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CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List
 

 

May 31, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4335 4336 4337

 

Johnson's Russia List
#4335
31 May 2000
davidjohnson@erols.com

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Murray Feshbach: Re: 4334/Interfax item on average life expectancy.
2. AFP: Boris Berezovsky raps Putin over regional crackdown: Interfax.
3. Reuters: Anti-Russian protests rock Ukrainian city.
4. Interfax: INFLUX OF WESTERN CAPITAL IN RUSSIA TOTALED $10 BLN IN 4.5 MONTHS-KREMLIN AIDE.
5. Interfax: GORBACHEV PROPOSES DELAY OF ABM DEBATE UNTIL END OF U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
6. Reuters: Russia's Putin soothes fears over regional plans.
7. RFE/RL: Sophie Lambroschini, Putin Pushes Unity As Political Centerpiece.
8. THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION PRISM: Elena Dikun, COSMETIC REPAIRS IN THE KREMLIN.
9. New York Times: Russell Working, Polluting Siberia Paper Mill Seen as Relic of Soviet Ways.
10. Radio Ekho Moskvy: Interview with Andrei NIKOLAEV, Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee.
11. Moscow Times: William Brumfield, ESSAY: Veteran Slavist Finally Slouches Toward Siberia.]

******

#1
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000
From: "Murray FESHBACH" <FESHBACH@gunet.georgetown.edu>
Subject: Re: 4334: Interfax item on average life expectancy

BE VERY CAREFUL IN READING AND USING THIS ITEM

David:

At first glance, and even second glance, data in the Interfax item dated 29
May 2000, in JRL 4334, would seem to clearly relate to 1999, but they do not.

They are 1998 data, as is clear from the content of an article by the head
of the Population Statistics Department of Goskomstat, published a month
earlier in Voprosy statistiki, no. 4, April 2000 (pp. 5-8). 

As one could expect from the very large net decrease in the natural
movement of the population (that is, the excess of deaths over births), it
would virtually be statistically impossible for the average life expectancy
figures to have "increased" in 1999. Thus, when one carefully reviews the
new information (meaning myself who at first was very confused, of course,
and after first thinking otherwise based on the Interfax item), there was
a drop in the average life expectancy male figure to below 60 years of age,
not above. Thus, life expectancy at birth for men dropped to 59.6
according to Zbarskaya, not as misleadingly implied "up to" 61.3, or a
decline of 1.4 years; 
for women, the drop was 1.2 years between 1998 and 1999..

This is underscored in the Zbarskaya piece by her figures for population
increase or decrease by region. In 1998, increases were found in (only) 21
of the 89 administrative-territorial units (subjects) of Russia; in 1999,
the number of regions with population increases dropped to 7 (by unit, not
by average population size of the territory.)

Lastly, she provides one more particularly important datum. That is, the
total fertility rate in 1999 dropped to 1.17 children per woman over her
fertile life of 16-49 years, even further below Goskomstat's predictions
of close to 1.264 (and 1.23 and 1.24 in very recent years). Goskomstat's
new worst case scenario projection of 128.4 million persons for the
beginning of 2016, already may be too high. Only the near term increase in
the number of young females 18 to 29 years of age may add some new births
(plus other factors contributing to fertility) but the net increase or
rather decrease may be even more exacerbated as the number of deaths
continues to outpace this potential "positive" increment to the population. 

******

#2
Boris Berezovsky raps Putin over regional crackdown: Interfax

MOSCOW, May 30 (AFP) - 
Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has written to President Vladimir Putin, 
criticizing his moves to stamp central authority on Russia's unruly regions, 
the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday.

The businessman and parliamentary deputy, a key power-broker under former 
president Boris Yeltsin, sent an open letter to Putin warning him that his 
policy was undemocratic and marked a throwback to Soviet times, Interfax said.

The newly-inaugurated president has carved out seven new zones grouping 
Russia's 89 regions and placed Kremlin representatives -- five of them 
generals -- in charge of each one.

Putin is also seeking the power to sack elected governors and dissolve local 
assemblies that pass measures contradicting federal laws, under draft 
legislation submitted to the State Duma lower house of parliament.

Citing what it said were extracts of the letter, the news agency quoted 
Berezovsky as telling Putin that he was flouting democracy by pursuing his 
regional crackdown without putting the issue to a referendum.

The measures "radically change the structure of the state. In a democratic 
country such measures are unthinkable without public debate and a 
referendum," said the letter.

"The proposed legislation would make the presidential administration keep 
almost complete track on local events, taking punitive action if necessary 
and involve it deeply in local appointments the way the former ruling 
(Communist) party was," the letter added.

Contacted by AFP, neither the Kremlin nor Berezovsky's office would make any 
comment.

According to political observers, the business tycoon and other members of 
Yeltsin's inner circle -- known here as "the Family" -- have kept their 
influence under Putin's new administration.

Putin, who was confirmed in office in March after replacing Yeltsin when the 
ailing president resigned abruptly on December 31, appointed as prime 
minister Mikhail Kasyanov, reputedly close to Berezovsky and other oligarchs.

He also made few cabinet changes apart from bringing in young liberals to run 
the economy, and kept on as head of his presidential administration Alexander 
Voloshin, a key member of the old guard.

But the 47-year-old former KGB colonel has launched a determined drive to 
shore up his powers at the expense of Russia's regional bosses, many of whom 
ran their territories like private fiefdoms during the chaotic Yeltsin years.

