This Date's Issues: 4346
Johnson's Russia List
5 June 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Peter Graff, Puppet Putin Fails to Recruit Codename:
2. Reuters: Randall Mikkelsen, Bear hug era over at
3. AP: Tom Raum, Clinton, Putin Seek Common Ground.
4. Text: Joint Clinton-Putin Statement on Strategic Stability.
5. Transcript: Clinton Interview on National Radio Program in Moscow.
6. Reuters: Ron Popeski, Putin upstages Clinton with summit ease
Puppet Putin Fails to Recruit Codename: Saxophonist
June 4, 2000
By Peter Graff
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Your task is to recruit the agent. His codename is the
Saxophonist. Lieutenant Maria Ivanovna Levinsky has already made contact. He
Thus, Russian President Vladimir Putin set out on Sunday to enlist Bill
Clinton for Moscow's secret intelligence service.
That, at least, was the plot of a ballyhooed installment of the Russian
political satire program Kukly, or puppets, featuring rubber caricatures of
the leaders who met for the first time since ex-KGB spy Putin took power this
The Putin puppet, egged on by a sinister likeness of his chief of staff
Alexander Voloshin, is ordered to recruit the U.S. president during their
summit in Moscow.
Putin tries hypnotism.
``Bill, you are now falling asleep,'' he says. ``But first you will do as I
say. Sign the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. Sign it. Sign it. Sign it.''
Putin falls asleep.
Later Putin tries blackmail, but Clinton says it won't work.
``Blackmail? The American people already know all about me... Sure, I'll work
for you. But what I want is money.''
It was typical of a program that has come to mark the cutting edge in Russian
satire. But its latest installment came at a time of worries about freedom of
speech in Russia that have been entirely serious business.
PUTIN SAYS SUPPORTS FREE SPEECH, LIBERALS WORRIED
Putin says he is committed to free speech, but liberals say they worry that
he may crack down on critics.
The parent company of NTV, the commercial television station that shows
Kukly, was raided by tax police last month. It says the raid is linked to its
willingness to criticize the Kremlin.
During Clinton's summit, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited the
Moscow offices of Radio Liberty, a U.S.-funded station whose broadcasts from
rebel Chechnya have infuriated the Kremlin.
Kukly has run afoul of the authorities in the past.
In 1995, President Boris Yeltsin's acting general prosecutor tried to have it
taken off the air. Yeltsin sacked him.
This February a group of academics allied to Putin published an open letter
saying he should shut Kukly down after it portrayed him as a mad,
Putin's spokesman said at the time: ``Leaving aside the issue of taste and
the sense of proportion of the authors, Putin has no claims against the
broadcast.'' But NTV still says it worries it will be forced to take Kukly
off the air.
Clinton used the subject of Kukly to launch into a defense of free speech
during a talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio on Sunday. The station is owned by
the same company that owns NTV.
Asked if he had ever seen his rubber likeness on Kukly, Clinton said he
hadn't, but he hoped he could get a tape of the show.
``It does not bother me. I have been lampooned in America a lot,'' he said.
``There is almost nothing anybody can say to make fun of me that has not been
Bear hug era over at Clinton-Putin summit
By Randall Mikkelsen
MOSCOW, June 4 (Reuters) - The era of bear hugs is over.
In a display of personal relations few would have predicted, the normally
gregarious U.S. President Bill Clinton appeared cautious and on guard at his
joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.
The normally reserved Russian leader, a former KGB spy, came across as
relaxed, extemporaneous and in command after two days of meetings with the
It was a far cry from the backslapping displays put on by Clinton and former
Russian President Boris Yeltsin, whose close friendship sparked criticisms
that Clinton's Russia policy was too focused on personality.
Putin was elevated to the acting presidency when Yeltsin resigned on New
Year's Eve. He was elected president in March.
Asked to describe their views of each other's personalities and leadership
traits, and how they would affect the two countries' relations, Putin replied
"In my mind, we've established now not only good business ties, but also
personal ones. For me, President Clinton is a person who is a very pleasant
and comfortable partner in negotiations.
"If everyone behaves the way President Clinton has behaved, not trying to
find dead ends and problems, but to seek ways of moving ahead, I think,
between us in the future our relations will be really successful," he said.
With the U.S. president leaving office next January after a November
election, Putin added: "We're familiar with the programmes of the two main
candidates. And if these programmes are implemented...no matter who gets to
be president, we're willing to go forward on either one of these approaches."
CLINTON SPEAKS CAREFULLY
Clinton, dealing with the same question, said carefully:
"I think he (Putin) is fully capable of building a prosperous, strong Russia,
while preserving freedom and pluralism and the rule of law...and I'm
encouraged by the first two days of our really serious work."
The body language and manners of the two leaders throughout the summit were
friendly and polite, but lacking spontaneity.
They broke into smiles and shook hands when they met at the meeting's start,
and exchanged pleasantries in English before turning to translators for
Clinton poked fun at the jewellery of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright as he introduced her to Putin.
