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CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List
 

 

August 27, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4479

 



Johnson's Russia List
#4479
27 August 2000
davidjohnson@erols.com


[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: Kursk Mom Denies Forcible Injection.
2. The Sunday Times (UK): Nicholas Rufford and Stephen Grey,
Secret torpedo test 'blew sub apart' 

3. The Russia Journal: Mikhail Delyagin, Itís all in the economy.
4. The Guardian (UK): Jonathan Steele, Battered Putin turns on his 
media tormentors.

5. Boston Globe: Alan Lupo, Dear Nana: Wish I could write that 
things are better in Russia.

6. The Sunday Times (UK): Michael McFaul, Kremlin man fails the test.
7. Washington Post: David Ignatius, Dick Cheney and the 'Great Game'
8. Los Angeles Times: Jacob Heilbrunn, The First Steps From 
Authoritarian to Civil Society.

9. Robert Bruce Ware: Reports about Dagestan (JRL #4475, 4474).
10. EIRNS--RUSSIAN POLITICAL, MILITARY FIGURES DECLARE RUSSIA
HAS BEEN AT WAR, CALL FOR MOBILIZATION TO SAVE THE NATION.] 


******


#1
Kursk Mom Denies Forcible Injection
August 27, 2000
By ANNA DOLGOV

MURMANSK, Russia (AP) - A woman whose son was killed when a Russian nuclear 
submarine sank has denied that she was forcibly sedated when she criticized a 
top official over the government's bungled attempts to rescue the crew. 


Video images broadcast around the world showed Nadezhda Tylik crying and 
shouting at First Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov when he met with 
relatives of the crew shortly after the Kursk submarine sank Aug. 12. When 
Tylik resisted sitting down, a woman was seen standing behind her with a 
syringe. 


Some media reports suggested that Tylik was sedated forcibly to shut her up 
when her attack on Klebanov got too heated. The incident was portrayed by 
some critics as a throwback to the Soviet era, when dissent was sometimes 
suppressed with forced medical treatment. 


But Tylik, whose 25-year-old son Sergei was among the 118 sailors killed 
aboard the Kursk, dismissed the reports as ``a lie.'' She said Saturday that 
she was injected with medication she regularly took for a heart problem. 


``Nobody gave me any tranquilizers, as those people have been writing,'' 
Tylik said in a telephone interview from Vidyayevo, where the Kursk was based 
and relatives have gathered since the tragedy. ``I don't want such reports to 
be circulated; they don't give such injections here.'' 


Tylik said the injection was made on her doctor's recommendation and at the 
request of her husband, who was by her side throughout the meeting with 
Klebanov. 


She said that after being given the injection, she had some hot tea and 
returned to the meeting room five minutes later to listen to the rest of 
Klebanov's remarks. 


``I was quite in a normal, adequate state,'' she said. 


Though clearly shaken with grief, Tylik spoke firmly and coherently, her 
voice quivering only once, when she said her son's name. 


Scores of relatives of the crew sought medical treatment as Russian efforts 
to reach the Kursk, lying 350 feet below the surface, repeatedly failed. 
Several women fainted when a mourning service for the sailors was held 
Thursday. 


The Kursk was shattered by a massive explosion and sank in the Barents Sea, 
off Russia's northern coast, during naval exercises Aug. 12. Norwegian divers 
who finally reached the stricken submarine determined that the hull was 
flooded and all 118 people aboard were dead. 


******


#2
The Sunday Times (UK)
27 August 2000
Secret torpedo test 'blew sub apart' 
By Nicholas Rufford and Stephen Grey 


TWO civilian experts from a Russian military plant were conducting secret 
munitions tests aboard the Kursk submarine, which sank after the hull was 
ripped apart in an accident, it emerged last night. 


The final moments of the doomed craft have been pieced together by Western 
military experts, who believe a test firing went disastrously wrong, igniting 
highly inflammable propellant and detonating missile and torpedo warheads. 


The resulting explosions blew a huge hole in the right-hand side of the 
Kursk's nose, where the torpedo room is located. Water flooded in, causing 
the pride of the Russian submarine fleet to sink in seconds. 


Any members of the crew who may have survived had no time to close watertight 
doors, or to send distress signals. Self-sealing emergency hatches failed 
because the submarine's control systems were knocked out. 


Military experts said they believed the crew of the Kursk were testing one of 
two weapons systems: an anti-submarine missile that fired from a torpedo tube 
out of the sea, then re-entered it to attack submarines; or an upgraded 
version of a fast and silent torpedo called the Squall. 


Accidental ignition of the propulsion system of either weapon before they 
launched would have had devastating consequences for the Kursk. 


Rustam Usmanov, head of the Dagdizel military plant on the Caspian Sea, told 
The Sunday Times that his chief engineer had been on the Kursk to monitor 
weapons tests. Mamed Gadzhiyev, a veteran weapons designer with Dagdizel, and 
Arnold Borisov, another employee of the plant, were among the 118 men who 
died. 


Usmanov denied, however, that the two men were working on a "secret weapon" 
for the Russian navy. "Mamed Gadzhiyev and Arnold Borisov were supervising a 
regular test launch of torpedoes on the Kursk," he said. "The task of our men 
was to supervise and check if the torpedo was working as it should. Our 
specialists were not dealing with any new or modernised torpedoes." 


Western experts say they believe the Russian navy was upgrading the Squall, a 
torpedo that can reach speeds of 200 knots. It is unique because it travels 
in a gas capsule, which reduces friction with the surrounding water. 


"The weapon is very clever; it uses propellers to boost it out of the sub, 
then a rocket kicks in at a safe distance, burning liquid propellant," said 
one British expert. "The danger is if the second stage fires inside the 
submarine. Then you can say goodnight." 


