This Date's Issues: 4299
Johnson's Russia List
14 May 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Putin moves to trim powers of Russian regions.
2. Itar-Tass: PUTIN ISSUES DECREE SETTING OUT FORMATION OF SEVEN
FEDERAL DISTRICTS IN RUSSIA.
3. Interfax: RUSSIAN COMMUNIST LEADER UNCERTAIN ABOUT PUTIN'S DECREE ON DISTRICTS.
4. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): John Simpson, Heavy-handed secret
police test Putin's loyalties.
5. Laura Belin: Primakov as an alternative.
6. The Russia Journal: Otto Latsis, A new generation rules.
7. The Russia Journal: Andrei Piontkovsky, Lessons from Kosovo:
one year on.
8. New York Times: The K.G.B. Candidate. Three Moscow journalists talk
to Russia's new president. (BERNARD GWERTZMAN reviews Putin interview book)
9. BBC MONITORING: RUSSIAN FEDERAL SECURITY SERVICE SPOKESMAN
DEFENDS ACTION AGAINST MEDIA GROUP.
10. BBC MONITORING: NEWSPAPER REPORTS RISING FASCISM IN RUSSIAN
11. Reuters: Putin rival set to win vote in Russian second city.
12. Reuters: Ice hockey-Tretyak voted Russia's best this
ANALYSIS-Putin moves to trim powers of Russian regions
By Oleg Shchedrov
MOSCOW, May 14 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has marked his
first week after inauguration with moves to rein in influential regional
leaders and tighten control over the world's largest country.
Putin and his prime minister-designate, Mikhail Kasyanov, who faces a
confirmation vote in parliament on Wednesday, have been coy about their
economic and political plans.
But Putin has clearly set as a priority the imposition of common rules of the
game for the whole country and reinstatement of central control from Moscow
over 89 regions, largely lost during the rule of his predecessor Boris
Putin's military operation in separatist Chechnya won him broad popularity
and underwrote victory in the March presidential election for the previously
little known ex-spy.
But some Russian regions, including the mainly Moslem republics of
Bashkortostan and Tatarstan in Central Russia, have won many rights demanded
by Chechnya without fighting a war.
``The reality is that some Russian regions enjoy unlimited legislative
freedom which in some cases bordered on full independence,'' Nezavisimaya
According to the daily Izvestia, up to 30 percent of regional legislation,
including acts regulating property rights, tax and customs rules, stand in
violation of federal laws.
On Thursday, Putin dusted off constitutional powers unused by Yeltsin to
suspend laws passed by bodies in Ingushetia, a region bordering Chechnya, in
Bashkortostan and in the Amur region on the Chinese border.
He told Bashkortostan's leader, Murtaza Rakhimov, to amend regional
legislation to remove discrepancies with federal law.
On Saturday, Putin issued a decree splitting Russia into seven vast zones,
each controlled by a presidential envoy in charge of several regions.
CUTTING GOVERNORS DOWN TO SIZE
The decree does not spell out the precise powers of the new watchdog
officials and for the moment has not touched the powers of regional leaders.
But it could become an instrument in seizing control over financial levers,
tax authorities, police and security services in regions, ultimately reducing
the role of governors to largely decorative functions.
``This is a serious signal to regional leaders,'' Vladimir Ryzhkov, an
influential centrist member of the State Duma (lower house of parliament)
told NTV television.
``If administrative reform develops along these lines, the Kremlin's control
over Russia would dramatically strengthen. Any further steps in this
direction would indeed make regional bosses nervous.''
One of the possible follow-up steps in the Kremlin's tug-of-war with regional
bosses could be legislation empowering the president to suspend regional
leaders and councils if they violated federal laws.
There is little doubt Putin would win backing for such steps in the Duma,
where pro-Kremlin parties now have a majority. But the Federation Council,
the upper house comprising the regional leaders, could well become a strong
Putin has yet to make clear whether he is prepared to wage full-scale
political war with the regions with the same grim determination he has
displayed in tackling separatist rebels in Chechnya.
Up to now, the Kremlin's attempts to impose its will on the regions have
ending in confusion.
Late last year, when Putin was prime minister running Russia day-to-day for
the ailing Yeltsin, a Kremlin attempt to back a friendly candidate as
governor of Moscow region failed.
So did Putin's attempt to oppose outright St Petersburg Mayor Vladimir
Yakovlev in the local election being held on Sunday. The Kremlin had to call
back its candidate, Valentina Matviyenko, after polls showed her badly
PUTIN ISSUES DECREE SETTING OUT FORMATION OF SEVEN FEDERAL DISTRICTS IN RUSSIA
Moscow, 13th May: President Vladimir Putin on Saturday [13th May] signed a
decree ordering the creation of federal districts in Russia.
There will be seven federal districts in Russia and each of them will
incorporate several republics, territories and regions.
The president will also appoint his representative to each federal district.
