This Date's Issues: 4300 • 4301
Johnson's Russia List
15 May 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Putin gears up for PM vote amid press freedom fear.
2. Arch Getty: "alternatives" and pointless Putin-watching.
3. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, A Kremlin warning to media?
Free-press advocates plan a demonstration this week, following Thursday's
raid on a Russian media firm.
4. The Russia Journal: Eric Helque, FSB may be logging into your
e-mail, group says.
5. Reuters: Solzhenitsyn opposes Russian land reform.
6. The Guardian (UK): Ian Traynor, Putin redraws the map of Russia
Plans to put the Kremlin back in control face resistance in Bashkortostan.
7. BBC MONITORING: RUSSIAN GOVERNORS DIFFER IN THEIR UNDERSTANDING
OF DECREE ON NEW DISTRICTS.
8. Gref Center document: Reforming the Structure of the Presidential
9. Jerry F. Hough: Re: 4297-DJ/Alternatives.]
Putin gears up for PM vote amid press freedom fear
By Gareth Jones
MOSCOW, May 15 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin faces a hectic second
week in office putting together a new government amid charges from the
liberal media and many politicians that he is trying to curb Russia's
hard-won democratic freedoms.
Putin's main challenge comes on Wednesday when the State Duma, Russia's
lower house of parliament, is set to vote on his candidate for prime
minister, Mikhail Kasyanov. The Duma, dominated by pro-Putin parties, looks
set to confirm Kasyanov.
The president must also digest the apparent victory of a longtime rival,
Vladimir Yakovlev, in Sunday's election of a new governor in Putin's home
city of St Petersburg. Exit polls gave incumbent Yakovlev nearly 70 percent
of the vote.
On the eve of the St Petersburg poll, Putin gave notice that he planned to
tighten central control over Russia's influential regional governors with a
decree which divides the vast country into seven zones and allocates to
each a presidential envoy.
Putin has also dusted off constitutional powers neglected by his
predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, and suspended laws passed by local bodies in
several regions including Ingushetia, bordering rebel Chechnya, considered
inconsistent with federal laws.
BRING REGIONS TO HEEL
NTV television's Itogi news programme said on Sunday more decrees were in
the pipeline aimed at bringing 15 more regions to heel.
"The offensive against the regions has begun," NTV said.
It remains unclear whether the new watchdog officials will usurp the powers
of the regional governors, who for now enjoy considerable control over
financial flows and police and security services.
The governors have so far reacted cautiously.
"I've discussed this decree with the president. Russia's regions already
have plenty of powers. The key is for us all to work together," said St
Petersburg's Yakovlev, once branded a "Judas" by Putin.
Other politicians said Putin, a former KGB spy, was clearly bent on
restoring Moscow's tarnished authority across Russia.
"This is a serious signal to regional leaders," centrist parliamentarian
Vladimir Ryzhkov told NTV. "Any further steps in this direction would
indeed make regional bosses nervous."
Putin has already rattled Russian politicians across the spectrum by
backing an armed police raid on the offices of a major independent media
group, Media-Most. Liberals and communists alike slammed the raid as an
attack on media freedom.
Media-Most, whose outlets including NTV have been critical of the Kremlin,
said Thursday's raid was politically motivated. The police said they were
carrying out a criminal investigation.
ALL MUST STAND BENEATH THE LAW
The Kremlin issued a statement saying Putin believed firmly in freedom of
speech and of the press but it also made clear that all must stand beneath
the law, including the media.
Yevgeny Kiselyov, the anchorman of NTV's Itogi programme, said he believed
there were two Putins -- on the one side a leader who spoke the language of
reform for the benefit of foreign leaders and journalists, and on the
other, for domestic consumption, the tough KGB operative who would brook no
Putin, who owes his victory in the March 26 election mainly to his tough
stance on breakaway Chechnya, is not expected to have any problem getting
his candidate for premier confirmed by the Duma, which is now dominated by
Kasyanov's experience lies in the field of debt restructuring. He is
expected to focus on the nitty-gritty of economic reform while Putin gets
on with running the country.
Putin is expected to appoint other key ministers in the coming days. Few
big changes are predicted. Only the premier has to be confirmed by the Duma.
After the Duma vote on Wednesday, Putin is due to travel to two former
Soviet republics in central Asia, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, to discuss
boosting economic and security ties.
Russia fears a spread of Islamic fundamentalism in central Asia of the
militant kind which it is now battling in Chechnya.
Date: Sat, 13 May 2000
Subject: "alternatives" and pointless Putin-watching
From: Arch Getty <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I am very much afraid that all this Putin-watching and hair-splitting
comparisons of him with his predecessors is a bit pointless.
Current leaders, like all their predecessors since - and long before - 1991
were all prepared in the same "kitchen." They are still card-carying
members of the nomenklatura social stratum. True, there is no longer a
formal registered party nomenklatura. But aside from the fact that all of
them from Eltsin to Putin really came from that extinct official club, the
fact that the party no longer functions does not mean that a nomenklatura,
as a social stratum with a distinct world view, does not exist.
