This Date's Issues: 4360
Johnson's Russia List
10 June 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AFP: Baltics try to push NATO enlargement back onto front
2. Reuters: Swiss want US, Russian help in laundering probe.
3. Itar-Tass: Putin Denies Claims that Chechen War Paved His Way to
4. The Russia Journal: Vera Kuznetsova, Moscow team still holds the
5. Moscow Times: Matt Bivens, Soros Changing His Tune.
6. H-Net Russian History list: Mike Haynes, QUERY: TOILET PAPER IN
7. Chicago Tribune: Colin McMahon, CONTEST HAS STUDENTS IN RUSSIA
LOOKING AT THE PAST WITHOUT FEAR. `THESE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE EXPLORING THINGS THAT FOR A LONG TIME WE COULD NOT TOUCH.'
8. Washington Post: Daniel Williams, 'A Matter of Survival'
Russian Women Fill Void Left by Alcoholic Men.
9. The Russia Journal: Andrei Piontkovsky, Thinking the unthinkable. (re Russian and Chinese armed forces)
10. RFE/RL: Harry Tamrazian, Caucasus: Analysis -- Seeking Security For The South.
11. Moscow Times: Andrei Zolotov Jr., Press Ministry Demands Licensing for Print
12. Kyodo: Putin to propose six-way Korea talks during N. Korea
Baltics try to push NATO enlargement back onto front burner
VILNIUS, June 10 (AFP) -
While NATO members may not want to consider the thorny question of further
enlargement of the alliance until 2002, the three Baltic states have used a
series of high-level visits to the region to force the question back onto the
The Baltics view their participation in the BALTOPS 2000 naval exercise
currently under way in the Baltic Sea in which 49 ships, four submarines and
some 4,500 sailors from NATO countries, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden
are taking part, as another indication they are seen as serious contenders
for NATO membership.
NATO enlargement will again be at the center of attention Saturday whith US
Defense Secretary William Cohen's arrival for a meeting of Baltic and Nordic
The Baltic states also opened a NATO-compatible joint air surveillance center
Tuesday in Lithuania.
Alliance members decided at their last summit in Washington last year to keep
NATO's doors open to new members, but not to formally consider new admissions
While candidates were given action plans to prepare themselves for possible
membership, enlargement seemed to have slipped off the front burner of debate
in Europe until the Baltic states last month engineered a joint statement by
the nine declared candidate countries that they would be ready for NATO
membership in 2002 and should be invited to join.
The Vilnius statement has become known as the "Big Bang" scenario of NATO
enlargement as the entry of Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia
would push NATO deep into troubled southeastern Europe.
The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joining NATO might
also force a showdown with Russia, which has so far strenuously opposed the
countries it occupied for fifty years becoming members of the security
NATO enlargement overshadowed the visit of German Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder to the region, the first ever by a German chancellor, despite
trying downplay the issue for fear of complicating ties with Russia.
At his first press conference on the trip in the Estonian capital Tallinn on
Monday Schroeder did not mention NATO once, instead talking about the need to
support democratic reforms in Russia and the country's newly-elected
president, Vladimir Putin.
"One should go forward with great caution because of the big neighbour in the
East," a German official told journalists before the trip began.
Schroeder finally went on record in favor of NATO's open door policy, but
against the Big Bang scenario advocated by candidate countries.
"...we have strongly supported the Washington decisions, which did not set
any schedules and I think for a good reason," the German chancellor said
Wednesday in Vilnius.
"Every country should have a right to be invited to join NATO, but we did not
want to set exact terms, trying to avoid the postponement of these terms if
some countries would not be prepared for membership," he said.
Schroeder's coolness contrasted with the strong support for NATO expansion
expressed by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, who visited the Latvian
capital Riga on Wednesday.
"Yes we welcome a large expansion... we welcome this statement by the
candidate countries," Cem told journalists. "I don't know how realistic it is
to expect that all those countries will become members at the same time, but
we want them to become members as soon as possible."
US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott didn't go beyond the NATO
open-door policy during meetings in Estonia on Wednesday, but reaffirmed
strong US support to help the Baltics to get ready to "walk through that
Baltic officials don't necessarily expect a breakthrough on enlargement, but
seem happy to keep the debate in the limelight.
"I think that the Vilnius statement added great impetus to the process,"
Lithuanian Defense Minister Ceslovas Stankevicius told AFP Friday.
He said the Balts would definitely raise the issue once again Saturday in the
meetings with the US and Nordic defense ministers, which is to focus on
Swiss want US, Russian help in laundering probe
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, June 9 (Reuters) - A Swiss judge who has frozen $18 million in a
money-laundering probe related to the Bank of New York
said on Friday that U.S. authorities had still
not handed over documents he requested four months ago.
Geneva magistrate Laurent Kasper-Ansermet also said he had asked Russia's
deputy state prosecutor Vasily Kolmogorov last month to question Russian
central bank officials about the case.
This was to determine whether International Monetary Fund (IMF) funds had
been improperly diverted to the Bank of New York and then to Swiss accounts,
he told Reuters.
But he said his investigation was hamstrung until U.S. and Russian officials
stepped up their cooperation, although he stressed that his request to Moscow
was much more recent.
"I still have 30 million Swiss francs in blocked accounts and lots of lawyers
asking me to lift these measures," he said. "I hope to be able to get to the
bottom of this, but I wonder how I can continue my investigation."
