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Johnson's Russia List


June 4, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4345 

Johnson's Russia List
4 June 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
1. AFP: Putin, Clinton dine in Kremlin as summit starts on sax note.

3. The Russia Journal: Andrei Piontkovsky, Mutually assured distrust.
5. John Van Oudenaren: Meeting of Frontiers.
6. AFP: Top eye surgeon killed in Russian helicopter accident.
(Sviatoslav Fyodorov)
7. Financial Times (UK): Dark hour for Russian culture: Arkady 
Ostrovsky mourns the passing of Oleg Yefremov, director of the 
Moscow Art Theatre.
8. Financial Times (UK): Russia gets real: US relations with Russia 
are moving to a new footing based on Moscow's need to concentrate on 
economic recovery, write John Thornhill and Stephen Fidler.
10. World Socialist Web Site: Vladimir Volkov, Russian President Putin moves toward authoritarian rule.]


Putin, Clinton dine in Kremlin as summit starts on sax note

MOSCOW, June 3 (AFP) - 
Vladimir Putin and Bill Clinton enjoyed an informal Kremlin dinner Saturday 
at the start of a three-day summit overshadowed by a deep split over a 
proposed US nuclear missile shield.

Aides said the soiree, held in Putin's private Kremlin apartments, would give 
the two leaders a chance to break the ice before plunging into an agenda 
Sunday packed with arms control, Chechnya and press freedom.

"I think it's a chance to, before they have working sessions throughout the 
day (...) to get comfortable and discuss a wide range of issues including the 
substantive issues that could come up," said White House spokesman Joe 

"We're looking forward to hearing in the conversation tomorrow about security 
what he (Putin) has in mind," Lockhart said, referring to Putin's proposal 
Friday that the two sides jointly work on missile defence.

Sergei Prikhodko, Putin's chief foreign policy aide, said the presidents had 
used the relaxed atmosphere to swap views on arms control, the Balkans and 
Chechnya, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russia's legendary Oleg Lundstrem jazz orchestra was to provide the music, 
band leader Lundstrem offering to jam with the saxophone-playing US president.

On Sunday, Clinton is expected to tell former KGB spy Putin that Washington 
wants to forge a closer ties, help Russia build a stronger democracy and will 
keep the door open on NATO membership.

But he will also urge a political solution to Moscow's 10-month crackdown in 
breakaway Chechnya and raise concerns over press freedom in the wake of an 
armed police raid on Russia's leading private media group.

However, topping the agenda will be US plans for a national missile defence 
(NMD) system which Washington insists it needs to protect the United States 
from "rogue states" like North Korea and Iran.

Clinton has so far failed to temper Russian hostility to the 
60-billion-dollar system, which would breach the landmark 1972 Anti-Ballistic 
Missile (ABM) Treaty regarded as the cornerstone of arms control accords.

Fearing NMD will threaten its own nuclear deterrent and spark a new arms race 
Russia can ill afford, Moscow has privately linked ABM revision to deep cuts 
in nuclear arsenals.

But with US presidential elections looming, Clinton has declined to override 
the Pentagon's objections, heightening Russian fears that Washington will 
build the system regardless of Moscow's security concerns.

Putin, who has vowed to tear up all arms control deals if that happens, 
mooted Friday a vague plan to share technology on missile defence, taking up 
a theme Clinton had raised a few days earlier.

Analysts saw the comments as an attempt to ensure a positive spin on a summit 
undermined by the failure to cut an all-embracing arms control accord and 
Clinton's impending departure following November elections.

White House aides travelling with the US president said Putin's proposal had 
already been put forward in essence by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov 
and only covered defence against tactical nuclear missiles.

The offer was "not a substitute for a national missile defence," said one US 

However, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is accompanying 
Clinton, said she had detected in Putin's remarks a recognition that North 
Korea posed a threat to the United States and to other countries.

"What is more important is that President Putin is signalling that he is open 
to discussions," she said in Berlin.

Despite low expectations for the summit, the two presidents will sign a 
handful of accords, notably on the disposal of 34 tonnes of weapons-grade 
plutonium and the creation of a joint missile launch early warning control 

After a joint press conference, Clinton will field questions on Echo Moscow 
radio, whose owner Media-MOST was subjected to a heavy-handed tax police raid 
last month. US officials deny any significance in the choice.

On Monday, Clinton will become the first Western head of state to address the 
State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.

Later he will meet Boris Yeltsin, the former Russian leader, before leaving 
for Ukraine. Putin meantime will fly out of Moscow for Italy.


Text of report by Russian news agency Ekho Moskvy on 3rd June 

[No dateline as received] Ekho Moskvy radio has opened an Internet page
dedicated to Bill Clinton's visit to Russia. 

Anyone can ask Clinton a question at 

Clinton will answer the most interesting questions on 4th June during a
live hot line discussion between Clinton and the Ekho Moskvy audience. 

[omitted: description of the site] 

The text of Clinton's live interview to Ekho Moskvy in Russian and English
will be published on the web site as soon as the interview is completed. 


The Russia Journal
June 5-11, 2000
Mutually assured distrust
Columnist Andrei Piontkovsky looks at American National Missile defense
plans and what they mean to Russia.
Sir Winston Churchill once described Russia as a riddle wrapped in a
mystery inside an enigma. The current crisis in U.S.-Russian relations over
American National Missile Defense plans and the future of the
Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty is an absurdity wrapped in nonsense inside

Let’s begin with the American side. There is no urgent security need for
deployment of NMD in the United States right now. The eventual North Korean
or other rogue states’ intercontinental missile threats are hypothetical
ones. At the same time, there are other, more plausible terrorist threats
that need to be addressed. 

