This Date's Issues: 4634
Johnson's Russia List
14 November 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Russia orders Gusinsky arrested for embezzlement.
2. Moscow Times EDITORIAL: It's Time for Gazprom to Come Clean.
3. AFP: Putin proposes cut in nuclear warheads below 1500.
4. Interfax: PUTIN'S PROPOSAL ON MUTUAL CUTS IN NUCLEAR ARSENALS
WILL PUT PRESSURE ON FUTURE U.S. ADMINISTRATION - MOSCOW SOURCES.
5. Reuters: Russian missile chief proposes "ABM index"
6. VREMYA ORT PROGRAM: REMARKS BY ACADEMICIAN GEORGY ARBATOV, STATE
DUMA VICE SPEAKER VLADIMIR LUKIN AND PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN ON US PRESIDENTIAL
7. Segodnya: POINTS OF VIEW ON RUSSIA-USA RELATIONS: INTERVIEW WITH
SERGEI KARAGANOV, FOREIGN AND DEFENSE POLICY COUNCIL PRESIDENT, AND LILIYA SHEVTSOVA, MOSCOW CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT
8. Vek: US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: A VIEW FROM MOSCOW. (Sergei Rogov)
9. The Russia Journal: Otto Latsis, Do we know what we want? Debate over Russian’s national anthem may show a society struggling
with identity, but as Otto Latsis suggests, the country will never find true focus until its leadership starts addressing unacknowledged
10. The Russia Journal: The Big Five ... or three plus two. Examining
the geopolitical shifts and currents following cataclysmic world events, Andrei Piontkovsky puts the current push-and-pull battle among states for
Security Council membership into context.
11. Christian Science Monitor: Scott Peterson, Oasis of democracy
shrinks. Kyrgyz elections conjure visions of authoritarianism.
12. Vek: ALL TALK ABOUT PUTIN'S "UNPREDICTABILITY" WILL SOON STOP.
Director-General of the Effective Policy Foundation Gleb PAVLOVSKY answers
Russia orders Gusinsky arrested for embezzlement
By Ron Popeski
MOSCOW, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Russia's general prosecutor ordered financier
Vladimir Gusinsky to be arrested for embezzlement on Monday in what could be
a new crackdown on post-Soviet media magnates.
The charges against Gusinsky, currently outside the country, were disclosed
just after his Media-Most group clinched a deal with its main creditor, the
state-dominated gas monopoly Gazprom GAZP.MO., to clear some of its debts.
Gusinsky, one of the hugely powerful magnates who helped to bankroll Boris
Yeltsin's re-election as president in 1996, heads Media-Most, Russia's only
country-wide independent media outlet.
The arrest warrant said Gusinsky was being sought throughout Russia and that
he was to be held in detention.
Interfax news agency quoted the prosecutor's press office as saying Gusinsky
had deliberately failed to turn up for questioning on Monday.
As a result, the office said, "Investigator (Valery) Nikolayev....did not
feel it was possible to allow the lawyers to take part in the proceedings and
to be informed of the resolution outlining charges against Gusinsky."
Lawyer Genri Reznik told reporters Gusinsky was "in Europe" and had no
intention of turning up at the request of a court or prosecutor.
"VICTIM OF LAWLESSNESS"
"My client does not wish to become a victim of lawlessness and cause further
suffering to those close to him," he said.
Gusinsky's detention for three days earlier this year on similar charges
caused an international outcry and raised doubts about the commitment of
Yeltsin's successor, President Vladimir Putin, to press freedom.
Gusinsky has accused the Kremlin of using the threat of jail to make him give
up his media outlets, which have periodically fallen foul of the Kremlin for
critical coverage, particularly of Russia's two military campaigns against
Media-Most's NTV television is by far the most influential source of
information in Russia that is outside Kremlin control.
A top prosecutor said Gusinsky could avoid detention if he agreed to be
questioned. But Reznik told Ekho Moskvy radio that defence lawyers would
launch proceedings on Tuesday against prosecutors over the June detention and
the current charges.
Prosecutors said earlier this month that Gusinsky would face charges in
connection with attempts to secure credits while companies in his group were
Putin has pledged to take action against the businessmen known as "oligarchs"
who made fortunes in the aftermath of the 1991 fall of communism. He praises
press freedom, while accusing journalists of engaging in polemics damaging to
BEREZOVSKY ALSO SUMMONED
A second media magnate, Boris Berezovsky, is due to appear before prosecutors
on Wednesday in connection with a profits-skimming scandal involving the
state airline, Aeroflot.
A spokeswoman for Berezovsky said she knew nothing of his plans, but he has
suggested that he will not return to Moscow for questioning. Another suspect
in the Aeroflot case failed to appear before a prosecutor on Monday citing
Media-Most issued a statement pledging to challenge the "illegal acts" of the
general prosecutor and to take its case to the European Court of Human Rights
in Strasbourg if necessary.
The group said the action was either intended to upset the agreement with
Gazprom or was "simple revenge" by prosecutors.
Gusinsky, a former theatre director who trained as an engineer, pieced
together a vast media empire in the mid-1990s.
The group was one of several outlets to campaign openly in 1996 for Yeltsin's
re-election against a Communist challenger.
The deal announced earlier involves clearing debts of $211.6 million by
transferring Media-Most shares to Gazprom.
