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Johnson's Russia List
15 September 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. The Independent (UK): Patrick Cockburn, 'Kursk' sunk by cruiser's
missile in training accident, inquiry reveals.
2. Moscow Times: Simon Saradzhyan, After One Year, Blast Probe Still
3. Obshchaya Gazeta: Suspicion Lingers Over Official Line on
Russian Apartment Bombings, Special Services Connection Not Ruled Out.
4. T. S. White: Re: 4510-Engel/SexualTrafficking.
5. Patrick Armstrong: SOME DEAD SOULS WERE LIVE SOULS.
6. Jerry F. Hough: Re: 4510-Latynina/Kasyanov.
7. Reuters: Russia's new media doctrine sparks freedom fears.
8. smi.ru: Western Media Will Be Shown Their Proper Place in Russia.
9. Segodnya: RUSSIAN SYSTEM OF POWER OBSOLETE. How will Putin "cure"
10. Trud: DEMOGRAPHIC HOLE. Russia has reached the edge of extinction,
says Professor Dr. Vasily ZHUKOV (History), Rector of the Moscow State
11. Reuters: In Russia, it is still buyer beware.]
The Independent (UK)
15 September 2000
'Kursk' sunk by cruiser's missile in training accident, inquiry reveals
By Patrick Cockburn in Moscow
A misdirected missile from a Russian cruiser caused the disaster of the Kursk
nuclear powered submarine during a training exercise, says a member of a
Russian parliamentary team investigating the disaster.
Sergei Zhikov, a deputy and a former submariner, said yesterday that the
Kursk and the Peter the Great, a Russian cruiser, were on an exercise in the
Barents Sea in which "the cruiser acted as an enemy aircraft carrier and the
submarine was expected to attack it". He said the Peter the Great fired five
anti-submarine missiles at the Kursk but only four could be found afterwards.
"It looks like the submarine was hit by the missing [anti-submarine]
missile," Mr Zhikov told the Interfax newsagency.The Kursk then tried to rise
to the surface in an emergency but had hit the bottom of the Peter the Great.
The cause of the sinking of the Kursk and the death of its 118 crew is an
episode that President Vladimir Putin wants to put behind him. The Kremlin
now says that nobody survived the initial explosion and that tapping sounds
from inside the hull, which the Russian navy said showed that some sailors
were alive 48 hours after the disaster, were made by automatic machinery. The
claim by Mr Zhikov is similar to a report in the Berliner Zeitung newspaper
last week, which said that an investigation by the Russian Federal Security
Service had concluded that the Kursk had been sunk by a Granit missile fired
by the Peter the Great. It said that the Granit had travelled 12 miles
underwater before exploding close to the Kursk.
Russian officers have hotly denied that the Kursk could have been sunk by one
of their own ships, but have been unable to explain exactly what happened.
The Pentagon said that there were two explosions in the vicinity of the Kursk
at 7.28am and 7.30am on 12 August.
The second was 45 to 50 times bigger than the first, suggesting that one or
more of the Kursk's own torpedoes had exploded. That appears to be confirmed
by the extent of the damage to the forward part of the submarine, but the
cause of the first explosion is still unknown.
A problem for the Russian authorities is that they have now changed their
story so often that what they say carries little credibility. Mr Putin
revealed to a meeting of American media personalities in New York last week
that survivors had never tapped on the hull of the submarine as claimed at
the time of the disaster by senior Russian naval officers. The sounds were
from "a mechanical device on board", he said.
Mr Putin's claim is in keeping with the present Kremlin line that all on
board the Kursk were killed immediately, which meant no crew member died
because of the incompetence of the Russian rescue effort or the failure to
call for foreign help quickly enough.
He was also noticeably more forthcoming to the American media gathered in the
21 Club in New York than he was to the relatives of the dead sailors.
September 15, 2000
After One Year, Blast Probe Still Drags On
By Simon Saradzhyan
Editor's note: This is the first in a two-part series looking back on the
apartment building blasts one year ago.
One year after a wave of deadly apartment building explosions rocked Moscow
and two other cities, killing over 300 people, federal law enforcement
officials have charged only a handful of the suspected culprits, despite
dozens of arrests in the cases.
Investigators from the Federal Security Service, or FSB, and the Interior
Ministry f who say they have identified over 50 suspects in the four blasts
and have prevented numerous terrorist attacks in the making f continue to
adhere to the original explanation for the attacks touted by officials and
widely publicized last fall: The trail leads to Chechnya.
The head of the FSB's anti-terrorism department, Vladimir Kozlov, told a
press conference on Sept. 7 that all of the terrorists had been trained in
Chechnya and most of them are members of a radical Islamic sect.
Nonetheless, the official "Chechen version" has been repeatedly questioned in
the press. Some journalists have gone so far as to speculate that federal
agents took part in organizing some of the explosions.
Regardless of who was responsible for the blasts, most observers agree that
the Chechen version played an integral role in securing overwhelming public
support for President Vladimir Putin's military crackdown in Chechnya and
laid the groundwork for his meteoric ascent to the presidency and his
popularity in the post.