That’s why the Clinton administration is rather skeptical about the whole
NMD idea and is moving in its direction only under tremendous pressure from
its Republican opponents that would be politically costly to ignore in an
election year.

For Republicans, the NMD issue has become an almost quasi-religious one.
Their ambitions for the NMD project’s development go further than just
protection of U.S. territory from potential strikes by rogue states. They
also want the system to be able to deprive China of its nuclear deterrent
i.e. its second-strike capability.

This point was made crystal clear by Dr. Henry Kissinger, one of the
Republican establishment’s foreign policy gurus, in a recent Los Angeles
Times article. It’s not a Russian analyst’s business to intervene in U.S.
national security debates, but as a person who studied nuclear strategy
from Kissinger's classical books, I know that it’s equally dangerous for
both sides when side A deprives side B of its nuclear deterrent. At a
moment of crisis, side B, not sure of its second-strike capability, may
have strong incentive to strike first.

Anyway, the internal political situation in the United States is such that
deployment of some version of the NMD system is inevitable under this or
that administration, certainly violating the 1972 ABM treaty. As is well
known, the United States has a legitimate right to get out of the ABM
treaty regime after six months’ notice.

What is the official Moscow reaction to this development? It’s also of a
quasi-religious character. A chorus of several Ivanovs ­ Igor, Sergei and
others ­ is singing the same mantra ­ "The ABM treaty is a cornerstone of
strategic stability." The cornerstone of the current strategic concept is
the ability of both sides to inflict unacceptable damage in a second
retaliatory strike. The 1972 version of the ABM treaty is only one possible
instrument of ensuring this ability.

Under the provisions of the START II treaty, Russia’s second strike
capability for hitting U.S. territory is about 1,000 warheads. If the
United States deploys its NMD system, this capability will be reduced to,
let’s say, 950 warheads. I suppose that for modern American society, the
level of unacceptable damage is one warhead.

So, the U.S. NMD project may threaten Chinese deterrence in the long
prospect, but it doesn’t jeopardize Russia’s deterrent in any way.
Moreover, it’s an additional argument for a mutually agreed modification of
the 1972 ABM Treaty ­ because the alternative is not between the 1972
treaty and a modified treaty: The alternative is whether the United States
develops its NMD project according to its own will or under international
legal restrictions.

But the prevailing mood in Moscow now is a stubborn rejection of even
discussion of any amendments, plus threats to leave START II and other arms
control agreements. There is something masochistic in such an approach. It
took almost 10 years of relentless efforts to persuade even the most
mentally challenged Duma deputies that START II is actually a treaty on
sharp reduction of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

(Andrei Piontkovsky is director of the Center of Strategic Research.)


Source: Centre of Russia TV, Krasnoyarsk, in Russian 1134 gmt 01 Jun 00 

Krasnoyarsk Territory governor Aleksandr Lebed has sharply criticized a
bill under discussion at the Territory's Legislative Assembly on changes to
the Territory's government. 

He was particularly against a provision ensuring that the governor can only
appoint certain members of government - first deputy and deputies on
social, financial and property issues - with the consent of legislators. "I
am sincerely touched by such care, which even the prime minister is not
favoured with. The State Duma limits its favour by confirming only his own
candidacy," Lebed said. 

The bill proposes more powers for the legislature on voting no confidence
in the governor, which would require two thirds of votes. Lebed said this
belied the popular mandate. "I am confused by the absurdity of the
situation," he added. The bill also proposes that if the governor resigns,
the Territory government should also resign. 

Lebed mentioned President Vladimir Putin's recent comments that many
regional laws contradict federal law. "One cannot exclude that it is the
same with our Territory," he said. "If a Territory law contradicts the
federal one, what law shall I follow then? If I follow the Territory law,
the president will sack me. If I follow the federal law, the Legislative
Assembly will sack me. The result would be that the governor could be made
to resign both for observing and disobeying the law. So life promises to be
quite diverse and far from dull," Lebed said. 

He went on to criticize the idea of collective management of the
Territory's economy envisaged in the bill as inefficient and a bad copy of
Soviet-style management. "I can admit that this document was created by the
collective mind. I don't admit, however, collective responsibility. There
can be only personal responsibility," Lebed said. 

"Power should be firm, strong and able to react quickly to any extreme
change of the situation. For this, all its branches should sway in step and
by no means argue over whose twig is higher." 

Lebed was speaking during a special 11-minute address broadcast on
Krasnoyarsk State TV to put forward his views on the bill. 


Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2000
From: "John Van Oudenaren" <>
Subject: Meeting of Frontiers

Dear David:

This is a followup to (and slight correction of the URL mentioned in)
Professor William Brumfield's Moscow Times article. 

Meeting of Frontiers is growing. The Library of Congress installed
scanning equipment at the Russian State Library (Moscow) and Russian
National Library (St. Petersburg) last month, and we will be adding new
material from Russia and Alaska soon. 

We welcome comments and feedback from users!

John Van Oudenaren
Chief, European Division
Library of Congress 


An article by Professor William Brumfield that appeared in The Moscow Times
of May 31, 2000 and that was reprinted on Johnson's Russia List No. 4335
mentioned the Library of Congress Meeting of Frontiers project.