Elements of that world view include, among other things, an absolute scorn
of and fear of popular participation and control, a cynical and utilitarian
view of law, an individual and group focus on looting the country, and a
when-the-chips-are-down reflex to protect each other. Like Russian elites
for centuries, they scorn and fear the population (who they still think of
as "dark masses"). They have, as historically they always have, seized the
means of mass communication and warn that any serious change in the way
things are done will result in horrible and desperate chaos. Implicitly,
their subtextual message to the people is "We have decided for now to let
you eat and live. But don't rock the boat, don't challenge the existing
authority, or even that will be put in jeopardy."
True, the elite is subdivided into a number of clans (disguised variously as
"structures" or alleged political parties with tiny elite memberships.)
These clans fight with and denounce each other like cats and dogs fighting
over a pork chop. Although these public spats sometimes give the illusion
of a real political process, all the players understand that there is enough
loot for everybody and the feuding must not be allowed to go too far.
Although each clan, party, or presidential administration (there's little to
choose from among these designations) has its own pet prosecutors, the
understanding is that their fellow elite members, even if they belong to
hostile clans, are immune from real consequences. Despite brave and
repeated talk about the rule of law and battling corruption (how many times
did Eltsin swear vendetta against corruption?) nobody important is
investigated, much less arrested or prosecuted. Elite members are caught
with Swiss bank accounts, carrying suitcases full of dollars around the
Kremlin during elections, rigging auctions, faking shares-for-loans
transactions, and simply openly stealing. But nobody gets hurt, nobody is
held accountable, nobody fears the law. It's all in the family. When
someone gets out of line, like for example the former State Procurator, and
has the temerity to really investigate wrongdoing, all elements of the elite
- even the ones hostile to the targets of the investigation - join forces to
denounce, smear, and remove the dangerous character.
Obviously it's too early to tell what the new administration will do. But
the fact that its first act was to immunize the former grossly crooked
administration should tell us something. That the president's second move
was to surround himself with members of the utterly corrupt Petersburg
Sobchak clan should also give pause. The fact that Putin came from the KGB
tells us nothing about potential changes, as any Russian businessman who
has been shaken down by former chekists (now employed as "security
consultants" or "tax police") can tell you. We have had a string of
national top leaders in the past decade ranging from obkom first secretaries
to economic upravlenie administrators to provincial governers to firemen to
spies. None of it has made a bit of difference, nor will it until -
possibly - this generation passes.
When and if Russia develops a generation of leaders who respect the law and
who do not fear a politics of real popular participation, maybe something
will change. Until then, our desperate attempts to discern differences and
nuances among the current club members are, I am afraid, pointless. And our
use of words like "democracy," "reform," "free market," and the like to
describe the situation today is simply grotesque.
Christian Science Monitor
15 May 2000
A Kremlin warning to media?
Free-press advocates plan a demonstration this week, following Thursday's
raid on a Russian media firm.
By Fred Weir, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
A police raid on a media conglomerate just days after Vladimir Putin was
sworn in is bolstering the view that Russia's new president, a former KGB
agent and head of the agency's domestic successor, intends to take a tough
line with critics.
Some analysts say the raid may be simply the latest volley in a feud among
the "oligarchs," the powerful multibillionaires who control most of the
country's key industries and media outlets. Either way, the incident is
raising concerns over the future of press freedom in Russia.
Mr. Putin's "hands on" style was further evident in a decree on Saturday,
splitting Russia into seven vast zones, each under the control of a
presidential envoy. It was not immediately clear how the decree would affect
the governors of Russia's 89 regions and republics.
On Thursday, security police wearing ski masks and wielding submachine guns
swooped down on the Moscow headquarters of Media-MOST, Russia's leading
independent news organization. They herded employees into a cafeteria,
searched offices, and hauled away documents, videotapes, and electronic
"This assault did not come out of thin air, it is part of a deliberate
pattern of actions," says Alexei Simonov, chairman of the Glasnost
Foundation, a leading human rights monitoring group. "There have been many
warnings that the new president intends to force the press to follow his
line, and use all means to punish those who refuse."
The move triggered a wave of condemnation across the political spectrum. "The
armed raid was an anti-Constitutional, arbitrary act by the government
conducted with the goal of intimidating the independent mass media," said a
statement issued by Russia's Union of Journalists and signed by the editors
of several - but not all - leading newspapers. "This is a real attempt to
introduce censorship by [men in] ski masks." A public demonstration is
expected later this week.
Some analysts say Russia's decade of tenuous press freedoms is about to be
snuffed out by a president in a hurry to enact sweeping changes and unwilling
to entertain public criticism or debate. If so, Media-MOST would be a
tempting target. The vast conglomerate runs a string of news outlets that
have been critical of Kremlin corruption, the war in Chechnya, and electoral
irregularities. Its outlets include the NTV television network, the daily
newspaper Segodnya, radio station Ekho Moskvi, and weekly newsmagazine Itogi.
