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Johnson's Russia List
31 July 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AFP: Russia must boost warships to remain world power:
2. The Russia Journal: Andrei Piontkovsky, A passionate crusader.
Putinís position on Islamic extremism and the war in Chechnya.
3. AP: Russian Economy Grows 7 Percent.
4. Reuters: Putin says meeting big business eased tension.
5. Sarah C. Carey: re Thomas Graham- Power and Property/4414.
6. Vedomosti: PUTIN HAS HIS OWN VIEW OF A COMPROMISE. The Government's
plan of action up to the year 2002, which Mikhail Kasyanov signed on
July 28, was completely "cleaned and ironed out." Interview with
Economic Strategy Minister German Gref.
7. The Russia Journal: Andrei Denisov, Liberals offer Putin
agreement. Background and extracts of the ďnew social contract.Ē
8. Los Angeles Times: Lewis Segal, The Russians Are Back, The Russians
Are Back. A summer of strong performances proves that the Bolshoi and
Kirov ballets are undergoing a resurgence, after hitting the skids in
9. THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION PRISM: Aleksandr Tsipko, THE DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN PUTIN'S RUSSIA AND YELTSIN'S.]
Russia must boost warships to remain world power: Putin
KALININGRAD, Russia, July 30 (AFP) -
Russia must increase the size of its military fleet if it is to remain a
major world power, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday.
"The navy is an important element in national defence and we give particular
attention to the development of the military fleet," said Putin, speaking
from the decks of an anti-torpedo boat in the Baltic sea port of Baltiysk,
where he was overseeing the navy's annual parade.
"Russia cannot carry on without a navy if it wants to play a role in the new
world order," Putin asserted.
Due to financial shortages Russia has reduced its fleet by 1,000 vessels over
a decade, according to figures contained in a report by the Russian admiralty
published last December.
Over this same period the nuclear submarine fleet was reduced by two-thirds
and the number of diesel-fuelled ships was reduced by three-quarters, the
Fourteen vessels were put out of service in 1999, said the report, and
spending on repairs and maintenance was between only eight and 10 percent of
what is actually required.
The Russian navy festivities here Sunday were performed by 5,000 sailors
aboard 40 Russian warships, and some 40 military attaches from foreign
embassies in Moscow were due to watch the parade.
Baltiysk lies in the Gulf of Danzig, close to Kaliningrad, between Lithuania
Held every year on the last Sunday in July, the festivities are traditionally
played out in Saint Petersberg.
But this year's parade commemorates Kaliningrad as the place where the
Russian navy distinguished itself during World War II, fleet commander
Vladimir Egorov said.
The Russia Journal
July 29-August 4, 2000
SEASON OF DISCONTENT: A passionate crusader
By Andrei Piontkovski
Putinís position on Islamic extremism and the war in Chechnya.
It has become almost a cliche in the Western press to call President
Vladimir Putin a cold and calculating pragmatist. But nothing could be
further from the truth Ė Putin is a passionate and emotional man. This
comes through every time he talks about issues that genuinely worry him
deeply, and especially about Chechnya.
These qualities emerged most fully in his recent interview with French
magazine Paris Match. Putin spoke convincingly, emotionally and sincerely,
which all made a clear impression on his interviewer Ė well-known French
writer Marek Halter. Previously, Putin had also made a strong impression on
many Western leaders.
Here was how Putin described the events that led to the second Chechen war:
"But I must say, if it hadnít been for the invasion of Dagestan last
summer, nothing would have happened, because Russia was absolutely
unprepared, and more importantly, didnít want any war or bloodshed."
There can be no doubting Putinís sincerity. But there are no less sincere
and convincing supporters of another point of view. Iíd especially like to
draw Putinís attention not to the words of some "traitor" like Andrei
Babitsky, but to the respectable patriot and editor of Nezavisimaya Gazeta,
Tretyakov is a convinced supporter of Putin and an active ideologue of the
Chechen war who has consistently branded opponents of the war as
"anti-state." Itís probably from Tretyakov that Putin borrowed the formula
on "mass media campaigning against the state," which turned up in his
address to the parliament.
This is what Tretyakov wrote in his newspaper on Oct. 12, 1999: "Itís
perfectly obvious that the Chechens were lured into Dagestan, they were
allowed to get tangled in this affair so as to have legal pretext for
restoring federal authority in the republic and beginning the active phase
of the fight against terrorists who had collected in Chechnya. Itís clear
that this was an operation organized by the secret services (donít confuse
this with the apartment block bombings) and had political sanction from the
Tretyakov writes with pride in this text of the operation organized by
Russian secret services to have Shamil Basayev march on Dagestan, as if it
were an incontestable fact, an axiom perfectly obvious for his
well-informed readers. It says something, too, that his statement was not
denied nor called into question either by the secret services or by those
who Tretyakov is convinced gave "political sanction for the operation at
the very top."
Putin is equally emotional when it comes to another favorite issue that he
has been giving more and more time to of late.
