This Date's Issues: 4476 4477
Johnson's Russia List
26 August 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. THE TIMES (UK) ONLINE SPECIAL: Alice Lagnado and Richard
Beeston, 'Silenced' Kursk mother vows to step up campaign.
2. Moscow Times: Sarah Karush, Schools Fret Over Teacher Deficit.
3. Reuters: Thousands of Russians die evading vodka tax.
4. Interfax: RUSSIA COMMUNIST LEADER CALLS FOR "EXTRAORDINARY NATIONAL SALVATION
5. Reuters: Putin ups nuclear sector money after sub tragedy.
6. Interfax: RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTER REITERATES BELIEF THAT KURSK
SANK FOLLOWING COLLISION.
7. gazeta.ru: No Breakthrough In Search For Moscow Bombers.
8. Ray Thomas: RE: 4474-Sedative.
9. Kenneth Duckworth: RE: Dan Bell in JRL 4472/Chile.
10. Stanislav Menshikov: PLAYING WITH DEFENCE MONEY LED TO KURSK
DISASTER. Putin Should Not Be Blamed For Past Financial Policies.
11. Washington Post: Joshua Handler, Cold War Games, Dangerously
12. Wilson Grabill: Media coverage of Russia.
13. STATEMENT OF FATHERLAND--ALL RUSSIA DUMA FACTION on Kursk crisis PRESENTED BY YEVGENY
14. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Igor MAXIMYCHEV, TRAGEDY POLITICIZED. It's Immoral to Try to Capitalize on a National Grief.
15. Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst Biweekly Web Journal: Stephen
Blank, THE NEW RUSSO-CHINESE "PARTNERSHIP" AND CENTRAL ASIA.]
THE TIMES (UK) ONLINE SPECIAL
AUGUST 25, 2000
'Silenced' Kursk mother vows to step up campaign
BY ALICE LAGNADO AND RICHARD BEESTON
THE mother of a Russian sailor killed on the Kursk submarine, who was
silenced by a tranquiliser injection as she berated a minister, last night
vowed to step up her push for justice for the victims.
As the Kremlin was thrown on the defensive by the chilling footage
broadcast around the world, the authorities in Russia attempted to suppress
a fresh burst of public outrage.
The pictures of Nadezhda Tylik being knocked out in mid-sentence by a
sedative, which appeared on the front page of The Times on Thursday, were
kept off the national networks.
Mrs Tylik said that she was distraught at the time of the meeting with Ilya
Klebanov, the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of investigating the tragedy.
Her husband had asked if there was a doctor who could help.
Experts in Britain, however, said that the injection administered was
similar to a knockout drug used by vets on animals.
Despite her ordeal Mrs Tylik, contacted on Thursday night at her home in
the closed naval town of Vidyayevo, refused to be muffled and once again
accused President Putin and the naval authorities of abandoning the men
under their command including her son Sergei, 24, who left a wife and a
11-month old daughter.
"When the tragedy is over we are forgotten, all doors shut on us," Mrs
Tylik said. She refused to go on a trip organised by the Navy for relatives
to lay a wreath at sea for the dead crew.
Instead of offering widows professional psychiatric help, the Russian Navy
has sent doctors to the houses of bereaved families to give out injections
Half the women at a recent meeting with the Russian President were heavily
sedated, according to the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper.
The Russian reaction has been extremely muted. Elena Belkin, a local
television editor, was scornful of the incident's importance. "It's
nothing," she said. "They have been giving out injections non-stop to
everybody. There's a brigade of doctors there. It's mass psychosis."
August 26, 2000
Schools Fret Over Teacher Deficit
By Sarah Karush
Olga Zarubina's students may be used to fielding her tough questions, but
Education Minister Vladimir Filippov was stumped by the English teacher's
query on Friday.
"On Sept. 1, we have to open the schools and there is a shortage of
personnel," said Zarubina at news conference held by Filippov. "What are you
doing about this problem?"
Filippov conceded that the shortage of teachers is a problem his ministry
will have to confront f most likely by making school service a requirement
for some university students. But he offered no answers for educators like
Zarubina who are scrambling to fill holes in their staff before the start of
the school year next Friday.
Filippov did not specify the extent of the shortage, but the daily Segodnya,
citing ministry statistics, said the country needs 50,000 more teachers to
make up the difference. Moscow alone has about 1,000 openings for teachers,
said the paper.
Zarubina, deputy director of School No. 1,276 in central Moscow, said after
the news conference that her school is desperately seeking teachers of
Russian and physical education.
"It all comes down to money," said Zarubina, whose pretax salary is 2,900
rubles ($104) a month. That figure includes her wage as deputy director with
more than 20 years of work in the schools, plus money she gets for teaching
classes. The Moscow city government boosts the salaries of local teachers
with funds from its own budget.
But School No. 1276 f which has a special focus on English f is in fairly
good shape thanks to its solid reputation and connections with a number of
respected institutes, said Zarubina. Other schools have it much worse, she
Filippov said possible solutions to the shortage include automatic acceptance
to universities for those who agree to go to work in schools upon graduation.
Another possibility would be to enact legislation whereby diplomas are
withheld from graduates of pedagogical institutes until they complete several
years of work in schools.
Moscow's City Pedagogical University, established five years ago, requires a
two-year internship in a classroom after three years of coursework.
