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25 July 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, Russian moguls cry uncle
as Putin puts squeeze on. Tycoons seek a deal with the president as
his anticorruption drive starts to bite.
2. Moscow Time EDITORIAL: What's So 'Impressive' About This?
3. APN: Russians do not think any longer that the work will still be
4. Itar-Tass: RUSSIA'S Population Shrinks by 2 Million in Last Decade.
5. Jamestown Foundation Monitor: SECURITY COUNCIL SAID TO PLAN TO
SUBORDINATE THE MEDIA.
6. George Slastnoy: polls.
7. gazeta.ru: Deputy PM Cannot Put Figure On State Debts.
8. Stratfor.com: Putin and the North Korean Missile Offer.
9. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Nadezhda ARBATOVA, STEERING BACK TO A BIPOLAR
10. Reuters: Russian general hints at Chechnya talks.
11. smi.ru: Yuri Luzhkov: Residence Registration in Moscow Is
Christian Science Monitor
July 25, 2000
Russian moguls cry uncle as Putin puts squeeze on
Tycoons seek a deal with the president as his anticorruption drive starts to
By Fred Weir, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Vladimir Putin assured leaders of the Group of Eight leading industrial
democracies at the weekend that his country is firmly on the path to
political stability and a liberal market economy. But the Russian president
returned to Moscow to face a storm of criticism from business leaders who
accuse him of inciting a purge against Russia's rich.
Mr. Putin was elected in March on promises to install a 'dictatorship of law'
and restore order to Russia's anarchic business sector. Police say the
criminal investigations launched into the alleged misdeeds of half a dozen of
the biggest tycoons are simply the fulfillment of those pledges.
Some prominent business people, however, warn that the campaign is generating
fear and uncertainty and could plunge the country into a new round of
A Kremlin spokesperson said Monday that Putin will probably meet with several
tycoons this week to discuss their demands for an amnesty on any questionable
acquisitions during the freewheeling 1990s.
"In an ideal world there would be justice, but in Russia today what we need
most is stability," says Fyodor Shelov-Kovidyayev, a former Russian deputy
foreign minister who now heads Krossinvestbank, an investment firm. "The
situation is in danger of flying out of control. Putin should urgently sit
down with business leaders and sign a charter spelling out the future rules
of the relationship between power and business. Unless it is clear, there
will be no investment and no economic growth in Russia."
The recent behavior of Boris Berezovsky, the most outspoken of Russia's
powerful "oligarchs," is one of the clearest signs that the attack on the
Yeltsin-era business elite is starting to bite. Mr. Berezovsky resigned his
parliamentary seat last week and announced that he will devote himself to
building "a constructive opposition" to Putin's regime.
Berezovsky is one of a handful of Russian businessmen who attained fabulous
wealth and influence during the past decade by getting close to the Kremlin
and allegedly manipulating the post-Soviet sell-off of state assets to their
Berezovsky moves out
Barely two months ago Berezovsky was bragging about his role in persuading
ailing former President Boris Yeltsin to resign, and in promoting Putin into
the office. Last week, however, he was singing a very different tune. "I
don't want to take part in the destruction of Russia and the creation of an
authoritarian regime," he said. "There is a deliberate campaign being
unleashed aimed at destroying big business in Russia. All power is being
concentrated in the president's hands."
Few doubt that Berezovsky, who parlayed a car dealership into vast holdings
in oil, aluminum, and media, is acting out of self-preservation. Though the
current wave of police raids has yet to touch him directly, the tycoon was
charged with embezzlement and money-laundering last year by the government of
former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. When Mr. Primakov was removed from
power, the arrest warrant against Berezovsky was lifted.
"Berezovsky clearly understands that his number is coming up," says
Svyatoslav Kaspe, chief analyst of the Public Politics Centre, an independent
Moscow think tank. "That's why he has been moving for the past month into
opposition to Putin. When the police come for him, he wants to be able to say
that it's about political repression, not a criminal investigation."
During Russia's 1996 presidential elections, Berezovsky convinced a group of
top businessmen to throw their wealth and media resources behind
then-President Boris Yeltsin in his uphill battle against a strong Communist
challenger. After the Kremlin leader's reelection, several of the tycoons
were rewarded with high government posts. All of them were handed assets at
knock-down prices, including oil companies, mines, and smelters.
In a 1997 interview Berezovsky boasted that he and six other "oligarchs,"
owned economic empires controlling a total 50 percent of Russia's gross
Top 5 hit list
Five top business magnates are currently under investigation. They include
Vladimir Gusinsky, owner of Media-MOST, Russia's largest independent media
empire, who was jailed for three days last month. Last week police searched
his home and froze all his personal property. Prosecutors say Mr. Gusinsky
embezzled $10 million in state property when he privatized a small TV firm
three years ago. Vladimir Kadannikov, the chairman of Russia's largest
automaker and former deputy prime minister, is accused of massive tax
evasion. Another former deputy prime minister, Vladimir Potanin, is charged
with fixing the auction of a state-owned nickel producer. The others are
Anatoly Chubais, former deputy prime minister and currently head of the giant
Unified Energy System, Russia's electrical monopoly; and Vagit Alekperov,
chief of the petroleum giant Lukoil.
