This Date's Issues: 4647
Johnson's Russia List
22 November 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
DJ: The Thanksgiving holiday is coming on Thursday. There will be a modest JRL interruption.
1. The Globe and Mail (Canada): Geoffrey York, Kremlin tightens muzzle
on media. Voices critical of Putin face threat of legal persecution.
2. Reuters: Beer and backslaps boost London-Moscow ties.
3. Interfax: PUTIN ENCOURAGES TOLERANCE AS REGARDS U.S. PRESIDENTIAL
4. Interfax: KREMLIN AIDE OPPOSED TO INFLUENCE OF BUSINESS ON POLITICAL
5. Moscow Times EDITORIAL: Oil Boom Papers Over Larger Woes.
6. St. Petersburg Times editorial: Leave the Lingo to the Experts, Blin!
7. Interfax: NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS CONGRESS TO BE HELD IN RUSSIA IN
8. Intefax: RUSSIA OWES ECONOMIC GROWTH TO WORLD MARKET - KREMLIN
9. Carnegie meeting: Russia’s Southern Periphery Greatest Threat to
Security. Experts Discuss Chechnya, Central Asia and the Caucasus, the Middle
10. Michael John Woods: Re: 4641-Population.
11. AP: Russian Journalist Faces New Trial.
12. Reuters: Russian govt backs UES reform, opposes price
13. Moscow Times: Tom Adshead, Investors' Report Card.
14. AP: Daily News Columnist Lars-Erik Nelson Dies.
15. Benjamin Harshav: Re: 4643/Chagall.
16. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Sergey Ptichkin, Su's Made Dry Run Over Kitty
Hawk. At Same Time U.S. Seamen Wetted Their Aircraft Carrier's Deck With Kerosene. ('No Flexing of Muscles' in Kitty Hawk
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
November 21, 2000
Kremlin tightens muzzle on media
Voices critical of Putin face threat of legal persecution,
GEOFFREY YORK says from Moscow
When Russia's most famous journalist was summoned to a prosecutor's office
for interrogation yesterday, he became the latest target of the Kremlin's new
political weapon: the thinly veiled threat of legal persecution.
Yevgeny Kiselyov, host of a hard-hitting investigative show on the
independent NTV television channel -- it's roughly equivalent to 60 Minutes
in Russia -- was questioned by prosecutors for three hours yesterday.
He was repeatedly asked about a 1997 investigative report into the disputed
privatization of the aluminum industry.
Mr. Kiselyov said the questioning was polite and good-natured. But implicit
legal threats are proving hugely successful in intimidating and silencing the
Kremlin's few remaining opponents in politics, business and the media.
The tactic has flourished since President Vladimir Putin moved into the
Kremlin this year.
It reached its peak in June with the brief imprisonment of NTV's founder and
owner, Vladimir Gusinsky, on vague criminal charges.
The same heavy-handed threat has been wielded against a host of regional
leaders, business tycoons and media barons.
Mr. Putin calls it "the dictatorship of the law."
He describes it as a hammer that can crush any opposition.
"The state has a cudgel in its hands that you use to hit just once, but on
the head," Mr. Putin said last month.
"We haven't used this cudgel yet. We've just brandished it."
Still, legal weapons have been highly effective in neutralizing the Kremlin's
main rivals. The threat has forced Mr. Gusinsky into exile in an unidentified
Another media czar, Boris Berezovsky, has also been pushed into exile.
Both were unwilling to return to Moscow to answer a prosecutor's summons last
week because of the distinct possibility they could be arrested and jailed.
Regional governors, who worked beyond the Kremlin's control for many years,
have now meekly agreed to co-operate with Mr. Putin. The threat of
prosecution on corruption charges was a key reason for their surrender,
One governor who refused to bow, Alexander Rutskoi, soon found himself
disqualified from re-election because of technical infractions.
Top business leaders have suffered tax-police raids and investigations of
possible criminal wrongdoing. And a prominent journalist, Andrei Babitsky,
has faced prosecution on trumped-up charges of carrying a false passport.
Because of the ambiguities and contradictions in Russia's newly drafted laws,
and because of the corruption and arbitrariness of Russia's police and
prosecutors, the Kremlin can find a legal pretext to investigate or
interrogate almost anyone.
Business leaders and regional chieftains are especially vulnerable, since the
acquisition of assets in the 1990s was surrounded by legal confusion or a
"It's very easy for the Kremlin to threaten or blackmail a regional leader or
a businessman, because so many of their assets were obtained in a
not-exactly-legal manner," said Masha Lipman, deputy editor of Itogi
magazine, one of Mr. Gusinsky's media outlets.
No major corruption trials have occurred since Mr. Putin became president,
but the investigations and threats are having their effect.
"The Kremlin is using negotiations and arm-twisting instead. Most people
would rather give up and comply. This is how the Kremlin brings these
formerly unruly actors under control," Ms. Lipman said.
Unlike his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, who maintained power by balancing
different factions and forces against each other, Mr. Putin seems to prefer
to concentrate power in the Kremlin's hands.
He has neutralized most of the groups that enjoyed autonomy in the Yeltsin
era. The lower house of parliament is loyal to him. The upper house has been
severely weakened. Regional governors and business tycoons have been subdued.
Only the independent media had remained as a potential opposition force --
but the Gusinsky and Kiselyov cases suggest that the media's autonomy will be
Mr. Berezovsky, a well-connected Kremlin insider who used his media empire to
ensure Mr. Putin's election victory this year, was one of the "oligarchs" who
exploited the legal chaos of the 1990s. Now, he too has become a target of
prosecutors who exploit this same grey zone of legal uncertainty.
Mr. Berezovsky has launched a furious verbal attack on his former ally.
"The President is trying to impose his control over the mass media, with the
goal of setting up a regime of personal power," Mr. Berezovsky said.
