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CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List
 

 

November 28, 2000   

This Date's Issues:   4656 ē 4657

 

Johnson's Russia List
#4656
28 November 2000
davidjohnson@erols.com

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Tennis-Cheer up Moscow with the Masters, says Kafelnikov.
2. Reuters:  Russian party boy goes dot-com in e-commerce study.
3. Dmitri Pleshkov: Re: 4186/Russian chess, re: new economy in Russia.
4. RIA: AIDS expert forecasts millions of HIV cases in Russia by 2003.
5. Itar-Tass: Russian military concerned at US plans to modernize Minuteman-3, Hera missiles.
6. RFE/RL: Sophie Lambroschini, Far East Crisis Show Limits Of Putin's Centralization Reforms
7. Reuters: Russia's Putin fills U.S. vacuum with initiatives.
8. Patricia Dowden: Letter to NYT Magazine re "Autumn of the Oligarchs"
9. BBC Monitoring: Anti-Semitism recourse of Russian political elite - newspaper.
10. gazeta.ru: Military Bosses Predict Ends of Chechen War.
11. The Independent (UK): Steve Crawshaw, I was wrong to help elect Putin, says bitter kingmaker Berezovsky.
12. The Russia Journal: Otto Latsis, Strategy and demography.
13. Toronto Star: Paul Webster, Activists Urging Putin To Turn Green.]

******

#1
Tennis-Cheer up Moscow with the Masters, says Kafelnikov
 
LISBON, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Russian Olympic gold medallist Yevgeny Kafelnikov
wants Moscow to stage the season-ending ATP Masters Cup to allow the Russian
people to indulge what he claims is one of their few pleasures left in life.

"People have nothing left except Spartak Moscow and tennis in Russia,"
Kafelnikov said.

The Sochi-born player is in Lisbon with compatriot and current world number
one Marat Safin for the 2000 Masters Cup.

"Moscow should definitely try to stage this. And we should get it. Come on,
we would have sellout crowds every night."

******

#2
FEATURE: Russian party boy goes dot-com in e-commerce study
By Melissa Akin
 
MOSCOW, Nov 27 (Reuters) - At 4 p.m. on a Monday afternoon in late November,
Fyodor Pavlov-Andreyevich closed the door on his worldly life as the editor
of a Moscow teen magazine and became iOne, a cybermonk on an online crusade.

"I am hereby obliged not to go outside," Pavlov-Andreyevich, outfitted in a
patchwork 'cybersuit' sewn by a local designer, intoned as a military band
played outside the apartment building, where he was to be cloistered for
three weeks.

"Looking out the window is allowed, though. I am hereby obliged to use only
the Internet to communicate with the outside world, he said.

And then Pavlov-Andreyevich/iOne, a professed lover of rap, funk, R&B, house,
early Fassbinder films and fashion, was left home alone in an empty 156
square-meter apartment.

He has only two computers, a dedicated line, three Web cams and a credit card
with a $500 limit to sustain his life.

Unlike the American DotComGuy, a former systems manager who earns a salary
promoting e-commerce by living off his computer and credit card, iOne's
financial sponsor, Alfa-Bank, told him to obtain credit and test his
entrepreneurial skills on the Web.

IOne's Internet odyssey was dreamed up by Andersen Consulting as a combined
promotional action and study of buying habits in Russia's fledgling
e-commerce business.

Of the $200 billion in e-commerce revenues worldwide predicted by Andersen
Consulting, Russian ventures will likely account for only a few million
dollars.

There are still barely a couple of million Internet users in Russia out of a
population of about 146 million. E-commerce opportunities are limited by the
weak purchasing power of most Russians and lack of reliable non-cash payment
methods.

RUSSIAN E-COMMERCE STILL IN INFANCY

Russia is slowly developing business to business, or B2B, Internet services
in a bid to improve the efficiency of companies and bridge a gap with Western
counterparts. But Business to Consumer, or B2C, remains in its infancy.

Russian Internet retailers, or e-tailers, are rare. Very few local sites
allow users to pick out goods and actually pay for them online. In Moscow,
only four or five companies sell food online, and these sites do not always
work.

"We will see what the Internet offers today, what it will offer tomorrow, and
what it will never offer at all," said Yuri Katzman, director for new
projects at Kommersant Publishing House, which is sponsoring the iOne project
with Andersen Consulting.

For entertainment, Pavlov-Andreyevich invited an alternative rock star for a
concert from his apartment and a modish director to stage fragments of his
latest play, all Webcast on his site, www.ione.ru (http://www.ione.ru).

He also signed up for online Spanish courses so that he can chat online with
a counterpart in Chile. He'll call up his girlfriend on ICQ and invite her
for company.

But she is barred from bringing him food, and he isn't very clear on how he's
going to feed himself.

Pavlov-Andreyevich -- a vegan to boot -- says he's never bought anything
online in his life.

RUSSIAN iONE HAS DOTCOZA TO DINNER

As he started his cyber seclusion, iONE said he was hoping for some advice
from his first dinner guest, dotcoza, aka Chris Botha, a Johannesburg
resident who served in Andersen Consulting's first emerging markets
e-commerce experiment.

Botha, who came to Moscow for the launch of the iOne project, said that in
the early days of South African e-commerce, he found ordered goods would fail
to arrive because of poor infrastructure.

Katzman said the fledgling state of Russian e-commerce meant iOne wouldn't be
able to stay in his "kiberdom" (cyberhouse) for more than three weeks.

"Today there are some goods and some services you can't find online," Katzman
said, naming medical and housekeeping services.

"This is a big problem," iOne said, surveying the mud tracked into the
Kiberdom by an army of television journalists.

"I haven't been able to find a virtual maid. I'll have to go on an auction
site and maybe some kind woman will respond. Maybe a virtual maid has a card
reader on her arm so I can pay with credit."