It is not clear how far Mr. Putin intends to press what is being dubbed the
"anti-oligarch war" by the Russian media. "This is a very popular campaign,"
says Mr. Kaspe. "The Russian public hates these businessmen for the way they
acquired their wealth while the country was collapsing. If Putin runs into
trouble, he can appeal to the people for support."
That's just what business leaders fear. "The Russian people might cheer to
see the rich get torn down," says Mr. Shelov-Kovidyayev. "The mind-set of our
security services is well known. They will do this enthusiastically and
ruthlessly. But where will that leave all our hopes for economic reform?"
In the West, some worry that the crackdown could spin out of control. "The
idea of leaving some of these people with their ill-gotten gains is morally
unpalatable, but we have to realize that the cure could be worse than the
disease," says a Moscow-based Western diplomat.
July 25, 2000
EDITORIAL: What's So 'Impressive' About This?
Canada's Jean Chretien found Vladimir Putin's mastery of the issues "very
impressive." An aide to Britain's Tony Blair pronounced Blair also "very
impressed." For Germany's Gerhard SchrÚder, Putin was ``brilliant.'' Italian
and German officials advocated full membership for Russia in the Group of
Seven leading industrialized nations, so that it would become a G-8.
"Before he was more a guest," enthused European Union chief Romano Prodi
about the Russian president. "Now he's one of the Eight."
We can't help wondering exactly what was so impressive. After all, tax
reforms (which are a mixed bag anyway) are collapsing, freedom of the press
is under siege by the Kremlin itself, Chechnya is still in flames, and Putin
is constantly on the road.
What is so great about this?
Well, as Chretien explained, Putin's comments were spontaneous and informed,
and it was clear that he had read his briefing papers. Whoa! He can read!
Other leaders proclaimed themselves terribly pleased with Putin's report on
his visit to North Korea, as well as his suggestion that he and the other
world leaders in Okinawa this weekend keep in touch via e-mail.
It's all so modern!
If only they had e-mail, or the Internet f or food f in "absolutely modern"
North Korea. If only the judgment of a world leader who could see Kim Jong Il
as "absolutely modern" could be trusted when that leader says Pyongyang is
ready to give up its missile program.
We also can't help remembering Western media odes to Anatoly Chubais as a
reformer solely because he possessed a laptop computer. So what?
Nor are we impressed with the argument that Putin has improved the entire
nation's reputation simply because he was coherent, not drunk, able to stand
without help and able to finish sentences. It's time to move on from the
Boris Yeltsin era.
In fact, the frivolous nature of the glowing judgments on offer says less
about Putin than it does about the bankruptcy of the G-7 itself.
What is it anyway, and who needs it?
Why do we need an oligarchical mini-United Nations?
The G-7 f or G-8, as we will apparently now be calling it f wrapped up on
Monday by promising to move more quickly in forgiving Third World debt, to
bridge the "digital divide'' between rich and poor countries, to halve the
number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 and cut the number of AIDS
cases 25 percent by 2010.
All very nice.
But then everyone left, without saying how those goals would be accomplished
f providing yet another reason to find the entire Okinawa weekend, and all of
its eight leading men, very unimpressive.
July 24, 2000
Russians do not think any longer that the work will still be there tomorrow
Independent research center ROMIR proceeded with the polls to study public
opinion on the problems of the work during its July all-Russian inquiry on
a random basis (N=1500, 40 subjects of the RF, 160 points of inquiry.)
As the polls showed, 15.7% of respondents thought the work should be in the
first place even if there was less free time left. 33.1% of Russians shared
this viewpoint at large. “Neither yes, or no,” 22.3% of respondents
answered. 22.5% of citizens did not agree with the work to be in the first
place. 3.5% of those surveyed completely disagreed over this point of view.
Less than 3% of participants found difficulty in answering.
88.3% of Russians think that a person who performs his or her job more
rapidly and effectively should make more money than the rest of the
colleagues. 6.3% of those surveyed consider it unfair. 5.4% of citizens
found difficulty in answering.
39.5% of respondents think a chief`s instruction should be always followed
even if a subordinate`s opinion differs from his or her chief`s one. 45.3%
of those surveyed said they should follow the instructions if they consider
them right. According to 12.6% of citizens the decision depends on the
circumstances. The rest of respondents found difficulty in answering.
Provided the shortage of workplaces, according to 68.6% of respondents,
preference should be given to the Russians but not to migrants. 19.5% of
respondents had a different opinion. “Neither yes, or no,” 5.7% of citizens
answered. 6.2% of respondents found difficulty in answering.
Only 34.9% of Russians, however, shared the opinion that a man should enjoy
privilege to get the work if not enough workplaces are available. 50.2% of
respondents considered it unfair. “Neither yes, or no,” 10.7% of citizens
answered. 4.2% found difficulty in answering.
RUSSIA'S Population Shrinks by 2 Million in Last Decade.
MOSCOW, July 24 (Itar-Tass) - Russian scientists are alarmed by the
deteriorating demographic situation in the country as its population
continues to shrink.
In the last decade, the population of Russia decreased by two million,
according to a report released at a press conference in Moscow on Monday.
Death rate in Russia exceeds birth rate by 1.66 times. The average life
expectancy for male is 61 years and for females 73 years.
