This Date's Issues: 4341•4342
Johnson's Russia List
2 June 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, No common agenda for Moscow.
Clinton arrives tomorrow for talks with President Putin on issues that
sharply divide the US and Russia.
2. Itar-Tass: Russian, US Presidents to Discuss about 20 Topics
3. Reuters: Putin suggests US,Russia develop joint missile shield.
4. AP: Russian Show Prepares Episode Lampooning Clinton-Putin Summit.
5. Moscow Times: Children's Population Dwindles.
6. Interfax: ALMOST HALF OF RUSSIANS APPROVE OF THE WORK OF RUSSIAN
GOVERNMENT - POLL.
7. Interfax: SUBSISTENCE LEVEL IN RUSSIA FOR FIRST QUARTER FIXED
AT 1,137 RUBLES.
8. Reuters: Russian businessman dubs Putin's new plan ``Soviet''
9. Interfax: RUSSIA LAWMAKER SURE PUTIN WILL FACE LEFT-WING OPPOSITION.
10. RFE/RL: Andrew Tully, Will Clinton Or Putin Have Upper Hand
11. Heritage Foundation: Ariel Cohen, SUMMIT RHETORIC ASIDE,
PUTIN'S NEW CABINET MAKES RUSSIAN REFORMS LESS LIKELY.
12. Ed Crane: A FURTHER NOTE ON THE RUSSIAN DEBATE REPRESENTATION
AND PARTICIPATION STATE AND CIVIL SOCIETY.
13. Jerry Hough:
14. Los Angeles Time: Robyn Dixon, Pushing the Boundaries of a
Free Press. Russia: Media tycoon's struggle with the Kremlin is seen as a litmus test of what President Putin will allow.
Christian Science Monitor
2 June 2000
No common agenda for Moscow
Clinton arrives tomorrow for talks with President Putin on issues that
sharply divide the US and Russia.
By Fred Weir, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
President Clinton, nearing the end of his term, arrives in Moscow this
weekend for a three-day summit with Russia's ambitious new leader, Vladimir
Putin. While the chances for substantive progress on the key issues of
nuclear arms control and global security appear slim, the two sides will try
to lay down markers for future negotiations. (Larger aims, page 9).
There are fundamental differences to overcome. Mr. Clinton, worried about the
threat of possible nuclear attack by "rogue" states, wants the Kremlin to
drop its insistence on the 28-year-old Antiballistic Missile Treaty so the US
can deploy a $60-billion missile defense umbrella.
President Putin, struggling to restore tough central rule in his vast,
ramshackle state, wants the US to sign on to a crusade against "international
terrorism" - which he sees as emanating from the rebel republic of Chechnya,
backed by militant Islamic powers in the Middle East and South Asia.
"There won't be any key agreements at this summit, that seems certain," says
Irina Kobrinskaya, Moscow director of the East-West Institute, an independent
think tank. "If nothing else, the Russians know that Clinton is a lame duck.
Putin is aware that he'll have to deal with someone else within a few
Still, both sides are cautiously talking up prospects for the summit, which
begins when Clinton arrives on Saturday for a lengthy tête-à-tête with Putin.
A full day of talks is slated for Sunday, mainly on economic and security
issues. On Monday, Clinton will become the first US president ever to address
the Russian parliament.
"I would be surprised if we resolve all of our differences on the question of
missile defense, although we might make more headway than most people would
expect," an upbeat Clinton said Wednesday in Portugal. In a similar tone,
Putin said the two sides must strive to obtain "mutually acceptable decisions
for the benefit of all humanity."
On the surface, broad agreement doesn't seem impossible. After all, both
sides stand for continuing three decades of arms control between the world's
two largest nuclear powers. Under Putin's firm direction, Russia has moved
rapidly to ratify the START-II and Comprehensive Test Ban treaties, and
bilateral talks have begun on a START-III accord.
But America's fascination with National Missile Defense (NMD), a scaled-down
version of the Reagan-era "star wars" scheme, has made Moscow dig in its
heels. "NMD is the biggest obstacle in our relations with the US since the
cold war," says Yevgeny Kozhokhin, an analyst with the independent Institute
for Strategic Assessments in Moscow. The appearance of an effective missile
defense system in the US would compel Russia either to match it - something
it is neither technologically nor financially capable of doing - or to
abandon the principle of nuclear parity. "It is not clear what Clinton could
possibly offer to overcome our objections to this," says Mr. Kozhokhin. "But
Russia under Putin is even less likely than under [former President Boris]
Yeltsin to give up its great power status."
Moreover, Russia remains good friends with many of the same "rogue" states
the US sees as potential threats, such as North Korea and Iran. Moscow is the
main arms supplier to China, often mentioned as a possible future atomic
attacker. Also, the Kremlin last month played host to Yugoslav Defense
Minister Dragoljub Ojdanic, an indicted war criminal, offering to extend a
$102 million loan to Yugoslavia - a clear snub to the West.
The Russians are not likely to get much further in their quest to make
Clinton understand the savage, eight-month war in Chechnya in the context of
a righteous struggle against international terrorism.
A Kremlin attempt to rope the Americans into this position failed dismally
last month. Several Russian officials, including the foreign and defense
ministers, warned that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which follows an
extreme interpretation of Islam, was providing fighters and arms to Chechen
rebels. The officials suggested Moscow might find it necessary to launch air
strikes against Afghan "terror bases" in response. "It seemed to our leaders
that the Americans should receive this news enthusiastically," says Pavel
Felgenhauer, military analyst with the daily Segodnya. "After all, just two
years ago Bill Clinton sent cruise missiles against [alleged terrorist
leader] Osama bin Laden's terror bases inside Afghanistan."
