This Date's Issues: 4537•
Johnson's Russia List
25 September 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Los Angeles Times: Graham Allison, A Partisan Panel Scatters
Poppycock. (re Cox report)
2. AP: Yuri Bagrov, Chechen War Shows No Signs of Fading.
3. The Times (UK): Alice Lagnado, Tsar Putin spends £25m on palace.
4. BBC MONITORING: HEAD OF POWER GRID CHUBAYS GOES TO SCHOOL -
5. Vremya Novostei: RUSSIAN MILITARY REFORM PROCEEDS IN TIGHT
SECRECY. (Interview with Kokoshin)
6. Newsweek: Christian Caryl, Strange Bedfellows. A pair of
oligarchs team up against a new foe.
7. Trud: SOLZHENITSYN ABOUT HIS MEETING WITH PUTIN.
8. Yanis Nikolopoulos: two conferences this week in Moscow on
Russia-India-US triangular cooperation.
9. The Observer (UK): Russia's cure for old age. The wealthy are
flocking to a St Petersburg clinic for a course of drugs that
promises to hold back the ageing process, reports Amelia Gentleman.
10. Wall Street Journal: G. Pascal Zachary, Coping With Capitalism.
Russia has so much technical talent -- and so little to show for it.
11. Novye Izvestia: INTERVIEW WITH BORIS BEREZOVSKY. "THERE ALWAYS
IS AND ALWAYS SHOULD BE AN ALTERNATIVE." Boris Berezovsky's meetings
12. Reuters: Russian minister calls Yugoslav poll fair -
Los Angeles Times
September 25, 2000
A Partisan Panel Scatters Poppycock
By GRAHAM T. ALLISON
Graham T. Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and
International Affairs and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Is a
Foreign Policy Advisor to Democratic Presidential Candidate Al Gore
Twelve Republican House members, constituted as the Cox Commission on
Russia, have issued a report on the Clinton administration's policy toward
Russia that amounts to "sound and fury," in Shakespeare's fine phrase,
"signifying nothing." Nothing except that, in the midst of a presidential
campaign, a dozen Republican members of Congress dislike Clinton and Al
Gore and support Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Almost a decade has passed since the Soviet Union disappeared.
President Bush and then President Clinton sought to fashion U.S. policy
toward an unprecedented transformation in the entire international system.
The Clinton administration's choices and actions regarding Russia should
certainly be examined and debated. But American stakes in our policy toward
Russia are too important to be submerged in partisan "poppy-Cox."
The starting place for an analysis of our Russia policy should begin
with a simple question: Why does Russia matter? Why does Russia rank among
the two or three nations on Earth in which developments could have the
largest impact on Americans' lives and liberties?
With one-seventh of the world's land mass, 150 million citizens,
natural resources that rank at the top tier in every important category, a
scientific and technical elite that rivaled America's for four decades, and
a culture that has contributed to the world canon, Russia matters.
If this were the whole story, Russia would count among the score of
countries important for American policymakers. Instead, its priority in the
hierarchy of American interests derives from one irreducible fact: History
has left a superpower arsenal of nuclear and biological weapons, missiles
and know-how in the midst of a revolution that is deconstructing every
sinew of the totalitarian Soviet state.
Start with 7,000 active nuclear warheads--armed, mounted on missiles,
capable of arriving at targets in the U.S. less than an hour after launch.
Add to this picture 5,000 tactical nuclear weapons. Remember an additional
12,000 nuclear weapons in various decaying storage facilities across
Russia. Include large stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and
plutonium--ingredients from which a crude nuclear device could be assembled.
In sum: The overriding reason Russia must matter appears vividly as
one considers the danger of "loose nukes"--the theft of one or a dozen
weapons, sale to a rogue state or terrorist group, and use of these weapons
to attack American soldiers abroad or destroy a city on U.S. soil.
How has the Clinton administration dealt with Russia on this most
important issue? According to the Cox report, "the administration has
consistently de-emphasized proliferation in discussions with Russia." But
examine the facts.
In 1992, three newly independent states--Ukraine, Kazakhstan and
Belarus--found themselves with the third-, fourth- and fifth-largest
nuclear arsenals in the world. American leadership, especially through Vice
President Gore's Bilateral Commission, succeeded in eliminating three
superpower arsenals. How many nuclear weapons do those three states have
A big instrument in preventing proliferation of thousands of nuclear
weapons has been the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. A
bipartisan congressional initiative, these programs assist Russia in
dismantling and safely disposing of its superpower arsenal. Under Clinton
and Gore, Nunn-Lugar programs have invested about $500 million annually and
eliminated more than 5,000 nuclear weapons previously aimed at the U.S., as
well as hundreds of missile launchers and submarines. They have also helped
secure remaining weapons and weapons-useable nuclear material at sites
About these programs, which in fact constitute the largest source of
U.S. taxpayer assistance to Russia, the Cox report is silent. Had the
commission criticized the administration for being too timid or doing too
little on this front, I might agree. But its members know that a
Republican-led Congress has been the major obstacle to a bolder, expanded
Those who seek to serve as our next president should speak about how
they propose to engage Russia in the next four years. Unfortunately, by
failing to establish a bipartisan commission that would have analyzed
success and failures evenhandedly, the Cox Commission missed an opportunity
to inform that debate.
The president who takes office in January should give highest priority
to securing Russian nuclear weapons, weapons-usable nuclear material and
other weapons of mass destruction. Protection of Americans' lives and
liberties--not partisan politics--should take precedence in shaping
America's Russia policy.