******

#3
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000
From: "Dmitri Pleshkov" <dkp@mse.ru>
Subject: Re: 4186/Russian chess, re: new economy in Russia

Dear David, please find some concerns re. Sergei Vorobiev's article on
Russian management.

I think Mr. Vorobiev presented a very funny and at the same time complete
and correct observation of what's going on in Russia from the executive's
point of view. At the same time I don't quite understand his pessimism
specially having in mind that he himself is doing executive search in
Russia for the last seven years. The 13th function (which is just great
definition I believe) is the only one which allows you to survive in the
developing market. And in the developed as well: look at Japan for example.
Nobody is playing by the rules when the rules do not exist. And if you look
at foreign executives in Russia (which Mr. Vorobiev has as an example of
"real" executives), they use this function in Russia as effective as
Russian managers. And those who don't - they disappear. The BP Amoco case
with Unexim Bank or Metromedia with Sistema and Comstar - just two
illustration. What the managers SHOULD do is to look at the best Russian
"chess players" and study their rules for to play with them in the same
league and not to be so surprised and upset by what they are doing.
I also would be happy to hear from Esther Dyson on this topic: because I
believe that her favourite and most promising Russian executives Anatoly
Karachinsky is indeed one of the best "Russian chess players".

Best regards,
Dmitry Pleshkov
Vice-President, Moscow Stock Exchange

******

#4
AIDS expert forecasts millions of HIV cases in Russia by 2003
Source: RIA news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1550 gmt 27 Nov 00

Russia's top AIDS expert said on Monday 27th November that Russia may have
millions of HIV cases by the end of 2003.

Vadim Pokrovskiy, a member of Russia's Academy of Medical Science and the
director of the Russian centre for prevention of AIDS, told a Moscow news
conference that 699 people have died of AIDS so far in Russia, 113 of whom
were children.

The Russian news agency RIA quoted Pokrovskiy as saying:

"Given the existing growth trend in the number of HIV cases, Russia will have
millions of HIV cases in two-three years time."

He added that it cost over 10,000 US dollars a year to treat an AIDS case.
The state budget for AIDS treatment was just R44m (1.6 m US dollars) a year,
enough to treat 50 people. Russia currently has 418 people with full-blown
AIDS, he said.

He said 65m US dollars needed to be spent by the government on an advertizing
campaign that would tell the groups most at risk - narcotic drugs users,
young people, and employees of the sex business - how to avoid catching the
disease.

******

#5
Russian military concerned at US plans to modernize Minuteman-3, Hera
missiles
ITAR-TASS

Moscow, 27th November: Fundamental modernization of US Minuteman-3
intercontinental ballistic missiles will create additional opportunities for
the production of the Hera missile which is banned by the USSR-USA treaty on
the elimination of their medium-range and shorter-range missiles, which was
signed on 8th December 1987. The Russian Defence Ministry today told an
ITAR-TASS correspondent that "Minuteman-3 missiles are currently undergoing
modernization along three lines: equipment used for quick input of combat
tasks and for missile launch is being modernized; the most sophisticated
targeting system, which radically improves the accuracy of target hitting, is
being installed; and the missile's first and second stages are being replaced
by new stages that use solid fuel components. The first successful launch of
the modernized Minuteman-3 missile took place in November last year",
military experts say.

They say the main subcontractor, Boeing, delivered 500 Minuteman-3 missiles
to the US air force (each worth 7m dollars). "According to available data,
the Pentagon is not planning to destroy the stages removed from Minuteman-3
missiles, and this gives grounds to believe that the design of the Hera
missile, assembled using stages removed from Minuteman-2 intercontinental
ballistic missiles and Pershing-2 targeting systems, which were subject to
recycling under the treaty on medium-range and shorter-range missiles, will
be further improved. The use of Minuteman-3 stages will increase Hera's
operational range up to 5,000 km, so that the missile will be able to deliver
more powerful warheads to the target.

The deployment of such missiles on the European continent endangers not only
Russia's security but that of a number of other countries on the continent.
This situation creates conditions where the states that favour inviolability
of international agreements, including the treaty on medium-range and
shorter-range missiles, will have to look for appropriate measures," the
military say.

******

#6
Russia: Far East Crisis Show Limits Of Putin's Centralization Reforms
By Sophie Lambroschini

President Vladimir Putin has made restoring order in many of Russia's
mismanaged regions a key part of his reform program. But, reports Moscow
correspondent Sophie Lambroschini, Putin's efforts to centralize more
authority in Moscow could prove ineffective in resolving a severe energy
crisis and months of salary arrears now crippling Russia's Far East region.

Moscow, 27 November 2000 (RFE/RL) -- The energy reductions and salary arrears
now crippling parts of the Primorye Krai -- a region closer to Tokyo than to
Moscow -- in Russia's Far East has left tens of thousands cold, hungry, and
angry.

Some area residents -- like the 10,000 inhabitants of the town of Kovalerovo
-- are apparently hoping for little less than a miracle from God to solve
their problems. They sent an appeal to the Russian Orthodox patriarch Aleksi
II begging him, in their words, "to save them from freezing."

While the federal government is looking for those responsible for the crisis
in the region itself, local authorities claim the situation has been blown
out of proportion by Moscow in order to discredit them.

Energy crises in Primorye, whose capital is the Pacific Ocean port of
Vladivostok, have become chronic over the past several years. But this time,
the energy shortage also poses a direct challenge to Putin's Kremlin, which
has insisted that strict centralization of power is the only way to fight
local mismanagement and lawlessness.

Primorye is governed by Yevgeny Nazdratenko, who is notorious for his
misrule. At first glance, the region seems a prime candidate for Kremlin
intervention to exercise direct authority. But many Russian analysts say that
in the case of Nazdratenko, the president has few effective weapons to use in
enforcing his promised reforms.