The low birth rate is also alarming. Now it stands at 8.6 per 1,000 people.
It was noted at the press conference that the combined birth rate is two
times lower than what is needed for simple reproduction of the population.
Jamestown Foundation Monitor
July 24. 2000
SECURITY COUNCIL SAID TO PLAN TO SUBORDINATE THE MEDIA. Novye Izvestia
reported last week that President Vladimir Putin's "retinue"--above all the
Security Council, the powerful Kremlin advisory body headed by Sergei
Ivanov, a long-time Putin associate and fellow KGB veteran--has drawn up a
plan to establish "total control" over Russian's media. According to the
paper, the plan, compiled from suggestions from various state agencies,
including the special services, was approved several weeks ago.
Implementation of the plan will begin in late August. It is to be completed
by next spring. It's goal is to impose a strict order on the "information
field" in order to create the "propaganda background" necessary to support
actions by the country's political leadership. Among its specific measures
are various legislative measures (including a law on the press), the
introduction of licenses for the print media and the creation of
"supervisory councils with extended censorship functions in large
politically oriented media, including television channels and print media."
The plan putatively also includes various "secret measures," including
planting "loyal people" in key editorial posts in leading media and the
creation of a special presidential information policies' fund, to be funded
by unnamed "oligarchs." According to the paper, those involved in the
project may use the private lives of journalists as a lever with which to
pressure them (Novye Izvestia, July 19).
It is, of course, impossible to assess the accuracy of this report that the
Kremlin is poised to impose total control over the media, especially given
that Novye Izvestia is one of the daily newspapers controlled by Boris
Berezovsky, who has been in a very public battle with Putin over limiting
the powers of Russia's regions. It is also worth noting that the Novye
Izvestia report is very similar to one which appeared last May in
Kommersant, another Berezovsky newspaper, just before Putin's inauguration.
Kommersant had laid out the details of what it said was a plan to give the
Kremlin administration virtually authoritarian powers and the Federal
Security Services (FSB) and other special services a key role in the
administration's activities. Novye Izvestia reported that the plan would
involve the use of "influence" or even "pressure" on various persons and
entities, including politicians, political parities and journalists, and
"spetzinformatsia"--special information--aimed at supporting the president
and discrediting his opponents (see the Monitor, May 5). At the time, the
Kremlin denied having anything to do with the plan.
Likewise, after Novye Izvestia last week published details of the alleged
plan, Security Council Press Secretary Vladimir Nikanorov categorically
denied that the council was involved in any project aimed at limiting press
freedom. He added, however, that legal limitations on the gathering and
publication of information on citizens' private lives needed to be
enforced, and that laws concerning the media needed to be "perfected."
Sergei Markov, head of the Institute for Political Research, suggested that
the plan showed the growing influence within Putin's inner circle of
special services which wanted to impose total control over the media.
Markov added, however, that it was possible that a possible result might be
the re-imposition of state control over television with the print media
remaining independent. A newspaper speculated that the "Family," the group
of Kremlin insiders which includes presidential chief of staff Aleksandr
Voloshin, may have leaked the "retrograde" plan as a way to discredit their
rivals, the "Chekists," in Putin's eyes (Segodnya, July 20).
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000
From: "George Slastnoy" <Slastnoy@akbbgs.ru>
Dear David. It is not a secret that when anyone conducts a poll
of public sentiment, that one either unwittingly or on purpose makes
reductions, which serve as a justification of the results.
While reading the research about the views of Russians at the turn of
the centuries, I encountered the following abstract:
"When asked who could become Russia's most loyal ally in
the 21st century, Russians mentioned Belarus and Ukraine. China
and Yugoslavia shared the third place. Germany was singled out
from the list of EU countries (the fourth place in the list of
16 countries and regions of greatest importance to Russia).
At the same time, it should be said that the widespread
views of the architecture of the world and Russia's prospects
in it are rather indistinct. In particular, Russians' attitudes
to the disputes about the unipolar and multipolar worlds
divided into three groups of comparable strength. The largest
group think Russia should become one of the political centres
of such world (30%). A part of the respondents called for
reviving the bipolar structure and the restoration of Russia's
status of one of the two superpowers (28%). And 25% of the
respondents expressed isolationist sentiments (it would be
better if we paid less attention to global affairs and more
attention to our own problems).
On the whole, judging by their replies, the Russians
advocate the idea of "befitting independence": We should go our
own way, without interfering in conflicts or owing anything to
I was not able to understand whence they drew such a conclusion:
"the Russians advocate the idea of "befitting independence": We should go our
own way, without interfering in conflicts or owing anything to
anyone." They themselves pointed out that 30% and 28 % of the
auditorium had said Russia must restore its active role on the
political scene (either in a multipolar or a bipolar system; being a
pole naturally implies pursuit of active international policy"). If
they have some other evidences of the prodominance of the
non-interference sentiment, they should give them to the public.
This whole contradiction demonstrates their doubtful methodology: they
first ask one question, and gete one answer; then they ask another
question and in turn get an answer, excluding the first one
(otherwise I cannot understand how they got such contradicting
conclusions). And they are free to declare the second answer to
represent the public opinion.
Irkutsk State Uni., historical faculty
July 24, 2000
Deputy PM Cannot Put Figure On State Debts
A Government meeting convened on Saturday lasted twice as long as usual.