But the US reaction was disconcertingly cool, forcing the Kremlin to
backpedal. "Some of the statements we heard by Russian officials did alarm
us," Amb. Stephen Sestanovich, special adviser to the US State Department on
the former-Soviet countries, told a radio program this week. "To broaden this
conflict, which is already dangerous enough, would in our view not be a
Under pressure at home from Republicans, Clinton may have to say a few things
that will be less than pleasing to his host. These might include speaking out
against the war in Chechnya, warning Putin not to try to muzzle press
freedoms, slamming high-level corruption, and publicly criticizing Russia's
relations with unsavory regimes such as Yugoslavia.
"This is not going to be a serious meeting," says independent analyst Andrei
Piontkovsky. "At best it will be a kind of a ceremony, in which the two sides
will try to politely talk at each other."
Russian, US Presidents to Discuss about 20 Topics Kremlin. .
MOSCOW, June 2 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S.
President Bill Clinton are expected to discuss at least 20 topics, including
economic problems, disarmament and the fight against international terrorism,
during their talks in Moscow, a high-ranking Russian expert told Itar-Tass on
Putin and Clinton will exchange views on Russian-U.S. interaction and
partnership in the 21st century and compare the foreign policy doctrines of
the two countries. The dialogue will also focus on nuclear security,
including the START-2, ABM treaties and the nuclear non-proliferation.
The two presidents will discuss measures to fight international terrorism and
organised crime within the framework of discussions on global challenges to
security. They will consider the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the
Ahead of the Millennium Summit in New York Putin and Clinton will touch on
the strengthening of the Security Council and discuss the activity of
international organisations, in particular the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
On economic issues, Russia is ready to inform U.S. business circles about the
investment climate in the country. Moscow realises that the West rivets its
attention to "great transparency of our laws and the government's plans", the
At the same time, the Kremlin can raise the question on Russia's accession to
the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The United States believes that this is a
political issue and support Russia in it. "Political support should be
transformed into concrete results on tariffs, services and agriculture," the
The meeting will focus on Russia's cooperation with international financial
institutions, visa problems and scientific contacts.
Putin suggests US,Russia develop joint missile shield
WASHINGTON, June 1 (Reuters) - Newly installed Russian President Vladimir
Putin on Thursday suggested that the United States and Russia jointly develop
a missile shield to protect against nuclear attacks by ``rogue states.''
Putin told NBC News in an interview that he intended to put the idea before
President Bill Clinton when the two leaders meet in a summit on Sunday.
``Such mechanisms are possible if we pool our efforts and direct them toward
neutralising the threats against the United States, Russia, our allies or
Europe in general,'' Putin told NBC anchor Tom Brokaw in an interview in
``We have such proposals and we intend to discuss them with President
Clinton,'' Putin said.
Clinton on Wednesday offered to share missile defence technology with other
nations, but analysts say his proposal is unlikely to calm fears about U.S.
plans in Russia, China or among European allies.
Moscow and Beijing, the most virulent critics of the U.S. plan, are less
interested in sharing American know-how than in stopping it to preserve their
own nuclear deterrents.
They dispute Washington's view of an emerging threat from states such as
North Korea, Iran or Iraq armed with potentially nuclear-tipped long-range
missiles and suggest there are better ways of dealing with such countries
Defence experts have also questioned whether the United States would ever
share advanced interceptor technology such as space-based sensors with Russia
or China, given U.S. security restrictions on armaments collaboration even
with NATO allies.
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said it was premature to say whether
anti-missile technology would be shared with Russia.
Russian Show Prepares Episode Lampooning Clinton-Putin Summit
June 1, 2000
MOSCOW (AP) -- Amid Russia's respectful preparations for President Clinton's
visit this week, a popular Russian television show is cooking up a less
reverent event for the summit.
In the episode to run Sunday on the satirical puppet show Kukly, a puppet of
President Vladimir Putin, an ex-KGB agent, uses his old spy tricks to try to
get Clinton to become a turncoat.
"I think that to a great extent President Putin will relate to President
Clinton as to some kind of an old ideological and military rival and
opponent," show director Grigory Lyubomirov said Thursday.
"Therefore we thought up this kind of story line for our show about Putin's
attempt to talk to Clinton in the language of a professional spy," Lyubomirov
Unlike his extroverted predecessor Boris Yeltsin, the poker-raced Putin seems
reserved and enigmatic, both in life and on the show.
In a Kukly episode that was being filmed Thursday, the Putin puppet is told
by an aide that "friend Bill" is already on his way.
"To some 'friend Bill,' and to some an object for recruitment," the Putin
figure replies, asking for secret-service files on Clinton.
The U.S. president also gets his share of Kukly's trademark lampooning.
Told by an aide that Putin had served as an intelligence officer in East
Germany, the Clinton puppet asks: "And where is East Germany?"
"To the right of West Germany, Mr. President," the aide says.
The Clinton puppet then looks out an airplane window and declares East
Germany nowhere to be seen.
Clinton was featured in a Kukly episode two years ago, speculating about what
might have happened if the U.S. president found himself in Russia at the time
of bloody Communist purges of the 1930s.
Clinton saw the program, and did not mind being made fun of, Lyubomirov said
-- unlike Russian officials, many of whom would like the program, or at least
the Putin figure, to disappear.