"He has turned the country over to secret services and bureaucrats. . . . I'm
forced to choose between becoming a political prisoner or a political emigré."
As the Kremlin escalates its pressure tactics against the independent media,
about half a dozen of NTV's top journalists have quit the channel. But as for
Mr. Kiselyov, he is unlikely to buckle under the pressure, his colleagues say.
"Kiselyov is the Kremlin's primary target at NTV," Ms. Lipman said. "But
there's no way he can make peace with the Kremlin. He has gone too far. This
dispute is too bitter. Neither side is ready to compromise. The Kremlin wants
Beer and backslaps boost London-Moscow ties
By Peter Graff and Susan Cornwell
MOSCOW, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Vladimir Putin and Tony Blair never seemed to stop
The British prime minister was the Russian president's guest on Monday and
Tuesday for their fifth meeting of the year, and it looked like fun. Hands
were vigorously shaken, backs were gratuitously slapped. Beers were
There was some talk of U.S. anti-missile defence plans (not really Britain's
issue) and European Union security cooperation (not really Russia's), but
style definitely made more of an impression than substance.
Whether posing with schoolchildren, sucking down lagers in a British-themed
Moscow pub, or exchanging mutual praise at a Kremlin news conference, the two
were best of friends.
It was the sort of diplomatic jamboree that Putin's predecessor Boris Yeltsin
always seemed to enjoy, whether with "Bill," "Helmut" or "Jacques."
But Blair is the only Western leader that seems entirely comfortable with
Putin, an ex-KGB spy who came to power amid a bloody crackdown in rebel
Chechnya, and has ruled with a clear preference for a strong hand.
French President Jacques Chirac and Putin managed to avoid meeting each other
for bilateral talks until last month, when a European Union summit was held
in Paris. France has been one of Russia's harshest critics on Chechnya.
When U.S. President Bill Clinton visited Moscow in June, he made a point of
giving an interview -- complete with a lengthy lecture on free speech -- to
Ekho Moskvy, a radio station whose parent company says it is the target of a
When he met Putin, the body language on both sides was decidedly
AT THE OPERA OR AT THE PUB
Not so for Blair, who first visited Putin when the Russian leader was still
acting president, joining him and his wife for an opera premier in St
Petersburg just weeks before the presidential election that confirmed Putin
Blair said at the time their warm talks boded well for the future, leading
some in Russia to wonder whether he was jumping the gun in predicting the
outcome of the vote.
Downing Street has been sensitive to suggestions that it is overdoing the
cosiness. Blair said the relationship was aimed at keeping Russia stable and
"I know people say there is a risk in being so close with Russia and
President Putin, but I think this is something that is well worth doing,"
"It's important for Britain that we have a Russia that is stable, engaged in
the outside world. If Britain can play a role in that, I think that's good
for the world."
But the photo opportunities with Putin and Blair, beaming in sweaters and
open-collared shirts, suggested more a personal camaraderie than warm
relations between states.
"I do personally like him," Blair said aboard the plane on his way to Moscow
As for the Russian leader's unmistakable authoritarian streak, Blair said:
"It is necessary to be a strong leader to sort his country out."
He repeated that theme on Tuesday, after his evening out with Putin at the
pub but before their formal meetings began.
"I constantly say to people: 'You have to understand the scale of the
problems the president of Russia has to deal with"' he said, and proceeded to
On the way home to London, Blair was asked by a reporter whether he and Putin
had ever discussed the Russian leader's KGB past. He said, pointedly: "No."
Wasn't he curious about it?
PUTIN ENCOURAGES TOLERANCE AS REGARDS U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
MOSCOW. Nov 21 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has
said he has discussed the situation surrounding the U.S. presidential
elections of two weeks ago with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "We
started discussing this issue yesterday over a mug of beer," the Russian
president joked, emphasizing that he was just joking.
"It is an internal problem of the U.S. [the elections], but the
dollar today is the world currency and everything that that takes place
inside the U.S. reflects on the entire international community," Putin
said, describing the situation presidential election situation as
"complex and unique."
"We should be tolerant and respect the events that are currently
taking place in the U.S.," Putin went on to say. The uncertainty caused
by the outcome of the elections, he said, has at the same time shown a
"certain balance" of all the U.S. institutions. "If the American people
believe that there is a need to correct the election laws, that is their
internal affair," the president said.
Blair said he agreed with this approach, stressing that for him
personally there is no reason to worry about what is going on as regards
the U.S. presidential elections.
KREMLIN AIDE OPPOSED TO INFLUENCE OF BUSINESS ON POLITICAL LIFE
MOSCOW. Nov 21 (Interfax) - A high-ranking Kremlin official has
spoken against active attempts by the business community to influence
"It is wrong when the functions of the state and business begin to
mix, when there is active interference by entrepreneurs in political
life on an unjustified scale and in spheres that are in general
unrelated to their direct business interests," deputy chief of the
presidential administration Vladislav Surkov said in an interview
published in the Tuesday edition of Moskovsky Komsomolets. "It is wrong,
if capital says that the authorities are us, that we will hire the
government-as someone rashly said in the days of Boris Nikolayevich
"One can argue a long time what limits the markets may reach, but I
am sure that the only thing that cannot be privatized is power. Power is
a natural monopoly of the government, which it doesn't have the right to
give it over to others. All other things may be debated," he said.
"We see a situation now when both the public and state should rely
on big companies. Companies must simply be sufficiently mature to become
such a pillar. I think that that the notion of social responsibility so
fashionable in the West now will also catch up here. And I already feel
that," Surkov said.
November 22, 2000
EDITORIAL: Oil Boom Papers Over Larger Woes
Russia and the IMF have come to the delightful conclusion that they don't
really need each other. After all, why should Russia borrow Western money at
interest, when it can earn it hand over fist thanks to oil at $30 a barrel?
