This Date's Issues: 4675
Johnsons' Russia List
8 December 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Experts urge bold U.S. moves on Russia policy.
2. Carnegie: Major New Report by Top Experts Advises Next
U.S. President on Russia Policy.
3. Bloomberg: Putin Seen Hurrying Russian Clemency Bid for
Convicted US Spy.
4. Interfax: RUSSIAN ELITE VIEWS CORRUPTION AS CHIEF THREAT
TO COUNTRY'S SECURITY.
5. strana.ru: What Russians think about spies.
6. Interfax: RUSSIAN ELITE FAVORS CONTINUATION OF ANTI-REBEL
OPERATION IN CHECHNYA.
7. Interfax: Poll shows 26 per cent favour Soviet tune as
Russia's national anthem.
8. gazeta.ru: Could Chubais' Reforms Stumble Over Lenin's
9. strana.ru: Sergei Markov: Only united by national symbols
does a population become a nation and an actor of history.
10. RFE/RL INVITATION: Humanitarian Crisis in Chechnya
briefing in Washington.
11. the eXile: John Dolan, A Fish Stinks from the Head. A
timely review of "Democracy From Scratch: Opposition and Regime in
the New Russian Revolution" by Steven Fish.]
Experts urge bold U.S. moves on Russia policy
By Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent
WASHINGTON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - The next U.S. president should take bold
to mend Washington's frayed ties with Moscow, including unilateral cuts in
nuclear arms and a halt to NATO expansion until 2005, a prominent think
said on Thursday.
With a new U.S. president due to take office on Jan. 20 and Russian
Vladimir Putin in power only a year, U.S.-Russia relations were at a
juncture, according to the report, called "Agenda for Renewal"
and issued by
the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The report also recommended measures to promote Russia's long-term
and economic development and urged that Washington not block oil pipeline
routes through Russia and Iran.
It is one of a number of studies expected to be released in the next
of months as members of the foreign policy elite on all sides of the
political spectrum seek to influence the successor to President Bill
Differences over NATO, Kosovo, missile defense, arms sales to Iran and
the Carnegie report called Putin's "dubious attachment to democratic
have caused serious tensions in U.S.-Russia ties.
But the Carnegie experts argued that the relationship was on fundamentally
different and better terms than during the Cold War, and that the new
administration should neither continue the status quo nor operate as if
Russia was "merely a bundle of security problems."
STRENGTHENING RUSSIAN DEMOCRACY
The report urged strengthened steps to support Russia's democratic
"If Russia was a wobbly democracy under (former) President (Boris)
it is now in the gray zone between democracy and authoritarianism,"
Putin's "weakening of all major sources of power independent of the
branch," the report said.
But the Carnegie experts said that on the economic front, Putin had
many observers by assembling the "most pro-reform team in the
since the early 1990s" and already posting accomplishments, including
tax reform package and a balanced budget.
Among the Carnegie study conclusions:
-- The weakness of Russian maintenance of and control over its nuclear
is a much greater threat to the United States than the possible use of
-- The United States and Russia are already committed under the START II
treaty to slash their nuclear arsenals from more than 6,000 deployed
to 3,000 to 3,500 weapons by 2007. But Washington should unilaterally
its level to 1,000 to 1,500 weapons, with the expectation that Russia
Russia has proposed a 1,000-1,500 level under a START III treaty that has
been negotiated and it is unlikely Russia will be able to field a force
beyond that number in 2010.
Republican George W. Bush, who looks increasingly likely to win the U.S.
presidency, backed further nuclear weapons reductions during the campaign
hinted he might take unilateral action.
-- The United States and Russia should increase the time required to
nuclear strike from minutes to hours and then from hours to days. That
entail a series of negotiated measures to de-alert and de-target
-- Unless the missile proliferation threat significantly worsens (with
another North Korean test, for instance), Washington should not
defect from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The new president
make a fresh assessment of the threat of missiles capable of hitting the
United States and redouble diplomatic efforts to stem proliferation.
During the campaign, Bush strongly backed a robust missile defense system
was willing to scuttle the ABM treaty, which limits missile defenses, if
-- In an effort to promote Russia's deeper integration into the
security community, NATO should not consider expanding membership to
on the territory of the former Soviet Union before 2005.