Russian military strategists describe the Squall as a rocket rather than a 
torpedo, and insist there were no rockets on the Kursk. However, a letter 
written by a crew member to his mother, which arrived the day the vessel went 
down, said: "We are sitting in port, loading up rockets." 


Further support for the "secret weapon" theory came last week from Alexander 
Rutskoi, governor of the region from which many of the submarine crew were 
recruited. Rutskoi, a former Russian vice-president, said he had been told by 
two high-ranking military officers that civilian experts were aboard the 
Kursk to test new torpedoes, but declined to give any further details. 


American experts believe that one of the Kursk's rocket- propelled 
anti-submarine weapons - an SSN15 or an SSN16 - could have become stuck in 
its launch tube and exploded. 


According to the Russians, the last contact with the vessel was on August 11. 
Gennady Lyachin, the Kursk's commander, had successfully test- fired a 
missile during a military exercise. He asked permission to fire again on 
Saturday morning. Admiral Vyacheslav Popov gave the go-ahead from his 
nuclear-powered flagship, Peter the Great. There was no further contact. 


"The submarine's objective was to launch a cruise missile, and then, in a 
certain area, to identify missiles and hit the main target with a torpedo 
salvo," said Igor Sergeyev, the Russian defence minister. "The commander 
reported having fulfilled the first task and, by 1800 (1400 GMT on August 
12), he was expected to report the fulfilment of the second task. The 
submarine failed to establish a communication link." 


What had happened in the meantime remains a matter of dispute between Russian 
and Western military experts. Sergeyev was still insisting yesterday that the 
most likely cause of the disaster was a collision with a foreign submarine. 
The Russians have produced no evidence to back this claim, however, and 
Sergeyev also admitted it was difficult to say what time the accident 
occurred, because the exercise involved maintaining radio silence for 
extended periods. 


Western experts have almost unanimously rejected the Russian version. A 
collision certainly could not account for the explosions detected by a 
Norwegian seismic institute at 11.28am and 11.39am Russian time (0728 and 
0739 GMT) on August 12, the second of which registered 3.5 on the Richter 
scale. "This was the single most powerful explosion we have ever registered 
in this area," said Frode Ringdair, a scientific adviser to the institute. 


Neither would a collision have caused such devastating damage so quickly. 
Underwater footage gathered by Russian rescue teams days the accident 
indicated that a massive force had ripped open the Kursk's entire front 
section, including the control room. Lyachin, 45, and his closest aides 
probably died immediately. 


Anthony Watts, editor of Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, said Russian 
claims of a collision were disinformation. "There are 10 watertight 
compartments in that class of submarine. It can withstand flooding of two or 
three compartments and remain afloat." 


Further reason to pin the blame on exploding munitions was the fact that the 
Kursk's periscope was extended, indicating that it was at periscope depth 
when the accident happened - the correct depth for launching a torpedo. 


It now also seems certain that nobody on the submarine survived longer than 
60 hours, because no watertight compartments remained 


intact. The Russians backtracked on early claims that tapping on the hull had 
continued for four days after the accident. They now admit the last sign of 
life was two days earlier, on August 14. The messages were "SOS. Water." Even 
that claim has not been confirmed. 


Without doubt, the Russians are hiding a terrible secret. Norwegian officials 
said last week that their divers had been refused permission to go anywhere 
near the front of the boat and were given firm instructions to keep away from 
the damaged area. 


Perhaps even more surprising, though, is how little American authorities have 
said about the tragedy. An American submarine was close enough to the naval 
exercises to detect the underwater explosions. Also patrolling nearby was the 
Loyal, a spy ship that tows a sensitive sonar array. 


Both should have been able to piece together the events that sunk the Kursk. 
If they did, they are keeping quiet about it. The cold war lives on. 


Additional reporting: Mark Franchetti, Moscow, and Tom Rhodes Washington 


******


#3
The Russia Journal
August 26-September 1, 2000
Itís all in the economy
By Mikhail Delyagin / Director of the Institute for Problems of Globalization
Barrels of oil cash arenít making it to the public.
SOME 40 PERCENT of Russians live below the official poverty level. 
ĎItís the economy, stupid" ≠ this was the slogan that helped Bill Clinton
become U.S. president. Russiaís leaders should forget their political games
for a moment and hang this phrase above their beds to remind them of what
could well be the last chance this country has. 


This last chance takes the form of oil, expensive oil that brings money
into Russia that could be used to modernize the economy. The Russia of
President Vladimir Putin is swimming in oil dollars on a scale almost like
the Soviet Union under Brezhnev. We know why this money was of little help
to the Soviet Union ≠ the Communists frittered it away on construction
projects of the century, handed it out to brother regimes and pumped it
into the militaryís muscles. 


Professional democrats and reformers have produced mountains of words
describing this waste. And it was indeed a stupendous waste, but itís in
the past now. These days, more and more people are looking at todayís oil
revenue and asking, "Hey guys, whereís the cash?"


It obviously hasnít gone to the state, or else government officials
wouldnít be so enthused about a miniscule primary budget surplus and
wouldnít be vaunting the latest cuts to social spending. 


Nor has the money gone to the population, which lives in poverty, recalling
the Brezhnev era as a "golden age" of plenty, justice, and ≠ strange as it
may seem ≠ freedom. For the ordinary person, after all, politics is of
little concern, and freedom is not so much about freedom of speech as about
personal welfare, which defines the freedom to realize oneself.


But such freedoms are just dreams in todayís Russia. Things have reached a
state where people quip popular writer Viktor Pelevinís ironic words about
the evil empire being better than an evil banana republic that imports its
bananas from Finland. 


The only conclusion can be that the oil money has settled in the pockets of
the wealthy and the oil companies. Logic would say that this money will
eventually trickle down throughout the economy as a whole, bringing growth
through increased consumer demand and investment. This is indeed happening,
but excruciatingly slowly.