The purpose of the reorganization is to "ensure the exercise by the
president of the Russian Federation of his constitutional powers, to make
the work of federal bodies of state power more effective and to improve
control over compliance with their decisions", the presidential press
The decree approves a list of districts and their capitals. These are the
Central Federal District (capital Moscow); the Northwest Federal District
(capital St Petersburg); the North Caucasus Federal District (capital
Rostov-na-Donu); the Volga Federal District (capital Nizhniy Novgorod); the
Urals Federal District (capital Yekaterinburg); the Siberian Federal
District (capital Novosibirsk), and the Far Eastern Federal District
The Central Federal District: Belgorod Region, Bryansk Region, Vladimir
Region, Voronezh Region, Ivanovo Region, Kaluga Region, Kostroma Region,
Kursk Region, Lipetsk Region, Moscow Region, Orel Region, Ryazan Region,
Smolensk Region, Tambov Region, Tver Region, Tula Region and Yaroslavl
The Northwest Federal District: Republic of Karelia, Republic of Komi,
Archangel Region, Vologda Region, Kaliningrad Region, Leningrad Region,
Murmansk Region, Novgorod Region, Pskov Region, St Petersburg and the
Nenets Autonomous Area.
The North Caucasus Federal District: Republic of Adygeya (Adygeya),
Republic of Dagestan, Republic of Ingushetia, Kabardar-Balkar Republic,
Republic of Kalmykia, Karachay-Cherkess Republic, Republic of North
Ossetia-Alania, the Chechen Republic, Krasnodar Territory, Stavropol
Territory, Astrakhan Region, Volgograd Region and Rostov Region.
The Volga Federal District: Republic of Bashkortostan, Republic of Mari El,
Republic of Mordovia, Republic of Tatarstan (Tatarstan), the Udmurt
Republic, the Chuvash Republic, Kirov Region, Nizhniy Novgorod Region,
Orenburg Region, Penza Region, Perm Region, Samara Region, Saratov Region,
Ulyanovsk Region and the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Area.
The Urals Federal District: Kurgan Region, Sverdlovsk Region, Tyumen
Region, Chelyabinsk Region, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area and the
Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area.
The Siberian Federal District: Republic of Altay, Republic of Buryatia,
Republic of Tyva, Republic of Khakassia, Altay Territory, Krasnoyarsk
Territory, Irkutsk Region, Kemerovo Region, Novosibirsk Region, Omsk
Region, Tomsk Region, Chita Region, Aga Buryat Autonomous Area, the Taymyr
(Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous Area, the Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Area and
the Evenki Autonomous Area.
The Far Eastern Federal District: Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Maritime
Territory, Khabarovsk Territory, Amur Region, Kamchatka Region, Magadan
Region, Sakhalin Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Koryak
Autonomous Area and the Chukotka Autonomous Area.
RUSSIAN COMMUNIST LEADER UNCERTAIN ABOUT PUTIN'S DECREE ON DISTRICTS
Moscow, Kazan, 14th May: The leader of the Russian Communist Party and of
its parliamentary faction, Gennadiy Zyuganov, has a dual opinion of the
presidential decree instituting presidential representatives in Russia's
seven federal districts.
"It's extremely important to restore the vertical system of authority and
normal control over the country, as some of the regional leaders have
actually turned into khans and sheikhs," Zyuganov told Interfax on Sunday
[14th May]. "Bureaucratic rules and lawlessness have blighted many regions,
making ordinary citizens suffer," he said.
He noted, however, that "the decision for which the president has opted is
a replica of the principle of seven military districts into which Russia is
divided". Before signing such a decree the president should have announced
his concept for restoring the normal system of control over the country,
Tatar President Mintimer Shaymiyev has welcomed the decree which, he said,
"will help the president to perform his constitutional duties more
The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
14 May 2000
[for personal use only]
Simpson on Sunday: Heavy-handed secret police test Putin's loyalties
By John Simpson
John Simpson is World Affairs Editor of the BBC
RATHER early in Vladimir Putin's presidency of the Russian Federation, he
has been obliged to show us who he really is.
Last Thursday, masked men from the FSB, the internal security agency which
has taken over from the old KGB, raided offices of Media-Most, the biggest
and most effective independent media group in Russia. Its newspaper,
Sevodnya, and its television station NTV have been outspoken both in
investigating corruption in Russia and in revealing the excesses of President
Putin's war in Chechnya.
The FSB accused the security staff at Media-MOST of illegally tapping
people's phones, and claimed it had seized bugging equipment during the raid;
Media-MOST said the equipment was part of its switchboard.
On Friday, Media-MOST wrote to President Putin, asking him to stop corrupt
officials from using the FSB to hit back at Media-MOST for investigating
them. Within hours, Mr Putin's office replied. The President, a statement
said, supported freedom of speech, regardless of whether one or other media
group was liked or disliked by the authorities. But, it added, no one should
try to blackmail the authorities in their enforcement of the law.
It looked depressingly as though he was tilting more towards the FSB and the
interests of people in the administration who might have been involved in
wrongdoing, than towards those who have been looking a little too deeply into
the questionable goings-on of Russia's power-structure. None of this is
surprising for a man who was a KGB officer, who headed the FSB, and who
brought some of his associates with him into government.
Yet we shouldn't leap to the conclusion that this automatically makes Mr
Putin a bad thing. The old KGB was one of the few effective organisations
within the Soviet state. The Russian Federation which took over from the USSR
was feeble and corrupt; and a core team in government based on KGB discipline
and loyalty to the system might just do something about Russia's problems. Or
will they be more concerned with covering up the excesses of a system in
which they and their friends have had a part?
