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30 April 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Elizabeth Piper, Putin hails Orthodox Church on Russian
2. Itar-Tass: US Studies RUSSIA'S Proposal on Non-Strategic Rocket
3. Reuters: Mike Collett-White, Calls for Caspian cooperation go unheeded.
4. Baltimore Sun: Will Englund, A renewed passion for holidays.
Celebrations: Russia has six to choose from next month alone.
Once days of purpose and devotion, they are being transformed into
times of feast and friendship honoring whatever's at hand.
5. The Journal of Commerce: John Helmer, The Cuckoo in the Clock,
(Re Andrei Illarionov)
6. the eXile: Mark Ames, YET ANOTHER LONG-WINDED OP-ED ABOUT
7. A Voice From Siberia: Tamara Epanchintseva on community
Putin hails Orthodox Church on Russian Easter
By Elizabeth Piper
MOSCOW, April 30 (Reuters) - Millions of Russians lit candles and held
glittering icons as they celebrated Orthodox Easter on Sunday and
President-elect Vladimir Putin said the influence of the Orthodox Church
Putin, a former KGB spy who attended a lavish ceremony in Russia's former
imperial capital of St Petersburg, hailed Easter as a time for ``spiritual
revival'' and praised the Church's contribution to the country's
post-Soviet spiritual rebirth.
``Year by year, Easter celebrations are increasingly becoming part of the
life of our society, filling the hearts of millions of Russians with love
and joy, with the kind feelings of charity and compassion,'' Putin said in
a statement to all Russians.
``The widespread celebration of Easter is visible proof of the rebirth of
the spiritual foundations of our society... I believe that together (with
the Church) we will achieve the spiritual revival of a strong, prospering
Russia in the 21st century.''
Religion has revived in Russia since the fall of the officially atheist
Soviet Union, when the KGB was instrumental in suppressing religious
belief. Now political leaders of all stripes, including the Communists,
strongly back the Church.
Putin, who spent years as an officer in the Soviet KGB, said in a book
published last month that he was secretly baptised as a baby and wears a
christening crucifix his mother gave to him to have blessed when he visited
the Holy Land a few years ago.
``I put it on to avoid losing it,'' he said in the book, based on
interviews with two journalists from the respected Kommersant newspaper.
``I haven't removed it since.''
YELTSIN GOES TO FAVOURITE CHURCH
Former President Boris Yeltsin, moving slowly and leaning on his wife,
visited his local church with his daughter, and was welcomed by the priest
with three kisses on his cheeks.
``We celebrated Easter at home, we congratulated each other and then we
came here to our favourite church,'' Yeltsin said outside the church,
wishing all Russians a happy Easter.
Early on Sunday, Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov watched a priest
waft incense and read liturgies in the ornate St Isaac's Cathedral, where
the Tsars used to attend services.
Putin, whose wide popularity with the Russian people gave him clear victory
in a presidential election last month, was given a richly-decorated egg by
the metropolitan, who unusually broke into the service to wish Putin
success as president.
Later on Sunday Putin left for the Black Sea resort of Sochi to spend the
rest of Easter day and to take a break over two days of public holidays for
Bells rang out across Moscow from midnight onwards as Russians visited
churches and then greeted each other with the words ``Christ has risen.''
``He has risen indeed,'' is the expected reply. Easter services went on
well into the day.
At the Epiphany Cathedral in Moscow, crowds queued for hours to attend the
service conducted by the patriarch.
``The Holy Church calls us to love and forgive on this day,'' Patriarch
Alexiy II said in a televised address.
``We need to take the first step to reconciliation, to say kind words, to
hold out our arms to close ones and to endow them with a part of spiritual
US Studies RUSSIA'S Proposal on Non-Strategic Rocket Defence.
WASHINGTON, April 30 (Itar-Tass) -- The Russian side proposed the United
States close cooperation in creating non-strategic ABM systems to contain
the development of the North Korean missile programme, said on Saturday a
spokesman of the U.S. administration who refused to be identified.
He commented on the results of talks between American top officials and
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. The Russian minister was in
Washington on an official visit this week. The talks centered on
Offering such cooperation, the spokesman noted, Ivanov put forth as a
condition Washington's refusal to strive for modification of the 1972 ABM
Treaty. This document forbids the two countries to deploy national ABM
Speaking to the Washington Post, the spokesman said that Moscow tells
Washington: let us act with diplomatic means or to cooperate with creating
non-strategic ABM so as to down missiles in this way, which can be fired
off by such unfriendly countries as North Korea.
The United States refers, above all, to North Korea and Iran as outcast
countries from which such a threat allegedly emanates. According to the
spokesman, on agreeing to study attentively this proposal by Moscow,
nevertheless, the U.S. does not give up their intentions to strive for
modifying the ABM Treaty at the coming June summit between Clinton and Putin.
The spokesman stated that the Russian proposal is called upon to counter a
threat, represented by North Korean medium-range missiles to North Korean
neighbours in the Asian region.
However, he claimed, this proposal cannot remove a threat of using ICBMs
against the U.S., which can be available to self-same North Korea if its
missile programme develops successfully.
Ivanov said during his stay in Washington that "Russia suggests a
constructive alternative to a collapse of the ABM Treaty". The spokesman
noted that in this context, the Russian minister suggested "several ways of
assistance", including technical aid to North Korea in developing its
programme of launching communications satellites so that North Korean
authorities would stop work on creating launch vehicles of military
designation and would concentrate only of civil programmes.