The pilot phase of the project is up and running, and can be viewed at 

A description of the project is as follows:

The parallel experiences of the United States and Russia in exploring,
developing and settling their frontiers and the meeting of those frontiers
in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest is the focus of a new Web site created
by the Library of Congress under a special congressional appropriation. The
site is available at

"Meeting of Frontiers" includes more than 2,500 items, comprising some
70,000 images, from the Library's rare book, manuscript, map, film and
sound recording collections that tell the stories of the explorers, fur
traders, missionaries, exiles, gold miners and adventurers that peopled
both frontiers and their interactions with the native peoples of Siberia
and the American West. 

The site is completely bilingual, in English and Russian, and is intended
for use in U.S. and Russian schools and libraries and by the general public
in both countries. Scholars, particularly those who do not have ready
access to major research libraries, will benefit from the wealth of primary
material included in *Meeting of Frontiers,* much of which has never been
published or is extremely rare. Intended to appeal to students and for use
in schools, the site features such colorful characters as John Ledyard, an
acquaintance of Thomas Jefferson who attempted to walk across Siberia, and
Perry McDonough Collins, a lawyer and businessman who became the American
Commercial Agent to the Amur River in 1856 and who developed a plan,
partially carried out, to build a telegraph link from America to Europe via
the Bering Straits and Siberia.

Collections available in *Meeting of Frontiers* include the Frank G.
Carpenter Collection of photographs from Alaska in the 1910s; the John C.
Grabill Collection of photographs of 1880s frontier life in Colorado, South
Dakota and Wyoming; the Yudin Collection of papers from the
Russian-American Company (1786-1830); and selections from the Alaska
Russian Church Archives. 

"Meeting of Frontiers" is a pilot project that was developed in 1999 at the
Library of Congress by a team of Library staff and American and Russian
consultants. The pilot will be expanded in the coming years through the
addition of materials from the Library's own collections, from the Elmer E.
Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and from other U.S.
institutions. It will also feature materials from partner institutions in
Russia, including the Russian State Library in Moscow, the National Library
of Russia in St. Petersburg and the Institute of History of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk.


Top eye surgeon killed in Russian helicopter accident

MOSCOW, June 3 (AFP) - 
Top Russian eye surgeon Sviatoslav Fiodorov, who invented a technique of 
treating short sightedness with a laser, was killed Friday in a helicopter 
crash near Moscow.

Three other people were also killed in the crash in Tuchino, northeast of 
Moscow, police confirmed.

The helicopter belonged to the Fiodorov clinic specialising in ophthalmology, 
the Interfax news agency reported earlier. The clinic confirmed that Fiodorov 
had been due to return to Moscow by helicopter that evening.

He was returning from Tambov to the south of Moscow where he was celebrating 
the 10th anniversary of one of his clinics there.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said he was profoundly saddened by 
the news. "It's a tragedy for his relatives but also an incalculable loss for 
Russian medicine," he said, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

The 72-year-old surgeon's laser technique won him a global reputation, with 
scores of foreigners, especially from the former Soviet republics, travelling 
to his clinics to be treated.

Patients pay between 350 and 1,400 dollars (370 and 1,480 euros) for their 

He was also a consumate businessman, with stakes in several Moscow casinos 
and a longtime member of Russia's list of the 10 richest citizens.

Fiodorov, who wanted Russia to become a giant business as prosperous as his 
clinics, was a failed candidate in the 1996 presidential elections, standing 
against former president Boris Yeltsin.

He created his own left-wing political party in 1995, which won four percent 
of the vote in legislative elections that year.

Fiodorov was born in the Ukraine to a father who was a commander in the Red 
Army. His father later became a victim of the Stalinist purges in 1938. The 
young Fiodorov was later evacuated to Armenia during the second world war.

There he undertook studies to become a pilot, although he gave up this 
ambition in 1945 when he lost a leg in an accident. He turned to medicine and 
won his diploma in 1967.

In 1974 he was named as the director of the Soviet health ministry's 
experimental research clinic, where he perfected his laser technique for eye 

In 1979 he became the director of the microsurgery institute and in 1986 
established his own clinic for laser treatments.

He was married three times and had four daughters.


Financial Times (UK)
3 June 2000
[for personal use only]
Dark hour for Russian culture: Arkady Ostrovsky mourns the passing 
of Oleg Yefremov, director of the Moscow Art Theatre

Last week Russia lost one of its most decent and talented men. 

The death at the age of 72 of Oleg Yefremov, an actor and a director who
led one of the country's most important cultural institutions, the Moscow
Art Theatre, for the past 30 years, became a cause for national sorrow. It
marked the end of the post-Stalinist era in Russian theatre. 

Yefremov rightly considered himself a direct descendant of Konstantin
Stanislavsky, the founder of the Moscow Art Theatre, and was buried this
week next to him. Like Stanislavsky, Yefremov believed in the redeeming
force of theatre and its ability to create rather than imitate life on
stage. With his death comes to an end the unique idea of the Russian
sverkh-teatr, or "super-theatre" as a morally compelling, rather than
purely aesthetic, institution. 

Thousands came to his funeral, including Vladimir Putin, Russia's new
president, and Mikhail Gorbachev. That the president of the country turned
up at the funeral of the artistic director of the Moscow Art Theatre should
not be surprising. Every Russian leader from Lenin to Gorbachev visited the
theatre, which for the past 100 years has been a microcosm reflecting the
greatest and the darkest moments in Russia's history. 

