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Johnson's Russia List


June 21, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4379  4380

Johnson's Russia List
21 June 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: Media Baron: Putin Ordered Arrest.
2. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: The Lessons of the Riot. Why and How 
the "Putin Case" Overshadowed "Gusinsky Case"
3. AFP: Kremlin Chechnya strategy falters as new civilian chief faces boycott.
4. AP: Expert Expects Small Russia Harvest.
5. The Times (UK): Giles Tremlett, Leader's secret holidays to Spain. (Putin)
6. On Putin's Inauguration Day They Ate Caviar by Spoonfuls.
7. Moscow Times: Primakov Wants Constitution Amended to Give Duma Power.
8. Simon Marks: Russia Panel Discussion on Feature Story News.
9. Alexander Domrin: U.S. Aid to Russia (RE Paul Backer, JRL#4377)
10. Poetry Corner: Stopping by a Russian Bank on a Snowy Evening.
11. Amy Knight: response to Archie Brown/4373. (re Gorbachev)
12. Carl Olson: US Won't Ask Russia to Pay Debts.
13. RFE/RL: Sophie Lambroschini, New Cult Of Pyramid Energy Draws Believers.
14. New York Times: Josef Joffe, A Warning From Putin and Schröder.
15. Alexander Kornilov , Administration Reshuffle Strengthens Putin's Team.
16. Moscow Times: Vladimir Kovalyev, FSB Orders Students to Spy on Yabloko.
17. Reuters: S.Korean officials teach Russia crisis-management.]


Media Baron: Putin Ordered Arrest
June 20, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) - Three nights in a dingy jail cell were enough to convince media 
baron Vladimir Gusinsky that Russia is threatened by police state tendencies 
under President Vladimir Putin. 

In a first public appearance after being released, Gusinsky said Tuesday he 
believes Putin personally ordered his detention, and said his time in jail 
last week led him to fear a return to Soviet-style repression of political 

Putin has denied any prior knowledge of the arrest, which has been 
interpreted as a crackdown on press freedoms. He said prosecutors acted 
independently according to Russian law. 

``Prison is a special world, and I really wouldn't like the country I live in 
to turn into this world,'' Gusinsky said on the political talk show Glas 
Naroda on the NTV network, which is part of his Media-Most Group. 

NTV is Russia's largest independent television network and has been critical 
of the Kremlin. 

``I'm sure that Putin knew, and moreover, the president personally made the 
decision (to arrest). I am certain,'' Gusinsky said. 

Gusinsky was arrested last Tuesday in a two-year-old fraud case and 
imprisoned through Friday in Moscow's rundown Butyrskaya prison. He was 
released on condition that he not leave Moscow while his case is pending. 

Gusinsky has been charged with misappropriating property worth $10 million in 
connection with a privatization deal. He has denied wrongdoing. 

Gusinsky blamed the episode on vast and arbitrary police powers. Russia has 
the highest per capita rate of incarceration in the world and the 
second-largest prison population behind the United States, with about 1 
million people behind bars. 

Putin has vowed to trim the influence of Russia's top businessmen, who came 
to be known as ``oligarchs'' under Boris Yeltsin for their close ties to the 
government. But analysts say Putin may be too weak or beholden to some of the 
oligarchs to go after them. 

Leading tycoon Boris Berezovsky also warned Tuesday of pending 
authoritarianism under Putin. Berezovsky had close ties with Yeltsin's inner 
circle, but has been increasingly critical of Putin. 

``The economic course is very liberal, but in the political sphere we are 
moving toward a rigid authoritarian system,'' Berezovsky said at an 
investors' conference in Moscow. 

He cited Gusinsky's arrest, Putin's plan to strengthen control over Russia's 
provinces, and the continuing war in breakaway Chechnya. 

Meanwhile, a Moscow court on Tuesday refused to consider a complaint from 
Gusinsky's lawyers that his arrest and detention were illegal because he 
qualified for an amnesty. 

A recently passed bill provided amnesty from arrest or imprisonment for 
holders of state medals and orders. Gusinsky has a Friendship of Peoples 

The court rejected the complaint, saying there was no foundation for it 
because the tycoon was no longer in police custody, his lawyer Genri Reznik 

Reznik said he would appeal the ruling. 

``The stakes are high. The arrest was absolutely illegal, that's clear to any 
person who knows the ABCs of criminal law,'' Reznik said. 

Gusinsky, one of Russia's most prominent business leaders, owns several media 
outlets - including NTV television, Echo Moskvy radio station and Sevodnya 

His arrest on June 13 was met with an international outcry and accusations of 
a Kremlin crackdown on the press. 

Later this week, the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, will debate a 
motion by two liberal factions to send a letter to Putin demanding that he 
fire the prosecutor-general, who was responsible for Gusinsky's arrest. 


Russia Today press summaries
Nezavisimaya Gazeta
June 20, 2000
The Lessons of the Riot
Why and How the "Putin Case" Overshadowed "Gusinsky Case"

Editor-in-chief Vitaly Tretyakov wrote about the new political situation that 
emerged after the three-day arrest of Vladimir Gusninsky, the head of the 
large Media Most holding. According to him, Most has raised a riot against 
the Kremlin and the Kremlin responded with a counter-blow, which was not 
quite successful. The decision to set Gusinsky free was a retreat by the 
Kremlin. There were several reasons for this retreat. The first was that 
Gusnisky's arrest was not supported openly by any influential political force 
in the country. The second was that the powers have realized that the public 
image of Gusinsky has gone through rapid evolution from that of a hated 
oligarch to number one dissident. And the third reason was connected with 
Putin's return to Moscow from his international tour on Saturday. Whoever the 
organizers of the operation against Gusinsky were, apparently they did not 
want the President to be involved in it.