Chechen War Shows No Signs of Fading
September 25, 2000
By YURI BAGROV
SLEPTSOVSKAYA, Russia (AP) - His face and uniform black with grime, the
Russian soldier smiles gently as his armored personnel carrier rumbles out of
Chechnya after months of fighting an enemy he never once saw.
Sgt. Igor Vlasov, 20, can barely believe he survived a four-month combat tour
in the rebel republic. Slumping from fatigue on the edge of the carrier, he
muses about his time in Chechnya, of days filled with boredom and nights with
chest-squeezing fear of the next surprise attack.
Then, in two brief sentences, he sums up Russia's dilemma, a year after the
army went to war in Chechnya again: ``It is necessary to finish the war, but
I do not know how. We cannot leave it and we cannot stay there anymore.''
Using guerrilla tactics since Russian troops attacked last Sept. 30, the
insurgents have fought the army to a standstill and show no sign of giving up
the fight for independence, bleeding the Russians with daily hit-and-run
The military admits to casualties of about 2,700 dead and 9,000 wounded - a
figure that soldiers' rights groups say is probably half the real total.
There are no figures for Chechen losses, although aid organizations say they
number many thousands.
After two major wars in the past decade, most of Chechnya is devastated. Very
few buildings are undamaged, and there is almost no work to be had. Thousands
of Chechens live in refugee camps in surrounding regions.
``I am so tired of Chechen faces. In every look, you can see and feel
hatred,'' Vlasov says. ``They will always hate us. Chechnya should have been
fenced away and completely isolated.''
His unit commander, Lt. Anatoly Sebrin, 24, can't say how many of his men
were killed or wounded. Trying to remember the names of the dead, he blurts
out his hatred for all Chechens: ``Those vermin, we need to finish with
``In the daytime they would smile at you and at night they shoot you in the
back. It is impossible to pacify them,'' he says.
Like the Russian soldiers, Aisha Atabayeva, 56, says she doesn't think the
war will ever end.
Every week, she goes from the Chechen capital, Grozny, to the neighboring
Russian region of Ingushetia to buy food and see her two sons in a refugee
camp. Both are in the 20s and fear they would be shot by the army as rebels
if they were in Chechnya, she says.
``No one believes there will be peace,'' she says.
While the Russian military urges Chechens to return home, promising they will
be safe, most of the traffic is in the other direction as more civilians seek
to escape the fighting. Any adult Chechen is a legitimate target to the
Russian soldiers, they say.
``The federals have somehow become completely savage,'' says Arbi Dinayev,
who fled in mid-September. ``You're scared to go into the forest to chop wood
... if you come across a soldier, he can shoot you. And then they say they
killed a rebel.''
Although the army claims to control most of Chechnya, civilians say there is
no safe place because there is no front line. The rebels strike the Russians
anywhere and the military randomly bombs and shells areas and villages where
it thinks insurgents are hiding.
Most of the Russian soldiers are frightened, homesick conscripts who received
almost no training and barely know how to fire their weapons. They are little
match for the experienced guerrillas willing to die for their dream of an
Moscow sent troops back into Chechnya after rebels attacked neighboring
Dagestan and a series of bombings in Russia that killed some 300 people. The
rebels denied any involvement in the bombings, but the republic had become a
haven for kidnappers and bandits since the Russians were driven out in 1996
during an earlier war.
The rebels have their own problems, including rivalries between commanders
and shortages of arms and supplies. Aslan Maskhadov, who was elected
Chechnya's president in 1996, heads the republic's nominal government hiding
in the southern mountains.
Maskhadov's appeals for talks have been rejected by Moscow, although there
have been unofficial contacts. Russian President Vladimir Putin insists the
rebels surrender and Chechnya remain a part of Russia.
So the war goes on.
``The majority of Chechens hate us, even those who collaborate with us,''
says Andrei Bezugly, a Russian sergeant.
The Times (UK)
25 September 2000
Tsar Putin spends £25m on palace
FROM ALICE LAGNADO IN MOSCOW
PRESIDENT PUTIN will spend £25 million restoring a Tsarist palace near St
Petersburg to be used as a second residence, in what may be perceived by many
as an attempt to set himself up as an imperial Russian leader.
The reconstruction of the 18th-century Constantine Palace, built near the
former imperial capital for Peter the Great, will have great resonance for
Russians longing for a strong, paternal leader. But it will also stir up
anger at the lavish spending habits of a President ruling a country involved
in two regional conflicts and mired in deep economic problems.
The beautiful but decrepit Baroque Palace, near the famous Peterhof palaces
on the Gulf of Finland, had been chosen as the best site for a maritime
presidential home, St Petersburg's Committee for the Protection of Historical
and Cultural Monuments said.
The Kremlin has not commented, but the Kommersant newspaper last week said
that Vladimir Kozhin, a presidential aide, confirmed that Mr Putin approved
of the project.
Kommersant said the decision to rebuild the palace, which it estimated would
cost £25 million, was made public in mid-August. Unsurprisingly, officials
refused to comment about it to the newspaper because of the Kursk submarine
tragedy three days earlier.
Vadim Znamenov, the director of the complex of Peterhof palaces, told
Kommersant that he had previously written to former President Yeltsin to help
restore the palace, but Mr Yeltsin, not a stranger to luxury, did not show
any interest in having a St Petersburg residence.
Mr Putin, in contrast, has shown a marked fondness for the trappings of power
and appears keen to create a Tsar-like image for himself which will detract
from his past as a KGB spy. It will also play on the national desire for an
authoritative leader who will give Russians back their lost pride.
His Air Force One, a £20 million Ilyushin 96, refurbished with walnut veneer
for an estimated £9 million, is the jewel in the crown of a fleet of
airliners and bodyguards, which together with other costs bring the
President's international travel bill to up to £650,000 a day.
