This Date's Issues: 4351 • 4352
Johnson's Russia Lit
7 June 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: Soros: Thumbs Up on Russia Economy.
2. APN: Russians are too early to make love.
3. Interfax: RUSSIA SAID ONCE AGAIN IN NEED OF US FOOD AID.
4. Itar-Tass: OVER HALF OF RUSSIANS APPROVE OF GOVERNMENT ACTION
IN CHECHNYA - POLL.
5. Moscow Tribune: Stanislav Menshikov, BEWARE OF TAX LAW
INCONSISTENCIES. The New 2001 Budget is a Big Bluff.
6. Moscow Times: Yulia Latynina, Russian Aluminum's Growing Pains.
7. Izvestia: Vladimir RAZMUSTOV, PUBLIC EAGER TO KNOW MORE.
(re center and regions)
8. The Global Beat Syndicate: Mikhail Pogorely, A Familiar Look
To Russia's New Government.
9. RFE/RL: Paul Goble, Militarizing Politics, Politicizing The
10. BBC MONITORING: TOP RUSSIAN COMMANDER STRESSES NEED TO CONTINUE ARMS CONTROL DIALOGUE WITH USA. (Kommersant interview with
Strategic Missile Troops Commander-in-Chief Col-Gen Vladimir
Soros: Thumbs Up on Russia Economy
June 6, 2000
MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's lagging economy got a vote of confidence Tuesday from
financier George Soros.
Soros, who has both business and charitable interests in Russia, said he was
less enthusiastic about the Kremlin's heavy-handed political moves.
But the government of President Vladimir Putin appears intent on passing laws
favorable to economic growth, Soros said in an interview on the Echo Moskvy
radio station Tuesday.
``I think there is a renewed vigor in the economic field,'' said Soros, on a
visit to Russia to meet with political leaders and others.
``I see the situation very positively. The administration is very serious
about passing the right laws and reducing arbitrary interference in
business,'' he said.
A frequent critic of the Russian government, Soros lost several hundred
million dollars in Russia's 1998 currency devaluation and default on national
The loss included what he characterized as an ill-timed investment in the
telephone holding company Svyazinvest, which became nearly worthless after
Soros cautioned Putin against authoritarian tendencies of the sort the
Hungarian-born business tycoon has struggled to eradicate through a decade of
Putin has vowed to clean up Russia's chaos with a ``dictatorship of law,'' a
phrase Soros took issue with.
``Instead of dictatorship of law I would like to see rule of law, where there
are laws people can actually obey,'' he said.
Although Soros' Quantum Fund lost heavily in this spring's upheaval on the
U.S. stock market, Soros said he would continue philanthropic work in Russia
through his Open Society Institute.
Soros has helped Russian scientists and teachers weather the country's
economic depression and sponsored debating clubs and other activities
intended to build democracy.
6 Jun, 2000
Should we have your problems, Mr. Blair!
Russians are too early to make love
British Prime-Minister Tony Blair has drawn up a plan to reform gender
relations. The reforms are designed to bring legislation into accordance with
West liberal intellectuals` contemporary approaches. Agency of Political News
has already interviewed its readers whether it`s expedient to conduct similar
reforms in Russia. This time, experts in sociology, political analysis and
psychology: Elena BASHKIROVA, Igor BUNIN, Ekaterina EGOROVA and Maxim Dianov
answer the question.
Those are not women who give birth to our children, storks bring them
Elena BASHKIROVA, director of independent research center ROMIR, candidate of
philosophy: before discussing the gender reforms one should conduct a serious
sociological study and estimate a level of public consciousness. According to
the data available, at any rate, our country cherishes its traditions and the
society has not been ready yet to adopt any innovation in this sphere.
The ROMIR May polls, for instance, revealed that 48.8% of Russians consider
it necessary to legitimate their relations in a civilian registry office, or
ZAGS, and 47.6% of respondents are not ready to forgive adultery.
However there are some shifts brought about. So 46.9% of respondents said
that living together before the marriage makes family relations more lasting.
Nevertheless 33.6% of citizens consider this not to strengthen noose. That
is, one third of respondents is not willing to waive their principle «only
after marriage» even if this person is their future spouse.
The Russians are starting to get used to homosexuality but not so much to
legitimate homosexuals` rights. According to the May polls, in particularly,
some 61.6% of respondents think homosexuality can not be justified. That
means the majority of people continue to consider gays although not criminals
still ones who commit a breach of moral rules. Those who regard homosexual
relations as a norm consist only 1.9%!
Therefore we should not imitate Britain or France since there is no legal
basis under. It`s quite another matter that any change in this country occurs
faster that in West Europe. I believe such problems as incest or sexual
solicitation of women toward men appear likely to be disputed in Russia in
Several decades behind
Igor BUNIN, director of «Political Technology Center» foundation, doctor of
politics: We are several decades behind the West. It was as far as the
70s-80s that they stopped to sentence to death, started to recognize
homosexuals` rights, raised a question about sexual violence in the family
and in the office, boosted ecological problems. Those are the issues
developed postindustrial societies are facing.
However Russia is experiencing an industrial stage. These issues are out of
public opinion. There are only some activists to discuss them. It means on no
account there are no problems existed. I think, at first, they should be
instilled in mass consciousness and then the legislation should be changed.