Barely a week before the raid, the Kommersant newspaper published what it
said was a Kremlin "working paper" that called for expanding the role of
Russia's security services to intervene against opposition media and
political groups. According to Kommersant, the document said: "The president
needs a structure in his administration that can not only forecast the
political situation but also clearly control the political and social
processes in Russia."
"Whatever Putin's programs for [the] economy and politics, we are absolutely
sure he does not intend to tolerate dissent in society," says Iosif
Dzyaloshinsky, director of the Institute of Humane Communication, an
independent media-watchdog group.
Authorities said the raid was a strike against an "illegal security service"
allegedly maintained by the MOST organization, which is owned by tycoon
Vladimir Gusinsky. To back up the charge, a spokesman for the Federal
Security Service (FSB), the domestic successor to the KGB, made a bizarre
appearance on state-backed television Saturday. He presented the news anchor
with what he claimed were secret reports gathered by Mr. Gusinsky's people on
key journalists and political figures. The anchor then proceeded to read
excerpts from the reports.
Analysts say it would not be surprising if Media-MOST maintained a
corporate-intelligence service. The bare-knuckled media wars of recent years
between rival Russian oligarchs have been fuelled by sensational revelations
apparently gathered by eavesdropping and other surreptitious means.
One of the top players has been Gusinsky's archenemy, oil and media tycoon
Boris Berezovsky, whose news outlets hailed last week's raid as a blow for
law and order.
"Most of the oligarchs work in dirty ways, and it is a huge problem," says
Mr. Simonov. "But these references to an investigation do not begin to
explain this event. The attack on MOST was clearly politically motivated."
The Kremlin has remained largely silent on the raid. On Friday, the
presidential press office issued a bland statement that reaffirmed the
principle of press freedom but added, "as far as investigations of criminal
cases are concerned, everyone is equal before the law, no matter what
business they are in."
But government critics note that there have been several strange occurrences
involving the press on Putin's watch. In January, Andrei Babitsky, a Russian
reporter for US-funded Radio Liberty, was held against his will by Russian
security forces. In his only comment on the affair, Putin referred to Mr.
Babitsky, who covered the Chechen war from behind rebel lines, as "a
In recent weeks, Russia's press ministry has issued warnings to at least two
newspapers for printing interviews with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov.
"The security forces have become much more influential in Russia under Putin,
and they are behind these new pressures on the press," says Viktor Kuvaldin,
an analyst with the Gorbachev Foundation, a think-tank run by former Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev. "The free press stands in their way, and MOST is
the premier symbol of independent media in Russia."
Dimitry Pinsker, chief political analyst at Itogi magazine, says the Putin
era is coming into focus as the age of KGB revival. "[Former President Boris]
Yeltsin wasn't perfect, but he had one taboo: He never touched the press, no
matter what it wrote about him," Mr. Pinsker says. "The people who now
surround Putin have no such taboo. They are actively exploring the limits of
The Russia Journal
May 15-21, 2000
FSB may be logging into your e-mail, group says
By ERIC HELQUE / The Russia Journal
Is the Moscow-based FSB the former KGB checking up on your e-mail?
ST. PETERSBURG — The KGB has long been, at least in the eyes of the West, the
ultimate arch-villain oppressing and spying on the Soviet population.
But now, according to St. Petersburg-based nongovernmental human rights
organization Citizens Watch, one of the KGB’s best known offshoots, the
Federal Security Service (FSB), is carrying on with the same job in
contradiction with the Russian Constitution and a number of laws guaranteeing
Russian citizens a right to privacy.
The main difference, Citizens Watch Deputy Chairman Yury Vdovin told The
Russia Journal, is that it is using more sophisticated means eavesdropping
on the Internet and, particularly, on e-mail.
Citizens Watch is fighting to make the FSB abide by Russian laws and trying
to gain public support in its effort, having organized, for example, an
international conference on the issue in St. Petersburg last month. But
Vdovin acknowledged that a major obstacle stands in its way: An overwhelming
majority of Russians faced with economic hardships and used to Soviet times
when being spied upon was quite normal just don’t understand why the issue
deserves any special attention.
At the heart of Citizens Watch’s concerns regarding the Internet is SORM, the
Russian acronym for System of Operative and Search Activities. It refers to
the operative procedures set down by the FSB itself and the Ministry of
Telecommunications that enable the FSB to access information exchanged
through communications networks, such as the mail, the telephone, or the
Internet and e-mail. It is also the name of two secret documents outlining
how the FSB can spy on telecommunications, SORM I, dealing with the mail and
telephone (1995), and SORM II, dealing with the Internet (1998).
Citizens Watch does not dispute the fact that the FSB should be able to
access information if it pertains to fighting organized crime, drug dealers
and terrorists but only if it follows rules set by the Russian Constitution
and Russian laws and gets proper authorization from the courts. Citizens
Watch says the FSB does not follow those procedures. The security service
declined to comment when contacted by The Russia Journal.
The FSB carries out its SORM activities on the Internet by connecting a
special monitoring device onto Internet service providers’ (ISPs) equipment.
