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Johnson's Russia List


September 4, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4490


Johnson's Russia List
4 September 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
1. The Independent (UK): How do we get Russia out of this mess? 
We asked a group of experts how this once great superpower can save itself.

2. The Observer (UK): Amelia Gentleman, City Life. Moscow.
3. Branko Milanovic: re 4489-Will/Back in the USSR.
4. Jeffrey Barrie: RE: 4487-Economist/Infrastructure.
POLITBURO. (Council of State)

6. The Sunday Times (UK): Mark Franchetti, Russian children to 
train for war.

7. The Guardian (UK): Jonathan Glancey, Before the fall. 
A summer of disasters can't erase Russia's revolutionary past, 
when it's architects were among the most daring and influential 
in the world. 

8. Financial Times (UK): Andrew Jack, Russia plans companies code.
9. AFP: Japan tells Russian business to clean up.
10. Reuters: Russia's Berezovsky says Putin threatens free press.
11. The Globe and Mail (Canada): Geoffrey York, Moscow denounces 
U.S. threat in spy flap.]


The Independent (UK)
3 September 2000
How do we get Russia out of this mess? 
We asked a group of experts how this once great superpower can save itself 

Lord Owen
Lord Owen is a former Labour foreign secretary and is chairman of Middlesex 
Holdings, a global trading house with strong links to Russia. 

The situation in Russia is improving. The real crisis was two years ago, when 
there was a big retreat. The financial institutions packed their tents and 
left. Steel is a good indicator of the economy and it's now selling more in 
the internal market. People are paying with cash. There is more confidence 
and activity in business at every level. But it's still patchy. 

I think Putin is good news. He has given indications that he is willing to 
make decisions and form an effective government, which has been the wish of 
younger Russians for a long time. One of the problems is that the 
infrastructure has been ignored. The two recent disasters – the submarine
the tower – show that insufficient funds are going into maintaining complex 
installations. It will take a long time to sort out. 

There is more to a market economy than lifting price restraints. You have to 
have a legal structure. And there is too much advice of a theoretical nature 
coming from the West. 

Russia has still got to build up its democratic moorings, but a transition 
has been achieved that will be hard to reverse. The invincibility of 
Communism has been shattered, but it's very important that the West keeps 
faith with Russia. Our state model has won, but it still has a long way to 

George Walden
George Walden is a former Conservative education minister, and he worked as a 
diplomat in Moscow. 

It's difficult not to like the Russians. I have a sort of willed optimism 
about the place. The most hopeful fact about the country is that you never 
see young people demonstrating. The discontented are the middle-aged and 
older people. 

Putin seems to incarnate the ambivalence of the place. His old KGB mentality, 
his belief that criticism of the government is unpatriotic, is bad news. But 
on the economic side he doesn't appear to be a reactionary at all, which is 
good news. Hopefully economic necessities will confirm the other liberties 
which have already been won. 

One is appalled by the depth of corruption in daily life. The mafia continues 
to penetrate right to the top. The question is whether Putin is serious about 
using his power to confront these people. Otherwise they will eat away at 

On dark days, one does have an awful fear of the chaos and anarchy which, 
historically, the Russians seem to have a talent for, and the authoritarian 
response to that chaos, which they have also displayed a talent for. It is a 
question of hanging on while democracy takes root. You have to have economic 
reform, but you can't just graft on Thatcherism and expect all to go well. 
Russia will devise its own form of economy. For now, it is a country in the 

Archie Brown
Archie Brown is director of the Russian and East European Centre at St 
Anthony's College Oxford, and professor of politics at Oxford University. 

Russia needs a rule of law more than anything else. One of the things that 
prevents foreign investments is a lack of protection and clarity in the law. 
Judges and law enforcement officers are underpaid and relatively easily 
influenced and bribed. Putin talks about a dictatorship of law, but it is not 
clear if that is the same as a rule of law. He wants to increase the power of 
the centre, which is good, as local despots do what they want. There should 
be constitutional amend- ments. There is a very real need to clarify and 
strengthen the powers of the legislature. 

Russia is at a crossroads. Things could get better politically, and they will 
probably get better economically, but the institutions of democracy, 
specifically Parliament and the political parties, are insuff- iciently 
strong. Far too much depends upon the president and the presidential 

Roland Nash
Roland Nash is chief economist at Renaissance Capital, a Moscow investment 

You have to separate the political Putin from the economic Putin. A lot of 
what he has done from a Western perspective looks destructive, like muzzling 
the media and stamping on regional democracy, but even after the Kursk 
tragedy he is still the most popular politician Russia of the last 10 years. 

A big part of this popularity is the fact that things have got better in the 
Russian economy over the past three months. Investment is picking up from a 
small base, and reserves in the central bank are increasing by $2bn
a month. There is a real hope that Russia is turning the corner. 

There have been three catalysts in this change. The first is the oil price, 
which has tripled over three years to $30 a barrel. The second is the 
financial crisis which took place in August 1998. This gave a massive 
competitive boost to export-oriented sectors and provided room to manoeuvre 
for domestic companies. The final factor is the relative political stability. 
Previously, nobody knew whether Yeltsin was going to survive until the next 
week, which made for a volatile political situation. Putin, for all his 
faults, is younger, more dynamic, and more in control. In the first five 
months of his presidency, he has done more to tackle structural reforms than 
Yeltsin did in the previous five years. 

