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Johnson's Russia List
15 July 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. St. Petersburg Times: Ana Uzelac, Demographers' Conference Confirms Putin's Warnings.
2. Business Week: Moscow and Beijing: A Love Affair Aimed at Washington?
3. The Times (UK): Giles Whittell, Russia, still with its head in the clouds. (re space program)
4. Andrew Yorke: Putin-watching.
5. Stanislav Menshikov: TIME TO OPEN UP AND STOP CHEATING.
Are Profits Too High or Too Low?
6. Paul Backer: strange Russia news from NYT.
7. Moscow Times: Ilya Malyakin, Staying Ahead of the Political Train. (re Saratov governor Dmitry
8. PRNewswire: U.S. Congressional Hosts Prepare to Welcome Russian
Duma Members;Visits to Focus on Security, International Relations and Women's Issues.
9. gazeta.ru: Afro-Russian Runs for Mayor. (in Tver)
10. Financial Times (UK): Revealed: the murky world of Russian
kompromat: Everyone seems to be using 'compromising materials' for their own gain, say Charles Clover and Anna
11. RFE/RL: Sophie Lambroschini, Chechnya: Draft Avoidance Rises
As Russia Ponders Professional Army.
12. BBC MONITORING: CHECHEN PRESIDENT SAYS NEGOTIATIONS ARE ONLY
OPTION FOR RUSSIA.]
St. Petersburg Times
July 14, 2000
Demographers' Conference Confirms Putin's Warnings
By Ana Uzelac
MOSCOW - Days after President Vladimir Putin warned against the danger of the
country's population decline, a round table on demography confirmed the
predictions from his state-of-the-nation address. Scientists and politicians
attending the event, marking UN World Population Day, said on Tuesday that
the population has fallen in the last eight years by 3.4 million to 145.5
million, and will keep declining at an annual rate of between 300,000 and
800,000, Interfax reported.
In his grim speech Saturday, Putin warned that if the current demographic
trend continues "the very survival of the nation will be endangered."
Nikolai Gerasimenko, head of the State Duma's health and sports committee,
said that the president was not far from the truth: With the current
birth-death ratio, the population will be no larger than 100 million by the
years 2020-2025, Interfax quoted him as saying.
Labor and Social Development Minister Alexander Pochinok lamented that the
country has a "lower birth rate than some developed countries and a higher
mortality rate than some developing countries." He cited the main reason as
Pochinok said the government plans to spend 3.5 billion rubles ($125 million)
in the next two years on the Russia's Children program, aimed among other
things at fighting the high abortion rate, Interfax reported. Russia's rate
is by far the highest in Europe, with two out of three pregnancies ending in
abortion, the Family Planning Association said.
The head of the association, Inga Grebesheva, agreed the main reason for the
crisis is "complete uncertainty about what the future brings."
According to the association's figures, the mortality rate among men is 4 to
4.5 times higher than the European average, while children's mortality is 2
to 2.5 times higher. Around 90 percent of Russia's 600,000 orphans are
"social orphans" - abandoned by their parents because of poverty or
alcoholism. Another 2.8 million children are besprizorniki - street urchins
left to their own devices.
Many big cities are polluted and impoverished, and bad eating habits and
heavy drinking also take their toll.
Reuters reported that the World Health Organization considers a country's
health endangered if annual per capita alcohol consumption exceeds eight
liters, while Russia's per capita consumption in 1999 was 16.5 liters,
according to a recent parliamentary report.
July 24, 2000
[for personal use only]
Moscow and Beijing: A Love Affair Aimed at Washington?
Vladimir V. Putin and Jiang Zemin are seeing a lot of each other these days.
The Russian and Chinese Presidents met together with the leaders of three
Central Asian nations in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on July 5. Now, Putin is
heading to Beijing for a summit with Jiang on July 18-19. The goal: to
solidify a strategic partnership aimed at countering American dominance on
the global stage.
Both Putin and Jiang are walking a fine diplomatic line. Each leader wants
strong economic ties with the U.S. and other leading industrial economies.
Jiang is preparing for China's entry into the World Trade Organization, and
Putin is working to make Russia more attractive to U.S. and other foreign
investors. Neither Russia nor China wants to permanently damage its
relationship with the U.S.
At the same time, the two Presidents are stating ever more openly their
shared opposition to a world dominated by one superpower. China and Russia
are ``ready to play a more important role in fighting against hegemony and
power politics,'' Jiang declared in Dushanbe. Putin has also crafted a new
foreign policy doctrine that decries a ``unipolar world'' under U.S.
SHARED BEEFS. China and Russia already agree with each other--and oppose the
U.S.--on a range of issues. They both oppose sanctions against Saddam
Hussein's Iraq. They disapprove of U.S. intervention in hot spots such as
Kosovo. Since NATO's bombing there, they fear that the U.S. or NATO could use
humanitarian concerns as an excuse for intervening within their own borders.
China's problems with Taiwan and with restive minorities in Tibet and the
Muslim region of Xinjiang, and Russia's war against separatists in Chechnya,
have spurred Jiang and Putin to speak out against any intervention.
For now, no issue unites Russia and China more than their opposition to
U.S. plans to build a missile defense system. After an early test failed on
July 7, Moscow and Beijing are stepping up efforts to delay or kill the
project altogether. Putin and Jiang are likely to state their opposition once
again in a joint communique at the Beijing summit. Putin may then warn
President Clinton against pursuing missile defense at the Group of Eight
meeting in Okinawa on July 21-23.