Policemen treat «blues» better
Ekaterina EGOROVA, co-director of Political Advising Center «Nikollo-M»,
candidate of psychology, doctor of politics: As far as homosexuals` rights
are concerned some reforms in legislation are imminent.
My closest friend is a blue. Society`s attitude to homosexuals, according to
him, has changed a lot, public tolerance has risen. Earlier police raged at
gays at their beaches: it happened sometimes that policemen took their
clothes away and pester them. At present policemen treat homosexuals in quite
a good way and even defend them against homophobes. The turn in public
opinion seems to allow us to start changing legislation.
Nevertheless, I am not certain it is time to register «blue» and «pink»
marriages. I mind a permission to be given to unisexual couples to adopt
children. It may produce a psychological stress in a child resulting in
psychical deformations. The gays should gain, however, some of legal rights
as soon as possible. It may be a question of testament and inheritance. If
two persons have lived together for the whole life why it is impossible to
leave an apartment or property to each other?
To cover the gender reforms in a broader aspect one should dispute a problem
of violation towards children in the family. The Russian legislation
stipulates no childrens` rights. Under US legislation, for instance, if you
leave a child under 12 alone at home you may be imprisoned and a child
taken to an orphanage. In this country, a lot of children die when staying
under no care, however their parents take no responsibility for that.
We only lay the foundation, and they, in Britain, decorate their homes
Maxim DIANOV, director of the Institute for Regional Studies: Our country is
at the same stage of social development now as West Europe was in the
60s-70s. We haven’t not got ready jet not only to tackle the gender problem
but even to target it as they do in Britain.
Our society rather tends to turn back. According to deputies` activity, for
example, people seem to be outraged at too much freedom the media displays in
morals as they see it from a traditional standpoint. From this it follows
that the length to defense of homosexuals` rights is the same as between
heaven and earth. In comparison with the English we’re only laying the
foundation, and they’ve been decorating their apartments.
It`s not worth to tackle a sexual reform since we`ve not yet made out at a
military tenet and economic program.
RUSSIA SAID ONCE AGAIN IN NEED OF US FOOD AID
Moscow, 6th June: Russia may turn to the United States for food aid once
The Russian Agriculture Ministry's leadership sent the Clinton administration
a letter in the run-up to the summit, stating the need for US food aid
composed of 5m tonnes of mainly fodder grain, sources with the organizers of
US President Bill Clinton's visit to Russia have told Interfax.
The country's fodder grain deficit will range from 2m to 4m tonnes until the
new harvest, according to a ministry estimate. However, a number of
independent experts have forecast a deficit of 10m tonnes.
The food aid issue was not officially raised at the Russian-US negotiations,
sources said. However, according to their information, consultations on the
problem are continuing, they added...
In September last year, Russia lodged a request with the United States for a
5m-tonne food package, including 1m tonnes of food wheat, 1.5m tonnes of
fodder grain, 1.5m tonnes of corn, 500,000 tonnes of soy beans and 500,000
tonnes of soy meals. However, the sides then agreed on the shipment of only
the so-called small package of 500,000 tonnes.
Russia produced 54.7m tonnes of grain in 1999, compared to 47.8m tonnes in
The Russian Agriculture Ministry's updated grain forecast for 2000 is 62m-63m
tonnes, whereas the country's annual grain requirements are estimated at over
OVER HALF OF RUSSIANS APPROVE OF GOVERNMENT ACTION IN CHECHNYA - POLL
Moscow, 6th June, ITAR-TASS correspondent Larisa Reznikova. Over half of
people in Russia (51.7 per cent) approve of the Russian government's actions
in Chechnya. This was shown by an opinion poll carried out by the ROMIR
independent research centre, the results of which were made available to
According to the survey, about one-third of all citizens disapprove of
current government action in the North Caucasus, while 11 per cent of
respondents were neither for nor against. A total of 5.6 per cent of people
in Russia were unable to give an answer.
ROMIR carried out the survey on a representative nationwide sample of 1,500
From: "stanislav menshikov" <email@example.com>
Subject: BEWARE OF TAX LAW INCONSISTENCIES
Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000
"Moscow Tribune", June 6, 2000
BEWARE OF TAX LAW INCONSISTENCIES
The New 2001 Budget is a Big Bluff
By Stanislav Menshikov
The government is pressing for a speedy adoption in parliament of its tax
proposals. If the procedure is completed before the end of the spring
session of the Duma, the 2001 budget would be based on the new tax law.
Politically, this would be seen as another major success of the
Putin-Kasyanov team. In economic terms, things do not look the same way.
The tax proposals were prepared in a hurry and contain too many
inconsistencies both in details and general logic.
As to details, the single largest doubt concerns the establishment of a
flat 13 per cent personal income tax rate. In modern times, the income tax
in practically all industrially developed countries is based on a
progressive schedule under which rates increase together with the size of
income. The current income tax schedule follows that rule starting with a
minimum 12 per cent rate and rising to the maximum 35 per cent. The
establishment of a flat rate means that the poorest taxpayers will be faced
with an increase in their tax rate by 8.3 per cent while the higher paid
part of the population will benefit from an over the board tax reduction.