The FSB and other law enforcement agencies say they have arrested 33
suspects, but only six of those who have remained in custody will be charged
with terrorism in connection with the blast in the southern city of Buinaksk.
Investigators have detained two men suspected of involvement in the Moscow
attacks, Taukan Frantsuzov and Ruslan Magayayev. But the other suspects f
identified by the FSB as Achemez Gochiyayev and several accomplices f are
still on the run, according to investigators. The two blasts, the first on
Ulitsa Guryanova and another less than five days later on Kashirskoye Shosse,
claimed the lives of 92 and 130 sleeping Muscovites, respectively.
Neither have law enforcers managed to apprehend Yusuf Krymshamkhalov, Timur
Batchayev and Adam Dekkushev, who they allege were behind the powerful blast
that killed 17 in the southern city of Volgodonsk on Sept. 16, three days
after the second Moscow blast. Krymshamkhalov is also suspected by the FSB of
having helped Gochiyayev and Denis Saitakov in organizing the two blasts in
Many of those who have been arrested were subsequently released for lack of
Among them was Timur Dakhkilgov, an ethnic Ingush, who was seized hours after
the second apartment blast in Moscow and spent weeks in jail, repeatedly
beaten and harassed by police. According to Dakhkilgov, his only crime was
that he is a native of Grozny and that his palms were found to have traces of
hexane, a chemical widely used in dying fabric and similar to hexogen, the
explosive believed to have been used in most of the blasts. Dakhkilgov worked
at a textile factory.
Many rights organizations have said that, apart from the official arrests,
police have been routinely and indiscriminately arresting and harassing
Chechens and other natives of the Caucasus. These organizations have
collected broad anecdotal evidence of such abuses.
The FSB said that, while detectives grilled the innocent Dakhkilgov, more
than a dozen suspects managed to flee to Chechnya, including Gochiyayev, who
was allegedly paid $500,000 for arranging and executing the Moscow blast by
Most of the suspected culprits remain in the restive province, according to
the FSB. Six of the suspects, including Batchayev, have been killed in
fighting with federal forces in Chechnya, the FSB said.
Investigators say the most progress has been made in the Buinaksk attack, the
first of the four blasts, which killed 62 when a powerful bomb went off in
front of a 50-apartment residential building on Sept. 4, 1999.
Isa Zainudinov, whom prosecutors in the republic of Dagestan believe to have
masterminded this blast as well as a second, abortive bomb attack in
Buinaksk, and five of his accomplices are to go on trial within the next few
months, according to the office's spokeswoman, Zulfia Gasanaliyeva. Six more
suspects in the Buinaksk explosion, including Khattab, remain at large.
Over the last several years, investigators have come under fire for their
failure to solve the high-profile crimes that have come to characterize
Russia in the public imagination.
But an FSB official reached by phone Wednesday defended his agency's record
in investigating the blasts and averting more attacks by "Chechen-trained
"These cases have been solved. þ There is only one thing left f to catch the
perpetrators," said the official, who asked not to be named.
FSB officials have explained the methods used by the terrorists in the
Having undergone training, they were dispatched to neighboring North
Caucasian republics, such as Karachayevo-Cherkessia, with tons of explosives.
There they rented trucks and smuggled the explosives to Moscow, Volgodonsk
and Buinaksk, usually camouflaged as sugar, potatoes or some other produce.
Not all of these bombs went off, however. And in addition to the averted
second bomb in Buinaksk, police and FSB agents pride themselves on preventing
several other attacks.
Some nine tons of explosives, which officials say were stored by Gochiyayev
and his team, were found as Moscow police combed the city's cellars and
storage facilities after the September blasts. Five more blasts were averted
in Pyatigorsk and another in Vladikavkaz, according to the FSB.
Most of the bombs were made of a mixture of potassium nitrate and aluminum
powder with Casio watches used as timers, according to Kozlov.
FSB detectives say they also found 500 kilograms of this mixture near the
Chechen city of Urus-Martan last December, citing this as proof that those
responsible for the attacks were not only trained in Khattab's camps in
Chechnya, but also obtained explosives there.
Despite the evidence collected by investigators, some newspapers have
repeatedly questioned the FSB's findings. Moreover, the biweekly Novaya
Gazeta claimed that agents of the secret services could have been involved in
arranging the blasts.
Such suspicions were fueled by the lightning speed with which the remnants of
the Ulitsa Guryanova building were hauled away just three days after the
explosion, in what some saw as an attempt to cover up traces of foul play.
But the strongest tide of speculations came when a vigilant resident in
Ryazan spotted two men unloading sacks into the basement of his apartment
building on Sept. 23 and contacted police.
Upon inspection, local residents found that the sacks were wired to a
detonator and a watch, and an initial test exposed vapors of hexogen.
However, attempts to detonate the substance in the sacks at a testing range
failed and FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev said soon afterward that the sacks had
contained sugar and were planted as a dummy bomb to test the vigilance of
local law enforcers and residents.
This statement caused an uproar in the press, with Novaya Gazeta running a
series of articles on the Ryazan incident, claiming the bomb was real and
could have been planted by the FSB.