"I think (Clinton) has an absolutely normal and natural reaction for a
citizen of a democratic nation -- this is humor, satire, and it makes no
sense to fight satire," Lyubomirov said.
June 2, 2000
Children's Population Dwindles
The number of children in Russia has declined by 15.7 percent since the
Soviet collapse in 1991 and the state of children's health also has declined,
Interfax reported Thursday on the International Day for the Protection of
The number of children under 15 years of age decreased by 5.7 million and
only 20 percent of the infants born in Russia today are considered healthy,
the news agency reported, citing an official at the Russian Academy of
Among infants and young children, 36 percent suffer from various illnesses
and 44 percent more are at risk, the official said, speaking on condition he
not be identified.
Only 10 percent to 12 percent of children in their first years of school are
healthy, while healthy teenagers ages 14 to 17 account for only 5 percent of
their age group, the report said.
A poor health care system, low living standards, environmental problems and
the poor health of adults along with drugs and alcohol abuse are the main
reasons behind the bleak picture of children's health in Russia.
Meanwhile, human rights activists reported mass violations of children's
rights at cash-strapped orphanages across the country.
Ombudsman for human rights Oleg Mironov issued a statement accusing the
government of being unable to take care of orphans.
"Hundreds of thousands of orphans live in Russia these days, many of them
being subject to violence and humiliation and starvation," Mironov's
There are more than 272,000 orphans across the country, Interfax reported,
citing Boris Altshuler, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, which runs "The
Right of the Child" program.
To mark the holiday, some 1,700 orphans were invited to the Bolshoi Theater
on Thursday night for a ballet performance. Special events also were held
elsewhere for orphans and children from large families and troubled homes.
ALMOST HALF OF RUSSIANS APPROVE OF THE WORK OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT - POLL
MOSCOW. June 1 (Interfax) - 42% of Russians give a positive
evaluation to the work of the Russian government, and 16% do not approve
of it. Also, 42% of Russian citizens were undecided about their attitude
to the current cabinet of ministers. These figures are based on the
information submitted to Interfax by the independent Agency for regional
political research on Thursday.
This information was obtained in the course of a preliminary poll
which was conducted on May 25-28. The poll was conducted in more than
90 cities and villages of 49 regions of the Russian Federation of all
economic-geographic regions of Russia. 1,600 respondents took part in
Supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the electorate of
"Unity," LDPR and "Motherland All Russia" have approved of the work of
the cabinet of ministers more often, and the supporters of the Communist
party, on the contrary, have been more negative.
More than half of the respondents (54%) were positive about Mikhail
Kasyanov's being appointed prime minister. This fact was taken
negatively by 11% of Russians. 35% of the respondents were undecided.
The poll also showed that 38% of Russians are satisfied with the
new government, and 17% are not. 45% of the respondents had no definite
opinion on this matter.
SUBSISTENCE LEVEL IN RUSSIA FOR FIRST QUARTER FIXED AT 1,137 RUBLES
MOSCOW. June 1 (Interfax) - A government decision, signed by Prime
Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, sets an average per capita subsistence level
in Russia for the first quarter at 1,137 rubles and 66 kopecks.
It is fixed at 1,232 rubles and 28 kopecks for the able-bodied
population, 851 rubles and 32 kopecks for pensioners, and 1,160 rubles
and 66 kopecks for children.
The decision says the figures should be used as guidelines for the
standard of living in Russia in drafting and implementing social policy
and federal social programs, grounding minimum pay and old-age pensions
at federal level, estimating the size of stipends, allowances and other
social payments, and forming the budgets of all levels for 2001.
The decision authorizes Russia's State Committee for Statistics to
publish this information officially.
Russian businessman dubs Putin's new plan ``Soviet''
By Michael Steen
MOSCOW, June 1 (Reuters) - Influential Russian businessman and legislator
Boris Berezovsky on Thursday stepped up his attack on President Vladimir
Putin's plans to overhaul the country's regional governments.
He said they signalled a return to Soviet-style rule.
Berezovsky, who is usually viewed as close to the Kremlin, told a news
conference he supported Putin's aim to strengthen central government, but he
said the present plans were a ``mistake.''
``What Putin is suggesting is destroying the principle of the vertical
division of power,'' Berezovksy said, using a Russian phrase for the chain of
command linking Moscow and the regions.
``(It is) the centralisation of vertical power...in other words, the Soviet
system of government,'' Berezovsky said, adding that it brought Putin into
Berezovsky added, however: ``I am sure Putin is a democratic person. He is a
democrat in his soul...but this is a mistake.''
Political analysts have interpreted Putin's decision to set up seven huge
federal districts as an attempt to reassert the Kremlin's control over the
vast, impoverished nation which stretches over 11 time zones and two
Putin, who has said strengthening the state must be a top priority, has also
asked the State Duma lower house of parliament to pass three bills which
would give him the right to suspend elected governors of Russia's 89 regions.
The Duma overwhelmingly backed the bills in the first reading on Wednesday.
Berezovsky was among the few Duma members to speak against the proposals -- a
move which has left politicians and commentators scratching their heads.
It is widely believed Berezovsky has close contact with the Kremlin and would
know well in advance of any proposals he disapproved of. The bills are
expected to face amendments as they come before the Duma for a second reading
HELPING KREMLIN BY FAKING OPPOSITION?
