This Date's Issues: 4554•
Johnson's Russia List
3 October 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
A moment of silence to remember October 1993....
1. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Solzhenitsyn Comments on Meeting With
2. Obshchaya Gazeta: Yelena Dikun, Solzhenitsyn Has Banished Chubays
>From the Country. (Liberals Said To Fear Putin, Solzhenitsyn, FSB
3. Itar-Tass: TOP RUSSIAN MP SLAMS WEST'S "CRUDE INTERFERENCE" IN
4. Reuters: New laws needed to protect Russian trademarks.
5. THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION PRISM: Aleksandr Buzgalin, ECONOMIC GROWTH
AGAINST A BACKDROP OF CATASTROPHE. The roots of Russia's recent disasters.
6. Obshchaya Gazeta: Dmitriy Furman, The Successor Has Starting
Scrutinizing His Legacy. (Putin's Criticism of Yeltsin Ascribed to
Predictable Russian Pattern)
7. Andrew Miller: Constantine Palace.
8. RFE/RL: Emil Danielyan, Caucasus: Peace And Integration Still
Solzhenitsyn Comments on Meeting With Putin
26 September 2000
[translation for personal use only]
Abbreviated transcript of Vesti TV program featuring interview
between Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and unnamed correspondent; place and date
not given: "We Had a Wonderful Cross-Dialogue" -- first paragraph is
Rossiyskaya Gazeta introduction
Roy Medvedev sent his article to Rossiyskaya
Gazeta before the recent famous meeting between Russian President
Vladimir Putin and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the writer's house in
Troitse-Lykovo. The conversation shed new light on Solzhenitsyn's
attitude toward Boris Yeltsin and the authorities. After his meeting
with the head of state the famous writer gave an interview to the Vesti
[Solzhenitsyn] President Vladimir Putin perfectly understands all
the unbelievable difficulties -- internal and external -- which he
inherited and now has to clear out. I would point out the extreme
carefulness and thoroughness of his decisions and opinions. In general,
he has a lively wit and an ability to think fast. He has no personal
thirst for power, excitement with power, with holding power -- he does
not have any of these at all. He is, indeed, pursuing his cause under
strain because the very objectives are extremely strenuous. I was
extremely pleased by a phrase in his presidential address in the summer,
which sounded like a cliché: Self-government is the foundation of our
coexistence. It was not a cliché. He does think so and believe so.
Our approaches wonderfully coincide in this area....
[Correspondent] Aleksandr Isayevich, since it is even hard to
distinguish between your viewpoints, does this mean there is no
disagreement between you and the incumbent president and that there is
understanding between the two of you in all areas?
[Solzhenitsyn] Let me cite a couple of examples; this will make
things clear to you. For instance, we agree that Russia is suffering
from disintegration of its cultural environment. Television substitutes
everything, like Lord God. However, it does not offer us substitution
of our cultural communication; if we add it is expensive to even send
someone a letter, let alone telephone someone or pay a private visit,
disintegration of the cultural environment is appalling. It needs to
be eliminated in the first place. We agree with the president; we
should try to do this; we should restore cultural communication;
otherwise, we will not be a country, one country.
I can cite an example of our disagreement: I do not agree with the
state reform the president launched in the spring. I think the
Federation Council should not be disbanded. What undoubtedly has to be
done the president already started doing. It is necessary to replace
election of federation component heads with their appointment. The
Constitution does not envision any kinds of appointment by election.
It was Yeltsin who made a royal present granted the right to appointment
by election to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Here you have appointment by
election and in exchange you will be my ally. This leads to a breakup.
We are falling apart, we continue to fall apart. We think the Soviet
Union broke up, but Russia cannot break up. It can; it can all right!
[Correspondent] Aleksandr Isayevich, did Vladimir Vladimirovich
respond to your arguments in any way?
[Solzhenitsyn] I repeat: We held a very lively dialogue.
Sometimes he objected, sometimes he agreed. He, so to speak, put on
record a number of my suggestions, whereas I put on record some of his
objections and made corrections for myself. It was a very useful dialogue.
...I am suffering because our today's state rests on thievish
foundations and thievish ideology. Steal as much as you can chew! We
cannot break free from this initial boundary, if we do not correct this
initial boundary [as published]. We cannot improve our reputation in
the world no matter what kinds of international meetings we hold: We
have been branded -- This state is soaked in thievery; the administration
is soaked in bribery and based on robbery. There is no escape from
this. We must get rid of this somehow. It is a great problem, and
it is hanging over us. It fills us and is haunting us.
I believe our meeting was very useful and necessary. I am grateful
to the president he set aside some time to come and talk. Anyway, I am
still filled with [memories of] this meeting. [end Solzhenitsyn]
Published with insignificant abridgement based on a tape recording.
We are grateful to our colleagues from the Vesti TV program for their
assistance in preparing the materials.