The device gives the FSB access to information exchanged by any particular
ISP’s clients. In order to do that, it asks ISPs for cooperation, threatening
to withdraw their license if they choose not to cooperate, Citizens Watch
officials said. ISPs are also expected to pay for the installation of the
device with their own money. "That way, Vdovin said, they finance the FSB
twice: once through their taxes, and once by paying for that device."
Vdovin sees two major objections to these FSB activities. The first one is
that a right to privacy and to the protection of people’s secrets are
recognized by the Russian Constitution and laws. Russian legislation further
states that, if the FSB needs to monitor private conversations being
exchanged over telecommunications networks, it can only do so once it has
secured authorization from a court. But, Vdovin argued, the FSB hardly ever
bothers to get such authorization and did not get it to install its devices
on ISP equipment. Thus, he said, it acts in a totally arbitrary fashion,
under nobody’s control.
The second objection is that Article 15 of the Russian Constitution states
that any limitation on human rights in this case, the right to privacy in
the interest of the state can only result from a law, which has to be made
public. But SORM II, the document dealing with the Internet, secretly devised
by the FSB and the Ministry of Telecommunications in 1998, has never been
officially published, nor passed by Parliament, officials said. It is,
however, available in Russian on the Website of human rights organization
Vdovin said all Russian ISPs had complied with the FSB’s demands, with the
exception of Volgograd-based Bayard Slavya Communications (BSC), which
refused on the grounds that it would force it to violate the Russian
Constitution and laws. BSC was then harassed by the FSB and the local
representation of the Telecommunications Ministry but fought back in court
with some success, according to Citizens Watch documents and press articles.
"That the FSB can now monitor practically all e-mails at will is extremely
dangerous because it opens the way to all kinds of pressures being exerted,
to ‘kompromat’ and to these monitored e-mails being later sold and creating
more pressures and blackmail," Vdovin said. "It also means that commercial
secrets over the Internet cannot be guaranteed." However, when asked by The
Russia Journal whether Citizens Watch had tried to approach Russian or
foreign companies in Russia with that particular aspect of the problem,
Vdovin answered the organization hadn’t taken any steps in that direction yet.
Apart from organizing the April 22-23 conference, Citizens Watch has provided
BSC with legal assistance and talked about the problem in the press. It also
plans to attend the May 18 State Duma hearing on legislation regulating the
Internet and said it has support among some Union of Right Forces (SPS) and
Yabloko members in the lower house of parliament. In addition, it hopes to
have more citizens appeal to the courts, the Telecommunications Ministry and
the FSB to ask for their rights to be respected.
However, Vdovin admitted that support from Russian public opinion was scarce.
"It is true that most people do not really care," he said. "Although there
are about 3 million Internet users, many Russians still don’t see themselves
as citizens and don’t understand that defending their right to privacy is
important. One of the reasons for that is that many lived during Soviet
times, when it was taken for granted that you were being listened to
Also, he said, "with the harsh economic conditions, people have other fish to
fry. For instance, in St. Petersburg, there still are 800,000 families that
live in communal apartments, or kommunalkas, where you simply cannot have a
private life to start with, so all that business with the Internet and
e-mails really seems remote to them.
"When I started fighting for freedom of speech in Russia, I didn’t find the
support I was hoping for and, at first, I was bothered by this. And then, I
understood that 95 percent of people were not yet ready to hear what I was
saying. But we still have to carry on, to be ready when Russian society is."
Citizens Watch was founded in 1992 and has 20 staff members. Apart from a
handful of Russian businessmen who contribute some money, it is mostly
financed by Western organizations and institutions. The European Union, the
German Friedrich Ebert and Konrad Adenauer foundations, as well as the Ford
and Soros foundations, are among those.
Solzhenitsyn opposes Russian land reform
MOSCOW, May 14 (Reuters) - Nobel prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn
urged the Russian authorities on Sunday not to allow the free sale and
purchase of land, saying such a step would wreck the country's agricultural
``Land must belong only to the peasant farmer and to nobody else,'' he told
NTV commercial television's Itogi news programme.
``Yes, (land) must be privately owned, it must be the farmer's private
property but it should be nobody else's. It should not belong to plunderers,
to exploitative barons.''
Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet Union's most famous dissident who helped expose the
horrors of Stalin's Gulag, has become equally critical in recent years of the
corrupt brand of capitalism which has replaced totalitarian communism.
``Today the greedy hands of these robbers, who have stolen billions in
Russia, are moving to seize the land because this is an advantageous
investment for their capital. Thus they can hold on to their billions,'' he
Solzhenitsyn, 81, conjured up a bleak vision of a Russia carved up into large
private estates where ordinary citizens would be barred from walking freely.
Most Russian land, owned by the state in Soviet times, is now in private
hands but it cannot be freely traded.
The Communists and their allies in parliament have vowed to fight any bid to
introduce land reform, sharing Solzhenitsyn's fear that wealthy speculators
with no interest in farming would then buy up the land, driving out the
Solzhenitsyn, famous for books like ``The Gulag Archipelago'' and ``One Day
in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,'' returned to Russia in 1994 after two
decades of exile and immediately found himself at odds with Russia's leaders,
pro-Western liberals at the time.