As Sept. 1 looms, Filippov said the most pressing problem for the ministry is
how to pay debts for utilities.
He said electricity has been cut off in dozens of educational institutions
and hundreds of others have received warnings.
In Moscow, 10 schools do not have electricity right now, said Lyubov Kezin,
head of the city's education committee, in remarks reported by Interfax. She
told a city government meeting that 600 million rubles ($22 million) is
needed to pay for utilities in schools.
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov pledged at the same meeting to resolve the problem,
saying: "We are seeing a lack of understanding from the new leadership of
Thousands of Russians die evading vodka tax
MOSCOW, Aug 25 (Reuters) - A new liquor tax has caused thousands of deaths in
heavy-drinking Russia this year, as ever more drinkers turn to dangerous
black market moonshine vodka, the National Alcohol Association reported on
Interfax news agency quoted the association as saying 15,823 Russians had
died of alcohol poisoning in the first five months of 2000, an increase of 45
percent over the same period in 1999.
The NAA blamed a 40 percent increase in the tax on alcoholic drinks as the
prime reason for the increase, saying it had caused drinkers to turn to
illegally home-distilled, unregulated and potentially dangerous kinds of
RUSSIA COMMUNIST LEADER CALLS FOR "EXTRAORDINARY NATIONAL SALVATION PROGRAMME"
Moscow, 25th August: Russian Communist leader Gennadiy Zyuganov has called
for "an extraordinary national salvation programme" to be put into motion.
In a message to President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov,
Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroyev and Duma speaker Gennadiy
Seleznev, Zyuganov laid out the Communist demands he believes should be
discussed at a specially convened state assembly consisting of the
president, members of the cabinet, both houses of parliament and prominent
scientists and experts.
Zyuganov's message, the text of which has been obtained by Interfax,
contains five planks:
1. To qualitatively change budget-making procedures. To use every
possibility to radically increase the budget, primarily through the
restoration of government control over leading companies taken away through
unlawful privatization. To nationalize the country's natural resources and
make them public property.
2. To significantly raise funding levels for science, education and health
protection. To earmark the necessary means to the armed forces and all
institutions responsible for the security of both the nation and its people.
3. To tighten executive discipline. To create a fully-fledged system of
public and government control. To give the Federal Assembly powers to
control the observation of the law and conduct parliamentary
investigations. To create conditions for the effective efforts of the
judicial system, prospector's offices and law-enforcement agencies to
protect the rights and liberties of the individual.
4. To strengthen the economic and intellectual foundations of the state. To
guarantee true freedom of speech. To stop the antistate propaganda
dominating national TV and radio. To guarantee free comparison of all
points of view and unbiased coverage of news and events. To set up
supervisory councils in the government-owned media outlets for this purpose.
5. To mercilessly suppress separatist and terrorist forces. To resolutely
stop the implementation of a strategy of tension aimed at creating an
atmosphere of lawlessness, fear and apathy and the destruction of the
foundations of the state system and morals.
Zyuganov says such steps are necessary because "the terrifying, horrible
and criminal conditions already a decade old in Russian society that is
being destroyed under slogans of democratization and market reforms have
driven Russia to a line beyond which catastrophe awaits".
"The tragedy in the North Caucasus, the unsolved large-scale acts of
terrorism in the capital and other cities and the demise of the nuclear
submarine Kursk have again shown that the country will not survive with a
government incapable of developing a normal governing mechanism and which
finds itself at a loss in critical situations," Zyuganov says.
"Russia will not be saved by a simple replacement of one head of state by
another without changing economic or social policies," the message says.
Zyuganov calls for replenishing the state coffers by "stopping the flow of
national wealth into the pockets of the embezzlers of Russia".
"The time has come for the public, all branches of power and especially the
head of state to make a decisive choice," he opines. The president should
opt for "a pro-state and patriotic course based on national interests and
the well-being of the entire nation". Then Putin "can count on the support
of the broadest patriotic forces", the message says.
Putin ups nuclear sector money after sub tragedy
By Adam Tanner
MOSCOW, Aug 25 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin ordered higher pay on
Friday for workers in Russia's struggling nuclear sector in his latest
handout to the military since the Kursk submarine disaster.
A Kremlin spokesman did not give the details of Putin's decree. But
Prime-Tass news agency said it offered pay raises and higher pensions to
staff involved in the design, construction and servicing of nuclear warheads.
The order was the latest sign that Putin is seeking to boost spending on the
beleaguered defence sector rather than recognise his impoverished country's
limitations and scale back commitments as some Russian politicians and
commentators have advocated.
Putin ordered the government on Thursday to boost salaries to the armed
forces, police, prison guards, customs officials and the tax police by 20
He met Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and said defence and security spending
would benefit from any windfalls from oil or other revenues in next year's
Putin was severely criticised for his hands-off approach to efforts to save
the crew of the Kursk, which sank on August 12 in the Arctic Barents Sea with
the loss of all 118 crew.
Putin said in an emotional television interview on Thursday that more money
for the military would be forthcoming.
The sinking of the Kursk, and Russia's inability to launch a quick, effective
rescue effort, highlighted the impoverished state of the post-Soviet Russian
ANY PRICE FOR A STRONG MILITARY?
Yet Putin, who rose to power on the heels of a military campaign against the
breakaway Chechen republic, appears loath to admit Russia may have too many
military commitments for the post-Cold War order.
