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19 April 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-Tass: Russia Has about 600,000 Underaged Invalids.
2. RFE/RL: Sophie Lambroschini, Bonner Says Anti-Western Sentiment
Is Rooted In Envy.
3. Reuters: Countries that ignore IMF fare better-Stiglitz.
4. Thad McArthur: Re: 4239-Stiglitz/IMF.
5. Bloomberg: Former Russian Premier Primakov on the Balkans,
6. AP: David McHugh, Clinton To Meet the Anti-Yeltsin.
7. St. Petersburg Times: Guy Archer, Big Growth Expected In Nation's
8. The Independent (UK): Patrick Cockburn, Welcome to Mr Putin's
9. Moscow Times: Kevin O'Flynn, Was Tatar Yoke Really All That Bad?
10. Financial Times (UK): Charles Clover, Russian capitalists vie
to reunite Soviet industrial monoliths.
11. Bloomberg: US Official Sees Investment Surge in Russia, Urges
12. Versty: Marina Shakina, RIGHT FORCES MAKE A NEW ATTEMPT TO
CREATE A COALITION. Will They Succeed This Time?]
Russia Has about 600,000 Underaged Invalids.
MOSCOW, April 18 (Itar-Tass) - About 600,000 invalids aging less than 16 have
been officially registered in Russia. The overall official rate of invalids
in the country is 10 million, 10 percent of the national population, speakers
said at a sitting of the Presidential Council for Invalids on Tuesday.
The number of handicapped children has increased tenfold as compared to 1980,
Council Chairman, deputy chief of the Kremlin administration Viktor Ivanov
said. "The rate of underaged invalids is on the rise in all regions of
Russia," Deputy Health Minister Olga Sharapova noted. Over 300 family
planning centers have been opened in Russia to prevent the birth of
handicapped children, she said.
Some 280 million rubles are allocated this year under the "Handicapped
Children" program. Eighty-two regions of Russia have 370 rehabilitation
centers for invalids.
A federal program of support to invalids has been drafted for 2000, Ivanov
said. A conference on invalids' problems will take place in Moscow in
Russia: Bonner Says Anti-Western Sentiment Is Rooted In Envy
By Sophie Lambroschini
One of Russia's most prominent human rights activists, Yelena Bonner, says it
is becoming more acceptable to express anti-Western feeling in Russia.
Bonner, the widow of Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov, talked about the
trend during an interview with RFE/RL. Moscow correspondent Sophie
Moscow, 17 April 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Yelena Bonner met with Radio Liberty
journalists in her apartment in Moscow, where she lived with her husband,
dissident and physicist Andrei Sakharov, until he died a decade ago.
Bonner said Russian commentators and politicians often trace anti-Western
feelings back to last spring, when NATO defied Russian disapproval and bombed
Yugoslavia. But she said anti-Western sentiment in Russia has existed for a
lot longer than most people believe. It grew because people were jealous of
"The person living in his little hut hates his [rich] neighbor but [at the
same time] he wants to live like his neighbor. That is the first cause of
anti-Western moods, and I think that non-formulated, non-expressed
anti-Western feelings were just as high before Kosovo."
Bonner said the war in Kosovo made it possible for Russians to express hidden
anti-Western feelings by giving them a moral justification.
She said hatred for the West may often be understandable, especially among
those 90 percent of Russians who say they live in more humiliating conditions
now than under communism.
But she denounced those who profited from the last decade of European-style
freedoms and now condemn the West. As an example, she cited an open appeal
signed last week by Russian artists such as film director Sergei Mikhalkov
and violinist Yuri Bashmet.
The letter to the United Nations, which criticized Western condemnation of
Russia's war with Chechnya, implies that the West does not support what the
authors called "Russia's efforts against terrorism" because the West
perceives any progress in Russia as a threat. Bonner said most of the authors
profited more from the West than the average Russian and would be the last to
give up the privilege.
"I would like to ask them one question. You wrote such an anti-Western
letter, but are you ready to take upon yourself a moratorium and not set foot
in the West for the next five years, not in Cairo, not in Greece, not in
Italy, not in Paris, not at the Cannes film festival or the Oscars. Let them
be the first then to give up the West, let them give up their Western
trousers or their bow ties. It's all just blathering [on their part]."
Bonner said she is convinced that Russia's younger generation will not pick
up on anti-Western sentiment, since they have integrated a certain number of
freedoms they will not easily give up.
"Young people from the active [population] don't want an iron curtain, a
limitation to freedom of speech, the freedom of films, of video recorders,
and whatever else. They don't want to be judged on the accusation that they
watched the wrong movie. No, they want to live free, like Europeans."
Bonner said some of today's anger also stems from Perestroika, when people
were led to believe that an evolution toward democracy would be easy.
Countries that ignore IMF fare better-Stiglitz
By Rajiv Sekhri
WASHINGTON, April 18 (Reuters) - China is proof that developing countries
ignoring Washington's economic policy prescriptions fare better than those
who follow their dictates, former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz
said on Tuesday.
``We now know that many of the successful developing countries do not follow
the precepts of the Washington consensus,'' Stiglitz told a World Bank
conference on development, referring to the recommendations of U.S. Treasury
and International Monetary Fund.
``China is probably the most successful of the low income countries, both in
terms of growth and in terms of poverty reduction,'' said the economist known
for his blunt criticism of the way Washington handled the Asian financial
crisis of 1997-99.