Usually cabinet sittings are held on Thursdays, however, a meeting was held
on Saturday to discuss Russia’s huge internal and consider measures to
streamline federal expenditure
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said that Russia’s huge internal
debt of 80,7 billion rubles has been caused by the fact that “state funded
agencies incurred unauthorized expenses.” According to Kasyanov, “those
unauthorized expenses bind the country hand and foot and would not allow it
move”. The federal budget deficit has been growing for many years, and,
despite numerous attempts by previous prime ministers, none have succeeded
in reversing the trend.
Kasyanov himself admitted that if he fails to change the situation, the
results would be disastrous. In his words, if the situation does not
change, “we will loose everything we have gained.”
However, it appears that Kasyanov still does not have specific solutions to
the problem. On opening the cabinet meeting he said that, regardless of
optimistic forecasts, the debt is continuing to grow.
The government discussed the results of a two-year fund-saving program.
According to the report presented by 1st deputy Prime Minister Alexey
Kudrin, only six months ago the federal budget recipients' accounts due for
payment stood at 99 billion and by 1st January 2000 the sum had reached 113
billion rubles while the total federal budget debt currently amounts to 99
At a press conference following the government meeting, Kudrin announced,
We (the government) have adopted concrete decisions to reduce the accounts
payable and have resolved to tighten control over the work of all
ministries and agencies to finance state expenditure,
The government discussed measures to reduce the federal budget recipients'
debts and the procedure for payments between budget recipients and
electricity and heat suppliers.
The state’s largest debt is for electricity and gas. The Interior and
Defense Ministries’ departments and agencies, schools and hospitals consume
more heat and electricity than the state can pay for.
RAO UES of Russia and Gazprom demand payments from the state and the
government can only reply that there is no money. The same scenario repeats
itself year in year out causing “unauthorized expenses” and federal debts
Kudrin said that the government had found ways to solve the problem and
that a great deal of work had already been done.
Over the next six months the government intends to conduct a thorough
inspection of all ministries and state agencies to verify whether they
really need the amounts of gas and energy that they allege they consume. As
from mid August, at each government meeting one or two ministries or
agencies will submit progress reports. This inventory of ministries will be
completed within six months, Kudrin said.
Kudrin said that the policy pursued by the government had already produced
positive results and that so far in 2000, the gas and energy debt has
decreased. Admittedly, Kudrin omitted any details and did not provide any
The federal budget for 2000 provides for 9 billion rubles to be paid to
Russia’s largest electricity supplier RAO UES. However, government
officials confess that by the end of year RAO UES will receive no more than
a total of 6 billion rubles for electricity.
This year budget-funded agencies have signed energy supply contracts for
only 4.2 billion rubles. And so far only 2 billion rubles have been
transferred. Earlier experience leaves that the rest of the amount will
reach UES’ accounts.
However, that did not hinder Kudrin from asserting on Saturday that, “the
decisions taken have erected a serious obstacle to the misuse of funds.” He
also added that the government meeting was almost crucial in this respect.
It is worth noting, not so long ago Kudrin was deputy chairman of the RAO
UES board and was in charge of the company’s financial matters.
When asked by Gazeta.Ru to name the size of the state’s debt to Gazprom
and RAO UES of Russia, the vice PM honestly said he could not recall the
At the press conference held on Saturday, July 22nd, Kudrin also dwelt on
the relationship between the government and the Central Bank. The Russian
government is carrying out a consistent and concerted policy with the
Central Bank to maintain the stable nominal value of the ruble and even
somewhat strengthen it against the US dollar, he said.
The government is fully aware of the impact of all factors in this process.
We know what to do,” said Kudrin. He added that the drain of capital from
the country has of late decreased and that investment has grown, as well as
the fact that the population is exchanging their savings for rubles.
Kudrin asserted, in order to prevent high inflation, it is necessary to
slightly strengthen the ruble.
Putin and the North Korean Missile Offer
24 July 2000
The G-8 talks used to rivet international attention, as they dealt with
major economic issues. Today, neither the G-8 nor economics are nearly as
important as various geopolitical and military issues – U.S. President Bill
Clinton could barely wait to get back to Camp David. The major news out of
Okinawa was an offer by North Korea, floated by Russian President Vladimir
Putin, to abandon its missile program in return for “civilian” space
technology. The key here is not North Korea but Russia. Putin is busy
repositioning Russia as a power broker in the world and is using the U.S.
anti-missile deployment as a means of driving a wedge between the United
States and its allies. The latest move, on the eve of U.S.-North Korean
talks, is designed to drive a wedge between the United States and Japan.
North Korea, delighted to have a major power as patron again, is happy to
play. It’s the U.S. move, with Russia trying to shut down its room for
During the past decade or so, the G-7 (later G-8) meetings were the main
forum for discussing pressing global economic issues. For example, they
provided an arena for major showdowns between the United States and Japan
over trade issues. This week’s meeting in Okinawa not only seemed to have
no meaningful economic content, but it interfered with the major item on
the international agenda, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp
David. Whatever substance this G-8 meeting had, it had nothing to do with
economic issues. Instead, it had to do with a politico-military matter.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin carried a cryptic message from North
Korea offering to shut down its missile program in return for missile
This was not trivial news, although the message had less to do with North
Korean missiles than it had to do with Putin’s decision to use the missile
issue and North Korea as a lever against the United States. That is an
affair that requires careful consideration. However, before moving on to
that, we should pause for a moment to measure the distance traveled by the
world in the last few years. Economic issues, once king, now don’t even
register. We have returned to a more traditional world, where
politico-military issues increasingly dominate. If we think about the
fantastic predictions of worlds without borders, that is the most
significant news of the week.