Many Russians feel the same way.
A poll of 1,500 Russians by the Public Opinion Fund showed 49 percent felt
that Russia is ``a great power and needs a strong army at any cost,'' up from
29 percent four years ago.
``During these tragic days, the president has received his strongest support
from those millions and millions of non-naval specialists, who feel it was
wrong, if not criminal, to 'reform' the army as they have in recent years,''
the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily wrote on Friday.
Highlighting the government's focus on the nuclear sector, Prime Minister
Mikhail Kasyanov toured Sarov, the leading atomic research city once called
Arzamas-16 and home to the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb Andrei
He told scientists there that the nuclear-powered Kursk, which sank in the
Barents Sea, did not pose an environmental threat. ``The level of radiation
is normal and we have no concerns,'' Interfax quoted Kasyanov as saying.
Putin's boost to nuclear workers comes at a time the sector has enjoyed
stable financing and was not seeking more government funding, Atomic Energy
Ministry spokesman Yuri Bespalko said.
``Given the situation in the country things have been pretty good for us,''
he said. ``We have enough resources for stable development of the sector.''
Two years ago scientists, who earn about 4,000 roubles ($144) a month at
Sarov staged a brief unprecedented strike because of months of wage delays.
RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTER REITERATES BELIEF THAT KURSK SANK FOLLOWING COLLISION
Ashuluk, (Astrakhan region), 25th August: The most likely cause of the
sinking of the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk on 12th August was a
collision with a foreign submarine, Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev
told Interfax in Ashuluk in Russia's Astrakhan Region today.
"More than 10 theories are being checked out, but I have been moving
towards the view that this tragedy was caused by a collision with a foreign
submarine," Sergeyev said.
Russian and foreign submarines have collided during Russian Northern and
Pacific fleets' exercises on 11 occasions over the past 30 years, of which
US submarines were involved 10 times, Sergeyev said. This suggests that the
Kursk might have been disabled and sunk as a result of this kind of
collision, he said.
The Northern Fleet is using rescue submersibles to canvass the area where
the Kursk sank in a search for evidence to either confirm or refute this
scenario, Sergeyev said. On the other hand, Russian surface ships that were
in the area at the time are also being examined for evidence of collision
damage, he said. None of these theories can be rejected offhand, and each
has to be confirmed or refuted by the evidence, the defence minister
Sergeyev has arrived at the Ashuluk testing grounds to observe joint CIS
air defence exercises.
August 25, 2000
No Breakthrough In Search For Moscow Bombers
On Thursday Moscow Police Headquarters (GUVD) held a press briefing to
report they had completed the fifth stage of the counter-terrorist
operation nicknamed Vikhr-Antiterror (Whirlwind-Antiterrorism). The police
distributed a press release containing information about how the city
police had been fighting “criminal ethnic groups”, homeless and beggars.
The police’s press release did not however, contain any information on the
main goal of the operation, i.e. the capture of terrorists.
The fifth stage of Vikhr-Antiterror operation commenced on August 9, the
day after the bomb blast in the pedestrian subway on Pushkin Square in the
centre of Moscow which killed 12 and injured over a hundred, some of whom
are still in hospital in a serious condition.
The fifth stage of the operation ended on August 20. The report said that
the police had stepped up patrols, set up more checkpoints on the city
limits streets and searched many apartment blocks, warehouses and all the
city’s underground railway stations.
The traffic police (State Inspection for Road Safety, GIBDD) inspected all
vehicles arriving in Moscow and searched abandoned cars.
According to the acting chief of the Public Security Police (MOB GUVD)
Valery Karnaukhov, over the 11-day period, police with dogs searched over
200 thousand apartments and 300 thousand attics and basements. As a result,
almost 3 thousand people were detained, 60 of them suspected of arranging
The traffic police have started helicopter patrols to survey the city
limits for vehicles attempting to enter the city via unusual routes. All
vehicles arriving from the south are subject to more thorough searches.
Police headquarters representatives did not say a word about their
allegedly successful investigation into the Pushkin Square blast. Police
will report on the results later, said Valery Karnaukhin.
After the counter-terrorist operation is completed, the police plan to
maintain the high alert regime. That means that 18 thousand policemen,
instead of the usual 9 thousand, will daily patrol Moscow’s streets. Police
guards work one 12-hour shift a day.
As from this week, policemen will eventually be granted some days off.
Since August 9th they have been working 7 days a week.
The police chiefs complained that Muscovites display less vigilance as the
fear of further terrorist acts gradually wears off. For instance, said the
police chief, on Tuesday only 14 people called the police after they had
spotted suspicious objects. None of those objects proved to be an explosive.
“Yet, earlier we received hundreds of phone calls,” lamented the GUVD chief
and urged Moscow inhabitants to call the police more often, no matter how
slight the suspicion.
The city police have conducted another operation to deal with homeless
persons and beggars. Moscow homeless are usually scornfully referred to as
‘bomzh,’ (an abbreviation for a person without a fixed place of abode).
Policemen are continuing to apprehend homeless persons and beggars. Over 30
thousand persons have been detained since the beginning of the year. The
Criminal Code does not stipulate any punishment for homelessness, therefore
they cannot be sent to jail.
According to a presidential decree from 1993, it is the police’s duty to
prevent vagrancy. The majority of Moscow ‘bomzhs’ are from Moldova,
Tajikistan and The Ukraine. There is no place they can be sent back to.