Solzhenitsyn says Russia has its own path and should not copy patterns of
In his interview for Igogi, he repeated his warning that Russia was literally
dying out, losing about one million people a year due to a high death rate
and the low number of births -- a trend he blamed on ex-President Boris
Yeltsin's market reforms, which he said had driven most Russians into
The Guardian (UK)
15 May 2000
[for personal use only]
Putin redraws the map of Russia
Plans to put the Kremlin back in control face resistance in Bashkortostan
Ian Traynor in Ufa
President Vladimir Putin acted at the weekend to reverse a decade of
fragmentation in Russia and reassert the Kremlin's control of its 89 regions
In his first substantive policy move, he ordered Russia divided into seven
zones under specially appointed administrators, in an attempt to bypass the
dozens of provincial governors who run their territories as personal
The decree opened a Kremlin campaign to claw back power from the regions,
heralding an eventual showdown with the elected governors, who have exploited
the political vacuum of the past decade to build their empires.
But in the land of Babai (Granddad), as President Murtaza Rakhimov of
Bashkortostan is known, the ruling elite is contemptuous of Moscow's
Mr Putin's writ does not run in Bashkortostan.
"The Russian has always been imperialist. That's the mentality - imperial,
unitarist, and statist, always trying to centralise. Putin is very much in
that tradition," says Mansur Ayupov, an aide to Mr Rakhimov and one of the
intellectuals behind the surge of Bashkir nationalism in the 1990s.
Since 1993 Mr Rakhimov has ruled Bashkortostan, in the Urals 900 miles west
of Moscow, with an iron fist. He controls everything that moves, showering
patronage on those he favours.
In the "country" of 4.5m, Mr Rakhimov has a loyal police force of 40,000.
There are no independent media. The opposition publishes its newspapers in
neighbouring regions and smuggles them in, risking arrest. A Bashkir holding
company run by the president's son controls the oil industry in Ufa, the
polluted capital, which was the Soviet Union's main oil refining centre.
Mr Rakhimov appoints his own judges and prosecutors, regardless of Russian
federal law. He even controls the regional branch of the FSB, the successor
to the KGB, which Mr Putin once headed.
"Rakhimov's is a tough authoritarian regime, even totalitarian, like in the
Soviet era," says Sergei Fufaev of the Federalism Institute in Moscow.
"Putin says he wants to strengthen the Russian state. Bashkortostan is one of
many tests for him."
>From Kaliningrad on Russia's western tip to Vladivostok in the far east, Mr
Putin faces the same dilemma. Russia's federal dispensation is a mess. Mr
Putin says his policy is to establish "a single legal and economic space in
Russia". It is estimated that there are more than 20,000 regional legal acts
that flout the Russian constitution and federal laws.
The war in Chechnya is the most extreme example of Moscow's inability to tame
its unruly provinces, and of its brutal response to separatism. Bashkortostan
may be insubordinate, but it cannot separate because it is in the heart of
the Russian land mass, unlike Chechnya, on the southern edge.
"We've never said we're independent," says Mr Ayupov. "In no document. That's
the difference with Chechnya."
But Bashkortostan has its own constitution, declaring it a "sovereign state
within the Russian federation". It has a "bilateral" treaty with Moscow
ostensibly regulating relations between them. It reserves the right to make
diplomatic deals with other states.
"It's absurd," says Marat Ramazanov, a leader of the big Tatar community in
Ufa. "This is not federalism. It's feudalism. Moscow allows Rakhimov to do
what he likes and in return he promises to deliver when the Kremlin needs
Mr Rakhimov does indeed deliver when it suits him. His powers of patronage in
a patriarchal culture enables him to mobilise the popular vote. In the March
presidential election, Bashkortostan voted 62% for Mr Putin, well above the
Mr Rakhimov expects to be repaid. But last week Mr Putin ordered
Bashkortostan to rewrite its constitution, to make it conform with Russia's
basic law. Granddad is playing for time, hoping that Mr Putin will be ground
down by office.
Among the constitutional articles Russia objects to is the stipulation that
the Bashkir president must speak the Bashkir language, effectively
disqualifying four out of five citizens. Bashkortostan is only 20% Bashkir, a
Turkic people; ethnic Russians account for 40% and Tatars almost 30%. Ufa is
"This is historically Bashkir land, changed by Russia's colonial policies,"
Mr Ayupov says.
"It's not our fault that we're now a minority here. This was 60% Bashkir 120
years ago. We face assimilation or disappearance."
Anatoly Dubovsky, an ethnic Russian political leader in Ufa, disagrees. "The
Russian constitution has got to be the basis for all of the country. Rakhimov
is using the courts, the laws, the language, and citizenship to try to
separate from the centre. This process has gone too far. Chechnya is the
Ten years ago Boris Yeltsin told the Bashkirs and the rest of the regions:"
Take as much sovereignty as you can swallow." The Bashkirs and the others
drank deep from the cup of sovereignty, proffered by Mr Yeltsin in his effort
to destroy Mikhail Gorbachev and sink the Soviet Union.