A former Bank of New York executive and her husband pleaded guilty in a U.S.
court last February to being involved in a $7 billion international
money-laundering scheme, detailing for the first time how Russian banks used
BONY to launder funds.
SWISS AUTHORITIES INFORMED
Kasper-Ansermet's inquiry into alleged money-laundering opened last September
after Swiss-based banks, prompted by the Bank of New York case, informed
Swiss federal authorities about "suspicious transactions."
On Friday, he said that he had now frozen 30 million Swiss francs ($18.2
million) in 20 separate criminal proceedings in relation to the Bank of New
York case. They involved between 10 and 15 Swiss-based banks whom he declined
"My research has involved requesting Bank of New York documents from America
and asking Russia who was transferring funds to the Bank of New York," he
"I want to learn about the kinds of transfers and nature of these funds which
transited the Bank of New York and ended up in Swiss bank accounts.
"I have requested a hearing of (Russian) central bank officials to determine
whether part of the IMF funds transited the Bank of New York in relation to
bank accounts in Switzerland."
BANKS NOT LICENSED
Kasper-Ansermet said he had also asked Russia to question employees at DKB,
Sobinbank and Flamingo Bank.
A U.S. court found in February that DKB (Depozitarno-Kliringovy Bank) and
Commercial Bank Flamingo had established branches in the United States
without obtaining licences from the Federal Reserve.
DKB and Sodinbank have denied any wrongdoing.
Lucy Edwards, a former vice president in Bank of New York's Eastern European
division, and her husband Peter Berlin admitted under a plea-bargaining
agreement being part of a wide-ranging conspiracy. It is one of the biggest
to involve money laundering in U.S. history.
Berlin controlled three companies whose accounts at Bank of New York were
used to launder the money.
Kasper-Ansermet said he was tracing the transactions of the three companies:
Benex International Co, Becs International LLC and Lowland Inc.
Kasper-Ansermet said his January 28 request to U.S. judicial authorities for
assistance had gone unanswered.
The request is with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of
New York, where he met officials on February 11 to discuss cooperation. He
followed up with an additional request on February 28, he added.
"I insisted on the urgency of obtaining these documents. Despite relaunching
my request via diplomatic channels in Berne, I still have heard nothing," he
($1=1.647 Swiss Franc)
Putin Denies Claims that Chechen War Paved His Way to Kremlin.
BERLIN, June 10 (Itar-Tass) - President Vladimir Putin has denied the
allegation that "the war in Chechnya, the anti-terrorism operation there have
paved his way to the Kremlin", saying that "this is not true". It is right
that the presidential electoral campaign and the events in the Northern
Caucasus had coincided in time, but this is not the point, he stated during
the interview granted to the German ARD and ZDF television companies.
The president said that the population of Russia was sick and tired of what
was happening in Chechnya and in the Northern Caucasus as a whole. "This is
only one of the elements that is weakening our state," he stressed. It
started to worry our people in earnest and they began to feel this weakness
on themselves. Our citizens "are not confident in their morrow from the point
of view of economic conditions". All this had led to a situation when the
electors wanted to see a strong state, to see that "the state is turning into
an institution that will guarantee the rights of every citizen in any point
of Russia," Putin noted.
The Russia Journal
June 12-18, 2000
Moscow team still holds the power
By VERA KUZNETSOVA
Columnist Vera Kuznetsova looks at new appointments in the administration.
President Vladimir Putin has decided to leave his administration almost
without change, keeping Alexander Voloshin as its head. Even Voloshinís
opponents now call him a strategist of the caliber of Anatoly Chubais, and
perhaps even higher.
Dmitry Medvedev, from St. Petersburg, has been appointed Voloshinís first
deputy. The Alpha financial group keeps its influence in the Kremlin, with
its representatives Vladislav Surkov and Alexander Abramov becoming deputy
heads of the administration.
The only new face is that of another Petersburger ≠ Dmitry Kozak, who until
recently was head of the government apparatus. Kozak has also been made a
deputy head of the administration. Kozak had been tipped for an even higher
post ≠ that of prosecutor general ≠ but his status as a newcomer to Moscow
got in the way. The job went instead to Vladimir Ustinov, a better-known
figure in Moscow and in the prosecutorís office.
The former first deputy head of the administration, Igor Shabdurasulov, a
man close to oligarch Boris Berezovsky, hasnít left the Kremlin yet but
looks set for departure soon. Attempts are being made to find Shabdurasulov
a job elsewhere, though so far, nothing particularly promising has turned up.
A source in the Kremlin administration said: "The authorities have decided
there should be as few people as possible on the inside who have direct
links to the oligarchs." That is why, the source continued, "despite his
services in helping build Yedinstvo [Unity], Igor Shabdurasulov will have
Shabdurasulovís departure will only strengthen Voloshinís position. Itís no
secret that there was a lot of rivalry between the two officials. As
expected, Voloshin has extended his influence to the White House, and quite
effectively, too. Kozak has been replaced as head of the government
apparatus (a post with ministerial rank) by a close Voloshin ally, former
head of the Federal Property Fund Igor Shuvalov.