Not that the other news was insignificant. Putin went to China for a summit
with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, where little of public substance was
achieved. In fact the atmosphere was quite chilly. Clearly, the expected
Russian-Chinese entente has run into problems. The main problem is American
power. Neither Russia nor China wants to enter into a confrontation with
the United States in particular or the West in general until each has
explored all opportunities for extracting concessions. They are both
prepared to flirt with each other in order to do so, but neither is
prepared to burn any bridges. Moreover, there are some sticky issues
developing between China and Russia, particularly over south and southwest
Asia. So, the Russian-Chinese entente waits while each explores its
opportunities with the United States.
The one issue that both countries agreed upon is that neither wants the
United States to deploy a missile defense system. There is an element of
irony here, of course. On the one hand, U.S. opponents of ballistic missile
defense have focused on the fact that it can’t possibly work. If that is
the case, it seems hard to understand why either Moscow or Beijing would
care about it. They should be delighted to see the system soak up U.S.
resources in a futile effort. The domestic and foreign opponents of missile
defense are therefore in complete opposition to each other. The former
argue it won’t work; the latter fear that it will.
The real issue is, of course, that it might work. Neither China nor Russia
believes that the United States will stop at the minimalist system
currently envisioned. If the United States can defend against five incoming
missiles, it will be able to defend against 500 or 5,000. If it can defend
against 5,000, then Russia and China’s lever against the United States will
disappear. The last claim that Russia has to being a superpower is its
nuclear arsenal. The first claim that China has for having become a
superpower is its nuclear arsenal. If a working U.S. missile defense system
is deployed, both China and Russia face a United States freed from the
limiting factor of nuclear weapons.
Neither Russia nor China is certain that the United States can pull this
off. Their problem is that they have seen too many impossible technologies
become real after the United States decided to do it. Nuclear parity is too
important to Moscow and Beijing to risk being wrong. Moreover, if they are
wrong, the resources required by each to build similar systems would
cripple their other defense spending – if not simply beyond their economic
or technical capabilities. There are too many chips on the table for them
to take their gamble. Therefore, they cannot accept the complacent view of
U.S. critics who argue that ballistic missile defense is impossible. They
have to act.
For both Russians and Chinese, there is a diplomatic opening provided by
the missile defense issue. During the 1980s, the Soviet Union mounted a
massive campaign directed toward a nuclear freeze. The United States was
deploying Pershing missiles in Europe, something the U.S.S.R. did not want
to see happen. Although the probability of nuclear war during the 1980s was
extremely remote, the Soviets mounted a campaign designed to convince the
Europeans that U.S. missile deployments were dramatically increasing the
risk of nuclear war. The point was not the missiles. The point was to
convince U.S. allies that the United States was an irresponsible cowboy.
The campaign ultimately failed, but it was effective in creating an
atmosphere of tension between the European public, pro-U.S. governments and
the United States. Putin was in Germany during this period and had a front
Both Putin and China have not only opposed the deployment of the
anti-missile system, but have worked very hard to create an atmosphere of
crisis among U.S. allies. They have had fertile ground with which to work.
France does not want to see the United States get any stronger than it
already is. Germany, eager to avoid a U.S.-Russian confrontation, has also
decided to oppose the deployment. China, not wanting to see Taiwan get the
technology, has also hammered Japan over the issue. Japan has pointed to
the North Korean threat as necessitating some sort of missile system.
Getting Japan to join France and Germany in opposing anti-missile defense
is therefore a critical move. Given that, it is not surprising that Putin
showed up in Okinawa carrying an offer from North Korea. According to
Putin, North Korea was prepared to abandon its ballistic missile program in
return for technology to help it develop a civilian space program. Proving
that the technology can’t be deployed for military uses is a major
challenge. More important is that Moscow is signaling that it holds the
keys to the Northwest Pacific logjam.
Russia has publicly told Japan that it does not have to deploy a U.S. built
anti-missile defense in order to protect itself from North Korean missiles.
The North Koreans, according to the Russians, are prepared to abandon their
missile program in exchange for civilian technology. This is a strategy
considered before with North Korea’s nuclear reactors, but this time, a
great power is prepared to underwrite and guarantee the agreement. If Japan
refuses the North Korean offer, it not only alienates Russia, but it
increases rather than decreases risks. If Japan is worried about North
Korean missiles, this is the most secure path to follow. Russia has
therefore put Japan in a position where it can adopt a low cost, high
security solution to its problems.