The suspicions gradually subsided, but reappeared in March when Novaya Gazeta
alleged that sacks of hexogen were found at a military unit in the Ryazan
area last fall. However, the paper failed to substantiate its claims and
prompt an investigation.
Despite a lack of undisputable evidence, the exposÎs "feed doubts" among the
Russian public, said Alexander Pikayev of the Moscow Carnegie Center.
But the impact on public opinion seems to have been minimal.
Only 9 percent of some 1,500 people surveyed by the Public Opinion Fund on
Saturday believe that the secret services organized the blasts, while another
23 percent could not decide who was behind the attacks. These opinions are
outweighed by far by the 65 percent of those questioned who blame the blasts
on Chechen rebels.
Where most of the respondents agree is that the culprits are unlikely to be
punished: 70 percent said those guilty of the blasts will never be found,
while only 19 percent thought law enforcement officials would find the
Suspicion Lingers Over Official Line on Russian Apartment Bombings,
Special Services Connection Not Ruled Out.
9 September 2000
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Igor Korolkov:"A Country of Delayed Action"
An explosive wave of cynicism has swept away the
official version of last year's terrorist acts.
In the first half of September last year explosions rang out in the
Russian cities of Buynaksk, Moscow and Volgodonsk. Four multi-storey
apartment blocks were destroyed, 305 people died and more than 500 were
injured. A year has passed. As we were informed in the Directorate for
Assistance Programs of the FSB [Federal Security Service] of the RF
[Russian Federation], law enforcement agencies have managed to establish
the identity of virtually all those suspected of carrying out the
terrorist acts. In Buynaksk these are the father and son of the
Zaynutdinov family, Makhach Abdusamedov, Abdulkadyr Abdulkadyrov and
Magomed Magomedov. They have been arrested, the investigation
completed and 23 volumes of criminal proceedings passed to the Dagestan
The Salikhov, Ziyavudinov, Omarov and Khattab brothers are also wanted
for their part in the bombing.
It has been established that the Moscow explosions were organized by
Achemez Gochiyayev, Denis Saytakov, Yusuf Krymshamkhalov and Khakim
Abayev. The last two have been arrested, while the others are lying
low in Chechnya, presumably hiding in detachments of fighters.
Krymshamkhalov also participated in the bombing of a house in Volgodonsk,
together with Adam Dekkushev and Timur Batchayev. The FSB reports that
in the course of the investigation, the plan for the preparation and
execution of the crime has been recreated in full, and the necessary
evidence, operational data and material proof has been gathered. Those
suspected of the terrorist act are now under official investigation..
In the opinion of the investigators, virtually all of the terrorists are
adherents of a radical branch of Islam known as Wahhabism. Many of
them have undergone training in Chechnya in the "Kavkaz" center organized
by the Jordanian Khattab. The fact that the same explosives were used in
the execution of the terrorist acts indicates that the deadly broth was
prepared from one and the same recipe. Material seized by Federal
troops in the village of Urus-Martan, the site of a training school for
saboteurs, also points to the same scenario, for the pyrotechnic mixture
found stored here was identical to that which the terrorists were
intending to use to blow up apartment blocks in Buynaksk, Pyatigorsk and
Moscow. Luckily, they (the federal troops) succeeded in rendering the
An open-and-shut case, or so it would seem. All that remained to be
done was to smash the detachments of fighters and seize the terrorists
who are hiding from retribution, and yet distrust of the official version
Even today, no one knows with any certainty what really happened last
fall in Ryazan: were exercises being carried out, as FSB director
Patrushev stated, or did terrorists really deliver bags of cyclonite to
the basement? Or was this an unsuccessful trap set by the special
services which was discovered in time by the occupants of a building
prepared for detonation?
The Ryazan story offers more than serious grounds for setting up a
competent state commission to either dispel or confirm these monstrous
suspicions once and for all. However, the authorities do not wish to
clarify the situation, and this means that the version claiming Russian
special services involvement in the explosions will circulate for a long
time to come.
At the same time, it is inappropriate to speak of morality where the
special services are concerned: examples abound which bear witness to
the high level of cynicism displayed by the henchmen of those in power.
The case of Radio Liberty correspondent Andrey Babitskiy offers a
revealing example. The special services employed their own specific
methods to discredit and neutralize the journalist. He was supposedly
"handed over" to fighters about whose existence the fighters themselves
had not the slightest idea. Criminal proceedings were instigated on
the basis of a false passport discovered on the journalist's person.
One of the Moscow papers published sensational details to the effect that
this passport had been prepared in the MVD of the RF. In any normal
state, a report of this kind would be followed by an immediate
investigation, and those found guilty of fabricating the criminal case
would have been prosecuted. In Russia, however, no scandal ensued, and
the false passport serves as the main piece of evidence in the Babitskiy
All of this is still to be confirmed: the special services, so it
was said, could not have had any connection to the explosions, simply
because this would have been too cynical. This explanation represents
a weighty argument in a country where the special services are at the
service of society, but not in Russia; not one single institution of
state power is subject to effective control here, and this is especially
true where such secret departments as the FSB and GRU [Main Intelligence
Directorate] are concerned. Material proof, and not evidence of good
intentions, will be required if society is to be convinced that the
special services have no connection to the terrorist acts.