On other occasions Clinton showed little emotion. The two rarely addressed
each other directly in their news conference.
On Saturday evening, Putin treated the U.S. president to an informal dinner
in the Kremlin, a rare tour of his personal quarters, and a jazz concert.
Clinton, who had met Putin twice when the Russian was serving as prime
minister, said in March that he liked Putin "very much" but the United States
and Russia had to address their interests without regard to their leaders'
On Sunday, he said he would use the rest of his presidency to "further our
interest in having a good, stable relationship with a Russia that is strong
and prosperous and free, respecting pluralism and the rule of law." Clinton
is expected to meet Putin at least three more times before he leaves office.
MORE AT EASE ON CALL-IN
Clinton seemed more at ease during a call-in radio programme on Sunday on the
independent radio station Ekho Moskvy.
Clinton is to become the first U.S. president to address the lower house of
Russia's parliament, the State Duma, on Monday.
Melor Sturua, a University of Minnesota senior fellow and former foreign
editor of the Soviet-era Izvestia newspaper who has observed summits for more
than 40 years, said a Kremlin leader appeared to be on fully equal footing
with a U.S. leader for the first time since Nikita Khrushchev.
"Today Mr Putin was in charge. Only Mr Khrushchev was sometimes in charge in
summits," Melor told reporters after attending the summit news conference.
"There was always some patronising. Today you couldn't detect even one second
Putin, speaking without notes in his opening statement, said he "cherished"
the warming of relations with the United States under the nearly eight years
of Clinton's presidency, despite tensions over arms control and other issues
in the last year.
Clinton, reading from pages, said: "I was encouraged by our discussion, (and)
pleased with the candour and clarity of our disagreements."
Clinton, Putin Seek Common Ground
June 4, 2000
By TOM RAUM
MOSCOW (AP) - President Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin
acknowledged ``a dangerous and growing threat'' of nuclear attack from
emerging powers such as North Korea but failed to agree Sunday on how to
Clinton told a joint news conference in the Kremlin that he doesn't believe a
missile defense system like the one he is considering ``is a threat to
strategic stability and mutual deterrence.''
``The Russian side disagrees,'' said Clinton.
``We're against having a cure which is worse than the disease,'' Putin said,
Nonetheless, the document signed by both leaders left open the possibility
for modifications in the ABM Treaty down the road ``to preserve strategic
stability in the face of new threats.''
U.S. officials characterized that as an important concession on Russia's
Despite their differences, the two leaders - meeting in the Kremlin for the
first time since Putin was sworn in last month - adopted a statement pledging
intensified cooperation on missile-related issues.
``We've asked our experts to keep working to narrow the differences, and to
develop a series of cooperative measures to address the missile threat,''
Clinton stressed that he still hasn't made a decision on whether to go ahead
with such a system, which would be aimed at protecting U.S. shores against
attack from North Korea, Iran or other states with a nuclear weapons
potential. He has said he will decide later this year whether it is feasible
The two leaders also signed agreements putting in force initiatives begun by
Clinton and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin: To reduce weapons-grade
plutonium stockpiles by 34 tons each; and to set up a joint center in Moscow
to monitor missile launches.
These are ``major steps to reduce the nuclear danger,'' Clinton said.
Clinton and Putin appeared to hit it off fine, even if they weren't yet on a
After two days of talks, Clinton said he believes Putin, a former KGB
official, ``is fully capable of building a prosperous, strong Russia.'' Putin
said Clinton is ``a person who is a very comfortable and pleasant partner in
The issue of a proposed limited national missile defense - and the changes in
the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty that would be required to accommodate
it - was a top issue on the agenda for the talks.
The administration had lowered expectations for a breakthrough in advance of
the session, and none was achieved.
``President Putin made absolutely clear to President Clinton that Russia
continues to oppose changes to the ABM Treaty that the United States has
proposed since last September,'' Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott
Talbott, who is also Clinton's special adviser on Russia, said the summit
produced ``neither a dead end ... nor a destination'' on the subject of
missile defense. He said Putin was clearly sensitive to the threat from
so-called rogue regimes.
``The world that is covered by the ABM treaty changed very vividly on August
31, 1998, when the North Koreans fired that missile,'' Talbott said,
referring to the multistage missile fired by North Korea that passed over
Japan and fell into the Pacific Ocean.
In the joint statement, Clinton and Putin agreed that ``the international
community faces a dangerous and growing threat of proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction and their means of delivery, including missiles and missile
The missile shield concept also has critics in the United States, from arms
control activists worried about a new arms race to conservatives who favor a
more ambitious program along the lines envisioned by Ronald Reagan in the
Reagan's proposal for a space-based missile defense program was ridiculed by
Democrats at the time as ``Star Wars.'' Clinton, an earlier opponent of such
a system, last year reversed course to support a limited missile shield.
Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, who favors a more expansive
program, had urged Clinton to leave negotiations with Putin to the next
Putin took notice of the U.S. presidential campaigns, saying, ``We're
familiar with the programs of the two main candidates.'' He suggested he was
willing to improve US-Russian ties ``no matter who gets to be president.''
Clinton also reiterated U.S. opposition to the continuing Russian military
crackdown in the separatist region of Chechnya. They talked about tensions in
the Balkans, and Russia's economic plight.
Clinton said that although they couldn't agree on everything, the two
presidents at least explained their differences with ``clarity and candor.
And I appreciate that.''
Putin, speaking through an interpreter, said the talks were ``very candid,
very open, and very topical.''
Later Sunday, Clinton spent 25 minutes on a call-in radio program, fielding
questions from Russians who appeared more eager to learn about his personal
life than weighty foreign policy issues.
He told listeners he was proud of daughter Chelsea's progress in college and
of his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is running for the Senate from New
Asked by the show's host, Aleksei Venediktov, if he could direct ``the tax
authorities to audit CNN,'' Clinton replied, ``That would be illegal.''
Clinton and Putin and top aides met in the Kremlin's ornate St. Catherine's
Hall, and the wrap-up news conference was held nearby in St. George's Hall of
the Great Kremlin Palace.
Between sessions, Clinton and Putin took a 50-minute walk around the gardens
in the Kremlin, which is a walled city in the heart of Moscow.
Earlier, Clinton got in some sightseeing, visiting a newly reconstructed
Russian Orthodox church, Christ the Savior. The original church had been
destroyed in the 1930s by the Communist regime and replaced by a municipal
US Department of State
04 June 2000
Text: Joint Clinton-Putin Statement on Strategic Stability
(See a dangerous, growing threat of WMD proliferation) (790)
In a joint statement at the Moscow Summit June 4, President Clinton
and Russian President Putin said they agree "that the international
community faces a dangerous and growing threat of proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including
missiles and missile technologies, and stress their desire to reverse
that process, including through existing and possible new
international legal mechanisms.
"They agree," they said in the joint statement, "that this new threat
represents a potentially significant change in the strategic situation
and international security environment."
Following is the White House text of the joint statement:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
June 4, 2000
JOINT STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND
THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION ON PRINCIPLES OF STRATEGIC STABILITY
1. The Presidents of the United States of America and the Russian
Federation agree on the need to maintain strategic nuclear stability.
Agreements between them help accomplish this objective.
2. They are dedicated to the cause of strengthening strategic
stability and international security. They agree that capability for
deterrence has been and remains a key aspect of stability and
predictability in the international security environment.
3. The Presidents, welcoming the ratification of START-II Treaty and
related documents by the Russian Federation, look forward to the
completion of the ratification process in the United States.
4. They announce that discussions will intensify on further reductions
in the strategic forces of the United States and Russia within the
framework of a future START-III Treaty, and on ABM issues, in
accordance with the Moscow Statement of 1998 and Cologne Statement of
1999 by the Presidents.
5. They agree on the essential contribution of the ABM Treaty to
reductions in offensive forces, and reaffirm their commitment to that
Treaty as a cornerstone of strategic stability.
6. They agree that the international community faces a dangerous and
growing threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and
their means of delivery, including missiles and missile technologies,
and stress their desire to reverse that process, including through
existing and possible new international legal mechanisms. They agree
that this new threat represents a potentially significant change in
the strategic situation and international security environment.
7. They agree that this emerging threat to security should be
addressed and resolved through mutual cooperation and mutual respect
of each other's security interests.
8. They recall the existing provision of the ABM Treaty to consider
possible changes in the strategic situation that have a bearing on the
provisions of the Treaty, and, as appropriate, to consider possible
proposals for further increasing the viability of the Treaty.
9. The Presidents reaffirm their commitment to continuing efforts to
strengthen the ABM Treaty and to enhance its viability and
effectiveness in the future, taking into account any changes in the
international security environment.
10. In reinforcing the effectiveness of the ABM Treaty under present
and prospective conditions the United States of America and the
Russian Federation attach great importance to enhancing the viability
of the Treaty through measures to promote greater cooperation,
openness, and trust between the sides.
11. The United States of America and the Russian Federation note the
importance of the consultative process and reaffirm their
determination to continue consultations in the future to promote the
objectives and implementation of the provisions of the ABM Treaty.
12. The key provisions recorded in our agreements and statements,
including at the highest level, create a basis for both countries'
activities regarding strategic arms under present-day conditions.
13. Such an approach creates confidence that the further strengthening
of strategic stability and further reductions in nuclear forces will
be based on a foundation that has been tested over decades and
advances both countries' interests and security.
14. The Presidents have directed the development of concrete measures
that would allow both sides to take necessary steps to preserve
strategic stability in the face of new threats, and called on their
Ministers and experts to prepare a report for review by the
15. They agree that issues of strategic offensive arms cannot be
considered in isolation from issues of strategic defensive arms and
vice versa -- an interrelationship that is reflected in the ABM Treaty
and aims to ensure equally the security of the two countries.