The popular daily Moskovsky Komsomolets speculated that Berezovsky had either
thrown his lot in with Russia's regional bosses in an effort to preserve the
status quo or else was actually helping the Kremlin by faking opposition.
Asked why he was opposing Putin, to whom he has also written an open letter,
Berezovsky said: ``I do not hide that one of the goals in writing this letter
is to get my argument into the public domain and because it is necessary to
speak about it, and it is not at all dangerous.''
So far most governors have opted quietly to support Putin's plans, which
analysts say is a sign they do not think they can prevent parliament voting
them into law.
Political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky dismissed suggestions Berezovsky was
feigning opposition to the plans and said it seemed to signal a real break
between the president and the 'Family', a circle of businessmen and senior
aides close to ex- President Boris Yeltsin which helped get Putin elected.
``There is an inevitable tension between Putin and the so-called 'Family'
because certainly Putin was manufactured by the 'Family'. Now Putin wants to
distance himself from them,'' Piontkovsky said by telephone.
Putin was more or less unknown until Yeltsin made him prime minister last
August. A former KGB spy, Putin was elected president in March on the back of
his tough stance on rebel Chechnya and on pledges to restore law and order.
Piontkovsky said Berezovsky was using the regions issue as a warning to
Putin. ``He wants to assert a kind of independence from Putin...He is a force
to be reckoned with. This is his message to Putin.''
Berezovsky himself said his relations with the Kremlin had not changed at all
since Putin succeeded Yeltsin as president. He said he could not be called a
member of any 'Family' because he had opposed some of Yeltsin's policies.
RUSSIA LAWMAKER SURE PUTIN WILL FACE LEFT-WING OPPOSITION
MOSCOW. June 1 (Interfax) - Boris Berezovsky, a member of the State
Duma lower house of parliament and an oil-to-media tycoon, said on
Thursday he was sure that President Vladimir Putin would soon face a
left-wing opposition force.
"It will be terrible if opposition to Putin does not emerge,"
Berezovsky told a news conference.
"Opposition will doubtless appear and it will do so from the left,"
he said, adding that the left-wing movement has huge potential in
Its two constituent parts are "a great number of poor people" in
Russia and Russia's mentality. "The Russians are a conscientious
Asked by reporters, he said he was not going to set up an
opposition force in case the Duma passed the three Putin-proposed bills
aimed at strengthening central government and changing the way the
Federation Council upper house is formed.
Berezovsky denied media reports alleging that his criticism of
those bills had stemmed from his conspiracy with the Kremlin.
In terms of his open letter to Putin, he said: "It was a completely
independent step" dictated by the necessity to protect regional leaders
who are elected by popular vote.
The three bills curbing the governors' powers had resulted from
Putin's "insufficient experience" in the power structure. Those who had
advised the president to do so made a mistake.
The lack of power experience explains Putin's suggestion to link
the representation of the regions depending on their budget
However, he flatly denied the opinion that Putin was a potential
dictator. "As before, power in Russia is democratic, and Putin was the
very best choice" among those who had run for the presidency.
Some of Putin's plans provide for a rapprochement between Russia
and Europe, he said, adding that the president's idea about NATO's
possible transformation was a "very positive sign" indicating that he
was aware of the problems facing Russia.
However, the three bills show "a great lack of understanding of the
problems which are being talked about."
When these bills appeared, he felt a bit bored, he said.
Russia: Will Clinton Or Putin Have Upper Hand At Summit?
By Andrew F. Tully
U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in
Moscow this weekend. Clinton is nearing the close of an eight-year term as
leader of the world's only remaining superpower. Putin is beginning his term
as the leader of a struggling former superpower. But despite U.S. economic
and military predominance, some analysts believe Putin, not Clinton, will
dominate the summit. RFE/RL's Andrew F. Tully reports.
Washington, 1 June 2000 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton is optimistic
that he will make progress on arms-control issues at this weekend's summit in
Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But some analysts in the U.S. are not so confident, and they made their point
unequivocally during a briefing Wednesday at the Nixon Center, a Washington
think-tank that specializes in diplomatic affairs.
In Lisbon, where he was meeting with leaders of the European Union, Clinton
said Wednesday that he certainly does not expect to settle all his
differences with Putin over U.S. plans to enable a missile-defense system.
But the American president stressed "we might make more headway than most
people would expect."
Clinton has been eager to achieve certain foreign-policy goals to ensure his
place in history. One is granting China permanent normal trade status.
Another is to explore a system to defend the United States against ballistic
To set up the "national missile defense" system, known as NMD, the United
States and Russia must amend the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Moscow has
resisted any such changes, saying it would leave Russia at a strategic
disadvantage. Even European allies of the U.S. have complained that NMD would
protect only America and leave them open to attack.
The Clinton administration has responded by saying NMD would target attacks
mounted only by rogue states like North Korea or Iran, and that Russia and
European allies have nothing to fear from it. So far, the argument has not
convinced Russians or many European allies.
Susan Eisenhower is chairwoman of the Center for Political and Strategic
Studies, a Washington think-tank. She said Putin has the advantage -- is
"calling the shots," as she put it -- on the missile-defense issue.
"It's the Russians who are actually calling the shots here in the sense that
they are the ones yet to be convinced."
Eisenhower said there are two distinct opinions among Putin's advisers on the
issue of the U.S. national missile defense proposal. One includes those who
urge close cooperation with the U.S. and the West in general. She says this
group prefers to make a deal with the Clinton administration now, believing
that Russia could not get better terms from a subsequent administration.
