This Date's Issues: 4588 • 4589
Johnson's Russia List
19 October 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Interfax: Poll shows Russians confused about Russia's image
in the world.
2. BBC Monitoring: Duma committee chief blasts US politicians for
interfering in Russia's affairs.
3. Reuters: Russia opens US-funded nuclear waste facility.
4. BBC Monitoring: Russian official denies plans to build shopping
centre on Red Square.
5. Moscow Times EDITORIAL: Shut Down Kremlin's Upravdelami.
6. Interfax: YABLOKO OPPOSES BRINGING BACK SOVIET SYMBOLS.
7. Interfax: DUMA ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION READY TO EXAMINE U.S.
MATERIALS ON THEFT OF IMF LOANS.
8. Moscow News: Mikhail Klasson, UNIFIED POWERHOUSE ROSATOMPROM IN
9. Maris Ozols: Re: 4587-Lieven/Reply to Lucas.
10. Carnegie Moscow Center - new publications.
11. gazeta.ru: Voloshin Could Become Rail Oligarch.
12. strana.ru: Gennady Nikiforov, Only Kremlin and Communists can
challenge incumbent governors in upcoming elections.
13. Moscow Times: Yevgenia Albats, Russia's New Very Foreign
14. AP: Russian Business Man Loses Clout. (Berezovsky)
15. Reuters: Russian media group says secures independence.
16. Christian Science Monitor: Nina Sovich, Azerbaijan's forgotten
remnants of war. Some 750,000 Azeris live in refugee camps, and survive
on $5 a month in food rations.]
Poll shows Russians confused about Russia's image in the world
Moscow, 18th October: There is no real consensus among Russians about the
role played by their country in world affairs or about its image, and while
40.3 per cent still regard their country as more or less a superpower, 41.7
per cent disagree.
The Russian Public Opinion and Market Research Centre (ROMIR- Gallup
International) has recently conducted a representative survey of 2,000 people
in 115 towns and villages in forty of Russia's regions.
Just 27.8 per cent believe that Russia is a democratic country, but 37.4 per
cent think otherwise.
Interestingly enough, while 26.1 per cent believed that those authority come
and go in free and fair elections, just over double than number, 52.6 per
cent, hold the opposite view.
A little less than a third of the Russians polled (30.3 per cent) agreed that
the today's authorities are closer to the people than before, a view not
shared by almost half (45 per cent).
One of the questions asked was whether the authorities are competent, because
this is a major feature of the country's image. Poll results indicate that
42.4 per cent of Russians doubt the competence of their country's
authorities. Experts attribute this view to stereotypical thinking that
cannot be easily changed. A much smaller number percentage, 26.1 per cent,
said do not think that the authorities are incompetent.
Duma committee chief blasts US politicians for interfering in Russia's
Source: NTV International, Moscow, in Russian 1630 gmt 18 Oct 00
[Presenter] Hello, you are watching the "Hero of the Day" programme. Andrey
Norkin is in the studio. It appears, quite unexpectedly, that Russia - or
some of its politicians, to be more precise, might influence the outcome of
the forthcoming US presidential election. I mean the scandal in the USA about
those George W. Bush's pronouncements. I should perhaps remind you that
recently he made some accusations against a number of former Russian leaders.
In the studio with me today is chairman of the Duma anti-corruption committee
Nikolay Kovalev. Hello, Nikolay Dmitrievich.
[Kovalev] Good evening.
[Norkin] Let's get down to it right away. Do you share the opinion of those
who believe that the outcome of the US presidential election is now in Viktor
[Kovalev] Well, I would not put it exactly this way, but there is an element
of truth in these words. Undoubtedly, the outcome of the US election can in
many ways depend on how the scandal develops, that is, it might indeed affect
the US election. I should like to add that using Russia as a pawn in US
internal political games is unacceptable in any way. A politician of such a
calibre as this presidential candidate should not resort to such low methods.
This is what I personally think.
[Norkin] Is this why you wrote to George Bush?
[Kovalev] I wrote on behalf of the Duma anti-corruption commission asking him
to provide documentary evidence in support of the accusations which he made
during television debates. In our turn, we would be prepared to investigate
this evidence, if such exists, at a commission's session and adopt
appropriate measures under existing law, including prosecution, which will be
prerogative of the Prosecutor-General's Office.
[Norkin] And do you expect to receive a reply?
[Kovalev] I think under the circumstances there should be some kind of
[Norkin] And what about Edmund Pope's case? As a person who worked in the
special services, you can probably see some hidden context in it better than
most of us. What can you say about those demands to introduce economic
sanctions against Russia if Pope is not released?
[Kovalev] You know, I see it as an attempt to dictate us and as a gross
interference in the country's internal affairs. A man suspected for spying in
Russia has been caught red-handed. In the course of the trial, the accusing
country and the country defending Pope will have a chance to prove their
skills and have an objective hearing of the case. Interference at this stage
means a gross interference in judicial process and, I repeat, in Russia's
Russia opens US-funded nuclear waste facility
SEVERODVINSK, Russia, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Russia and the United States
unveiled on Wednesday their first joint project to render harmless Moscow's
rusting fleet of disused nuclear submarines, which has raised serious fears
The U.S.-funded facility in the town of Severodvinsk on the White Sea will
help Russia reduce the risk of polluting its own and international waters as
it takes hundreds of nuclear vessels out of service under disarmament
agreements with Washington.
