This Date's Issues: 4408 •
Johnson's Russia ListReturn
to CDI's Home Page I Return
to CDI's Library
18 July 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Times: Sarah Karush, Berezovsky Says He's Quitting
2. Financial Times (UK): Charles Clover and Arkady Ostrovsky,Putin critic 'who longs to be right-hand man'
3. BBC MONITORING: RUSSIAN TYCOON BELIEVES CHECHNYA TO BE PUTIN'S
4. RFE/RL: Andrew Tully, Economy: Poor Russian Harvest -- A Recurring Nightmare?
5. AP: Russian Generals Reach Agreement.
6. AFP: Russia's last czar to be canonized as martyr: report.
7. Rossiiskaya Gazeta: Iraida SEMENOVA, TEN COMMANDMENTS, RUSSIAN
STYLE. We Have Had Enough of Trouble. We Want Order Now.
8. Matthew J. Schmidt: Re: "the eXile" in JRL 4406. (US policy
9. Novaya gazeta: Grigory A. Yavlinsky, Police State Is Not An
Alternative to Oligarchy. Excerpts from address to the 8th Congress
July 18, 2000
Berezovsky Says He's Quitting Duma
By Sarah Karush
Boris Berezovsky, the shadowy tycoon often credited with orchestrating
President Vladimir Putin's rise to power, announced Monday he was giving up
his seat in the State Duma, saying he does not want to participate in "the
destruction of Russia."
"I can't go every day to act in a show that someone is directing. And I don't
like the way it's being directed," he said at a news conference.
Berezovsky said he was stepping down because of recent criminal cases opened
against other businessmen; Putin's campaign to rein in regional leaders; and
a lack of attention in Moscow to the problems in Karachayevo-Cherkessia, the
tiny republic in the North Caucasus where he was elected.
The former mathematician said he would submit his resignation to the Duma at
its next session Wednesday.
Berezovsky has been openly criticizing Putin since last month, when he
published a critique of the president's three bills aimed at tightening
control over the regions. Since then, he has said he plans to build a
"constructive opposition" to Putin.
Following the arrest last month of media mogul Vladimir Gusinsky,
prosecutors' accusations that Vladimir Potanin underpayed for Norilsk Nickel
and tax investigations into LUKoil and AvtoVAZ, observers have wondered
whether the "anti-oligarch" campaign would get around to Berezovsky.
Berezovsky said he thinks it will and that by giving up his Duma seat he is
demonstrating solidarity with the other oligarchs. "This is a deliberate
campaign aimed at destroying independent big business," he said. "I don't
want to use my deputy's immunity [from prosecution] in this case."
Yevgeny Volk of the Heritage Foundation characterized the move as a publicity
stunt since the Duma has the right to deprive one of their rank of immunity.
If criminal charges were brought against Berezovsky, his fellow legislators
would not likely miss the chance to show their distaste for one of the most
villified men in the country.
"This is his way of saying, 'I'm not guilty of anything, so if they start
something against me it's political,'" Volk said.
Berezovsky also called for a general amnesty on all political and economic
actions of the past decade. "Everyone who hasn't been asleep for the past 10
years has willingly or unwillingly broken the law," he said.
Vladislav Surkov, deputy chief of the Kremlin staff, endorsed a similar idea
in a recent interview with Kommersant when he said the privatization deals of
the 1990s should not be revisited.
On Friday, Berezovsky was called in for questioning as a witness in the
Aeroflot embezzlement case.
In April 1999, Berezovsky was charged with "illegal business activity" as
part of the case, but those charges were dropped in November because
investigators could not come up with proof of his ties with the airline.
The chief investigator in the Aeroflot case, Nikolai Volkov, was set to
travel to Switzerland later this month to retrieve documents that Swiss
prosecutors seized earlier from Andava and Forus Services, two Lausanne
companies that provided the airline with financial services.
Reuters quoted JÚrg Blaser, a spokesman for the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's
Office, as saying Volkov would be in Switzerland from July 26-28 to obtain
some 200 of about 600 files relating to the investigation.
Switzerland is handing over the documents in line with a ruling by the
country's highest court last month that cleared the way for the Swiss
government to provide legal aid to Russia.
But Berezovsky denied there was any connection between his decision to resign
and the renewed activity in the Aeroflot case. He said his decision was
connected entirely to his political opposition to Putin and warned that power
had become dangerously concentrated in the president's hands.
"The majority of the Duma is acting absolutely irresponsibly. We have a
situation where the Duma has become the executive branch's legal department,"
he said. "It just puts a stamp on the decisions that the executive branch
As for Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Berezovsky said he had been unable to convince
the central government of the need to regulate the situation in the
impoverished republic, which has been increasingly troubled by ethnic
Interfax quoted the region's governor, Vladimir Semyonov, as saying he
welcomed Berezovsky's decision. Both Semyonov, who represents the Karachai
ethnic group, and his main rival, Cherkessk Mayor Stanislav Derev, supported
Berezovsky's Duma bid.
But Semyonov said in a telephone interview last week that Berezovsky had let
his voters down.
"The people want him to stop all his political maneuverings and do something
to help revive our economy for a change," he said. "Berezovsky hasn't done
anything concrete for us."
Berezovsky's criticism of Putin is striking since the tycoon supported him in
the election. Berezovsky-controlled ORT television gave him favorable
coverage while mercilessly going after his opponents.