The richer the family, the more it will save under the new tax law. This
is, of course, contrary to the greatly increased income and wealth
inequality in Russia in the last decade. According to the World Bank, the
country now by standard measures of inequality ranks in the same class as
some of the less developed countries and is far behind the US or Western
Europe where the income tax remains progressive. This change beats us as
contrary to the goal of social justice to which Mr. Putin has proclaimed
Two arguments are provided in favour of this change. First, it is easier
for tax collection because tax bureaucrats do not have to bother about
calculating marginal tax rates. This argument is, of course, ridiculous in
the age of computers. Simplification of tax collectors work will make them
even lazier than they are today.
The second argument is that richer people will cheat less in their income
declarations and thus substantially increase the tax base. Again, this
argument defies logic. Because actual penalties for tax evasion are so low
and the practice of cheating so widespread, it will take decades before the
incentive to cheat is reduced to reasonable levels. There would be some
sense in reducing tax rates for richer people if that led them to invest
more of their savings in the domestic economy rather than indulging in
extravagant consumption or stashing money abroad. But in Russia the exactly
opposite behavioural pattern is predominant.
In terms of general logic, the new tax rules are supposed to increase tax
revenues in 2001 already by 101 billion roubles and thus eliminate a
possible overall budget deficit. Hence, another Putin "victory" -- the
"first non-deficit budget the post-Communist times". What took Clinton many
long years to achieve a fiscal balance, Putin does in a few months!
However, the Duma is well advised to look more closely into the proposed
budget and make the government explain where the additional revenue come
from. Mr. Kudrin's explanations are very controversial. On the one hand, he
claims that the nominal tax burden will be reduced by 2 per cent of GDP. On
the other hand, his own budget figures indicate an increase in that burden
from 15.5 to 16.9 per cent of GDP, i.e. by 1.4 per cent. Which of these
mutually inconsistent statements is correct, is something that the Duma
should find out.
The announced rise in government revenue supposedly comes from a 9.6 per
cent rise in the tax base (or nominal GDP). But the government does not
provide estimates of such a rise. There is only one GDP projection -- 6.8
trillion roubles. If that is considered a constant variable, and its
estimate does not change due to changes in tax rates, then no sound
economic foundation is laid for Mr. Kudrin's draft budget which looks like
a great piece of bluff rather than a serious estimate of the fiscal future.
It might well be that the Finance ministry has convincing answers to these
questions. If so, why were they not presented to parliament? The reason is
that Duma deputies are more interested in the expenditure side of the
public ledger because they are competing for their constituent's share of
the budget pie. In Russian practice, there are too many secrets about the
budget, and the government is not interested in making it more transparent.
Past experience shows that there is little connection between budget
proposals, formally approved appropriations and actual allocation of
moneys. There is no way parliament is able to monitor and eliminate these
inconsistencies. The thicker the fog around the budget, the easier it is
for the government bureaucracy to exercise its diktat.
The sorriest thing about it all is that the parliament is totally
unprepared to question and eliminate this practice. Which makes democracy
in financial matters a complete illusion.
June 7, 2000
INSIDE RUSSIA: Russian Aluminum's Growing Pains
By Yulia Latynina
Saturday's shareholders meeting at Bratsk Aluminum was supposed to endorse
the handing over of full control of the nation's biggest aluminum smelter to
Russian Aluminum. Instead, the meeting broke up without any resolution, and a
new meeting was scheduled for July 1.
This "no result" was a major setback for newly created behemoth Russian
Aluminum, an alliance between oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska
that was supposed to swallow almost the entirety of the nation's lucrative
In February, a mega-deal shook the industry when Sibneft shareholders bought
controlling packets of shares in Bratsk Aluminum, Krasnoyarsk Aluminum from
British metals trader Trans-World Group and Novokuznetsk Aluminum from
Moscow-based financial-industrial group MIKOM.
At first glance, the deal made Abramovich king of the nation's aluminum
market. But only at first glance. Novokuznetsk Aluminum no longer truly
belonged to MIKOM. It was bankrupt, effectively controlled by Deripaska of
Siberian Aluminum. The same scenario threatened Krasnoyarsk Aluminum.
As for Bratsk, while Trans-World Group did own a controlling stake, shares do
not always guarantee control in this country. Bratsk's general director,
Alexander Gromov, and board chairman Yury Shlyaifshtein f who together
control about 30 percent of Bratsk's shares f were actually running the
plant. Their firms delivered the raw materials and sold the aluminum
produced. Trans-World Group just stood around and drooled.
In short, Abramovich was not actually sold the three plants. Rather, he
bought a "do-it-yourself" aluminum industry kit.
But he has had problems with the assembly process. His first problem was that
he couldn't control Deripaska. Then, true to the theory of "if you can't beat
'em, join 'em," Abramovich joined Deripaska to form Russian Aluminum.
Then there were other problems. Deripaska had been supported by Anatoly
Chubais, head of Unified Energy Systems, who reportedly helped bankrupt the
plants for Siberian Aluminum. As he got friendly with Abramovich, Deripaska
dumped Chubais. Now, when highly placed UES employees hear Deripaska's name,
their faces fall. They claim that Siberian Aluminum owes the firm and its
subsidiaries 180 million rubles ($6.4 million). They periodically threaten to
cut off Krasnoyarsk Aluminum and the Samara Metals Plant.
