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Johnson's Russia List
25 October 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Russians getting iller, dying younger.
2. RIA: Russia: birth rate down, death rate up, smoking and drinking
3. Interfax: ZHIRINOVSKY PROPOSES PERMITTING POLYGAMY IN RUSSIA.
4. AP: Cars Overcrowding Moscow's Streets.
5. Paul Quinn-Judge: re Yuri Burtin.
6. Patrick Armstrong: UNSPOKEN ATTITUDES TOWARDS RUSSIA.
7. Interfax: RUSSIAN RIGHTIST OPPOSITION LEADER WORRIED OVER PLIGHT
OF MEDIA. (Yavlinsky)
8. RFE/RL: BRIEFING REPORT: Russian Democracy Under Threat.
9. Irish Times: Seamus Martin, Russian recovery threatened, says
10. Moscow Times EDITORIAL: Referendum Should Be Welcomed. (re
11. Eurasia Project/World Policy Institute meeting in New York on
A RUSSIAN REVIVAL?
12. Reuters: Russia prosecutors' office sees no IMF loan misuse.
13. Interfax: PRIMAKOV SLAMS BUSH FOR ACCUSING FORMER RUSSIAN
14. Los Angeles Times: Doyle McManus, Gore's Links With Russian
Now a Liability.
15. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Mikail Gorshkov, PUBLIC OPINION IN THE
AUTUMN OF 2000. People Display Psychological Stability, Support the
Russians getting iller, dying younger
MOSCOW, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Officials painted a worsening picture of Russians'
health on Tuesday, blaming poor social conditions and too much drinking and
"This year passed under the sign of Russians' health getting worse and forces
us, doctors, to talk about a national catastrophe," Interfax news agency
quoted Oleg Shchepin of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, as saying.
He was speaking at a Health Ministry meeting called to discuss the health
care situation in Russia in the last year.
Shchepin said overall life expectancy fell one year in 1999 to 65.5 years.
Men lived an average 59.8 years and women 72.
The general level of illness had risen 15 percent while the number of people
considered as invalids had risen three times over the last 10 years.
The death rate was 14.7 people per 1,000 while the birth rate stood at 8.4
per 1,000, Shchepin said. A report by the Statistics Office put 1998 figures
at 13.6 and 8.8 respectively.
RIA news agency quoted haematologist Andrei Vorobyev as saying at the meeting
that one of the main reasons for the worsening figures were smoking and
vodka, which resulted in more cancer cases, heart problems and death due to
Many Russians became much poorer after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with
wages not keeping pace with rising prices for food and healthcare.
Life expectancy in the former Soviet Union was around 64.3. It fell to a low
of 57.6 in 1994.
Health Minister Yuri Shevchenko was quoted as telling the meeting that the
health issue needed to be discussed by the Security Council, the top
advisory body to President Vladimir Putin.
Putin has rung alarm bells for Russia's quickly shrinking population, saying
the nation's survival was under threat.
Russia: birth rate down, death rate up, smoking and drinking to blame
RIA news agency
Moscow, 24th October: Russia is witnessing an extremely low birth rate (8.4
babies born per 1000 of population) and, compared to 1998, a higher death
rate (14.7 dead per 1000). Oleg Shchepin, a fellow of Russia's Medical
Sciences Academy and the Semashko Institute's social hygiene director,
announced this at a Health Ministry collegium session. He presented the main
points of the state report on the health of the Russian population health in
The report is based on information obtained from 66 regions and a number of
federal departments. The report says that the number of patients with TB and
syphilis, hepatitis B or C, acute bowel infections and anaemia has risen.
A high level of psychiatric disorders, especially alcoholic psychoses, and of
allergies and ulcers has been registered. Diseases of the pancreas, the
liver, the gall bladder and the urogenital system, as well as birth defects,
diabetes and immunity reduction have become more widespread.
Among the main reasons for the worsening of people's health the collegium
participants said unfavourable social conditions were among thre main reasons
for the deterioration. Another Fellow of the Medical Science Academy,
renowned Russian haematologist Andrey Vorobyev, believes that tobacco and
vodka are the main enemies of the Russian population's health. They lead to a
rise in cancer and heart disease, as well as to deaths from accidents.
Semashko institute experts believe that in 2000 the death rate in Russia will
grow by eight per cent.
[In a later report, in Russian 1210 gmt, RIA quoted Russian Health Minister
Yuriy Shevchenko as saying the report would be submitted to President
Vladimir Putin and would be discussed at a Security Council session.
Shevchenko said that the report "has no gloss". It raises many questions and
makes the state look for ways out. Fellow of the Academy Vladimir Kulakov
said he believes that the looser role of the family in modern life and the
large number of people suffering from infertility (5m women and 3m men) are
the main factors affecting the birth rate. Meanwhile, the number of children
born out of wedlock has doubled.]
ZHIRINOVSKY PROPOSES PERMITTING POLYGAMY IN RUSSIA
MOSCOW. Oct 24 (Interfax) - Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Duma deputy
speaker for the Liberal Democratic Party, has proposed amending the
Russian Family Code to permit the formation of polygamic families
consisting "of one man and several women."