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000
From: "T. S. White" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I would like to commend Ms. Engel for her work on sexual
trafficking in Russia. This subject does not get enough exposure
and only exposure will embarrass the world powers enough to help
curtail the activity.
In her article Ms. Engel state that the recruiting of the women
for foreign prostitution is done through legal businesses. Also,
she observes that any "crime" that occurs begins in a foreign
country. Yet she seems convinced that the root of the problem is
the lack of judicial effort on the part of Russia.
I think the root of the problem is that there are safe harbors for
the criminal prostitution rings to operate in. Ms. Engel does
speak to the lack of legal recourse these women are exposed to in
Amsterdam, Paris, Helsinki, Rome, New York, and Tel Aviv. While
Russia may lack laws pertaining to trafficking in humans,
certainly there are international and national laws that make
slavery a crime. Certainly in the United States, if not all the
other countries involved, illegal aliens have as much right to
protection under the law as citizens. When the governments of the
United States and foreign countries enforce those laws the problem
of trafficking in women will be properly addressed.
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000
From: Patrick Armstrong
Subject: SOME DEAD SOULS WERE LIVE SOULS
I am not a demographer so I would welcome comments from those who are.
But here are some calculations to show that there could have been quite
a few new voters added to the rolls quite legitimately. But I don't see
how you can get to 1.3 million.
According to data from the US Census Bureau
(http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/ipc/idbsum?cty=R) the second-largest age
cohort in Russia in 2000 are the 15-19 year olds. There are 12 million
of them. How many would have turned 18 in the 98-day period between the
elections? If we assume an even distribution through the age group (an
estimate almost certainly wrong in detail) we would have 2.4 million
turning 18 in a year or 644,000 in the period. If we add to that the
500,000 or so voters in Chechnya added to the list, we have a potential
of something like 1,144,000 new voters to add to the electoral rolls.
>From that we have to deduct those who died in the period and add net
migration. GosKomStat told us that in the first six months of 2000,
1,170,100 immigrated; 1,069,400 emigrated (net gain 100,700) and
1,146,200 died. So the net change in 98 days is a loss of 561,000
(assuming the numbers are evenly distributed). How many of the
immigrants and dead were voters? I don’t know but if we assume
two-thirds were, there is a net loss of 374,000 and a gain of 1,144,000
for a net increase in voters in the 98-day period of 770,000. If we
assume half of them were voters, the net increase would be 863,000.
This is a very rough eyeball guesstimate with several gross assumptions
(even distribution, migration treated as a single event etc). But as a
back of the envelope calculation it is far superior to the one that we
are already hearing namely that as the Russian population declined
425,000 in the first half of 2000, how can there be any new voters at
The conclusion is that some quite a few of the so-called “dead
souls” can be explained by demography. But, it seems, certainly not all.
As to Veshnyakov’s other explanation that more of the number is
accounted for by the “otkrepitelniy talony”, as I understand how they
work from my observer days, I don’t see how they could produce more
names on the voters’ list.
As to “caterpillar voting” or “chain voting” as we call it in Canada, I
was aware of it when I was an elections observer. The signs are a lot of
people hanging around near the polling station and people in the polling
station not marking their ballot (they deposit the already marked one
and bring a blank one back to keep the chain going). I didn’t see any
but it’s a tough thing to catch and, therefore, very commonly practised
By the way, the 10-14 year cohort is nearly as large (11.9 million) so
we will see quite large numbers of new voters coming on line in the next
few elections also.
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <email@example.com>
I hope that people will explore the Latynina theme about what the
government is doing about "shared production." On the surface, it
sounds like the old inter-enterprise loans and barter in which Gosplan
(that is Gref's ministry) distributes concrete production (especially
oil, gas, and electricity) in lieu of payment of taxes. That is, it
is the old non-transparent subsidy system in place since Yeltsin's
January 1991 "correctives" to Gaidar's program. That is, what is
important is what government does with the production it receives. But,
of course, if they did something like this with new production and the
tariffs meant something and in the manufacturing realm, it might go
toward an industrial policy. The Ministry of the Economy has been a
Soviet-style Gosplan distributing hard goods in a non-market
manner, and it would move toward a Japanense MITI. We can only hope,
but it sounds bad.
But there is no reason to focus on Gref becoming prime minister.
The shared production is the natural job of his ministry.
ANALYSIS-Russia's new media doctrine sparks freedom fears
By Gareth Jones
MOSCOW, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Russia's new information security doctrine is
vaguely worded and open to diverse interpretation, but commentators say its
message is clear enough -- the Kremlin is tightening the screws on the mass
The doctrine, drawn up by Russia's increasingly influential Security Council
and signed last weekend by President Vladimir Putin, does not have legal
force, but it lays out guidelines for relations between the Russian state and
its mass media.
One of the authors of the doctrine, Anatoly Streltsov, has said it might
require changes to a liberal media law dating back to the heyday of glasnost
under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Political analyst Yevgeny Volk of the Heritage Foundation said the new
document underscored a move towards more authoritarian rule under Putin,
adding that it could never have seen the light of day under his liberal
predecessor Boris Yeltsin.