Stiglitz, a colourful and controversial figure, announced his resignation
from the World Bank in January, saying he needed to leave to freely speak his
He addressed the World Bank's conference on Tuesday, a day after semi-annual
meetings of the IMF and World Bank ended in the nation's capital.
The two institutions' meetings took place amid protests by anti-IMF groups
who complained global lenders were not doing enough for debt relief and that
their policy prescriptions only deepened poverty in developing countries.
Stiglitz, a former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton, said
recommendations the international community offered to developing countries
needed intense scrutiny to find out why these advisers offered policies they
preferred, especially when these policies didn't seem to work as well.
``Reform cannot be imposed either from the outside or from the top down,''
Stiglitz said. ``The most successful developing countries in the world have
not followed the Washington consensus.''
He added: ``The recent crisis in East Asia has reminded us that economic
instability may arise from a multitude of sources. Indeed, it is increasingly
being recognised that some of the policies that the international financial
agencies pushed in the name of promoting growth, increased economic
volatility and insecurity.''
Stiglitz repeatedly ruffled feathers in Washington with his criticism of the
IMF. He said the fund was wrong to tell Asian countries to rein in spending
at the start of the crisis and argued that higher interest rates were an
inappropriate response to the crisis.
The crisis started in Thailand in July 1997, a few months after Stiglitz
joined the bank. The IMF and the U.S. Treasury at first viewed Thailand's
problems as a local phenomenon, but the turmoil soon spread across Asia and
beyond, pushing many countries into recession and high unemployment.
Stiglitz has also said it was foolish of the IMF to foist reforms in Russia
without first ensuring the infrastructure was there to make sure that reforms
From: "Thad McArthur" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 4239-Stiglitz/IMF
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000
Joseph Stiglitz makes many sound criticisms of the IMF and the World Bank
and their approach to Russia during the 1990's, but he also overstretches
his argument and, in doing so, further muddies an already murky debate about
Russia's economic experience since the collapse of communism. While Stiglitz
is absolutely right as far as he goes - there should have been no loans or
assistance without first putting in place the proper infrastructure for
their success - he fails to note two fundamental truths of post-communist
Europe and to draw the conclusions that follow from them.
First, every state in the former Soviet bloc experienced economic collapse
to one degree or another, even though they all implemented different
strategies, with some emphasising more therapy and less shock. I've raised
in this space before the case of the former DDR, but it bears repeating as
Stiglitz has recharged this debate. The East Germans were handed their
infrastructure on a silver platter at the instant of unification with West
Germany: Europe's soundest currency and banking system, efficient capital
markets, and transparent, democratic, and relatively corruption-free
political and judicial institutions. Added to this are the transfer of
billions of DM effected by the one-for-one conversion of the worthless
Ostmark plus the fact that East Germany started from an economic position
much better suited to post-communist reality than any of its former Warsaw
Pact allies. Despite all of this, the GDP of the former East Germany sank by
40 percent in the post reunification period and only achieved
pre-unification levels of output and income after 10 years (Fall 1989 -Fall
Second, Stiglitz fails to note that the men who led (and continue to lead)
post-Soviet Russia are the same men, by and large, who led the Soviet Union.
Unlike Russia's former Warsaw Pact allies, all of which renounced and broke
with, to one degree or another, their communist past, Russia still has yet
to do so in a convincing manner. Despite all the talk of reform during the
past decade, the Putin administration is still facing the same reform issues
its predecessor faced: tax reform, land reform, transparent capital markets,
sound banking system, a truly independent central bank, etc. The package of
advice the IMF gave Russia was exactly that - a package deal. Unfortunately,
the Russian political elite chose from it those policies which enriched
themselves and further entrenched their power, and ignored those which would
make economic and political institutions more transparent and accountable.
As Stiglitz would surely agree, the IMF should have foreseen this and
refused loans and other assistance until true reform was in place. I am
afraid, however, that waiting for the Russian political elite to reform
itself is like waiting for Godot.
The Russian patient was mortally ill as the 1980's drew to a close. Lawrence
Summers and the IMF can be blamed for selling the Russians snake oil and
raising false hopes, but they did not cause the underlying disease.The true
victims of the IMF are Western taxpayers, whose loans to Russia will never
be repaid. As for Russia, no country has ever been hurt by having free money
thrown at it.
Former Russian Premier Primakov on the Balkans, NATO: Comments
Sofia, Bulgaria, April 18 (Bloomberg)
-- Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov comments on
Balkan affairs, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Russian
economy in a lecture in the Bulgarian capital.
ON NATO, its enlargements and Russia's attitude:
``The model of NATO-centrism is being imposed quite seriously worldwide. It
seems that there existed no conditions for NATO's enlargement. There is no
threat of direct attack on the part of one country or another, as was before.
``Russia has an unequivocal position. It is trying its best to prevent the
development of this trend, to go back to the sustainable influence of the
United Nations on the processes worldwide using the means of diplomacy, of
political actions, to avoid a situation when one or few countries decide by
themselves where to use military action.''
On NATO's enlargement:
``We cannot say we'll be enraptured if Bulgaria joins NATO.
``We (in Russia) don't want to join NATO. On the other hand, who invites us
there? There is no discussion on that issue. As for the CIS countries, we are
absolutely against the former soviet republics to join NATO, including the
On Russia and the Balkans:
``We know very well the situation in the Balkans. When I talked recently to
Madeleine Albright, I told her: `Madeleine, you should have asked for advice
when you started such an action. We know the Balkans better.'