"This project will help make this area safer, the Arctic region safer, in
fact, the whole world safer for the work that will be done at this plant,"
Thomas Kuenning, director of U.S. Common Threat Reduction directorate, said
at the opening.
The directorate oversaw the $17 million project, carried out jointly by
Russian, British and French companies with U.S. Lockheed Martin Energy
Technologies as prime contractor.
The plant is due to help Russia tackle the problem of low-level radioactive
waste extracted from nuclear submarines scrapped under START strategic
disarmament agreements with the United States.
Some 185 such vessels, 55 of them already cut up, are waiting to be recycled
in Russia's north.
Russia has the necessary capacity to deal with nuclear fuel but has little
experience with storing low-level waste in the form of reactor cooling
liquids, laundry wastewater and radioactive solids.
Up until 1992, Moscow simply dumped these into the sea until being forced to
stop under intense pressure from international environmental organisations
and Nordic countries, whose economy depends heavily on fishing.
The waste has since been stockpiled in unsafe containers along the coastline,
raising fears of massive pollution in case of disaster.
The plant in Severodvinsk, home to Russia's biggest military submarine
shipyard which also built the sunken Kursk, is expected to process all the
waste stored in the area.
It is to be followed later by two similar plants in other parts of Russia
which officials say will allow the problem to be eliminated altogether.
Russian official denies plans to build shopping centre on Red Square
Text of report by Russia TV on 18th October
[Presenter] The head of the Presidential Administration Office, Vladimir
Kozhin, at a news conference today [18th October] denied rumours about plans
to build a shopping mall on Red Square. He also explained to the journalists
why a rental contract to lease a country house to [Russian business tycoon]
Boris Berezovskiy had not been extended. Andrey Rumyantsev has the story.
[Correspondent] The head of the Presidential Administration Office held a
news conference today, and at last the journalists could see him in the
flesh. He said that newspapers had a wrong story.
[Kozhin] There are no secret construction works on Red Square. There will not
be any construction works on Red Square, the papers were just in a rush to
deliver the hot news. I am in my right mind and have enough common sense, and
we all know what Red Square means to us. We are talking about just one
building situated at No 5 Red Square. It is at this site that the federal
Kremlevskiy facility will be built.
[Correspondent] This yellow building next to St Basil's Cathedral is the one
he was talking about - the future site for the Kremlevskiy facility.
According to Vladimir Kozhin, it will take two and a half years to build an
hotel for the elite, the Kremlevskoye Podvoriye, a jewellery exchange and an
auction centre here. The Presidential Administration Office is currently
trying to raise 300m dollars which is the estimated cost of the project.
Kozhin says he has almost found the money.
The project will not be financed from the state budget. Kozhin said that
potential investors were already planning to visit Moscow. The project
attracted the interests of companies from a number of countries, including
the USA and China. The head of the Presidential Administration Office has
already reviewed his books and is now concentrating the resources. It is his
office that will son be in charge of almost all Russian property abroad.
Domestically, some well-known business people have lost their state country
cottages because of this stock-taking, for instance, Boris Berezovskiy. He
rented a government country house, whose floor area totals 1,800 sq.m., and
he said he paid 500,000 dollars a year. Berezovskiy thinks that he has been
evicted from his cottage for political activities.
[Kozhin] There is no political line here. Boris Abramovich [Berezovskiy] was
not quite accurate when he informed you, Yes, indeed, he occupied a
government country house in the village of Aleksandrovka near Petrovo-Dalneye
on commercial terms. The sum he mentioned as his rent is far from reality,
too. He paid less, about 300,000. He was notified three months ago that his
rental contract which was due to expire in August would not be prolonged.
This is about all, really.
[Correspondent] Another notorious project of the Presidential Administration
Office - the Kremlin structure backed by American lawyers is going to sue the
largest US tobacco companies. They will have to pay Russia an impressive sum
to compensate the money spent by our Health Ministry on treating smokers.
Ukraine went ahead with a similar suit, but lost. Kozhin did not specify how
much is Russia going to pay the lawyers. Andrey Rumyantsev and Aleksandr
Terekhov for "Vesti" from Moscow.
October 19, 2000
EDITORIAL: Shut Down Kremlin's Upravdelami
When liberals of all latitudes and longitudes scold Russia, it is usually
over things like the Central Bank's commercial empire, or the budget's soft
loans to ailing industries. The mantra at such times is: The state should get
out of doing business.
And always, the 800-pound gorilla that sits unnoticed at such discussions is
a sprawling mess known as the Kremlin property department. Boris Yeltsin
created it with a pen stroke in 1993, handing it all property belonging to
the Soviet Communist Party.
This was always a confusing idea, and it's never been clear how Yeltsin and
his property lieutenant, Pavel Borodin, sorted things into Party and
non-Party goody bags.
Nor has it been clear what the property department owns f or what it does f
or even exactly how to understand its notoriously vague Russian name,
Upravleniye delami prezidenta.
Now here we are in a new political era, but the new broom known as Vladimir
Putin isn't doing much sweeping. True, Borodin f the man the Swiss intend to
arrest, should he ever wander into Europe f has been removed. Instead, he's
up in St. Petersburg, flogging a $2 billion white elephant called the
Russian-Belarussian Parliamentary Center. Putin's Kremlin has respectfully
ordered a feasibility study of this asinine project.