ANALYSIS-Calls for Caspian cooperation go unheeded
By Mike Collett-White
ALMATY, April 30 (Reuters) - ``Cooperate or stagnate'' was the overriding
message from leading world economists and officials to Caspian leaders at
last week's World Economic Forum meeting in Kazakhstan.
``Don't get your hopes up'' was the stark reply from delegates and
Speaker after speaker at a conference dedicated to the eight former Soviet
republics in the volatile but strategic Central Asian and Caucasus regions
warned that member states were too weak economically and politically to go it
The conference was attended by officials from China, Iran, Russia, Turkey and
the United States, business leaders and representatives of the IMF and aid
Executives and academics stressed that the benefit of integration was huge.
It would create a single market attracting consumer goods investment and open
up trade routes vital to getting vast reserves of oil and gas to hard
Yet the calls coincide with a period of worsening relations between Caspian
countries, which have tightened borders in response to security threats and
drug trafficking often linked to war-torn Afghanistan which borders the
region to the south.
Trade barriers and competition between republics rich in oil and gas for
access to world markets were further irritants.
``Now we have created so many barriers that we cannot even speak of freedom
of movement,'' Kyrgyzstan President Askar Akayev said during the summit which
ended late on Friday.
BARRIERS GOING UP, NOT COMING DOWN
``Sadly, reviewing relations in the region during the last two years we note
a process of disintegration rather than integration, with serious
consequences for the region as a whole,'' said one conference delegate.
Political analysts said it was often points on which leaders shared a common
position which were blocking integration.
For example, a series of bomb blasts in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent in
February, 1999, followed by an invasion of Kyrgyzstan by hundreds of radical
Islamic gunmen last year, have raised serious security concerns.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan agree that the violence,
and a booming drug trafficking business from war-torn Afghanistan, has
increased the need to tighten borders.
As a result regional states are considering imposing strict visa requirements
which could have a major impact on the livelihood of millions of people until
recently able to move relatively easily across borders.
And with post-Soviet reforms varying widely from state to state, those
countries with booming black markets and a slower pace of liberalisation like
Uzbekistan have raised trade barriers to limit the outflow of goods to freer
OIL, GAS THE KEY TO FUTURE
The shared aim of getting oil and gas from the landlocked region to markets
has also failed to open new trade routes.
This can be because countries united by planned pipeline projects are
competing for the same consumers.
Thus Azerbaijan's recent discovery of major natural gas reserves threatens to
scupper an ambitious project backed by the United States to pipe Turkmen gas
to Turkey via the Caspian seabed and Azeri and Georgian territory.
While Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan formally agreed to share the link, energy
analysts say that the smaller capacity now available to the Turkmens
following the gas find could push them towards exporting through existing
pipelines across Russia.
And the lack of consensus between littoral countries over the legal status of
the Caspian, with billions of barrels of untapped oil, is another divisive
factor in the region, Iran's first vice-president Hasan Habibi said.
``If unilateral actions for exploitation of Caspian resources continue and no
consensus is reached on its legal status, then the Caspian will become a
source of instability, and God forbid, it will jeopardise the security of the
region,'' he warned.
He added that fierce competition between major powers like Russia, the United
States, Turkey and China for control over the flow of Caspian hydrocarbons
could pit states against each other.
Despite the odds stacked against them, the leaders of Kazakhstan and
Kyrgyzstan vowed to promote regional integration.
``We must all go forward together or lag behind separately,'' Kazakh
President Nursultan Nazarbayev said.
Kyrgyzstan's Akayev added: ``We must display the political will to remove the
barriers between our countries.''
April 30, 2000
[for personal use only]
A renewed passion for holidays
Celebrations: Russia has six to choose from next month alone. Once days of
purpose and devotion, they are being transformed into times of feast and
friendship honoring whatever's at hand.
By Will Englund
Sun Foreign Staff
MOSCOW - Suddenly, spring has broken out here, as it does only in Russia,
with weeks and weeks of pent-up expectation finally giving way in all
places at once, with flowers and verdant grasses and green growth erupting
everywhere, with darkness in full retreat before ever-lengthening hours of
daylight, with sunbathers and lovers on every bench.
Just in time, Russians have before them the chance to celebrate not one,
not two - but six holidays between now and May 9.
Head to the dacha, head to the lake, head to the park; turn the soil, plant
potatoes, fix the car. Forget about work - just forget about it. But one
thing, please: no more ideology.
The Russian holiday has undergone a sparkling transformation. From a
not-always-so-solemn religious festival in centuries past to a satiric
carnival under the Bolsheviks to a parade of slogans and banners under
Stalin to a time of bitter debate under perestroika, it has become simply a
celebration of whatever happens to be at hand.
The Russian holiday has less content than ever, and all the more reason for
"May Day," says a young mother named Alla Koryagina, referring to the
second of the holidays, "is just a tradition now, a pretext to lay out a
feast, invite your friends and rejoice."
Today, by coincidence, is Orthodox Easter, growing rapidly in prominence
but associated in most people's minds with dyeing eggs and eating a cake
called kulich. May Day comes tomorrow. Tuesday is May Day, Part II, a
holiday that's supposed to be about sobering up from the day before; but if
the weather stays fair, it could be a good excuse for extending the bash.