``The situation there should not be changed by force. Everything is so
complicated. It is here the first World War started.
On Russia's economic development:
``We went through very hard times. In the 1990's, the Russian economy was
developing according to a model dictated by our young liberals.
``The economy was falling apart, agriculture was falling apart. On a
macro-level, we made reforms but this was a means in itself as those reforms
were not related directly to the real economy. Now we are talking about the
necessity to support domestic producers. We are for open economy and for
transnational business development, for attracting foreign capital, and all
that is not opposite to the domestic development.
Preferentials had to be given, and they (the young liberals) provided them to
companies close to them, especially to those exporting oil, others received
``This was the situation in the economy and it could not survive the contact
with other economies, it did not meet the interests of the people. In August
1997, we had a default.
``Now Russia is weak. The United States and the other Western countries
understand that Russia needs a partner in international relations and this is
a temporary weakness.
``Our government did not get a cent from the International Monetary Fund, but
we could pay $6 billion, pay wages, pensions. All this is seen and known and
Russia will not for long remain in such a situation. Without Russia's
positive impact on the international situation, it cannot be stabilized.''
Clinton To Meet the Anti-Yeltsin
April 18, 2000
By DAVID McHUGH
MOSCOW (AP) - After a backslapping seven years dealing with Boris Yeltsin,
President Clinton will face a tougher summit partner in Vladimir Putin - but
one who's likely to be more pragmatic and more predictable.
The new Russian president, who is to meet Clinton in a June 4-5 summit in
Moscow, is an often stern-faced leader who keeps his emotions in check - at
least in public - and relaxes by practicing judo. He is unlikely to engage in
the kind of boisterous camaraderie that Yeltsin lavished on Clinton, calling
him ``Bill'' and stressing their personal relationship.
Analysts say U.S.-Russian dealings, at least from the Russian side, are
likely to be more businesslike and formal now. Still, though he may regard
the United States with suspicion as he tries to rebuild Russia's stature as a
great power, Putin wants good relations with the West, they add.
``His vision of Russia is a Russia that stands its ground,'' said Margot
Light, a Russia scholar at the London School of Economics. ``He is more of a
hard-liner, but he's a man who realizes he has to deal with the West.''
Both qualities were on display during Putin's visit to London over the
weekend, when he addressed a major business forum. It was a sign of his need
to attract foreign investment, but he also showed his immovable side, stonily
rejecting Western accusations that Russia has used excessive force in
Clinton's visit to Moscow was announced at a time when many analysts say
U.S.-Russian relations are at their lowest ebb since the Soviet collapse.
The two sides have sparred over the U.S.-led bombing of Yugoslavia and Iraq,
Russia's ties to countries such as Iraq and Iran and U.S. accusations of
Russian corruption. And while Yeltsin stressed relations with the United
States, Putin appears ready to focus more on Europe.
Some say a tougher but more predictable negotiating partner could be a
relief. Yeltsin, enfeebled by age and illness, often startled Western
officials with his erratic behavior.
German officials once watched in consternation as Yeltsin grabbed a baton and
wildly began conducting a military band. Irish officials once waited in vain
for Yeltsin to get off an airplane in Shannon, Ireland. He later said he was
Yeltsin's bonhomie ``had something unstatesmanlike about it,'' said Light,
the Russia expert. ``People didn't always know how to respond to it.''
It's a safe bet that Putin will be more staid. It took visible effort for him
to call British Prime Minister Tony Blair by his first name during a
televised phone call. During the recent presidential campaign, he often
looked like he'd rather have been somewhere else instead of mixing with
The central topic of the summit will likely be arms control, with Clinton
seeking to overcome vociferous Russian objections to a proposed U.S. missile
defense system. The United States wants Russia to permit modifications to the
1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty so it can build a defense against
``rogue'' states such as North Korea.
Russia fears that the U.S. plan would undermine the deterrent value of its
own missiles. Putin has said that if the United States backs out of the ABM
treaty, he will tear up the START II arms agreement ratified April 14 by the
Russian parliament - and all other arms control agreements with Washington as
Analysts say Clinton may find there is room for negotiation. One tack could
be offering Russia even deeper cuts in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals
under a START III treaty in return for ABM changes.
Clinton has less than a year left in office to achieve a legacy on arms
control. To get a deal, he may have to offer Putin a chance to save face with
some significant concession, analysts say.
Putin needs ``some sort of step forward from Clinton'' to overcome doubts in
the Russian military, said Lilia Shevtsova, an analyst at the Moscow Carnegie
Putin may push for U.S. support in getting European governments to let Russia
stretch out repayment of some of its huge debt to the West. Russia also hopes
the International Monetary Fund, where the United States has considerable
influence, will unfreeze part of a stalled $4.5 billion in loans.
St. Petersburg Times
April 18, 2000
Big Growth Expected In Nation's Internet Use
By Guy Archer
Internet use in Russia is developing rapidly and gaining momentum. With
falling connection prices operating in tandem with an ever-growing
understanding of what the Internet has to offer for its users, some experts
believe that Internet use in this country may increase by as much as 40
percent this year.
Estimates vary on how many people are now Internet users in Russia, with
conservative figures beginning around 1.2 million.
Robert Farish, research manager for the Russian operations of International
Data Corp., an international information technology consulting group,
estimates that as many as 2 million are now taking advantage of Internet
COMCON recently issued a report in which it estimated that almost half a
million users connected to the Web each day in Russia during the first
quarter of 1999.
