This Date's Issues: 4608
Johnson's Russia List
30 October 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-Tass: Birthrate continues to decline in Russia.
2. Sunday Telegraph (UK): Guy Chazan, Russian military runs for
3. Reuters: Putin, EU leaders to discuss economy,security ties.
4. BBC Monitoring: Russian president reiterates concern at NATO's
expansion. (Interview with French journalists)
5. Rodric Braithwaite: Russophobia -the definition.
6. EURASIA GEOPOLITICS MAILING LIST.
7. Kerby Rials: Failed foreign aid?
8. Peter D. Ekman: lies, damned lies, but no statistics.
9. Tom Hurt: re interest in Russia.
10. Robert Bruce Ware: Reply to Bivens JRL 4606. (re election fraud)
11. The Russia Journal: Yelena Rykovtseva, Media watch: Polishing the
presidentís image, but not for print.
12. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, In anthem search, Russia looks
'back to the USSR.' After a decade of economic decline and social turmoil,
many Russians find themselves nostalgic for reminders of Soviet glory.
13. AP: Angela Charlton, Religious Strife Hurts Central Asia.]
Birthrate continues to decline in Russia
Moscow, 29th October: The birthrate continues to decline in Russia: only
1,230 thousand babies are born a year, while, to maintain the normal
reproduction of the population, the country needs 750 thousand babies over
and above that every year.
According to sources in the Institute of Gynaecology, Perinatology and
Maternity, 2.3 million abortions are registered in Russia every year. Ten per
cent of women are left infertile by abortion. There are only 12 specialized
federal centres in the Russian Federation where female infertility can be
cured, and far from all women who want to conceive can afford to turn to such
centres for help. Thus in vitro fertilization can cost as much as five
Another serious problem is posed by pregnancies which are not carried to full
term. Practically 98 per cent of women at risk can be helped in such
situations but necessary medical equipment is not manufactured domestically
and only a few medical centres can afford importing equipment. If underweight
babies are born - and their number is 12,000 a year - ther care costs between
300 and 400 dollars a day to help them survive.
London Sunday Telegraph (UK)
29 October 2000
Russian military runs for office
By Guy Chazan
AN unprecedented number of military and KGB veterans are standing in
Russia's provincial elections, in what is being seen as a Kremlin strategy
to install loyalists to shore up state power.
Officers from the army, navy and FSB domestic intelligence service are
swapping their uniforms for suits to fight six gubernatorial elections, in
some cases against notoriously corrupt incumbents with close links to
Their appearance symbolises the increasing influence wielded by Russia's
security forces in domestic politics since the arrival in power of Vladimir
Putin, a former lieutenant-colonel in the KGB, who pledged to create a
"dictatorship of the law". There are fears, however, that the involvement
of ex-officers could harm local democracy. Just over a week ago, the
governor of the western region of Kursk, Alexander Rutskoi, was
disqualified from running or a second term hours before polling stations
opened in a move many in Moscow believe was orchestrated by a rival
candidate who is a former FSB officer.
A local court struck Mr Rutskoi off the ballot for failing to declare
ownership of a Volga car and under-reporting the size of his flat. Special
police forces seized the local television and radio stations to prevent any
disruption of the vote. Mr Rutskoi, himself a former general and fighter
pilot, described the move as a "Latin American coup in a banana republic".
The authorities in Moscow also announced that they were investigating
another governor seeking re-election, Alexander Nazarov of the Far Eastern
region of Chukotka. Mr Nazarov, who is suspected of illegally selling
fishing quotas and diverting budget subsidies for winter fuel imports, is
facing a challenge from Roman Abramovich, an oil tycoon with the Kremlin's
Some commentators have welcomed moves against the regional bosses, who were
given sweeping powers under Boris Yeltsin and often used them to amass vast
fortunes and suppress opponents. Many regions have become bywords for
graft, sleaze and criminal infiltration and there is some evidence that the
Kremlin has its finger on the nation's pulse in supporting military
candidates. Respect for the security services is rising among ordinary
Russians who yearn for order after 10 years of chaotic reforms that have
triggered a collapse in living standards and soaring crime. A survey last
month found that the army was the most trusted institution after the
Presidency and the Church, while parliament and political parties ranked
The Chechen war catapulted a generation of army commanders into the
limelight, encouraging them to seek political office. The biggest boost to
their ambitions came five months ago, when Mr Putin carved Russia into
seven new territorial divisions, each headed by a powerful governor-general
answerable to him. Five of the seven new plenipotentiaries had security
backgrounds, and one, Col-Gen Viktor Kazantsev, was chief of the North
Caucasus Military District and a senior commander in Chechnya.
Another veteran, Lt-Gen Vladimir Shamanov, the commander of the 58th army,
is standing as governor in Ulyanovsk. A commander of the Baltic Fleet, Adml
Vladimir Yegorov, is challenging the governor of Kaliningrad, and a general
of the border troops, Viktor Voitenko, is running in the eastern region of
Chita. Local FSB officials are running in Voronezh in the south and
Chelyabinsk in the Urals, in addition to Kursk in the west.
Putin, EU leaders to discuss economy,security ties
By Gareth Jones
PARIS, Oct 30 (Reuters) - European Union leaders are set to quiz President
Vladimir Putin on Monday about his intentions for Russia's shaky economy and
will try to reassure him about their plans to expand eastwards and to create
a new security force.