And not surprisingly. Putin used to work for Borodin's property department.
And in a sign someone has a really wicked sense of humor, Borodin's center is
tentatively to be built on the same spot as another infamously asinine white
elephant Putin used to know a fair bit about: the 30-story Peter the Great
Tower. Luckily for St. Petersburg's architectural feel, that tower never got
built, as most of the funding seems to have been siphoned off to points like
Back in Moscow, meanwhile, we have Vladimir Kozhin f Putin's St. Petersburg
crony f sitting on Borodin's old throne, and talking of building hotels and
running gem auction centers and suing American tobacco companies on behalf of
Russian cancer victims (apparently the property department will graciously
collect any legal awards on their behalf).
We can't help thinking: Why is the property department even still here f much
less talking of expanding? The entire thing should be dismantled, sold off at
open auction and the revenues generated put into the federal budget.
True, that's not the way things ever worked in St. Petersburg. Way back then,
scams like the Peter the Great Tower flourished thanks to a municipal culture
of financial secrecy f one brought in by the new brooms, Mayor Anatoly
Sobchak and his deputy, Putin.
YABLOKO OPPOSES BRINGING BACK SOVIET SYMBOLS
MOSCOW. Oct 18 (Interfax) - The Yabloko faction "does not think it
necessary to urgently change the symbols of the Russian state" and "is
categorically against the restoration of the symbols of the Soviet
state," reads a statement issued by the faction and signed by Yabloko
chief Grigory Yavlinsky.
"The Yabloko faction in the State Duma will not support the draft
law on restoring Alexandrov's music as the anthem of the Russian
Federation," the document reads.
"This initiative is in the same vein as odious ideas such as the
restoration of the monument to Dzerzhinsky at Lubyanka and of Post 1
near the Lenin Mausoleum," Yabloko says. "These ideas have been
advocated by revanchist forces until now and today they are getting
support from the top level of the Russian administration," the statement
"We view this attempt as a trial step towards the restoration of
elements of the totalitarian system that are far from symbolic,
considering the state bureaucracy's continuing attacks against the
independent mass media and the propagandist campaign justifying the
restriction of civil rights and freedoms," the Yabloko faction says.
"Although we have deep respect for the symbols and prominent
achievements of the past epoch, we consider it unethical to adopt the
anthem of a state that has ended its historical existence. Also, one
should not forget that 'Stalin's' anthem is inseparably connected with
bloody crimes against the Russian people," the statement reads.
DUMA ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION READY TO EXAMINE U.S. MATERIALS ON THEFT
OF IMF LOANS
MOSCOW. Oct 18 (Interfax) - The Russian State Duma's anti-
corruption committee is prepared to examine materials from the U.S. on
former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's alleged involvement in the
theft of IMF loans, commission Chairman Nikolai Kovalyov said live in a
Wednesday interview with Echo Moskvy radio.
Kovalyov, who is also deputy chairman of the Duma security
commission and a former Russian federal security service director, said
he has already forwarded an inquiry to Republican U.S. presidential
candidate George Bush, Jr., who not long ago accused Chernomyrdin of
involvement in pocketing IMF loans. He requested that Bush provide all
the relevant materials he possesses to the Duma anti-corruption
"If such materials exist, they will be legally evaluated in an open
>procedure," Kovalyov said.
Chernomyrdin, who intends to file suit against Bush for denigrating
his honor and dignity, "has very real chances of winning this case," the
Duma official said. "The only thing that could get in his way is a U.S.
political decision," Kovalyov said, noting that he does not rule out
that "a court might postpone hearings in this case to a time after the
Russia "has been used as a worthless pawn in the U.S. election
campaign," Kovalyov argued. "This remark by George Bush, Jr. shows his
incorrectness in relation to Russia, at the very least," he said.
