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Johnson's Russia List
12 October 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AFP: Nobel laureate's institute highlights cash crisis in Russian
2. Baltimore Sun: Kathy Lally, Russian hopes prize will boost
scientists. Nobel winner says nation needs more investment.
3. AP: Report: E. Europe Kids Impoverished.
4. Moscow Times: Oksana Yablokova, Delayed 2002 Census Gets Trial
5. www.strana.ru: Gennady Nikiforov, Omnipotence of oligarchs comes
to end as President appears to be telling them, "Get rich, gentlemen,
but don't meddle in politics."
6. Jamestown Foundation Monitor: RUSSIAN GENERALS DIG IN HEELS OVER
7. RFE/RL: Sophie Lambroschini, Environmentalists Fight Import Of
8. Baltimore Sun: Kathy Lally, Russian athletes defy odds.
Olympics: Despite a lack of money and facilities, Russian competitors
have done well, winning more medals in Sydney than those of any other
country except the United States.
9. Moscow Times: Yevgenia Albats, Yeltsin Criticizes Heir Putin.
10. ORT: INTERVIEW WITH FORMER PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN October 7.]
Nobel laureate's institute highlights cash crisis in Russian science
SAINT PETERSBURG, Oct 11 (AFP) -
The low wages of scientists working at Russia's world-famous physics
institute, which produced the country's first Nobel laureate in a decade,
provides stark evidence of the financial crisis facing post-Soviet science.
The latest Russian laureate, Zhores Alferov, joins a distinguished list with
three predecessors from the A.F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in Saint
Petersburg who have won the ultimate prize in science.
Director of the institute, he will split nearly one million dollars in Nobel
prize money with German-born Herbert Kroemer and Jack Kilby of the United
States after being lauded for his work on semi-conductors.
Yet the day-to-day reality of life as a Russian scientist is somewhat less
glamorous or well-paid, with the 2000 researchers at the institute taking
home an average of about 80 dollars a month.
The institute, located in an imposing neo-classical building in the north of
Russia's second city, and established in 1918, harks back to the glory days
of Soviet science.
It bears the name of the celebrated scientist Abram Ioffe, an inter-war
pioneer in Soviet research into semi-conductors, the same field in which
Alferov was honoured by the Nobel committee.
"This institute is the cradle of modern Russian physics," proudly declares
Valery Grigoryants, head of the department of scientific information.
The physicists Nikolai Semyonov, who won the 1956 Nobel prize, Lev Landau
(1962) and Pyotr Kapitsa (1978) worked here, he adds.
But he concedes that the level of state funding alone has not been sufficient
since the fall of the Soviet Union to maintain the institute's traditionally
high standards of research.
"These last 10 years, we have benefited from other sources of funding,
notably from chalking up conferences organised by scientific foundations,
which has helped us to make extra money," he adds.
"It's a very difficult situation because the laboratories have to function
with old equipment because new replacements are very expensive," Grigoryants
adds, citing the example of a thermonuclear reactor costing one million
The same theme was taken up by Alferov who launched an impassioned appeal
before the State Duma (lower house of parliament) on Wednesday for a hike in
government spending on science.
Alferov said the talent of Russian scientists was a key economic resource
that was not being exploited by a government more interested in oil and
Government spending on science had been cut from 3.8 percent of the national
budget in 1998 to 1.72 percent in the current year, he said. In the Soviet
era the figure was seven percent.
"How is it possible that the finance ministry, which merely consists of
bureaucrats, gets one and a half times more money than the whole science
sector," he demanded.
At the same time, he said, next year's draft budget envisaged spending 1.1
billion rubles (39 million dollars) -- or more than four times the total
amount for science -- on the construction of a new parliament building.
October 11, 2000
Russian hopes prize will boost scientists
Nobel winner says nation needs more investment
By Kathy Lally
Sun Foreign Staff
MOSCOW -- Zhores I. Alferov, a 70-year-old physicist, recalled his favorite
joke yesterday, hours after he learned that he was the first Russian
scientist to win a Nobel Prize since 1978.
"We are a country of optimists," he said. "All the pessimists have already
Alferov is one of those optimists, especially when he considers the future of
Russian science, which for the past decade has suffered a loss of financial
support and then the flight of poorly paid scientists to jobs elsewhere.
"I hope my Nobel Prize will help persuade our leaders to pay more attention
to physics, biology and chemistry," Alferov said yesterday. "The level of
Russian science is very high, but we need more investment if we want to
Alferov was in his office in St. Petersburg when his secretary told him that
Stockholm was on the line. He is director of the A.F. Ioffe Physico-Technical
Institute in St Petersburg, where he has worked since 1953. His research in
semiconductors and lasers helped make possible fiber optic cables, cellular
phones and advances in satellite technology.
He earns $200 a month. He is also a member of Russia's lower house of
parliament, which pays $300 a month.
"But don't make too much of the money," he said. "My wife and I are old. It's
better for us to eat less."
The last previous Soviet scientist to win a Nobel Prize was Pyotr L. Kapitsa,
a physicist who won in 1978 for work on ultra-low temperatures done in 1938.
Mikhail S. Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.
Alferov's prize, in the wake of the sinking of the submarine Kursk and the
fire in Moscow's television tower, provides a huge morale boost for
scientists and ordinary Russians.
Alferov will share in the $915,000 prize money. He plans to use much of his
part for science. "My wife will be in charge of the rest," he said.