With prices like that, Russia can even pay its Soviet-era debts (although
much Soviet-era debt can be repudiated with only good consequences for
The bad side of the oil boom is that it breeds a complacency about economic
True, there have been some minor triumphs on this front. Simplified and lower
customs tariffs have been worked out. New tax rules kick in Jan. 1. And a
bold new policy could force oil companies to bid at auction for export quotas
(instead of winning them in secret deals).
But all those triumphs come with caveats. The customs tariffs and export
quota auctions remain mere proposals f while the much-discussed 13 percent
flat tax is actually a 1 percent tax hike for the vast majority.
And if those are the triumphs, consider the failures. The tax minister has
just been caught using a common tax dodge to pay his staff more. The press
minister has repeatedly and inappropriately meddled in a purported business
dispute between Gazprom and NTV's parent company. The communications minister
has publicly expropriated frequencies from two leading mobile phone
companies, then grudgingly returned them. None of those men has suffered any
real official censure.
The nuclear power minister, meanwhile, is lobbying to import nuclear waste
products for cash, a truly terrible idea; he also talks of stiffing foreign
shareholders in the UES power grid because "we don't see them investing þ all
of our existing energy sector was built in the Soviet era, only on the money
of our people."
The prime minister, in turn, continues to harry Kiev over its future
privatizations f most recently, by striking a deal this week to let Russia
spend Ukraine's gas debts as chits to buy Ukrainian state properties. (Why?)
The Central Bank remains the lord of its own dubious commercial empire, even
as it does next to nothing to clean up the embarrassments of the national
banking sector. The Kremlin is talking of opening five-star hotels and gem
auction centers. And Moscow is busily preparing to absorb Belarus, with all
of its economic cancers, and has offered it $100 million by the year's end as
a vague sort of a "get well soon" credit f even as Chechnya heads into
another hellish winter, having only received a third of the $80 million or so
promised it this year.
The oil boom is papering over a lot of problems.
St. Petersburg Times
November 21, 2000
Leave the Lingo to the Experts, Blin!
THE news that a group of lawmakers has decided to defend the Russian language
proves one thing for sure: As the New Year approaches, the State Duma is
going a little stir crazy.
This kind of initiative has cropped up periodically throughout Russia's
history. Boris Yeltsin made pronouncements on it, Stalin weighed in with
"Marxism and Questions of Philology," while Mikhail Gorbachev was known more
for mangling Russian than protecting it.
Large chunks of the 18th century were taken up with the fight between two
opposing camps, one seeking to revitalize Russian so that it acquired its own
literary style, and the other insisting on a return to Church Slavonic as the
root of all Russian words.
Whether default should be "defolt" or the inelegant nevypolneniye
obyazatelstv is merely the latest round, but you can be sure that the debate
will be as fierce as it has ever been. There are even advocates of punishment
for those who violate the language's purity, or who swear in public.
(Quite what that punishment will be is anyone's guess: being forced to write
out irregular verbs 500 times, perhaps, or having the mouths of cursing
politicians washed out with soap.)
The influx of foreign words, which are irking the deputies, has occurred to a
great extent since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with business and
technological terminology leading the way. Computers and the Internet are
responsible to a great extent, by churning out jargon such as byte, hacker
and www faster than an equivalent in Russian, French or Hutu can be found.
In fact, it is possible that the new lexicon "invading" Russian today is the
largest since Russia's conversion to Christianity a thousand years ago, when
a whole wave of new concepts found expression by pinching words from other
When and to what extent language should embrace change has occupied many
great Russian minds. The great academic Mikhail Lomonosov devoted years to
the formation of the Russian language; writers like Nikolai Karamzin adapted
entire French and German phrases in their literature, and Alexander Pushkin
largely resolved the questions of his day through sheer genius (although he
did advise women to speak French, just in case the complexities of Russian
overheated their fragile brains).
Politicians getting involved, however, is mostly a sign that they have
absolutely nothing else better to be doing. Neither Yeltsin nor Stalin will
be remembered for the brilliance of their linguistic input; the smart money
has it that this latest group will fare no better.
NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS CONGRESS TO BE HELD IN RUSSIA IN JANUARY
MOSCOW. Nov 20 (Interfax) - Russian rights champions are planning a
national congress in Moscow on January 20-21.
The congress organizing committee includes parliamentary deputy
Sergei Kovalyov, Glasnost foundation head Sergei Grigoryants and leader
of the For Human Rights party Lev Ponomaryov, the human rights movement
press center told Interfax on Monday.
Yelena Bonner, widow of famous Soviet rights champion Andrei
Sakharov, is committee honorary chairman.
The center said it was among the key goals of the congress to
"influence public mentality in order to avert the establishment of an
authoritarian regime, discuss problems of the rights defense community
and help consolidate civic society."
Russian Human Rights Commissioner Oleg Mironov has been invited to
the congress and is to speak at the forum, Ponomaryov said.
RUSSIA OWES ECONOMIC GROWTH TO WORLD MARKET - KREMLIN AIDE
ST. PETERSBURG. Nov 20 (Interfax-Northwest) - Current improvements
in Russia's economy are more the result of today's state of the world
market than of efforts by "any specific political figures in the Russian
government," an adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin said on
"High prices for traditional goods in Russian exports and low
prices for goods in Russian imports" are positive factors, Andrei
Illarionov told a briefing in St. Petersburg.
He said 2000 is the first in 30 years to see economic growth of 7%,
rises in the population's incomes and living standards, increases in
industrial and agricultural output, growth of exports and imports and a
At the same time, the government "is not managing to stick to the
inflation pace the budget makes provision for," although "so far [the
pace] doesn't go beyond the guidelines set a year ago," Illarionov said.