Loved by the communist party bosses and by their ideological enemies alike,
Yefremov did not belong to either clan. The 70 years of Soviet reign did
not leave a mark on him. He belonged to the national Russian culture,
deformations and all. 

He managed to escape the suffocating embraces of Soviet officialdom, and in
the last few years distanced himself almost completely from the equally
cynical new Russian elite. His notorious fits of drinking were a form of

He never spoke high words about the fate of Russia. But he knew and felt
his country, and suffered its history. In a nation saturated with cynicism,
Yefremov was a rare example of decency, sincerity, and moral fibre. 

"His existence gave hope for the regeneration of the Russian genetic code
which has been so damaged in the past 80 years," said Inna Solovyova,
Russia's prominent theatre historian, on hearing of his death. 

In 1956 Yefremov and a group of like-minded actors set up their own studio,
Sovremennik, (The Contemporary) which became an important centre for the
liberal intelligentsia of the 1960s, attracting poets, musicians and
writers, including Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and capturing the imagination of
a new generation of students, including the young Mikhail Gorbachev. 

This was the first free theatre in a country which was still frozen by 30
years of Stalinism. They considered themselves a studio of the Moscow Art
Theatre, whose founding father, Stanislavsky, was worshipped by Yefremov,
who signed an oath with his own blood to follow his teaching. The first
studio of the Moscow Art Theatre was conceived as a"spiritual order of
actors". One of its members, Mikhail Chekhov, the nephew of Anton Chekhov,
referred to it as an assembly of "believers in Stanislavsky's religion."
Yefremov belonged to the same spiritual order. His oath of faith to
Stanislavsky was an oath to be truthful to life on stage. 

Yefremov could crack jokes with and lie to communist bosses in real life,
he could smile when he received an order from Leonid Brezhnev, but never in
his entire career did he lie on stage. 

In one of his early productions set during the second world war, Yefremov
played a young man who volunteers for the front explaining: "If I am
honest, I must." These words became the leitmotif of Yefremov's life. 

A few years later in 1970, guided by this motto, he took upon himself the
Herculean task of restoring the Moscow Art Theatre, which had by then
become devoid of any life, ideas or ideals and had mutated into the
shop-window of the Soviet empire. "I had to (do it). I owed it to Chekhov
and the Moscow Art Theatre," Yefre mov explained in an interview. He
managed to inject the theatre with fresh blood, bringing in new playwrights
and actors. 

The perestroika of the Moscow Art Theatre launched by Yefremov pre-empted
the perestroika of the whole country started by Gorbachev in the 1980s. "I
certainly learned much about democracy, conscience, honesty and duty from
the Moscow Art Theatre," Gorbachev told the FT two years ago. 

Yefremov's last production in 1997 - Chekhov's Three Sisters - had clear
overtones of a requiem. Anatoly Smelyansky, a critic and historian of the
Moscow Art Theatre wrote: "Never before had Yefremov laid such emphasis on
the link between human destiny and the natural cycle. Never before in his
art had the themes of tiredness and parting been sounded so clearly." 

At the beginning of the production, the sisters came from a cemetery -
Irina's name day is also the anniversary of their father's death. At the
end of the play, the sister's house dissolved into a forest of birch trees.
Death formed part of a natural cycle in this poetic production. 

When I came to interview Yefremov two years ago, he said he was reading a
book of last words of great writers and wanted to read some of it to me.
The tape-recorder caught his voice, quoting from a 19th-century author: "I
begin to see myself as the simplest Russian man, able to say to his people
that even the small share of life you are given is wonderful. With this
view of life you overcome idleness and despondency . . . and step by step
you reach the state of humility, chastity, patience and love." 


Financial Times (UK)
3 June 2000
[for personal use only] 
Russia gets real: US relations with Russia are moving to a new 
footing based on Moscow's need to concentrate on economic recovery, 
write John Thornhill and Stephen Fidler

When Mariana Katzarova, a researcher for Amnesty International, the human
rights group, arrived at Moscow airport on Tuesday her bags were searched
and her reports confiscated. A customs official, oblivious to the
communication possibilities of the internet age, declared the written
material on Chechnya to be "anti-Russian government propaganda". 

Bill Clinton, the US president, can be certain of a far friendlier welcome
when he arrives in Moscow this evening for a two-day visit. But the
incident with the Amnesty International researcher highlights a
disturbingly authoritarian trend within Russia as President Vladimir Putin
cracks down on the opposition media and pursues his brutal suppression of

The task at the top of Mr Clinton's agenda is to determine whether Russia
is indeed slipping back into its old Soviet mindset under the leadership of
its KGB-trained president. And if so, will that threaten a destabilising
new era of antagonism - if not confrontation - between the world's biggest
country and its most prosperous nation? 

The list of potential flashpoints - including Kosovo, Chechnya, central
Asia, Iran, Iraq, Nato expansion, and the US's desire to build a national
missile defence system - appears worryingly long. 

Officials on both sides play down the possibility of any such rift in spite
of relations being at their lowest point since the cold war. Instead, they
are talking about the start of a "new phase in the relationship", less
idealistic and more pragmatic than before. Although Mr Clinton is nearing
the end of his presidency, he is still due to meet Mr Putin four times this

Mr Clinton appears optimistic that the two leaders can make progress across
a whole range of issues - arms reduction, the elimination of weapons-grade
plutonium, the fight against international terrorism, and co-operation in
space technology - helping to keep Russia from turning even more sour.
That, in turn, could boost the electoral chances of Al Gore, the
vice-president, who has been intimately associated with US policy towards

Mr Clinton has already declared Mr Putin a man with whom the US can do
business. The Russian president, who commands majority support in
parliament, has shown that he can deliver on his promises. Mr Putin has
already cajoled parliament into approving the Start-2 arms reduction
treaty, which was stalled for the previous six years under Boris Yeltsin. 