Search engines continue to see the most activity, with Russian engines
squarely competing with larger international ones.
Demographics for Internet use in Russia break down along fairly rigid lines,
although this may be changing.
In a survey of Russian Internet use in September and October 1999, Gallup
Media found that 73 percent of Internet users were men.
Sixty-three percent of all users were between the ages of 16 and 34.
Monitoring.ru, a Russian media company, recently issued a report in which it
estimated that 63 percent of total users are students and white-collar
Gallup Media data for last October and November places 34 percent of Internet
users in the above-average income bracket; 39 percent in the average
category; 8 percent in the below-average segment; and 19 percent who not
willing to answer questions about their income.
Monitoring.ru studies also indicate that 80 percent of regular users have a
Farish of IDC Russia said these demographics are shifting as the Internet
becomes more accessible to a wider range of users.
"The proportion of people who are nontechnical using the Internet has been
increasing and will continue to increase," he said.
He added that this is a phenomenon which follows similar trends in other
An important factor is the obviously growing potential of the Internet for
Farish estimates that there will be a 40-percent growth in Internet use this
year - but adds that new Web site development is growing at an even faster
What is being offered to Russians by the Internet is developing more rapidly
than the number of people taking advantage of it.
Gallup statistics indicate that only 21 percent of Internet activity takes
place in Russian homes.
Workplaces account for the majority at 54 percent, while educational
institutions account for another 19 percent. The remainder falls into the
category of "other."
The Independent (UK)
18 April 2000
[for personal use only]
Welcome to Mr Putin's Grozny
By Patrick Cockburn
It is the first large city to be destroyed by military action in Europe
since 1945. Two months after the Russian army captured Grozny, the capital of
Chechnya and once home to 400,000 people, its ruins look like pictures of
Stalingrad or Dresden immediately after the Second World War. Russian shells
and bombs have turned apartment blocks into grey concrete sandwiches, one
floor collapsed on top of another. The bombardment blew apart even the
smallest shed, leaving only a few tattered pieces of corrugated iron hanging
from charred beams.
I drove back into Grozny last week sitting on top of a Russian armoured
personnel carrier. Its driver manoeuvred agilely between the heaps of rubble
and the deep bomb craters which punctured the road every few hundred yards.
For mile after mile not a single building was intact. The only place where I
have ever seen this level of destruction was the front-line in Beirut during
the war in Lebanon, where for years the divide between the Christian and
Muslim sides of the city was a no man's land of blackened ruins, guarded by
snipers and mines.
Grozny is much worse. It is not just the front-line but the whole city that
has been torn apart. I was last here in October, when it was still held by
the Chechens. Then, the city centre had already been badly damaged by Russian
artillery and air attack during the last Chechen war in 1994-96, but saplings
and grass sprouted out of the tops of the walls of wrecked buildings. Now the
foliage that colonised the wreckage is shrivelled and burned. The devastation
even extends below ground: deep penetration bombs have torn up water pipes
once buried six feet deep, which now stick out at crazy angles into the air,
like the guts spilling out of a corpse. On the streets of Grozny, Russian
soldiers outnumber the civilians, though by how many it is impossible to say.
Fortified concrete-block checkpoints, usually supported by a light tank,
guard every crossroads.
The few Chechens I could see on the streets were women, children or old men,
with shocked, blank expressions on their faces, wearily picking their way
through the rubble. Many were clutching empty plastic bags, and I thought
they must be on their way to buy bread or water at one of the little street
stalls that used to spring up in Chechnya during any lull in the fighting.
But even these had been destroyed in the siege. We could see their scorched
and twisted metal frames beside the road.
The survivors of the four-month-long bombardment turned out to be making for
a Russian soup kitchen where several hundred people were jostling to receive
a small ration of food. "It is a total disaster," said Zura Tukaeva, who is
59 but looks older, and who was clutching five small loaves of bread. "I have
no money, no job, no gas and little food." Glancing around at the crowd, she
added: "You only see women and old people here. The day before yesterday some
young men came here to get food and the Russians immediately arrested them
and beat them just because they were young and male and might be rebels."
Russian soldiers were standing close to where the Chechens were queuing for
their rations, but this did not stop one old woman explaining what she
thought should happen. "The Russian army must go home," she said. "We support
the rebels. We just want to live peacefully." Other Chechens spoke bitterly
about their own leaders. A woman who gave her name as Kulsum said: "Both
sides are responsible." Asked if she expected anything from Aslan Maskhadov,
the elected Chechen president, now hunted by the Russians in the mountains,
she said: "No, he is a dead loss. We will have to start our fight for
Nothing angers the Chechens so much as to hear that Vladimir Putin, the
Russian president-elect, who yesterday met Tony Blair and the Queen in
London, claim that the war, of which he is the architect and beneficiary, is
directed against "terrorists" and not the Chechen people as a whole. From the
moment the Russian army invaded Chechnya at the beginning of last October, it
relied on the firepower of its artillery, rocket launchers and aircraft to
devastate towns and villages. When several long-range, ground-to-ground
missiles plummeted into a Grozny marketplace last October, killing some 200
people, Mr Putin simply denied that it had happened. He showed no signs of
embarrassment when the official Russian military spokesman blithely confirmed
the attack a few hours later.
The small efforts at reconstruction in Grozny only emphasise the utter
devastation. As our APC drove down a broad avenue, with shell-blasted trees
in the middle and ruined offices on either side, a party of workers was
clearing rubble from a walkway - as if the first priority for the
shell-shocked inhabitants of the city would be to enjoy an evening promenade.