The big question is whether Russia is on the path to sustainable medium-term 
recovery. There are a lot of large hurdles left to jump. 

Geraldine Fagan
Geraldine Fagan is the Moscow correspondent for the Keston Institute, Oxford, 
which monitors the freedom of religion in Russia and the former Communist 

The impact on the general populace of the bombing in the metro underpass, the 
Kursk tragedy and then the TV tower fire has not been as significant as the 
bombing of the tower blocks in Moscow last summer. Then, everyone was 
absolutely terrified. Now, events have created a mood which is predominantly 
one of sadness. Generally, people think that Putin is alright. I haven't 
heard any real criticism of him yet, but it still doesn't seem like he has 
been in power long. 

The oligarchs know that they aren't going to be supported any more, and there 
will be less opportunity for powerful individuals to control political events 
now. The setting up of a tier of regional governors is a big change under 
Putin, and a sign that he is going to try and keep them in check, within an 
intact national unit. 

There remains a big difference between cities like Moscow and St Petersburg 
and the provinces. Moscow in particular appears to be quite optimistic, but 
in some areas of the countryside, the poverty and alcoholism are still 
absolutely horrendous. 

Falcon Stuart
Falcon Stuart is a director of the British Pop Project in the former Soviet 

You can see how open Russian society is becoming by the increasing satire in 
its songs. There is an openness in lyrics coming from the younger generation. 
The music scene, which was underground, is now overground, which speaks 
volumes. We can see a new level of acceptance in the words of these artists, 
which are a reflection of their society. 

When a country is moving from one economic model to another there will be 
problems. Ongoing maintenance has to be part of the plan now. Change is being 
forced upon Russia. It never got around to thinking things through, because 
it was a culture based upon spin. Now it is realising that there has to be 
substance too. It has to create a system where talent can be utilised. This 
requires an open society, and recent events have pushed these agendas 
forward. Russia has been shocked out of depression. 


The Observer (UK)
September 3, 2000
City Life
By Amelia Gentleman 

There is to be dancing in the streets of Moscow today - but only modest 
displays will be permitted. City authorities have ruled that the noisy 
carnival processions which traditionally weave their way to Red Square on the 
first Sunday of September are this year out of keeping with the national 
gloom, and all except the most discreet of events have been cancelled. 

But while the festivities of Moscow Day (a post-Soviet attempt at 
institutionalised fun) have been toned down, many will be experiencing a 
sense of unfeigned delight. The real cause for celebration is nothing more 
than the passing of August. That month has taken on apocalyptic connotations. 
Rarely is it mentioned without being qualified by the words cursed, dreaded 
or damned. 

August is one of the few months when Russians ought to be cheerful. The days 
are long, the skies more or less blue, the chances of snow slim. In recent 
years, however, events have been conspiring to sour the national mood. 'I 
feel I should be relieved to have survived the last month,' said Dennis 
Anelin, manager at a dealership selling expensive jeeps to Russia's new rich. 
'There's been fire, there's been water. It's been catastrophic.' 

The August phenomenon this year began with a powerful explosion beneath 
Pushkin Square, a few hundred yards from the Kremlin walls. The bomb went off 
at the peak of the evening rush-hour in an underground walkway, crowded with 
commuters and stall-holders. Eleven people were killed. Four days later on 12 
August, two explosions on board the Kursk nuclear submarine sent the 118 men 
on board to their deaths at the bottom of the sea. The government embarked on 
a doomed strategy of obfuscation and scarcely had time to recover from its PR 
failures before it had to grapple with a new calamity. This time no attempt 
was made to disguise the full scale of the problem. Not even the most 
poker-faced of Kremlin officials could have denied the inferno at the top of 
the world's second tallest building, Moscow's Ostankino broadcasting tower - 
not least because it transformed television screens across the capital into 
shivering dots. 

This catalogue of disasters has become such standard fare for a Russian 
August that few journalists dare to leave their desks for these four weeks. 
The same month last year saw a bomb go off in the capital's most prestigious 
shopping centre, by the gateway to Red Square - the first of a series of 
devastating, still unresolved, bomb attacks throughout the city in which more 
than 200 people died. Fighting began in Dagestan, precipitating the war in 
Chechnya, the then President Boris Yeltsin sparked an unexpected political 
upheaval which saw the old Prime Minister sacked and the unknown Vladimir 
Putin appointed in his place. The events of the year before were more 
debilitating still. August 1998 saw the collapse of the rouble and Russia's 
decision to default on its debts, prompting the disastrous destabilisation of 
the fragile economy as well as a new political crisis. Many recall the 
abortive Communist putsch of August 1991, which led to the Soviet Union's 

Paper-seller Natasha Lyutin, 45, has been one of the few to benefit from the 
month's disasters; television's absence made newspaper sales rocket. But this 
did nothing to lift the former history teacher's gloom. 'What kind of country 
do we live in when someone like me with two university degrees is forced to 
stand on street corners selling newspapers? This August has been cataclysmic 
- but it's our entire lives that are unbearably hard.' 


Subject: Re: 4489-Will/Back in the USSR
From: (Branko Milanovic)
Date: Sun, 3 Sep 2000 

George Will in his "Back in the USSR" (JRL No. 4489) makes extensive use
of Brzezinski's "National Interest" piece. I am always amused by Brzezinski's
geopolitical pretensions. The man who was almost certainly the worst National
Security Adviser since that post was created (debacle in Iran, failure to
foresee and respond to the invasion of Afghanistan) is supposed to be a
of political knowledge. It reminds me of J-J Rousseau who wrote a treatise on
raising children while sending his own to orphanage.