US officials also believe Mr Putin can pursue a coherent reform programme,
which will capitalise on Russia's strong economic performance in recent
months. Mr Clinton may hold out the implicit promise that the US will press
the International Monetary Fund to provide fresh funding for Russia and
persuade the Paris Club of sovereign creditors to forgive a substantial
portion of Russia's Soviet-era official debts in return for economic
reform. "The president will urge Russia to seize the opportunity that has
been afforded by its current economic recovery to press ahead with reforms
that will make the recovery last," says Sandy Berger, the US national
security adviser. 

Nonetheless, US officials say that Mr Clinton will be frank in his
criticisms of Russian policy in Chechnya and the threats to freedom of the
press. Pointedly, the US president has agreed to be interviewed by the Ekho
Moskvy radio station, which is part of the Media Most group run by Vladimir
Gusinsky, a controversial entrepreneur. Last month, armed tax police and
secret service agents raided the headquarters of Media Most, Russia's
biggest commercial media company, in what was a blatant show of force by Mr
Putin's team. "We do not yet know if Russia's hard-won democratic freedoms
will endure," Mr Clinton said in Germany on Friday. 

For his part, Mr Putin is likely to prove both easier and more difficult to
deal with than his erratic predecessor. The succession of US officials who
have met Mr Putin since his appointment as prime minister last August have
all testified to his impressive negotiating skills and mastery of his
brief. But having ridden to power on a resurgent wave of nationalism Mr
Putin will surely prove far more assertive than Mr Yeltsin in pursuing
Russian interests abroad, most notably in the oil-rich Caucasus and central

Mr Putin may also be a fierce antagonist when it comes to discussing US
proposals to build a national missile defence system. The Russian president
looks likely to resist making any amendments to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic
Missile (ABM) treaty, which Moscow views as the foun dation stone of its
national security interests and one of its last claims to superpower status. 

Yet one of the few clear messages to emerge from Mr Putin's election
campaign was that he believed Russia's overwhelming priority was internal
development and economic reform. Without vibrant economic growth, Mr Putin
warned his compatriots, Russia was in danger of slipping from a second- to
a third-rate power. According to the IMF, Russia's gross domestic product
in 1999 was just 2 per cent that of the US. 

Almost a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is certainly
a greater sense of realism in Moscow about the country's place in the
world. Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the parliamentary foreign affairs
committee, who refers to the US as the world's only "hyper-power", says
Russia must turn itself into a economic force before anyone else is likely
to take it seriously. "Russia needs to lower the threats to its national
security so that our internal resources can be focused on economic tasks,"
Mr Rogozin argues. 

But Mr Rogozin says that Mr Putin will never countenance US action that
threatens Russia's national security interests. He argues that any
unilateral modification to the ABM treaty by the US would cause alarm in
Beijing, leading China to step up its own nuclear missile programme. As
China's biggest neighbour, Russia could not ignore the escalation of this
potential threat. 

Fiona Hill, director of strategic planning at the Eurasia Foundation, says
Mr Putin's mixture of progressive and regressive policies will throw up
challenges for the US administration. In particular, it will be hard for
Washington to reconcile its championing of democratic values with its
strategic imperative to deal with Russia. 

"From the US perspective, Russian foreign policy has always been
opportunistic and certainly it will continue to be," she says. "But if
domestic issues are taking priority, difficulties abroad have to be
minimised to the greatest degree possible, which implies regularising
relations with the US." 

Mr Clinton may never develop the warm personal relations with the
steely-eyed Mr Putin that he enjoyed with the flamboyant Mr Yeltsin.
Nevertheless, the US president may find Mr Putin to be a far more
pragmatic, if prickly, interlocutor. 

Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, a
Moscow-based analytical centre, argues that the era of false expectations,
stirred up by US promises of a strategic partnership with Russia in the
early 1990s, has now ended. But he believes a more fruitful, if limited,
relationship can still be developed whatever the colour of the incoming US

"Strategic partnership was a misnomer. One country was growing fast and the
other country was declining. That was always going to be an uneven dynamic.
And we are now paying the price for those false expectations," Mr Karaganov

"Our reforms failed and the US is partly to blame for interfering
unnecessarily in Russian development. But we should also blame ourselves
that their stupid advice was accepted. If Clinton does not raise
expectations again then there should be a much healthier relationship in


Source: `Nezavisimaya Gazeta', Moscow, in Russian 1 Jun 00 

The economic upsurge observed in Russia over the past year has been used by
the government as a trump card, however in the past few months growth has
been slowing down, according to an article in the Russian daily
'Nezavisimaya Gazeta'. Liberal economist Andrey Illarionov, recently
appointed president's economic adviser, "suggests a liberal way out", the
article says. In Illarionov's opinion, only by reducing the proportion of
state levies from the economy, Russia can join the ranks of developed
states. "Liberal slogans have been heard regularly" in Russia, the paper
says, and adds that "if the current economic growth turns out to be a
bluff, the young team of neo-liberals may not get a second chance". The
following is the text of the article published on 1st June: 

The economic upsurge which has been observed in Russia over the past year
was one of the main trump cards for the Russian government, which it used
both in disputes with its opponents inside the country and in discussions
with international partners. Politicians and economists offering
alternative programmes for economic reforms were shown the recent figures
from the State Statistics Committee indicating nearly 8-per-cent growth in
GDP in the first quarter of 2000, compared with the same period in 1999, or
the trends towards the rise in the population's real incomes. The
favourable state of the economy was mentioned at numerous recent meetings
with foreign investors, who were earnestly invited to invest in Russia. The
economic upsurge played its part in the outcome of the presidential
election and had decisive influence on the composition of the new cabinet. 