Media-Most spokesman Dmitry Ostalsky, quoted by Russian news agencies, said
the agreement would settle outstanding differences, but "does not involve
editorial issues of mass media included in the group or personnel matters."
Gusinsky was allowed to leave Russia last July after a previous deal to sell
his firm to Gazprom for $473 million in cancelled debt and $300 million in
new debt payments. Gusinsky later repudiated the deal, saying he had been
forced to sign it.
November 14, 2000
EDITORIAL: It's Time for Gazprom to Come Clean
Foreign shareholders in natural gas monopoly Gazprom are up in arms about a
once little-known company called Itera. And rightly so.
The foreigners, who are thought to hold about 20 percent of Gazprom, have
sunk untold hundreds of millions of dollars into the company and fear that
Itera will drastically weaken returns on their investments.
Nothing is known about the ownership of Itera, which was registered in 1992
in Jacksonville, Florida, and initially distributed food and oil products.
The company teamed up with Gazprom in 1994 to handle gas deliveries and has
since then shot up to become the third-largest gas producer in Russia.
Gazprom has farmed out to Itera billions of dollars worth of work.
Furthermore, Itera appears to have acquired a number of mammoth gas fields f
most recently five in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District f with the aid of
Gazprom. The Financial Times reported that Itera snapped up many of its
fields after Gazprom bankrupted the former operators by charging huge tariffs
for access to pipelines.
Gazprom and Itera, while providing few details, say their alliance is above
board. Gazprom says it handed over work to Itera in order to focus more on
its domestic and Western European activities.
Shareholders worry that a form of asset-stripping is going on, and are
demanding that Gazprom management account for their relationship with Itera.
Oil analysts speculate that Itera may be owned by Gazprom management or their
And why not? Gazprom managers and their relatives own at least 60 percent of
Stroitransgaz, a pipe construction company with about $1 billion in
outstanding orders from Gazprom, according to Business Week.
Stroitransgaz also managed to acquire a 4.8 percent stake in Gazprom for only
$2.5 million, while Gazprom's main foreign investor, Ruhrgas of Germany, paid
about $910 million for its 3.5 percent stake.
As the world's largest gas producer, Gazprom should be earning enough to
upgrade, expand and offer attractive dividends. Instead, the company
complains that it is too cash-strapped to grow alone.
In June Gazprom signed a deal to develop a field with Royal/Dutch Shell, and
on Monday announced the two companies would now work together to boost
Unclear alliances and companies owned by unknowns were common in the 1990s,
and investors often let such matters slide when there were profits to be
made. But those days are over for any company determined to win investor
Gazprom has a lot of explaining to do if it wants to be taken seriously in
Putin proposes cut in nuclear warheads below 1500
MOSCOW, Nov 13 (AFP) -
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday proposed cutting the nuclear
arsenals of Russia and the United States to below 1,500 warheads each,
Interfax news agency reported.
"As is well known, we proposed to the United States, including at the highest
level, to aim towards a radical cut in nuclear warheads of our countries to
1,500, which is perfectly feasible by 2008," Putin was quoted as saying.
"But this is not the limit. We are ready in the future to look at further
reductions," the president said in a statement according to Interfax.
Washington has rejected the possibility it would agree to cut its strategic
arsenal below 2,000 nuclear warheads.
PUTIN'S PROPOSAL ON MUTUAL CUTS IN NUCLEAR ARSENALS WILL PUT PRESSURE ON
FUTURE U.S. ADMINISTRATION - MOSCOW SOURCES
MOSCOW. Nov 13 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin's
proposal that Russia and the U.S. radically cut down their nuclear
arsenals is "an absolutely clear and public signal given by Russia to
the future U.S. administration," sources in the Russian Foreign Ministry
told Interfax on Monday.
Putin's proposal "is not a propaganda gimmick, but a position
thoroughly verified by the military and political leaders, and aimed at
practical implementation," they said.
They also said that the Russian president's proposal "will
naturally put pressure" on the future U.S. administration in decision-
making regarding the ABM and strategic offensive weapons.
Furthermore, this position "suits many of the leading countries,"
including China, France and Britain, they said.
Concerning future cooperation with Washington in the sphere of
strategic offensive weapons, the sources said that during the election
campaign U.S. presidential candidate Republican George Bush Jr. spoke in
favor of "radical cuts in strategic offensive weapons."
If Democrat Al Gore becomes president, Russian-American
consultations and talks on strategic stability "will also have a
future," the sources said.
Russian missile chief proposes "ABM index"
By Martin Nesirky
MOSCOW, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Russia's nuclear missile chief significantly
shifted Moscow away from outright rejection of U.S. anti-missile plans on
Monday by offering a counterbalancing proposal ahead of leadership changes in
the U.S. White House.
General Vladimir Yakovlev, commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, told
Russian reporters it would be very difficult to persuade Washington not to
violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty limiting defences against
Moscow had said previously that U.S. plans for a National Missile Defence
(NMD) system to defend itself against rocket attacks would violate the ABM
Yakovlev's comments came days before Russian President Vladimir Putin was to
meet U.S. President Bill Clinton for the last time during Clinton's term, on
the sidelines of a meeting of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation group in
Missile defence dominated the agenda during the two leaders' previous
meetings, until Clinton decided in September to leave a decision on the
missile shield to his successor.