A corresponding bill proposed by Zhirinovsky was included in the
agenda of the Wednesday plenary session, head of the press service of
the lower house Viktor Cheryomukhin said after a Tuesday Duma Council
Zhirinovsky said in his opinion, there should be no more than five
spouses in a family. Under the bill, a man in a polygamic family wishing
to marry another woman would have to obtain the consent of his other
Zhirinovsky accounted the need for the bill to "the disastrous
demographic situation in Russia" and the fact that "the number of women
in the country has exceeded the number of men by 9 million."
The government comments on the bill have been negative.
Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matviyenko said in a letter that
the bill is actually aimed at "legalizing polygamy" and violates the
constitutional provision on the equal rights of men and women.
Cars Overcrowding Moscow's Streets
October 24, 2000
MOSCOW (AP) - Growing numbers of cars have lowered the average rush hour
speed in Moscow's center to 11 mph, a Russian traffic expert said Tuesday.
Nikolai Nazarov, chief transport expert for the city government, said the
number of cars in Moscow had roughly tripled to 2.5 million over the past
decade and that 187 miles of new roads were needed.
Moscow, a city of 10 million with highly developed mass transit, was not
built for widespread private car ownership, which was relatively rare before
the Soviet period ended in 1991.
Now, narrow streets in the city's center are often clogged during morning and
afternoon rush hours, and the broad boulevards favored by Soviet planners are
often not much better. The overall speed in the city is 20 mph during rush
hour, Nazarov said.
To lower traffic loads on main highways, city authorities are building a
so-called Third Ring Road running outside the Garden Ring Road that encircles
the downtown district. The third ring, however, hasn't been extended
completely around the city.
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000
From: "Paul Quinn-Judge" <email@example.com>
Subject: re Yuri Burtin
It was sad but nonetheless pleasing to read Dmitri Vassiliev-Glinski's
tribute to Yuri Burtin. The paucity of comment in Moscow on Burtin's death,
and the strange air of after-thought that hung over some of them, has been
rather disappointing __ as if many people thought he had long been dead.
Like many, I will miss the acuity of his mind, the grace of his style and
his love of Novy Mir under Tvardovsky. I also somehow fear, however, that he
may suffer the same oblivion as another of his contemporaries and fellow
publicists, Vasily Selyunin. I hope that is not the case.
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000
From: Patrick Armstrong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: UNSPOKEN ATTITUDES TOWARDS RUSSIA
Anatol Lieven’s points (with which I generally agree) in JRL 4587 prompt
the following. Many people implicitly take certain, mostly wrong or at
least very debatable, assumptions about Russia for granted. It is these
people to whom the phrase “Russophobe” can be applied. Some of these
-- Russia is just the same as the USSR communism was a Russian
invention and the behaviour of communism in the USSR has peculiarly
Russian features. So, despite the fact that every communist regime has
been like every other one, it’s all really Russian.
-- Russia is the only actor in the region and all the other states are
either puppets of or manipulated by Moscow. Therefore the Georgian civil
wars, despite being just the same as the civil wars of independent
Georgia between 1918 and 1921, were manufactured in Moscow.
-- Nothing happens by accident in Russia it’s all planned and executed
by somebody. So every event has a plot behind it.
-- Everything official Russians say is suspect and much less to be
believed that things officials in the West say. (I remember one
Sovietologist some years ago saying that all Soviets naturally lied).
-- Russians are naturally expansionistic or imperialistic to a degree
other peoples are not.
-- Russians are very resistant to change this particular charge being
taken to an extreme position when the Marquis de Custine is considered
to be an authoritative observer of contemporary Russia.
We see these assumptions over and over again: never explicit, of course,
but they’re there in the background guiding interpretations. As in one
recent case, why bother to read what Putin actually said when you know
that he never mentioned “democracy” or “human rights” in his speech? Why
pay any attention to all the Russian talk of “international terrorism”
in Chechnya, we know they’re just making it up. Why would jihadists blow
up apartment buildings in Russia? They may do it in New York or Nairobi,
but they certainly wouldn’t do it in Moscow.
Much of the comment on Russia is nothing more than the recitation of
these assumptions backed by a selection of factoids. That’s what Lieven
is talking about. All these prejudices impede rational analysis. Has any
country ever suffered from such a fog of unexamined assumptions and
hostilities as Russia?
RUSSIAN RIGHTIST OPPOSITION LEADER WORRIED OVER PLIGHT OF MEDIA
MOSCOW. Oct 24 (Interfax) - The situation for the media in Russia
has been most unfavorable over the last 10 years, Yabloko party leader
Grigory Yavlinsky told the press in Moscow on Tuesday.
"Propaganda is increasingly becoming the official line. It is
propaganda of lies, propaganda on many occasions of developments in
Russia such as war, violence and illegal activities of the authorities,
and propaganda of illegal use of prosecution and investigation agencies.
This is coupled with various forms of pressuring the press and free
journalists," Yavlinsky said. Pressure is brought to bear on the mass
media through financial and administrative agencies, he said.
Asked what is the goal of the authorities, Yavlinsky said: "Our
authorities seem to be under the delusion that whatever is not mentioned
in newspapers or news agency reports or is not shown on television does
not exist in real life. The authorities try to create an imaginary world
to manipulate our citizens."