Some workers were burning blackened branches, lopped off the trees by
shrapnel, on a bonfire. A group of women were sweeping the road with
broomsticks in an effort to clear away lumps of concrete that would take a
dozen bulldozers a week to shift.
A little further on we met Leila Khamidovaya, a burly Chechen woman who once
worked on the railways, who is trying to rebuild Grozny railway station.
Almost all her workers were women, four of whom were mixing plaster in an old
white bathtub on the station platform. Others sat on scaffolding to apply the
plaster to the front of the once-pretty 19th-century station building. Fifty
yards away were the incinerated remains of carriages and freight cars. One
track of the railway is working, but is used exclusively by the Russian army.
"We are rebuilding so people can come back to the city," said Mrs
Khamidovaya. "I know they want to come." She added that neither she nor the
other workers were being paid, but they hoped to get money from the local
It may be a long wait. Outside one of the few office buildings still
habitable - though its walls are pockmarked with bullet holes - stood Ramzan
Shapukayev, the Russian-appointed deputy mayor of the city, wearing green
military fatigues. He denied reports that the city was to be abandoned and
the capital moved to the neighbouring town of Gudermes, and added
confidently: "We will rebuild Grozny. It took them nine years [since the
break up of the Soviet Union in 1991] to destroy it. We will rebuild it in a
shorter time." He seemed unconscious of the grotesque hypocrisy of blaming
the Chechens for the destruction of the city pounded into ruins by
unrelenting Russian artillery fire and air attack in Moscow's two wars in
"We estimate that there are 80,000 Chechens back in Grozny," said Mr
Shapukayev, in what sounded like a gross exaggeration. He claimed buoyantly
that electricity would be restored by mid-May, but admitted that he had no
budget. He added vaguely that the administration would provide building
materials free of charge to anybody who wanted to rebuild their house. It is
doubtful if Grozny (its name means "terrible", or "menacing"), founded as a
military outpost in 1818-19 during the first Russian conquest of Chechnya,
will ever be rebuilt. Russian resources are too limited and what there are of
them go to support the army. Soldiers say that for every three pieces of
heavy equipment they send out of Chechnya for repair, they get one back in
working order. The number of checkpoints in Grozny itself must mean that the
Russian high command fears the guerrillas might successfully counter-attack
into the city, as they did in 1996.
Ironically, Grozny was never wholly or even largely a Chechen city. In the
last years of the Soviet Union, almost two-thirds of its population were
Russians, while Chechens working in Grozny were often bussed in from nearby
villages. Many non-Chechens left after 1991, but some stayed. Among the most
pathetic and defenceless of those who crouched in their basements during the
siege that has just ended were Russian pensioners who had nowhere else to
There are few signs that Russians feel any remorse at the systematic
destruction of one of their own cities. At the sprawling military base at
Khankala, just west of Grozny, an army press officer showed us a gruesome
video of masked Chechen kidnappers cutting the throats of their victims, or
ritually beheading them with an axe (the kidnappers shot these horrific films
to extract higher ransoms for the captives they still held). "Why don't you
show this on Western television?" the officer asked assertively.
The video helps explain why so many Russians - soldiers and civilians alike
â€“ feel that the only good Chechen is a dead one. But Moscow did not destroy
Grozny because Chechnya had become a bandit stronghold, as Mr Putin now
claims. The invasion last year was rather the outcome of the fierce struggle
waged by the Kremlin to elect its own man as successor to Boris Yeltsin. It
finally chose Mr Putin as the prime minister who would guarantee that Mr
Yeltsin's family and associates did not end up in jail for looting state
property during their years in power. As a political gambit, the war
succeeded brilliantly in making Mr Putin a nationalist hero and winning him
Critics of Mr Putin during his visit to Britain have focused on killings and
torture by Russian forces in Chechnya. This tends to obscure the fact that
for the first time in 55 years, a whole European city has been destroyed
â€“deliberately, by its own government. At the end of 1998, I was in Iraq
watching US and British missiles and bombs fall on Baghdad. Then, Tony Blair
and Robin Cook justified the air attacks as a response to the danger that
Saddam Hussein might build weapons powerful enough to threaten his
neighbours. Yet, only 15 months later, after Mr Putin has fired hundreds of
thousands of shells and missiles into Grozny, a city he claims as his own, he
is welcomed as a guest to Downing Street and Buckingham Palace.
But when he returns home, Mr Putin may find that Chechnya is a conflict which
was easier to begin than it is to end. Many of the elderly Chechens I met
queuing for rations in central Grozny last week blamed their own leaders as
much as they blamed the Russians for starting the war. But they also felt
that if Moscow was going to treat them all as Wahhabites (Islamic militants)
they might as well support the rebels. "It is ordinary Chechens like us who
are the targets," explained an old man called Issa, as he waited to collect
some bread. "We are the ones who suffer. Russian shells didn't kill any of
the Wahhabites - so this war will go on a long time."
19 April 2000
Was Tatar Yoke Really All That Bad?
By Kevin O'Flynn
They came from the east to conquer, butcher and pillage. Led by Genghis Khan,
the Mongols laid cities and civilization to waste, then ruled cruelly for the
next 300 years.
That is how Russian textbooks describe life under one branch of the Mongol
empire, the Golden Horde. Its armies were led by Mongols from present-day
Mongolia and peopled with foot soldiers of Turkic origin known as Tatars.