Both Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the main
candidates vying to succeed Clinton in the undecided U.S. presidential
contest, back some form of NMD.
In a sign that Yakovlev's comment could be a trial balloon, Putin said Russia
wanted to retain and strengthen the ABM treaty, but was also prepared to talk
more and cut nuclear warheads to a previously offered 1,500 on each side.
"We would be prepared to consider even lower levels subsequently," he said in
a statement, adding Moscow saw no reason why deep strategic weapons cuts
would not be possible.
Western diplomats said they expected that, once a new U.S. president was in
office, Russia would negotiate seriously on a trade-off allowing the United
States to deploy a first phase of NMD in exchange for a stiff reduction in
Intriguingly, Yakovlev said it would be difficult to persuade the United
States to ditch the defence plans altogether and avoid rewriting the ABM
"As a counterbalance to American plans to modify the treaty's references to
anti-missile defences, Yakovlev proposed 'to introduce an unchanging general
indicator of strategic weapons which would include anti-missile defence means
as well as means of nuclear attack'," Interfax news agency said.
The Strategic Rocket Forces confirmed Yakovlev's comments.
"A country that wishes to increase one of the components will have to cut the
other," Yakovlev said.
There was no immediate U.S. reaction, but Russian defence writer Alexander
Golts called comments a significant change.
"It's a completely new approach," he told Reuters. "It is a shift from our
orthodox position that the ABM treaty is the foundation of strategic
Yakovlev called in Russian news agencies for his remarks.
"He clearly had something to say and it was clearly sanctioned," a defence
RUSSIA SPEAKS BEFORE NEW U.S. PRESIDENT NAMED
The Strategic Rocket Forces control the country's land-based nuclear missiles
in silos and on mobile launchers. Yakovlev's forces face cuts and a probable
merger with the air force, which controls aircraft-launched nuclear weapons.
Golts said that Yakovlev could be seeking to bolster the importance of his
forces, but that this would not justify such a public shift in arms control
Yakovlev said Russia could equate its land-based nuclear forces with U.S.
submarine-based missiles. That would exempt those missiles from the START-2
disarmament agreement. It could also involve complicated recounting and
Under the 1993 U.S.-Russian START-2 strategic arms deal, the two countries
should cut their deployed nuclear warheads from about 6,000 each to no more
than 3,500 each by the year 2007.
Moscow has up to now insisted there can be no START-3 follow-on talks unless
Washington honours the ABM treaty.
RIA news agency reported a senior Russian military official, deputy chief of
general staff Valery Manilov, was in Beijing for talks on bilateral ties and
arms control -- including NMD.
China and Russia have been the most vociferous critics of the U.S. plans,
arguing NMD would undermine their own deterrent.
Yakovlev linked his comments to the U.S. presidential transition, saying the
lull in the ABM debate would end soon.
Most defence analysts believe Gore would be less hardline on NMD than Bush,
but also less predictable.
Terence Taylor, assistant director of the International Institute for
Strategic Studies, told Reuters: "If there is a Republican president and
Congress, the Russians will see that they cannot exploit differences on NMD
and I would expect them to be realistic and pragmatic."
(Additional reporting by Paul Taylor in London)
TITLE: REMARKS BY ACADEMICIAN GEORGY ARBATOV, STATE DUMA VICE
SPEAKER VLADIMIR LUKIN AND PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN ON US
(VREMYA ORT PROGRAM, 21:00, NOVEMBER 8, 2000)
SOURCE: FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE
Anchor: Speaking live in our program Vremya is former director
of the Institute of the US and Canada, Academician Arbatov.
Good evening, Georgy Arkadyevich.
Arbatov: Good evening.
Anchor: And former Russian ambassador to the US, State Duma
vice speaker Vladimir Lukin.
Lukin: Good evening.
Anchor: A question to you, Georgy Arkadyevich, first. How, do
you think, may the results of the US elections affect
Russian-American relations? It was believed in Soviet times that a
Republican president was better than a Democrat. But times have
changed and what can we expect now?
Arbatov: You see, this is a very simplified approach that a
Republican is better than a Democrat. We had a good time with
Democrats too. Roosevelt was a Democrat, by the way, but this was
the beginning of our relations with America. There were also other
Democrats with whom we had good relations. And there were
Republicans with whom we had good relations as well.
But this is not what matters. I think now that -- they have
pretty close positions. There has been a shift -- Bush has moved
closer to the center. And Gore, I think, too. It's very hard to
differentiate between the two, especially when it comes to the
foreign policy. I believe there will be another criterion.
You see, foreign policy becomes increasingly complex, just as
internal policy does too, and this requires great mental faculties
and knowledge. Some experience. The one who has more of this, he
will be easier to work with. This applies to us too, because we are
also involved in this. The intellectual level of policy and
politicians have decreased lately not only in both of our
countries, but in many countries as well. This is a very dangerous
trend, especially considering the fact that problems become
Anchor: Thank you very much, Georgy Arkadyevich.
Vladimir Petrovich, you have heard what Georgy Arkadyevich
said. Do you also think that there is no big different for Russia
who will be the president, a Democrat or a Republican?
Lukin: First of all, it's not good to challenge the point of
view expressed by the director of the institute under whose
direction I worked so long and so successfully. Successfully
because we had a very good director.