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000
Subject: BRIEFING REPORT: Russian Democracy Under Threat
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Russian Democracy Under Threat
(Washington, DC--October 24, 2000) The Russian government under President
Vladimir Putin is seeking to
dismantle constitutional and human rights currently guaranteed to the
citizens of Russia.
That was the message delivered by Sergei Grigoriants, chairman of
the Glasnost Foundation, to an RFE/RL press briefing yesterday.
Grigoriants, one of Russia's most distinguished human rights
activists, said that recent attacks against the independent media are the
most visible elements of a wider effort to change Russia "into a country
governed by the special [security] services."
Grigoriants said that "in a few days" the Russian parliament will
consider setting up a Constitutional Assembly to change the present
constitutional guarantees of civil and political rights. In this way, he
argued, the Putin government will "lawfully" narrow the constitutionally
guaranteed rights of its citizens, which it has long ignored or violated.
Under Putin, there has been a "monopolization of the mass media"
by the government, Grigoriants said, a trend that has seriously reduced
the amount of information available to Russians. Human rights groups and
other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) now will have to work to try
to fill that void, he said.
At the same time, he noted, the Russian government is also
becoming more successful at controlling its citizens' access to
information resources on the Internet. About one month ago, and one day
after armed and masked men along with members of the Russian police raided
the offices of the Glasnost Foundation, the organization's website could
no longer be accessed -- nor could any other website featuring the word
Human rights groups and Russian NGOs in general have been under
ever increasing pressure from the government, which last year ordered them
to re-register. That process, Grigoriants said, had allowed the government
to restrict their activities in a nominally legal way because "[o]nly 12
percent of Moscow-based NGOs have been able to re-register, and only 5
percent in Tambov region," he noted. Grigoriants said that
Russian NGOs plan to hold a national human rights conference in December
in Moscow to draw attention to the "weakening of civil society in Russia"
and to develop a coordinated response to the Putin's government's actions.
As a result of Putin's policies, Grigoriants concluded, "we are
defending human rights like we did 12 years ago, and we might soon have to
work underground like we did 20 years ago."
October 24, 2000
Russian recovery threatened, says Stepashin
BY SEAMUS MARTIN
Russia's economy, which staged a recovery after the collapse of August 1998,
is now showing signs of slowing growth and rising inflation, according to Mr
Sergei Stepashin, chairman of Russia's audit chamber.
'Reserves of production growth, which resulted from the rouble devaluation,
are close to exhaustion. If the foreign economic situation changes, oil
prices drop and the positive foreign trade balance reduces, the problem of
meeting the budget targets may grow acute and the business climate in the
country may worsen,' the former prime minister told a conference on
transition to the market.
A large group of Russian politicians and industrialists, including the
chairman of Russia's central bank, Mr Viktor Gerashchenko, representatives of
the administration of President Putin and of several Russian government
ministries attended the conference in Dublin at the weekend. More than 100
Russian delegates attended and were also addressed by the Tanaiste, Ms
Harney, and the Irish Ambassador to Russia, Mr David Donoghue.
In an interview with The Irish Times, Mr Stepashin, whose position
corresponds to that of the Comptroller and Auditor General in Ireland,
confirmed that there were now indications that Russia's economy was entering
a vulnerable stage. But he rejected calls for the introduction of a
Pinochet-style regime which would provide the necessary 'stability' for
The government's role was to provide a solid legal basis which corresponded
to the principles of the Council of Europe. 'It is important not to have the
state control that is felt by everybody, but to ensure there is a low level
of criminality in our country,' he said.
He stressed that oil prices were not the only factor which contributed to
Russia's return from the brink of bankruptcy and that, therefore, a reduction
in those prices would not serve to destroy the economy. The crisis had its
positive elements. The Russian muzhik (peasant) would, according to proverb,
do nothing unless 'he is bitten on the behind by a fried cockerel'. August
1998 stirred Russia and its economy into action. Another positive development
from the crisis, Mr Stepashin said, was that it showed up very vividly the
system's weak points.
October 25, 2000
EDITORIAL: Referendum Should Be Welcomed
The kind of argument that British politicians used at the beginning of the
19th century to oppose extending the vote went like this: Let politicians
deal with politics, and let shoemakers stick to making shoes. How can people
without advanced economics degrees decide on who would be best to run the
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and various Nuclear Power Ministry officials
have argued against a popular referendum on the subject of importing spent
nuclear fuel in exactly the same way: The general public is not acquainted
with the technicalities of the nuclear industry f ergo, how can people who
are not nuclear physicists make decisions on nuclear issues?
Nevermind that Russians know about the effects of the nuclear industry all
too well: the cloud of radioactivity that hovered over the country after the
Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, the disasters at the Mayak storage facility in
the Chelyabinsk area in the '40s, '50s and '60s, the pileup of nuclear
reactors from submarines on the Kola Peninsula, and the dozens of other
leaks, major and minor, known and unknown, reported and unreported.
And now Russians are being asked by the government to accept nuclear waste
from other countries, which may indeed bring in billions of dollars in
revenues, but which chills the heart of anyone who looks at the country's
lamentable nuclear-safety record.
There is one really obvious question that is being asked by those
environmentalists who have gone the length and breadth of the country to ask:
Is the money worth the risk?
