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Johnson's Russia List
15 June 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Jailed Russian media boss sees political plot.
2. Moscow Times: Simon Saradzhyan and Garfield Reynolds,
21 Months of Purgatory May Await Gusinsky.
3. Washington Post editorial: Mr. Putin Shows His KGB Face.
4. New York Times editorial: A Chilling Prosecution in Moscow.
5. Financial Times (UK) editorial:Putin's pressure.
6. Reuters: Gusinsky deputy sees anti-Semitism in arrest.
7. Washington Post letter: Paul Saunders, Free Press in Russia.
8. BBC MONITORING: RUSSIAN UNIFIED ENERGY SYSTEM CRITICIZES
AUTHORITIES FOR ARRESTING TYCOON. (Chubais)
9. BBC MONITORING: TALBOTT WARNS RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT AGAINST MEDIA
10. The Guardian (UK): Hugo Youndg THE SECRETS ARE UNVEILED OF
AMERICA'S NUCLEAR MADNESS. LEAKS REVEAL A MILITARY MACHINE THAT
ROLLS ON, COSTING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
11. Newsday: Michael Slackman, Russia Church's Rift With Pope.
12. Trud: Vitaly Golovachev, ORDER AT ANY PRICE? Most citizens
support the President's proposals n strengthening the vertical
13. Rossiiskaya Gazeta: STATE POWER WON'T BE "PRIVATIZED,"
VLADIMIR PUTIN SAYS. Iinterview with Germany's Welt Am Sonntag)]
Jailed Russian media boss sees political plot
By Patrick Lannin
MOSCOW, June 15 (Reuters) - Russian media boss Vladimir Gusinsky lashed out
at the authorities on Thursday, saying his detention in a crumbling Moscow
jail was a plot to silence him and restore a totalitarian state.
The jailing of Gusinsky, whose media outlets have often been critical of the
Kremlin, has caused an outcry encompassing his business rivals and figures
across the political spectrum. It has also tainted President Vladimir Putin's
Putin, who began talks in Germany with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on
Thursday, had said the previous day that he saw no political motive in the
Prosecutors, in turn, slammed the media for trying to politicise the case and
exercise pressure on them.
Gusinsky was put into a cell on Tuesday on suspicion of embezzlement.
Prosecutors had 10 days to press formal charges but Gusinsky's lawyers were
fighting to free him earlier.
In a statement read by his lawyer, Genri Reznik, outside the 18th century
Butyrskaya jail, Gusinsky, who owns the only major independent television
station, NTV, said no one had explained to him the charges he would face.
``This is a political intrigue organised by senior representatives of the
state for whom the freedom of speech is a danger,'' said the statement,
handwritten on two sheets of paper.
``It is an obstacle to their attempt to build their understanding of a new
Russia, which is in fact a return to the totalitarian past, with Gulags and a
dictatorship of the law,'' the statement said.
``Dictatorship of the law'' is a favourite phrase of Putin, who has said he
means everyone should obey the law, not that he favours an authoritarian
But few of the wide range of politicians and businessmen who have protested
against the jailing seemed to accept it was for legal grounds alone, linking
it directly to the work of Gusinsky's media and criticism of the Kremlin.
PROSECUTORS HIT BACK
Interfax news agency quoted a statement by the Prosecutor-General's office,
which criticised the media for giving the case an unwarranted political
character which had also spilled over into the international arena.
``The current information pressure has gone beyond all permitted bounds,''
the statement said.
In Washington President Bill Clinton said on Wednesday the United States
should take a firm stance on press freedom.
Asked about Gusinsky, he said: ``I don't know what the facts are, I don't
think we necessarily know all the facts. But I don't believe people should be
arrested solely because of what they say in exercising their role as members
of the press.''
Putin was forced to fend off questions about the case in Spain on Tuesday and
Wednesday, and the affair was expected also to feature during Putin's visit
In initial remarks, Putin and Schroeder said only that their meeting had got
off to a good start.
``We agree that we want a really substantive new start in our relations,''
Schroeder told a news conference in Berlin.
Putin, who spent five years based in Communist East Germany as a KGB spy,
said Germany was Russia's most important economic partner in Europe. Germany
is Russia's largest creditor, and Putin's visit was expected to focus mainly
LAWYERS WORK ON RELEASE
Reznik said lawyers were working in two ways to secure Gusinsky's release.
He said they had already made an appeal to a Moscow court to free the
businessman on grounds that his detention had no legal foundation and were
also considering whether Gusinsky could win an amnesty offered to holders of
He said Gusinsky had the right, as a holder of an award called ``Friendship
of Nations'' to benefit from the amnesty.
He said the court would hold a hearing on releasing Gusinsky on June 20.
Reznik also criticised Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov and said he should
be sacked for failing to realise that Gusinsky fell under the amnesty offer.
June 15, 2000
21 Months of Purgatory May Await Gusinsky
By Simon Saradzhyan and Garfield Reynolds
If Media-MOST owner Vladimir Gusinsky is charged over the next eight days as
prosecutors have pledged, he could be sitting in his Butyrskaya Prison cell
for two years or more before his case makes it to court.
Dmitry Rozhdestvensky f general director of the Russkoye Video company at the
heart of the case against Gusinsky f has been sitting in a Lefortovo Prison
cell for some 21 months, charged with misappropriating state funds and tax
His case may be heard in court in December, said his lawyer, Sergei
Afanasiyev, at a news conference in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, Itar-Tass
The Prosecutor General's Office said Wednesday that charges will be brought
against Gusinsky before the 10-day limit on holding him without charge
Afanasiyev called the arrests of Rozhdestvensky and Gusinsky "twins."