******

#3
Anti-Russian protests rock Ukrainian city

KIEV, May 30 (Reuters) - Thousands of angry nationalist protesters marched in 
the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Tuesday to demand the expulsion of all 
Russian-speakers from Ukraine and to protest against the killing of a local 
composer. 

Local reporters told Reuters by telephone from Lviv that up to 3,000 
demonstrators of different ages marched through the centre of the town, 
chanting ``Down with the Russians!'' 

Hundreds of protesters later vandalised a nearby coffee house where popular 
Ukrainian folk music composer Ihor Bilozir was fatally injured in a brawl 
with a group of Russian-speaking visitors earlier this month. 

Lviv, with a population of around 800,000, is the heartland of the 
nationalist movement in the former Soviet republic. Many protesters on 
Tuesday demanded that all Russian-speaking servicemen be sacked from local 
police and security forces. 

Tens of thousands of people attended Bilozir's funeral later in the day. 
Despite the passions triggered by his death, the ceremony was well organised 
and passed quietly. 

Spokesmen for the regional administration and police told Reuters the 
situation in Lviv was ``firmly under control'' and that no further incidents 
had taken place. 

******

#4
INFLUX OF WESTERN CAPITAL IN RUSSIA TOTALED $10 BLN IN 4.5 MONTHS -
KREMLIN AIDE

MOSCOW. May 30 (Interfax) - The influx of Western capital in Russia
reached $10 billion in 4.5 months, Kremlin aide Andrei Illarionov told a
Tuesday news conference at the Interfax main office.
The influx "is the most striking vote in favor of the current
economic policy," he said. Illarionov said in his opinion, the West
regards investments in Russia as a profitable business.
He said $4.3 billion were invested in Russia last year, while in
the first 4.5 months of this year the combined flow of capital,
including portfolio investments and loans, amounted to $10 billion.
Illarionov said he believes the influx has been encouraged
primarily by political stability following the presidential elections
and the formation of the new government.
Among the factors improving the investment climate in Russia,
Illarionov named the fulfillment of budget indicators and a rise in
Central Bank forex reserves by $6 billion in 4.5 months. The government
has also paid some $4 billion on foreign debts since the beginning of
the year.
"All this increases the general confidence of the West in Russia.
And Russia has good prospects for an increase in foreign investments,"
he said.

******

#5
GORBACHEV PROPOSES DELAY OF ABM DEBATE UNTIL END OF U.S. PRESIDENTIAL
ELECTION

MOSCOW. May 30 (Interfax) - USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev favors
the postponement of the ABM Treaty debate until the end of the
presidential elections in the U.S.
"The issues that concern the whole world should not be a subject
for election speculations," he told Ekho Moskvy radio live on Tuesday.
The ABM controversy "has been launched for political goals as part of
the presidential election campaign," Gorbachev said, suggesting that
"the democrats might have taken this initiative to score points."
The U.S. "can afford" a unilateral exit from the ABM accord,
however, it would create "the most dangerous situation for all,
Americans included," and in this case, the global nuclear arsenals "will
be hard to balance."
"The agreements on nuclear tests would be meaningless" with "a
whole chain of reactions to this in the world, Russia included,"
Gorbachev said.
He is convinced that "Russia should lead America to partnership"
rather than "pursue an anti-American line".
"But at the same time the Americans should be told that domination
and bossing around are useless tactics," Gorbachev said, calling for "a
new agenda" in Russian-American relations with a stress on political
dialogue and diplomacy.
Gorbachev blamed the cooling of Russian-American relations lately
on Russian politicians, who "in many ways have lost the chances they got
at the end of the cold war while the U.S. has tried to take advantage of
the situation and establish a single-polar world."
In this situation, Russia should pursue "a more firm and
consistent" policy toward NATO by "exploring all cooperation avenues in
earnest."
The European countries and the U.S. itself are "more disposed
toward partner relations." The sides "should only hear each other and
understand their role," the ex president said.

******

#6
Russia's Putin soothes fears over regional plans
By Gareth Jones

MOSCOW, May 30 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday his plan 
to carve Russia into seven districts, each headed by his own appointee, was 
aimed at shoring up the rule of law in the vast nation, not at strangling 
local government. 

Clearly anticipating resistance from regional leaders jealous of their 
powers, Putin said the move would help smooth communication between Moscow 
and Russia's 89 mostly impoverished regions strung across two continents and 
11 time zones. 

Putin made his comments while presenting General Viktor Kazantsev, one of the 
Kremlin envoys, to local leaders from his new district -- the volatile North 
Caucasus which includes rebel Chechnya and the ethnically diverse Dagestan. 

``The creation of these districts and the appointment of the presidential 
representatives is dictated by the need for uniform understanding of the laws 
at all points across the Russian Federation,'' Putin said in televised 
remarks. 

``The activity of the presidential representatives is not aimed at replacing 
the powers of the local authorities.'' 

Putin also pointed out that the seven envoys, five of whom have a military or 
security background, would sit in Russia's advisory but influential Security 
Council. 

``This will give an additional channel for taking regional problems to the 
very highest political level,'' Putin said. 

He said he was sure Kazantsev, who until now has been commander of Russian 
federal forces in the North Caucasus, would be an effective leader, despite 
the deep ethnic, social and economic problems plaguing his region of 22 
million people. 

PUTIN WANTS TO RESTORE MOSCOW AUTHORITY 

Putin, a former KGB spy, won the March 26 presidential election on the back 
of pledges to restore order and discipline. His military campaign against the 
Chechen rebels, now into its ninth month, proved especially popular with 
Russian voters. 