That invasion was about 763 years ago, but it still grates on some nerves.
The present-day Tatars - the Russian citizens of Tatarstan - aren't happy
about being represented in the nation's schools as barbarians. Some are
calling for a scholarly revision.
"The Tatar yoke is painted as the most horrible period," said Rafael
Khakimov, a historian at the Institute of History in Kazan. "We have our own
opinion â€¦ we want the Russian textbooks to be re-examined."
"[Russians] treat us like their worst enemies," agreed Nazif Mirikhanov, who
is the official representative of the Tatar republic in Moscow.
Khakimov was an author of a letter sent to the Education Ministry last year
asking for a re-evaluation of the depiction of Tatars in school history
classes - a letter, by the way, that is part of a grand tradition of
Tatarstan officials, writers and intelligentsia worrying aloud about the dim
view Russians take of Tatarstan.
In fact, Tatarstan's hand-wringing on this point even became the butt of an
old Soviet joke: The Tatarstan Soviet Socialist Republic files a formal
complaint with the government about the old Russian proverb "An uninvited
guest is worse than a Tatar." The complaint is sent up to the Politburo -
which rules in Tatarstan's favor - ordering the proverb to be changed to "An
uninvited guest is better than a Tatar."
Historians and representatives of Tatarstan's government aren't asking for
the Golden Horde to be depicted from now on as peaceful horse lovers who just
happened to wander west.
But they would like a few major achievements to be taken into account.
Tatars say their warrior ancestors, who rolled into Russia in 1223, brought
as much good as bad. By the time the Mongol Empire began to break up in the
late 15th century, much of the modern Russian state was already in place.
If the Tatars were to make a film of their predicament, then they could
choose the scene in Monty Python's "Life of Brian" when a group of Jewish
revolutionaries derisively ask "What have the Romans ever done for us?", only
to surprise and irk themselves with answers ranging from building roads and
aqueducts to laying down the legal system.
So what did the Tatars (or Mongols, if you prefer) give Russia?
Money, says one historian. A revival of Russian culture, says another. Safe
borders, religious freedoms and a national postal system, says a third. The
first Russian census, says a fourth.
The Mongol empire made a point of occupying wealthy and civilized nations
like China and Iran, but Russia's sparsely populated forests held less
appeal. Instead, they imposed tribute.
The first paper money to appear in Russia was issued under Mongol rule. The
word dengi, or money, even has its origin as a Tatar word, as does the -ir in
bankir, or banker, said Mirikhanov.
Harvard historian Richard Pipes, in his book "Russia Under the Old Regime,"
also lists other commerce-related words that crossed over from Mongol-Tatar
languages into Russian, including tamozhnya (customs), kazna (treasury),
tovar (good or merchandise), and even chemodan, sunduk and karman, (suitcase,
trunk or chest, and pocket).
Under the Golden Horde, the postal system - made up of horse posts spread
over 50-kilometer intervals - could send a letter from the banks of the
Danube to Mongolia faster than any Russian postal system for centuries. Some
might even say quicker than today's rickety network of post offices.
Russian culture also experienced a renaissance under the Golden Horde,
according to Khakimov and other historians, because churches were relieved of
the onerous burden of paying tribute. Novgorod icon painting and Suzdal
architecture developed remarkably in this period.
For decades, if not centuries, the traditional view - both in academic
circles and in popular imaginations - was that the Tatar invasion swept in
like a natural disaster to destroy Russian culture, isolate Russia from the
West and plunge the country into a dark age.
That view is indeed still entertained. But in recent years, major experts on
Tatar history from the United States, Europe and Russia have challenged it -
so much so that the Encyclopedia Britannica, reflecting these newer
developments, now says that "these [earlier] views do not accord with the
evidence and should probably be discarded."
At the same time, no one is rushing to paint the Tartar empire as an
unusually enlightened one. After all, in some accounts the Golden Horde
cooked people alive in enormous frying pans.
"Russian life became terribly brutalized, as witnessed by the Mongol or
Turco-Tatar derivation of so many Russian words having to do with repression,
such as kandaly and kaidaly (chains), nagaika (a kind of whip) and kabala (a
form of slavery)," Historian Pipes has written. "The death penalty, unknown
to the law codes of Kievan Rus, came in with the Mongols."
"During these years," Pipes continues, "the population at large first learned
what the state was; that it was arbitrary and violent, that it took what it
could lay its hands on and gave nothing in return, and that one had to obey
it because it was strong."
Khakimov and others arguing for a revision would agree with most all of that,
however. As he put it with a nice touch of understatement, "The Middle Ages
were not the best period."
"But Europe was also far from civilized," he added. "You can't objectively
say that was good, this was bad."
Children in Tatarstan already work from revised textbooks that try to point
out the plusses and minuses of Tatar rule. At the national level, the
Education Ministry has also moved on appeals like Khakimov's and is working
on new "politically correct" textbooks.
"We really need to reflect the polyethnic nature of the country. A lot of
students don't even know there are Buddhist or Moslem nationalities in our
own history," said Vladimir Batsyn, an official who handles history books at
the Education Ministry.
"The Tatars were especially maligned," Batsyn added, in remarks reported
recently by The Christian Science Monitor. "We Russians are backward by not
depicting the situation properly. Their state was the biggest and most
developed in the land for a long time."
