Center for Defense Information
Research Topics
CDI Library
What's New
CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List


September 10, 2000    
This Date's Issues: 4502    

Johnson's Russia List
10 September 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
1. The Sunday Times (UK): Matthew Campbell, Bush's ice maiden 
targets Russia. (Condoleeza Rice)

2. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): John Keegan, Memories of Red 
glory, reality of ineptitude.

3. The Russia Journal: Nikolai Shmelyov, Russia doesnít want 
another bloody revolution.

4. Reuters: Influential Russian political show pulled from TV.

6. AFP: Army cuts are modest start to Russian military reform: 

7. Ray Thomas: re Menshikov/Economic Outlook/4501.
8. Washington Post: Jim Hoagland, Trying Not to Be Gorbachev.
9. Russia Journal: Andrei Piontkovsky, A bench for the president.
("Meditation on Putin hysterics in wake of Kursk crisis.")

10. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): Guy Chazan, Votes for sale 
in the Duma, says Russian banker.

11. Robert Bruce Ware: King Interview and Dagestani Vote/4501.
12. Moscow Times: Diederik Lohman, Putin in Vidyayevo.]


The Sunday Times (UK)
10 September 2000
Bush's ice maiden targets Russia 
Matthew Campbell, Palo Alto 

THE Kremlin may feel a Siberian chill from Washington if America's 
Republican presidential candidate moves into the White House next year. 
George W Bush's top foreign policy adviser says the days of financial 
assistance to Russia will be over. 

Condoleeza Rice, 45, an academic widely expected to become America's first 
black national security adviser if George W Bush wins in November, believes 
America should halt assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to 
Moscow until Russia puts its house in order. 

Her comments are likely to depress Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, who 
was trying to woo hearts, minds and investment on a visit to America last 
week. He appeared on a television show in New York, expressing "optimism" 
over the Russia policies of both presidential candidates. He has obviously 
not yet met Rice. 

"They [the Russians] took the money and didn't reform anything," she said in 
an interview, referring to broken promises from Moscow to usher in market 
reforms in exchange for IMF money. "Russia has a lot of work to do before you 
want even to think about IMF assistance." 

The West has pumped more than £15 billion into Russia since the collapse of 
communism. Billions have allegedly been diverted into offshore accounts by 
corrupt officials. Instead of entering the fold of European democracies, 
Russia is displaying its authoritarian colours, says Rice, with leaders 
reminiscent of the tsars. 

Sipping coffee at a tidy desk on the campus of Stanford University in 
California, Rice laid into Putin for failing to interrupt his Black Sea 
holiday to deal with the Kursk submarine disaster. "He didn't know what to 
do. My guess is that this has hurt him," she said. 

Putin, on a charm offensive in New York after the United Nations millennium 
summit on Friday, acknowledged that it would have looked better if he had 
removed himself from the beach. In an interview with Larry King, the chat 
show host, Putin said he hoped President Bill Clinton's "positive" approach 
to Russia would continue, whoever won the election. He may be disappointed. 

Under a Bush administration, said Rice, Russia would have "to make its way to 
whatever it's going to become largely on its own". She added: "The days for 
assistance are largely over." 

She savaged the Clinton administration's "very romantic view of Russia", 
under which the White House continued backing "reformers" even as they waged 
a brutal counter-insurgency campaign in Chechnya and siphoned off IMF funds. 
"They [the IMF] just kept pumping the money in," said Rice. "They [the 
Russians] would find some way to cook the books." 

Rice, who served as a Soviet expert on the National Security Council in the 
last Bush administration, said that Al Gore, the Democrat candidate, was 
tainted by dealings with Russia and suggested that Bush would use this to 
attack him in the presidential campaign. 

As vice-president, Gore developed a close relationship with Viktor 
Chernomyrdin, the former Russian prime minister, despite a CIA report 
claiming that the former head of the Soviet gas industry was corrupt. "It's 
not that Gore shouldn't have talked to the prime minister of Russia," said 
Rice. "But did he really have to certify him as a reformer?" 

Often accused of lacking experience in foreign affairs, Bush has found in 
Rice, who was Stanford's youngest provost, a formidable guide in the 
minefield of international diplomacy. 

A humble background as the only child of a preacher brought up in Alabama at 
the height of the civil rights movement makes Rice a triumph of ability over 
racial divisions. Like the Gulf war hero General Colin Powell, who is also 
tipped for high office in a Bush administration, she is an extremely useful 
ally in wooing minority voters. 

Her mother, a church organist, infused her with a love of music - her name 
derives from the Italian musical term con dolcezza, to perform "with 
sweetness" - and the young Rice toyed with a career as a concert pianist 
before becoming a university professor at 26 and a White House Kremlinologist 
a decade later. 

These days Rice, known as "Condy" to friends, is honing what she hopes will 
become the foreign policy blueprint of the next White House team: a tougher 
stance on Russia, including support for a more expansive "son of star wars" 
missile defence system; greater backing for opposition groups fighting to 
topple Iraq's Saddam Hussein; less American military involvement in "other 
people's civil wars"; and the encouragement of British influence in shaping 
the policies of the European Union. 

She says "the United States should not try to appear [to Britain] as an 
alternative to Europe", because America wants "the British version of 
economics to have a strong foothold in the European Union". 

A lean, athletic-looking figure, Rice talks almost daily to Bush as he 
prepares for televised debates with Gore; and her tutorials appear to be 
having some effect. 