He and Herbert Kroemer, a researcher at the University of California at Santa
Barbara, will split half the prize. They never worked together, Alferov said,
though they met at a conference in 1971 and Alferov followed and admired the
other scientist's work. The other half of the prize goes to Jack Kilby of
Texas Instruments, who developed the integrated circuit, predecessor of the
Alferov and Kroemer won for semiconductor and laser research. 'The main ideas
were formulated from 1963 to 1966," Alferov said, "and the most significant
experimental research was done from 1967 to 1969."
The official Russian news agency, Tass, headlined the announcement: "Russian
Communist shares Nobel Prize with Americans." When Alferov joined the
parliament a few years ago, he was a member of the centrist Our Home Is
Russia political party. Later, he switched to the Communists.
"It's a long story," he said. Alferov graduated from the Leningrad
Electrotechnical Institute, and he has maintained close ties there.
'This prize is a recognition of serious achievements of Russian science for
many years," said Sergei O. Shaposhnikov, an administrator at the institute.
"On the other hand, this is proof that despite economic difficulties, Russian
science continues to progress."
Alferov lives in a small house outside St. Petersburg in a neighborhood of
scientists created by Josef Stalin after World War II.
His wife was waiting when he got home last night. "My dear Zhores," she said,
"the telephone has been ringing all day. I couldn't get anything done."
A few years ago, Alferov built a small indoor swimming pool in an unused
garage on the property.
'I'm going swimming now," he said at 8 p.m., after a long day of work,
interviews and champagne corks.
Report: E. Europe Kids Impoverished
October 11, 2000
By IAN PHILLIPS
LONDON (AP) - At least 50 million children in eastern Europe and the former
Soviet Union live in poverty and are exposed to levels of tuberculosis
usually associated with the Third World, a new report says.
The report, released Wednesday by the European Children's Trust, a
non-governmental organization active in 10 eastern European countries, urged
the West to help by easing the region's debt burden.
Titled ``The Silent Crisis,'' the report said poverty in the region has
increased more than tenfold over the last decade due to reductions in
government spending on health, education and social programs.
``Since the breakup of the communist system, conditions have become much
worse - in some cases catastrophically so,'' the report said. ``In view of
the extent of the economic collapse ... the term 'transition' seems a
euphemism. 'Great Depression' might be a more appropriate term.''
``For all its many faults, the old system provided most people with a
reasonable standard of living and a certain security,'' the report said.
At least 50 million children in the region are living in ``genuine poverty,''
40 million of them in the former Soviet Union, the report said. Overall, over
160 million - or 40 percent - of the region's population are thought to live
As indicators of poverty, the report measured infant mortality, the
proportion of the population not expected to live to age 60 and the number of
It said the region's infant mortality - 26 per 1,000 births in 1998 - is
approaching rates in Latin America and the Caribbean, where infant mortality
is 32 per 1,000. In the United States, infant mortality is 7.2 deaths per
1,000 live births.
Nearly a quarter of the region's population are not expected to reach the age
of 60. That compared to 25.2 percent in Arab states and an average of 28
percent in developing countries. Russia was on a par with India, with nearly
30 percent not expected to reach 60.
Rates of tuberculosis - a powerful measure of social deprivation - were also
much higher in eastern Europe, with an average 67.6 cases per 1,000 people in
1997. That compared to 49.6 in Arab states, 47.6 in Latin America and 35.1 in
east Asia. For developing countries, the rate was 68.6.
Tuberculosis rates ranged from about 20 per 1,000 in the Czech Republic and
Slovenia, to 80 per 1,000 in Lithuania, Turkmenistan, Latvia and Russia, and
150 per 1,000 in Georgia.
The Trust said maternity and child benefits, unemployment pay and pensions,
free education and health care, affordable public transport and housing have
all disappeared as gross domestic product and public expenditure have
plummeted in eastern Europe.
The proportion of the population living below the poverty line was worst - at
88 percent - in Kyrgyzstan.
Poverty figures ranged from less than 1 percent in Slovenia, the Czech
Republic and Slovakia, to 4 percent in Hungary, 20 percent in Poland, 50
percent in Russia to more than 60 percent in Turkmenistan, Ukraine,
Kazakhstan and Moldova, the report said, citing data from the U.N.
The West, the report argued, could help by easing the region's debt burden,
which it said amounted to almost half its GDP.
It also called for expanding services that prevent family breakdown,
developing a targeted family support system and improving standards of local
Aid should be focused on training, it said, rather than on short-term relief.
``Time is running out,'' the Trust said. ``That there has not been a total
collapse of social structures in these countries so far is a testament to the
resilience of the people there. But they cannot continue living this way
On the Net:
European Children's Trust, http://www.everychild.org.uk
October 12, 2000
Delayed 2002 Census Gets Trial Run
By Oksana Yablokova
Steps to prepare for the first national census since 1989 got under way
Wednesday as the State Statistics Committee launched an eight-day trial
census in three regions.
The statistics committee sent out 600 interviewers to conduct the test census
in the Preobrazhensky district in eastern Moscow, the Moscow Region's
Krasnogorsky district and the Frunzensky district of Vladivostok in advance
of the real census in October 2002.
The interviewers, mostly students, intend to visit about 110,000 people to
determine the possible difficulties demographers might face in 2002,
statistics committee spokeswoman Olga Kolesnikova said.
Residents unwilling to let interviewers inside their apartments are being
given the option of speaking over the telephone or visiting special census
The census f both the practice and actual f consists of 14 questions that
include gender, date of birth, native language, citizenship, nationality,
marital status, education, sources of income and employment status. Women are
asked how many children they plan to have.