And on Saturday, Deripaska and Abramovich couldn't even manage a
significantly lesser foe: Bratsk board chairman Shlyaifshtein. He wouldn't
sell his shares or leave his post, and he apparently conducted negotiations
so deftly that Russia Aluminum's partners are bickering over the breakdown of
Apparently, Shlyaifshtein is not moved by mercenary motives. He was offered a
huge sum for his shares. Shlyaifshtein just wants to stay in business: The
old aluminum man can't imagine himself without a plant. But he can do this
only on one condition: if the unnatural union between the two autocrats,
Deripaska and Abramovich, collapses. After all, there is a precedent: Two
years ago, Abramovich tried to merge Sibneft with Mikhail Khodorkovsky's
Yukos oil major to form Yuksi. After a series of grandiose press conferences,
the deal collapsed just a few months after it was announced.
Will Russian Aluminum survive longer than that? The answer depends on the
tractability of Deripaska and Abramovich, on the intransigence of Chubais, on
the resourcefulness of Shlyaifshtein. In the end, it will also depend on
Anatoly Bykov f sitting in a Krasnoyarsk prison awaiting trial for money
laundering, conspiracy to commit murder and other charges f who still owns 28
percent of the shares in Krasnoyarsk Aluminum.
Yulia Latynina writes for Segodnya.
June 6, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
PUBLIC EAGER TO KNOW MORE
Vladimir RAZMUSTOV, political scientist
Vladimir Putin's known administrative initiatives are
being considered by the Duma and have attracted appreciable
public attention. Although the objective has been formulated to
be a reform of the relationship between the federal center and
the country's regions - the public opinion clearly expects
things to be set in 'order' in this sphere, too - the real
stake is larger than yet another attempt to improve the
Federation. The proclaimed goal of strengthening the power
vertical fronts for the objective of buttressing the
presidency. If Putin succeeds in this direction, he would make
moves in other directions.
Putin has staked on decisive actions much in line with
public expectations. But since the point at issue is the new
authorities' ability to deliver, one expects them to have a
strategy and a wholesome plan of action. An answer to this one
may be found in the president's annual address to the Federal
Thus far, one gets the impression that the rate at which
the president's initiatives appear depends on the known PR
formula - correspond to public expectations, demonstrate
decisiveness, keep up the pace.
How instrumental have PR experts been in devising the
initiatives that should have been drawn by professional
counselors and economists? There are signs to indicate that the
initiatives are still very raw. Sure, they are impeccable from
the formally legal viewpoint. The president's counselors are
high professionals, which is incidentally why the Duma could
have contested or blackballed the president's initiatives and
decrees for formally legal reasons in only 10 cases out of a
But the rationale behind the president's
politico-administrative designs is still questionable. His
plenipotentiary envoys in the seven federal districts are
founding it hard to perform properly because their powers - and
tasks entrusted to them - are vague.
Yet public opinion suggests that their objectives are
truly monumental - from the president's instrument of
chastising unruly governors to his 'magic wand' capable of
dealing with the regions' urgent problems and improving the
life of common citizens.
Many analysts note the vagueness of the addenda to Putin's
decree setting forth the powers of his representatives. They
are largely replicas of the tasks once entrusted to the
president's former 87 - Chechnya and Tatarstan have been
exceptions - representatives in the Federation's constituent
The same is applicable to the three presidential bills
issued in pursuance of the decree. Their thrust is anything but
new - to buttress the state. Yeltsin's first - after the new
Constitution's adoption - address of 1994 was entitled "On
Measures to Strengthen the Russian State." The 1997 address
bore the title of "Order in High Places, Order in the Country."
A quotation from the latter: "The federal legislation has not
yet armed the federal controlling and overseeing structures
with more potent instruments of reacting. The task must be
addressed as soon as possible. But even the existing
legislation is not being made full use of by the prosecutors'
offices and structures of justice... they have the right to act
on behalf of the Russian Federation when suing state bodies of
the federation's constituent members and the local governments
on charges of violations of the law... A mechanism of Russia's
single legal space should whir into action before the end of
The country is stable politically. The socio-economic
situation has also improved thanks to high raw materials prices.
But no structural contradiction has been done away with: crying
social inequality, state debt, crisis of state institutions,
crisis of industry and banking system. Seeking a way out of the
crisis is going to be a protracted and painful enterprise. A
lot will depend on the progress of political processes.
The lesson of the past few years is: a lack of
decisiveness on the part of the authorities dampens all
positive effects of the reform drive. Even worse is the
imitation of decisiveness, muscle-flexing in the style of
bodybuilders - due to an unpredictable reaction of the deceived
Streamlining new mechanisms of the executive authority vertical
will take time and consistency in overcoming the 'covert
resistance', something that is bound to appear.
One can hardly forecast the way Putin's reforms will get
amended in the Duma. If they are not too badly mutilated and
are approved in a 'package', the law on the formation of the
Federation Council would come into force on February 1, and a
new lineup would start performing - after the old one divests
its functions - on April 1, 2001.
There would be no open Fronda to the presidential
innovations in the Federation Council, but one can expect a
tactic of procrastination in the course of implementing them.
Meanwhile, it is already vital to have rules of the
authorities' functioning and mechanisms of meting
responsibility for their violations.