Alexandra Levitskaya, who had been assistant to Voloshin, was appointed
Shuvalovís first deputy responsible for the economic block. Clearly,
Voloshinís strategy is to consolidate efforts in the Kremlin and White
House on economic strategy and programs so as to avoid differing
The White House says that Voloshin had a direct hand in allocating
responsibilities among the prime minister and his deputies. The result was
to give Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov a solid footing in the new
government. Kasyanov is directly responsible for the most profitable
sectors ≠ arms exports (Rosvooruzheniye and Promexport), customs, property
and state reserves. Even though one of the deputies, Alexei Kudrin, is
responsible for treasury income, Kasyanov couldnít bring himself to hand
over responsibility for the tax police to Kudrin and kept it for himself.
So overall, Kasyanov has come through well-armed, while the Petersburg team
is looking weaker.
Alexei Kudrin, placed in charge of the economy, has responsibility for
several ministries, but this could bring more problems than profits.
Kudrinís ministries include finance, tax, anti-monopoly, economic
development and trade and the FSFO (Federal Service for Financial
Rehabilitation). In the White House, people are saying that at least Kudrin
gets to oversee his own Petersburg allies, who run all these ministries
except for the Tax Ministry.
Two other Petersburg people, deputy prime ministers Viktor Khristenko and
Ilya Klebanov, havenít come off so easily. Both of them have seen their
authority trimmed and find themselves having to oversee for the most part
representatives of the "Moscow Family."
Khristenko retains control over the Energy Ministry, headed by Alexander
Gavrin, who is close to the Moscow group. He also has under his
responsibility the Natural Resources Ministry, headed by Family man Boris
Yatskevich, and the Transport Ministry headed by Petersburger Sergei Frank.
Ilya Klebanov has come off worst. When Putin was prime minister, Klebanov
was one of the most influential figures in the White House, but virtually
none of that former power remains. Kasyanov took from him not only the
strategically important weapons exports, but put him in charge of
ministries in the hands of the Moscow Family ≠ the Atomic Energy Ministry
under Yevgeny Adamov, the Railways Ministry under Nikolai Aksyonenko and
the Science and Technology Ministry under Alexander Dondukov.
So, the Moscow team looks to have outdone the Petersburgers and distributed
its forces equally throughout the Kremlin and the White House. Now that the
responsibilities have been distributed among the principal players and the
apparatus has been staffed with people tried and tested by the Kremlin,
itís clear that the Moscow team has won this round of the apparatus game.
The Petersburgers have economic strategy in their control, but they wonít
be able to do anything without the Moscow groupís agreement.
June 10, 2000
PARTY LINES: Soros Changing His Tune
By Matt Bivens
"I see the situation very positively. The [Putin] administration is very
serious about Ģ reducing arbitrary influence in business." f George Soros on
Tuesday, on Ekho Moskvy.
Soros, the world's most famous financier, was talking up Russia this week. To
his credit, Soros is not offering blind praise: He is put off by President
Vladimir Putin's proposed "dictatorship of law" f he would prefer rule of law
minus the dictatorship. And he is alarmed by the thuggish harassment of NTV
television, and by the ugliness in Chechnya.
But it's interesting to note the timing: Soros is gushing about how the
Kremlin is "reducing arbitrary influence in business" less than three weeks
after his most famous investment here, Svyazinvest, became the beneficiary of
some very arbitrary influence by the new St. Petersburgers in government.
Three years ago, Soros made what he later characterized as "the worst
investment decision of my career:" buying a 25 percent stake in Svyazinvest,
a state-owned telephone holding company. As someone who plays to win, Soros
found a strong partner in Vladimir Potanin's Uneximbank f a bank so masterful
at winning sweetheart deals over the years that sometimes the government
asked Uneximbank itself to run privatization auctions. Uneximbank would
dutifully set about soliciting bids, evaluating them and proclaiming itself
Sure enough, Soros-Uneximbank won Svyazinvest f with the highest bid ever
seen in Russian privatization, around $1.9 billion (of which Soros paid
half). But Soros is also a philanthropist, with a public-spirited and
philosophical bent. So when losing rivals alleged the auction had been fixed,
Soros acted hurt. To this day he argues that he paid "a fair price" f a
subjective term, given an auction where only Cyprus-based shell companies
linked with an oligarch could play.
A year later came the crash of August 1998. Soros took a bath. Afterward, he
was harshly critical of Russia's political and economic system f and
particularly of Boris Berezovsky. In his latest book, Soros recounts trying
"to convert Berezovsky from robber capitalist to legitimate capitalist."
"I had lunch with Berezovsky at his 'club,' which was decorated, deliberately
or not, in the way Hollywood would present a mafia hangout. I was the only
guest," Soros wrote. Soros says Berezovsky sought his help in taking over
Gazprom, but Soros declined. "This got Berezovsky very angry Ģ I literally
felt that he could kill me."
Soros goes on to argue that Berezovsky and others may have conjured up the
war in Chechnya and perhaps even the apartment bombings to install Putin as
Boris Yeltsin's successor:
"Berezovsky [had] regaled me with stories of how he had paid off the military
commanders in Chechnya and Abkhazia. So when [Shamil] Basayev invaded
Dagestan, I smelled a rat. Ģ From Berezovsky's point of view it made perfect
sense. Ģ It would give him, Berezovsky, a hold over Putin. So far, no
evidence has surfaced that would contradict this theory."