The population's incomes have grown 9% this year, with wages going
up 24% and pensions 26%. In December "the real growth of pensions is
likely to reach 40%," he said.
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000
From: Julie Shaw <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Putin event press release
Russia’s Southern Periphery Greatest Threat to Security
Experts Discuss Chechnya, Central Asia and the Caucasus, the Middle East
Webcast and Transcript Available
With the end of the Cold War, the greatest near-term threats to Russia’s
security have come from the country’s southern periphery, or its soft
underbelly as Winston Churchill once called it. The war in Chechnya
continues with no clear end while Moscow’s stance against Islamic
“extremism” complicates relations with Muslim neighbors to the south.
Carnegie Endowment experts examine these and other issues in “193 Days of
Putin: Russia and Security Challenges from the South,” a panel discussion
now available at www.ceip.org/files/daysofputin.
In Chechnya, “the prospect for negotiated settlements are literally zero,”
says Anatol Lieven, senior associate and author of a seminal book on the
first Chechen war. A public settlement would negate what both sides have
been fighting for. Even if the Russians gain ground militarily, lower level
attacks by the Chechens will certainly continue, Lieven adds. “I think it
extremely likely that at some stage this will in fact turn into a terrorist
struggle as well.”
In Central Asia and the Caucasus, Russia is acting like “a pragmatic state
that is engaged in advancing its security interests,” says Martha Brill
Olcott, senior associate and a specialist on Central Asia. “Russia has a
potentially appealing security message that it is putting forward, a shared
security message. It is really clear that Russia shares with [the Central
Asian states] a sense that extreme anti-regime ideologies are infiltrating
the CIS, including Islam,” she adds.
In the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Russia has played a passive
role, says Shlomo Avineri, visiting scholar from the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem. “If the Americans cannot solve the issues, why try to be
partners in failure?” Russia has tried, however, to forge a bond with
Israel by way of a common threat—Islamic fundamentalists. Avineri adds that
this “doesn’t make it easier for Russian policy to get many friends in the
“193 Days of Putin” was held at the Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace on November 16, 2000 by the Endowment’s Russian and Eurasian Program.
This was the second of three seminars examining initiatives and policies of
the Putin administration’s first six months in power.
From: "Michael John Woods" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 4641-Population
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000
Regarding artical #3 in Johnson's Russia List #4641 18 November 2000, I
believe there is an error in the information given. At one point the
artical stated "Last year, average male life expectancy for the first time
ever fell lower than the pension age to 59.8 years, while female life
expectancy in Russi is 72.8 years, the minister said".
I am fairly certain that the pension age for men is 55 in Russia, at least
it is true in The Republic of Karelia where I live. It is of small
consequece perhaps, but it leaves me wonder which is wrong: Their
understanding of the pension age, the average life expectancy, or is it I
who am mistaken?
We in Karelia are under the impression that the offical life expectancy for
me in the region is only 52 years.
Russian Journalist Faces New Trial
November 21, 2000
MOSCOW (AP) - The Russian Supreme Court ordered a new trial Tuesday for a
military journalist who had been jailed for 20 months before he was acquitted
of treason charges.
The journalist, Grigory Pasko, was accused of divulging information about the
combat readiness of Russia's Pacific Fleet to the Japanese television station
Pasko, a naval captain who worked as a reporter for a military newspaper in
the Russian Far East, told the Interfax news agency that the revival of the
years-old case showed that ``Russia is becoming a torture chamber.''
Pasko claimed the charges were contrived to punish him for reports he filed
about the fleet's nuclear waste dumping practices.
He was acquitted of the treason charge last year, but convicted on a lesser
charge of improper military conduct. Sentenced to three years, Pasko was
immediately freed because he had served more than half his sentence while his
case worked its way through the courts.
Prosecutors appealed the verdict, demanding a treason conviction, while the
defense protested even the lesser conviction.
The case was sent to the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court,
which ordered the retrial, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
Prosecutor Sergei Adonin said he was pleased with the decision, the report
The ruling means it could be a year to 18 months before a new verdict is
reached, Pasko's lawyer Anatoly Pyshkin said. Pasko warned that the Supreme
Court ``ruling will dissuade other journalists from doing investigative
work,'' ITAR-Tass reported.
Russian govt backs UES reform, opposes price hikes
By Olga Popova
MOSCOW, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Russia's government discussed on Tuesday a plan to
overhaul the country's electricity monopoly, Unified Energy System EESR.RTS,
but the prime minister opposed solving problems simply by raising tariffs.
UES has put forward a restructuring plan which involves spinning off
generating, distributing and marketing units and deregulation of the
electricity market, but the proposals have been criticised by some minority
shareholders and investors.
The government has failed to explain whether current shareholders will end up
with stakes in regional power companies or in the government-controlled grid.
This investor uncertainty weighed UES stock in afternoon trading. UES closed
down 2.47 percent at $0.1104.
"To leave the sector as it is -- that is the road to nowhere," Prime Minister
Mikhail Kasyanov said as the government met to discuss the plan.
But he said raising electricity tariffs would not solve the problems faced by
UES, adding the government would oppose this.
"The long-term development of the power generating system is possible only if
we raise tariffs, but this (alone) doesn't suit us," Kasyanov said.
Trade and Economic Development Minister German Gref told reporters later that
state control over the power transmission grid would increase under proposals
due to be considered further at a government meeting in mid-December.
"On December 14, the basic principles, approaches and initial restructuring
measures, which should lead to the beginning of structural reforms in
electric power, will be confirmed," Gref said.
Kasyanov said reforms must be approached cautiously. "The aim of these
reforms is to ensure a sustainable supply for consumers as well as to ensure
He added that UES must be reformed by creating competition and equal access
so that consumers can receive electricity at reasonable and justifiable
UES has said its restructuring aims to make the sector more competitive and
profitable, but minority shareholders and foreign investors fear it might
involve cheap sales of assets.