But Berezovsky said he had no regrets.
"If the elections were held today, I would support Putin out of those
candidates that were running," he said. "He absolutely cannot be compared to
[Yevgeny] Primakov, to [Yury] Luzhkov, to [Communist leader Gennady] Zyuganov
or even to [Yabloko leader Grigory] Yavlinsky."
Primakov and Moscow Mayor Luzhkov were considered contenders for the
presidency until an ORT smear campaign cut them down.
Berezovsky has never hidden his distaste for Primakov and on Monday repeated
allegations that the former prime minister orchestrated the criminal charges
against him last year.
But even as Berezovsky said he was expecting more charges against him, he
seemed to be in high spirits. Asked if he planned to leave the country, he
joked: "I only just got back," saying he had been "sunbathing" in France.
Still, some analysts said Berezovsky's move was motivated by genuine fear for
"He's outside of the Kremlin's team," said Andrei Ryabov of the Carnegie
Berezovsky named Surkov and PR guru Gleb Pavlovsky as two people who now have
the president's ear. Perhaps as a sign of his distaste, on the two occasions
he mentioned Pavlovsky he had to be reminded of his name.
"What is his name, that political strategist?" he asked journalists.
Catherine Belton contributed to this report.
Financial Times (UK)
July 18, 2000
[for personal use only]
Putin critic 'who longs to be right-hand man'
By Charles Clover and Arkady Ostrovsky
Traffic in central Moscow screeched to a halt on Monday as a bullet-proof
stretch Mercedes accompanied by two jeeps with blue flashing lights crossed
Tverskaya street, pushing cars to the side.
A minute later bodyguards jumped out from the jeeps, making way for a
dark-suited man with a bald patch - Boris Berezovsky.
Arriving in style appropriate for a head of state, Mr Berezovsky, Russia's
most influential tycoon, hardly looked like a rabble-rousing opposition
But the message he delivered to a packed press conference was defiantly bold:
"I do not want to take part in the destruction of Russia and the
establishment of the authoritarian regime," he said.
Mr Berezovsky's tirade against the Kremlin on Monday and his threat to resign
as a parliamentary deputy are a signal to the Kremlin that the former powers
behind the throne, such as Mr Berezovsky, are nervous.
He and a handful of tycoons vaulted into the top ranks of business after they
financed Boris Yeltsin's successful 1996 presidential campaign and won
political influence in return.
Mr Berezovsky used his political contacts to amass a business empire that
stretches from media to automobiles to airlines. He controls the state-owned
share in ORT, one of Russia's three national television channels, and owns
Kommersant Daily, a leading business newspaper.
Mr Berezovsky's former business partner, Aleksander Voloshin, became
presidential chief of staff under Mr Yeltsin, a position that he continues to
hold under Mr Putin.
But as Mr Putin seeks to crack down on Russian oligarchs, the country's most
powerful business baron no longer seems to have the same access to the
Kremlin's inner chambers he enjoyed under Mr Yeltsin's rule.
Andrei Ryabov, a political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said:
"Yeltsin's style was feudal, but it worked. And now Putin is trying to
completely change this whole relationship between the state and the elites.
No one knows what the new relationship will look like."
Mr Putin has also been tightening central control over regional governors, to
whom Mr Yeltsin gave broad autonomy in exchange for keeping in check the
leftwing dominated Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.
Mr Putin is currently seeking to pass legislation through the Duma that would
allow the president to fire governors, and strip them of their right to sit
on the Federation Council, the upper house.
In an apparent search for potential allies, Mr Berezovsky now appears to be
eyeing up the disaffected governors, who he says are "increasingly worried"
by Mr Putin's reforms.
Sergei Markov, of the Institute of Political Studies in Moscow, calls Mr
Berezovsky's statements "an attempt to form the anti-Putin opposition".
"The irony," said Mr Markov, "is that all of them dream of being not in
opposition to Mr Putin, but rather his closest ally."
RUSSIAN TYCOON BELIEVES CHECHNYA TO BE PUTIN'S MAJOR MISTAKE
Influential Russian tycoon Boris Berezovskiy has said that the Russian
policy in Chechnya is President Putin's major mistake. Addressing a news
conference, Berezovskiy claimed that Russia had lost a moment when
political means could have been employed to resolve the Chechen conflict
and was now facing a long and bloody war. Berezovskiy also criticized
Putin's handling of the Russian business elite and the reform of the
hierarchy of power. The following is the text of report in English by
Russian news agency Interfax
Moscow, 17th July: Well-known Russian politician and businessman Boris
Berezovskiy said at a news conference at the Interfax main office on Monday
[17th July] that he thinks that Russian President Vladimir Putin has
recently made "three strategic mistakes".
Berezovskiy put Chechnya in first place. "Victory in Chechnya is not a flag
over Groznyy," he said. "Victory means that a nation knows that it has won.
In December and the beginning of January the Russians thought so and the
Chechens, on the contrary, thought that they had been defeated," he said.
That was the time to start solving the problem by political means instead
of military ones, Berezovskiy said. "All the necessary preconditions were
there to do so. Putin continued to carry out military actions and today we
have totally different realities," he said.