Should the U.S. and its allies worry about Putin's and Jiang's growing
friendship? The Clinton Administration is counting on China's trade with the
U.S. and Russia's need for investment to keep the two leaders from doing
anything that would threaten relations with the U.S. and its allies. Still,
if Russia and China coordinate their policies more, they could use their veto
power on the United Nations Security Council to oppose American positions on
issues ranging from Iraqi sanctions to arms control. Some observers worry
about a longer-term threat as China strengthens its military arsenal. Beijing
spends billions of dollars annually for Russian armaments and has recently
purchased two Russian guided-missile destroyers and four submarines, as well
as SU-27 and SU-30 fighter jets. The fear is that these advanced weapons
could be used against U.S. forces in any conflict over Taiwan.
A viable Sino-Russian partnership has not been a reality since the depths
of the cold war. But if the relationship between Putin and Jiang continues to
flourish, the new U.S. President may find himself facing an increasingly
confident duo vying for attention on the global stage.
By Dexter Roberts in Beijing, with Stan Crock in Washington, and Paul
Starobin in Moscow
EDITED BY ROSE BRADY
The Times (UK)
15 July 2000
[for personal use only]
Russia, still with its head in the clouds
By Giles Whittell
It's been a splendid week for Russian space scientists. In a triumph over
corruption and crippling shortages of money, they hurled their centrepiece of
the International Space Station (ISS) into perfect orbit in front of the
world's admiring press.
That, at any rate, is the official version. Western taxpayers who are
subsidising Russia's role in the project should also know that it was a
close-run thing. After years of coping with calamities on the Mir space
station, when the Russians finally found time for some ISS business they
rolled out an old-fashioned rocket almost identical to two that blew up last
year, lit its monstrous fuel tanks and hoped for the best.
There was a banquet afterwards. Sturgeon canapés vanished by the plateload,
washed down by local brandy. There were endless cheers from overweight
Yet it is hard to be fooled for long about what goes on at the Baikonur
cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Gigantic hangars and launch towers rise from the
steppe wherever you look. Telescope dishes point skyward, and the lonely
Buran, Russia's answer to Nasa's Shuttle, sits between earthen ramparts where
it was parked after its one and only flight.
A confession: I am obsessed by Baikonur. The audacity of what goes on there
and its remoteness in the arid heart of Kazakhstan were so alluring to me
eight years go that I spent most of a modest book advance on getting there. I
arrived by taxi after a four-hour drive from the nearest civilian airport and
was swiftly locked up in a railway station with a one-way ticket back to
Alma-Ata. The KGB were intact and paranoid then, but they forgot to lock my
window. I climbed out after dark, walked to the edge of the cosmodrome and
gasped at the night launch of a German communications satellite.
Wednesday was very different. As a badge-wearing correspondent, I followed a
well-worn routine that since my first trip there has opened this holy of
holies of Soviet technology to foreign gawping and several billion dollars in
For $1,000 I had a ringside seat. At Baikonur this means standing in a
scrubby paddock two miles from the launch site, which is close enough. There
was no countdown (an American invention for TV); just a huge explosion, a
long pause and an ear-splitting roar. It was over in seconds - next to me a
man missed it and spun round when the noise hit - but I would not have missed
it for the world.
Forty-three years after the launch of Sputnik, Russia's adventures in the
cosmos remain both awe-inspiring and downright spooky. That Gagarin was in
space less than a century after the emancipation of the serfs stretches the
credulity even more than do the Apollo missions to the Moon - which some
still insist were faked in the Mojave desert.
But the legends of Baikonur are all true. The soft radio pings that Sputnik
sent back to Earth were the sound
of Soviet knowhow, not Soviet propaganda. They scared the Americans stiff and
for millions in and outside the Communist bloc they seemed to vindicate at
least some of Russia's horrific suffering under Stalin.
Stalin is now history, but the cult of the cosmos lives on. Gagarin's statue
towers over the square named after him in Moscow, taller and much better
muscled than that of Nelson over London. His last crackly words before
liftoff precede the news on state television every day, and Russians love to
recall his common touch. (Anxious for a pee en route to the launch pad in
1961, he stopped the bus and relieved himself in its shade through a hole in
his spacesuit. His successors have done likewise ever since.)
What was he like? Vesyoli, you are told. Not Chuck Yeager-cool, but jolly. He
was the techno-Stakhanovite, smiling in the face of death.
His launchpad is naturally the first stop on any tour of Baikonur. The
hydraulic rams that hoisted his rocket into position are still in use, our
guide intoned, "and they frequently overwhelm foreign experts with their
simplicity". The same can be said of most aspects of Russian space
Gagarin's masters grasped brilliantly that space travel, even at 17,000mph in
a perfect vacuum, need not be complicated. It involves no miracles of lift
over drag, just O-level action and reaction. The secret was to think big -
and the Soviet command economy could think no other way. Even in its death
throes, it is said to have produced 80 surplus Proton rocket motors of the
kind that sent the Zvezda module into orbit this week.
With such a tolerance for waste, all that was required was a cosmodrome far
enough south to take advantage of the Earth's rotation and secret enough to
make mistakes in private. Baikonur was the result.
Those who go there today see the symptoms of a long battle between profit and
prestige. Profit almost stole the show this week when Pizza Hut paid a
$1 million to put its logo on Zvezda, but prestige is what Moscow seeks by
keeping Mir alive against Nasa's muttered protests.
Dan Goldin, the Nasa administrator, indulged his hosts with lavish praise on
Wednesday but it was clear that underneath his immaculate beige suit his
patience is wearing thin. After a long and evasive explanation by his Russian
counterpart for costly delays on the International Space Station, Goldin was
asked an equally long question about America's next launch. "September six,
we're ready," he said, and pushed the microphone away.
For a second it seemed as if the space race hadn't ended. It certainly
remains moot who won it.