There is a logical inconsistency in arguing:
a) the war was high theater (and high treason) engineered to keep corrupt
interests in power via Putin, and
b) Putin's Kremlin is working to reduce the unwarranted influence of corrupt
So what has changed for Soros between a) and b)?
Here's one possible answer: In the fall, Putin put the top people at St.
Petersburg Telephone, or PTS, in charge of the Communications Ministry and of
Svyazinvest. On May 19, former PTS deputy director Leonid Reiman was
confirmed as communications minister. Within hours, the ministry handed a
coveted mobile phone license to Sonic Duo, a company majority-owned by
Svyazinvest, now run by Reiman's old boss, former PTS general director Valery
Amazingly, there was no auction. One former PTS executive hands a
telecommunications license to another former PTS executive. In other nations,
this happens at open auctions that raise millions, or even billions.
So Svyazinvest has gotten a sweetheart insider deal at the expense of the
public f one that benefits Soros. And suddenly Soros is saying he'll invest
again in Russia. Fine. But since he is Soros, he can't just take advantage of
a lucky break and invest to make money. No, he must claim to have higher
reasons. And so the Kremlin, once a font of "robber capitalism," is now
"reducing arbitrary influence in business."
Matt Bivens is the editor of The Moscow Times.
Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2000
Sender: H-Net Russian History list <H-RUSSIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU>
Subject: QUERY: TOILET PAPER IN FSU
From: "Mike Haynes" <LE1958@wlv.ac.uk>
This is request for information about toilet paper usage across the ex
In a research seminar I was involved in a sharp debate over the degree of
impoverishment created by the transition not just in the ex URSS but across
the old bloc. Somewhat bizarrely it centred on toilet paper.
The speaker condemned the transition for the way in which it impoverished
people. From the floor came the reply that under the old system people
couldn't even be sure of getting toilet paper. Back came the reply - yes now
its available but how many can afford to use it? To which came the reply - its
in common use by everyone. To which the speaker exploded 'Nonsense!'
These were wild generalisations but since then I have been having an on-going
discussion with colleagues because what the question exposes is the lack of
knowledge of how most people live from the inside. Clearly availability and
use in hotels and the homes of middle class professionals is one thing - but
what of the mass of the population, workers, peasnats, unemployed, regions
The discussion got even more bizarre. I have a clear recollection that in
our British family until the early 1960s (when my parents were still quite
poor) we used cut up newspaper. MY colleagues who came from better off
families said they could never used cut up newspaper - they could only ever
remeber using manufactured toilet paper.
A colleague from East Germany said that when she was young there was never
a shortage - just problems with the quality and in any case she did not think
her Communist Party grandfather would have approved of her wiping her bum on
the communist party newspaper. But she did remember as an East German student
when she went to Russia being told to take a year's supply .............which,
of course, was often the advice for those from the west too.
Since this raises basic questions about poverty and perhaps even human dignity
I would appreciate responses that throw light on this matter and if the
discussion gets interesting I will happily collate the replies!!!
School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences,
University of Wolverhampton,
9 June 2000
[for personal use only]
CONTEST HAS STUDENTS IN RUSSIA LOOKING AT THE PAST WITHOUT FEAR
`THESE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE EXPLORING THINGS THAT FOR A LONG TIME WE COULD NOT
By Colin McMahon
Tribune Foreign Correspondent
MOSCOW -- The stories Phillip Abryutin tells about his people once were
family secrets. Now they win prizes.
Abryutin, 14, took top honors in a Russia-wide contest aimed at getting high
school students to go beyond their textbooks in exploring the Soviet Union's
history. The contest, sponsored by the group Memorial, which works to expose
the myths and crimes of Russia's communist era, was the first of its kind.
Students were not asked to write about Stalin or Lenin. They were asked to
talk to relatives, friends and neighbors who had firsthand accounts about
some significant event or period in Russia's bloody 20th Century.
In some cases, the interview subjects were leery. Those with stories to tell
also remembered the repression that had kept those stories buried for years.
In other cases, people were happy to help. This was a chance to set things
"The people in our neighborhood were very open to it," said Katya Lonshakova,
15, of Volgograd. "They ended up learning more about their own city, just as
Lonshakova and the four other girls on her team wrote about their own section
of Volgograd, which was called Stalingrad until 1961, and about how violence
and hardship continued as people there tried to rebuild their lives after the
horrible siege by the Germans during World War II.
The city was home to prisoner-of-war camps for Nazi soldiers who had
surrendered after one of the most brutal battles in history. Tens of
thousands of the POWs died or were shipped to labor camps, where death was a
"The students looked at the relationship between the prisoners of war and the
local population," said history teacher Irina Shayuk, who supervised the
Volgograd project. "The theme had been a closed one. It used to be prohibited
not only to write about it but even to speak about it."
World War II is a good example of why Memorial exists.
The Great Patriotic War, as Stalin dubbed it, is shrouded in myth. The
heroism and suffering of the Russian people--an estimated 29 million died--is
undeniable. But that bloodshed has covered up many harsh truths about the
Just this month, Russians were provided another small but telling glimpse of
how the Kremlin distorted the facts of the war and exploited it for
The famous scene of Red Army soldiers hoisting the Soviet flag atop the
Reichstag during the fall of Berlin carries almost icon status in Russia. But
the NTV network reported this month that Soviet footage of that was faked.