``The general intent is quite clear -- the authorities are trying to increase
their control over all aspects of the mass media, including the Internet,''
he told Reuters.
He said the doctrine's stress on building up state media and countering
perceived threats to ``national interests'' from foreign news organisations
highlighted the growing role of the security services under Putin, a former
``The special security forces have never liked the media or the policy of
openness...It is quite a change after Yeltsin who for all his faults was a
politician, not a bureaucrat, and who understood the value of the press,''
The Russian Union of Journalists' general secretary, Igor Yakovenko, sounded
an equally pessimistic note.
``This document is itself a real danger to the country's information security
in that it is written in a spirit at odds with the principles of freedom of
expression...enshrined in Russian law,'' Interfax news agency quoted him as
He attacked the call for expanding state-owned mass media. ``Only Russia,
Cuba and a few formerly socialist countries have state-owned newspapers,'' he
Putin himself, who has been in the public arena for barely a year, has
repeatedly pledged to uphold democratic freedoms but has also declared war on
powerful media barons who he accuses of manipulating news for their own
More recently, he has been stung by media coverage of the Kursk disaster,
when he was widely criticised for reacting slowly and inadequately to the
sinking of the submarine with the loss of all 118 men on board.
In an emotional outburst during a meeting with relatives of the dead men,
Putin even blamed television for the parlous state of Russia's cash-starved
However the 46-page information security doctrine contains frequent
references to the importance of media freedom and of public access to
It also talks vaguely of supporting Russia's ``spiritual renewal...and
traditions of patriotism and humanism.''
More controversially, it calls for a ``clearer definition of the status of
foreign information agencies, mass media and journalists,'' sparking fears in
some quarters that the state might try to curb the activities of
``It is just too early to say what this doctrine will mean,'' said Alexander
Pikayev of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank.
``To a large extent, it reflects the wider political struggle between those
pushing for more state control of the media and those opposed to such an
TIME OF TENSION
Sergei Markov of the Institute for Political Studies played down any direct
link between the doctrine and feuds between the Kremlin and media magnates
like Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky.
``This doctrine has been three years in the making...though we cannot ignore
the timing of its publication,'' he said.
Gusinsky, owner of the Media-Most holding which includes Russia's only
independent television network NTV, was briefly jailed this summer on
embezzlement charges in what he described as an attempt by the Kremlin to
intimidate his media outlets.
After his release, Gusinsky left Russia and has yet to return home, where he
fears for his safety.
Berezovsky, a one time Kremlin insider turned fierce critic of Putin, says
the authorities are forcing him to give up his 49 percent stake in ORT public
television. He has proposed turning over his stake to a group of journalists
Television is by far the most crucial source of information in Russia, a vast
country straddling 11 time zones in which no newspapers enjoy nationwide
circulation. Yeltsin owed his election victory in 1996 over the Communists to
strong support from Berezovsky's ORT and Gusinsky's NTV.
September 13, 2000
Western Media Will Be Shown Their Proper Place in Russia
The Doctrine of Information Security of the Russian Federation, approved by
President Vladimir Putin, envisages "defining more exactly" the status of
foreign news agencies, mass media and journalists, as well as that of
investors in cases when foreign investments are called for in developing
the information infrastructure of Russia. As Anatoly Streltsov, Deputy Head
of the Department for Information Security of the Staff of the Russian
Federation Security Council, told journalists, it is a question, in
particular, of creating equal conditions for foreign and Russian mass media
on the territory of the country. Answering questions from reporters, Mr.
Streltsov also expressed the opinion that "the Law on the Media must change."
Comment: Mr. Streltsov is one of the chief ideologists of the Doctrine of
Information Security of Russia. He took an active part in developing the
Concept of the same name. Within the Department headed by him, there exists
a very clear understanding that, in present-day conditions, a country
lacking national, truly independent, media swiftly loses its independence
and becomes an information satellite of third countries. Therefore the
Russian nationwide media must enjoy equal rights with Western corporations,
the latter being greatly superior to the Russian resources in terms of
their organizational and financial capabilities. It is no secret that
Russian media controlled by foreign capital as often as not take part in
propaganda campaigns that infringe upon the interests of the Russian State.
Therefore "defining more exactly" the status of foreigners on the Russian
media market will inevitably entail certain restrictions and toughening of
control over them, as well as a certain kind of protectionism for the
September 13, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
RUSSIAN SYSTEM OF POWER OBSOLETE
How will Putin "cure" it?
The departing century was hardly unequivocal for Russia,
or rather for its system of power. There were major
achievements, such as the victory in the Great Patriotic War of
1941-45, and the short-lived attainment of the status of a
superpower in the 1970s, judging by the GDP. But there were
also major losses, in particular the collapse of autocracy in
1917 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in 1991, which
marked the disintegration of two historical structures of
Russian power. What will happen next? This was the main subject
of the interview granted to Alexander CHUDODEYEV by Yuri
PIVOVAROV, Director of the Institute of Research Information
for Social Sciences, and Andrei FURSOV, Director of the
Institute of Russian History.