He added that if Gusinsky is charged, then he expects his client to be a
co-defendant in the case.
Rozhdestvensky is suspected of helping Media-MOST acquire Russkoye Video in
exchange for a $1 million kickback, according to Kommersant. Media-MOST is
believed to have paid only $5,000 to acquire more than 70 percent of Russkoye
Video's shares, the newspaper, which is owned by tycoon Boris Berezovsky,
reported last month.
Since his arrest in St. Petersburg in September 1998, lawyers for the
Russkoye Video director have vainly appealed on five separate occasions for
his release on health grounds.
Indeed, his ailing health has helped keep his case away from the courts.
Prosecutors said earlier this year that Rozhdestvensky "had failed to read
all the investigative materials because he could not walk as far as their
offices to read them," Afanasiyev said in February just before the fifth
"There are 41 volumes of documents on this case, which court officials and
Rozhdestvensky have to read before a trial," he added.
The Russkoye Video case resurfaced after the May 11 raid on Media-MOST.
Investigators seized what they said was bugging equipment used by the
holding's security service to eavesdrop on prominent politicians and
A chief investigator at the Prosecutor General's Office, Vasily Kolmogorov,
later said the raid had been ordered to check whether Media-MOST's security
service had anything to do with the evidence of alleged eavesdropping found
at Russkoye Video.
St. Petersburg investigators raided Russkoye Video in 1998. They said then
that they had found evidence that Media-MOST's security service had been
tapping conversations with officials in the city's administration and law
enforcement agencies, Kommersant reported.
Media-MOST spokesman Dmitry Ostalsky said neither Gusinsky nor Media-MOST had
played any part in the privatization of Russkoye Video.
"Russkoye Video had been privatized long before it became Media-MOST's
partner," Ostalsky said. "These accusations are evidently made-up."
Rozhdestvensky's arrest came as the result of an investigation into Russkoye
Video carried out by the Federal Audit Chamber.
The Audit Chamber f a watchdog body set up by the State Duma f concluded
there were grounds to believe Rozhdestvensky had in 1997 embezzled some 10.5
billion rubles (then worth about $1.75 million).
As well as charging him over those allegations, the Prosecutor General's
Office alleged in 1998 that Rozhdestvensky had used Russkoye Video's accounts
to transfer money to finance then-Mayor Anatoly Sobchak's re-election
campaign in 1996 f a campaign managed by then-deputy mayor Vladimir Putin.
Within a month, the charges arising from the Audit Chamber investigation were
dropped f as were those connected to Sobchak's campaign finances. Three
charges against him remain:
- that he embezzled some 142,500 Finnish marks ($28,000) funneled to him
through the accounts of a Lappeenranta advertising business;
- that he stole chairs and green tiles from Russkoye Video's state-owned
vacation home in the village of Siverskaya outside of St. Petersburg;
- that he used state resources to purchase a Lada automobile for the director
of Channel 11, a Russkoye Video sister company.
In an interview given not long before his arrest in 1998, Rozhdestvensky said
the investigation into Russkoye Video was an attempt by the city government
to silence his station as one of the few critical voices left among St.
Petersburg's media outlets.
June 15, 2000
Mr. Putin Shows His KGB Face
THE MOST recent defining act of Russia's new president, Vladimir Putin, is
more Soviet than democratic. In an apparent effort to intimidate the press,
Mr. Putin has engaged in police-state tactics so crude that even his severest
critics seem stunned. For those who wonder whether Mr. Putin's Russia will
move toward joining civilized Europe, and whether it will nurture the legal
protections that could attract investment and encourage prosperity, the
latest news is ominous.
On Tuesday Mr. Putin's prosecutors summoned Russia's leading media tycoon,
ostensibly simply to answer some questions about an ongoing case. When
Vladimir Gusinsky appeared, without lawyers, the government threw him into
the Moscow hellhole known as Butyrka Prison. He remains there, though he has
not yet been formally charged with any crime.
The case has significance beyond the rights of any one person. Mr. Gusinsky
heads a media company that owns the only Russian television network not under
Kremlin control. The company also owns a radio station and publishes a daily
newspaper and a weekly magazine (the last in partnership with Newsweek, which
is owned by The Washington Post Co.). All of these properties have challenged
official orthodoxy by reporting on official corruption and on Mr. Putin's
savage war in Chechnya. The arrest will be seen, and no doubt was intended,
as an attempt to silence President Putin's critics. "There is a pattern here,
and we have seen it for some time," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe
Talbott told The Post yesterday. "It has a look and feel to it that does not
resonate rule of law. It resonates muscle; it resonates power; it resonates
Some Russian officials have presented the arrest as a normal, even
commendable, sign of Mr. Putin's determination to fight corruption and
establish a "rule of law." Mr. Gusinsky is one of a band of Russian
businessmen who became wealthy after the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991
in part by exploiting close ties to those in power. Whether a plausible case
can be made against Mr. Gusinsky or any of the other oligarchs is something
we cannot judge. But that Mr. Putin's government should choose as its first
target the only businessman who has dared challenge Mr. Putin (and by far not
the wealthiest of the oligarchs) shows that this affair is not about the rule
Mr. Putin's KGB background is widely known, but when he ascended to power,
many analysts expected him to wield power with some subtlety. The audacity of
the government's assault is almost as stunning as the assault itself. The
arrest is a slap at President Clinton, who recently in Moscow urged Mr. Putin
to respect freedom of the press and who chose to speak on Mr. Gusinsky's
radio station. With how much spine will Mr. Clinton and other Western leaders
who have been even more eager to embrace Mr. Putin, such as Britain's Tony
Blair, now respond? Many Russians will be watching.