The sixth EU-Russian summit, due to open at the Elysee Palace at 10:15 a.m.
(0915 GMT), will be attended on the EU side by French President Jacques
Chirac, whose country holds the rotating presidency, European Commission
chief Romano Prodi and foreign policy supremo Javier Solana.
"The summit will be about the long-term strategic partnership between the EU
and Russia...a partnership founded on the principles of democracy, respect
for the rule of law and the market economy," a senior European diplomat said.
Putin, who arrived in Paris on Sunday evening, will brief his hosts on his
government's efforts to speed up market reforms and to attract badly needed
foreign investment to Russia.
He will seek information on EU plans to set up a 60,000-strong rapid reaction
force aimed at helping to prevent or defuse conflicts around the world.
"The Russians have indicated they want a big discussion on the EU's new
common security and defence policy," Solana's spokeswoman Christina Gallach
"For their part, the EU leaders are very keen to share with the Russians
information about their plans," she said.
The EU's Prodi is expected to spell out his proposal for a sharp increase in
EU energy imports from Russia over the next 20 years. Energy cooperation has
become especially topical amid the recent protests in Western Europe over
rising fuel prices.
The European Union wants Moscow to ratify a 1994 Energy Charter which would
provide a legal framework for investments in the potentially highly lucrative
sector by Western firms.
HEARTENED BY PUTIN'S ECONOMIC STANCE
EU officials say they have been heartened by the liberal economic stance of
Putin's economic team, noting that Russia is on course for annual growth in
gross domestic product this year of seven percent after 3.2 percent in 1999.
They have also pointed to Russia's big trade surplus amounting to some $25
billion with the 15-nation bloc, though this is thanks largely to high world
EU leaders will repeat assurances to Putin that the Union's plans to admit
new members from ex-communist central and eastern Europe in the next few
years are a great trade opportunity, not a threat, to Russia.
"EU tariffs for Russian goods are already lower than those imposed by many of
the applicant countries...EU membership will spread prosperity in the region
and Russia can only gain from that," one EU official told reporters in
After a session lasting less than two hours, Putin and the EU leaders are due
to hold a joint news conference at midday (1100 GMT) and then to discuss
international issues including the Middle East and the Balkans over lunch.
Putin is expected to brief the EU team on his talks last Friday in Moscow
with Yugoslavia's new democratic leader, Vojislav Kostunica, whom the EU has
moved to bolster with emergency financial aid ahead of the tough Balkan
After lunch, Putin begins his official visit to France, with both sides
apparently keen to patch up relations strained by Paris's strong criticism of
Moscow's military offensive against rebel guerrillas in its southern Chechnya
Almost 250 intellectuals, politicians and actors from various countries
published a petition on Saturday condemning Putin and the "dirty, cruel" war
in Chechnya. They called on people to demonstrate on Monday evening in
Russian president reiterates concern at NATO's expansion
Source: Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1500 gmt 29 Oct 00
Russian President Vladimir Putin has reiterated his concern at the eastward
expansion of NATO. In a wide-ranging interview with French journalists,
broadcast by Russia TV on 29th October just prior to his visit to France,
Putin said that Russia's concern was "logical, comprehensible and obvious".
He also dismissed charges that he is seeking to curtail freedom of expression
in Russia, accusing "oligarchs" of exploiting their influence over the media
in order to protect their gains. The following is the text of the interview
as broadcast by the television:
[Presenter] Hello, President [Vladimir] Putin is starting his official visit
to France today, and quite recently, literally just now, he gave an official
interview to the French media. Here are some excerpts from this interview.
[Journalist] Mr President, during a recent opinion poll in Russia, 42 per
cent of Russians said they no longer consider Russia a superpower. What do
you think about this? -you, as a man who has made Russia's return to the
international arena one of his foreign policy priorities.
[Putin] It is not Russia's aim to dominate in anything, it is not Russia's
aim to have hegemony in any areas or regions of the world, so it all depends
on how you understand the term "superpower". Russia is a huge country, in
terms of its population, territory, national wealth, the nation's
intellectual potential and the level of the population's cultural
development, and in this sense Russia has played and, without any doubt, in
terms of the objective circumstances which I have just cited, will play a
prominent role in international affairs. But I repeat that we believe, and I
am firmly convinced of this, that any drive towards hegemony inflicts damage
not only on the objects of the given hegemony, but also on those who
undertake such a role. This is a thankless, dangerous and counterproductive
objective -counterproductive from the point of view of national interests. So
Russia will, of course, maintain its influence in international affairs, it
will pursue an active foreign policy, but it will pursue it on a broad
democratic basis, including with Europe, and with France.
[Q] Russia has on several occasions said it is ready to develop relations
with the European Union, but it is not a candidate for joining, nor is it
seeking to become an associate member. Do you think Russia could ever join
the European Union?
[A] Russia is primarily a European country, in the way it thinks, in its
mentality and its culture. European countries, the European Community,
currently account for 35 per cent of Russia's trade turnover, and if you add
to this the potential of potential members, new members of the European
Community, then it will be a controlling share -51 per cent of Russia's trade
turnover will be with a united Europe. We take as our premise that the
current conditions, both political and primarily economic, are not such as to
enable Russia to become a fully-fledged member of the European Community, the
European Economic Community. But we intend to act in the direction of
unification of our legislation, the harmonization of our legislation with
that of Europe. We don't intend to curtail our ties with Europe, but on the
contrary, we intend to expand our cooperation in all areas. I want to
underline this -in all areas. And I don't rule out that, at some stage of
relations between a unified Europe and Russia, integration issues will appear
on the agenda.