The Red Army lieutenant who was there first, Alexei Berest, was pushed aside
from history, partly because his family name did not have the correct ethnic
ring. Instead, Soviet camera crews re-enacted the scene two days after Berest
hoisted the flag. In Berest's place were two army scouts, one with a
classically Russian name and one with a Georgian name that matched Stalin's
Memorial wants to dig out and preserve such truths before they, and those who
hold them, disappear. That was part of the goal of the history contest.
Memorial wanted young people to go right to the source for details and
perspectives that rarely appeared in Soviet-era schoolbooks or even in texts
"There is a change of generations going on in Memorial, a change between
those who remember the things that happened in Soviet times and those who
know of them as history," said Anna Pastukhova, a Memorial board member. "We
have to do all that we can so that the younger generation understands what
happened in the past and so that . . . it is not repeated in the future."
Some history teachers who accompanied students to Moscow for the Memorial
awards ceremony were doing what teachers everywhere do--bemoaning students'
lack of knowledge. This ignorance about all things Lenin is actually
comforting to many Russians who had been force-fed the Lenin myth. At least
there is little room for nostalgia among the young.
A recent poll of 9th and 11th graders by the Center of Education Sociology
showed little interest in going back to the Soviet system of government. The
respondents overwhelmingly preferred democracy to a one-party state. They
were more liberal than the general population on such touchstone issues as
freedom of expression and minority rights.
"I find this all very encouraging," said Sigurd Schmidt, a historian in his
70s and lead jurist for Memorial's contest. "These young people are exploring
things that for a long time we could not touch. Having lived such a long
life, I understand how much more open it is now."
Phillip Abryutin's 83-year-old grandmother took some convincing though. At
first she was confused by the boy's wish to do in-depth interviews about her
life. Then she wondered whether it was such a good idea, remembering what
happened to people who made trouble in Soviet times.
Her grandson looked at the forced settlement and collectivization of the
Chukchi, one of several indigenous peoples in Siberia who were colonized as
Soviet power moved north and east across the giant nation.
"I described my grandmother's life as she was telling it herself," he said.
"I used extracts from her diary. I used her ideas and her emotions."
In a matter of years, the Soviets tried to break the Chukchi of their
nomadic, Stone Age ways. They split up families, moved people out of their
traditional huts and into barracks, changed their diet disastrously from a
meat-based one to one dependent on milk and jams and buckwheat.
"It broke their culture," Phillip Abryutin said. "It isolated the children
from their parents. The Chukchi had very abstract ways of thinking and they
were taught very tough mathematics. If they did not learn the arithmetic, it
was regarded as weakness. Their lives could not be fulfilled."
Alcoholism and poverty now devastate the Chukchi, who number about 15,000.
They are a people in danger of being forgotten.
June 10, 2000
[for personal use only]
'A Matter of Survival'
Russian Women Fill Void Left by Alcoholic Men
By Daniel Williams
NOVY USAD, Russia. Drunks scatter when Lidya Gavrilova walks down the
single street of her run-down, wind-swept cooperative farm. Unfortunately,
there are lots of drunks.
Gavrilova is unusual in Russia--she is a woman who runs a farm, and in Russia
that's usually man's work. But more unusual was her crackdown on heavy
drinking among employees--also a largely male activity and a national plague.
Following a women's revolt against disastrous management and steady poverty
at the farm, Gavrilova was elected director. She fired anyone she found
inebriated on the job. Although she hasn't been able to resolve the problems
of low grain prices, antiquated equipment and primitive marketing, at least
no newborn calves are being lost, no tractors ruined or precious milk spilled
because of excessive drinking.
"We have enough problems, and they were just made worse by drinking. So it
had to stop. I stopped it, but it is a constant struggle," she said the other
day in an interview.
Gavrilova's battle is fought at the intersection of two notable phenomena in
Russia: men's weakness for drink and women's desperate efforts to keep
pocketbooks full and families afloat.
Many Russian men drink to the point of danger. Their life span has been
shrinking to alarmingly low levels--about 60 years, less than the 62.3 years
in Egypt, not to mention the 75 years in well-off Western Europe. Early
deaths among men contribute, in turn, to Russia's shrinking population--down
from 148 million in 1990 to 145 million last year. In 1999, the population
declined by almost half a percentage point, a steeper rate than even the
early years of the 1990s, when Russia plunged into its first major economic
Although diet and poor health care are partly to blame, experts point to
vodka consumption, especially of poisonous home brews, as a key culprit. "I
can't say whether people are drinking more. I can only suppose they are
drinking more low-quality products," said Vladimir Yuntsev, a Moscow State
University professor, at a health conference in Moscow last year.
Meanwhile, Russian women, traditionally light drinkers, are often left with
full parental responsibilities. In a recent poll of businesswomen published
in the weekly newspaper Obshchaya Gazeta, more than half the working women
considered themselves heads of their households. A quarter were divorced or
Gavrilova and other women who have taken charge seem to regard this turn of
events as natural. "Strong" is a Russian female characteristic, they assert.
It is common to hear them cite the dictum of writer Maxim Gorky that in
Russia, "A woman can stop a galloping horse," or sing the rural woman's
ditty, "I'm a horse, I'm a bull, I'm a strong woman--a real man."