-- NATO must make every effort to build positive relations with Russia by
finding new areas of common interest, including opening NATO arms markets
-- The United States, which has been promoting an oil pipeline in the
that circumvents Russia and Iran, should adopt a genuine multiple pipeline
policy in this region and stop trying to limit Russian participation in
-- The United States should recognize that while the Russian military has
committed numerous abuses in Chechnya, it is not in its interests or those
the Caucasus region that the military simply withdraw from the republic.
a withdrawal would risk a return to anarchy.
-- The United States should boost efforts to foster Russian democracy by
raising the annual democracy aid budget for Russia from $16 million to $40
million and it should support higher education and training by allocating
U.S. funds to high-quality universities in Russia and other ex-Soviet
Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2000
From: Julie Shaw <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Agenda for Renewal release
An Agenda for Renewal: U.S.-Russian Relations
Major New Report by Top Experts
Advises Next U.S. President on Russia Policy
In a major new report, An Agenda for Renewal: U.S.-Russian Relations,
Carnegie Endowment experts call on the new U.S. administration to take the
necessary steps to put U.S.-Russian relations back on track. Such measures
include undertaking unilateral cuts in the nuclear arsenal, adhering to
treaty, and refraining from expanding NATO membership to former Soviet
before 2005. Concurrently, the United States should actively promote
democratic and economic revitalization with the long-term vision of the
country's integration into Western economic, political, and security
structures. It can achieve this by increasing democracy aid to Russia and
advancing the country's early entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"The theme of the report is renewal," says Jessica T. Mathews,
Carnegie Endowment. "It is not based on some feel-good optimism about
future. It proceeds rather from a measured assessment of the
report notes that a Cold War mentality, especially on the security front,
remains an impediment to U.S.-Russian relations. It also recognizes the
critical juncture in the relationship between the two countries, given the
recent leadership transition in Russia and the ongoing one in the United
States. Although U.S.-Russian relations have been deteriorating in recent
years, positive change is possible.
The report covers core security issues, problems in Russia's southern
periphery, and ways to promote the country's long-term democratic and
renewal. In these areas, the new U.S. administration should:
On core security issues --
* Undertake unilateral cuts in the nuclear arsenal to
the level of
1,500 warheads. This reduction would provide the United
adequate deterrence and would be undertaken to
encourage Russia to respond
likewise. This measure is part of a broader nuclear
security agenda with
Russia that includes replacing the Cold War
deterrence posture as well as doubling the resources
allocated to the
dismantlement of Russian weapons and the prevention of
proliferation of weapons and fissile materials.
* Adhere to the ABM treaty unless the missile-threat
significantly. Major U.S. allies, as well as
international powers like
Russia, China, and India, all oppose the United States
breaking with this
treaty in order to deploy a national missile defense
* Refrain from expanding NATO membership to states on
the territory of the
former Soviet Union before 2005. NATO should work more
actively to promote
security cooperation with Russia through the
Partnership for Peace and
identify potential common interests, such as
maintaining stability in
Central Asia and the Caucasus, and promoting Russian
On problems in Russia's southern periphery --
* Adopt a genuine "multiple pipeline" policy
on Caspian oil and stop
to limit Russian participation in its development. The
administration's pursuit of a single pipeline policy
of Caspian reserves. The new administration should not
development of routes through Iran and Russia, which
attractive for marketing Caspian reserves.
* Recognize that while the Russian military has
Chechnya, it is not in the interests of the United
States or the Caucasus
region that the military simply withdraw from the
republic. This would
a return to the anarchy and Islamic extremism of 1996
to 1999. U.S. policy
should be focused on trying to reduce the human
suffering caused by the
and to prevent it from spilling into neighboring
On Russia's domestic transformation --
* Boost U.S. efforts to foster Russian democracy by
raising the annual
democracy aid budget for Russia from $16 million to $40
million. A large
part of that aid should be directed to the further
development of the
nongovernmental sector-political parties, civic
associations, and trade unions, not bureaucrats.
Increased funds would be
generated by decreasing economic aid to Russia by 50
* Limit U.S. economic assistance by encouraging Russian
than the insertion of American consultants into the
relations should focus on trade and investment. In this
States should advance Russia's entry into the WTO.
appears unlikely to join the organization before 2004.