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000
From: Andrew Yorke <email@example.com>
Despite all the attempts made by various foreign correspondents to
explain and predict Putin's actions, it is clear that an aura of mystery
persists around the man.
One thing that should be admitted, however, is that the more extreme
predictions of presidential atrocities have failed to come to pass, and
as a result the rhetoric of committed Putin-bashers such as the
Economist and the Guardian has had to be toned down.
For example, when Gusinsky was arrested, a great song and dance was made
about the fact that of all the oligarchs, Putin chose the man supposedly
solely responsible for the preservation of free speech in Russia. Since
then, Putin has gone ahead and launched attacks on most of the other
main oligarchs - Berezovsky, Chubais, Alekperov, Potanin. Which means
that there is little left to complain about, but complaints continue
with diminishing force. It is claimed, for example, that since
Abramovich has not yet been attacked, then Putin must be a member of the
"family". Or that Putin has made a huge mistake because he is launching
attacks on too many fronts.
What should Putin do to please these people? Arrest all the oligarchs
and risk an even huger mistake, or just arrest one and be accused of
being the puppet of all the others?
I'm no apologist for Putin. I'm still a little afraid of the man and
deeply cynical about his rise to power, but my jury is still out on the
question of whether he will be good for Russia - while some journalists
seem very confident of their gut instinct that the man is a psychopath.
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000
From: "stanislav menshikov" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: TIME TO OPEN UP AND STOP CHEATING Are Profits Too High or Too Low?
"MOSCOW TRIBUNE", 14 July 2000
TIME TO OPEN UP AND STOP CHEATING
Are Profits Too High or Too Low?
By Stanislav Menshikov
Recent actions of law enforcement agencies against Media-Most, Gasprom,
Norilsk Nickel, Lukoil and AVTOVAZ caused equity values of Russian
securities to fall. This is neither unexpected nor surprising. It is no
secret that accounts of Russian companies are closed to shareholders' and
public observation and there are no reliable company reports from which a
realistic assessment of their net worth can be made. The additional risk of
investing in Russian companies is that their shady practices can be exposed
at any moment and that there is no hard information by which to gauge the
size of the risk and the timing of exposure.
The cases in question are partly tied to illegal deals performed at the
time of the notorious "Chubais privatisation". But this is only a beginning
from which it could be possible to untangle the spider web of other deals
that are part of the shaky foundation of the oligarchs' business empires.
For years, under Yeltsin, these empires were built from zero investment,
mainly by misappropriating government property. Federal proceeds from
privatisation have been meagre and bear no relation to real market values.
More recently, tax evasion has become the main source of their enrichment.
But the first really large actions against evasion are being taken only now
and concern Russia's largest oil and car company. Other cases are sure to
follow. This is one aspect of "Putinomics" that may become THE most
important in the months to come.
Which raises the crucial question as to whether company profits in Russia
are large or small. The traditional explanation (shared by Putin) is that
net profits are too small because business taxes are too high. This is also
the underlying logic of the current tax reform which is meant to improve
the overall business investment climate. "Tax them less, and they will stay
in Russia rather than flee abroad", such is the accepted wisdom. Interviews
with business tycoons contain standard complaints about exorbitant taxes.
But, on the basis of available evidence, it is hard to say whether that is
Consider the national accounts statistics published by Goskomstat which are
the macroeconomic equivalent of the income and expenditure statement of any
large company. If business results were distributed evenly across the
economy, then the average cost and profit picture would look very much like
the GDP 1999 breakdown: labour costs (including social insurance taxes)
43.7 per cent, indirect taxes and customs duties net of government
subsidies) 14.0 per cent, gross profit (including depreciation) before
profit taxes 42.3 per cent and 37.8 after them. Excluding so called
"mixed incomes" of small enterprises leaves 27.8 per cent to the corporate
This is a respectable figure, much larger than the share of net corporate
profits (plus depreciation) in the US 16.2 per cent. And yet the US
economy is flourishing while its Russian counterpart has great troubles
shaking off its lethargy. Only half of the corporate net profit and
depreciation in this country is invested in the domestic economy while the
other half flees abroad. Yet the prevailing outcry is about "low profits".
Please note that even Goskomstat does not report the breakdown of gross
profit into depreciation and net profit. Neither do the companies. As far
as net incomes earned in that sector are concerned and the exact way they
are distributed, there is next to a complete blackout.
No wonder that foreign investors who bought Gasprom shares want to know how
much of that company's value is being transferred to Itera, a company which
sells Gasprom's gas abroad and is increasingly exploiting for its own
benefit gas fields that used to belong to Gasprom. Investors also want to
know how much value and why was transferred from Gasprom to Media-Most
which has not so far returned the money. Others want to know the real value
of the electric power plants belonging to RAO UES which Mr. Chubais is
about to give away to unknown favourites.
For all we know, none of these companies' executives are prepared to open
up or at least share their secrets with shareholders. According to
government sources, this will have to wait until Viakhirev, Chubais and
others leave the scene and, presumably, have safely taken residence abroad.
Consistent press reports about details of asset stripping in these and
other companies are largely ignored by government representatives on their
boards. Messrs. Voloshin and Medvedev who chair the boards of these
companies happen to be top lieutenants to Mr. Putin and wield tremendous
powers. Yet so far they have hardly started cleaning up the mess. Doing the
same in LUKOIL or Norilsk Nickel is more difficult since control there is
not in government hands. Neither is Goskomsat in a hurry to finalise the
reform of its National Income Accounts in order to bring them up to
standards prevailing in most civilised countries.
The time has come to understand that a modern economy cannot grow and
develop without honest accounting and statistical transparency. Nothing
will change in Russia until openness prevails.