A few paltry days of work follow.
Then, May 7, which Vladimir V. Putin has chosen for his inauguration as
president, is the Day of the Russian Army (not to be confused with the Day
of the Defenders of the Fatherland, Feb. 23, or with the Day of the Armed
Forces of the Russian Federation, a holiday Putin is reported to be
planning to propose for celebration Oct. 1, which this year is the 450th
anniversary of the founding of Russia's regular fighting force by Ivan the
May 8 is Eve of Victory Day (as in the victory over Nazi Germany), and May
9 is Victory Day proper. May 10 is the first day back at any kind of
serious work, but no one is scheduling anything significant until the 11th
at the earliest.
It's not fair to say that these holidays are meaningless. For believers,
Easter is the most important holiday of the year. And the three holidays
over the second weekend have a certain martial tinge to them - but not so
much that most people would let it get between them and a picnic in the
No one pretends otherwise. That's why Yasina Ugryumova is strolling around
Moscow, commemorating her days in a textile factory during World War II,
when she repaired machinery that turned out socks for officers and
"partyanki" - traditional foot wraps - for soldiers. Her factory has
invited all the war-era veterans in for an early Victory Day celebration,
because, come May 9, everyone is going to be out at the dacha.
There are speeches and congratulations and toasts, and then everyone sings
popular songs from the war years. Ugryumova, who has come in on the
suburban train from her daughter's home in Klyazma, declares it a joyful day.
She is 82. Her grandfather was Lenin's cousin (she has a government
document to prove it), and she joined the Communist Party in 1952. She
enjoys and appreciates Victory Day, but of all the holidays at this time of
year, none is more important for her than the First of May.
This was the great day of socialism, celebrated not just in the Soviet
Union but in countries around the world. The date was chosen to commemorate
a bloody confrontation between strikers and police in, of all places,
Chicago, in 1886. In Soviet days, it meant massed legions of workers
parading through Red Square and through central squares throughout the huge
nation, holding banners aloft while bands played, followed by feasts in the
afternoon and fireworks in the evening.
Ugryumova marched through Red Square on some of those May Days and stood as
a guest in front of Lenin's Mausoleum on others.
"Our feeling was that we were the masters of our country," she says, when
asked what it had been like to sweep information into the great dramatic
space before the Kremlin. "We went across the square with great enthusiasm.
We were proud to demonstrate our approval of what was happening in this
country, even though in reality maybe it wasn't always that good. But we
took part with delight and with great pleasure."
Those parades stopped a decade ago, when marchers turned one into an
anti-Soviet demonstration, and then the Soviet Union tumbled apart. Now,
Ugryumova says, the younger generation doesn't have the feeling for the
First of May that its parents had. "The way it was, I take it as a gift of
that time, a gift to us. The time is different now," she says. "Still,
people dress up and go out. It's turning into more of a people's holiday.
Maybe that's not so bad. Maybe it will last longer that way."
Vika Zakharina thinks so. She's the mother of a 1-year-old and a friend of
Alla Koryagina's. "May Day was a holiday imposed on us from the top. But
the essence of it wasn't bad, and people got used to it, and now they enjoy
it on their own. Now we have holidays without any fake patriotic coloring."
"The significance has gone out of it," says Koryagina. "The significance
has gone to Easter."
That's true, to the extent that people like to go through the motions of
celebrating a revived religious holiday. A recent poll showed that 54
percent of Russians consider themselves believers, and 85 percent plan to
celebrate Easter. The Moskhleb bakery company plans to turn out 700 tons of
Easter cakes this year.
"But to some extent Easter has simply become fashionable," says Yelena
Streltsova, an academic specialist on Russian and Soviet holidays. If the
First of May no longer stands for the birth of something new, then Easter
is a handy alternative. "I'm not a believer myself," she says. "... But
I'll be celebrating Easter."
In traditional Russia, Streltsova says, one holiday celebrated when the
birch leaves reached the size of an old 3-kopeck coin; on another, Yegoriev
Day, cattle were to be taken out to pasture in the spring, and women would
caress the animals' hides with eggs for luck.
Before the revolution, Russia had 42 holidays over the course of the year,
and what it has now pales in comparison, despite an impressive bout of days
off over Christmas and New Year's that matches the springtime extravaganza.
There was the Day of Ilya the Prophet, the Rye Harvest Day, the Day of the
Apple Savior. Russians were passionate about their holidays, Streltsova
says, and today, though they have dropped the stirring demonstrations,
they're rediscovering that passion in other ways.
Moscow is planning some "Let's Laugh" days this summer. Someone's pushing a
Day of Beer, in the land of vodka. Holidays that used to be about purpose
and devotion are about friends and fun. And who, asks Zakharina, could
possibly object to that?
From: "John Helmer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: THE CUCKOO IN THE CLOCK
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2000
Coming soon in The Journal of Commerce.
THE CUCKOO IN THE CLOCK
>From John Helmer in Moscow
Ask a Swiss clock-maker whether a wooden cuckoo can tell the time, and he
will say you are mad.
Andrei Illarionov is the cuckoo in the clock. Only he thinks that he
controls the mechanism, and it is up to him to decide when to announce the
Illarionov was named early in April to be the economic advisor to
President-elect Vladimir Putin; he is the first official appointment of the
new Russian government. Because Putin himself has been reticent, vague, and
contradictory on his economic policy intentions, and because the formation of
a new government is taking so long, Illarionov's appointment has been
fastened on by Russian analysts as a pointer of what Putin is
likely to decide. According to most interpretations -- to adapt the avian
metaphor just a little -- Illarionov is the first swallow of the summer: a
committed economic reformer with impeccable liberal credentials.