"We are now involved in a long, bloody war," Berezovskiy said. "And the
result is clear to everyone. I have also spoken to the president about
this: one should conduct negotiations not with loyal Chechens - there is no
point, they are already loyal - but with the aggressive part of the
Chechens," he said.
Berezovskiy said in his opinion, negotiations should have been conducted
with [Chechen President] Aslan Maskhadov "in spite of the fact that he did
not decide anything". "We know who decided, it was Basayev, but it is not
possible to conduct negotiations with Basayev," Berezovskiy said, noting
that "today it is much more difficult" to conduct a dialogue, although he
thinks there are certain possibilities of doing so.
The experience of Israel has shown that "one cannot protect oneself from
terrorism", he said. "It is the ABC of the world today," he added.
"Chechnya is the main mistake," he said.
"The second mistake" is in interaction with the elites, Berezovskiy said.
Putin is supported by 54per cent, "however, I would not confuse popular
support and the support of the people, because the elite are also people,
who are the first to sense danger or a mistake", he said, making it clear
that support from the elite is now "different from what it was not long ago".
Berezovskiy said he considers the presidential package of bills concerned
with the strengthening of the power vertical to be "the third mistake". "I
do not want to take part in the destruction of Russia," he said, giving
this as a reason for his decision to give up his mandate of State Duma
Generally, his attitude towards Putin is twofold, Berezovskiy said. "His
personal qualities have not changed. What he does, he does sincerely and is
convinced of it," Berezovskiy said.
Moreover, he said one of Putin's characteristic features is that "he always
follows his moral obligations". "For a politician, this has both pros and
cons," he said.
Answering questions from the press, Berezovskiy denied reports that he and
Putin had vacationed together a couple of times in Spain. "I have not
vacationed with Putin in Spain or in Switzerland," he said.
Economy: Poor Russian Harvest -- A Recurring Nightmare?
By Andrew F. Tully
It appears that Russia will need outside help again because of a poor grain
harvest this year. Often, the cause of such shortfalls is attributed to
adverse weather -- cold springs, rainy summers. But as RFE/RL's Andrew F.
Tully reports, the real reason may be the way the government in Moscow
handles the Russian economy.
Washington, 17 July 2000 (RFE/RL) - Experts say Russia's grain harvest this
year will probably fall far short of the government's goals.
Last month, the Ministry of Agriculture in Moscow estimated that the harvest
will amount to 65 million tons of grain. But Gennady Kulik, a former vice
premier in charge of agriculture, told the news agency Interfax that he
estimates the total to be no greater than 52 million tons.
Kulik, now a member of the state Duma, the lower house of Russia's
parliament, says Russia will need food aid amounting to about 10 million tons
In Washington, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agrees that Russia
will have a shortfall.
Mark Lindeman, of the USDA's Division of Production Estimates and Crop
Assessment, says Russia consumes between 70 million and 75 million tons of
grain a year. Therefore, he says, even if the nation's harvesting goals were
met, it would still need to import as much as 10 million tons of grain, just
as it did after the collapse of the ruble in 1988.
Lindeman notes that Russia's grain needs are far less than they were about a
decade ago, shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union. He says the
overall decline in the country's economy means that Russians cannot afford to
buy as much meat as they once could. Lindeman says this has led to a 50
percent decline in livestock inventories -- and thus less need for feed
The USDA official told RFE/RL that many people mistakenly blame adverse
weather for Russia's frequent failures to meet its goals for grain harvests.
Lindeman explains that Russia is a large country with diverse weather.
Therefore, he says, bad weather for grain in one area is usually offset by
ideal weather in others and average weather elsewhere.
Lindeman explains that the primary reason that Russia often falls short of
its grain-harvest goals is poor agricultural practices. And what grain they
do harvest is more suitable for feeding to livestock than to people.
"They've had problems with quality over the last few years, you know, using
poor quality seed, inadequate plant-protection chemicals and lower fertilizer
applications, so all of this contributes to reductions in quality."
Lindeman concedes that he is not an economist, but he stresses that the
economics of agriculture in Russia are not complex: When general purchasing
power declines, farmers make less money and therefore they cannot afford to
produce crops efficiently.
"Farms don't have any money. You know, they just can't purchase fertilizers,
you know. Ten years ago -- at the height of what they called their 'intensive
technology period,' which is essentially just Western farming practices --
there were plenty of supplies of fertilizers and pesticides. So that has all
dropped off in the past 10 years because the farms have no money."
Daniel Griswold is a specialist in agricultural and trade issues at the Cato
Institute, a Washington think tank. He says Russia faces two problems in
overall farm production. One is internal and one is external.
Griswold told RFE/RL that the internal problem has to do with how Russians
address land ownership -- even a full decade after the breakup of the Soviet
Union. The USDA notes that about 90 percent of Russia's agricultural lands
are owned by the state.
"They still haven't developed a system of private land ownership, transfer
and property rights that are necessary for a truly productive, modern
He says the external problem is that agriculture in Russia is still heavily
protected and subsidized by the government. The economist notes that Russia
imposes tariffs of about 40 percent on agricultural imports, and that
government subsidies for farmers have actually been growing in recent years.
Griswold suggests that Russia's best strategy could be to diversify its
"Maybe what they need to do is open up their economy and create a better
investment climate so that they can transfer some of their resources out of
agriculture and into manufacturing and other sectors of the economy."
Griswold says the key to any diversification is to attract foreign investors.