Question: What are the main results of the 20th century
Fursov: On the one hand, it was a century of triumph for
Russia, because it reached the highest stage of might during
the communist rule. On the other hand, it is ending just as it
began - with a catastrophe. It is very sad that two absolutely
different forms of development failed alike. And it became
clear after the default in August 1998 that the third,
"anti-Communist," variant did not work in Russia, too. All
these three variants of development ensured certain
achievements to Russia in the short term, but were a complete
failure in the longer term.
Pivovarov: The current situation is similar, to a degree,
to the situation a hundred years ago. Quite a few pessimistic
forecasts were made then, too. At the same time, the departing
1990s can be easily compared to the pre-revolutionary period.
For example, the first Russian constitution was approved six
years after the beginning of the century, and the recent
constitution was enforced six years before its end. And these
constitutions are very much alike. The circle is complete from
As for Russia's triumphs in this century, it really became the
world's second most powerful country, and this is an objective
conclusion that is not designed to play into the hands of
Question: But a famous Western politician once described
our country as "Upper Volta with missiles."
Fursov: This is not true. The level of education and
technical progress attained by the Soviet Union at that time
was much higher than in Upper Volta.
Pivovarov: And the catastrophes and falls of Russia in
this century cannot be reduced only to the fall of this or that
socio-political regime. In fact, we have been destroying
ourselves all through this century. We were destroying our
elite, without which no state can live normally. When President
Putin said in connection with the Ostankino fire that the
catastrophe was indicative of the general situation in the
country, he actually meant that it is indicative of the genuine
situation in the country now and in the past.
Question: Does this mean that the reforms invariably led
to tragedies for Russia, while counter-reforms ensured its
Fursov: The notions of "reforms" and "counter-reforms"
presuppose a certain point of departure. From the viewpoint of
Russian power, there is no difference between a reform and a
counter-reform, or even between a reform and a revolution.
Because all reforms of Peter the Great were both a reform and a
revolution carried out by the authorities. Everything depends
on what we regard as the system-forming element of the given
system of power. And the system-forming element of "the Russian
system" is power.
Pivovarov: The main task of the Russian power has always
been the preservation and strengthening of power. Today it is
more profitable to be a reformer, but the situation may change
tomorrow. Take the life of Alexander II, Emperor-Liberator. Why
did he abolish serfdom? Largely because we lost the Crimean War
and needed a new army and economic development, which was
impossible without the abolition of serfdom. The same happened
in Soviet times, meaning Khrushchev's thaw and Gorbachev's
perestroika. The power does only what it wants to do. A thaw
today, a freeze tomorrow.
Question: Why did the communist regime collapse? You said
about its major achievements and even triumphs.
Pivovarov: The communists failed to resolve two problems
of key significance for any society: the translation of power
and property. The under-the-carpet struggle for the "throne"
began each time a secretary general died (or was toppled, as in
the case of Khrushchev). There was no transition of power from
one person to another.
Question: In this case, the latest transfer of power from
Yeltsin to Putin was a step in the right direction?
Pivovarov: Formally, Yeltsin did not exceed the limits of
the constitution. Although there was a strong monarchic taste
in the "appointment" of Putin. It was done in accordance with
the Russian tradition. And completely right are those political
scientists who describe our institute of presidency as "elected
monarchy." But a legitimate, elected, monarchy. This is the
major step forward.
Question: What should Vladimir Putin do in this situation?
What system of power should he choose if Russia has tried them
all in the 20th century and they all failed?
Pivovarov: There is very little room for Putin's manoeuvre.
And not enough resources (of any kind). So far, his actions are
understandable and apparent. I mean the reform of the
Federation Council, the creation of the Council of State and
seven federal districts. The diagnosis is correct: Russia needs
an effectively operating power machine. But the treatment was
not chosen correctly, I think. Moreover, this treatment might
even provoke a deterioration of the patient's condition.
September 2, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
Russia has reached the edge of extinction, says Professor
Dr. Vasily ZHUKOV (History), Rector of the Moscow State Social
Russia's population diminished by 425,400 people in the
first six months of 2000, or enough to populate a whole
regional centre. President Vladimir Putin said in his address
to the Federal Assembly: "The number of Russian citizens is
dwindling with each passing year."
To prove his point, he provided the following alarming
figures: "To believe forecasts based on the work of those who
devoted their life to them, the Russian population can diminish
by 22 million in the next 15 years. Just think about this
figure, which equals one-seventh of the country's population."
How deep is the demographic crisis? Is it fraught with the
extinction of the nation? These and other questions are
discussed with Vasily ZHUKOV interviewed by Rustem URMANTSEV.
Zhukov: The demographic situation in Russia is truly
alarming. The president was right to term it as one of the most
acute problems facing Russia today. It is the first time in the
history of the state that the death rate is higher than the
birth rate in peacetime. The trend began in 1992. It means that
we have stopped on the road of depopulation, which in common
language means the extinction of the nation.