>From North Korea’s point of view, this is the best possible thing. As we
have argued for a while, the essence of North Korea’s strategy has been to
hang on until it becomes valuable to some regional power. Through most of
the last decade, both China and Russia regarded North Korea as an irritant
on the way to good relations with the West. North Korea devised a strategy
intended to make it appear too unstable to bother with and too dangerous
too mess with. That was the point of their missile program. Now, to
Pyongyang’s delight, North Korea is no longer an irritant, but has become a
genuine asset to a great power, Russia. That is the ultimate guarantee of
the survival of the North Korean regime. So Pyongyang is happy to be
forthcoming, as long as Russia brokers for it and quietly guarantees the
China is also pleased to see Russia in this role. Beijing has developed
good relations with Seoul. The economic ties with South Korea outweigh any
benefits of close North Korean ties. At the same time, China does not want
to see North Korea collapse. Most important, China does not want Taiwan or
Japan deploying anti-missile systems, nor does it want the United States
deploying them. If Russia is prepared to carry the water in using North
Korea as a lever against U.S. deployment, then China will certainly
The United States is put in a quandary. North Korea is only one of the
threats the worrying Washington. Iran and Iraq could also pose problems
and, in the long run, the threat can come from anywhere. The Russians are
trying to drive a wedge into the U.S. alliance system. If Japan were to
join the U.S. allies that have lined up against the missile defense system,
deploying it would become extremely difficult. That is exactly what Putin
wants. He does not like missile defense, but he also loves the opportunity
to disrupt the U.S. alliance system.
Madeleine Albright is meeting with her North Korean counterpart this
Wednesday. The Washington is quite baffled by Pyongyang’s offer, since it
does not know what North Korea means when it speaks of non-military
technology. That ambiguity can be a deal killer. Putin has probably
anticipated this and will be prepared to offer on-site inspection including
China, France, Japan, the United States – and above all, led by Russia.
This will back the United States into a corner.
Putin learned during the closing days of the Kosovo crisis that the West
depended upon Russia to solve critical problems. He also learned that the
United States in particular had limited gratitude and was prepared to
isolate Russia once it had done the heavy lifting. Putin also learned that
if Russia had not allowed itself to be excluded, its influence in the
Balkans would be substantial, and that that influence can be traded for
U.S. economic and political concessions.
Putin is using the anti-missile issue to disrupt normal U.S. alliance
processes, draw closer to China without burning bridges to the United
States, and help gather a group of client states with which to harass and
manipulate Washington. Albright is moving toward a negotiation with a North
Korea that can no longer be defined as an isolated hermit kingdom. It is,
instead, the cat’s paw of a Russian strategy designed to resurrect some
measure of Russian power. North Korea is happy to be in this role.
America’s allies are happy to have alternatives. The United States, on the
other hand, is heading into a diplomatic buzz saw.
July 21, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
STEERING BACK TO A BIPOLAR WORLD
Nadezhda ARBATOVA, European Integration Center, Russian
Academy of Sciences' Institute of the Global Economy and
Russian leaders and those of leading Western countries
continue to negotiate with each other, voicing all kinds of
good wishes and important initiatives. However, this process
tends to conceal a movement toward a new bipolar world, which
is becoming ever more pronounced within the framework of
present-day international relations. Russia's relations with
Europe and the United States had quickly passed through a
romantic period in the early 1990s, with the concerned parties
expressing mutual disappointment and failing to understand each
other in the late 1990s. As of today, such relations have
confidently entered the pragmatic-minimalism phase, which tends
to resemble the East-West peaceful co-existence to an ever
When did all those post-bipolar relations begin to change?
As I see it, that process began in October 1993 (when Boris
Yeltsin had dissolved the pro-Communist Russian parliament).
That purely domestic event had a far-reaching international
political implications. In October 1993 the Yeltsin regime
spilled first blood in post-Communist Russia's history,
exceeding permissible boundaries in its struggle against the
opposition and breeding all subsequent problems, e.g. the
victory of conservatives and nationalists in the course of the
December 1993 parliamentary elections, an obviously
authoritarian presidential constitution, the first Chechen war
and lots more, the notorious "family" included. In fact, the
Yeltsin regime had started degenerating precisely in October
1993. Russia, which should not shift responsibility for its own
sins on someone else, nonetheless ought to admit that the West
didn't act as an idle onlooker. One can only guess how Russia
would have developed, in case Bill Clinton and Helmut Kohl
hadn't supported Boris Yeltsin, and in case they hadn't turned
a blind eye on Russian radical democrats' unconstitutional
actions in the name of "market reforms" and democracy (no
matter how monstrous this may sound)? The October 1993 events
have confirmed an old wisdom to the effect that any particular
goal doesn't justify the means for attaining it.
The West, which had sided with those specific persons, who
called themselves democrats, or who had the reputation of being
democrats in the past, has thus fallen hostage to them and
As distinct from the Russian public at large, the West had
reacted with understanding to the first Chechen war, evidently
expecting a quick victory on the Kremlin's part. In fact, that
victory was perceived by Yeltsin as something vitally important
in the context of strengthening his domestic positions.
However, the Chechen war alone, which was virtually approved by
leading Western countries at first, subsequently came to be
regarded by Europe and the United States as yet another
evidence of Russian unpredictability and as one of those
arguments favoring NATO's eastward expansion. In other words,
the West continued to back Yeltsin's weakening regime (that was
still considered to be democratic or the best possible option
on Russian territory), also erecting a new European border for
safety's sake, so as to counter any unforeseen developments.