Mr Putin's plentiful mobile telephone calls home and his expensive jet have
added to spending habits totaling £6.5 million a year more than those of Mr
Yeltsin, reports suggest. At his inauguration last May MPs and cultural
figures were astounded to find themselves standing up during the ceremony,
following the tradition of Tsars' coronations. Earlier the Russian leader
launched his election campaign with a call for "moral revival" in the
Mr Putin's expensive tastes could also inspire anger. Russia is still
fighting a year-long war in Chechnya and is considering sending troops into
Central Asia where Uzbek militants, trained in Afghanistan, are fighting
government troops with little success. The families of the Kursk sailors and
the victims of bombings of apartments and a city underpass may also fail to
appreciate his need for a new palace.
The Constantine Palace, which dates back to 1720, was designed mainly by the
Italian architects Niccolo Michetti and Bartolomeo Rastrelli. At the turn of
the century Tsar Paul I gave it to his son, the Grand Duke Constantine, a
minor aristocrat, who turned it into the ideal summertime country seat.
It was burned down and looted by the Nazis during the Second World War. After
the war the palace was used as a naval academy for 42 years.
HEAD OF POWER GRID CHUBAYS GOES TO SCHOOL - RUSSIAN NEWSPAPER
Text of report by Russian NTV on 25th September
[Presenter] The `Segodnya' newspaper has learnt that head of the Unified
Energy System of Russia [UES] Anatoliy Chubays intends to go Switzerland
and spend about a month there. The newspaper quotes Chubays as saying that
his life dream will come true at last. He will be able to upgrade his
qualifications doing a management course in a famous Swiss business school.
Meanwhile, `Segodnya' says that Chubays decided to leave his company at its
own disposal for rather a long term when the preparations for the winter
heating season are in full swing. The newspaper does not rule out political
reasons that may be behind Chubays' departure.
September 25, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
RUSSIAN MILITARY REFORM PROCEEDS IN TIGHT SECRECY
By Yuri GOLOTYUK
Cuts in Russian armed forces, announced by Moscow, are
unprecedented not only in their scale, but also in the degree
of secrecy that surrounds them. A public acknowledgement by
Defence Minister Marshal Igor SERGEYEV that "in the next three
years the army will be trimmed down from its present strength
of 1,200,000 to 850,000" is perhaps all that is known for sure
about the Kremlin's plans in this respect. Meanwhile the reform
will embrace the entire military mechanism of the state, with
hundreds of thousands of Russians to lose their jobs and the
system of national defence to undergo fundamental
transformation. The newspaper Vremya Novostei has asked Andrei
KOKOSHIN, ex-secretary of Russia's Security Council, one of the
architects of the reform, to comment on the coming changes in
the armed forces.
Question: What was the criterion for arriving at the
army's strength we are currently discussing?
Answer: Curiously enough, the calculations that the army
should not have more than 780,000 men were made not outside,
but with direct participation of General Staff specialists.
Moreover, as early as 1995. True, the top brass found the
figure an abominable heresy and ordered that it be forgotten.
The calculations were based on three generalised parameters:
availability of weaponry per "average serviceman" (a catch-all
indicator showing, in simple words, the proportion of the
army's might per soldier); specific costs of his combat
training; and maintenance expenses. The calculations showed
that by clinging to a massive army, we were steadily and
catastrophically weakening it.
Question: But the top brass has repeatedly said that the
army was at a critically low level as it is.
Answer: The Security Council, in drafting the military
reform, insisted that new units were to be set up parallel with
the cuts. I stress it: not after the cuts but at the same time.
Three divisions we were to have deployed in the initial stage -
Vostok, Zapad and Yug - were conceived as base units of an
entirely new type: with new manning tables, new principles of
weapons organisation (although the weapons themselves were to
be the same, at least initially), and new deployment and
mobility capabilities. Our plan was to abandon the stereotypes
that existed since the Second World War that very bulky
motorised rifle divisions of the Russian army can operate only
when fronts are continuous.
Question: Did experts figure out the tasks that Russian
armed forces could accomplish upon such a reform?
Answer: Naturally, such predictions were made, with,
moreover, direct participation of specialists from the main
operations and main intelligence departments of the General
Staff. Reformed armed forces were expected to accomplish (but
unconditionally) rather modest tasks. Global security is to be
ensured by strategic nuclear forces; besides, it was planned
that the army was to acquire a capability for creating a threat
to any opponent, at any distance from national territory, by
using new systems of smart weapons in the conventional
(non-nuclear) configuration. The functions of power support for
national foreign policy are vested with the Navy, which is to
display the Russian flag in some or other world ocean depending
on the situation. Lastly, Russian armed forces upon reforming
are to be able to fight small local defensive wars. The
reference was, of course, to a peacetime manned army. Any
global threat will naturally call for mobilisation deployment.
October 2, 2000
A pair of oligarchs team up against a new foe
By Christian Caryl
October 2 issue — Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky, two of Russia’s
richest men, have never been chummy. On the contrary, they are known as
ruthless rivals (a former Kremlin bodyguard, Aleksandr Korzhakov, once
claimed that Berezovsky asked him to have Gusinsky whacked). But powerful
enemies sometimes have short memories, particularly when faced with a more
THESE DAYS GUSINSKY and Berezovsky are engaged in a common battle, and
both have come to the United States to drum up support against their new
adversary: President Vladimir Putin, the colorless ex-KGB agent who wants
to reshape Russia in his own image.