The analysts agree that a combination of recent factors -- such as
insufficient fuel reserves, energy cuts due to accumulated regional debts and
broken-down equipment -- have helped produce the energy cuts in Primorye. But
they also point to more fundamental reasons, like inveterate embezzlement,
insufficient regional revenue not compensated by federal subsidies, shady
energy deals, and severe rises in fuel prices. At the same time, many
analysts hold Nazdratenko -- accused of criminal management and
election-tampering -- largely responsible for the region's chaos.

Still, Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin
announced yesterday that Moscow would provide the region with additional
financing.

For Pyotr Kozma, editor of the East West Institute's weekly regional news
bulletin, the Primorye crisis makes clear that the Kremlin's new
centralization policy is helpless against autocratic regional governors such
as Nazdratenko.

"Actually, the situation there is in a deadlock. I don't know how the central
leadership can solve it. Strong tactics won't work."

Three towns in Primorye -- Artem, Kovalerovo and Partizansk, with a total of
60,000 residents -- currently are enduring sub-freezing temperatures while
partially cut off from heating. In nearby Ussuriisk, where the heating only
works part of the time as well, teachers are on strike to recover six months
of largely unpaid salaries. Russian television features daily reports showing
regional families in gloves and woolen hats huddled around 19th-century small
wood stoves.

Over the past few months, Putin has promised to put an end to regional
fiefdoms such as Primorye, where courts, businesses, and police are all under
the governor's exclusive orders. Earlier this year, the Kremlin pushed a
reform through the State Duma meant to put governors under Moscow's control.
Seven Moscow-appointed inspectors, whose powers are substantial and may yet
be extended, are out searching for violations in the regions.

But in Nazdratenko's case, the Kremlin did not go much further than a
reprimand. Putin's inspector for the Far East, Konstantin Pulikovsky,
criticized Nazdratenko for allowing the energy and teachers' wages crises to
occur. Pulikovsky also ordered law-enforcement agencies to determine where
the money for the salaries had gone and why people in the region had
insufficient heat.

Last Wednesday (November 22), special Duma hearings on the energy crisis
finished with deputies squabbling and no collective action taken.

According to Kozma of the East West Institute, the Kremlin could push for
getting a relatively docile Federation Council -- the parliament's upper
house, made up of regional leaders -- to lift Nazdratenko's parliamentary
immunity. But Kozma adds, Primorye represents a no-win situation for the
Kremlin because Nazdratenko has simply become too powerful. For now, he says,
there is no realistic replacement for a man who has total control of the
region, "If the local power is replaced there, it will end up a situation
where the economic infrastructure will be uncontrollable because it was set
up under the authority of only one person -- Nazdratenko. If someone else
comes in, he will be sabotaged, and everything will fall to pieces."

Kozma concludes that Moscow is better off being taking a pragmatic approach
and seeking to negotiate a compromise with Nazdratenko. Primorye Duma deputy
Viktor Cherepkov -- the former mayor of Vladivostok and a long-time
Nazdratenko opponent -- goes even further. He says that the crisis in the
Primorye actually reveals Moscow's weakness.

Cherepkov notes that the recently passed centralization reform includes a law
that allows Putin to suspend a governor if a criminal investigation is opened
against him. He says that many governors criticized this law as a potential
instrument of blackmail. But in Cherepko's view, it is in fact useless for
the time being. That's because the new law can only be implemented when a
governor leaves his seat in the Federation Council -- which could be as late
as 2002.

Cherepkov also warns that other local bosses may learn from Nazdratenko's
example.

"This lack of determination [in Moscow] creates two difficulties for the
president. [First,] it discredits him. And, second, it can create in other
regions the same malign phenomena as exists today in Primorye."

For that reason, Cherepkov urges even more radical centralization. But
Carnegie regional analyst Aleksei Titkov points out that the on-going energy
crisis in Primorye -- already in its fourth year -- has as much to do with
rusting pipes and rises in energy price as with regional mismanagement.

Titkov says the Primorye crisis shows the limits of present federal policies
in a country where local rulers have had years to establish their power. It
also proves, he says, that the relations between Moscow, the regions and
powerful energy producers are extremely complex and cannot be solved simply
by a few new laws on centralization.

*******

#7
ANALYSIS-Russia's Putin fills U.S. vacuum with initiatives
By Ron Popeski
 
MOSCOW, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has steered clear
of comment on the contested U.S. presidential election, but has put the weeks
of turmoil to good advantage with a barrage of policy initiatives.

"If a confusing transition is bad for the United States, it's logical for
Russia to take advantage of it," said one Western diplomat. "This has allowed
Putin to be seen centre- stage with what might be seen as relatively good and
novel ideas."

Putin's press service and the Foreign Ministry politely declined on Monday to
comment on the proclamation by George W. Bush that he won the November 7
poll.

As in other countries, Kremlin officials had been too quick to offer
congratulations on the day following the poll when it initially appeared
Vice-President Al Gore had conceded defeat.

But Putin, who has made foreign policy a priority and travelled widely since
his March election victory, has not hesitated to turn America's embarrassment
to good account.

"Since Putin has been in charge, the centrepiece of all his initiatives has
been opposition to a mono-polar world," said the Western diplomat.

Some of these initiatives, pressed during the weeks since the U.S. vote, were
longstanding ideas freshly repackaged.

Putin repeated his offer to slash strategic nuclear arsenals to 1,500
warheads each for the United States and Russia -- an easier number for
cash-strapped Moscow to maintain.

He called for quick ratification by signatories of a revised agreement on
Conventional Forces in Europe -- altered to take account of Russian troops
redeployed in southern regions in the campaign to crush Chechen separatists.

A top official said Moscow might soften opposition to U.S. proposals to alter
the 1972 Anti-Ballistic missile treaty in order to proceed with a national
anti-missile defence system.