An article in Sevodnya maintains that the official who authorised the FSB
raid was a deputy prosecutor-general whom it had been investigating for its
series on official corruption, and that the man who had overseen it, a deputy
director of the FSB, was another. If that is so, then senior elements within
the FSB may be seeking to protect themselves; and it will be up to Mr Putin
to do something about it.
He ought to, of course. Perhaps he even wants to. It's possible that the
first he heard about the raid on Media-MOST was on radio or television, and
that his first instinct was anger against the officials who had given it the
go-ahead. But if so, it is easy to imagine the conflict going on inside his
head. He needs the FSB to be his praetorian guard in the complex and
dangerous politics of post-Soviet Russia.
It was the FSB that protected Boris Yeltsin from being forced out in the last
years of his feeble hold on power, and part of its price for that must have
been an agreement to make Mr Putin his heir apparent. This makes Mr Putin a
much younger, much more effective equivalent of Yeltsin. Just as Roman
emperors poured money into donations for the praetorians, so he will have to
pay a heavy price to keep the FSB sweet.
So does he want to do it anyway, or would he like to be free of FSB control
and of the whiff of unpleasantness that attaches to it? We can only guess. It
is far too soon for him to strike out on his own, even if he would like to.
He has scarcely begun as President, and he is far too new to the ways of the
Kremlin to reject the powerful people who put him there.
He isn't necessarily an instinctive autocrat: friends who worked with him in
St Petersburg report that he seemed to be an enthusiastic democrat. Perhaps
he was; but President Putin is a construct, a leader created by focus groups
and opinion polls. No doubt he will eventually establish a persona for
himself; but if he can't demonstrate his independence quickly, the FSB will
continue to create the persona for him.
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000
From: email@example.com (Laura Belin)
Subject: Primakov as an alternative
I think you are right that if Primakov had succeeded Yeltsin, there would
have been no war in Chechnya, less fear about the future and to some extent
less continuity with the Yeltsin regime.
However, I think you are idealizing Primakov when you say he would have
presided over "a real crackdown on corruption at the top, freer and fairer
elections for Parliament and president, a more open and less manipulated
Under Primakov there would have been a selective crackdown on corruption at
the top. But his reaction to credible corruption allegations against senior
members of his government (Kulik, Maslyukov) and his alliance with Luzhkov
suggests he would not have been consistent in that. Skuratov was an
extremely late convert to the anti-corruption crusade. He and Primakov would
have worked together to bring down key members of the "Family," and
justifiably so, but I doubt there would have been a wide-ranging crackdown.
Freer and fairer elections? Possibly. But did you ever hear Primakov
complain about the undeniably unfair, unfree conditions in places like
Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, the leaders of which were his allies? I didn't.
There was a lot of manipulation in the regions associated with Unity, but I
doubt Primakov would have been filled with righteous indignation had all
those regional leaders been backing him.
A less manipulated press? You may be right--it would be hard to top the
"information war" conducted by Putin's team, and there wouldn't be armed
masked men seizing Media-Most. But again, I would not idealize Primakov. In
February 1999, Floriana Fossato wrote an excellent feature for Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty about Primakov's personnel policy. Among other things,
she discussed his attempt to place a close ally and former intelligence
officer (Yurii Kobaladze) in a high-ranking position at state-owned Russian
Television (Channel 2). When that move failed, Kobaladze became first deputy
director of the ITAR-TASS news agency. During Primakov's tenure, a man who
spent most of his career as a counter-intelligence officer became the
director of Channel 2's main news program, "Vesti." And did Primakov ever
object to the grossly biased coverage of TV-Center, financed by Moscow city
Also, Primakov was thin-skinned. He did not handle himself well during an
NTV "Itogi" interview a week or two before the Duma election. Then, on the
night of the Duma election, he appeared on NTV and was bizarrely intolerant
of allegedly "offensive" questions from journalists who were there. Remember
that NTV took a largely favorable view toward Fatherland--All Russia! I
think a President Primakov would have tried to "manage" media coverage,
though probably not to the same extent as Putin.
The Russia Journal
May 15-21, 2000
A new generation rules
By Otto Latsis
President Vladimir Putin, close in age to Boris Yeltsinís daughters, has
proposed as prime minister a man from the same generation ≠ 42-year-old
There is, it seems, nothing new in this. His generation has been leading
reforms for eight years now. But Yegor Gaidar, Anatoly Chubais, Sergei
Kiriyenko and Boris Nemtsov, the big names among the reformist politicians,
were called to power only in the most critical moments. Like political
kamikazes, they were sent to pull off the near-impossible and were removed
at the first sign of failure.
The real bosses remained those who, like Yeltsin himself, had entered the
upper circles of power back in Soviet times. Many of them, former Yeltsin
sidekicks from the Urals like Oleg Lobov, or security men like Alexander
Korzhakov, werenít able to adjust to the new era.
But they were still closer to Yeltsin than the young reformers, and before
having to leave the stage, they had time to pull him into their schemes,
with all the consequences that entailed. Only the most pragmatic and
teachable of the old school of politicians, like Viktor Chernomyrdin,
managed to adjust and pursue market and democratic reform. But only after
costly experiments and mistakes.