Last week Berezovsky was in New York on a charm offensive that took
him to the august Council on Foreign Relations and other gatherings of
policy-shapers. The PR campaign followed a similar U.S. tour by Gusinsky.
The message? “Actions against me and against my main rival in the media
business,” Berezovsky wrote in The New York Times on Friday, “are only the
most visible signs of authoritarian retrenchment.” For starters, the
oligarchs argue, Putin aims to gain control of the country’s three
nationwide TV networks. One of the networks, RTR, is already in the hands
of the Russian government, but the other two are controlled by Gusinsky and
Self-interest aside, the moguls have a strong case. Putin has
repeatedly expressed disdain for his critics in the media. Most recently,
when 118 sailors died aboard the submarine Kursk after a catastrophic
accident and a bungled rescue effort, Putin blamed the angry public
reaction on “television.” Putin’s government has begun resorting to
outright intimidation, according to Berezovsky and Gusinsky. Berezovsky
recently claimed that the Kremlin had threatened to jail him unless he
divested himself of his 49 percent stake in the ORT network. He tried to
dodge that threat by transferring his shares to a trust controlled by
“independent-minded” journalists. And Russian police jailed Gusinsky last
summer, releasing him only in return for a written promise to sell his
shares in the badly indebted Media-Most conglomerate to Gazprom, a creditor
company largely owned by the state. Last week Gazprom accused Gusinsky of
reneging on that agreement, and prosecutors threatened to open a new case.
“Like that guy said in ‘The Godfather’—’This is only business’,” says
Gazprom executive Alfred Kokh. “Nothing personal.” Russian journalists, not
to mention two tough oligarchs, find little consolation in that assurance.
September 23, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
SOLZHENITSYN ABOUT HIS MEETING WITH PUTIN
We all looked forward with impatience to hear Alexander
Solzhnitsyn's comments on his two-hour-long conversation with
President Vladimir Putin at Troitse-Lykovo. The Nobel winning
writer gave his impressions in an interview with the Russian
In Solzhenistyn's opinion, "the President realizes
perfectly well all the incredible problems, both internal and
external, which he has inherited and which he is to handle
now." The writer was impressed with the "extreme caution and
prudence of the President's decisions and judgements. He has a
quick mind and ingenuity but absolutely no thirst for personal
power. Indeed, his attention is strained on the tasks to get
things done, because these are exceptionally tense tasks,
indeed." Solzhenitsyn was very glad to read the following
message in the President's address (though few people paid much
attention to it), namely: "Self-government is the foundation
for our existence." "This is not just a phrase. This is how he
really thinks and this is what he knows. We agree in these
views immensely," Solzhenitsyn said.
Asked by the correspondent on which points he and the
President agreed and on which they probably disagreed, the
writer gave two examples. "We both agree that Russia is
suffering because the cultural space has been torn into pieces.
Television replaces everything, like the Lord who is
everything... But it cannot make up to us for cultural
communication. Even sending a letter is very expensive today,
to say nothing of a telephone conversation or a personal
trip... Such a disruption of our cultural space is outrageous.
It should be overcome in the first place. It is the President's
idea that we should do this. Unless we restore [the cultural
space], we are not a country, not one country... As for an
example of our differences, I disagree with the progress of the
state reform, which the President began last spring and summer.
I think that the Federation Council should not be disbanded.
What is absolutely necessary to do and what the President has
already begun doing is to replace the election of the heads of
the constituent members of the Federation with their
nomination. The Constitution does not say that they should be
elected. It was Yeltsin with his lordly manners who gave the
gift of election to one, then another and then to still others
in a search for allies for himself. Election is out of place
here because it is leading to dissociation, to crawling off in
different directions, and we continue to crawl off. We think
that the Soviet Union has disintegrated but Russia cannot
disintegrate. It can, and there should be no doubt about this."
"We had a very interesting dialogue," Solzhenitsyn continued.
"He argued sometimes and agreed with me at other times. He has
written down some of my proposals and I have written down some
of his objections, correcting myself. It was a very useful
The main subject of the dialogue can be judged by
Sozhenitsyn's following admission: "I feel great pain because
our state is based today on a thieves' foundation and thieves'
ideology... We used to have a national ideology: rob as much as
you can swallow. And we will be unable to recover from this
benchmark until we correct it. We are unable to rectify our
reputation on a global scale now. Regardless of international
meetings we might have, we have been labeled as a country
saturated with robbery with the apparatus hooked on grafts and
based on robbery. We must somehow clean ourselves from this. It
is a huge problem hanging over us."
"I think our meeting was very useful and necessary. I am
grateful to the President that he has found the time to talk
with me. I am still under the impression of this meeting."
Since Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia his relations with
authorities have been uneasy. The initial mutual friendliness
and a hope for mutual understanding were soon replaced by an
obvious cooling. One of the reasons was the writer's sharp
criticism of the policy conducted by the Kremlin in the past
However, as we see, relations between authorities and this
Nobel winning writer are now changing. The present optimism of
the eternal "dissident" and sceptic is a serious sign of hope.
(Alexander Neverov has prepared this material.)