[Q] Will Russia oppose the accession to NATO of the Baltic states, which are
candidates for such accession? Do you think the accession of the countries of
Central and Eastern Europe to the European Union reduces or increases
Russia's distance from the union?
[A] Increases its distance from what?
[Q] From the European Union. Will this increase your distance from it when
the Baltic states are able to join the European Union?
[A] Let's start with NATO. As you know, Russia's stance is that we oppose the
expansion of NATO. I don't understand at all well the role of NATO today.
After all, NATO was created as a counterweight to the Soviet Union and the
Eastern bloc which was created by the Soviet Union. Today there is neither
the Eastern bloc nor even the Soviet Union, that is, the causes which gave
rise to NATO no longer exist, but NATO exists, and it doesn't just exist but
is expanding, and what's more, it appears to be expanding towards our
borders. As you know, a while ago, several months ago, one of your
colleagues, an American colleague, asked me: do you accept the possibility
that Russia might join NATO? I said yes, why not. And very soon we received a
response, not official, it's true, but it was made at quite a high level
-that no-one expects Russia in NATO. Well, if no-one expects us there, why
should we take any pleasure in NATO's expansion and its approach towards our
borders? Of course, this provokes concern on our part. It seems to me this is
logical, comprehensible and obvious. As regards the expansion of the European
Community, that's quite another matter. I repeat that Europe is not just our
traditional partner, it could be said that it is one of our main partners,
and the fact that Europe is going to expand, including by taking in 14 states
in Central and European Europe, doesn't cause us any concern at all.
[Q] According to your official biography, you have never been to France,
neither as president of Russia nor as a citizen of this country. What is
France to you? Is it a country of perfume, a country of wine, a country of
fashion, a country of high-speed trains, or is it for you a country that
tries at any price to be different from the rest -in linguistic or cultural
terms, or in any other respects?
[A] The fact that France tries to preserve its culture and its originality is
worthy of respect. The fact that France has its own opinion on nearly every
issue seems to me to be a manifestation of strength and not weakness. Of
course, I love French wine, but when people talk about France the main things
I recall are Victor Hugo and Jules Verne, who is probably considered no less
a national writer in Russia than in France itself, or Dumas and Balzac. I am
very fond of French cinema, but I particularly love French singing. This is
an original art, even without knowing the words it has a very strong
emotional effect, I would say a kind of psychological probe that reaches to
the very heart. So we in Russia have always had a special attitude towards
France, particularly warm feelings. We have very many things in common and we
in Russia greatly cherish these special relations with France.
[Q] You have said on several occasions that a dictatorship of the law has to
be established in Russia. Do you think that such a dictatorship can be
compatible, can it coexist, with freedom of expression?
[A] It can and it must. I recently recalled a remark, that where freedom of
the press is absolute there is no freedom for anyone. It's not us that
thought this up, it was said by one of the founding fathers of the United
States, [Thomas] Jefferson, as far as I know he lived in France for a few
years, in the period of the great French Revolution, I think. I don't know
whether it was the French that taught him this, but he hit the nail on the
head. I think that no-one can dominate in society, everyone has to be placed
in equal conditions before the law, including the press. But without the
press there can be no normal development of democratic society. At the same
time, I think that the debate which is being foisted both on the Russian
public and the international public regarding the problem of freedom of
expression in Russia, is of quite a different nature. This debate is linked
to another problem, the problem of the influence of the so-called "oligarchs"
on political power in Russia. There was a period in our country's history,
quite recent, a period of revolutionary transformations, I would say, the
early 1990s, when -and these were really revolutionary transformations, it
was a bloodless revolution but that's the way it was nevertheless -when as a
result of these events the instruments of the former state were lost and
dismantled and the new ones were only just being created. In these
conditions, a number of people who showed talent, an entrepreneurial bent and
ability to adapt to circumstances, did very well for themselves. In order to
stabilize their position, by correct and more often incorrect means, they
acquired a certain influence in the mass media, including the state media. It
is precisely an attempt to preserve this state of affairs, to secure for
themselves the position in which they have found themselves -an advantageous
position, even in relation to other businesspeople -that dictates the
campaign that is imposed from time to time in connection with the problems we
allegedly have with freedom of expression. It has nothing to do with true
freedom of expression.
[Q] You are not very well known in France, but you are seen as quite a
reserved, uneffusive person, as distinct from your predecessor, who had
earned a reputation for being more lively, more inclined to indulge in human
enjoyment. What image would you like to have abroad, in France in particular?
[A] [laughs] Can I order one?
[A] And you'll do everything? [laughter]
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000
Subject: Russophobia -the definition
From: Rodric Braithwaite <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Anatol LievenĻs gallant attempt to introduce some balance into the debate
about Russia (ably if indirectly supported by Daniel Treisman in his review
of three recent books, published in List no:4605) has attracted surprisingly
emotional criticism, not always backed by facts or argument.
