This Date's Issues: 4620
Johnson's Russia List
4 November 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Moscow Times: Sarah Karush, Media Tell Hidden 'Truths' of U.S. Poll.
2. Donald Jensen, Clinton's Moscow Circus.
3. AP: Putin Accused of Soviet-Style Goals. (Berezovsky)
4. From Edward Lucas.
5. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Mass. man trapped in Russian red tape. (Al Decie)
6. Bloomberg: Russian Navy Chief Insists Kursk Collided With Sub, Agency
7. Eric Kraus: Putin and Democracy.
8. Moscow Times: Boris Kagarlitsky, Who Really Stands to Lose Their Rights?
9. AAASS To Honor Slavic Scholars at Its National Convention in Denver,
November 4, 2000
Media Tell Hidden 'Truths' of U.S. Poll
By Sarah Karush
As Americans prepare to vote for their next president Tuesday, Russian
newspapers are attempting to explain to their readers what it's all about f
and they say it's money, populism and an anachronistic electoral college.
According to a poll of 1,500 people in 29 regions conducted at the end of
October by the Public Opinion Foundation, 80 percent of Russians were aware
of the U.S. presidential elections. Only 40 percent could correctly name
the major candidates.
The media, on the other hand, are fairly informed about the race and in the
past week have offered some harsh criticism of the election process.
"The Race of the Money Bags," proclaimed Parlamentskaya Gazeta on
Wednesday. "The candidates from the 'party of the donkey' and the 'party of
the elephant' have spent millions of dollars to become the boss of the
Itar-Tass ventured to instruct readers on the ins and outs of the electoral
college system. "It's difficult to call the upcoming U.S. presidential
elections democratic in the usual sense of the word," the agency wrote
"Contrary to popular opinion, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday
in November, Americans will not elect a president, but only a group of
people, who will have to make the official choice a month later between
Democrat Albert Gore and Republican George Bush Jr."
But Itar-Tass went on to note that the winner of the popular vote has not
lost out in the electoral college vote since 1888.
Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported Thursday that the Gore camp planted a leak in
the press that the Democratic candidate got C's in college and in one
subject f biology f got a D. The paper said this information made voters
more sympathetic to Gore, who has a reputation for being an egghead.
"There aren't a whole lot of A-students at American schools and colleges.
And most often all of them are nerds and don't like sports," the paper
said. "The 'average' American will never vote for a university wunderkind.'"
According to the Public Opinion Foundation poll, most Russians do not have
a preference in the U.S. elections. Thirteen percent of those polled said
Gore's election would be better for Russia, and 9 percent chose Bush.
For the most part, the media have not favored one candidate over another in
its coverage. But Ralph Nader, the Green party nominee, took a beating in
the Kommersant Vlast magazine.
In its Oct. 31 issue, the magazine said Nader is the sole reason Gore is
slightly behind in the polls because his voters would otherwise line up
behind the vice president.
Subject: Clinton's Moscow Circus
From: JensenD@rferl.org (Donald Jensen)
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 2000
For the JRL. Please include attribution to the forthcoming EEJCL.
Clinton's Moscow Circus
Dr. Donald N. Jensen
"One may see often men who have never left their own country, who have
never applied themselves to the study of public affairs, being of meager
intelligence, appointed so to speak overnight to important embassies in
countries of which they know neither the interests, the laws, the customs,
the language, nor even the geographical situation."
Francois de Callieres, Diplomatic Envoy for Louis XIV,
on 18th Century French Foreign Policy
A half century ago one question, Who Lost China, bitterly divided the
American political establishment. How could the Truman Administration let
an insurgent, anticolonial army under Mao Tse-tung take control of the
Chinese mainland, isolationist Republicans in Congress fumed, and in the
process rout the US-backed Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek? In the
spring of 1949, Secretary of State Dean Acheson asked his staff to prepare
a one-thousand page document known as the China White Paper, designed to
explain how this happened and provide a history of US policy toward China.
A model of objective analysis, the document portrayed the Nationalist
forces as corrupt and incompetent in the face of a determined, disciplined
Communist challenge. Its deeper message was that there are limits to
American power. Unfortunately that lesson had to be learned again a
generation later in Vietnam. The US experience with Russia in the past
decade has taught it yet again.
Few people dispute the outline of that engagement. In 1991 the Bush
Administration, caught flat-footed by the demise of the Soviet Union,
welcomed the coming to power in Russia of a disparate, anti-Soviet
coalition led by Boris Yeltsin as the triumph of forces supporting
Western-style reform. Soon the new Clinton administration tightened the US
embrace of the new Kremlin leadership. Taking at face value Moscow's
claims that it wanted to build democratic institutions and free markets,
Washington tried to turn Russia into a "strategic partner" of the United
States on a variety of international issues. To facilitate this
transition the US provided Russia billions of dollars of financial
assistance -- often funneled through favored Russian leaders -- and
pressured international financial institutions to lend Russia money. In
the best tradition of Wilsonian diplomacy, the US also sent an army of well
intentioned policy experts to Russia to transform the country into a
Eurasian version of America.
Events quickly went awry. As an unexpectedly difficult transition eroded
Yeltsin's popular support, Washington increasingly tilted toward the
Russian president as the guarantor of reform and insurance that Russia
would not return to its Communist past. The US acquiesced when Yeltsin
bloodily suppressed an insurrectionist parliament and welcomed a
constitutional referendum that gave him strong presidential powers.