What is growing much faster is capital flight ≠ 30 percent in the first
quarter, according to balance of payments data from the Central Bank ≠ and
the shadow economy. Why is this happening? Part of the cause is certainly
the much-publicized raids on big businessmen and the hypocrisy of the
president and prosecutorís office, who confuse enforcing the law with the
most banal racket.


But this is far from the only cause. Russian business has gone through fire
and water over the last decade. It has held its shareholdersí meetings with
tanks on the streets, derailed trains to block the road for its competitors
and defended its enterprises with gun in hand. Russian business is
virtually immune to being frightened, it acts on a simple risk-benefit
calculation. 


The state hasnít been doing anything about the most acute problems facing
the economy, namely poverty ≠ 40 percent of the population live below the
poverty threshold ≠ the lack of an anti-monopoly policy and inadequate
protection of property rights. The latter is not so much about the minority
shareholdersí rights beloved of Western consultants and Russian reformers,
as about the highly criminal bankruptcy procedures and lack of an effective
court system. 


The state has not been doing anything about the investment crisis either.
Industrial investment rose overall by 36.7 percent for the first semester
of 2000 but fell by 10 percent in the electricity and gas sectors. If this
trend continues over several years, the energy sector will collapse,
depriving the country of heating and light. The reason for the drop in
investment is simple ≠ there will be a return on investment in the sector
only in eight years, by which time a new president will be in power. With
the state unable to give any guarantee against political risk, the cost of
investment in the energy sector is dissuasively high. 


Instead of concentrating on spurring economic growth, the state has been
busy dividing up assets, especially in the natural monopolies, cutting back
social spending and financially suffocating the regions in order to bolster
central power.


This all makes for games that aid the development of children and young
politicians, but it doesnít do much to create a normal investment climate
in Russia. So long as conditions for investment aren't created, Putinís oil
dollars will bring Russia no greater benefit than Brezhnevís dollars
benefited the Soviet Union, and they likewise wonít protect the country
from imminent catastrophe.


This is why it would be good for the countryís current leaders to stop
spending so much time meeting with say, Orthodox church officials, and give
more time to a practical slogan that has worked so effectively across the
ocean. If they donít take this slogan to the voters, the voters will soon
bring it to them.
******


#4
The Guardian (UK)
27 August 2000
Battered Putin turns on his media tormentors 
Jonathan Steele in Moscow 


President Vladimir Putin has opened a Pandora's box of complaints with his 
pay-outs to families of the 118 men who died in the nuclear-powered Kursk 
submarine. 


Angry widows and the mothers of Russian soldiers killed in Chechnya have 
launched a campaign to get decent compensation for their loved ones. They 
have reacted angrily to the President's decision to award £18,000 per 
submariner's family - by Russian standards unprecedentedly quick and 
generous. 


Veronica Marchenko, the chair of 'Mothers' Rights', accuses the government of 
trying to buy the bereaved families' silence. 'We have nothing against the 
people who will get this money,' she said. 'But if the government hands out 
this kind of amounts, it means they have got something to hide and are afraid 
the relatives will take them to court or conduct their own inquiries. 


'What about the thousands of people who lost men in Chechnya or simply in 
military service somewhere? They also need help.' 


'If the President and other officials think they can salve their consciences 
by handing out money to the dead sailors' families, it is wrong,' added 
Valentina Melnikova of the Union of Soldiers' Mothers' Committees, which 
campaigns for the withdrawal of all conscripts from Chechnya. 


Pointedly for Putin, the mothers' strong comments came in a front-page 
article yesterday in Kommersant, one of the newspapers owned by Boris 
Berezovsky, Russia's most controversial oligarch. Last week, in a sweeping 
attack on the media's coverage of the disaster, Putin picked on Berezovsky 
and fellow-tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky, who owns the NTV television channel, for 
trying to make political capital out of the Kursk tragedy. 


There was no mistaking the target of his taunt that 'the front row of the 
sailors' so-called defenders consists of people who have been trying to 
destroy the army, the navy, and the state'. They would do better to sell 
their seaside villas in France and Spain and make a donation to the families, 
Putin went on. 


Another paper which was outspokenly critical of Putin and the bungled Russian 
rescue attempts also cried foul yesterday. 'How much does grief cost?' 
screamed the banner headline in Komsomolskaya Pravda. 'Don't forget the 
mothers of the boys killed in Afghanistan, the wives of those who died in 
Chechnya, and the grandchildren of the soldiers who fought the fire at 
Chernobyl.' 


While Putin's attack on the media oligarchs has created alarm among liberal 
journalists, it is likely to have won strong support among many ordinary 
Russians. Resentment at Russia's billionaires, none of whom got started 
without massive help from friends in the state apparatus, is widespread. 


His tirade against the oligarchs was couched in tabloid language which marks 
him out from his two predecessors, Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev. His 
comment against the Chechens - 'We'll blast them out, even in the shit-house' 
- has become folklore. 


During a tense encounter with the submariners' families on Wednesday, when 
one furious wife asked why Russia had to rely on Norwegian deep-sea divers 
and had none of its own, the President broke in: 'This country doesn't have a 
fig.' 


A few minutes later he took his bar-room-style grumbling a stage further. 
'I'm willing to take responsibility for my 100 days in power. But when it 
comes to the last 15 years, then I'm ready to sit on the bench with you and 
put the questions to them.' 


Down-to-earth remarks like that, as well as his outburst against the 
oligarchs, have excited all the 'national-patriotic forces' and other 
nostalgics for the Soviet val ues of discipline and strong defence. 


But liberals are also treating the Kursk disaster as a key moment in Russian 
history. Georgi Boft wrote in yesterday's Izvestiya that either he could go 
back to the past, with its secrecy and contempt for ordinary people, or lay 
the basis of a new system 'in which every provincial army veteran's family 
gets the same benefits as the Kursk families, not as a populist exception but 
as a matter of right'. 