"Russian soldiers today are on the front line of the fight with Islamic
extremism. Unfortunately, few notice this. Today, we are witnessing the
creation of an extremist international running along a so-called line of
instability beginning in the Philippines and ending in Kosovo. This is very
dangerous for Europe, above all, because of the large numbers of Muslims
living there. This really is a terrorist international, and Russia is on
the front line of the fight against this international terrorism. And
Europe really ought to be grateful to us for this and bow low before us
because so far, unfortunately, weíre fighting on our own."
Well, it no doubt is psychologically more comforting to look upon the
Chechen war not as a fight with a mutinous colony that has dragged on for
200 years now, but as a crusade against Islamic terrorism. Whatís more, it
could also have served as a successful PR move to present the war to
Western public opinion.
The problem is that this propagandistic myth about Russia as a shield
defending the civilized world from modern barbarians, a myth it seems we
ourselves have seriously started to believe, is dangerous for the future of
Russia. It wonít convince anyone in the West, but it will definitely ruin
our relations with the Islamic world. And the Islamic world isnít just our
great neighbor, itís inside us. I assume that Putin knows not only that
Europe has a large Muslim population, but that Muslims make up 18 percent
of Russiaís population.
(Andrei Piontkovsky is director of the Center of Strategic Research.)
Russian Economy Grows 7 Percent
July 31, 2000
By ANGELA CHARLTON
MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's economy grew by more than 7 percent during the first
half of this year, a top Cabinet member said Monday, playing down fears that
economic growth is tapering off.
Vice Premier Viktor Khristenko announced the latest economic indicators after
a weekly Cabinet session headed by President Vladimir Putin, who is riding
high after a string of political victories last week. Next year's budget
topped the meeting's agenda.
Khristenko said inflation for July would not exceed 1 percent, and that the
yearly inflation rate would be 18-20 percent - instead of the 35 percent that
experts predicted after prices surged by 2.6 percent in June.
Russia's top statistician echoed Khristenko's optimism.
``In the first half of the year almost all indicators were positive,'' State
Statistics Committee chairman Vladimir Sokolin told a news conference Monday.
Sokolin said industrial production was up 10 percent in the first six months
of 2000, and that investment was up 14.2 percent from last year. Personal
income and spending are also climbing, though most of Russia's wealth is
still concentrated among a small portion of the population, Sokolin said.
According to the State Statistics Committee, the average monthly wage in June
was 2,290 rubles, or $82. That is up from 1,578 rubles a year earlier, which
at the time was worth about $66.
Russia's economy has enjoyed a boost over the past year in the wake of the
1998 financial collapse and a decade of almost constant decline. Rising oil
prices have helped, since Russia is a major oil exporter. A lower ruble has
aided domestic producers by making imports more expensive.
But the ruble has been climbing against the dollar, analysts warn that oil
prices are due to fall, and investors say deep structural changes are needed
for the economy to thrive. Economics and Trade Minister German Gref said in
an interview published Monday that growth in 2001 would be lower than this
The Cabinet meeting also discussed this year's harvest, Khristenko said
without elaborating. Russia's harvest has been dismal for the past two years,
prompting food aid from the West. This year's harvest is projected to be
better, but still well below average.
Monday's budget discussion came after the upper house of parliament passed a
new tax code last week that Putin says is necessary to improve the economy.
He says the code, which includes replacing the progressive income tax with a
flat 13 percent tax, will reduce rampant tax evasion and spur investment.
The passage of the code was seen as a victory for Putin, who is trying to
rein in the often authoritarian regional bosses who make up the upper house
of parliament, the Federation Council.
Putin says meeting big business eased tension
MOSCOW, July 30 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday his
meeting with Russia's business elite last week showed there were no plans for
a crackdown on corporations.
But he emphasised that it was essential for business to make sure it kept
within the law.
Putin met 21 leading businessmen last Friday amid fears the authorities were
clamping down on so-called ``oligarchs'' -- businessmen who amassed vast
wealth and influence under former President Boris Yeltsin during the chaotic
transformation from communism to capitalism.
Putin said in televised comments during a visit to the Kaliningrad enclave
that he had been able to discuss economic problems with the businessmen
``But the main result was the easing of all the speculation about a
redistribution of property and about an attack on business,'' Putin said in
his first comments on the talks.
He added that this was based on the understanding that everyone had to work
within the law.
Putin told the businessmen at the meeting he would not overturn the results
of post-Soviet privatisations, calming a key fear. The businessmen had also
said they wanted to live by clear rules rather than by murky contacts with
Many of the big privatisations under Yeltsin were criticised as insider deals
which allowed a small group of people to get rich. The oligarchs were also
accused of wielding undue influence in the Kremlin.
The fears of big business were aroused when tax police opened cases against
huge oil company LUKOIL and car maker AvtoVAZ. Prosecutors also jailed media
boss Vladimir Gusinsky for three days in June, although embezzlement charges
against him were dropped last week.
Russia's economy minister, German Gref, told NTV television that Putin had
informed the businessmen they were not being targeted by security forces and
that the police would continue to work normally.
But one of the businessmen at the meeting said he was not sure that pressure
on big firms had come to an end.
