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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
4. AP: Expert Expects Small Russia Harvest.
5. The Times (UK): Giles Tremlett, Leader's secret holidays to Spain.
6. smi.ru: On Putin's Inauguration Day They Ate Caviar by
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,
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
14. New York Times: Josef Joffe, A Warning From Putin and Schröder.
15. gazeta.ru: Alexander Kornilov , Administration Reshuffle Strengthens Putin's Team.
16. Moscow Times: Vladimir Kovalyev, FSB Orders Students to Spy on
17. Reuters: S.Korean officials teach Russia
Media Baron: Putin Ordered Arrest
June 20, 2000
By ANDREW KRAMER
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
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
``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
BY GILES TREMLETT
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
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
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.
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
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
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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, President and Chief Correspondent
Feature Story News -- FSN
"Your News Solution" at www.fsntv.com
Phone: + 1 202 296 9012
Fax: + 1 202 296 9205
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000
From: Alexander Domrin <email@example.com>
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
(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.
Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law
From: "Richard Thomas" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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,"
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,
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000
From: Aknight613@aol.com (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" <email@example.com>
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
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.
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
(http://www.glasnet.ru/-abo/english.htm). 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
By JOSEF JOFFE
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"
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.
June 21, 2000
FSB Orders Students to Spy on Yabloko
By Vladimir Kovalyev
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 (www.yabloko.ru). 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
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 Yabloko.ru.
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
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
"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
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.
RUSSIAN CRISIS DENTED CONFIDENCE
"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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