Kasyanov and Co. don't want that question asked and don't think that it's
worth asking anyway.
Instead of addressing what is clearly a matter of serious concern to the
public f the response to the petition has surprised even its organizers f the
government has refused to improve the way Russia deals with spent nuclear
It won't even take the more political, PR-savvy route of launching a campaign
to reassure, or even educate, the public about the pros and cons of nuclear
It instead turns around and sneers: "What do you know about it? You make
shoes/sell fruit/teach children/build buildings!"
The environmentalists' petition is a piece of grass-roots activism that any
democracy worth its salt should applaud. The government's attitude
illustrates the same contempt for public opinion (not to mention health) that
it has shown time and time again, a contempt that it inherited directly from
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000
From: "Arrun Kapoor" <email@example.com>
Subject: Event: A Russian Revival?
Eurasia Project is pleased to announce a panel hosted by the World Policy
A RUSSIAN REVIVAL?
Celestine Bohlen, Former Moscow Bureau Chief, New York Times and Mark
Medish, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russian,
Ukrainian & Eurasian Affairs, National Security Council
Moderator: Ian Bremmer, President, Eurasia Group and Senior Fellow, World
Organized by: World Policy Institute, New School University
DATE: Thursday, 26 October 2000
TIME: 6:00pm 7:30pm
PLACE: New School University
66 West 12th Street (between 5th & 6th Avenue)
New York City
This year’s roundtable will focus on Russia under the leadership of
President Putin. Since Putin’s January takeover from Boris Yeltsin,
numerous events and policy changes have occurred, reshaping the political
and economic climate in Russia. Reform-minded economic policies, such as
the 13% flat income tax, have met the approval of western investors, who are
showing renewed confidence as Russia’s economic expansion continues. At the
same time, Putin’s moves to consolidate the central government’s authority,
crackdown on freedom of the press and civil society, and renewal of
hostilities in Chechnya have brought criticism of his heavy-handed tactics.
Is Putin’s call for a “dictatorship of the law” a populist slogan that
addresses the Russian public’s demand for strong and effective
administration? Or is it a signal for increasingly authoritarian policies,
a “sledgehammer liberalism,” that will return the country to Soviet-style
If you have any questions or to RSVP please contact the Radiah at the World
Policy Institute at tel: 212.229.5808. There is no fee for this event.
Russia prosecutors' office sees no IMF loan misuse
MOSCOW, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Russian prosecutors have found no evidence that a
1998 International Monetary Fund loan of $4.8 billion to Russia was
misappropriated, local news agencies quoted a Prosecutors' Office official as
saying on Tuesday.
Earlier this month U.S. Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush said
the IMF money had ended up in the pockets of former Russian Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin and others.
Chernomyrdin demanded an apology from Bush and threatened to sue. Chief IMF
spokesman Tom Dawson has said he was not aware of any evidence to support
Bush's allegation against Chernomyrdin.
Itar-Tass news agencies quoted Deputy Chief Prosecutor Vasily Kolmogorov as
telling the upper chamber of parliament that checks by the Prosecutors'
Office found the money had been used in accordance with a government
resolution "to stabilise external and internal debts."
However, Interfax quoted him as saying the checks were carried out with the
Audit Chamber, a watchdog body which answers to parliament, and the latter
had found "some violations." He did not elaborate.
The IMF has repeatedly denied that any of the money it lent to Moscow was
misappropriated by Russians, although officials are still investigating
whether some of the money was siphoned off via Swiss bank accounts.
PRIMAKOV SLAMS BUSH FOR ACCUSING FORMER RUSSIAN LEADERS
BISHKEK. Oct 24 (Interfax) - Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov has indirectly slammed U.S. presidential candidate George Bush,
Jr. for making accusations against former Russian leaders.
Such accusations jeopardize Russian-U.S. relations, Primakov,
leader of the parliamentary group of the Fatherland-All Russia party,
told U.S. reporters in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Normal relations with the United States are a foreign policy
priority for Russia, he said. However, Russian-U.S. relations are not a
"one-way" street and so their future largely depends on the United
States, he said.
Lately problems have been arising between the two nations, Primakov
One of them is the U.S. refusal to consider a START III treaty
other than in a package with a revision of the Anti-Ballistic Missile
Defense (ABM) treaty.
"Russia is categorically against [altering] the ABM treaty, which
forms a solid basis for the reduction of strategic armaments," the ex-
He also accused the United States of barring Russia from mediation
in peace talks.
"Such monopolization of mediation, in particular in the Middle
East, has already shown that this is a path to nowhere and that without
Russia conflicts cannot be settled," he said.
"We support the United States in its desire to settle conflicts,
but we believe that ignoring Russian efforts of course sows mistrust
between the two countries," he said.
Los Angeles Times
October 24, 2000
Gore's Links With Russian Now a Liability
By DOYLE MCMANUS, Times Washington Bureau Chief
WASHINGTON--Until recently, Vice President Al Gore yearned to draw
attention to his close working relationship with then-Russian Prime Minister
Viktor S. Chernomyrdin--evidence, aides said, that Gore had the foreign
policy stature to be president.
So the vice president's office issued glossy reports on the work of the
Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission. He held briefings for reporters and members of
Congress (few attended). He even persuaded Chernomyrdin, a burly ex-Soviet
bureaucrat, to join him on PBS' "The Charlie Rose Show."