Washington offered only lukewarm criticism of Moscow's brutal campaign to
rein in secessionist Chechnya and helped Yeltsin defeat a strong Communist
challenger to win reelection in 1996. Finally, the Clinton Administration
downplayed the widespread evidence of official corruption, either denying
its existence entirely or implying it was the price to be paid for reform,
which it insisted was continuing. Indeed, while there was very little
structural reform, for several years Russia's macroeconomic indicators
suggested that the economy was indeed turning around.
Russia's 1998 economic collapse shattered Western illusions that Russia's
economy would recover anytime soon. The Bank of New York scandal the
following year suggested circumstantially that Russian elites not only had
misused IMF money and US assistance, but also had laundered billions of
dollars abroad. In response, the Clinton administration gradually
distanced itself from the Yeltsin regime, while insisting that Russian
reform was on -- though now on a month longer time frame -- and working
closely with Russia on issues such as nonproliferation.
Even as it cozied up directly to Moscow, Washington pursued contradictory
policies which Russia saw as aggressive. The US led the war in Kosovo,
pushed NATO expansion and assertively sought to divert the transport of
Caspian Sea oil away from Russia. Enfeebled by ill health and without
significant political support, Yeltsin resigned the presidency on December
31, 1999. He was succeeded by Vladimir Putin, a little-known former KGB
colonel who rocketed to popularity in the months before as the architect of
the second Chechnya war. Putin was elected decisively to a four-year term
in March 2000.
The Russia Putin inherited is a mass of numerous, often contradictory
trends. On the one hand, the Yeltsin bequeathed the new president a formal
constitutional democracy with regular elections, unprecedented tolerance
for civil liberties, and a relatively benign foreign policy. On the other
hand, by almost every measure Russia is economically, morally and socially
in crisis. Crime is widespread, the population is declining and a large
part of the population lives in poverty. Popular support for democracy and
free markets, as understood in the West, is ebbing. Meanwhile, traditional
Russian and Soviet values, such as the close relationship between money and
political power and the personalization of authority, continue. However
one interprets Russia's long term trajectory, what seems certain is that
the collapse of the Soviet Union - in reality a civilization rather than a
mere political or economic system - is likely to continue. What is less
clear and more controversial is why US relations with Russia -- at their
lowest point in the year 200 than at any time in the past decade -- was so
ineffectual in achieving its goals.
A study sponsored by Congressional Republicans on US-Russia relations in
the past decade, "Russia's Road to Corruption: How the Clinton
Administration Exported Government Instead of Free Enterprise and Failed
the Russian People," seeks to answer that question in the tradition of
Acheson's White Paper. The document - released in September 2000 and
called the Cox Report after the Congressman who chaired the committee
authoring the study -- occasionally meets its predecessor's high analytical
standards. In particular, its depiction of the Clinton Administration's
conduct of relations with Russia form a damning portrait of arrogance and
mismanagement. The study's many sound conclusions are marred, however, by
the timing of its release -- in the middle of a presidential election
campaign -- and the fact that not a single House Democrat participated in
its drafting. Moreover, in asserting that the Bush Administration could
have done better -- in itself probably, but not demonstrably true-- the
report overestimates the ability to the United States to affect
developments within Russia.
The authors state that as a result of its mistaken policies, the Clinton
Administration let slip "the greatest foreign policy opportunity since the
end of World War II." Russia's current troubles and tense relationship
with Washington, the report argues, belie the promise of the first months
after the end of the Soviet Union (that is, the last year of the Bush
Administration in 1992). As a result, the appeal of the US as a model of
reform has faded and anti-US sentiment is strong. This is the result of the
Clinton Administration's virtually unqualified support for the leadership
of Boris Yeltsin, whose rule by decree undermined the rule of law. The
Clinton administration, according to the report, also failed to recognize
the challenges posed by an economy lacking the institutions need to
regulate economic activity. Washington unwisely poured money into Russia,
which did not have the infrastructure to properly disperse it. US funds
intended to reform the economic system were looted by well-connected
individuals or were used to maintain subsidies left over from the Soviet
era. The report also states that a small group of senior US officials
ignored or downplayed analyses that contradicted their own views. In the
process. officials became isolated from actual conditions in Russia. Only
Russia's August 1998 economic collapse -- which was impossible to ignore --
had any effect on the thinking of the Clinton Administration.
Few other studies capture so well the administrative chaos underlying US
policy. The report shows how three officials with little or no first hand
knowledge of Russia were daily responsible for relations with Moscow: Vice
President Al Gore, who headed the bilateral Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission;
Strobe Talbott, at first Special Assistant for the Newly Independent
States, later Deputy Secretary of State and a journalist friend of Bill
Clinton with no experience in public affairs; and Deputy Treasury Secretary
Larry Summers, a former Harvard professor with little interest in Russia
but a great deal of confidence -- misplaced, it turns out -- that the
"shock therapy" that worked elsewhere would be successful in Russia too.
The study asks, but does not fully answer, why there was no mid-course
correction in US policy once things started going wrong.
To be fair, the Clinton Administration took office at an especially
difficult time for the conduct of a successful policy toward Russia.