With a gap-toothed grin, Rice dismisses concerns about Bush's lack of 
qualifications by comparing him with his father, America's leader in the Gulf 
war. She says that, when she worked in the White House, the senior Bush 
"didn't sit around debating the ins and outs of Russian politics with me" but 
was a master of personal diplomacy.His son, she added, shared that skill. So, 
it seems, does Rice. 


The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
9 September 2000
Memories of Red glory, reality of ineptitude
By John Keegan, Defence Editor
THE announcement yesterday by the Russian Defence Minister, Igor Sergeyev, 
that Russia's armed forces are to be reduced in size by a third over the next 
three years has been long expected.

In July 1997, Boris Yeltsin decreed a halving of the armed forces, to be 
carried out by Gen Sergeyev, who had just been appointed to the Defence 
Ministry. The International Institute of Strategic Studies' Military Balance 
then commented that the decree "appeared to acknowledge reality, not herald a 
rigorous programme of action".

The Kursk submarine disaster was a direct result of underfunded maintenance 
programmes. Kursk, moreover, was an operational ship. Such formerly closed 
ports as Sebastapol are crammed with laid-up submarines, on which the only 
sign of activity is a lazily flapping ensign of the St Andrew's cross.

Even in reserve the rusting fleet consumes money. As it dribbles away, there 
is decreasingly enough to spend on the forces which really require funding, 
the armoured divisions, fighter squadrons and, above all, the strategic 
nuclear force.

Russia's second military problem is lack of manpower. As many as half the 
conscripts called up do not report for duty. Pay is not the problem, for the 
conscripts receive only a pittance. Young men dodge the column partly because 
service is no longer seen as a patriotic duty, but also because military 
service is loathed and feared by young men and their parents alike. The long 
tradition of brutal bullying of juniors by senior conscripts, sometimes 
resulting in death, has not been stamped out.

Russia's ill-conducted wars in the provinces, most recently Chechnya, bring 
further deaths. Parents with any influence wangle exemptions for their 
children. Poor but streetwise boys disappear into the black economy. It is 
only the dim and underprivileged who end up in the ranks.

Russia's most enlightened regular officers recognise that redemption of the 
once-great national institution to which they belong lies in 
professionalisation. Many branches are already employing what are called 
"contract" servicemen, the equivalent of regulars. They are over-represented 
in the elite airborne and special forces units, which achieve such successes 
as have been won in Chechnya.

Russia really needs to go the way of Western Europe's armed forces which, 
traditionally raised by conscription, are now becoming all-regular. France 
has announced that its services will be all-regular by 2012, Germany is 
following suit, and Italy and Spain are proceeding in the same direction. The 
Anglo-American system, of small, highly trained, well-paid professionals, is 
now accepted as the model for any military establishment which wishes to 
remain viable and credible.

President Putin has said that Russia must have smaller, more professional 
forces and, though he did not announce a move to regularisation, he appears 
to accept by implication that it is unavoidable. His trouble is how to get 
from here to there. At the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had half a 
million officers, perhaps as many effective servicemen of all ranks as it has 
today. Many of them hang on, with nothing to do. Others are on pension, but 
still a drain on the defence budget.

Regularisation is always an expensive exercise. To fund it requires precisely 
the sort of capital surplus Russia does not have on hand. Moreover, while 
semi-employed old-timers burden the ranks, morale suffers. A clean sweep 
would make for renewed military enthusiasm. As things are, the Russian army 
remains stuck between memories of Red glory and current ineptitude.

No doubt a way out will be found. Among all historically large European 
armies, Russia's has no record, as do the German and French, of illegality or 
disobedience. It was as loyal to Stalin as it was the Tsars. Its tradition is 
of grandeur but also servitude. Russia needs an army with such a tradition. 
The weak governments of its former Central Asian empire, challenged by 
fanatic fundamentalists, cannot survive without Russian military support. It 
has its own internal subversives, particularly the Chechens whom Russians 
regard as hereditary criminals.

On its distant Siberian frontier, the vast Chinese People's Liberation Army 
stands watch. Neither the PLA nor the Beijing government is in aggressive 
mode. Power, however, abhors a vacuum and much of eastern Russia remains, in 
the historic memory of the Chinese, theirs. The announcement of Russian 
military reductions ought therefore to be welcomed in the West. They are the 
first stage in the rebuilding of a military force in which ordinary Russians 
will be able to take pride once more.

Strong armies commanded by aggressive leaders are a menace to their 
neighbours. Weak armies held in contempt by a disgruntled population are 
equally dangerous. Russians are disgruntled, and with reason. They have 
suffered the sharpest decline in economic and military power experienced by a 
great European people. No sensible person in the West wants to see a new Red 
Army, flexing its muscles to win respect. It must be hoped that the Sergeyev 
reforms take early effect.


The Russia Journal
September 9-15, 2000
Russia doesnít want another bloody revolution
By Nikolai Shmelyov, director of the Institute for Europe
Stability is key to economic growth and development.
A lot of people call Russia a historically doomed nation. If I switch off
my emotions and think logically, it seems I have to agree. 

The Pugachev rebellion took place here; collectivization happened here with
the help of the poor peasants themselves; and the Gulag system was run not
by machines, but by people made of flesh and blood. The list could go on,
and it would all be true. But there is a reason for the state we have got
ourselves into, and hope remains nonetheless.

Russia has lived through catastrophes of a kind hitherto unknown in world
history, where a country-turned-cannibal killed off a third ­ and best part
­ of its own population. Biologists think that this genetic damage, the
scars of this massacre that began in 1917 and ended in 1953, including
World War II, will take five generations of living in normal conditions
before being repaired. 