But it looks as though the new government's honeymoon has ended before it
has begun. The centre for macroeconomic analysis and short-term forecasting
recently published figures which could cast doubt on the optimistic
assessments of the state of the Russian economy. According to these
figures, the volume of industrial production in April not only did not
increase but declined 2.9 per cent compared with March (after ruling out
the effect of the working time fund). Here, in the opinion of the centre's
experts, the decline can only be explained in part by seasonal factors, so
there is a real decline in production. Some other experts tracing economic
dynamics are more cautious but almost all agree that growth has slowed down. 

Of course, even before, the government officials' statements contained
reservations regarding the stability of the growth we are observing - its
dependence on external factors like high prices for oil and the devaluation
of the rouble. Even Mikhail Kasyanov did not forget to mention it when he
spoke at the State Duma before the prime minister's confirmation in his
post. But few people expected the signs of stagnation to appear so soon. 

Perhaps the first official to respond to the bad news was Andrey
Illarionov, the president's economic adviser and special representative for
relations with the leading industrial countries. Previously, when he was
leader of the Economic Analysis Institute, he often had to act in the
thankless role of dispeller of official optimism. Now he is setting himself
a very difficult task - remaining the president's adviser while publicly
giving objective assessments of what is happening. It is highly likely that
this is what explains the restraint which Andrey Illarionov displayed in
his assessments at his press conference. Figures attesting to a recession
exist but so far it is unclear whether we are dealing with a short-term
decline or a long-term negative trend. 

However, in Andrey Illarionov's opinion, the slowing down of growth rates
was inevitable - the growth was not founded on a good-quality basis. The
point is not that oil prices have fallen - they are still very high - and
not that the imports replacement effect has run its course - the
correlation between domestic Russian prices and world prices has not
changed over the past year. The root of our troubles, in Illarionov's
opinion, lies elsewhere. The state has acquired additional revenue and has
increased expenditure accordingly. On the one hand, this is of course a
good thing - there is a possibility of funding social programmes and paying
foreign debts on time. But on the other hand, there has been an increase in
the proportion of GDP distributed through the federal budget and while last
year it was 10-12 per cent this year it could reach 17-18 per cent. The
overall level of levies for state budgets at all levels could be 38-40 per
cent of GDP this year. Andrey Illarionov would not be a liberal if he had
not stressed the danger of this trend. The more money the state has, the
less money the private sector has and the fewer opportunities there are for
stable and rapid growth. Only by reducing the proportion of state levies
from the economy to 20 per cent can we hope that Russia will join the ranks
of modern states which (beginning with the United States and China, and
ending with Poland and Egypt) are developing very dynamically. 

The president's economic adviser suggests a liberal way out of the Russian
government's new problems. But liberal slogans have been heard regularly
for almost a year now from the lips of ministers and deputy prime
ministers. If the current economic growth turns out to be a bluff, the
young team of neo-liberals may not get a second chance to implement the
plan for radical market reforms in Russia. 


World Socialist Web Site
Russian President Putin moves toward authoritarian rule
By Vladimir Volkov
3 June 2000

Last month Russian President Vladimir Putin presented a package of measures
aimed at the establishment of an authoritarian state with tightly organised
central powers. At the heart of the measures was a so-called administrative
reform, ostensibly intended to "increase the effectiveness of federal power
in the regions" and secure “the constitutional authority of the president".

To this end, the powers of the heads of Russia's 89 regions are to be
severely limited. According to a presidential decree that Putin submitted
on May 13, seven federal districts will be established, in which a
representative appointed by the president will enjoy powers comparable to
those of the governors general under tsarist rule.

The boundaries of the new districts coincide almost entirely with the
territories of the military districts into which the army is divided. The
only exceptions are the Nizhniy Novgorod region, which is to be integrated
into the new Volga district, and the Kaliningrad.

The centres of the new federal districts are almost without exception the
respective headquarters of the military districts. Beside the Volga
district already mentioned (with its centre in Nizhniy Novgorod) and the
Central district (Moscow), a north Caucasus district (Rostov on the Don), a
Northwest District (St. Petersburg), a Urals District (Yekaterinburg), a
district in Siberia and a far-eastern district will be formed.

Governors in epaulettes

With two exceptions, the appointed heads of these new territorial units
were people from the military who are close to President Putin. One
exception is former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko, who will manage the
Volga district. Kirienko was formerly the leader of the pro-market Duma
fraction “Union of Right-Wing Forces” and a member of the "Young Reformers"
group of Gaidar-Chubais. The other exception is the former diplomat Leonid
Dratchevski, who will lead the Siberian district. The others are without
exception representatives of the armed forces or secret service.