Despite Yeltsinís hostility to the Communists and their inheritance, it is
only now, with his departure, that Russia has finally parted ways with its
Soviet leaders. Now, the 40-somethings can really rule the country. And
itís no coincidence that Putinís closest economic advisors, Alexei Kudrin
and Andrei Illarionov, are from Gaidarís and Chubaisí first team.
This means that, on the political level at least, the country no longer has
to deal with elementary failure to even grasp what a market economy is all
about. Over the last decade, this caused more problems in Russia than is
commonly thought. Even more progressive politicians like Yevgeny Primakov
and Yury Luzhkov ran up against it; not to speak of the opposition camp.
Today, the problem is not one of understanding reform, but of determination
to bring it about.
Everyone sees that taxes need to come down and that social costs are too
high. But the temptation is huge to put off all these tough decisions,
reasoning that things are going well now and hopefully wonít get worse in
The day Kasyanov was proposed as prime minister, the Fitch IBCA credit
rating agency raised Russiaís rating by two points at once. The same day,
the Financial Times, which had published some damning reports on the state
of affairs in Russia, put out an eight-page supplement on the economic
wonders going on here.
There are reasons enough for this ≠ the 7-point GDP growth in the first
quarter compared to last year, is a record result not just for the reform
years, but for the last 30 years. Even more impressive are foreign debt
payments, which should reach $5 billion for the first semester ≠ with no
money coming in from the International Monetary Fund, and without the
government borrowing from the Central Bank, though the budget allows it.
Gold reserves increased by $5 billion over four months. Inflation is
forecast to drop to 5 percent over five months (last year it was 8 percent
for January alone). Wage debts decreased by $2 billion over six months. And
last autumn, real incomes began to rise for the first time in three years.
This list of good economic news could go on. And it canít all be explained
by high oil prices ≠ the economy is obviously benefiting from some other
resource as well. This resource, it seems, is the long-awaited recovery in
the real sector of the economy. This is the result of the reforms of the
last eight years, half-baked reforms as they might have been. But if this
is so, then maybe the government doesnít need to give anything a shakeup
now? Wouldnít it be safer to just go with the flow?
Economists know that you canít just go with the flow. A worn-out capital
base, obsolete technology and poverty are all problems too serious to solve
without taking reforms to their conclusion.
Russiaís new rulers surpass the Yeltsin of 1991 in their understanding of
how a market economy works, and this will certainly help them. It remains
to be seen whether they can compare with Yeltsin in terms of political will.
The Russia Journal
SEASON OF DISCONTENT: Lessons from Kosovo: one year on
By ANDREI PIONTKOVSKY
Most experts rightly agree that the Kosovo crisis of 1999 was a key episode
in Russia-NATO relations. But the conclusions havenít been drawn, publicly
at least, either in Brussels or Moscow. For various reasons, theyíre too
inconvenient for the military authorities in either capital.
A year ago, in mid-May 1999, NATO operations in Yugoslavia ran up against a
dead end, and NATO found itself in danger of splitting over two key issues
≠ continuation of airstrikes and the issue of committing ground forces.
Airstrikes unavoidably resulted in increased "collateral damage," dealing a
severe blow to European public support for the operations.
But democratic countries cannot wage wars without the support of their
citizens. Greece came down more or less against the war. The Italian and
German governments were on the verge of being toppled by their own
It had also become clear that airstrikes alone wouldnít achieve the desired
military effect ≠ that of forcing the Yugoslav army to withdraw from
Kosovo. But even in modern warfare, no "indirect, noncontact" action can
replace the feet of ground troops as they step onto territory won from the
Todayís Western society, U.S. society in particular, isnít ready to accept
heavy military losses, not, at least, in a war that doesnít threaten its
existence. The "Mogadishu criteria" are at work here ≠ if five soldiers are
killed and their bodies are shown on TV, the war stops.
Even with the risk of its alliance falling apart, of public humiliation and
what amounted to the results of the Cold War being called into question,
NATO was not ready to launch ground operations. One cannot but agree with
recently retired head of the military committee Gen. Klaus Naumann, who
said that a miracle saved NATO in Kosovo. True, it should be added that the
miracle had a name ≠ Viktor Chernomyrdin.
Thus, in the first military operation in its 50-year history, NATO
demonstrated that it is a highly ineffective military organization for two
First, it is a union of 19 sovereign democratic countries, and in each of
those countries, the leadership is sensitive to changing public opinion,
which makes collective decision making on military matters a very
Second, because unacceptable military losses of soldiers in conflict are
measured by modern post-industrial societies in tens if not single digits.
The new NATO strategy, adopted at its Washington 50th anniversary session
and providing for "humanitarian intervention" beyond the scope of Article 5
of its charter, will remain stillborn. Kosovo was the first and last test
of its viability.
This is the main lesson of the Kosovo conflict. NATOís military experts
know this, but prefer not to talk about it aloud. Russiaís military experts
are just as professional as their NATO counterparts, but itís not in their
interests to rein in the anti-Western and anti-NATO hysteria that has the
Russian political class in its grip.
"Yesterday Yugoslavia, tomorrow Russia" ≠ the slogan is still popular in
the media today. In this climate, itís easier to lobby for the increased
defense spending that Russiaís impoverished Army really does need.
But we have to take a realistic view of the world around us and realize
that todayís democratic, well-fed, hedonistic, post-industrial West is not
a military threat for Russia.