The lessons of the riot were as follows: Despite all talks about the 
information power of the state, in reality, the state does not have authority 
over the media. Lawyers and public politicians in Russia are stronger than 
any force structures.

Putin does not have a qualified team, while Gusinsky does.

The Kremlin was not sincere with society in this struggle with Gusinsky. It 
did not articulate its goal for the fight. Thus, Media Most has formulated it 
for the Kremlin as "vengeance for truth". And later, the media, controlled by 
Gusinsky, managed to interpret the attack at the oligarch as a threat to the 
freedom of speech in Russia.


Kremlin Chechnya strategy falters as new civilian chief faces boycott

MOSCOW, June 20 (AFP) - 
Russia's decision to name a top Muslim cleric to head a pro-Moscow 
administration in Chechnya was faltering Tuesday, amid a deepening revolt 
against the appointment by local leaders.

Akhmed Kadyrov, appointed by President Vladimir Putin just eight days ago, on 
Monday accused his predecessor of sabotaging the transfer of power and has 
refused to leave his home village to take up his new post.

In a sharply-worded statement Kadyrov, Chechnya's mufti or top religious 
official, challenged the authorities to decide who "determines Moscow's 
policy in Chechnya -- the president or government envoy" Nikolai Koshman.

The row is the latest headache for Putin, who imposed direct rule in Chechnya 
on June 8, eight months after federal forces rolled into Chechnya to end the 
breakaway republic's de facto independence.

While remaining in control of the bulk of the tiny Muslim republic, federal 
troops have so far failed to deliver a knock-out blow to Chechen leader Aslan 
Maskhadov's guerrillas, who continue to inflict casualties on Russian forces.

Moscow is seeking to isolate the Maskhadov leadership and replace it with a 
pro-Russian Chechen administration which it hopes would win fresh elections 
in the province in two or three years' time.

While the Kremlin said Tuesday it currently had no plans to dump Kadyrov 
despite his refusal to take up his post, officials were clearly irritated by 
the continued wrangling Tuesday.

Kadyrov remains in his home village of Tsentoroi, in eastern Chechnya, and a 
planned hand-over ceremony in Gudermes, which has replaced Grozny as the 
acting capital, has twice been cancelled.

The cleric has blamed the delays on "the former representative of the Russian 
government in Chechnya and persons attempting to control financial flows," a 
barbed reference to his predecessor Koshman.

"At the current time, there is no reason to reconsider the decision to 
appoint Kadyrov," Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Putin's top spokesman on Chechnya, 
told the Interfax news agency.

"That wouldn't be serious. Kadyrov has only just been appointed and hasn't 
yet turned up to work," Interfax quoted him as saying.

"The most important thing now is to launch the process of forming the new 
administration," he added.

Russian officials rejected suggestions that Kadyrov had not been sworn into 
office, saying his appointment became effective with Putin's signature of the 
decree naming him to the post.

"He's not an elected head of state, he doesn't have to swear on the 
constitution," an official from Yastrzhembsky's office told AFP. "There's a 
decree and he is the head of the administration. That's it."

Russian newspapers meanwhile said Kadyrov's appointment, which had won the 
support of the senior-most Russian commander in Chechnya, General Gennady 
Troshev, had proven to be a blunder.

"A chief without an administration," the Izvestia daily headlined its 
front-page story Tuesday. "Everyone in Chechnya is unhappy with Akhmed 
Kadyrov's appointment," it said.

"It is becoming increasingly obvious that the nomination of Kadyrov in the 
hope that he could reunite the Chechen community was a mistake," the paper 

"The mufti has not left his native village of Tsentoroi because he fears for 
his life," the daily Sevodnya reported. Imam Umar Idrisov, a Kadyrov ally, 
was shot dead Friday in Urus-Martan, a town some 25 kilometres southwest of 


Expert Expects Small Russia Harvest
June 19, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) - A former top agricultural official warned Monday that Russia's 
grain harvest this year may fall far short of government estimates, and said 
Russia is seeking food aid from the United States to fill the gap. 

Gennady Kulik, former vice prime minister in charge of agriculture and now a 
member of parliament, said Russia will harvest about 52 million tons of 
grain, and may require 10 million tons of food aid, the Interfax news agency 

The Ministry of Agriculture estimates farmers will harvest 65 million tons, 
Yevgeny Sosnin, a ministry spokesman said Monday. He declined to comment on 
Kulik's figures or why they differed from official estimates. 

Kulik said Russian and U.S. officials were already discussing a new food aid 
package similar to one offered in 1998, after a financial crisis and 
disastrous harvest of only 47.8 million tons of grain. That aid deal is still 
being implemented. 

``I think they are talking about 5 million, 6 million tons,'' Interfax quoted 
Kulik as saying. ``If the experts reach an agreement an official request will 

Kulik's office declined to comment on the report. 

A cold spell in May across Russia's fertile regions hurt many crops and 
forced revised harvest estimates. 


The Times (UK)
June 15, 2000
[for personal use only]
Leader's secret holidays to Spain 

VLADIMIR PUTIN'S official visit to Spain has been overshadowed by reports 
that he has been an illegal visitor over the past two years, joining the 

Russian millionaires who holiday in exclusive resorts. 
Spain's police discovered President Putin's secret visits last year when they 
were watching a suspected Russian mafia boss in the Sotogrande resort in 
southwest Spain. 

Mr Putin, then head of Russia's Security Council, was among a number of 
important Russians spotted enjoying a weekend at a house - next door to the 
suspects - belonging to his most powerful backer in the presidential 
race,Boris Berezovsky. 