Both sides are disappointed. Yeltsin made Putin, who cannot now repudiate his 
predecessor. An editor at Kommersant said: 'He is a cynic, but also a 
realist. It is too late to undo the system of private property in this 
country. But he will try to get the oligarchs to pay a little more tax. 
That's all, but it would be popular with everyone.' 


******


#5
Boston Globe
27 August 2000
GRASSROOTS
Dear Nana: Wish I could write that things are better in Russia 
By Alan Lupo, Globe Staff


To: Nana, Rose Sacon, formerly of Brookline and, for the last four decades, 
if there is such a place, of Heaven.


From: Your loving grandson, writing this in Dorchester.


Subject: Mother Russia.


Dear Nana:


Well, it has been a long time since we spoke at any great length. Someday, 
we'll meet again in person, or in some form, but much as I still love you, I 
am not in a hurry to do this, as you can understand.


I began scrawling these notes on a gloomy, gray morning as I sat at a table 
on board a ship docked in St. Petersburg, once the capital of the land you 
left more than a century ago.


I would guess that in your time in Russia you never visited St. Petersburg. 
You and your family lived far away in or near Minsk with other Jews. Few in 
your neighborhood had the means or desire to drop in on Czar Nicholas II at 
the Winter Palace. 


For their part, the czars and their underlings were not in the practice of 
sending RSVPs to the Minkins or the Saconovitzes, or, for that matter, to the 
millions of the Russian Orthodox serfs and peasants who toiled for the 
greater glory of czar, God, and country. The lack of an invite was the least 
of the problems between those who ran the empire and you folks, which 
explains, in part, why you came to America.


You took one big trip in your otherwise sheltered life, but it was a good 
one. From then on, it was to the South End, Chelsea, Roxbury, and Brookline, 
each trek a piece of kugel compared to the initial sprint.


Who knows what happened to your parents, your two sisters, and your brother, 
all of whom stayed? Did they survive czarist pogroms, the slaughter of World 
War I, the communist revolution, the Nazi invasion, the Stalinist purges? Is 
there somewhere, beyond the forest of cranes and trains on the sprawling St. 
Petersburg docks, one of their seed, a Minkin or Saconovitz, wandering 
around? If so, is he or she a government bureaucrat? An emerging capitalist? 
A weary citizen struggling to make ends meet? A member of the Russian Mafiya? 
I'll never know.


Why, you must wonder, did I go back?


As the early morning light began to break over a seaport that would put 
Boston's little maritime industry to shame, I wondered myself. Age is part of 
the answer. I was still a college kid when you died; I am now the father of 
kids who graduated from college years ago. In whatever time is left for each 
of us, we Americans must try to reconnect with the places from which our 
people came.


So, we took the guided tours to the Winter Palace, where, more than once, 
czarist troops and revolutionaries bloodied the cobblestone streets. We 
traveled by boat to the Summer Palace. We wondered aloud at some of the 3 
million original pieces of art at the former and the 165 fountains at the 
latter. Everywhere was the ostentatious gold and glitter of a class convinced 
that God alone had appointed them to rule, without the consent of the 
governed.


But it is outside the tourist meccas that one learns a bit more, Nana, about 
the conditions of the country you left.


There are beggars on the streets. Of course, there are beggars on the streets 
of downtown Boston, too. Indeed, I have seen more of them here than I spotted 
at home, but their beggars seems to be in worse shape. The old women, their 
heads wrapped in babushkas, their faces lined with the wrinkles of life lived 
hard, held out their hands and mumbled their thanks for a bit of loose change.


Everywhere were the street vendors, all of them selling essentially the same 
products - military hats, medals, nesting dolls, maybe some guidebooks. They 
hawked their stuff in English, and they knew how to bargain.


The ruble is weak. It took 27 rubles to make a US buck. The word among those 
who seem to know of what they speak is that former KGB agents had stowed 
money away in foreign bank accounts and now were running some of the 
privatized industries. It did not take a trip to Russia to know of gang 
warfare, kidnappings, social discontent, a struggling economy.


What's that you might say, Nana? Some things don't change?


Many descendants of your former countrymen and women might agree with you. 
They have a sense of humor. A tour guide, commenting on a somewhat dismal 
summer, said, ''We have an old expression in Russia: Nine months of 
expectation, three months of disappointment.''


For all of its history, there has been too much disappointment for the 
Russians and those they have ruled. I do not believe they have had many good 
days since the year 862, when a Swedish Viking, Rurik, set up a kingdom at 
Novogrod.


Maybe, Nana, given how we Jews too often fared at the hands of Russians, I 
shouldn't care, but I do. I feel not pity, for no race wants pity. I felt 
before I left and feel again now a sadness that Russia has never reached her 
potential. 


There were long lines of tourists waiting in the rain to visit the Winter 
Palace. The tour guide hopes that some classy hotels will open. Russian 
businessmen are partnering with Finns, Germans, and Brits. So, there is hope, 
but, more than 100 years after you left, Nana, I say again, ''Good move.''


******


#6
The Sunday Times (UK)
August 27, 2000
Kremlin man fails the test 
By Michael McFaul 
Michael McFaul is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for 
International Peace 
IF MANY technical questions still linger regarding how and why the crew of 
the Kursk perished, the tragedy has provided some fairly definitive political 
answers about Vladimir Putin as a leader and the Russians as a people. 


After an incredibly easy ride to the summit of power and a series of 
successes at home and abroad, the Kremlin leader finally faced a real test of 
leadership. He failed. 


Putin's initial instincts were typical of the KGB apparatchik that he is. He 
and his government lied, denied and deceived. In turn, the Russian people 
succeeded in demonstrating that they are no longer willing to submit 
passively to the state's dictates. 