The question of the 'eventual' shape of the state setup is
still open to speculation. The thesis of a transfer to a
'manageable democracy' is but a nice wrapping for the admission
that the mechanisms of state administration are largely
What goals will a 'strong state' be willing to undertake?
In what spheres of public life will it want to be present - or
absent, as the case may be? Where is the limit to state
administration? These are not topics for a debate on the theory
of democracy, but rather practical questions for any individual
who plans to live in his own country.
The Global Beat Syndicate
June 6, 2000
A Familiar Look To Russia's New Government
By Mikhail Pogorely
Mikhail Pogorely heads the Nuclear Reporting project of the
National Press Institute in Moscow.
MOSCOW -- For months, Kremlin observers watched carefully as newly elected
President Valdimir Putin slowly assembled his government.
Since he has offered no clear-cut economic, domestic or foreign policy
programs, observers were looking at the composition of Putin's cabinet for
hints as to the direction his administration might take.
Well, the final personnel decisions have been made, and guess what? Putin's
"new" government looks remarkably like the "old" government presided over
by former president Boris Yeltsin.
A number of federal ministries have been renamed or merged. A couple of
ministers have been shifted from one post to another. But the key figures
have been kept in place.
There are actually two categories of Cabinet-level ministers in Russia. The
first are those who head enforcement agencies such as the ministries of
Defense, Interior, Justice and Foreign Affairs. These are appointed by the
president and report directly to him.
The second category are those who deal mostly with the economic, social and
cultural issues. Although they are appointed by the president, they must be
confirmed by the Duma and they actually report to the Prime Minister.
Some experts call the first group the "political Cabinet," as it shapes and
implements most important issues of domestic and foreign policy. The second
group is often referred to as a "technical government," as these ministers
deal mostly with issues of national economic, financial and social security
There are very few new faces in either group. Many analysts view the
overall government as still composed of those associated with Boris
Berezovsky, the man long thought of as the leading member of the oligarchy
and the real power behind Yeltsin's administration.
Many had been waiting to see how Putin would deal with the oligarchs,
viewing it as a litmus test for his administration. His appointments seem
to confirm that he remains under Berezovsky's strong influence.
Putin's apparent inability to impose his will upon this political and
economic elite may also explain why he launched a campaign to strengthen
the Kremlin's authority over Russia's regions and territories.
Putin's efforts to rein in the regions is a delicate balancing act that
stays just within the limits of the constitution. He would divide the
country into seven big regions that closely coincide with already
established military districts. The heads of these so-called federal
districts will report directly to the president. In the near future, they
may gain many of the powers that area currently vested with the governors
of the 89 political enmities that make up the Russian Federation.
Out of the 7 newly appointed "princes," 5 are either military, special
services or police generals. The 2 civilians are Sergey Kiriyenko, a former
prime minister, and Leonid Drachevskiy, a former minister in charge of
affairs with the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Putin also moved quickly to insert several Federal Security Service
officials into "high places." Given his background with the KGB, these
appointments should come as no surprise. But while many of these appointees
may have demonstrated their loyalty to the president, their experiences in
the security apparatus of St. Petersburg hardly prepares them to oversee
government experts in the areas of economics or public policy.
Meanwhile, with the exception of the director of external intelligence,
Putin has also left in place the chief of every security agency in the
nation. Each had promised his loyalty to the new president. In fact, most
have already proven their reliability during Putin's stint as prime
minister and acting president.
Of course, he was not eager to change commanders during a time of war --
and everyone realizes it is a war, not some "counter-terrorist operation,"
that Russia is waging against Chechnya.
Ultimately, however, Putin was unable to attract experienced people from
outside of the existing government to work for him. Many of these are still
waiting to see how he strikes the balance between the "civilized" and
"strongman" tactics needed to lead the government.
It may be Putin's inability to put his own people inside government that
helps explain the tremendous growth in influence of such organizations as
the Security Council of the Russian Federation. Headed by Sergey Ivanov, a
lieutenant general in the security service, it seems to have gained
authority over the "political" Cabinet in forming the nation's foreign
policy. Meanwhile, Gherman Gref's Center for Strategic Initiatives seems to
gain influence over the "technical Cabinet." Indeed, Gref himself is now
part of the government, having been appointed as head of the newly created
Ministry for Economic Development and Trade.
While many Kremlin-watchers suspect this new government will be
short-lived, Putin himself has said he plans to work with its current
members for "a long time." What that ultimately suggests is that it may
take a "long time" for him to wrest power away from the current oligarchs
and consolidate power on his own.
Russia: Analysis From Washington -- Militarizing Politics, Politicizing The
By Paul Goble
Washington, 5 June 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent
decisions to make his new federal districts correspond to military district
lines and to appoint generals to head all but two of them open a new era in
that country's civil-military relations, one likely to lead to the
militarization of politics and the politicization of the military.
Many observers have been struck by the coincidence of the seven federal
districts and existing Russian military districts, on the one hand, and by
the appointment of generals and former generals to head five of them, on the
other. But now one of Moscow's leading military analysts is arguing that this
combination points to the transformation of Russian political life.
Writing in the current issue of "Russia Journal," Aleksandr Golts notes that
this arrangement gives Putin's appointees access to the "capabilities of the
military staffs -- operative links with the armed forces and Moscow,
communications possibilities, and armed units 'at hand.'"