All couples living together will be considered married regardless of their
Respondents will be marked as being residents of the town where they reside,
not of the town where they are officially registered. Answers will not be
double-checked in passports.
Kolesnikova said the trial will cost 172 million rubles ($6.17 million). The
2002 census will cost 3.2 billion rubles.
While a census used to be held every 10 years, the country has not conducted
one since the breakup of the Soviet Union due to a lack of funds, according
to the statistics committee. A census scheduled for 1999 was first delayed to
2001 and now to 2002.
With high death and low birth rates, the population has shrunk drastically
over the past decade. Observers speculate that the census was pushed back to
allow for padding the number of voters in the past year's national elections.
Countries typically use census information to count the number of voters,
track demographic trends, and determine how to better allocate resources.
The statistics committee said that the main difficulties it sees will be
convincing people to talk openly about their jobs, sources of income and
places of residence. Also, many people may simply not want to open the door
The trial, Kolesnikova said, is designed to teach interviewers how to be
"friendly and polite" in encouraging respondents to take part in the census
and give realistic answers. "We can only rely on people's good will," she
Russia has no legislation on statistics and national censuses.
Tatyana Maleva, a population studies expert of the Moscow Carnegie Center,
said that the methodology for the practice census shows that the statistics
committee is taking the right steps to assure that respondents give realistic
answers. "It's easier to get realistic information if you get a person
comfortable as opposed to examining his documents," she said.
But if the first day of the practice census was any indication Wednesday, the
statistics committee's fears of getting stuck with unwilling respondents are
Most of the residents approached in Moscow's Preobrazhensky district barred
interviewers from entering their homes, according to television reports.
October 11, 200
Omnipotence of oligarchs comes to end as President appears to be telling
them, "Get rich, gentlemen, but don't meddle in politics"
By Gennady Nikiforov
The era of "wild" Russian oligarchs is coming to an end. President Vladimir
Putin has undercut their omnipotence by designating some of them as "harmful"
and others as "useful." That is what is normally done when people separate
stale and rotten vegetables from those that are eatable. And yet the
President has no intention of eliminating oligarchs as a class because
otherwise he would have to eliminate the market economy. He has stated this
on many occasions, including a recent interview for India Today, where he
said the movement to a market economy was irreversible. "I am certain that
the market economy and democratic government have definitely won out in
Russia and are here to stay," Putin pointed out.
Although the process of sorting out oligarchs is yet to be completed, some of
the more obvious categories can already been singled out. One of them
includes rebellious media magnates toppled from their positions of political
influence. The most graphic examples are Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris
Financially bankrupt business tycoons represent another group. They were
"eliminated" by the August 17, 1998 crisis, and few people even remember
their names, with the exception of those who were cheated out of their money
in the wake of the crisis. Alexander Smolensky, ex-president of SBS-Agro
Bank, and Vladimir Vinogradov, former president of Inkombank, are among them.
"Re-educated" oligarchs have not been treated harshly: for a start, they were
given to understand that they would be in trouble unless they demonstrated
loyalty. LUKOIL officials, for example, were told that criminal proceedings
might be instituted against them for tax evasion. Other companies, like
Norilsk Nickel, were informed about the prospect of nationalization. Each
time public prosecutors issued such warnings the companies' shares lost
value. Their managers finally realized that if they were to save their
business, all they needed to do was to declare loyalty to the authorities,
and that is what they did.
"Prudent" oligarchs thought it wise to come to terms with authorities without
waiting for any manifestation of harassment on their part. This group
includes Mikhail Khodorkovsky of YUKOS, Oleg Deripaska of Russian Aluminum,
Pyotr Aven and Mikhail Friedman of Alpha. As a result, Alpha, for example,
has retained its financial clout and even created a powerful lobby in the
Still another group includes "family" oligarchs, such as Roman Abramovich
(Sibneft) and Alexander Mamut (MDM Bank). Once generally regarded as the
"wallet" of Yeltsin's family, their financial situation is so far unshakable
but the outlook is uncertain.
"Natural" oligarchs are around by virtue of office they hold and they will be
around under any regime. People like Rem Vyakhirev of Gazprom, Anatoly
Chubais of the UES electricity-generating company and Nikolai Aksyonenko of
the railroad network control billions of dollars. Alexander Kazmin of
Sberbank is in the same class.
And finally, the positions of scandalous media magnates and gas and oil
barons are being undermined by a new generation of industrial entrepreneurs,
people who have built up their businesses by introducing new technologies and
Oleg Pavlovsky, head of the Foundation for Effective Politics, disproves the
widely held view that Putin has promised that oligarchs will be "equidistant"
from the Kremlin. Nothing of the kind, Pavlovsky stresses. Putin has offered
them total political insignificance as a precondition for their prosperity in
business. The President is as much as saying to them, "Get rich, gentlemen"
but don't overburden television audiences with squabbles between you and
Russian oligarchs were brave enough when the nation was in a state of slumber
at a time when its top echelon was under anesthetic. The oligarchs are only
good at creating political hallucinations among the mass of the people but
now it is clear that they themselves are a hallucination. The masks have been
cast away, and everybody sees the flabby faces of the actors and the master
of the circus. The circus is bankrupt and the clowns are going away having
robbed the spectators of their coats, binoculars and wallets.