If the Russian leader's initial responses to the crisis were Soviet in 
flavour, public reaction was distinctly post-Soviet. There has even been 
speculation that the Kursk tragedy is Putin's Chernobyl, an event that in the 
long run will help precipitate a new approach to openness and a rethinking of 
state priorities. 


Think again. To be sure, the public outcry and the new public scepticism 
towards the once wildly popular Putin are silver linings to this unfortunate 
disaster. However, we should not project too many lasting consequences into 
this one event. It will take many more Kursk-like setbacks to sink the 
president. 


Putin is not a weak and embattled leader. In the five months since his 
election as president he has already made his mark on foreign policy and 
pushed through a much-needed tax reform. More significantly, he has 
transformed the political landscape, weakening those institutions that acted 
as checks on presidential power during the Yeltsin era. 


Throughout this period, he has maintained solid popular backing: polls 
earlier this month gave him an approval rating of 70%. 


The seemingly unstoppable Putin finally stumbled in his handling of the 
Kursk. In the first days of the crisis he acted like a bureaucrat, not a 
leader. 


Over the past week he has dramatically changed tack. This was not on his own 
initiative, however, but rather the result of a critical press and an angry 
public. 


Putin might come away from this experience with the lesson that it is best to 
react quickly and publicly to criticism. The outcry demonstrated that the 
Russian people may desire more law and order, but are not willing to tolerate 
indifference and deceit from their leaders. 


More likely, however, he will learn a different lesson from this crisis: a 
free press capable of exposing government mistakes and sparking public 
resentment is dangerous. 


After all, Putin's government has devoted enormous resources to controlling 
reporting on the war in Chechnya. To date, his ambitious agenda for change 
has not included the deepening of democracy or military reform. Rather than 
more meetings with voters or transparent government investigations, we should 
expect more harassment of the press, greater control over the flow of 
information and more money for the military. 


While the Russian people proved that they expect more from their leaders than 
during Soviet times and may no longer hold romantic illusions about Putin as 
a saviour, the struggle for a more responsive, responsible and effective 
Russian state - that is, a more democratic state - has only just begun. 


******


#7
Washington Post
August 27, 2000
[for personal use only]
Dick Cheney and the 'Great Game'
By David Ignatius


American presidential elections sometimes have a way of skewing international 
events--as folks overseas try to game out the likely effects of a change in 
administrations. 


This sort of political jockeying seems to be taking place now in the Caspian 
Sea region. The main reason, say industry analysts, is that the Republican 
vice presidential candidate, Richard Cheney, has been an outspoken advocate 
of ending U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.


George W. Bush has said he favors a continuation of Iran sanctions, so 
Cheney's views may not be decisive. But if a Republican administration 
followed through on Cheney's rhetoric, it would transform the economic and 
political balance across the Caspian and the Mideast--instantly turning some 
of the pipeline projects that have been advocated by the Clinton-Gore 
administration into white elephants.


Commercial deals have thus been put on hold pending the election, according 
to industry analysts. "Why would anyone make a commitment between now and 
November, when there may be a change of policy coming?" asks one oil industry 
executive.


Political handicapping like this takes place every four years. An extreme 
example was the 1968 presidential campaign and Vietnam. The South Vietnamese 
government decided it was likely to get a better deal from President Nixon 
than from his rival, Hubert Humphrey--and deliberately dragged its feet in 
the Paris peace talks. Indeed, a new book by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan 
suggests that Nixon deliberately helped the South Vietnamese to sabotage a 
peace accord.


Pre-election slowdowns have affected Mideast diplomacy, too, as Arabs or 
Israelis calculated whether they would fare better with the next 
administration than the one in power. That opportunism may help explain 
Yasser Arafat's reluctance to cut a Camp David peace deal last month with the 
Clinton administration. He probably liked his chances better with Bush and 
the Republicans.


The Caspian is especially sensitive this year, because both the Bush and Gore 
camps are carrying so much baggage. The Clinton-Gore administration invested 
heavily in a grandiose policy that for nearly a year has been falling of its 
own weight. The Cheney factor may finally be enough to topple it.


The administration's strategy in the Caspian "Great Game" has been to push 
the countries of the region to export their oil and gas west--through two 
mega-pipelines that would terminate in Turkey, a friend and ally of the 
United States. These projects--the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the 
Trans-Caspian gas pipeline--never made obvious economic sense. But the 
administration hammered away, hoping to block the alternative export routes 
that would go north through Russia and south through Iran.


Despite doubts about the economic viability of U.S. policy, most countries in 
the region and companies doing business there quietly went along--until 
recently.


But Cheney several years ago began challenging the logic of the 
administration's attempt to isolate Iran. As chief executive of Halliburton, 
a giant oil-services company, he wanted to be able sell his products anywhere 
he liked. But he also seemed convinced that the strategic assumptions 
underlying the Clinton-Gore policy were wrong.


"I think we'd be better off if we, in fact, backed off those sanctions [on 
Iran], didn't try to impose secondary boycotts on companies . . . trying to 
do business there," he told an Australian television interviewer in April 
1998.


"The unintended result of our policy toward Iran is to give Russia more 
leverage over the independent states of central Asia and the Caucusus by 
blocking export routes toward the south," Cheney warned at a February 1997 
conference in Washington.


Cheney's comments reflected a broad skepticism within the oil industry about 
the wisdom of the Clinton-Gore policy. The oil executives simply weren't 
convinced that the mega-pipelines were viable. The administration hoopla 
culminated in last November's Istanbul summit, at which regional leaders made 
polite but empty promises to support the administration's grand design. 
Industry executives played along, too, but they privately expressed growing 
doubt that the U.S.-backed pipelines would be built anytime soon.