October 18, 2000
UNIFIED POWERHOUSE ROSATOMPROM IN THE MAKING
The new company will incorporate all of the country's nine nuclear power
The Nuclear Energy Ministry is reorganizing its Rosenergoatom company with
a view to
establishing a unified concern to be called Rosatomprom. A draft document
transformation is on the government's table. By the end of this year or the
beginning of 2001,
Rosatomprom could bring together the financial resources of Russia's nine
plants to become a serious rival to the national power monopoly Unified
The Nuclear Dwarf, as Nuclear Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov calls Russia's
nuclear energy company, will account for 40% of the increment in the
output; the remaining 60% will come from "big brother" UES, which is ten
times larger. UES
power stations have so far been unable to outperform their nuclear
counterparts (in terms of
greater output and lower generating costs), Adamov says. The nuclear plants
even more competitive after they unify into a single generating company,
It will then be possible to pool together all investment resources
scattered over the nuclear
power sector. At the moment, the nuclear plants dispose of almost all the
payments from their
customers at their own discretion, leaving Rosenergoatom only with the
small sums deducted
from tariffs for safety engineering and investment purposes. The company's
are now being used, for example, to complete the construction of the first
stage of the
Volgodon nuclear power plant.*
As Adamov said, Rosenergoatom has managed to get rid of all the
intermediary firms which
only two years ago clung to it like limpets. The nine nuclear power plants,
which use the
services of several hundred intermediaries, will drop them upon
Rosatomprom. Last year the plants earned over 20 billion rubles; barter and
schemes lopped some four billion rubles off that sum in favor of the
In the opinion of Deputy Minister for Nuclear Energy Bulat Nigmatulin, the
reorganization will cut nuclear power costs by 15% to 20%, and make it far
easier to manage
the plants. Rosatomprom will be so structured as to have a single marketing
arm - an
arrangement that will make the nuclear power plants' financial flows
the plants' activities will be subject to planning, and budgets will
require endorsement by their
new parent company. In other words, plant directors will have to come to
Moscow to explain their expenditures on repairs, new equipment, capital
wage payouts, and so forth.*
Rosatomprom will also incorporate the Leningrad nuclear power plant, which
independent at the moment. Vremya asked Nuclear Energy Minister Adamov how
coaxed the Leningrad plant managers into joining. His reply: "Previously
the plant was at great
pains to keep away from Rosenergoatom so that there might be some measure
in the sector. For many years it won that competition thanks to its
efficient director, Anatoly
Yeperin. Several years ago this man, who was one of the initiators of the
establishment, was "gobbled up" by the trade unions.*
"The Leningrad plant's more circumspect new director, Valery Lebedev, has
lost out to other
nuclear power stations in terms of plant retooling. The service life of the
plant's first unit,
started up in 1973, will expire three years from now. Only recently, the
plant could not afford
to prolong that unit's life even by ten years. It has now managed to get
the cash needed for
"But in 2013 the plant will have to replace its first reactor with a new
one. Where can it get
more than $1 billion needed for the replacement? Rosatomprom is here to
come up with the
cash. Can Lebedev refute this fact? No. So he had to jump on the bandwagon."*
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000
From: Maris Ozols <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 4587-Lieven/Reply to Lucas
Whilst not wishing to take sides in the Lieven/Lucas/Strauss/etc. polemic, I
find this an opportunity to take up some of the points Anatol raises in his
I diagree with Anatol that the Balts have "resisted any recognition of the
role of Baltic national partisans and politicians in anti-semitic
atrocities in 1941 and after". What has more concerned the Balts has been
the one-sided nature of the accusations. The Baltic Jews, to a great
extent, unquestionably welcomed the arrival of Soviet forces in 1940 and
collaborated with them to some extent in some of their more unsavoury
aspects. I have this from personal testimony and it is also mentioned in
'Letters from Latvia' by Lucy Addison, now out of print, but published by
one of Robert Maxwell's titles, no less.
He also claims that "an odious feature of much Baltic writing on Stalin's
crimes in the Baltic has been the assumption that the victims were all
Lithuanians and Estonians, while the perpetrators were all Russians
and Jews. In fact, the figures suggest that both Russian and Jewish
inhabitants of the Baltic States provided a disproportionate number of
Stalin’s victims, not for ethnic reasons (because they also of course
provided a disproportionate share of the NKVD) but because they were
seen to an even greater degree than the Balts as a political and class
threat to Stalinist communism: The Russians as bourgeois “Whites”,
liberals, conservatives and Russian nationalists, the Jews as
bourgeois capitalists, liberals and still more as ex-Menshevik Social
Democrats." I have heard this before that Anatol, in his first book the
title of which escapes me (the Baltic revolution?) had made such a claim.
The only documentary evidence that could bear this out would be the book
"These Names Accuse" published and republished by the Latvian National
Foundation at various point in the last half century, being a fascimile of
deportation list drawn up by the Soviets for the nights of June 13th/14th
in 1941. This does not bear out such a breakdown of nationalities but shows
the majority, by far, judging by the names, to have been ethnic Latvians.
Undeniably Russians and Jews are on this list but not to the extent that
Anatol asserts. Incidentally, this book was enthusiastically acclaimed by
Bernard Levin in one his articles in The Times in the 80s.
Anatol also mentions some of the points of issue between the Balts and
Moscow such as the return of annexed territory and the citizenship laws. We
should not forget the theft of the Latvian embassies in Rome and Paris by
the Soviet government in the communist period either and the failure of the
Russian government to address this. One shouldn't really be surprised by
the Baltic moves for compensation. Forunately, in the case of the Baltic
gold held and retained at the Bank of England after Soviet occupation
justice was done; after the reestablishment of independence, the British
government did reverse the Wilson governments decision to hand it to the
Soviets in the 70s, albeit at a cost to the British taxpayer.
Subject: Carnegie Moscow Center - new publications
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000
The Carnegie Moscow Center has recently released the following publications:
Reality of Ethnic Myths, ed. by Alexei Malashenko (Analytical Series)
This collection of articles from well-known Russian ethnologists and
historians fills the gap in the research on inter-ethnic relations in Russia
and the CIS. The collection draws the readers attention to several
materials, part of which, is dedicated to myths in history and the
reflection of historical myths in ethnic policies, as well as the problem of
ethno-national liberalism. This publication was prepared as part of the
project "Ethnicity and Nation-Building" and based on reports made at the
Working Group Seminars in 1998 & 1999.
Electronic version in Russian: <http://pubs.carnegie.ru/books/2000/10am>
Contents and Summary in English:
Russia in the Course of 1999-2000 Election Cycle, ed. by Michael McFaul,
Nikolai Petrov and Andrey Ryabov
This book is the result of a project devoted to the analysis of the Russian
society during the Duma elections of 1999 and presidential elections of
2000. It evaluates the significance of these elections for the political
development in Russia and describes the election campaign, its main
participants and the electorate. The general picture of the situation in the
country is complemented with regional snapshots.