Official NATO circles used to justify their bloc's eastward
expansion in every possible way, stressing that this process
was not spearheaded against Russia. However, all those
incoherent and contradictory explanations on the part of NATO's
leadership only served to increase suspicions concerning
genuine goals of such expansion that were voiced by the Russian
political elite and intelligence (strategic) community. As we
look back in time, we can safely say that Russia's relations
with NATO and the West had mostly evolved in line with the
logic of self-justifying prophecies. Even Yeltsin had to heed
more substantial anti-NATO moods on Russian territory,
attacking NATO and Washington rather furiously from time to
time, and saying things like "Russia won't permit this to
happen." This served to convince the West that it had chosen
the right road.
The situation was compounded still further by NATO leaders'
decision to openly ignore the Russian stand, thus making it
possible to fuel mutual suspicions.
The Kosovo crisis, which had entailed dramatic
consequences for Russia's domestic development, was also viewed
as a culmination and a logical conclusion of those over-ripe
Russian-Western contradictions. Apart from that, the Kosovo
crisis had virtually proven that the West didn't view Russia as
a full-fledged partner. This was proved rather vividly by the
fact that Russia was deprived of its own sector during the
Kosovo peace-keeping operation.
Both Russia and Europe were really shocked by NATO's
Yugoslav operation, nonetheless still hoping that the European
Union would play the part of a locomotive that would take
Russian-Western relations out of a blind alley. However, the
EU's Russian strategy, which was approved soon after events
around Kosovo, showed only too clearly that the EU, which was
burdened with its own domestic problems (more profound and
large-scale European integration), was not prepared for
strategic partnership with Russia. Meanwhile Russia's mid-term
EU strategy doesn't differ greatly from the former. The
relevant Russian strategy mostly emphasizes the EU's importance
as one of the multi-polar world's power centers and as an
alternative to monopolarity. To cut a long story short, both
strategies, which had contained numerous good wishes and
intentions, nonetheless lacked any specific strategic goals.
In essence, this symbolizes relations between Yeltsin's Russia
and leading Western institutions.
Europe and the United States alike didn't harbor any
old-time illusions, while reacting to Vladimir Putin's election
as Russia's President. Putin was perceived as the long-awaited
"strong-man" by Russia and other countries of the world. Most
Russians expected Putin to save this country, to do away with
the corrupt Yeltsin regime's legacy, to establish law and order
all across the nation and to reinstate Russia's international
prestige. Meanwhile the West, which was sick and tired of all
those unpredictable Russian democratic reforms, viewed Putin as
a leader capable of ensuring Russia's domestic and external
stability (even by limiting democracy to some extent).
A new unobtrusive model of relations between Putin's
Russia and the West has emerged virtually in no time at all.
In a nutshell, such a model envisions Russia's political
stability and predictability in global affairs. For their own
part, Europe and the United States shall not interfere in the
Kremlin's plans to assert "controlled democracy" all over
Russia. It is precisely this model, which is fraught with the
danger of a new Russia-West confrontation, and which can also
reinstate the old-time bipolar system of international
relations. Limited Russian-Western cooperation, e.g. a resumed
dialogue with NATO, the ratification of the START II treaty and
the comprehensive test-ban treaty, is not backed up by Russia's
full-fledged involvement in the emergent European security
system. Well, such cooperation won't prevent new changes in the
balance of forces. The West's inclusive strategy for involving
Russia still remains on paper;
consequently, the development of international relations will
continue to be determined by the afore-said balance of forces.
Those, who believe that Russia will still side with the West,
while remaining an independent power center, are succumbing to
illusions. Their conjectures are quite utopian, to be more
precise. First of all, this can be explained by the fact that
Russia, which is a far cry from the West, can't but search for
its own allies, be it in Europe or Asia. The latter, China
included, seems distinctly possible, in case Russia drifts away
Second, the Kosovo crisis had entailed absolutely negative
consequences for Russian-Western relations. This was eventually
reflected in the Russian military doctrine and NATO's new
strategy. This is also proved by the fact that Putin's
extremely important initiative stipulating the deployment of a
tactical ABM system together with NATO hasn't evoked any
serious response in Europe and the United States alike.
Prospects for yet another confrontation are embodied in
the Kremlin's controlled-democracy concept, as well. This is
the same kind of nonsense as "second-hand" sturgeon. What does
that controlled division of state-power branches denote?
Besides, who is supposed to control that process? What is that
controlled or selective human-rights protection all about?
What can one say about controlled or piece-meal freedom of
speech? And, finally, to what limits can one go, while
implementing the controlled-democracy concept? But, most
importantly, Soviet experience shows only too clearly that
restricted democracy is unthinkable without a foreign-enemy
image, spy scares and less substantial contacts with the
As distinct from previous bipolarity, which had been
caused by ideological rivalry between the USSR and the West, a
bipolar world that continues to emerge today has been caused by
various mistakes, as well as by lack of Russian, European and
US readiness for drastic changes. A US president once remarked
that nations, which prefer stability to democracy, fail to get
both; nor do they deserve any stability and democracy. Well,
this is true of both Russia and the West at this stage.
Russian general hints at Chechnya talks
July 24, 2000
By Peter Graff
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian general was quoted as saying Monday he would be
willing to meet Chechnya's pro-independence leader but later emphasized the
only subject for negotiation would be a rebel surrender.