Spanish police discovered that Mr Putin had flown to Gibraltar and sailed 
into Spain without declaring his presence on Spanish soil, as the law 
requires. Their investigations revealed that Mr Putin had visited the resort 
up to five times during the year. 

Spanish newspapers said that Britain's MI6 would have been aware of Mr 
Putin's short breaks in southern Spain, but had not informed their Spanish 
counterparts of his arrivals in Gibraltar. 

There was no suggestion that Berezovsky's party at Sotogrande knew their 
neighbours were mafia suspects. 

The visits dried up after Mr Putin became Prime Minister.


June 20, 2000
On Putin's Inauguration Day They Ate Caviar by Spoonfuls 

Another scandal over the new Russian president is fanning in the Western 
media. This time, there are reports of Putin's secret trips to Spain to relax 
at Boris Berezovsky's villa in a place called Sotogrande, in the province of 
Cadiz, a billionaires' haven. According to The Times, last year, Putin 
allegedly five times went to Spain, and his trips occurred after last August 
when he was appointed prime minister. Besides, Italian Panorama weekly 
reports that Putin visited Spain without necessary legal formalities. He 
would arrive to the British colony Gibraltar, and then would go to Sotogrande 
by sea accompanied by his large security guard.

Comment: According to the Western media, the most intriguing thing is that 
the Spanish police got to know about the would-be Russian president secret 
visit quite by accident. Upon Interpol's inquiry, they have been keeping 
track of a Moscow Mafioso dwelling at a villa near Berezovsky's estate. 
Instead of a Russian godfather, they came across Mr. Putin. At this point, 
the print media embarks on guessing and assuming. Thus, Panorama believes 
exactly then, at the villa in Sotogrande, Berezovsky invented a plan of 
making a president out of a newly-appointed premier. Earlier, though, the 
second RF President's birthplace was different: some German Alps-based villa 
owned by Abramovich or Berezovsky. Further, the Italian weekly gives quite 
fantastic details. It asserts that "in order to celebrate Putin's victory in 
the RF presidential elections, Berezovsky arranged a great festivity at the 
fancy elitist club "El Cucurucho", with "fireworks, rivers of vodka and 
mountains of caviar". Overall, he staged an earthly heaven. Correspondents 
did not mention, though, where did they learn about the menu. In addition, 
Berezovsky, perhaps, later was sorry for having wasted millions.


Moscow Times
June 21, 2000 
Primakov Wants Constitution Amended to Give Duma Power 

Yevgeny Primakov, who heads the Fatherland-All Russia faction in the State 
Duma, spoke out Tuesday in favor of amending the Constitution, which he said 
is necessary to implement President Vladimir Putin's proposals for 
reorganizing the Federation Council. 

Last month, Putin proposed removing the regional governors and speakers of 
regional legislatures from the Federation Council, parliament's upper house. 
He wants to replace them with their appointees, who would work in Moscow on a 
permanent basis. 

Primakov, speaking at a news conference, argued that if governors no longer 
sit in the Federation Council, the body should no longer have the authority 
to make major national decisions, such as declarations of war, the use of 
military force outside the country and the appointments and dismissals of 
prosecutor generals. 

These powers should be shared with the State Duma, Primakov said, and this is 
possible only if the Constitution is amended. 

He suggested forming a commission to prepare constitutional amendments, which 
he said would help win speedier approval for Putin's bills. The bills are to 
come up for a second reading in the Duma on Friday. 

Putin has appointed Primakov to head a commission to oversee efforts to 
resolve Moldova's dispute with its breakaway Transdnestr region. 

Primakov said Tuesday it is necessary to bring stability to the region, which 
is populated mainly by Russian speakers, and "to find a common denominator." 

"The revival of this commission will put an end to inconsistencies in 
Russia's policy toward Transdnester, as federal ministries and agencies are 
currently acting on this issue separately, while soon these forces will unite 
and will be able to solve all the issues that involve variousstate bodies," 
Primakov was quoted by Interfax as saying. 

Russian troops intervened in fighting in Transdnestr in 1991-92 and still has 
troops in the region. 


Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000
From: Simon Marks <> 
Subject: Russia Panel Discussion

This Wednesday, Feature Story News will be considering "Russia Under Putin"
on "Goin' Global", our weekly international affairs TV broadcast. Studio
guests will include Lilya Shevtsova, Senior Associate with the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace, and David Kramer, Executive Director of
the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. Viewer calls will be
welcomed at 1 877 AM VOICE. The program can be seen live on the "America's
Voice" cable network from 7:00 - 7:30pm Eastern. In Washington DC,
"America's Voice" is on Channel 23 on District Cablevision. Elsewhere, it
can be found on The Dish Network (channel 216); Primestar (Channel 24); or
check listings for details.

Simon Marks
Washington DC
Simon Marks, President and Chief Correspondent
Feature Story News -- FSN
"Your News Solution" at
Phone: + 1 202 296 9012
Fax: + 1 202 296 9205


Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 
From: Alexander Domrin <> 
Subject: U.S. Aid to Russia (RE Paul Backer, JRL#4377).

Paul Backer is wrong when saying in his Putin/Clinton/Gore-bashing
comments that the U.S. administration "wasted billions in taxpayer
funds /.../ in the RF in the name of Rule of Law" (JRL#4377).

That's not true in respect of American aid to Russia in general
and American aid to "Russia's transition to the rule of law" in

1. As it was openly stated by both Bush and Clinton Administrations,
(and in both cases approved by U.S. Congress), it was in the U.S.
national interests to provide aid to Russia.