An early defector was Saparmurad Niyazov, president of Turkmenistan. He 
signed an agreement in principle this year to send an additional 20 billion 
cubic meters of Turkmen gas north to Russia--essentially killing prospects 
for quick construction of a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline.


The American grand design has other problems. Rather than build the expensive 
new Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline, governments and companies now appear to favor a 
cheaper alternative that would use existing facilities. This alternative 
would send an extra 100,000 barrels per day from Baku to the Georgian port of 
Supsa on the Black Sea, an extra 100,000 barrels per day north, through 
Russia and at least 50,000 barrels south to Iran, to be swapped for export 
shipments via the Persian Gulf.


This ad-hoc combination could handle nearly all the extra oil Azerbaijan 
hopes to export over the next five years, industry analysts say, and if 
additional pipelines are needed later, there will be time and money then.


To such vulgar pragmatists, the Clinton-Gore administration has offered a 
high-minded rebuttal: Focus on geostrategy. Play the Great Game. Continue 
using economic sanctions to advance America's strategic interests.


Cheney, back in his oil-patch days, had a simple answer: Bunk! Now that he's 
a vice presidential candidate, Cheney is giving cover to people overseas who 
were convinced several years ago that the Clinton-Gore policy was a 


******


#8
Los Angeles Times
27 August 2000
The First Steps From Authoritarian to Civil Society 
By JACOB HEILBRUNN
Jacob Heilbrunn Has Written for Foreign Affairs and Is a Columnist for 
Suddeutsche Zeitung, a Leading German Newspaper


WASHINGTON--It's hard to see how Russian President Vladimir V. Putin 
could have handled the Kursk submarine crisis any worse. Each move he made 
seemed to come out of the old Soviet playbook: Lie, cover up, then, when all 
else fails, blame the West. 
But after a week of remaining on vacation, tooling around on his water 
scooter and refusing vital foreign assistance that might have helped avert 
the death of all 118 sailors aboard the submarine, Putin may have started to 
turn a corner. A torrent of criticism and outrage by Russian citizens and the 
media put him on the defensive and forced him to confront the crisis. In an 
age when citizens around the world want elected officials to feel their pain, 
he's learning you can't mirror the actions of an aloof czar or isolated 
dictator and that public relations increasingly matter almost as much as 
effective action. Late last week, Putin made his first attempts to reach out 
by holding a town meeting with relatives of the sailors who perished and 
calling for a national day of mourning. 
The truth is that, however tragic, the submarine crisis may be a 
blessing in disguise for Russia. It has dramatically accelerated the 
country's evolution from a backward, authoritarian country into a civil 
society, where individual citizens' voices cannot be ignored. As 
globalization, the Internet and mass media take hold in Russia, the secretive 
structures that supported the Czars and then the Soviet empire are being 
undermined. 
The big question has been where Putin stands. Elena Bonner, widow of 
Andre I. Sakharov, the human-rights advocate and Noble Peace Prize winner, 
has declared that Putin's presidency is "a new stage in the establishment of 
a modernized Stalinism." But many Western leaders, including President Bill 
Clinton and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have hailed Putin as a 
democrat who can establish order in a chaotic country. 
Who has it right? The submarine crisis may show which road Putin intends 
to travel down. While he has indeed suggested rolling back Russia's 
Westernization, it's all remained at the noise level. If Putin is bold enough 
and has enough power, he might reverse course and seize on the submarine 
crisis to push through real reforms. 
Putin's dilemma over Westernization is not new. Ever since Peter the 
Great created St. Petersburg and, as he put it, "flung open the window to the 
West," Russia has agonized over whether or not to emulate the West. 
Slavophiles have argued that the Russian soul needs to be safeguarded against 
alien influences, while Westernizers have sought to modernize the country. 
But the Slavophiles have usually had the upper hand: The 18th-century writer 
Marquis de Custine noted, "In Russia, everything is turned into mystery," 
and, two centuries later, Winston Churchill famously explained that Russia 
was "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." 
But it was the 1986 meltdown of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, the 
precursor to the current submarine disaster, that put an end to the Soviet 
government's ability to lie to itself and its people. That nuclear accident 
became a textbook example of how not to deal with a crisis in an era when 
television and other technologies made it impossible to shield Russians from 
what was actually taking place. Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev used 
the meltdown to try out his policy of "glasnost," or openness, and to turn to 
the West for help. But Chernobyl took the Soviet Union along with it. 
The Kursk fiasco could prove as consequential. For one thing, it was the 
first event of this type to be covered essentially round the clock on Russian 
television. This intensive media coverage of a disaster--bread and butter for 
American cable television--is something quite new in Russia, and it fueled 
anger against the authorities. The military still doesn't seem to have a 
clue: "Why should a housewife know what is happening with the Kursk in the 
Barents Sea?" complained one Russian military official. 
Given these obsolete attitudes, Putin himself may not be in the 
strongest position to carry out reforms--even if he wanted to. For Putin 
declared last year that Russia should never become a "second edition of, say, 
the United States or Great Britain . . . . For Russians, a strong state is 
not an anomaly, which should be got rid of. Quite the contrary, they see it 
as a guarantor of order and the initiator and the main driving force of any 
change." 
Whether Putin has the imagination and power to overcome such attitudes 
is highly questionable. One of his first acts as president was to step up the 
war in Chechnya--which, indeed, went over well with most Russians. He also 
attacked the business oligarchs, a necessary move, but his first target was a 
troubling one--the Media-Most broadcasting empire. This was condemned as an 
assault on freedom of speech and freedom of the press, just as these are 
struggling to be established in the formerly controlled society. 
More recently, Putin reflexively defended the military establishment, 
making the empty declaration, "I will stand by the army. Together, we will 
revive the army, the navy and the country." Andrea Rutherford, an investment 
banker and influential analyst, says, "Ironically, Putin, despite his massive 
electoral win and apparent control of the Duma, is turning out to be a weak 
president. Because people believe that he has been unable to take control of 
the Kremlin, he has lost influence everywhere. The Duma, for example--which 
we expected to be absolutely compliant under the control of Unity--has 
already blocked or postponed key elements of Putin's tax-reform program. 
Perhaps even more worrying, there are indications that the bureaucracy has 
also lost confidence and is responding in its usual manner--by simply failing 
to execute instructions." 
If Putin is the strong leader he claims to be, he'll seize on the 
submarine tragedy to shake up the country. After a bungled start, he could 
turn the tables by retiring the gerontocrats in the military and shrinking 
their ranks. Considering the chaotic state the country's economic system and 
military are in, reform is long overdue. 
But to consolidate power, Putin would have to perform an end run around 
the bureaucracy, whose incompetence has once again been exposed by the 
submarine disaster. Trying to cut Russia off from open debate is futile in an 
era when information can't be controlled by the state and leaders have to be 
responsive to public perceptions. As his overtures to the relatives of the 
dead sailors suggest, Putin may have begun to grasp that lesson. May. 