Electronic version in Russian: <http://pubs.carnegie.ru/books/2000/09np>
Contents and Summary in English:
Nuclear-Missile Complex Of Russia: Mobility of Personnel and Security, by
Valentin Tikhonov (Working Papers #1, 2000)
This issue is devoted to the problems of mobility of specialists in the
nuclear and missile industries in Russia and the impact of this process on
the national and international security. The paper completes the project
"Human Factor in the Nuclear Security of Russia" carried out by the Carnegie
Electronic version in Russian:
Drug Trafficking On the Great Silk Road: The Security Environment in Central
Asia Crossborder Cooperation, by Martha Brill Olcott, Natalia Udalova Zwart,
translated by Marat Umerov (Working pares #2, 2000)
Electronic version in Russian:
Original English text:
Carnegie Moscow Center
Tel: 7 095 935-8904
Fax: 7 095 935-8906
October 18, 2000
Voloshin Could Become Rail Oligarch
On Wednesday, October 18, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov chaired a
cabinet meeting during which the railway minister Nikolai Aksyonenko’s
proposal for reforming the management of Russian rail network was discussed.
The reform proposal elaborated drawn up by the Railways Ministry is as
roughly as follows:
Nikolai Aksyonenko wants to establish a state owned rail company to manage
transportation, maintenance of the rail network etc., while the Rail
Ministry will run the company.
The proposed Russian Railroads Open Stock Company (OAO RZhD) would be
100%-state-owned and the shares would not be open to floatation. Russia’s
17 major routes would be made the subsidiaries of the railroad monopoly and
their respective shares would also not be available for sale.
When the Railways Minister presented his radical proposal to the cabinet at
the beginning of October, the Ministry for Economic and Trade Development
and the Anti-Monopoly Ministry literally declared war against the concept.
The Russian State Property Ministry also harshly criticized Aksyonenko’s
Opponents of Aksyonenko proposal in the Russian government are concerned
that, if implemented, the Railways Ministry reform could lead to the
creation of “a monster comparable to Gazprom, that would be able to hold
the whole national economy to ransom,” a government source was quoted as
saying in Wednesday’s edition of the Russian daily Izvestia.
Aksyonenko’s opponents argue that there are no grounds for establishing a
corporation along the lines of his Russian Railroads Open Sock Company (OAO
RZhD). And, what’s more, “neither the government, nor society is ready to
accept the existing proposal for the restructuring of the rail network.”
However, in their unofficial comments, some cabinet members admit they see
no competitive alternative to Aksyonenko’s reform. And still, most of them
seem deeply concerned over the railroads agency chief’s persistent attempts
to persuade the government of the feasibility of his concept.
A government official, cited by the Izvestia, said that he believes that in
order to form an effective reform plan, a general auditing of the Rail
Ministry is required and suggested that a reputable international auditor
should be hired to conduct a survey. Auditing could help “determine
competitive and non-competitive railroad areas,” said the official.
Another of the key points of the initial reform plan is the Rail Ministry’s
blatant attempt to gain exclusive rights to establish tariffs for highly
lucrative international carriage and to independently determine the
company’s tariff policies. The Anti-Monopoly Ministry has said it will
oppose any such attempt.
Prior to Wednesday’s cabinet meeting Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov asked
cabinet members to submit their own proposals and remarks on Aksyonenko’s
concept in writing.
Gazeta.Ru has learnt from a Kremlin source that the Kremlin administration
and its chief Alexander Voloshin played a part in drawing up the railway
Our source asserts that under the Kremlin plans, Alexander Voloshin will
probably be appointed to the top executive post in the newly established
state concern Russian Railroads and, subsequently, fill the ranks of the
so-called oligarchs, prominent figures merging politics and business. The
Rail Ministry’s annual turnover amounts to nearly $10 billion. As a reward
for his efforts Nikolay Aksyonenko, will keep his ministerial seat.
After the cabinet meeting, Aksyonenko insisted that his proposal had not
caused any objections but the fact that he did not mention whether or not
it had been approved means that a decision was not taken.
October 16, 2000
Only Kremlin and Communists can challenge incumbent governors in upcoming
By Gennady Nikiforov
Russia's last parliamentary republic is no more: people in the Republic of
Udmurtia have elected Chairman of the republic's State Council, Alexander
Volkov, their President, the first in the republic's history. With 37.8% of
the vote, Volkov has outstripped his deputy, Pavel Vershinin. (23.9%) and
the republic's Prime Minister Nikolai Ganza (12.3%). Voter turnout in
Sunday's presidential election was more than half of the total electorate.