* Promote the rule of law in Russia without blindly
laws, practices, and institutions.
* Support higher education and training by allocating
U.S. funds to
high-quality universities in Russia and the former
Soviet states and to
students from those countries for graduate and
postdoctoral study in the
An Agenda for Renewal: U.S.-Russian Relations is a product of the Carnegie
Endowment's Washington, D.C.-based Russian and Eurasian Program, a diverse
bipartisan group of experts. The following persons contributed to it
writing or discussion: Anders Åslund, Thomas Carothers, Thomas Graham,
Holmes, Andrew Kuchins, Anatol Lieven, Michael McFaul, Martha Brill Olcott,
Jon Wolfsthal. The full text of the report, as well as the webcast and
transcript of the related press conference, will be available on the
Endowment web site at www.ceip.org.
Putin Seen Hurrying Russian Clemency Bid for Convicted US Spy
Washington, Dec. 7 (Bloomberg)
-- Russian President Vladimir Putin may be speeding his
handling of a clemency appeal from U.S. businessman Edmund Pope on his
conviction and sentencing on spy charges, Pope's congressman said.
``We are delighted that that's happening,'' Representative John Peterson,
Republican of Pennsylvania, said in a telephone interview from Moscow,
he has been assisting Pope's defense. ``I think for relations between our
countries to grow, this issue needs to be behind them.''
Pope, 54, a retired U.S. Navy captain who has suffered from bone cancer,
found guilty yesterday of spying for the U.S. and sentenced to 20 years in
maximum security prison despite U.S. government pleas that he be set free.
The case has raised concerns about the future of U.S.-Russia political and
business relations, and Peterson cited evidence that Putin may be moving
free Pope after insisting that the legal process first follow its course.
Pope formally filed the clemency request today, Peterson said. The Russian
government plans to act on it tomorrow, the Interfax agency said, citing
presidential press secretary Alexei Gromov.
Putin said he would move to resolve the matter following the trial in an
interview several months ago with the U.S.-based Cable News Network
Pope's arrest on charges of trying to buy secret information about a
high-speed, anti-submarine torpedo.
In addition to such expressions of Putin's concern about U.S.- Russia
relations, Russia might also be embarrassed by the trial successes of
lawyer, Pavel Astakhov, Peterson said. ``He has put the Russian criminal
justice system on trial, and I think they want that to be over,'' Peterson
The case prompted the U.S. State Department in October to warn Americans
avoid any business activities with the ``Russian military-industrial
complex.'' The warning led some American executives to cancel visits to
Russia, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
Leading U.S. industry groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the
U.S.-Russia Business Council, however, downplayed any wider implications
the Pope case and declined to take a position on his behalf.
``We've had sympathy from business leaders, but we never really received
help from the chamber,'' said Peterson, who has made a series of trips to
Moscow to help Pope, who worked on projects related to naval weapons
development at Penn State University's Applied Research Laboratory.
The Chamber of Commerce may have been reluctant to help because Pope isn't
member, while the U.S.-Russia Business Council may have been deterred by
U.S. government's refusal, routine in such cases, to issue a blanket
of the charges against Pope, Peterson said.
Peterson also suggested last month that U.S. President Bill Clinton should
have become more directly involved in the case.
With signs now pointing toward a resolution, however, Peterson said he
to avoid criticizing either U.S. business or the U.S. government. ``That
doesn't really matter now because I think we're coming to a positive
conclusion. So let's drive it home positively,'' he said.
Peterson offered his highest praise for Undersecretary of State Thomas
Pickering, with whom he has conferred repeatedly over the Pope case. ``No
could have been more responsive than Tom Pickering has been,'' Peterson
RUSSIAN ELITE VIEWS CORRUPTION AS CHIEF THREAT TO COUNTRY'S SECURITY
MOSCOW. Dec 6 (Interfax) - As many as 27.8% of the members of
Russia's elite groups regard corruption as the biggest threat to the
country's security, the Russian Public Opinion and Market Research
center, or ROMIR - Gallup International, reported on Wednesday.