"They really need to have a fully open economy hospitable to foreign
investment so they can accelerate the transition from agriculture to more
Until then, Griswold says, Russia can expect more bad harvests and further
stagnation of its economy.
Russian Generals Reach Agreement
July 17, 2000
MOSCOW (AP) - Top Russian military officials who have been feuding over which
branches of the military will control the country's nuclear arsenal say they
have reached a partial agreement.
The defense minister, Gen. Igor Sergeyev, and the head of the general staff,
Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin, have been engaged in a rare public argument about a
military reform plan to downgrade the strategic rocket forces by folding them
into the air force.
Sergeyev, a former commander of those forces, has staunchly opposed the plan,
while Kvashnin is the reform proposal's main supporter.
President Vladimir Putin summoned the two generals to the Kremlin on Saturday
to discuss the dispute, and they followed him to the Black Sea resort of
Sochi on Sunday for more discussions.
On Sunday night, Kvashnin, Sergeyev, and Putin's top security adviser Sergei
Ivanov stood before television cameras to announce the tentative deal.
Sergeyev said a final reform plan would be left to Putin to refine and
approve. He said the points of contention had been ``reduced to a minimum,''
but no details of the accord were released.
Sergeyev and other generals think Russia must depend on nuclear forces to
deter attack because the conventional army has decayed over a decade of
Proponents of putting more money into the conventional army say Russia's main
security threats these days are ethnic and separatist wars such as in
Chechnya, and international terrorism.
Russia's last czar to be canonized as martyr: report
MOSCOW, July 17 (AFP) -
The Russian Orthodox Church is to canonize the last czar, Nicholas II, as a
martyr, church officials said Monday as services were held to mark the 82nd
anniversary of the czar's execution by the Bolsheviks.
The church is to hold a synode from August 13 to 19 which will review a list
of 500 people, including the czar, eligible for canonization. Nicholas II
would be canonized as a martyr.
Archpriest Georgi Mitrofanov, a member of the commission examining the names,
said the decision to ahead with the canonization had already been made,
Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Ceremonies were held in Moscow and several other cities on Monday for the
anniversary of the execution of Czar Nicholas II and his family in
Yekaterinburg on July 17, 1918.
Several thousand people took part in services and processions in Moscow, St
Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, the Itar-Tass said.
Descendants of the Romanov family took part in a mass at the Peter and Paul
Cathedral in St Petersburg, where the remains of the family were buried on
July 17, 1998.
The chapel where the remains are kept was reopened for the occasion after a
six month renovation.
Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, three of their children, the family doctor
and three servants are buried in the chapel.
June 30, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
TEN COMMANDMENTS, RUSSIAN STYLE
We Have Had Enough of Trouble. We Want Order Now.
By Iraida SEMENOVA
The Russian Independent Institute of Social and National
Studies, acting at the request of the Moscow office of the
Friedrich Ebert Foundation, held a new sociological study of
the Russians' mass consciousness in March this year (the
previous such study was held in 1995).
Researchers decided to determine the priorities of our
compatriots at the turn of the century and their views of the
future of Russia. They polled 2,050 respondents aged above 18
in 11 territorial-economic regions of the country, including
workers, engineers and technicians, the "humanitarian"
intelligentsia, the staff of trades and services,
transportation and communications, employees, small and medium
businessmen, servicemen and the Interior Ministry staff, urban
and rural dwellers, higher school students and jobless. Most of
them (82.5%) were Russian, while the rest represented other
large ethnic groups living in Russia.
We Will Go Another Way
The analysis of their replies showed that we learned the
main lessons of history not theoretically, but from our own
lives. For example, the bulk of respondents irrespective of age
think that reforms should begin with the economy, and not with
the political system or democracy. Both young respondents and
those over 51 agree that Russia should live by its own rules
and go its own way, rather than copy the experience of other
countries. Those who are under 30 add that Russia can become an
industrialised country only when conditions are created for
those who want to work and earn a good living. Let those who do
not want to work remain poor, they say.
The study showed that the traditional belief that Russians
are pining after a master is not quite true. Less than a third
of the respondents agree that Russia can prosper only when led
by a strong-willed man. However, they think the iron hand is
needed not for diktat, but for restoring order in the top
echelons of power.
Russians have a negative attitude to the Belovezhskaya
Pushcha agreements and the dissolution of the Soviet Union
(80%), the privatisation of state property in the 1990s
(77.5%), and the collapse of the socialist camp in 1989-91
(67%). On the other hand, 87.8% of the respondents welcomed the
resignation of Boris Yeltsin before the expiry of his
constitutional term and many people have a positive, rather
than negative, attitude to the appointment of Vladimir Putin to
the post of acting president and the holding of the
counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya in 1999-2000 (66.7% and
The Moment of Truth
The data provided by the independent institute show that
first, Russians think that our people worked better during the
industrialisation period but lived better during the Brezhnev
"stagnation period." There were times when we both worked and
lived badly (during the NEP New Economic Policy period and
during the recent transition to a market economy). But there
was also a time when, according to our respondents, we both
worked and lived well - in the mid-1980s. Changes underway in
the country precipitated both the bad and the good periods,
while the people only geared themselves to the different
political and economic policies.