CHUBAIS SAYS BASICS ALREADY SETTLED
The first stage of the UES plan is due to be completed by December next year.
This calls for the legal basis for restructuring to be put in place and for
the creation of infrastructure for a wholesale electricity market.
Other measures include creating primary market operators in the form of
generating companies, which should number between 10 and 15, and starting
liberalisation of the retail market.
UES chief executive Anatoly Chubais told a news conference there was no
longer any need to discuss basic issues. "It is necessary to work on the
first stage, the question of the ownership structure, and then move forward,"
"It turned out that the position of the government is close to ours...As far
as substance is concerned, there are no major differences, there are
differences over the pace," he added.
Renaissance Capital analyst Hartmut Jacob wrote in a research note on Tuesday
he was concerned that the restructure might be a compromise between various
interest groups and not sufficiently take into account minority shareholder
Andrei Abramov, analyst at Moscow brokerage NIKoil, said the state's plan to
boost control was predictable, but the future of minority stakes was not.
November 22, 2000
Investors' Report Card
By Thomas Adshead
Thomas Adshead is politics, Internet and mobile telephone analyst for Troika
Dialog. He contributed this comment to The Moscow Times.
In his first year, President Vladimir Putin has encouraged and disappointed
in equal measure. The big plus has been that there is a sense of purpose in
the administration. In the twilight of the Yeltsin years, Russia seemed to be
controlled by an elite that was too focused on internecine fighting to have
time to do anything for the country. Yeltsin used his brief periods of
resuscitation to fight fires. There were no real government initiatives
during his second term, except perhaps for the short-lived government of
Sergei Kiriyenko. Now we have a president with a manifesto, even though a
large part of that manifesto is not yet close to being executed.
Putin's manifesto and his pre-election address to voters consists of some
thoughtful policies for modernizing Russia. He pointed out that
liberalization was insufficient as an ideology to create the state
institutions of a modern society. Even the most liberal economy requires
regulation and guarantees of property rights, and the Russian state needed to
be reformed to play these roles.
So far, so good. Putin's first act was taken against the governors, most of
whom had usurped the state for their private ends. As long as they continued
to do this, any reforms started in Moscow would be ignored in the regions. So
we were delighted when Putin reduced the governors' power. His reforms gave
him limited powers, so it makes sense for him to try to get his own men
elected governor. Yes, they are mostly faceless generals from the army and
the security organs, but they are miles better than what they will replace.
Putin's attack on the oligarchs was also good news, initially. Then, as the
administration started to cut deals with the oligarchs, it became clear that
Putin did not want to bring the oligarchs to justice; he just wanted to bring
them to heel. Having said that, their power over the government is
significantly reduced. Any policy that is unpopular with both Boris
Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky can't be all bad.
The big promise that has not been delivered yet is the "dictatorship of the
law." The deals with the oligarchs, the attempted confiscation of cellular
frequencies, the trial of Edmund Pope and finally the prevention of Alexander
Rutskoi from standing for re-election as governor of Kursk all show an
administration willing to flout the law in the interest of short-term
objectives. This is exactly thethuggish behavior that many feared would
characterize the Putin presidency.
German Gref has won the battle for control of economic policy and seems to be
forging ahead with real liberal reforms, especially in terms of deregulation
and tax reduction, which should become a reality next year. Recent
announcements about the reform of the Transport Ministry and the armed forces
also show that Gref is winning most of the arguments in the Cabinet.
Some of our investors are not concerned over Putin's thuggish tactics,
especially since they seem to be directed against equally thuggish people.
They are satisfied to see Russia paying its debts and deregulating. The
problem, though, is that as long as the judicial system is open to
manipulation, there is little hope of property rights being defended against
either bandits or the government.
There are signs that Putin is starting work on reforming the judiciary. A
recent announcement on the formation of administrative courts was the first.
These will not be subject to regional authorities and will act as a forum
where citizens can sue local and federal government bodies. There are a
million ways in which a motion like this can fail to become reality, but at
least this is the right first step. If the courts start to work properly,
then we can be optimistic that Putin's reforms are for real and have a chance
Hernando De Soto, in his 1986 book "The Other Path," pointed out that when
looking at those emerging markets that succeeded and those that did not, the
main distinguishing factor was the existence of institutions guaranteeing
property rights. The countries of the former socialist bloc follow this
paradigm. The important thing in these countries is often not the text of the
laws, but the degree to which they are enforced and observed.
This has to start with the government. For instance, Communications Minister
Leonid Reiman recently decreed that no local telecom company could appoint a
general director without the approval of the Kremlin's regional
representative. This contravenes the law on joint-stock companies, under
which only shareholders can decide who should be general director of a
company. The old instincts are still strong.
Similar examples abound: Press Minister Mikhail Lesin signed a document
granting Gusinsky immunity from prosecution. Under the Constitution, the
government has no right to do this. Under a real "dictatorship of the law,"
Lesin would have been fired and possibly prosecuted.
So we must question Putin's commitment to the rule of law. We understand that
thuggish tactics need to be used against thugs like the oligarchs and the
governors. But these tactics serve to reinforce the sense among law
enforcement agencies that the law can still be flouted if the party line
decrees it. And this undermines the institutions that should guarantee
On balance, Putin has done enough to earn the benefit of the doubt. No one
has a magic wand that will turn Russia into a paradise overnight. Putin has
taken on powerful entrenched interests already, and he may beat them. But
until judicial reform becomes a reality, all other reforms remain hollow.
Daily News Columnist Nelson Dies
November 21, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) - New York Daily News columnist Lars-Erik Nelson has died. He
Nelson was a former Daily News bureau chief in Washington and was a columnist
for the newspaper at the time of his death Monday.