2. As it was admitted on numerous occasions
(e.g., Rep. Hoyer: the "primary reason for continued Western backing for

Yeltsin" is that "Yeltsin is explicitly pro-American, pro-Western,
"It is imperative /.../ for our own interests", that Yeltsin’s
"implement necessary reforms and keep Russia on a pro-Western track";
in 1993 Sen. Pell appealed to the Senate to vote for $2.5 billion in
"assistance" to Russia and other former Soviet republics in order
"to show the reformers in the NIS that we are in their corner";
Rep. Solomon: Russian "democrats are in desperate need of outside
assistance. /.../ We believe it is imperative for the West to provide
as much assistance as possible to democratic candidates in Russia"),
the U.S. "aid" was intended not for Russia, but for the "reformers",
It was given not to support Russia, but to support "Russian reforms"
which "were considered to be critical to U.S. objectives"
(Foreign Assistance. Harvard Institute for International Development’s
Work in Russia and Ukraine (Washington, U.S. General Accounting Office:
November 1996), p.2).
Not to help Russian people to overcome consequences of the Communist
but "to help Russian reformers" (Strobe Talbott, Stanford University,
Not to support democratic institutions in Russia, but rather
"democrats", which is not the same.

3. Judging by several factors, including:
a) more general U.S. policy aimed at circumventing Russian parliamentary
process in the 1990s,
b) U.S. AID strategy giving precedence to support to decree-making over
long-term legal institutional development in Russia
(according to U.S. AID, just one AID-funded program, the notoriuos
Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID), in 1994-96 alone
drafted "hundreds of decrees" in Russia;
as explained in the GAO report, "HIID supported the use of decrees
it believed that they advanced reforms" (US GAO report, 1996, p.46)),
and c) miserable funding for democratic programs and programs of legal
development in Russia
(comparing to multi-million U.S. economic programs in Russia, first of
all, privatization, which enriched dozens, like Gusinsky, and empowered
millions), Russian transition to the rule of law has never been
a priority of the U.S. "aid" to Russia.
On the contrary, not only Russian observers, but a group of American
scholars too
(Stavrakis, Wedel, Williamson, Holmes, Reddaway, etc.) come to a
that "thus far, foreign legal advice to Russia has not done that country
much good" (S.Holmes); "U.S. aid added to Russia's woes" (J.Wedel), etc.

4. As far as the rule of law projects are concerned, it was a mistake of
U.S. policy to concentrate on assistance to pro-Western parties and
(first Russia's Choice, and after Dec.1995 - to Yabloko) rather than to
for long-term legal institutional developments in the country.
Ironically, the group of approximately 3,000 "reformist-minded political
activists" trained by the U.S. programs in 1992-96 included Vladimir
("trained" by the National Democratic Institute), who is now described
by Michael McFaul, since 1990 an NDI consultant in Moscow himself, as a
potential "Russia’s Milosevic".

The bottom line is: it's not in Russia where you need to look for the
reason of the stunning bankruptcy of the U.S. aid to Russia.

Alexander Domrin
Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law


From: "Richard Thomas" <>
Subject: Poetry Corner
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 

Dear David, For several years now, a good friend of mine who is a
long-time resident of Russia has been writing "wicked little verses," that
some of us often quiet amusing and, occasionally, inspired. (They generally
"owe their music" to nursery rhymes, songs and poems.) With the author's
permission and his request that, should you wish to print "this thing" it
be "for personal use only," 
I offer: 

Stopping by a Russian Bank on a Snowy Evening 

Whose bank this is I think I know, 
His cash is in Geneva, though; 
He would not mind me stopping here 
To watch his vaults fill up with snow. 
My little daughter thinks it queer 
That people kept their money here: 
"This is a Russian bank," she says, 
"Where money tends to disappear." 
She gives her tiny purse a shake 
To see if there's been some mistake; 
But no, her kopecks jingle round, 
Today no banker's thirst to slake. 
The bankers feign a troubled sleep. 
Eyes reptilian softly weep: 
"Someday our promises we'll keep; 
Someday our promises we'll keep." 
Wm Bleak, Vladivostok 

Best wishes and please keep up the good (and voluminous!) work, 
Richard Thomas 


Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 
From: (Amy Knight)
Subject: response to Archie Brown/4373

Archie Brown says that my statement in a recent Globe and Mail piece about
Gorbachev being responsible for the events in Tbilisi (1989) and Lithuania
(1991) is a "travesty of the truth." He refers JRL readers to his own
positive portrayal of Gorbachev, The Gorbachev Factor (1996): "I cannot
see how anyone could absorb the evidence presented there [in his book] and
then endorse the statement of Amy Knight." But Archie Brown's
evidence is selective. As I pointed out three years ago in a New York
Review of Books exchange, where Brown dismissed my views of Gorbachev as
"ludicrous," he never consulted the report by the Ponomarev Commission,
(1992). This commission uncovered extensive correspondence between KGB
Chief Kryuchkov and Gorbachev about
plans to institute rule by force in Lithuania. Nor did he make use of a
collection of archival documents edited by Georgii Urshadze, Vybrannye
mesta iz perepiski s vragami (St. Petersburg, 1995), which document
Gorbachev's role in the Vilnius affair.

As for Tbilisi, Archie Brown refers to the "huge amount of evidence that
Gorbachev had asked Shevardnadze to fly to Tbilisi precisely to avoid a
violent end to the confrontion." Yet Shevardnadze, in his memoirs, Moi
Vybor, recalls things differently. Gorbachev tells him on the night of
April 7 that a political solution to the crisis must be found and suggests
that Shevardnadze telephone Tbilisi "to establish whether or not
it was necessary to fly down there." When Shevardnadze telephones he is
told that everything is under
control, so decides to stay in Moscow. But in fact, troops are already
being moved into the city and on 9 April fire on demonstrators. Thus
Gorbachev never told Shevardnadze to go, but only asked him to telephone
Tbilisi authorities, who, according to Shevardnadze, lied to him.
Gorbachev would have us believe that he never followed up on the crisis
himself. Yet, as a Russian commander, Evgenii Podkolzhin, pointed out
back in 1993, Gorbachev's approval was required for "even the smallest
troop transfer." Podkolzhin and many others have asserted that Gorbachev
was fully involved in all the military crackdowns that took place during
his years in power. Archie Brown can claim that he has the definite proof
of Gorbachev's innocence and that anyone who disagrees with him is
commiting a travesty of truth, but that won't make the evidence against
Gorbachev go away.


Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 
From: "Carl Olson" <> 
Subject: US Won't Ask Russia to Pay Debts

There's even more to the story than Congressman Benjamin 
Gilman (#4372) and Gary Kern (#4375) have brought out.

The Lend-Lease debt of $11.3 billion in 1945 (about $90 billion in 
2000 dollars) was compromised down by Henry Kissinger's 
negotiations in 1972 to $722 million with $48 million to be paid 
immediately, leaving a $674 million balance. However, no principal 
payments or interest accrual would be required until such time as 
the Soviet Union received MFN from the U.S. That finally happened 
in October 1992, and 3% interest started running and payments 
were supposed to retire the debt by 2001. However, the State 
Department every year has routinely "rescheduled" this debt and 
collected nothing.

In addition, the Russians owe the U. S. Treasury about $1 billion 
from World War I bonds and about $1 billion from CCC agricultural 
loans in the 1980s.

There used to be a problem for a country whose government was in 
default to the U. S. Treasury. The Johnson Anti-Default Act of 
1930 prohibited governments from borrowing from the American 
public if they were in default to the U. S. Treasury. However, the 
1992 "FREEDOM Support Act" changed this for one country alone. 
It exempted "any obligations of the former Soviet Union, or any of 
the independent states of the former Soviet Union, or any political 
subdivision, organization, or association thereof."

The real question is not whether the Russian government will ever 
pay its debts (which it could out of the $500 billion horde held 
outside the country). The real question is why the U.S. 
government is so indifferent to collecting.

Carl Olson
State Department


Russia: New Cult Of Pyramid Energy Draws Believers
By Sophie Lambroschini

Around the time Russia's financial pyramids crashed five years ago, ruining 
millions who believed in easy wealth for a handful of rubles, Russian 
self-styled scientist Aleksandr Golod set about building another kind of 
miracle pyramid -- out of plastic. He says he is soaking up healing energy 
from the earth, and many Russians believe him. RFE/RL's Sophie Lambroschini 

Moscow, 19 June 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Over the past decade, Moscow's western 
suburbs have come to resemble an architectural playground for the rich, with 
four-story brick castles with gothic turrets, colonial mansions, and front 
porches made to look like Captain Hook's ship -- complete with cannons. In 
that context, a 44-meter gray plastic pyramid is almost a welcome diversion.

Set on a hill overlooking the Moscow-Riga highway, the pyramid has become a 
draw for pilgrims. Dozens of people visit it every day to absorb what its 
maker, Aleksandr Golod, calls its "beneficial energy field." People leave 
their cars parked by the side of the highway, as no exit and no parking 
spaces are provided. Old babushkas from nearby villages shuffle across the 
speedway, dodging cars, their hands laden with the five-liter canisters of 
water they bring to the pyramid for "treatment."

The pyramid, Golod's 17th such structure in Russia, is meant to re-establish 
world harmony, Golod explains on his English-language website 
( According to the site, all bad 
things -- from AIDS to hurricanes to the devaluation of the ruble -- are 
provoked by the messy mental activity of humans. Since you can't keep people 
from thinking, the best way to bring the structure of space into harmony, 
Golod says, is to stand "in the zone of a pyramid's activity."

Visitors walk into the structure of translucent plastic plates through a 
narrow door. From inside, the pyramid could pass for a storage shed. Sand and 
bits of stones litter the ground and give the air a dusty smell. 

Visitors walk around picking up pebbles, while men in blue uniforms unload 
crate after crate of bottled mineral water. The five-liter plastic bottles 
sit in the pyramid for a short time, ostensibly to soak up healing energies, 
before being moved out again to be sold.

Natalya is in the pyramid for the first time, and she is convinced the 
atmosphere is beneficial. She takes a few deep breaths of the dusty air. 

"Well, coming in here, I can tell you my impressions. Well, in general, on 
the streets I have the feeling that I'm suffocating, and when I walked in 
here, right away it was different."

Nikolai, a smartly-dressed man of 50, swears that the pyramid has healing 
properties. He says he first came here last December. 

I had arthritis in my neck, maybe also some heart ailment. I didn't go to see 
any doctors. But the next morning after visiting the pyramid, I woke up a 
healthy man. So the pyramid probably has some positive effect." 

Nikolai watches carefully over a half-full bottle of water he set up in exact 
center of the pyramid to soak up positive vibrations. For extra effect, he 
also collects small stones to set out on a plate at home.

Next time, he says, he'll take his children along for "pyramid treatment" 
before sending them off to summer camp, where food poisoning is a common 

No proof has been offered that the pyramid has any effect on health 
whatsoever. Isn't this just a hoax meant to fill one scientist's pockets by 
capitalizing on people's despair?

Nikolai says no. He points out that entrance to the pyramid is free, and no 
one is forced to buy souvenirs. 

A makeshift stand outside sells other objects that are said to have been 
"treated by the pyramid." For example, little pebbles -- about a dollar each 
-- are supposed to create a safe field around any object. The instructions 
claim that if you put one on your cell phone, it will neutralize the radio 
waves that are said to cause brain cancer.