But it appears that the moment of truth is now. We have
become wise and independently determine what is bad and what is
good. It is bad when prices "bite" and we have to "tighten the
belt." The moment of truth dictated answers to the following
question: "What economic measures could improve your
situation?" 72.9% of the respondents said prices should be
regulated, as in the past.
My Family Is My Wealth
Judging by these answers, one can assume that the Russian
people have turned their back on the market values. But this is
not so. The popular rating of such formerly negative notions as
businessman (53.6% now have a positive view of such a person),
private operator (58.5%), competition (69%) and wealth (74%)
It is for good reason that My Family television show
anchored by Valery Komissarov is so popular in Russia now. The
authors of that show were quick to see the values of modern
Russians. Anyway, when the respondents were asked what
interests would guide them in tackling questions of importance
to them and deciding what to do, the overwhelming majority
relied they would be guided by the interests of their family.
This paves the way to the next conclusion: The bulk of
respondents in all age groups said their families and children
were their success in life. They believe that there is no need
for the head of the family. Decisions of vital importance for
the family should be made jointly by all family members, and
decisions of minor significance should be made in accordance
with the duties of family members. The main thing in life is a
good family and friends, said 92.2% of the respondents. Only
7.8% think the main thing in life is public recognition, and
another 6.1% are convinced that people should strive for power
and try to influence others.
Do you remember an old joke about Moses, who brought the
Ten Commandments? "Jews," he said, "I have good news and bad
news for you. Let's begin with the good ones. There are ten of
Regrettably, adultery has been included." Well, Russians do
not regard adultery as a mortal sin. At least prostitution was
not included in the list of ten sins they cannot forgive. The
unforgivable sins for Russians are torture, drug addiction,
high treason, cruel treatment of animals, political
assassinations, enrichment at the expense of others, suicide,
bribery, the purchase of stolen goods, and business laxity.
On the other hand, an older generation (above 51) does not
regard business laxity as a mortal sin and regard prostitution
as a much graver sin. They said they would never forgive it.
Russia is the unquestionable leader in terms of tolerant
attitude to breaches of law. An average of two times more
Russians than citizens of other countries can justify
resistance to the militia, and 1.5 times more Russians approve
tax avoidance. We have a more tolerant attitude to abortions.
At the same time, we have a special attitude to loyalty,
freedom, responsibility, justice, consciousness, labour, pride,
law and order, solidarity, compassion, fraternity, morals and
The researchers came to the conclusion that Russians are
simply torn apart by contradictions. On the one hand, they
accept tax avoidance and neglect of army service, adultery,
resistance to the militia, appropriation of found money, and
using means of public transport without a ticket. On the other
hand, they understand that "this is not right." This is why the
conclusion is that Russians want a state that would restore
order at home.
The scientists found out that the need for an iron hand
request concerns exclusively the establishment of order in the
power structure. Because we do not want to lose our political
and economic freedom and reject states of emergency and
revolutions in any forms.
However, a considerable number of respondents would like
to "divest" the newly rich Russians of their property (62.6%),
and quite a few don't protest against the use of guns for
settling conflicts that threaten the integrity of Russia
(45.2%). But fewer people would like to ban strikes and the
operation of political associations and newspapers, limit the
freedom to travel abroad, cancel elections for the next few
years, and suspend the operation of the parliament. Only
12.2%-19.6% said they would support such measures.
The Czar Is Far Away, and God Is Up High Only 10% of the
respondents do not believe in supernatural forces. A
considerable part of the respondents (46.9%) attend church
services. A believing Russian of the 21st century is a
relatively young man/woman with a general and higher education
and a blue-collar profession.
No wonder the number of traditional associations has grown.
In particular, the number of associations of the Russian
Orthodox Church grew from 3,722 in 1990 to 8,897 in 1999, the
number of Moslem associations grew from 914 to 3,072, Buddhist
associations from 16 to 167, and Jewish from 34 to 114.
However, it would be premature to speak about religious revival
now. The trouble is that a considerable part of believers are
following the "fashion." Their world outlook is loose and
indeterminate, and its contents is not clear-cut. At the same
time, at least a third of Russians believe in witchcraft, signs
and omens, and UFOs.
They delve into exotic cults and non-traditional confessions
And yet, 56.8% of the respondents said they would risk
their life if an enemy attacked Russia. The researchers
conclude that our society is also moving towards national
consolidation: 85% of the respondents said they were proud of
their nationality, and 80.5% are proud of Russia's history and
traditions. The feeling of national pride proved to be stronger
than pride in one's profession and achievements.
United and Undivided
The analysis of the results of this study shows that
Russians regard themselves as Europeans and would like to
remain such. On the other hand, most of the respondents would
like Russia to become a superpower.
We are categorically against the split of Russia into
sovereign territories. The researchers made this conclusion
because the majority of the respondents tend to associate
themselves not with the region where they live, but with Russia
as a whole. Moreover, polls show that the orientation to a
"united and undivided" Russia is very strong and stable among
We can envisage only one future for Russia - a united and
integral state (67.9%) of the respondents, and this future
includes Chechnya and the North Caucasus, where Russia's
influence will be eventually reinforced (53.7%). And this goal
will be attained with the help of above all big business
connected with the powers that be (38.8%) and the government
(34.8%). Only 19.6% believe in the omnipotence of the defence
industries and the dictatorship of the military. The majority
think that the military will not play the leading part in the
country or on the global political scene in the coming century.