Anyway, there are two factual points on which Brzezinski is wrong. First,
while Turkey might have modernized herself relatively fast (even if
personally I
am not sure that it is true), it was, unlike today's Russia, a single party
state until the mid-1940's. Would Brzezinski then plead for such a "Russian
way"? Surely, with such a solution, he would be in a political company of many
people whom he despises.

Second, Brzezinski uses what I would have thought would be by now a fully
discredited dichotomy between "the good dissidents" vs. "the bad apparatchiks"
in explaining Russia's vs. Eastern (actually Central) European performance.
was Kwasniewski (Polish president) a dissident or a minister in the last
Communist (Rakowski's) government? Was Zeman in the Czech republic a
Wasn't Kucan, Slovenia's president, its Communist party boss since the early
1980's? Similarly, if you look at the ex-Soviet republics, other than in the
Baltics and Armenia, only one is ruled by a person with an insignificant rank
under the Soviet regime: Belarus. Thus, would Brzezinski argue that a single
party system a la Ataturk, and no nomenklatura leaders a la Lukashenko be a
solution for Russian woes? That is where half-baked geopolitics a la Zbig lead

Branko Milanovic
Development Research Group
World Bank, 1818 H Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20433
tel: 1-202-473-6968
fax: 1-202-522-1153
See the updated Website:


From: "Jeffrey Barrie" <>
Subject: RE: 4487-Economist/Infrastructure
Date: Sun, 3 Sep 2000 

I would like to take exception to The Economist's "Russias infrastructure
Crumble, bumble" directed at MOSCOW in JRL 4487.

The fact that "the Rublevo-Uspenskoe Shossee, known as the Rublevka, to the
north-west of Moscow, by far the best country road in all Russia," has been
true since Stalin's time. The real news is that this "elitist highway" is
now connected to Moscow proper by one of the safest and most modern city
beltways on the planet, which before the Luzhkov Administration rebuilt it
was arguably the world's most dangerous. Spanned by hundreds of futuristic
concrete and acrylic pedestrian flyways, Moscow's Outer Ring Road is a
legitimate mirace to those of us who frequently risked our lives on its

Moscow's roadbuilding infrastructure is under constant, expensive and even
dramatic reconstruction. Serious reconstruction and asphaulting of the
major spokes leading out of the city are constant features of Moscow's
night. State-of-art highway lighting is proliferating through the city like
mushrooms. The most dramatic project of all is the new "Third Ring Road"
which has now been completed between Luzhniki Stadium/Komsomolsky Proskpekt
and the Krasnopresny Expo Center -- the future sight of Yuri Luzhkov's
Moscow City. Within less than three years the New Ring Road will encircle
the city with intersections including at Prospekt Mira/Riga Station, just
east of Komsolmolsky Square, Lefortovo and Gagarin Square. A parallel urban
rail line will make it a comtemporary transportation wonder, replete with
high tech bridges and long tunnels throughout Moscow.

I find the quality, complexity and speed with which the new Ring Road is
being built staggering. Yesterday, on the occassion of Moscow Day, Luzhkov
opened a series of on/off ramps at the Kutuzovsky Prospekt interchange to
the Ring Road that are true engineering wonders. A day earlier he
christened an enormous flyway over one of the worst traffic jam points on
Prospekt Mir, and re-opened the Metro Bridge across the Moscow River leading
to University Metro Station that has been under reconstruction for almost
two years.

Moscow's infrastructural development is not confined to its roads. Fiber
optic cable systems that will offer both TV and high speed internet
connections are rapidly proliferating throughout Moscow's bedroom regions.
The existance of a backbone for this system has cushioned the shock of the
Ostankino outage for most of us served by home cable. International
telecommunications consortiums continue to work with Russian partners to
wire Moscow and its approaches with fiber optic phone connections.

One last word on the subject of highways. For years I been making multiple
trips between Moscow and a town some fifty miles east of Ivanovo, one of the
most economically depressed parts of Russia. When I began, there were no
more than fifty miles of four lane highway along this route, no lane
markers, lousy road conditions and very few gasoline stations. My last trip
was two weeks ago, and with the single exception of a yet unreconstructed
two-lane railroad bridge outside of Noginsk, the entire highway between
Moscow and Vladimir was good quality four lane, with gasoline stations
everywhere. The ring road around Vladimir to the Suzdal turnoff has just
become a first class four lane artery, and from there, through Suzdal to
Ivanovo is a very competant two-lane highway, well marked and safe. Every
small bridge on the route has been completely reconstructed over the past
two years. The highway from Ivanovo to Kinishma is four lane and in
surprisingly good shape, waiting for the completion of a new bridge, almost
complete, over the Volga into Nizny Novgoorod Region.

Crumble, bumble -- and a little humbug!


