This Date's Issues: 4597 •
Johnson's Russia List
24 October 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Interfax: YELTSIN'S DAUGHTER SAYS HE CONSIDERED PUTTING OFF
2. Dmitri Glinski-Vassiliev: In Memoriam of Yury Burtin.
3. Mark Jones: RE: 4596-Abandoning a Sinking Country/Armenia.
4. PROGRAM OFFICER, MOSCOW OFFICE, NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR EURASIAN
AND EAST EUROPEAN RESEARCH (NCEEER).
5. Montreal Gazette: Sumitra Rajagopalan, Russian science needs
a boost. Nobel winner is right to use clout to bid for more support
6. BBC Monitoring: Authors of Russian information security doctrine
try to justify it to press.
7. RFE/RL: Sophie Lambroschini, Court's Barring Of Rutskoi Seen As
8. BBC Monitoring: Russian politicians comment on exclusion of
governor from election race.
9. Vremya Novostei: REFORMS ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITH PROSPERITY.
(Views on economy of Gref, Illarionov, Alexashenko, and Kulik)
10. Moscow Times: Reubern Johnson, Too Many Russian Skeletons in
YELTSIN'S DAUGHTER SAYS HE CONSIDERED PUTTING OFF 1996 ELECTIONS
MOSCOW. Oct 23 (Interfax) - Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin
considered in March 1996 putting off the presidential elections
scheduled for the summer of that year, his younger daughter has said in
an interview to be published this week.
Yeltsin drew up a decree to dissolve the lower house of parliament
and postpone the presidential elections but ditched the draft on the
advice of his chief election campaign analyst, Tatyana Dyachenko, who
was also a Kremlin adviser during her father's presidency, told Moscow's
"It was [Yeltsin's chief bodyguard Alexander] Korzhakov who wanted
the elections to be put off and the [State] Duma to be dissolved," she
"This would have enabled him to preserve, as he thought, his
influence on dad. He surrounded dad with a tight circle of his people,
and Korzhakov's people - security officials, ministers, secretaries and
the entire bodyguard service - gradually took many of the positions
around [Yeltsin]," she said.
"But our analytical group was already at work, and we believed that
postponing the elections was a mortally dangerous thing for the country,
leaving aside the fact that putting them off meant violating the
Constitution," she noted.
After a meeting with chief election campaign analyst Anatoly
Chubais, Yeltsin fired Korzhakov, Mikhail Barsukov and Oleg Soskovets,
"I had neither any pity for Korzhakov nor any disappointment with
him. The thought that that person possessed huge power potential simply
gave me chills," she said.
Igor Malashenko, then head of the independent NTV television
channel and current first deputy head of independent media holding
company Media-MOST, was to join Chubais at the meeting with Yeltsin,
"Igor has an extraordinary personality. He was invited to the
analytical group because the best and most intelligent were invited
there," she said.
But "it's strange how people change. Malashenko knew practically
everything about me, and yet he didn't stop NTV from issuing such
incredible lies about me, about my dad, about castles and foreign
accounts. This was simply a shock for me. No, it wasn't me, but my
friends who were asking, 'How can you, Igor, you know perfectly well
that neither Tanya [Dyachenko] nor Boris Nikolayevich [Yeltsin] have any
of that.' He answered, 'We report this because everyone is talking about
it.' I didn't even want to try to prove that none of it was true, I
simply had no time for that, and I thought let them say what they like
anyway. All those who knew me have never believed in this rubbish. I
think that in this way they were simply trying to discredit the
president," she said.
Dyachenko also spoke about President Vladimir Putin's chief of
staff Alexander Voloshin.
"He is a terrifically interesting person," Dyachenko said. "It is
not easy to communicate with him, I think his ways simply make some
people furious. He can structure a conversation so intelligently, with
humor, and can charm you so much that someone may leave and it's only
after one has shut the door behind oneself that it strikes them: did he
agree after all or not? On another occasion Voloshin may formulate his
position in very tough terms," she said.
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000
From: "Dmitri Glinski-Vassiliev" <email@example.com>
Subject: In Memoriam of Yury Burtin
Speaking of the Johnson's Russia List community, I think we should all pay
our tribute to Yury Grigorievich Burtin who passed away last Friday at the
age of 68. Yury Burtin was one of Russia's foremost thinkers and
writers of our time, one of the spiritual and moral leaders of the
democratic movement of the 1980s, and an uncompromising critic of the system
that emerged on the ruins of this movement in the 1990s.
In the 1960s, Burtin became well known as a journalist, literary critic and
member of the editorial board of Soviet Union's most authoritative
anti-Stalinist journal of the time, Novy Mir. He was part of Aleksandr
Tvardovsky's brilliant team which was ousted from the journal in 1970, when
the repressions of dissent began. In the late 1980s, Burtin was one of the
close collaborators of Andrei Sakharov, a founder of the first major forum
of liberal reformers, the Moscow Tribune, and one of the founders and
members of the leadership of the Democratic Russia Movement. In January
1992, he and his co-thinkers left the Democratic Russia and became most
authoritative opponents of the economic and political course of Yeltsinism,
in the democratic camp. Together with Grigory Vodolazov, Burtin coined the
term "nomenklatura capitalism", to define the emerging system. His most
comprehensive analysis of the shock therapy reforms as the negation of the
democratic promise of the previous period was presented in his essay of
December 1992, "The Alien Power", which was recently listed by Nezavisimaya
Gazeta as one of its most influential articles over the decade of its
existence. In subsequent years, Yury Burtin was a member of the Independent
Civic Initiative, the editor of God posle Avgusta: Gorech i vybor (1992) and
of Grazhdanskaya Mysl (Civic Thought) (1993). Recently, he published several
studies on Lenin, Sakharov, and the theory of convergence.