Just what this means Illarionov himself has been explaining in private and
in public for several weeks now.
Asked how he views his own advice to the new president of Russia, Illarionov
said publicly this week that Putin isn't interested in economic theory,
much less in Illarionov's version of liberalism. "If there is something Putin
is interested in," he conceded, "it's a strictly prudent approach to the
The acid test for the advisor, Illarionov claimed, is that he "must meet the
president relatively frequently to discuss significant matters, and at least
offer concrete advice."
Over a private luncheon of filet mignon, washed liberally down with burgundy,
Ilarionov claimed to be exceedingly influential on both scores. Putin did
more than just listen, he claimed. "If Putin didn't agree with me, he would
not have appointed me."
Well then, Illarionov was asked by his dining companions, just what
concretely he has been advising Putin to do? "To divorce the state from
business; to keep the state out of business," he replied.
How did he advise the president to apply this rule to the recent intervention
by Putin to settle a dispute over energy pricing and payment policy between
Gazprom, Russia's gas monopoly, and United Energetic Systems (UES), the
Well, Illarionov had to concede, that wasn't a matter on which he had
any advice at all. In fact, he added, "in no other country would a president
settle a dispute between gas and power companies. That's not politics. It's
Illarionov doesn't know a great deal about the countries he likes to cite in
support of views like that. And he doesn't brook argument about them either.
He has simply ignored the obvious facts that in Russia Gazprom and UES are
state-owned and managed; are the two largest tax-payers to the federal
budget; and are two of the most powerful fiscal control instruments the
government has at its disposal.
Just how careless the advisor is with his evidence is apparent from a
recent interview, in which he said he had studied the economic growth of
42 oil-producing countries. From this, Illarionov claimed to have discovered,
36 had enjoyed growth when oil prices were falling. Russia was one of the
minority of six which did not.
Illarionov then jumped to the conclusion that for Russia to experience real
growth, oil prices should fall, not rise.
Naturally, if Illarionov is called in to see his president, he isn't likely
to have time to explain the difference between the oil-dependent and other
economies he looked at. He almost certainly won't want to get into a
discussion with Putin over the difference between oil-producers whose ruling
families steal the oil revenues, and oil-producers whose revenues are
administered openly by elected parliaments, and publicly accountable
But if Putin were to ask Illarionov whether the democratic kingdom of Norway
experiences economic growth when oil prices are falling, the advisor is
likely to be stumped. Growth in Norway depends on rising oil revenues, he is
bound to admit. And the difference between Norway and Russia? The similarity
between the Saudi ruling family and the Yeltsin family? Well, as Illarionov
likes to say, that's politics, not business. Or is it the other way round?
To most Russians, Illarionov's advice to rely on business is an invitation to
perpetuate the grand larceny that has stripped the economy of most of its
assets, eliminated the banking system, corrupted commercial practice and
law enforcement, and destroyed the savings of most individuals.
How can a criminalized state do more by spending less, as he proposes?
Where will the money go if Illarionov cuts taxation? Who trusts Russia's
business leadership to invest at home?
Most Russians, and most Russian politicians, are certain they know the
answers to those questions. But Illarionov pretends not to see. He prefers
to speak of reading Ayn Rand; introducing the Chilean model of privately
managed pension funds; and eliminating government support for farmers,
according to the New Zealand prescription. Has the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
ever experienced hyper-inflation, he asks, implying (incorrectly) that the
haven for European capital never fell into that trap.
There are two theories of what Putin has done by appointing this man. Both of
them start with the understanding that Illarionov is in another world.
The theory of the politicians is that Illarionov is the camouflage the new
president needs to convince Washington and the international finance community
he is serious about economic reform. At the same time, Illarionov's
generalities will allow Putin all the manoeuvering room he wants to
accommodate the real forces in the Russian economy he isn't strong enough to
The second theory is that Illarionov is so enamoured of himself, Putin
expects him to discredit reform economics in no time at all.
Both versions do not expect the advisor to meet his own standard for an
advisor; or to last long at all in the Kremlin's service.
From: "Mark Ames" <email@example.com>
Subject: Putin op-ed
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000
YET ANOTHER LONG-WINDED OP-ED ABOUT PUTIN
By Mark Ames
There used to be so much at stake.
For us here at the eXile, the battle in Russia between the reformists and
the anti-reformists was like one of those ruthless Cold War-era proxy wars:
Angola, Nicaragua, Cambodia... we'd often side with the vilest of militia
leaders because the most important thing was to prevent the opponent from
metastasizing any further, from pushing you farther back.
Russia, we hoped, would be our paradigmatic Stalingrad; the cubicle
partitions would be turned back somewhere around Khimki… either that, or
what remained of the cubicle-free world would be partitioned for good. We
had reason to be optimistic: The Russians destroyed Napoleon and Hitler -
surely they could fend off Dilbert, capture him, and return his cartoon
corpse to his American votaries, mutilated and disfigured as a warning to
all that the Cubicle World stops at Smolensk, right?