Liberals Said To Fear Putin, Solzhenitsyn, FSB Alliance
28 September 2000
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Yelena Dikun: "Solzhenitsyn Has Banished Chubays From the
Anatoliy Chubays has set his ill-wishers a new
little puzzle. On 9 October, with the start of the heating season, the
country's chief power engineer will be leaving for Switzerland. For
schooling, he says. Anatoliy Borisovich will eight hours a day for a
whole month be attending lectures at a Geneva school for top managers,
and he will pore over his homework in the evenings. As he himself
acknowledges, he has dreamed of this for all of the past 10 years. But
politicians made wise by experience have not believed Chubays. It cannot
be, they believe, that an attraction to knowledge has forced Anatoliy
Borisovich to leave the country for a month. He is probably in someone's
way here today.
There are a multitude of conjectures, but they appear unconvincing,
for the most part. It would seem that for the head of RAO YeES Rossii all
is turning out for the best for him at this time. The tax police, having
threatened Chubays with seven years' imprisonment, retreated with
nothing. Prime Minister Kasyanov has given the go-ahead for the
restructuring of the RAO alright--it is to begin in December. Availing
himself of each suitable opportunity, Anatoliy Borisovich is now singing
the praises of Mikhail Mikhaylovich in every way and saying that he is
prepared to take his hat off to the Kasyanov cabinet. Aleksandr Voloshin,
presidential chief of staff, who, it is commonly believed, has his eye on
Chubays's position when the time comes for him to leave the Kremlin, is
also being wrongly slandered. Those close to Anatoliy Borisovich are
telling reporters with pleasure that their boss has as of late struck up
a simply splendid relationship with Aleksandr Stalyevich. "Voloshin has
had dozens of opportunities to make life difficult for Chubays, but he
has not availed himself of a single one," one of Obshchaya Gazeta's
interlocutors proudly observed.
Things have even brightened up in relations with the court
businessman Roman Abramovich, who had given Chubays a lot of grief.
Chubays's people claim that "Abramovich is gradually stepping back, these
are not the times when Roma would say to Sasha, Sasha would say to Misha,
and that's how it would all be. God willing, Roman Arkadyevich will
realize his beautiful dream and go as governor to Chukotka."
But the single-minded leaking that is being done by Chubays's inner
circle is merely strengthening the suspicions that Anatoliy Borisovich
senses some danger to himself and his political plans. And, by all
accounts, the danger is coming not from Kasyanov, Voloshin, or Abramovich
but from the "boss" himself--President Vladimir Putin. According to
Obshchaya Gazeta's information, Chubays has recently been considerably
worried by the fact that the head of state has become increasingly
infected with the ideas of the anchorite of Troitse-Lykovo Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn. It turns out that the visit that the president paid to the
writer last week was far from being their first contact--previous ones
were simply not advertised. Chubays's team is seriously afraid that
Aleksandr Isayevich could become Putin's spiritual mentor. And if
Solzhenitsyn's views on the results of Russia's reforms are, indeed,
close to Putin and he is not averse to availing himself of the
recommendations of the venerable writer, the privatizers can have no hope
of a political future. For, according to Solzhenitsyn, privatization was
predatory, and the place for predators is jail.
The president, who is of a mind to strengthen authoritarian power,
has a vital need for an ally in the shape of a writer whose moral
authority justifies and sanctifies his actions. And the liberals are
afraid that an alliance of Putin and Solzhenitsyn and the state security
types could become the dominant political force. In this case gentlemen
who harbor no particular affection for one another: Kasyanov, Voloshin,
Chubays, Abramovich, would have no choice but to unite and oppose in
organized fashion a president who, in their opinion, is drifting in a
Back in July Chubays, having been one of the first to have learned of
the president's contacts with the writer-recluse, sounded the alarm in
the news media, saying that this was fraught with the danger of big
upheavals. They say that Anatoliy Borisovich attempted to have it out on
this score with Vladimir Vladimirovich, but was not understood, as they
say. It is possible that it was then that the idea of a "temporary
emigration" arose. Anatoliy Borisovich has had good luck in Switzerland,
four years ago he went to Davos to frighten the world with the "red
plague," and things went well for him. Today he could once again avail
himself of a Swiss platform to warn the Western liberal community about
the threats lurking in an alliance of Putin and Solzhenitsyn. It is
possible that a voice from abroad might reach the Russian president sooner.
TOP RUSSIAN MP SLAMS WEST'S "CRUDE INTERFERENCE" IN YUGOSLAVIA
Moscow, 2nd October, ITAR-TASS correspondent Aleksey Kravchenko: The crude
interference of the West in the Yugoslav electoral contest may make Slobodan
Milosevic "ultimately the only possible candidate in the eyes of the majority
of the population".
The chairman of the State Duma's International Affairs Committee, Dmitriy
Rogozin, said this today in an interview for ITAR-TASS. He said Russia was
adhering to a principled position of non-interference in the internal affairs
of Yugoslavia, thereby contributing to the establishment of a dialogue
between the sides. This was precisely the aim of the proposal by the Russian
president "to receive in Moscow in the next few days both candidates who have
gone into the second round of the elections", he stressed.
Dmitriy Rogozin considers that in the current situation it is worthwhile for
the opposition to take part in the second round. "Kostunica has nothing to
fear. After all, judging by the results of the first round he got at least 49
per cent of the votes, and even if one takes into account the various claims
of possible rigging there is still a need to agree to a second round, while
at the same time stepping up control over the work of the electoral
commissions," the Russian parliamentarian said. "The only way to put a stop
to the crisis in the Balkans is with the participation of a strong, united,
democratically developing Yugoslavia."