Yury Burtin did not write in English. He did not make any special efforts to
attract Western audience. These are the two reasons why his moral authority
and influential role in Russia's intellectual life, with few exceptions, was
barely known to Westerners. However, when the history of our time will be
written, his name will be mentioned among those few who had issued advance
warnings, de profundis, about the blind alleys of top-down oligarchical
"reforms", speaking against the grain of most of the established opinion of
his time. His outstanding work is waiting for the English-language
translators and publishers.
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000
From: "Mark Jones" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: 4596-Abandoning a Sinking Country
Janin friend's Business Week piece about the destruction of Armenia
once again illustrates how "fortunate" were the 'subject minorities'
of that 'prison of nations', the USSR, to escape from the clutches of
the so-called Soviet Empire.
Armenians are in good company - other nations who now also enjoy the
freedom to flee or to die include not just the citizens of Tajikistan,
Kirgizia, and the other Central Asian 'stans', but also (let us not
forget them!) the denizens of Moldova, Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Georgia,
Abkhazia, the Ukraine, the Russian Far East, and even large parts of
central Russia itself.
Warning! Irony notice! Since there are still people who think the fall
of the Soviet Union was a Good Thing, and such a benefit that even
the correlative, ongoing democide is simply insignificant in the scale
of things, I should point out that on the whole I am not, and we
should not be, if we covet our reputations in history, in favour of
the disappearance of whole nations like Armenia, Azerbaijan etc.
In British history (and collective conscience) the Highland Clearances
and the Irish Famine are still problematic, hard-to-digest episodes in
the general uprush of Anglo-Saxon 'civilisation'. Actually, what the
Anglo-Saxons have now achieved in the former Soviet Union not only
eclipses the Clearances or the potato famine, it outplays any alleged
criminality of Joseph Stalin (under whose rule, the population grew),
and probably eclipses almost any crime against mass humanity since the
fall of Masada. It is good to see that even Anatol Lieven now
recognises that perhaps something went awry in the great liberatory
But we are living in truly dire times when there is not only the
ongoing meatgrinding, i.e., the ongoing persistent commission of
silent, unseen crimes against ordinary folks like you and me, but when
there are so lamentably few voices of conscience even observing for
the record what is going on (well done, David Johnson).
I don't believe in justice any more, and I don't any more believe that
history has a rationale. But I am sure that the home address of the
perpetrators of these crimes, in New York, Washington, London and
Berlin are not secret. Not yet anyhow.
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000
Subject: NCEEER Moscow Program Officer announcement
PROGRAM OFFICER, MOSCOW OFFICE, NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR EURASIAN AND EAST
EUROPEAN RESEARCH (NCEEER)
NCEEER seeks a Program Officer in its Moscow office to assist in the
administration and development of research, exchange, and curriculum
development programs involving American scholars and their counterparts in
the New Independent States (NIS) and Central and Eastern Europe.
The successful candidate will be required to:
- administer and monitor academic programs administered by NCEEER;
- demonstrate experience in working with members of the scholarly community
concerning the administration of fellowships and tracking of program alumni;
- indicate evidence of ability to work with other non-profit organizations in
collaborative settings; and
- demonstrate credible computer skills, including the ability to work with
database, word processing, and graphics programs, as well as web page
Candidates should preferably have an M.A., and have at least one year
experience in administering research, training, and exchange programs in the
NIS. Strong Russian language skills strongly preferred. NCEEER expects that
successful candidates will be able to begin employment no later than January
3, 2001. Candidates should send resumes and reference information to:
Robert T. Huber, President
910 17th St., Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 822-6950 (phone)
(202) 822-6955 (FAX)
23 October 2000
Russian science needs a boost
Nobel winner is right to use clout to bid for more support for colleagues
By SUMITRA RAJAGOPALAN
Sumitra Rajagopalan has a PhD in biomedical engineering from the Universite
de Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique and has worked and studied in Russia.
The Russian scientific community was ecstatic this month, as they received
news that their colleague from St. Petersburg had won the Nobel Prize in
physics. For many Russians, who long believed that their scientists were
never given the international recognition they deserved, it was a dream come
true. To Zhores Alferov, already a recipient of numerous Russian and foreign
awards for his pioneering work on semiconductor physics, the Nobel Prize was
the icing on the cake - "the ultimate a scientist can hope for in his
While Alferov's Nobel Prize is, no doubt, a cause for celebration, it also
brings into focus the problems plaguing Russian science today. Certainly, one
can only admire the 70-year-old scientist as he deftly juggles his
responsibilities as researcher, administrator, faculty dean, professor,
vice-president of the Russian Academy of Sciences and deputy of the State
Yet, while he displays the vitality of a 30-year-old, Alferov is also a
reminder of the aging of the Russian scientific community. Experts estimate
the average age of Russian scientific personnel to be around 50. Such
statistics spell disaster for Russian science. They prove that, unlike the
Soviet youth of the yesteryear, young people in Russia today see few
incentives, material or otherwise, to pursue a career in science.