The second group wants no deal on missile defense -- at least not now with
the Clinton administration, according to Eisenhower. She says this group
intensely distrusts the U.S., and it complains that Washington has struck
arms-reduction understandings with Moscow that have not favored Russia.
Eisenhower says there is a "subset" of this second group that is so
distrustful of the West that it wants Moscow to engage in no further arms
As a result, Eisenhower expects Clinton and Putin to make little if any
progress on missile defense at the summit.
"And so you have these three groups -- actually two-and-a-half groups -- very
much in contest with each other, and I think it's not at all clear who is
going to win this argument. In fact, one of the reasons we may not be seeing
anything from the Russians at this stage is that they are still in some
disagreement within Putin's camp as to what the correct approach should be."
The other foreign-policy experts at the Nixon Center briefing generally
agreed with Eisenhower's assessment. They included Dimitri Simes, president
of the think-tank; Paul Saunders, the center's director; and former
presidential security advisers Fritz Ermarth and Peter Rodman.
Saunders bolstered Eisenhower's thesis. He said Putin is in a much stronger
position with the U.S. than was his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, particularly
in terms of popular support. He said Russians are now more optimistic about
their country's economy than they have been for years; there is more popular
political consensus in Russia; Russia's leadership is more energetic and
focused; and the new Duma supports Putin more than it did Yeltsin.
Saunders also said it was the U.S., not Russia, that wanted this summit. In
fact, he said, the Clinton administration tried to have the summit in
Washington, but Putin refused, and Clinton had to settle for a meeting in
"This really puts President Clinton in the position of a supplicant and puts
President Putin in the position of being able to -- essentially to use the
visit to his own domestic political advantage."
Saunders added that he expects Putin to be more engaged in his talks with
Clinton than Yeltsin ever was. And he noted that Clinton is what is known in
America as a "lame duck" president. A lame duck is any politician who is
nearing the end of his term in office and thus ineffective. Clinton's term
ends on 20 January 2001.
And he believes Putin will not entertain any unsolicited advice from
Americans about how to run Russia.
"The changes in the domestic environment in Russia have made it even less
likely that lectures from the president or the secretary of state about
democracy and economic reform and "you need to do this" and "you need to do
that" will be well received. It was always resented in the past."
He says Russians believe that their country is doing well without U.S. help
-- perhaps even in spite of it -- and Putin is aware that he can openly
disregard such offers of advice.
From: "Ariel Cohen" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000
Subject: SUMMIT RHETORIC ASIDE, PUTIN'S NEW CABINET MAKES
RUSSIAN REFORMS LESS LIKELY
No. 675 June 1, 2000
SUMMIT RHETORIC ASIDE, PUTIN'S NEW
CABINET MAKES RUSSIAN REFORMS LESS LIKELY
ARIEL COHEN, PH.D.
--Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies in
the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at
The Heritage Foundation.
Produced by the
Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies
The Heritage Foundation
214 Massachusetts Ave., N.E.
As President Bill Clinton prepares to meet with newly elected Russian
President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on June 4, questions remain about Putin's
principles and commitment to lead Russia into the new century. Putin's
public statements since being personally selected by the ailing Boris
Yeltsin to fill the post of Prime Minister and then to serve as Acting
President appear at odds with his actions, such as intimidating the media,
crushing the resistance in Chechnya, and reviving centralized control over
Russia's regions. Putin's decisions offer a clearer picture of his
objectives and indicate that America is unlikely to see significant changes
either in Russian efforts to reform or in U.S.-Russia relations in the
Putin's Appointments. To date, Putin's actions, including a secret police
raid on the headquarters of the opposition Media-MOST news conglomerate, the
kidnapping of a Radio Liberty journalist, and his tightening of control in
the regions, suggest grave threats to the rule of law in Russia. At the same
time, Putin's government looks much like that of his predecessor. At least
for the short term, Putin's appointments suggest that he will continue to be
strongly influenced by forces and personalities that influenced Yeltsin at
the end of his term.
The Kremlin today is largely controlled by representatives of what many call
the Yeltsin "family," a tightly knit group of aides and businessmen who work
side-by-side with former KGB officers, many of them close to Putin.
Yeltsin's Chief of Staff, Alexander Voloshin, was re-appointed and has
tremendous power. This long-time associate of two key members of the
"family," businessmen Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich, has two KGB
veterans as his deputy chiefs of staff.
The new Prime Minister under Putin is Mikhail Kasyanov. Despite his relative
youth (42), fluent English, and designer-label suits, he is an associate of
the Yeltsin "family" whose economic background consists of a position at
GOSPLAN, the Soviet agency responsible for central economic planning, and a
career in foreign debt management in the Russian Ministry of Finance.
Kasyanov has publicly derided the broad program of market-driven changes
proposed by economists who advise Putin and has promised the communists in
the Duma that he will not implement land reform.
Kasyanov's appointment highlights a rift in Putin's cabinet on economic
issues. One side, the "Moscow faction," includes Yeltsin holdovers,
primarily Berezovsky-Abramovich appointees, who favor pursuing reforms
slowly if at all. On the other side, members of the "St. Petersburg faction"
influenced by Yeltsin's former senior minister Anatoly Chubais have a
reputation as "liberal reformers" who advocate policies that are
theoretically closer to Western market models. This faction includes Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin; national economy and
trade minister German Gref, a personal friend of Putin; and a number of
other ministers close to Putin.