President Clinton issued a statement Tuesday expressing sadness at Nelson's
death, calling him ``a fearless, independent, no-nonsense reporter and
columnist who believed in getting to the heart of the story and getting it
Nelson's true gift, Clinton said, ``was translating complex stories about our
democracy for the American people. He did it with humor and a dogged pursuit
for the truth.''
``As his friends knew, beneath his gruff exterior was a gentle spirit and a
warm heart. Hillary and I will miss him and the unique insight that he shared
with New York and the entire nation,'' Clinton said.
Nelson died at home Monday while watching television. The cause of death has
not been determined, said Tom DeFrank, Daily News Washington bureau chief.
``I divide the world into two kinds of folks: those I want in the foxhole
with me and those I don't. I always wanted Lars in my foxhole,'' DeFrank
Jim Toedtman, Washington bureau chief for Newsday, recalled Nelson as ``one
of the sweetest, clear-thinking people in the business. He set a wonderful
model for all the people who worked with him.''
Nelson had an offbeat whimsical streak, to the delight of reporters on
assignments with him.
On a trip to Latin America with then-Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger,
he purchased a guitar and learned to play it, almost, on the long flight back
Later, Nelson graduated to a balalaika, which he also did not play well on
Professionally, he was a throwback to the pre-television-era reporter of the
old school who concentrated on facts. He was a stickler, also, for reporters
keeping their distance from the high-profile officials they covered.
Before joining the Daily News in 1979, Nelson had served as a diplomatic
correspondent for Reuters, specializing in Soviet and eastern European
affairs, reporting from London, Prague, Moscow, New York and Washington.
>From 1993 to 1995 he was Washington columnist for Newsday, then returned to
the Daily News. For the past two years he also wrote for the New York Review
Earlier he had worked at the Riverdale (N.Y.) Press, the New York Herald
Tribune, the Current Digest of the Soviet Press and The Record in Bergen
A native New Yorker, Nelson was a graduate of Columbia College with a major
in Russian. He was married to the former Goody Cantwell and had two grown
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000 1
From: benjamin harshav <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 4643/Chagall
The article on Chagall is filled with mistakes and Soviet-inherited
mythologies. I have over a thousand letters by and to Chagall and many
unknown documents. A selection of about 500, along with my reconstruction
of many chapters in his life, are in my huge book The Lives of Marc
Chagall: A Documentary Narrative, to appear next year with Standford UP.
Here, just a few remarks -- in BOLD ON THE MARGINS. I TAKE TIME TO COMMENT,
BECAUSE THIS IS THE TYPICAL FOG SPREAD ABOUT CHAGALL'S OSTENSIBLE LOVE FOR
RUSSIA, WHICH IS EXTREMELY PROBLEMATIC AND SHOULD NOT BE BLINDLY REPEATED
IN THE WEST. THE EFFORTS MADE IN VITEBSK TO RESTORE CHAGALL'S MEMORY ARE
COMMENDABLE AND DESERVE OUR HELP, BUT NOT WITH SOVIET-STYLE SENTIMENTAL
Benjamin Harshav, prof. of Comparative Literature, Hebrew, and Slavic, Yale
>19 November 2000
>OUTCAST ARTIST CHAGALL AT LAST EMBRACED BY HIS NATIVE VILLAGE
(???: "Village?" IT WAS THE CAPITAL OF A GUBERNIA, LIKE RALEIGH IN NORTH
>By Colin McMahon
>Tribune Foreign Correspondent
>VITEBSK, Belarus -- Even if Marc Chagall could not go home again, his art
>finally found a place in the city of his birth.
>For decades during Soviet times, Vitebsk all but denied that Chagall
>but the Belarussian city has now embraced the artist, with two museums
>honoring his life and his work.
THAT IS VERY NICE AND DESERVING, BUT CHAGALL KNEW NOTHING ABOUT BELARUS, HE
REPEATEDLY DESCRIBES VITEBSK AS "LITAH" (JEWISH LITHUANIA, BASED ON THE
MEDIEVAL BOUNDARIES OF LITHUANIA), OR AS PART OF RUSSIA. IT WAS ANNEXED TO
BYELORUSSIA IN 1924, AFTER CHAGALL'S DEPARTURE.
>Like Chagall's childhood a century ago in the Jewish quarter of Vitebsk
THERE WAS NO JEWISH QUARTER, BECAUSE THE JEWS WERE THE MAJORITY POPULATION
AND DOMINATED THE TRADE AND MANUFACTURE, SHOPS AND BANKS WERE CLOSED ON
>museums are humble. They contain none of Chagall's famous works. They offer
>no multimedia shows or interactive displays. They often lack heat.
>Yet the very existence of the museums shows how Vitebsk, Belarus and
>neighboring Russia have warmed to Chagall since the collapse of the Soviet
>Union a decade ago. They also give Chagall's admirers a chance to better
>understand the place and time of Chagall's life that so greatly influenced
>"If you asked people in Vitebsk 15 years ago--even 10 years ago--if they
>who Marc Chagall was, few if any could answer," said Arkady Podlipsky, a
>local journalist who has written books on Chagall and Vitebsk. "Now nearly
>everyone here would know, and they are proud."
>The turnaround is so complete that the museums count among their most
>supporters former communist officials who once made Chagall disappear (HOW?).
>Less than a decade ago, the residents of Chagall's old house had to hold
>impromptu tours for the dedicated art lovers who came on unscripted,
>That home was made into a museum in 1997. A statue at the corner now points
>the way. A plaque marks the spot, and a guide describes how the
>Chagalls--Marc was the oldest of eight children born to a devoutly
religious ("DEVOUTLY RELIGIOUS" IS VERY PROBLEMATIC)
>herring salesman--managed in a squat house of four rooms.