Just look at the figures. The country "lost" 700,000 of
its citizens in 1992, another 800,000 in 1993, and 960,000 in
The population diminished by another 1 million every year after
that. Mind you, this is taking place in peacetime! There are
145 million people in Russia now, but the figure will go down
to no more than 137 million by the year 2010 - unless the state
amends its demographic policy.
Question: What are the reasons for this tragic development?
Answer: Let's begin with factors that characterise the
demographic situation as such. They are the death and the birth
rates, the number of weddings and divorces, migration, life
expectancy, and so on. Well, all of them are negative in Russia.
And the main reason for this is that the social health of the
nation plummeted with the beginning of perestroika.
Disillusionment and pessimism, engendered by the unprecedented
growth of poverty, hit tens of millions of people. The result
was the unprecedented fall in the birth rate, a key demographic
factor. In 1990, we had 13.4 newborns per thousand of
population, but the figure for 1999 was only 8.4. Sociological
polls show that young families would like to have two or even
three children, but refuse to have them as they do not envisage
a bright future for them.
I would like to explain one thing here. Some
pseudo-specialists warn against dramatising the situation on
the grounds that a low birth rate is not a purely Russian
feature but is characteristic of the bulk of industrialised
Indeed, egocentrism is becoming the lifestyle of a considerable
part of the population of prosperous states. They argue that
their children should be ensured prosperity and parents should
have more time for themselves, and hence there should be fewer
children. But the reason is completely different in Russia. It
is the loss of social confidence, which provoked an alarming
fall of the birth rate. No other country in the world saw such
quick falls in the birth rate in such a short time.
Question: Or such quick growth of the death rate?
Answer: Yes. The natural increment of the population
depends on a balance between the birth rate and the death rate.
Before 1992, the birth rate was higher than the death rate in
But the situation changed after that, with the death rate
exceeding the birth rate. This has been going on for eight
years now. For eight years the bell has been tolling for us,
trying to tell us that Russia is an endangered nation.
I am especially worried by the following fact. The plague
of depopulation has hit only three Slavic (relatively speaking)
members of the CIS: Ukraine in 1991, Russia in 1992, and
Belarus in 1993. The population of all other CIS countries is
growing, while the Slavic states are sinking ever deeper in the
demographic hole. Besides, the high death rate is
characteristic above all for the economically active sectors of
population. This is a purely Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian
Able-bodied people are dying.
Next, cardio-vascular diseases are the most frequent cause
of death everywhere in the world, including Russia. The second
place in the world is held by all kinds of tumours, meaning
cancer. But in Russia they hold the third place, while the
second most frequent causes of death are poisoning, alcoholism,
murders, suicide, and injuries, or purely social reasons. In
the past, we were shocked to learn that we had lost 15,000 in
This is a tragedy, indeed. But 202,000 out of the 520,800 who
died in the economically-active age in 1998 died for external
reasons, meaning murders, suicide, accidents, poisoning and
injuries (60,000 more than in 1990).
Question: You said 1992 was the turning point. Does this
mean that the demographic situation was normal before that in
Russia and in the Soviet Union?
Answer: Let's begin with the beginning of the century. At
the turn of the 20th century, life expectancy equalled 31 for
men and 33 for women. This was 15 years less than, say, in
France and the USA. It grew to 40 and 46 years, respectively,
by the beginning of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45. After
that war, life expectancy grew consistently and approached the
standards of the leading countries (69.94 years) in 1987. After
that, it went down again. In the seven years after 1987, life
expectancy plummeted to 65.9 years. The situation with men's
life expectancy was especially tragic: it fell from 65 in 1987
to 59.8 in 1996.
And the government plans to raise pensionable age to 65. Who
will it pay pensions to? The average life expectancy is 79 in
Japan, 78 in Sweden, 77 in Canada and France, 76 in the USA and
Britain, 72 in Chile and 70 in Mexico.
Meanwhile, life expectancy is a key integral
characteristic of the health of the population. Its component
parts are the quality of foods, the environment, health care
standards, protection of mothers and children, labour
conditions, and many other things. If all these factors remain
at the current low level, the average Russian man will live
only 53 years in 2005.
Question: An average Russian citizen is a very relative
term. We know that some regions are famous for their
Answer: There are long-livers in all regions, but they
hardly influence the demographic situation. And here is the
situation in regions: A fall in the number of population was
registered in seven constituent members of the Russian
federation in 1989, in 33 members in 1991, and already in 78
members in the first quarter of this year. The only exceptions
are Dagestan, Ingushetia, the Tyumen Region, the republics of
Tyva and Sakha (Yakutia), the Taimyr, Evenk, Aginsk-Buryat and
Chukotka autonomous areas. I want to draw your attention to the
following alarming factor: It is not just that the population
of Russia is dwindling. Worse still, depopulation, meaning
extinction, has hit above all the titular nation, meaning
It is true that representatives of nearly 130 ethnic
groups regard themselves, with full reason, as the citizens of
Russia. I am not for creating ethnic states, for this would run
contrary to the development trends of civilisation, human
rights and democratic principles. But the choice of a model of
social progress and the responsibility of the leading ethnos
for the future of the country and people living in it
(especially in periods of global change) are the permanent
features of civil and state-political importance.