"It's a cliche, but life forces women to be stronger," said Olga Noskova, a
director of the NNTV television station in Nizhny Novgorod, the main city 60
miles north of Novy Usad. She is a divorcee and responsible for the
upbringing of her 14-year-old daughter. "Frankly, after the collapse of the
Soviet Union, many men were at a loss. Women didn't have time to think about
problems. They had to survive. Especially, when the family breaks apart, the
burden falls on the woman."
Sometimes, the journey from divorce or separation to professional life seems
the norm. Lyudmila Smirnova, who heads a building company and is separated
from her husband, got her start when she decided to build her own house by
hand. She had worked as an engineer at a hydroelectric dam site in Siberia,
and when she returned to Nizhny Novgorod, she longed for space to raise two
daughters and the intimacy with nature.
She won a prize for the best self-constructed house in the city and started a
construction firm. At first, she was threatened by local mafias, which tried
to extort protection money. She refused, and they eventually let her alone,
although for a long time, she slept with a pistol under her pillow and still
has two huge watchdogs. "They may have let me off because I'm a woman,"
Smirnova surmised. "They didn't take me seriously."
She also has a no-drunks policy. If someone drinks on the job, she fires the
entire construction team. "It's the only way to make an impression," she
said. Her current contracts include an administration building for a Spanish
company in Moscow and an industrial plant in Nizhny Novgorod. Revolts, she
said, are rare because work is hard to come by. "The men see it is better to
get a paycheck than to get drunk," she said.
Gavrilova, the farm manager, is also separated from the father of her
7-year-old daughter. "I could just sit and groan, or I could find something
to do. It's a matter of survival," she said.
The problems at Hope Farm began in 1990, when subsidies from the decaying
Soviet government began to dry up. Farmers fled to work as itinerant
merchants; the amount of cultivated grain land shrank from 12,350 acres to
less than 5,000. A management turnover led to disastrous decisions. Workers
slaughtered cows to make ends meet in the short run, but, as a result, dairy
herds on which the farm depended for annual income were decimated. The herd
shrank from 2,000 head to 400. The work force decreased by half, from 400 to
Drunkenness became rampant. Gavrilova, an agronomist by training, left the
farm, but she returned in 1994 with her infant daughter in response to the
plea of farm women for help. "It wasn't just that they trusted me. There was
no man around willing to take on an impossible job," she recalled.
Sixty percent of the farmhands were women, including nearly all the milkers.
There was widespread despair. Fearing collapse of the farm, workers began to
strip buildings of wood and cannibalize tractor parts.
Gavrilova returned one day from a seminar in Nizhny Novgorod and decided on
no-nonsense measures. Drunks would be laid off immediately, and could only
return when sober. Chronic alcoholics were fired. She made women the top
bosses at the dairy and in the fields, as well as in the bookkeeping
department. Only the garage was left in male hands.
On a recent Tuesday morning, it was evident that Gavrilova's tough measures
had not wiped out drunkenness. A pair of middle-aged men staggered down the
street, already soused. Another drunken former farmhand draped himself across
the counter of the farm's lone grocery store. He seemed to want a sausage.
"I'm not saying we get men to stop drinking, but they have to get themselves
sober enough to work," Gavrilova said.
Workers appear to regard their boss with a mixture of fear and respect.
Viktor Lebedev, who was milking cows among seven women in a dank, smelly
barn, recalled that he was fired once during a drunken stupor when he failed
to deliver a calf alive. "I had been drinking. Gavrilova laid me off for two
weeks. I begged to come back. I watch myself now," he said.
Anatoly Morozov, a mechanic who looks older than his 50 years in a dingy
fedora and tattered athletic jacket, admitted to drinking at home now and
then, but not at work. He, too, had been laid off. "Gavrilova has a strong
character. She wouldn't permit it. She's really trying to keep this place
running. I respect her for that. If I lose this job, I have no place to go,"
"Women rule men at home," he continued with a laugh. "I have no trouble
letting them rule at work."
The survival of Hope Farm is not ensured, Gavrilova said. The average age of
workers is 40. Along the dirt lanes around wooden farmhouses, mostly old
women and small children are visible. Young men have fled to town for work.
Wheat prices are low, and the cost of heating fuel for the barns during
Russia's long winter eats up profits. Credits are scarce--"No one is giving
them now, or if they do, interest rates are high," Gavrilova said.
She trades milk for diesel fuel, pigs for spare parts. She's thinking of
building country houses for people who want to get away from the city. She
also dreams of an easier life. "It's not that Russian women don't want to be
cared for. We do. That's our dream. But we don't have time to dream," she
The Russia Journal
June 12-18, 2000
Season of discontent: Thinking the unthinkable
By ANDREI PIONTKOVSKY
Columnist Andrei Piontkovski looks at the lack of comparative analysis of
functional capacities between the Russian and Chinese armed forces.
Russian analytical literature has developed the tradition of a certain
specific political correctness, namely, avoiding any comparative analysis
of the functional capacities of the Russian and Chinese armed forces.
At the same time, weíve spent the last decade, along with our U.S. and
Western European colleagues, examining every possible and often purely
speculative scenario for potential conflict between Russia and the United
States and Russia and NATO. This kind of professionally abstract analysis
is a necessary part of developing a system promoting stability and has
nothing to do with stirring up hostility between countries.