******


#9
From: "Robert Bruce Ware" <rware@stlnet.com>
Subject: Reports about Dagestan (JRL #4475, 4474)
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2000 


Reports concerning Dagestan that recently have appeared in JRL raise a
number of questions. A report by the Swedish Defense Research Institute
(JRL #4475) considers "(t)he danger of widespread hunger" in Russia, and
focuses upon Dagestan as being "particularly vulnerable." The context of
the discussion is food imports, and certainly Dagestan imports grain, a
crop upon which the report concentrates. Yet this reference appears to
overlook that conditions in Dagestan are more generally those of
agricultural bounty. Favored with a mild climate and a relatively lengthy
growing season, Dagestan is traditionally an agricultural exporter.
Transport difficulties, resulting particularly from the conflicts in
Chechnya, have required that many crops must be consumed locally. This
has meant that during the summer and autumn local markets are overflowing
with inexpensive fruit, vegetables, meats, seafood, and dairy products.
During these months, even poor people tend to have balanced diets.
Certainly this is what I observed during my stay in Dagestan this summer.
During the winter, locally produced apples, cabbages, onions, meat, and
dairy products are available. Even more than most Russians, Dagestanis
conserve summer produce for winter consumption. Moreover, Dagestan
generates ample hydroelectric power, much of which it exports. Petroleum
products from illicit operations in Chechnya are still flowing into
Dagestan. (According to several Dagestani reports, these illicit imports
are now occurring with the support of Russian soldiers.)


For these reasons I would have thought that Dagestan might fare relatively
well in the event of a widespread collapse such as that which the report
considers. Other claims by Movladi Udugov and Shamil Basayev (JRL #4474)
concerning Dagestani involvement in the destruction of the Kursk raise
further questions. While all realistic allegations require
investigation, the contention that the submarine was sabotaged by a highly
qualified torpedo specialist employed at the Dagdisel plant in Kaspisk,
whose father was a submariner Hero of the USSR, runs counter to the
patterns of Dagestani society. Those Dagestanis who have been attracted to
Wahhabism have generally been impoverished, often unskilled, residents of
Dagestan's central foothills and Western mountains. While some
intellectuals find Wahhabism appealing they have rarely been established in
their careers. Generally, Dagestani Wahhabism has appealed to outsiders,
both geographically and socio-economically. Kaspisk is a relatively
affluent seaside community with relatively high employment and little
history of Islamic extremism. While no possibility can be entirely
excluded, a well-established, professionally well-recognized specialist
with a steady job and a seaside residence would seem to be relatively low
on a list of potential suspects. On the other hand, it is far more
certain that such allegations, regardless of their truth, will increase
mistrust of Dagestanis throughout Russia, contributing to anti-Caucasian
prejudice and harassment, which force many Dagestanis to return to their
impoverished homeland. True of false, such allegations will serve the
cause of anyone interested in separating Dagestan from Russia. 


******


#10
From: "Rachel Douglas" <cmgusa@intrepid.net>
Subject: Statement of the 18
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2000 


Dear David,


I think you posted a write-up of Yevgeni Primakov's statement on the Kursk,
on behalf of the Fatherland-All Russia bloc, but I don't think I saw this
one among your documentation.