New York Times
June 15, 2000
A Chilling Prosecution in Moscow
hile President Vladimir Putin is traveling through Europe this week extolling
the virtues of Russian democracy, his colleagues in the Kremlin have been
acting like Stalinists. The arrest and detention of Vladimir Gusinsky, the
owner of media properties that have carried critical coverage of the
government, is an assault against the principle of a free press. Whatever the
merits of the alleged embezzlement case against Mr. Gusinsky, there was no
need to haul him off to prison, an action that cannot help but stir fear in a
nation all too familiar with the arbitrary exercise of state power.
If the rule of law prevailed in Russia, and Mr. Gusinsky could count on a
presumption of innocence, quick release on bail and a fair trial, his arrest
might seem less ominous. But Russia lacks a fully independent judicial
system, and the government still uses criminal prosecution as a political
weapon. He is charged with embezzling at least $10 million in federal
property, apparently involving his purchase of a state-owned television
station in St. Petersburg. He says the accusations are false.
There is a stench of political retaliation about this case. Mr. Gusinsky's
company, Media-Most, owns numerous newspapers and magazines as well as
Russia's only independent television network. Their coverage of the war in
Chechnya has been aggressive and skeptical, and they have not been hesitant
to investigate government corruption and other misconduct. Last month heavily
armed federal agents raided the Media-Most office in Moscow, the first signal
that the Kremlin might be trying to intimidate Mr. Gusinsky.
Mr. Putin seemed surprised by the arrest, calling it "a dubious present" when
he arrived in Madrid on Tuesday. That offers little comfort to anyone
concerned about Russia's fragile freedoms. If the arrest was meant to
embarrass Mr. Putin while he is visiting Western Europe, it is disturbing
evidence of palace intrigue and political instability in the Kremlin. If Mr.
Putin received advance notification about the arrest and failed to order the
use of less draconian tactics, he has done a disservice to the press freedoms
he says he supports.
Financial Times (UK)
June 15, 2000
A move by Vladimir Putin, Russia's new president, to clip the wings of his
country's formidable business barons was widely anticipated. If he is going
to reassert the power of the state over the financial oligarchs who usurped
much of its authority during the Kremlin rule of Boris Yeltsin, that is
necessary. But the decision to arrest Vladimir Gusinsky, the media tycoon,
raises a number of questions.
He is neither one of the most powerful nor one of the most notorious of that
group. His real claim to fame is that his Media-Most group owns the
television station NTV and Sevodnya newspaper among others - outspoken
critics of Mr Putin's government. In particular, they have questioned the
conduct of the war in Chechnya. They have undoubtedly reflected the
inclinations of their owner but they have also been healthily outspoken. In
so doing, they have been helping ensure that the press acts as a critic of
government - an essential element in Russia's slow progress towards
Mr Gusinsky now appears to be paying the price. Although his arrest is
ostensibly on suspicion of fraud and the illegal acquisition of state
property worth Dollars 10m, the action follows a particularly heavy-handed
raid by security police, armed to the teeth and wearing balaclava helmets, on
his headquarters - all suggesting a deliberate campaign of intimidation.
Other actions by Mr Putin's administration indicate a similarly harsh
attitude to any sign of media opposition. The TV station controlled by Yuri
Luzhkov, Moscow's mayor, is having to fight in the courts to renew its
licence. The registration system for new publications has been greatly
The president does not appear to be a believer in glasnost, the openness
introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev into the Russian media. More than any other
reform, that probably guaranteed the end of Communist rule and the Soviet
Union. By allowing exposure of the iniquities, incompetence and corruption of
the previous regime, glasnost ensured there was no going back. By definition,
however, glasnost was inimical to the old KGB security service - Mr Putin's
secretive former employer.
President Bill Clinton has already expressed his concern about signs of
restrictions on press freedom in Russia. When Gerhard Schroder, the German
chancellor, meets Mr Putin today, he should do the same, in strong terms. The
Russian president has said he knew nothing of Mr Gusinsky's arrest. He should
have done, particularly in view of the widespread protests that followed. An
unfettered press is an essential part of a market economy. He has a lot to
Gusinsky deputy sees anti-Semitism in arrest
By Adam Tanner
BERLIN, June 15 (Reuters) - The deputy head of the Russian media concern
Media-Most said on Thursday the arrest of its head, Vladimir Gusinsky,
smacked of anti-Semitism and would harm the business climate in Russia.
``In Russia, the first political prisoner has appeared and his name is
Vladimir Gusinsky,'' Igor Malashenko told reporters in Berlin, where Russian
President Vladimir Putin was on an official visit to Germany.
``It's an attempt by the Kremlin to bring NTV's media holdings -- NTV
television, Ekho Moskvy radio and Itogi magazine -- under control.''
Gusinsky's arrest on Tuesday on fraud charges has clouded Putin's European
tour, aimed at drumming up investment and warming ties with Russia's main
Malashenko had flown to Madrid hot on Putin's heels to meet media there after
news of the arrest and followed him to Berlin.
At a hotel down the street from where Putin was meeting German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder, he said the arrest was part of a Kremlin effort to impose
an authoritarian regime on Russia and that anti-Semitism had also played a
role. Gusinsky is also the head of Russia's Jewish Congress.
``Even many in the Russian elite believe in a Jewish cabal in some form or
another,'' he said. ``Shortly before Gusinsky's arrest, pressure was put on
Russia's chief rabbi (Adolf) Shayevich, seeking his resignation.