The so-called power ministers--the national security and law enforcement
officials Putin retained from the Yeltsin government--are not likely to
launch a much-anticipated and much-needed fight against crime and
corruption. They are likely, however, to continue to oppose the United
States on missile defense issues.
For example, the Minister of Defense, Marshal Igor Sergeev, advocates arming
Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with multiple warheads
(MIRVs), which are currently banned under START II. He is adamantly opposed
to the United States' deploying a national missile defense system or
ignoring the restrictions of the now-defunct 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile
(ABM) Treaty. Sergeev and his Chief of Staff have taken a hard line on the
war in Chechnya.
Putin's Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, is a protÐ¹gÐ¹ of Evgeny Primakov, the
architect of Russia's "multipolar diplomacy" designed to dilute America's
superpower status. Nikolay Patrushev, chief of the secret police (the FSB),
was a KGB officer stationed with Putin in St. Petersburg. A former KGB
foreign intelligence officer, General Sergei Ivanov, is Secretary of the
Security Council, the post Putin held before being named Prime Minister.
Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo and Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov,
who have retained their positions since the Yeltsin administration, are also
close to the "family."
Tightening Control on the Regions. Just days after his inauguration, Putin
ordered a drastic reform of Russia's system of governance: He appointed
"presidential representatives," or prefects, to govern seven giant new
regions. This decision immediately raised international concern. First,
while the declared purpose of the reorganization was to ensure that the
regions observed the federal laws, Putin did not appoint lawyers to
administer them. Instead, he nominated military or political figures. Five
of the appointees are generals--two KGB veterans, two army generals who
commanded operations in Chechnya, and a police general. The other two are a
former Prime Minister under Yeltsin, Sergei Kirienko, and an ex-cabinet
minister, Leonid Drachevsky.
The Russian constitution contains no provisions for instituting such a
system based on viceroys who have authority over law enforcement and finance
at the regional level. This makes the new system appear to be of dubious
legal status and destroys the beginnings of the local self-government that
began under Yeltsin.
Conclusion. Given Putin's decisions and appointments, the new Kremlin
appears unlikely to veer far from the path carved out by the Yeltsin regime.
This means that the Clinton Administration should not confuse its need to
establish a working relationship with Putin with its desires to help Russia
develop democratic institutions and a free market.
President Clinton and many Western observers had hoped that the newly
elected Russian President would break with the past and launch an
investigation of corruption at the highest levels of government, remove
oligarchs from power, and relaunch much needed economic reforms. Instead,
the people Putin has selected for his cabinet may serve only to exacerbate
the problems that encumbered Russia under Yeltsin. As huge insider business
deals and the war in Chechnya continue, President Clinton should be under no
illusion that he will find a "reformist" Russian President coming to the
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000
From: "Ed Crane" <email@example.com>
Subject: A FURTHER NOTE ON THE RUSSIAN DEBATE
REPRESENTATION AND PARTICIPATION STATE AND CIVIL SOCIETY
This memorandum should be read in the context of its predecessor memos on
assessing Putin and on the (proposed and problematic) role of Russian civil
society as the major check on presidential power.
The serious contradictions, an perhaps dis-ingenuousness, of the Putin
approach are illustrated by his new proposal that the Unity Party (or
political parties in general) serve BOTH as instruments of linking state
with citizen participation, AND as the major instruments of Russian civil
Clearly this reflects the centralizing impulse, contrary to pluralization,
in the Russian system under Putin's leadership. Other elements are his
"new federalism" and the proposed State Council.
The Putin proposal places Russia within the modern debate on the
organization of politics an power, the roles of citizens, the relations of
the sectors. Western modernity, as observed by Habermas, has opted for the
Lockeian principle of pluralism, or autonomy. Russia has not resolved this
issue. Putin is seeking to resolve it on the side of Hobbesian
centralization. Conditions in Russia require that the issue be debated
seriously. What are the real options?
In ON REVOLUTION, Hannah Arendt observed that starting with the French
Revolution, modernity carries with it a tension between parliamentary
parties (Russian Unity) and popular local councils. Under Yeltsin, the
Duma provided enabling legislation for such local councils, as a non-party
form of civic participation which could link civil society and the state at
the local level. But Putin has not given them a place, nor has he
suggested an enabling environment for NGOs.
Putin's emerging civil society cannot check his presidency, but will serve
it. Unity cannot check his presidency as a form of autonomous civil
society, but will serve it. Where then is the Russian civil society in
Putin's scheme? What kind of social contract are we seeing? It is mass
populism at best, and that is not democracy.
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I have been spending the last few months working on the early
postwar period. I probably will even break out and expand the chapters
on this in my president book and do a book on the Domestic Politics of
the Origins of the Cold War. I have been in a series of
archives--Truman, Taft, Dirksen, Alsop, etc. It is striking how
beautifully the Greece-Turkey aid and Marshall Plan were scenarioed--far
better than usually understood. As one reads the New York Times in the
before the "surprise" British letter on Greece and Turkey, as one reads
Alsop's letters to those like Brynes and the memoirs like Alsop's and
Reston's, one really sees what scenario means.
I mention this because we are totally insensitive to this
question when we deal with Russia. That is "conspiracy thinking." In
fact, good politicians do a lot of scenarioing and political theater.
As Reagan said, how can you be a politician if you are not an actor? I
document in detail the beauty of the Yeltsin scenarios in the fall of
1991 and then the movement to the dissolution of the Congress beginning
in December 1992. In both cases, the West was played like a violin.