Golod suggests using his pebbles to combat world disasters like wars and 
pollution, and offers to export pyramid product to the United States, 
Germany, and Australia. He suggest lining the borders of a city or even a 
country with stones that have been inside the pyramid. He says people will 
live longer and earthquakes will be weaker. 

The pyramid 30 km outside of Moscow was finished at the end of last year, 
just in time to capitalize on millennium-inspired interest in the 
unexplained. It is Golod's seventeenth such pyramid -- for an overall 
investment of almost $2 million -- and it is also the best visited. 

Some people, like Nikolai, visit the pyramid as regularly as they go to 
church. Nikolai, who calls himself a practicing Orthodox Christian, says "the 
pyramid is the temple of Nature's forces" and is compatible with the force of 

But at least one of the pyramid's neighbors disagrees. While Golod set up his 
million-dollar pyramid last year, the village of Pavlovskoye Sloboda was 
painstakingly rebuilding its church. The village priest, Father Vladislav, 
says the pyramid is a demonic object meant to lure Christians away from God 
with promises of quick and painless healing through pagan practices. 

The Russian Orthodox Church as a whole has not yet taken a position on the 
pyramid movement. Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Patriarchate's External 
Affairs Department, told RFE/RL that church teachings do not allow placing 
faith in anything, including natural healing, more than in God. 

But he says the church is withholding judgment until more research is done on 
the pyramid's alleged healing powers. 

"It is difficult for me to say anything concerning this pyramid because I 
haven't seen it. If it turns out that it can have some natural effect, then 
maybe there's nothing bad about it. But if it's something occult, if some 
magical symbolism is used, if they call upon invisible spirits, then of 
course, it can be seen in a negative way. If there's some fake underlying 
spiritual base to it, then probably the church cannot agree to this."

As much as the pyramid's visitors want to believe in the structure's 
beneficial effects, its only confirmed results so far are that it indirectly 
caused at least one death. Sergey Voloshin, a cook for a summer camp near 

Moscow, recently set off to visit the pyramid to try to cure his recurring 
bouts of nausea. He made it only halfway across the five-lane highway before 
he was hit by a car. 


New York Times
June 20, 2000
[for personal use only]
A Warning From Putin and Schröder
Josef Joffe is co-editor of the German weekly Die Zeit. 

HAMBURG, Germany - For the "last remaining superpower," it is time to ask the 
Ed Koch question, "How am I doing?" The answer is, "O.K., but not great." Ten 
years after victory in the cold war, the United States is still No. 1 by any 
conceivable measure. But the lesser actors -- Russia, Europe, China -- are 
beginning to make true what history and political theory have predicted all 
along: Great power will generate "ganging up." Nos. 2, 3 and 4 will seek to 
balance against Mr. Big. 

Just last week, President Vladimir Putin of Russia swept into Berlin, where 
he deftly executed a classic gambit of Muscovite diplomacy. This is the 
age-old attempt to forge privileged relations with Germany, the traditional 
holder of the European balance. He wooed, and he won. "Germany," Mr. Putin 
intoned, "is Russia's leading partner in Europe and the world." Chancellor 
Gerhard Schröder cooed back; he, too, was all for a "strategic partnership" 
with Russia. 

One motive is obvious. Both Europe and Russia intensely dislike the American 
missile defense project, and for good reasons. If it works (which it won't 
for many years, if ever), the "Son of Star Wars" will further magnify 
American dominance by devaluing the nuclear arsenals of Russia, China and 
Europe. No wonder Mr. Putin and Mr. Schröder together trained their guns on 
the anti-missile bubble in the sky. 

The more general thrust is obvious, too. The purpose is not to resume the old 
game of the 18th and 19th centuries, which was to harness alliances or even 
go to war to lay low the hegemonist du jour. It is to contain and constrain 
what the lesser powers see as excessive clout on the part of No. 1. 

In the past, the United States was rarely mentioned by name. Russians and 
Chinese kept inveighing against a "unipolar world" and a "single model of 
culture." The enemy was "hegemonism" and "repeated imposition" by 
you-know-who. Now, as usual, it is the French who thunder where others 
grumble. Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine likes to call the United States a 
"hyperpower" given to "unilateralist temptation" because "there is no 

Last week, the European Union's external affairs commissioner, Chris Patten, 
made it explicit: Europe had to grow into a "serious counterpart" to the 
United States. In fact, that process is well under way. According to the 
German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, monetary union, begun in 1999, was 
an "eminently political act" by which Europe had "opted for an autonomous 
path." Shamed by its impotence in the Kosovo bombing, the European Union last 
December vowed to field an intervention force of 60,000 capable of slugging 
it out without the United States. 

None of this should come as a surprise. Subtly and cautiously, the lesser 
players are acting out the oldest game of nations. Primacy provokes, and 
power begets power. What is No. 1 to do? 

The most critical item is a change of consciousness. America is so far ahead 
of the crowd that it has forgotten to look back. Yes, the president and his 
minions are diligently working the global diplomatic circuit. Public opinion, 
as the surveys keep demonstrating, remains internationalist. But Congress
come down a long way from the days of Senators Arthur Vandenberg and J. 
William Fulbright. Now, it is obliviousness with a dollop of yahooism. Why 
else would Congress have foisted Star Wars, the Sequel on President Clinton 
-- without looking at the feasibility (low), the costs (very high) and the 
toll on American leadership (soaring). 

Sure, when you are eyeing that megamerger or I.P.O. 
bulging with zillions, the rest of the world looks both boring and ornery. 
But this world -- this wondrous system of open trade and collective defense 
that the United States built in the 1950's -- won't manage itself. Nor will 
it long withstand America's unilateralist reflexes like the missile defense 
system or the micromanagement of the Kosovo war by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Obsessive second-guessing by the brass back in Washington not only riled 
European souls, but also humiliated the NATO commander at the time, Wesley 
Clark, who happens to be an American. Why stick to the alliance if it becomes 
a wholly owned subsidiary of the Pentagon? 