Although research had long suggested that the keys to long-term growth were
microeconomic policies that fostered competitive markets and rewarded
innovation, the Clinton Administration adopted instead the primary goal of
macroeconomic stabilization, then the rage in economics circles. Moreover,
even before the Cold War ended, an already complex system of foreign
policymaking grew even more so, as US concerns expanded to embrace a vast
array of transnational issues such as drugs, terrorism, and the
environment, for which diplomats were ill-equipped to handle. The result
was the proliferation of agencies overseas and an immense problem of
Inevitably, such a complicated story is incomplete. The Cox report barely
mentions US Congress, which funded many of the bilateral programs with
Russia. The report gives little attention to role of international
financial institutions, who approved lending to Russia because of its
political importance rather than objective economic criteria. The activity
of private US banks, which made millions of dollars in Russia and exerted
pressure for continued close engagement, is also neglected.
The report criticizes the Clinton administration in passing for ignoring
intelligence assessments detailing the widespread corruption in Moscow,
but in general the report does not spell out the CIA's role. It is true
that the CIA, as that agency now claims, sometimes warned the White House
that the Russian government was corrupt. However, the thrust of the
majority of its assessments in the mid-1990s -- though perhaps less so in
the past two years -- was that the reforms were on track. The CIA was so
marginalized by the Clinton Administration -- which, after all, could rely
on its extensive personal contacts with the Kremlin to find out about what
was going on in Russia -- that Langley emphasized the good news the White
House wanted so that it would at least be listened to and be seen as
relevant to policy. As events in Russia unfolded, CIA managers saw their
organization's mission less as providing hard-headed analysis than policy
"support." They often referred to policymakers as "consumers" - as though
they were selling doughnuts or cars to customers who could always go
elsewhere. Moreover, for generations of analysts weaned during the Cold
War on counting Soviet missile warheads or digesting official economic
statistics, the fiscal sleight of hand practiced by Russia's new rulers
must have been a challenge, indeed.
It is the on question of analytical balance where the Cox report is most
wanting. Certainly the Clinton Administration had some solid achievements,
such as managing the withdrawal of Russian troops from Central Europe. A
few US initiatives -- especially those with clear, limited goals, and clear
accountability - did some good. For example, the Nunn-Lugar program, a
bipartisan initiative designed to prevent nuclear proliferation worked well
and bilateral cooperation in law enforcement and air safety made important
progress. More importantly, the Cox Report incorrectly places the
Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, the bilateral forum for a variety of
technical programs, at the center of US-Russia relations. This allows the
report's authors to attack now-presidential candidate Gore's competence in
In fact, the essence of the bilateral relationship was the personal ties
between Talbott and the rest of Clinton's foreign policy team with the
people around Yeltsin. These ties, which sometimes circumvented not only
the US Congress but the US Embassy in Moscow, contributed to a clientelism
in the White House which identified the fate of particular Russian
politicians with that of specific US initiatives and, ultimately, the
success of US policy.
But there should be no doubt, above all, that Bill Clinton was deeply
involved. Privately, Clinton cultivated his "friend Boris" through scores
of telephone calls and other personal contacts. Publicly, Clinton often
conveyed the impression that he viewed foreign policy as only a byproduct
of his domestic agenda. Clinton's rhetorical excesses in praise of Russia's
"reformers," the country's "march" toward "free markets," and "successful"
efforts at privatization suggested he believed those things meant the same
things in that country that they did in the US (The Cox Report mentions the
most famous Presidential misuse of comparative history: his comparison of
Moscow's brutal campaign in Chechnya with the beginning of the American
Civil War.) In addition, Clinton's domestic populism inclined him to ladle
out money to groups offering projects in Russia as though they were
contracts proposed by greedy lobbyists back home in Little Rock.
But suggesting, as does the Cox report, that George Bush would have handled
Russia better than Clinton recalls the old argument that John F. Kennedy,
had he lived, would not have escalated the war in Vietnam. Both with
regard to Southeast Asia in the early '60s, or Russia three decades later,
there is simply too little evidence to know for sure. What we do know is
that Bush was less engaged on Russia issues than Clinton -- contrary to
what the Cox Report says -- and that Bush's firmer grasp of US strategic
interests on other issues may well have led him to avoid the pitfalls that
befell his successor regarding Russia. What both presidents shared -- and
it is a fault also of the Cox report -- is the misconception that Yeltsin's
victory in August 1991 was a truly democratic revolution. In most respects
Yeltsin's government was a successor regime to that of the Soviet Union,
run by many of the same Soviet elites. This fact made events there
fundamentally different than the downfall of Communism in much of Eastern
Europe and more difficult to shape.
Despite its scholarly virtues, as a means of explaining to the public what
happened in China, Acheson's biographer James Chace writes, The White Paper
was a failure. The complexity of events, the politicization of the issue
and its bulk alone ensured the document would be read only by experts. The
Cox Report, far more flawed and barely 200 pages, seems destined for the
same fate. Nevertheless, its suggestion not to isolate Russia, but to
engage it in the right way, is important. For if there is one thing
Vladimir Putin has shown in office, it is that the interplay between
Russian domestic politics and international behavior endures.
Putin Accused of Soviet-Style Goals
November 3, 2000
MOSCOW (AP) - Business tycoon Boris Berezovsky, a former Kremlin insider who
has dubbed himself a defender of democracy, has accused President Vladimir
Putin of trying to build a Soviet-style, paternalistic state.