(Andrei Piontkovsky is director of the Center for Strategic Research.)
New York Times
May 15, 2000
[for personal use only]
The K.G.B. Candidate
Three Moscow journalists talk to Russia's new president.
By BERNARD GWERTZMAN
Bernard Gwertzman, a former Moscow bureau chief and foreign editor of The
Times, is editor of The New York Times on the Web (www.nytimes.com).
An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
With Nataliya Gevorkyan, Natalya Timakova and Andrei Kolesnikov.Translated by
Catherine A. Fitzpatrick.
Illustrated. 207 pp. New York:
PublicAffairs. Paper, $15.
Whatever one thought of the earlier Soviet and Russian leaders, they were all
fairly well known by the time they took power. The new Russian leader,
Vladimir Putin, who is 47, has been a bit of a mystery man. Outside of his
former colleagues in the K.G.B. and in the St. Petersburg city government,
few had heard of him. But since he was anointed acting president on New
Year's Eve by Boris Yeltsin and elected on March 26, we have learned
something about him. Putin has been insistent on pressing the conflict in
Chechnya and in trying to give the impression that he will restore order and
a government of laws to his badly demoralized country. He has stressed the
need to stop the erosion in Moscow's strength, at home and abroad. He pushed
through ratification of the comprehensive test ban treaty, which the United
States Senate has refused to do, made a quick trip to Britain even before his
inauguration and has set up a meeting with President Clinton for this summer.
Much of what we know is the result of ''First Person,'' first published in
the Moscow newspaper Kommersant as a sort of campaign biography put together
by Nataliya Gevorkyan, Natalya Timakova and Andrei Kolesnikov, journalists
who interviewed him six times for a total of about 24 hours, most of the time
at home. They also interviewed his wife and two young daughters, his
elementary-school teacher and friends from St. Petersburg (Leningrad when
Putin was born there). Given the time constraints, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick's
translation is remarkably clear; the book also provides a useful set of
thumbnail sketches of people mentioned in the text.
As might be expected, ''First Person'' is largely favorable to Putin. He
comes across as a man of simple tastes, an expert in the martial arts, a
family man, someone sobered by his K.G.B. experiences and a patriot who
believes in using a firm stick to preserve Russia's integrity by putting down
the Chechen insurrection and restoring an honorable place for Russia in the
world. The format is straight question and answer. The authors assert that
they added no editorial content. And the book reads that way. One learns a
great deal of background, some trivial: Putin's father's father worked as a
cook in one of Stalin's dachas. Putin decided as a teenager to become a
K.G.B. agent because he was inspired by a 1968 movie, ''The Sword and the
Shield,'' about a Soviet double agent in Nazi Germany. ''To find out how to
become a spy, sometime back around the beginning of the ninth grade, I had
gone to the office of the K.G.B. Directorate,'' Putin relates. He was quickly
told that to join the K.G.B., one had to have a higher education, preferably
law school (which, in the Communist days, did not prepare students for much
more than party or police agency service). ''What?! To catch people? What are
you doing? You'll be a cop,'' his judo coach exclaimed when told of the plan.
Putin put all his energies into getting into law school at Leningrad
The year 1968 was pivotal for the Soviet Union and its East European allies.
The Warsaw Pact's invasion of Czechoslovakia, swept by a form of social
democracy, led in turn to the rise of political protest in the Soviet Union,
marked by the spawning of the typewritten manifestoes called samizdat -- a
movement that carried well into the 1970's, when Putin was asked to join the
K.G.B. It is clear that the liberal currents running through the Soviet
intellectual world during the late Brezhnev years found no sympathy with
Putin. Asked whether he was familiar with Stalin's purges and the reputation
of the security agencies when he joined up, he replies: ''To be honest, I
didn't think about it at all. Not one bit. . . . My notion of the K.G.B. came
from romantic spy stories. I was a pure and utterly successful product of
Soviet patriotic education.''
''For better or for worse, I was never a dissident,'' Putin says. ''My career
was shaping up well.'' Because he spoke German, he was being trained to work
either in West Germany or in East Germany. He clearly would have preferred an
assignment to West Germany, but says that he was impatient to travel, and
rather than endure more training, he was sent to East Germany with his new
bride. He was assigned to Dresden in 1985 and left in early 1990, after the
fall of the Berlin Wall. If he is to be believed, his work was that of a desk
officer in routine liaison with the East German secret police, without any
secret visits to the West, or any of the stuff of cloak and dagger.
"I think that there are always a lot of mistakes made in war. That's
inevitable. But when you are fighting, if you keep thinking that everybody
around you is always making mistakes, you'll never win. You have to take a
pragmatic attitude. And you have to keep thinking of victory."
-- from the first chapter of 'First Person'
His departure from East Germany after it in effect ceased to exist was
bitter. The Dresden K.G.B. office was in the building that housed the East
German secret police. When angry crowds in 1989 tore into the police offices,
Putin called the Soviet military command in East Germany for help: ''And I
was told: 'We cannot do anything without orders from Moscow. And Moscow is
silent.' ''Eventually, he said, military personnel did come to help, but the
words ''Moscow is silent'' remained with him. Putin says he got the feeling
then that the Soviet Union had disappeared.