``There is a foundation for such worries but it would be incredibly sad if it
happened,'' Dimitry Zimin, chief executive of telecoms firm Vimpelcom, told
From: "Sarah C. Carey" <SCarey@ssd.com>
Subject: T.Graham- Power and Property/4414
Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2000 16:47:48 -0400
T.Graham- Power and Property
David- I read a lot of stuff you print with various reactions, i ncluding
amazement, amusement and multiple grains of salt. A recent piece from the
WSJ by T.Graham really got me. I know it's "in" to criticize Pres.Putin or
to give him free advice (as in you get what you pay for) but this column
said the most important challenge for Putin is to separate property from
power....a truly subversive idea to be published in the Wall Street
Journal, particularly coming from a resident of Washington, DC. As we
gear up for the Republican and Democratic conventions our papers are full
of lists of the major corporate donors to the conventions; this is on top
of the mega contributions already made by corporate interests. ALL
empires, including the American empire make the powers of government
available to protect the interests of the nation's businesses; I could
offer a long list of concrete examples but don't want to bore your
readership. Bottom line power and property are inextricably linked. If
Putin needs advice (which given the pace of legislative reform in Russia
these days is not an open and shut question), let's get concrete instead of
offering him concepts that aren't based on reality.- Sarah Carey
July 31, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
PUTIN HAS HIS OWN VIEW OF A COMPROMISE
The Government's plan of action up to the year 2002, which
Mikhail Kasyanov signed on July 28, was completely "cleaned and
ironed out." Economic Strategy Minister German GREF was
interviewed in this connection by Vedomosti's Alexander BEKKER.
Question: What has been changed in the program after a
month-long work on it in the government?
Answer: Nothing has changed in principle. The government
singled out nine priority tasks of its economic policy, which
will ensure a passage to the course of a stable growth.
Question: What are these nine priorities?
Answer: I will not open a new America. One way or another
we have already talked of enhancing the efficiency of the tax
and customs systems, reformation of natural monopolies, and
creation of legislation to ensure a favorable investment and
entrepreneurial climate. A detailed list of measures has been
made for each direction of economic modernization. It has a
schedule for each month up to the end of 2001. This and reforms
in the sphere of social policy make up 121 points.
Question: Have you determined your own priorities in this
Answer: Undoubtedly, it is the reform of the Railways
Ministry, Gazprom and RAO UES (Unified Energy Systems). Then
comes the budget and all which concerns the non-fulfilment of
federal mandates and benefits. In autumn, it is necessary to
complete the second part of the Tax Code and introduce
amendments to its first part, that is, to make those
corrections, which may not be postponed.
Question: The forecast of economic development for 2001,
on the basis of which the Finance Ministry estimates the
budget, was made by the Economics Ministry in the beginning of
the year. Now that you have come to the government, will this
forecast be revised?
Answer: My coming to the government has nothing to do with
this. However, the economic dynamics of the past few months
make us specify the parameters of annual inflation, GDP growth
rates and the exchange rate. The basic macroeconomic indicators
will be submitted for the consideration by the government in
the third decade of August or slightly earlier, because the
draft of the budget is to be sent to the State Duma not later
than August 26.
Question: Is the previous forecast - inflation at the
level of 11.2%, the exchange rate of 32 ruble for a dollar and
GDP in the amount of 6,800 billion rubles - to be forgotten?
Answer: Why to forget it? All will be able to compare how
these parameters have changed.
Question: Now that the government and the Central Bank
have agreed to strengthen the ruble, its exchange rate is sure
to be under 32 ruble per dollar, isn't it?
Answer: This number has not been made public yet, partly,
because it is an element of work with the Duma. The indicator
of exchange rate will be discussed at the stage of the
preparation of the forecast: we are to understand yet in what
shape our budget will be.
Question: What about economic growth rates? Initially, you
planned it at the level of 4.5% for next year.
Answer: You are trying to make me reveal state secrets. I
am just kidding, as you understand. However, economic forecast
parameters are not to be made public at the stage of their
discussion inside the government. I can only say that the
projected growth rates for 2001 will be slightly different from
the numbers you have given. A great deal will depend on the
world market prices and the domestic political situation.
Question: It has been recently noticed that there are
disagreements in appraisals between you and Alexei Kudrin.
Unlike the financial vice-premier, we are more optimistic about
the prospects of economic growth. Why?
Answer: Kudrin and I use the same statistics and our views
do not differ. I said that growth made up 7.3% in the first
half of the year, but it has discontinued in a number of
leading industries in the past few months and there is even a
recession in non-ferrous metallurgy. Kudrin and I expressed a
similar fear that we are on the threshold of a certain trend
and by the end of the year growth will not exceed 5.5%.
According to all the estimates, growth rates are to go down
next year. This is all the more reason to hurry up with the
reduction of the fiscal burden.
Question: There are some suspicions about the sincerity of
the government. They say that the government has introduced the
13-percent income tax rate and a regressive scale for the wage
fund of enterprises to lure money out of gray schemes, and will
raise taxes in full measure in a year.