September 4, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
The format of the presidium of the Council of State, a new 
consultative agency embracing the heads of all regions, made 
public on September 2

Vladimir Putin decided not to keep the regional elite 
waiting. He signed the decree on the establishment of the 
Council of State on September 1 and announced the format of its 
leading body - presidium - the next day. It was not that easy 
to choose seven presidium members out of the 89 regional heads. 
The governors regard painfully any attempts to divide them into 
first- and second-class leaders. Suffice it to recall their 
unanimous protest against the plans of choosing only "the best 
of the best" to the Council of State. 
The Kremlin reacted by including everyone willing to the 
council. But Putin, who will chair the council, also chose 
seven governors to "tackle operational problems," or simply 
put, for guiding the work of "the governors' club." One 
representative is chosen from each of the seven federal 
districts, to hold the seat for six months, after which 
somebody else will replace him. The new group of seven will 
recommend the president what to do with the country. 
The first presidium is made up of stars, in particular the 
founding fathers of the Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) party, who 
planned to become the collective inheritors of Boris Yeltsin a 
year ago. But the inheritance went to somebody else, and this 
"somebody else" has rallied into the presidium the OVR stars:
Yuri Luzhkov (Central District), Vladimir Yakovlev 
(North-Western District), and Mintimer Shaimiyev (Volga 
District). Other presidium members will be Magomedali Magomedov 
(Chairman of the Council of State of Dagestan, Southern 
District), Tyumen governor Leonid Roketsky (Urals District), 
Tomsk governor Viktor Kress (Siberian District), and Khabarovsk 
governor Viktor Ishayev (Far Eastern District). 
The latter Big Four, although not as politically weighty 
as the Big Three, consists of highly respected governors. But 
some of them will soon have to fight to preserve their powers.
Roketsky and Ishayev are in for gubernatorial elections soon, 
and Shaimiyev will face a similar problem next March. 
The politburo will meet once a month, with the first 
session to be held in September. Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov said 
he planned to "take an active part" in the work of the 
presidium. It is difficult for normal people to understand why 
the governors wanted so much to sit on that consultative body 
and are now dying to become its presidium members. The 
absurdity of the picture is complemented with the fact that 
during the first year, the governors will combine work in the 
Council of State with their duties in the Federation Council, 
thus being legislators, executors and consultants at the same 
The explanation is very simple: Council membership can 
come in handy during elections. The thing is that all current 
bodies of power are temporary, and nobody knows what will 
happen to him or her in a few months. The reform of power, 
initiated by Vladimir Putin, will not end with the Federation 
Council. The Kremlin will soon get to work on the State Duma, 
too. The president once said that a one-house parliament 
appeals to him, and this idea will be implemented sooner or 
later (the experience of the past few months shows that it will 
be sooner). 
Besides, neither the Kremlin, nor the regional elites need 
the Federation Council as it is to become by the beginning of 
2002. Consequently, the liquidation of the Federation Council 
and the transfer of part of its powers to the Council of State 
appears to be a logical variant of developments. This is when 
the price of seats in the Council of State will change 


The Sunday Times (UK)
3 September 2000
Russian children to train for war 
Mark Franchetti, Moscow 
RUSSIAN schoolchildren are to be sent to summer military boot camps to learn 
how to dig trenches and fire Kalashnikov rifles. 

The move is part of President Vladimir Putin's campaign to restore a sense of 
national pride to the country's beleaguered armed forces. 

Basic military training was back on the curriculum for the first time since 
the Soviet era as pupils began returning from their summer holidays last 

Alongside traditional subjects such as history and maths, they will be 
obliged to attend marching lessons and special courses on how to react to 
crises such as impending nuclear attack, terrorist bombs or hostage-taking. 
There will be special drills with gas masks. 

The climax will come at the end of each summer term when all boys over the 
age of 15 will be made to spend a week at a military training camp, where 
retired army officers will teach them how to assemble and fire Kalashnikovs. 
They will also use mortars, practise various fighting techniques and dig 
trenches. Girls will be taught first aid. 

Alla Timokhovskaya, the deputy director of Moscow's school number 620, said 
the classes in "military-patriotic education" would turn pupils into better 

"We will take our kids on excursions to military bases and tank museums," she 
said. "They will receive lessons in patriotism, will study at even greater 
length the history of the second world war, and will meet veterans." 

The Kremlin hopes the classes will help improve the poor standing of the 
Russian army, which has been plagued by corruption, desertion and 
underfunding since the collapse of communism and the break-up of the Soviet 

The move comes as Putin, a Soviet-era spy and former director of the FSB - 
the successor organisation to the KGB - prepares to increase military 
spending in an effort to restore national pride in Russia's crippled armed 
forces. They have been shaken by the Kursk disaster and setbacks in the war 
against separatists in Chechnya. 

Compulsory military training and classes in patriotism were a staple diet in 
Soviet schools, where children were taught to fear the West and prepare to 
fend off a Nato invasion. The practice was abolished in 1991 by Mikhail 
Gorbachev, the last Soviet president, as he dismantled the old communist 

His successor, Boris Yeltsin, signed a decree in 1998 reintroducing the 
measures, but little effort was made to implement it. Putin, however, has 
long been a supporter of the scheme and drew up detailed guidelines on its 
implementation on December 31 last year - the day Yeltsin resigned and Putin 
was promoted from prime minister to replace him. 

While most European countries have abolished conscription, in Russia all men 
above 18 are expected to serve a full two years. Thousands of young 
conscripts have died in wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya. 

Critics have seized on Putin's plans as reinforcing their view of the 
president as a man of authoritarian leanings who regards most issues through 
the needs of national security. 