Aug. 25 (EIRNS)--RUSSIAN POLITICAL, MILITARY FIGURES DECLARE RUSSIA
HAS BEEN AT WAR, CALL FOR MOBILIZATION TO SAVE THE NATION.
Communist Party leader and former Presidential candidate Gennadi
Zyuganov, State Duma Economic Policy Committee Chairman Sergei
Glazyev, Academican Gennadi Osipov, and the Soviet Navy Commander
in Chief in the 1980s, Admiral Chernavin, are among the 18
prominent political leaders who issued an appeal this week for a
mobilization to save Russia from destruction in war--a war in
which, they say, the sinking of the {Kursk} was one battle. The
statement, titled "In the Hour of Trouble," was issued on
Tuesday, Aug. 22, on the eve of the day of mourning and President
Putin's nationally televised interview, Aug. 23.
The appeal of these 18 representatives of what
is known as the "left patriotic" tendency, gives some sense of
the profound response inside Russia, to the sinking of the
{Kursk}. Its translation follows:
"In these tragic days for our Motherland, as the nation
grieves for the loss of the {Kursk}, the best ship in the
Northern Fleet, and the grief of the mothers and fathers, wives
and children, who lost their dearest and most beloved ones in the
sea deep, has become the grief of every family in Russia, -- in
these days of mourning and prayerful remembrance, we are very
clearly aware of the magnitude of the trouble, into which Russia
has been plunged. Great is the scope of the war, which our people
has been fighting for a decade, losing one million of our
population each year, and leaving on the field of battle burning
cities, blown-up apartment buildings, crashed airplanes, sunken
ships, and devastated, depopulated regions, as well as countless
graves of our compatriots. The one hundred and eighteen sailors,
these best and most honorable men, who perished in the iron box
of this ship, were participants in the war, which the country is
waging for the right to call itself Russia, to control the
territory between three oceans, to speak its native language, to
worship its holy things, and to honor its heroes and forebears.
"It was not any accident with the ship's equipment, nor a
miscalculation by the crew, that caused her death. She went down
in the battle, which the people, and Russian statehood, are
waging today, trying with their last strength to put ships out to
sea and squadrons in the air, to pump oil and natural gas, to
heat the houses, educate the children, nurse the orphans, and to
keep faith in its sovereignty and inviolability, and in the
inevitable Russian Victory. The havoc, which the enemy has
wrought in our homes, in our ministries and staffs, and in our
minds and hearts, is comparable with the darkest and most hellish
deeds in Russian history, and with the most merciless and lethal
invasions. This enemy, feigning itself `reformer' and
`benefactor', has been doing conscious evil for ten years,
preying upon Russia, withering our health and will, taking our
last money and bread, and condemning us to spiritual paralysis
and despair.
"The mystery of the loss of the {Kursk} has not yet been
solved, but within it is hidden, as if inside a `black box', the
terrible fact, that it is Russia that was rammed.
"The loss of the {Kursk} is an awesome and tragic occasion,
to think through this moment of current history, not to fall into
disconsolate grief and panic, but to exhibit the will and
concentration, which were always characteristic of Russians, when
defeats brought them to the edge of the abyss. Thus, after the
defeat of Igor's Campaign, there was the sacred Victory at
Kulikovo Field. After the treason of the boyars and the Polish
orgies in the Kremlin, came the victorious host of Minin and
Pozharsky. After Peter's defeat at Narva, his brilliant Poltava.
After Borodino and the burning of Moscow--Russian standards on
the Champs Elysees. The sinking of our squadron at Tsushima gave
birth to the immortal feat of the {Varyag}. The brutal defeats of
the Red Army at Kiev and Smolensk, led to victory at Moscow,
Stalingrad, and Kursk, and to the red flag over Berlin. The
heroic death of the Sixth Airborne in Argun Gorge made that
company a sacred one, and armed the Army with a luminous,
triumphant force. The loss of the {Kursk} will not divide or
weaken us, but will unite and consolidate us, and will help to
overcome the schism within the people, which reigns when the
clever enemy splinters us into groups, pounds us into powder and
meal. The people will answer the tragedy in the Barents Sea and
the {Kursk} sailors' feat of martyrdom, with unity and
steadfastness.
"Many in the country had hopes: that after the insanities of
`perestroika', after the bankruptcy of `liberal reforms', the
leadership, which has made declarations about the State, about
Russia, and about the Motherland, would not revel at gaudy
rituals in restored Tsarist palaces. Many wanted to believe, that
those in power would reject the insane economic policy, which
destroyed the Soviet Union, and is now finishing off Russia,
depriving the people of their last kopeks, bringing our giant
factories to a halt, and making it impossible for the country to
have doctors or deep-sea divers, and to keep either submarines or
whole scientific schools afloat. We demand that the leadership,
learning from the present bitter loss, not begin anew the
previous ruinous policy of `radical liberalism', disgusting and
ridiculous as it is, but rather mobilize the remains of our
national resources, the remains of our finances and productive
forces, and economic and political will. We shall fight for our
people, having gathered the resources of our state into one,
spiritually mobilized and united, to win the battle for a Russian
twenty-first century.
"We are convinced that there will be a response to this
mobilizing impulse--from the heroic Navy of Russia, which will
not quit the expanses of the World Ocean. From the brave Russian
Army, finishing off the terrorists in Chechnya. From science,
which preserves the greatest discoveries of our time in its
laboratories with the power cut off. From patriotic culture,
never tired of preaching the Good, Love, and Mercy. From the
Church, lighting holy lamps over the graves of our heroes, and
praying for all who care for the salvation of Russia.
"We know that the tragedy of the {Kursk}, the tears of the
living and the holy martyrdom of those who died, will unite us
into an invincible people. And that a new nuclear-powered
{Kursk}, its construction funded by the people's savings as was
done in the times of great troubles, will put out to sea. Into
the great ocean of the history of our Fatherland."
Signed by:
Aristarkh, Father-Superior of the Monastery and chief of the
military division of the Murmansk and Monchegorsky Eparchy;
Yu.V. Bondaryov, writer;
V.I. Varennikov, General of the Army;
S.Yu. Glazyev, Corresponding Member of the RAS, Chairman of
the State Duma Committee on Economic Policy and Enterprise;
G.A. Zyuganov, leader of the CPRF and National-Popular Union
of Russia (NPUR);
A.I. Kiselev, General Director of the Khrunichev State
Science and Production Space Center;
V.M. Klykov, sculptor;
N.I. Kondratenko, chief of administration, Krasnodar Terr.;
G.V. Osipov, Academician of the RAS, Director of the
Institute for Social and Political Research;
S.L. Parenkov, General Director of the Hammer and Sickle
Steel Factory;
A.A. Prokhanov, editor-in-chief of {Zavtra};
V.G. Rasputin, writer;
Yu.P. Savelyev, rector of the St. Petersburg Baltic
Technical University;
G.Yu. Semigin, Chairman of the Executive Committee, NPUR;
P.G. Simenenko, General Director of the Kirov Works;
V.A. Starodubtsev, chief of administration, Tula Province;
V.N. Chernavin, Fleet Admiral, President of the Russian
Union of Submariners;
V.V. Chikin, editor-in-chief of {Sovetskaya Rossiya}.


******

 

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