Twice as many people came to the polls than the 25%-minimum required by the
republic's electoral law. The outcome dispelled fears that the ultimate
turnout would not reach 25%, in which case a runoff would have been
Whereas Udmurtia's electorate has demonstrated a conclusive result, the
electorate of many other regions has yet to show their sympathies in
upcoming gubernatorial elections. A balance sheet of electoral preferences
can already be denied if past elections are anything to go by. In 1997 and
1998 the Liberal Democrats nominated 600 candidates for regional
legislative assemblies but only five of them were elected - less that one
percent. Now that the popularity of the Liberal Democrats is twice as low
and the only Liberal-Democratic governor has defected to Unity, it is clear
that the Liberal Democrats do not have the slightest chance of challenging
incumbent governors. Yabloko and Union of Right Forces (SPS) do not fare
much better either. In 1996-1998 Yabloko candidates for gubernatorial posts
won an average of four percent of the vote although they were running in
constituencies where Yabloko's popularity was significantly higher than it
was in other regions. At that time 8-10 percent of the electorate were
ready to vote for Yavlinsky. Now the figure has plummeted to three to five
percent. While in late 1999 the SPS electorate swelled to incorporate Putin
loyalists who did not wish to vote for Unity it has since shrunk to its
traditional size - two percent. Elections in St. Petersburg are as good an
indicator of SPS dwindling popularity as any. In 1999 Yabloko won 11% and
SPS 17%. By May 2000 Yabloko was enjoying about the same support but SPS
was left with a mere three percent. Even if Yabloko and SPS join forces
during the 2000-2001 campaign, it is safe to assume that none of their
candidates will achieve victory.
It is obvious, therefore, that only two political forces have serious
chances of victory at the next gubernatorial elections: the Communists and
the Kremlin. The Kremlin's candidates will represent the Unity party.
Despite the fact that the Communist Party is not as strong as it used to be
it could put on quite an impressive performance in regions where it has a
high percentage of supporters but "red governors" are already in power
there anyway. The Altai Republic is about the only subject of the Russian
Federation without a Communist-sponsored governor although the Communist
electorate there is fairly numerous. This means that on the whole the
Communists will not achieve much success at the forthcoming regional
elections, nor will they suffer any major setbacks.
On the other side, the Kremlin will be working to increase the number of
loyal governors. On the one hand, most governors are already loyal to it
but on the other, it lacks the necessary manpower: it is short on
candidates enjoying enough popularity in the regions.
It is obvious that most governors will retain their posts after the
upcoming elections. If local legislation prohibits some of them from
running for another term, they will appoint successors in the same way as
Boris Yeltsin chose Vladimir Putin as his successor. This will ensure
continuity: the successor will inherit his predecessor's administration and
will pursue his policies.
The following forecast can be made at this point in time: an absolute
majority of incumbent heads of regional administrations will be re-elected
during the forthcoming gubernatorial elections. The few new governors will
in one way or another be representatives of either the Kremlin or the
Communist Party. No representatives of Yabloko, SPS or the Liberal
Democrats will be among the new governors.
The following is a list of regions which are due to hold local elections
this year: Kursk Region and Sakhalin Region (October 22), Chita Region and
Buryat Autonomous Region (October 29), Kaliningrad Region and Magadan
Region (November 5), Pskov Region and Kaluga Region (November 12), Kurgan
Region (November 26), Kamchatka Region, Koryak Autonomous Region, Astrakhan
Region, Arkhangelsk Region, Perm Region, the Republic of Marii El,
Krasnodar Territory, Ryazan Region, Komi-Permiak Autonomous Region and
Stavropol Territory (December 3), Vladimir Region, Bryansk Region, Kostroma
region, Khabarovsk Territory, Voronezh Region and Volgograd Region
(December 10), Ulyanovsk Region, the Khakass Republic, Chukot Autonomous
Region and Chelyabinsk Region (December 24).
October 19, 2000
POWER PLAY: Russia's New Very Foreign Foreign Policy
By Yevgenia Albats
The Kremlin has left us with puzzles before. But the latest mystery f
Moscow's abstention from the Middle East emergency summit at Sharm el-Sheikh
f may signify quite an interesting change in Russia's own understanding of
its place and role in the world.
Russia is officially a co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process along with
the United States. And in Yeltsin's Russia, the foreign minister f whether
Westernizer Andrei Kozyrev, Arabist Yevgeny Primakov or the faceless Igor
Ivanov f would have done his best to be present, even if only as a reminder
of the past glory of a onetime superpower that still has some nuclear muscles
However, this time Moscow chose to play the injured party. "There has been no
invitation and I don't even know whether they were sending any invitations at
all or what the format of the meeting was,'' said Ivanov, who nevertheless
spent most of last week in the Middle East talking to Israelis and
Palestinians in a failed attempt to revive Russia's clout.
For a career diplomat like Ivanov, a public acknowledgment that Russia was
ignored to the point that it was not even informed about "the format of the
meeting" is no idle statement. It is not a coincidence that the same day that
statement was made, President Vladimir Putin sent a warmly worded message to
his Iranian counterpart and assigned his Security Council chief f career
intelligence officer Sergei Ivanov f to pay a friendly visit to Iran.
One could object to courting Iran, particularly now, and one could argue that
we are witnessing a struggle between the two Ivanovs and the institutions
they represent. But most importantly, the Kremlin is taking a more pragmatic,
rational and therefore predictable stance in its foreign affairs.
By looking to Tehran and not Sharm-el-Sheikh, Moscow acknowledges it is no
longer a super power, but a regional one. And Putin's meetings with Ukrainian
or Belarussian presidents suit the nation's pragmatic interests better than
his sitting impotently alongside the U.S. president.