PUTIN SHOWS REASONABLE FACE

Putin renewed Russia's resistance to the proposals, but was shown, alongside
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, appearing utterly reasonable in offering
to discuss them.

"The arms initiatives were typical Russian foreign policy moves independent
of the election, moves used even way back in (Soviet leader Nikita)
Khrushchev's time," said Leonid Velikhov, an observer for the weekly magazine
Itogi. "This was always a means to send the ball into the other man's court."

Putin looked equally reasonable in saying he understood the motivation for a
European Union initiative to set up a rapid reaction force of 60,000 men for
peacekeeping and emergencies.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov even suggested that Russia was ready to
cooperate with the force, which he described as a "completely natural" bid to
look after the continent's security.

Analysts said Putin's Middle East moves might have been aimed at making
Washington look uncomfortable, an aim greatly aided by the uncertainty over
recounts in Florida.

"The Middle East crisis occurred independently of the U.S. election, so
taking advantage of this for Russian diplomacy was good fortune during the
U.S. election confusion," said Velikhov.

"The issue of relations with Iran was probably more linked to the election.
You could almost say Russia was inspired on this issue by the election."

Russia's understanding with the United States on halting new conventional
arms deals with Iran, viewed by Washington as a sponsor of state terrorism,
became a hot issue in the campaign. Gore's critics pointed to it as evidence
of a failed policy.

Moscow's decision to back out of the accord and embark on new lucrative deals
was actually taken four days before the vote, though it was not made public
until last week. Ivanov dismissed suggestions of impending U.S. sanctions.

Moscow also showed it intended to re-establish a prominent role in Middle
East peace negotiations, announcing that Putin had overseen telephone talks
between visiting Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak.

Analysts said the Russians took satisfaction that Arafat's trip -- though
organised at his request -- had produced an agreement on resuming operations
at joint liaison offices. That was in contrast, they said, with the limited
effect of U.S.-sponsored talks last month at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

But the effect of the initiatives remained an open question.

"It is certain that Russia tried to take advantage of the situation. But just
how much it is by design or by simple coincidence is difficult to gauge,"
said Ilya Kulikov, a political correspondent for ORT public television.

"Success is also hard to assess. Even with the (Barak's) telephone call with
Arafat, it is hard to see just what has changed."

******

#8
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000
From: Patricia Dowden <pdowden@compuserve.com>
Subject: Letter to NYT Magazine re "Autumn of the Oligarchs"

Dear David,

On October 8 the New York Times Magazine ran an article entitled "Autumn of
the Oligarchs". The article discussed the Kremlin technique of
"kompromat", which involves weakening the oligarchs' power by spreading
damaging rumors about them, and mentions some of the charges leveled at
Alfa Group's Mikhail Fridman and Peter Aven.

Based on a three year relationship with these men and about 40 of the
senior managers at Alfa Bank, I responded with the following letter to the
editor, which has never been published.  I hope you will share it with your
readers, along with the email note I received from Alfa Bank's Chief
Information Officer, a former Citibank senior executive who has been with
Alfa Bank for about a year.  This note describes the impressions of an
insider who has the perspective of Western operations against which to
measure Alfa's operations.

The misleading information in this article, and the failure to publish a
challenge to its facts, is another example of the pattern of press bias
that continues to concern many of us regarding reporting about Russia. 
Fridman and Aven have earned the right to be judged on their actions rather
than assumed guilty by association as members of the group labeled
"oligarchs".  Even the often critical Economist Magazine has recently
described  "a banking system that, with a handful of exceptions, notably
the Moscow-based Alfa bank, has dumped its bad debts but not its bad
habits".

Many thanks for providing a forum for this information.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE

Sirs:

Re: "Autumn of the Oligarchs": Given my three-year association with Mikhail
Fridman and his Alfa Bank executives, it would take more than an allegation
by an "unnamed former KGB agent" to convince me that he has ever knowingly
been involved in drug trafficking. While he may have inadvertently acquired
a bad apple as he built his organization, this is a very decent man who,
for example, risked his fortune as the owner of the only major bank to
honor all withdrawal requests during the run on banks in the 1998 ruble
crisis.

Significantly, the Center for Public Integrity reports that the "unnamed"
informant was also an employee of a rival organization, raising the
possibility that his report is an example of a very common competitive
practice in Russia -- slander.  In addition, he
had himself "been involved in the plan by the KGB and Communist Party to
loot state enterprises".  The U.S. Export- Import Bank, a major lender to
Alfa Group, reported that, based on information from the CIA and the U.S.
Embassy in Moscow, there was "no evidence to support the allegations". 

If Fridman and Aven were Americans rather than Russians, would CPI have
given similar coverage to this damaging and unsubstantiated report from a
source having such questionable motives? 

Patricia E. Dowden
World Bank Financial Institutions Development Project Manager (retired)
CoreStates Bank (now First Union)
Philadelphia, PA

EMAIL FROM ALFA BANK'S CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER
Dear Pat,

I am glad you shared your letter with others in the bank. As you know, the
Integrity and Reliability of the bank has always been Michael Fridman's
first priority. I have been a member of the Executive Board since February
and it is very clear to me that
this bank is run completely honestly. Apart from the fact that Fridman and
Aven both have a strong sense of morality (as do the other board members),
it would be just plain dumb to risk the fine reputation we have. Our good
reputation is the basis for much
of current and future success; building up the value of our bank by
expanding our business both geographically and market penetration remains
our strategy. We surely wouldn't be spending 25 million dollars on new
technology, which, by the way, dramatically improves the auditabilty of our
business, if we were flirting with anything illegal. Nor would we be
building a first class western style Risk Management team if we were
contemplating anything stupid as in that allegation.

Pat, I thank you for your faith in us; I can assure you it is well-placed.
I wouldn't stay here if it weren't so.