"In order for this to become possible, Belgrade must have a president who has
been legitimately elected and who will come to power not thanks to foreign
bayonets nor as a result of a counter-revolutionary coup by the governing
regime," Rogozin stressed. At the same time it is necessary to insist that
the further development of the situation in Yugoslavia should pass off
exclusively in conformity with the country's constitution, laws and decisions
by the supreme judicial bodies, Rogozin said.
New laws needed to protect Russian trademarks
By Karl Emerick Hanuska
MOSCOW, Oct 2 (Reuters) - New legislation on intellectual property rights
is needed to combat rampant trademark violation and reduce the number of
legal battles over the use of certain brand names, a government official
said on Monday.
Alexander Korchagin, general director of the Patents and Trademarks Agency,
said legislators had failed to foresee the extent of problems when they
adopted the previous Trademarks law in 1992.
``No one understood anything back then. No one remembered to ask any
questions about intellectual property rights and the result is a law that
doesn't work the way it should,'' Korchagin told a round-table discussion.
Foreign and domestic firms have pushed for crackdowns on trademark
infringements, but officials say it is often not clear who owns the right
to a trademark, at least if a product is Russian.
In the Soviet era, many goods were produced under the same trademark by
several factories across the country with no real concern for who owned the
Then, after the collapse the Soviet Union, when the plants were privatised,
firms began feuding about who owned the exclusive rights to certain
Vodka, beer, biscuits, and cigarettes are just a few of the products over
whose trademarks battles have been waged.
Korchagin said it was in the best interests of companies to agree to
collective use of certain brand names, otherwise the government might be
forced to step in and cancel a trademark altogether if it could not
RISK OF LOST INVESTMENTS
Jacques Ioffe, general director of the Bolshevik confectionery, majority
owned by Danone (DANO.PA), said neither option would work for his company.
``My company has spent $10 million developing (the Yubileinoye) brand and
now we are faced with the possibility that someone could take it away or
make us share it with someone'' he said.
``That is absurd. When we invested in this company (in 1994) ownership of
the Yubileinoye brand was calculated into the price. If we don't own it,
that means our shareholders paid too much.''
Alla Bolshova, a Moscow Arbitration Court lawyer, was critical of the
government's proposed legislation, which is expected to be reviewed by
parliament in the coming weeks.
``It doesn't answer all of the questions... It is not complete. There are
still too many things unsaid,'' she said.
Tom Thomson, a managing director at public relations firm PBN and a
representative of the international Coalition for Intellectual Property
Rights (CIPR), said the proposed law did have problems but was a good
``This is a very complex issue and there are no easy answers. What's
important is that a dialogue is taking place now (toward)... reaching a
resolution that will benefit both the private and public sectors.''
THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION
A MONTHLY ON THE POST-SOVIET STATES
SEPTEMBER 2000 Volume VI, Issue 9 Part 2
ECONOMIC GROWTH AGAINST A BACKDROP OF CATASTROPHE
The roots of Russia's recent disasters
By Aleksandr Buzgalin
Aleksandr Buzgalin is a doctor of economics and a professor at Moscow State
University. He is a leader of Russia's Democratic Socialist Movement.
Late summer and early autumn often bring tragic surprises for Russia. In
August 1991 the State Committee for the State of Emergency staged a coup
which spelled the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union. In September
1993 Yeltsin issued a decree dissolving the Supreme Soviet of the Russian
Federation, resulting in tragic bloodshed and the use of tanks to disband
the country's first democratically elected legislative body. August 1998
witnessed a major financial crisis.
The year 2000 has, sadly, been no exception. A wave of tragic disasters has
swept the country, causing grief and moral torture and generating a host of
problems. An explosion in an underground passageway in downtown Moscow
which claimed dozens of victims. The tragedy of a passenger riverboat which
collided with a freighter (and which went almost unnoticed in the shadow of
far greater tragedies). Fire in the Ostankino television tower--resulting
in more victims, and, sensationally, the loss of television reception in
Moscow for a week. And the culmination of the deadly harvest: The tragedy
of the Kursk submarine--the pride of our navy, which we had thought was
For Putin these tragedies and disasters were a bucket of cold, even frigid,
water. He had enjoyed unqualified victory in the first round of the
presidential elections. He had powerful support in the Duma from Unity,
which had attracted--like bees round a honey-pot--all the politicians,
politicos and civil servants who wanted to be closer to power, because
power in Russia means more than just power: It means money too. He had
tasted success in the plot against the governors, who were ejected from the
Federation Council (the upper house of the Russian parliament), and had the
president's regional envoys placed over them to boot. And, most important,
it looked as though economic growth had become a reality in the year 2000.
And then the disasters struck, one after another...
This was no coincidence. Before embarking on an analysis of the reasons for
them, I should stress that--however painful it is to make such a
prediction--our country can expect the chain of tragedies which began so
terribly after the summer break to continue.
But let us look at the reasons.