Jamestown Foundation Monitor
October 11, 2000
RUSSIAN GENERALS DIG IN HEELS OVER DEFENSE CUTS. Speculation that Russian
President Vladimir Putin may be facing increasing resistance from military
commanders on the thorny issue of military reform appeared to get some
corroboration last week when a Russian defense news agency said that senior
officers had dug in their heels on the issue of military manpower
reductions. According to the usually reliable military news agency AVN, the
Kremlin's plans to cut some 350,000 troops from the regular armed
forces--and another 250,000 or so from the armed units of Russia's various
other power ministries--has provoked a barrage of criticism from military
leaders. Indeed, the AVN report suggested that the Kremlin's defense
reduction plan might have had the unintended effect of uniting the
country's usually fractious defense and security chiefs. One Russian
defense expert was quoted as saying that "the commanders were furious" over
the planned cuts, and "that they phoned around each other and spoke with
the Security Council, saying they would never go through with it." The same
expert was quoted as saying that "it is the first time Putin has seen the
military present a united front like that" (Reuters, October 6).
The same report appeared also to confirm that it was this disgruntlement
among military commanders which had forced leaders of Russia's Security
Council--the increasingly powerful body which advises Putin and is
overseeing the military reform program--to postpone a number of key
decisions regarding defense restructuring at a council meeting on September
27 (see the Monitor, September 29). Some decisions on those issues are now
scheduled to be discussed at a Security Council meeting scheduled for next
month. However, the man who runs AVN cautioned against placing too much
stock in reports that Russia's Strategic Missile Troops are to be the big
loser in the military restructuring plan. According to reserve Major
General Vladimir Kosarev, that could still happen, but at this point it is
no done deal (Reuters, October 6).
Another, more recent AVN report, moreover, quotes a secret Kremlin document
which says that the defense reform plan approved by Putin calls for all
future Russian defense ministers to be picked from the civilian sector.
That idea has been broached a number of times over the past decade, but the
Kremlin has shied away on the basis of opposition among military leaders.
According to AVN, however, the new defense plan calls not only for a
civilian defense minister, but also for a restructuring of the Defense
Ministry hierarchy to include the creation of another top civilian
post--that of deputy defense minister.
The same report also said that current Defense Minister Igor Sergeev's days
appear to be numbered, and that among those being considered as his
successor are current Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov (who oversees
defense industrial issues), former Security Council Secretary Andrei
Kokoshin, Duma Defense Committee chairman Andrei Nikolaev and several
others. Indeed, the report quotes unnamed sources in the presidential
administration as saying that Putin would have sacked Sergeev some time ago
but for the fact that former President Boris Yeltsin had asked Putin to
keep Sergeev around for a while. Observers had noted that Sergeev did not
even attend the last Security Council meeting, and AVN reported that his
inactivity has been matched by a broader sense of confusion and drift among
leading Defense Ministry and General Staff officials (AVN, October 9; AFP,
Izvestia, meanwhile, chimed in with a report of its own over the weekend
which also suggested some of the ongoing confusion surrounding the
Kremlin's military reform plans. The Russian daily looked at a recent
hearing by Russian Duma members at which military leaders answered
questions about the looming manpower reductions. Among other things,
defense officials apparently signaled their belief that key decisions in
this area will take a good deal longer than a month or six weeks to reach.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, took a look at the question of providing apartments
for those Russian officers who are to be released from service. There are
reportedly between 120,000 and 150,000 demobilized servicemen who currently
lack housing and, given the planned reductions, that number could as much
as double over the next several years. Lawmakers apparently expressed
concerns over the Kremlin's lack of preparedness to deal with this problem
in connection with the upcoming defense cuts, and noted that next year's
projected military budget does not deal with the problem (Izvestia, October
Russia: Environmentalists Fight Import Of Nuclear Waste
By Sophie Lambroschini
A Russian government project to import spent nuclear fuel had led to a clash
with environmentalists that could be decided by a national referendum. Moscow
correspondent Sophie Lambroschini reports.
Moscow, 11 October 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Russian officials say the only way of
cleaning up the country's nuclear waste mess is to import more of it.
According to calculations by Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry, importing
20,000 tons of waste from the West and Asia could add as much as $21 billion
to the cash-strapped Russian budget. The ministry says that spent fuel would
be reprocessed to isolate uranium and plutonium for future use, and the
leftover waste put into protective storage.
Russian environmentalists challenge the ministry's logic. They say that
Russia does not even have enough secure storage space for its own nuclear
waste, not to mention imports.
But Atomic Energy Minister Evgeny Adamov rejects all criticism of the
project. He told a Moscow conference today that Russia does have sufficient
storage space for its own waste and that at least one container is standing
empty. He said that reprocessing foreign waste was completely safe, and
dismissed the environmentalists, whose cause, he says, "depends on the amount
of money [they were] offered."
Adamov said that the environmentalists' use of the words "radioactive" and
"waste" were actually incorrect.
"We do not plan to import radioactive waste. [Rather,] nuclear fuel [which]
is the most valuable energy and strategic raw material, because there will be
less and less other fuel available. Whoever calls it 'waste' either has a bad
memory or mixes things up on purpose."
Article 50 in the country's law on the "protection of the environment"
clearly prohibits the import of dangerous waste material. But last month, the
State Duma's ecological committee approved amendments to the article that in
effect would overturn an absolute prohibition on importing nuclear waste.
The full Duma is expected to vote on the issue next month.
Two days ago (Oct 9), Greenpeace Russia and local environmental groups from
radioactivity-contaminated districts in the Urals -- like the village of
Muslumovo, infamous for its high number of cancers and birth defects --
poured contaminated soil onto the Duma steps in protest. In a statement
released by Greenpeace, Gosman Kaboriv -- a 43-year-old teacher with
radiation sickness -- said: "We are already living on a nuclear waste dump
that is giving us cancer. It's crazy to send [us] even more nuclear waste."