The two key districts—the Central and the Northwest—are to be led by
up-and-coming figures from the Soviet secret service. Georgi Poltavtchenko,
lieutenant general of the powerful tax police, was appointed as the
president's representative in the Central district. He gained his
apprenticeship in aircraft manufacture and in 1979 completed the KGB's
advanced training course in Minsk. Afterwards he worked for almost 15 years
in the KGB leadership in the Leningrad area and since 1992 has led the St.
Petersburg tax police. It is assumed that this was when he became close to

The head of the Northwest district, Viktor Cherkesov, lieutenant general of
the FSB (the successor organisation of the KGB), according to his own
accounts counts among those closest to the president. He worked during
Leonid Brezhnev's rule in the investigation department of the Leningrad KGB
as a specialist in the pursuit of dissidents, and in 1984 was awarded the
KGB's "red star" medal for his services. Most recently he was deputy
director of the FSB.

The Ural district will be led by the former deputy minister of the
interior, Colonel General Piotr Latychev; the North Caucasian district by
Colonel General Viktor Kasanzev and the Far Eastern district by Lieutenant
General Konstantin Pulikovski, commanding officer during the first Chechen

The president's representatives will not merely fulfil formal functions.
The official description of their functions includes control of all armed
forces in their respective districts, as well as control of budgetary items
and the activities of the heads of the previous federal regional units. The
president's representatives are also to become equal members of the Russian
Security Council. Also announced was the creation of special district
departments of the chief public prosecutor's office.

The newspaper Sevodnya commented on the president's appointments with the
words: "Russia embarks on a new stage, in which the country's political
power is given to people with epaulettes."

Reform of the Federation Council

A key element of the administrative reform is a radical change in the
status of the Federation Council—the upper chamber of parliament.

The previous federal power structures can be traced back to Yeltsin's
arguments with his political opponents. At that time, opposition was
concentrated in the Supreme Council of Russia and later in the Duma, the
lower chamber of parliament. To strengthen his power, Yeltsin rested on the
regional potentates, whom he granted more and more rights and authority.
Yeltsin's well-known expression, "Take as much power as you can", was
addressed to the regional elite and was used by them to the full. The
Federation Council became the counterweight to the Duma and the bulwark of
regional separatism.

Thus a situation arose in which at least one-fifth of regional laws no
longer corresponded with federal laws, while some federation subjects
enjoyed semi-independent status (for example Tatarstan on the Volga or the
large Yakutia in east Siberia). Although the Russian constitution does not
specify who exactly can represent a region in the Federation Council,
almost all of these positions are usurped by the governors and regional
legislatures, which usually consist of close personal contacts of the

The Kremlin is now trying to rob the governors of their status. Apart from
the withdrawal of control over the armed forces and part of the budget, it
has already been suggested that the governors be banned from sitting in the
Federation Council. Moreover, a law is to be enacted for the initiation of
criminal procedures against governors and their removal from office.

The announcement of these measures was met with unconcealed enthusiasm by
most of the mass media and the dominant political forces. V. Trechakov, the
editor-in-chief of Sevodnya, controlled by Boris Beresovsky, called Putin's
decisions "absolutely right in principle and politically strong and
consistent”. The Internet site Gazeta.Ru gushed that a state was being
forged. According to the site, the initiatives of the Kremlin are not
"reforming state power, but creating it anew". These measures are "the
first step in creating a system of state power, not family, oligarchy,
governors' power, but a real state power".

According to the newspaper Isvestia, Putin's initiative to reform the power
structures of the state “draws a line under the first 10-year development
period of the political system in Russia. Almost the entire earlier state
formation is shattered and by this autumn ... we will live in a completely
different country."

This reaction to Putin's measures makes clear that the mood in Russia's new
ruling class has changed fundamentally. The political course which Boris
Yeltsin took in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union is being
corrected, and the difference between the "Yeltsin epoch" and the "Putin
epoch" is emerging clearly.

>From "democracy" toward a police state

The Yeltsin period was based on two different myths and illusions.
According to the first myth, capitalist reforms would lead to increasing
prosperity for all citizens and the liquidation of the privileges of the
old Soviet nomenclature. According to the second, the development of
capitalism would form a natural basis for democracy and the stabilisation
of civil rights and liberties.

But towards the end of Yeltsin's rule, and especially after the financial
crisis of August 1998, it became clear that the real development was taking
a completely different course. The defence of the interests of the new
ruling class required not the development of democracy, but rather the
introduction of increasingly authoritarian and repressive methods of rule.

Yeltsin wanted to go into history as the creator of "Russian democracy" and
therefore hesitated to take responsibility for decisions demanded with ever
greater vehemence by the Russian financial and political elite. Putin set
as his task the implementation of this new program. It is based on a clear
understanding of the contradiction and incompatibility of the interests of
the very thin layer of nouveaux riches, on the one hand, and the mass of
working people on the other.

Putin's reforms also have another aim: to protect Russian capitalism from
the destructive impact of competition from international companies. For
this reason, the present undertone of confrontation with the West became a
necessary and integral part of Kremlin policy.

Putin's measures are not at all original. He is largely putting into
practice proposals advanced at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the
1990s by the ultra-nationalist demagogue Vladimir Zhirinovsky. These
proposals were based on the premise that the internal instability of Russia
(and before that the USSR) was not due to the failure of prevailing social
and economic policies, but to the federal principle under which the country
was organised.

