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Johnson's Russia List
5 August 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Washington Post editorial: Putinocracy in Russia.
2. AFP: Russian minister predicts scientific boom in coming years.
3. The Economist (UK): Putin gets a grip.
4. RANSAC meeting/Protecting Nuclear Materials in the Former
5. Marcus Warren: re 4438-Chubais/Solzhenitsyn.
6. Moscow Times: Kevin O'Flynn, Children Take On Putin's Urals
7. Segodnya: Leonid RADZIKHOVSKY, WHY THERE IS NO OPPOSITION TO
8. Segodnya: Alexander PORFIRYEV, POWER STRUCTURE TO CHANGE BEYOND
RECOGNITION BY YEAR-END.
9. Jamestown Foundation Monitor: STATE COUNCIL: TALKING SHOP OR
10. Athens News (Greece): John Helmer, RUSSIAN POLICY SHIFT IN
MEDITERRANEAN -- DEFENCE MINISTER TO CYPRUS.
11. Bloomberg: Russia's Medvedev on Oligarchs, Media-Most,
12. Vremya Novosti: Yuri LEVADA, 40 PERCENT OF RUSSIA'S POPULATION
ARE FOR TALKS WITH CHECHNYA.
13. St. Petersburg Times: Andreas Hedfors and Charles Digges,
Doctors Battle Indifference in HIV Struggle.]
August 4, 2000
Putinocracy in Russia
IN THE continuing struggle between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his
country's big-business "oligarchy," Mr. Putin has announced a truce, of
sorts. A number of the oligarchs have been subjected to intense and seemingly
arbitrary law enforcement action in recent weeks. Having thus shown them what
can happen if they don't play by his rules, Mr. Putin met with 21 tycoons at
the Kremlin last week and reassured them that he would not roll back the
Yeltsin-era privatization deals that gave rise to their business empires. In
return, the oligarchs issued a statement obligingly indicating that
"companies and banks who uphold the state's interests while conducting their
affairs will enjoy guaranteed support and wide-ranging help from the
president." Mr. Putin, who once pledged to "eliminate the oligarchs as a
class," has, at least for now, achieved something potentially far more useful
to him--their domestication.
One big businessman remains conspicuously unable to fit into Mr. Putin's
protean concept of the state's interests, however. Vladimir Gusinsky, who
owns Russia's leading independent television channel, NTV, as well as a
newspaper and a popular radio station, was not included in the Kremlin
meeting. He has been informed that Mr. Putin's government will drop the fraud
investigation that had landed Mr. Gusinsky in jail for a few days in June--a
case few saw as an exercise in objective law enforcement. Mr. Gusinsky's news
operations just happen to be the only ones to have provided tough coverage of
Mr. Putin's performance, including his war in Chechnya. But now Mr.
Gusinsky's company, Media-Most, finds itself under new pressure: Gazprom, the
natural gas giant that is 38 percent state owned and chaired by a close
friend of Mr. Putin, is demanding that Media-Most repay a debt by
surrendering to Gazprom a controlling share in the company. Meanwhile,
erstwhile Putin ally Boris Berezovsky is being pushed to sell the government
his consortium's 49 percent share in the ORT channel (which is 51 percent
state-owned but run by Mr. Berezovsky). If these efforts succeed, the Putin
government would be in control of all television channels in Russia. For the
first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, broadcast news would once
again be an official monopoly.
Mr. Gusinsky is seeking foreign investors to stave off Gazprom's grab. Just
as urgently, reports The Post's David Hoffman from Moscow, the Putin
government is trying to thwart him. And to this picture add mounting evidence
of renewed domestic spying by the post-Soviet incarnation of Mr. Putin's old
outfit, the KGB--as well as Mr. Putin's assumption of powers once held by
regional governors. All that's left, seemingly, is to come up with the right
designation for the new state Mr. Putin is constructing. Is it a modern,
corporatist version of the old patrimonial autocracy? A Russian remake of
Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet's authoritarian capitalism? Market-Leninism?
One thing's clear: It's looking less and less like a liberal democracy.
Russian minister predicts scientific boom in coming years
MOSCOW, Aug 3 (AFP) -
Russia will experience a scientific boom in the next two to four years,
despite the aging of its researchers, Industry, Science and Technology
Minister Alexander Dondukov said in comments published Thursday.
"We are on the threshold of a Russian scientific boom that will take place in
two, maybe four years," Dondukov told the Izvestia daily.
"Russia will soon develop a super-computer and bypass western Europe in the
computer sector, sharing second or third place in the world with Japan," he
Asked about the problems posed by an aging corps of researchers, the minister
called the situation "catastrophic".
"For the past 10 years, young people have not really pursued careers in
scientific research. The generation of creators is going without leaving
students behind," he regretted.
Dondukov said he hoped arms exports would help Russia to fund scientific
"We must reduce the number of technologies once considered secret, and which
it was forbidden to export," he said.
The minister said arms could be sold in atypical markets like Australia,
Latin America, Africa and western Europe.