Indeed, the very institute that Alferov heads employs just a handful of young
researchers, many of whom see a stint in the prestigious Ioffe
Physico-technical Institute as a springboard to more lucrative research
positions in the West. To make matters worse, surveys conducted among Russian
schoolchildren rank science and technology-related professions as being the
least prestigious - below racketeering and prostitution. If these disturbing
trends continue, there will be few left in Russia to carry on the rich
scientific traditions and schools established by world-famous scientists such
Second, many in Russia believe that this Nobel Prize is proof that science in
Russia is thriving even during the present hard times. That might not quite
be the case. In fact, Alferov himself admitted that he received the Nobel
Prize for his work carried out in the 1960s and 1970s. That was the time when
state support for the sciences, especially those with potential military
applications, as is the case with Alferov's research work, was virtually
guaranteed. (Solar batteries used for various military and aerospace
applications are based on the laureate's work.) Thus, his prize is hardly a
reflection of the state of science in Russia today. In fact, world-class
science in post-Soviet Russia, with very little state support, remains a
Finally, Alferov's work highlights what is arguably the single largest hurdle
that has always faced Russian science - the yawning gap between theory and
application. While few can deny the strides made by Russia in military and
space technology, Russian society has hardly enjoyed the fruits of
technological progress. Alferov's work centred on semiconductor physics and
quantum electronics - building blocks that led to advances in
telecommunications and information technology. While the western world has
taken full advantage of his ground-breaking discoveries to build fast
computers and improved communications systems, Russia's own telecommunication
network remains backward and there are regions where computers and the
Internet are virtually unknown.
Russia has never been short of creative people and innovative ideas. What the
country lacks are adequate financial mechanisms, backed by a sound national
policy and a legal framework, to facilitate commercialization and innovation.
In addition, the state should set aside more money for the basic sciences.
There is also a need for a nation-wide program to encourage young Russians to
pursue careers in science and, thereafter, to provide job opportunities so
that they do not feel the need to seek greener pastures in the West.
Improving the state of Russian science and technology seems to have the
support of President Vladimir Putin. One of the changes his government
initiated was to restructure the Ministry of Science and Technology. It has
now been renamed the Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology. The
revamped ministry now has departments involved directly in technology
transfer, innovation management and international collaboration in science
and technology. This is probably the first time a Russian government has
acknowledged the role science and technology play in industrial growth. In
his landmark essay titled Russia at the Turn of the Millennium, Putin
underlined the need to develop science-intensive industries and to encourage
technological innovation. He also emphasized the need to create mechanisms
that would encourage foreign investment in high-tech sectors. One only hopes
that the Russian government will do more to nurture the country's scientific
Thus, Russia's first post-Soviet Nobel laureate should not only be an
occasion to celebrate, but also an opportunity to reflect. Clearly, the key
to Russia's prosperity lies in the development of a knowledge-based economy.
Science and technology-based industries are vital components of such an
economy. However that is not the only reason to support science. Russian
scientific schools have, historically, been an integral part of the country's
intellectual culture, with strong traditions dating back to the 17th century.
It is a vital part of Russia's cultural heritage and every effort must be
made to pass it on to future generations.
In the coming months, Alferov plans to use his clout both as Nobel laureate
and chairman of the parliamentary sub-committee on science to advance the
cause of Russian science. He has already urged his fellow legislators to
provide more funding for science. It is up to the government to respond to
this call and support a vital strategic resource - its science and technology
establishment. This would, indeed, be the best tribute possible to their new
Nobel laureate, and the only way to ensure that Russia produces many others
like him in the years to come.
Authors of Russian information security doctrine try to justify it to press
Text of report by Russian NTV on 23rd October
[Presenter] The first all-Russia conference on the Russian mass media, the
market and information security started today in Moscow. One of the main
themes was a discussion of the press law.
[Correspondent Vladimir Kondratyev] The organizers said today that this was
the first conference where media representatives have an opportunity
directly to ask the authorities questions about their tense relationship.
We'll leave to one side the issue of whether this is the case or not. But
those who pointed to the experience of Soviet times were probably right.
Back then it was the norm to say: I have not read Solzhenitsyn but
everything he writes is not true.
The authors of the information security doctrine called on people not to
read between the lines but to read the lines themselves. They say there is
nothing to fear in the doctrine. Mind you, not everybody was convinced.
The new state policy in the mass media area is being built against a
background of shocking facts. The print-runs of all-Russia newspapers are
less than a tenth of what they were in 1990. One newspaper is being sold
per thousand residents. The amount of TV broadcasting is being cut. The
average monthly salary of a regional journalist is a third of the average
pay across the country but in the perestroika era the figure was
two-and-a-half times more than the average. The resolution about a common
information space is meant to do away with lawlessness, abuses, flows of
mistruths, information wars and the transformation of journalists into
distributors of other people's policies.