Moreover, because most of the new federal district heads are generals, Golts
continues, "they are used to governing by decrees that are carried out by
subordinate officers without question." There is no reason to think that any
of them have experienced a sudden change of heart now that they occupy
nominally political positions.
And Golts points out that this reliance on the military and security bodies
is transforming the central government in Moscow as well. He argues that the
Kremlin does "not intend for Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's cabinet to be
the real Putin administration. It will instead be the Security Council" which
is dominated by the military and security agencies.
This approach, Golts suggests, reflects both Putin's obvious belief that "the
greatest threat Russia faces is disintegration" and his equally obvious
conviction that a "military system of subordination" will solve
"automatically" country's problems because both the military and the
population will simply follow orders.
Both of these beliefs are problematic, Golts argues. On the one hand, the
country's integrity may not be as much at risk as Putin appears to think and
its unity may not be promoted by military means. Indeed, Golts implies, the
use of the army to impose unity may have just the opposite effect.
And on the other hand, Golts writes, "only people with no real military
experience could believe" that the military can be used in this way. Those
with such experience, he continues, "know full well" that commanders can
"'twist' orders that they do not wish to carry out."
Thus, the introduction of military command methods for political ends may not
work as intended.
Moreover, Golts argues, Putin's arrangements are likely to have a negative
impact on the chain of command of the Russian military as a whole. "If the
armed forces become subordinate to the presidential envoys, not only will the
governors have their authority undermined, but so will the heads of the armed
forces who have only just been appointed."
And those generals in Moscow are unlikely to be happy with such a "forked"
administrative hierarchy, not only because it will weaken their authority but
because it could make "the effective management of both civilian and military
bodies" difficult or even "impossible."
The heads of Russia's existing regions "cannot fail to understand this,"
Golts insists, implying that they are likely either to exploit these tensions
in the command structure to advance their own ends or alternatively to form
alliances with one part of the Russian military against the interests of
Either could lead to problems of command and control far more serious than
Russia now faces, as well as exacerbating some of the very problems Putin's
new arrangements were put in place to overcome.
This use of the military for openly political ends may prompt some commanders
to try to play a greater political role than Russian generals have normally
done in the past. But that politicization of the military over the longer
term may prove to be an even greater problem for Moscow than the
militarization of politics Putin appears to be sponsoring now.
TOP RUSSIAN COMMANDER STRESSES NEED TO CONTINUE ARMS CONTROL DIALOGUE WITH USA
Source: 'Kommersant', Moscow, in Russian 3 Jun 00
Russian Strategic Missile Troops Commander-in-Chief Col-Gen Vladimir
Yakovlev has indicated that it would be a mistake for Russia to be too
inflexible in its dealings with the USA on international arms control
issues but that Russia should keep its options open in the light of US
plans to develop an antimissile defence system. Interviewed by the Russian
newspaper `Kommersant' on 3rd June, he suggested that if the USA presses
ahead with these plans, Russia might, for example, increase the payload on
its existing missiles. At the same time, he warned against allowing
dialogue to break down as that could lead to what he described as "nuclear
anarchy", describing Russia's proposal that Russia and the USA have 1,500
warheads apiece as "reasonable sufficiency". The following is the text of
the interview. First paragraph is newspaper's introduction.
The US president's visit to Moscow begins today. Changing the ABM Treaty
will be the main issue at the summit. Washington is insisting on the
revision of this document and the deployment of a national antimissile
defence system. Moscow is not agreeing to concessions and is threatening to
refuse to carry out bilateral nuclear disarmament agreements. In an
interview with your `Kommersant' correspondents, Ilya Bulavinov and Ivan
Safronov, Col-Gen Vladimir Yakovlev, commander-in-chief of the Strategic
Missile Troops, commented on the situation.
[`Kommersant'] Does Russia's stance - "no concessions to the United States"
- remain unchanged?
[Yakovlev] Things are not as simple as that. It would be wrong to say that
this is just a problem for US-Russian relations. Previously the ABM Treaty
was just a treaty between two powers, but today it affects a broad spectrum
of the most diverse states' interests. Even within the NATO bloc it is
causing a certain degree of conflict. There are two main directions in
which the situation could develop. First, there is the United States'
creation of a national antimissile defence system. This is viewed
negatively not just by Russia but also by France, Germany and Italy. We are
all perfectly well aware that the main threats to international security do
not come from North Korea. They come from Russia's southern "underbelly".
In the Near and Middle East potential does indeed exist for the development
of missile and nuclear technologies. And that poses a greater threat to
Europe. Problems are accordingly arising between Europe and the United
But there is also another trend - the extension of antimissile defence to
the entire NATO bloc. The United States' delivery of sea-based Aegis
systems to Norway, for instance, is a breach of the protocols on the
delimitation of strategic and nonstrategic antimissile defence. With the
change in the antimissile systems' basing areas there will be an
opportunity to destroy our strategic missiles on take-off. That is, theatre
air defence is being transformed into strategic antimissile defence. This
is a new mammoth problem.
[Q] But there is no doubt that in the near future the United States will
announce its decision to develop national antimissile defence.
[A] Making forecasts is a tricky business. There are after all still
serious technical problems with the development of national antimissile
defence. According to experts, including US experts, it is impossible to
build a system that would enable the exoatmospheric interception of a
missile at a distance of 2,000 km. There is another element: 60.1bn dollars
is currently being requested for a system that will cover two areas -
around 200 antimissiles. And what will come of this when each side has over
1,000 warheads apiece? It is impossible to create an absolute defence system.