The Economist (UK)
August 5-11, 2000
[for personal use only]
Putin gets a grip
M O S C O W
President Vladimir Putin is beginning to dominate Russian politics. But he
has yet to show that he can bring lasting changes for the better
REMEMBER Russia this time last year, and pinch yourself. Vladimir Putin was
an inconspicuous bureaucrat. The Kremlin, under the ailing President Boris
Yeltsin, seemed set for a humiliating defeat in the forthcoming
parliamentary and presidential elections. The government was a corrupt
shambles. Regional barons both ruled their own fiefs and held great sway at
court. And the oligarchs—Russia’s self-important tycoons—seemed cosily
entrenched in the overlap between business and government.
Since then, two big things have happened. The first is that the Kremlin
bounced back. It found a candidate for the presidency in Mr Putin. It found
a popular cause, in the Chechen war, that eclipsed the public’s anger and
disappointment with ten years of half-cocked reform. It built up a
political machine in the provinces. It used state-controlled media to brand
its main opponents as corrupt, opportunistic and unreliable. After the
parliamentary election, it quickly stitched up a deal inside the lower
house of parliament, the Duma, that gave it a majority big enough to
override any objections from the less malleable upper house.
A high oil price and a post-devaluation boom gave a fair wind for all this.
In any event, one way or another, for the first time since the Soviet Union
started falling apart under Mikhail Gorbachev, the Kremlin now looks as if
it can run the country.
Mr Putin has pushed through a tax reform which, although still not nearly
enough, is a lot better than anything Russia has had before. He has made
regional governors sackable, and removed their automatic membership of the
upper house of parliament. He has publicly humiliated the most conspicuous
oligarchs, thus upsetting their private arrangements with government
ministers. And this week he dismissed some generals loyal to the
independent-minded defence minister, Igor Sergeyev, who has been noisily
resisting plans to spend more money on conventional weapons at the expense
of Russia’s nuclear forces.
Second, power has shifted inside the Kremlin. The choice of Mr Putin seems
to have been a compromise between, on the one hand, the insider business
interests close to the Yeltsin family and, on the other, the security
services and their allies, who are the champions of old-fashioned Soviet
thinking on strong Russian state power at home and abroad. That deal
between crooks and spooks always looked temporary. Now it seems to have
been resolved in favour of the spooks—and of the increasingly powerful
ex-spook, Mr Putin.
The biggest casualty has been Boris Berezovsky, a friend of Mr Yeltsin’s
daughter and the mastermind of both the Kremlin’s recent election
victories. The consummate insider is now an outsider, scrambling to put
together an opposition to Mr Putin. He is under heavy pressure from Swiss
fraud investigators, who have now handed over half a ton of documents to
Russian prosecutors. Although Alexander Mamut, a banker closely tied to the
Yeltsin Kremlin, has so far escaped scrutiny, another previously
untouchable insider, Roman Abramovich, moved closer to the flames last
week, when Mr Putin raised the question of the low taxes paid by his oil
The president’s star has soared in the past month. At first, his government
looked divided and weak, and then he seemed to be picking fights with too
many powerful enemies at once. But so far his plan has paid off. Many
expect a further burst of activity in the autumn; perhaps the promotion of
reform-minded ministers, and the sacking of those, such as the railways
minister, Nikolai Aksenenko, too closely tied to the old guard. His seven
newly appointed regional representatives are also starting to take swipes
at some of the more glaring illegalities perpetrated on their patches by
local governors: for instance, the city of Moscow’s unconstitutional, and
very corrupt, system of residency permits.
To what end?
But as Russia’s top people head off to the south of France for their
holidays (some things do not change), two big questions remain unanswered.
Will this really work? And where is it leading?
The task of reforming Russia is so huge that almost any effort risks
seeming inadequate. But the biggest shortcoming in Mr Putin’s approach so
far is that it looks so selective and arbitrary. Two months ago, for
example, Vladimir Gusinsky, a tycoon who owns the main independent
television channel, was so dangerous a criminal that he had to be arrested.
Now all charges have been dropped. Neither he nor the authorities will say
why. But it looks as if he has agreed to give up his media empire. If so,
the case was about the state using the criminal-justice system to cow a
This may not be directly Mr Putin’s fault: he spends a remarkable amount of
time on foreign trips, which seem oddly to coincide with sticky moments at
home. But it does reflect a fundamental problem: although the government
talks about the rule of law, it does not seem to understand that it applies
to the state as well. The most ghastly atrocities in Chechnya continue
unchecked. Officials, either at their own whim or at someone else’s, do
with journalists, environmentalists, trade unionists and other nuisances
more or less as they please. The Kremlin’s levers of patronage and
intimidation make for effective politics, but they are a rum way to build a
Anyway, most of the changes so far are superficial. Lower tax rates are
good, but Russians will start trusting the system only when tax inspectors
stop behaving like bandits. Business in Russia is still stifled by the
combination of silly rules and extortionate officials. To reform such
things would mean turning the bureaucracy upside down. Mr Putin’s successes
are mostly in cutting back on obvious abuses, rather than really changing
the way Russia works.
That may yet alter. Mr Putin has at least created some of the preconditions
for proper reform; an important step, if an incomplete one. But there are
worrying signs, too. Russia did not become a proper democracy under Boris
Yeltsin, but it was at least pluralistic. There is no sign so far that the
new Kremlin has any time, let alone sees any need, for opposition, be it in
politics, the media or society. Some Russian newspapers compare Mr Putin’s
offensive against the oligarchs to Stalin’s early years, when the
profiteers who flourished under Lenin’s “new economic programme”—a retreat
from total state control—were first shaken down, and then shot. Mr Putin
surely has no such drastic next steps in mind. But the fears are there.