Policemen take the homeless to special centres where they get a bath and
medical examination, and those in good health are then free to go. Those
who need medical treatment are sent to hospitals.
From: R.Thomas@open.ac.uk (Ray Thomas)
Subject: RE: 4474-Sedative
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000
The Russian naval authorities will need to provide evidence if they are to
disprove the allegation that the mother of a Kursk submariner was
involuntarily given a sedative injection while she was questioning the
deputy prime minister.
The navy spokesman Vladimir Navrotsky by saying that these allegations are
absurd is demonstrating that even he, among others in
Russia, has not been given the opportunity to see the footage of this
incident that has been seen by millions of westerners.
The dominant tone of the denial is 'find the culprit'. The culprit in this
case being the cameraman who took the pictures!
A witness is quoted as saying she had not seen an injection. But does
this witness deny that that she saw a female 'nurse' holding a what appeared
to millions of viewers to be a hyperdermic needle standing immediately
behind the protesting mother. Does this witness deny the 'nurse' moved
rapidly away from the protesting mother leaving her to collapse in the arms
of male naval officers.
If there is to be a convincing denial we need an account from the 'nurse'
herself. She is quite recognisable. Can she explain what she was doing
if not administering a sedative?
Without such a denial westerners cannot but conclude that lying is as much a
Russian habit as it was a Soviet habit.
From: "Kenneth Christopher Duckworth" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Dan Bell in JRL 4472 - Russia Doesn't Need Advice
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000
Dan Bell in JRL 4472 wonders why it is that neoliberals "assume people
working for the state are bad, and people working for private corporations
are good." He misses the whole point of neoliberal philosophy (which is
neo" at all, but simple classical liberalism as opposed to the pejorative
form generally bandied about today) is to give individuals self
over their own affairs. I have of late come to appreciate this in planning
for my wife's and my retirement and for our daughter's college education. I
am a better determiner of where and how to invest our money for our own
present and future needs than is a government agency. This is a simple
The difference between "entrusting" my money to a governmental agency or a
private corporation is the freedom of choice I have in determining where and
how my money is invested. With the government, I have no such choice. My
money is forcibly taken from me through taxation, is invested and used as
government sees fit (Often for purposes other than was originally intended.
Witness how the U.S. Congress sees fit to dip into the Social Security trust
fund to cover the deficit.), and there is very little accountability when it
comes to performance. With a private corporation, be it a mutual fund,
brokerage, bank, or other financial institution, I maintain complete control
of my savings and investments. I am free to choose the institution, amount,
and type of investments that will best serve my and my family's needs, and I
am able to move my money from one institution to another if I am not
satisfied with the performance.
The essence of the market is that it gives the individual the widest freedom
of choice to determine what best satisfies his/her own needs. There are, of
course, certain public goods, such as police protection, a system of courts
and laws, international security, etc., that cannot be provided by the
market, and these are justifiably the services that are to provided by the
state, and for which the state may legitimately raise revenues through
taxation. I do not advocate turning these functions over to the market, and
do not think it would effectively provide for them. However, where turning
over governmental functions over to the market would enhance individual self
determination and freedom of choice, and in the process provide a higher
level of service, then I think we need seriously remove government from
than playing an appropriate regulating role.
I don't know anything about Jose Pinera and his role during the Pinochet
regime, but having lived and worked in Russian and Ukraine for the past six
years, and studied Soviet and Russian politics for an even longer period I
have come to appreciate that the fundamental difference between the American
and Soviet systems was the amount of trust that is given to the people.
large extent, protestations of the Republican right and Libertarians aside,
the American system has entrusted people with the management of their own
affairs and public policy debates are generally centered on the issue of how
to enhance individual liberty and autonomy. All this is enshrined in a body
of law and cultural practices that have produced a fairly successful,
far from perfect, social, economic, and political model. The Soviet model,
in contrast, did not place this trust in the hands of the individual or even
in the people as a collective. The state, through the Communist Party, was
the sole determiner, and arrogantly and destructively so, of how to meet the
welfare of all the people. We can see in the ruins of the Soviet Union and
in how quickly the people's of Eastern Europe threw off Communist rule
successful model it was!
I do not defend misguided or inappropriate policies that the U.S. and its
allies may have put in place to foster the transition from plan to market
from dictatorshio to democracy in Russia and other former Communist states
that may have favored a few corrupt individuals over the public at large.
However, I do think, as surely as any American who has inherited the
country's liberal tradition must think, that the proper role of government
limited to those activities which can best be performed by government, and
that all other activities belong in the realm of the people who are best
to determine the methods for achieving their own happiness.
From: "stanislav menshikov" <email@example.com>
Subject: PLAYING WITH DEFENCE MONEY LED TO KURSK DISASTER
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000
"MOSCOW TRIBUNE", 25 August 2000
PLAYING WITH DEFENCE MONEY LED TO KURSK DISASTER
Putin Should Not Be Blamed For Past Financial Policies
By Stanislav Menshikov
While the immediate causes of the Kursk submarine disaster are probably
technical, or results of human error or sabotage of some sort, the larger
and more important lesson is that Russia has not been spending enough money
and resources on maintaining its defence capacity in an adequate condition.