[Q] But if nothing will work out for the United States, why does Russia not
bargain and make some concessions?
[A] Well, it cannot be said that they will be completely unsuccessful -
these are experts' assessments right now. We are not familiar with the
entire test programme, we are not familiar with all the results. We will see.
[Q] The view is being voiced that the spirit of the treaty can be preserved
formally as follows: The protocol to the treaty specifies that each side
can defend one area from missile attack: The USSR chose Moscow and the
United States chose the Grand Forks missile base in North Dakota. Perhaps
they could just be allowed to, as it were, move the defended area from
North Dakota to Alaska where the United States intends to site the first
element of a national antimissile defence system?
[A] No, in the treaty we spoke about protecting installations. But now
protection radiuses of 2,000 km are being discussed. That is, two areas
will effectively cover the whole of US territory! If we agree to such
concessions, the treaty will be completely wrecked.
[Q] OK, we fail to make concessions and the United States withdraws from
the treaty. What then?
[A] The suspension of dialogue will result in complete unpredictability.
The whole system of nuclear weapons control will change: I develop anything
that I want, I suspend the inspections regime, I allow no-one to go
anywhere - you know nothing, I know nothing. An arms race begins. Everyone
will strive to overtake the enemy and show that they have the kind of
potential that poses a real threat to the other side. All this will lead to
[Q] Do we want this? Russia cannot now afford what the United States can.
We barely have enough money for 10 Topol-M's per year, and that is all.
[A] But if we change the principles of the existing raft of accords (after
the ABM Treaty came SALT-1, SALT-2, the agreement on the elimination of
intermediate and shorter-range missiles, START-1 and START-2), what example
will we be setting the rest of the world? We said that after cutting the
number of Russian and US warheads within the framework of START-3 it would
then be possible to discuss cuts with other countries which have nuclear
weapons. There are another two treaties at the same time - the
Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty. Needless to say, nuclear weapons per se will survive for the next
few decades. But there must be a move to reduce their numbers.
When the USSR and the United States attained a level of 10,000 warheads
apiece, they thought: Why so many? How many times can we destroy one
another? Are we trying to work out who will be first into oblivion and who
will be second? We decided to come down to 6,000 and then to 3,000-3,500.
In 1997 we secured the accords on further cuts to a level of 2,000-2,500.
Now we are proposing a level of 1,500 - that is sufficient both for mutual
deterrence and taking account of third countries' potential. That is
[Q] Why would the United States agree to a reduction to 1,500? It is
perfectly well aware that we will have far fewer warheads left by 2010.
[A] First, public awareness in the United States is very sensitive to
problems of nuclear extremism and the unauthorized use of nuclear weapons.
So, why should it not set an example of a reasonable attitude to the
problem of strategic arms reduction? Why should it spend money on the
upkeep of an additional grouping?
[Q] But they have no problems with money for defence. And the United States
is certainly setting a somewhat different example in Iraq or Yugoslavia,
[A] But nuclear weapons are not battlefield weapons. They are weapons of
deterrence and deterrence is not the quantity of nuclear munitions. It is
awareness that if I do anything, I will receive the appropriate response
and, so, it is better not to get involved.
[Q] Permit us to raise an objection. There were five members of the nuclear
club. The USSR and the United States had 10,000 warheads apiece, the three
others had far fewer. It was Moscow and Washington that decided the fate of
the world, not London, Paris or Beijing. The number of warheads is an
extremely powerful psychological factor.
[A] In the past we talked about so-called unacceptable damage. Respectable,
intelligent people talked about this - Robert McNamara and Academician
Sakharov. But what "acceptable" or "unacceptable" damage can there be when
nuclear weapons are used? Look what happened at Chernobyl! There are
hundreds of Hiroshimas at the smallest launch site in our country now!
Nuclear confrontation is not the Kursk Bulge where there were tanks on one
side and tanks on the other as well, and the number of tanks determined the
sides' might. Here there are a whole series of other factors: the
opportunity to strike enemy territory, command and control systems, and
ability to get past antimissile defence.
[Q] Nevertheless, if the United States starts creating a national
antimissile defence system, what steps will Russia take?
[A] There is the option of changing the combat payload [boyevoye
osnashcheniye] of the missiles currently on combat alert duty: Their power
plants allow for this possibility.
[Q] That is, we could increase the number of warheads on the new Topol-M
missile from one to three?
[A] Yes, we could decide the issue of multiple independently targeted
re-entry vehicle warheads. We could also talk about certain other warhead
operating principles that would be cheaper and more effective and would
make it possible to overcome an antimissile defence system for sure. The
principles governing the use and siting of operational-tactical nuclear
weapons could be changed and there would be a move towards increasing the
number of nuclear munitions on cruise missiles, which are fairly tricky for
antiaircraft defence and invulnerable to antimissile defence. As a result
we could return to the intermediate-range ballistic missile development
All this will of course require a certain outlay - both financial,
emotional and physical. But this is a problem that can be resolved. Nothing
is after all created in an instant. The United States is planning to create
the first antimissile defence area and 20 antimissiles by 2005 and the
overall makeup of the system will probably emerge by 2010 or even 2015. A
whole series of measures will be elaborated. We are not announcing them now
because we will once again look as though we are brandishing our night
sticks. Why is this necessary?