Date: Thu, 03 Aug 2000
From: Bill Hoehn <email@example.com>
Subject: RANSAC meeting/Protecting Nuclear Materials in the Former
PRESS BRIEFING AND NEW REPORT RELEASE
“Protecting Nuclear Materials in the Former Soviet Union:
Assessing Current Efforts and Recommendations for Future Action”
Tuesday August 15, 2000
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
The Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council (RANSAC) and the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Non-Proliferation Program
are co-sponsoring a briefing for interested governmental and
non-governmental representatives, the media, and Congressional staff on
the status, issues, and problems related to the U.S.-Russian Nuclear
Material Protection, Control, and Accounting (MPC&A) program. This
program is the primary international effort to secure vulnerable
weapon-usable nuclear material in Russia and the former Soviet Union.
The program is led by the U.S. Department of Energy and provides
equipment, training, and other resources to help Russia improve security
over its fissile material stockpile.
A comprehensive new report on this subject Renewing the Partnership:
Recommendations for Accelerated Action to Secure Nuclear Material in the
Former Soviet Union will be released at this meeting. The report’s
authors, who have played important roles in the development of this
program, will outline the findings of their study and ways in which the
MPC&A program can more quickly and effectively achieve its goals and
The authors are:
Oleg Bukharin, a member of the research staff the Center for Energy and
Environmental Studies at Princeton University. He is one of the
foremost private research specialists in the U.S. on issues related to
the Russian nuclear weapons complex.
Matthew Bunn, Assistant Director of the Science, Technology, and Public
Policy Program at Harvard University. He served previously as an
adviser to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy,
where he participated in U.S.-Russian negotiations on security,
monitoring, and disposition of nuclear materials.
Kenneth Luongo, Executive Director of RANSAC, and former senior
nonproliferation advisor to Energy Secretary O’Leary and former Director
of the Energy Department’s Office of Arms Control and Nonproliferation.
The MPC&A program was initiated during his tenure at DOE.
To RSVP, or for more information on this meeting, please contact Bill
Hoehn, RANSAC’s Washington Office Director (phone: 202-332-1412; e-mail:
Date: Fri, 04 Aug 2000
From: "Marcus Warren" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: re 4438-Chubais/Solzhenitsyn
you and your readers should know that the chubais interview in which he
denounces solzhenitsyn is published in the latest edition of the kommersant
vlast weekly. the whole thing repays close reading.
needless to say, i identified the source in my file to london. but, as
is often the case, colleagues back home had to do considerable violence to
the copy to
make it fit the absurdly small slots available in the paper.
August 5, 2000
Children Take On Putin's Urals Envoy
By Kevin O'Flynn
Yekaterinburg, Ural Mountains -- Few expected General Pyotr Latyshev would
make friends when he arrived in Yekaterinburg on Friday as the president's
freshly appointed representative to the region.
But in one swift move, the new representative for the Urals District has made
enemies of thousands of children, parents, the police and even the local
policemen's wives' rhythmic gymnastic team.
City residents are in an uproar that Latyshev is going to occupy one of the
city's most prized buildings, a classical 18th-century mansion that once
belonged to the merchant Rastoguyev-Kharitonov. It sits on a hill overlooking
the regional parliament building and has been the home for the last 63 years
to the city's childrens center, Dom Kultury Tvorchestvo.
About 4,000 children now study 300 subjects from ballroom dancing to mountain
climbing at the center for free.
Latyshev is one of the seven envoys President Vladimir Putin appointed
earlier this year to represent him in seven newly created federal districts
across the country. The envoys are expected to help Putin restore central
control over the 89 regions and tame regional governors.
Latyshev is also not the first envoy to upset his district. In June,
Northwest district representative Viktor Cherkesov raised the ire of St.
Petersburg residents when he took over the city's beautiful Wedding Palace
Sverdlovsk regional Governor Eduard Rossel is supporting Latyshev with his
move into town. The governor signed a resolution July 5 proposing to hand
over the building to Latyshev and move the children's center to a local
police social center, Dom Kultury GUVD. Putin signed an order agreeing with
the decision July 28.
As Latyshev swept into town Friday, he was greeted by several hundred
protesting children, parents, grandparents and teachers gathered outside the
governor's office. Holding placards reading "Defend Children in Action Not in
Words" and "General f 1, Children f 4,000," the children sang songs and
chanted while parents and grandparents looked on.
"We came here to protest against the closing of the center," said Olga
Belaninova, 14, who studies ornithology at the center. "It's a great shame.
We have a great set of friends and teachers there."
"I came because of what it means to my two sons," said pensioner Lyudmila
Her two sons are 43 and 35, but the center holds such special memories from
their childhood that they return on special occasions, she said.
"It pains their hearts," Bondareva said, adding that her sons could not get
away from work to participate in the rally.
Many parents attending the protest Friday said the governor is trying to
butter up Latyshev by giving him the building, which counts among its
graduates the likes of sculptor Ernst Neizvestny, artist Alexander Denyanenko
and even Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Indian leader Indira Gandhi.