``He doesn't believe that Russia is ready to become a liberal, free
country,'' Berezovsky said of Putin in an interview published Friday in the
``He doesn't believe that people are ready to take responsibility for their
lives. He thought that the president and other leaders should take care of
the people, as before.''
Berezovsky added that Putin once told him that he believes Russia should be a
democracy but needs to be forcefully ``pushed'' into the role.
Berezovsky was an influential member of Yeltsin's inner circle and one of a
small group of businessmen who used government connections in the early 1990s
to amass huge fortunes in dubious privatization deals. The businessmen are
called oligarchs in Russia for their influence over government.
Although Berezovsky's media helped get Putin elected - by lavishing praise on
him, and smearing his challengers - Putin promised he would ``eliminate'' the
oligarchs as a class if he were elected president. Investigators have since
begun to investigate the oligarchs' business deals.
Prosecutors said this week that Berezovsky could face arrest about a business
deal involving the national airline Aeroflot. And the government has moved to
wrest away Berezovsky's 49-percent share in ORT television, the only channel
that broadcasts nationwide and the flagship of Berezovsky's media empire. The
government owns the other 51 percent.
Berezovsky told Izvestia that he might coordinate with a longtime rival
oligarch, Vladimir Gusinsky, also pursued by prosecutors in an unrelated
case, to jointly resist government pressure
The tycoons spend most of their time abroad, where they are reported to live
luxuriously. Their plight has drawn little sympathy from Russians, who hold
the oligarchs responsible in part for the nation's economic decline.
From: "edward lucas" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 03 Nov 2000
Subject: From Edward Lucas
This was a great trip to Kaliningrad --sadly too brief. I hadn't been there
for ten years, when it was still a closed region (Claudia and I went by
taxi from Vilinius and got arrested). I had been all ready to write a
doom-and-gloom story about an impoverished, disease-ridden gangster-run
place on the verge of collapse and was very pleased and surprised to find
one of the nicest, most open-minded, Russian provincial towns I had ever
visited. It even seem quite prosperous compared to, say, Tver.
I was most impressed with Putin's visit to Paris. Visiting that cemetery,
and then following it up with a new investigation into the Stalinist
purges--either he has glimmerings of decency, or is being well advised. But
there comes a point when taking good advice, even for insincere reasons,
starts having a thoroughly good effect. Shame about all the other bad
stuff. After all my gadding about in the last few months I need to write
more about Russia in the next few weeks, so I will have a thorough think
about what is really going on both in economics and politics.
I thought I would start with a glossary to help people decode what the
western media is really saying. I will offer lunch at the Scandinavia to
the person who can work all the words below into the best parody of an
Economist article. I fear that it will be all too easy.
A is for anti-Western-anyone in Russia who displays a lack of gratitude for
the outside world's dubious advice, or for our governments' lightly
supervised loans to the goons in the Kremlin, or resentment at American
B is for bear-like-a useful clichÊ to describe someone large, hairy,
drunken and repellent, which your correspondent for some mysterious reason,
finds temporarily endearing
C is for clannish, or cronyism-two useful words which convey the idea of
criminal behaviour or corruption without having to nail down the facts
clearly enough to satisfy an English libel lawyer
D is for "dusha"-one of the Russian words we are allowed to use when
explaining why people are irrational and sentimental.
E is for economic, used as a meaningless but important-sounding
adjective-as in "there is little economic reason for the government's
hesitation" F is for financial (see "economic", above); also fatalism (see
G is for go-ahead-any Russian with a laptop and a smattering of English
banker- or NGO-speak can be described as go-ahead.
H is for heavy-handed-any government action that we dislike but cannot find
a precise reason to condemn (see "tough" below)
I is for investment-a catchall hooray word for pouring more money into Russia
J is for jovial-drunken, even by Russian standards ("convivial" is another
K is for kleptocracy-a useful if rather grand word when we have used
"corruption" too many times in the article already
L is for liberal-someone who likes talking to foreign journalists (probably
because they have nothing else to do).
M is for murky-another codeword for corruption that may escape the eagle
eyes of an English libel lawyer, as in "The Kremlin's murky property
N is for "narod"-another Russian word that can be dropped in to the text,
giving the vague impression that we spend our evenings reading Dostoevsky
in the original
O is for obsolete-a tag that can always be used in conjunction with
descriptions of Russian factories as hopeless hell-holes, despite the fact
that even old equipment can be quite profitable when combined with cheap
labour and good management.
P is for pervasive-anything that we don't like and find everywhere in Russia.
Q is for quiescent-useful when we are feeling cross with the Russian people
(see "narod") for putting up with things we disapprove of.
R is for reformer-anything from an authoritarian moderniser to a wimpy
S is for sterile-a Russian argument that makes logical sense but that we
are incapable of dealing with.
T is for tough-someone who breaks a lot of rules, but for reasons that we
U is for upset-as in something we hadn't predicted
V is for virtual-a useful way of sounding clever and disparaging, as in
"the Russians have a virtual economy run by a virtual government". Now
slightly out of date.
W is for the world--in fact, a handful of western countries that bear
little comparison with Russia. When we say "unlike in the rest of the
world" what we actually mean is "unlike in America/Germany/Finland etc".