Best regards,
John Hogan
CIO

*******

#9
BBC Monitoring
Anti-Semitism recourse of Russian political elite - newspaper
Source: 'Izvestiya', Moscow, in Russian 21 Nov 00

Aleksandr Rutskoy, former governor of Kursk Region, yesterday asked the
Russian Federation Prosecutor-General's Office to institute criminal
proceedings against Aleksandr Mikhaylov, the Region's new governor. Rutskoy
stated that former deputy governor Sergey Maksachev had been brutally beaten
up at the Regional administration building and that his assailants had called
0 an "ugly Yid" furthermore and added: "We didn't get the main Yid so we'll
get you instead!" The central authorities have not yet reacted to the
incident in any way... However, this is nothing to do with Aleksandr Rutskoy:
In 1993 he joined informally in General [Albert] Makashov's quasi-fascist
campaign and commanded the nationalist militants [boyevik-natsionalist]. This
is to do with us, with our political elite, and with a new ideological trend
which has been revealing itself increasingly clearly lately.

Events unfolded rapidly. Maksachev went to the Regional administration
building at the invitation of Mikhaylov, the new governor, and tendered his
resignation to him after which Vasiliy Oleynikov, who introduced himself as a
lieutenant general in the Main Intelligence Directorate and first deputy
governor, asked him to step into a neighbouring office for a conversation.
Two burly men and two women - administration staffers - were waiting there.
Oleynikov asked the women to leave the office and asked one of the men to
lock the door. Then, looking Sergey Maksachev right in the eyes he said the
following: "Well, you ugly Yid, we didn't get the main Yid so we'll get you
instead!" and suddenly punched him on the bridge of the nose.

The result is distressing: Maksachev is lying in hospital with spinal and
facial injuries and numerous haematomas. There are bruises to his throat...
It was only the appearance of Aleksey Volkov, chief of the Regional Internal
Affairs Administration, in the building that saved the victim's life. "They
were not beating me up, they were trying to kill me," Maksachev stated...

But in actual fact it does not really matter who actually stopped the
beating: The main thing is that something like this can happen in Russia at
the very end of the 20th century. Let us draw attention to an extremely
important circumstance: It is first and foremost the political elite that is
infected with frankly anti-Semitic feelings; the mass consciousness does not
see the Jew as the enemy image at the moment. (Rather, this is how it sees
the Caucasian...). The politicians of the new school, the post-Yeltsin era,
seem to feel that they are in a political vacuum - and are seeking a new
foothold in nationalism. With some people this search is taking place in an
outwardly civilized manner, it is latent; with others, because of their
cultural level, it is assuming the chaotic forms of the pogrom. At the moment
these are all just political games that sometimes have tragic consequences
but do not affect the foundations of national life. However, this is just the
start...

*******

#10
gazeta.ru
November 27, 2000
Military Bosses Predict Ends of Chechen War
 
The presidential envoy in Russia's Southern Federal District Viktor
Kazantsev claims the war in Chechnya will be over within 3-4 months. Russian
Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev has dismissed Kazantsev's assertion as
‚?ononsense‚?Ě and the chief of General Staff, General Anatoly Kvashnin has
announced that the projected end date of the war is a state secret.

But the most peculiar answer to the question as to when the war in
Chechnya will come to an end has come from General Troshev. At the beginning
of March this year he triumphantly announced that the rebels would be
finished off just a few days later, by March 8th, International Woman's Day.
At the time there were still several thousand rebels in Chechnya and, to no
one's surprise, Russian troops failed to eliminate them before the deadline
daringly set by the brave general.

Yet the military continued to announce dates for the completion of the
"anti-terrorist operation" in the breakaway republic. Having failed
repeatedly to meet the deadlines set by themselves, the top brass ended the
practice. Only occasionally, when confronted by some assertive reporter,
would they name a random date and later disclaimed their own predictions.

But now the state of affairs has changed again. The top military officials
obviously feel they are in a position to predict the date when they expect
the operation to be completed and each senior soldier is offering his own
version.

In an interview with Kommersant Daily on Friday, November 24, presidential
envoy in the Southern Federal District General Viktor Kazantsev, a former
commander of the Unified Federal Military Group in Chechnya, asserted that
the military operation would be completed within three to four months.

"Believe me, I know what I am talking about," said the envoy and explained
that his confidence was based on secret talks currently under way. According
to Kazantsev, the federals are in the middle of negotiations with Ruslan
Gelayev an infamous Chechen field commander, who is still continuing to put
up resistance.

However, later on Friday it emerged that the Russian Defence Minister Marshal
Igor Sergeyev had not been aware that these talks were being held and that he
could not give a definite answer to the question as to when the war would
end.

He said that the "continuation and subsequent completion of the counter
terrorist operation in Chechnya depends on many circumstances, which make it
impossible to define the exact timing."

When asked whether he agreed with those who considered it possible to bring
the war in Chechnya to an end within a three-four month period, Sergeyev
replied: "all this is sheer nonsense."

The Defence Minister's comments put the presidential envoy in an awkward
position for only a few days earlier, last Monday, Igor Sergeyev himself
declared that the federal forces would smash all remaining rebel units in the
near future. "In the course of winter we must fully accomplish the tasks set
and convey the matter of restoring constitutional order in the republic to
local Interior departments," the general announced on Monday, November 20.

But evidently Sergeyev had apparently forgotten what he had said, maybe due
to aging. On the other hand it might have been a political decision.

But it was the Chief of General Staff Anatoly Kvashin who provided the most
peculiar assessment of the issue.

Firstly, on November 24, he confirmed the reports according to which all
Chechen warlords, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, Vakha Arsanov, Movladi Udugov and
Akhmed Zakayev, had long since fled abroad.

Then Kvashnin announced that Shamil Basayev and Khattab were still in
Chechnya.