The mood was not any better over at the police social center Friday. Although
officers described themselves as supporters of Putin, their disappointment
and anger was palpable. "I don't want to believe that Latyshev will move
there," said Mikhail Pavlov, head of the police union running the social
He said the police's main concern is that a move could lead to many children
quitting classes and beginning to experiment with drugs f a serious worry in
a city plagued with teenage drug abuse.
"A lot of our children are under threat," Pavlov said. "If that [the move]
happens, we will lose a lot of children."
The police said their anger would probably not lead to pickets, but at least
one officer said hunger strikes could be considered as a last resort.
Another concern of supporters is the contrast in the quality of space between
the two buildings. The childrens center occupies nine buildings with a total
area of 7,000 square meters in good condition. Although the police center is
not that much smaller at 5,000 square meters, the building is run down and
does not contain space suitable for classrooms, Pavlov said.
The childrens center is located on 5 hectares of grounds befitting an
18th-century merchant, while the police social center has a leaky roof that
needs a complete renovation and cramped dark halls with mold crawling up the
walls. "It's like a dump for a palace," Pavlov said.
Still, the aging building is the center of the police officers' social lives:
the place where they host wedding parties, meetings for the families of
police officers killed in action, and the classes of the policemen's wives'
rhythmic gymnastic team.
Latyshev did not turn a blind eye to residents' anger Friday when he
addressed reporters at his first news conference in the city.
"The representative will only move in when there is no conflict and when all
the problems are resolved," Latyshev said.
"We value it [the concern] as a definite warning to the representative," he
said. "Maybe in a way it is a good thing. We will be more attentive."
But other government officials gave conflicting signals, saying Latyshev
would move into the center in the next few days. And Latyshev himself added
on a provocative note at a news conference that he had heard children were
being paid 50 rubles to protest.
Organizers of the protest vehemently denied the charge.
Meanwhile, teachers at the children's center said glumly that the children
were the ones who were going to lose out in the end. The center's
airplane-building section and choir have won international acclaim, said
Valentin Popov, the head of one art department.
"The choir has traveled all around Europe, and tomorrow they won't have
anywhere to rehearse," he said.
August 4, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
WHY THERE IS NO OPPOSITION TO PUTIN
By Leonid RADZIKHOVSKY
It is surprising how smoothly everything runs with Putin.
There is no opposition, not even political resistance to him.
It is really amazing.
There are several reasons explaining why there is no
opposition to Putin and hardly any prospect of it.
Putin is very popular in the country, all sociologists
admit this fact. But it is not only a matter of popular support
but of its quality. In his time (in 1991-92), Yeltsin enjoyed
great, I would say, vigorous popularity. But he was never the
"president of all Russians" even for a single day.
He propelled himself to power as a revolutionary president, an
anti-Communist president. And he remained as such.
Being Yeltsin's choice, Putin immediately shook the
ideological dust of Yeltsinism from his feet. He has become the
"president of all Russians" by definition. He has no political
biography (which could irritate some people). He has not
invented any slogan, just repeated the wondrous words "to bring
order," though for many years everyone without exception, from
Zyuganov to Chubais, has been saying the same thing. They said
this because they realised that this was the people's cherished
dream. However, the people did not trust them. But they trusted
a neutral colonel from the Federal Security Service. Isn't this
consensus in society?
At the same time, Putin is not a "yes-man". He opposes the
oligarchs, both regional and central. A tsar fighting the
boyars - isn't this Russian charisma? It is easily recognisable
by Russians at a genetic level.
Yeltsin fell asleep and let the reins of power loose;
Putin is gathering them in his hand (though the whip is not yet
needed). And the horses are already ready for a run. This is
not surprising. The whole of Russian history has repeated the
same classical cycle: "attention - rest - attention ..." Putin
fits right in to this cycle. Putin is a "historically
legitimate" president because he falls into the historical
rhythm. Who would argue with this? There is no use arguing with
Of course, apart from all these niceties, Putin has (or it
seems that he has) a certain ideology. And it is not so
traditional for Russia. Here, some questions may arise in
society. A "colonel's liberalism" - for some there are too many
boots in it, for others - too many liberals. Thus far Putin's
liberalism has been just a theme for intellectual seminars. The
public has not sensed it yet. Therefore, there is not a single
crack in Putin's "pedestal." This is why our cowardly, corrupt
and disunited elites do not dare to storm this pedestal.
August 4, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
POWER STRUCTURE TO CHANGE BEYOND RECOGNITION BY YEAR-END
By Alexander PORFIRYEV
The Yeltsin Constitution is living out its last days. The
ground for its change will be the establishment of a State
Council, to which, as Vladimir Putin did not rule out
yesterday, a constitutional status will be given. According to
the President, the State Council must not substitute the
Federation Council but could assume some of its
According to information of Segodnya, the establishment of
the "constitutional" State Council will lead to the radical
review of the entire structure of the executive and,
indirectly, of all the other branches of power. As our sources
believe, the new power vertical will become fully presidential
and will look as follows:
- The head of executive power - the President - will most
likely come to head the State Council personally. The deputy
chairman of the State Council will thus acquire the status of
the Vice-President. He (and not the Prime Minister as is the
practice today) will become the President's deputy and,
correspondingly, the second top official in the state.
- It is intended to pass over to the State Council such
"non-legislative" functions of the Federation Council as the
issues of war and peace, the imposition of a state of
emergency, the endorsement of the budget, the Prosecutor
General and finally, the appointment of elections.