Answer: When introducing a single income tax rate, the
government did not conceal that the 13-percent rate is not
forever. But we are not going to cheat people. The income tax
rate will not be changed, at least, for five to eight years. In
eight years, there are likely to be two rates - 13% and 20% but
with the possibility to make greater deductions from wages,
say, for education and healthcare. Only ten years later it will
be possible to talk of truly progressive taxation. We are not
going to deceive anyone. We understand that a tax culture
cannot be inculcated in one year.
Question: It seems that the government needs to hurry up
with the program of reforms, which is to be approved by the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Answer: I would not say that outside pressure is of
determining importance today. The government itself understands
the contents of the reforms, on the one hand, and there is
pressure on us from the President, on the other. We are not
used to the fact yet that he is the main engine of the reform.
We are sometimes ready for certain compromises, but each time
Putin assumes a firm position and not only at the level of a
political slogan. Putin has a profound understanding of
reforms. That is why he steps in at the most critical moment
and gives us a piece of his mind. This is how it was during the
Question: Does the government send the signal or does
Putin himself intervene when he feels political tension?
Answer: At first the President gives the chance to show
what we can do, as if saying: the task is clear, go ahead and
leave me alone. But he always watches the situation closely and
has his own vision of it. Thus he outpaced all when he sent a
tax message to the Duma, in which he made clear all the
priorities of the reform.
Question: Does he act on an instinct? Did he feel that the
government lacked the will to offer deputies a 13-percent
income tax rate and took the initiative into his hand?
Answer: Instinct has nothing to do with this. He keeps the
situation under control. He forms his vision with the help of
the monitoring conducted by his administration and permanent
contacts with ministers. He is sure to make his own analysis.
In the beginning of July, when inflation trends raised
apprehensions, the President invited the leaders of the
government to discuss the problems of the monetary policy. He
surprised all when he laid down all the factors of the
situation to the minutest detail. Having precisely appraised
the economic and political situation, Putin selects the moment
for an attack.
The Russia Journal
July 29-August 4, 2000
Liberals offer Putin agreement
By Andrei Denisov, writer for Vremya Novostei
Background and extracts of the ďnew social contract.Ē
The new Russian government very much likes the idea of a "new social
The idea of a public contract, under which all Russians Ė ordinary people
as well as those with political or business resources Ė agree to live by
the law, was part of German Gref's program as well as Vladimir Putin's
message to the Federal assembly.
But the actual formulation of a change in the social and economic relations
developed under Boris Yeltsin was put forward by the businessmen and
economists who created the Liberal Mission fund.
The liberals put forward the idea of a new social contract in winter and
have now presented a draft. Liberal Mission President Yevgeny Yasin, a
well-known economist, suggests that it now be discussed by the elite.
The most interesting point is how the liberals see the actual subject of
the contract. They feel that its main aim should be to overcome
"institutionalized traps" that prevent the healthy development of the
economy: "Everyone has adapted to the current order, and the only way out
of such an imbalance is for everyone involved in the economy to change
their behavior at once."
The most dangerous and urgent "traps" are the "shadow" economy and the
housing and pension systems.
The contract will clearly not be signed in its current form. First of all,
not one of the potential parties to the contract is yet ready to take on
such a responsibility. Most of them feel neither the stimulus nor necessity
to do so.
The necessity of the contract appeals to politicians and businessmen as an
idea, but in practice this idea is "high art."
The draft proposes that the new social contract be signed between the
populace (hired labor), businesspeople, regional powers and the federal
"Hired laborers, represented by unions and various other public
organizations, undertake to receive wages only according to their payroll,
to pay income tax and pension contributions, and to fully pay for utilities.
"Businesspeople, including foreigners, undertake to increase their workers'
wages, to pay all taxes with a goal of transferring in one to two years to
full monetary payments; to make full monetary payments for gas, electricity
and heating; to endeavor to make payments through Russian banks and to
avoid cash payments and offshore operation, and to improve management.
"Regional authorities shall decrease local taxes and collect them in
monetary form in the course of three to four years to reform housing
subsidies and increase state salaries; abolish regional discounts for
energy and subsidies to inefficient producers; and reduce imputation tax to
20 percent of an employer's income, etc.
"The federal executive and legislative powers shall lower the general tax
burden to 30 to 32 percent of GDP, cancel turnover taxes, make all
business-related expenses tax deductible, ensure macroeconomic stability
and a balanced budget, simplify registration and licensing of businesses,
protect taxpayers' rights, carry out judicial reform, etc."
Yasin concedes that it will be a long job to reach agreement on the points
Furthermore, having received a mandate from the people, Putin will be very
tempted to carry out reforms without waiting for everyone to agree with him.
This is clear from the force with which he carried out the first phase of
administrative and tax reform, which ended in complete triumph in the
Putin does not see the need to make an agreement with the populace,
business world or regional powers. He is already observing a "new social
contract" by lowering taxes and increasing pensions, maintaining a stable
ruble and demanding that businesses obey the law.
The liberals understand that Putin's strong ratings mean he can afford not
to treat businesspeople and regional leaders as equals. But if he really
does carry out his "unpopular" reforms, his ratings will fall and the
opposition will grow. But by then, it would be seen as weakness for him to
accept the contract.