From: "Paul Backer, Esq." <email@example.com>
Subject: strange Russia news from NYT
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000
saw this one in a Michael Wines article in DJL 4404:
"Anatoly B. Chubais, who was former prime minister
under President Boris N. Yeltsin..."
they changed so fast, did I miss him?
as near as I can recall, wasn't it?
Carlson (Na Krishe)
and then Kot v Sapogah
I enjoyed my time in Russia, I didn't realize I enjoyed it THIS much.
Then again, it's a small detail (Prime Minister) that newspapers get wrong
all the time, after all who of us can say that we haven't been prime
minister of the RF at least once?
Though on a serious note a REAL surprise from Mr. Wines, whose articles are
actually some of the best reporting on Russia.
July 15, 2000
Staying Ahead of the Political Train
By Ilya Malyakin
Ilya Malyakin is editor of the Volga Information Agency. He contributed this
comment to The Moscow Times.
Since the moment Boris Yeltsin transferred power to Vladimir Putin, the
actions of Saratov region governor Dmitry Ayatskov have been subordinated to
one goal f to stay ahead of the train of Russian politics.
But that train does not move along rails and to figure out its turns is no
easy task. As a result, Ayatskov resembles Lewis Carroll's Alice, who has to
run with all her might just to remain in place.
Ayatskov was one of the first who rushed to declare his loyalty to the new
president. But despite his declaration of loyalty, it seems that Ayatskov
expected nothing good for himself from the rise of Putin.
Scarcely having greeted Putin, he initiated a snap gubernatorial election in
Saratov, naming the date for March 26 f the same day as the presidential
Ayatskov did not move the elections up in order to lose them. But if it had
not been for the changes in the Kremlin, the Saratov governor would hardly
have rushed into new elections. Both the old opposition in the region, the
Communist Party, and the new opposition, grouped around disgraced former Vice
Governor Vyacheslav Volodin (now deputy chairman of the Fatherland-All Russia
faction in the State Duma), became active.
During last year's Duma elections, Ayatskov suffered his first undisguised
political defeat since coming to power in April 1996. The Communist Party's
candidates won in two of the region's most urbanized districts, including the
Saratov district, where the winner was Valery Rashkin, first secretary of the
party's regional committee. The Communists also won in voting by party lists.
Thus Ayatskov's motto for the early gubernatorial contest could have been
"Victory at any price." Dangerous competitors were cut out of the race even
at the registration phase: Volodin, having assessed the situation, did not
even bother to put forward his candidacy, while Rashkin was refused
registration. Rashkin was accused of buying voters and forging signature
Why would the leader of the Communists, a party that had just demonstrated in
the parliamentary elections its strength of their support, have forged
One episode may help explain: On the eve of registration, the Communist Party
discovered a whole packet of forged signature lists that had been gathered by
unknown "supporters." This was certainly not the only such "gift."
In the end, Ayatskov's two nominal rivals, both little-known businessmen,
looked openly decorative and practically did not campaign. The governor won,
of course, receiving around 67 percent of the vote.
"Against all" came in second, getting around 20 percent of the vote. Saratov
region, meanwhile, has been identified as one of the regions with the highest
levels of electoral fraud.
The Communists initiated a series of court cases alleging fraud. However, for
some reason, local lawyers refused to represent them in court.
This is how Ayatskov's run in front of the political train began. Now he is
ready to welcome all of Putin's ideas. Thus, soon after his re-election,
Ayatskov announced that holding new elections for mayors and other local
offices was unnecessary and that federal law would soon be corrected
He said this was dictated by the logic of the president's calls for
strengthening of the "executive vertical." As it turns out, Ayatskov was
mistaken. But from the best of motives f it happens to the best of us.
In Moscow, the conversations about changing the relationship between the
authorities and the press have only just begun. In Saratov, Izvestia has
already been censored.
When men in masks visited the Moscow offices of Media-MOST in May, Ayatskov
welcomed it as a "measure in the fight against the oligarchs" and ordered the
region's press minister to likewise "deal with" the oligarchs in Saratov
region f after which mass tax audits suddenly began at local radio stations.
The president introduces a system of federal districts and announces he wants
to remove governors from the Federation Council and also be able to remove
them from office.
Ayatskov welcomes it, saying: Right! This is exactly what should have been
done long ago. And then he becomes one of the few governors to vote in favor
of the new procedure for forming the Federation Council.
So it may be no accident that it was in Saratov that someone was detained
this past May under the half-forgotten political statute of the Criminal Code
f "Calls to forcibly change the constitutional order."
In the best of Soviet traditions, the suspect, the long-time dissident Andrei
Derevyankin, was initially placed under psychiatric observation and for a
month managed without a lawyer.
No, it is not enough to win an election. One also has to stay on the list of
the loyal and the select. Then the anger of the new president will not touch
Ayatskov, whatever laws are adopted in Moscow. Then he will reign supreme in
his region, as before. That is what the Saratov governor is apparently hoping
to achieve by making himself into a greater supporter of Putin than Putin
U.S. Congressional Hosts Prepare to Welcome Russian Duma Members;Visits to
Focus on Security, International Relations and Women's Issues
WASHINGTON, July 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Nineteen Members of Russia's Parliament
and two Russian Government Deputy Ministers will obtain a first- hand look at
the U.S. political process when they are hosted in the U.S. next week by
Members of Congress as part of the ongoing Library of Congress Open World
2000 Russian Leadership Program (RLP). The RLP is a unique legislature-
to-legislature exchange program involving more than 1,800 Russian political
leaders, U.S. Members of Congress, and federal, state and local officials.
As with all RLP Parliamentary delegations, the upcoming delegations will
visit the home districts of their U.S. Congressional hosts and also visit
Washington, DC for meetings with key policymakers. Three of the upcoming
delegations, arriving on July 22, are from Russia's State Duma (the Lower
House of Parliament) and one, arriving on July 16, is from the Federation
Council (upper house).