Financial Times (UK)
19 April 2000
[for personal use only]
Russian capitalists vie to reunite Soviet industrial monoliths
By Charles Clover in Kiev
Handsome, single, and extremely rich, Oleg Deripaska, 32-year old chairman
of Russia's giant Siberian Aluminium Group, is described in his press
packet as "one of Europe's most eligible bachelors."
But last month, Mr Deripaska put together a marriage that could have
profound implications for his country and Europe as a whole. His company
bought an alumina making plant in neighbouring Ukraine, setting the stage
for a number of Russian-Ukrainian deals to come.
On Tuesday, as Russia's president Vladimir Putin met with Ukraine's
president Leonid Kuchma in Kiev, much of the talk was on Russian investment
in Ukraine: who, how much, on what terms.
Ukrainian and Russian businessmen agree that there are many more mergers
and privatisations to come involving Russia and Ukraine: "This is
definitely a trend. Russia's current interest in the Ukrainian economy is
obvious," said Alexia Lusaka, the vice-president of Ukraine's Premier bank.
Russian and Ukrainian relations have often been strained following the
latter's independence from Moscow in 1991. But while the governments don't
always see eye-to-eye, Russian and Ukrainian businessmen are finding much
"Russians don't have the kind of money to invest that western companies do,
but they can use the system much more skillfully," said one banker.
Meanwhile, financial pressures are driving the Ukrainian government to
finally privatise huge swathes of its state-controlled industry, while
simultaneously, Russian businesses are looking to expand after a decade of
consolidating affairs in Russia. Last year, Russian industrial production
grew 9 per cent.
"They don't have enough room (in Russia)" said Ihor Solntseva, acting
director of Credit-Dnipro bank in Ukraine, "Things have gotten tight. I
think that's the main reason they are moving into Ukraine."
Ukraine contains roughly a third of the old USSR's economy, along with many
of the elite 'military industrial complex' factories, which used to be
connected to Russian factories in huge technological chains overseen by
Gosplan, the state planning agency.
Mr Deripaska said of his company's recent purchase: "This deal is the first
step towards creating a powerful aluminium concern on the foundations of
Russian-Ukrainian enterprises" he said. "The processes of globalisation in
industry have made it necessary to re-cement these ties which once bound
Soviet industry together."
Siberian Aluminium is already in talks with their various rivals in the
Russian aluminium industry to form a giant integrated aluminium concern,
linking raw materials producing factories to aluminium smelters to
end-users. It made its alumina plant purchase in a consortium with
Ukraine's Pivdenmash factory, which used to make the feared SS-18 nuclear
missile, and now makes satellite rocket boosters.
The respected Moscow weekly magazine Ekspert said: "The discussion is not
about simply creating an aluminium monopoly, rather on the material
re-birth of various parts of the old Soviet Gosplan, only this time not
state-owned, but under private ownership"
In addition to Siberian Aluminium, Russia's oil giant Lukoil has been
eyeing the Oriana petrochemical complex in western Ukraine, and recently
bought a 25 per cent stake in Odessa's oil refinery, bringing the total
stake to 89 per cent.
Alfa-Bank, one of Russia's largest financial-industrial concerns, bought
76% of Kyivinvest Bank in February, the first Russia-Ukraine bank merger
since the devaluation of the rouble in 1998.
Itera, a Jacksonville-Florida registered gas-trading company which has
major Russian interests behind it, imported one-third of Ukraine's gas from
Russia last year, and is in talks to form a joint venture with Naftohaz
Ukraini, Ukraine's state gas utility.
Meanwhile, the tactics on display by Russia's businessmen are reminiscent
of infamous Russian privatisations which took place largely for the benefit
of a few insiders.
Russia's oligarchs originally built their empires on a controversial
"loans-for-shares" scheme starting in 1995, in which businessmen used
government debts as a way to acquire state enterprises very cheaply.
Now Russian businessmen are looking to use Ukraine's considerable energy
debt to Russia as cheap but effective leverage into the most lucrative
enterprises. Mikhail Kasyanov, Russia's acting prime minister, has even
suggested swapping energy debts for shares in Ukrainian enterprises.
Ukrainian officials insist that they will not give away their country's
assets to Russia in exchange for debts.
Mr Deripaska argues, however, that greater business ties between the two
countries could only bring mutual benefits: "This deal means that we have
made the transition from a strategy of survival to a strategy of
development for both Ukraine and Russia" he said.
US Official Sees Investment Surge in Russia, Urges Action
Washington, April 18 (Bloomberg)
-- A U.S. Commerce Department official declared a renewed surge of
investment is under way in Russia, although he warned companies they should
act quickly to keep the U.S. a top competitor in the country.
``The rush to markets is on, the rush to trade is on, the rush to invest is
on again,'' said Michael Copps, assistant secretary of commerce for trade
development, who was joined by executives of Ford Motor Co., Mary Kay Inc.
and other companies at a Russian business forum.
Copps noted the many positive signs, including a rebound in Russian growth
and promises by President-Elect Vladimir Putin to introduce a host of
economic reforms, should prompt action by U.S. companies.
``There's no better way to send a signal to all the doubters out there -- and
there are so many doubters -- that you can do business, profitably, with
mutual benefit in Russia, than by getting projects done,'' he said.
Russia's economy expanded 3.2 percent last year, its strongest growth since
the end of communism, and Putin has promised to form a government and publish
an economic program after his inauguration on May 7.
The conference, hosted by the Russian Embassy along with the Chicago-based
American-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, featured renewed
predictions by Russian officials that Putin will propose key reforms.