However his use of the term "Russophobia" - attacked by Stephen Blank in the
same List - is sanctioned by long usage. The British press was using the
term in the first half of the nineteenth century, and its early history in
charted by JH Gleason, in "The Genesis of Russophobia in Great Britain"
published by Harvard in 1950. It remains a useful word, despite the attempts
of Russia's unpleasant anti-Semites to hijack it.
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2000
From: Eurasia Research Center <email@example.com>
Subject: Eurasia Geopolitcs List
EURASIA GEOPOLITICS MAILING LIST
Readers of Johnson's List may find the Eurasia Geopolitics moderated
mailing list on eGroups a useful source of in formation on the former
Soviet Union and Middle East. The list archives contain a variety of
articles and reports on countries and issues of the region.
People interested in learning more about the list or registering to become
members can visit the following url:
The purpose of this group is to discuss and exchange information on
geopolitical relations and the internal politics of the countries of the
Central Eurasian Region including counries of the Former Soviet Union,
Balkans, formerly Communist Central Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and
Pakistan. Participants are encouraged to contribute information and opinion
about the region's geopolitical relations or particular countries. The
emphasis will be on serious discussion and exchange of information from a
comparative perspective. People with special knowledge of the region or any
of its countries are encouraged to join and participate.
From: KerbyRials@aol.com (Kerby Rials)
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000
Subject: Failed foreign aid?
I couldn't help but note that Jake Rudnitsky's post the other day (#4604)
seemed to lack essential facts. Mr. Rudnitsky criticized the "repeated
failures of traditional foreign assistance programs" of the United States.
Mr. Rudnitsky did not mention one case in which foreign aid was helpful.
While some of his criticisms may be valid, he seems to have overlooked the
Marshall Plan, which, at the very least, is credited with preventing Greece
from falling to communism after WW2, and establishing stable governments
throughout Europe at the same time. Mr. Rudnitsky also did not mention
Japan, today one of the most prosperous and stable countries in the world,
and a prime beneficiary of US aid. He also did not mention South Korea,
another major recipient of US aid, which, when compared to its northern twin,
clearly comes out ahead. West Germany vis a vis East Germany is also a good
case in point. Foreign aid often provides the US the only leverage it can
muster in influencing destructive policies of other governments. As such it
has been well worth the cost. The failures of US foreign aid, in my opinion,
require scrutiny, but to quickly paint all foreign aid as wasted is shoddy
journalism and bad history. It contributes to a cynical isolationism that is
not in US interests or the world's. As a non-governmental worker overseas, I
hope we can continue to provide foreign aid wisely and sensibly.
From: "Peter D. Ekman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: lies, damned lies, but no statistics
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000
Daniel Treisman's book review (JRL 4605, #9) from
Foreign Affairs, "Blaming Russia First" is the best article I've
read about Russia for a long time. I suggest that anybody who
skipped over it because it was a long article at the end of
JRL, reviewing books that they've seen reviewed before, take a
On Dolan's response to Armstrong (4606), I have to agree with
Dolan on most points. In particular his response to Armstrong's Assumption 4:
Assumption 4: "Everything official Russians say is suspect and much less to
be believed than things officials in the West say. (I remember one
Sovietologist some years ago saying that all Soviets naturally lied)."
Dolan: "I'm sorry to have to say it, but I don't think this assumption is even
overstated. I think that brazen, preposterous untruth is simply a routine
element of the official public relations policy of the Russian state."
Of course all politicians stretch the truth at times, but the degree that it
happens in Russia is just astounding. Some of the most blatant examples
Victor Chernomyrdin's financial declaration while he was prime minister
put his net worth at less than $10,000. His tan must cost that much.
Victor Gerashchenko's response to the Fimaco scandal was always that
an audit would be finished within a month and that it would completely
exonerate the Central Bank and show that every kopek had been
returned from Fimaco. Six months into the scandal a pitiful "draft
audit report" was released, showing that the Central Bank systematically
lied to the IMF and that, at a bare minimum, several million dollars had
A few days after the 1998 crash, savers were assured that their deposits
would be guaranteed by the government and transferred to Sberbank.
In fact, many savers could not get their deposits transferred and those who
did get dollar deposits transferred had them converted at about 7 rubles to
the dollar rather than the going rate (about 15 that fall) costing them about
half their savings.
I think that Western politicians would try to get away with lies like this if
they thought that they could get away with it, but it's unlikely that they
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000
From: "Tom T. Hurt" <email@example.com>
Subject: re: interest in Russia
I'm a student of Russian at Cornell and an avid reader of your list. After
thinking about it, I find what attracts me to Russia is an almost tangible
sensation that stubbornly eludes expression. It's a certain slant in the
soul, a shared cultural wit, a depth of understanding about life. And the
humor is just unbeatable. It's the feeling that Russian culture is a kind
of garden path leading to enlightenment and despair. It's not about getting
a tacky gratification from studying societies in turmoil or people in
poverty (after all, those things are available in the US), although I've
met people for whom this is the case.
Seeing the greatness of the Russian spirit in a people with such a rocky
history is like a cosmic injustice -- or perhaps like something gone
horribly right. Maybe it could only happen in Russia. It's a paradox that
invites not just study, but experience.