Wrong. You can't fight Dilbert. It's like trying to fight The Gap. You may
as well try to strangle gravity. You just can't do it. In fact, the only way
to kill The Gap is to kill yourself. This is the only thing The Gap fears: a
lost market, a Dead Unisex Soul (or Mertvaya Odnopolaya Dusha) no longer
capable of consuming.
Two years ago, Russia did precisely that - it committed suicide and sent The
Gap packing for Prague. By August 1998, the Battle of Stalingrad had
arrived. But instead of a spectacular, Blake-ean cataclysm, Russia simply
went limp… and eventually, so did we. But just when there was limpness all
around, out of the shriveled, numb foreskin of Russia, there appeared
We're not digressing here, much as we'd like to. This whole Putin thing is
so degrading and depressing that our spleens tell us the only way to fight
it is to ignore it. Because if there's one thing that has been more annoying
in recent months than the American media's blatant whitewashing of the Putin
phenomenon, it's all those long-winded, meaningless, hand-lotion-lubed op-ed
pieces and analyses, each struggling to differentiate itself from all the
other hyper-clever analyses by employing a surfeit of clever tropes and by
pimping a metaphor or coining a phrase it is hoped will be widely adopted,
thereby allowing its inventor access to even more publications. To reach a
self-perpetuating state of reprodublication, to coin a phrase.
We don't have a fresh angle to offer on Putin - in fact, we're purposely,
even aggressively unoriginal in our interpretation of him. Because to be
original and witty when discussing a purely manufactured phenomenon is to
play into its sponsors' hands, helping to further cloak the creature within.
On the other hand, readers of our newspaper, particularly the web version,
have been increasingly harassing us with questions of the "What The Hell's
Happening Over There?" sort, and now that we're planning to hit the road for
a five-week book tour of America, we decided that we'd probably save
everyone a lot of sweat if we tried to answer your questions in advance.
So here's what we're going to do. We're going to put away our metaphors and
Thesauri, and just lay our cards right out on the table for you folks, so's
you knows exactly where we stands - who's a friend, and who's an enemy.
Here then, is our list of the 10 MOST POPULAR AND BLATANT MYTHS ABOUT
VLADIMIR PUTIN that the Western media is overtly or covertly foisting onto
its clients, and the facts that belie them. We do this not to show how much
our Putin differs from the conventional portrayal, but rather to demonstrate
how utterly recognizable and unmysterious he is. And to shut you up. Along
the margins of this virtual wonk-lead, we'll also be publishing utterly
extraneous material to demonstrate our disdain for the whole new Putinology
industry - not because we honestly loathe it, but because it makes us appear
cooler and more indifferent than we really are. And hopefully, it will stop
people with too much time on their hands from bothering us with weighty
questions about What's Really Going On Over Here.
Myth #1: PUTIN IS A TOUGH, NO-NONSENSE LEADER
Fact: Putin is a quintessential functionary, a bloodless mediocrity whose
record in the KGB would be almost laughable - if it weren't so
borderline-sinister. His superiors decided to park him in friendly East
Germany like some Gomer Pyle who needed to be protected from himself, where
Putin dithered in what for his directorate was the equivalent of a
provincial Siberian post, while his more successful peers were slipping
across NATO borders in Western clothes and cars, dining in fine restaurants,
and swapping dollars for documents. From there, Putin began an astonishingly
slow ascent that would have been the equivalent to getting "put out to
pasture" in today's corporate world. For his services, he was awarded a
bronze medal for his covert work in Leipzig, where even the local brew-house
wenches mockingly referred to the notoriously beer-shy spook as "Vladi The
Putin's former boss, ex-KGB General Oleg Kalugin, called him a "mediocrity"
and "totally Soviet" in his approach to governance.
Myth #2: PUTIN IS GOING TO TACKLE CORRUPTION
Fact: As Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg, Putin oversaw the complete and
total criminalization (including the takeover of potentially lucrative ports
by the Tambov Mafia) of a vibrant city that was poised to become Tallinn
times ten. If Putin's career as a spy only earned him a bronze medal
consolation prize, then his career as a corrupt official would earn him a
string of golds (which would explain his supposedly mysterious rise to the
(a) In 1992, he oversaw approval of lucrative export licenses, the proceeds
from which were supposed to fund food aid to needy Petersburg residents;
instead, several million dollars in profits disappeared. Putin was accused
of personally enriching himself, and the local city council requested his
(b) Arranged contracts and soft credits for the shady Twenty Trust
construction company, which received millions of dollars for work that was
never completed and loans that were never repaid; although Twenty Trust did
manage to build Putin a $600,000 dacha;
(c) In the corruption case against his former boss Anatoly Sobchak, it was
learned that Putin's mother was given a prime Petersburg apartment almost
for free; even though Sobchak admitted that it was "absolutely true" and
that he was merely helping out "poor old mothers" like Putin's mom, the case
against him was dropped when Putin was plucked from Pavel Borodin's side and
appointed head of the FSB in 1998;
(d) Was brought to Moscow in 1996 to serve under Pavel Borodin, who is
wanted in Switzerland for money laundering in the infamous Mabatex scandal;
it is impossible to believe that the career spy and law graduate Vladimir
Putin, as Borodin's trusted second-in-command, was unaware of Borodin's
dirty dealings with Mabatex;
(e) Secured and released the video of "someone resembling" then-General
Prosecutor Yuri Skuratov boning two Russian whores, then forged a criminal
case against him, a move which snuffed out Skuratov's investigations into
oligarchic corruption and money laundering, and which led to his replacement
by a pliant prosecutor who subsequently dropped the high-level war on
(f) Named Mikhail Kasyanov as his second-in-command; Kasyanov, nicknamed
"two-percent Misha" for his debt-manipulation swindle in cahoots with
Yeltsin Family scam artist Alexander Mamut (who heads the tainted Sobinbank
and MDM-bank), is believed to have been involved in developing the scheme by
which state money was laundered in Swiss banks through Mabatex going back to
1996, when the de facto head of government worked in the Finance Ministry;
(g) Why doesn't Putin mention the Bank of New York scandal? Because he and
his sponsors ARE the BoNY scandal.