It was clear that the union was ailing, he says. And it had a disease without
a cure -- a paralysis of power. This section of the book concludes with
Putin's account of a conversation he had in the early 1990's with Henry
Kissinger, who was in St. Petersburg to meet with Putin's boss, Anatoly
Sobchak, the head of the city government (Putin had by then left the active
service of the K.G.B.). Speaking of the Soviet withdrawal from Eastern
Europe, Kissinger said, ''Frankly, to this day I don't understand why
Gorbachev did that.'' Putin adds, ''We would have avoided a lot of problems
if the Soviets had not made such a hasty exit.''
By the late 1990's, Putin was working in the Yeltsin administration. Because
of his K.G.B. background, he was picked to head the Federal Security Service,
the successor to the K.G.B. Then, last August, he was surprisingly chosen by
Yeltsin as prime minister. Putin moved decisively to build up the military
force in Chechnya. The Russian people obviously liked his tough policies. ''I
was convinced that if we didn't stop the extremists right away, we'd be
facing a second Yugoslavia on the entire territory of the Russian Federation
-- the Yugoslavization of Russia,'' Putin says. More likely, he was still
traumatized by the days in Dresden when he accurately forecast the breakup of
the Soviet Union.
RUSSIAN FEDERAL SECURITY SERVICE SPOKESMAN DEFENDS ACTION AGAINST MEDIA GROUP
Source: Russian Public TV, Moscow, in Russian 1700 gmt 13 May 00
A spokesman for Russia's Federal Security Service, whose raid on the
offices of a major media group has led to a national outcry over what was
perceived as an infringement on freedom of speech, has defended the action.
Aleksandr Zdanovich gave the names of several journalists who he said were
unlawfully under surveillance by Media-Most's intelligence arm, of which
documentary proof was obtained as a result of the raid. Follow excerpts
from Zdanovich's interview with Russian Public TV's Sergey Dorenko on 13th
[Dorenko] Earlier this week, Russia's special services carried out an
operation against the special services of Vladimir Gusinskiy. You will
recall that Vladimir Gusinskiy's security department numbers at least 2,000
and is led by former USSR KGB Deputy Chairman Filipp Bobkov. Russia's
special services are inclined to believe that the Gusinskiy-Bobkov special
services have had some of our compatriots illegally under surveillance...
We first heard about the unlawful interference of Gusinskiy's special
services in the private life of Russian citizens from Gen Zdanovich of the
FSS [Federal Security Service]. Today, about two hours ago, we interviewed
him here in the studio.
[To Zdanovich] So, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich, you are being sued. You will
have to disprove, this time in a court of law since you are being sued,
that you provided information that was not authentic and that sought to
discredit Media-Most. What will be your defence?
[Zdanovich] First, no action has officially been brought yet, as far as I
know. I also read about it in the newspapers today. I realize that it may
well be a form of defence and have absolutely no problem about it, as I am
quite certain of the information that came into my possession. What is
more, what I said is a fraction of what I hope will be demonstrated within
the framework of the criminal case.
I spoke quite specifically about the illegal operational-investigative
activities. They are, indeed, illegal, as relevant laws provide for
specific state - I underline state - services that may pursue
[Q] Is authorization required?
[A] Absolutely. If we, I mean the FSS, carry out certain technical
operations, we are obliged to be issued with a warrant by a judge. There is
no question about it.
[Q] This is what you mentioned in your statement on Thursday. Can you
provide any specific, documentary proof of what you have said?
[A]... In the course of activities unrelated to this criminal case and
aimed at the termination of illegal operational-investigative activities by
other structures, we found those other structures in possession of
information they had bought from the security department of Media-Most.
[Q] Let me get it right: In the course of your investigation into the
activities of some private organizations, you established that Media-Most
had had people under surveillance and traded in the information thus
[A] Exactly, and I must say that information, particularly confidential
information, is a valuable commodity these days. Not only did they gather
intelligence on those who were of immediate interest to them, there were
also other firms that took interest in those people but that lacked the
manpower and resources to gather such intelligence. Thus, information was
the subject of trade. Then, we found in the course of one of our operations
some information that came from the security department of Media-Most.
Further to confirm what I said, it is noteworthy that both Media-Most
employees and individual journalists are under surveillance. I can give you
the names. For example, the name of Aleksandr Gerasimov will probably ring
a bell -
[Q] Yes, I know very well that Gerasimov is under surveillance.
[A] - on whom the Media-Most security department has a file.
Next is Vladimir Karamurza.
Leykovich, head of NTV "Plus", also has a dossier on him.
[Q] His is more substantial.
Here is a dossier on Sergey Sokolov, editor-in-chief of "The scandal of the
week" on TV6.
Here is a file on a female member of staff at TV6 who was somehow of
interest to them.
[Q] My next question relates to the recent past: In 1996, I was shown by
the security department of Media-Most some print-outs of Alfred Kokh's
telephone conversations, which were subsequently published. I can't recall
by whom: Was it a pro-Luzhkov paper or was it `Novaya Gazeta', not quite
pro-Luzhkov at the time. I can't remember. My colleague Minkin published
the print-outs made by the security department of Media-Most. The latter
was extremely boastful of its achievement and potential. It had friendly
relations with ORTV and sought to persuade me to publish it. The question
is: Was it that your service was unable to do anything about it and not
ware of it at the time, or was it that you knew but did nothing about it?