No longer. With the collapse of Russia's economy, the souring of
U.S.-Russian relations--and the tightening of the presidential campaign--the
commission has become a political liability.
Republicans in Congress are demanding to know whether Gore made "secret
deals" to let Russia sell submarines and other advanced weapons to Iran. GOP
candidate George W. Bush charges that under Gore, foreign aid money "ended up
in Viktor Chernomyrdin's pocket." And Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach)
accuses Gore of pressuring the CIA to suppress evidence that Chernomyrdin was
The election-season charges are all debatable--and Democrats, not
surprisingly, reject them heatedly. Gore's 1995 "secret deal" on arms sales,
they point out, was publicly announced at the time (although some details
were not). The charges against Chernomyrdin have never been proven; there's
no evidence that the Russian skimmed any foreign aid funds.
Still, the controversies have allowed Republicans to turn the tables on
Gore and challenge the vice president on foreign policy, his supposed strong
"It might be a reason why some people might want to reconsider whether
or not he has the kind of experience" necessary for the job, vice
presidential candidate Dick Cheney said on the campaign trail Saturday.
This week, Republicans in both the House and Senate are holding hearings
to press the Clinton administration for more details of Gore's dealings with
Chernomyrdin--and to accuse the vice president of mismanaging Russia policy.
The Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, launched in 1993, was meant to spur
cooperation on a long list of issues, from outer space to public health. As
those projects progressed, the theory went, the overall relationship would
The commission met 10 times from 1993 to 1998 and produced a blizzard of
agreements in business, science, energy, the environment and other areas. As
Russia's then-president, Boris N. Yeltsin, became more erratic, the Clinton
administration relied on Chernomyrdin, his unimaginative but steady prime
minister, as a key partner.
But in 1998, Yeltsin fired Chernomyrdin and Russia's economy tanked,
despite billions of dollars in aid from the International Monetary Fund.
U.S.-Russian relations went into a chill that has yet to lift.
At his debate with Gore in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Oct. 11, Bush
summarized the Clinton administration's efforts to aid Russia's economic
transformation this way: "We went into Russia, we said, 'Here's some IMF
money,' and it ended up in Viktor Chernomyrdin's pocket and others'. And yet
we played like there was reform."
Bush's charge against Chernomyrdin was, by most accounts, wide of the
mark. Russians have long charged that Chernomyrdin walked away with millions
in 1989 when, as minister of natural gas, he turned his ministry into a
partly private company, Gazprom. But those charges have never been proven.
And the IMF says it has no evidence that any of its loans to Russia were
diverted by Chernomyrdin or anyone else.
Moscow Challenge on Accusations
In Moscow, Chernomyrdin challenged Bush to prove the charges: "I think
Mr. Bush Jr. should be getting ready for a court hearing on the issue." When
a television interviewer asked Bush whether he had any evidence that the
Russian had taken IMF money, the governor attempted a partial climb-down: "It
might not have been; it might have been another [program's] aid."
Meanwhile, a Republican-led House committee asked the CIA about another
controversy involving Gore and Chernomyrdin: Did the vice president scrawl a
barnyard epithet on the cover of an intelligence report?
According to several former CIA officials, Gore reacted angrily to a
1995 agency report that compiled allegations that Chernomyrdin had amassed a
fortune in ill-gotten funds. The result, they charged, was a "chilling
effect" that discouraged agency analysts from looking into the issue further.
CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said the agency investigated the episode, but
it could find no one who witnessed it firsthand.
"I think this is an urban legend," he said. "To imply that they've
pulled their punches because of one scatological note is absurd."
The controversy over Gore's 1995 agreement with Chernomyrdin on Russian
arms sales to Iran may get more public attention.
The deal began with a public promise from Yeltsin in 1994 to phase out
Russia's lucrative arms sales to Iran, a concession the administration had
U.S. and Russian officials worked out a specific deal: Russia would make
no new arms deals with Iran, but it would be allowed several years to deliver
weapons that had already been sold, including T-72 tanks and a diesel-powered
In June 1995, Gore and Chernomyrdin signed a written agreement that
listed the weapons Russia would be allowed to deliver, set a deadline of Dec.
31, 1999, and pledged that the administration would not invoke sanctions
against Moscow over the sales.
A 1992 law imposes sanctions against any country that delivers advanced
arms to Iran if the president determines that the weapons are
"destabilizing." The law was written by then-Sen. Gore of Tennessee and Sen.
John McCain (R-Ariz).
The fact of the agreement wasn't secret. Gore mentioned it at a news
conference after his meeting with Chernomyrdin. A front page story in The
Times described the deal, quoting an official saying the sales would end "in
the next few years."
Administration officials briefed the House International Affairs
Committee on the details and mentioned the deal in several Senate hearings.
But the administration apparently did not tell Congress--at least, not
explicitly--that Gore had promised not to invoke sanctions against the
"The law requires them to use the sanctions," said Sen. Sam Brownback
(R-Kan.), who has scheduled a hearing on the issue on Wednesday. "It may be
their opinion that they don't want to use the sanctions, but the law requires
Brownback, who has long advocated the use of sanctions against Russia,
added: "This is not a law the vice president was ignorant of. It was his own
But administration officials argue that the sanctions law wasn't
triggered by the deal--because the Defense Department said the weapons would
not destabilize the strategic balance in the Persian Gulf.