16. The United States of America and the Russian Federation intend to
base their activities in the area of strategic offensive and defensive
arms on the principles set forth in this document.
US Department of State
04 June 2000
Transcript: Clinton Interview on National Radio Program in Moscow
(Says he has "worked hard" to help support Russian democracy) (5230)
President Clinton told an interviewer on a live radio program from the
studios of Ekho Moskviy June 4 that he has "worked hard to help
support Russian democracy, Russian economic reform and a large role
for Russia in the world.
"I supported Russia coming into the G-8, to the Asian Pacific ecomomic
leaders' group, having a special partnership with NATO, working on the
ground, our troops, Russian troops side by side in the Balkans.
"And I intend to support Russia's effort to get a program going with
the International Monetary Fund, with the World Bank," said Clinton.
"I believe the world needs a strong and prosperous and democratic
Russia that respects the rule of law and the differences among its
people. And that's what I've worked for."
Following is the White House transcript:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
June 4, 2000
INTERVIEW OF THE PRESIDENT IN LIVE NATIONAL RADIO PROGRAM WITH EKHO
Ekho Moskviy Studios
7:50 P.M. (L)
Q: Good evening. Today we have a guest, the President of the United
States of America. Good evening, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening.
Q: Right off the bat, I'd like to say that today we've already had a
press conference, which our listeners could see you, and so for that
reason, my questions will not be political in nature. Mostly listeners
will be asking their questions.
My first question is as follows, Mr. President. The latest public
opinion poll in Russia by the Institute of -- had found that 11
percent of Russians see an enemy in the United States. Another 11
percent of Russians do not know how to answer this question. And 78
percent of Russians believe that Russia is more of a friend, rather
than an enemy. I would ask you, since just the ordinary people say
this, as to the other 22 percent who feel that Russia is either an
enemy or do not know how to answer the question, what would you be
able to say directly to those people who are now listening to you and
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first I would say the 78 percent are right. And I
would say that the United States has tried to be a friend to Russia,
and to democracy, prosperity, and strength in Russia.
I have worked hard to help support Russian democracy, Russian economic
reform, and a large role for Russia in the world. I supported Russia
coming into the G-8, to the Asian Pacific economic leaders group;
having a special partnership with NATO; working on the ground, our
troops, Russian troops side by side in the Balkans. And I intend to
support Russia's effort to get a program going with the International
Monetary Fund, with the World Bank. I believe the world needs a strong
and prosperous and democratic Russia that respects the rule of law and
the differences among its people. And that's what I've worked for.
So I have tried to be a good friend. And I think America wants
friendly relations. The American people basically like the Russian
people, and they feel better when they think we have good relations
and that we have a good future together.
Q: By the way, Mr. President, you are mistaken, because right in front
of me is a Gallup Poll from the United States, March of the year 2000,
and the "positive" attitude towards Russia, or "mostly positive," is
only 40 percent of the American population; and "mostly negative" or
"very negative" is 59 percent answers of the Americans who were
polled. How could you explain to the Russians now why Americans, a
significant part of the citizens, are negative towards Russia? Is it
fear? Is it unhappiness? Are they angry, or what?
THE PRESIDENT: I think it overwhelmingly is the opinion of the
American people -- and most people in the West about the situation in
Chechnya and the highly publicized other differences we have. But I
think if you ask the American people another question -- would you
like to see a good American relationship with a strong, prosperous,
democratic Russia -- they would say yes. And if you talk to the
American people that have actually known Russians and you ask them, do
you like the Russian people, overwhelmingly, they would say yes.
Q: I am finished with asking my questions, Mr. President. Now let's go
to the questions that ordinary people have asked. Some questions came
over the Internet -- from St. Petersburg, from Moscow -- and they
basically all ask the same question: Why don't you want, together with
Mr. Putin, together with Russia, to create a joint system of national
antiballistic missile system? Why have not you accepted this proposal
of -- these questions came before the press conference, but it does
increase the fear among those people, doesn't it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me explain the issue here. And I don't want
to take too long on any questions, because we want to answer as many
as possible, but this is very important.
First of all, I have no objection to working with Russia on a joint
missile defense that would intercept a missile directed at Russia or
the United States from a hostile power in the Middle East or anywhere
else, in the so-called boost phase. I have no objection to doing that.
I think we should work together on it. The problem is, we think it
will take 10 years or more to develop; the technology is not yet
Now, by contrast, we expect to face this threat in the United States
within five years, and we think the other technology for the limited
national missile defense will be available within that time. So that's
why I haven't agreed to scrap what seems to be a clear way of
defending our country for an unclear way. But I think it's important
that the Russian people and the American people understand the exact
nature of the dispute here.
Q: But it frightens Russians, obviously.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I understand. But I think they won't be frightened
if they understand the exact nature of the difference, even if we
can't resolve the difference.
The Antiballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 enshrined a theory of our
security -- that is, Russian security and American security -- based
on strategic stability and mutual deterrence. That is, we would never
have so many defensive weapons and we wouldn't have national missile
defenses that could interfere with our offensive weapons, so that
neither of us would ever launch nuclear missiles at each other because
of that. Okay.
Now, we recognized that things might change and threats might come
from other places, even way back then. So there was a possibility of
amending the missile defense treaty. Now, we recognize -- just today,
President Putin and I signed a statement of principles that said,
okay, there is a new threat, the treaty may be able to be amended, but
we disagree right now on how to meet the threat. That's what we said.
The narrow issue is this: If the U.S. has a missile defense that can
stop a couple of missiles from North Korea, does it have the potential
to upset what has kept us safe all these years, which is mutual
deterrence and stability. We say, no, they say -- the Russians say it
might. So we're trying to work through that.
But the point is, neither side believes the other side is trying to
hurt them directly. There is an honest difference of opinion here. And
we closed some of the gaps in our two positions, and we promise to
keep working on it.
Believe me, I did not want to scrap the ABM Treaty or the theory of
mutual deterrence or strategic stability. Both President Putin and I
want to reduce the number of offensive missiles, but keep the theory
that has kept us safe all these years.
Q: I think it's time to listen to some phone calls. I would like to
say to Mr. President that now the Ekho program also is carrying out
electronic voting, and at the end of our discussion we'd like to
comment you on what we get. The question that people are voting on is
as follows: Will the situation under President Putin improve towards
the United States, or will it get worse, or you don't know? So by the
end of the program here we'll get some results.
This is the first call. Do you think financial crisis is possible in
the United States?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, the Russian condition does concern
me. I think when the Russian economy is healthier, the American
economy will be healthier. And I intend to support the economic reform
program that the President and the Prime Minister have outlined.
I think a financial crisis is unlikely in the United States, as long
as we have a good economic program, as long as we keep our budget in
surplus, as long as we're continuing to open our markets and compete
with other countries, and as long as we're investing in our people. If
we have good policies and we work hard, I think a big financial crisis
Q: Have you ever seen the puppets program, have you seen your own
puppet? And how do you relate to the fact that there is a program such
as this that lampoons Presidents?
THE PRESIDENT: I haven't seen it. Perhaps I can get it on tape and
watch it; I would like to see it. But it doesn't bother me. I have
been lampooned in America a lot. There is almost nothing anybody can
say to make fun of me that hasn't been said already. And as long as
it's said in good spirit and good humor, I don't mind. I think we need
people to make fun of us so we don't take ourselves too seriously. And
if it's not said in good spirits, then you just have to ignore it and
go to work every day.
Q: Okay, in that case, I have a question, Mr. President. It seems to
me, despite the First Amendment of the Constitution, any President of
the United States, or Argentina, or Russia, any other country, has a
desire to kind of squash the press, which is not -- that follows you
all the time, looks for dirty stories, is always trying to hound you.
Have you ever had a desire to shake a journalist real strong? And if
you've had such feelings, how did you manage to control them? This is
the main question. Of course, it refers to just about any -- it could
be asked for any President, any leader.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, of course, from time to time you read something
that you believe is either untrue or unfair -- or maybe you're afraid
it is true, and you just wish it weren't printed. And you can get
angry. But I think the important thing -- in our country, for example,
if you're a public figure, it's almost impossible to even win a
lawsuit against somebody who's deliberately lying about you, because
we have bent over backwards in favor of the freedom of the press.
Now, why do we do that? Because we think that democracy is more stable
and people are more free, when the press is free. And we trust the
people to understand if the press is either false or unfair. In other
words -- particularly in this electronic age, when if someone says
something about me that's not true, I can go on a program like this,
and I can say, here's what they say; here's the truth. I can go on
television. I can give a speech.
So what we believe is that, even though if you have a really free
press that much freedom can carry with it irresponsibility, you still
have more stability in society by letting people be free, by letting
the debates unfold, and by trusting that the citizens, the voters, in
the end will get it right.
And we've had this First Amendment for over 200 years now. And the
press has become more and more and more free. The meaning of it has
been broadened. And our country has gotten stronger and stronger. It
can become personally painful if someone says something that maybe
they shouldn't say, but the society is stronger with a free press. And
if you trust the people, then you must believe that if something is
said you don't agree with, you go out and disagree. You tell the
people your side, and you trust them to make the right decision.
That's what I believe gives you the strongest society.
Q: Have you spoken to President Putin about freedom of the press in
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we had a discussion about it, and I said in my
press conference today -- I quoted his statement. President Putin said
that without civil society and free press, the Russian democracy
couldn't go on. And I think that's a wise statement.
I also believe, though, that this is something that has to be debated
and fought for and struggled for. For example, in the beginning of our
democracy, around 1800, we had the same Constitution we have today.