Aleksei Yablokov, one of Russia's most respected specialists on the
ecological effects of nuclear energy and an adviser to former President Boris
Yeltsin, recently told RFE/RL that he strongly disagrees with the idea of
Russia importing nuclear waste. He said that the long-term effects of
radioactive waste have not been sufficiently studied.
"Officially, they talk about [storing the waste in Russia] for 40 years, but
who will take it back after 40 years? We [environmentalists] say that we
shouldn't do that, that we don't have the right to leave such enormous
problems for future generations to solve. No one knows what to do with
radioactive waste -- it's an unresolved problem. We bury it several hundred
meters deep, but what will happen in the future is not clear."
Yablokov also says that reprocessing nuclear fuel to isolate plutonium and
uranium itself generates new waste. He says the government's main aim is to
make a lot of money and to use the plutonium in an ambitious program to
expand the use of nuclear energy.
The possibility of Article 50 being amended by a Kremlin-friendly Duma has
led to a new counterattack by environmentalists, who are now seeking to
organize a national referendum to block the government's project.
The Russian Constitution and a 1995 constitutional law allows for a group of
more than 1,000 citizens to initiate a referendum by collecting at least 2
million signatures in support of a clearly stated question. For the past
three months, eight environmental organizations -- including Greenpeace
Russia, the World Wildlife Fund and ecological groups from Siberia -- have
collected 2 million signatures. They are hoping to collect another
half-million signatures by the October 25 deadline.
If the Russia's Central Electoral Committee and the constitutional court then
agree, the referendum would go ahead.
Russian citizens would be asked to answer a simple question: Are you in favor
of importing nuclear waste? If the result of the referendum is 'no,' then it
-- rather than a Duma-passed amendment -- would have the power of law.
At his press conference today, Adamov called the referendum an attempt to
"manipulate public opinion." It would, he said, "make dummies out of Russian
October 11, 2000
Russian athletes defy odds
Olympics: Despite a lack of money and facilities, Russian competitors have
done well, winning more medals in Sydney than those of any other country
except the United States.
By Kathy Lally
Sun Foreign Staff
MOSCOW -- Her story describes her wounded country as much as it does Yelena
Zamolodchikova herself, a shy 18-year-old who lost her father to the poisons
of Chernobyl and lives with her unemployed mother in a cramped communal
apartment but refuses to allow poverty to fix the boundaries of her
With talent, determination and helped by a coach who earns less than $300 a
month, Zamolodchikova won three medals in gymnastics at the Sydney Olympics,
two of them gold and one silver.
Perhaps the rest of the world thought Russian athletes would perform weakly
in these Olympics. The Russians are, after all, poor orphans of a once mighty
and well-financed Soviet sport machine. But the rest of the world would have
failed to reckon with the power of tradition and the sheer grit of its
inheritors. Russians won 88 medals, 32 of them gold. That put them behind
only the Americans, who won 97 medals, including 39 golds.
In sports, as in their professions, Russians refuse to lower their
aspirations to meet weakening finances. Teachers earning less than $80 a
month keep teaching. Doctors earning less than $100 a month keep performing
surgery. Rocket scientists on similar pay keep on patching together the Mir
space station, long after the station has exceeded its natural life and
"It's enthusiasm and trainers like me who are too crazy to leave for more
money elsewhere," says Nadezhda V. Maslennikova, a gymnastics coach. "It
comes from within, our inner world, the desire to stay and do our best."
"What we have achieved was only thanks to the human factor," Vitaly Smirnov,
president of Russia's Olympic Committee, told Russia's Izvestia newspaper.
"We completely lack science and medicine. We do not have modern
rehabilitation facilities. Other countries have sports psychologists. The
chief psychologist of our team is a priest."
So athletes keep on training, relying on talent and desire, ignoring dingy
surroundings and old equipment to achieve more than circumstance would
Compared with athletes of the heady days of Soviet sports dominance, those
from former Soviet countries held their own in Australia. In 1988, the Soviet
Union won 132 medals while the United States won 93. In Sydney, the 15
countries of the former Soviet Union won 163 medals. The comparison is
inexact because the number of Olympic sports has grown.
Zamolodchikova is mostly a product of post-Soviet times.
"She has strong character," says Maslennikova, who trains Zamolodchikova.
"She believes in what she's doing. She believes hard work will bring
Maslennikova has worked in gymnastics for 24 years, and Zamolodchikova took
up gymnastics a little more than 10 years ago as the Soviet system was
falling apart. Zamolodchikova, who turned 18 Sept. 19, is improbably small,
barely 5 feet tall and weighing little more than 80 pounds.
Last week, the Moscow Sports Committee presented four of the Russian medal
winners at a news conference. Zamolodchikova, who took gold medals in the
individual vault and floor exercises, and a silver in team competition,
appeared tired from the 30-hour trip back from Australia a few days earlier.
She looked meek and childlike next to a boxer, Aleksandr Lebzyak, a fencer,
Pavel Kolobkov, and a runner, Irina Privalova.
In May, as Zamolodchikova was preparing for the Olympics, her father died. He
was 42, a military man who was sent to help clean up around Chernobyl in the
aftermath of the nuclear accident in 1986. Over the next 14 years, his health
declined as he developed illnesses related to exposure to radiation.
The family lived in a one-room communal apartment, sharing a kitchen and bath
with another family of three. For years, the family has been on a waiting
list for a larger apartment. The wait is finally over, and Zamolodchikova and
her mother are about to move into a two-room apartment of their own.