"The stuff they were exporting did not qualify as advanced weaponry
under the law," said Leon Fuerth, Gore's national security advisor.
Indeed, Fuerth argued, using sanctions against Russia--which would have
meant cutting off all U.S. aid and working to block loans from the IMF and
other international institutions--would have been disastrous.
"We feared that if we were to invoke sanctions, we would increase the
possibility that the Yeltsin era would end with the restoration of Communist
Party rule or an extreme nationalist like [Vladimir] Zhirinovksy," he said.
Some Justice on Both Sides of Debate
The agreement has already been broken--by the Russians, who didn't meet
the 1999 deadline but announced publicly that they intended to complete the
remaining deliveries anyway.
"That's what happens when the administration tells the Russians up front
that it won't impose sanctions," said a House Republican staff member.
"There's no will to impose sanctions, and the Russians know it."
A nonpartisan expert, Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, said there was some justice on both sides of the debate.
"The administration was trying to reach an accommodation with Russia on
an issue where they simply don't agree. It was a compromise," he said. "The
sale had already been made. Do you really expect the Russians to call it off?
No. So you grandfather in the existing deal and hope you can stop any further
"Now, the administration appears to have overestimated the Russians'
willingness to comply. But imposing sanctions on Russia probably would not
have served our larger interests. To use a Russian saying, it would be
picking up a rock only to drop it on your own foot."
Another scholar, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and
International Studies, said the administration is right about the military
effect of the weapons.
"The violations of U.S. and Russian agreements have been minor, have had
little military meaning, and been more technical than substantive," he wrote
in a report issued Friday.
Cordesman, who was an advisor to McCain when the 1992 Gore-McCain law
was passed, added: "Political campaigns are a poor time to debate complex
Times staff writer Robyn Dixon, in Moscow, contributed to this story.
October 17, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
PUBLIC OPINION IN THE AUTUMN OF 2000
People Display Psychological Stability, Support the
By Mikhail GORSHKOV, Director General of RNISiNP
Our practice, especially in the recent past, testifies to
a qualitative change in public opinion, that of people striving
to learn from their mistakes and to more seriously use the
potential of common sense in evaluating developments. This
conclusion is reaffirmed by the results of the latest public
opinion poll, conducted by the Russian Independent Institute of
Social and National Problems, whose Russian acronym is RNISiNP.
The poll was staged in early October in all
territorial-economic regions of the country, as well as in
Moscow and St. Petersburg. Using the quota selection, we polled
representatives of 11 social groups: workers; the engineering
and technical intelligentsia; the humanities intelligentsia;
the personnel of trade, services, transportation and
communications enterprises; office employees; small and medium
servicemen and the staff of the Interior Ministry; residents of
villages; urban pensioners; higher school students; and the
unemployed. The 1,750 respondents were polled in 58 settlements
proportionate to the population of megalopolices, regional
centres, district centres and villages. The permissible
statistical error is give or take 3-4%.
Keeping the Tonus
I will begin with the evaluation of the
socio-psychological state of society. The poll's results show
that 40% of Russians are weighed down by the overwhelming
feeling of depression, bitterness, fear and desperation this
autumn, a growth of 4% since June this year. On the other hand,
a half of the respondents preserve a positive mood, with the
dominant psychological condition being good temper,
tranquillity and even the feeling of vigor and an emotional
rise. In early summer, this psycho-emotional state was
characteristic of 54% of the respondents.
It is easy to notice that there were no major
psycho-emotional changes in the mood of society in the past
three months. Whatever fluctuations there were, they were
within the boundaries of statistical error. Moreover, the
results of the June poll held by the RNISiNP testified to
positive changes in the social psyche (the share of the
population living under the pressure of negative complexes
dropped from 52% in October 1999 to 36% in June 2000), which
allows us to state that society has maintained the positive
shift towards a new world outlook despite the tragic events of
the past summer.
People of the younger and middle age, students, business
people, the humanities intelligentsia, employees, and residents
of megalopolises and regional centers feel especially
comfortable psychologically. But senior people, pensioners, the
unemployed, staffs of the catering sphere, workers, and the
residents of district centers and rural settlements are in a
worse psycho-emotional state.
It is indicative that the larger part of the people with a
positive mood are supporters of Vladimir Putin, while those who
are weighed down by negative feelings are his opponents. On the
whole, the bulk of our citizens whose psychological state is
positive and balanced represent the middle sectors of society.
They are not throwing money to the wind, but neither do they
regard themselves as a low-income group; they do not hold
radical views and show a general trend for common sense and
The results of the poll show (see Table 1) that the trend
for a more positive evaluation of the situation in the country
persists this autumn. At least, the share of the population who
regard the situation in the country as catastrophic halved in
the past year. The current figure is one of the lowest since
the beginning of the reforms in the early 1990s.
It should be also said that residents of the Central Black
Soil Zone, the Far Eastern and the West Siberian regions are
most critical of the situation in the country, while residents
Petersburg, Moscow and the Urals region offered the least
critical evaluation. Indicatively, those who have a positive
attitude to the actions of Vladimir Putin as president, who
believe in his ability to restore order in the country and
ensure a normal life are especially optimistic in evaluating
the social situation.