[Anatoliy Streltsov, deputy head of the Directorate of Information Security
in the apparatus of the Russian Security Council] Well, I understand that
we had a trend of young fighters for democracy. But when there was a haze
over our country, with promises of investments and assistance and with
promises to come in, to invest money and to export [goods for sale], etc.
For two years they stood there ready to get rid of the old problems and to
build something new. But now the haze has lifted.
[Aleksandr Zinovyev, writer] Our country has been brought to a state of
collapse. It has been overcome by what they call information from the West.
Totally and utterly. And we are in that mire, in that tip. We are gasping
for breath, all of us big and small. And just let you try and say one word:
the West will then publish some rubbish, some little article or other. And
then everybody will react, saying: o dear, John said or Schmidt said.
[Correspondent] The Directorate for Information Security within the
apparatus of the Russian Security Council consists of just 6 people.
Neverthless, since 1994 they have conducted major work to write the
information doctrine, on which - due to constant changes in the leadership
- no decision was ever taken. This summer Putin finally signed the document.
Do you think that the reproaches against the doctrine are linked merely to
an ignorance about what you have written? Or are there other reasons?
[question to Streltsov in the foyer].
[Streltsov] There are other reasons, too. There are various other reasons
linked to the esprit de corps which has formed among journalists due to the
convenience and [poetic] licence which currently exist. Mind you, not all
people are happy with that. But most have got used to them and have come to
like them. Everybody has learned how to find their bearings and to live
under these rules. And the very thought that these rules may change is
causing many people some discomfort.
[Correspondent] Do you want to stop that [poetic] licence?
[Streltsov] I would like to normalize it, to bring it into accordance with
what is written in the law. No more and no less. But if we have stooped so
far as to enter the bath-house and to show things there, why would we not
end up in the depths? Everything lies ahead of us. We are developing so
[Correspondent] Well, if it comes to it, the people who filmed in the
bath-house were not journalists.
[Streltsov] But it was journalists who showed it.
[Boris Reznik, deputy head of the Duma Information Policy Committee] I
think that the relationship here has to be built on a basis of love. One
cannot force journalists to love the authorities. The authorities have to
earn that feeling [of love] by their actions.
[Correspondent] The conference is scheduled to last two days. It is
strange, though, that such a detailed and broad dialogue about the
organization, structure and system for state and independent media alike
did not happen before the doctrine was approved.
Russia: Court's Barring Of Rutskoi Seen As Political Move
By Sophie Lambroschini
Over the weekend, Kursk Governor Aleksandr Rutskoi was barred from standing
for re-election about 15 hours before the actual voting began. The action by
a local court for Rutskoi's alleged campaign violations and abuses of his
office is seen by some as political move by the authorities. Moscow
correspondent Sophie Lambroschini reports.
Moscow, 23 October 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Critics of both the governor and the
court's action say Aleksandr Rutskoi was punished for the right crimes, but
for the wrong reasons. They say that the decision seems to play into the
hands of the Kremlin at a time when it is trying to gain greater control of
The court found Rutskoi guilty of cheating on his property declaration by
failing to mention a car worth more than $14,000 and underestimating by
several hundred square meters the size of various personal apartments. He was
also accused of using public finds to set up a pro-Rutskoi newspaper and to
pay for organizing a free public concert in which one of Russia's biggest pop
With the exception of Rutskoi himself, few deny these violations. They are
hardly surprising, given the man's track-record. Boris Yeltsin's former vice
president until he led a parliamentary revolt against his boss in October
1993, Rutskoi has long been accused of nepotism in the region he governs.
One of Rutskoi's sons is said to control all of the region's pharmaceutical
business, another in total control of its gas. Rutskoi's father-in-law is
head of a regional advisory body.
Even so, critics say the court's decision was biased in favor of the Kremlin.
They point to its timing as their main argument. The court announced
Rutskoi's disqualification late Saturday afternoon, with balloting due to
begin at eight o'clock the next morning. The court decision came so late
that, under a new law, Rutskoi was unable to appeal before the election
actually took place.
In the event, none of the seven candidates deemed qualified won more than 50
percent of the vote, and there will be a run-off between the two top
vote-getters on Sunday. But even if Rutskoi wins his appeal, he is not likely
to qualify as a candidate in time for the second round.
One of the two men participating in the run-off is Viktor Surzhikov, a KGB
general who -- together with another candidate -- filed the complaint against
Rutskoi on Friday. Surzhikov had previously been named inspector general for
the region by President Vladimir Putin's special area representative, and is
widely considered the Kremlin's favorite for the gubernatorial post.
Certainly, Rutskoi thinks so. After first blaming the court's decision on
local plotters, Rutskoi late told national NTV television that the Kremlin
was behind the action. He said that his opponents were too cowardly to
pressure the court themselves and had acted with the support of the Kremlin.
Some newspapers today came to similar conclusions. The daily "Vedomosti"
quoted a local official who said that police had encircled the local
television building even before the court made its decision, implying that
the result "was known beforehand." The daily Segodnya directly accused the
Kremlin of "intervention" and of using "force" to solve its political
The U.S. Heritage Foundation's Moscow-based analyst, Yevgeny Volk, also sees
evidence of Kremlin backing in the last-minute timing of the court decision.