Modern Russians have renounced the idea of a communist revenge:
only 16% of the respondents said they supported the communist
idea, and 12% were prepared to offer their views to society as
a national idea.
The ultimate conclusion is that Russian society has had
enough of trouble. The situation of chaos has been replaced
with a trend towards order and power, which can now rely also
on those social groups (representatives of big and small
business) that had not been available to it in the past ten
From: "Matthew J. Schmidt" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: "the eXile" in JRL 4406
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000
The reality is unclear as to whether the Clinton administration pursued
policies designed to destroy Russia economically and politically, as
asserted by the eXile reprint (JRL 4406). The gold-rush investment
environment of Russia in the early 1990s could serve as evidence in favor of
either argument. Either the Clinton administration did NOT intend to
destroy the Russian economy, because this would be contradictory to the
expressed desire to reap the investment benefits of a healthy Russian
economy. Or, the administration DID in fact move with malicious intent
precisely because a policy of quick "privatization" would provide a
delicious opportunity for profiteering by Western businesses.
While I tend toward the latter argument's tone, I must question its
assumption of a relatively unified conspiracy of action and intent. Smart
businesses, those that last and prosper over time, tend to be more vigilant
in pursuing long-term investment strategies. They understand that if they
pump a particular well of profit too quickly they will soon exhaust its
recoverable money. But if they pursue a slower, more sustainable technique,
they will eventually multiply their actual net profit by several magnitudes
over what they would have gained with a quicker development strategy. Of
course, the catch is that most companies are not this wise, and sometimes
even those that are wise are so cash-starved that a quick twenty percent
cash profit is preferable to a longer, less liquid eighty percent take-home.
And yes, it seems true that a great deal of Western investment in Russia was
of the we-can-sell-them-used-blue-jeans-for-a-killing type. I know at least
half a dozen people who tried some such scheme with no other business
experience besides selling Amway. But Ford or Arthur Andersen don't
generally do business that way, and they are the ones with the deep pockets
and political clout to influence administrations.
More likely, it was a benevolent conqueror attitude gone awry that led big
business and big education to so stupidly follow Jeffrey Sachs and his band
of merry managers. In their ebullient frenzy of help they forgot the most
mundane facts of American history. The existence of the many "hidden
subsidies" in the American model simply went unnoticed. The incredible
agricultural efficiency of the U.S. has become such a received fact of daily
life that it is forgotten as one the chief advancements of the 20th century.
It forms an immensely broad backbone in the skeleton of America's economic
supremacy. It keeps us well and cheaply fed. It provides huge exports, and
it preserves domestic tranquility perhaps more than any other single
political or economic variable. Yet if all the real costs are calculated,
it is a losing enterprise monetarily. The efficiency in crop yield and food
production of the latter half century were bought with an enormous federal
subsidy in the form of rural road construction, electrification, irrigation,
farm education, transport technology, and hybridization of crops, etc. Many
of FDR's Works Progress Administration programs laid this foundation (and
even then, these programs extended on the work of a great number of programs
stemming all the way into the 19th century). And still today we must spend
enormous amounts on bio-engineering crops, launching satellites to assist in
analyzing dirt fertility, and other arcane aspects of keeping our edge in
agriculture. If the average farmer had to actually pay for the cost of
attending classes on the techniques of no-till farming, or the use of
computer simulated models of milk production, there could not even be the
appearance of "profit" in his account ledger at the end of the year. The
U.S. government does all this because it knows that the real "profit" is not
money but a well-fed, healthy population that by and large does not have to
worry about when, where, how, or if its table will be plentiful. This seems
one of the basic goals and purposes for the creation of any government.
So what did we tell the Russians? In this Matt Taibbi and the eXile are
absolutely correct: we told them to cut subsidies, and privatize, privatize,
privatize on all fronts - costs be damned. The result being that Russians
today eat less meat (and not because of health concerns about meat), and
rely more heavily on dacha plots for vegetables then they did during Soviet
I have no qualm with the argument that the U.S. is complicit in this
tragedy, I just believe the reason is less conspiratorial and more mundane.
Sachs, the IMF (which was lambasted in an article by Joseph Stigletts, which
I believe was excerpted by JRL), the Commerce Department, and many
professional pundits, analysts, and professors, simply didn't't mind their
fundamentals (as an example of this argument, see Taibbi's criticism of the
New York Times, JRL 4406). All the political philosophy in the world has a
hard time changing declining birth rates and soaring poverty. The fact is,
the Russian government failed and continues to fail in providing its
citizens with the most basic of necessities. Isn't this the very definition
of what we mean when we define a country as "Third World?"
Talk of the wonders of modern capitalistic democracy and perfect republican
government are a pipe dream in these conditions. Deep government investment
must be made in the neglected and unglamorous infrastructure of Russia
before any real progress will be felt by most Russians.
Does this mean a return to Communism or Authoritarianism? No. But it does
mean a respect for the voice of the people through their representatives,
even if that means giving up on the cherished delusion of an absolutely
"free" market. Nothing is free, not even the market. There is a great deal
of treasure, talent, and toil invested in constructing both the physical
market and the belief system that upholds it, and it's all a subsidy
expense. It can't be built quickly or cheaply. But I believe it is a
denial of this fact, more than anything else, which has caused the Clinton
administration to squander its opportunity.