The Northern Fleet (to which the sunken submarine belonged) reports that so
far it has been receiving less than 10 percent of its funding requirements
which explains the inadequate preparedness of some of its crew, economising
on communication and essential anti-collision equipment and the poor state
of saving facilities available to the Russian navy in general. Under such
conditions tragic incidents like the one that happened are bound to happen
and it is sheer luck that they have not occurred more often.
Beggarly conditions are not peculiar to the Northern Fleet but are shared
by the armed forces in general. The prolonged war in Chechnya and the
exorbitant number of civilian casualties and harm done to civilian housing
and installations there are due to absence of more sophisticated high
precision weaponry that is not available to the Russian army for lack of
development and production resources. Another result is the current
pressure to scrap most of the nation's nuclear arsenal, eliminate ground
anti-aircraft defences, and after the Kursk catastrophe even demands to
cancel plans to expand the nuclear submarine fleet.
It is useless to blame Mr. Putin for this sorry state of affairs which he
inherited from the Yeltsin administration. Throughout the 1990s, rigid
financial policies were actively strangling whatever remained of the
military establishment after the initial Gaidar shock. The defence budget
was sharply reduced in line with the new concept of national security, but
normally only half or less of the these official budgetary appropriations
were actually allocated to the armed forces by the Finance ministry,
particularly under Mr. Chubais. These policies were pursued by the same
liberals who are today castigating the government and the president for
inattention or worse towards the Kursk crew and the "useless" war in
Chechnya. And who are also claiming (with support from foreign
sympathisers) that Russia is not in a position to pay for the military
posture of a great power and should further reduce its nuclear shield.
The Putin administration is rightly disregarding these claims. It seems to
agree with the view that in a growing economy the nation can afford to
spend more on defence and slowly mend the financial condition of its armed
forces. Draft budget figures for 2001 suggest that the government intends
to raise defence expenditure from this year's 2.39 per cent of GDP to 2.66
per cent. This is in line with our suggestion of an annual increase of at
least a quarter of one percentage point. In real terms this entails a
yearly boost of 17 per cent. Nothing like this has been happened before
Putin and is certainly a step in the right direction.
But is this a genuine change of heart in the Finance Ministry or is it
simply playing the numbers game to satisfy the President and the defence
establishment? According to Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev the military
are still getting less than half of the appropriated moneys. If that is
true, then only a minuscule 1.2 per cent of GDP is actually being spent on
defence, not 2.4 per cent. The difference is too large to be shrugged off
and deserves special investigation. Vice-premier Ilya Klebanov claims that
the government's debt to the armed services is about to be paid in full.
But there are grave doubts that it is. If it is not, then were does the
appropriated money go? And how much will the military really receive in
2001? The numbers game can easily reduce the projected 52 billion roubles
increase in the defence budget to zero if left out of public control. These
issues have never been seriously raised and discussed in public, as they
should have been. But it is they that underlie the fate of the nation's
submarines and their crews rather than which official should be where at
the time when a disaster happens.
It should be stressed that we are not advocating a resumption of the
armaments race but simply arguing in favour of allocating adequate
resources for defence. Compared to what other nations spend this is not
great money the equivalent of only $7 billion against $200 billions in
the US. Our American friends say that is far too much to maintain US
defences. As to the Russian figure, it is unquestionably too small. The
Russian budget is far from getting militarised, as claimed by some.
Military spending is only 18 per cent of total current federal expenditure
and will be reduced to 17.4 per cent in 2001 even after its scheduled
absolute rise. So there should be more money, not less left for other
purposes. So far the delicate balance is being kept, at least on paper.
Going back to the Yeltsin days would be a disaster.
August 25, 2000
[for personal use only]
Cold War Games, Dangerously Old
By Joshua Handler
The writer is a doctoral student in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton
University. A former research coordinator for Greenpeace's disarmament
campaign, he has traveled widely in Russia during the past 10 years
investigating the Russian submarine fleet's safety and environmental record.
"We don't discuss submarine operations, other than to say that our
submarines operate throughout the waters of the world. But we don't discuss
the specifics of submarine operations or their locales." -- Pentagon
spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, at a news conference Aug. 15, when asked
whether U.S. submarines were near the Kursk when it went down.
The lateness of Russia's request for Western help to rescue the crew of the
stricken Kursk has been heavily criticized, and it is safe to say that
Soviet-era secrecy, pride and indifference to the plight of common sailors
undoubtedly played a role in the delay. But the Russian navy might have
been expected to mount a successful rescue on its own; in the past it has
saved sailors from sunken submarines. Moreover, is it realistic to expect
the Russian navy to dial 911 immediately? The U.S. Navy wouldn't call the
Russians if a U.S. nuclear sub went down--and not just because it thought
the Russians couldn't help. As Quigley's comments show, the U.S. Navy
zealously guards its secrets as well.
Why all this secrecy and suspicion? Few realize that since the fall of the
Berlin Wall, a Cold War at sea has persisted. The Russian navy complains
that U.S. submarines still operate near Russia's coasts. Two U.S.
submarines were in the vicinity of the Kursk monitoring the Russian naval
exercises when it went down. In 1992 and 1993, U.S. submarines collided
with Russian submarines in the same area. The downturn in the U.S.-Russian
relations after NATO's expansion, U.S. national missile defense plans and
bombing of Yugoslavia have not helped. The Russian navy is deploying not
only because it needs to show its importance to President Putin but also
because Russia's conservatives can still argue that it needs to go to sea
to counter a threat from the West.