Putin, 47, announced his radical shakeup of the way Russia's regions are run 
within days of his inauguration on May 7. 

His plans also include giving the president greater power to sack governors 
and depriving them of their right to sit in the upper house of parliament, 
the Federation Council. 

Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, is due to consider these 
plans on Wednesday. 

Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov told reporters he believed the chamber would 
approve them on a first reading and said they could receive their second 
reading on June 30. 

A Kremlin source told Reuters Putin was confident of victory and would brook 
no serious amendments to the legislation. 

``There must be no horse-trading, no compromises. What we have introduced 
must be approved,'' he said, noting that Putin has the right to override any 
veto from the Federation Council. 

The proposals for reining in the regions have drawn broad support from across 
the political spectrum. On Tuesday the centrist Fatherland-All Russia bloc 
and the liberal Yabloko and SPS factions all signalled their support. 

COMMUNISTS, BEREZOVSKY HAVE RESERVATIONS 

But Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov expressed reservations about the plans, 
which by removing governors from the upper chamber would also strip them of 
immunity from prosecution. 

``We believe governors as officials elected by the people should be allowed 
the same immunity as deputies in the lower house,'' said Zyuganov, who heads 
the largest Duma faction. 

Influential businessman Boris Berezovsky, who is also a Duma deputy, warned 
of constitutional turmoil and urged a referendum. 

``It is impossible to take such a decision in a democratic society without 
broad, open discussion and then a referendum,'' Interfax news agency quoted 
Berezovsky as saying in an open letter to Putin. Berezovsky is widely seen as 
a Kremlin insider. 

Political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky also expressed doubts about the planned 
shakeup. ``I think this will end up purely as an enormous bureaucratic 
structure,'' he told Reuters. 

For their part, regional leaders have mostly given guarded support for the 
plans. They have no desire to pick a fight with the popular Putin so soon 
after his election, but many clearly hope the plans will be watered down 
before becoming law. 

On Tuesday, in one of the first signs of rising regional unease, three Duma 
deputies alleged that certain regional bosses were trying to pressure them 
into opposing Putin's plans. 

The deputies said they had sent a joint letter to Putin asking him to use his 
influence to halt the pressure campaign. 

******

#7
Russia: Putin Pushes Unity As Political Centerpiece
By Sophie Lambroschini

With some 120,000 members, the pro-Kremlin Unity Party is -- after the 
Communists -- the second largest political group in Russia. At a party 
congress at the weekend, President Vladimir Putin said he wanted to position 
Unity as the center party of a three-party system. But RFE/RL's Moscow 
correspondent Sophie Lambroschini reports that, so far, Unity seems more 
likely to monopolize the political scene than to help create political 
pluralism.

Moscow, 30 May 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Unity was created last year to give the 
Kremlin strong legislative support and to elect Putin as president. Having 
fulfilled both mandates, the party might have quietly gone on holiday for 
another four years -- until the next set of scheduled parliamentary and 
presidential elections. 

That's hardly the case, however. The Kremlin is now promoting the party it 
created as a critical element in another of its planned political reforms. At 
a congress held in Moscow on Saturday, Unity upgraded itself to full-fledged 
party status, and its leaders announced that was a first step in the creation 
of a three-party system for Russia. 

Boris Gryzlov, Unity's faction leader in the Duma, said at the congress that 
the party intends to adopt a centrist position, between the Communists to its 
left and the pro-market reform bloc known as the liberals to its right. In 
subsequent comments, however, Gryzlov seemed to undercut that position, 
saying that other parties are hardly viable. The Communists, he said, are 
decrepit, and the right-wing factions are still far from uniting in a single 
party.

Under former president Boris Yeltsin, the Kremlin had earlier experimented 
with establishing what was called a "European-style" two-party system. The 
idea was touted as a way of building democratic political counterweights to 
those in power. But many analysts said that the real point was to reduce the 
uncontrollable anarchy of Russia's multitude of parties and eventually to 
concentrate most political levers in one super-party. 

In any case, the previous experiments in two-party systems always collapsed. 
The parties created by the Kremlin -- known as parties of power -- lacked 
legislative and popular support, and simply deflated as soon elections were 
over.

Putin himself attended Saturday's meeting, and explained in a long speech 
that Unity's electoral successes must be consolidated by allowing the state 
to "construct an effective party system." He said that, through Unity, 
Russian citizens could find a way to participate in civic matters. Putin went 
on to describe the party as a means of promoting civil society in Russia:

"Unfortunately, we are confronted not only with the weakness of state 
institutions but also with the weakness of civil society structures. The 
party's task is to overcome this weakness and to attract into the 
organization as many people as possible. A political party can become the 
supporter and partner of the authorities only when it is itself involved in 
shaping power."

Many political analysts say that Putin's equating of civil society with Unity 
party membership implies that the Kremlin is trying to make Unity the 
dominant -- indeed, perhaps the only real nationwide -- political party. 

Nikolai Petrov is an analyst with the Carnegie Fund in Moscow. He told RFE/RL 
that "it seems quite obvious that Unity is gradually monopolizing the 
political scene in Russia." As Unity gains momentum as the party of the 
authorities with all that that entails, he says, the influence of other 
parties has plunged in recent months. 