The first and main reason is that the country has not yet emerged from a
protracted period of decline--indeed, catastrophic decline in the true
sense of the word (we lost about 50 percent of GNP and over 70 percent of
investment). This decline was doubly worrying in that it was accompanied by
the steady erosion of our capital assets. This entailed (and entails--it is
an ongoing process) the steady obsolescence of equipment, especially in
capital-intensive sectors. If we add to this the fact that in the late
Brezhnev period and the years of perestroika (that is, from the late 1970s)
there was little investment in renewing the infrastructure and equipment,
and capital assets were steadily aging, then it transpires that the real
tragedy in the country is not the recent run of disasters, but the
catastrophic aging of the whole material basis for the country's
technology. The equipment and infrastructure of Russia's highly intricate
late-industrial complexes, our towns and transport systems are held
together by sticky tape and the enthusiasm (yes, good old Soviet
enthusiasm) of millions of workers and engineers who are prepared to do not
just hard work, but truly dangerous work for a pittance (the average wage
is no more than US$100, and even that is not always paid on time).
The second reason goes deeper. It is linked to the formation of a
criminal-oligarchic transitional system in which semi-feudal economic
relations (patronage, non-economic extortion, personal contacts and
personal dependence) play a huge role; where the development of the market
mainly takes the primitive, anarchic forms of 200 years ago; and where the
very foundations of modern developed market economies--namely fixed rules,
stable institutions and stringent quality and safety standards--are the
weakest links of all. Significantly, compliance with all of these is in the
bones of most citizens of developed countries--from the humblest employee
to the top manager, from a clerk to the president. In Russia everything is
upside-down. Chaos and confusion, the corruption and unscrupulousness of
the authorities (the president has always flouted his own edicts), the
criminal nature of business--all of this has created a powerful breeding
ground for mass noncompliance with safety procedures, at state level, in
business and in everyday life. One would have though that under these
circumstances the emergency services should be the first to be revamped.
Indeed, a special ministry for emergency situations has been set up (it is
as though the state has officially acknowledged that emergencies are an
integral part of our economic and political life). Moreover, this ministry
is one of the wealthiest and best organized; it even has its own troops.
And yet! The main thing that this ministry does is to organize operations
to save people and material riches in times of disaster. For this it
receives huge resources and spends them liberally on new equipment and so
on--indeed, you cannot cut corners where people's lives and the prestige of
the state are concerned. So what's wrong with that, you may ask. The
answer is that an unholy situation is developing whereby the ministry
and--more important--the businesses working for it, stand to gain from an
increase in the number of disasters and emergencies: The more there are,
the larger the rescue companies' brief, investment, staff, purchases of
equipment and so on...
Meanwhile, the main thing towards which efforts should ideally be
directed--preventing disasters--turns out to be the hardest task of all.
This is particularly difficult, not only because it carries the risk of a
reduction in budget allocations, but also because here it is not a fight to
save lives, but a fight to the death with our semi-feudal businesses which
profit from the daily violation of all possible safety standards. Is it a
coincidence that the president's closest associate is none other than the
minister for emergencies, Mr. Shoigu, who became the leader of the
pro-presidential Unity movement, evidently with Putin's blessing?
Of the series of disasters which have systematically rocked the country,
two stand out: The loss of the Kursk and the fire in the television tower.
The latter was particularly significant, though it did not claim many
lives. (But it is inappropriate to count when deaths are involved...)
It was significant because of the great, almost hysterical haste with which
the authorities rushed to restore television reception, even though there
was no panic among the public on that front. So what was going on here?
I believe the main reason for such high-level attention to the fire in the
TV tower is the role that television plays in the manipulation of the
public consciousness. Moscow and Moscow oblast--regions of particular
importance to Russia's political establishment--were not cut off for long,
but this nevertheless represented a real threat to the establishment's
influence. The journalist Fred Viar, who drew my attention to this
phenomenon, also pointed out to me that when there is no television
reception, the role of the press grows, and the opposition owns several
major newspapers. In addition to this, under such circumstances the public
have the opportunity to think for themselves and talk to friends and
relations, free of the hypnotic power of the anchormen on the main channels.
Nevertheless, the main event in this chain of tragedies was, of course, the
death of the sailors on the Kursk. It was this week of horror which aroused
most suffering and sympathy. It was this catastrophe which provoked a storm
of emotions, statements and accusations in Russia's political circles. It
was after this tragedy that Putin's personal popularity rating fell lower
than ever before (only one-third of respondents said they would vote for
Putin if an election were held after the disaster).
The reasons for this are many. Of course, a tragedy of this scale is
extraordinary in itself. Nevertheless, the context is extremely important
First, in Russia (as in most other sea powers) the navy has always been the
object of special affection, pride and respect, a symbol of order,
discipline and organization. Moreover, every one knew that the Kursk
nuclear submarine was a model ship. It is no coincidence, incidentally,
that Putin's attempts to portray himself as the protector of the navy were
linked specifically with the Kursk.
Second, when Putin came to power Russians' hopes were raised that the
prestige and capabilities of the army and navy would be restored. The
general mood shifted from one of constant blanket criticism of the army and
navy to one of patriotic sentiment and hope in the army as a model for the
reestablishment of order and organization in the country.