These delegations, organized in collaboration with the American Foreign
Policy Council, will focus on issues that are critical to Russia's democratic
and economic reform transition. The delegations and their Congressional
* A Security issues delegation comprised of eight Duma members and led by
Pavel T. Burdukov, Deputy Chairman of the Duma Committee on Security.
Delegation members will be hosted in New Jersey and Washington, DC by
Representative Jim Saxton (R-NJ)
* An Interparliamentary & International Relations issues delegation,
comprised of six Duma members, and led by Sergei N. Shishkarev, Deputy
Chairman of the Duma Committee on International Relations. Delegation
members will be hosted in Pennsylvania, California and Washington, DC
by Representatives Curt Weldon (R-PA ) and Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA).
* A special delegation on Women's issues, comprised of two Russian
Government Deputy Ministers and two Duma members will be hosted in
Ohio, Indiana and Washington, DC by Representatives Dennis Kucinich
(D-OH) and Mark Souder (R-IN).
* An Agriculture delegation comprised of four Federation Council members
and led by Valery A. Kechkin, a member of the Federation Council
Committee on Agricultural Policy and the Chair of the Novgorod Oblast
Duma, is also being hosted in Nebraska by Nebraska
Governor Mike Johanns.
Duma and Federation Council delegations consisting of more than 80 experts on
defense, energy, environment, agriculture, land reform, banking and tax and
other issues have visited the United States in May and June under the
auspices of the RLP. Defense Secretary William Cohen, Federal Reserve
Chairman Alan Greenspan and Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eisenstat are
among the officials who have met with RLP delegations.
RLP Open World 2000 is designed to expose Russian leaders to American free
enterprise and democratic institutions. In turn, U.S. leaders learn, first
hand, their counterparts' experience in leading Russia's transition from
communism to a society based on market economies and the rule of law.
"The response we have received from Members of Congress who have hosted the
previous nine Duma/Federation Council delegations has been great, " said RLP
Executive Director Geraldine Otremba. "These visits are forging new
relationships between Members of Congress and Members of the Russian
Parliament - not only are the Russians obtaining a first hand look at
American democracy in action, but Members of Congress have come away from
these visits with a better understanding of Russia's transition and a greater
interest in the country."
This year's RLP program emphasizes direct legislature-to-legislature exchange
between Members of Congress and members of the Duma and Federation Council.
About 130 members of the Russian Parliament are travelling to the United
States over a five month period. The RLP will also include a broad range of
Russian political leaders from national, regional, state and municipal
government from 87 of Russia's 89 regions. More than 2,150 Russian political
leaders visited the United States under the auspices of the RLP in 1999. The
total for the two years will be approximately 4,000.
The Librarian of Congress James H. Billington is Chairman of the RLP and the
Hon. James W. Symington serves as Chairman of the RLP Advisory Committee. The
U.S. Congress established the RLP at the Library of Congress in 1999 and
authorized it again for 2000, allocating $10 million for each year. The
chief sponsor of the authorizing legislation (PL106-31) for both the 1999 and
2000 OPEN WORLD RLP was Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Chairman of the
Senate Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the Joint Committee on the
Library. Leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and the
Russian State Duma and Federation Council have worked closely together to
implement RLP's unprecedented legislative exchange.
The Library of Congress awarded grants to partner organizations to implement
the OPEN WORLD 2000 program and has contracted again with American councils
for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS headed by Dr. Dan Davidson to manage
the logistical aspects of the program.
For a list of delegation members or additional information, please contact
Kara Stecker at 202-466-6210.
SOURCE Library of Congress Russian Leadership Program
July 14, 2000
Afro-Russian Runs for Mayor
By Sergey Ivashko
A unique candidate is running for the Mayor's post in the town of Tver, 200
km northwest of Moscow. 28-year-old Marseille Tafin registered his candidacy
on Wednesday. Marseille was born in The Cameroon and studied in Russia. Given
the Russians' unpredictability, Tafin's chances of victory are as good as
The elections for Tver's new major are to be held in the autumn. On
Wednesday Marseille Tafin officially declared his intent to run for the post.
Tafin recently became a Russian citizen.
At first his announcement was perceived as a joke, for Tafin has earned a
reputation amongst his fellow townsfolk as a quite a reveler and amusing
socialite. He owns a local disco club. Tafin used to be a captain of the
town's student comedy troupe and has appeared on television comedy shows.
However, it turns out that Marseille is deadly serious: he has already
formulated his agenda and assembled an election campaign team who are
prepared for action. Besides, Tafin has enlisted the support of local
politicians and businessmen.
"The idea of becoming the Mayor of Tver occurred to me about a year and a
half years ago during the winter holidays," said the candidate. "But at that
time I thought of it only theoretically, trying to figure out whether or not
I was suitable for the position. At first the idea was only a big joke.
Gradually it evolved and recently, after I found people ready to support me,
has turned into something serious."
Marseille insists that becoming Mayor would be a perfectly reasonable career
move for a graduate of the Tver Academy of Medicine. He graduated this year,
having passed all exams and two academic sabaticals.
Tafin says, as Mayor he would be able to handle all problems of the city
where he has already lived for 8 years. Besides, in his own words, he knows
much about municipal administration because his father used to hold a similar
post in The Cameroon. His hopes are also encouraged by the fact that there
have been Afro-Americans Mayors of New-York and Los-Angeles. "I believe in
success," says Marseille.