As for the point made, I think this is absolutely correct. I
would even add that there have been times, and quite often, when we
had great and even excessive expectations of improvement in
relations when Democrats won. But they did not always come true.
Under Republicans we had excessive fears of what could happen and
what level confrontation could reach. But they did not always come
true either. We signed very important agreements, especially in the
field of disarmament. So, I think what matters is not so much party
affiliation, as other factors.
Anchor: I see. Thank you, Vladimir Petrovich. I thank our
guests for participation in our program.
The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, believes that we have
to wait for the final results of the US elections to be announced.
But the President says that both candidates have good feelings
Putin: The United States is one of our most important partners
in many areas. I have already said how thoroughly we studied the
problems of the two main candidates, Bush and Gore.
I have to say that the program of the representative of the
Democratic Party and the program of the representative of the
Republican Party states their attitude toward the development of
contacts with Russia very plainly, clearly and quite precisely. We
are satisfied with such an approach. We respect the choice made by
the American people and we will work with any administration.
As for the final conclusions and congratulations to the
victor, I think it would be more appropriate if we waited for
official American authorities to announce the final decision.
Besides, you know that the chairman of the Central Election
Commission of the Russian Federation, Mr. Veshnyakov, is there and
if need be he will tell our American colleagues what they should
TITLE: POINTS OF VIEW ON RUSSIA-USA RELATIONS:
INTERVIEW WITH SERGEI KARAGANOV, FOREIGN AND DEFENSE POLICY
COUNCIL PRESIDENT, AND LILIYA SHEVTSOVA, MOSCOW CARNEGIE
(SEGODNYA DAILY, P. 4, NOVEMBER 9, 2000)
SOURCE: FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE
AMERICAN DEMOCRACY GETS INTO A TRAP
Voters did not want to give all power to Republicans
Political scientists have responded to Segodnya correspondent
Avtandil Tsuladze's offer to share their impressions of the US
Karaganov: The candidates ran neck and neck because on the one
hand, people were tired of Democrats and, on the other hand,
Republicans did not offer an attractive alternative. Democrats had
economic achievements among their credits, and yet America is
inclined toward a more conservative choice. These were fairly clean
elections with very few harsh assaults. No matter who wins, it is
already clear that American policy has obviously shifted to the
center. In principle, Bush's victory will satisfy Russia and the
presidential administration. First of all, Bush has a highly
professional foreign policy team which knows Russia very well.
Russia will be one of the most important priorities for it. Second,
the Bush team will not try to dictate its economic policy to us but
will determine foreign policy priorities quite clearly. Third, the
Bush administration will not be inclined toward romantic campaigns
like those in Kosovo, Somalia and other countries. It is very
important that we know all the people around Bush. Basically this
is the best of what was in the administration of Bush Sr. We had
very constructive relations with the administration of Bush Sr.
Shevtsova: There have been two situations in the history of
America where the candidate who received the majority of votes was
not elected president while his competitor who received most votes
of the electoral college became president. Such is a historical
trap set by the American election system. The same may happen now.
Western democracy is not free of traps either. In this particular
case we are dealing with a structural trap of the American system.
But there is another trap, political, which follows from the first
one. American society has split. Its considerable part would like
in principle to preserve Clinton's heritage, while the other part
wants the same but without Clinton and his successor. On the whole,
America could agree to preserve everything but without Clinton.
Clintonism without Clinton -- such is the essence of these
elections. But the winner gets everything, whether or not he wants
this. The Republican Party may get both the executive branch and
the entire legislative branch. Republicans already control the
Senate and the House of Representatives. In principle, the
Americans would not like to give a full victory to the Republican
Party, but in this situation, Republicans could get it. But
everything will depend on how Republicans and Bush himself
understand the mandate given to them by society. I do not rule out
that they may understand it as a free hand to do everything they
want. But society did not empower them to do that. It empowered
them to continue Clintonism although with new faces. However, they
may try to experiment. This is particularly dangerous for foreign
policy. In principle, America is pleased with Clinton's foreign
policy. But using the support of the Congress, Bush may choose for
a rather aggressive and tough foreign policy. America may get into
a situation with no checks and balances for the president. A
situation where the president is restrained by the Congress is more
acceptable and safer to Russia.
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: A VIEW FROM MOSCOW
No one could imagine such a finale of the presidential
election race in the US. Some analysts are even talking of a
crisis of the American system of democracy. When this issue of
Vek was being prepared it was still not clear who won the race
- Al Gore or George Bush Jr. There is no doubt, however, that
the consequences of this election will bear on the further
development of Russian-US relations.
The following is the point of view on this issue of Sergei
Rogov, Director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies,
Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
It would be incorrect to draw any far-going conclusions
from election race rhetoric about the future of Russian-U.S.
relations under the next Washington Administration.
Nonetheless, regardless of the result of the election, the
development of our relations will be rather uneasy.