- All the issues of strategic nature, from economic and
foreign policy issues to national security and the relations
between the centre and the regions, will be passed over to the
Security Council which will also be headed by the President.
- The power bloc supervised directly by the President will
begin to operate more freely. The tradition, which has been in
existence up to this day and according to which law-enforcement
bodies cannot launch a probe into the doings of top officials
(federal ministers, etc.) without a special high permission
will most likely be broken. Apart from that, the power
structures will be called upon to exercise tougher control in
the economic sphere.
- The government will lose a considerable weight in the
new power structure and will actually become a technical
division of the Kremlin administration and the distributor of
quotas and licenses (which is important for preserving the
current control over business).
- The legislative power will also be transformed. The
destiny of the Federation Council has already been determined.
In autumn - well-informed politicians already speak about this
openly - the reformation of the lower house will begin. The
quotas of deputies elected on party lists will be sharply cut -
to 100-150 mandates. The aim of the reform is to remove minor
parties from the scene and make the system bipartisan
(Yedinstvo - Communists).
Apart from that, a law on parties and political movements
is under preparation. According to one of its versions, almost
insurmountable obstacles will be created on the way of their
re-registration: for example, a tough quota for the number of
officially registered party members (at least 5,000 or 7,000
members, let's assume) in each of 89 regions of the Russian
- The general line in relation to business and the mass
media, which still exert influence on the internal policy, is
already clear. As for business proper, one of the ideas is that
"proper" top managers should appear in all more or less
significant companies (to say nothing of strategic corporations
and natural monopolies). This "properness" means that these
managers must be responsible, in the first place, to the state
(i.e. the incumbent authorities) and only then to shareholders.
So far, these are just schemes developed by various units
of the administration and military and analytical structures.
The elaboration of these schemes is coordinated (precisely
coordinated and not controlled) by head of the presidential
administration Alexander Voloshin. As the practice of the
passage of the Kremlin's ideas in the form of bills through the
parliament has showed, serious obstacles will hardly appear. In
any case, the new power structure is planned to be completed by
the end of the year.
Jamestown Foundation Monitor
August 4, 2000
STATE COUNCIL: TALKING SHOP OR RADICAL CHANGE? Observers are split over
whether the new State Council will materialize into a serious new organ of
state power. The idea--or something like it--has a rather long pedigree in
Russia's post-Soviet history. Various influential politicians and officials
proposed something like the State Council in the run-up to the 1996
presidential election, ostensibly as a way to prevent a possible civil war
between supporters of then President Boris Yeltsin and his opponents. An
echo of the State Council idea could be found in the so-called "Big Four,"
the extra-constitutional entity created back in 1997 by then President
Boris Yeltsin which included him, then Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev and State Duma Speaker Gennady
Seleznev. The Big Four, however, turned out to be little more than a
part-time talking shop--and some observers believe the newly proposed State
Council could have the same fate.
On the other hand, a newspaper claimed today that the Kremlin has far
grander plans for the State Council. Segodnya reported that the Kremlin is
planning to use its creation as a jumping off point for a cardinal revision
of the country's governmental structures, in the direction of centralizing
power under the Kremlin administration. Citing unnamed sources, the paper
reported that Putin will most likely head the State Council, and that the
deputy chairman of the new body will be Russia's de facto vice president,
with the government (headed by the prime minister) losing power and
influence, becoming essentially a "technical sub-division" of the Kremlin
administration. The State Council will take over from the Federation
Council powers to handle such responsibilities as dispatching military
forces abroad, imposing a state of emergency, confirming the budget and
scheduling elections. The Security Council, a presidential advisory body,
will take charge of issues of a "strategic character," including those
involving the economy, foreign policy, national security and relations
among Russia's regions. Meanwhile, the "power structures"--meaning the
armed forces and security services, which are directly subordinated to the
president--will be given a freer hand in such areas as keeping tabs on
cabinet ministers and other government officials and carrying out
"accounting and control" in the economic sphere.
In addition, the State Duma will be reformed by this autumn. The number of
Duma seats reserved for deputies elected on party lists will be reduced
from 225 to 100-150. On top of that, steps will be taken to reduced the
number of political parties in Russia, including a measure that will limit
registration to larger political parties--those with a minimum of, say,
5000-7000 members. According to Segodnya, the Kremlin's goal is to create a
two-party system consisting of the pro-Putin Unity party and the Communist
Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF). Finally, the state will continue to
take measures to ensure that the media and business is loyal to the state.
The paper reported that Kremlin administration chief Aleksandr Voloshin has
been put in charge of coordinating this action program, and said that its
implementation meant that the Yeltsin-era constitution, approved in
December 1993 referendum, was in its last days (Segodnya, August 4).
It should be noted that Segodnya is part of Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-Most
group, which has been under pressure from the Kremlin and the law
enforcement authorities, and is reportedly the target of a Kremlin-inspired
takeover bid by Gazprom, Russia's natural gas monopoly. On the other hand,
the paper apparently has good sources, and certainly has a good record of
prognostication: It was one of the first media outlets to detail how the
Kremlin planned to reduce the power of the regional leaders, including the
law ending automatic Federation Council membership for governors and
regional legislative assembly heads (see the Monitor, May 11).