"Such initiatives to make children run around like soldiers and play with 
weapons are a full return to a Soviet military state," warned Valeria 
Novodvorskaya, a human rights campaigner who has often clashed with the 

"But since it's coming from Putin this does not surprise me. What else can we 
expect from a leader with a KGB mentality? Unless people protest and mothers 
refuse to send their kids to training camps, there is no doubt that our 
society will become more militaristic." 

Some have also questioned the need for compulsory training, given that there 
are special army training camps where parents can send their children during 
summer breaks if they wish. 

At Cascade, a summer boot camp close to Moscow, young Russians already 
undergo training that differs little from that for special forces serving in 

Clad in full camouflage uniforms, children as young as nine are put through a 
gruelling training course. It includes mock clashes and ambushes, and lessons 
in how to use weapons such as axes, knives and Kalashnikovs. Children are 
even taught how to handle a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. 

Some of the children come from broken families, and the scheme is said to 
help them out of crime-ridden neighbourhoods and into the army. 

"I teach the kids here that you can use almost anything at hand to kill an 
enemy: a stone, a piece of wood, a comb or even a spoon," said Gennady 
Karatayev, the commander. 

"Our children should not be afraid of the army. It is important to make them 
understand that it is prestigious to serve in it. 

"It is not normal that mothers should hide their children from the army when 
they are called up, while terrorists are bombing our houses." 

Additional reporting: Dimitri Beliakov 

The Guardian (UK)
4 September 2000
Before the fall 
A summer of disasters can't erase Russia's revolutionary past, when it's 
architects were among the most daring and influential in the world. 
By Jonathan Glancey

The Soviets were the first to put a satellite into orbit and the first to 
send a man into space. The first to launch a dog into space, too, but that's 
another tale. The Soviet Union that died nearly a decade ago was riddled with 
faults, yet this extraordinary state was responsible for some of the most 
radical and fascinating design of the 20th century. Think, comrades, of 
Vostok rockets, Mig Foxbat fighters and the P36 4-8-4 locomotives that hauled 
the Trans-Siberian express into the late 1970s. Or, if not of these, then the 
fashion, graphics and, above all, architecture of the period between the 
October Revolution of 1917 and Stalin's crack down on Modern buildings in the 
early 1930s. 

The ultra-capitalist Russia of today appears to have neither the money nor 
the will to maintain a public infrastructure that was once among the world's 
most impressive. Planes fall from the sky, a nuclear submarine gives up the 
ghost, a sky-piercing television mast, three times as high as London's 
British Telecom Tower, bursts into flames, while all around Moscow, 
meretricious postmodern architecture is thrown up to satisfy the swinish 
luxury of New Russians. This is tragedy and farce. 

Even so, it would be unwise to demean the Soviet achievement. Soviet 
architecture continues to inform the designs of some of the world's most 
intelligent and adventurous architects. Look at Daniel Libeskind's 
iconoclastic design for the Spiral wing of the Victoria & Albert Museum, or 
Zaha Hadid's up-and-coming Museum of Comtemporary Art in Rome. Look back half 
a century, and you'll find that the design of London's Royal Festival Hall is 
based in part on a Moscow concert hall of the early 1930s. 

The list of Soviet-inspired buildings in decidedly non-revolutionary Britain 
is as long as the Ostankino Tower was tall. Modern Movement architecture, as 
it arrived in Britain on the boat from continental Europe, was a fusion of 
ideas that had criss-crossed somewhere on the way from Moscow through Berlin 
and Paris. Some of the architects themselves came here, too. The most 
celebrated practitioner was Berthold Lubetkin (1901-90), a Georgian educated 
in Moscow, who brought with him an elegance of style, a sharp intellect and 
the labyrinthine emotional depths of the land of Dostoevsky. He designed the 
Penguin Pool (1934) at London Zoo - a modest proposition, yet in Lubetkin's 
hands one of the iconic international designs of the 1930s. Its swirling 
helical ramps and graphic impact call to mind the spirit that electrified 
such pacemaking Bolshevik designs as the vertiginous steel spiral Monument to 
the Third Communist International (1919) by the artist Vladimir Tatlin 

Not far from London Zoo are the Isokon flats in Hampstead (1934), an 
experiment in collective housing designed for left-wing intellectuals by the 
journalist-turned-architect Wells Coates. Complete with a club room designed 
by the Bauhaus emigre Marcel Breuer, the Isokon building was modelled on the 
Moscow housing block built for employees of the Finance Commisariat designed 
by Moisei Ginzburg (1892-1946). This ocean-liner housing was to inspire Le 
Corbusier, whose ideas on urban mass housing and, later, his Unite 
d'Habitation in Marseilles (1946-52), were to have a profound influence on 
social housing around the world. 

Le Corbusier, like many progressive architects of the 1920s and 30s, visited 
Soviet Russia; he designed the Tsentrosoyuz office building (1928-36) in 
Moscow, and was one of the many international architects who entered the 
competition for Stalin's new Palace of the Soviets held between 1931 and 
1933. The palace was never built - which was just as well, since the winning 
design was for an abomination of a building, capped with a 300ft statue of 

The sheer inventiveness of the architects of the early "heroic" Soviet era, 
between the end of the first world war and 1932, remains both remarkable and 
a visual treat. It was a brief flowering, yet it sowed its seeds 
internationally. How did such an extraordinary architecture emerge? After the 
fall of the Romanovs in 1917 and the German surrender a year later, there was 
an outburst of can-do passion and energy and much the same sort of feeling 
that must have been experienced in Paris in 1789: with the old order turned 
upside down, anything could happen. 