In fact, there is great reason trust in the nascent democratic instinct of
the Russians. They have elected a Duma that has repeatedly sought to
protect them by not cutting all the legacy programs of the Soviet Union.
That instinct is essentially correct. Unfortunately, it runs against the
disconnected philosophy of the Jeffrey Sachs of the world, and it butts up
against some of the old, knee-jerk prejudices of the Cold War. Because
they're "Communists" proposing the maintenance of some subsidy and welfare
programs, American politicians react especially badly. In the end, Taibbi
is understandably exasperated at the whole process. It's just that its
intellectual laziness he's really arguing for, and intellectual laziness
tends to work against being aware of the consequences of one's actions.
The theory behind much of the Clinton policy was, to quote Taibbi, "the
instant creation of a super-rich propertied class which would use its
resources to block any move in the direction of communism." I believe
Taibbi is correct in this analysis. The error in calculation came when
policy makers assessed the risk of falling back into communism. First, they
calculated the risk as being far higher than it was in reality. And second,
they made no distinction between Soviet communism and what Taibbi astutely
calls "any move in the direction" of communism (a symptom, perhaps, of Jeane
Kirkpatrick's influence). Instead, any attempt to use IMF funds for subsidy
programs was met with a deafening barrage of public relations, warning of
this or that revanchist threat.
Clinton didn't calculate the destruction of Russia, he just ignored it when
it was in plain sight. The great tragedy that has slowly unfolded since
1991 is that the U.S. has persisted in pursuing a policy of unconditional
surrender against the now defunct "Soviet threat." Bad ideology, worse
history, and horrendous hubris, have brought us here: ready to declare
victory AGAINST communism over and over again, only because we cannot share
in a victory FOR anything else.
July 17, 2000
Grigory A. Yavlinsky
Police State Is Not An Alternative to Oligarchy
Excerpts from address to the 8th Congress of Yabloko (July 8, 2000)
[translation for personal use only]
The Yeltsin era - a period of great hardship, whose meaning cannot be
reduced to any single interpretation - has come to an end. And the major
question that we have to raise, the question that allows us to assess these
ten years: why was it that the reforms in Russia, on which so many hopes
were bestowed, with all our boundless expectations, sincere aspirations of
those people who went into the streets of our cities in thousands and dozens
of thousands - why these expectations were betrayed?
We also need to explain why it is that our closest neighbors, our former
allies, those whom we called for so long, and rightly so, our brotherly
nations, why they spent these last ten years in a different way? Why was it
that in Poland national wealth increased almost by 50% per capita? Why did
the same occur in the Czech Republic, in Hungary, in Slovakia? Why is it
that our closest neighbors now have a completely different political
atmosphere than ourselves? Why did not this happen in our country?
In 1989-1990, genuine democratic revolutions occurred in these countries.
There, the ruling class was replaced in its entirety. In our country, this
did not happen. Here, over the whole decade, power remained in the hands of
the representatives of the top Soviet leadership, the Party nomenklatura.
The fact that over these ten years the country was ruled by a Candidate
Member of Politburo was only part of the problem; in addition, all our prime
ministers, without exception, were either members of the CPSU Central
Committee, or representatives of the KGB-FSB, or - for only a brief period -
a representative of a regional Komsomol branch. These people were solving
the problems of our country within the limits of their competence, and, as a
result, within ten years the country went through two wars, one tank assault
on the parliament, two debt defaults, and one hyperinflation. In 2000, after
everything that was thrust upon the nation, it elected to the presidency a
representative of the same ruling group - Vladimir Putin.
In reality, this was more of an intra-corporate power transfer, rather than
a free choice. The relevant task was fulfilled through the use of very
effective, however simple, political technologies.
Today, our country has a new president who was indeed supported by a
majority of our citizens. We welcome the fact that the president's decisions
on a range of important issues - tax policies, strengthening of federal
authorities, nuclear missile defense - coincide with those proposals which
were being put forward by Yabloko for a long time. This enables us to look
forward with a very cautious optimism.
And yet we realize that the present-day Russia, burdened with Boris
Yeltsin's legacy, is akin to a minefield. It is planted with mines of
economic and political nature, one of them particularly worth mentioning is
our 1993 constitution, which bears the traces of that special way in which
it was adopted.
How will our new president approach these extremely complicated problems?
This is the main issue of today's politics: whom will the president rely
upon in resolving these problems? So far, there have been three groups which
played key roles. First, it is one group of oligarchs that made him a
representative of their interests as a result of the elections; second,
those military people, with whom he cooperates and who have been his
principal advisers with regard to Chechnya; and, third, special service
agencies, from which he came and who are now prompting his decisions to him.
It is quite possible that the president will seek solutions by relying upon
This is why we are particularly concerned about the arguments in favor of
the so-called directed, or managed democracy that have been put into
circulation. This notion implies that all political issues can be resolved
by technologies, by manipulating public moods to make them more primitive,
by make public life ever more primitive. The gist of this formula is that
the people of Russia cannot adjust to real democracy, they cannot live along
those rules that are common to the rest of the world, they have not achieved
this stage yet, and therefore they need to be manipulated.