In this context, if we look at Russia and China as countries A and B and
study their functional military capacities, this seems at first glance to
be the classic situation set out in the new Russian military doctrine in
which Bís superior conventional forces could be deterred by Aís threat to
launch a first nuclear strike.
Even if just for demographic reasons, the fact that China would have
conventional superiority in a potential conflict in the Far East is not
subject to doubt. At the same time, Russia's nuclear arsenal is far
superior to that of China in terms of both quantity and quality and will
stay that way in the foreseeable future.
But this formal analysis does not take into account the parameter of
unacceptable damage ≠ important in military strategy, especially in nuclear
strategy. This parameter is difficult to formulate as it is derived not
from the characteristics of this or that weapon, but from the type of
society and civilization being dealt with and the value this or that
culture places on a human life.
Nuclear strategy is to a great extent psychology, and the advantage then is
not necessarily on the side that has the superior nuclear arsenal, but on
the side whose culture more readily accepts large-scale human losses.
If we look at a potential Russian-Chinese conflict in this light, the
illusion that the threat to use tactical nuclear weapons first would
dissuade the opponentís superior conventional forces quickly fades.
The Chinese sideís greater willingness to accept casualties would allow it
to raise the stakes in this game of nuclear poker and counter the threat to
use tactical nuclear weapons with its own threat to launch missile strikes
on Far East cities.
Itís important to see clearly that if, for whatever reason, China became
our military opponent, it would be a superior opponent at all levels of an
escalating conflict, both conventional and nuclear. The only exception
would be the last phase ≠ total nuclear war ≠ and there, a draw would be
But we shouldnít forget that China, albeit slowly, is beginning to follow
the same direction as the rest of the civilized world. Thus, the best
long-term security guarantee for Russia is for China to gradually adopt the
"decadent bourgeois" political and ideological values so decried by our
propaganda ≠ both Communist and strong-statist-Eurasian. And above all, the
most fundamental of these values ≠ the value of an individual human life.
Over the next 15-20 years, China will be concentrating on its geopolitical
problems to the south. Letís hope that over this period, the changes in
Chinese society will be precisely the ones that meet Russiaís security
(Andrei Piontkovsky is director of the Center of Strategic Research in
Caucasus: Analysis -- Seeking Security For The South
By Harry Tamrazian
With the Karabakh and Abkhaz disputes still unsettled, and the war in
Chechnya on the doorstep, many voices are calling for a regional security
arrangement for the South Caucasus. RFE/RL's Harry Tamrazian looks at the
Prague, 9 June 2000 (RFE/RL) -- The call for permanent peace in the South
Caucasus has never been so urgent and loud as it is now. Six years have
passed since formal cease-fire agreements ended the conflicts in
Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia, but in neither case has the cease-fire been
underpinned by a political settlement. And no such settlement appears
The issue of a security system for the South Caucasus was first raised by the
presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan last November at a summit of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In an unprecedented
move, Robert Kocharian and Heidar Aliev called on the 54 members of that
organization to create such a system for the volatile South Caucasus region.
At the time, however, the international community, concerned that the war in
Chechnya might spill over into Georgia or Azerbaijan, reacted coolly to the
proposal for a wider-ranging regional security system.
But the idea did not die altogether. Turkey was the first to react
positively, with Ankara indicating that the South Caucasus would become the
second item on its foreign-policy priority list after the EU, replacing
Cyprus and Turkish-Greek relations. And before leaving office, Turkish
President Suleyman Demirel traveled to Tbilisi in January to launch his last
foreign-policy initiative in the form of a "Caucasus Stability Pact."
Notwithstanding Turkey's concern that the war in Chechnya could spill over
into Georgia and create an influx of refugees into Turkey, the main goal of
Demirel's stability pact was to create a stable political landscape for the
"energy corridor" that Ankara hopes will bring the oil riches of the Caspian
region to its Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
Demirel wanted to enlist the U.S. and the EU as official participants and
sponsors of his Caucasus Stability Pact. According to Demirel's plan,
international financial organizations such as the IMF and World Bank would
also take part in the project, providing funding to secure the economic
recovery of the region.
The only country conspicuous by its absence from Demirel's blueprint was
Iran, while Russia was accorded a secondary role. Iran was likewise not
included in Aliev's draft proposal.
While Moscow officially welcomed Demirel's proposal, at the same time senior
Russian officials made clear Russia's discomfort at the prospect of U.S.
direct involvement in the Caucasus. Russian Defense Ministry official Leonid
Ivashov said that the U.S. and NATO should not be allowed to participate in
the creation of a security system in the Caucasus. In Ivashov's words: "The
involvement of Americans in the South Caucasus would not improve the security
of this region. The realization of U.S. plans in the post-Soviet republics is
very dangerous, and may explode the situation."
Then in late March, Armenian President Robert Kocharian unveiled a more
detailed blueprint based on the so-called 3+3+2 formula, meaning the pact
would constitute an agreement between the Caucasian three -- Armenia,
Azerbaijan, and Georgia -- with three neighbors -- Russia, Iran, and Turkey
-- as guarantors and two outsiders -- the U.S. and the EU -- as sponsors.
Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili expressed approval of that
formula, saying Tbilisi "supports all initiatives aimed at stabilizing the
situation in the Caucasus." But Azerbaijan has meanwhile distanced itself
from the concept of a regional security system, arguing that the idea is not
workable until the Karabakh conflict is resolved.