The work of Soviet Modernists was characterised by a love of breaking the 
grid of conventional buildings, by the intrusion of sudden diagonal or 
spiralling elements, by a daring use of giant, sloganeering graphics, by 
dramatic intersections and even collisions of the various parts of wilfully 
abstract buildings. This was architecture as Soviet propaganda for liberation 
from bourgeois norms, a way of building as shocking at the time as the new 
wave of Soviet cinema and graphic design. 

The first physical expression most foreigners saw of this new spirit was the 
Soviet pavilion at the 1925 Art Deco exhibition held in Paris. Designed by 
Konstantin Melnikov (1890-1974), this was a cleverly deconstructed red, black 
and grey timber box shot through with an inside-outside diagonal stair. The 
entrance was topped with a hammer-and-sickle motif. Melnikov went on to build 
the only private house allowed in Moscow at the time. This was his own home 
and studio (1927-9), a curious circular concrete tower pierced with elongated 
honeycomb pattern windows. It survives; the architect's son lives there 

More importantly, Melnikov was responsible for the development of a series of 
distinctive workers' clubs for political education and training in Moscow. 
His aggressive Rusakov Club (1927-9) for employees of the Moscow City Soviet, 
and the brilliant geometric play that is the Zuev Club (1927-9) for Moscow's 
tram workers, designed by Ilia Golosov (1883-1945), set a new standard for 
public buildings. Which city now would commission such radical and 
intelligent architecture for workers? Certainly not today's dizzy, disco- and 
dollar-crazy Moscow. 

Radical designs just made it into the 1930s before Stalin squeezed the 
country in his lethal bear hug. He imposed his school of Socialist Realism in 
architecture - as in music, art and literature - by decree in 1932; 
individual architectural practices were abolished and all work was to be 
organised through the Union of Soviet Architects. The revolutionary dream was 
officially over. 

Of course, many exuberant, if bombastic, buildings were constructed between 
1932 and Stalin's death 21 years later: the Moscow Metro, richer than any 
babushka's plum cake; the seven wedding-cake towers encircling Moscow's city 
centre; the grand apartment blocks of Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad (the 
last obliterated during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-5). The breathtaking 
Lomonosov State University complex of the early 1950s was designed by a team 
led by Lev Rudnev (1885-1956); previously he had also designed the daunting 
Frunze Military Academy (1937), Moscow, to symbolise the might, real or not 
at the time, of the Red Army. 

Almost all of these buildings, Constructivist or Classical, Suprematist or 
Stalinist, are still standing. They should remind us not just that the former 
Soviet Union is not as crumbly as so many like to believe this disastrous 
summer, but that it once challenged the world with its revolutionary 


Financial Times (UK)
4 September 2000
Russia plans companies code
By Andrew Jack in Moscow
Russia's federal securities commission, the national stock market watchdog, 
plans to launch a corporate governance code for business over the next three 
years backed by legislation designed to ensure that it is enforced. 

The code would cover questions of financial transparency by Russian 
companies, the protection of minority shareholders' rights, conflicts of 
interest, the role of independent directors, management remuneration, the 
conduct of annual general meetings and elections to the board. 

The concept of "corporate governance" - which has become widely discussed in 
countries including the US, the UK, France and Japan over the past few years 
- is still poorly understood in Russia, where abuses by large as well as 
smaller companies remain widespread. 

Igor Kostikov, the commission's chairman appointed earlier this year by 
President Vladimir Putin, said in an interview that the code - by contrast 
with those in a number of other countries - should be accompanied by a number 
of legislative amendments to ensure that it is legally enforceable. 

In the first instance, the aim would be to force quoted companies to state 
publicly how far they have complied with a voluntary code, but that over the 
next 18 months discussions would begin on how to convert aspects of it into 
new legislation. 

Work on drafting a code for Russia has already been under way for a number of 
months in conjunction with institutions including the Organisation for 
Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Bank. 

However, the timetable has already slipped and Mr Kostikov said he would now 
like to see a draft code ready by summer next year, pending funding of 
"several million dollars" of aid for legal drafting and education campaigns 
brokered through organisations including the European Bank for Reconstruction 
and Development. 

The current objective is to draft a first version of the code in time for the 
annual general meetings of Russian companies for 2001, while launching a 
discussion among market professionals, investors and business school students 
over the concept. 

Mr Kostikov said that "corporate governance" was poorly translated at present 
into Russian as "corporate management". 

Mr Kostikov said he would prefer to introduce a new term such as "corporate 


Japan tells Russian business to clean up

TOKYO, Sept 4 (AFP) - 
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori told Russia Monday to clean up its act if it 
wants investment from wary Japanese business leaders, who have already had 
their fingers burned.

Mori urged Russian President Vladimir Putin, who arrived here Sunday for 
three days of talks, to intervene over a raft of deals gone awry, according 
to a Japanese government official.

Direct Japanese investment in Russia totalled a meagre 152 million dollars in 
1999 compared to world investment in Russia of 12.8 billion dollars, 
according to official Japanese figures.

He complained about a Russian company that forcibly took control of a 
Russian-Japanese joint venture -- the Santa Resort Hotel in the island of 
Sakhalin -- in 1993.