At the end of November, the center polled 650 people representing
the executive and legislative authorities, the business community, the
scientific community and the mass media. Several answers could be given.
Other threats perceived by them included economic problems, 23.1%;
an unstable political situation, 20.8%; NATO's policy, 17.3%; Islamic
fundamentalism, 16.2%; international terrorism, 14.9%; a gap between the
center and the regions, 14.7%; and a lack of ideology, 14.1%.
December 12, 2000
What Russians think about spies
The trial of U.S. citizen Edmond Pope, who has been sentenced to 20 years
high-security prison, has caused wide repercussions in Russia. The local
Public Opinion Foundation decided to find out the attitude of Russians to
activities of foreign intelligence services in their country.
The results of the poll have shown that 67% of the people who took part in
the poll consider that foreign intelligence services have become more
over the past years, and 51% are worried by this fact. Among people who
concerned most of all over the espionage issue are supporters of communist
leader Gennady Zyuganov, pessimists, women, and rural residents.
Most of young people, persons with higher education and residents of big
cities do not see it as a problem (16%).
The poll has shown also that the Pope case attracted many people in this
country to the espionage problem. But because of a large amount of
contradictory information available to them, most people cannot say for
whether Pope worked for U.S. intelligence or not. For most of those who
part in the poll much is vague in the case and it is unlikely that people
will ever know what really happened. And not all are prepared to trust any
decision taken by a Russian court on this case.
Nonetheless, people often said that precisely the intelligence services of
the United States and other NATO countries are interested in obtaining
information about Russia and they have greater opportunities to do that.
Russians have a stereotype view that foreign intelligence services have
unlimited, even almost supernatural, possibilities.
Many people answered that, of late, foreign intelligence services find it
easier to work in Russia because, in the opinion of three-quarters of
interviewed experts, the amount of classified information has reduced in
The results of the poll have revealed people's more positive than negative
attitude to the intelligence services of Russia itself. To many of them
services have a romantic aura about them. The most popular Russian
intelligence man still is Lieutenant-Colonel Isayev disguised as German
officer Stierlitz from a serial film showing the last days of World War
which was popular in the 1970s.
RUSSIAN ELITE FAVORS CONTINUATION OF ANTI-REBEL OPERATION IN CHECHNYA
MOSCOW. Dec 6 (Interfax) - Almost two-thirds of the Russian elite -
62.7% - favor the continuation of the use of federal troops to settle
the situation in Chechnya.
This conclusion was drawn by the ROMIR - Gallup International
independent public opinion service after polling 650 representatives of
the executive and legislative bodies, key figures in business, science
and the media in seven big cities at the end of November.
In the same poll, 29.7% spoke in favor of a peaceful settlement (a
peace agreement, talks with rebels) and 7.6% remained undecided.
The overwhelming majority, 92.1%, felt that Chechnya should remain
part of the Russian Federation; only 4.5% favored other options and 3.4%
Poll shows 26 per cent favour Soviet tune as Russia's national anthem
Moscow, 7th December: Almost one-quarter of Russians (22 per cent)
the Russian flag to be the main symbol of Russia as a state, 14 per cent
believe this symbol is the Kremlin, 14 per cent - the capital, and 11 per
cent - the emblem. The same number of people (11 per cent) think that the
symbol of Russia is its national anthem and 10 per cent think it is the
constitution; 14 per cent of Russian citizens found it difficult to answer
This information was provided to Interfax by the National Institute for
Socio-Psychological Research. The information was obtained by sociologists
with the independent Agency for Regional Political Research as a result of
representative poll of 1,600 adult able-bodied Russians.
The research shows that 26 per cent of Russians want to have the Soviet
anthem, including the words, as Russia's state anthem. Twenty-five per
of respondents believe only the music of the Soviet anthem should be
preserved but the anthem needs new words. Twenty per cent of those polled
said they wanted new music and new words, 11 per cent said they wanted an
anthem with the music of the current Russian anthem (Mikhail Glinka's
and new words, 3 per cent said they wanted the song "God, Save the
the anthem and 12 per cent of those polled found it difficult to answer
As for the flag, there was more accord among Russian citizens: 54 per cent
those polled favoured the tricolour flag, 28 per cent wanted a red flag
per cent said they wanted a black-gold-and-white flag.