Then, thirdly, he admitted that some rebels, including the infamous field
commanders, had managed to leave Chechnya, but Anatoly Kvashnin refused to
give their names. "This data is a state secret", he said. Kvashin added that
all information about talks, with whom, on what terms etc., was also a state
secret.

He did, however, confirm that such talks are being held and agreed with the
presidential envoy Kazantsev that the operation could end within the next few
months.

Thus one may assume that Marshal Sergeyev is not, so to speak, towing the
line. After all, it is difficult to imagine that the Defence Minister lacks
full information on the situation in the Northern Caucasus. As a result, it
is impossible to determine which of them, if any, is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, it is highly doubtful the war in Chechnya, or the
"counter-terrorist operation" as the military prefer to call it, will ever
be completed. After all the conflict, with varying degrees of intensity, is
in now in its seventh year and a resolution seems as far off as ever.

Apart from the Interior Ministry forces in the republic, there are still 40
thousand federal soldiers stationed in Chechnya. And irrespective of any
agreements that may be reached during the reportedly on-going talks with the
rebel commanders, no matter how many more rebels surrender to the federals,
as long as "shadow" business is flourishing in the rebellious province, i.e.
drug trafficking, gun running and illicit oil production, the only way to
keep the situation under control is for the army to be stationed in the
republic on a permanent basis.

Thus, unfortunately, it is highly unlikely the war in Chechnya will ever end.
Every family in Chechnya has lost somebody as a result of the war. Children
whose parents have been killed will grow up and it is hard to believe they
will not seek to avenge the deaths.

Tatyana Gomozova

******

#11
The Independent (UK)
28 November 2000
I was wrong to help elect Putin, says bitter kingmaker Berezovsky
By Steve Crawshaw in New York

Cream-cheese bagels and coffee with a Russian billionaire. It makes for an
interesting start to the day, especially when the billionaire, once Russia's
kingmaker supreme, is on the run from his erstwhile friends in the Kremlin.

Just eight months ago, Boris Berezovsky helped propel Vladimir Putin to
election victory. Now, as we sit in a quiet room in an exclusive New York
hotel, a temporary place of ultra-comfortable exile, Mr Berezovsky claims:
"Putin is between the powers of nationalism and dictatorship."

In his first public announcement since he said last week that he will not
return to Moscow, Mr Berezovsky told The Independent: "I helped Putin in his
election campaign. But when I realised his words and deeds are different, I
knew I was wrong."

Mr Berezovsky says Mr Putin has underestimated the extent of change in recent
years. "He doesn't believe society is ready for democracy. He said to me,
'Boris, they're not ready'. But I think differently. In thepast 10 years,
millions have become independent."

Moscow wants Mr Berezovsky, a powerful media magnate, to return to answer
questions about alleged profits-skimming at the Russian airline Aeroflot. Mr
Berezovsky, who insists the charges are politically motivated, refuses. "I
prefer to be a political emigré than a political prisoner."

Allegations about murky goings-on involving the Swiss office of Aeroflot have
been frequent, though it is unclear who the chief beneficiaries may have
been. Some say the Kremlin profited most.

But the timing of the prosecutor's move against Mr Berezovsky is interesting.
Mr Putin was furious at the critical tone in the media controlled by Mr
Berezovsky, whose interests include one of Russia's most influential daily
newspapers and 49 per cent of the ORT state television channel.

Vladimir Gusinsky, the other main media tycoon, who owns the independent NTV
television channel and the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta, has also borne the
brunt of the Kremlin's anger. He was jailed briefly this year. Since going
abroad, he has refused to return to Moscow for further questioning. The
Russian authorities have issued a warrant for his arrest.

Russians deeply resent the power of the super-rich oligarchs, whose wealth
was achieved partly through a carve-up of Russia's assets in the 1990s. Mr
Putin was thus courting popularity when he recently said: "We have a stick,
and we can beat the oligarchs."

The focus of the attacks has been on the two men whose media criticised the
Kremlin over the conduct of the Chechen war, and on the Kursk submarine
disaster.

Mr Berezovsky, whose driver was killed by a car bomb in 1994, is usually
surrounded by tight security. At our meeting in Manhattan, he seems almost
relaxed despite the absence of bodyguards. In Moscow, his journalists are
constantly exposed. "It is not just they who are under pressure, but their
families, too," he said. "They get threatening calls at night."

The relationship between the oligarchs and the Kremlin was not always
hostile. Mr Berezovsky and his wealthy rivals played an invaluable role for
the Kremlin in past years, most notably in the 1996 elections, when they
bankrolled and masterminded an energetic campaign which delivered election
victory for Boris Yeltsin against his Communist challenger, Gennady Zyuganov.

As Mr Berezovsky happily acknowledges: "Let's say without hypocrisy: people
wanted to elect Zyuganov. They didn't want Yeltsin." The money and determined
efforts of the oligarchs, after a secret pact struck at the Swiss resort of
Davos, helped to change the voters' minds.

Mr Berezovsky's road to riches began in the dying days of the Soviet Union.
He had been a mathematician ‚?" "I was successful by Soviet criteria; I wrote
hundreds of articles, published three monographs; I was a member of the
Academy of Sciences" ‚?" and he quickly became rich by creating a network of
car dealerships at a time when capitalism barely existed. "Every Russian had
a dream ‚?" to own a car. I was the first to import foreign cars. I still
remember the number: 886 Fiat Tipos from Italy. When we sold those, we became
millionaires, not in roubles, but in dollars."

Mr Berezovsky has changed his loyalties many times. Last year, he was happy
to back Mr Putin. But he now accepts that the Moscow apartment bombings
blamed on Chechen terrorists which strengthened Russian support for Mr
Putin's brutal war in Chechnya, may not have been all they seemed.

