address below). People
who plan to attend the convention are strongly encouraged to
pre-register, since places are limited.
SCHEDULE. Registration will begin at 11 AM, Thursday April 13, on the
6th Floor of IAB. People who sent preregistered will need to pick up
their name tag and the convention program. On the Thursday, the
panels will run from 1 PM-7.30 PM. On Friday and Saturday, from 9 AM
to 6.30 PM. The convention will end on the Saturday evening, April 15.
ACCOMMODATION. The convention does not have arrangements with a
particular hotel. A list of nearby hotels can be found on the ASN web
ASN MEMBERSHIP. People can now directly join a fast growing ASN on
the convention pre-registration form. In addition to getting a
significant discount at the ASN convention, ASN members receive
annually four issues of Nationalities Papers, the field's leading
journal; six issues of the Analysis of Current Events, containing
up-to-the-minute analyses of ongoing events; and two issues of
ASNews, the association's newsletter. An annual membership costs a
remarkably low $50 annually---$30 for students.
BONUS FOR ASN MEMBERS. ASN members have also the option of
subscribing to Europe-Asia Studies (formerly Soviet Studies), which
publishes eight issues a year, for $55, almost a hundred dollars less
than the regular subscription price. Convention panelists can take
advantage of this offer directly on the convention registration form.
BOOK EXHIBIT/SALE OF PAPERS. Publishers will exhibit their wares in
the exhibit room, located in the spacious Dag Hammarskjold Lounge on
the 6th floor, near the registration desk. The convention innovated
last year by selling convention papers for $1 apiece and the
experiment proved hugely successful. At least 20 copies of each paper
will go on sale in the book exhibit on Friday, April 14, at 11.15 AM.
We look forward to seeing you at the convention!
For information on panels:
ASN Convention Program Chair
Brown University, Box 1831
130 Hope St.
Providence, RI 02912
401 863 9296 tel
401 863 2192 fax
For information on registration, exhibits
and advertisements in the convention program:
ASN Convention Director
420 W. 118th St.
New York, NY 10027