Third, the disaster itself dragged on, and was accompanied by a host of
additional problems: The uncertainty surrounding the actions of the
president, whom everybody had thought to be a decisive leader; the failure
of Russia's rescue attempts (as it soon became clear, this again was a
result of breakdown and crisis in the infrastructure, in this case the
naval infrastructure); and the Norwegians' success. On top of this came the
hysterical cries of all sorts of politicians denouncing each other, and
intense speculation in the media about the reasons for the disaster. And
these are by no means all the circumstances surrounding the demise of the
Interestingly, with a nuclear submarine going down just off the coast of
Russia, the implications for Russia's ecology, which caused most concern in
the West, troubled Russians least of all. Moral and political issues and
questions of national prestige were and are paramount.
Against this background, the patriotic consciousness (and subconscious) of
the Russian people--particularly (though not exclusively) old soldiers and
sailors--had to find some way out of this terrible situation. And a way out
was found. The press were more circumspect about it, but in private people
began discussing quite openly the idea that a NATO (for which read:
"American") vessel had attacked and sunk the defenseless Kursk, whose
weaponry had been removed in order not to put its own men at risk during
the exercises. This version of events was extremely useful: On the one hand
it provided a good explanation for the loss of the navy's top vessel (both
technically and in terms of the quality of the crew), an explanation which
did not cast aspersions on the honor and heroism of the sailors; on the
other hand it did not do any damage to the prestige of the navy or squander
the potential of the growing patriotic mood--on the contrary, it boosted
it. Moreover, this version of events was suitable for meeting the
challenge of the growing wave of great-power ambitions that in recent years
have become an important factor in the sociopolitical and even spiritual
life of Russia. Especially as the U.S. authorities themselves reinforced
these sentiments by refusing point-blank to cooperate with Russia in
verifying this version of events.
The second half of the year has not begun at all auspiciously, then, for
Russia, despite the beginnings of economic growth. The reverberations from
the series of disasters which have shaken the country will be felt for some
time to come in the hearts of ordinary people and on the political
stage. Indeed, politically speaking, the shocks described above have
prompted the emergence of two tendencies which until recently seemed
The first is the covert rapprochement between Zyuganov and Putin. While
this cannot be said of the entire Communist Party, its leader has clearly
begun moving towards a policy of critical support for the president, and it
looks as though the main inspiration (but not, I trust, the reason) behind
Zyuganov's behavior was the campaign of wholesale criticism of the
president in the Russian media and in the West. In these circumstances the
great-power advocate Zyuganov could do no other than support the
great-power advocate Putin. Basically a logical connection is made in
Russia which may appear paradoxical from the outside, but which is
self-evident to Russians: Anybody attacked by the Americans and the
"democratic" intellectuals is "one of us"; if "they" are censuring him then
he must doing good deeds for Russia.
The second tendency, though less conspicuous, is no less interesting: The
intellectual leaders and image makers of the center-right pro-government
forces (Gleb Pavlovsky, for one) have increasingly begun talking of a
crisis in the post-Yeltsin political elite in Moscow, and of the need to
get rid of it, to prevent it from hampering the president's constructive
These are significant tendencies, are they not? Particularly in view of the
increase in great-power sentiments (which, I cannot stress enough, is an
absolutely crucial point). This, therefore, is no idle question: What might
the dominant political line in Russia be, when economic growth is
accompanied by disasters (perhaps the "enemies of the people" and their
foreign stooges are to blame for everything?), and coincides with an
increase in statist tendencies, where Left and Right "patriotic" forces are
closing ranks and there is a "crisis" in the democratic political elite?
I do not want to offer a hasty answer to this question, but it must be
asked, because it is the people who will have to pay for the mistakes of
the authorities--and pay for them, as these last few months have
demonstrated, in blood.
Putin's Criticism of Yeltsin Ascribed to Predictable Russian Pattern
28 September 2000
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Dmitriy Furman: "The Successor Has Starting Scrutinizing
Mafia discipline will take the place of mafia anarchy.
Some elementary political and psychological governing strategies are
remarkably tenacious. As soon as a person gets into a particular
position, he starts making the same predictable statements, as if he were
an actor playing a well-rehearsed part in a long-running play, although
he himself might believe that his remarks are spontaneous and
congratulate himself for choosing just the right thing to say. These
primitive strategies include the strategy of blaming everything on his
predecessor and thoroughly discrediting his method of governing. While
he is denouncing his predecessor, whom no one misses and whose failings
were apparent to everyone long ago, the successor has a chance to blame
everything "negative," including problems that come up after he takes
office, on the "burdensome legacy" he inherited.
There have been so many variations on this theme. The Bolsheviks
were determined to discredit the tsars and the tsarist regime, Khrushchev
went after Stalin's "cult of personality," Brezhnev reviled Khrushchev's
"voluntarism," Gorbachev criticized Brezhnev's "stagnation," and Yeltsin
called Gorbachev indecisive and wishy-washy. Every variation, however,
included the same pronouncement: "I knew everything was in bad shape,
but I did not know how bad until I took office." Furthermore, it is not
uncommon for a successor denouncing his predecessor to praise his
predecessor's predecessor--to reject his "father" in favor of his
"grandfather," so to speak. The "grandfather" might have been even more
unpopular than the "father" in his own day, but the "father's"
shortcomings, still fresh in everyone's mind, eclipse the forgotten vices
of the "grandfather," and he is even recalled with nostalgia.