Her mother, a typing teacher, lost her job recently because of staff
reductions required by financial cutbacks. Her mother could not afford to go
to Sydney for the Olympics.
"I don't mind the communal apartment," Zamolodchikova says. "I spend most of
my time training."
Talk has it that the Russian government plans to give each gold medal winner
a bonus of $50,000. At the news conference Wednesday, a Russian reporter
tried to find out how Zamolodchikova would spend any money that comes her
"Lenitchka," the reporter said, using a diminutive that an adult would use
when talking to a child or close friend, "What are your dreams? What store
will you visit? What will you buy?" The gymnast looked blank. "I've only been
thinking of winning," she said. "That has been my only dream. I don't know
what I would do if I got any money."
Lilya Olenova, director of the School of High Sports Achievement, where
Zamolodchikova trains, says the average Russian coach earns about $50 a
month. Maslennikova gets more because she is a trainer of champions.
Moscow sports schools, says Olenova, are in somewhat better shape than those
elsewhere in the country because the city is wealthier and its mayor, Yuri M.
Luzhkov, is a sports fanatic who makes athletic training a budget priority.
"So far, our sports training is free," Maslennikova says. "So poor and rich
can participate. The wish to participate is very great, and everyone works
hard to reach the heights."
Yevgeny Zuyenko, Izvestia's sports editor, says it is nearly impossible to
compare spending on training athletes in Russia today and under the Soviet
"In the Soviet Union, the system of financing sports was completely
different," he says. "The money came from trade unions and factories, which
supported sports clubs.
"Not only would the clubs recruit and train young athletes, the athletes
would go on the payroll. On paper a soccer player might be an autoworker,
when in fact he spent all his time training and playing. Even now, large
stadiums remain in Moscow named Automobile Stadium or Torpedo, Locomotive or
Foodstuffs, after the organizations that built and once supported them.
"In the old system, nobody counted the money spent on sports. It was part of
a factory's budget." Now, schools get some government money, but successful
ones have learned how to recruit sponsors. This, Zuyenko says, has brought
new vigor to sports.
In Atlanta four years ago, Russia did not do as well as it did in Sydney,
winning 63 medals, including 26 golds. The old system had fallen apart, but
athletic organizations had not begun to patch it up with the help of
"For the last two years," Zuyenko says, "the situation has been improving."
The next big threat, says Smirnov, the Olympic chairman, is China, whose
athletes came in third in total medals in Sydney.
"China has borrowed from the experience of the Soviet Union, from the good
and bad," he says. "In many ways, it was a cruel system, which maimed lives,
a system which is possible only in a totalitarian state. However, the system
yields results, and we should be prepared for not Americans and not Russians
but the Chinese to win the next Games."
Maybe so. But the Chinese should know that Yelena Zamolodchikova was back to
her training yesterday.
After last week's news conference, she was heading alone for a not-so-near
subway station. When a reporter offered her a ride, she eagerly accepted.
Thirty minutes later, she hopped out of the car on the busy street near her
She joined a crowd of weary pedestrians hurrying along the darkening street,
looking small, alone and anonymous, but very, very determined.
October 12, 2000
POWER PLAY: Yeltsin Criticizes Heir Putin
By Yevgenia Albats
In a recent interview with the U.S. television news analysis program "60
Minutes," former President Boris Yeltsin unexpectedly criticized his heir and
godson, current President Vladimir Putin, taking him to task for not being
decisive enough. That criticism somewhat contradicts the overwhelming praise
Yeltsin lavishes on his successor in his recently released book, "Midnight
Diaries," but it once again reveals the guts that made Yeltsin Yeltsin.
Two major Russian pollsters confirm Yeltsin's point: Putin's rating f though
still high f has shown a clear tendency toward decline over a two-month
period, by a factor of 6 to 9 points.
A comparative study of electoral expectations by the All-Russian Center for
Public Opinion, or VTsIOM, is even more worrisome. Except for a couple of
parameters (including the economy's good performance), Putin has failed to
fulfill the nation's expectations. According to VTsIOM research conducted in
March, many of those who voted for Putin expected him to continue the
country's development toward democracy, but in September, one-fifth of them
said they felt that matters are taking a different turn. To the
dissatisfaction of some 30 percent of those surveyed, they see the behavior
of today's Kremlin as the preservation of the old Yeltsin-era state of
affairs at best. To the surprise of pollsters, four times as many people
(from 1 percent in March to 4 percent in mid-September) believe that Putin's
Russia is moving toward anarchy.
But the biggest and most unexpected blow for those answering the recent
questionnaire is "the atmosphere of fear, tension and suspicion" that has
reappeared in this country over the last five months. As many as 44 percent
of Russians surveyed sense that unpleasant atmosphere in their real lives,
whereas only 24 percent said they had expected it.
Another cold shower for 31 percent of those surveyed is that the state comes
first in Putin's Russia, that it dominates and interferes in people's private
lives. It's no surprise that about 40 percent see Putin as one who represents
the interests of people in epaulets, rather than being the president of all
As for dashed expectations regarding the lack of improvement in the situation
in Chechnya, the poll reveals people's weariness with the never-ending war f
which once catapulted Putin to the top of the charts. It would be interesting
to determine if those who now feel somewhat betrayed because their living
standards have not been enhanced understand that the decline in their poor
standard of living (a matter acknowledged by 17 percent) is closely connected
to the war in Chechnya f which they applauded a year ago.
So what conclusions can we draw from these statistics? The first conclusion f
and a positive one at that f is that the nation can make realistic judgments,
despite mounting propaganda by government media. In fact, another study
highlights that the effect of opposition media f NTV television in particular
f has been quite small. People are learning to draw conclusions on their own.