One assumes that the "last remaining superpower" will want to remain one. But 
if so, the United States might recall the best tradition of its postwar grand 
strategy. It wasn't just sheer size and weight that shaped this most 
brilliant chapter of American diplomacy. It was the bipartisan conviction 
that power comes with responsibility, and that responsibility must defy 
short-term self-interest or the domestic fixation of the day. 

Hence that marvelous alphabet soup of international institutions from NATO to 
GATT and the I.M.F. that turned America into the "indispensable power" 
celebrated by Madeleine Albright. Why? Because this No. 1 was the first in 
history to lead rather than rule. Others followed because the United States 
was a supply-side hegemon -- it provided the world with essential public 
goods like stability and free trade. 

To heed the needs (and sensibilities) of others is the best defense against 
"ganging up," and that is as true in domestic as in international politics. 
Great leaders shun both imposition and indifference. 

The proper maxim for Mr. Big is: "Do good by others to do well for yourself." 
Great powers remain great if they promote their own interests by serving 
those of others. 


June 20, 2000
Administration Reshuffle Strengthens Putin's Team
By Alexander Kornilov 

Alexander Voloshin has improved the efficiency of the presidential 
administration by reassigning the duties amongst his deputies, the majority 
of who are very close to the President. The most important point is that 
Dmitry Medvedev's position has been significantly strengthened. Some sources 
say he might even replace Voloshin himself. 
Close scrutiny of the order signed by the head of presidential 
administration suggests that preparations are being made for Voloshin's 
replacement. Obviously, it is not Voloshin himself who is paving the way for 
the reshuffle, but the people of the president's so-called inner circle. In 
addition to keeping his earlier duties, first deputy head of the Presidential 
Administration Medvedev has been assigned a whole range of new 
responsibilities, including the organization of President Vladimir Putin's 
work schedule. Henceforth namely Medvedev will determine whom Putin will 
meet, when, and in what sequence. This is a key responsibility in the Kremlin 

In addition to this, from now on the first deputy head of the administration 
will be responsible for coordinating the work of the government staff in 
Alexander Voloshin's absence, will run the administration. Medvedev's new 
responsibilities are tantamount to a major promotion 

Another deputy Vladislav Surkov has also been given significantly more 
responsibilities. Surkov is now responsible for a whole strategic range of 
the presidential administration's contacts with the State Duma, Federation 
Council, CEC (the Central Election Commission) and the Constitutional Court. 
Besides, he will supervise the Chief department for interior policy. 

Surkov is now responsible for the ideological component of Putin's 
administration's work. Is that good or bad? It is very good for Voloshin, for 
Surkov is his prot?g?. Therefore, the strengthening of the latter's position 
is a sort of a counter-balance to Medvedev's drastically increased power. But 
the counter-balance is somewhat weak. 

The redistribution of the other duties are not so dramatic; Igor Sechin, who 
previously organized the president's schedule will now concentrate his 
efforts on running the presidential office, submitting decrees, instructions 
and documents for Putin's approval and monitoring the processing of 

These may sound like straightforward, routine duties, but in reality, between 
them Sechin and Medvedev will now have full control over everything the 
president's engagements, whom he meets, what he reads and what he signs. 

Both of them are close to Putin and the reshuffle means that the former 
Kremlin team has lost yet more operational control over the president's 

The duties of the other two deputies at the helm of the administration, 
Viktor Ivanov and Yevgeny Lisov, remain unchanged. The former will remain in 
charge of the personnel department and personnel issues and the latter, the 
state control department. 

Voloshin's recently appointed deputy Dmitri Kozak will head the main legal 
department and thus be responsible for coordinating the work to bring 
regional laws into line with federal legislation and the constitution. 

So what is the outcome? The duties have been redistributed amongst three of 
Voloshin's deputies; Medvedev, Sechin and Surkov. Medvedev and Surkov are 
obviously engaged in a strategical struggle for full control over the 
administration. Voloshin is helping Surkov as much as he can, but the members 
of Putin's team already sense they have control in the Kremlin and literally 
have him bound by his hands and feet. 


Moscow Times
June 21, 2000 
FSB Orders Students to Spy on Yabloko 
By Vladimir Kovalyev
Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yabloko political movement says federal agents 
approached two students active in its ranks and gave them an ultimatum: Spy 
on Yabloko from within, or find yourself sent off to fight in Chechnya. 

The students at St. Petersburg's Baltic State University, Dmitry Barkovsky 
and Konstantin Suzdal, have laid out their allegations in a letter posted on 
Yabloko's web site ( Their plight has been taken up by 
Grigory Yavlinsky f who says top Yabloko leaders, including himself, have 
come under surveillance of federal agents on orders from President Vladimir 

Yavlinsky, who heads the liberal Yabloko movement's parliamentary faction, 
has requested a formal explanation from Nikolai Patrushev, head of the 
Federal Security Service, or FSB, the main KGB successor agency. Patrushev 
succeeded Putin, who left the director's chair at the FSB in August to become 
prime minister. 

Yavlinsky's letter asked Patrushev: "Are the Yabloko movement and its leaders 
the targets of a covert surveillance operation f and if so, on what legal 
grounds? Is it true that you, in the name of orders from the president of the 
Russian Federation, [Vladimir] Putin, have ordered a covert surveillance 
operation against me and my loved ones?" 