Moscow and Washington have had extremely serious
differences on practically all the key problems. Even though
under Vladimir Putin's presidency tensions have slightly eased,
none of these problems has been solved yet. There is the ground
to presume that three groups of questions will be on the agenda
of Russian-US negotiations when the new President enters the
The first group comprises economic questions, which are of
vital importance for Russia. These are, first and foremost,
external debt restructuring, which is a hard burden on the
federal budget. Though debts to the US constitute only a small
part of our external national debt, the Washington
Administration will have the leading role to play in handling
these problems by such Western institutions as the
International Monetary Fund or the Paris Club. In addition,
Russia is to conduct negotiations on its admission to the World
Trade Organization. A great deal will depend on the position of
the US in this context, too. And finally, such problems of our
bilateral relations as the cancellation of the Jackson-Vanik
Amendment and lifting of trade discriminations, quotas and
The second group comprises regional problems. In 2002 NATO
is to make a decision concerning the second wave of its
expansion. If the Baltics become its members, this may provoke
a very serious aggravation of relations between Russia and the
West. Conflict situation remains in the Balkans region with
regard to which the US and its allies have used a plan based on
the use of military might against Russia's objections. In the
Middle Eats, the US has tried to distance Russia from the
process of an Arab-Israeli settlement. The Gulf situation can
deteriorate again, and Moscow and Washington have noticeable
differences in their approaches to Iran and Iraq. There are
also seats of tension in the Far East.
The third group concerns arms control. The START-2 Treaty
has not entered into force. This has blocked negotiations on a
new reduction of strategic offensive armaments. The danger that
the US may violate the ABM Treaty by unilaterally deploying an
anti-missile defense system also persists. The American Senate
has refused to ratify the treaty on a comprehensive ban on
nuclear tests and there are serious problems concerning the
fulfillment of agreements on the prohibition of chemical and
biological weapons. In such a situation the future of the
existing arms control regime as a whole is in question.
The victory of Republicans could have serious aftermaths.
Judging by everything, the foreign policy course of the Bush
Administration would be determined by the Republican
Establishment. What is more, being much more concerned about
domestic affairs, George Bush Jr. does not feel quite at ease
as far as international affairs are concerned and is unlikely
to have his own position with regard to Russia. But he can rely
on a powerful team of experienced professionals who served in
his father's Administration.
Lastly. Of great importance for the future of Russian-US
relations will also be the results of congressional elections.
Republicans have retained a marginal majority both in the
Senate and in the House of Representatives. In a situation
where one party controls the executive branch and the other the
legislative, their relations turn into an inter-party struggle.
Such a situation has existed in the past few years. That is why
the control of one and the same party over the Administration
and Congress will stabilize Russian-US relations.
Anyway, the new team which will come to power will shape
its own policy not earlier than next April or May. I would like
to hope that the pause would be used to elaborate new
approaches to the main problems of Russian-US relations.
The Russia Journal
November 11-17, 2000
Do we know what we want?
Debate over Russian’s national anthem may show a society struggling with
identity, but as Otto Latsis suggests, the country will never find true
focus until its leadership starts addressing unacknowledged problems.
By Otto Latsis
There’s no quelling the calls for a national idea for Russia – a new
concept to replace the lost belief in the radiant communist future. So far,
there’s been no result, and there’s unlikely to be one any time soon,
despite the abundance of proposals, including some that are really not bad.
But what’s difficult isn’t finding a national idea, what’s difficult is
getting society to accept it.
Russian society today is divided – to a large extent by the collapse of its
old national idea – and it looks like this division will persist for some
years to come. Given this situation, proclaiming some new idea the common
national goal won’t be easy.
It would probably be possible to come closer to this aim if the state drew
up a motivated system of policy priorities that would be comprehensible to
all. Let’s look at the main issues that could become a basis for this
choice of priorities.
• In Russia, there are 4 million people without a roof over their heads.
Most of these people are refugees and people forced to move.
• Around 30 percent of the Russian population – 40-45 million people – have
incomes lower than the living minimum.
• The number of Russians killed as a result of accidents, poisonings and
traumatic injuries could exceed 300,000 this year. Per 100,000 people, this
statistic is one of the highest in the world and is growing fast. Every
three hours on average, as many people die from unnatural causes as were
killed in the Kursk submarine disaster.
• Life expectancy in Russia is around 10 years behind that of industrially
• Russia has the highest number of prisoners in the world.
• Over the last few years, Russia has lost its greatest social achievements
of the 20th century – free and accessible education and health care –
neither today are accessible without partial or full payment.
• After the collapse of the Soviet Union, more than 20 million ethnic
Russians have found themselves outside Russia. Many of them are not happy
with their situation in the former Soviet republics and would like to move
to Russia, but they can’t afford to do so. At the same time, Russia needs
immigrants to compensate for a falling birthrate and increasing depopulation.
• Dozens of towns and thousands of villages don’t have sewerage systems.
The medieval state of their sanitary infrastructure leads to outbreaks of
dangerous diseases. Tuberculosis, which was once considered beaten, has
reached epidemic proportions, while cases of viral hepatitis have increased
and so have cases of AIDS.
Add to this the war in Chechnya, which has now become a partisan war,
making it difficult to see how it will end. Also on the list would have to
be the $150 billion foreign debt which cripples the Russian economy. Then
there is the worn-out state of technology and constructions, which
systematically leads to accidents with loss of life. And there’s the sorry
plight of the scientific and technical potential created in the past – it’s
impossible to keep it all as it was, but it would be a terrible loss to see
it all go.
Much more could be added to this list. But it already contains enough
points to show that the essential problems facing Russia differ from those
that occupy the authorities and take up the public’s attention.