Again, this is history. But what I think is the current scenario is
not. It is perfectly obvious that the Chechen war was started to set up
the election. It is perfectly obvious that the election was moved up to
March to make sure the war would not go wrong too soon. But I think it
is also obvious why Yeltsin did not fear Putin the way he feared the
previous four premiers, including, as I recall at the time Stephasin who
refused to play his assigned game. If one assumes, as I always did in
1999, that Voloshin was Yeltsin's second secretary for cadres and
Berezovsky his second secretary for economics, you have one confirmation
after another for my hypothesis in December and January that Yeltsin
would pull a Milosevic. All the evidence of the weakness of Putin is
evidence of the strength of Yeltsin.
If the hypothesis is right, Yeltsin is approaching the time when he
should be named head of the Union. My prediction of the scenario is that we
are seeing it: all the talk about the dictator Putin, then the second
secretary Berezovsky speaks, and finally Yeltsin will reluctantly come
back as chairman of the Union to protect democracy and free press. If so,
super-regions will be just one more level of corruption for Putin's
people and Nemtsov. For Americans, the worrisome change is Kirienko,
Nemtsov's boy who heads the Volga region. I have followed Tatneft a lot,
and it has been a cash cow for Tatarstan. Nizhni tries to get free oil
for Narsi refinery, but Tatarstan resists and tries to get paid.
Presumably Kirienko, the former head of Narsi, will have the power to
change that. Let us hope that the US shareholders in Tatneft on the
NYSE follow this closely.
My daughter, a seismologisst at the US Geological Survey, has
completed a big study of the New Madrid earthquake of 1811-1812, and just
gave a big paper in Washington. I drove out to Missouri to see the
Truman archives and pick her up and drive her back through the New Madrid
area. We had two days to talk scholarship. When she describes
seismology and I describe Russian studies, neither of us can believe
it. When I try to explain why Russian studies is so different, I have
some ideas, but the explanations didn't satisfy either her or me. How
can it be that the unquestioned top research scholar on Russia over the
last 40 years, with four books on Gorbachev and Yeltsin since 1996,
says for five months that Yeltsin still rules and no one criticizes that,
mentions it, tries to test it? So far as I know, no one has discussed
favorably or unfavorably or even cited my Gorbachev book, which is really
quite solid and is now some three years old. Clearly people are afraid
to agree and to say that the Administration and press have it wrong, and
they are too afraid that I am right to disagree. But, why?, she kept
asking. What is the source of the fear and the fact that so many
scholars with tenure are just in a shell? I don't know.
In December, Tim Colton said we need to go back to research and
get away from speculation. There is a lot to be said for that. But we
have older scholars who have dropped out and a generation of young
scholars who have played the game of accepting Kremlin-White House
propaganda on the facts of reform and then writing the "theoretical"
implications. How do we move off this very unsatisfactory situation?
I think that some really serious thought needs to be given to research
design on topics that can be done and that can move us off the old
debates. We desperately need some studies like Aslund did in the 1980s
on the debates among Russian economists. Chubais and Gaidar are not
economists but politicians. What is the range of views of the leading
economists, most who disagree with policy? Abalkin and Glazev are
only the biggest names. New generations must be debating. We desperately
need case studies of a region in which the role of the various banks are
straightened out in the subsidy system. We desperately need a Soviet
Prefects for Russian agriculture (I would be glad to do it if someone
would fund it). Most of all, younger scholars need to become
comparative. That is the way to move beyond earlier embarrassments.
The fact of the matter is that Peru is more democratic and more reformist
than Russia, although you would not imagine it from our press. What are
the features of different types of authoritarian dictatorship, different
types of semi-democracy. What are the usual patterns of evolution There
are a variety of economic reforms that can be looked at in different
countries. I just read Harry Dexter White's description of the Nazi
economy. It is fascinating. The Duma can be compared with a series of
legislatures in the past and present, and one can ask what were the steps and
mechanisms by which they became serious. One can look at mechanisms by
which capital flight was controlled. Etc., etc., etc.
It would be nice if we had a mechanism like David Johnson's list to
exchange abstracts of research findings and to raise research
questions. Places like Harvard are doing yeoman work in computerizing
archives. Something should be possible on the current scene. And it
would be nice to have a meeting or chat room where we can talk about Shto
Delat'. Something needs to be done.
Los Angeles Time
June 1, 2000
[for personal use only]
Pushing the Boundaries of a Free Press
Russia: Media tycoon's struggle with the Kremlin is seen as a litmus test of
what President Putin will allow.
By ROBYN DIXON, Times Staff Writer
MOSCOW--Vladimir A. Gusinsky, owner of Russia's largest independent
media group, stands virtually alone among the business and political elite
here in going head-to-head in battle with President Vladimir V. Putin and his
powerful Kremlin chief of staff, Alexander S. Voloshin.
His lone struggle has become a kind of litmus test of what Russia will
be like under the new president. If his news outlets are forced out of
business, Gusinsky told The Times on Wednesday in a rare interview, then
people can conclude that Russia under Putin is no longer tolerant of an open
and pluralistic media.
The tycoon's media outlets generally have been among the most
independent, objective and active in Russia in the post-Soviet era. They have
been more openly critical in their reporting about the nation's two wars in
the republic of Chechnya. In the presidential campaign that ended with
Putin's election in March, Gusinsky's media--far more than others--resisted
simply echoing the Kremlin line.
Gusinsky, whose Media-Most offices were raided last month by heavily
armed police commandos wearing masks, told The Times that there has been
persistent Kremlin pressure on him in the last year to get out of the media
business and threats to bankrupt him if he refused.