The most important thing is not that Putin answer the liberals' call for a
"social contract." More important is society's response to the idea. This
will show whether Russia is ready for civilized democracy or whether it is
due for a harsh regime.
Los Angeles Times
July 30, 2000
[for personal use only]
The Russians Are Back, The Russians Are Back
A summer of strong performances proves that the Bolshoi and Kirov ballets
are undergoing a resurgence, after hitting the skids in the '90s.
By LEWIS SEGAL
Lewis Segal Is The Times' Dance Critic
The big surprise of 2000 is what everyone in the dance world knew from
Sergei Diaghilev's first Paris season in 1909 until just about 10 years ago:
When it comes to ballet, Russians rule.
This summer has offered positive proof, notably the extraordinary
success of simultaneous performances by the Bolshoi and Kirov ballets on two
continents. Less than two weeks ago, the Bolshoi added an exclamation point
to its month-long, coast-to-coast tour of America by returning to the East
for its first New York engagement in a decade. During the same period, the
Kirov began an extended hot-ticket season in London. The companies' twin
triumphs proclaimed the definitive, end-of-the-century comeback for Russian
classicism's flagship franchises from their artistic and commercial
irrelevance during the past decade.
The 1990s were a time of trial for virtually all state-supported Russian
cultural institutions, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the
end of hefty government subsidies. Moreover, the ability of the Kirov and
Bolshoi to secure prestigious foreign bookings suffered from all the
fly-by-night touring companies that appropriated the companies' names without
authorization ("Stars of . . .") or invented ever more grandiose titles to
mislead the gullible. An inevitable cynicism set in as balletomanes expected
every season to receive brochures heralding the advent of the newly
christened Romanov Ballet, Rasputin Ballet, Volga Ballet or some other
scherzo a la Russe dancing to tape at local culture malls.
It didn't help that the turmoil in Russia led to ousted artistic
directors and the defection of many of the companies' greatest stars. And,
worse, each of the companies endured American debacles midway through the
decade. The Kirov's 1995 U.S. tour had to be canceled when several venues
dropped out, making the tour financially unfeasible, and a year later,
inexperienced tour management left the Bolshoi's visit to Las Vegas and Los
Angeles awash in empty houses and huge losses.
As the '90s advanced, the very idea of Russian ballet became something
of a grim joke--with the once-exalted term "Ballet Russe" darkening into the
sneering "ballet ruse," Russian roulette for dance audiences.
But suddenly this summer, before you could say "Ananiashvili" or
"Asylmuratova" (assuming that you could say them at all), the Bolshoi was
playing sold-out performances from Washington, D.C., to Costa Mesa, and the
Kirov better than sold-out performances in the heart of Royal Ballet
territory. What's better than sold out? Having to add a performance--as the
Kirov did for Balanchine's full-length "Jewels," not exactly standard St.
Petersburg or London rep.
So how to explain the turnaround? More managerial and marketing savvy in
Moscow and St. Petersburg, of course, plus a genuine need among high-ticket
foreign dance presenters for the return of Russian primacy. Think about it:
There are just so many world-class ensembles to go around. The lineup this
season at the Orange County Performing Arts Center (the Southland's primary
importer of big ballet), for example, would have seemed awfully spotty
without the Bolshoi. So another U.S. tour had to happen to test the market.
You could argue too that the Russian resurgence has been aided by a
cyclical shift in the audience's taste. The trend involves a move away from
an emphasis on choreography (the glory of Anglo American ballet) and toward
the exemplary full-company dancing prowess that has always sustained the
Kirov and Bolshoi.
But the companies' own capacity for renewal must also be credited.
Particularly at the Kirov, the emergence of a new generation of star
ballerinas has inspired repertory risks that, in turn, have reversed some of
the oldest truisms about Russian classicism.
In the past, the Kirov represented restrained, conservative, classical
elegance and the preservation of tradition, while the Bolshoi prioritized a
sense of overwhelming star power and quasi-populist dynamism.
Today, however, it's the Kirov that has become the more notably dynamic,
adventuresome and star-making of the two, casting the opening nights of its
foreign engagements with such newly minted sensations as Diana Vishneva and
Svetlana Zakharova, even when a first-rate older artist such as Altynai
Asylmuratova is on the roster. In contrast, every Bolshoi opening night in
America this year goes to veteran international star Nina Ananiashvili, a
fine dancer and a very safe bet.
Indeed, safety seems very much a Bolshoi watchword right now. Where, for
example, the new Kirov artistic director talks casually and candidly with the
foreign press, his Bolshoi counterpart demands that all questions be
submitted in advance--in writing. Very Soviet.
Last year, the Kirov took the risk of dumping its beloved traditional
reworking of "The Sleeping Beauty" and meticulously reconstructing Marius
Petipa's four-hour original in reproductions of the 1890 sets and costumes.
This year the Bolshoi also looked back at its 19th century heritage, but
instead of gambling on a reconstruction, it hired a French choreographer to
rework, reduce and redesign for contemporary audiences Petipa's four-hour
1862 "Pharaoh's Daughter."