"I have a lot of doubts. Many people thought the bombings were the work of
the FSB [security services]. I thought Putin would investigate, for the sake
of society. He knew it was important. The fact that he did not investigate
was significant."

On Friday, Mr Berezovsky flew in his private plane to Washington, hoping to
bend the State Department's ear. He still believes he might be able to return
to Moscow, if the Kremlin decides to back down, and he insists: "In politics,
never say never."

*****

#12
The Russia Journal
November 25-December 1, 2000
Strategy and demography
By Otto Latsis

The press, which has been busy commenting on President Vladimir Putin's
visits to exotic corners of Asia - from a yurt with a statue of Genghis
Khan in Ulan Bator to the Sultan of Brunei's palace - all but overlooked
his quick visit to Novosibirsk.

On TV, one report showed Putin discussing Russia's demographic situation
with Siberian scientists. But then there was no follow up. These few
phrases on demographic issues, however, could well turn out to be more
important than everything said at the APEC summit in Brunei - if Putin is
really concerned about the issue and follows his words with action.

This is not the first time Putin has publicly raised the demographic issue,
and it appears as though he has been consulting some serious demographers.
Unusually, for a politician, his thoughts on the matter are well-informed
and free of the demagogic hysteria characteristic of left-wing politicians
decrying the "genocide of the Russian people," for which the reformers are
supposedly responsible.

Putin knows that the demographic crisis in Russia began in the 1960s, not
in the 1990s, and that market reforms are not to blame. He also knows that
material wellbeing and the birth rate are not directly linked to the
problem, although they do have a very complicated connection to it.
Finally, Putin knows that state measures would have only minimal effect on
raising the birth rate. In Novosibirsk, he voiced for the first time a very
important issue - that Russia's demographic problems must be resolved
through immigration, principally from the former Soviet republics.

It is only logical that this statement should have been made in
Novosibirsk, the largest scientific and industrial center in Asian Russia.
Siberia and the Far East face even more acute depopulation than the rest of
the country. Not only is the birth rate lower than the mortality rate here
in Moscow, as throughout Russia, but more people move from Asian to
European Russia than the other way.

Add to this the legal and illegal migration from China of people coming to
settle sparsely populated land in the Far East. There aren't many Chinese
at the moment, but to see the greater demographic picture requires
forecasts for decades to come. The Chinese birth rate is much higher than
that of the Russians, and the potential for immigration is enormous - just
in the northern Chinese regions bordering the Russian Far East, the
population is twice as high as in the whole of Russia.

Not so long ago, the Kosovo crisis exploded in Europe, and it's still not
clear how to solve it. But the root of the whole problem is how several
hundred thousand Albanians came to outnumber the previously larger Serb
population in the region. In 50 or 100 years, Chinese living in the Russian
Far East might number not hundreds of thousands, but tens of millions. The
resulting conflict would be enough to explode across the whole world.

Obviously, the answer is not to build a Great Wall around Russia. The only
solution is to increase the Russian-speaking population in Siberia and the
Far East. And people shouldn't think Chinese migration is the only
demographic issue Russia faces - depopulation wouldn't be good for the
country for a whole number of reasons. But not only has the state done
nothing to encourage immigration from the C.I.S. countries and Baltic
states, it has created obstacles for those immigrants trying to making
their way into Russia.

Only a minority of immigrants have the refugee status that qualifies them
for material support from the state. Four million people in Russia have no
fixed place of residency, most of these are immigrants from the so-called
"near abroad." The Russian authorities do very little to help find them a
home and a job. It's difficult for them to settle in many Russian cities,
while in Moscow, it's virtually impossible.

That the government has no clear support policy for the immigration Russia
so needs is not necessarily due to economic problems. Indeed, from an
economic point of view, investing in immigration would bring good returns
in that it would attract a younger, more professional and well-educated
population.

But there are political implications to encouraging immigration. Most
potential immigrants are ethnic Russians or Russian speakers, and their
emigration would reduce the Russian diaspora in countries like Kazakstan,
Ukraine and the Baltic states. For some Russian politicians who continue to
quietly dream of restoring the empire, this would go against their plans.
In this context, Putin's statement about the importance of immigration
suggests he is taking a principled stand on the issue.

But change in the demographic situation will come only if these clever
words are transformed into an official government strategy. Strictly
speaking, Putin's team still has no strategy as such. The officially
approved program put forward by German Gref, minister of trade and economic
development, is called a strategy, but though it is a sensible program for
ongoing social and economic reform, it is more about the means of economic
policy than the aims. And a strategy is primarily about aims.

Encouraging immigration to Russia could be a strategic aim, not the only
one, but one of the main aims. But so far, to all appearances, the
president hasn't ordered any program to be drawn up on this issue.
 
******

#13
Toronto Star
November 26, 2000
Activists Urging Putin To Turn Green
By Paul Webster
Paul Webster is a producer with CBC-TV.

Elderly, poor and powerless, Russian biologist Alexei Yablokov doesn't
appear much of a contender in his fight with the president of one of the
world's largest countries.

But with the signatures of more than 2.5 million of his countrymen behind
him, Yablokov is betting even Vladimir Putin, Russia's ultra-tough new
president, will have to take notice of what is shaping up to be a major
showdown over Russia's environment.

>From the cramped living room of his apartment in a dilapidated Moscow
highrise, Yablokov, who in the mid-'90s was former president Boris
Yeltsin's environmental adviser, has spent recent months collecting
signatures on a
petition aimed at forcing Putin to reverse a crucial set of initiatives.

"For the Russian environmental movement, it's the biggest event in at least
a dozen years," he says.

The world of political activism, Russian-style, scored a minor triumph
Wednesday, when the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, postponed a
vote on three draft laws Yablokov's group has fought to overturn.

The bills, backed by the Atomic Energy Ministry (MINATOM), would overturn
current federal law and allow the importation of nuclear waste for the next
10 to 15 years.