The past dominance of single-party politics still leaves many skeptical about 
the success of political pluralism, yet also wary of a strong party machine. 
Russian commentators have been quick to note that Unity's style tends to 
echo, at least superficially, the style of the old Communist party.

Saturday's congress was held in the same large Kremlin hall as past Communist 
party congresses, now decorated in crisp blue and white, apparently Unity's 
colors. Speeches were punctuated by vigorous applause, decisions were made 
unanimously.

Underlining the ideological resemblance between the old Communist party and 
Unity, the daily "Izvestia" on Monday published two photos side-by-side on 
its front page. Under a photograph of Communist party delegates standing next 
to a giant bust of Lenin, the paper's caption read: "Unity in 1971." Next to 
it, the photo of Saturday's congress read "Unity in 2000."

Unity's leader in the Duma, Gryzlov, says such parallels are ridiculous. 

"There were attempts to ignore us, we were not taken seriously -- and now, 
all of a sudden, there are panicky comparisons with the CPSU [Soviet 
Communist Party]. These comparisons, to put it mildly, are not correct." 

Putin, in any case, clearly wants Unity to become the party of the masses. 
Integration of other parties is already well under way, with several 
middle-sized political movements having announced their allegiance. They 
include the All Russia movement and former Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our 
Home is Russia group. Some leftists may also join Unity. Since the beginning 
of the year, some of the Communists in the Duma have backed the installation 
of the new government and supported several Kremlin bills. 

But dominating Moscow political life is not enough to reach Russia's 
citizens, who live mostly in provincial towns and cities. That's why, Putin 
said, Unity is also planning to get more involved in local politics in the 
regions.

Putin also pointed out that the envisaged new party system would contribute 
to his recent moves to establish stronger federal control over Russia's 
independent-minded governors. He said a three-party system would also improve 
the quality of local politics by putting an end to isolated independent 
candidacies and what he called "pocket-size parties." 

Political analyst Igor Bunin says that this is actually what makes Unity so 
different from previous parties of power in Russia. Speaking on NTV's weekly 
current affairs program "Itogi" Monday night, Bunin pointed out that while 
previous parties of power were based on an alliance with governors, this one 
is based on vertical discipline -- that is, using the party of power to keep 
the governors under control. 

******

#8
THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION
PRISM
A MONTHLY ON THE POST-SOVIET STATES
MAY 2000 Volume VI, Issue 5 Part 3

COSMETIC REPAIRS IN THE KREMLIN
By Elena Dikun
Elena Dikun is a political columnist with Obschaya gazeta.

Everyone thought that right after the elections--or at least after his 
inauguration--newly elected Vladimir Putin would start taking some decisive 
action. First he would turn Boris Yeltsin's entourage--the so-called 
"family"--out of the Kremlin, and bring in untainted new recruits. But 
alas, the new president has neither the staff nor the will to launch a 
major shake-up in personnel. His meteoric rise up the career 
ladder--skipping over several administrative rungs in less than a 
year--meant that Putin did not manage to amass his own strong team of 
apparatchiks and economic planners, and is obliged to rely willy-nilly on 
those who presented him with the opportunity to take high office. Those 
close to him say that he does not intend to be ungrateful to his benefactors.

After the elections the president's administration was literally inundated 
with paperwork. Several departments submitted plans for reforming the 
Kremlin office--some because they were asked to do so, others acting on 
their own initiative. The most alarming plans entailed the creation of a 
political office for the Russian president which would have control of 
everyone. But at the end of the day no major restructuring of the 
administration is planned. Any measures will be purely cosmetic.

The most radical moves are the abolition of the public relations 
directorate, which duplicates the work of the president's press office, and 
the amalgamation of three departments: the territorial department, the 
department for cooperation with the president's representatives in the 
regions, and the department for cooperation with local government bodies. 
This last idea is not a new one; it was to have been implemented two years 
ago when Viktoria Mitina ran regional policy in the Kremlin. Then it was 
decided that it was better to keep a handle on the obdurate governors 
through the president's representatives and the town mayors. But now that 
the regional heads have attested their total loyalty to President Putin and 
federal okrugs have been formed it is possible to merge the departments 
painlessly.

There has been no talk of reducing the number of administration staff, 
which is usually the first step in any reorganization. It seems that the 
Kremlin's bureaucratic machine refuses to allow its staffing level to fall 
below 1,500. "Whatever you do, the machine will always be stronger than the 
will of the political leader," explained one Kremlin veteran who has 
witnessed a number of administrative reforms in his time.

Neither has there been any change in the staff of the president's 
administration. The reshuffle whereby Dmitry Medvedev, one of the deputy 
heads, became the first deputy head of the administration can hardly be 
described as bloodletting. The fate of Igor Shabdurasulov has not yet been 
settled. The chances are that both will stay on as first deputies.

Chief of staff Alexander Voloshin will remain in his post "as long as he 
deems necessary." This probably means that he won't be fed up with his 
current job for some time yet, particularly as those in the know say that 
Putin has a very high opinion of Voloshin, understanding full well that he 
owes his presidency entirely to him.

Neither are there any plans to get rid of Valentin Yumashev and Tatyana 
Dyachenko, whom he inherited from his predecessor. "Since they have tasted 
freedom and spend most of their time abroad, either they will lose interest 
in the Kremlin, or they will simply be forgotten," explained one source.