But the real showdown came in a meeting last summer when, Gusinsky said,
Voloshin tried to persuade him to toe the Kremlin line in the presidential
"Voloshin said, as if he was joking, 'Let's pay you $100 million so that
you won't be in our way while the election is on. You could go on a
vacation,' " Gusinsky said in the interview at his Moscow office, which was
raided by commandos and searched by agents of the Federal Security Service,
the main successor to the KGB.
The media tycoon said he informed Voloshin that he would not repeat the
1996 presidential election scenario, when Russia's powerful
oligarchs--including Gusinsky--all backed incumbent President Boris N.
He told the Kremlin chief that his media--the national NTV network,
Sevodnya daily newspaper, Echo of Moscow radio and Itogi magazine--would play
fair. But Voloshin said he did not believe the magnate. Gusinsky said that
when he declared that he had no intention of going away, Voloshin told him
that meant war between the Kremlin and Gusinsky's Media-Most.
The meeting was in the office of then-Prime Minister Sergei V. Stepashin
and was attended by a Kremlin aide linked to Gusinsky, Sergei Zveryev, who
was dismissed from the Kremlin staff shortly afterward. (He is not the same
Sergei Zveryev who was killed in a suspected rebel bomb attack in Chechnya on
The Kremlin press office could not be reached for comment Wednesday
night concerning Gusinsky's allegation.
Gusinsky, 47, is a flamboyant, elegant, larger-than-life fellow who
peppers his conversation with amusing stories and adores the NTV network's
cheeky satirical puppet show, "Kukly." He is also stubborn, certain he is in
the right and scoffs at the word compromise.
"What do you mean by a compromise with Putin?" he asked. "Take 'Kukly'
off the air? Forbid journalists to tell the truth about Chechnya? Stop
writing about government corruption? Should I say the entire FSB is crystal
clean and just doing its job? If this is called compromise, then this is
Nothing, he said, short of a totalitarian coup would shut down his news
outlets. But if Putin's media policy changed overnight and viewers turned on
Gusinsky's NTV to find news programs more like what appears on a state
channel, "then you'll know what's happened," he said.
Gusinsky insisted that his defiance is not just about protecting his
business but also about journalistic integrity and his desire that his
21-year-old son, Ilya, who is studying in the U.S., will know that his father
is a principled man.
He said he told Voloshin last summer that his media would not fight back
if the Kremlin declared war.
"I was told there already was a war. He said, 'Your mass media are
already writing nasty things about the government, Yeltsin, the Family.' "
Voloshin is a key member of "The Family," the inner Kremlin circle that has
largely remained in place in the transition from Yeltsin to Putin.
In the past, Gusinsky has not been above using his media interests to
fight business battles, particularly after he lost out in a 1997 struggle to
get a chunk of the Russian telecommunications company, Svyazinvest.
In addition, Gusinsky is widely regarded as having close ties to Moscow
Mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov, who formed an anti-Kremlin alliance last year with
former Prime Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov. But Gusinsky denies the widely
held view that he backed Luzhkov and Primakov against the Kremlin.
Gusinsky said Kremlin figures exerted pressure on him in the last year
to sell his media business, though sometimes the message was conveyed by
Late last year, tax police raided one of the group's large publishing
houses, Sem Dney. Media-Most has also been under financial pressure in a
legal battle with the state-owned Vneshekonombank concerning a $60-million
debt to the bank. Gusinsky's group lost a court battle and was forced to pay.
But Gusinsky sees the bank's action as merely another instrument of the
"All these myths about the Media-Most overdue debts were deliberately
concocted by the Kremlin team in order to exert pressure on us," he said.
"After the Kremlin had realized that it can't pressure us financially and
legally--or at least showing some semblance of legality in their actions
against us--then the people in masks showed up. I think that must have been a
sign of despair. The FSB poked their nose into every single corner without us
Born in Moscow in 1952 to Jewish parents, Gusinsky was a theater
director in Soviet times and leaped into business in 1986. He was flexible
and inventive in his quest to get ahead: He drove cabs, traded goods, sold
computers and office equipment and founded a metal company that made jewelry
In 1989, he became a political consultant and founded a joint venture a
year later called Most, which became the base for a private bank formed in
1991. In 1994 he was approached by a journalist who had a proposal to set up
He created Media-Most in 1997, giving up his role as Most-Bank
Jesting in Wednesday's interview, Gusinsky poked fun at that decision to
go into media as "one of the most serious blunders of my life," given the
trouble it has brought him.
In the six years since he got into the media business, Gusinsky has
concluded that it is impossible to have a good relationship with the
authorities. But the question he has to ponder is how far the Kremlin is
prepared to go in order to bring him to heel.
Gusinsky is confident that the authorities do not have the ability to
bankrupt him, but neither is he willing to make a deal.
Gusinsky now spends much of his time on airplanes, shuttling between
Russia, Europe and Israel. Some people, including his relatives, wonder why
he does not give up tangling with Russia's authorities and set up overseas,
where his media would have greater legal protections.
"I was born in Moscow. My father is buried here, and all my relatives
are buried in Russia," he said.
"I want Russia to be part of Europe not only in words but in practice. I
don't believe an authoritarian or totalitarian regime is capable of reforms,
especially in the 21st century. I am convinced we are working for the benefit
of the country."
Alexei V. Kuznetsov of The Times' Moscow Bureau contributed to this
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