From: "Robert Bruce Ware" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Reply to Bivens JRL 4606
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000
Reply to Bivens JRL 4606 Matt Bivens' response (JRL 4606) to my commentary
in the Christian Science Monitor (10/18/00) on electoral fraud in Dagestan
during the March presidential election is both uninformed and remarkably
disingenuous. Bivens wrote:
"A particularly precious comment in the Christian Science Monitor, for
example, asserted that "Dagestan's leading independent political observer"
(we have no idea who this unnamed person might be) had "refuted" our work,
which was, yes, "unscientific." The author then added that fraud in
Dagestan for Vladimir Putin was actually around 350,000 to 400,000 votes f
a figure he explained only as the result of his "own analysis."
When Mr. Bivens writes that "we have no idea who this unnamed person might
be" I can only suppose that "we" includes his principal reporter on the
story, Yevgenia Borisova. While preparing the commentary for the Monitor I
engaged in extensive correspondence with Ms. Borisova, during which I
advised her that some of her claims had been directly refuted by Dr. Enver
Kisriev, Senior Sociologist at the Dagestan Scientific Center of the
Russian Academy of Sciences. (I corresponded with Ms. Borisova during this
period, and not with Mr. Bivens, only because Ms. Borisova responded to my
initial inquiry in mid-September, and Mr. Bivens did not.) Mr. Bivens
might have checked with Ms. Borisova before he wrote to JRL, especially
because the Monitor commentary refers explicitly to my extensive
correspondence with her. Unfortunately, limited space in the Monitor did
not permit further reference to Kisriev, nor to several others (including
readers of this list) who assisted me in preparing the commentary. Still
more surprising is Mr. Bivens' disparaging remark about my "own analysis."
The Monitor required me substantially to reduce my analysis for
publication. I was offered 850 words with which to critique the Times' 8
page spread. 850 words is less than half of the analysis that I originally
submitted, and the Monitor edited much of the hard analysis out of the
final draft. Therefore on the day that the Monitor published my
commentary I sent the piece directly to Mr. Bivens with an additional 1000
words of analysis that further explained my methods. In my note to Mr.
Bivens at that time, I referred to my extensive correspondence with Ms.
Borisova and offered encouragement and cooperation toward further
investigation of electoral issues.
I am disappointed that Mr. Bivens had neither the courtesy to respond to
this note, nor the integrity to mention the additional analysis that I
sent to him at that time. Basically, my commentary in the Christian
Science Monitor criticized the methodology of Ms. Borisova's investigation
on the grounds that her sample was heavily weighted toward the city of
Mahachkala where fraud was disproportionately high, that her sample
ignored ethnic stratification, and that her analysis ignored the history
of federal electoral fraud in Dagestan. This is a topic upon which
Kisriev and I have published in several scholarly journals that Mr. Bivens
might wish to consult before he does much further writing. In those
articles Kisriev and I have sought to show (as I sought to show in the
Monitor commentary) that the Dagestani government regularly manipulates
federal electoral results as part of its efforts to manipulate the
Kremlin. This is significant in so far as the Times' report suggests (and
as it subsequently has been interpreted as suggesting) that the Kremlin
maneuvered to steal the election. In Dagestan the situation historically
has appeared to be rather the reverse. Essentially, Kisriev and I used
the following strategy to estimate the extent of electoral fraud in
Dagestan during the March presidential election: In Dagestan there are
1,266,000 voters. According to government data, 1,036,000, or 82%, of
these voted in the presidential election on 26 March 2000. The reported
voter turnout in a number of areas (Agulsky, Dakhadaevsky, Dokusparinsky,
Kulinsky, Suleyman-Stalsky, Derbentsky, and Mahachkala) was more than 90%.
In nearly all districts, the turnout is unexpectedly high.
Vladimir Putin received approximately 830,000, or 80%, of the votes.
Gennady Zyuganov received 170,000, or 16.5%. In Botlikhsky and Buinaksky
rayons, Putin received over 90% of the votes. Other candidates received
less than 1% of the vote. In Novolaksky and Khasavyurtovsky rayons,
however, Grigor Yavlinsky received from 7 to 9% of the vote. This is
probably because the Chechen-Akkin population in these areas favored the
only candidate for the presidency who opposed the war in Chechnya.
Usually about 60% of Dagestani voters participate in an election.
Moreover, in late March many Dagestanis do not reside in mountain areas,
but choose to earn additional income in lowland cities. Yet some mountain
localities reported a turnout of 90%.
Still Putin had genuinely massive support in Dagestan. The Dagestani
chairman of Putins campaign was Hizri Shiksaidov, the Prime Minister of
Dagestan. All of the Republics ministers and all of the heads of its
largest enterprises and organizations were members of the Putin campaign.
All of the administrative heads of rayons and cities were specially
invited to a meeting at which they were instructed to "provide agitation
and propaganda for Putin." This work was undertaken with great
determination: During the preceding autumn and winter the Dagestani
leadership had developed close relations with Putin, who was widely viewed
by Dagestanis as a friend of the Republic. It is probable that Putin had
the genuine support of about 60% of the Dagestani voters.
Apart from official Dagestani reports, there is no reason to think that
voter turnout in the March election was either unusually high or unusually
low. Hence, we might suppose that the actual voter turnout was not too
far from the usual 60%. If we take 60% of Dagestan's total of 1,266,000
voters we get 759,600. We suppose that this figure is approximately the
number of actual votes. When we subtract 759,600 from the 1,036,000 votes
that the Dagestani government claims were cast in March we get 276,400.