Khrushchev resurrected the "Leninist ideals" when he condemned Stalin.
By the same token, Brezhnev "restored the historical truth" about Stalin.
In Gorbachev's day, there were sympathetic references to Khrushchev.
Now we are seeing this again, and the potency of this political and
psychological mechanism is particularly apparent today. Putin, after
all, owes absolutely everything to his predecessor--much more than
Gorbachev owed Brezhnev or Khrushchev owed Stalin. The "laws of nature"
are inexorable, however. Yeltsin reviewed all of his choices with the
utmost care, finally deciding on the most dependent, most unassuming, and
most diffident candidate of all, but the result was virtually the same.
All of the requisite statements have already been made. We have
already heard about the "decade of hard times," we have heard that the
recent disasters have revealed "the actual state of our country," and we
have heard that Putin knew the army was in terrible shape, but had no
idea it was "that terrible." Furthermore, Putin has taken some steps to
repair the reputation of Yeltsin's predecessor: Gorbachev may not be
living at court, but he is allowed to visit.
The predecessor is destined to be reviled by his successor, and
nothing can change that. This elementary mechanism, however, does not
dictate the extent of the successor's criticism of the predecessor.
Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev, after all, could have been condemned
for all of their faults. Instead, they were condemned for some, while
other aspects of their regime were maintained. To some extent, the
indictments served as camouflage for continuity. Khrushchev, for
example, railed at Stalin for his repressive practices, but not for his
"socialist industrialization" and the establishment of the kolkhozes.
Brezhnev's denounced Khrushchev's "voluntarism" and his "excessive"
criticism of Stalin, but not the end of Stalin's reign of terror. The
mechanism for the condemnation of the predecessor is only a framework for
the evolution of the regime, and each successive phase follows a pattern
of its own. There is also the choice to criticize either the personal
characteristics of the predecessor, the things that simply annoyed and
irritated other people but had no effect on the core of the regime, or to
criticize aspects of his performance in relation to the preceding phase
Theoretically, Yeltsin could be condemned for everything he did, but
Putin is being selective. Putin's still vague invectives are beginning
to reveal a highly specific set of complaints. Yeltsin's slackness,
nonchalance, and--however incongruous this might sound in reference to
Yeltsin--liberalism are being contrasted to the supreme authority of the
state, centralization, inflexibility, and efficiency. The things that
are not being criticized and will, consequently, be perpetuated as
"intrinsic" elements of the regime, are also important. There has been
no condemnation of market reform per se, the authoritarian practices
behind the democratic facade, the virtual elimination of the separation
of powers, and the pseudo-elections and pseudo-referendums. Whereas the
authoritarian order that took shape while Yeltsin was in office bore the
imprint of his own personal character and was thought to stem from that
character to some degree, Putin's brand of authoritarianism--an extension
and continuation of Yeltsin's--not only reinforces the authoritarian
characteristics of the regime, but is also turning authoritarianism into
the norm in our society. The foundations of the social order are being
strengthened by means of denunciation: The denunciation of some
elements facilitates the continuation and reinforcement of others.
This "dialectic" of denunciation and endorsement, in my opinion, is
clearly visible in Putin's battle with the oligarchs. The oligarchs
personify the unlawful, criminal nature of the Yeltsin regime. This
would seem to be the area in which Putin differs most from Yeltsin and
his system. If we take a closer look at that battle, however, we see
something else. First of all, the present era is not as different from
the preceding one as it seems. The age of oligarchic tyranny is over.
It ended for objective reasons. The people at the top of the regime no
longer need the assistance of sleight-of-hand experts capable of
converting power into money. Today, in contrast to 1996, they do not
dread elections and can expect to win without the financial and PR
backing of the oligarchs. The most pretentious of the "businessmen from
the political sphere" had even worn out their welcome with Yeltsin, who,
as we recall, actually threatened to throw Berezovskiy out of the
Besides this, the attack is not directed against all of the
oligarchs, but only the insubordinate ones who keep thinking of
themselves as independent individuals instead of well-paid attendants of
the regime. This kind of battle only strengthens the existing system,
in which wealth is handed out by the regime in exchange for loyalty and
service. This battle with the oligarchs is promoting the development of
the system that took shape under Yeltsin, marking the start of the next
evolutionary phase--colossal progress in the criminalization of the
Corruption was commonplace under Yeltsin, but it was somehow
"separate from the state," remaining a "private affair." When ministers
and prosecutors stole money and demanded bribes, they knew that this was
not part of their official job description. In other words, they were
acting as private individuals to some extent. Even the notorious
"family" was seen as a force directing state affairs and controlling the
state, but it was never equated with the state. This subtle distinction
has been disappearing ever since Putin took over.