``It's clear that the Kremlin is now trying to divide the Jewish community.''
Putin, a former Soviet KGB spy who had never run for public office before the
March presidential election, did not discuss Gusinsky in brief public
comments on Thursday. On Wednesday he said he had not been told beforehand
about the arrest.
``It is not important whether he knew or not, as he carries the political
responsibility for the action,'' Malashenko said. ``He has said he wanted a
dictatorship of law, but it now looks like a dictatorship without law.''
``Not one of the charges is justified.''
The timing of the row is awkward for Putin, who is anxious to make a positive
impression on his first trips abroad.
In Berlin the job is especially delicate because as recently as 1990 Putin,
as a KGB agent in Communist East Germany, was responsible for setting up spy
rings against West Germany.
Malashenko said moves against the free press could only curtail Western
``We're not only talking about the future of the media in Russia but also
about the future development of business,'' he said. ``Investment is at risk
in any country where the media are under threat.''
``It has brought a major political defeat for both Putin and Russia in world
opinion. This was a major blunder.''
Some of Russia's top businessmen wrote a joint letter to the chief prosecutor
on Wednesday demanding Gusinsky's release and warning the case could destroy
business confidence in Russia.
But Malashenko said it was likely some Western investors would probably do
business with Russia no matter how stark conditions became, and cited the
case of late oil magnate Armand Hammer, who traded with Soviet governments
dating back to Lenin.
June 15, 2000
Free Press in Russia
Igor Malashenko, first deputy chairman of the Russian firm Media-Most, is
correct to express concern about new limits on freedom of the press in Russia
and to call for an American response ["Speak Out for a Free Press, Mr.
Clinton," op-ed, June 1].
Yet, Mr. Malashenko's argument is a little disingenuous. His statement that
President Putin and top aides "have experience in the Soviet KGB or Russian
FSB," while true, ignores the fact that his own firm's security service is
headed by a former KGB general drawn from the senior levels of the Soviet
Union's political police and includes other senior former KGB officers.
Mr. Malashenko's personal commitment to a free press in Russia is also
somewhat selective. During Russia's 1996 presidential campaign, he was more
than willing to allow the NTV television network--which he directed while
simultaneously holding a post with the Yeltsin campaign--to undermine the
Russian president's opponents, including leaders of Russia's democratic
opposition. Media-Most's ruthlessness in pursuing business rivals and
unfriendly politicians through its media holdings has been second to none.
Freedom of the press is essential both to Russia's development and to its
relations with the United States. Moreover, the recent detention of Mr.
Malashenko's boss, Vladimir Gusinsky, Tuesday on fraud charges is at best a
selective application of justice. The Clinton administration and Congress
should express strong concern over recent pressures on Russia's media and
other disturbing developments in Russia, but they should do so with a full
understanding of the true nature of the country's competing political and
financial clans. We must not allow the Russians to involve America in their
The Nixon Center
RUSSIAN UNIFIED ENERGY SYSTEM CRITICIZES AUTHORITIES FOR ARRESTING TYCOON
Moscow, 14th June: The arrest of Vladimir Gusinskiy, the chief of the
Media-Most holding company, has undermined trust in Russia's authorities both
inside and outside the country, Unified Energy System of Russia's CEO
Anatoliy Chubays said at a news conference at the Interfax main office on
Wednesday [14th June]. The decision to arrest Gusinskiy was "absolutely
inadequate", he said.
Speaking of an open letter he and other leading Russian businessmen have sent
to the prosecutor-general, Chubays said: "We do not question the right of the
authorities and law- enforcement agencies to use their powers within the
law." Furthermore, "nobody can curb this right", he said. What worries the
signatories of the letter and makes them unhappy is that Gusinskiy was sent
to prison rather than told to stay in town, Chubays said.
The economic consequences of the arrest are negative, Chubays said. The
prices of nearly all Russian shares fell by several percent on Wednesday and
the capitalization of the Russian stock market slipped by tens of millions of
dollars, he said. "This is the immediate price of a flagrant political
mistake," Chubays said.
Chubays said that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not hint at any such
action in the course of their Tuesday meeting.
"I can assume that such decisions are made at a low level by overzealous
underlings of big wheels," Chubays said. Whoever made this decision might
sincerely expect the approval of his boss, he said.
Decisions that are bound to entail political consequences must be made at the
top level rather than by the Prosecutor General's Office, Chubays said.
TALBOTT WARNS RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT AGAINST MEDIA CRACKDOWN
Source: NTV, Moscow, in Russian 15 Jun 00
A senior US diplomat has gone on the TV channel owned by arrested Russian
media tycoon Vladimir Gusinskiy to warn Moscow against media censorship.
First Assistant Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said in an interview for
NTV in Washington that the arrest of Gusinskiy, who heads the Media-Most
group, could have an "exceptional impact on the image of Russia in the
"The US administration does not see the arrest of Vladimir Gusinskiy in a
vacuum, isolated from other events," he said.
"There is a pattern which includes the raid [in May] on the Media-Most
headquarters. And there has been an expression of concern by quite well-known
Russian political figures who say that there are political motives behind
such actions and who ask precisely what are those motives: is this not an
attempt to apply pressure to the free press?"
Talbott quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin as having told US President
Bill Clinton that Russia had "no future if it applies pressure on a civic
society and the free press".
"Now we are seeing a tension between events and words," Talbott said.
"We hope that this tension will subside so that events confirm the words we
But "if the current pattern in Russia continues and if Russian citizens
themselves come to the conclusion that press freedom is under threat, then
this may have an exceptional impact on the image of Russia in the world".