People argue until they’re foaming at the mouth about restoring the statue
of Felix Dzerzhinsky toppled in 1991, or about a new national anthem,
though the current one was adopted not so long ago. There’s an ongoing
fight to limit governors’ powers and beef up the authority of the seven
"governor-generals." Passions rage over ownership rights of some TV
It would be unfair to say the government isn’t doing anything important and
desperately needed. It is doing plenty that is useful. Getting through a
deficit-free budget for 2001, attempts to reduce the foreign debt, raising
pensions, tax reform and important decisions on military reform are all
steps that will bring Russia closer to the economic conditions that will
overcome poverty and resolve many social problems.
But at the same time, there are problems that society and the state so
stubbornly ignore, raising the question as to whether they don’t notice
these problems because they don’t want to notice them. This goes for the
difficult situation of refugees, creating incentives to attract immigrants
to Russia, the very high mortality rate, especially from unnatural causes,
and many other issues.
In defense of the authorities, one could say that their efforts to
strengthen the state and bring order – as people love to say in Russia –
are supposed to ensure the very conditions that will enable these priority
tasks to be solved.
If only this could be believed. All too often we see officials whose
tireless efforts in strengthening the state lead one to think that they’re
not so much strengthening the state as strengthening their own power and
making themselves less accountable to society. They’re ready to spend an
eternity doing this, while the time will never come for state officials to
tackle the real problems facing Russia.
The Russia Journal
November 11-17, 2000
SEASON OF DISCONTENT: The Big Five ... or three plus two
Examining the geopolitical shifts and currents following cataclysmic world
events, Andrei Piontkovsky puts the current push-and-pull battle among
states for Security Council membership into context.
At the end of every world war (such wars were European until the 20th
century) the victors would establish a new system of world relations – the
peace of Westphalia, the Vienna Congress, the Treaty of Versailles.
In the system formed after World War II, privileged status went to the
so-called Great Powers – the United States, the Soviet Union, Great
Britain, France and China. These countries became permanent members of the
U.N. Security Council, with the power of veto. Through the nuclear
non-proliferation treaty, these countries also proclaimed themselves the
only rightful possessors of nuclear weapons.
This post World War II system has survived one war – the Cold War – but it
is becoming increasingly subject to question. An open challenge has come,
for example, from India and Pakistan de facto obtaining nuclear power
status. There are more and more calls today to broaden the Security
Council’s permanent membership. Potential candidates include countries as
different as Germany, Japan, India, Brazil and South Africa.
The five Great Powers have a common interest in holding on to their
exceptional status, but they are proving clearly unable to keep up the
obligations that go with this privileged status. They are not fulfilling
the solemn promise they gave in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty to
strive for complete nuclear disarmament. Their failure to reach agreements
regarding specific political crises paralyzes the Security Council’s work
and undermines its prestige as a guarantor of world stability.
What divides the West (the United States, Britain and France) and the East
(Russia and China)? This is the way voting usually divides on key issues. A
decade ago, it would have been possible to explain this split as an
ideological stand-off – communism against capitalism.
But today, Russia is a model example of capitalism in its most wild and
barbaric form, while China moves further and further away from the classic
collective ideal. It looks as though the three Western and two Eastern
powers are divided by something more fundamental than the disputes over how
best to organize economic life, which were left behind in the 20th century.
The last thing I want to do is idealize the West or demonize the East.
There are a number of legal, political and moral arguments for sufficiently
convincing criticism of the West over the Kosovo operation. (True, not in
the mouths of those who sent with a steady hand tens of thousands of their
countrymen to their deaths in order to ensure that the second president of
Russia would be the candidate who promised immunity for the first
president). But it is the Kosovo operation, or rather, the failure of its
military phase, that brought to the fore a new quality in post-industrial
In mid-May 1999, if we recall, the operation was on the verge of
humiliating failure and NATO in danger of splitting on two fundamental
issues – sending in ground forces and continuing the bombings. What emerged
was that Western public opinion was not ready to accept mass casualties
(more than 10) among their own soldiers.
With each new unit of collateral damage as a result of airstrikes, public
support for the operations in the West dropped sharply. It turned out that
Western public opinion is also not ready to accept mass casualties among
the other side’s civilian population. This is something new. A generation
previously, the Americans lost tens of thousands of soldiers in Vietnam.
Two generations ago, no one lost any sleep over the hundreds of thousands
of casualties in Dresden and Hiroshima.
The value of an individual human life (and not just one’s own) has risen
tremendously in the mass consciousness of Western society. This is the
major dividing line between East and West. It inevitably determines, in
turn, all the other issues – human rights and state sovereignty,
territorial integrity, the right to self determination and so on.
But Rudyard Kipling was wrong when he said "West is West, East is East and
never the twain shall meet." Never say never. They are simply at different
points of the ethical time scale for now.
(Andrei Piontkovsky is director of the Center of Strategic Research.)
Christian Science Monitor
November 13, 2000
Oasis of democracy shrinks
Kyrgyz elections conjure visions of authoritarianism.
By Scott Peterson Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Accolades about democracy from American officials are rarely so positive -
and perhaps so premature - as they have been about the Central Asian nation
President Askar Akayev was the "Thomas Jefferson ... of Central Asia," with
"more than a bit of Benjamin Franklin in him as well," according to US
Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott in 1994, and Kyrgyzstan, a "very
promising" beacon of democracy.