Myth #3: PUTIN WILL CUT THE OLIGARCHS DOWN TO SIZE
Fact: Putin was manufactured and installed by the oligarchs in order to
protect them and their interests.
His political party, Unity, was created, funded, and marketed by Boris
Berezovsky, the so-called Godfather of Russia, and Roman Abramovich, who has
sometimes been called the man behind the man, and was so frightening that
even the Russian media was too nervous to publish his picture until he
decided to run for a seat in the Duma; for their services, Berezovsky and
Abramovich were allowed to seize control of most of Russia's aluminum
industry. Putin is said to be close to Alfa's Peter Aven, whom he met back
in 1992; his presidential campaign headquarters and economic think tank are
located on property owned by SBS-Agro's Alexander Smolensky; RAO-UES head
Anatoly Chubais, a fellow Petersburger, has played a key role in advising
Putin and bringing him to power and prominence, and has been fighting with
Berezovsky for Putin's favor (sound familiar?).
Myth #4: PUTIN IS A NATIONALIST AND A PATRIOT
Fact: It is entirely possible that Putin (or, more likely, his sponsors)
blew up his own citizens' apartment buildings and, led Berezovsky and
Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev, staged an invasion of Dagestan and the
subsequent second Chechen War in order to rally public support. His Unity
party faction in the Duma voted to quash an investigation into an incident
in Ryazan last September when FSB agents were caught planting hexagen bombs
in the basement of an apartment building. The FSB later said that their
agents were merely testing the local police and citizenry for their
vigilance, and Putin has led the fight to quash any further inquiries.
Myth #5: PUTIN IS FRIENDLY TO FOREIGN INVESTORS
Fact: Putin's attitude towards foreigners is no different from that of any
other Russian bureaucrat.
Do you know any Westerner who made a bundle in St. Petersburg, operating in
an environment known for its respect for law, while Putin was its Deputy
Mayor and top liason with foriegn investors? We don't. But we do know a few
famous stories of big-time foreigner fleecing, right under Putin's stunted
chin. Subway, one of the world's largest fast-food chains (second only to
McDonald's), opened an outlet in 1994 to great fanfare, with plans to open
at least thirty more. Within months, the Russian partner had stolen the
business from the Americans; subsequent rulings by both the Arbitration
Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and the Russian Supreme Court
awarding almost $2 million dollars in compensation to the fleeced Americans
were totally ignored, and meanwhile the stolen restaurant was allowed to
freely operate just a hop, skip, and a jump from Putin's office. Also while
deputy mayor, he oversaw the Kremlin-managed appropriation of an expensive
dacha owned by German citizen Franz Sedelmeyer, which sent shockwaves
through Petersburg's expatriate community. When a Russian court subsequently
ruled that the government should compensate Sedelmeyer to the tune of $2.3
million dollars, Putin is alleged to have responded, "Tchya, and sauerkraut
might fly out of my butt." Shortly after he was named to head the FSB in
July of 1998, it is believed that top Russian officials and oligarchs stole
an emergency $4.8 billion IMF stabilization loan, spiriting the entire sum
out of the country. During Putin's tenure as prime minister, BP Amoco
accused the Russian government of colluding with Tyumen Oil Company to strip
BP of valuable assets in rigged bankruptcy proceedings, a process that was
only reversed when the U.S. government and media intervened with
unprecedented hysteria and pressure.
Myth #6: PUTIN IS A RIDDLE WRAPPED IN A MYSTERY INSIDE AN ENIGMA
Fact: Putin is a chinless, five-foot-six snitch wrapped (by his dumpy wife)
inside ridiculously oversized herringbone double-breasted suits, incongruous
Zegna ties, and platform shoes, which make him look like an overzealous
David Byrne groupie crashing a singles party at the Lodge.
Myth #7: PUTIN IS A DEMOCRAT
Fact: Putin is a bureaucrat.
Myth #8. PUTIN IS AN AUTOCRAT
Fact: Putin is a bureaucrat.
Myth #9. PUTIN TELLS IT LIKE IT IS
Fact: "A Sukhoi-27 is the cheapest[!], safest[!!!], fastest, way to fly
[from Sochi] to Grozny... Frankly, the last thing I think about is symbols."
- Putin on why he hitched a ride into Chechnya in the backseat of an Su-27
on the eve of Russia's presidential elections.