Mr Yeltsin's legacy to Mr Putin is a weak centre ringed by farflung outposts
of neo-feudal power and lawlessness. Mr Putin claims he will put
Bashkortostan, and everywhere else, to rights.
"Even the liberals here expect steps from Putin," says Igor Rabinovich, an
Ufa opposition activist. "But they don't really believe he will be able to
change things. It's gone too far in 10 years."
Rival set to win at polls
Vladimir Putin's native city, St Petersburg, was poised to deliver the first
electoral setback to the Russian president yesterday by awarding his enemy
Vladimir Yakovlev a second term as governor of Russia's second city, writes
In the first test of voter opinion since Mr Putin was elected on March 26, Mr
Yakovlev was tipped to take up to 60% of the ballot, despite the rampant
crime in St Petersburg and Mr Putin's hostility to the incumbent, whom he
regards as an unprincipled traitor.
Mr Putin's decree establishing a Kremlin-controlled territorial dispensation
across Russia is aimed at curbing the powers enjoyed by regional potentates
like Mr Yakovlev. But Mr Putin was forced to back down in the 1996 mayoral
contest with Mr Yakovlev.
RUSSIAN GOVERNORS DIFFER IN THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF DECREE ON NEW DISTRICTS
Source: NTV International, Moscow in Russian 1200 gmt 14 May 00
[Presenter Andrey Norkin] Yesterday's [13th May] decree of Russian President
Vladimir Putin on setting up seven federal districts within the country and
appointing plenipotentiary presidential representatives in each of them has
given rise to a flood of comment...
We now have an opportunity to hear several more views on the subject.
[Konstantin Titov, a candidate for Samara Region governor] The strengthening
of the vertical system of presidential power and the establishment of seven
federal districts will in particular contribute to the development of
federalism in Russia.
Perhaps, you have noticed that all capitals of what we should now call
federal districts are situated outside the national republics. This provides
for evening out the rights of the constituent members of the federation.
I think that this is a positive factor, and I like this. We live in the same
country. The rights and opportunities should be the same for everyone.
[Ivan Shabanov, head of the administration of Voronezh Region] This is just a
transitory stage on the way to the abolition of presidential representatives.
I am convinced that the Russian Federation must have the president, the
government, the Federation Council and the State Duma, and the local state
[Dmitriy Ayatskov, Saratov Region governor] No disaster has occurred. No
redistribution [of power] has taken place at all. The constituent parts of
the Russian Federation remain in place.
The only thing is that the president will pursue his internal policies,
including domestic economic policy, through his plenipotentiary
representatives in the districts so that territorial legislation conforms to
the federal law. We have had enough independence and establishment of
sovereignty. That's enough. We should put a full stop.
Discipline concerning work, financial matters and technology is what we have
forgotten to some extent.
[Valeriy Sychev, acting representative of the Russian president in Ulyanovsk
Region] I am sure that more than one decree has been issued. Probably, a
whole package of decrees will be presented to us on Monday or Tuesday [15th
or 16th May]. This is what I think, because such a decree on its own is still
causing a lot of questions.
Several more decrees may appear to clarify what the president understands by
the establishment of federal districts and the future of plenipotentiary
representatives in the regions, in the constituent members of the federation.
As far as I know, the presidential administration is currently working on an
entire package of legislative regulations aimed at strengthening the vertical
system of power in our country.
May 11, 2000
Reforming the Structure of the Presidential Administration
[Gref center document]
(An abbreviated introductory version)
[translation for personal use only]
The Administration of Acting President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin
will have to undergo structural and organizational changes after his
election as President of Russian Federation. These will be necessitated by
the political and economic situation in the country, by the Russian society
which will be looking forward to decisive actions geared toward installing
order in the country. <...> The program presented here is about the
structure of the new Administration of the President and about the
strengthening of its political influence on a large scale.
The Program of Reforming the Administration of the President consists of
seven basic books:
Book No.1 - "The Structure of the Administration of the President".
Book No.2 - "Political Directorate of the Presidential Administration".
Book No. 2.1 - "Political Council under the President"
Book No. 2.2 - "All-Russian Social and State Movement of the Youth"
Book No. 2.3 - "All-Russian Social and State Movement of Juniors"
Book No. 2.4 - "All-Russian Social and State Movement of Children".
Excerpts from Book No.2.
At present, the social and political situation in Russia can be
characterized as self-regulating and self-governed. The new President of the
Russian Federation, assuming he really wants to ensure order and stability
in the country for the period of his rule, does not need a self-regulating
political system. He needs a political structure (institution) within his
administration, which will be able not only to forecast and engineer
desirable political situations in Russia, but also to provide operational
management of political and social processes in Russian Federation and in
the countries of the near abroad. <...>
<...> At present, the moral condition of society leads to rejection of any
outright pronouncements and actions on the part of the President and his
Administration that would be directed toward the suppression of the
opposition and its leaders and toward assuming control over mass media and
information networks. For this reason, the planners of the current program
consider it extremely important that the Political Directorate of the
Administration of the President (henceforth PDAP) organize its work along
two tracks, one official and another secret.