But a controversial presidential election on Oct. 29 that extended Mr.
Akayev's tenure has turned that appraisal upside down.
Analysts say Kyrgyzstan has joined the regional trend toward deepening
authoritarian rule in Central Asia - a region rich in energy resources, with
a volatile mix of Islamic militarism and drug trafficking that make it an
American security priority.
"Kyrgyzstan used to be an island of democracy, then it became an atoll, and
now it is just a reef," says a longtime Western observer in the capital,
Bishkek, who asked not to be further identified. "These governments learned
it was easy to fool the West, to change outwardly and not internally.
"There is only a facade of openness and democracy, but as soon as they see a
[political] threat, anyone willing to stand up gets the full force of the
government against them."
Counting on Kyrgyzstan as a model for the region - by all accounts it still
remains the most open society, compared with any of its neighbors - the US
and Europe have provided the resource-poor nation with $1.5 billion in aid
since Central Asian states were created in 1991 after the collapse of the
USSR. Some significant economic reforms were carried out in the 1990s, in
this mountainous nation of 4.8 million, and the gilt-edged rhetoric was all
about democracy. Though a statue of Lenin still dominates the central square
here, uncompromising centrally dictated Soviet politics seemed consigned to
But the presidential vote - and a February-March parliamentary election
before it - was marred by allegations of irregularities, ballot stuffing,
intimidation of the media, and the exclusion of serious opponents. Incumbent
Akayev won nearly 75 percent of votes cast - but forfeited any comparisons to
the man who penned the Declaration of Independence.
Senior US officials declared the vote a "setback for the development of
democracy" that was "neither free nor fair." Election monitors from the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said it "failed to
comply" with international standards. An observer team from the
Washington-based National Democratic Institute found "serious flaws" and
"patterns of state-led interference and political harassment."
"It is certainly a step backwards," says John Schoeberlein, director of the
Forum for Central Asian Studies at Harvard University, and head of the
Central Asia Program for the International Crisis Group. But there was a
tendency to "exaggerate how democratic Kyrgyzstan was before," he notes, so
the change is relative.
"This is a high-profile event that shows that Akayev is not committed to
pursuing as democratic a path as possible," Schoeberlein adds. "It is quite
possible - as in the cases of many Central Asian elections - that he would
have won on the basis of popularity, without [rigging]. But it seems the
ideal of a clean and fair election is just not flourishing in the minds of
Part of the problem regionwide is entrenched patronage systems. Virtually all
local officials depend on the president for their position, and therefore
work hard to show a "good" result from their areas.
"This is the Kyrgyz reality, and we can't do anything about that until we
elevate the minds of the people," says Kouban Taabaldiev, director of Kabar,
the state-run national news agency.
"Akayev has a lot of support and would have won, but some local authorities
want to make sure he has more support, and don't know democratic rules," he
says. But Akayev's aim is good, he contends: "I believe Akayev wants a third
term, to finish his reforms and take Kyrgyzstan on a democratic way."
The path followed, however, appears closer to the trend toward despotism in
the region, where political power has barely changed hands in a decade.
For example, legislation drafted last spring in Kazakhstan - where President
Nursultan Nazarbaev has dissolved parliament twice - ensures the president
powers and privileges for life. Last December in Turkmenistan - where
political opponents reportedly have been committed to psychiatric wards - the
president orchestrated a rubber-stamp vote in the People's Council making him
president for life. In Uzbekistan, the sole opponent running against
President Islam Karimov in a January election declared that he was not voting
for himself, but for the incumbent. In Tajikistan a year ago, the president
was reelected by 96 percent in a vote the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe deemed too corrupt to monitor.
The trend in Central Asia "has been the emergence of presidents far more
powerful than other branches of government, all of whom have refused to allow
genuine electoral challenges," notes a nonbinding resolution passed Nov. 1 by
the US House of Representatives.
The Kyrgyz case may irk pro-democracy campaigners most, however, because of
hopes of more openness that blossomed for some in the mid-1990s.
Supporters are quick to point out that President Akayev - by all accounts a
charming and affable physicist, who promised to bring international aid to
help boost his nation's hopes - is up against a diehard Soviet-era legacy.
Still, critics say pre-vote manipulations and election-day irregularities had
a distinct Soviet flavor. And there was a new tactic: a closed-door Kyrgyz
language test for all contenders, which weeded out several native Kyrgyz
speakers but gave Akayev the highest possible score.
"Long before the election, we knew who was going to be president," says
Viktor Zapolsky, editor of Delo No. ... (Case No. ...), the capital's
combative, biggest-selling Russian-language newspaper. Zapolsky says his
publication, which for a decade had been virtually free of official
harrassment, became the subject of increasing pressure during the election
Zapolsky and his wife, co-editor Svetlana Krasilnikova, say that in the past
two months she has been interrogated five times and he at least six times.
Pressure is mounting on the once-vibrant press in this country, analysts say,
with harrassment intensifying during the runup to the presidential election.
Zapolsky and Krasilnikova, whose publication is known for its crime stories
and investigations into official misdeeds, say their home and offices have
been searched, and tax police made a raid. Authorities found only that the
newspaper had paid its taxes, but imposed a $28,000 tax - later overturned in
court - on losses the paper had accrued.