He told RFE/RL that as far back as the 1996 gubernatorial elections the
Kremlin had been suspected of being behind an attempt to bar Rutskoi, but
that then the governor successfully appealed the decision:
"These violations have been known for a very long time. So it's the timing
that -- by not leaving Rutskoi enough time to appeal -- clearly shows it's an
attempt to bring him down at the last moment."
Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov told journalists
today that there had indeed been earlier complaints about Rutskoi examined by
both his and a regional election commission. Explaining why the regional
court's decision came so late, Veshnyakov said the accusations were still
being "verified" when Surzhikov was directly addressing the court.
Veshnyakov rejected all accusations of political interference in the
electoral process. There were, he emphasized, concrete and specific
"Respect the law, respect the law without fault, and then there won't be any
reason for a registration to cancelled by a regional court, by the electoral
commission or by the supreme court. And if somebody still thinks these are
empty words, this example should make him shudder."
Veshnyakov did admit, however, that new legal provisions that disallow a
quick appeal of a court ruling on a candidacy -- in effect, depriving the
accused of a right to appeal before an election -- were not acceptable. He
said that Putin himself had also objected to these provisions -- although he
did sign the law.
Volk says that reactions to the decision barring Rutskoi are symptomatic of
Russian political practice, where political influence over other areas of
government -- in this case, the judiciary -- is taken for granted. Volk
points out that the Kursk court decision will send a strong signal to other
regions when, beginning 1 January, a new law allowing the federal authorities
to suspend regional heads for suspected violations goes into effect.
According to Volk, the ultimate lesson of the Rutskoi incident may be how
much power the authorities can wield over those who commit crimes or
misdemeanors while in office. "You can find some naughtiness in any
governor's and any president's rule," he says. "It's just that compromising
information makes them little short of helpless when a perfectly legal
procedure is applied."
Russian politicians comment on exclusion of governor from election race
Text of report by Russian NTV International television on 23rd October
[Presenter] The majority of politicians and governors regard the situation
as unprecedented although many are not inclined to see any political
undertones. One way or another what has happened is obvious: the governors
are beginning to be, as it has become fashionable to say, sorted.
[Vladimir Yakovlev, governor of St Petersburg] I think we must all act in
accordance with the law and yesterday I listened to an interview with
Rutskoy himself and he said the same. Whatever decision has been taken must
stand. The rest is for the voters and they have made their choice.
[Correspondent] What about the nomination being withdrawn just fourteen
hours before voting was due to start so that Rutskoy had no chance to
[Yakovlev] I'd say it's a tragic situation for any leader. It's tragic in
as much as it's already too late to do anything and everything's just
carrying on but he's not involved. That's very unpleasant.
[Boris Nemtsov, leader of the Union of Right Forces faction in the Russian
State Duma] A very dangerous decision has been taken, a political decision
based on pretty weird reasoning whereby an incumbent governor is taken out
of the race primarily for using administrative resources. If we are guided
by this reasoning, both Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov and St Petersburg
governor Yakovlev would also have had to withdraw and I'd go further and
say that in all likelihood the incumbent Russian President Vladimir
Vladimirovich Putin should have been removed from the elections since one
way or another all nominees for governor's office who are already regional
leaders have, to some degree or another, made use of these resources.
There's no getting away from it. It's a universal practice and not just
here in Russia but throughout the world.
I don't understand these double standards in politics. Some regional
leaders can not just take part in elections but can do so for a third term.
These are the loyal and influential heads of republics and governors. As
regards others, who don't have such good relations, we presume, with the
Kremlin administration, discriminatory measures like these are applied.
[Oleg Morozov, leader of the Russia's Regions group of deputies in the
Russian State Duma] The current law on elections allows a fairly free
interpretation of the problem of property and the declaration of income. In
some circumstances, someone seeking office will be forgiven a minor
peccadillo while others will be punished as has happened in Rutskoy's case.
Rutskoy's been punished. Either it's strict adherence to the letter of the
law or - and I'm not saying this for the first time - it's some kind of
intrigue that could have a huge variety of meanings. It remains a fact,
however, that from the legal point of view the law would not appear to have
[Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma, Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia faction] The Kursk election has thrown light on
three problems. Legally: there is complete disregard for the law when any
electoral commission or a court removes a candidate at any level. All
electoral laws require urgent amendment to withdraw the right for any
electoral commission or court to remove any candidate from an election.
Second is the political aspect: a new administration is required in the
regions. Almost all local level officials have engaged in theft and I've
said this on many occasions. Then there's the moral aspect. Many candidates
should simply have a chat in which it is suggested that they don't take
part in elections.
October 19, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
REFORMS ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITH PROSPERITY
This newspaper has asked leading Russian economists to
evaluate the effect of the "time-out" provided by the
devaluation of the rouble and the growth of world oil prices,
and to say what can facilitate the growth of the Russian
economy. We asked them two questions:
1. How well did the Russian economy use the time out,
namely the chance provided by the 1998 devaluation of the
rouble and the growth of world prices of energy resources in
1999 and 2000? How adequate was the economic policy of the
Russian governments in that period?