The sources in the Mayor's office told Gazeta.Ru that Marseille is very
popular in Tver. Everyone knows him. He is especially popular among the
students and night-clubbers. The black Russian regularly attends the local
discos and his most avid fans and admirers go to Marseilles's nightclub Asik
Tver girls Irina and Svetlana told Gazeta.Ru that they are very fond of
Marseilles, because he is completely black, a 2 meter tall giant,
good-looking, bald and clever. Besides, after his years in this country he
has, as the Russians say, "russified", i.e. become absolutely Russian. He
speaks the language without a trace of an accent.
Girls say that Marseille uses Russian obscene language (mat) correctly and
with humor. This virtue apparently holds the greatest appeal with the female
However, local political analysts are rather sceptical about his chances.
Nevertheless, there are three whole months to go before Election Day and it
is quite possible Tafin, only really well known within the local student
population, will be able to win the hearts of Tver's electorate and emerge
Financial Times (UK)
July 14, 2000
[for personal use only]
Revealed: the murky world of Russian kompromat: Everyone
seems to be using 'compromising materials' for their own gain, say Charles
Clover and Anna Ivanova-Galatsina:
Psst! Want to read the transcript of a taped telephone conversation, in which
a top Russian businessman tries to buy his way into parliament? Fancy hearing
the latest rumours on the criminal tax investigation into Vladimir Gusinsky's
Media Most empire? Welcome to the world of kompromat, the dirty information
war which provides the setting for the Kremlin's current moves against
Russia's top business "oligarchs".
In the past month, three leading business groups have become the target of
criminal tax investigations. Another has been ordered to pay Dollars 140m
back to the government in a privatisation dispute. President Vladimir Putin
has said he will bring into line "people who feel comfortable in conditions
Kompromat, meaning "compromising materials", has been providing ordinary
Russians with a version of the murky background to these events. Compromising
information on individuals, carefully assembled over the years, was once the
exclusive preserve of the security services of the old Soviet Union,
available for use to end a career, or worse.
Today, it consists of everything from the ordinary, such as falsified tax
returns and photocopies of Swiss bank accounts published in the papers, to
the extremely inventive: grainy video footage of adulterous liaisons or
transcripts of wire-tapped phone conversations posted on the internet.
Victor Chernomyrdin, Russia's former prime minister, had his own brush with
kompromat this month. After a meeting with Mr Putin, Mr Chernomyrdin stepped
down as chairman of the board of Gazprom.
Simultaneously, press articles linked Mr Chernomyrdin to Mercata Trading, a
company suspected by Swiss police of bribing top Kremlin officials. Mr
Chernomyrdin has denied having any links to Mercata, saying he chose to step
down to devote more time to politics.
The logic of kompromat is simple: it is virtually impossible to do business
in Russia legally. The richer you become, the thicker your file.
These days, the state is not the only one with the files. Most of Russia's
large financial industrial groups have "analytical departments" and private
security forces staffed by highly paid former KGB officers, who use advanced
eavesdropping equipment to monitor their competitors' telephone
conversations, or use old spy networks to chase down business secrets.
When federal agents last month raided Media Most, which owns Russia's only
independent national television network, they took high-tech eavesdropping
equipment and files belonging to the TV company's private security
This later became an ironic source of kompromat against Media Most.
Transcripts of telephone conversations allegedly made by Media Most security
services later made it on to a Moscow-based website.
Rustam Aridzhanov, chief editor at Versia, a weekly newspaper devoted mainly
to publishing kompromat, says "my co-workers closely co-operate with the
security services created by the various financial-industrial groups. The
people who work there are professionals, who understand that there is never
continuous friendship, but short-term interests."
A quasi-market for kompromat has sprung up in Moscow, with descrete vendors
hawking a "fresh (Boris) Berezovsky" or a "(Pavel) Borodin with account
numbers" (account numbers cost extra).
"Tariffs" these vendors charge for kompromat start at Dollars 2,000 for
documentary proof of financial crimes by an official of deputy minister rank
or higher, while publication of such information in a large newspaper costs
upwards of Dollars 3,500, according to research on the kompromat market done
by weekly Ekspert magazine.
Websites have sprung up to catalogue the phenomenon: www.compromat.ru daily
catalogues articles from Russian newspapers on everything from Gazprom to
neighbouring Kazakhstan's ruling family.
Moscow journalists plan to unveil a site, www.corruption.ru, this month which
will contain documents on corruption by top cabinet and Kremlin officials.
Critics of kompromat say that what is really to blame is Russia's bureaucracy
and tax system, which make it impossible for businessmen to make money
"Everyone evades taxes. Everyone uses offshore companies," said the chief
financial officer of one of Russia's largest oil companies last year. "That
means the government can decide who it wants to go after."
Chechnya: Draft Avoidance Rises As Russia Ponders Professional Army
By Sophie Lambroschini
Spring draft results show that young Russian men are, not surprisingly, eager
to avoid serving in the military in Chechnya. As the large military presence
in Chechnya -- at least 50,000 men, according to officials -- is expected to
remain for some time, the question of a conscript versus a professional army
is cropping up again. RFE/RL's Sophie Lambroschini reports.
Moscow, 14 July 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Two-thirds of conscripts say they would
fight to defend Russia against an outside aggressor, the Russian Defense
Ministry said this week. But when it comes to fighting in Chechnya, the
numbers of the intrepid dwindle to less than half, a military study shows.
The results of this spring's draft campaign turned out to be quite alarming
for the Russian army -- only 13 percent of draftees registered for duty. Most
of the rest were excused for medical reasons or studies, or declared they
wanted to perform alternative service. The General Staff says that, for the
first time, the armed forces are suffering from a lack of conscripts.
Military analysts and soldiers' organizations say that fear of the war in
Chechnya has certainly spurred the jump in draft evasion.