But there were -- people could bring lawsuits against people who
printed things in the newspapers, and often win in ways that
intimidated them. So we had to keep changing the law to try to
preserve the right for totally innocent private citizens to bring suit
against people who might use the press to hurt them deliberately and
to lie about them deliberately, while still allowing a very broad
range for political debate and dispute and dissent.
So we've been working on this a long time. But the trend has always
been for more freedom of the press -- particularly where public issues
and public officials are concerned. And I think it's fair to say that
no one in modern history in our country has had either more negative
press or more painful press than I have, but I still think, on
balance, as long as you get to answer, the people have a chance to get
it right. And you get more stability, because an open press also
ensures that all these issues are fully debated and that all sides are
So I believe it's an instrument of stability. And if you think it's
not free enough here, then what I would urge you to do is to look at
the example of America. Read the 200-year history of our country and
just work on the issues as they come up. Just keep pushing for more --
a broader and broader and broader interpretation of freedom of the
press. But as I said, we've been working on it a long time. But it's
served us well.
Q: But you don't necessarily have to expel journalists. To tell you
the truth, I have read the memoirs of your former press secretary, Mr.
Stephanopoulos. You get upset, do nothing, answer, or just let it go
past you. Or you could ask the tax police, for example, to check on
the business of CNN, or you could --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but I never did that. I would never do that. And,
first of all, it's now clearly illegal for a President to do that.
It's not lawful. If you're mad at somebody, I think the thing to do is
to express your anger, blow off steam, and go on about your business.
Or even better, control your anger and think of a way to make sure the
public has the impression you believe is the right one.
Q: I'm repeating the telephone numbers for Moscow, and for callers for
other cities. All calls are for President Clinton. You're live on the
air, hello? What is your question: I'd like to ask what kind of
influence does the President have on the International Monetary Fund,
and why is it not giving us credits? It seems that we have an economic
rise in our economy, and we're not getting any credits from the
International Monetary Fund. I'd like to get an answer to this
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, the President can have some
influence over the International Monetary Fund, but he doesn't run it.
All the various contributors to the fund have some influence. I have
focused a lot on trying to reform the IMF, to make sure that its
policies and practices meet the real needs of countries for the 21st
Secondly, I do support Russia getting a program with the IMF and
getting financial help from the IMF -- your new President, Mr. Putin,
and your new Prime Minister, have come up with a very good plan, and
when they go before the IMF and ask for financial support, the United
States will support them. They're putting the plan together now,
they're going to make the presentation; I expect to support it.
Q: Mr. President, I'd like to check to see how ready you are to quick
questions, quick answers we got over the Internet from Russia, all of
Russia. These are private questions. You're a sports person, you know
sports -- are you ready to answer them?
THE PRESIDENT: I'll do my best.
Q: Mr. Clinton, what kind of slogan would you put on the wall of the
Oval Room for the next President?
THE PRESIDENT: What should the next President's slogan be? Making the
most of our prosperity, meeting the big challenges of the 21st
Q: How long has it been since you've held money in your hands, cash?
THE PRESIDENT: About an hour.
Q: What did you buy?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I didn't buy anything, but I got my -- I'm going to
dinner after I leave you, and so I brought my money with me. But I try
to go out and shop every -- buy something every few months, anyway,
just so I keep in touch with people. And I talk to people in book
stores, or I go buy something for my wife or my daughter, just to see
what things cost and see what people are doing. I think it's important
that Presidents not get too isolated.
Q: A favorite question that we always ask on our radio station
programs. Mr. President, do you remember how you made your first
dollar, earned your first dollar, and how did you spend it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I remember how I made it; I don't remember how I
spent it. The first thing I did to earn money was cutting lawns and
cutting hedges, and taking care of the yards of the people who lived
in my neighborhood. And I was probably about nine or 10 years old when
I did that.
In my lifetime, I probably had -- earned money doing 20 or 25
different things. I've built houses, I've cleared land, I've worked in
a grocery store. I had a news comic book business. Obviously, I was a
musician. I made money as a musician. I've been a teacher. I've done a
lot of different things in my life.
Q: This is a question -- Mr. President, do you know how to drive a
car, an airplane, a submarine, tank? Maybe President Putin has
inspired this question.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, to the car, although I haven't driven one in a
while. And, no, to the airplane. I have taken off and landed a small
plane -- 25 years ago my wife gave me airplane lessons -- but I never
pursued it, I never got my pilot's license. And I have never -- the
submarine -- I've ridden in a tank, but I've never driven a tank or
guided a submarine.
Q: Going back to the telephone questions, here's another question from
the Internet. What do you value in this life most of all?
THE PRESIDENT: My family, in this life.
Q: There will be other questions about your wife and your daughter.