People we spoke to believe that Vladimir Putin is in no hurry to reorganize 
his patrimony, because it is not yet profitable for him to do so. In the 
first place, the president is perfectly happy with the way the apparatus 
works. It demonstrated its effectiveness at the parliamentary and 
presidential elections. Second, it is too early to start looking for 
scapegoats--it is not long since the victory, everybody is in a state of 
euphoria, and the summer break is coming up. Sacrificial lambs may be 
required in the autumn, when the rains come and economic problems make 
themselves felt.

On the downside, the administration's attempts to make itself the center 
for all decisionmaking have failed. In the immediate aftermath of the 
elections, high-ranking Kremlin officials were excitedly saying that the 
administration would now be deciding everything, and that the government 
was just a "technical department" which would be assigned tasks and given 
deadlines. After the inauguration, the sights were noticeably lowered. "The 
administration should not be seen as an independent political unit. It will 
not have an increased role, and it should not handle economic issues," 
Alexander Voloshin announced recently. Evidently, despite the aspirations 
of his subordinates, President Putin prefers the idea of dual centers, 
whereby power is distributed between the administration and the government, 
which keep an eye on each other. "Boris Yeltsin tried to use a similar 
system of checks and balances, but he did not have the physical strength to 
do so. Putin, on the other hand, is quite capable of implementing this," 
our source speculates.

The president is planning to use a similar system to regulate relations 
between the Moscow and St. Petersburg groups. Vladimir Putin's fellow 
Petersburgers, whom he trusts implicitly, do not yet feel entirely at home 
in the capital; they still have to cultivate the necessary contacts and 
acquaintances. For this reason they do not as yet aspire to leading roles, 
but will be assigned to the Muscovites. Thus Alexander Voloshin will be 
shadowed by Dmitry Medvedev and Igor Sechin, who is responsible for the 
entire paperwork of the administration and is thought of as Putin's shadow. 
In the White House Alexander Kudrin and German Gref have been entrusted 
with a similar mission. Thus the president has his own agents of influence 
in all the key posts, and when the time is right they will be in a position 
to put the squeeze on the Muscovites.

******

#9
New York Times
May 30, 2000
[for personal use only]
Polluting Siberia Paper Mill Seen as Relic of Soviet Ways
By RUSSELL WORKING

BAIKALSK, Russia -- Not far from the outlet where the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper 
mill discharges chlorine into the world's largest body of fresh water, Oleg 
Dolgov has dropped a line to fish. 

Environmentalists accuse the mill of polluting Lake Baikal, a mile-deep cleft 
in the Siberian earth that contains one-fifth of the planet's fresh water. 
But Mr. Dolgov, who has already caught a dozen small fish, shrugs off the 
danger of contamination. A cargo handler at the company store, he regularly 
eats what he catches, and he has never noticed ill effects. 

"The unemployed come down here all the time in the summer and catch fish with 
nets," Mr. Dolgov said. 

Locals may be insouciant, but among environmentalists in Russia and abroad, 
the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper mill symbolizes the abuse of an environmental 
treasure. An international campaign is seeking to close the plant, and 
Greenpeace is running television advertisements assailing the factory. But 
even as critics say the mill threatens this gem of a lake, management says 
the demands for a shutdown are blocking efforts to clean the plant up. 

The issue goes beyond the lake. Throughout the former Soviet Union, industry 
has turned waterways into environmental catastrophes. 

The city of Vladivostok pumps raw sewage into its bay; the Aral Sea has been 
gradually emptied and polluted by agricultural runoff; and the navy used to 
dump radioactive waste into the White Sea and the Sea of Japan. 

Environmentalists have long had trouble making their case in a nation 
predisposed to heavy industry. This time around, the Baikalsk mill is 
attempting to blame environmentalists themselves for the pollution. 

"Unfortunately, Greenpeace and all the environmental organizations prevent us 
from improving the environmental situation of the lake," said Anatoly 
Steinberg, president of Baikalsk Pulp and Paper, a joint stock company. 

Lake Baikal is 5,370 feet deep and contains 5,500 cubic miles of water. 
Believed to be 25 million years old, the lake floor's sediment is five miles 
deep, recording eons of life. Buried in its mud are traces of magnolia 
pollen, deposited when this northern lake had a subtropical climate. 

Today, Baikal is filled with rare species such as freshwater sponges and 
seals. Sixty percent of the lake's life forms are unique, biologists say. 

Its pure water and the region's virgin forests helped draw the Baikalsk mill 
here in the 1960's, a decision that critics see as a particularly unfortunate 
case of Soviet central planning. 

"Communist industrialists put a factory here because there is a lot of forest 
here," said Vladimir Fialkov, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' 
Lake Baikal Museum. "Then they passed a decree prohibiting cutting the woods 
around Baikal, to protect it. So they had to deliver timber from 1,000 
kilometers away." 

Baikalsk itself is a typical Siberian town -- rows of block apartments and 
neighborhoods of log houses with heaps of coal or wood in back. There is a 
monument to World War II veterans and a Soviet-era sculpture of youths 
reaching for the heavens, as if grasping for a socialist future. The air is 
permeated with the rotten-egg smell of pulp making. 

The plant produces 176,000 tons a year of high-quality pulp for domestic and 
foreign markets. Some of the chlorine, despite filtration, is discharged into 
the lake. Jennie Sutton, an Englishwoman who lives in Irkutsk not far away 
and is a leader of a local group, the Baikal Environmental Wave, said the 
chlorine is converted to deadly dioxins in the bodies of seals and other 
animals. And although the pollution is in a tiny part of the lake, the impact 
is disproportionate, she said. Animals flock to the warm outflow from the 
mill. 