2. What resources can Russia use for a qualitative break
into the world economy?
Sergei ALEXASHENKO, Director of the Development Centre,
First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia in 1995-98:
1. The Russian economy is not something integral, and its
different sectors reacted to that time-out and used it
differently. I would say there are three such groups.
The first group -- the exporters of raw materials,
resources and intermediate products - gained from both the
devaluation of the rouble and the growth of world prices of
energy resources. As a result, these enterprises improved their
financial situation, which enabled them to repay debts and
accumulate investment resources.
The second and the third groups are domestically oriented
enterprises. A vast number of them did not even try to use the
benefits of devaluation, because they have long ceased reacting
to anything, but calmly wait to be closed down.
And the last group includes enterprises that work for the
domestic market, but used the devaluation of the rouble to
build up production and improve their financial situation.
These are the enterprises of the light and food industries, car
making and machine building for the oil and gas industry. In
other words, those who work either for the population
(devaluation helped them to oust importers), or for exporters,
whom the growth of world prices gave a chance to invest in
As for the situation in general, I think that the Russian
economy largely missed its chance in 1998-2000. The main thing
is that the Russian economy invested vast sums of money in the
economies of the other countries. Some 50 billion dollars were
exported from Russia in the past two years and the first nine
months of 2000. If invested in the Russian economy, this money
would have dramatically changed the situation.
The governments of Primakov, Stepashin, Putin and Kasyanov
did little, which is good. Guided by the Hippocratic oath, they
chose the tactics of caution and tried not to harm the economy.
Although they sometimes failed to restrain themselves (like the
Primakov government) and announced mass imprisonment of
economic criminals or (already this year) planned to introduce
a 100% sale of currency revenues [to the state] and the
registration of all foreign trade contacts.
2. We must know that modern economy concerns either large
volumes of production, or unique products. Unique products are
a problem in this country, and large volumes of production are
the globalisation, which Russia fears so much. I believe that
we should create an economy that would be open not only for
exit, but also for entry. Any kind of money can be removed from
the country today, but investments, even if you want to do it
very much, are a highly complicated procedure. So, we can rely
only on one thing - common sense.
Gennady KULIK, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee
for the Budget and Taxes (OVR), a vice-premier in 1998-99:
1. I don't think it used the chance well. What happened,
happened without our interference: the producers themselves
reacted to changes in the situation. The state did not help,
and the government did not elaborate any special policy.
Today the government not only does not want to develop
production, but does not even think of accumulating resources.
The cabinet has an excessive amount of funds today. If it wants
to sterilise them, it should buy 3-4 million tons of grain and
put them in storage. A time will come when the state will want
to influence the grain market, and it will have the resources
to do this. The same goes for the oil stocks, which could be
used in a critical period.
Everything else said about the influence of the state on
the market is nothing but blabber. We are missing the
opportunities which we have today. Regrettably, there is no
clear-cut policy in the credit or tax spheres, or direct
assistance to promising industries - export-orienting or
import-replacing ones. We are still enamoured of macroeconomic
2. There are great possibilities, above all in the sphere
of joint production. For example, it is apparent that we will
not raise agricultural machine building to world standards
unless we use the world experience in this sphere. This means
that we should create joint ventures, where we would provide
40-60% of sets of equipment. This will enable us to get new
technologies and retrain personnel. Investors are waiting for
us to make the first step. I know from my meetings with foreign
investors that they are prepared to add nine roubles to one
rouble provided by us, but they need to know what we want; they
need an adequate industrial and investment policy.
I believe that oil prices will remain high for a long time
yet. And the 2001 budget should be used to change our tracks
towards practical economy, so that the budget would not be
limited to social assistance alone. At least, this favourable
period will not end in a catastrophe in 2003. Statements to the
contrary strongly smell of politics and election speculations
orchestrated for the election year 2004.
German GREF, Minister of Economic Development and Trade:
1. It is apparent that the Russian economy used the
chances of the past two years. I would evaluate the level of
using these chances at 7% of the GDP attained this year. It is
difficult to say how close this is to the ideal, difficult
because of the general situation in the economy. There are very
good results in certain sectors, although they can be largely
explained by the subjective factor of [good] management. The
results are positive wherever the managers used the pause to
reinvest money and reduce non-productive spending.
However, I think that it would be premature to speak about
the time-out in the past tense. The current macroeconomic and
political stability and the smooth dynamics of the exchange
rate of the rouble are prolonging this phase. But we must know
that the growth was ensured so far by the use of production
capacities. And the possibilities of such growth have been
We are trying to use this pause as effectively as
possible, attracting more investments, lowering the tax burden
and the customs on technological equipment, in order to allow
enterprises to invest in their statutory capital and modernise
This will give us a chance to initiate a different type of
growth - an investment growth, the most stable growth that does
not depend on price changes, devaluation or other factors.
As for the evaluation of the economic policy of the
Russian governments, I think it would be correct to evaluate
only the actions of the current cabinet of ministers. I think
these actions are quite adequate to the situation. Otherwise
the economic situation would not have been so favourable. For
nearly a year now, macroeconomics specialists have been
predicting the exhaustion of growth factors, criticising the
monetary and credit policy, and so on. But their forecasts did
not come true, which amounts to the success of the policy,
which we managed to pursue all the while, trying to survive
between the hammer and the navel.