Date: Fri, 04 Aug 2000
From: "John Helmer" <email@example.com>
Subject: RUSSIAN POLICY SHIFT IN MEDITERRANEAN
The Athens News (Greece), August 6, 2000
RUSSIAN POLICY SHIFT IN MEDITERRANEAN -- DEFENCE MINISTER TO CYPRUS
>From John Helmer in Moscow
For the first time, Russia's Defence Minister, Marshal Igor Sergeyev,
will make an official visit to Cyprus. Sources in Moscow told Athens News the
military chief's visit is planned from October 4 to 6.
The move is a new sign from the Putin Administration that it considers Cyprus
more important than the Yeltsin Administration, some members of which were
close to Turkey.
The Sergeyev visit will be the first time a defence minister from one of the
permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council has made an
official trip to Cyprus since the Turkish invasion and occupation of 1974.
That occupation has been repeatedly condemned by the Security Council,
although the presence of Turkey's military forces on Cypriot territory is
tacitly supported and actively armed by the United States.
Moscow officials note that the new security doctrine and foreign policy
strategy of Russia, adopted recently by the Kremlin, will emphasize
traditional Russian concerns in the Mediterranean, as well as in the
Balkans; and will seek to counter-balance U.S. influence, where this
contravenes the international consensus and United Nations resolutions.
The Russian Navy announced recently it is planning to deploy more ships more
regularly in the Mediterranean than have been seen in a decade. US electronic
surveillance in the southern Mediterranean is being stepped up at the Souda
Bay base in Crete.
Early this week, President Vladimir Putin met visiting Libyan Foreign
Minister, Abdel Shalgam. At a Kremlin meeting, Putin said he would visit
Libya, and restore relations with Tripoli. Russian defence cooperation with
Libya has resumed, and will include providing Libya with the S-300
air defence system.
It was the decision by the Greek and Cypriot governments not to deploy the
S-300 system on Cyprus two years ago, which encouraged senior Russian
officials to express open distrust of personalities in Athens and Nicosia.
In the interval, the NATO war against Yugoslavia and the Kremlin's war to put
down the Chechen secession have led to a modulation of Russian security
policy. Today, Russian sources told The Athens News, the Russian strategy
aim to ignore those Hellenic officials whose political views are considered
excessively or unwisely pro-American, and concentrate instead on the
fundamental interests which Russia believes it shares with the Hellenic world.
In a striking display of concern for Cyprus, Putin insisted at last month's
summit conference of the industrialized countries in Okinawa, that explicit
reference to Cyprus be included in the communique. This was resisted by the
other presidents, according to a Cyprus government official, but Putin
The published text expressed "serious concern" at the failure to date of
negotiations to settle the Cyprus conflict. Supporting the UN-convened
proximity talks, the communique expressed the "hope that decisive progress
will be made in the current round, and in the months ahead."
Late last year, some of the sharpest criticism of Turkey to come from Russian
officials in many years was issued by Deputy Defence Minister General Igor
Zubov. He said Russian intelligence had uncovered evidence of several bases
on Turkish territory, where terrorists are being trained to fight with the
Chechen secessionist groups.
The Defence Ministry's arms export branch continued to hope, however, that
Turkey would decide its attack helicopter tender in favour of the
Russian-made Kamov Ka-50-2, which has been competing against the US-made Bell
King Cobra model. The bid to supply 145 machines is estimated to be worth $4
Last week, US and Turkish officials announced that Bell had won over
pressure from Washington on Ankara was reported by military sources to have
Dmitri Rogozin, the new chairman of Russia's parliamentary committee on
international relations, recently told The Athens News he understands the
problems between Turkey and Greece, and sees NATO as a channel
for negotiations. At the same time, he added, "Turkey understands the
language of force -- the language of the balance of force, and the language
of interests of neighbours in the security of their borders."
Russia's Medvedev on Oligarchs, Media-Most, Gazprom: Comment
Moscow, Aug. 4 (Bloomberg)
-- The following are comments by Dmitriy Medvedev the head of the Russian
presidential administration, on the interference of Russian business leaders
with state power, Media-Most chief Vladimir Gusinsky and the possibility of
OAO Gazprom buying Media-Most.
Medvedev is also the chairman of Gazprom's board of directors. The comments
were carried on Russian news agency Interfax.
On business leaders' interference with state power:
``Attempts to interfere in the prerogatives of the state, coming from
whatever quarters, should be stopped in keeping with the constitution and
``Some big business figures see their role in Russia's social development in
a rather strange light: they try to build up a systemic opposition to state
power. It is one thing to disagree with decisions taken by the state
structures and to sharply criticize them. It is another thing to build up a
systemic opposition to state power.''
On the possible conflict of Vladimir Gusinsky with the Kremlin:
(We should not) view the problem so simply. The situation is both even worse
and more complicated.''
On Media-Most's debt to Gazprom:
``This question goes beyond economics and the stock market, but at the same
time, it is a purely legal matter.
``If the issue is considered by the Gazprom board of directors, it will be
done so according to normal economic and legal criteria, namely, the debtor
company's solvency, the liquidity of its assets and its legal prospects.''
On the possibility of Gazprom buying Media-Most:
``I cannot rule out any variations. If a debtor is unable pay with money,
there may be other legal ways to protect the rights of the creditor.''