The examples pile up, even as the Bolshoi follows the Kirov in bringing
Balanchine's "Symphony in C" to Lincoln Center and preps its dewy young
ballerina, Svetlana Lunkina, for the kind of instant stardom that greeted the
Kirov's Uliana Lopatkina in London three years ago and in New York last year.
A protegee of Bolshoi paragon Ekaterina Maximova, the 20-year-old
Lunkina represents the brightest prospect of the new Bolshoi generation,
displaying the exemplary spirit and training of her young colleagues but with
a greater emphasis on expressive depth and detail. And even she conforms to a
new company aesthetic, one that carefully mediates between character-based
Bolshoi dramatic traditions and the very different dance-for-dance's-sake
priorities of international style.
Assuming something resembling the Bolshoi's former stance is a Russian
company that American audiences never heard of until the late '90s: the Boris
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg. Founded in 1977, it made its Southland debut
in May at the Universal Amphitheatre, dancing Eifman's biographical
full-evening "Red Giselle" with enough acting skill and sheer intensity to
make the Neva run red.
Indeed, no more charismatic or brilliantly expressive male dancing has
been seen on any Southland stage this year than that of Eifman principal Igor
Markhov, while his colleagues Alina Solonskaya and Yuri Ananyan also
contributed unsparingly powerful, unmistakably Russian dramatic dancing.
With his emphasis on openly emotional, neo-Expressionist storytelling,
Eifman is reinventing a mode of primal Russian dance-drama that out-Bolshois
the current Bolshoi--a situation that became problematic for him when he
created "Russian Hamlet" (about the son of Catherine the Great) for that
company last season.
For all their talent, the Bolshoi dancers couldn't adapt to his style,
he told The Times recently. And it's his own ensemble that will present the
same work at the Orange County Performing Arts Center next March.
Nor are the Eifman dancers the only new Russians on the U.S. touring
landscape. In October, Cerritos and Santa Barbara will host the Southland leg
of the first visit to this country by the Perm State Ballet, Russia's
third-largest classical company. Famed for its ballet school and for being
the birthplace of Diaghilev, Perm has long sent stellar alumni to Moscow and
St. Petersburg--Nadezhda Pavlova to the Bolshoi and Olga Chenchikova to the
Kirov, for example.
And lest you think this might be another take-the-rubles-and-run
fly-by-night, the company will travel with its own orchestra, something that
even the Bolshoi didn't do this year.
Back in 1911, Scottish author James M. Barrie addressed one of the
burning issues of the day in a play titled "The Truth About the Russian
Dancers," verifying once and for all that these creatures are as magical and
above the rest of us as, well, Peter Pan. If the classical Russian dregs of
the past decade have often made us question his surety on the matter, the
evidence offered by the Kirov in New York a year ago, the best of the Bolshoi
in front of us this summer and the Eifman Ballet in its brief weekend
stopover here suggests that Barrie was guilty of a drastic understatement.
Now, if we could only get Lopatkina and Lunkina on a local stage before
the next millennium. . . .
THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION
A MONTHLY ON THE POST-SOVIET STATES
JULY 2000 Volume VI, Issue 7 Part 1
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PUTIN'S RUSSIA AND YELTSIN'S
By Aleksandr Tsipko
Aleksandr Tsipko is senior associate at the Russian Academy of Sciences'
Institute for International Economic and Political Research and a columnist
for Literaturnaya gazeta.
The new political realities in Russia are as yet in the early stages of
assessment and cognition. There is a general sense that since the
parliamentary elections of December 1999 and the early presidential
elections of March 2000 we have been living in a different country. At an
existentialist level, the new Russia is depicted above all as more stable
The growing feeling is that Putin is trying, above all, to make the country
more governable, and to remove all those who tried to block his coming to
power from the political stage. There can be no doubt that Putin has more
control over the situation in the country than Yeltsin did, and that the
potential for various political cataclysms and palace coups, let alone for
clashes between the public and the authorities, is greatly reduced. Until
its last moments, there were several alternatives for political development
within Yeltsin's Russia. In this sense it was still a country in democratic
revolution. This period of revolutionary fragmentation, which began with
Gorbachev's perestroika, is now nearing its end. Nevertheless, to form a
true image of Putin's new Russia, a special structural analysis is needed
of the political system being established here. If we look at the
continuity between Yeltsin's political regime and Putin's, it is clear that
there is a great deal more of the old in our lives than of the
fundamentally new. To develop this theme further, we need to answer three
related questions. How is the continuation between Yeltsin's political
regime and Putin's manifested? What has Putin actually managed to do to
improve the political situation in Russia? Will the current stabilization
of the political situation be used to continue democratic and market
reforms? In response to these three questions, I will discuss,
respectively, the negative aspects of the new political situation, the
positive aspects, and the consequent chances for civilized development in
NEGATIVE CONTINUITY BETWEEN YELTSIN'S RUSSIA AND PUTIN'S RUSSIA
First, the so-called elective constitutional autocracy of the president is
not only being preserved, it is being strengthened. After the military
confrontation between Yeltsin and the rebel Supreme Soviet in the autumn of
1993, a regime was established which is democratic in form but autocratic
in content, and, in this sense, traditional for Russia. The power of the
current president towers above all other branches of power, just as the
power of the general secretary of the CPSU did. According to Yeltsin's
constitution, the president is not accountable to any one form of power,
but enjoys simultaneous control of the power structures and the main
sources of finance and information. This regime, in transition from
communist totalitarianism to democracy, is qualitatively different from the
transitional regimes in the postcommunist countries of Eastern Europe.