[Q] We are already brandishing them. We have already virtually offended
Afghanistan and a few days ago Security Council Secretary Sergey Ivanov
threatened Denmark and Norway over the deployment of radars.
[A] I am in full agreement with him. Just look: I have here the US national
[Q] Is it your bible?
[A] What of it, you need to know whom you are dealing with. If you look at
it, it becomes clear where the emphasis is being placed. The United States
will maintain a group of no less than 100,000 men in Europe. Command and
control posts are being maintained and they were, incidentally, tried out
in Yugoslavia. Should this really not arouse our concern? What about the
Taleban saying that they will dispatch terrorists to Russian territory.
What should we do, just look on as this happens? We too have a national
security concept. If anyone threatens the state's sovereignty and
independence or its security, we are obliged to react. This happened when
Genghis Khan attacked, and should be the case now.
[Q] It would be good to have the potential as well as the desire to do so.
Our potential now is slightly different compared to the Soviet era.
[A] Of course, the changes that have taken place have affected the armed
forces most graphically. But we have effectively preserved the strategic
nuclear forces in full. The grouping performs the same tasks that it did 10
and 20 years ago. The preservation of the "nuclear umbrella" also provides
an opportunity to implement reform within the general purpose forces and
raise them to a level that enables an adequate response to potential local
or regional threats.
But it is necessary to conduct dialogue all the same despite the definite
confrontation. There is no alternative.
Putin's Defense Plan Eases Tension
June 6, 2000
By COLLEEN BARRY
BERLIN (AP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal to work with NATO
and Europe on an anti-missile defense system released some of the tension
building in Europe over fears that the U.S. plan to build its own system
would spur a renewed arms race.
Critical to the shift in mood, albeit slight, was Putin's tacit
acknowledgment in the proposal that a threat by rogue states does exist - in
essence validating the United States' chief reason for pursuing its own
national missile defense system.
A spokesman at the French Foreign Ministry acknowledged some common ground
had been reached, while emphasizing France shares Russia's concerns that the
U.S. plan is a threat to the goal of global disarmament. Germany also is
among the chief critics of Washington's go-it-alone proposal, fearing a
destabilizing shift in military balance.
Putin floated the idea of jointly developing a shield with the United States
ahead of President Clinton's arrival in Moscow on Saturday. He appeared to
reiterate the idea in Rome on Monday, proposing working ``with Europe and
NATO to create an anti-rocket defense system for Europe.''
However, his meaning was vague enough to raise concerns about whether he was
trying to drive a wedge between the United States and Europe by seeking an
independent deal with Europe at a time of great sensitivity among the
trans-Atlantic allies about the future of European defense.
While the United States has urged Europe to spend more on defense, it also is
concerned by European plans to develop the capability to respond to crises
without U.S. support.
``The biggest political threat to the United States is the European Union in
terms of world power and domination,'' said Paul Beaver, an arms expert at
Jane's Missiles and Rockets in London. ``If the EU and Russia were to get
together, it would bring the world back into a bipolar situation again.
``I don't think Putin is going to get too chummy with America. His interest
is to work together with the Europeans. He may well try to spice up life.''
Italian newspapers portrayed Putin's proposal as an attempt to enhance
Russia's sagging prestige by enlisting Europeans in a counter-effort. Typical
was La Repubblica, which said that by broaching the idea in Rome Putin ``was
looking for a prestigious forum for his constructive antagonism toward the
Corriere della Sera compared Putin to a salesman trying to quash the
competition by frantically peddling his own ``product.''
Lacking full details of Russia's proposal, however, officials and analysts
declined to speculate on whether the proposal was technically feasible. NATO
welcomed ``the cooperative spirit,'' but said it didn't have enough
information to comment further.
Experts say the Russian plan would use upgraded anti-aircraft missiles to
destroy enemy nuclear missiles just after launch. The American system, by
contrast, would use more advanced rockets to destroy warheads in space or as
The United States says the Russian plan for a joint defense would not be
Russia says its plan would fit in the framework of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic
Missile treaty because of its lesser capabilities. The United States wants to
amend the treaty, a move Moscow staunchly opposes.
One key impediment to launching a joint project with the United States would
be the issue of intelligence sharing. ``The levels of infrastructure that
must be shared are very, very sensitive, and at the highest levels
politically,'' Beaver said, adding that the United States is unlikely to
agree to such an exchange.
``In terms of actual hardware, the Russians may have something to offer,''
Beaver said, referring to the V2500 antiballistic missile system that they
announced two years ago.
He described it as ``a tactical, moveable system. ... It appears to be better
than anything there is in the West.''
Still, editorial comment appeared to indicate that European resistance to
Washington's plans has not been fully eased - and that sympathies lie more
with Russia's concerns than with American fears.
``That Mr. Putin showed a degree of understanding for the concerns of the
United States on this issue will not stop him from stirring up the opposition
to American plans when he makes his first formal visit to European capitals,
especially as he can expect his views to find resonance,'' the Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung wrote Tuesday.
That is likely to be the case when Putin meets next week in Berlin with
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who already has warned Clinton of starting an
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