"Japanese business leaders recognise and value that Russia is potentially a 
big market," Mori told the Russian president in their second round of talks 
in central Tokyo's Akasaka Guest House.

"But disputes over Far Eastern joint ventures in Russia, including one over 
Santa Resort Hotel, are casting a negative shadow," he added.

"I hope for the president's strong leadership in this matter."

He also cited disputes over a total 800 million dollars in Japanese export 
guarantees extended in 1993 to a truck factory in Kamaz, near Moscow and an 
oil processing plant in Yaroslavl, northeast of Moscow.

"It is essential that we resolve these problems one by one in order to 
further promote trade between the two countries," he said.

Putin recognised the problem, said the Japanese government official, who was 
present at the talks.

"Japan is the 13th largest investor in Russia and there are some problems in 
the investment environment in our country," the Russian leader was quoted as 

"We have problems over an undeveloped legal environment. I hope Japan 
understands that Russia will further improve its response to these problems," 
Putin added.

The Russian president expressed interest in building a natural gas pipeline 
from the huge oil and gas reserves in the southern island Sakhalin to 
consumers in Japan.

"Judgement must lie with private companies," Mori told Putin, who is 
scheduled to meet with Japanese business leaders shortly before his departure 
on Tuesday.

"These projects do not go ahead unless they are seen as being profitable. I 
hope you will have thorough talks with Japanese business leaders," the 
Japanese prime minister said.


Russia's Berezovsky says Putin threatens free press
By Ron Popeski

MOSCOW, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Businessman Boris Berezovsky said on Monday the 
Kremlin was pressing him to surrender shares he controls in a nationwide 
television channel and accused President Vladimir Putin of threatening press 

Berezovsky, in a letter to Putin quoted by Interfax news agency, said he 
rejected an ``ultimatum'' issued by a Kremlin aide to transfer to the state 
within two weeks a 49 percent interest in ORT public television -- one of 
three nation-wide channels. 

``If I agree to the ultimatum, television information will cease to exist in 
Russia and be replaced by television propaganda, controlled by your 
advisers,'' Interfax quoted Berezovsky as saying in the letter. 

``By issuing this ultimatum to me, you have in essence put an important 
question before the country -- do non-state media have the right to exist in 

Berezovsky, who controls the shares through various business interests, said 
he would turn over the shares to journalists and other intellectuals. 
Berezovsky, his channel saddled with debt, suggested Putin do the same with 
state-controlled shares to make ORT a truly ``public'' television. 

Interfax quoted a Kremlin source as saying Berezovsky's proposal was welcome, 
provided he stuck to it. 

``Lately, he has been having difficulty with ORT shares and constantly 
shifting, looking for a way out,'' the source was quoted as saying. 


After decades of turgid, controlled Soviet media, television is an important 
source of information for millions of people in Russia. Control of the 
airwaves is critical in forming public opinion and setting out the role of 
business in sprawling Russia, the world's largest country by land mass. 

In his letter, Berezovsky said ORT was the sole channel to escape Kremlin 
control now that the head of private NTV television, Vladimir Gusinsky, had 
left the country after being briefly jailed. 

He said the president was unhappy with ORT's coverage of the sinking of the 
Kursk nuclear submarine with the loss of 118 lives and wanted to take control 
of the channel. 

The Kremlin, he suggested, was resorting to ``threats and blackmail,'' which 
only underscored weakness and inconsistency. 

``You know me quite well and therefore should not be surprised to learn that 
I will not submit to diktat,'' he said. 

Closely allied to Putin's predecessor and mentor Boris Yeltsin, Berezovsky 
opposed many of the new Kremlin leader's plans to consolidate central 
control, particularly campaigns to rein in business and regional leaders. He 
quit parliament in July and vowed to form a constructive opposition to the 

He exerted great influence over ORT, which until recently unfailingly backed 
the Kremlin. Its support was very strong in last year's general election, 
which led to Yeltsin's resignation, Putin's rise to power and subsequent 
election in March. 

State RTR television has since emerged as the Kremlin's favoured voice. It 
was granted almost exclusive close-up access in covering the Kursk disaster. 

The subsequent fire at Moscow's Ostankino television tower, which crippled 
television coverage throughout Russia, further underscored networks' 
dependence on the good will of authority. 

Berezovsky and NTV's Gusinsky, though often rivals, showed the power of 
television in the 1996 presidential election, fully supporting Yeltsin to 
help defeat a Communist challenger. 

But the two magnates have been engaged in difficult negotiations to deal with 
mounting debts. NTV had $211 million in debts to creditors paid off by 
Russian gas monopoly Gazprom and ORT's debts include an outstanding credit of 
$100 million. 

Gusinsky's detention in June for three days in the notorious Butyrskaya jail, 
on embezzlement charges, was widely seen as an attempt to silence his 
channel's frequent criticism of the Kremlin. 

In his letter, Berezovsky said the Kremlin aide had told him he would 
``follow Gusinsky'' if he failed to hand over his shares, which he assumed 
was a reference to Butyrskaya jail. He said Gusinsky had in effect been 
expelled from Russia. 


The Globe and Mail (Canada)
4 September 2000
Moscow denounces U.S. threat in spy flap
Moscow Bureau

Moscow -- A bitter dispute over an alleged American spy is fuelling new 
tensions between Moscow and Washington, culminating in an extraordinary U.S. 
threat of economic pressure against Russia.