From: "Yanis Nikolopoulos" <email@example.com>
Subject: two conferences this week in Moscow on Russia-India-US triangular
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2000
With Mr. Putin going to India Oct. 2-5, there will be two conferences in
Moscow this week on the emerging triangular cooperation between the US,
Russia and India: Monday, Sept. 25, 2000 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Conference on
the evolving triangular cooperation of the U.S., Russia and India
Moskovskii Gorodskoi Universitet ul. Novokuzhetskaya, dom 16 (Fakultet
Istorii) (second floor, rm. 309) near Metro Novokuznetskaya for more
information: Arun Mohanty, tel (7095) 134-2395 Presentations will be
made by Prof. Lonev, India-America expert at the Institute of Oriental
Studies in Moscow, Dr. Straus, Program on Transitions to Democracy in
Washington, DC, and Prof. Mohanty, Moscow City University and India Press
Abroad, followed by discussion Friday, Sept. 29, 2000 12 noon - 2:30
Rossiskyii Gosudarstvennyi Gumanitarnyi Universitet ul. Nikolskaya, dom 9
(4th floor, room 1) - near Metros Ploshad Revoliutsii, Teatralnaya and
Okhotnyi Ryad for more information: Andrei Kazantsev, tel (7095) 298-3805,
298-0091 (telephone in advance on Wednesday because there is security at
the building)Conference on US-Russia-India cooperation on Central Asian
issues and Afghanistan Presentations will be made by professors of
the Institute of Oriental Studies and the Russian State University of the
Humanities, followed by discussion The first conference will cover the
overall question of triangular cooperation, including South and East Asia
as well as Central Asia and the Caucasus, and cooperation on global issues.
The second conference will focus more closely on the evolving cooperation
on Central Asia. Both conferences are timely; those who are in Moscow may
wish to attend.
The Observer (UK)
24 September 2000
Russia's cure for old age
The wealthy are flocking to a St Petersburg clinic for a course of drugs that
promises to hold back the ageing process, reports Amelia Gentleman
A team of scientists in St Petersburg has developed a new style of drug from
the organs of newborn calves which, they claim, slows down the human ageing
process so radically that life expectancy could be increased to 110.
Some senior Kremlin politicians, prominent businessmen, leading footballers
and ballerinas have started to make twice-yearly visits to a clinic in one of
the city's up-market suburbs, hoping to prolong their lives with a course of
treatment from the former military doctors responsible for the new formula.
One of the most popular aspects of the therapy is that there is no need to
begin early; on the contrary, doctors claim the best results are achieved
among people who start when confronted by symptoms of middle age.
Earlier this year the directors of Gazprom, the gas giant that is Russia's
largest business, signed a contract with the institute to provide the therapy
for about 300,000 members of staff in a drive to reduce sick leave and boost
employees' enthusiasm for work. Preliminary results, they claim, are very
The treatment centres on a series of medicines, named bioregulators, made
from isolated animal organs designed to echo and support the functions of the
equivalent organs in humans. Scientists at the institute are particularly
excited by the effects of two of their creations - thymalin and epithalamin -
which they say mirror the work of the body's immune system and hormonal
system respectively. By taking these drugs, they claim, patients can
rejuvenate the functions of these systems, thus staving off both the ageing
process itself and the illnesses which accelerate it.
'These discoveries are as important as the development of the atomic bomb. It
is colossally significant for the whole of mankind,' declared Vladimir
Khavinson, a specialist in gerontology - the study of ageing processes - who
is responsible for much of the research. Judging by his huge apartment in an
ostentatious new development for St Peterburg's elite (equipped with a
television in every room), his work has proved extremely lucrative.
Thymalin is created from thymus glands (thought to regulate the work of the
immune system) taken from calves aged under a year. Epithalamin is made from
young animals' epiphysis glands, which the scientists claim control the
In a series of tests on mice and rats over 25 years, life expectancy of those
animals treated with both drugs increased by between 30 and 45 per cent, and
now doctors at the St Petersburg Institute of Bioregulation and Gerontology
are confident that the same effect will be seen on humans, allowing them to
live healthily well into their second century. They claim that, under this
treatment, age-related diseases can can be minimised and capacity to
reproduce will be extended for men and women.
No independent research has been done to corroborate these claims, but the
mere suggestion that the institute may have discovered an elixir which
prolongs youth has aroused huge international interest. A team of venture
capitalists from Britain (including one of the Rothschilds) is in
negotiations to sponsor research as well as the patenting and registering of
Pharmaceutical corporations in Germany and the United States are also
interested in backing the development of new synthetic versions of the
animal-based products. 'Doctors in the West are very suspicious of medicines
developed from the bone stems and inner organs of animals because of the BSE
crisis, so we have been forced to work on synthetic copies which are much
more acceptable to the Western mentality,' Khavinson said. 'These synthetic
drugs are the future.'
There is scepticism among those who warn that charlatanism always lies behind
such claims. Robert Music, deputy director of the UK charity Research into
Ageing, said he would caution against spending money on this kind of drug.
'As far as we know, it is just not possible to extend human life expectancy
The unsuspecting original sponsor of the research was Russia's Ministry of
Defence in the early 1970s, when Khavinson and his colleague, Vyacheslav
Morozov, were young colonels in a military medical academy. Commissioned to
develop ways to help soldiers recover from radiation exposure, chemical
poisoning and various injuries, they invented the drugs they now promote as
life-expectancy boosters as a way to restore damaged body functions.
'These kind of injuries have the same effect as a speeded-up form of ageing.
While we were testing the new drugs on rats, we discovered that they
simultaneously extended the lives of the animals. The Defence Ministry had no
particular interest in developing a drug to prolong life, so we continued our
research in secret, but the work would never have been possible without the
huge sums of money allocated to us by the government,' Khavinson said. When
the Soviet Union broke up, he set up a private institute.
Visitors to the St Petersburg clinic are confronted by expensive medical
technology of a sophistication unseen in most Russian hospitals. Patients are
subjected to DNA testing and presented with a genetic passport determining
which diseases they are likely to be susceptible to; on the basis of this
test they are given a course of extra bioregulators in addition to the
standard immune and hormone system boosters. The basic 10-day course of
injections costs about $100 (£69).