August 2, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
40 PERCENT OF RUSSIA'S POPULATION ARE FOR TALKS WITH CHECHNYA
By Yuri LEVADA, director of the All-Russia Public Opinion
Research Centre (VTsIOM)
The latest polls conducted by the All-Russia Public
Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM) show that people have got
tired of the war which has been lasting for more than a year
now. This does not mean that they have a different opinion of
Chechens: most people still believe that all of them are
bandits and terrorists. At the same time, nearly half of the
respondents are in favour of peace negotiations now. The
inertia of public opinion is at last changing.
A year ago, when the militants entered Dagestan, wrath and
indignation were universal. These feelings were later
intensified by apartment blocks being blown up. Further
developments followed their own logic. First - wrath and pain,
and then the idea that those whom they thought to be bandits
should be done away with. This is why there were so many
supporters of the "retaliation action" - a new march on Grozny.
Now, it seems, a change in sentiments has occurred. First
of all, the type of military operations has sharply changed:
the times of storms, with cities being seized and banners
hoisted, are over. What is left is a strenuous, constant,
disturbing struggle against saboteurs, partisans and
terrorists. Another thing that has influenced public opinion is
our heavy casualties. Though military operations have
practically been completed, we continue to lose many officers
and men. More than 10,000 people have been killed or wounded.
This is according to the official data which cannot always be
trusted. The impression is that even the advocates of war and
mass media have changed their minds: military actions have
disappeared from the front pages of newspapers and are no
longer the main TV news. For this reason it seems that there
are no serious successes. Moreover, many people are afraid that
the war will go on for a long time to come.
And here is what we have in the end: recently, when we
asked people to sum up the results of the whole campaign, with
due account taken of all successes and losses, we discovered
that the majority of them (more than 50 percent of the total)
think that the campaign has been a failure.
Note that so far a change in the people's view of the
Chechen war has had no effect on their attitude to the
president. This is despite the fact that at first Putin's
prestige was based on his resolute actions in Chechnya. Later
these actions were not so successful and even became the
president's weak spot, but Putin's prestige is still high - as
a result of the people's inertia.
Question: Considering all gains and losses of the
operation in Chechnya in the 1999-2000 period, should it be
(1) as not too successful, as a complete
failure - 79%
(2) I don't know - 7%
(3) as very successful or rather
successful - 14%
Question: What, do you think, we should do now: to
continue military operations in Chechnya, or start peace
Nov. Feb. March April May June July
operations 61 70 73 67 56 55 49
To start peace
negotiations 27 22 19 23 35 33 41
I don't know 12 8 8 10 9 12 10
All-Russia Public Opinion Research Centre. A
representative express-poll was carried out among 1,600
Russians on July 20-25, 2000.
St. Petersburg Times
August 1, 2000
Doctors Battle Indifference in HIV Struggle
By Andreas Hedfors and Charles Digges
SPECIAL TO THE ST. PETERSBURG TIMES
CHELYABINSK, Ural Mountains - The patient is young, but has the face of a
veteran of suffering and illness. One of his arms is wrapped in a gauze
sling. The other is pocked with open, blackening wounds that probably won't
heal. He has had HIV for three years. Slumping on a stool at the Chelyabinsk
Aids Center, his eyes darting around the room, he is at the end of an 11-year
career of heroin addiction and needle sharing, where he contracted the
disease that will kill him and the 50,000 other HIV patients registered in
Slava is, however, one of a handful of patients in the Chelyabinsk epidemic
who has kicked the habit. In a city where detoxification facilities may as
well install revolving doors, Slava is something of a museum piece. Doctors
say that trying to convince the majority of the city's 50,000 to 70,000
registered drug users to do the same as Slava - thus solving not only the
drug problem but 90 percent of the HIV problem as well - is deep in the realm
of fantasy. As Slava's experience shows, the most terrifying dynamic of the
Chelyabinsk HIV outbreak is that doctors and city authorities are dealing
with an epidemic population that, by and large, couldn't care less that it
is, or could become, HIV positive. "I forgot I had been diagnosed positive
the day after, maybe even the hour after they told me," Slava said. "Within
hours, I was sharing a needle with friends."
As another example, Slava cites junkies that beg outside the center's windows
at night for needles that have been used on the center's AIDS patients for
medical procedures. "They know these needles are infected," said Slava. "But
they want them anyway. That is how the mind of a junkie works."
THE MISSING ELEMENTS
In a chorus, authorities and NGOs fighting the epidemic say the one missing
element that would make a world of difference is treatment and psychological
aftercare for addicts who quit. Unfortunately, the price tag for such things
is estimated to be too high - so high that 17 regions in Russia that are also
struggling with AIDS didn't bother to request federal funding for psychiatric
This means that almost the whole of Russia's anti-AIDS effort is
prophylactic, focusing on getting people never to try drugs in the first
place. Unfortunately, even these measures are ignored by most Russian
municipalities, which prefer to sweep the matter under the carpet.
Chelyabinsk is the exception and has had tentative success with a massive
City Hall driven AIDS education program. And nearly 30 NGOs have blossomed,
supported by the Soros Foundation, Ford and other NGOs like Doctors Without
As a result of anti-drug concerts, colorful banners, volunteer counseling
groups' flyers and advertisements, many teenagers have decided to never touch
it. "We see what happens to junkies," said one 17-year-old woman sitting with
a friend at a cafe, who preferred not to give her name. "They are beaten by
the cops, beaten up by roughnecks and I don't want that." Slava agreed.