I take this latter figure as the minimum number of fraudulent votes. This
excess would be consistent with reports, noted by Ms. Borisova and
confirmed by ourselves, that falsified ballots sometimes were simply
stuffed into ballot boxes. It is safe to assume that all of these
falsified ballots were for Putin. If we now subtract 276,400 from Putin's
reported total of 830,000 we get 553,600. 553,600 is 73% of the 759,600
estimated actual votes. Zyuganov's 170,000 reported votes are probably
legitimate. 170,000 is 22% of the 759,600 actual votes. The remaining 5%
of the vote is consistent with combined total for all other candidates,
plus that 3% of ballots in any Dagestani election that are legitimately
spoiled or otherwise legitimately uncountable.
If this were the case, then the Moscow Times' report would have
overestimated electoral fraud in Dagestan by about 100%. This would be
especially significant in that the Times used its extrapolations in
Dagestan as a standard by which to gauge its further extrapolations for
Russia as a whole. An error in its analysis of Dagestan would have had
ramifications for the entire report.
However, there are obviously limitations to our approach as well. For
example, Ms. Borisova reported evidence that some actual ballots had been
burned. In other cases, entire ballot boxes may have been substituted for
legitimate boxes, though this has not been confirmed. In these cases,
fraudulent procedures would not be registered in the excessive "turnout"
with which the present analysis begins. Therefore it is reasonable to
suppose that Putin's percentage should be adjusted downward and Zyuganov's
should be adjusted upward. While it is not possible to obtain information
concerning the number of ballots destroyed it is unlikely that these
adjustments would carry Putin below 60% nor elevate Zyuganov much above
30%. Kisriev and I think that the latter figures are close to the actual
percentages that these two candidates received, though in Putin's case
they represent a floor and in Zyuganov's case, a ceiling.
Since Kisriev and I have been in the process of gathering data on, and
completing our analysis of, the election, I judged it best to be moderate
in my criticism of the Times' report when I published my commentary in the
Christian Science Monitor. Hence, I did not then say that there might have
been as few as 276,000 fraudulent votes in Dagestan (as opposed to Bivens'
551,000) nor that key extrapolations by the Times appear to be in error by
as much as 50% to 100%.
Since Kisriev and I have been publishing our research on Dagestani
elections for years I am disappointed that Mr. Bivens did not contact us
either while he was preparing his report or subsequently, when I twice
wrote to him offering to discuss our analysis of the election with him.
Yet while it is disappointing that he has not taken the trouble to
familiarize himself with our work, it is downright deceptive that he
should now write to this list complaining that I had failed to make my
analysis available without acknowledging the two occasions that I have
personally written to him offering to make our analyses available to him.
The Russia Journal
October 28-November 3, 2000
Media watch: Polishing the presidentís image, but not for print
By Yelena Rykovtseva / Media Editor for Obshchaya Gazeta
Russian TV newsmakers have developed a new mania of late ≠ revelations with
elements of sadism. They choose a print media journalist they trust and
release some valuable information, usually concerning precisely whoever the
journalist is going after at the time. But they always add that these
tidbits are "not to be printed."
The question is then, whatís the point? Can it be that TV journalists have
got no one else to talk to? The result is that the print "media elite" ends
up brimming with secrets that canít be used.
Just recently, I heard with my own ears how one of NTVís managers told a
small group of journalists the name of a bank that will become one of the
companyís owners. This news was a sensation, even for a second NTV manager
standing nearby. But the journalists present were immediately sworn to
silence, and so far, the bankís name hasnít leaked in the press.
Another taboo in Russian TV concerns censorship. Top RTR journalists love
to talk with other journalists about the censorship currently practiced on
the channel, mostly in connection with President Vladimir Putinís polished
Some examples of this polishing are visible to the viewer. NTV and RTR both
showed Putin meeting with Olympic athletes. On the NTV report, viewers
could see clearly the height difference between Putin and the athletes,
while RTRís report avoided showing Putin and the athletes right next to
Another noteworthy example is that RTR didnít once show the fragment from
Putinís interview with Larry King when Putin says with a smile of the Kursk
submarine that "it sank."
By talking with RTR journalists, their print colleagues can learn plenty of
interesting details as to how the presidentís image is touched up. But none
of this information is "to be printed." Only when the bearers of these
secrets get chased from their jobs do they open up and tell all.
A few days ago, the management of RTR announced staff cutbacks (from 700 to
300) on the channelís Vesti news program. The result was that we received
several offended letters from Vesti journalists with accusations against
the channelís management concerning not just the layoffs, but also
But here too, we canít print these allegations, as it would just look like
people seeking revenge on their bosses. The only question we can ask is:
Why did these people accept violations of freedom of the press before
Another devotee of "not to be printed" material is Media Minister Mikhail
Lesin. Sometimes he gathers a "narrow circle" of journalists and shares his
views on some event in the media world, Boris Berezovskyís Teletrust, for
example. An indication of the confidential nature of those meetings are the
chocolates in little dishes and the tea served by Lesinís secretary.
Lesinís funniest "not to be printed" story was when he invited a group of
chief editors and some journalists writing about the media to eat shashlyks
at a restaurant outside Moscow. He thought that all present would realize
the confidential nature of this meeting. But one of the journalists (from
Vedemosti) took a photographer to the meeting and published in the paper
photos of Lesin in a chefís hat and a commentary noting that the chief
editors from Media-MOST publications Itogi (Sergei Parkhomenko) and
Sevodnya (Mikhail Berger) had also accepted Lesinís invitation.