The Guardian (UK)
June 15, 2000
[for personal use only]
THE SECRETS ARE UNVEILED OF AMERICA'S NUCLEAR MADNESS: HUGO YOUNG
LEAKS REVEAL A MILITARY MACHINE THAT ROLLS ON, COSTING BILLIONS OF
The world is supposed to be safer than it was. No big enemy, only one
super-power, the capitalist conversion of Russia, the absorption of China
into world trade, an overarching nuclear detente. Bestriding the globe
unchallenged, the United States can surely be trusted with its peace. It
should be so. Many people perhaps think it is so. But two glimpses of reality
show us it isn't so. These exposures seem important to register.
The first snapshot comes from the old world. The nuclear threat, it turns
out, has not changed. You might think that, with the end of the cold war, the
US would have reduced its nuclear plans. Instead it has expanded them. The
American war plan, according to a stunning new revelation, shows not fewer
but more targets on which US nuclear missiles are trained. The 2,500 in 1995
have grown, incredibly, to 3,000 now. Of these, 2,260 are in Russia: only
1,100 of them nuclear arms sites, the rest 'conventional' sites - 500 bases
of the disintegrating Russian army, 500 arms factories that mostly did not
produce arms in the last year, and 160 'leadership targets', another word for
the offices and command posts of Vladimir Putin and his government.
We know this thanks to insiders breaking cover, principally Bruce G Blair,
for 25 years a specialist in strategic operations, who was once a missile
launch officer in Strategic Air Command. He published classified details from
the war plan in the New York Times this week, following a Senate speech,
drawing on his research, by Senator Robert Kerrey in the week Clinton met
Putin: a meeting designed among other things to persuade Putin to modify the
1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty and pave the way for the latest American
venture into global instability, a national missile defence system.
Kerrey imagined the conversation. 'These are the guys to whom we talk,' he
noted incredulously. 'We have a meeting with them. 'President Putin, would
you agree to modify ABM? And, oh by the way, we have 160 nuclear weapons of
100 kilotons or more targeted on you and the rest of the Russian leadership.'
' As Mr Blair also laid out for the first time in public detail, the
targeting has proliferated to take in China, Iran, Iraq and North Korea. All
are now in the sights of hundreds of warheads.
Each land-based missile, moreover, is on trigger-alert, designed to be
launched in two minutes. In the years he's studied the subject, Mr Blair has
been preoccupied with the danger of an accidental war, resulting from a hair-
trigger launch in response to mistaken signals from the other side. Though
the numbers of warheads have been reduced by treaty, further cuts are being
resisted by the Senate, and the expanded range of targeting, in defiance of
all political reality, sustains the gravity of the risk, as well as a level
of mistrust totally at odds with Washington's entreaties to Moscow for a new
As Mr Blair remarks, no thoughtful general or politi cian accepts the
analysis that lies behind the focus on Russian nuclear deterrence. 'They do
not believe that a cold-blooded, deliberate nuclear strike by either Russia
or the US is remotely plausible.' But the targets are unrevised, a principal
reason being the determination of navy and air force to maintain 'the vaunted
triad' - land missiles, and nuke- bearing submarines and bombers - to
maximise their service clout. Though both Clinton and George W Bush have
spoken for fewer nuclear warheads, the war plan, based on a 1997 presidential
directive, still invokes so many targets that further reductions, as long as
it obtains, are impossible. Old concepts rule the new world, irrespective of
A second glimpse, of similar discomfort, looks to the future. Another expert
comes forward from the inside to challenge the politicians. Theodore A
Postol, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, worked on
anti-missile defence in the Reagan administration. He knows his stuff, and
surely bears no taint of the liberal elite. He has examined the infamous
Dollars 60bn national missile defence (NMD) proposition, and delivered one of
the most excoriating judgments of a defence programme ever to come from such
The technical feasibility of NMD is being subjected to a series of tests. The
next, maybe politically decisive one is due next month. Dr Postol denounces
the previous tests, in a word, as fraudulent, and the coming test as designed
not to fail. The crucial challenge for NMD is to identify incoming missiles -
the basic hypothesis is that they will come from North Korea, or China, or at
some later stage the Middle East - as against the decoys likely to accompany
them. That's what the Pentagon has been testing. If NMD cannot do that, it
will be a waste of money, as well as a heavy threat to America's relations
both with its allies in Europe and its increasingly defiant counterpart in
But Dr Postol got hold of data that showed the tests being rigged. To make
the antimissile weapon succeed, the decoys were made fewer in number and
simpler to recognise. Dr Postol proved this from the Pentagon's own
documents. An organised test can in any case only imperfectly replicate the
real-life hazard of an attack without warning from one of the 'rogue' states
against which these perilous defences are being constructed. But, so great is
the pressure to build NMD, the testing had to be slanted still further in
favour of the right outcome, without, of course, this ever being revealed,
possibly even to the president.
Officials, Dr Postol told the New York Times, were 'systematically lying
about the performance of a weapon system that is supposed to defend the
people of the US from nuclear attack . . . They've been caught in one
outright lie after another.' In a letter to the White House, he likened the
procedures to 'rolling a pair of dice and throwing away all outcomes that did
not give snake eyes, and then fraudulently making a claim that [the testers]
have evidence to show that they could reliably predict when a roll of the
dice will be a snake eyes.' (Snake eyes: double ones, often the victory
What these two stories show, I think, is the undiscussed recklessness that
can begin to grip a global hegemon. Maybe Bruce Blair's exposure of the
targeting details in the hitherto top secret SIOP (Single Integrated
Operational Plan) will compel more energetic study of its irrationality. For
a start, it throws wide open the case for drastic cuts in the US nuclear
arsenal. The Postol attack on NMD, so far answered only by military
whimpering for more time, should blow a hole in the bipartisan macho politics
that have driven it so far. When the next test happens, will anyone believe
the triumph that's already being programmed into the system? The late phase
of a tight election campaign is a bad time to ask that question. But these
revelations open up secret worlds, against which an accountable president is
supposed to be our best defence.