This means that Russian society will recover only somewhere in the mid-21st
century. I hope that the creative instinct will take the upper hand. We are
no worse than anyone else, and I think the West understands this.

The world needs a stable Russia, a country busy with its own affairs and a
balance to other centers of power. The world wants a quiet Russia, one that
isnít a source of fear. Itís better to have a calm and wealthy neighbor
than an unpredictable one. The United States knows that the policy of Henry
Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski ­ who wanted to wipe this monster from
the map of the world and have it cease to exist as a historical,
geographical, political and military phenomenon ­ is doomed to failure. 

I donít have any universal recipe to offer Russia, its president or
government. The first thing we need is political stability, some kind of
guarantee that there will be no more crises of the kind that took place in
1992 or 1998. Change mustnít be too drastic in nature. And there has to be
certainty that economic matters wonít fall into the hands of soldiers with

As for state regulation of the economy, I wouldnít be afraid of the word
Gosplan, rather, I would welcome it. We have been living without any
picture, any idea of where it is weíre heading. Every economy needs its
general headquarters, and we need a plan outlining structural and
industrial policy. 

What is state regulation anyway? Sometimes, itís forced intervention in the
economy, and sometimes this is necessary. The United States, for example,
has the anti-monopoly regulation that made it possible to pressure
Microsoft boss Bill Gates into breaking his single company into several
pieces. State regulation is a collection of economic instruments that
includes budget, tax and monetary policy. The stupidity of todayís
situation is that people donít understand that our economy needs these
things. Look at Japan, it has a developed economy and more state regulation
than we do.

And donít forget that the unstable and chaotic state of our economy plays
into the hands of robber capitalists ­ from street criminals to commercial
bigwigs ­ who have become used to making money out of thin air. So long as
this situation continues, optimism is difficult. 

The latest economic development statistics give hope, but if we take a more
global view, then weíre still at about 70th place in the world for overall
economic performance. Itís insulting, but then, we have ended up in a
unique situation. The challenges we face were resolved by developed
countries a long time ago. 

But we need to have at least a minimum of optimism if we are to overcome
our troubles. One good sign is that some Western banks are beginning to
trust us more. A year and a half ago, they made use of only 4 percent of
the bank capital quota allocated to foreign banks; now they have increased
this to the maximum 12 percent. I will believe that things are improving
not only when I see General Motors and Chevron investing, but also when I
see small- and medium-sized foreign investors coming in.

If we keep our society stable, then by 2010, our economic indicators will
have reached their 1990 levels. We can make this happen, and 1917 isnít
going to repeat itself in Russian history. Weíve already seen enough blood,
and people donít want another revolution. This is perhaps the greatest
achievement of our tragic history.


Influential Russian political show pulled from TV
By Peter Graff

MOSCOW, Sept 9 (Reuters) - One of Russia's most influential television 
programmes was pulled from the air on Saturday, the latest volley in a 
bruising battle for the country's airwaves that has pitted the Kremlin 
against once powerful media bosses. 

Konstantin Ernst, director of ORT television, said in a statement he had 
replaced the weekly Sergei Dorenko Show with a regular news broadcast because 
Dorenko had refused to keep silent on a tussle for control of the station's 

But Dorenko told Ekho Moskvy radio he thought the order had come from 
President Vladimir Putin himself. 

``Ersnt cannot take such a decision himself,'' Dorenko said. ``I meet with 
the president once a month, and without his decision, nobody can touch a hair 
on my head.'' 

Dorenko's often stridently political show was the flagship programme on ORT, 
once the main state broadcaster of the Soviet Union, now 49 percent owned by 
businessman Boris Berezovsky, who has been feuding with the Kremlin for 
control of his share. 

Although the other 51 percent of ORT is held by the state, Berezovsky says he 
has called the shots at the station for years. Dorenko is Berezovsky's close 
ally, and the cancelling of his show will be seen as a setback for the 


In an unusual twist, officials at ORT's heated rival, commercial channel NTV, 
initially said they planned to show portions of Dorenko's programme 

``We can't show the entire programme, because it is the property of ORT, but 
we are planning to give the airwaves to Dorenko and let him show excerpts,'' 
NTV Editor in Chief Vladimir Kulistikov told Reuters. 

In the end, NTV did not show excerpts of Dorenko's show, but broadcast 
portions of an interview he gave to Ekho Moskvy, NTV's sister radio station. 

ORT did not mention the scandal in the newscast that replaced Dorenko's 

Dorenko said the transcript of his programme was available on his website 
( By Saturday evening the full text had not been posted, but the 
title of the first report on the cancelled programme was listed as ``The 
Kremlin against society.'' 

The main television networks are virtually the only nation-wide sources of 
information in a country spread across eleven time zones. 

Berezovsky's battle for his stake in ORT has turned into a noisy row at a 
time when Putin has made clear he intends to rein in the country's commercial 

This week Berezovsky said Kremlin aides had threatened to jail him if he did 
not relinquish his stake. Instead, he offered to give control of his shares 
in trust for four years to a group of journalists and intellectuals. 

The Kremlin did not comment on Berezovsky's claim he was threatened, but 
Putin has praised his offer to relinquish control of his stake. 

Ernst's statement said he had cancelled Dorenko's show after the journalist 
refused ``to refrain from commentary on the conflict between the state and 
private shareholders in (ORT).'' 