When Voloshin and Lesin offered Berezovskiy and Gusinskiy freedom in
exchange for stocks, and when the Prosecutor General locked Gusinskiy up,
released him as soon as he got the necessary document promising the
stocks, and then reopened the criminal case when he learned that the
document was not valid and that he had been "cheated," they were not
acting as private extortionists and kidnappers, but as people for whom a
certain type of extortion is an official duty, just short of a canonical
obligation. They were not acting of their own accord, at their own
risk, and for personal gain. They were representing the state and
acting out of concern for "state interests." In other words, the state
is no longer an organism infiltrated by various mafia elements, but the
biggest mafia family of all, striving to eliminate the smaller families,
institute discipline, and increase its own share of the "criminal
jackpot." There are also some circumstantial aspects of this process,
of course. They include our President's KGB past and the characteristic
belief of the personnel of intelligence agencies that the law can be
disregarded for the sake of the "state" and "order." This is still not
the main thing, however.
The main thing is the natural evolution of the regime. When the
government is taken over, as it was in 1991, by a group of individuals
with no common ideological ties stemming from party discipline, and no
common loyalties, and when the society has no chance of replacing these
individuals, the group is almost predestined to be infiltrated by
criminal elements and to turn into a mafia family or several mafia
families. This is particularly inevitable when the group has to take
charge of something like the denationalization of property.
Criminalization can lead to anarchy (conflicts between different mafia
families and "gang wars"), which this group must prevent. But how?
The use of legal methods would be impossible: This would undermine the
very foundation of the regime. The logical method--and, what is more,
the only possible method--is the prevention of mafia anarchy with mafia
discipline. The period of chaotic warfare by many small gangs would be
followed by the dominion of a single well-organized gang. This could
mark the start of an era of "order and discipline." It could mark the
end of the shootouts in public places and the "gang warfare" in general,
and it could even mark the end of corruption. Corruption and official
crime will not necessarily exist in the mafia, because insubordination is
the only kind of behavior classified as a crime in the mafia.
The denunciation of the Yeltsin legacy, therefore, is the means by
which the regime is continuing its own process of evolution. The state
is evolving in accordance with the strict laws of the mafia. This is
not the only tendency in our country today, of course, and at some point
this evolving regime will be crushed by other forces, which will offer
the society a different pattern of development. At this time, however,
there are no obvious signs of this future confrontation--even in the
From: "andrew miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Constantine Palace
Date: Mon, 02 Oct 2000
Topic: Wither Putin
Title: Cabbages and Kings
Scattered along the Russian seacoast at the Gulf of Finland, between the
“Northern Capital” of St. Petersburg and the ticking time bomb that is the
nuclear power station called Sosnovy Bor, strewn like so many precious
stones lost from the gaudy, broken necklace of some long-forgotten, careless
queen, are an almost uncountable number of former Imperial 19th-Century
residences of the Romanov Dynasty in various states of time- and
Nazi-ravaged disrepair. Only the Russian Versaille, Peterhopf, is still
An important, well-reported news story from last weeks’ Friday edition of
The St. Petersburg Times, which follows in its entirety, discloses that
President Putin has selected one of these derelicts for transformation into
a Russian Camp David. The only thing is, as anyone who has visited the site
well knows, the rehabilitation of this hulking acropolis would need more
than a decade to complete, by which time Putin would hypothetically be,
well, not president any more.
Leaving aside the question of just where the regime will find the money to
make the repairs, the story raises the interesting question of whether Putin
is making of these funds some kind of generous gift to his successor or a
provision for his own dotage. Is Putin the man who would be King? (NB:
An excellent photo of the palace by Sergey Grachev appears on the Times
website, specifically at http://www.sptimes.ru/current/news/n_333.htm)
St. Petersburg, Russia
HEADLINE: Palace To Be Restored as President's Retreat
By Vladimir Kovalyev, St. Petersburg, Russia
The Kremlin is pressing ahead with plans to turn a palace near St.
Petersburg into a seaside residence for President Vladimir Putin,
correspondence between the presidential administration and City Hall shows.
A letter sent by the Kremlin earlier this month asked the city
administration for an evaluation of the condition of the Konstantinovsky
Palace, located in the suburb of Strelna, south of the city.
It follows a letter sent to the City Committee for the State Protection of
Architectural Monuments in June that first mentioned the idea of a
presidential residence in the area to the local administration.
The cost of renovating the palace would come to about $40 million, according
to city officials. It is not yet known who would carry out the renovation,
but the price would apparently be met by the federal government. Renovation
would take five years.
"At first [the Kremlin] wanted to use the Alexandrisky Palace near
Petergof]," Irina Malyavkina, spokeswoman for KGIOP, said in a telephone
interview on Thursday, "but we said it would be very expensive to renovate
... and that the Konstantinovsky Palace would be much cheaper, and they
Officials in the presidential administration could not be reached for
The Konstantinovsky Palace was built in 1720 and designed by Italian
architects Niccolo Michetty and Bartolomeo Rastrelli. It was given by Tsar
Paul I as a present to his son, the Grand Duke Konstantin, who turned the
palace into an ideal summer country residence.
Nazi forces looted and damaged the palace during World War II, and no major
repairs have been undertaken since, even though the palace was used as a
naval academy for four decades.
In 1993, a private organization called the Regional Organization of Lenin
grad Rescuers (ROLS) signed an agreement with City Hall, promising to find
investors to renovate the palace. KGIOP filed a suit with a city court last
month, however, accusing the organization of not having fulfilled its
On Tuesday, the court postponed a final ruling on the case.