The underwater Cold War has heightened tensions even as the real need for
the navies to confront each other has declined. Although submarines were
the capital ships of the Soviet navy, even during the best of times a
syndrome of poor training, maintenance, construction and design made Soviet
submarines hazardous. Fires, explosions and reactor accidents were common.
Nine Soviet-Russian submarines have sunk since 1957, killing almost 300
sailors. In 1985, a reactor exploded during a refueling, killing 10 and
releasing several million curies of radiation. Soviet submarines were
frequently as much a danger to their crews to Western navies.
The Russian navy inherited all these problems and some new ones. Russia is
unsuccessfully trying to run a first-world navy on a third-world budget.
The lack of funds has caused the Russian nuclear submarine force to shrink
dramatically. In 1990, the Soviet navy had some 190 nuclear-powered
submarines. Today the Russian fleet may have about 50. (The U.S. Navy by
comparison deploys more than 70 nuclear-powered subs). Deployments have
shrunk 70 percent, from 55 in 1991 to 16 in 1999. Russia may lose most of
its nuclear submarines in the next five to 10 years. The United States and
Russia need a new naval agenda centered on cooperation, not competition.
During the late 1980s and '90s, the U.S. and Russian navies engaged in a
series of ship exchange visits. There have also been joint air-sea rescue
exercises. This cooperation needs to be given a higher profile and
expanded. Dangerous operations near each other's coasts need to be reduced
or halted. We need to standardize equipment and procedures to ensure that
when an accident occurs, assistance can be provided in a timely fashion.
Decreasing naval tensions would help with Russia's naval nuclear
environmental problems. The retirement of Russia's nuclear submarines has
compounded a large naval radioactive waste problem left over from Soviet
days. Secretiveness and mistrust on both sides have prevented cooperation
on this point. The Russian authorities have been reluctant to provide
access to closed naval areas.
And the cold warriors of the U.S. Navy's nuclear propulsion program fought
strongly in the early 1990s against any joint action to address the Russian
naval nuclear legacy. The situation is still urgent, and an improvement in
navy-to-navy relations might help sweep the last reservations about
providing Russia with more assistance.
During the past 27 years, seven nuclear-powered submarines have sunk--two
American and five Russian--one every four years on average, killing almost
640 men. This problem needs to be addressed in order to prevent another
nuclear sub sinking in the world's oceans, creating a new human tragedy and
an environmental threat.
From: "Wilson F. Grabill Jr." <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Media coverage of Russia
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000
Lets face it, the media oligarchs of the West and Russia
have a common goal, to show Russia in the worst possible
Witness the shameful conclusion jumping that CNN and
others applied to the Kursk mother story.
The report was that the mother of a crew member was
sedated forcibly at an emotion packed meeting with a
government official, as proven by TV footage
(conveniently provided by BBC).
The conclusion jumped to was that Russia was going back
to its Soviet past, with forcible drugging of dissidents
This is what the "News Oligarchs" want to believe, and
want us to believe. This is their agenda. Motives can
be discussed at another time.
I talked with my colleague in Moscow on Thursday, and he
was delighted that Putin on TV had lambasted the Russian
oligarchs for their greed, and neglect of their country-
men. He went so far as to suggest that they sell their
French Riviera villas and invest the money in Russia.
This was unreported in the West.
Next I find that a major French press agency is casting
serious doubt on the British produced "Mother sedation"
story. It seems that nobody knows who filmed it, and no
syringe was ever actually seen. Perhaps the Russian
oligarchs are striking back at Putin! They certainly
have a receptive audience in the West.
Keeping Russia weak is the goal of all the oligarchs,
and the "free to the oligarchs" press in the West and
in Russia are their tools.
Anyone who really knows Russia, and values her wonderful
people who have suffered enough in this century,
understands this, and is revolted by it.
TITLE: STATEMENT OF FATHERLAND--ALL RUSSIA DUMA FACTION
PRESENTED BY YEVGENY PRIMAKOV
(KADASHEVSKAYA NAB. 32/2, 16:30, AUGUST 23, 2000)
SOURCE: FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE
Primakov: I would like to acquaint you with the statement
issued by the Fatherland--All Russia faction at the State Duma of
the Russian Federation.
Members of the Fatherland--All Russia faction of the State
Duma bow their heads in memory of the heroic submariners. We
understand that the relatives of the Kursk crew have the worst of
it today. We ask these people who have become so close to us to
accept our profound condolences.
We will consider it to be our sacred duty to seek the
clarification of all the circumstances and causes of what happened
in the Barents Sea however bitter the truth may be.
But this is not the only reason why the faction is issuing
this statement. The tragedy of the submarine, like a flash of
lightning has illuminated the situation in the country, the state
of our Armed Forces and the situation in the navy. There is no
point in recounting what every conscious citizen of Russia knows
already. It is necessary to draw concrete conclusions from what we
have just felt and experienced.
1. Beginning as early as this year it is necessary to form the
national budget in such a way that the Armed Forces should get all
they need not only in war time, but also for peacetime service.
Yes, missiles with nuclear warheads provide reliable protection for
us. But this need not make us turn a blind eye to the fact that we
have no modern equipment for the rescue of submariners suffering
distress, that because of lack of fuel the necessary exercises are
not carried out, that the Armed Forces are not getting enough
modern armaments, that those who, in the ranks of the Armed Forces,
often at the risk of their lives protect the territorial integrity
of Russia, and its interests and ensure the country's defenses get
pitifully small salaries.