But Dorenko told Ekho Moskvy he thought Putin was personally angered by his 
reporting on last month's Kursk submarine disaster, in which 118 men died. 

``I went to (the Kursk's base) Vidyayevo and did my reporting, not hiding my 
interviews with the widows and those who served alongside the victims. 
(Putin) came back from America and gave his answer,'' Dorenko said. 

Putin has said it is important for Russia to have a ``free'' press, but he 
has fiercely attacked the businessmen who own the country's commercial media, 
saying they use the airwaves to settle business scores and battle ``against 
the state.'' 



Krasnoyarsk, Russia, 9th September: Krasnoyarsk region governor Aleksandr
Lebed, a former Russian security chief, on Saturday set up a party to
campaign for the economic independence of the vast region rich in natural

The party follows a personal initiative by Lebed, the regional
administration's press service told Interfax. 

One reason for the Union's emergence are changes to Russian tax legislation
[due] to come into force next year. Under them the Krasnoyarsk
administration would have to deduct a large part of its revenues for the
national treasury. 

It is expected that the majority of leading local businessmen and
politicians will join the Union. 

Those who join will have to sign an address to the local population which
says the group is not a political organization but a "moral union of people
who may disagree on many points except for one - none of us are indifferent
to what will happen to Krasnoyarsk territory". 

"Today the territory lives off its own means: it is humiliating to beg.
Especially for a territory like ours. Moreover, they may give us nothing,"
the address says. "We must do everything to preserve the territory as an
economically independent region. And all of us will have to work for this." 

Lebed promised to consult Union members on vital local issues. 

At the Union's founding meeting, the address was signed by Lebed,
Krasnoyarsk Mayor Petr Pimashkov, members of the local legislature and the
leaders of the local branches of several political parties, including the


Army cuts are modest start to Russian military reform: experts

MOSCOW, Sept 10 (AFP) - 
A 30 percent cut in Russia's once proud military is only a first step towards 
radical reforms needed to create the efficient new model army envisioned by 
President Vladimir Putin, experts say.

Today, the 1.2 million-strong Russian armed forces are a pale imitation of 
the once mighty Soviet Red Army which boasted four million men under arms in 
its Cold War heyday.

A decade of helter-skelter economic reform has seen the defence budget 
shrivel leaving a legacy of poor equipment, poor training and plummeting 
living standards which have sent morale to rock bottom.

Military experts say the limitations of the largely conscript armed forces, 
bloated by non-combat or paper divisions, has been highlighted by the failure 
to crush rebels in Chechnya despite a massive 11-month crackdown.

Russia's sharp decline was given tragic illustration last month during the 
Kursk nuclear submarine disaster, which cost 118 lives.

A humiliated Putin was force to accept international offers to mount an 
ultimately vain bid to save the men, an incident many experts believe 
hardened the Kremlin chief's desire to embark on radical change.

"I think it's more than a coincidence," said Paul Beaver, spokesman for the 
British defence analysis group Jane's. "I think it (the Kursk disaster) has 
made a huge difference to them."

Under-threat Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev last week said Russia would axe 
350,000 from the ranks by 2003, the bulk coming from the land forcesfollowed 
by the navy, airforce and interior ministry.

In addition, the strategic missile force will be almost halved from 22 
divisions to 12 by 2006, and incorporated into the airforce.

"I think the penny has finally begun to drop that they need quality not 
quantity and that Russia is not under threat," said Beaver.

"Nobody is going to invade it ... Russia probably needs an army no greater 
than 450,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen," he said.

That should give the remaining 850,000 men a bigger share of the seven 
billion defence budget, but independent Russian analyst Pavel Felgenhauer 
remained sceptical.

"Cuts to the armed forces are not enough on their own. You can have a small 
army which is totally inefficient and incompetent, like in Congo.

"An army's professionalism does not depend on its force levels. It depends on 
efficient and reliable training and that doesn't exist in Russia," he said.

Political commentator Sergei Markov said Putin was the main driving force 
behind the reforms, whose main weakness was "that they have been drawn up by 
Russian, one could even say Soviet, generals, which explains their defects."

These include failure to impose a civilian as defence minister (Sergeyev is a 
marshal) or tackle hazing. Of the 3,000 non-combat deaths each year, 28 
percent are suicides, say servicemen's support groups.

But while the current plans, drawn up by Chief of Staff General Anatoly 
Kvashnin are seen as part of a drive to create a leaner, better-funded 
conventional force, experts warn the job losses will not save money in the 

"The cost of cutting an infantry regiment is equal to one and a half times 
its annual maintenance cost," said Yury Gladkevich, an analyst with the 
respected AVN military news agency.

Plans to raise funds by allowing the military to engage in commercial 
enterprises such as training brought various degrees of derision from 
analysts, who noted previous schemes had engendered monstrous corruption.

Nevertheless, Putin's reputation for seeing things through gives the military 
its best chance in a decade of effecting a root and branch overhaul, say 

"I think it's a good first step towards a new Russian model army," said 
Beaver. "But the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. We have to see 
just how efficient they are."


From: (Ray Thomas)
Subject: Menshikov/Economic Outlook/4501
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2000 

Stan Menshikov says that rouble profits can easily be converted in dollars
and stored in Russia? Surely the only safe place to store dollars in
Russia is hidden in a mattress in a flat protected by a steel reinforced

Is is safe to store substantial amounts of dollars in any Russian bank?
Putin himself won't actually appropriate the dollars. But there is a good
chance that the bank will just be instructed to pay them back only in

Do Russian banks respect the privacy of deposits? Evidence of
profitability is an invitation to the tax authorities and Mafia alike to
ensure that they have their share.