Essentially, it does not possess any of the necessary prerequisites for the
democratic continuity of power, for creating a multiparty system or for
ensuring that democratic forces have the freedom to function.
The way in which Putin came to power demonstrated that the outgoing
president is succeeded by the man who is either prime minister or acting
president at the time of the transfer of power--the man who controls the
power structures and the main financial and information sources at the time
of the presidential elections. Russia's postcommunist regime is an
autocratic one which grew out of the debris of the parliamentary republic
of 1991-93, the debris of the Russian Congress of People's Deputies. Of
course, some elements of representative democracy still exist. The
Kremlin's appointed successor has to be "elected." But this is just a
technical issue. Russia's traditional administrative resources and election
technology allow any reasonably attractive candidate the Kremlin chooses to
be fashioned into an electable president. The phrase which best captures
the essence of our political regime is "controllable democracy." The
autocracy of the elected president in Russia is further consolidated by the
criminal, semi-legal nature of capitalism here. Almost all the large
fortunes in Russia were amassed as a result of the appropriation of former
state property which was not only hasty but which was accompanied by gross
violations of the law. Against this background, the country's leader is in
a position to prosecute any businessman, as the arrest of Vladimir Gusinsky
showed. Thus, as a rule, nobody involved in business risks playing an
Second, given such a political system, and such a mechanism for
transferring power, the head of state is not so much accountable to the
people who elected him as to the previous occupants of the Kremlin, who
gave him a head start in the presidential elections. The formation of
Putin's first government demonstrated that as yet he remains fully
dependent on Yeltsin's so- called "family." Putin still has to clear his
main personnel decisions with those who proposed him for the role of
president of Russia--i.e. Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana Dyachenko and her
colleagues Valentin Yumashev, Alexander Voloshin, Boris Berezovsky and
The clearest indication of this is provided by the intrigue surrounding the
appointment of the prosecutor general, who is in effect one of the key
players in our crime-ridden country. He who controls the prosecutor general
is the true master of the Kremlin, because he is in a position to protect
his people from prosecution. This is why Putin quite naturally tried to
nominate his friend and ally Dmitry Kozak, head of the government
secretariat, for the job. His appointment was even announced in the media,
and Putin actually drafted the first official request to the Federation
Council in Dmitry Kozak's name. It was expected that the senators would
endorse him as prosecutor general the same day. But it was then reported in
the media that Tatyana Dyachenko and Valentin Yumashev visited Putin in the
late evening of 15 May and persuaded him to drop his original plan and
nominate the acting Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov instead of Kozak.
As a result, the new prosecutor general is the man renowned for closing the
case against Boris Berezovsky.
As yet, Putin is a dependent figure; as president he is surrounded on all
sides by Yeltsin's appointees and placemen. All the key figures in
authority--the so-called power ministers, Defense Minister Sergeev,
Interior Minister Rushailo, FSB chief Patrushev, and Prosecutor General
Ustinov, not to mention Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov--are all Yeltsin's
people, or (to be more precise) the "Family's" people. This is why his
detractors dub Putin the "acting Yeltsin."
Third, under Putin the so-called problem of the oligarchs still remains, at
least for the time being. The essence of this problem lies in the
combination of property and power. The oligarchs acquired their huge
fortunes by virtue of their closeness to Yeltsin, Gaidar, Chernomyrdin and
Chubais. Then, by dint of their wealth and financial clout, the oligarchs
began to play a decisive role--greater than that of the representative
organs--in the domestic and foreign policy of the country's leaders. Just
as they did under Yeltsin, the oligarchs still exercise firm control over
Putin's policies with regard to the redistribution of property. The
oligarch Gusinsky used to have a huge influence on the president's
personnel decisions. Now, alongside Sibneft boss Abramovich, center stage
belongs to Aven and Fridman, who own the Alfa group.
THE FIRST POSITIVE RESULTS OF PUTIN'S PRESIDENCY
Nevertheless, by virtue of his youth, energy and capacity for hard work,
Putin has managed to improve the situation in Russia. This is because,
given the absence of civil society and the underdeveloped state of the
democratic institutions, the will of the Kremlin boss is still the main
historical factor. While Yeltsin mainly used his power to hold sway and
enjoy his supreme position in Russia, Putin sees it as his mission to act
to strengthen the Russian state. Gorbachev tried to liberalize the Soviet
totalitarian system. Yeltsin held on to power and thus prevented a
communist comeback. Putin is trying to maintain a liberal society and,
particularly, a market economy, and at the same time to restore state power
which tottered during the anticommunist revolution.