Both Parkhomenko and Berger wrote wrathful replies to the Vedemosti
journalist in the pages of Sevodnya, and one can only imagine what a
telling off he got from the Media Ministry for breaking the code of silence.
The only media newsmaker who prefers to say only what can be printed is
Boris Berezovsky. At his last meeting with the group of intellectuals heíd
invited to be part of Teletrust, Berezovsky was disappointed to see that
there werenít many representatives of the press in the room.
"If this is Shabdurasulovís decision, then I donít agree with it,"
Berezovsky said. (Igor Shabdurasulov is responsible for organizing
Teletrust). But the participants in Teletrust, most of whom are journalists
themselves, assured him it was a collective decision taken because they had
many private questions they wanted to put to Berezovsky that "werenít to be
printed." A strange phenomenon when journalists who have suffered all their
working lives from information being not to be printed, immediately take
the same approach the moment they are in the center of events.
Notorious ORT journalist Sergei Dorenko caused a stir among the Teletrust
group by recounting the details of his latest conversation with ORT
director Konstantin Ernst. According to Dorenko, Ernst told him that they
(in Dorenkoís words, "they" means Ernst, RTR head Oleg Dobrodeyev and the
Kremlin) had already thought of how to neutralize Teletrust. Each of the
participants would be offered $2 million to vote for an ORT share issue.
The resulting shares would be bought by the state, which would give it full
control over the company.
I recounted this conversation to a colleague from a daily paper, who
immediately called Ernst to verify this information. "Come over," Ernst
replied, "Iíll tell you my thoughts on Teletrust. But itís not to be printed."
(E-mail Media Watch at email@example.com)
Christian Science Monitor
October 30, 2000
In anthem search, Russia looks 'back to the USSR'
After a decade of economic decline and social turmoil, many Russians find
themselves nostalgic for reminders of Soviet glory.
By Fred Weir
'Been away so long I hardly knew the place. Gee it's good to be back home.
"Leave it 'till tomorrow to unpack my case, honey disconnect the phone.
"I'm back in the USSR..."
If only it had been penned by a Russian, the former Beatles hit just might
have been a contender in the frenzied public search for a new national
A recent Moscow TV news program featured people in the streets singing their
personal favorites, which included not only official choices but Soviet-era
marching songs, folk tunes, and a couple of ditties apparently made up on the
While Russians are generally apathetic and exhausted after a decade of
turbulence - not to mention new revelations about the Kursk, a nuclear
submarine that went down with all hands in August - the quest seems to have
seized the public imagination.
Anyone who watched the Sydney Olympics might be forgiven for thinking Russia
already has an anthem. "A Patriotic Song," by Mikhail Glinka, was selected in
1993 by former President Boris Yeltsin. But Russian athletes complain about
the uninspiring and wordless tune, and politicians say Mr. Yeltsin's decree
lacked parliamentary consent. So President Vladimir Putin has given the State
Council, a new Kremlin advisory body made up of regional governors, until
Nov. 22 to recommend a replacement.
Not everyone supports the search. "All of the surging passions over this are
silly," says Alexander Krishtanovsky, dean of sociology at Moscow's Higher
School of Economics. "This has all blown up because Yeltsin wasn't good at
doing things 100 percent legally, and various politicians see this anthem
contest as a vehicle for pursuing their own agendas."
One option is to commission lyrics for the Glinka tune. Opinion surveys,
however, suggest many Russians don't like the piece, which they associate
with a decade of national decline, economic depression, and social disorder
under Yeltsin. More popular is a plan to restore the old "Hymn of the USSR" -
minus its historically discredited lyrics. Backers include the still-powerful
Communist Party, and others. "The Soviet hymn's melody is solemn and easy to
remember. It sent goose bumps down my spine when I was in the Army," Prime
Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said recently. Rumor has it that Mr. Putin feels
the same way.
The lyrics, by poet Sergei Mikhalkov, extol the "unbreakable union of free
Soviet republics" marching forward to "build communism." Many Russians
associate the anthem not with the dark sides of the Soviet regime but with
moments of past triumph, such as Olympic victories, space launches, and
superpower summits. "Of course the ideas it expresses are embarrassing in
retrospect, but most Russians grew up with and accepted that song as our
anthem," says Olga Mikhailenko, a history teacher. "With some new lyrics, I'm
sure we could all be proud of it again."
A dark-horse contender is the prerevolutionary "God Save the Czar," backed by
Russia's tiny monarchist contingent. But "few Russians have ever heard that
song, except in old Soviet movies that always made it seem ridiculous or
hateful," says Ms. Mikhailenko.
"Our politicians always prefer to operate on the level of cliches and
superficial symbols," warns Konstantin Aksyonov, an expert at the Institute
of Sociology in St. Petersburg. "They started this unnecessary debate about a
new anthem to distract people from the vacuum of real ideas at the top.
"Let's just hope it gets quickly settled and doesn't become a new source of
Religious Strife Hurts Central Asia
October 29, 2000
By ANGELA CHARLTON
TURDIYEV, Tajikistan (AP) - A field of sun-parched brush separates Sayevali
Abdulloyev's land from Afghanistan. He has surveyed this border from his farm
in Tajikistan for 40 years, and has never crossed it. It terrifies him.