These are the reasons why $13 billion (on an annual basis) earned inside
Russia is 'invested' abroad. Russian firms and other firms operating in
Russia will go to any lengths to keep their working capital abroad in an
independent banking system. 

Meshikof is right to point out that unless this money is redirected to
productive domestic use, the Russian economy will never have a solid basis
for sustainable growth. But this is an understatement. The 'capital
flight' is both a symptom of the lack of an independent banking system in
Russian and a factor that prevents the establishment of an independent
banking system.

It is a pity that Tony Blair did not explain to Putin that one of the key
acts of the new Labour government in 1997 was to increase the power of the
independent Bank of England. That independence helped Labour to win the
confidence of business and has proved to be an important component in
achieving economic growth.

Putin is going in the reverse direction. Centralisation just reinforces the
message that it is not safe to keep money anywhere in Russia. Facing down
the tycoons may get Putin a bit of applause, but the effect is simply to
encourage the tycoons to secure their assets beyond Putin's reach in some
foreign bank.


Washington Post
September 10, 2000
[for personal use only]
Trying Not to Be Gorbachev
By Jim Hoagland

NEW YORK. In full rhetorical flight, Mikhail Gorbachev seems little 
changed from the days when he ruled the Kremlin. Spiraling sentences about 
global politics collide with stream-of-consciousness anecdotes with 
increasingly obtuse points. Then Gorbachev crafts a couple of sharp-edged, 
evocative sentences that pull his listeners, and Gorbachev as well, back to 
concrete issues he poignantly summarizes. 

Almost a decade after he lost power and an empire, Gorbachev is global 
metaphor as well as flesh-and-blood man. The ex-Soviet leader's name stands 
for the notion of noble doomed efforts to reform entrenched repressive 
political systems.

When President Ernesto Zedillo reformed Mexico's political system so deeply 
that his party lost power a few months ago, he was quickly dubbed the Mexican 
Gorbachev. In Iran, President Mohammed Khatemi's efforts to dilute the 
repressive control of Islamic revolutionaries and to inch Iran into a new 
century--anything after the 17th would be a change--are often termed 

Ultimate irony: One leader who does not risk earning the label is Vladimir 
Putin, the successor of Gorbachev's successor in the Kremlin, Boris Yeltsin. 
Putin dislikes the fruits that have grown from Gorbachev's seeds of glasnost: 
freedom of expression and association in Russian daily life. Putin's KGB 
experience was to disrupt free institutions, as he has bragged.

These four men--Gorbachev, Khatemi, Putin and Zedillo--were among the 
hundreds of heavy hitters in New York last week during the U.N. Millennium 
Summit. They stood out in the kaleidoscope of power and pomp because their 
careers are compelling and connected statements about the perils and 
opportunities of political reform.

The Mexican Gorbachev, it turns out, is no such thing. He succeeded where the 
Russian original failed. At a glittering dinner at the New York Federal 
Reserve Bank, Zedillo persuasively recounted how he had set out with two 
goals for this year's election to choose his successor: "I wanted the Mexican 
people to have a choice, and I wanted my party to be that choice."

But Zedillo's PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years, came up short. In his 
six-year term, Zedillo fostered strong independent institutions that were to 
survive his rule and entrench democracy. Zedillo did not miscalculate: He 
gambled honestly, and he gracefully accepted a defeat that was his biggest 

At the height of his power, Gorbachev did not push for a multiparty system 
that would provide alternative institutions to the Communist Party. To save 
time he even passed up the chance to win a direct election to the presidency 
and gain a popular mandate that might have saved him from being overthrown in 
1991 by Yeltsin in the wake of a failed coup.

Today Gorbachev labors to create a Social Democratic Party in Russia. He 
wants to temper Yeltsin's robber-baron capitalism while preventing a return 
to authoritarian socialism. But at a news conference and in other appearances 
around town, Gorbachev was surprisingly sympathetic to Putin's "strong 
measures" to instill order in a country threatened by every authoritarian's 
friend, the specter of chaos.

Gorbachev still operates on a highly personal level. Questions challenging 
his intentions are met with the same high emotion and facial flush he showed 
in a 1988 interview in the Kremlin.

Putin apparently stroked the fallen leader's ego in a three-hour meeting in 
Moscow last month. Gorbachev came away urging critics to give the new 
president more time and understanding--apparently harboring hopes that Putin 
might yet turn on and punish Gorbachev's enemy for life, Yeltsin, and those 
around him. Durable institutions may not survive in Russia, but the desire 
for revenge lives on.

The Iranian president met with American reporters over corn flakes Thursday 
and described his balancing act in pushing for more freedom while not 
endangering Iran's security. He too warned of the dangers of extremism and 
chaos. And he bristled when I asked if the comparison with the failed Russian 
reformer was apt.

"My name is Khatemi, not Gorbachev. . . . In the Soviet system before 
Gorbachev Marxism had already been demolished. Soviet rule was just sitting 
on the fake framework of communism. He took that frame away and it 
disintegrated. Our revolution is based on the principles of our identity . . 
. including our religion."

Khatemi's public remarks in New York were notable for their emphasis on 
building civil and cultural institutions on a global scale and for their 
relative moderation. But he repeatedly cautioned that now was not the time 
"to push demands for freedom beyond what is possible in the current reality."

As the Russian Gorbachev demonstrated, revolutions often overtake those who 
wait for the perfect moment.