Disorder and Irresponsibility the Main Culprits
The August catastrophes (the sinking of the Kursk
submarine and the fire at the Ostankino TV tower) still worry
The bulk of the people still want to know the reasons for all
catastrophes of the recent period.
A half of the respondents are convinced that these
catastrophes were precipitated by the absence of order and
discipline, lax attitudes and irresponsibility at all levels.
Another large group of the population (39%) think the
catastrophes were unavoidable, because they are a result of the
general economic slump in the country in the past decades. A
total of 25% of the respondents blamed the catastrophes on the
former leadership (Yeltsin and his governments), whose policy
had paved the way to the destruction of the technological and
economic potential of the country. And 20% say it was a tragic
coincidence, which could not be predicted. A small group of
respondents (4%) blamed Vladimir Putin and the current
political, military and economic leadership of the country.
The respondents in most regions, age and
socio-professional groups say the main reason for the August
catastrophes was irresponsibility and lax attitudes, and
another reason was the economic slump. But the residents of
Moscow, representatives of the humanities intelligentsia and
small and medium businessmen see the main reason in the general
economic slump in Russia.
Interestingly, the respondents who are over 60 put the bulk of
the blame on Yeltsin's rule.
The main conclusion which the public think should be made
in connection with the sinking of the Kursk looks logical. Most
respondents (54%) think we must do our utmost to restore the
effectiveness and modernize the equipment of the army, even if
this will entail the reduction of spending in other spheres.
If such poll results were acquired in the first few days
after the sinking of the submarine, that socially sacrificial
attitude could have been explained by the emotional reaction to
the tragedy. But we held our poll when the public mind 'cooled
off'. This means that the poll results testify to the one and
only thing: the clear desire of the bulk of the population to
make the Russian army technologically modern and capable of
dealing with any emergency. At the same time, the poll results
undeniably show that the Kursk tragedy hurt the feeling of
national pride in the people, who still remember the past glory
and might of the Soviet army.
Only 14% of the respondents call for a radical reduction
of the armed forces and for burying expensive
military-technical projects. As could be expected (and as
proven true by the subsequent research), this group includes
few people of the older generation. However, few young people
are for a radical reduction of the army, too. Many more young
people are prepared to support the state if it decides to spend
money on military development.
The people's vision of the prospects of the country's
development was not overly optimistic even before the summer
tragedies. Although the people's hopes grew when Vladimir Putin
was elected president, most people thought the country could
overcome the drawn-out crisis, but not quickly enough. The
summer emergencies did not add optimism to the people's views.
Society is now divided into three roughly equal groups. As many
as 37% think that life will gradually become better in the
country despite the summer tragedies, and 33% say these
tragedies were only the beginning and we are in for greater
shocks yet. A third of the respondents could not make the
choice between optimistic and pessimistic scenarios of future
It is interesting that the share of optimists is
considerably larger than the number of pessimists in age groups
of under 21, of 22-26 and in the senior group of people over 60.
The number of optimists and pessimists is roughly equal in the
27-30, 31-40 and 41-50 age groups. Pessimists dominate only one
age group, the 51-60 one. Territorially, the Far East remains
the most pessimistic region, and rural workers are the most
pessimistic socio-professional group.
Stability of the President's Position
The August events were bound to influence the public
vision of Vladimir Putin. But the question is, how and where
these events influenced the personal rating of the president.
Polls conducted immediately after the tragedies could not
produce a balanced picture. But here is what the October poll
of the RNISiNP showed.
Ten percent of the respondents could not clearly define
their attitude to Putin after the August emergencies, but the
bulk of the population (65%) have not changed their attitude to
him. A quarter of the respondents changed their views of him,
22% for the worse, and 3.5% for the better.
Of those who changed their views of Putin for the better,
82% have a mostly positive, and 10%, mostly negative, view of
him now. And of those who changed their views for the worse,
22% have a positive, and 43%, a negative attitude. Of those
whose attitude to Putin hardly changed after the August
tragedies, 64% have a positive, and 9%, negative, view of the
It should be said that the share of those who changed
their attitude to Putin for the worse after the August events
is especially large among higher school students (26%), village
residents (25%), workers (25%), the catering staff (23%),
servicemen (23%) and office employees (22%). Besides, the share
of those who changed their attitude to the president for the
worse is especially large in the North, Northwest and in Moscow
Immediately after the sinking of the Kursk, one of the
leading TV analysts said in an emotional outburst that the
people's views of Vladimir Putin as a strong and strong-willed
president had collapsed. But that statement sounded rash, to
put it mildly, even then, when the feeling of tragedy was acute
and emotions ran high. Here is the current situation. As many
as 29% of the respondents said they stopped regarding Putin as
a strong and strong-willed president after the August events.
But nearly a half (47%) said they still see him as an effective
political leader of strong will. (A quarter of the respondents
could not formulate their feelings.)
Changes in the people's attitude to the president are
shown in Table 3. The figures mean that the greatest number of
those who became disillusioned in the president's qualities
live in St.