2. We can use above all our own resources. Today we
predominantly export raw materials, while other countries
profit from the added value on our commodities. This amounts to
billions of dollars. Ideally, we plan to change this scheme so
as to increase the level of processing at home and to export
To begin with, we should exploit the favourable geography
of the country. The geopolitical situation of Russia allows it
to take a prominent place on the world market of services, in
particular transportation services. The second element is the
new economy. And there are vast possibilities in this sphere
for providing services from inside the country.
The science-intensive industries, which we still have -
for example, engine-making for a number of industries,
including rocket engines, have a considerable potential. This
also concerns the enterprises associated with the
Besides, we have a fantastic possibility of ensuring deeper
processing of hydrocarbon raw materials and providing
petrochemical commodities on the world markets.
International cooperation is potentially beneficial for
the country. We could take part in international projects for
the production of certain complicated commodities. Such
negotiations are underway in a number of sectors today.
But to use the potential of the country in the said
spheres, we need a developed infrastructure, a comfortable
customs legislation, which would enable us to make the movement
of commodities and services simple, quick and free of triple
taxation. In fact, this is one of the priorities of the
government's work today.
Andrei ILLARIONOV, adviser to the Russian president:
1. It did not use that chance very well. It should be
said, however, that the positive contribution of the high world
prices of energy resources to the long-term economic growth of
Russia is overrated. The real influence of that factor on the
Russian economy, if any, was negative.
The truly positive contribution to the long-term economic
growth was made by the devaluation of the rouble. Or rather,
not by the 1998 devaluation proper, because it was nominal and
by far not the first one in the recent Russian history. Since
the late 1980s, the rouble has been devalued by roughly 40,000
times, including by 10,000 times before August 1998 and by
slightly more than four times since then. The devaluation of
the rouble by 10,000 times resulted in the fall of the GDP by
45%, while the devaluation of the rouble by four times ensured
a 10% growth of the GDP. If nominal devaluation ensured
economic growth, the Russian GDP would have grown by nearly 250
times before the 1998 devaluation, and the countries with
quickly and regularly devalued currency would have boasted the
highest rates of economic growth.
It appears that the problem lies not in the devaluation of
the national currency as such, but in the so-called real
devaluation of the rouble, a situation under which the growth
of domestic prices is slower than the fall of the exchange rate
of hard currency. In other words, the level of domestic prices
goes down, thus making the national economy more competitive.
This is genuine devaluation, which is not a freak effect of an
external shock, but a result of a deliberate policy of the
Until August 1998, the Russian authorities did everything
possible to raise the exchange rate of the rouble and in this
way to subsidise internal consumption. They even created a
currency corridor, which only deepened and prolonged the
In the past two years after August 1998, the authorities
consciously maintained, and continue to maintain, a major gap
between the internal and external prices. Consequently, from
the macroeconomic viewpoint, the policy of the Russian
governments in the past two years was much more adequate, on
the whole. Alas, this cannot be said about the policy in the
sphere of structural reforms. Virtually nothing has been done
to de-regulate the economy and create effective market
2. The vast amount of resources - natural, energy and
others - is one of the fundamental reasons for the numerous
Russian problems. I would even say this is Russia's tragedy. We
have too many reserves, and this is largely why there is such a
staggering shortage of rational policy and rational
politicians, good economists, businessmen and journalists. I
would say that these two groups of resources are in reverse
proportion to each other.
Many natural resources - few rational minds. The reverse is
likewise true. In short, unlike Griboyedov's Chatsky, ours is
the misfortune of being wealthy.
Consequently, the strategic hopes for the revival of
Russia can come true only under the condition of considerable,
long-lasting and irreversible fall of prices of natural
resources. This would deprive us of the world rent,
redistributed in favour of Russia at the expense of the
contribution of other nations, which import our raw materials,
the rent that is corroding the Russian authorities and society
as a whole.
The second apparent resource is the termination of the
financing of Russia by the international financial
And lastly, one more resource is the termination of the
expansionist monetary policy of the US Federal Reserve System,
which results in the overproduction of American capital, which
is prepared to be invested anywhere, including in Russia. The
forthcoming - or at least constantly predicted - economic
crisis in the USA might help us to resolve some of our
October 24, 2000
Too Many Russian Skeletons in Gore's Closet?
By Rueben F. Johnson
Reuben F. Johnson is an aerospace and defense technology consultant and a
defense correspondent for Aviation International News and Defense Periscope.
He contributed this article to The Moscow Times.
U.S. Vice President Al Gore has become notorious for taking credit for events
in which he had little or no involvement. His claims of having "invented the
Internet" or of being the inspiration for Ryan O'Neal's character in the
movie Love Story have become legendary by now during this presidential
campaign. And f as the presidential debates have demonstrated f his
predilection for embellishing the truth just never seems to stop.
However, there is one achievement for which he can unquestionably take a
great deal of the credit, although he is not likely to advertise it as one of
the reasons why people should like and more importantly vote for Al Gore.