"The actual management of the mill is irresponsible economically," Ms. Sutton 
said. "They have found ways of hiding their profits to avoid paying for the 
damage they are doing." 

After years of answering reporters' questions and watching environmentalists 
hang banners from his mill's smokestacks, Mr. Steinberg has little patience 
for the subject of pollution "Why are foreigners so primitive?" he pondered 
aloud in an interview. "Why do they ask such stupid questions?" 

He insists that the mill causes a minute amount of harm that the vast lake is 
capable of handling. "This is the best quality of water coming from any paper 
mill in the world," Mr. Steinberg said. 

Many scientists agree that the damage to Baikal has been minimal so far, and 
the pollution is restricted to a small portion of the south part of the lake. 

In any case, Mr. Steinberg says he has plans for reducing the pollution 
discharge to zero. 

Another lakeside mill in the town of Selenginsk, about 120 miles away, 
produces an inferior grade of paper in a plant that recycles waste water, so 
that, theoretically at least, it discharges nothing into the lake. The 
shareholders of the Baikalsk mill have decided that they will follow suit. 
They plan to convert the mill to producing a cheaper grade of pulp that does 
not require bleaching and will use a closed filtration system. Mr. Steinberg 
refuses to estimate the cost of remodeling or say where the money will come 
from. 

But he is bitter that environmentalists, rather than embracing this plan, are 
in his view blocking any solution short of shutting down the mill. "Some 
critics," he asserted, "have built entire careers around closing his plant. 
They are being parasites on the problem." 

As the environmentalists see it, the plant's management simply cannot be 
trusted. They say that even mills with supposedly closed systems often 
discharge pollutants into the surrounding water. 

"The people responsible for checking independently are highly corruptible," 
Ms. Sutton said. 

Grigory Galazy, an environmentalist, retired biologist and former legislator 
in the regional parliament, says the mill is not needed. Downstream on the 
Angara River, which flows from Lake Baikal, two other pulp and paper mills 
could pick up the slack, he said, adding, "While these two factories work at 
only 30, 40 percent of their capacity, this Baikalsk mill keeps stubbornly 
contaminating the lake." 

Other scientists are divided on how serious the damage is. "In 1989, there 
were massive deaths in the population of freshwater seals," said Nadezhda 
Basharova, a hydrobiology professor at Irkutsk State University. Autopsies 
showed that the seals were abnormally infested with parasites. 

Some scientists think that the seals were weakened by toxins from the mill 
and less able to resist the parasites, Ms. Basharova said. 

Still, she does not think that the mill should be closed. 

"If you close it and go away," Ms. Basharova said, "it will be worse for 
Baikal because there is a lot of contamination in the soil and it will find 
its way into the lake." 

Environmental warnings carry little weight with many of Baikalsk Pulp and 
Paper Mills workers. Closing the mill would be devastating for the work force 
of 3,500 in a nation where the economy is deeply depressed. 

Baikal Environmental Wave is establishing a small business incubator to 
encourage alternative employment. The region, advocates say, could attract 
foreign hikers, boaters and hunters. But a program with a budget equivalent 
to a few thousand dollars would not have the resources to help a town full of 
people thrown out of work. 

"The factory was built at the same time as the town," said Mr. Dolgov, the 
fisherman. "If there was no factory, there would be no jobs. It would be 
worse than any village could take. The town would die." 

But others see hazards of another kind. "The danger is that we could lose the 
uniqueness of Baikal," Mr. Galazy said. "The loss will be irreparable. There 
is no other lake like this in the world." 

*****

#10
May 22, 2000
Radio Ekho Moskvy
Interview with Andrei NIKOLAEV, Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee
[translation for personal use only]

Q: Andrei Ivanovich, your delegation recently came back from the United
States, where you held negotiations with members of the administration, in
the Congress, in the Pentagon. As far as I understand, these negotiations
were focused on disarmament, and everything is very complicated in this
area.

A: It would be more correct to say that these were talks not just about
disarmament, but on our relations with the US in the area of defense and
security. As for the assessment of the talks, they were not simple, but,
perhaps, talks between the Soviet Union and the US, Russia and the US were
never simple, because this is not just about our relations, but about
security of the entire world. (...) The results that we presented today to
the State Duma and that we submitted to the administration of the president,
to the Security Council, to the government, were, of course, in many ways
unexpected.

Q: What was the surprise? What new things did you learn?

A: First of all, I'd like to focus our listeners' and viewers' attention on
the START-2 ratification process. (...) The Americans ratified it in 1996 in
the form in which it was signed in 1993. Since then, negotiations continued,
and in 1997, two crucially important documents, the well-known New York
Agreements, were signed. They included the protocol on delimitation of the
strategic versus non-strategic antiballistic defense, which rules out
violations of the 1972 ABM Treaty and preserves its basic status for
START-1, START-2 etc. The other agreement was about extending the term for
the implementation of the START-2 treaty for 5 years. In 2000, we ratified
these completely new documents. In fact, by leaving Americans behind, we
moved onto another field, having completed the process of ratification of
the documents related to START-2.

What follows from this? The most important consequence is that at the moment
it is absolutely inexpedient to conclude any agreements on START-3 with the
Americans, even if these agreements are non-binding, because the
ratification process of the START-2-related documents is not completed, and,
therefore, they did not come in force. What also follows is that no
documents related to the modernization of the ABM Treaty should be
considered. In his final remarks during the Duma ratification debate on
these documents, president Putin said: "Any modification of the ABM Treaty
is unacceptable for us." This is a document that creates the base for
several other crucial documents, including START-2. (...)