>The second Chagall museum, across the Western Dvina River on the other side
>of town, houses a small but growing collection of Chagall's art. Among the
>works is the last that Chagall ever did.
>Thanks to Chagall and especially (!?? WHY IS HE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHAGALL'S
ART COLLEGE?) Kasimir Malevich and his Suprematism
>movement, Vitebsk became a center of the avant-garde after World War I. But
>Chagall soon parted with (WAS PUSHED OUT BY!) Malevich and with the ever
more demanding Communist Party political masters.
>Chagall left the Soviet Union in 1922. Though he planned to return
(WHAT??? HE MADE STRENUOUS EFFORTS TO LEAVE, NEVER TO RETURN TO RUSSIA),
>authorities planned otherwise. They would not allow Chagall back into the
>USSR until he was an old man and then only for a visit to Moscow. They never
>granted Chagall passage to Vitebsk, just inside the Belarus border about 250
>miles northwest of Moscow.
>Chagall died in 1985 in France, his adopted home and the country with which
>many art fans most closely identify him. He was 97.
>The separation from his homeland gnawed at Chagall, (ONLY IN FLATTERING
LETTERS TO RUSSIANS. IN 1922 HE WROTE THAT VITEBSK WAS DEAD FOR HIM AND IN
1948, RETURNING FROM US TO EUROPE, HE WAS AFRAID OF A RUSSIAN TAKEOVER OF
WESTERN EUROPE, WHICH WOULD SEND HIM TO SIBERIA)
who referred to Paris as "my second Vitebsk." (WHEN? IN 1927)
>Vitebsk was not only Chagall's birthplace; it also provided inspiration.
>of his works--"I and the Village," ("TRADITIONS OF JEWISH LIFE? YOU MUST
BE KIDDING, HE WEARS A CROSS) for example, and "The Rabbi of Vitebsk,"
>which belongs to the Art Institute of Chicago--draw on the rhythms and
>traditions of Jewish life before World War I.
>"It seems that the whole history of painting never knew an artist so
>to his native city as Chagall," wrote Ilya Ehrenburg, (IS THIS AN
AUTHORITY FOR YOU?)
an officially sanctioned Soviet writer who kept in touch with Chagall
through much of the
>Ehrenburg said that when he saw Chagall in Paris before World War II, the
>artist was busy painting a series of little houses from Vitebsk. When the
>met in New York in 1946, Chagall talked about little else besides Vitebsk's
>Chagall had been arrested in Paris in April 1941,(HE LEFT PARIS IN AUGUST
1939 AND BOUGHT A HOUSE IN PROVENCE IN JULY 1940. HE WAS ARRESTED IN
MARSEILLE) but the United States intervened, (VARIAN FRY INTERFERED,
AGAINST THE WISH OF THE US STATE DEPARTMENT) securing Chagall's release
and, most likely, saving him from the
>Holocaust. He spent most of the 1940s in America, working to raise money
>the Soviet war effort and worrying (???) about his hometown.
>In 1944, Chagall wrote a valentine to Vitebsk, publishing it in a leading
(MARGINAL, COMMUNIST YIDDISH PAPER IN NEW YORK) Jewish newspaper:
>"For a long time, my beloved city, I haven't seen you, I haven't heard from
>you, I haven't talked to you and to your people. My Motherland, I left in
>your land the ancestors' graves and the scattered stones.
>"I did not live with you, but there was not a single picture of mine that
>would not reflect your pride and grief."
>Indeed, Chagall once said, the Vitebsk of his art was "the town of my
>childhood, where I can enter without visas and passports." (DISTORTION OF
A POEM ABOUT HIS FICTIONAL PAINTINGS, WHICH ARE THE ONLY COUNTRY HE CAN
ENTER WITHOUT VISAS AND PASSPORTS)
>Vitebsk today bears little resemblance to the city of Chagall's time.
>Relatively few Jews remain among the population of 375,000. Those who
>survived Russian pogroms, Soviet repression, the Nazi occupation and still
>more Soviet repression either emigrated or assimilated. A city once dotted
>with more than two dozen (SIXTY!!!) synagogues now has one.
>This change was made clear when the art museum tried to prepare an
>called "Chagall and Jewish Culture."
>"Knowing we did not have objects from Jewish family life, antique materials
>and such, I spent a whole year looking for them in the museums of Belarus,"
>said Ludmila Khmelnitskaya, who directs the Marc Chagall Museum.
>"This is a cultural layer that has totally disappeared," Khmelnitskaya said.
>"There were no Jewish pogroms during Soviet times, but there was state
>anti-Semitism. Museums just did not collect Jewish things. Everything we
>found we found through private donors."
>Private donors, almost exclusively from outside impoverished Belarus, are
>driving the Chagall renaissance in Vitebsk. A German collector has turned
>over dozens of works to Khmelnitskaya's museum. Funds also are being raised
>for a Chagall library at the museum.
>Khmelnitskaya knows how far this has all come, and how fast.(HER EFFORTS
ARE COMMENDABLE, INDEED!)
>In 1987, when the world was celebrating the 100th anniversary of Chagall's
>birth, the communist authorities of Vitebsk waged an anti-Chagall campaign.
>He was excised from an artwork designed to honor three Belarussian
>celebration in his name was canceled two days before it was to be held.
>"During his long life Marc Chagall learned a lot," Podlipsky wrote. "He had
>bad luck and success, knew hunger and material well being, indifference and
>world glory. There was only one thing he was deprived of: recognition in his
>motherland. And he suffered very much (ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK...) because
Russia: 'No Flexing of Muscles' in Kitty Hawk Flyover
November 18, 2000
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Sergey Ptichkin: "Su's Made Dry Run Over Kitty Hawk. At
Same Time U.S. Seamen Wetted Their Aircraft Carrier's Deck With Kerosene"
It is a unique occurrence for Russian combat
aircraft to fly past a U.S. carrier group. In the sense that our
aircraft belong to the grouping which ensures the air defense interests
of the Far East and the Pacific Fleet.