"Nobody wants to be a junkie unless you're already a junkie," he said. "You
are the scum of society, its feces, and all you get is kicked to the side."
Among that level of society there are some who do want to stop and this is
usually done by medically and pharmacologically assisted detoxification, or
detox. But depending on one's financial means, detox can be either a
relatively painless or almost unbearably painful experience. The Oblast's
drug-treatment hospital, with 40 beds for detox patients, is the one facility
in the Chelyabinsk Oblast where addicts and alcoholics can get straight.
The crumbling hospital is touted by City Hall as being one of the main
recipients of civic largesse. But Chief Drug-treatment Psychiatrist, Vladimir
Gorbach, who runs the drug-treatment unit, sneers when asked about money.
"Did you come in by the main door? Did you see the state of things, the
walls, the ceilings? ... I have no further comments [on my budget from City
Hall]," he said. As to detox, Gorbach says a ten-day course of detox
treatment costs between 2,000 rubles ($70) and 6,000 rubles ($210).
A tour of Gorbach's overcrowded detox ward revealed barred windows,
disoriented patients unaware that they were wandering about half naked in
front of strangers, and an unrelenting smell of organic decay. They were
being treated with the hospital's almost useless medications, Gorbach
For 6,000 rubles, Gorbach said, a patient gets a semi-private room and access
to higher-quality medications, specially purchased for the patient. The
patient also will not be registered on the city's list of drug users, which
virtually guarantees continual unemployment.
LIFE AFTER DETOX
For Slava, the whole cycle started when he was 18 and he tried "khanga," an
opium derivative smuggled from Afghanistan. He shot a hypodermic full of the
stuff and "that was it," he said. "I was hooked. Who needed beer or vodka
after that? It was a joke." When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, heroin
began flowing in from Kazakstan and hit Chelyabinsk. For 11 years, Slava did
the round of hospitals and detoxes, but usually shot up just hours after
being discharged. What saved him in the end, he said, was his wife.
"She said it was her or the dope and I chose her." And he kicked cold turkey,
without medical help, writhing in his bed for days as the narcotic washed
slowly out of his system. "I couldn't lose her," he said, then ceased to
discuss the topic further. So what remains for those who shed their
addictions in the hospital, but still know they are carrying a virus that
will kill them? What happens to the people who still think they have nothing
"There are faces I see again and again in detox," Gorbach said. "I would say
that almost all of them would return again and again forever if, say, 50
percent of them did not die of overdoses, of AIDS, or suicide"
Alongside the monolithic Soviet hospitals, a plethora of private and
semi-governmental centers has sprung up, offering more luxurious conditions
for recovery. They claim higher rates of success and less incidence of
relapse. They also use unorthodox methods of treatment that don't capture
Gorbach's confidence. Even City Hall has got in on the action by buying the
ARCON Center, where the chief method of detoxification relies on lasers that
focus the brain's pleasure centers. The center claims an 80 percent success
rate for an astronomical 58,000 rubles ($2,000). Another odd player is the
API Center, which, for 7,500 rubles ($250) will cure you of your addiction
with a series of bee stings, the poison of which apparently rids the mind and
spirit of the addiction, doctors at the center said.
All of these treatments are irrelevant, however, once a former addict is left
on his own. The drug-treatment hospital provides next to no rehabilitative
psychotherapy, said Marina Linkova, head of the NGO Take Care of Yourself, an
AIDS education group.
Youth and HIV-infected addicts can go to NGOs like Take Care of Yourself's
AdvokaTEEN, where they get free post-addiction counseling. But other
professional psychiatric care is scarce.
Non-professional and free self-help groups like Narcotics Anonymous, which is
modeled on the debatably successful Alcoholics Anonymous, are, however,
carving a niche in the recovery scene. Many addicts are spooked by the
group's quasi-spiritual methodology which suggests relying on a "higher
power" to relieve your addiction.
Still, according to the American Medical Association, NA and AA are the most
effective aftercare programs yet devised for recovering addicts.
ATTITUDES AND ANGER
Beyond all the budgetary shortfalls, crumbling facilities and drug use,
doctors and city officials say another obstacle to getting proper care for
HIV-positive drug addicts is the attitude of Russian society as a whole
toward sufferers. "The HIV epidemic is not a problem of the medics,"
exclaimed Gorbach. "It concerns all of society, families, the educational
system, mass media, religious institutions, policy and lawmakers, the public
as a whole," he said as he rubbed his fist along his desk, adding, "As long
as we project our ignorance and fear of the disease into hatred towards its
victims, the situation will never improve."
Indeed even Gorbach's own assistant, who showed reporters around the premises
of the drug-treatment hospital, had his two backward-looking cents to throw
in. "All drug addicts are criminals that had best be locked away." He refused
to be quoted by name.
ONE FREE ADDICT
Slava gathers up some packs of berries, juice and cigarettes some visitors
have brought him to compensate for the hospital diet. Slava will soon be
leaving the hospital, and when he does, he will have a job working on a
sausage assembly line, despite his official status as an AIDS patient and
"Maybe this drug boom will pass," he says. "Those kids out there who haven't
even started yet, they'll still be around." And then he is done talking and
he leaves the room with his things.