One should take into account that the US is now in a pre-election situation.
Not only the president, but also the House of Representatives will be
reelected. I never saw America in this mood before. In fact, at the moment,
the Senate, the Congress, and the administration have completely different
views. That is, many people in the Senate, in the Congress, in the House of
Representatives say: no documents should be signed with the outgoing
administration. Moreover, many senators and a few congressmen were putting
question marks over the very possibility of ratification of such documents
as the 1997 agreements. We asked them: how should we understand this in
Russia? These documents are the base upon which the START-2 was ratified by
us, this is clearly written into the ratification law. We are forwarding our
recommendations both to the State Duma, and to the administration of the
president, as well as to the government, suggesting a very cautious approach
to the forthcoming negotiations on June 3-5. We should not issue any
promises. (...) Let me remind that the Americans used to say: no talks [on
START-3] until START-2 ratification is completed. Ratify START-2, and then
we will talk. Now the situation has changed radically. We have completed
everything that was demanded from us. And now we say to our American
colleagues: please complete all the START-2 work, and then we will consider
further agreements.

(...) A second topic of our conversations was the US national ABM defense.
The Americans' arguments for creating national defense sounded very
unconvincing. Let me tell you frankly that national ABM defense reminds me
of the famous SDI which ended nowhere. The only explanation of the urgency
of taking decision [on antimissile defense] is the creation of jobs, the
lobbying of the MIC interests, and the need to obtain more votes for the
Democratic party in the elections. (...) Let me refer yet again to president
Putin, who said: in case the US abandons the ABM Treaty, Russia will
consider itself free with regard to many agreements, not just START-1 and
START-2, but also with regard to middle-range missiles and conventional
forces in Europe. Because everything is very much interrelated. (...) All
American references to the creation of missiles in North Korea, in Iran, in
Iraq are just unsupported by evidence, either military, or technical, or on
the intelligence side. I believe they just use these arguments for lack of
more weighty ones.

A third issue was about tactical nuclear weapons remaining in Europe. We
frankly told the Americans: when Soviet Union, and later Russia liquidated
our tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, and the infrastructure for their
use, the Americans, on their part, kept all this. At that time, it was not
so important for Russia because we had very high levels of strategic nuclear
forces, but after all our cuts, and with START-2 on the horizon, tactical
nuclear weapon that is stationed in Europe against Russia, can be considered
as strategic. And here we raise our question: why do these nuclear weapons
stay in Europe, and can we consider those states that don't have nuclear
weapons but that provide their territory for their stationing as truly
independent? And these are leading European states. That is, nuclear
dependency becomes very dangerous and is closely linked with European
security problems. (...) There is no way that the Russian tactical nuclear
weapons can threaten America. Meanwhile, American tactical nuclear weapon in
Europe is a real threat in a hypothetical case of a war against Russia. And
we have to take this into account.

A few words about NATO. I got the impression that, if not the majority of
the Congress, then at least a half of it is far from being convinced that
NATO should expand. And they don't approve of the policy of the Clinton
Administration which was pressing very hard for NATO enlargement. (...) It
is now obvious that the growing number of states wanting to join NATO will
lead, in fact, to the erosion of this organization. We clearly understand
that NATO cannot and should not become a substitute for the UN and the OSCE.
We saw this in Yugoslavia, when the Americans and their NATO allies, in
fact, lost, having to revert to the 1244 Security Council resolution. That
is, in their actions over the head of the UN Security Council they, in fact,
failed to accomplish the task that they set before themselves. In this
regard, there are two issues. First: NATO should not be expanded. And,
second, the Congress has set the goal to remove US forces from Kosovo by
2001, and it did this very firmly, in spite of the administration saying
that they are not ready. US Defense Secretary William Cohen told us very
frankly that they will go for a drastic reduction in the number of their
forces in Kosovo and shift the burden over to European allies.

A few words about a concern that we expressed and that was recently
mentioned in our media. The Americans and Norway deployed a powerful radar
station in the North of Norway and have been modernizing it over the past
several years. In fact, it controls main trajectories of ballistic missiles
that would be hypothetically launched against the US. Russia is concerned
because it is a clear violation of the 1972 ABM Treaty. Secondly, they are
modernizing their station on the Aleutian islands for a possible national
ABM defense. We officially submitted, on behalf of both the executive and
the legislature, a request to visit these islands with our experts to
evaluate these capacities. In principle, the response on the Aleutian
islands was positive. (...)

******

#11
Moscow Times
May 31, 2000 
ESSAY: Veteran Slavist Finally Slouches Toward Siberia 
By William C. Brumfield 
William C. Brumfield is a professor of Slavic studies at Tulane University 
and a recent Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. He contributed this essay to 
The Moscow Times. 

Anyone interested in the study of this country, past or present, must contend 
with the overwhelming weight that Moscow and St. Petersburg exert on our 
perception of it. For purposes ranging from investment opportunities to the 
dry reaches of academic history, it takes considerable effort to get beyond 
the two capitals. They often claim our attention to the exclusion of all else 
in this vast state, of which Siberia is by far the largest part. Perhaps the 
very space of Siberia inspires a certain dread, a rush to retreat to 
"civilization," to the secure and seemingly familiar fortresses of Moscow and 
St. Petersburg. 