Question: You mean the verdict has been read. And the
saving lies only in an immediate improvement of the social
situation of the people?
Answer: Not only that. Demography passed the verdict on
both the present and the future. I mean the demographic threat
facing Russia. It is becoming one of the largest threats at the
turn of the third millennium. You can even describe it as the
challenge of the time.
Russia now stands not on one-sixth, but on one-eighth of
dry land, although it remains the largest state of the world in
terms of territory. But the density of population is very low:
barely 8.6 people per one square kilometre. Beyond the Urals,
population density is only 2.5, and there is only one person
per 2.5 square kilometres in the area with the capital city of
Anadyr. Now look at these figures: There are 122 people per one
square kilometre in China, 344 in Japan, and 444 in South
Korea. As a result of the low demographic potential,
ineffective regional policy, the weakness of federal
authorities and political flabbiness in Russia, the Far East is
being drawn into the sphere of interests of the quickly
developing economies of Asia Pacific countries.
There are demographic reasons to fear a possible colonisation
of the Far East and a considerable part of Siberia by Russia's
powerful neighbours. However, there are no signs in the
government's policy to show that the authorities are aware of
the scale of the problem. Anyway, the population of the Russian
North is dwindling.
On the other hand, there are no norms determining the
optimal density of population. But international practice shows
that there should be 30-50 people per square kilometre to have
the requisite social environment meeting modern demands.
Question: Does this mean that Russia, with its vast
territory and low density of population, has incredible
reserves for the growth of population and its prosperity?
Answer: Yes, this is one of the powerful but yet untapped
resources of the country. If we really want to restore the
might of Russia, we should remember that this is possible only
with a substantiated demographic policy. We will rise again
only if we invest the state's fixed capital into the family,
into children, their health and education. And this should
become one of the main ideas rallying all Russian citizens.
ANALYSIS-In Russia, it is still buyer beware
By Peter Henderson
MOSCOW, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Russia's booming economy and rising stock market
obscure a conclusion by many working here that this is still a dangerous
place to invest because property rights are weak and uncertain. The recent
woes of two mobile phone firms pressured to give up radio frequencies shows
either the government's internal divisions or ignorance of businesses'
rights, analysts said.
Industrialists also say they are in limbo because the government will not
decisively end speculation that privatisations may be revised, meaning
nothing is safe to buy.
Tax reforms earlier this summer were seen as evidence of the government's new
will to change, but more meaty proposals aimed at business are only due to be
considered later this year.
This week Russia's two main mobile phone carriers, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS)
and Vimpel Communications VIMP.RTS, have been battling regulators who say
they must give up previously allocated frequencies used for Moscow networks.
The two companies are Russia's best recent investment successes -- they have
raised a total of nearly $600 million on foreign markets in the last few
months, and Vimpelcom in particular is known for doing things by the Western
Both say their rights to the channels are clear: they were allocated specific
bands of the 900 MHz spectrum which by law can only be cancelled in extreme
cases of state need, but each received a letter cancelling the rights without
The government appears to want the frequencies back to give to another
operator, although no officials will comment on the reasoning. Communications
Minister Leonid Reiman suspended the seizure on Thursday to study the issue,
which is still open.
``If those agreements are reneged on, essentially, by the regulatory
authorities, then that creates a huge problem for further development of
capital markets,'' said Philip Poole, chief economist at ING Barings.
``There has to be a much clearer delineation of what is agreed and acceptance
that once it is agreed, it is agreed and doesn't get changed.''
PRIVATISATION -- AN OPEN ISSUE?
Business leaders also say one effect of a broad uncertainty regarding
privatisation is that companies wishing to expand are inclined to build from
scratch rather than take the often cheaper and economically healthy step of
buying bankrupt firms.
The government earlier this year questioned the results of some selloffs and
essentially said that it would reserve the right to review privatisations
carried out incorrectly, which most analysts see as potentially every one
ever done in Russia.
``Recent steps by politicians still keep the situation unclear -- will the
results of privatisation be revised or not?'' Alexander Zurabov, first deputy
chief executive of national airline Aeroflot AFLT.RTS, told a recent
Aeroflot is eager to expand by acquiring some of the roughly 300 domestic
carriers, which Zurabov predicts cannot survive more than five years because
they cannot afford new planes, but it will build, not buy, faced with the
threat of repossession.
Stan Shulman, a board member of Russia's largest pulp and paper company,
Syktyvkar Forest Enterprise, said for the same reason his firm had put on
hold deals to buy bankrupt companies.
``We are still waiting for the government to put together a political
statement,'' he told the investment conference.
``What we all hope to hear from the government is 'yes, we do understand
there were some problems in the early days of privatisations, but what is
privatised, is privatised, and if you want to invest, go ahead and buy the
Shulman said he expected his firm to do well by new tax laws coming into
force next year, but many major reforms on the governments agenda have yet to
take effect, from a proposed corporate governance code applauded by portfolio
investors to corporate tax changes that would improve the business climate.
``The major changes which would affect companies have yet to become law,''
David Hexter, deputy vice-president of the European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development, a major foreign direct investor in Russia, told the