The Russian Army and Navy should be provided with
state-of-the-art hardware. Russia with its huge intellectual and
technological potential in the defense industry is capable of
The Fatherland-All Russia faction holds that the year 2001
budget should provide for the financing of the Armed Forces on the
level of at least 3 percent of GDP, proceeding from the premise
that this percentage is to be increased already the next year. If
the government does not make the appropriate changes in the draft
budget the Fatherland-All Russia faction will vote against its
adoption and call on all other deputies to act likewise.
Second. The structure of the military budget and its
implementation should be under the control of the legislative body.
At the same time it is necessary to put an end to the practice of
using the services of intermediaries which has been imposed on the
Defense Ministry and results in the enrichment of businessmen and
corrupt officials. The military reform should be brought to its
completion because without this any attempts to reverse the present
grave situation in the Armed Forces are doomed to failure.
Third. It is necessary to immediately introduce order in the
Defense Ministry itself and put an end to the intolerable situation
when routine differences of opinion in its leadership are spilled
into society and undermine the situation in the Armed Forces
themselves. The Fatherland-All Russia faction calls on the
President to take a decision on the strengthening of the leading
cadres both in the Ministry and in the Armed Forces, including the
We need resolute measures to improve the situation in the
whole of society, to strengthen the principles of statehood that
are called upon to ensure the sovereignty of law in all spheres
Fourth. The Fatherland-All Russia faction calls on all
political parties and movements in Russia to refrain from attempts
to use our common tragedy for purposes of achieving aims of
expediency and propaganda.
In the name of those who have remained forever in the sections
of the Kursk we must rally for the good of Russia.
I thank you for your attention.
August 24, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
It's Immoral to Try to Capitalize on a National Grief
By Igor MAXIMYCHEV, doctor of political sciences
The death of 118 crew members of the nuclear submarine
Kursk has stirred stormy reaction in Russia and abroad. This is
only natural, as the process of globalization is growing
deeper, humanity increasingly feels to be an integral whole,
and the tragedy of one nation becomes a common tragedy.
However, not all sincerely take this tragedy to their hearts.
Some try to make political capital on the grief and tears of
others. The Western press has launched a rabid campaign of
slander and attack against Russia, its people, army and, in
particular, President, claiming that they are guilty for the
Kursk catastrophe, accusing them of heartlessness and even
urging that the President be toppled.
German radio stations have more than once asked me in the past
few days to tell about the feelings of the Russian public in
connection with the Barents Sea tragedy. During such interviews
I was asked such "leading questions" as "Don't you think that
President Putin has failed to cope with his duties?" When I
told them that the catastrophic state of the Russian armed
forces is connected not with Putin but is the result of a
15-year-long period of experiments over men in uniform -
experiments conducted without an conception and clear-cut goal,
my interviewers did not conceal their dissatisfaction with such
answers. "He should have flown to the site of the accident
immediately" - they argued.
They ignored my words when I told them that no one has ever
told the US President where he should be during accidents with
American submarines (31 US subs have sunk) and said: "But your
papers write that Putin should have done this." It is
outrageous that all this ballyhoo has received such a diligent
support inside Russia. It is clear that oligarchs, some
regional leaders and individuals whose interests have been
infringed by the President's policy line towards strengthening
the state and restoring order in it, strive to inflict on Putin
as much political damage as possible. But this damage is not so
much to the President personally as to the country the
international prestige of which is being so thoughtlessly
undermined, its armed forces, which should on the spur of the
moment become a target of personnel reshuffling for the
umpteenth time and the organizers of the Kursk rescue
operation. The latter, alas, proved to be unsuccessful, but all
the forces and possibilities have been used despite the
catastrophic shortage of necessary means and equipment, which
is the result of a many-year-long underfunding.
Yes, it is necessary to criticize, and criticize harshly,
our military and civilian authorities. But they should not be
criticized for the helpless, incoherent and conflicting
information about the situation around the Kursk (it was sooner
unintentional "misinformation", because the absence of concrete
information at the disposal of the authorities or any guesses
that could be made do not count in this context). They should
be criticized for the absence of deep water divers, rescue
submarines, underwater television monitors and a system of
satellite orientation of ships at the disposal of the North
Fleet. The present deplorable technical and material state of
our army and navy - the legacy of the "Yeltsin era" is the
result of the systematic refusal to provide the necessary
financing of the armed forces. This by no means prompts the
conclusion that we should give up the modern organization of
the country's defenses.
An altogether different conclusion is strongly suggested,
namely: the army should be numerically and technically at the
level of the tasks set forth before it and the government
should find the money necessary for this. Reproaches of lies
should be re-addressed where they are more appropriate.
Russia and its President have received a tragic notch in
their memory. The principle 'each in his place" is correct only
if the right people are in the right places. Putin's election
promise to restore order in the country - both in its civilian
and military sectors - needs to be translated into life. The
President has to take up everything at the same time. But this
is the only chance for our country to prevent a catastrophe
against the consequences of which even the horror of the Kursk
death would pale. The President is responsible for all, which
is happening in Russia. His duty is to prevent the repetition
of such disasters in the future.
