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Johnson's Russia List


June 15, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4368  4369

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.
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 
of power.
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 
foreign tour. 

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. 


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 
to Germany. 

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 
on business. 


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 
state decorations. 

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. 


Moscow Times
June 15, 2000 
21 Months of Purgatory May Await Gusinsky 
By Simon Saradzhyan and Garfield Reynolds
Staff Writers

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 
appeal failed. 

"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. 


Washington Post
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 
of law.

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
Putin's pressure

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 
creditor, Germany. 

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 
investment interest. 

``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. 


Washington Post
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 
ugly infighting.

The Nixon Center



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. 


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 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 
the danger. 

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 
a source. 

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

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]
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." 


Rossiiskaya Gazeta
June 15, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
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 
this field?
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 
financial-industrial groups.

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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