And now back to the telephones. Your question, please? Hello? You're
live on the air. The question is as follows: In 1995, Mr. President
spoke at a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And he very highly
praised the role of the United States in the ideological efforts to
make the Soviet Union fall apart. And the question was said about
disassembling Russia, the falling apart of the military complex, and
creating regimes in these republics, which we need, as he said. And so
the question: How can you comment on that statement that you made at
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I wish I had exactly the words
before me. But if I said that I thought the United States and its
allies in the Cold War, by staying strong, hastened the end of
communism and the end of the Soviet Union, and the liberation of all
these various states, and the rise of democracy -- I believed that
then; I still believe that.
But that does not mean that I think Russia should be weak. I want
Russia to be strong. I have worked for eight years for a strong
Russia. I want Russia to be strong and prosperous. But I also want it
to be democratic; to respect the differences of its people, religious,
ethnic and otherwise; and to be governed by the rule of law.
But I do not want a weak Russia. I want Russia to be strong. And I
also want Russia, as I said just a couple of days ago in Germany, to
have the ability to be fully part of all major international
institutions, and have its full say there.
Q: And in this connection, there is a question. Mr. President, would
you frankly say for the United States today, is Russia a country of
the Third World, a developing nation?
THE PRESIDENT: No. No. Russia was badly hurt by the recent economic
crisis, and by some problems in the transition from a
command-and-control, communist economy to a market economy. You know
the problems as well as I do. But it is a country with a vast and
impressive array of science and technology achievements, incredibly
well-educated people, and the capacity, I believe, to see a big growth
in per capita income very quickly.
So it's not fair to say that Russia is a developing or Third World
country. It is fair to say, I think, that the incomes of the Russian
people are far below where they should be, and far below where they
will be if the new government implements serious economic reforms and
investors from around the world have confidence that their money will
be treated in an appropriate way. I think you will see a large growth
in jobs and incomes here, because your people are immensely talented.
I think you've got good years ahead of you.
Q: Since we don't have much time left, I would like to once again ask
a quick-style question, and expect that you could answer quickly.
These, like I said, are private questions, private questions from our
listeners. Here's a question from one of our listeners, maybe you
remember, he set up an interview with you --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, he did.
Q: Some say the political career of Hillary Clinton will be so
successful that she will become the President of the United States of
America. Who knows? Are you ready to return to the White House as a
husband of the President, being sort of the First Mister? How do you
look at it? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say, first of all, I'm very proud of my
wife for running for the Senate. She's running hard, and I think
she'll win. And she's promised to serve her full term. Now, when she
finishes that service, if she wants to continue in public life, I'll
support her any way I can.
But I expect that the Vice President, Al Gore, will be elected
President. And I expect he'll run for reelection. And after that, who
knows what will happen? But I'll say that I'm very proud of my wife,
and I'm going to support her political career any way I can. And I'm
going to try to be a good citizen in any way that I can, both of my
country and of the world, when I leave office.
Q: Mr. President, are you happy with your daughter, how she's
studying, how she relates to her relatives, to her parents.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think when you become the parent of a young man
or a young woman, you're always happy when they still want to be
around you and spend some time with you. So I'm very happy with her.
I'm very proud of her and I love her very much.
Q: A Moscow student asks you to convey his greetings to her, and says
that the growing generation will correct your mistakes -- he and she
will improve the mistakes of their parents.
THE PRESIDENT: I certainly hope so. I certainly hope so. That's what's
supposed to happen in life.
Q: And the last question -- I'm asking this one. It's a poll and I
would like for you to comment on the results. Just before your visit,
there were questions raised about you -- not just about America, but
you, yourself. What do you think about Russia? That was a question to
the Russians. I think the public have come up with very interesting
results. One-third, exactly, feels that you, personally -- you, not
America, but you, personally -- feel that you're a positively disposed
towards America. One-third, exactly thinks that you are ill-disposed.
And one-third thinks that they cannot answer this question. I would
like Mr. President, by the end of our discussion agree to say
something to the people who have doubts in you.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that I made it clear that I'm positively
disposed toward Russia, but I understand why a third would question
that. That is -- why would you question that? Well, because we had
differences between the United States and Russia over Bosnia, Kosovo,
Q: By the way, there were many questions on Kosovo --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, yes.
Q: -- do you agree with the fact that there was a mistake made.
THE PRESIDENT: So we had differences. But I would like to ask you to
consider on the other side -- I led the way in supporting Russia's
entry into the G-8 organization, the prestigious international
organization; into the Asian Pacific leaders organization; into the
special partnership agreement with NATO. I have supported every effort
to help Russia economically. I have been here five times. No American
President has ever been here five times to Moscow. I wouldn't be
surprised if no American President ever comes here five times again.
I first came to this city in 1969 when I was 23 years old. And I have
been favorably disposed toward Russia and the Russian people ever
since -- notwithstanding our disagreements, even during the Cold War.
And one of the things that I have always tried to do is to help
support a free, prosperous, strong Russia, that is fully integrated
into the international institutions and the Western institutions, so
that tomorrow and in all of the tomorrows to come, you will be a great
nation. But greatness will be defined not by the dominance of your
neighbors, but by the dominance of the achievement of your people and
the power of your partnerships with other countries. That's what I
want, and I've worked very hard for it.