But according to Carnegie Endowment military analyst Aleksander Pikayev, the
decline in conscripts began ten years ago, when draft regulations were eased.
The military is infamous for its cruel hazing of new recruits. But Pikayev
says that demographics also plays an important role.
"The problem of draftees is very acute because the traditional sources of
conscripts in Soviet times, the republics with a high birthrate like in
Central Asia and the Transcaucasus as well as parts of Ukraine, were lost to
Russia. And Russia itself for some time has been characterized by a low
birthrate. In the long term, the situation will become even worse, since the
[Russian] birthrate has fallen even lower since the Soviet Union's breakup,"
The Soviet system that had conscripts serving two to three years has been
criticized for years. In 1996, Boris Yeltsin promised to have the conscript
system reformed by this year, a target date that seemed more about politics
than reality. The idea of moving to a professional army crops up regularly.
It even appears in Russia's new military doctrine -- but without a deadline.
The war in Chechnya has highlighted the desirability of professional
soldiers. During the first Chechen war from 1994 to 1996, 18-year-old
draftees were sent into combat with little training or preparation, and they
died in large numbers. The public outcry played an important role in forcing
Moscow to negotiate with the rebels. So when the second conflict began last
fall, authorities were quick to announce that only conscripts with at least a
year of experience could serve in Chechnya.
But just a few months later, that minimum was lowered to six months.
Both the Interior Ministry forces and the regular army need soldiers. The
number of conscripts who report for duty is decreasing, and the army has been
trimmed down by one-third over the past two years. Meanwhile, the war in
Chechnya demands a presence of 40,000 to 100,000 men. Since troops must be
rotated in and out of combat zones, the need for soldiers may even be
Analyst Pikayev says it is amply clear that the troops are understaffed.
"Because of rotation, we had to send the navy infantry to fight in the
Chechen mountains, which shows that in Russian you have extremely few
combat-ready forces to fight in a war even as confined as Chechnya," he says.
The Defense Ministry is preparing a plan to boost the draft. The Russian
weekly "Profil" reported last month that the army proposes reducing the
number of organizations linked to the military-industrial complex, whose
employees are allowed to defer their military service. Such a reform would
increase the number of draftees by 40,000, the paper says.
Some reports say authorities have resorted to what amounts to press-ganging.
The English language daily "Moscow Times" reported that a Moscow student
dormitory was raided by draft authorities who rounded up about twenty
students, put them on buses, and sent them to the military recruitment
bureau. The young men were literally pulled out of their beds just hours
after their graduation party the night before.
The lack of conscripts is already changing the makeup of the Russian force in
Chechnya. Defense analyst Pavel Felgenhauer says unofficial estimates show
the proportion of conscripts in Chechnya among privates has fallen from 93
percent to around 60 percent. The rest are contract soldiers. This evolution
is seen by some military men as a step towards a professional army. The
commander of the Moscow Interior Ministry, General Arkady Baskayev, is in
favor of this transition. He told Ekho Moskvy radio that contract soldiers
and eventually a professional army would be less costly, both psychologically
and financially. Not only are conscripts unprepared for battle, he says, they
are also expensive. He says 10,000 conscripts could be replaced by just 3,500
CHECHEN PRESIDENT SAYS NEGOTIATIONS ARE ONLY OPTION FOR RUSSIA
Source: Chechenpress web site, Tbilisi, in Russian 1240 gmt 13 Jul 00
Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov has dismissed as "idle chatter" all talk of
Chechens going over to the Russian side, countering that the Russian side is
demoralized and desparate. In an interview for Chechen Radio Ichkeria,
carried by the Chechenpress web site, he condemned Russia's inability to
learn from its mistakes and see that the only way to resolve the conflict is
through negotiations. Maskhadov said the West's inability to stop Russia's
actions in Chechnya was a disgrace and said the slave trade the Chechen war
had allegedly aimed to stop was now being conducted by Russian soldiers, and
had always been bankrolled by Russia. The following is the text of the report
by Chechenpress news agency web site on 13th July
Aslan Maskhadov: "Russia has no option but negotiations"
>From a speech by President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Aslan
Maskhadov on Chechen Radio Ichkeria
The spreading of rumours about so-called militants, or commanders, going over
to the Russians is nothing more than idle chatter by the Russian puppet
administration which presents its wishful thinking as reality, as those whom
it calls Chechen field commanders are in the category of national traitors
for the simple reason that they have not gone over to the Russians now, but
were on their side originally. It is no loss to the Chechen army that these
commanders take a pro-Russian stance and there is no drop at all in the
intensity of the armed confontation between Chechens and the federals. There
is no doubt about that.
I knew these people when I was chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of
the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in the first war: they never were and are
not now of any value at all to us from a military point of view. Actually,
from all other points of view too, they are a waste of space. We have enough
warriors without such "fighters" anyway: courageous, bold, brave, who are
able to fight the enemy with merciless hatred. But a Chechen with the
slightest sense and dignity will not allow himself to stand alongside those
who sold themselves to the Russians and forgot God and their religion.
The appointment of [the head of the pro-Russian administration of Chechnya,
Akhmad] Kadyrov only serves to demonstrate the deadlocked position of the
Russian leadership, which has never had a balanced policy, and its actions
have never complied with generally accepted principles and norms of peace and
In particular, the Russians have never distinguished themselves by reasonable
actions in the Caucasus: the only policy employed with regard to ethnic
minorities has been one of "wield the truncheon", there has never been a
human language of communication with them, to say nothing of culture and
decency. Furthermore, they are absolutely unable to learn lessons, even from
their own mistakes. Obviously the results of the previous war did not teach
them anything. They again invaded our territory with even greater cruelty,
using more destructive weapons. And the result again is zero. The military
armada stopped moving and froze. None of the Russian leaders knows what to do
next. They probably think that all questions in the world are solved by using
the army. A brainless policy, or the absence of any policy, has always
compelled them to take shameful steps. When the army in such situations stops
its advance and marks time, it starts to become demoralized. Today Russian
servicemen are selling everything they are armed with, even their puttees.