The open (official) track of action:
The open track in the PDAP work must be in full conformity with the
democratic demands of society and should demonstrate to society that the
PDAP was set up and operates with the purpose of providing assistance to
political organizations, parties and movements, their leaders, governors,
mass media and the general public during the difficult times of election to
the State Duma and to the Presidency. <...>
The hidden (principal) track:
PDAP ought to develop a strategy that would use the Official part of the
PDAP work as a shield while being able to influence all political processes
in society in an specific and effective manner, namely:
- To affect the activities of political parties and movements, by collecting
and utilizing special information on their political activities, personal
composition of their leadership, sources of financing, economic, material
and logistical bases of support, official and unofficial contacts,
supporters, compromising data etc.
- To influence the activities of public and political leaders at the
federal, regional, and local levels <...>
- To influence the activities of regional authorities <...>
- To influence the activities of legislative institutions and deputies at
all levels <...>
- To influence the activities of potential candidates for the Presidency of
Russia at present and in the future <...>
- To influence the activities of the mass media at the federal, regional,
and local levels <...>
- To influence the activities of journalists at all levels, by collecting
and utilizing special information about the conduct of their professional
journalistic as well as commercial activities, the sources of their
financial support, their official and unofficial contacts, financial as well
as personal partners <...>
- To influence the activities of electoral commissions and their employees
The closed (principal) part of the PDAP work is intended to influence the
processes of formation of the State Duma, including the direct use of the
special services' resources, and to ensure that the future elections of the
President develop along the desirable scenario. <...>
<...> One of the goals of PDAP is to create present and future obstacles to
opposition parties trying to win seats in the State Duma and to individual
opposition candidates in single-member districts.
<Closed information: Published in full in the Program: "Disorientation of
the Protest Electorate".>
STRUGGLE AGAINST OPPOSITION IN THE INFORMATION AREA
<...> The Political Planning Directorate should develop a working mechanism
that would enable it to take control over individual mass media, by using
special information, including compromising materials. The mechanism also
envisions bringing opposition media, or media sympathetic to the opposition,
to financial crises, revoking their licences and certificates, creating
conditions, under which the activities of every individual opposition outlet
would become either manageable or unfeasible.
<...> The Political Planning Directorate must be more aggressive and
effective in its actions than the opposition. <...> There should be no place
for any weakness or liberalism, there is simply no more time for that. <...>
The President of the Russian Federation ought to take into account that
strategic advantages are on his side, because not a single oppositioner has
or will have access to those resources that are available to the President
and his Administration (including managerial, personnel, information,
financial and other resources). But these resources are not being
coordinated and utilized in full. The function of channeling resources
toward the struggle against opposition ought to be assumed by the Political
Planning Directorate of the Administration (henceforth PPDA).
The present program proposes to establish, under the control of the PPDA,
independent public commissions with the purpose of investigating in public
scandalous allegations that become a matter of concern to the general
public. <...> The basic goal of the creation and operation of these public
commissions is to generate personal and collective difficulties for the
representatives of the opposition, so that they bog down as deeply as
possible in resolving these difficulties, which would leave them with as
little time and resources as possible for their political activities. It is
imperative to destroy continuously the coordinated plans of the opposition
in general and of every individual opposition politician in particular.
<...> The scope of public investigations necessitating the establishment of
Commissions can rather broad, beginning with "The investigation of the
genocide of the Communist party against its people" and up to "The
investigation of the Duma deputy X's connections with the criminal world."
Once at least one of these "Independent public commissions" begins to work
and its denounciations are covered in the media, it will begin receiving
large amounts of information discrediting deputies and opposition
politicians at the federal and regional levels. The incoming information
must be processed, filtered and utilized at an appropriate time in a
desirable direction. <...>
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 4297-DJ/Alternatives
I have great sympathy for your frustration about the treatment of
Putin in recent months. He has no administrative, political, or economic
experience. There are dozens and dozens of more appropriate
candidates. But I think Primakov was very unlikely. He and Luzhkov had the
illusion that it would be a free election, and in going after Berezovsky,
Primakov either was a fool who thought Berezovsky was an oligarch instead of
Yeltsin's surrogate, or, if he knew what he was doing, who forgot that
if you go after the king, you better get him. It was as amateurish
as Rutskoi or Lebed. Luzhkov is paying for it with the attack on
MOST, his patrimony, and we will see if he survives any better than
Sobchak. And if Primakov's policy was really his, a doubtful
assumption, it was the usual liberal nonsense.