From: JCBenAdam@aol.com (Justin Rudelson)
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000
Subject: Analyst Article on New Russo-Chinese Partnership
Dr. Justin Rudelson, Editor
Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst
Central Asia-Caucasus Institute
The Johns Hopkins University-SAIS
Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst Biweekly Web Journal
www.cacianalyst.org, August 16-29, 2000
THE NEW RUSSO-CHINESE "PARTNERSHIP" AND CENTRAL ASIA
Dr. Stephen Blank
>From its inception in 1992, the Russo-Chinese rapprochement has prominently
featured Central Asia as the object of mutual geopolitical interests. Both
governments have endeavored to prevent domestic unrest from receiving Central
Asian support or from extending into all of Central Asia. This relationship
sought to put Central Asia "on ice" and safeguard Russo-Chinese internal
stability and territorial integrity. China hoped to do so by recognizing
Russian leadership in Central Asia and by launching its own program of
large-scale economic reform in Xinjiang. Such policies, intended to avert
violence, actually make its incidence all the more likely.
BACKGROUND: Since 1992, there has been a steep rise in the incidence of
Muslim insurgencies in both Russia and China. The escalating violence,
originating but not confined to Xinjiang and Chechnya, added to fears of
American/NATO support for other potential separatist movements have led China
and Russia to display stronger expressions of partnership. Those expressions
are intended to exclude the United States from the area, suppress local
insurgency, cement ties with Central Asia's authoritarian rulers, suppress
efforts by insurgents to link up with other insurgent movements across state
lines, and expand the Shanghai-Five from a community of states sharing
borders to a regional and collective security system explicitly designed
against the United States and its positions on human rights, missile defense,
and Asian security issues like Taiwan.
To achieve these objectives China has supported Moscow's actions to integrate
Central Asian states around Russia through the mediums of anti-terrorist
organizations and the appointment of pro-Russian figures to head local
intelligence, police, and military agencies within Central Asian governments.
Russian special services have obtained the right to operate freely in Central
Asia, Russia's army contemplates sending 50,000 more men there by 2003, and
there is also a renewed effort to realign regional energy economies around
the Russian pipeline system and exclude Western influence.
China sent an observer to the April 2000 exercises of the CIS forces in
Central Asia to signify support for Moscow here. Beijing and Moscow have also
increased economic assistance to the authoritarian rulers of Central Asia to
cement this alignment and are also trying to expand the Shanghai-Five into a
collective security system that will go far beyond its original mandate of
affirming shared border delimitations and confidence building measures within
the border zones. Thus Moscow has publicly invited India, Iran, and
Uzbekistan (which does not border China) into the groups, and successfully
persuaded its last meeting to attack U.S. missile defense programs.
IMPLICATIONS: Since 1999's insurgencies in Central Asia and NATO's Kosovo
operation, both China and Russia now view Muslim insurgency abroad and at
home with much greater urgency. They both are explicitly linking such
military actions to international terrorism and potential American support.
Consequently Central Asia's strategic salience for an evolving Russo-Chinese
alliance has grown sharply. Trends show that the Russo-Chinese entente or
partnership is going beyond that label to fulfill earlier bilateral
communiquÃ©s. These stated that they would try to constitute alternative
to the United States in Asia and globally.
This signified the conversion of the organization into a regional collective
security system with a clearly focused anti-American agenda and purpose. The
Shanghai-Five is intended to become the nucleus of a counter-American
security system in Asia, a second pole dominated by Russia and China, and
possibly India. Thus, it is a first step towards restoring bipolarity in
Asian security structures despite Russo-Chinese talk of multi-polarity.
Furthermore, by bringing in India and Iran, Moscow and Beijing are trying to
realize Yevgeny Primakov's vision of an anti-American strategic triangle in
Moscow and Beijing are trying to induce Pakistan to desist from inciting
insurgency in Kashmir and from supporting the Taliban and terrorists like
Osama bin Laden. Such policies if they persist could easily erupt into war
with India or inside Central Asia. Thus, the process of suppressing
democratization in Central Asia, Russia, and China is linked to international
security agendas in East, South, and Central Asia. These policy initiatives
show that the internal structure of Sino-Russian governance exercise a
powerful influence upon their foreign and defense policies. The policies also
make clear that the real reason for their burgeoning partnership is to
safeguard their threatened integrity and stability first of all against
democratization and its champion, the United States.
CONCLUSIONS: Russia and China are bringing Central Asia further into Asian
security agendas that can only intensify the "great game" for Central Asia
and the likelihood of protracted and bitter domestic struggles there and
possibly in their own states against reform. They also seek to enforce a
security structure in Central Asia that will, they hope, reduce chances for
renewed Indo-Pakistani and Indo-Chinese conflict that in itself would be a
But by doing so they show that fundamental structures of governance, from
Moscow through Astana and Tashkent and on to Beijing are unstable,
vulnerable, and all too susceptible to violent reactions from even the
slightest threat or opposition to their rule. Such policies that are intended
to avert violence, actually make its incidence all the more likely and
intense when it does happen in the future.
AUTHOR BIO: Dr. Stephen Blank is a Professor at the Strategic Studies
Institute of the US Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. The
views expressed here do not represent those of the US Army, Defense
Department or the US Government.
Web page for CDI Russia Weekly:
Archive for JRL (under construction):
to CDI's Home Page I Return
to CDI's Library