Russian politicians are angrily accusing Washington of "blackmail" for its 
threat to discourage Americans from travelling to Russia unless the Kremlin 
frees Edmond Pope from a Moscow jail.

On the weekend, parliamentary speaker Gennady Seleznyov warned the United 
States not to interfere in the charges against Mr. Pope.

"If Pope's guilt is proven, then he will have to answer before the law," he 

In an echo of Cold War tactics, some Russian analysts say the Kremlin could 
try to swap Mr. Pope for convicted spy Aldrich Ames. 
Mr. Ames is a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who is serving a 
life prison term in the United States for passing secrets to the former 
Soviet Union's secret service from 1985 to 1993.

The controversy also is casting a shadow over a planned meeting between 
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Bill Clinton during a 
United Nations summit in New York later this week.

It coincides with another surge in anti-Western rhetoric from Russian 
politicians and military leaders, many of whom claim that a Western submarine 
caused the sinking of a Russian nuclear submarine and the deaths of 118 
crewmen last month.

The spy dispute began in April when Russia's Federal Security Services (FSB), 
the successor to the Soviet KGB, arrested Mr. Pope on espionage charges. They 
accused him of covertly meeting Russian scientists and trying to buy secret 
torpedo technology.

Mr. Pope, 54, is a businessman and retired U.S. naval intelligence officer 
who travelled often to Russia and had created two private companies to 
acquire Russian marine technologies for commercial uses in the West.

After almost five months in the infamous Lefortovo Prison, where political 
prisoners and foreign spies are traditionally kept, Mr. Pope is said to be 
weak and in deteriorating health. His wife, who visited him last week, said 
he has lost 30 pounds and is not getting proper treatment for a thyroid 
condition and a rare form of bone cancer that is in remission but needs 
constant monitoring.

He faces a 20-year prison term if he is convicted on the espionage charges. 
No trial date has been set, although the FSB says it has completed its 

The United States has repeatedly proclaimed Mr. Pope's innocence, and more 
than 140 members of Congress have demanded his release from prison.

In an unusual pressure tactic, Washington escalated its campaign by 
threatening to issue a formal warning about travel to Russia. It would 
discourage Americans from visiting Russia, damaging tourism and investment.

Washington argues that the jailing of Mr. Pope demonstrates that other 
Americans might not be safe in Russia. "We're examining the implications of 
this [case] for other Americans, business people who might travel to Russia, 
and we are looking at the consular information that we provide," U.S. State 
Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.

The Russian government has reacted with outrage to the U.S. threat, calling 
it an "especially worrying" development. "Attempts to put pressure on the 
investigating and judicial bodies do not add to the prestige of the United 
States," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a terse statement.

"What we are witnessing is a new manifestation of double standards. The U.S. 
authorities show no lenience to people convicted on similar charges inside 
the United States, whatever the state of their health, but expect other 
countries to use a different approach."

Sergei Shishkarev, deputy chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the 
lower house of the Russian parliament, termed the U.S. threat "open 
blackmail" against Russia. "It's time for the Americans to learn to lose with 
dignity," he told a Russian news agency.

The Russian media also have lashed back at Washington, denouncing the threat 
as an unprecedented case of "hard-line pressure" by the U.S. administration, 
probably motivated by the politics of the U.S. election season this fall.

"Russia has in effect been issued with an ultimatum: either Pope is freed or 
business contacts are curtailed," the daily newspaper Kommersant commented. 
"People at the Russian Foreign Ministry could not remember a case where the 
Americans had raised an ordinary spy scandal to such a high level."

It said the Kremlin is in a dilemma because it does not want a quarrel with 
Washington, yet it also does not want to appear to be yielding to U.S. 

Another Moscow newspaper put great emphasis on a scheduled trip to Moscow 
this month by Louis Freeh, chief of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. 
The visit could lead to a deal to swap Mr. Pope for Mr. Ames, the newspaper 
said, citing confidential sources.

While the Americans have argued that Mr. Pope was trying to purchase 
20-year-old Russian technology that is sold on the open market, the Russians 
have described the technology as a secret weapon, similar to the Squall 
torpedoes that were reportedly being tested on the nuclear submarine Kursk 
when it blew up and sank in the Barents Sea last month. Some reports say the 
Squall is the fastest torpedo in the world.

The FSB has launched a publicity campaign to defend its case against Mr. 
Pope. According to the FSB, Mr. Pope paid large sums of foreign currency to a 
Russian scientist to obtain secret information on a Russian high-speed 
underwater rocket that can travel as fast as 100 metres per second.

This weapon, which can destroy a modern warship, has been eagerly sought by 
the U.S. military, the FSB said in a statement. It said Mr. Pope deliberately 
met his Russian contacts in different locations to avoid the FSB's 

On the weekend, the FSB also disclosed that a second American, a 68-year-old 
man, had been arrested at the same time as Mr. Pope, but had been released 
because of his old age. This showed that the FSB often considers "principles 
of humanity" in deciding who to arrest, a Moscow radio station said.

The FSB said that doctors have examined Mr. Pope more than 10 times since his 
arrest and that his health is fine. But U.S. officials say the Russians have 
refused to allow Mr. Pope to be examined by a doctor from the U.S. embassy.

A Moscow court is scheduled to hear Mr. Pope's latest appeal for release on 
Sept. 11.


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