Myth #10. PUTIN IS WIDELY POPULAR AMONG A RUSSIAN POPULACE THAT IS WEARY OF
Fact: The Russian population no longer counts. They were brainwashed in a
media campaign so savagely manipulative it made the Goebbels' propaganda
machine look like a creaky horse-and-buggy by comparison; with the
opposition destroyed, fear of a resurgent KGB checking people's will to
dissent, and a manufactured war and terrorism threat gripping the nation,
there was no choice left. There is as much genuine enthusiasm for Putin as
there was for any other "elected" official during Soviet times: it's called
From: "Sarah C. Lindemann" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: A Voice From Siberia
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000
A Voice From Siberia
Recently a JRL reader expressed interest in hearing more from people who
are engaged in changes that are taking place in Russia. The following is
an article written by Tamara Epanchintseva, Executive Director, Krasnoyarsk
Center for Community Partnerships (KCCP). KCCP is an NGO that has been
responsible for developing a Siberian model for community schools (the
first community school model in Russia). As the director of the Parabel
Village, Tomsk Oblast school Ms. Epanchintseva first became acquainted with
this concept when she took part in the KCCP year long Community School
Training Program. Since assuming her new position she has been responsible
for attracting the attention of the Russian Federation Ministry of
Education to the Siberian community school model.
The model she describes is of great significance as Russia continues its
transition to democracy if one considers that maintaining quality education
is key to this process. Federal budget cutbacks have compelled schools to
seek any means possible to raise money to maintain educational standards.
The mechanisms employed prior to the introduction of these foundations have
been illegal which leaves schools vulnerable to the tax police and
corruption. In addition, parents have grown tired of constant requests
for money without any transparency, accountability or opportunity for
input. The Siberian community school solution to the budget deficit is
developing partnerships. The most sophisticated form of partnership is the
creation of a community school foundation. In 9 regions of Siberia schools
have created foundations based on community school democratic principles.
They have attracted top businessmen, local government officials, Federal
Duma deputies, parents, graduates, teachers and school administors to serve
on their Board of Directors. These foundations are establishing linkages
that bring together all sectors of the community that have been operating
with few opportunities for cultivating cooperation or understanding.
The other significant aspect of this work is that the experience of a
Siberian NGO is being taken seriously and has attracted the attention of
federal level policy makers. Some could criticize these foundations as
helping to enable wrong headed policy to be maintained, a finger in the
dike. However, one thing I have learned about development is there are
times when a finger in the dike is what is needed, keeping the flood at
bay. This allows people time to get the information, skills, respect and
experience necessary to solve the problem by working in partnership with
government to insure that budget priorities respond to the true will of the
ABOUT BOARDS OF TRUSTEES AND NOT ONLY
By Tamara Epanchintseva
Executive Director, Krasnoyarsk Center for Community Partnerships (KCCP)
"Man has two worlds: One that created him, the other that man has been
creating himself from time immemorial"
The world which has created us is not exactly lenient to us. Yet, any
crisis situation can be approached constructively (as people's wisdom,
expressed in a saying, goes: "There is no bad without a grain of good").
No one would want to argue with that.
Let us try to look from this constructive point of view at the situation in
which Russian schools have lived for a few years now, i. e. the situation
of a chronic shortage of funds. It is widely believed that it is the
government that is in charge of the funding for schools. This thought is
typical and - we might as well admit it - comforting psychologically. It
means that the principal is not responsible for the calamitous situation of
his school, at least as far as finances go and a lack of finances allows us
to excuse many things. Aside from that, many educators find attractive the
"destitute but proud" position, as Ms. E. Kulik, the principal of the
Divnogorsk Boarding School, once put it. This position at least has some
undefeatable dignity about it, and the remainders of dignity are the last
line which we, teachers, are willing to defend to the death.
Yet, many principals who truly take school affairs to heart, and not just
in their official capacity, are now more and more inclined to give up that
position. This, it seems, is that "good" without which there is no kind of
"evil". Constant resource constraints have led to many educators changing
their attitudes, a process which can be quite painful at times. One school
principal, a participant at a session of the KCCP Community School
Development Training Program, described the feelings he had during the
training as "very disturbed." We traditionally perceived the position of
a "petitioner" trying to convince a rich and influential outsider that for
some reason they should fund a particular program of the school as
humiliating. Of course, it is much more comfortable to consider oneself
"destitute but proud." Yet, over the years of financial troubles many of
us, teachers and school administrators have "grown up" to realize the
importance of building up partner relationships with parents, businesses,
government, and the entire community in which the school operates.
School-community foundations and school boards of trustees are possible
forms of developing such relationships. However, if a school-community
foundation is assigned the role of just a "piggy bank" accumulating
parents' funds, it will result in 90% of other lawful opportunities for
additional non-budgetary funding not being used. Such other lawful
opportunities are great. Evidence of this comes in concrete examples of
work being done by existing school-community foundations in Siberia.
N. A. Kharchenko, principal of school #187, Novosibirsk, says:
"The money that parents give are being accumulated on lawful grounds by the
Foundation as charitable donations. Instead of beginning it's work by
collecting donations, the Foundation started with a large scale charitable
event. It was only after that the Foundation asked parents for help in
return and parents responded positively. One of the parents talked the
management of his enterprise into donating 200 tons of sand. The
Foundation exchanged this material for goods and materials the school
needed. The Parents' Foundation repaired the school's gym - 200 m2 of new
flooring were laid! Having learned that some families cannot afford to
feed children for days in a row, the Foundation arranged help for such
families: a free loaf of bread every day. As it turned out, some young
teachers needed such help, too. This academic year the Foundation is also
planning to open a second hand store. The first piece of clothes was
donated by the principal, an example followed by both teachers and parents.