Much of Russia is actually very like the rest of the world: poor, and badly
Y is for Yabloko, an insignificant political party whose views are much
reported by foreign correspondents
X is for eXtremist-someone who says out loud what many Russians think about
Jews, foreigners, etc
Z is for zealous (see "tough", above)
On that self-critical note, have a nice weekend
4 November 2000
Mass. man trapped in Russian red tape
By David Filipov
MOSCOW - Al Decie III has always been a guy who would rather be in Russia,
but now the Massachusetts native just wants to go home.
Decie's father Al II has tied a yellow ribbon to the maple tree outside his
house in Newburyport. Students at his alma mater, Newburyport High School,
have started a petition campaign to pressure local politicians to help
bring Decie home.
The younger Decie, who turns 32 Tuesday, is not a prisoner, nor has he been
charged with any crime. But he is trapped in Russia, unable to leave the
country legally after authorities, citing a tax investigation, seized his
visa in July.
Decie, who has spent the past five years working for a US-funded project to
promote grass-roots democracy in Siberia, says his legal troubles have
arisen from a harassment campaign by Russian officials who disapproved of
But over time, his case has fallen into the cracks of a larger dispute over
how US aid workers should be taxed in Russia, and threatens to become
another symbol of the renewed strains between the two nuclear powers.
The last thing Decie says he ever wanted to be was a symbol of the dismal
turn in US-Russian ties. A Russia specialist who first fell in love with
the country in his 10th grade history class, Decie since 1996 has been
working with teachers and students in remote Siberian towns, helping
communities to organize fund-raising activities to improve their lives.
As politicians in both Russia and the United States grow increasingly
critical of the way Washington spent billions of dollars in aid to Moscow
since the collapse of communism, Decie and many of his colleagues point to
numerous, if small-scale, successes.
''When there is so much pessimism in Russia, about Russia, I was happy to
work with people who said, `If we want to improve our lives we have to do
it ourselves,''' Decie said yesterday in Moscow, where he has been staying
on a friend's couch, bags packed, ready to leave.
Decie's legal difficulties started July 3, when he was planning to leave
Russia for the summer. He was summoned to the agency that issues visas for
foreigners in Krasnoyarsk, the Siberian city where he has lived since 1996.
An official took his visa away, and another official from the local tax
inspector's office said he had to file his income tax declarations from the
past five years to get it back.
Decie thought he was tax-exempt in Russia under an agreement signed by the
two countries in 1992 that grants employees of nonprofit organizations that
receive US government funding a break from Russian taxes. But the agreement
has never been ratified by the Russian Parliament.
US and Russian authorities have been operating under a series of
''good-faith'' agreements to allow nonprofit aid workers like Decie to
enjoy tax breaks.
But Aika Dzhakobayeva, a tax lawyer based in Moscow who is helping Decie
handle the conflict with the Tax Ministry, said Decie is a test case for
''He is the first person to get caught in this loophole,'' Dzhakobayeva
said. ''But if his case is to be viewed as a test case, then all US
consultants who work in Russia on US funding - and there are hundreds and
hundreds of them - will have to pay, too.''
Decie acknowledges that he violated Russian law by failing to file his tax
declarations on time. But tax officials have never told him to pay up, and
instead requested an endless stream of documents. Decie and his lawyers
suspect that the tax dispute is not the real source of his problems.
''I think it is a political case. It has nothing to do with taxes;
otherwise they would have taxed him and let him go,'' Dzhakobayeva said.
''He had a conflict with someone in Krasnoyarsk, and that's why they are
Tax officials in Moscow and Krasnoyarsk refused to comment on Decie's case
Working for a nonprofit organization based in Yarmouth, Maine, Educational
Choices Heighten Opportunity, Decie opened a community center in
Krasnoyarsk that has assisted 70 schools to raise funds and help residents
solve local problems.
Projects ranged from the high-minded to the mundane. One project in
Krasnoyarsk helped a neighborhood save its school from closing; another
involved food donations to families of poorer students; a third project
organized a dog show to help introduce the idea of cleaning up after pets
while walking them in public places.
But not all the responses were positive. In 1998, a local newspaper article
accused Decie of mismanaging funds and corrupting Russian children with
half-baked ideas. Soon, other unfavorable articles about Decie's work
Decie said he also must have raised the suspicions of the local branch of
the Federal Security Service, the successor of the Soviet KGB. FSB
officers, he said, questioned everyone who cooperated with his community
The problem may have had something to do with the mentality of security
forces in a city that is still a center of Russia's military and nuclear
industries. In late 1998, the local FSB chief cited an increase in foreign
espionage in the region, and vowed to crack down. FSB officials in
Krasnoyarsk refused to comment yesterday.
Decie is quick to add that he did not want his case to be interpreted as a
sign that all Siberians are against working with Americans, which is why he
did not publicize his plight earlier.
He changed his mind when it became clear that his case was not moving
ahead. Yesterday, the Krasnoyarsk official who seized his visa in July,
Valentina Karlova, said Decie's tax investigation has been extended until
Kirill Polishchuk, Decie's lawyer, says his visa was seized illegally and
plans to file a legal claim to have the document returned. ''If they want
to punish him, they can do it, but they must do it legally,'' he said.
''Now, he is just a hostage here.''
Globe correspondent Anna Badkhen contributed to this report.