Certainly, no geographical entity has accumulated more stereotypes - most of 
them negative - than Siberia. Common usage in many languages has detached the 
term from its specific geographical meaning to signify a brutish place of 
punishment. Even for knowledgeable specialists, this linkage pervades our 
perception. What historian of Russia is not aware of George Kennan's 
magisterial book "Siberia and the Exile System"? And then there is 
Dostoevsky's "Notes From the House of the Dead," whose hellish setting is 
drawn from the writer's own experience of Siberian exile. 

We know that Siberia is and has been more than a tale of exile and suffering. 
The drama of the conquest of Siberia in the late 16th century and its 
colonization in the following three centuries is widely known, at least in 
this country. Every schoolchild knows of Surikov's famous painting of the 
Cossack leader Yermak in battle with Khan Kuchum at the Irtysh River. This 
expedition, supported by the Stroganovs in the north, was a pivotal moment in 
the expansion of the Muscovite state, and it has entered the national 
consciousness on a mythic level comparable to the conquest of Kazan. 

We have all heard of Siberia's great beauty, of its vast natural potential 
exemplified by Lake Baikal, now threatened by ecological disasters. 
Eco-tourism is growing in Siberia, particularly in the Irkutsk and Baikal 
regions, and this tendency may help mobilize opinion in defense of Siberia's 
extraordinary ecological role. Certainly, tourism often brings its own 
problems, such as unregulated, shabby development with little concern for the 
general environment. Yet Siberia is approachable; it is not another planet. 

In my own case, it has been 30 years since my first trip to this country, and 
if I were to put together all my time spent in the former Soviet Union, it 
would total five years. Yet only last year did I first set foot in Siberia. 
The European part of the nation has more than enough for a lifetime of study. 
Even many of my local colleagues in art history have never been beyond the 
Ural Mountains. Who needs Siberia? With all the fervor of the lately 
converted, I now see that an understanding of this country is immeasurably 
enhanced by a greater knowledge and experience of the north Eurasian 
landmass. 

My belated awakening in this area came last summer and early fall, when I 
traveled eastward to photograph architectural monuments from Kirov (Viatka) 
to Lake Baikal. The results of this fieldwork include over 5,000 photos, with 
subjects ranging from late medieval churches to contemporary architecture and 
urban life. (Many slides will appear as part of an Internet project, "Meeting 
of Frontiers," www.frontiers.loc.gov, exploring parallels in local and 
American moves toward the Pacific.) 

A proper understanding of the colonization of the Urals and beyond must 
include the north, the area defined by a network of rivers and trading routes 
that lead from Moscow to the White Sea, and eastward to the Urals via the 
Vychegda and Kama rivers. 

Throughout my travels in Siberia and the Urals, I would find connections with 
the history of the north of the country, including towns such as 
Solvychegodsk, Arkhangelsk and Vologda. Indeed, the original route to Siberia 
extended from this region, considerably to the north of the current mainline, 
formed only in the 18th century with the pacification of steppe tribes such 
as the Kalmyks. 

My introduction to Siberia proper occurred at Tyumen, on the Tura River. 
Tyumen is now flush with oil money, and perhaps its most startling 
architectural monument is a sleek new Quality Hotel, an apparition all the 
more hallucinatory for its precise resemblance to this ordinary feature of 
the American landscape. Of course, the city also has its landmark 
18th-century churches, many of which are now being beautifully restored, and 
a large historic district where wooden houses have been lovingly preserved 
near the glass facades of modern commercial architecture. Tyumen still has 
many of the economic problems that affect other cities around the nation, but 
money has had its positive effects on the area's culture. 

Within the vast area of Tyumen province, the major historical site is Tobolsk 
(north of Tyumen), which served as the administrative center of Siberia for 
much of the 17th and 18th centuries. Its striking location on the high east 
bluffs of the Irtysh River transports the visitor back to imperial Siberia, 
with its natural grandeur and elaborate Baroque churches coexisting with the 
all-too-visible reminders of the prison system for which Siberia was 
synonymous. 

>From Tyumen, the next major stop on the Trans-Siberian is Omsk (also on the 
Irtysh), which served as Admiral Kolchak's capital in 1919, during the brutal 
civil war in Siberia. The center of Omsk has been less heavily rebuilt than 
other major Siberian cities, and it gives an impression of the prosperity 
created in western Siberia at the turn of the century. The theaters, hotels, 
banks, commercial enterprises founded by such Siberian entrepreneurs as the 
Vtorov and Morozov families, the shopping galleries in florid fin de si╬cle 
styles - all of these are remarkable even in their current dilapidated state. 
Omsk is also the city of Dostoevsky's exile, and some of the military 
buildings from his time still stand. 

East of Omsk, the railroad ploughs through a great variety of terrain, from 
forest to semi-arid hills, before reaching Novosibirsk on the Ob River. 
Novosibirsk is the quintessential railroad town and an example of Siberia at 
its most energetic. Here avant-garde Constructivist buildings co-exist with 
elaborately decorated log houses from the beginning of the century. In 
addition to its impressive cultural and educational institutions, much of the 
city's intellectual energy comes from nearby Akademgorodok. 

In view of the role of Novosibirsk as an administrative, cultural and 
transportation center, it comes as no surprise to learn that the city has 
been designated as the Siberian center in President Vladimir Putin's new 
administrative division of the nation. Perhaps this move will focus our 
attention more clearly on this vast territory and its wealth, of which much 
more remains to be written. 

*******

 

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