Naval aircraft -- both ours and U.S. ones -- quite frequently fly past
foreign warships sailing in neutral waters. It is no wonder, therefore,
that the actions of four Russian aircraft against the aircraft carrier
Kitty Hawk failed to elicit a negative reaction from the U.S. official
ITAR-TASS reports from Washington that an official Pentagon spokesman
declared: "We have had no incidents with Russia, and I know of no
negative reaction on our part to these flyovers." The Americans are
altogether surprised that events which happened a month ago have suddenly
elicited some sort of response in Russia just now.
This has happened because all the information was strictly secret. It
was first made public 15 November by Lieutenant General Anatoliy
Nagovitsyn, commander of the 11th Air Force and Air Defense Army, on the
training courses in Tver for leader personnel of the Russian Armed Forces.
The combat training plans of naval pilots contain a section devoted to
rehearsing methods for overcoming ships' air defenses. Overcoming the
air defenses of a U.S. naval carrier grouping is regarded as the height
of perfection. This succeeds extremely rarely, and the Americans must be
given their due, since they organize the defense of their aircraft
carriers very competently and highly reliably. However, even the best of
us can slip up, as the saying goes.
Way back in 1970 pilots of a Tu-16 bomber group of USSR Naval Aviation
of the Pacific Fleet were ordered at all costs to break the air defenses
of a U.S. aircraft carrier sailing in the Sea of Japan. Such a thing had
not succeeded before. U.S. fighters would always form a kind of escort
for aircraft of this type long before they approached the target. At the
same time one of the "enemy" aircraft would be sure to fly beneath the
fuselage of the Tu-16 equipped with photographic equipment, preventing it
from photographing the aircraft carrier from above. Without such
photographs the mission was regarded as unfulfilled.
This was what happened this time, too. However, the Yanks certainly
did not expect the Russians to employ military guile. One of the Tu-16's
executed a maneuver which is carried out on coming in to land and started
descending toward the carrier's flight deck, from which a fighter was
just then preparing to be catapulted. The Soviet bomber even extended
its landing gear. On seeing this the Americans simply went crazy. The
fighter hanging beneath the Tu-16's belly at once peeled off to the side,
and panic ensued on the aircraft carrier.
The fighter, which had already been hooked up to the catapult, was
jerked somewhere to the side and became jammed tight. The personnel
serving the main deck scattered in all directions, seeking shelter from
the Russian "badger" (this is the NATO classification for the Tu-16),
which was ready to flop down onto the aircraft carrier. Our aircraft
flew slowly over the giant ship, photographing absolutely everything
taking place down below. The attack had succeeded! Although in reality,
of course, having accurately dropped its load of bombs, the Tu-16 would
at once have been destroyed by the covering aircraft already in the air.
Nevertheless, the breakthrough had been made, and in real combat the
aircraft carrier would have received damage which would have prevented it
from fulfilling combat missions.
The photographs obtained were examined by specialists in the Far East
and in Moscow: They clearly showed the panic which reigned on the U.S.
aircraft carrier. But those photographs have not yet been made public.
We still do not know the pilots' names either. It remains to be hoped
that the Navy Command will in time declassify the 30-year-old information.
The recent breakthrough by an air group, which Lt. Gen. Nagovitsyn
described, was fundamentally different from the one that occurred in
1970. First, a very complex task was set the Air Force's air defense
pilots, who should not, as it were, tackle it in principle. Second, this
task was fulfilled brilliantly, and in reality the aircraft carrier would
have been destroyed before it would have been able to make ready to
defend itself, as recorded in the impartial aerial photographs.
According to the combat training plan for pilots of the 11th Air Force
and Air Defense Army, on 17 October a group consisting of two Su-24MR
reconnaissance aircraft (aircraft of the same type are used in naval
aviation as missile carriers) and two Su-27 fighter escorts was to find a
carrier group of the opposite side in the Sea of Japan and reveal its air
defenses. It was a very complex task right from the start, since the
Americans effectively disguise such groups in the shadow of numerous
islands, and so it is hard to detect the aircraft carrier even from the
air with the help of radar. In addition, operational radar enables ships
to locate approaching aircraft and to give them a "worthy" welcome.
However, our pilots displayed the greatest professionalism and
managed, without giving themselves away, to determine the exact
coordinates of the "enemy" aircraft carrier (it turned out to be the
Kitty Hawk). What happened next is already known. The Su-24MR's
switched on their cameras and made a combat approach to the aircraft
carrier at the moment when it was being supplied with fuel for the
aircraft from a tanker. The U.S. seamen and pilots were caught unawares.
Anatoliy Nagovitsyn said that men on the aircraft carrier started
cutting the lines supplying the fuel and hurriedly preparing the duty
fighters for takeoff. All the Kitty Hawk's own air defense assets were
turned on -- which fact was also recorded by the reconnaissance aircraft.
As a result, the Americans succeeded in getting two aircraft into the
air -- an F/A-18 and an F-14. Almost at once, however, the Su-27 fighter
escorts employed an evasive maneuver to lead them away, and the Su-24MR's
made several more flyovers of the totally open aircraft carrier Kitty
Hawk. The pilots were given a real heroes' welcome back at their airfield.
Naturally, there was no flexing of muscles in this instance, and this
is why the Pentagon did not start any political demarches, and the Air
Force and Air Defense Command did not at once publicize the successful
flight. What happened was an ordinary war game, in which the Russian
pilots gained the upper hand. The Air Force and Air Defense Command has
recommended all the pilots involved in the operation for high state
awards. They have deserved this. Sadly, our pilots fly very rarely but,
as they themselves have confirmed, they do so accurately nonetheless.
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