But I am extremely favorably disposed toward the people of Russia. And
I am extremely optimistic about the future partnerships between the
United States and Russia.
Q: I thank you, Mr. President, for coming here. Of course, many
questions have been left unasked. And I hope that after you return,
after your term of office has ended, return back to Russia, perhaps
even before that, you will be able to come back to the studio again,
because I have many other questions. If you would allow, I would give
all these questions to your staff and maybe some of them would
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, do.
Q: The last one. There were 5,000 of them that came in. You see the
results. Forty-eight percent of the viewers believe that the relations
between the United States and Russia will improve under Putin.
Forty-two percent believe that they will get worse. And the rest don't
know. What do you think about this last poll that we just made?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that it reflects, first of all, the fact
that he's just in office, so people can't know for sure. Secondly,
you've got almost 49 percent saying they will, which shows that people
appreciate the fact that he's a strong and able man who has been
gracious to me in this first meeting of ours in Russia. And then the
42 percent, I think, are focused on the differences we've had, and the
problems that have been publicized.
The truth is, you can't know for sure. But I think that based on the
meeting I had, we've got a better than even chance that our
relationship will improve.
The relationship between United States and Russia is profoundly
important. It will tend always to be characterized by the
disagreements, because they will always get more press coverage,
because they will always be more current. But if there is a strong
underlying commitment to democracy, to freedom, to mutual prosperity,
mutual respect, I think that over time they will get better even if
there are disagreements. That's what I believe, and that's what I've
Q: Thank you very much, Mr. President. We will be waiting for your
return, so that you could answer --
THE PRESIDENT: I'd like to come back.
Q: -- by being in the studio some of the other questions, maybe as a
businessman or a lawyer. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: I'd love to come back, because I saw on your wall that
the only way I get to sign my picture is if I come twice, you see. So
I'd like to come back. And I want to thank all the people who called
or who e-mailed in their questions. And I hope you will give me all
the questions, and maybe I can write you something about them, too.
Q: As a journalist, I am going to try and hold you to that.
Thanks to all who called and weren't able to get on the air. And we
may be able to talk to Mr. Clinton when he comes back. You're viewing
a program with the President of the United States, William Jefferson
Clinton. Thank you very much.
END 8:30 P.M. (L)
Putin upstages Clinton with summit ease and polish
By Ron Popeski
MOSCOW, June 4 (Reuters) - Russians will almost certainly be pleased with
Vladimir Putin's performance in public at his first summit with U.S.
President Bill Clinton since taking office.
At a joint news conference after six hours of talks, Putin's deft performance
even upstaged that of master communicator Clinton himself.
Barely a month after an occasionally uneasy performance at his inauguration,
Putin brimmed with confidence in talking about two days of talks on arms
control, regional issues and safeguarding Russia's political and market
Putin, who learned the art of dealing with the outside world in the Soviet
KGB, has clearly mastered the technique of conveying an image of
self-assuredness without arrogance.
``I have to say that the Russian side cannot fail to express its satisfaction
with the spirit, the quality and also the results of our negotiations,''
Putin told reporters in his opening remarks, speaking slowly and without
``The main results not only confirm the fine level of our ties but also
underscore the development of relations and their long-term prospects.''
His demeanour presented a sharp contrast with former president Boris
Yeltsin's often erratic public persona.
``He was very relaxed, much more relaxed than when he speaks of domestic
affairs,'' said Melor Sturua, editor of the Soviet government daily Izvestia
in the 1970s and 1980s and now an academic in the United States.
``Everyone will notice and Russians will be proud -- 'Look how our president
speaks without notes!'''
Putin was at ease in describing the summit as a success for Russian
He presented a joint statement on ``strategic stability'' as good for both
the country and the world, despite remaining disagreements with Washington
over a proposed U.S. anti-missile defence system.
He acknowledged that ties with Washington had been subject to ``ups and
downs'' in the past year -- alluding to NATO's bombing campaign of
Yugoslavia, fiercely opposed by the Kremlin.
But he said that it mattered little whether Democrat Vice-President Al Gore
or Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush replaced Clinton after the
What counted was that relations would continue to improve -- a real concern
to many Russian voters.
``In areas of difficulty, we have noted a desire not only to talk but also to
come to a joint resolution,'' he said.
He praised Clinton as a ``very pleasant and comfortable partner in
negotiations'' and said the president had left a legacy of improved ties
despite the recent difficulties.
``What we have achieved over the past eight years through the efforts of
Russia and the U.S. president has always enabled us to emerge from crises
with honour,'' he said.
Putin also used the international platform to display his reformist
credentials, promising to push outstanding reform legislation through the
State Duma lower house of parliament -- newly compliant after years of
opposition to Yeltsin.
``I would like to stress that the Russian Federation not only intends to push
through market reforms but also intends to act decisively and...to push
through a new tax code and an agreement on production sharing,'' Putin said.
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