June 13, 2000
[for personal use only]
Russia Church's Rift With Pope
By Michael Slackman. RUSSIA CORRESPONDENT
Moscow-The centuries-old rift between the Russian Orthodox Church and the
Roman Catholic Church is no closer to being mended after President Vladimir
Putin's recent meeting with John Paul II, and Orthodox leaders say the pope
is still unwelcome on Russian soil.
Though a former agent with the KGB, which repressed religion during Soviet
times, Putin has developed strong personal and professional ties to the
Orthodox Church. That had raised hope he would seek to smooth over relations
and pave the way for a papal visit. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev
and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin both invited the pope to Russia,
but the pope has said he will not come without an invitation from Patriarch
Alexiy II-which he refuses to offer.
If Putin were successful, it would not only help reconcile two major branches
of Christianity, but could produce a political windfall for the new
president, burnishing his imagine on the international stage while answering
critics who say that the Orthodox Church is effectively the nation's official
religion despite a constitution that guarantees a secular state.
But Putin said he did not even broach the subject and nothing has changed.
"Russia is not a pagan state, it is a Christian state with a long tradition,"
Viktor Maloukhine, director of external church relations for the Moscow
Patriarchate, said even before Putin returned from Italy. "It is unclear to
us if you have an Orthodox Church in this country, why do you need another
church?" Earlier this month, Bogdan Severinek, a papal official concerned
with European Russia's Catholics, appealed publicly for reconciliation
between the two churches, saying that the time has come because this year
marks the 2,000th anniversary of Christianity. "That is what meetings are
for, they help to get problems off the ground and reach a mutual
understanding," he said in his call for the patriarch to formally invite the
pope to Russia.
But the Orthodox Church is not prepared to forgive and to forget. The
particular hostility toward the Catholic Church-as opposed, for example, to
the Lutheran Church, which operates in Russia-stems from a 16th-Century
dispute and a 21st-Century insecurity. In 1596 the Orthodox Church of Ukraine
split from the Russian Orthodox Church. Victoria Clark, author of the
soon-to-be-released book on Orthodoxy called "Why Angels Fall," said the pope
was under attack because of the Reformation and launched a counter-offensive
to get parts of Europe back in his fold. He tempted the Ukrainian Orthodox by
allowing them to keep their customs, if they recognized the Vatican.
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, wary of Rome's influence in the region,
disbanded the church. Since the end of communism, many of the churches
returned to Orthodox hands, but not all, and that is a central part of the
battle with Rome.
But the main issue separating the two sides is the Orthodox Church's
contention that the Catholic Church wants to come to Russia to proselytize,
an allegation Catholic officials here deny. Maloukhine said the Orthodox
Church is still trying to re-create itself after 70 years under communism. It
has little money and a short supply of priests.
He said the Orthodox Church is concerned that if the Catholic Church moves
into Russia, and begins using its resources to do charity work in
poverty-stricken regions, it will lure Orthodox Christians to convert.
"They say the Catholics are fishing for new converts in an already Christian
country," Clark said. "The idea of a private conscience doesn't go very deep
in Russia. They say you have been baptized an Orthodox Christian and, if you
convert, that is like a territorial invasion." Catholic officials say the
Russian Orthodox Church has a "very rigid" interpretation of proselytism, and
therefore is being unrealistic. "We are told that we cannot even baptize a
non-christened person by our rites if the person is Russian, but we think we
have such a right," Severinek said.
Orthodox Church officials announced that they will have talks with the
Vatican in the fall.
June 15, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
ORDER AT ANY PRICE?
Most citizens support the President's proposals on
strengthening the vertical of power
Vitaly GOLOVACHEV, Trud political observer
The initiatives by Vladimir Putin to strengthen the
vertical of power, in particular, those relating to the
procedure of forming the Federation Council, have met with
ambiguous response of some politicians and, what is especially
understandable, of governors themselves. Regional outlawry, was
intensified as a result of the short-sighted policy, the
expression of which was the well-known statement by Boris
Yeltsin: "You can take as much sovereignty as you can afford."
The aim of that move was understandable - to get the maximum
possible political support from the heads of constituent
members of the Federation. But in real life this contributed to
the weakening of the vertical of power, governance, and
separatist manifestations. These trends dangerous for the
country's integrity began to manifest themselves ever more
Today the presidential power is making a U-turn. Whereas
Boris Yeltsin had actually taken the course towards the
country's regionalisation (at least at the first stage),
Vladimir Putin has advanced as one of the main tasks the
consolidation of society.
As distinct from some governors who have come to think hard
about this, ordinary citizens in their majority support the
President's efforts. Below are the results of the poll carried
out by the All-Russia Public Opinion Centre (VTsIOM) on May
26-29, 2000 among the adult population. (Data are given in % of
the number of polled people).
How do you regard the proposal to vest the President of
Russia with the right to remove from office the heads of
regions and dissolve regional legislatures, if they issue
decrees and pass laws, which contradict the Constitution and
the laws of the Russian Federation?
Definitely positively and rather positively - 63 Rather
negatively and definitely negatively - 20 Hesitant - 17
If the President gets full control of the parliament and
governors, he will concentrate in his hands virtually unlimited
power. Do you think that this will be to the benefit or to the
detriment of Russia?