Why? Why act now but not then?
[A] You are quite right to ask. First, the situation has changed both
externally and in terms of the effectiveness of the Federal Security
Service's work. Incidentally, it also applies to the reforms carried out in
the economic security block, whose remit it is to deal with the termination
of the activities of the illegal structures that are in breach of the law
in the way they illegally gather information about private individuals.
Thus, now that changes have taken place, which by the way were initiated by
the then director, Vladimir Putin, these structures have become
considerably more effective that before.
[Q] Can it be said that Yeltsin forbade to terminate such illegal
activities, whereas Putin has now given the go-ahead? Can it be regarded as
a policy shift?
[A] First, I regard both my colleagues and myself as professionals, who act
within the law and on the basis of the law and are guided by nothing but
the law. Thus, what we dealt with was duly investigated or even
subsequently brought to trial. If we lacked any further grounds, we
discontinued the case. This is what I can say and this is what the law
tells us to do. We act only when there are elements of crimes within the
remit of the Federal Security Service.
NEWSPAPER REPORTS RISING FASCISM IN RUSSIAN REGION
Source: 'Izvestiya', Moscow, in Russian 12 May 00
Fascist organizations are on the increase in the towns and villages of
Vladimir Region in central Russia, according to `Izvestiya'. The report
cites the case of a history teacher dismissed for calling on pupils not to
read textbooks because they are all written by Jews and that of a
university rector who has published an excerpt from his book claiming the
existence of an international Jewish government bent on enslaving Russia.
The report says the local media tacitly supports anti-Semitism. The
following is the text of the report:
According to widespread opinion, Russia is strong thanks to its regions. By
a strange coincidence, so is Russian fascism. Anti-Semitism in the Russian
provinces is gradually becoming as customary and trivial as foreign-made
cars on the roads and computers in people's apartments. Not only Stavropol
and Krasnodar Kray, but also several other Russian territories are becoming
totally pro-fascist, with the authorities demonstrating a lax attitude or
even taking a direct part. For instance, Vladimir Region may soon become
the leader in terms of the number of aggressive nationalists.
In a regional newspaper the rector of Vladimir University, A. Sergeyev,
published an excerpt of his book in which he tries to prove the existence
of an international Jewish government striving to ruin and enslave Russia.
A couple of months later, the rector was awarded the order for service to
the motherland. Admittedly, the city administration's collegium
unilaterally refused to grant Sergeyev the title of honorary citizen of
Vladimir, specifically on account of his anti-Semitic publications.
Speaking about awards, the city of Vladimir's committee for youth affairs
presented senior-grade students who won the national history competition
with rather exotic prizes - books entitled `Hitler's Table Talks' and
Goebbels' `Last Notes'. We would point out that by a strange coincidence
the competition was dedicated to the 55th anniversary of the victory over
fascist Germany. It would seem that we are educating the descendants of the
victors in line with the ideology of the losers.
We would cite another characteristic example. Several weeks ago, the
regional court declined to satisfy an appeal by a Mr Repin, a teacher of
history in a Vladimir school, who demanded the annulment of an order
dismissing him from his job for an immoral deed (he had publicly insulted a
ninth-grade schoolgirl). Repin had won publicity over his decision to
revise history. He had advised his pupils against using textbooks, because
in his opinion all school aids are written by Jews. He did achieve his
goal. Senior-grade pupils refused to attend classes in protest against the
dismissal of the "truth-seeking teacher". Curiously, the regional
television channel and the newspaper `Vladimirskiye Vedomosti' screamed
hysterically that the teacher was persecuted for his patriotic convictions
and granted him airtime and newspaper space, where he was happy to repeat
his insulting statements.
He is supported both by the local national patriots and the region's
communist deputies, including Legislative Assembly Deputy Chairman
Sinyagin, who delivers his internationalist views on every corner. Vladimir
Region has become a very attractive Region for ultra-nationalists who are
radical to a greater or lesser degree. It was Vladimir Region where Igor
Artemov, head of the nationalist organization Russian National Union (not
to be confused with Yabloko member Igor Artemyev!), arrived from St
Petersburg to run for a Duma seat. His calculation that almost 15 per cent
of the district's voters would vote for him proved to be correct.
Few people know that it was Vladimir Region where the first political
organizations of Russian fascists were disclosed by the local state
security agencies. Only later on the tracks [words omitted] brought them to
Moscow, including to Russian National Unity. Meanwhile, even children in
Vladimir kindergartens are being accepted into Russian National Unity. Kids
are given help sticking swastikas to their sleeves.
The number of pro-fascist organizations is constantly growing in Vladimir
Region. There are several of them in every town. Even villages have their
local branches. They are also penetrating administrative bodies. Some time
ago the public relations department of the Regional administration was
headed by Viktor Pronkov, the founder of the nationalist organization
Russian National Movement, whose emblem is the SS symbol. He currently
teaches in the same university where the rector is waging a war against the
"international Jewish government".
The threat of fascism is greatly underestimated in Russia. Both the
authorities and ordinary citizens underestimate it. The central authorities
will come to their senses only when it turns out that fascists may
penetrate, for instance, the federal legislature (we would remind you of
last year's incident with the [nationalist] Spas movement, banned at the
last minute from entering the Duma elections). The federal centre is now
ready to get down to some hard work to control Russia's Regions. There is a
lot of work to be done. Not only is the economy at issue. It will be
necessary to wage a serious struggle against political extremists,
including in the administration.