An equal number of people (27 per cent each) fully or partially agreed
"we do not need any national ideas and the constitution should be the
idea in Russia". Seventeen per cent of Russians were inclined to
with this. Approximately one-tenth of those polled (11 per cent) said they
did not agree with this viewpoint at all. Eighteen per cent of those
December 7, 2000
Could Chubais' Reforms Stumble Over Lenin's Corpse?
Late on Wednesday evening, Chief of Russia's Unified Energy Systems (RAO
UES) Anatoly Chubais convened a press conference to report that not only
he settled differences with the Nuclear Energy Minister Yevgeniy Adamov,
that he is prepared to form a joint-stock company with the ministry. The
thing is that Lenin's corpse does not interfere.
Anatoly Chubais is once again at the centre of media attention. Next
week could be his finest hour, or see his reputation hit rock bottom. On
December 14th the government will decide upon the fate of on the final
version of his reform proposals for the nation's electricity network.
Chubais said that on Thursday, December 7, he planned to meet with the
Minister for Economic Development and Trade German Gref, the Nuclear
Minister Yevgeniy Adamov and the Fuel and Energy Minister Alexander Gavrin.
Chubais confidentally predicted that in the course of the meeting all
remaining difference would be discussed and eliminated.
According to the UES head, it was the Nuclear Energy Minister Yevgeniy
who took the first step towards reconciliation. At a cabinet meeting on
Wednesday dedicated to the reform of the energy industry, he said he no
longer insisted on the 100% nationalization of the power grid.
According to Chubais, the head of the nuclear ministry said the state
tighten control over the power grid using "less radical means".
In turn Chubais, also made a goodwill gesture, and said he was prepared to
negotiate the "foundation of a joint operator-company" with the
Rosenergoatom (the state agency that runs nuclear power stations).
Rosenergoatom has proposed that a RAO UES and Rosenergoatom form a joint
operating company, in which RAO UES would hold 60% of the shares, and
Rosenergoatom â?" 40%.
Also on Wednesday, quite unexpectedly politics interfered with the
Being one of the leaders of the Union of Right-winged Forces (SPS),
Chubais could not refrain from criticizing the prospective resurrection of
the Soviet-era anthem and once again raised the issue of Lenin's remains,
corpse, as Chubais preferred to call them, saying that Lenin should be
removed from the Mausoleum and buried.
Quite naturally, Chubais' remarks pleased the "rights" and
provoked an angry
reaction from the left.
The question of what to do with Lenin's remains, still mummified in a
specially constructed mausoleum on Red Square, has been a controversial
since the demise of Soviet power. Chubais' remark about Lenin's corpse was
certainly taken as an insult by the Communists. But the Communists do not
have much influence on the Kremlin and the president, rather the Kremlin
influence over the Communists.
Some observers predict that Chubais' comments on the revival of the
which Putin is backing, could be decisive in the government's decision on
UES reform proposal. If the Kremlin bosses perceive his words as an insult
and evidence of disloyalty towards the supreme power, the chances are they
may instruct the cabinet to put further discussion of the UES reform on
in order to jeopardize the reform.
RAO UES reform is vitally important for the economy and for improving the
investment climate in Russia. In the unlikely event that Chubais' remarks
influence the government's decision on the reform, it would be an ominous
indication that loyalty to the president is the leadership's top priority,
more important then freedom of speech and even the nation's well being.
December 5, 2000
Sergei Markov: Only united by national symbols does a population become a
nation and an actor of history
Sergei Markov, political scientist
Today's debate on the national symbols may seem untimely to someone. The
country has many outstanding problems without this one - there have been
failures at the start of the heating season, most complicated economic
problems emerge in the economy, and there is the bleeding wound of
But those who say the national emblems are of minor importance are either
cunning or simply fail to understand what real politics is.
National symbols are not to be trifled with, and an anthem is just a piece
music. They are symbols bringing people of a country together, uniting
with each other, with their state and also with the past and future
generations. These symbols remind people of their responsibility before
country, before its past and its future.
So, national symbols offer a most significant basis for enhancing the
level society, for combating corruption, they raise people's spirit,
stimulating a wish to develop themselves and to work for the benefit of
society. Figuratively speaking, such symbols give a possibility not just
carry bricks but to build a temple.