The letter f versions of which were also sent to President Putin and to 
Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov f goes on to say, "If the president of 
the Russian Federation really has ordered you to assemble information about 
the Yabloko movement and about my professional, social and political 
activities, then we are prepared to ease your work and provide it." 

A spokeswoman for the FSB said she was familiar with the Yabloko allegations, 
but declined to comment, asking instead for questions by fax. She declined to 
say when they would be answered. 

Students Barkovsky and Suzdal say they were called into an office at Baltic 
State University in late May and questioned about Yabloko's St. Petersburg 
branch by two men who identified themselves as FSB officers. 

The students said the FSB officers told them Yabloko was involved in spying 
for unspecified foreign powers. The agents also asked where Yabloko got its 
campaign financing, why the party had so many offices, why it had recruited 
so many young people and why Yabloko members closely monitored the Russian 

One of the students, Barkovsky, said he tried to evade questions, on grounds 
that he did not know the answers and did not think the questions proper. "In 
reply I got threats that I would be expelled from the university, that I 
would be 'sent to Chechnya' and so on, and also threats against my relatives 
and friends," Barkovsky said, in remarks posted on 

Barkovsky said that out of fear he signed a document promising not to leave 
St. Petersburg without FSB permission, and to provide the FSB with 
information about the "espionage activities of Yabloko" and about "their 
methods for sending information abroad." 

He said he was given the code name "Georgy" and told he would be called on 
May 31. 

Barkovsky f in his fourth year studying to be a rocket propulsion engineer f 
also says he soon after began to have trouble in school. He said professors 
refused to schedule him for exams on May 31, the day of his scheduled FSB 
meeting. Barkovsky said one professor explained such a refusal by saying, 
"The situation has changed." Soon after, Barkovsky was expelled. 

The Baltic State faculty mentioned in Barkovsky's letter could not be reached 
for comment. But Igor Kuzmin, deputy rector of the university, said in a 
telephone interview that Barkovsky was expelled because he was a bad student. 

"This scandal is groundless," Kuzmin said. "There have been no FSB 
representatives in the university, and this student was expelled because he 
was a poor student who didn't attend lectures and who had very bad results." 

Kuzmin had no explanation for the similar allegations of Barkovsky's 
classmate, Suzdal, who was also expelled recently. Barkovsky says Suzdal was 
told by the university officials who expelled him that "you have to use your 
head when choosing your party." 

Education Ministry officials were expected at Baltic State this week to 
investigate the Barkovsky-Suzdal allegations, Kuzmin said. He added that the 
ministry had asked him to compile a report on all students at the university 
engaged in any sort of political activity with any party. 

Barkovsky and Suzdal both worked for Yabloko during the State Duma elections 
in 1999, the presidential race in March, and the St. Petersburg gubernatorial 
race in May, when Yabloko candidate Igor Artemyev was soundly beaten by 
incumbent Governor Vladimir Yakovlev. 

President Putin, a former deputy mayor of St. Petersburg and a 17-year 
veteran of the KGB, has expressed admiration for Soviet-era informers, 
calling them patriots. Yabloko's Yavlinsky, in a televised ORT interview this 
week, countered that the culture of informers and informing ought to be 

"Creating an atmosphere of surveillance and blackmail will lead to enormous 
losses for our nation," Yavlinsky said. "To foster an atmosphere of informing 
will mean to scare off the very best. ž They won't want to participate in 
public life, or to work for the good of their country." 


S.Korean officials teach Russia crisis-management
By Julie Tolkacheva

MOSCOW, June 20 (Reuters) - South Korea gave Russia a crash course on crisis 
management on Tuesday, saying the first lesson was to make the country's 
economic policies more transparent. 

Ex-finance and economy minister Kang Bong-kyun told a seminar for Russian 
officials that South Korea, which suffered an economic crisis in 1997, just a 
year before Russia, had put its economy back on track by restoring trust in 

"We in South Korea undertook a whole set of measures to overcome the crisis," 
Kang said. "It was necessary to restore trust on the part of businessmen and 
households. It was necessary to plant the seeds of trust among foreign 

Transparency and trust are both major areas for improvement in Russia and 
high on the list of requirements for Russian economic reforms -- to persuade 
foreigners to invest and Russians to keep their money in the country. 

Kang said the key point of reforms should be that everyone -- from an 
ordinary grandmother to a sophisticated investment banker -- would trust and 
understand them. 

"It is only through providing all necessary information one can spur trust 
among the population and businessmen," Kang said. 

South Korea now ranks among leading industrialised economies, whose gross 
domestic product growth averaged more than eight percent a year for more than 
three decades. 

Russian presidential economic aide Andrei Illarionov has said Russia's 
economy could grow eight to 10 percent a year if the right reforms were 

The Russian government, which plans to consider its economic plan on June 28, 
has much to do to improve transparency. 

"The government should first of all work out a policy which would ignite 
confidence among households and businessmen," Kang said. 


"This can be provided through transparency of policy. For the policy to be 
transparent, a systematic approach should be worked out. These are the three 
factors, which I think, will help the Russian economy to grow." 

Former Economy Minister Yevgeny Yasin, who now heads the High School of 
Economics which hosted the seminar, told reporters Russia, richly endowed 
with natural resources and industrial potential, should study the South 
Korean experience rather than using it at once. 

He said South Korea had managed the 1997 crisis with the help of heavy 
foreign borrowing, which nevertheless amounted to a mere 18.5 percent of GDP. 
Russia's foreign debt burden equals about 90 percent, he said. 

But Yasin said Russia could use South Korean experience in offering 
government financial help to companies, as well as working out a strategic 
plan, under which all ministries worked in accord with each other. 

"We are saying 'yes' to this kind of experience," he said, alluding to the 
problem in Russian government of ministries lobbying for contradicting 


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