Vladimir Akulinin, chairman of the board of the Vladimir branch of Russia's
Writers Union, commented on the situation in the following way: "There are
black sheep in every flock. People deserving respect regard all this as
just 'kinks'. Such things happen in other Regions too. Therefore, one
should not jump to hasty conclusions. All people are of different colours
these days - red, green and so on. Some express their views one way and
others another. Apparently, Vladimir intellectuals have ignored these
things simply because they do not deserve attention, for they do not
express the common stand."
Putin rival set to win vote in Russian second city
By Ron Popeski
ST PETERSBURG, Russia, May 14 (Reuters) - St Petersburg, Russia's elegant but
crumbling second city, voted for a new governor on Sunday and incumbent
Vladimir Yakovlev, long a rival of President Vladimir Putin, looked destined
for an easy win.
The election, with its prize a power base in a city of five million, could
offer big stakes in a looming tussle between the Kremlin and 89 regions
spread over the world's largest country.
Opinion polls credited ruddy-faced Yakovlev with more than 60 percent support
in a field of eight candidates in Putin's home town, now known as ``crime
capital of Russia'' for a string of unresolved contract murders. That poll
rating was well above the 50 percent he needed to win outright without a
Putin, his reputation based largely on a military campaign against Chechen
rebels, signalled his resolve on the eve of the vote to restore control over
the regions by splitting Russia into seven vast zones, each run by a
Yakovlev appeared unfazed after voting at a city school, where he was greeted
in Soviet-era style by a brass band and an accordion ensemble.
``I've discussed this decree with the president,'' he told reporters next to
a building site dotted by piles of scrap metal and abandoned concrete pipes.
``Russia's regions already have plenty of powers. The key is for us all to
Yakovlev, backed by the communists, is accused by liberals of launching
high-profile projects of little long-term use while leaving roads and ageing
buildings in disrepair.
Such projects include a gleaming $80 million arena where the world ice hockey
championship concludes on Sunday -- except that the Russian team failed to
create the required atmosphere by being eliminated early in the competition.
The city's control over local television and newspapers have ensured blanket
coverage of Yakovlev's every move.
VOTERS GIVE GRUDGING SUPPORT TO INCUMBENT
He seemed to enjoy broad, if grudging, support among voters clearly inured to
both Soviet and post-Soviet hardship.
Galina Maximova, 67, a survivor of the 900-day World War Two siege of
Leningrad, the city's name before 1991, said Yakovlev won her vote because
there was no real alternative.
``But I still live in a flat with five families,'' she said. ``Nothing he or
anyone else does can change that in my lifetime.''
Others were less charitable.
``This man is no great manager,'' said Igor Gnilusha, a teacher. ``Most of
what he does is purely for show.''
In the early 1990s, Putin worked in the administration of reformist mayor
Anatoly Sobchak, who restored the tsarist-era name of Russia's imperial
capital. Sobchak lost the 1996 election to Yakovlev and fled abroad amid
With Putin's rise to power, Sobchak returned to Russia but died of a heart
attack in February. A shaken Putin attended his funeral and described Sobchak
as the ``victim of persecution.''
Yakovlev was a major figure in the Fatherland-All Russia coalition of leftist
and regional leaders which opposed Putin's allies in last December's
Since his election, Putin has tried to enhance the profile of his home town,
holding talks in St Petersburg with the prime ministers of Britain and Japan.
He appeared resigned to Yakovlev's victory after initially trying to field a
rival candidate -- Russia's most prominent women politician, Deputy Prime
Minister Valentina Matviyenko.
Matviyenko campaigned on pledges to clean up St Petersburg's image, tainted
by killings of bankers, businessmen and politicians, including veteran
democrat Galina Starovoitova in 1998. But she withdrew when polls showed her
Yakovlev's main rival was Igor Artemyev, joint candidate of liberal groups
Yabloko and the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) after they forged a rare
deal. Artemyev was also backed by the pro-Putin Unity Party, but polls put
his support at 10 percent.
Ice hockey-Tretyak voted Russia's best this century
ST PETERSBURG, Russia, May 13 (Reuters) - Soviet goalie Vladislav Tretyak has
been voted Russia's Player of the Century in a nation-wide poll of ice hockey
fans, journalists and federation officials, the Russian ice hockey chief said
``Many great names came up during the voting, but Tretyak's name was by far
the overwhelming choice,'' Alexander Steblin, president of the Russian Ice
Hockey Federation, told a news conference.
``This is the second most memorable day of my life,'' said Tretyak, 48, who
won three Olympic and 10 world championship titles for the Soviet Union in
the 1970s and 80s.
``The first was in 1989 when I became the first European player to be
inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. I'm very proud that I
played for a great team and a great country.''
When asked who would have been his own choice Tretyak named his former Soviet
and CSKA Moscow team mate, forward Valery Kharlamov, killed in a car accident
For the last few years, Tretyak has been working as a goaltending coach for
the Chicago Blackhawks in the National
Hockey League and has also helped train Russian goalies for this month's ice
hockey world championship in St Petersburg.
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