War, drugs, religious strife - to Abdulloyev, it all comes from the other
side of the barbed wire. The fighting in Afghanistan this fall has come so
close to his village of Turdiyev that he hears the clap of artillery fire at
But Afghanistan is not the only threat stalking the ex-Soviet states of
Central Asia. Hundreds of miles to the north, armed guerrillas and heroin
traders prowl the mountains above the Fergana Valley, where Uzbekistan,
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan converge - and where Islamic uprisings this summer
and last left scores dead.
In spite of Russian troops and Western aid, Central Asia appears to be
slipping ever deeper into fear, poverty and frustration. Some even warn that
the 55 million people in these infant states - born just nine years ago by
the Soviet collapse - are on the verge of a tangled, cross-border war.
Mirzo Ziyoyev, who commanded Islamic opposition forces during Tajikistan's
1992-97 civil war, says a Central Asian war would likely start between
Uzbekistan's repressive government and the armed Islamic Movement of
Harking back to old Islamic systems of government, the movement wants to turn
the Fergana Valley into a caliphate, or independent state. It is blamed for
the uprisings in the region and the kidnappings of four American mountain
climbers and four Japanese geologists.
Its activities have provoked a crackdown by Uzbek authorities that has
government agents monitoring mosques and men shaving their beards for fear
they will be labeled Islamic radicals. The movement has been declared a
terrorist organization by the U.S. government, which says it is linked to
suspected Afghan terrorist Osama bin Laden.
Ziyoyev, an imposing man with a belly-length beard, says he knows some IMU
warlords and that they are well-funded, armed and trained at camps in
He criticizes their goal of overthrowing the region's presidents - because he
is now part of Tajikistan's coalition government under an unusual,
U.N.-brokered conciliation deal.
But he warns that it's not just militants who would join a Central Asian war.
``There are people, ordinary people, who are ready for an Islamic state'' in
Central Asia, Ziyoyev says.
Those people may be found in impoverished villages such as Zardaly, in the
mountains of southern Kyrgyzstan overlooking the Fergana Valley.
Families in Zardaly are struggling to sustain their apricot and pomegranate
orchards - their main source of income - from a devastating drought.
Avdatli Seitaliyev was laid off from his job at a textile plant after a year
of not getting paid.
Islamic militants came to Zardaly this spring. The ``nice ones'' bought
blankets and seeds from the villagers, Seitaliyev said. Others stole.
Villagers believe the men were establishing a base in the nearby mountains.
But when police started asking questions, most people kept silent.
First, because even the sale of a blanket to the guerrillas provided welcome
income. And second, because people in isolated southern Kyrgyzstan feel
little allegiance to their government, 270 miles away in the capital Bishkek,
which they say ignores their money problems and favors the more developed
Zardaly people consider themselves Muslim though they have no mosque - the
communists stamped out religious practice, and the village cannot afford to
build one now. Yet Seitaliyev said the tacit collaboration was not driven by
devotion to Islam, but by a hope for change.
``If they make an Islamic state, perhaps that is as it should be. It is clear
that the current system is bad for us,'' he said.
Some observers say the conflict isn't motivated so much by religion as by the
drug trade. Central Asian officials say the IMU's ulterior aim is to protect
Afghanistan is by far the world's largest producer of opium, the raw source
of heroin. Most of it pours through Tajikistan to Russia and Western Europe.
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan grow opium poppies, too.
And trade is on the rise. Russian and Tajik border guards say they have
seized some 4,400 pounds of drugs from Afghanistan since January, more than
double last year's entire take. Officials estimate they catch just 10 percent
of the drugs that cross the Afghan-Tajik border.
In Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, drugs are available at every outdoor market
for one-fortieth to one-hundredth of their cost in the West.
Tajikistan's government recently sentenced two men to execution by firing
squad for carrying nearly half a ton of raw opium in their car, apparently on
their way to markets in Russia or beyond.
But harsh punishments have done little to stem smuggling in a region where a
donkey is the only form of transport most people can afford but drug
traffickers drive Mercedes-Benz limousines.
The 25,000 Russian and Tajik servicemen guarding the jagged 750-mile
Tajik-Afghan frontier are worried about more than an influx of drugs. They
fear the Afghan war will spill over.
At the Akmazar checkpoint, a Tajik guard says shooting is heard every night
and is getting closer.
Checkpoints like this dot the border. In some places the Pyandzh River
dividing the countries is wide and easily monitored from lookout towers.
Afghan villagers graze their cows on no-man's-islands in the river. But the
border grows less well guarded as it moves east into the sparsely populated
slopes and gorges of the Pamirs.
In the Tajik village of Turdiyev, about a mile from the border, Abdulloyev
tends his fields and listens. Despite the proximity of Afghanistan's Taliban
fighters, he knows little about them. He thinks they trade drugs and weapons,
and worries about their reputation for barring women from working.
``What if they close down our clinic? Women work there,'' he said. He has
diabetes, and a small hospital in a nearby town is his only source of insulin
and herbal remedies.
Some of his neighbors resent the Russians, Tajikistan's one-time colonizers,
who still guard this border. Abdulloyev welcomes them. His government, he
sighs, is too poor and weak to protect itself.
``If the Russians leave,'' he says, ``the Taliban would be on top of us in a
day. No, in an hour.''
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