Definitely to the benefit and rather to the benefit - 51
Rather to the detriment and definitely to the detriment - 29
Hesitant - 20
To my mind, the second question was not formulated
This is because there is no talk about "full control of the
parliament and governors." However, half of Russians even
consent to the option of "unlimited power" believing that in
the present situation this will be "to the benefit of Russia."
Nostalgia for the "strong hand" and decisive measures aimed at
putting things in order had been felt by many Russians, judging
from sociological polls, in the course of all the eight years
of disorderly and chaotic reforms. Moreover, with each passing
year and with the growth of the humiliating poverty of masses
of Russians, the number of the supporters of tightening the
bolts all the way down was constantly on the increase. Largely
speaking, these people, evidently, do not want a return to the
totalitarian past (otherwise, they would have voted differently
at the elections) and stand for a tighter struggle with
corruption, stealing, and also want stronger social protection.
However, such a mass readiness to agree with authoritarian
methods of governance cannot but cause serious concern,
including the President's concern. In April the record majority
of citizens (81 per cent) told VTsIOM that "it is more
important for Russia today to bring law and order, even if it
will be necessary for this purpose to encroach on some
democratic principles and limit citizens' personal freedoms."
June 15, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
STATE POWER WON'T BE "PRIVATIZED," VLADIMIR PUTIN SAYS
President Vladimir PUTIN of the Russian Federation was
interviewed by Germany's Welt Am Sonntag paper some time ago.
Following below is an abridged text of that interview.
Question: Mr. President, the German side has been more
actively favoring a wait-and-see attitude in the context of its
economic cooperation with Russia over the last few years.
This concerns trade and investment alike. The German side
explains such policies by lack of legal security, which
comprises tax legislation, customs clearance, etc. Mr.
President, don't you think that something should be done in
Answer: You are quite right. Our economic relations have
become rather stagnant of late. I agree that Russia still has
to do a lot for the sake of improving its investment climate.
We are supposed to minimize various risk factors now facing
Russian and foreign investors and to ensure transparent and
clear-cut economic policies for many consecutive years. With
this in mind, we continue to streamline our economic
legislation. Among other things, it's intended to amend and
augment specific legislative and normative acts stemming from
the Federal Law "On Foreign Investments." Work is proceeding
apace to draft state concession agreements, due to be concluded
with Russian and foreign investors. Our experts also continue
to draft various normative legal acts for ensuring the
practical application of the Federal Law "On Product-Sharing
Agreements." Part two of Russia's tax code is currently being
finalized, as well. By commissioning the above-mentioned tax
code, it would become possible to ensure a stable and
predictable national tax regime. Besides, plans are in place to
effect a stage-by-stage transfer toward levying profit tax, to
gradually solve the problem of deducting essential business
expenses from the entire tax-applicable base and to create an
effective tax-appeal system.
Various documents for simplifying the entire customs
clearance procedure and for granting privileges to foreign
investors are now being drafted, as well. On the whole, we are
exerting serious efforts in order to streamline the entire
system for protecting investors' rights and for insuring
foreign investments in the Russian Federation with the help of
the state, Russian and foreign financial organizations, loan
agencies and international institutions.
Q.: You said that you would restrict oligarchic powers,
before being elected president. Quite a few people in the West
believe that this is no longer possible. You have also talked
about the dictatorship of law on Russian territory. But don't
these two concepts contradict each other? What do you
personally think on this score?
A.: I don't think there is any contradiction here.
First of all, we must guarantee equal rights and equal
duties to all citizens. This is seen as our most important
task. We want to ensure the unfailing observance of federal
legislation all over Russia. Citizens' rights must be
unfailingly observed in Moscow and in any other Russian region,
too. As far as the economy is concerned, this implies a tough
policy aiming to ensure equal competition opportunities for
everyone. This concerns specific tax-proceed volumes, the
loaning of money, as well as lack of exclusive privileges and
special regimes for specific businessmen. This is what we call
the dictatorship of law.
Second, I'd like to say a few words about relations
between Russia's powers-that-be and the so-called "oligarchs."
We must clearly define the very word "oligarchs." We support
big-league Russian businessmen, who score really impressive
commercial successes all on their own, that is, by inventing
new products, by introducing state-of-the-art technologies and
by invading new markets. We are proud of such Russians, who are
helping themselves, their colleagues and the entire country.
However, some other businessmen prefer to obtain federal
budget appropriations, easy term loans and privileges (that
enable them to disregard federal legislation), subsequently
using them to wax rich. In other words, they redistribute state
resources in their own favor. Some of them are trying hard to
use such resources for exerting greater influence on the
government and the whole of society. However, we are going to
mercilessly fight such "oligarchs."
The law must and will rule supreme all over Russia. We
won't allow anyone to "privatize" state power and to
subordinate such power to personal or corporate interests, be
it the interests of regional politicians or those of
Q.: Do you advocate greater centralization in this
connection? The first signs of such centralization are here for
everyone to see.
A.: We advocate law and order inside high places. The
current administrative reform is not called on to limit
regional rights. Our own historic experience proves that
excessive centralization, as well as efforts to control
everything from Moscow, are ineffective. We won't discard
constitutional state development principles. I'm convinced that
the real-life regional independence constitutes a highly
important achievement of the last decade.
We've got to strengthen the state as a guarantor of
citizens' rights and freedoms. In a nutshell, our policy aims
to ensure the entire state-power system's efficient performance
at every level. Apart from that, we must see to it that all of
its components act as a single whole, without any malfunctions
Q.: Quite possibly, the United States will decide to
deploy a space-based ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) system
resembling a scaled-down version of Reagan's SDI (Strategic
Defense Initiative) before the year is out. What does the
Russian side think about such plans?