Russian Navy Chief Insists Kursk Collided With Sub, Agency Says
Moscow, Nov. 4 (Bloomberg)
-- Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov said he
believes the most likely reason for the sinking of the Kursk submarine in
August was a collision with a foreign submarine, Itar-Tass news agency
The admiral said he was ``80 percent sure of the theory,'' the agency
reported. Divers are currently working at the site of the accident to gather
information to explain why the submarine sank, Kuroyedov said, the agency
``It is not a secret for us that foreign submarines watch our fleet's actions
in the Barents Sea,'' Kuroyedov told Itar-Tass.
The Kursk sank Aug. 12 in the Barents Sea off the coast of Norway, during
exercises in which it was due to fire torpedoes and a cruise missile, killing
all 118 sailors on board. After the accident, Russia said the submarine may
have been involved in a collision with an underwater object weighing at least
The U.S., U.K. and Norwegian naval experts have maintained that a collision
was unlikely and that it was probably that an onboard torpedo misfired and
exploded, detonating other torpedo
From: Eric Kraus <email@example.com>
Subject: Putin and Democracy
Date: Fri, 3 Nov 2000
Putin and Democracy
Eric Kraus, Nikoil Capital Markets, Moscow
November %, 2000
Extracted from Quarterly Strategy Report, "The Bear Walks, but now, Can She
Dance?". The full text is available upon request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The West loved Yeltsin (although the affaire soured in the end), while
Putin has never benefited from adulation abroad - unlike either Yeltsin or
Gorbachev, he remains highly popular within Russia. Much concern has
recently been expressed regarding a possible end to Russia's experiment in
democracy under Putin. We are faintly amused by some of the recent
arguments in the US press (see, for example "Bush and Putin Also Lose," Jim
Hoagland, Washington Post, October 8, 2000) as to whether or not Putin is a
suitable interlocutor for "The West." Such discussions tend to conveniently
ignore the fact that Putin happens to be the only president that Russia has
and that he was elected in Russia, not in Washington.
Some of the worry stems from Putin's background in the security services
(we note that former U.S. President Bush once headed the CIA), and some of
it from his unabashedly nationalistic and tough proclamations. While many
of the alarmist reports constitute nothing more than the pathological
rantings of the hard-core Russia-haters - an unholy alliance of jilted
socialists and old cold-warriors - some legitimate concerns for Russian
democracy are being expressed. Three basic points have been raised:
1. Alleged Electoral Fraud during the Putin Election
This issue was raised in a long article in The Moscow Times (MT), which
purported to document several cases of cheating in a number of southern
regions, and by extrapolating these to the national level, claimed that
Putin had not won a clear majority in the first round. No other medium,
either Russian or foreign, has thus far confirmed the allegations of the
MT, a once-prestigious free daily which has fallen upon hard times, having
lost its best journalists to mainstream media, and which, for whatever
reason, has taken a systematic and vehemently anti-Putin tone from
beginning of the Chechen war.
Asked about the contents of the MT article, the European Union election
monitoring organization, OSCE, reiterated its previously announced finding
that the elections had been generally free and fair (the issue of media
manipulation was outside of their mandate). Interestingly, Communist Party
chief Gennady Zyuganov, Putin's defeated opponent, has himself neither
endorsed the MT allegations nor challenged the overall election results.
We are thus not in a position to either confirm or deny the allegations of
the MT: if true, they would set a miserable precedent, but they would not
infirm the democratic legitimacy of President Putin:
All of the polls show that had a run-off been held, Putin would have
received nearly three times the score of his closest contender, the
After 10 months in office, the polls show Putin with a popularity rating
>65%. This is unheard of in Russia where, at best, politicians' ratings
tend to languish in the high 'teens - a bit ex post-facto perhaps, but a
strong endorsement of his democratic popularity.
Finally, the question can be raised as to whether Zyuganov's Communist
Party should have been allowed to run at all. In most countries where a
totalitarian system has been pulled down, the erstwhile party of power has
been banned. In Russia - where it can be argued that the CP relinquished
power voluntarily - it has been allowed to survive. In a recent BBC
interview, Zyuganov proudly announced that the KPRF had signed up almost
30,000 new recruits in the past 2 years?i.e. 0.02% of the population!
2. Freedom of the press
Rather more difficult to dismiss, the jury is still out on this one. While
Gusinsky has carried out a massive disinformation campaign abroad,
improbably claiming that Most-Media is the last bastion of free speech, his
allegations tend to be dismissed within Russia itself. The Most-Media
empire was neither more nor less free and objective than the rest of the
oligarchic press - Gusinsky himself happily manipulated it to serve his
political interests (and was found to have a huge internal security
apparatus actively engaged in wiretapping and spying on any perceived
enemies). As of this writing, the NTV television station remains highly
critical of the government. While we hope that, under new owners, it will
remain so - there is some doubt.
Of great concern is the attempt by the manipulative and allegedly corrupt
Press and Information Minister Mikhail Lesin to resuscitate the restrictive
press registration law rejected by the Duma last year. Were it to pass, it
would allow the Ministry a wide variety of excuses to close troublesome
newspapers. The head of the Duma Information Committee has stated that it
would be rejected again. If it were not, this would be cause for serious
At present, the Moscow written press remains feisty and, during the Kursk
disaster, was vehemently critical of Putin. The situation in the provinces,
on the other hand, is very uneven; during the late Yeltsin years, several
of the regional governors silenced critical newspapers using methods
ranging from economic blackmail to murder. Since this predates Putin, we
will have to wait and see what effect the curtailing of the governors'
power will have on the regional press.