A less-than-inspiring advertisement for the clinic comes with the revelation
that, while he was still President, the ailing Boris Yeltsin was sent some of
the drugs. Doctors at the institute claim that while he received their
treatment his condition improved, but add hastily that he did not continue
with the therapy.
Wall Street Journal
September 25, 2000
[for personal use only]
Coping With Capitalism
Russia has so much technical talent -- and so little to show for it
By G. PASCAL ZACHARY (firstname.lastname@example.org)
AMSTERDAM -- Alexander Galitsky's old airline tickets say a lot about the
travails of technology innovators in Russia.
Mr. Galitsky flies each month to Moscow, where he employs 70 code writers. He
visits Silicon Valley even more, though sometimes touching down for only a
day. He crisscrosses Germany and France. But most often his plane touches
down in this picturesque Dutch city, where he lives with his family and runs
his software company, Trustworks.
Why Amsterdam? The city has good air connections, talented foreigners can get
work permits quickly, and -- most important -- it's not in Russia.
Mr. Galitsky, 44 years old, has nothing against his native land. For 15 years
in Moscow he worked on computer and software systems for Soviet spy
satellites and the Mir space station. He still waxes proud, insisting that
someday "I will prove that Russians can build not just great software, but
also great software companies."
Yet he admits that he won't realize his dream at home.
Neither will George Pachikov. His company, ParallelGraphics, writes
three-dimensional graphics code for Boeing Co., the U.S. aerospace giant. All
his programmers live and work in Moscow. But Mr. Pachikov needs marketing and
management talent, which he can't find in Russia. Nor can he find investors.
So, he recently opened an office in Dublin and hired an Irishman as his chief
executive. Hoping these moves will breathe vitality into ParallelGraphics,
Mr. Pachikov says, "Now we're an Irish company."
For Russia's top technical talent, it wasn't supposed to be this way. A
decade ago, when Russia sprang anew from the remnants of the Soviet Union,
many thought the country would grab a significant role in the global
high-tech industry. Software was considered the likeliest arena for Russia's
first great capitalist achievement. After all, Russia had a pool of
first-rate scientists and engineers skilled in mathematics. And working on
relatively backward computers had made the country's code writers more
ingenious. They were adept at writing clever programs to cover the
deficiencies of their machines.
"We thought we'd all be very rich," says Mr. Pachikov.
Converting creativity into commercial success, however, has proved difficult.
For one thing, Russia's economic decline and political instability have
prompted hundreds of top people to leave for the U.S. and elsewhere. Mr.
Pachikov lost five of his best code writers to Microsoft Corp. this year, and
an alliance with the American computer maker Silicon Graphics Inc., which he
hoped would turn his graphics code into a world standard, fell apart when the
latter company hit the skids and dropped him.
But rather than focus on a more commercially promising area of software, Mr.
Pachikov has stuck to his guns. He insists that someday the Web will shift to
3-D graphics and that when it does, he'll be ready to make a big score. "I
have brilliant technology," he says. "I just need money."
And this points to yet another obstacle that observers say has kept Russia
from entering the high-tech big leagues: the preference for high-risk,
grandiose projects over more routine sure things. Persistence is admirable,
they say, but it keeps companies like Mr. Pachikov's small. Principled, but
Call it the "Field of Dreams" approach to software development: If you build
it, customers will come. Isolated from the market during the Soviet years,
Russian programmers still struggle to adapt to the pace and needs of commerce.
"Russians don't do so well working on business applications," says Edward
Yourdon, a New York-based specialist on software workers. Trained to think
big, many founder on grand ideas and big projects. Then they prove unable, or
unwilling, to take on the sort of routine coding work that has turned
Bangalore, India, into a software powerhouse.
In fact, the contrast with booming Bangalore, where no software task seems
too boring to turn down, says much about Russia's predicament. Indian code
writers eagerly serve as low-wage labor for U.S. counterparts, seeing this as
a steppingstone to better things. But Russians eschew such practicality and
refuse to take a back seat. Still fresh in the minds of many are the days
when they ran massive projects with seemingly unlimited budgets, pursuing
technical goals as sophisticated as anything tried in the U.S.
Mr. Galitsky, for instance, directed hundreds of engineers on key parts of
the Mir, a venerable space station that, despite notable glitches, hasn't
been matched by the U.S. or Europe. He rejects the idea that he could make
money doing the sort of straightforward "body-shop" assignments that are
making India famous for its software prowess. Instead, Mr. Galitsky thinks he
has found a breakthrough project -- a sophisticated means of ensuring network
security using the latest advances in cryptography. Yet he admits his company
needs much more investment in sales and marketing because his product is too
complicated to win a large following without major support in the field. That
costs money, which he's trying to raise.
Taking on Intel
Mr. Galitsky can be forgiven for harboring grand ambitions. By the standards
of his fellow Russians, his are downright pedestrian. One of the country's
most famous engineers, Boris Babayan, leads the 500-strong Moscow Center of
Sparc Technology, which writes code for various American companies. But
rather than invest his profits into expanding his code-writing business --
trying to grab away jobs from India or the U.S., for instance -- he's
obsessed with selling a Russian-designed microprocessor. He spends
considerable time on the chip, seeking both financial backers and customers
for it, even though his effort puts him in direct competition with Intel
Corp., the world leader in microprocessors, and with big Japanese companies,
which invest billions of dollars annually in the field.
American entrepreneurs consider a frontal attack on the microprocessor market
suicidal, but not Mr. Babayan. "We know the microprocessor market much better
than many, many Americans," he says. Champions of Russian technology cheer
such audacious dreams, if only because they remind them of the country's
potential as a source of technical breakthroughs.