Russia Journal
September 9-15, 2000
SEASON OF DISCONTENT: A bench for the president
By Andrei Piontkovsky
Meditation on Putin hysterics in wake of Kursk crisis.
President Vladimir Putinís meeting with families of the Kursk submarine
crew member Aug. 22 was full of tension and drama. This was to be expected.
But real hysterics were seen from only one person. 

"Now, concerning foreign assistance," a patient and somewhat bored
president tried to explain. "As soon as offers of foreign aid came ­ on the
15th ­ [Admiral] Kuroyedov immediately agreed to it. Letís count." 

Here, the record of the meeting follows with: "Noise in the hall,
shouting." This was also to be expected. We all remember full well the
scene in Sochi on Aug. 16 ­ the president with his suite, everyone looking
tanned and happy in their summer clothes. Standing next to Putin, Ilya
Klebanov, busy directing the rescue operation in the Barents Sea from
Sochi, condescendingly explained that the military structures he was
responsible for have the best rescue equipment in the world and were in no
need of any outside help.

Putin also remembers full well, and in line with the laws of
psychoanalysis, the only means at his disposal with which to erase this
painful recollection was hysteria:

"Itís true, itís true! Television? Theyíre lying then! Theyíre lying!
Theyíre lying! Thereíre people in television making more noise than anyone
else, and who for the last 10 years has brought the Army and Navy to the
state of ruin that has people dying today. For several years now, theyíve
been stealing all they can and are now buying everything and everyone! Look
at the laws theyíve made! Ö Thereís not a crumb left in the country! Itís
as simple as that!"

So was everything still in abundance on Aug. 16, and was the country left
without a crumb only on Aug. 22? By accusing television three times of
lying, Putin was desperately trying to divert attention from the repeated
and ongoing lies of the authorities. Jupiter is angry, and Jupiter is
clearly in the wrong.

Putin grasped hold of this idea of enemies robbing the Army, Navy and
country as the life buoy that could save him in such a dramatic moment.
Kremlin PR people then found this lucky find so appealing, they decided to
develop it the next day in the far more comfortable atmosphere of an
official interview given to the court correspondent. 

The enemies were personified and the rightful wrath of the people was
channeled towards recognizable and highly unpopular figures: "It would be
better if these people sold their villas on the Mediterranean coast of
France. But then they would have to explain why all this real estate is
registered under the names of other people, or of companies. And then we
would probably start asking where the money comes from."

Whatís interesting is why "we" didnít put these kinds of questions to
Russiaís most well-known owner of Mediterranean villas when he used this
money to cobble together a pocket party ­ Unity ­ for Putin.

"I am ready to bear responsibility for the 100 days that I have been
president. But as for the preceding 15 years, Iím ready to sit with you on
the same bench and put these questions to others," Putin told families of
the Kursk victims.

"Others" obviously refers to the politicians and oligarchs who held power
in the country before Putinís 100 days, and who, Putin is deeply convinced,
"have robbed bare the country, Army and Navy." But what was modest Colonel
Putin doing as he made a brilliant career for himself under this
kleptocratic regime?

Former Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov is not a model of family virtues.
He was publicly destroyed, however, not for his little erotic misdemeanors,
but because he got too dangerously close in his investigations into the
affairs of those "others" who Putin would now like to question. 

But back during that dramatic moment, the country saw on their screens an
upright colonel reporting in a military manner that his organization had
confirmed the authenticity of the unfortunate prosecutorís genitalia as
shown on the scandalous tape. Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, sitting
next to Putin, kept silent, turned red and lowered his eyes. That was when
Stepashin failed the test to be presidential successor.

Putin wouldnít look very convincing sitting on the same bench as the widows
putting questions to those same "others" who appointed him Yeltsinís
successor. He would look much more natural sitting on another bench ­ along
with Valya, Tanya, Roma and Boris Abramovich.

(Andrei Piontkovsky is director of the Center of Strategic Research.)


The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
10 September 2000
Votes for sale in the Duma, says Russian banker
By Guy Chazan in Moscow

CORRUPTION among in the Duma, Russia's lower legislative assembly, has become 
endemic, according to a former member who says he is speaking out because he 
is "sick and tired of the vileness of it all".

Votes and party loyalty are sold to the highest bidder while businessmen buy 
their seats to ensure they can lobby for their own interests, alleges 
Vladimir Semago, a flamboyant Left-wing entrepreneur nicknamed the "Red 
Banker". He said: "MPs know the Duma is just a decorative organ, they can't 
change or influence anything that happens in the country but they also know 
that the Duma's a great place to earn money."

He said he had been offered $5,000 (£3,125) in cash to vote for the prime 
ministerial candidate Viktor Chernomyrdin during Duma confirmation hearings 
in 1998. He also claimed that deputies, whose official salary is $300 (£187) 
a month, were offered $5,000 each to vote down last year's attempt by the 
Communist-led opposition to impeach President Yeltsin.

Anatoly Kulikov, a former interior minister, told a newspaper in April that 
"independent deputies were offered $50,000 plus a monthly salary of $5,000" 
to join pro-government factions in parliament when the newly-elected Duma met 
last January. Bribe-taking affects all Russian political institutions, not 
just the parliament. According to a study released by the influential 
think-tank, the Council for Defence and Foreign Policy, last year corruption 
cost the state $20 billion (£12.5 billion), equivalent to the entire federal 

One of those involved in producing the report, Vladimir Rimsky, said: "People 
prefer to give bribes rather than pay their taxes." Votes and party loyalty 
are not the only things with a price tag. Official passes carried by MPs' 
aides can be bought, for between $500 and $2,000, Mr Semago said. The much 
sought-after passes can smooth access to government officials and are 
particularly popular with organised criminals.