But, as Lenin said, what is to be done? The fact of the matter is
that whoever rules in Russia, he or they rule. We have to live with
them. The fact of the matter is that the US has an Administration whose only
goal is to cover up the mistakes it made in Russia and hope nothing blows
up. But even assuming that a change occurs in the US in November, what
would you recommend Bush do? Sure, he should not have a Treasury Department
that deliberately defrauded Americans by telling them that Russia was a good
investment. Sure, he should find someone like Stiglitz for the Deputy
Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs. But he is more likely to find someone
who focuses on Europe, Asia, and Latin America and until we have a real
financial crisis in the US and the world economy that person is going to want
to keep on message about deregulation and won't want to let the message to
The real solution is to take seriously what my colleague, Robert
Keohane, has been emphasizing--namely that ideas matter. One of my best
books was on the published Soviet debates on the outside world (The
Struggle for the Third World), and it was based on 10 years of work from
1975 to 1985. I got to know hundreds of Soviet scholars and
journalists, and came to see what a press and a scholarly community could
do under difficult conditions. The impact was enormous, but delayed. It
was quite impressive. There were, of course, total hacks who only
muckraked America and reenforced ideology like Meilor Sturua (naturally
to be greatly rewarded after perestroika by America for his awful work),
but it is surprising how many, in the words of my friend, Fedor Burlatsky,
had the philosophy, 65% for them, 35% for me. Most were not as daring
as Burlatsky and were more 75% for them, 25% for me. That was enough to
do a lot.
American journalists--and even scholars--dealing with Russia work in
difficult conditions. The job of the correspondents is to sell
newspapers. Muckraking was the way to do that in America from the day
the mass media was introduced. Today we can have more interesting
scandals, but that is the nature of the world. The total focus on
corruption and oligarchs in Russia is just the same kind of entertainment,
only it is worse for it reenforces a feeling of smugness about ourselves.
It is facade that hides the real mechanisms of control and the real
alternatives, and it leads us to support an economic policy that
seriously increases the possibility of loss of control of nuclear weapons.
I wish our correspondents had more the sense of 25% or even
10% for me, and 75% or 90% for them. They only talk with one slice of
the spectrum or with commentators who live on government or Western money,
and even then they don't know how to read between the lines. Gaidar spoke at
Duke recently, and he seemed to give a totally inappropriate speech--a
criticism of Gorbachev's mistakes. Right or wrong, why was he talking about
ancient history? Because he actually was talking about Yeltsin. Every
mistake of Gorbachev he mentioned was one Yeltsin has made. For example,
one of Gorbachev's worst mistakes, according to Gaidar, was that he
focussed only on the export of commodities and did not create a system to
export manufacturing goods. Right on. But what Gaidar really was saying
was that he has repudiated his policy of 1991 and quietly moved into the
opposition on some key issues of economic policy, although he has to be
careful in saying it so he doesn't lose Western money. But if it is too
difficult to read between the lines, why cannot correspondents quote some of
the Asian-model economists in Russia--say, Glazev or Abalkin--at least
occasionally to show that there are policy alternatives? Why can't they at
least describe how agriculture works? There are people in Moscow who can
Maybe their editors won't let them. The correspondent who
really got in right in 1985 was Serge Schmemann. In the Sunday Times
Magazine before Gorbachev came to power, Serge correctly reported that he was
calling for a transformation as big as Stalin's, but in another
direction. But then Serge's subsequent reporting did not reflect that
fact. I was particularly annoyed that he, who really understood cultural
politics, did not report Yevtushenko's poem, Fuku, in Novyi mir in the
fall of the 1985, which made absolutely clear that something big was
happening. When I asked him sharply about this, he explained his editor
(Abe Rosenthal) did not think anything was occuring and would not permit
that kind of reporting. But now Serge is in a position of power. He
knows how many Russians have been killed by policy and how awful things
are for people of whom he is fond. It would be easy to tell reporters
that an occasional article that talks about the real debates are possible.
I hope he will.
David, you might also think of a section on alternatives. Maybe
a few articles a week under a heading called "Alternatives." The
trouble you face is that you are a mirror to what are the English language
sources and they have all the faults you criticize. The trouble with the
alternative sources is that they usually don't have a good knowledge of
English. But Abalkin and Glazev must have aides who can translate their
work or who can write for an American audience. The problem is not the
corruption, but the incentives that lead people to capital flight and that
prevent investment. The problem is not non-existent regional
autonomy, but the opaque and personalistic nature of the controls. If
Putin institutes rational-technical controls on regions that actually
give them some tax authority, that will be a major step forward if it is
coupled with a state investment program. A consolidation of those in
the aluminum and other industries is not bad if it is associated with the
banking investment Yasin used to want.
If people in the next Administration have sense that alternative
programs exist, they may react differently. If Russian leaders ever
read Mancur Olson's new book and understood the advantages of a monopoly
of theft for themselves, they might react differently. If they
understood that Western investors want high tariffs in Russia, they might
not follow the advice of academic economists who are just trying to
protect their own position in the U.S. It is for those of us in the
business of ideas who should be creating the awareness of alternatives.
Ideas don't have an immediate effect. But when a new Administration
comes to power, when the old paradigm is discredited by a financial
crisis, it is important that the ideas be there of possible choices.
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