Repeated calls Sunday to a presidential spokesman for comment on the Delo No.
... affair were not returned.
The two editors see media intimidation as part of a return to Soviet methods.
"At first, [President Askar] Akayev was good," says Krasilnikova. "He was
very sensitive to civil rights and freedoms. He was poor, and didn't have a
taste for big money or unlimited power. Back then, we were fascinated by the
smell of freedom. But Akayev became intoxicated with that smell. Our leaders
are very dangerous - to this day, the leader decides everything."
The Constitution allows a leader to be elected only twice, but this last vote
was Akayev's third time. Zapolsky says that "if today he [Akayev] violates
the Constitution, what can we expect of him tomorrow? The main danger is he
will never give up power."
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
ALL TALK ABOUT PUTIN'S "UNPREDICTABILITY" WILL SOON STOP
Director-General of the Effective Policy Foundation Gleb
PAVLOVSKY answers questions from Vek's correspondents Andrei
SOGRIN and Artur AKOPOV
Question: Do you help the President by word and by deed
now and, if you do, how do you build your relations with him?
Answer: I continue cooperation with Vladimir Putin as an
advisor to his chief of staff. The other part of your question
is not quite proper. Nonetheless, I will satisfy your curiosity
to a certain degree. Let me put it this way: I help the
President by giving him good advice.
Question: The critics of the President claim that he
forsakes domestic problems for the foreign policy part of his
activities. Can it be the case of anyone trying to distance him
from Russia's home policies?
Answer: Who has enough strength for this? The thing is
that for the first time in many years the federal
administration has overcome the situation of a constant state
of emergency in the country, of actually non-stop defense on
all the inner political fronts and can start a stage-by-stage
handling of strategic tasks. None of the previous
administrations had such an opportunity. It goes without saying
that it has opponents, but it does not have strong foes capable
at any moment of imposing a life-and-death battle on it. That
is why it is able to plan the sequence of its steps and pay
attention to those areas, which were rather neglected in the
past. Foreign policy was undoubtedly one of the neglected
spheres, even if for objective reasons. In the era of
"revolutions" interest in what is going on outside of the
country almost always wanes. That is why in the '90s our
foreign policy was very strange.
Question: But you should agree that Putin is being rather
strongly criticized for his activities on the home scene. Has,
in your opinion, the President made any serious mistakes or
miscalculations in the past few months?
Answer: We all are only human and can make mistakes. It is
strange that the President's critics ignore his concrete
actions and achievements. Speaking only of his steps as the
President of Russia, there have probably been some
miscalculations in his incredibly fast inner political
offensive, but it is difficult to pick out truly big mistakes
in his activities. In my opinion, the President has been too
cautious sometimes. The issue of the decree on the creation of
federal districts should have been followed by vigorous efforts
to get the laws, which are essential for that decree, adopted.
In a situation like that sluggishness was a tactical mistake,
in my opinion. But after all it was Putin's deliberate choice,
and he might be right.
Question: What about the Kursk story? It seems to many
people that the authorities try to conceal something from the
Answer: What you are talking about are mistakes in the
work of the structures responsible for the President's image.
There were a number of slips in their work in August. Besides,
a number of officials, including from among the military,
claimed "to talk on behalf of the President."
In cases like that the authorities, for instance, the
Washington Administration, prefer to keep silence until the
matter is clear. The misconception that the authorities should
all the time tell what they are doing is the immediate
projection of the aftermaths of the post-revolution anarchy.
Question: Putin is often called either a "manageable"
president or a president "waiting in ambush". Which of the two
definitions is closer to the truth? Or maybe both of them are
Answer: Is there anyone who can sincerely believe that
someone can tell Putin what to do? I personally have not heard
such a supposition even from the mouth of his adversaries a
long time now. I suppose Putin has proved that he is an
absolutely special kind of a leader with a clear concept of
action. It is true that some people still do not understand
him. He is the first political leader who communicates with
people directly, rather than through a group of traditional
political intermediaries. That is why the former intermediaries
are trying to infect the public with their own slow-wittedness.
Question: Who are these "former intermediaries"?
Answer: The old Moscow journalist elite, the heroes of the
past. The ground is slipping from under their feet. We do not
need to wage a struggle against them because they are people of
the past forever. From their point of view, Putin is
unpredictable and dangerous. From the point of view of the
majority of Russians this is not true. Putin is a leader of a
new type. When we have two or three more leaders like him, all
talk about his "unpredictability" will soon stop.
Question: Do you think that Putin is a truly strong
Answer: Absolutely so. He is a strong leader. This is
borne out by the fact that the top priority tasks, which faced
him, have already been solved. Now he is to solve long-term
tasks, the most important and very difficult of them being the
creation of a truly democratic society. Putin got down to
handling it quite consciously. That is why he cannot be called
a weak politician.
Question: Do you think there are big differences between
different groups of politicians from Putin's inner circle?
Answer: No such groups have appeared yet. They will appear
when different variants, options and models of further onward
movement begin to take shape. As of today, no such groups exist.
It is just the other way around. There is the process of
gradual "grinding" and getting used to one another among the
people who used to belong to different political groups. The
real political process is turning them into participants of a
common project, even though they all are very different.
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