Petersburg, the Northern Region, the Black Soil Zone, West
Siberia and the Far East.
And now to a no less important subject: the people's
evaluation of Vladimir Putin as the president (see Table 4).
As compared to June this year, the number of those who
evaluate Putin's operation as president positively has not
diminished; moreover, it has grown a little. On the other hand,
the number of those who hold a negative view has grown, too.
But the greatest changes were registered in the number of those
who do not have a definite attitude to Putin's operation: it
went down by 11%. Consequently, a process has begun which the
current president did his best to postpone, but which was bound
to begin anyway. I mean the differentiation of that part of the
population who had maintained a neutral attitude to the
president. As of now, this neutral mass is losing, in equal
parts, those who have a positive, and those who have a negative
attitude to Putin. The question is, what will happen tomorrow?
Will this differentiation of the once neutral part of Russians
strengthen or weaken the social support of the president?
As of today, the share of people whose vision of the
president's performance is positive has grown in all age groups
of respondents. Meanwhile, the share of those whose view of the
president's activities is negative vacillates around the
average in effectively all age groups, with the notable
exception of the 51-60 group. Here is the largest number of
Putin's critics (22%).
It follows from the data presented in Table 4, the share
of those who support Vladimir Putin's activities at his post is
appreciably high among business people, pensioners, servicemen
and humanities intelligentsia (58-61%).
The predominantly positive evaluation of Putin's
performance on the part of a majority of our compatriots is
supplemented by the persistently high degree of trust to the
president. It follows from Table 2 that the current president
is still the leader as far as people's trust is concerned, all
other politicians lagging far behind.
There is one more factor indicative of a politician's
standing in public opinion, i.e. the potential election rating.
Our poll indicated that if the presidential election were to be
staged on the first Sunday of October this year, the results
would be as follows:
- Vladimir Putin - 56%;
- Gennady Zyuganov - 18%;
- Aman Tuleyev - 12%;
- Grigory Yavlinsky - 7%;
- Vladimir Zhirinovsky - 3%.
Does this mean that Putin's standing is absolutely safe?
Indeed, his following seems impressive in sociological terms.
But the same measure is indicative - as was shown earlier - of
a growth of clearly defined opposition sentiments in various
segments of society (age, vocational and territorial groups
alike). This circumstance may present a big problem to Putin
sometime in the future, for the preservation of support on the
part of popular masses in various strata may be his main
argument in his confrontation with the various oligarchic
I hope that the above poll data will facilitate at least a
most general evaluation of the Russian public sentiments, the
wisdom of society and its living roots. Of course, the above is
not quite a revelation, and may seem superfluous in some
respects. But it exists. This fact will have to be increasingly
reckoned with by researchers, politicians and the media.
Evaluation of the situation in the country by the
population, in %:
Situation: Oct. '99 Dec. '99 March '00 June '00 Oct. '00
Normal 3 5 9 18 13
Crisis 52 61 62 55 58
Catastrophic 41 29 24 18 22
Hard to say 4 5 5 9 7
Degree of people's trust to known politicians, in %:
Politicians: Trust Distrust Don't know
German Gref 4.0 44.0 52.0
Boris Gryzlov 4.5 44.1 54.4
Vladimir Zhirinovsky 10.1 74.0 15.9
Gennady Zyuganov 23.8 57.1 19.1
Sergei Ivanov 16.1 36.7 47.2
Mikhail Kasyanov 26.2 38.7 35.1
Alexei Kudrin 5.7 37.3 57.0
Yuri Luzhkov 19.1 55.7 25.2
Yevgeny Primakov 35.4 39.4 25.2
Vladimir Putin 56.3 21.5 22.2
Gennady Seleznev 20.9 44.7 34.4
Boris Nemtsov 16.0 59.7 24.3
Yegor Stroyev 17.0 44.3 38.7
Aman Tuleyev 35.7 34.2 30.1
Sergei Shoigu 38.9 31.3 29.8
Grigory Yavlinsky 17.6 55.8 26.6
Changes in popular vision of Vladimir Putin as a strong
and strong-willed president in various regions, in %:
Regions: Changed Remained
Moscow 23.5 47.1
St. Petersburg 38.5 44.6
Northwest 31.6 45.6
North 38.9 37.5
Volga-Vyatka 20.2 59.6
Center 26.5 48.7
Central-Black Soil 35.0 47.0
Volga Area 25.6 51.7
North Caucasus 25.5 44.8
Urals 30.8 45.6
West Siberia 35.0 35.6
East Siberia 27.1 43.8
Far East 31.0 48.8
Dynamics of popular vision of Vladimir Putin's performance
at his post, in %:
Vision: June 2000 October 2000
Positive 45.4 51.5
Negative 11.2 16.3
Neutral 43.4 32.2
Visions of Vladimir Putin's activities at his post
in various groups of the population, in %:
Groups: Positive Negative
Workers 45.7 14.2
Engineering staffs 54.7 21.3
Humanities intelligentsia 57.6 14.1
Service staffs 47.8 13.3
Office employees 46.8 10.6
Business people 60.3 19.0
Village residents 48.3 20.3
Servicemen 60.6 15.1
Urban pensioners 61.4 14.1
Higher school students 49.1 14.5
Unemployed 42.0 23.5