First, thanks to the generally successful antiterrorist operation in
Chechnya, Putin has managed to avoid the collapse of the Russian
Federation. Putin's attack on the autocracy of the regional leaders has
also contributed to the neutralization of centrifugal tendencies in Russia.
Under Yeltsin, Russia was a de-facto confederation of independent regions,
but it is now reverting to the federative structure outlined in the
What is happening is something that many western experts did not believe
possible until recently. For the first time in the eight-and-a-half years
since the Belovezh agreement, it can be said that there is no longer any
threat of the collapse of the RSFSR; centripetal forces in the country are
now stronger than centrifugal ones, and the era of the "parade of
sovereignties" is over. Putin's new administrative reforms and his
legislative initiatives aimed at restraining regional separatism and
voluntarism provide a foundation for restoring a single legal framework and
a single economic space. For the first time the opportunity is there to
carry out real market reforms and restore constitutional order.
Second, the difference between Putin's Russia and Yeltsin's is that in the
last few months, thanks particularly to Putin's victory in the first round
of the presidential elections, Russia has emerged from the state of civil
cold war which had flared up intermittently since the autumn of 1993, when
tanks fired at the White House. No longer is there an "intransigent
opposition." It simply disintegrated of its own accord. No longer is there
a division between society and power, a state of antagonism and hatred
between the malcontents and the Kremlin. The bulk of society has now
consolidated around Putin. For the first time in many years, people have
had their faith in the state, in the authorities and in themselves
reawakened. For the first time in many years the authorities have a social
and political base, there is a moral and psychological basis for serious
reforms and state business. The opportunity is there for instigating
sensible reforms which the public can understand.
Third, the danger of a return to communism and the domination of Marxist-
Leninist ideology has gone--completely and irreversibly. Communism is a
spent force in Russia, both as an ideology and in practice. Equally,
radical liberalism--which was a breeding ground for the preservation and
creation of nostalgia for communism and communist illusions of equality--is
also a spent force morally and politically. The bulk of society, even
former supporters of the KPRF, are shifting towards positions of state and
economic pragmatism, which is becoming the dominant ideology. The KPRF, as
the successor to Leninist bolshevism, is losing both its revolutionary
nature and its will to assume power, and is adapting to the realities of
freedom of speech and private ownership.
In recent months Russia has witnessed a change in state ideology. The
country's new leaders have rejected Yeltsin's aggressive anticommunism, and
have adopted positions of pragmatism and positive historical continuity.
Putin's liberal patriotism is manifested, above all, in his respect for the
achievements of all periods in our history--czarist, communist and
postcommunist. Thus for the first time in the 20th century the ideological
conditions have been created for national reconciliation and a stable civil
peace. Putin's Russia is unquestionably more stable and governable than
Fourth, the fact that the new authorities are relying above all on the
elected representative organs for support is very welcome. Under Putin the
Duma has become not just more obedient, but also more effective and more
important. While Yeltsin relied on the Federation Council in his
confrontation with the oppositionist communist Duma before 1998, Putin is
relying on the pro-government majority in the Duma in his attempts to
curtail regional separatism. It is noteworthy that the draft decrees on the
new procedure for forming the Federation Council provide for a significant
increase in the political authority of local legislative organs and their
leaders. In gaining the right to nominate two representatives to the upper
house of parliament, regional Dumas will secure equal political weight with
the local administration, particularly in circumstances when the regions
are going to be run via a network of federal envoys, and when the powers of
the governors are going to be cut back. The new political situation will
not merely mean that elections to local legislative assemblies will become
more important; it will also probably arouse interest in local government
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM PUTIN?
On the whole it can be said that under Putin Russia has become
consolidated, more stable, more governable and in this sense more
predictable. Under Putin the threat of a return to a unitary state
certainly exists, but there is no longer the threat of disintegration and
chaos which was typical of Yeltsin's Russia.
How will Putin use his power and his reinforced power hierarchy? This is
the question currently exercising Russia's political elite. It is clear
that Putin will use the advantages of our autocratic constitution to
deprive his political rivals of a chance for a comeback. The president's
actions against the Media-Most group must be seen in this context. It is
clear that Putin, just like Yeltsin, will do all he can and more to hold
onto the presidency for a second term. But what is not clear is how far
Putin will go in strengthening his constitutional autocracy, where he will
draw the line. Probably, because of his ambition, Putin will try to do what
Yeltsin was unable to do, that is, to carry through economic reforms which
will lead to an increase in wealth for the bulk of society. Putin is
interested both in developing private business and in strengthening the
position of the middle classes.
As a traditional Russian Westernizer, it should not be forgotten that Putin
is a confirmed Germanophile; the new president will not erect a new iron
curtain. I am certain that he has no interest in being hailed as a second
Stalin. In contemporary Russia and in the contemporary world it is in
principle no longer possible to recreate a totalitarian regime. Putin does
not have the motivating ideology for this; he does not have his
"crusaders." It should be remembered that Russia is no longer a
self-sufficient country; it constantly has to look over its shoulder at the
West and relate its aspirations to the realities of democratic
civilization. Stability will be maintained, but there will be no dictatorship.