Before a recent crackdown on false ID cards, there were thought to be 20,000 
aides for only 450 Duma MPs: one Communist lawmaker was surprised to find she 
had as many as 400. Last March a Duma official, Vladimir Trofimov, was 
sentenced to five years in jail for corruption following an incident in 1998 
when he was approached by a nuclear research institute trying to acquire 
tax-free status. Trofimov was arrested after demanding $10,000 for getting 
the necessary papers through the Duma.

If demanding a bribe can be risky,refusing one can be even more so. A former 
deputy from the liberal Yabloko party, Viktor Gitin, says he was offered 
$500,000 in 1998 by associates of the then deputy finance minister - and now 
prime minister - Mikhail Kasyanov. The men wanted Mr Gitin to suspend a 
parliamentary investigation he was heading into the causes of Russia's 1998 
financial crisis. He says he refused the money.In March he was arrested on 
charges of bribe-taking.

Mr Gitin says that prosecutors who raided his office seized material relating 
to investigations into some of Russia's most serious corruption scandals. He 
has been released on bail but as yet none of the confiscated documents has 
been returned. There are more than 60 businessmen among the latest intake of 
450 Duma MPs. Eight of them represent the Communist Party which is 
ideologically opposed to capitalism.

They include five company managers and the president of a bank. Mr Semago 
says the businessmen simply bought their way on to the party list of official 
candidates. The Communists admit that some of their deputies are from the 
business world, but flatly deny that they paid for their seats. A party 
spokesman said: "They're red directors - factory bosses with communist views. 
Semago has no evidence for his claims, he's just angry because we excluded 
him from the party." 

All parties, including the Communists, are increasingly reliant on cash 
infusions from big business to cope with the soaring cost of running an 
election campaign. Andrei Piontkovsky, of the Moscow Centre for Strategic 
Studies, says: "In the 1995 Duma elections, the Communists got hand-outs from 
big banks and corporations who were hedging their bets in case the left won. 
This time round the Communists hardly got anything, because no one believes 
they'll ever come to power. So they had to resort to other revenue sources."

The benefits for businessmen of Duma membership are clear. MP status gives 
them access to government offices where all important decisions affecting the 
economic life of the country are taken. "In some ways, getting into the Duma 
is the last resort of businessmen trying to protect themselves from state 
interference," said Alexei Melnikov, a Yabloko MP.

Every month Russian businessmen spend $500 million on bribes to officials, 
according to the Council for Defence and Foreign Policy.

From: "Robert Bruce Ware" <>
Subject: King Interview and Dagestani Vote/4501
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 2000 

I do indeed hope that the transcript of Putin's interview with Larry King
(JRL #4501) is to be "updated". For it repeatedly claims that the Kursk
was sunk in July. This comes just before Larry's assertion that the
American businessman, Edmund Pope, is "inside a Russian President" (it was
only a matter of time until Putin was accused of cannibalism). No doubt
this gastronomical peculiarity will explain why Putin erroneously claims
(as observed by JBE) that the people of the Caucasus are predominantly
Shiite Moslems, and erroneoulsy alledges that Chechnya invaded
Afghanistan, which seems, in the transcript, to have become a region of
Dagestan (though if Chechens are truly Shiite then perhaps they had a
motive). All of this confirms my longstanding suspicion that the
Dagestanis sunk the Kursk on July 4 as part of their annual salute to
Thomas Jefferson, and as a prelude to their annexation of Kabul. It also
may confirm Al in his recent rejection of Larry as a moderator. On a
slightly more serious note, the MT account of electoral fraud in Dagestan
(JRL #4500) is consistent with patterns established in past federal
elections in Dagestan, though estimates concerning the extent of the fraud
appear to be exagerated. In 1997 I interviewed local electoral officials
in southern Dagestan who had documented the disappearance of ballot boxes
en route to Mahachkala. In this month's edition of Nationalities Papers
(v. 28, no 3) Enver Kisriev and I discuss electoral fraud during last
December's Duma election in Dagestan ("Conflict and Catharsis: A Report on
Developments in Dagestan Following the Incursions of August and September
1999"). Then the votes were "reassigned" to give Dagestan a full 6
representatives in the DUMA. Both Unity and FAR benefitted at the expense
of the Communists. This is typically the case in recent Federal
elections in Dagestan. In the past, the communists have been able to
count on 55% of the electorate, which is approximately what they received
in the first round of the 1996 presidential election. Hence, it was more
than surprising when Yeltsin won the second round by a landslide. In 1996
and 1999 the Dagestani communists protested, just as they are doing in
2000. However justified those protests seem to be they have never come to
anything. Yet while electoral fraud is routine in Dagestan's federal
elections, there are relatively few irregularities in Dagestan's local
elections. Dagestan depends upon financial support, and recently upon
military support, from Moscow. The Chair of Dagestan's State Council,
Magomedali Magomedov, traditionally has sustained that support by playing
upon the Kremlin's need for his personal assistance and its fears of
further instability in the Caucasus. However, independent polls have
shown both Putin and FAR making inroads among Dagestan's traditional
communists. Going into the election Putin had the genuine support of 38%
of the Dagestani electorate. Since there are approximately 2.1 million
Dagestanis of all ages, and since some of these did not vote in the
election, speculation in the MT article that either 700,000 or 500,000
Dagestani votes were fradulently transferred to Putin appears to be


Moscow Times
September 9, 2000 
Putin in Vidyayevo 
By Diederik Lohman 
Diederik Lohman is the director of the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch. 
He contributed this comment, in which he expresses his own views, to The 
Moscow Times. 