On the ground, Russian news reports said rebels had ambushed a special
Russian police unit in the ruined capital Grozny, blasting a troop truck with
a home-made mine, killing at least three servicemen and wounding 17.
Rebel spokesman Movladi Udugov told Reuters the rebels had also attacked a
military column in Chechnya's southern mountains, killing more than 70
Russian troops. There was no confirmation of the report from the Russian
The Council of Europe's rights commissioner again called on Russia to respect
human rights in Chechnya. Moscow's offensive has drawn strong criticism from
the West but over recent months the calls for an end to the war have
Interfax news agency quoted General Vladimir Bokovikov, the Kremlin's deputy
representative in southern Russia, as saying he was prepared to open contacts
with Aslan Maskhadov, the elected Chechen president, and meet him personally
FIRST HINT OF TALKS
It was the first suggestion for months of direct talks with Maskhadov.
``I think Maskhadov is not completely lost, therefore I call on him to show
sense,'' Interfax quoted Bokovikov as saying. ``On both sides the best sons
of the nation are dying, who are in the end all citizens of Russia and
equally dear to her.''
Bokovikov was Maskhadov's commander in the Soviet armed forces before
Chechnya declared its independence, and the two men are known to respect one
another. They often met during peace talks in Russia's 1994-96 Chechen war.
But Bokovikov swiftly clarified his position to RTR state television:
``There can be no political dialogue, only the capitulation of comrade
Maskhadov...the complete surrender of weapons and of his authority and the
end of all military action,'' he said.
Maskhadov, who was elected Chechnya's president in 1997 in a poll that the
Kremlin considered legitimate, was once seen in Moscow as a relative moderate
and was Moscow's preferred partner for peace talks during the previous war.
But Russian officials now say there can be no talks because he has failed to
distance himself from more radical guerrillas.
The attack on the troop truck in Grozny followed what has become almost a
daily pattern of Chechen ambushes and raids that have steadily intensified
over the past few months.
Udugov, speaking by telephone from an unknown location, said the rebels had
ambushed another column of 10 trucks and 10 armored
cars on their way to Serzhen-Yurt, a village in the foothills of the Caucasus
He said the Chechens had also ``successfully'' attacked a checkpoint near
Shali in the south, but gave no further details.
Interfax said Russian attack jets had flown eight bombing sorties over the
southern hills overnight, and helicopter gunships had flown about 20
In a separate report, Interfax quoted the press center at a Russian base as
saying troops had gunned down 42 rebels in a forest near the village of
Dzhalka and killed 14 more with a missile Sunday. There was no other mention
of the incidents and both sides' reports of enemy losses are highly
Alvaro Gil-Robles, the rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, told
Ekho Moskvy radio that the group understood Chechen rebels had violated human
rights but Moscow should refrain from using excessive force in its campaign.
The Council of Europe has been a fierce critic of Russia's campaign, but
Gil-Robles' words were conciliatory in tone.
About 10 months after Russia sent its troops into Chechnya it has yet to
pacify the rebel region.
July 24, 2000
Yuri Luzhkov: Residence Registration in Moscow Is Our Thermopylae!
The City Government of Moscow has no intention of abolishing residence
registration and will continue protecting the Muscovites against "unwanted
guests", the Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, has declared. In Mr. Luzhkov's
opinion, this problem should be solved on a national level, the RIA "Novosti"
news agency reported Saturday. The day before, the plenipotentiary
representative of the Russian President in the Central Federal District,
Georgy Poltavchenko, had spoken in favor of abrogating the Moscow law on
residence registration as contradicting the federal legislation. According to
Mayor Luzhkov, however, the Prosecutor-General's Office had found no
violations of federal law in the city statute in question. A deputy of the
Moscow City Duma, Alexander Krutov, told the TVC channel that the permissive
principle of registration (i. e. a person arriving in the city has to seek
permission from the authorities to be registered - translator's note) has to
be replaced with the notification principle (i. e. on arriving into the city,
the person notifies the authorities of his/her new place of stay/residence -
translator's note) so that the Moscow rules be brought into full conformity
with federal law. In Krutov's opinion, "in general, on a nationwide scale,
the Interior Ministry is unprepared" for introducing the notification system.
Luzhkov himself said that he hoped to discuss the problem personally with the
presidential plenipotentiary in the nearest future.
Comment: Poltavchenko, who was silent for over two months, has suddenly woken
up and gotten down to business executing "the Sovereign's will", starting
with the Russian capital. Why this has happened precisely at the moment is
not very clear, as the heated discussion over abrogating residence
registration was initiated already in 1999, by the then candidate to the
Moscow mayoralty and currently another Presidential Plenipotentiary, Sergei
Kirienko. Mr. Kirienko has long ago proven that the Moscow enactment is in
contradiction with the Russian Constitution. Why it has taken Mr.
Poltavchenko so long to grasp this long clarified problem remains obscure. On
the other hand, given that the first round of the "boxing match" over
"stripping naked" the Council of the Federation has been won by Putin,
Poltavchenko's attack may be interpreted as a part of a more general
offensive. Especially as Moscow is not the only place where the federal
authorities have launched a political "preparatory bombardment" before the
offensive of July 26.