The most recent and most comprehensive proposal, called "A Stability Pact for
the Caucasus," was drafted by the Brussels-based Center for European Policy
Studies, or CEPS. This is the institution that played an important role in
shaping the EU's Balkan Stability Pact and has drafted a solution for
settling the Cyprus problem.
After extensive research, CEPS came to the conclusion that many problems in
the region could be solved by creating a "South Caucasus Community," modeled
either on the EU or another comparable regional grouping such as ASEAN. The
CEPS Task Force for the Caucasus, headed by Michael Emerson of London School
of Economics, called on the EU and the U.S. to work closely with Russia in
creating and supporting that South Caucasus Community, which would have its
own parliament (a Parliamentary Assembly with 170 deputies) and its own
executive (a Council of Ministers).
CEPS advocates resolving the Karabakh and Abkhaz conflicts by granting those
territories a high degree of self-government, separate constitutions,
horizontal and asymmetric relations with the state and regional authorities.
It says the two regions should be allowed to preserve their own cultural
identities, and should be given shared competence in security issues,
external affairs, and economic policy.
The CEPS Caucasus group is currently engaged in acquainting the international
community and international organizations with the details of its proposed
South Caucasus plan. It has already made a presentation to NATO, and plans to
submit its proposals to an international conference on Central Asia and the
Caucasus in Tehran on Sunday and to the OSCE in Vienna on Wednesday.
June 10, 2000
Press Ministry Demands Licensing for Print Media
By Andrei Zolotov Jr.
The Press Ministry has reversed itself and declared that all newspapers and
magazines in the country must now be licensed, giving itself another tool to
control the press.
"If one strictly follows the letter of the law, we could have shut you all
down a long time ago," Press Minister Mikhail Lesin was quoted as saying in
an interview published in Thursday's edition of the weekly Obshchaya Gazeta.
A 1998 law on licensing states that publishing activity is subject to
licensing, but up until now the Press Ministry had decided not to issue
licenses a nd to rely on an earlier law on mass media that required print
media organizations to be registered. Now, Lesin said, a newspaper or
magazine has to have both registration and a license.
It remains unclear whether publications registered by the Press Ministry will
automatically receive licenses or whether they will have to meet certain
Lesin said print media organizations will be notified of the licensing
procedures in two or three months and then given a deadline, from six months
to a year, for getting a license. Press Ministry spokesman Yury Akinshin
confirmed Lesin's reported statement.
"It [the licensing requirement] is a very serious police club," said Andrei
Richter, director of the Center for Law and Media at Moscow State University.
"Simply no one paid attention to it before. Now they want to use it."
Although a court decision is required to take away a license, the law gives
the Press Ministry the power to suspend a license for up to six months for a
violation of any law, Richter said in an interview Friday. Publishing without
a license can be considered a criminal offense, he said.
The government has made a practice of taking advantage of legal ambiguities,
which allow it to turn almost anyone into a criminal by changing its own
interpretation of the law, often retroactively. Businesses and individuals
thus become dependent on the government's favorable attitude toward them to
continue activities they had considered fully legal.
Anna Gurskaya, a lawyer with The Moscow Times' parent company, Independent
Media, said in an interview this week that the company has tried to apply
several times for a license but was told by the Press Ministry that it did
not need one.
In a letter dated Dec. 1 and signed by the deputy head of the ministry's
department of licensing and registration, registration was "necessary and
sufficient" to publish a newspaper or magazine.
Lesin, however, blamed the media for their failure to get licenses. "Until
now, the print media did not observe this law," he was quoted as saying. "But
we don't want to take tough measures against violators, while the majority of
print media are today among the violators. Moreover, I guarantee that no
tough measures will now be taken by the government."
Lesin said he does not enjoy the role of "policeman," but has to make up for
eight years of the government's lack of a "media policy."
Putin to propose six-way Korea talks during N. Korea trip
Kyodo News Service
MOSCOW, June 10 (Kyodo) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely
propose six-way talks be held to discuss the issue of peace on the Korean
Peninsula, when he visits Pyongyang in July, a Russian government source said
The six-way talks would include Japan and Russia, in addition to members of
the current four-way talks involving North and South Korea, and the United
States and China. They would also run parallel to the current talks.
The source said Putin may also suggest a separate multinational conference on
the Korean Peninsula be held.
Russia has been pushing for the six-way talks so that it can have a voice in
the discussion over security and peace on the peninsula.
The source said North Korea ''has softened its attitude recently,''
suggesting Putin will reiterate his position in the hope that Pyongyang might
be more open to the proposals than before.
However, the source said North Korea has hinted that it would accept holding
the six-way talks only if one of the issues to be discussed is the possible
withdrawal of the U.S. military from South Korea -- something the U.S. would
The four-way talks, first suggested by Washington and Seoul in 1996 and
launched in 1997, aim to reduce tension and replace the armistice that ended
the 1950-1953 Korean War with a permanent peace treaty.
The Kremlin and North Korea announced Friday that Putin plans to pay a visit
to North Korea at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, but gave
no further details.
The Itar-Tass news agency, quoting diplomatic sources in a dispatch from
Beijing, said the Russian leader is likely to stay in Pyongyang for a few
hours July 19.
Putin would be the first leader of either Russia or the former Soviet Union
to visit North Korea.
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