3. Recentralizing the Russian State
The claim that Putin's political castration of the governors represents a
blow against democracy demonstrates total ignorance of Russian realities.
The degree of corruption, abuse of power, and outright banditry of some of
the regional governors defies description: Vladivostok, Tartarstan and
Kalmykia - the last is simply Kafkaesque - are only a few examples. Whether
Russia will eventually evolve into a centralized or a federal system will
be a problem for the next decade. For the time being, it is absolutely
essential that order be restored, and that reforms be pushed through in the
provinces. It will be a gargantuan task, given the strength of the
entrenched local interests, and Putin needs to reinforce the "Central Power
Vertical" if he is to have any hope of success.
In point of fact, Russia has a relatively high degree of democracy and
freedom of expression for a country at its level of economic development.
While we were initially somewhat concerned about Putin's alleged
authoritarian streak (see our strategy report The China Syndrome March
2000), almost a year into the Putin presidency, there is no hard evidence
for a substantial erosion of democracy.
Putin instincts are indeed autocratic - throughout her history and to this
day, Russia has been a "Czarist" country. In our view, she is currently
governed by a "Good Czar." It is far too early to make any predictions, but
the greatest achievement that can be hoped for of the Putin years is for
him to create sufficient political and economic stability to allow the
spontaneous emergence of new economic classes, a civil society, and a
constructive, social-democratic opposition - were this to happen, someday
perhaps the fate of Russia would no longer depend upon a single man.
November 4, 2000
COMMENT: Who Really Stands to Lose Their Rights?
By Boris Kagarlitsky
Much has been written in recent months about an old and simple subject that
comes up from time to time in Russia: the idea that freedom is only useful
for enemies of the people. Commentators have been telling us that plotting
oligarchs are resisting the imposition of law and order by citing violations
of democratic freedoms. Such commentators invariably add something like,
"although the police in civilized countries wield much more power than t heir
Russian counterparts do and it is high time we followed their example."
Such analysts always create an opposition between the "people" and (to quote
one recent article) "a unified pro-presidential power" on one hand and
oligarchs on the other. These oligarchs are always trying to convince the
masses that an attack on them is an attack on rights and freedoms generally.
However, have there really been any attacks on the oligarchs? The oligarch's
main demand is that the results of privatization be considered irreversible.
In this regard, President Vladimir Putin and his team are in complete
agreement. In general, a police state is necessary to protect the power of
property owners: The more the rights of those owners are in doubt, the more a
police state is necessary.
The scandal around NTV is not an example of a new conflict between the
oligarchs and the state. It has been going on for years and is a conflict
within the oligarchy itself. The misfortune of NTV owner Vladimir Gusinsky is
not that he happens to be an oligarch, but that he is engaged in the wrong
kind of business. Creating a police state that doesn't step on the toes of
oil magnates is easy, but introducing censorship on television without
disturbing the country's largest private media holding is much more
The propagandists rely on the age-old myth of a doting tsar and his adoring
nation who are in complete harmony if only no one comes between them. In this
model, anyone in the middle f foreigners, students, intellectuals, etc. f are
However, those who are pushing this line face a real problem. The majority of
the population has lost much during a decade of "democratic reform." Despite
having more formal democratic rights today, people feel more repressed than
ever. Even freedom to travel is a fiction, as two-thirds of the population
can't afford tickets anywhere.
Democratic reforms have really only reached the new middle class, and it is
against them that the present assault on civil rights is directed. Those
reforms created enormous possibilities to live a Western lifestyle for the
middle class, and they were not concerned with the fact that two-thirds of
the nation has shut out from these hopes. The new middle class entered into
an unspoken strategic alliance with the oligarchs.
This alliance shifted with the 1998 crisis. Although it appeared then that
the oligarchs suffered most from the crisis, it is clear now that the middle
class paid the price. The middle class realized that its position is much
more vulnerable than that of the oligarchs.
The propagandists of the police state are using this rupture. The result will
be that the middle class will have as few real rights as the downtrodden
masses have always had. Strengthening the police state will merely push the
intelligentsia to the left f especially the younger generation. Within a
relatively short time, critically minded liberals will be transformed into
radicals and revolutionaries.
Boris Kagarlitsky is a Moscow-based sociologist. He contributed this comment
to The Moscow Times.
Date: Fri, 03 Nov 2000
From: "Jolanta M. Davis" <email@example.com>
Subject: NEWS: AAASS announces winners of its annual prizes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Carol Saivetz, Executive Director
(from November 7 through November 12, phone the Adam’s Mark Hotel in
Denver, Colorado, tel.: 303-893-3333)
web site: www.fas.harvard.edu/~aaass
AAASS To Honor Slavic Scholars at Its National Convention in Denver, Colorado
CAMBRIDGE, MA November 3, 2000 The American Association for the
Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS), the leading private, nonprofit
organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge about Russia,
Central Eurasia, and Eastern and Central Europe, will present its annual
awards for Distinguished Contributions to Slavic Studies, Graduate Student
Essay Contest Prize, and five book prizes at a reception Saturday evening,
November 11, 2000 during its 32nd National Convention held at the Adam’s
Mark Hotel in Denver, Colorado.