A.: Any possible US decision to deploy a national ABM
system would serve to undermine strategic stability in
relations between the world's nuclear powers. Besides, such a
move would wreck the very foundation of such strategic
stability, e.g. the 1972 ABM Treaty, which unequivocally
forbids the creation of such a system. One should have a clear
idea of the fact that mutual strategic offensive arms cuts,
including their most formidable element, i.e. nuclear weapons,
can only be implemented in conditions of preserving the ABM
Treaty. The shredding of the ABM Treaty would prevent any
subsequent strategic offensive arms cuts in line with the START
I Treaty, too. Such an objective interdependence is reflected
inside Russian legislation, as well. It would also become
impossible to ratify the START II Treaty and to sign the START
III Treaty, which envisages a discussion of even more drastic
nuclear arms cuts. Besides, this would damage some other
vitally important agreements, e.g. the nuclear weapons
non-proliferation treaty and the comprehensive nuclear test ban
treaty. I've stated this bluntly to US President Bill Clinton
during his recent Moscow visit.
Q.: A US-European conflict is also brewing in this field.
Germany's Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has criticized these
plans in Washington, also suggesting that Germany act as
mediator. What do you think on this score?
A.: The European position with regard to US plans for
deploying a national ABM system acquires great importance for
Russia at this stage. We perceive the German leadership's
opinion on this issue to be rather constructive and reasonable.
It's very important that European states support the
preservation of the 1972 Russian-US ABM Treaty, thus opting for
more substantial global strategic stability. As is known,
Washington is unable to independently implement its plans
without allied support, e.g. that of Great Britain, Denmark and
Norway, in the first place. By deploying specific elements of
the projected US national ABM system on their respective
territories, these countries run the risk of becoming embroiled
in a process that would entail the unpredictable destruction of
strategic stability. They might pay a very high price for this.
You see, Russia would be forced to study the possibility of
scrapping its START and INF-Treaty commitments, after being
officially notified about US intentions to abrogate the ABM
Q.: The United States now motivates the need for deploying
such an ABM system by the threat being posed by some countries,
Mideastern and South-West Asian countries, in particular. At
the same time, Washington has suggested that the United States
and Russia cooperate on this issue. Mr.
President, this proposal seems reasonable enough.
A.: An expert examination of the real life situation has
prompted us to draw the following conclusion -- no missile
threat emanates from the so-called Mideastern, South-West Asian
or other Asian "rogue states," to which the United States
refers. Nor will such a threat emerge in the foreseeable future.
As we see it, instead of modifying the ABM Treaty, all
those insignificant amendments being suggested to us by the US
side serve to erode and liquidate that document. I'd like to
repeat once again that the US position on the national ABM
system issue amounts to a serious strategic miscalculation,
which would drastically escalate that strategic threat facing
the United States, Russia and other countries. In essence, US
initiatives amount to nothing but a suggestion to burn down the
house for the purpose of frying ham and eggs.
Q.: The West is somewhat concerned over Russia's claims to
retain its great power status that are now being voiced rather
actively. Among other things, you have increased the national
defense budget by 50 percent, with the revised Russian military
doctrine also stipulating a more lenient nuclear weapons
control status. Mr. President, what can you say about Russia's
image inside this new world then?
A.: Russia, which doesn't bargain for a great power
status, is, in fact, a great power. This is determined by its
immense potential, history and culture.
In real life, though, Russia's national defense
appropriations are rather unimpressive. If we compare their
volume with similar US appropriations (in line with a
long-standing tradition), then we'll see that the US defense
budget exceeds such appropriations 100-fold.
Our new military doctrine says nothing about a more
lenient nuclear weapons control status.
Q.: As before, the Baltics strive to join NATO. Will
Russia ever recognize their right to become NATO members? If
not, how will you react?
A.: I'm sure not a single state in this world has ever
experienced any warm feelings in connection with the expansion
of a military bloc, which it doesn't side with. This is
particularly true if the area of its direct contact with such a
bloc also tends to increase. Naturally enough, Russia perceives
subsequent NATO expansion plans as something unfriendly, also
believing that such plans contradict its own security
interests. The consequences of admitting new NATO members serve
to confirm our conclusion -- NATO's eastward expansion is not
conducive to European stability. This is proved by the fact
that some new NATO members tend to behave ever more
aggressively with regard to Russia.
As far as various discussions dealing with the admission
of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia into NATO are concerned, I'd
like to stress once again that NATO's possible expansion well
beyond former Soviet borders would create an entirely new
situation for Russia and the whole of Europe. This would have
most serious consequences for the entire system of security on
the continent. Incidentally, the statements of some Baltic
leaders as regards the threat of Russian aggression once again
highlight their position, as they aspire to join NATO.
We are sometimes reproached for the fact that Russia
doesn't recognize the three Baltic states' right to freedom.
This reproach is clearly heard in your question as well.
However, one should not oversimplify the Russian position; nor
should one interpret such a position so freely. We believe that
every state has the right to choose its own methods for
ensuring national security. However, one's own security can't
be bolstered by scaling down the security of other states.
We suggest another option here. Russia has voiced quite a
few proposals aiming to turn the Baltic region into a territory
that would be marked by stability, security and mutual
confidence. All our proposals are still in force. We have also
implemented some rather drastic unilateral measures, reducing
our north-western military formation by 40 percent.
And we would also like our partners to reciprocate.
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