Moscow no longer has the resources to supply free weapons or credits to its
former allies in the Middle East. The Kremlin's loudly proclaimed fight
against worldwide Islamic fundamentalism, with which it justifies the war in
Chechnya, puts it at odds with many Arab nations. And Israel does not need
Russia at these talks either.
Putin's letter to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami suggests that the
Kremlin has a selective perception of what constitutes Islamic
fundamentalism. The timing of such a move was inappropriate and comes across
as, frankly, puerile. Yet it does have a certain logic behind it. Russia and
Iran share the oil-rich Caspian Sea; Iran owes Russia about $4 billion and
there is reasonable hope it will eventually pay up.
Russia is searching for a clear and definite conception of its national
interests, something it has not had since the fall of the Soviet Union. Both
the world and the nation will benefit if the Kremlin finally gives up its
imperial aspirations. Whether some of us disapprove of Moscow's concrete
policies is less important: The emergence of a coherent and consistent
foreign policy is already better than the absence of one altogether.
Yevgenia Albats is a Moscow-based independent journalist.
Russian Business Man Loses Clout
October 18, 2000
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
MOSCOW (AP) - After losing his influence in the Kremlin, business tycoon
Boris Berezovsky has now also been stripped of some of the trappings of
grandeur - a spacious government country house and government plates on his
President Vladimir Putin's chief property manager, Vladimir Kozhin, confirmed
Wednesday that his office had asked Berezovsky to vacate the
6,000-square-foot dacha west of Moscow. Berezovsky said earlier this week
that he had to stay at a hotel after he was told to leave the country house
he has occupied for several years.
Berezovsky was a member of the inner circle of President Boris Yeltsin, who
resigned Dec. 31. The mogul has apparently fallen out of favor with Putin,
whom he now accuses of authoritarian ways.
``Thus passes worldly glory,'' the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets said
Wednesday. ``In Russia the scenario is always the same - presidential
property managers arrive at the former celebrity's dacha and ask him to
vacate the premises.''
Government perks like dachas - which the elite prefer over apartments in the
crowded city - and special license plates are key measures of status in
Berezovsky said he paid $500,000 a year for the dacha, but Kozhin said the
rent was $300,000. Kozhin insisted there were no political reasons behind the
termination of the contract, saying his office needed the dacha ``for other
Commentators thought otherwise. ``The lease for such a dacha costs much more,
but they paid no attention to that when Berezovsky had friends in the
Kremlin,'' Moskovsky Komsomolets said. ``This is how the system moves against
those who have fallen out with it.''
Berezovsky epitomizes the Russian moguls known as oligarchs, who built quick
fortunes by obtaining state properties cheap through their government
connections. Berezovsky's interests reportedly include oil, aluminum, auto
sales and news media.
He used his media empire to help get Putin elected in March, but appears to
have lost influence with the new administration. Berezovsky announced earlier
this year he would form a new opposition.
He claimed Putin was trying to stifle the media by attempting to grab his 49
percent share in Russia's largest television network, ORT, the rest of which
is controlled by the government. On Monday, Berezovsky set up a trust,
handing his stake over to journalists and cultural figures to prevent the
government from taking it.
On Tuesday, he was questioned as a witness in a long-delayed corruption probe
dealing with the alleged diversion of funds from Russia's national airline
Aeroflot. Berezovsky has denied any wrongdoing and insisted the probe was
Russian media group says secures independence
By Peter Graff
MOSCOW, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Russia's only nationwide commercial media group
said on Wednesday it had reached an agreement with its state-dominated
creditor which could keep its journalists independent.
The announcement suggested a way out of a months-long tug-of-war for control
of Media-Most, which has raised questions about President Vladimir Putin's
toleration for public dissent. But key details of the deal remained
In a brief and vaguely-worded statement, Media-Most said it had reached "an
agreement in principle with Gazprom-Media on signing an out-of-court accord
for resolving existing debts." Gazprom-Media is an arm of natural gas
The statement said Media-Most "hailed the appearance of universally
recognised international investors among the shareholders of the company,"
but gave no details.
Gazprom, which is owed or has guaranteed loans to Media-Most worth more than
$400 million, has said it was searching for a foreign investor to buy
Media-Most shares so it could recoup its debts while guaranteeing the
company's editorial independence.
Media-Most sources have said the company wanted guarantees from Gazprom that
any shares it obtained in a settlement would be resold to Western investors.
But Media-Most boss Vladimir Gusinsky has said that the Kremlin was using
Gazprom, in which the state is by far the largest shareholder, to force him
to relinquish his company and silence its public criticism of the government.
Media-Most's broadcast and print outlets have often angered the Kremlin,
especially its NTV television network, which is by far the most influential
source of information in Russia that is outside the Kremlin's control.
INDEPENDENCE PART OF THE DEAL
NTV director Yevgeny Kiselyov said editorial independence was part of the new
deal with Gazprom.
"As a result of the agreements reached, the real independence of the media
outlets and the journalist staff of those properties belonging to Media-Most
will be guaranteed," he said in brief on-air remarks.
"I also hail in every way the understanding that has been reached that a
large, internationally recognised and authoritative investor may now appear
Media-Most spokesman Dmitry Ostalsky declined to comment further, and was
quoted by Interfax news agency as saying part of the deal reached with
Gazprom was that neither side would discuss it. A secretary for Gazprom-Media
head Alfred Kokh, said he was not available for comment.