"There's more value to the Russians than simply being cheap," says Esther
Dyson, a New York high-tech pundit and an early champion of Russian high
tech. "Russians do not see themselves as slaves."
Yet it is as "wage slaves" that most programming communities get their start.
Because Russia isn't home to a single globally significant software company,
such an approach would seem to suit it, too. Writing software for
international companies -- even software derided as insufficiently creative
-- pays many times the wages earned by Russians working for domestic
companies. But Russian technologists insist on searching for the big score,
eschewing the sort of patient ladder-climbing that fuels software "job shops"
in other parts of the world.
Mr. Galitsky is an example of this. In the early 1990s, Sun Microsystems Inc.
wooed him. After Sun gave him 10 computers as a gift, he launched a design
firm, in which Sun later invested. His company, Elvis-Plus, created add-ons
to the computer that enabled wireless connectivity, helping to make possible
so-called nomadic computing. But when Elvis-Plus reached annual revenue of
about $18 million -- mainly from technology licensing to Sun and others --
Mr. Galitsky realized the company had gotten about as big as it might ever
get, and he opted for a more ambitious challenge.
Though he maintains a seat on Elvis-Plus's board and a share stake, he took
his core technical team and launched Trustworks in 1998, using a crack group
of 70 programmers, many of whom were veterans of the Soviet spy-satellite and
Mir programs he once ran. Computer security for networks -- now Mr.
Galitsky's core concern -- is an expanding field, so Trustworks has a ready
market. But while its technical solutions get high marks, the company faces
stiff competition. And Mr. Galitsky is once more involved in the uphill
battle of trying to prove that home-grown Russian technology can score a
really big commercial success, not just survive.
The company's base in Russia, while ensuring it close contact with its
technical talent, has caused business difficulties. Mr. Galitsky refused to
move to the U.S., despite importuning from venture capitalists, partly
because the U.S. government places restrictions on security code written
within its borders. (Such code is still considered of military value because
it could allow terrorists and hostile foreign governments to prevent U.S.
surveillance of their computer systems, practices considered in the interests
of American security.)
A year ago, Mr. Galitsky moved to Amsterdam. In his new location, he saw more
clearly that marketing and business savvy are just as important as sheer
technical prowess in winning business. But new problems arose. He hired a
veteran of Silicon Valley to lead his sales force, but the American soon
found he needed closer contact with the company's Moscow programmers in order
to get desired product features. "They have a tendency to be grandiose, so
you have to channel their energy," says Gail James, the executive.
To break down resistance to his ideas, Mr. James attends technical meetings
in Moscow, lobbies for product changes and even reviews bug reports. He
brings programmers, some of whom have never left Russia, to meetings with
foreign customers so they can hear directly about the reaction to their code.
Through such efforts, Mr. Galitsky thinks he can "blend the Russian spirit of
design with the best of American and European business practices." But for
the moment, that may be asking too much.
--Mr. Zachary, a senior special writer in The Wall Street Journal's London
bureau, served as contributing editor of this report.
TITLE: INTERVIEW WITH BORIS BEREZOVSKY
(NOVYE IZVESTIA DAILY, P. 2, SEPTEMBER 20, 2000)
SOURCE: FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE
"THERE ALWAYS IS AND ALWAYS SHOULD BE AN ALTERNATIVE"
Boris Berezovsky's meetings in America
The prominent Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky spent two
days in the United States. Although the emphasis in his schedule of
meetings was on business activities, the Americans who came to
listen to him were interested first of all in politics. The readers
of Novye Izvestia certainly will be interested in the answers given
by Berezovsky to questions put to him in Washington and New York
because, as the businessman said himself, "it is easier for me to
speak in the West than at home because the Americans understand me
Q: Your presentation in the International Press Center in
Washington was titled "Russia at the Crossroads". Some Americans
with knowledge of the Russian language interpreted it as a direct
reference to the name of the present Russian President. Do you
really think that under President Putin Russia may move from this
crossroads in the wrong direction?
A: In my opinion, the revolution in Russia was completed in
the main by 1998. Traditionally Russia forced its citizens to be
slaves of the state while in the past decade it virtually abandoned
its citizens to the mercy of fate. When the revolution ended it
became necessary to ensure continuity of government. Yeltsin solved
a historic task -- he turned the country in a new direction, and
the next president should have moved in the same direction while
solving already strategic tasks. But Putin is not solving strategic
tasks. On the contrary, he is moving the country back into the
past, the authoritarian past.
Q: You said that in his brief tenure as president Putin has
already made lots of mistakes. What concretely has the Russian
President done wrong?
A: Putin has made at least three strategic mistakes. The first
is Chechnya and he is repeating Yeltsin's mistake. That problem has
no military solution. The second mistake was to change the state
structure in Russia and concentrate power in the hands of one man,
the President. The third was to range himself against the already
existing political and economic elites in Russia.
There is yet another mistake -- the President's present
attitude to the mass media. All these mistakes are of a critical
nature because they are fraught with the danger of the emergence of
authoritarianism in Russia. That is why the main task at present is
to create a constructive opposition and thus prevent Russia's
sliding down to authoritarianism.
Q: What is the possible role of the restructuring of the
entire system of functioning of the mass media in Russia in this
threat of authoritarianism?
A: At present the President has formally concentrated all
political power in his hands, and in our country power can do
anything with a person. But now Putin wants to subordinate the
Fourth Estate. In Russia the three main television channels, ORT,
RTR, NTV, account for 90 percent of the influence exerted on public
opinion. The remaining ten percent are shared by all the other
television channels, radio stations and newspapers. The President
wants to control all the main television channels. He said this to
Gusinsky and he said this to me.