"They [ROLS] rented out space in the palace [but] haven't found investors,"
said Malyavkina. "But this is hard, because the building is listed as a
federal monument," complicating questions of ownership, she said. State law
allows the rental but not the privatization of federal monuments - buildings
and other objects of major cultural significance.
Anton Televich, a ROLS spokes man, said Thursday that the organization had
proposed some investors to City Hall, but that they had been turned down.
Malyavkina said that ROLS had indeed put some names forward, such as an
aviation company called Peter the First - which reportedly wanted to turn
the palace into an entertainment center complete with casino - but that the
investment plans had collapsed because there were "no further developments."
Televich said it would take far more than five years to renovate the
Palace. "First the building has to be reconstructed, then the interiors
restored," he said. "This is very difficult, protracted and expensive work.
Then the necessary infrastructure for the president's requirements has to be
"If this is going to be a presidential residence, it won't be [ready] for
KGIOP said that the renovation plans called for the restoration of the
palace's park and of its nearby harbor, to make the latter suitable for
yachts and small boats.
Malyavkina said that the city would pay for a part of the assessment of the
palace's condition, but added that it could not afford the renovation itself
Caucasus: Peace And Integration Still Far Off
By Emil Danielyan
The authors of a far-reaching proposal to create a "South Caucasus Community"
comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia say unresolved ethnic conflicts
in the area mean that stability and economic integration are still a long way
off. RFE/RL correspondent Emil Danielyan talked with the Brussels-based
analysts responsible for the proposal, who say the leaders of the three
regional states and breakaway entities have yet to demonstrate a genuine
commitment to peace.
Yerevan, 2 October 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Analysts at the Brussels-based Center for
European Policy Studies, or CEPS, proposed a comprehensive Stability Pact for
the Caucasus five months ago.
Modeled on post-war European integration, their idea called for a number of
specific actions that would help put the war-torn and impoverished region on
the path to economic development. The CEPS plan -- the most thorough yet
proposed on resolving conflicts in the South Caucasus -- suggested mechanisms
for ending the long-running conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, and
South Ossetia. It called for a regional security order to be jointly
guaranteed by Russia and the West. The establishment of a South Caucasus
Community would mark the final phase of the integration process.
A CEPS task force led by Michael Emerson, co-chairman of the independent
think-tank, toured the region this summer to gauge the state of opinion both
in its sovereign states and unrecognized entities. Speaking to RFE/RL in
Yerevan on Thursday (Sept 28), Emerson said:
"My overall impression is that we are still a long way away from getting a
real breakthrough. However, at the level of ideas, I think we are for the
moment rather happy that this comprehensive proposal for the whole region has
at least got onto the desks, into the minds of the leaderships, senior civil
servants, and intelligentsia of the region."
Emerson discussed prospects for regional peace at a two-day international
conference last week in the Armenian capital. He said that the current
situation leaves the region with no chance of reversing its decade-long
economic decline, with closed borders and the threat of renewed fighting
continuing to make it unattractive to foreign investors.
For Emerson, economic cooperation and -- eventually -- integration is the
only way out of the current impasse, which he describes as "low-welfare,
deadlocked equilibrium." Most experts attending the Yerevan conference agreed
that no major cooperation schemes can get off the ground in the Caucasus
before a solution is found to its regional conflicts. Settlement of the
Karabakh dispute was seen as particularly essential for the success of such
One of the participants, Georgian political scientist Ghia Nodia, argued that
policymakers across the region have little incentive to make major
concessions -- not least because their domestic public opinions would not
"I hope that public opinion in Armenia and elsewhere can understand that
there is no chance for this country and the rest of the region to be as
successful as you would like it to be without settlement of these conflicts."
Emerson also challenged the Armenian government's view that joint projects
with Azerbaijan on energy, transport, and communications can be launched
before there is a peace deal on Karabakh.
The proposed CEPS Stability Pact calls for unconventional solutions to the
future status of Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. It suggests that the
conflicting parties draw on what it calls the "family of modern European
solutions," including notions such as shared sovereignty, equality among
ethnic communities and "multitiered" governing structures. In this way,
Karabakh might form a confederation or "common state" with Azerbaijan or
become an Armenian-Azerbaijani "co-dominium."
Under the CEPS plan, settlement of area conflicts would be followed by the
creation of a wider regional security system under the aegis of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE. The plan sees
the OSCE as the only international structure that can accommodate the often
conflicting interests of Russia and the West. Emerson himself believes that
neither NATO nor the CIS can play such a role.
The idea of a regional security system propped up by interested world powers
has been supported by Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian leaders over the
past year. But Emerson said that all three need to "articulate that more
deeply than they have done so far."
He adds: "If Russia, the EU, [the] U.S. [and] OSCE are to invest in this
project more heavily, then there has to be credible expressions of political
interest on the part of the leaders of the South Caucasus. That at the moment
is rather on the thin side."
Emerson describes as "cautious" the reaction so far of outside powers to the
proposed Security Pact. Russia, he said, has resisted any increase in Western
influence in what for centuries was a zone of its exclusive hegemony. But
Emerson did see "some chance of new thinking in Moscow."
As for the European Union, Emerson said it is reluctant to embrace a Caucasus
Stability Pact unless both Russia and the United States join in first.
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