Two scholars share the Association’s highest honor for Distinguished
Contributions to Slavic Studies Award. Keith Hitchins, Professor of History
at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the editor of the
Journal of Kurdish Studies, is also an author and editor of several
publications in the field of Romanian and Balkan history, past editor of
Rumanian Studies and Studies in East European Social History, and a former
member of the editorial board of Slavic Review. He received honorary
degrees from the Universities of Cluj and Sibiu in Romania and in 1991 he
was made an honorary member of the Rumanian Academy of Sciences. In the
words of the AAASS Committee on Honors and Awards, “[Professor Hitchins’]
scholarship is recognized internationally for its volume and breadth, its
cumulative quality, and its lasting relevance.”
Murray Feshbach, Research Professor Emeritus of Demography at Georgetown
University, who, as the AAASS Committee on Honors and Awards notices, “is
one of the rare figures who have bridged the policy-making and academic
worlds,” previously also served as the Chief of the U.S.S.R. Population,
Employment, and Research and Development Branch in the U.S. Census Bureau,
as an Adjunct Professor at the Harriman Center, and as Sovietologist in
Residence at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. “His extraordinary talent for
gathering and analyzing data has fundamentally influenced our understanding
of a whole series of domains of Soviet and post-Soviet society: labor force
economics, education, science and technology, demographics, health, and
environment,” wrote the award committee.
The 2000 winner of the Barbara Jelavich Book Prize for an outstanding
monograph on Southeast European or Habsburg studies since 1600 or 19th- and
20th-century Ottoman or Russian diplomatic history is Lois C. Dubin,
Associate Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature at Smith College,
for The Port Jews of Habsburg Trieste: Absolutist Politics and
Enlightenment Culture, published by Stanford University Press. The
selection committee describes the winning volume as “a fascinating and
beautifully written study about the Jewish community in Trieste.”
The 2000 winner of the Marshall Shulman Book Prize for an outstanding
monograph on the international behavior of the countries of the former
Communist bloc is Matthew Evangelista, Professor of Government at Cornell
University, for Unarmed Forces: The Transnational Movement to End the Cold
War, published by Cornell University Press. In this volume, as the award
committee writes, “Evangelista shows, on the basis of exhaustive research .
. . that neither the cold war not its demise can be understood without
taking into account the role of transnational groups.”
The 2000 winner of the Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize for an outstanding
monograph in Russian, Eurasian, or East European studies in any discipline
of the humanities is Peter Gatrell, Professor of History at University of
Manchester, United Kingdom, for A Whole Empire Walking: Refugees in Russia
during World War I, published by Indiana University Press. The selection
committee called Gatrell’s work a “highly original account [that] combines
exemplary empirical research with the judicious application of diverse
methods to explore the far-reaching ramifications of ‘a whole empire
The selection committee for the Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize also confers
honorable mention on John E. Malmstad, Professor of Slavic Languages at
Harvard University, and Nikolay Bogomolov, Professor of Russian Literature
at University of Moscow, Russia, for Mikhail Kuzmin: A Life in Art,
published by Harvard University Press. According to the committee, this
work “is an invaluable contribution to the greater context of
pre-revolutionary modernism and avant-garde in Russian culture.”
The 2000 winner of the Ed A. Hewett Book Prize for an outstanding
publication on the political economy of the former Soviet Union, East
Central Europe, and/or their successor states is Katharina Mueller
(Müller), Research Fellow at East European University of Viadrina, Germany,
for The Political Economy of Pension Reform in Central-Eastern Europe,
published by Edward Elgar Publishing. The selection committee describes the
winning volume “an exemplary study of the policy process, showing the
interaction between the logic of politics and the logic of economics.”
The 2000 winners of the AAASS/Orbis Books Prize for Polish Studies for an
outstanding English-language book on any aspect of Polish affairs are
Grzegorz Ekiert, Professor of Government at Harvard University, and Jan
Kubik, Associate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University, for
Rebellious Civil Society: Popular Protest and Democratic Consolidation in
Poland, 19891993, published by University of Michigan Press. In its
commendation for the book, the selection committee writes that this
“stimulating and well-argued book,” is “so lucidly written that it is
tempting to write a citation consisting entirely of quotations from the text.”
AAASS will also award the National Graduate Student Essay Prize for an
outstanding essay by a graduate student in Slavic Studies to Toma Tasovac,
a graduate student in the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton
University, for his essay “Tsvetaevas space(s) of non-encounter,” which the
selection committee found to be an “imaginative, erudite, and lucid . . .
multi-layered reflection on poetry, translation, metaphor, space, and the
semantics of biography.”
For additional information about AAASS, and the full text of the awards
citations contact: Carol Saivetz, Executive Director, tel.: 617-495-0677,
(from November 7 through November 12, phone the Adam’s Mark Hotel in
Denver, Colorado, tel.: 303-893-3333), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, web
# # #
Founded in 1948, the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic
Studies, a nonprofit, nonpolitical, scholarly society, is the leading
private organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge about
Russia, Central Eurasia, and Eastern and Central Europe. AAASS brings
together scholars interested in the culture, history, and languages of the
region's peoples, as well as in its economies and political systems, and
gives coherence to a field that covers a multitude of academic disciplines
and diverse interests.
CDI Russia Weekly: http://www.cdi.org/russia
Johnson's Russia List Archive (under construction): http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson
to CDI's Home Page I Return
to CDI's Library