The reforms include opening the banking sector, cutting the federal budget,
lowering taxes, encouraging investment and eliminating monopolies and unfair
competition, said Russian Deputy Economics Minister Arkady Samokhvalov.
Samokhvalov avoided specific promises prior to Putin's announcement, although
he said the new government wants to cut taxes in the range of 5 percent to 7
The International Monetary Fund said last week that it likely will resume
lending to Russia this year if Russia carries out reforms the fund wants to
Russian Foreign Minister Ivan Ivanov, an unscheduled participant in the
conference, said Moscow also understood that implementation of new laws was
as important as the laws themselves.
Representatives of several U.S. companies and services firms painted an
upbeat picture of their experience in Russia.
Ford, with a new $150 million plant under construction near St. Petersburg,
hopes to resume production next year after a 70- year absence, said William
Kelly, Ford's director of international governmental affairs. Ford expects to
begin by producing 25,000 cars a year and grow to 100,000 and beyond, Kelly
The overall Russian automobile market could grow from around 1 million units
sold last year to become the largest in Europe, Kelly said.
``Russia offers highly qualified people,'' Kelly said. ``We've already found
a number of them.''
Mary Kay Inc., in Russia since 1994, found Russia its most successful foreign
subsidiary until the 1998 market crash, and the country still remains one of
the company's top three markets, said Leslie Roberts, the company's director
of international government relations. The company is helped by the fact that
Russian women are ``very entrepreneurial, very underemployed or unemployed,''
April 13, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
RIGHT FORCES MAKE A NEW ATTEMPT TO CREATE A COALITION
Will They Succeed This Time?
By Marina SHAKINA
Many clear heads among our liberals have more than once
thought of the need to unite all democratic forces. Such
attempts have been made more than once: on the eve of the 1995
parliamentary and 1996 presidential elections and on the eve of
the election to the Moscow State Duma. The result was rather
modest each time, to say the least. Actually, either it was
zero, or very small, when Russia's Democratic Choice, Yabloko
and Our Home Is Russia (NDR) agreed to coordinate the setting
forth of candidates to the Moscow State Duma.
The present new attempt radically differs from all the
previous ones because it is being made not on the eve of any
election but, quite the contrary, following the results of the
just held elections. Judging by everything, it was inspired by
Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of the eternally oppositional
Yabloko, though its formal fathers were such first-wave
democrats as Yegor Yakovlev, Yuri Afanasyev and Yuri Ryzhov.
They published an open letter in the press, urging all
democrats to unite.
Yavlinsky was the first to respond passionately. He
expressed his readiness to unite with Sergei Kiriyenko's
democrats on an equal footing. The Union of Right Forces, or
SPS, seem to have accepted the idea quite positively and are
going to study it. However, any analyst who has been watching
Russian political life since the beginning have many doubts.
All are already sick and tired of the image of "a horse
and a fearful doe." But nothing can characterise better the
participants in the present attempt. It goes without saying
that the role of "the horse," that is, the dray-horse, is to be
played by the SPS, whose leaders and activists cooperated with
the Yeltsin regime, participated in the work of governments
and, despite some mistakes, helped to promote reforms beginning
with 1991. Small wonder the SPS leadership is comprised of
ex-premiers, ex-first vice-premiers and ex-vice-premiers,
ex-ministers and ex-leaders of state committees. It is
indicative that the SPS intends to continue co-operating with
the regime - this time, Vladimir Putin's regime.
"The fearful doe" is undoubtedly Yavlinsky who, since
1993, has not accepted any results of the reforms, rejected
Yeltsin's course being in opposition and looked forward to his
team being invited to correct the mistakes made by Yegor Gaidar
and his team. Aloofness has been a conscious policy of Yabloko,
which believed that cooperation with Gaidar's supporters and
comrades - call them Russia's Democratic Choice, the Union of
Right Forces or something else - will discredit it. Up to the
1999 parliamentary elections Yabloko and its leader entertained
hope for a solo success.
It is clear that the 1999 parliamentary elections (when
Yavlinsky's party lost even to the SPS) and, especially the
2000 presidential elections (when he counted to take part in
the runoff but was outpaced by far not only by the winner,
Vladimir Putin, but even the communist leader Gennady Zyuganov)
became a cold shower for Yabloko. This explains its readiness
for cooperation on an equal footing.
A democratic coalition is too good to be true. Despite the
seeming similarity of ideologies and political priorities - a
civilised market with a strong social component, supremacy of
the law, human rights, freedom of the press and information,
harmonious relations with the rest of the world and cooperation
with the West - the two parties have incredibly different
approaches to the urgent problems of Russian politics.
The SPS supports Putin to such a degree that it did not
even set forth its own presidential candidate. Its members are
ready to work in the new government, which is to be formed by
Yabloko has a rather cautious and even negative attitude to
Putin, regarding him nearly as a contender to the future
dictatorship. Yabloko is strongly against any cooperation with
his government. What is more, it is getting ready to assume its
customary oppositional pose.
The SPS, which is increasingly in favour of etatist
ideology, supports Putin's anti-terrorist operation in
Chechnya, whereas Yabloko condemns it, as is vivid from the
interviews of its leaders which are published in the Western
press. So, it is not clear if there is the foundation for an
effective democratic coalition.
There is one more rather substantial circumstance. It is
no secret that relations between Yavlinsky and SPS ideologues
Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais are rather unfriendly. This by
no means improves prospects for a coalition.
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