I was very surprised to see that The Moscow Times paid so little attention to 
the transcript of the meeting in Vidyayevo between President Vladimir Putin 
and the relatives of the Kursk crew published last week in Kommersant Vlast. 
The transcript reveals things about the president that I believe should have 
made your front page. The transcript shows the following: 

1. Putin does not take criticism well. During the meeting, Putin lashed out 
at the media three times, accusing them of lying. It suddenly turns out that 
Russia accepted foreign help as soon as it was offered and that claims by 
nonstate media that the government waited for days to accept help are an evil 
plot by the media to discredit the army and fleet. In any case, according to 
Putin, the media are to blame for the pitiful state in which both army and 
fleet find themselves these days. It remains unclear how exactly NTV 
television and other nonstate media outlets achieved this. After piling 
mistake upon mistake in handling the Kursk crisis, a little more humility 
would have been well-placed. As it is, Putin's intolerance to criticism does 
not bode well for the future of press freedom. 

2. Putin seems to care little for the sailors or their relatives. As I read 
the transcript, a question kept popping into my head: Did Putin prepare for 
this meeting at all? One would assume that after facing harsh criticism, he 
would have taken the opportunity to prepare diligently for his meeting to 
make up for his mistakes. 

However, Putin seemed to make up rules for compensation as he went along. He 
made long and boring calculations and engaged in long discussions over the 
salaries of the sailors. He promised compensation to everyone, but these 
promises seemed more like those made by a populist politician during an 
election campaign than like serious commitments. When one man persistently 
asked to whom he should turn later to make concrete arrangements, Putin first 
evaded the question several times, then told the man to approach the wife of 
the captain of the Kursk. As if that poor woman doesn't have anything else on 
her mind but to take care of compensation arrangements! If Putin had cared 
about the suffering of these relatives, he would have made sure that clear 
compensation arrangements had been prepared before the meeting. He would have 
brought the official responsible for disbursement of compensation with him 
and introduced him or her to the relatives. 

The words of Pavel Felgenhauer, which ran in his Moscow Times column "Defense 
Dossier," ring very true: The government likes dead heroes because they don't 
talk. Putin declares the Kursk sailors heroes, but does not have the decency 
to set up clear arrangements for compensation so as to avoid burdening the 
relatives with administrative hassles on top of their grief. And even Putin's 
acknowledgement of responsibility made during the meeting hardly sounded 

3. Putin shows his vulgar side again. It appears that whenever he gets angry, 
Putin forgets everything his image-makers tell him. For the spectator, this 
is an advantage; on these occasions, we get to see the real Putin. At one 
point during the meeting, Putin talked about special economic zones and 
angrily explained why they are no good. During his expos_, he used a word 
that one might use when drinking with friends in the banya, but certainly not 
in public. A female colleague of mine could not believe her eyes when I 
pointed the word out to her. She was deeply embarrassed that the president of 
her country would say something like that. It is not the first time that 
Putin publicly has used street language. A while back, he talked about 
"wasting" the Chechens "in the outhouse." 

4. Putin has a selective understanding of the "presumption of innocence." 
Putin claimed in the transcript that some of his advisers recommended that he 
fire some people over the catastrophe or jail them. Putin said, "You know, 
nothing would be easier than to take someone and jail him." (Has Putin, a 
lawyer by education, forgotten that the nation's president does not have the 
authority to jail anyone?) However, Putin continued to say that he will not 
fire or jail anyone until the incident has been investigated exhaustively. A 
laudable position. 

Strangely enough, however, the presumption of innocence does not apply to the 
media or their owners. According to Putin, they are guilty of ruining the 
army and fleet. Any investigation? Putin showed a similar selective approach 
earlier this year in an interview with Kommersant. In that interview, Pavel 
Borodin _ under investigation for large-scale corruption _ was generously 
given the benefit of the doubt, while Andrei Babitsky was branded a traitor, 
once again without any kind of investigation. (For the record, Babitsky was 
never even charged with any wrongdoing while reporting from Chechnya.) 

5. The government may prosecute the journalist who published the transcript. 
As Ana Uzelac pointed out in her story about the media last Saturday, only a 
few journalists were allowed to attend the meeting, and the use of 
dictaphones was strictly forbidden. Only one television camera (that of RTR, 
of course) was present, and the footage that reached the television screen 
was carefully selected by RTR's general director. Andrei Kolesnikov of 
Kommersant Vlast, however, managed to tape the meeting, and that is how the 
transcript made it into the public arena in the first place. What is going to 
happen to this journalist, who defied a presidential order? Is he going to be 
investigated, just as prosecutors are now investigating Komsomolskaya Pravda 
for publishing the list of sailors on board the Kursk? That list was secret, 
and Komsomolskaya Pravda said it had paid 18,000 rubles for it to a military 
official. Will the authorities prosecute journalists who refuse to put up 
with officialdom, denying them their constitutional right to information? 

Is this the same Putin Western leaders have hailed as "impressive"? Can we 
expect a man who deals with such a crisis so clumsily and is so intolerant to 
turn this country _ with its phenomenal problems _ into a blossoming market 
economy with a free press? I somehow doubt it. 


Return to CDI's Home Page  I  Return to CDI's Library