Russian nationalism traditionally responded to the internal problems of the
country by rejecting any cultural or autonomous rights for the regions.
Based on this principle of unification and “equalisation”, the
military-bureaucratic system of the last tsarist dynasty, the Romanovs,
suppressed the strivings of national minorities or sub-populations for
elementary democratic rights with merciless cruelty. This was why the
Romanov's empire was dubbed the "prison of the peoples".

The federal principle was implemented with the October Revolution of 1917.
The Bolshevik leaders believed that the different economic levels of
development of the regions and the absence of a uniform national market
necessitated a federalist state structure. They pursued a consistently
democratic policy and anticipated that the gradual development of the
economy by socialist means would create the material basis for overcoming
the difficulties and contradictions of the internal administrative structure.

But the increasing influence of Stalinism soon led to a revival of the old
forms of a centralised bureaucratic state. Already in 1922, during the
preparation of the first constitution of the USSR, Stalin attacked Lenin,
accusing him of "national-liberal inclinations". In the end, under Stalin,
a system was created which ignored the democratic rights of citizens and
subordinated everything to one goal—the preservation of power in the hands
of a privileged bureaucratic caste.

Yeltsin relied upon those sections of the former nomenclature who sought to
retain their privileges by transforming them into private property. The
regional separatism encouraged "from above" led Russia to the verge of

The connections with the regions were further weakened by the integration
of the Soviet economy into the structures of the world market. The weak and
unprotected regional economies "escaped in all directions" and became
increasingly dependent on different sectors of the world economy.

The present change in Kremlin policy arises from the course that has been
pursued over the last 10 years. As under Yeltsin, the interests of the new
layer of private property owners are being secured. In order to achieve the
same aim in a new stage, Putin is utilising means that were officially
discredited and rejected under Yeltsin.

Governors agree with the Kremlin

It is remarkable that Putin's plans have not encountered opposition from
the governors. Quite the opposite, the majority of them support the Kremlin.

For example, the governor of the Kemerov region, Aman Tulejev, explained:
"I support the actions of President Vladimir Putin. In my opinion, they
serve to stabilise state power. A formless power is the worst."

Another well-known governor, Dimitri Ajatzkov from the Saratov region,
said: "The Federation Council must not become an economic council, but
should concern itself with formulating legislation. Therefore I support the
initiatives of President Vladimir Putin completely."

Ajatzkov said he had already expressed his support several times for the
right of the president to confirm or recall elected governors, and
expressed his backing for a Federation Council on a professional basis.

What is the reason for this reaction?

Putin's administrative changes are not primarily directed against the power
of the regional heads and do not at all signify a democratisation of the
state leadership. Rather, in view of the increasing discontent of the
working class "from within" and the rising pressure of international
companies "from outside," their real aim consists in consolidating the new
ruling layer.

By erecting a centralised, vertical state structure the regime is preparing
to participate effectively in the geopolitical battles with the world's
prominent powers, and, moreover, to mercilessly suppress the rights of
working people inside the country. The governors will be able to
"establish” themselves in the new system. They will lose some of their
authority on a federal level, but can compensate for these losses with
additional rights and possibilities within their own regions.

The representative of the Daghestan Council of State, Magomedali Magomedov,
best expressed the mood of the governors, saying he was ready to
subordinate the republic completely to the centre, if he was assured
complete control inside his region.

Additionally, a Council of State is to be formed which predominantly
consists of the governors. The regional powers will thus gain the
possibility of becoming part of a "strong state".

Increased pressure on the mass media

A further indication of the Kremlin's increasingly authoritarian policy is
its attack on oppositionist media since mid-May. The object of this attack
is the holding company of one of the most powerful Russian "oligarchs", the
Media Most company of Vladimir Gusinsky.

On May 11, just three days after Putin entered office, the secret service
unexpectedly searched the offices of a subsidiary company of the Media Most
group. Armed units in black masks occupied the offices for an entire day,
seized many documents and even removed technical equipment. The formal
reason for the raid was claims by the secret service that the holding
company was committing illegal acts by monitoring and bugging its own
workers, as well as well-known Russian politicians and entrepreneurs.

Those who provided the political inspiration for this action from behind
the Kremlin's walls made no secret of the fact that it was in response to
similar actions last year. At that time—during the government of Yevgeny
Primakov, Putin's rival—the offices of Boris Berezovsky's media empire had
been searched.

The recent action is more serious, however. It concerns less the struggle
of one oligarch clan against another, and more an attempt by the Kremlin to
intimidate and suppress oppositional media.

Memories of what happened to Radio Liberty journalist Andrei Babitzky are
all too fresh. Criminal proceedings were initiated against him because he
reported on events in Chechnya from a point of view which contradicted
official Kremlin propaganda. It is now clear that this was not a mere episode.

Apart from Media Most, the television channel TV Zentr, controlled by
Moscow Mayor Yuri Lushkov, and a series of foreign-owned media are being
pressured by the government. The Kremlin announced that it wants to tighten
conditions for journalistic work on Russian territory.

Secret service officials also searched the offices of the Internet company
Senon NSP. With approximately 2,000 customer web sites, this company is one
of the largest Internet providers in Russia.

According to official government propaganda, the measures initiated by the
government serve to establish a "dictatorship of law". This term is,
however, extremely ambiguous. It is claimed that Putin's measures are aimed
at establishing elementary order, controlling corruption and criminality,
and implementing fundamental democratic rights and liberties for the
ordinary citizen. In reality, the reforms are for the preservation and
strengthening of an order which serves only an infinitesimal percentage of
society—those who were able to enrich themselves in recent years.


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