They see what Yeltsin acknowledged in his interview: that Putin hesitates to
make decisions that might endanger his relationship with groups of hardliners
f the military, in particular. Putin's recent backtracking on military
reform, on which the structural reforms in the economy depend, has not gone
But negative conclusions are also evident. If Putin made miniscule moves
toward reforms when his rating was sky-high, he is unlikely to undertake them
if his rating is beginning to slide.
The worst that may happen is that his advisers will suggest the president
undertake certain populist measures f such as looking for another internal
enemy, or bringing more people in epaulets into government structures, or
blackballing those media outlets that retain an independent voice.
However, if Putin chooses the middle ground, we can expect boring, gray
politics f and the country's steady decline until the next presidential
Yevgenia Albats is an independent journalist based in Moscow.
TITLE: INTERVIEW WITH FORMER PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN
(ORT, 21:30, OCTOBER 7, 2000)
SOURCE: FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE
Anchor: And now, as we promised, an interview Boris Yeltsin
granted to Public Russian Television. The first President of Russia
speaks about events which are described in his new book, The
Q: Congratulations on the issue of your new book. My first
question. The memoirs of major political leaders is a fairly common
genre in the West, but not in the former Soviet Union. You began
your trilogy about ten years ago. What was the main motive that
prompted you, an incumbent president, to write memoirs?
Yeltsin: Because there had been no political books, memoirs by
political leaders in the Soviet Union. Russian democracy had been
born, the market had been born, and a new Russia was emerging. So,
it was necessary to give a personal view of Russia so to speak,
with my impressions, with the experiences I had at the time. And of
course I was more concerned than anyone. I think the reader will
need this book and when I was writing the first book, I was already
planning that I would go on writing.
Q: So, it was planned as a trilogy from the beginning?
Q: But while your first book speaks about the turbulent times
of perestroika, the second covers 1991-1993, the new book that is
coming out now, The Presidential Marathon, covers the last five
years. Which of the three periods described in these books seems to
you, in retrospect, to have been the most difficult for you?
A: All the three were difficult, all the three were hard. But
still, I would single out the third period. It was the hardest for
Q: The most gripping chapter is the first chapter at the
beginning of the book. It is called "December 31". That was the day
you announced you were resigning. How do you feel about that
decision today and how was it taken?
A: Of course I agonized more than one night before announcing
it on December 31. Then we recorded two television messages. That's
a story in its own right -- how it happened. And then, in the days
that followed, I suddenly became calm.
Q: Nothing like it had ever happened in Russia before.
A: Nothing like it had ever happened. He either died or was
murdered or --
Q: Or was forced to abdicate.
A: Yes, or was forced to abdicate. In short, it had never
happened before. It was a difficult decision to make, very
difficult. Because of the very fact that I was retiring, and then
the question was arising, what to do next? What to do? I can't just
sit and do nothing. I've got to do something. And suddenly there is
nothing. And that doesn't suit me. I made this step solely for the
sake of Russia. It was necessary to change the president, it was
necessary to leave at the right time, not to delay it for another
Q: You have now become confirmed in the soundness of your
A: Yes, undoubtedly so. I had known Vladimir Vladimirovich
well enough previously in order to promote his candidacy. And now
I know him very well, well enough to become convinced that I had
made the right decision.
Q: When you watch the news on television and see the people
whom you know well and whom you introduced into big-time politics
and see the events that are happening, don't you sometimes feel
that you would have acted differently and isn't your hand reaching
for the telephone in order to call them and tell them?
A: I do get such an impulse -- sometimes. Not all the actions
all the time are wrong. But I do get such an urge sometimes. But I
never allow my hand to reach for the telephone. Once and for all.
I never give such commands and never will.
Q: Do you often get calls from your former co-workers?
A: Well, I can't say that I've been forgotten. They call me
from abroad -- the leaders who have quit and not only those who
have quit, but also those who are presidents of various countries,
they call me to discuss certain issues, to seek counsel or to ask
me to convey something to the leadership of our country because we
meet with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin on a regular basis. It is
one of the constant political meetings. Many ministers call me.
Sometimes they come to me to talk and sometimes I invite them to
eat lunch with me and they readily accept the invitation.
Of the foreign leaders I can mention Hashimoto, Bill Clinton
was here and we had a very warm meeting. So, I have enough. I can't
say that anyone has betrayed me at this time, at this particular
period after I resigned.
Q: So, you had no reason in the past months to be disenchanted
with any persons?
A: Not disenchanted.
Q: In other words, you can't say that during this time you
discovered that some person whom you trusted and whom you treated
well has turned out not to be the person you thought he was, has
turned out to be not sincere enough and not frank enough?
A: I found quite startling the newspaper interview by Boris
Q: Yes, everybody knows that you were very fond of him.
A: Yes, I protected him, I promoted him, I pinned hopes on
him. He was one of those who were slated for being promoted into
the presidential circle.
And suddenly he begins saying something about me. Not that it
especially saddened me, but I was displeased. However, I cannot
think of anyone who has turned out to be a traitor and who has
abandoned me altogether. There had been such people while I was
Q: It means that you have forgiven not only your political
opponents, but even your enemies.
A: Just three minutes before our conversation I called
Kafelnikov and congratulated him on his victory, his gold medal at
the Olympic Games. It was a huge victory. It used to be rare. And
Shamil Tarpishchev happened to be there. He had distanced himself
from me, he had betrayed me in his time. And of course he had more
than once second thoughts about it. And talking with him for the
first time after that I told him, "I forgive you, Shamil. Well, you
made a mistake, it happens sometimes."