And I am warning Americans, without panic, just stating a
fact, that if this happens, this will be the end to freedom of
speech in Russia. The simultaneous establishment of control over
the leading television channels will create conditions for the
entrenchment of authoritarianism in Russia.
Q: Who in Russia supports your ideas of a constructive
opposition to government?
A: Do you remember how Putin's popularity soared? In the West
they think for some reason that as a result of the military
campaign in Chechnya an ordinary FSB Lieutenant Colonel became
President of Russia. And by drawing such a conclusion they are
making a big mistake. What did we have in the past? Kiriyenko
appeared out of nowhere and two months later he had a high rating.
The same happened with Primakov and then with Stepashin. And
neither one of them had anything to do with a military campaign in
Why did this happen? The answer is in the slave mentality of
the Russian nation. A czar would appoint his successor and the
people would accept his choice without a murmur. When Yeltsin
appointed Putin as his successor everybody said that this was the
end of Putin and that he had no future.
So why is Putin supported now? I think that this is explained
by the inertia of respect of authority. But this man can fall as
rapidly as he rose. Putin can no longer rely on the country's
intellectuals and on regional elites. He ranged himself against
them and thus made a huge mistake. At the same time he has the
support of the force structures. As to the governors, they feel
that he betrayed them. They supported him in the presidential
elections but he disbanded the Federation Council. Today support
for Putin in the country is very ephemeral and this is the biggest
danger for him.
Q: What will be the future of ORT after 49 percent of its
shares are handed over to creative intellectuals and journalists?
A: As is known, after these people get the shares in their
trust management they will adopt decisions only by consensus. This
means that any shareholder will have the right to veto all the
decisions of other shareholders.
The people who say that the 51 percent of the shares owned by
the state are stronger than the 49 percent of the shares that are
owned by me are not quite right. In reality, these blocks of shares
do not differ one from the other. All decisions at shareholders
meetings are adopted by a qualified majority, as it is stated in
the ORT Charter. Here the state has only one advantage -- it is the
President of Russia who suggests the candidate for the post of
general director of ORT.
Q: In this case what should the state do with its ORT stock?
A: I have already suggested that it should act the same way as
I did and hand over its shares to creative people so that the name
ORT would reflect its real essence. After all, Putin did say that
he approves of my decision to hand over the shares to journalists
and creative intellectuals. It would be logical for him to act
likewise. Then the future of ORT will be linked with people who are
trusted by society. This would be a sort of a test for the
President whether he is a man of double standards or not. The
future functioning of ORT will depend on how he passes this test.
Q: Why did you leave the State Duma? Wouldn't it be easier to
conduct your political struggle as part of the state establishment?
A: I simply saw that the Duma in its present composition does
not adopt any decisions but only confirms the decisions taken by
the presidential administration and the president. I do not want
the role of an extra and for this reason I left the Duma.
Q: Can the West help Russia by making big investments to bring
its economy back to life and thus really improve the situation in
A: I do not think that big foreign investments can help Russia
overcome its crisis. The entire problem here again is in the
Russian mentality. When under the Marshall Plan the West got
American financial assistance this assistance was received by free
people and not slaves. In our country such assistance will produce
a diametrically opposite result. The West must understand the main
thing: either Russia, even after 50 years, becomes part of the
normal Western democratic community or Russia is going to confront
The former and the latter has its risks and will cost a lot,
but in all circumstances it is necessary to include Russia in the
Western community as quickly as possible already now and
immediately define the vectors of this integration. Otherwise, you
will have only yourselves to blame if people willing to ally
themselves with Iraq or China are going to appear in Russia.
Q: As the organizer of a constructive opposition are you
planning to take part in presidential elections in Russia?
A: No, there are no plans for this.
Q: If this is so, what is the aim of your constructive
opposition? Are you planning to topple President Putin or create a
party that may become a ruling one?
A: There is a powerful intellectual opposition in Russia
today. There is also the base created by regional elites -- both
political and economic. The aim of this opposition is not to
topple President Putin but to assist the authorities in the
adoption of decisions by suggesting other variants. There always is
and should be an alternative and those who today are not happy with
the existing situation must understand this. And it is most
important for Russians to realize this as quickly as possible.
(interviewed by Yuri Sigov)
Russian minister calls Yugoslav poll fair - Tass
MOSCOW, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on
Monday that according to his information Sunday's presidential election in
Yugoslavia had been conducted fairly, Itar-Tass news agency reported.
``It is important that the population took an active part in the polls,
that judging by reports from international observers, the polls passed
without major violations,'' Ivanov told Tass in the first public comments
by a Russian official on the poll.
But Ivanov did not comment on the claims of victory made by supporters of
both incumbent President Slobodan Milosevic and his rival Vojislav Kostunica.
Earlier on Monday, the head of the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Benita Ferrero-Waldner, cited reports of
``widespread fraud and intimidation'' but said all available information
pointed to a clear defeat for Milosevic.
Russia has historically strong ties with fellow Orthodox Serbia and has
been critical of the Western pressure on Milosevic.
Last year Russia froze ties with NATO after the alliance launched a
military operation against Yugoslav targets to persuade Milosevic to
withdraw his forces from the Albanian-dominated Serbian province of Kosovo.
Ivanov reiterated Moscow's call to lift international sanctions from
Yugoslavia, Tass said.
The results of Yugoslav election and their possible impact on the Balkans
was expected to be a key issue during Monday's talks in Moscow between
Russian President Vladimir Putin and visiting German Chancellor Gerhard
to CDI's Home Page I Return
to CDI's Library