Defection, hard drinking, killings and so on flourish among the military. In
short, there is complete chaos. And then, out of hopelesness, Russian
generals start making up tales saying that Maskhadov is wounded, he is in
Nazran, that the intonation of his voice has changed, or other nonsense of
this kind. They start calling Moscow and send crazy reports about 600
militants having been killed, one federal having been wounded, one helicopter
having come down due to technical reasons and so on. It is when they create
deadlock for themselves that they resort to help from national traitors,
snatching at them as the last straw, without realizing what a thin and
fragile thing this is. Nevertheless, they promise support for these national
traitors, as they did to [head of Chechnya's pro-Moscow administration in
95-96 Doku] Zavgayev before, and drag out the war for another six months. And
our resistance is entering a new phase, a more active, manoeuverable and
tougher phase. Our warriors are carrying out strikes in a more efficient way.
History shows that the Russians' only option is negotiations, but their own
errors and mistakes, both tactical and strategic, prevent them agreeing to
this and saying it directly, as does their satanic sense of greatness. In
short, the Russians' position is hopeless. Russian military commissariats
have started forcibly to conscript young Chechens into their army. I have
expressed my opinion about this in interviews with Russian news agencies, and
I say now that the forcible conscription of Chechens into the Russian army is
extremely immoral. This is proof that the enemy has lost all conscience. Just
imagine, all Russian generals and officers went though Chechnya in the
previous war and this one. The entire world witnessed the fact that both then
and now dozens of regiments and battalions were destroyed here in Chechnya.
Against this background, what attitude can generals and officers have towards
Chechens? With the infernal cruelty typical of them, these "commanders" will
turn the service of conscripts from Chechnya in the Russian army into hell.
In addition, they all need rehabilitation, as they are insane. They should be
treated very seriously and for a very long time.
The sense of fear they experienced in Chechnya is so great that its
consequences are unpredictable and they will become an extremely serious
problem for Russia. How can young Chechen people, who saw them ruthlessly
shooting women, children and the weak with sadistic brutality in Groznyy,
Aldy, Komsomolskoye and so on, obey these vandals? Russia's 400-year-old
misanthropic policy towards the Chechens has taught us that we always have to
count on ourselves and on our own forces. We have no right to hope that
someone in the West or East will respond and stand up for our interests. The
only thing we can count on is the mercy of Almighty God, the recalcitrant
spirit of the nation and the unquenchable courage of our warriors.
The West itself does not know what it should do with Russia. If it is
expelled from the Council of Europe, it might start being "naughty" and get
out of control with its nuclear arms. For the West, Russia is something like
a cancer and its unpredictability only increases the headache. Nonetheless,
we think that Russia's ignoring of decisions and resolutions taken by such
solid international organizations as the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe [PACE] or the OSCE, of which Russia is a member, and the
lack of any means to curb it are a disgrace to both PACE and the OSCE.
The West, because of its own impotence, started saying that the human rights
situation in Chechnya had started changing for the better. What changes for
the better are they talking about when Russia is still continuing to use
operational-tactical missiles even on occupied territory, for example, in the
villages of Zakan-Yurt and Yalkhoy-Mokhk? Aircraft and artillery are being
actively used, Russian generals, the Shamanovs and Budanovs, rape and kill
Chechen girls, arrest and sell men to their relatives. A real slave trade is
going on here. Before the start of this war, we were accused of this crime.
Criminals were in fact engaged in the slave trade in Chechnya and today it
has been transferred to state level, and after this they call their country
When the Russian president was told about concern over provision for the army
in Chechnya, he said: "Let them supply themselves." This means that the
president himself gave his blessing to the military to deal with the slave
trade there. For this reason, all the Russian commandant's offices and
filtration points are crammed with innocent people whom the federals are
selling according to a well-established system of rates: an official - 5,000
dollars, participant in the hostilities - 5,000 dollars, wounded POW - 3,000
dollars, violator of the curfew - 600 dollars, corpse - 200 dollars, and so
on. People have been turned into goods, and the West and the whole
international community are turning a blind eye to this. Nevertheless, we
cannot be like these vandals and will continue conducting a state policy
which complies with generally accepted norms of international law. However,
the surprising thing is that such prominent human rights champions as
[Sergey] Kovalev and some others reprimand us for our failure to root out the
slave trade in Chechnya, which allegedly served as a reason for the Russian
troops' invasion of our republic.
Once more I repeat that a large nuclear power was behind these slave traders,
that it was bankrolling criminal groups in Chechnya and helped this evil to
flourish with the aim of discrediting the idea of creating a Chechen state.
When our special services revealed the whereabouts of a hostage, [Russian
tycoon] Boris Berezovskiy popped up at once and bought him out by paying
millions of dollars. With the help of the Kadyrovs and Yamadayevs,
kidnappings were carried out in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia. That's why
I am responding to Kovalev: if we had been dealing only with Kadyrov, Deniyev
or Barayev, we would have easily curbed these criminals. But behind them was
an entire power and it ordered kidnappings and organized ransoms. Why do they
keep silent about this? International politics is a dirty sphere. Why is it
that the West and other regions do not want to spoil relations with Russia
because of Chechnya? Because Russia is a world raw material appendage. There
is no other state in the world, which would live by selling its natural
resources. That's why they are "milking" Russia and take pleasure in doing
this. All we can do is trust in God's help and strike the enemy without