Q: And what was his reply?
A: He was very grateful to me.
Q: Do you watch the Olympics?
A: Yes, of course, day and night.
Q: And during your last presidential term, did you have time
to watch television?
A: Nothing except the news.
Q: Did you watch the news regularly?
A: Yes, regularly. If I didn't manage to watch the news on a
certain hour, I watched it on another hour. If I couldn't make it
at 9, I watched it at 10 or even at 12. I watched the main news
Q: You often came to the Kremlin at 6 a.m. and even 5 a.m. You
describe in your book that the famous meeting with Kiriyenko when
you appointed him premier took place at 7 a.m. You had a very tough
and demanding schedule when you were the leader of the country. Has
your schedule changed in recent months?
A: Of course it has. I am no longer a working president. So,
it's easier for me than for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. It's
harder for him. Russia, all the problems, all the tasks that need
to be tackled. It's very hard. And all this is in my book and
readers will learn about it after they read this book.
Q: Do you still get up at 5 a.m.?
A: I get up -- well, my workday has become easier, but I still
get up at 5 a.m.
Q: In your book you write that a politician should get up
The period described in your book is called "oligarchic
capitalism" by many of your opponents. Let us leave aside the
correctness or otherwise of that definition, but how do you feel
about those who were called oligarchs and is it true that they
exerted such influence on the authorities?
A: If by authorities you mean the president, they exerted no
influence. None of the oligarchs ever influenced or dared to exert
an influence. He would have gotten such a rebuff that next time he
would know better than stick his neck out.
Q: I don't think anyone who knows you and those who observed
you in those years could get the idea that anyone could influence
A: That's right.
Q: But there is a catch in my question. There is one name in
your new book, your daughter Tatyana, who has been constantly by
your side in the last several years. So, there is a person who
A: Influence is not the same as pressure. I have said that
trying to bring pressure on me is futile. It's useless. From the
left, from the right, from the front or from the back. You can push
me from whatever direction, it's useless. Tatyana is my daughter,
my adviser, who works because her soul tells her to. She is a
nobody. She has been fired from her job. As soon as I went, she
went too. She is a nobody. "I just help my dad". That's her job.
Q: All these years you travelled a lot, and now you spend most
of your time here at Gorky-9. You have been invited by many of the
people whom you describe in your last book -- Lukashenko, Kuchma
and other CIS leaders. Will you go?
A: Yes, I will. By all means. I kept being distracted by other
things. But I will go by all means. I kept my promise and I went to
the Crimea in Ukraine. I met my commitment. And I will go to
Byelorussia and to Kazakhstan, and certainly to Tashkent.
Q: No matter how various people may feel about you they all
admit you were an epoch in the history of Russia and have exerted
a great impact on what is happening in the world. Your colleagues
who have also left their posts, such as Hashimoto whom you have
mentioned, Major and Helmut Kohl -- do you talk with them by phone?
A: With Helmut Kohl and Hashimoto we don't just talk on the
phone, but have meetings. Not with Major.
Q: What do you think about what is happening to Kohl now?
A: Well, it isn't fair. All this is one party against another.
They decided to oust him from his post. That's how it all began.
And then they started building that case up, I don't think he is
Q: Yes, it's usually in Russia that we say, nobody values
anyone and as soon as a person goes they throw stones at him. And
now in Germany we see a situation when an outstanding political
leader, the man under whom Germany was reunified, is coming under
such criticism which is undeserved if you look at it from a
A: And in this country it's the other way around. The
president, the first leader of Russia, for the first time is not
coming under attack and is free to act in the political or in any
Q: Boris Nikolayevich, all these years you have often
communicated with Bill Clinton. What is your impression of the
A: My relationship with Clinton had been good over many years.
We had done a lot for our countries in terms of security, nuclear
security -- we had done a great deal. We met very often. We met
about 20 times. And we talked about a lot of things during these 20
times. And just on the strength of one incident to change my
opinion of him -- I was not going to do it, I am not going to do
Q: You mean the Monica Lewinski scandal?
A: Yes, I mean the Monica Lewinski scandal. Yes, our foreign
intelligence let me know that the Republicans were preparing to
stage such an action. Such data came to me long before it all
happened. I had an opportunity to warn him. But I decided against
it. To begin with, I thought it was disgusting. Proceeding from our
morals, it would have been disgusting. Secondly, I didn't fully
believe it. And thirdly, I thought that Bill Clinton could handle
Q: You are known to have a rather complex relationship with
Mikhail Gorbachev. What can you say about him today?
A: Of course no matter how much he has been criticized, he has
remained as an epoch in the life of the country. It's a whole epoch
and one should not forget it. Even as one criticizes him and
dislikes him. And I dislike him.
Q: What do you consider to have been your mistakes over these
years? And what do you consider to be your main achievements?
A: Oh, quite a lot. A democratic Russia, a market economy, an
integrated civilized society which has joined the circle of world
powers and has done it boldly and confidently. And as far as
mistakes are concerned, that's always a more difficult question.
Well, I can't be exonerated over Chechnya. That blame, that grief
of many mothers and fathers is something that can never be lifted
Q: Was there a different way out of this situation?
A: No. And nevertheless, I took that decision. So, I am
Q: And if we could turn the clock back to, for example, 1985,
what would you have done differently?
A: You would have to turn your mind back to 1985. It's a tall
Q: But with what you know today and the way you feel today.
A: I understand. Strategically, everything has been done