There is a new model offered by political technologists, somewhere
in-between South Korea of the past and Pinochet's Chile. This is the
corporatist state. Anyone who steps out of the corporate circle finds
oneself beyond the confines of this state and is of no interest to this
state. And anyone who dares to criticize such a system is little short of
becoming its enemy. This model is also easily transported onto the regional
level, where governors become heads of a regional corporation of
Yet we must bear in mind that the period which was overcome by South Korea
with the help of a corporate state is a matter of distant past. And, more
importantly, Russia also went through this period a long time ago. This was
the industrialization scenario. Today, we face competely different tasks.
Our task of the day is to overcome the stage which can be defined as the
"pipeline economy", an economy built around the export of natural resources.
Today, Russia is akin to a drug addict with pipeline instead of a needle.
These days, there is every reason to assert that a directed democracy is a
recipe for a hopeless and irreversible lagging behind the rest of the
developed world. People who are being manipulated and are deprived of
objective information cannot be creating the economy for the 21 century,
they cannot stand in the same rank as the leading industrial nations of the
world. They will be unable to defend the largest world country which has the
most extensive borders with most unstable regions of the world.
In these circumstances, current policies are a matter of great concern to
us. The methods of these policies are rather peculiar and are plain to see.
They include the suppression and intimidation of independent media, as well
as straight humiliation of citizens through the use of investigation
procedures that border on violence. We have thousands of examples all over
Russia, including those involving members of Yabloko. This also refers to
absurd demands imposed upon Russian entrepreneurs. If you read carefully
those documents that we in the Duma receive from the Prosecutor-General's
Office, you will see signs of straightforward pressure applied to
We see other threats as well, that acquire institutional momentum. The
Ministry of Environment is being liquidated, the Federal Migration Service
is also being liquidated. The government simply repudiated all
responsibility with regard to these painful problems, which will produce
hundreds of thousands of new refugees and new sources of environmental
danger. Further, some of the policies are designed to restrict the influence
of civil society on political life.
Repressive actions with regard to the media, Russian entrepreneurs, chiefs
of manufacturing and other companies are not about "putting things in
order", as most of us would hope them to be. This is a worst-style brawl
among a range of clans. This is the use of legal instruments for the purpose
of settling scores with each other.
This is our response: a police state is not an alternative to the
semi-criminal oligarchical system that was created in Russia in the past ten
years. Pinochet is not an alternative to Yeltsin. Repression is not an
alternative to lawlessness.
In today's Russia, Yabloko's political position is to defend human and civil
rights in political and economic spheres. For us, human rights include
property rights, as well as the right to receive objective information from
independent sources. We will not allow for the dismantling of the Yeltsin
system to turn out worse than was this system itself.
These days, we can also give our assessment of the basic approach of the
authorities to the strengthening of our federation. Yabloko has given its
support to the president's major initiatives. They had been an item in our
political platform. We believed and continue to believe that the
strengthening of the state and authority in Russia, geared toward the
strengthening of the nation's unity, is absolutely indispensable. This is
why Yabloko found necessary to support the president's initiatives,
including provisions allowing for the court verdicts to serve as ground for
removal of those governors that violate federal constitution and federal
laws. We are on the side of the federation, against feudalism. We believe
that in the future members of the Federation Council ought to be elected. We
view today's decisions in this regard as only intermediary steps.
Yet we also understand the strengthening of the state as the strengthening
of the judiciary branch, the strengthening of independence of the media, the
strengthening of all legal institutions in the country. We need to pay more
and more attention to civilian control over special services, including
control over investigation procedures. As you know, Yabloko had quite a
worrisome experience in St.Petersburg, with regard to recruitment of our
followers by intelligence agencies.
Thus, speaking of the most important issues, we should give some benefit of
doubt to the current president. Yet we deny any credit to those aggressive
forces that are acting more and more openly. As long as Yabloko exists as a
Russian political party, a monument to [the KGB founder] Feliks Dzerzhinsky
will never be erected again in the middle of Moscow. We will muster most
resolute resistance to the creeping constitutional coup under the slogans of
directed and controlled democracy. We will go as far in our unification with
the Union of Right-Wing Forces as our partners will be prepared to go with
us in the struggle against the project of manipulative democracy, against
the growth of poverty and misery in Russia, against the destruction of all
social strata. We will cooperate with all other political forces in defense
of constitution and democracy.
Perhaps you paid attention to an utterance that we heard from our military,
as part of their self-criticizm after being dressed down by the president
with regard to Chechnya: "as a result of those military operations that were
conducted, the smell of dead bodies is growing ever stronger." It is hard to
devise a more exact formula than this rather simple announcement by one of
our generals. This is very much on target. We warned about it nine months
ago, being attacked for this by great many people, including our present-day
partners. Now, as before, we repeat that putting an end to this massacre
requires political will, which implies negotiations - not with those whom we
ourselves appointed to run Chechnya, but with those against whom we are
In the current situation, Yabloko's stance with regard to Putin cannot be
defined in a simple "either-or" scheme: support versus opposition. The
formula of our relations is more complex. First, what is 100 days in other
countries, in Russia takes no less than half a year. Second, we simply have
some hopes, as human beings, because this is the man for whom the majority
We will support president Putin's political reforms, but only to the extent
that they are not related to violations of human rights and freedoms. We
will support his economic reforms as long as we see that they don't lead to
further impoverishment of the Russian population. We will be in
irreconcilable opposition to all manifestations of arbitrary rule, and we
reserve the right to become the party of resolute opposition to a potential