Thanks to Al Gore, Iran has been receiving regular assistance from Russia in
the development of nuclear technology since at least 1995 and is much closer
to having a nuclear-weapons arsenal than it would have been if left to its
A classified "Dear Al" letter from former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
that was written in December 1995 and obtained recently by The Washington
Times reveals that Chernomyrdin requested that the details of Russia's
nuclear assistance to Iran should "not be conveyed to third parties,
including the U.S. Congress." In addition to this, several months earlier,
Gore had also signed up to another agreement with Chernomyrdin to keep secret
the details of Russian conventional arms transfers to Iran.
Gore evidentially kept both of the promises that he made to Chernomyrdin,
concealing these technology and arms transfers to Iran even though both
nuclear and conventional arms sales to Iran by Russia are supposed to be
reported to Congress under the terms of U.S. weapons-proliferation law. What
is more, sanctions are supposed to be imposed if the guidelines agreed to by
the United States and Russia are violated.
All of the available evidence shows clearly that Russian arms sales and
defense-industry cooperation with Iran continued unabated from 1995 onward
and was willfully hidden from Congress by the Clinton administration in clear
violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act.
When I discuss this outrageous revelation with my Democratic friends, they
are quick to tell me that I am being holier-than-thou, pointing out that the
Reagan administration sold conventional arms to the Iranians in exchange for
the release of hostages during the 1980s. But I really don't think that this
comparison does much to bolster Al Gore's case.
The architect of the Iran-Contra arms transfers was Lieutenant Colonel Oliver
North, who subsequently left the Marine Corps and began a successful career
as a talk-show host and political commentator. However, when North ran for
the U.S. Senate in Virginia in 1994, we were repeatedly told by the Democrats
that he was unfit to take a seat in the Senate precisely because he had lied
to Congress during hearings about the Iran-Contra operation.
By analogy, then, what can we say about Al Gore's fitness to be president? He
is, after all, a sitting vice president and the presiding officer of the U.S.
Senate. Yet he has willfully withheld details of agreements that he and the
Clinton administration reached with the Russian government that he was
required by law to report to Congress. Can it be that North's lying to
Congress about his arms sales to Iran is wrong, but Gore's deliberate
withholding of information about Russia's transfers of weapons and technology
But perhaps the really important question is how did this all happen and what
could Gore have been thinking about? Obviously, Gore had long lost his
professional detachment and objectivity with regard to Chernomyrdin f
demonstrated by what was described in the U.S. press as his "effusive praise"
for the former prime minister.
At one point Gore angrily rejected a classified CIA report on the extensive
corruption within Chernomyrdin's administration. "I don't know because I
don't want to know" became the standard response to any suggestion that
Chernomyrdin was a less than perfect partner for the vice president in
developing policy initiatives with Russia.
This steadfast refusal to even consider bad news about Chernomyrdin is one of
the clearest signs of the unbridled arrogance with which the Clinton
administration has conducted its relations with Russia. The administration's
attitude whenever Russia is discussed has long been "we always know best."
Advice from outside experts and analysts has consistently been rejected in
favor of the ad-hoc approach taken by Gore and his staff. As The Washington
Post reported in June, Gore's approach amounted to using Russia as a
laboratory to test theories on foreign policy. The revelations of the
Chernomyrdin letter are further evidence of this arrogance. Under a
nonproliferation law passed last year, the administration was required to
make two reports on Russian arms sales to Iran: Neither report has yet been
delivered to Congress.
The practice of keeping close control over sensitive foreign policy options
and of personalizing relationships with world leaders is by no means a new
Presidents at least from Nixon to the present have relied heavily on various
back-door channels in order to head off leaks to the media during tense
negotiations on arms treaties or other agreements. But concealing
under-the-table deals on Russia's relationship with Iran from Congress falls
far outside the norms of this practice. Simply put, the Clinton
administration's decision to create a secret "Al-Viktor Pact" that willfully
circumvents congressional oversight on this issue is patently irresponsible.
The development of a nuclear capability by Iran would lead to the
destabilization of one of the most strategically important regions in the
world, and that destabilization would have disastrous ripple effects in the
economies of every industrialized nation.
The present violence in the Middle East shows clearly once again that when a
crisis arises, the U.S. president must be seen as credible by all the parties
involved if the United States is to exert effective influence in producing a
But having now seen that Gore concealed the transfer of Russian nuclear
technology to one of its most feared potential enemies, what Israeli prime
minister is going to believe his assurances that America will protect
Israel's strategic interests should he become president? What nation is going
to take U.S. initiatives in the field of nuclear nonproliferation seriously
after these revelations? And what happens when another Russian president or
prime minister asks Gore to hide another arms sale from Congress?
Neither Gore's close personal relations with Chernomyrdin nor his arrogant
belief that he knows best how to handle U.S. foreign policy can justify his
reckless decision to hide his knowledge of Russia's deals with Iran from the
Gore's 1995 secret deal with Chernomyrdin shows that he lacks the judgment
and the simple common sense necessary for a U.S. president to conduct an
effective and consistent foreign policy. If Oliver North's behavior was
sufficient to disqualify him from holding a seat in the Senate, then the same
standard at least must apply to Al Gore.
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