The battle for control of Media-Most has raged since shortly after Putin's
inauguration as president in May, raising fears of a clampdown on public
dissent. Putin says Russia needs a free press, but has accused media bosses
of "battling against the state."
Masked tax police raided Media-Most's offices in May and Gusinsky was briefly
jailed. He said the Kremlin was using the police to bully him into selling
In July, a case against Gusinsky was dropped after he signed a document
offering to sell out to Gazprom. Gusinsky later repudiated the deal, saying
he signed it under pressure.
Christian Science Monitor
October 19, 2000
Azerbaijan's forgotten remnants of war
Some 750,000 Azeris live in refugee camps, and survive on $5 a month in food
By Nina Sovich, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Rana lives in a windowless mud hut with her husband and two children.
In the winter, rain turns the ground into a cold and muddy soup that sloshes
beneath her plastic-covered floor. On blazing July days, the temperature
peaks above 120 degrees and the room becomes a toxic mix of damp heat and
smoke from the cooking fire.
Next door live Esmira and her husband. Though both are under 40, they cough
constantly and move with the careful precision of old age.
"We have been living on bread and tea for seven years and never get meat or
even vegetables," says Esmira. "We are afraid that next winter the children
will die or, even worse, we will die and leave the children alone."
Rana and Esmira and their families are among the forgotten remnants of an
ethnic war between Azeris and Armenians over Nagorno-Karabakh, which killed
35,000 between 1988 and 1994. Today, an uneasy cease-fire holds the peace,
but 15 percent of Azerbaijan's land, purged of its Azeri inhabitants, remains
in Armenian hands.
The image of poor refugees is numbingly familiar in Africa and parts of Asia.
But in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, such conditions seem
incongruous with the country's effort to cast itself as a modern, European
This summer the Council of Europe conditionally admitted Azerbaijan as a
member, sparking rumors that NATO membership would follow.
Since taking office in 1993, the president, Gaidar Aliyev, has taken a
secular, pro-western stance and encouraged oil company exploration in
Azerbaijan's sizable Caspian reserves. To date, Azerbaijan has generated $1
billion from oil sales and signing bonuses.
Little of that money seems to have reached the 750,000 Azeris who live in
internally displaced person camps throughout the country. They survive on $5
a month in government food rations, occasional deliveries of kerosene and
intermittent assistance from nongovernmental organizations.
Some of the men make mud bricks, which they sell for a few cents at market,
or work as day laborers. But the nearest town is miles away, and isolation,
coupled with no public transportation, makes work nearly impossible to find.
International agencies help with housing and clothes, but many are pulling
out of Azerbaijan to spend their money in high-profile areas of conflict like
Kosovo and East Timor.
This year the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees' $9 million budget
was severely cut, a phenomenon UNHCR staffer Vugar Abdusalimov attributes to
donor fatigue: "The war was over seven years ago, and still the governments
have not settled the issue. Donors are leaving because they would prefer to
fund a success story."
The prospects of a long-term resolution between Azerbaijan and Armenia on
Nagorno-Karabakh seemed close a year ago after both presidents met several
times. The assassination of Armenia's Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian in
October 1999 froze negotiations, however, and there has been little movement
Araz, who is among the displaced, seems confident that President Aliyev will
resolve the issue soon. His wife is less sanguine, however: "We moved to the
desert because we thought the war would only last a few weeks, and then we
could go home. But we are still here. If we have to stay, then the government
needs to provide us with land and irrigation or they must move us to Baku."
Esmira salvaged little from her village but the huge black-and-white TV that
dominates her tiny house. Every night she watches advertisements for cell
phones, fancy Baku restaurants and boutiques - luxuries that appear worlds
away. Like most rural Azeris, she has had little contact with the hard-edged
capitalism of modern Azerbaijan. She waits for the wealth of Baku to trickle
down to her, but as the years pass, she senses that her government - rated
fourth most corrupt in the world in the Transparency Index - cares less and
less about people stranded in the displaced-persons camps.
"Aliyev is okay," she says carefully, "but he is better with foreigners than
he is at home."
Some are leaving the camps, mostly young men hoping to find work in Baku. The
old and young are left behind to survive as best they can.
Women occupy themselves with household chores, child-rearing and small
enterprises. Jobless, men spend most of their empty days in the camp's
"entertainment hall" playing backgammon and smoking. One relief worker says,
"All their lives these men were told what to do by the Soviets. Now they live
in a desert without any options. It's hard to say who is to blame."
Azad Ifazozade, a psychologist and former army officer who visits the camp
each weekend to counsel children traumatized by the war, says poverty and
isolation are straining marriages and families to the breaking point. In
traditional Azeri culture, men provide for the family, while women raise
children and keep house.
As women become both breadwinners and housekeepers, they have gained status
in the community, particularly in the eyes of the children, and the men feel
Azad says "children don't respect their fathers or their grandparents
anymore. In the villages people have always looked to the family for support,
but if that falls apart, where will they turn? Certainly not the government."
Esmira affectionately ruffles her son's hair and asks her husband to help her
fix the TV reception. He obliges, then trudges off to see his friends.
"When we lived in Fizuli, we had an orchard, a farm and the children went to
school," she says dreamily. "Now we live in a salty desert, and no one seems
to remember us. We need to go home soon, or there will be nothing left of us,
or of the old ways."
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