It all started last March.

Russian environmentalists obtained a copy of a strategy paper from MINATOM
proposing construction of dozens of new nuclear stations. This was worrying
enough for anti-nuclear campaigners like Yablokov.

But what really raised eyebrows was MINATOM's proposal to pay for the
nuclear building spree by generating cash from storing and reprocessing up
to 20,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel from reactors in as many as 14
countries in Asia and Europe.

MINATOM predicted a profit of $10 billion a year from the plan, but noted
the government would have to change legislation that currently prevents
nuclear waste imports.

Because reprocessing spent nuclear reactor fuel creates significant
quantities of radioactive waste, including plutonium, it has long been
opposed as an environmental threat by critics who argue spent nuclear fuel
should be stored in safe facilities.

By the time MINATOM's strategy became public, draft legislation aimed at
lifting the nuclear import ban was already making its way through the
Russian parliament.

"It's an extremely aggressive policy," says Yablokov, "and we realized
right away it had to be stopped."

But the real crisis for Russian environmentalists was still a few weeks
ahead.

In mid-May, Putin, fresh in office and determined to clear a path for
ambitious measures aimed at invigorating the economy, suddenly abolished
the country's two main environmental agencies.

Environmentalists were left gasping.

"This is like putting an alcoholic in charge of the vodka," quipped Viktor
Danilov-Danilyan, head of the state committee on the environment, after
learning of Putin's decree to hand the committee's responsibilities to the
ministry of natural resources.

Although the government claimed the decision would simplify regulation,
environmentalists were astounded.

"The ministry of natural resources was created to exploit nature," says
Yablokov, "and the environment committee was created to protect it. It's an
obvious conflict of interest for the ministry to be given both jobs."

Polls suggested strong public opposition both to the nuclear reprocessing
proposal and the decree abolishing the environmental committees.

With environmental complaints to the government going unanswered, Yablokov
and other activists linked to Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Committee
hatched a plan.

They decided to use a little-known 1995 law to attempt to force the
government to consult the public via a referendum. Success would be a first
for Russia and the beginning of what could Putin's first major setback.

Under the referendum law, environmentalists had 90 days to collect two
million signatures on a petition in at least 60 of Russia's 89 regions.

The work had to be done by individuals without financial support from any
of the groups concerned.

"We were skeptical it could be done here," says Igor Chestin, Russia
director for the World Wildlife Fund. "Communication is difficult in
Russia. But there is enormous worry now about the government's intentions."

Thousands of campaigners got involved in Moscow, St. Petersburg and all the
way across Russia to Vladivostok.

By mid-October, more than 3 million names were on the referendum petition,
although more than 500,000 were removed from the final petition submitted
to the Russian Electoral Commission.

Several previous petitions were rejected by the commission after signatures
were challenged.

With months of waiting and rigorous procedural hurdles ahead, serious
worries began blunting organizers' confidence soon after the signatures
were submitted to the commission at the end of October.

"It looks like the Electoral Commission has been asked not to accept the
signatures," Chestin now says.

"Initially, they were saying they never saw such high-quality signatures.
But there was a very sharp change in the last few days. In Voronish, 400
kilometres south of Moscow, one man learned his signature was challenged.
He went to the commission and authenticated his signature, but was told it
still will not be counted."

Yablokov agrees the referendum drive will likely be derailed by procedural
obstacles, either through challenges to signatures by the Electoral
Commission, or through a legal challenge from the federal Constitutional
Court, which reviews petitions after they are approved by electoral
officials.

Instead of requiring Putin to present the public with a chance to vote on
the nuclear waste and environmental regulation issues, the court could rule
against the legal soundness of the petition.

"We worry about Putin's attitude to the environment," says Yablokov, who
like most Russian environmentalists, remembers comments Putin made before
entering politics suggesting foreign environmentalist groups pose a
security threat to Russia.

"It's early in his term, but his actions have been disturbing. At the very
least, the referendum call has generated public attention."

In the last 10 years, the human fallout due to the former Soviet Union's
nuclear programs has been well-documented.

Some 61 million out of 145 million Russians live in towns with dangerous
levels of contamination, according to the state environment committee, the
agency disbanded by Putin.

At a recent news conference, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov hinted
at opposition to a referendum by suggesting "the vote could only be an
emotional decision." Referring to public concern over the MINATOM plan to
import spent nuclear fuel, he said "only scientists and specialists can
find the truth and the right solutions."

MINATOM spokesperson Yuri Bespalko says the public may have been
misinformed by the petition it was asked to sign.

"If you ask people on the street if they oppose importing nuclear waste, of
course they say yes, but we don't consider spent fuel to be waste.

"We see it as an extremely valuable energy product which can be
reprocessed. This is done in Japan, China, Britain and France. I think
parliament will be in favour of allowing Russia to enter the world market.
It's a tremendous lever for the economy."

Yablokov rejects any suggestion of confusion about nuclear fuel.

"They try to put a clean face on a dirty game. Spent nuclear fuel is
considered waste in Europe and America.

"Nobody wants this material imported here. We'll be the waste basket of the
world. Reprocessing creates an enormous quantity of new radioactive waste.
It's absolutely unacceptable."

The Duma is expected to hold hearings on the reprocessing issue next month,
and new legislation could be passed to suit the MINATOM plan early in the
new year.


"We are trying to convince the Duma to change the law," says Bespalko. "Our
minister and deputy ministers are giving a lot of time to that."

In the light of MINATOM's determination and the government's seeming
support, Chestin of the World Wildlife Fund echoes Yablokov's doubts about
the prospects for a referendum.

But he sees the petition drive as a milestone nonetheless.

"I would say this will not disappear. We now have a totally different Green
movement than we had three or four months ago," he says.

"A policy of not listening will not work."

*******

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