The next step will be the school students collecting clothes from the
neighborhood residents. It will be their volunteer campaign.
We have been able to get the Heads of the District Administration and
District Education Department on the Foundation's Board of Trustees. Now I
deal with them not only as my bosses but also as the school's trustees. As
a result, for the first time in many years funds have been found for
renovation of the school sewage system. And this, I believe, is just the
beginning. I greatly look forward to this process. Meanwhile, the
Foundation is wasting no time. It has involved neighborhood residents in
collecting signatures under the protest petition against the parking lot
which is located right in the center of the residential area and is of no
use for the neighborhood residents. The only condition on which they would
agree to tolerate a parking lot there is on-going charitable aid to the
school from the owners. Soon, this petition will be presented to the local
Having successfully established partner relationships within the community,
the principal has been able to raise substantial amounts of additional
funds. Who would have thought that it would be accomplished by the person
who said 11/2 years ago how uncomfortable one feels dealing with businesses
and governments. Indeed, if we want to change the world, we are to start
Initiatives of school-community foundations are diverse depending on local
situations in different places. The Trustees of the Parabel Secondary
School (Tomsk Oblast) have organized paid-for computer courses for
grown-ups - a good source of supplementary funds for the school-community
foundation. L. Mityuklyayeva, the principal of Zheleznogorsk gymnasium
#91, tells how the gymnasium and its Charitable Foundation went beyond the
school premises, began to build up partner relationships with the community
and thus discovered new diverse resources, and not only material, but
intellectual and informational as well. "We realized", she says, " that
the neighborhood would actively help the gymnasium if we helped it, too.
We realized that it was impossible to create an ideal "micro-environment"
merely within the gymnasium. One has to think in terms of a better life
for the entire neighborhood, and it is achievable. In order to attain that
goal, the gymnasium and the Foundation offered to create a territorial
self-government by electing building committees and a Neighborhood Council
for neighborhood residents. Having done such large-scale work with the
community we identified new ways of co-operation with City authorities and
got them involved as partners in implementation of our programs. In
particular, the City authorities assumed the task of setting up a public
gym on the premises of our gymnasium."
All the above examples show a new role for the school. In such a school
children and parents are not just consumers of educational services, but
participants in the processes of school and community development. The
school becomes the hub of community life, receives various resources from
the community which are then used to perfect its core activity, namely,
education. At the same time many schools have realized their socially
significant role as a factor preventing the processes of disintegration of
society, loosening of its ties, "atomization," as sociologists put it, as
no new healthy generation can grow up in a society torn by dissension and
conflicts. So, the beautiful idea of creating a mini-society which would
live in harmony is inseparable from the school's core activity as an
Why is it that the Boards of Trustees of school-community foundations who
have received training at Community School Development training sessions
are successful, whereas other boards set up in compliance with the
President's Decree (# 1134 "On Additional Measures For The Support Of
Compulsory Education Institutions In The Russian Federation." August 31,
1999.) are likely to remain just another superfluous management bodies?
That question was asked at a meeting of the Economic Council of the RF
Ministry of Education where the Krasnoyarsk Center for Community
Partnerships (KCCP) presented its Program. Really, why? Isn't it because
the procedure of establishing the boards described above was democratic
right from the very first step? "It took us two years of painstaking work
to set up a workable Foundation and get the maximum possible number of
parents involved in its work", says L. Mityuklyayeva. " We were forming a
favorable public opinion using all forms of communication with the parents,
including various printed materials." Just an order by the principal is
not enough to create such a Board. No less important is the role of
training which school representatives receive at KCCP where they master
techniques and skills of non-commercial work. However, the most important
prerequisite for Board success is a mechanism ensuring the Board's impact
on the processes going on in the school as the Board is to act as the
executive body of the school-community foundation.
That is why KCCP's experience was discussed so actively at the meeting of
the Economic Council of the RF Ministry of Education. In particular, one
of the Council members said that it was for the first time since the
President's Decree had been issued that he saw a legally impeccable plan
for establishment of school boards of trustees as the executive body of a
school-based NGO. Many schools may indeed find useful this specific method
of establishment of a successful Board of Trustees which not only attracts
community's resources to support secondary education but also establishes
traditions and practices of school-based civic activity. That is why the
Economic Council passed the following resolution:
· To approve the Krasnoyarsk Center for Community Partnerships' programs
promoting establishment of school boards of trustees which are to
facilitate an active co-operation between schools and the communities they
are operating in, and to help raise additional non-budgetary funds and
· To recommend to the Department of Regional Educational Policy and the
Department of Economy of the Ministry of Education that they take account
that experience when preparing draft regulations and designing
methodological aids on how to establish secondary school boards of trustees."
How to organize public management of schools and how to turn boards of
trustees into a mechanism of real trusteeship? Mr. A. I. Adamsky (Chair
of the Federal Pilot Projects Board, Director of Evrika Institute for
Educational Policies and a reporter for "1st of September" an all Russian
newspaper for secondary schools) believes these questions to be of the
utmost importance. He posed them for a wide discussion in his article
about the All-Russian Conference of Educators which was held at the State
Kremlin Palace, Moscow, on January 14 and 15.
KCCP has its own answers to those questions, and its ways seem to promise
great success, evidence whereof is the experience accumulated by schools in
the nine regions of Siberia involved in the Siberian community school
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