Our citizens understand this pretty well, and that is why they demand that
the authorities help solve this problem as soon as possible, putting
political bickering aside.
In recent years, people's demand for law and order has become commonplace.
But by law and order they imply not just decreasing the crime rate but
living a decent life, that is, a life in which it will be clear what is
and what is evil, what is valor and what is villainy, and what people
teach their children. Speaking in scholar terms, it is a matter of public
ideals and values, of the norms of conduct. National symbols are among
pillars of society. Without them a population in Russia is an object of
manipulation on the part of any forces. And only if there are common
values and symbols does a population become a nation.
For this reason, one must not oppose approval of national symbols to
laws. Unifying symbols, like a big project, are essential if anything is
be built. Without them, everything will be stolen and messed up. It is
when they are present, when a passive population becomes "we, the
the subject of history that Russia may make a spurt, modernize, and regain
its status as a leading world power.
Conscious of its modernizing mission and sensing the public moods, the new
Kremlin leadership responds to the people's requirements and is therefore
a hurry to have the coat of arms, the flag and the anthem approved by the
legislature. It wants Russia to step into the 21st century a normal
unaffected by an inferiority complex. It wants its citizens to feel proud
The symbols will be accepted in a package, with Russia leaving its great
civil war in the 20th century.
Already now one may predict with a high degree of certainty the outcome of
voting on the national symbols. The public is almost agreed on the coat of
arms - the two-headed eagle - and on the flag - Peter's tricolor. And
they do not delight the State Duma left-wingers, the latter will hardly
to turn them down if the Kremlin accepts Alexandrov's music for the
An impressive majority of legislators like the music, but there is an
split among the public at large, with a number of liberal-minded
quite influential in the milieu of the political, intellectual and
elites, being totally opposed to the revival of the USSR anthem.
One may predict therefore that with the Kremlin's support, the State
will bring all the three symbols before the Duma in a package and that
will be supported by the deputies.
It is ideal, of course, that the symbols may be approved by a nation-wide
vote incorporated in the next general elections. But one can also
the Kremlin's desire to be through this year. Then the country will step
the 21st century possessing endorsed national symbols to the satisfaction
the majority of the people.
The unification of the three symbols, two of which have their roots in
pre-Soviet, imperial Russia, while the third one has been born in the
period, must simultaneously symbolize the end of the war between the Reds
Whites that went on in Russia throughout the 20th century. The Kremlin
to leave the civil war in the past, before the doorstep of the 21st
and to lead a new Russia into the new century.
The debate on the anthem's music is a debate on the place of the Soviet
period in Russia's history
There are two main proposals concerning the national anthem: Glinka's
Patriotic Song, the current anthem, and the Soviet anthem composed by
Alexander Alexandrov. Everybody realizes that the current anthem is not up
the mark. The Glory chorus from Glinka's opera A Life for the Tsar could
present a real alternative to Alexandrov's music - that magnificent,
music would put Russia's anthem to advantage against the background of
countries' anthems. Regrettably, though, Glory has had bad luck: opponents
the Soviet anthem have opted for the current anthem as their bastion of
The debate, therefore, in effect boils down to a debate on Alexandrov's
music: whether it should be accepted as a piece of majestic music per se
whether it should it be rejected as embodying the Soviet anthem which
accompanied crimes and whether the current anthem should be endorsed as
Alexandrov's anthem was not born at the height of repressions. On the
contrary it was born on the crest of nationwide inspiration when Hitler's
fascism, humanity's worst enemy in the 20th century, was suffering a
of major defeats. It was that upsurge of national inspiration that was
reflected in the Soviet anthem.
The sounds of its music do not reflect the utopia of a world revolution or
the iron-clad step of special services or the gray rustle of Soviet
bureaucracy. It reflects the generous hearts of the Russian people,
might as a world power and the firm belief that Russia will emerge
after overcoming all the sufferings. The music reflects the country's
as well as tragic history and people's belief in ultimate victory. It is
that reason that the people of Russia like the music so much.
Politicians who are represented at the State Council have no particular
ideological leanings, and they are in favor of Alexandrov's music because
they have been able to capture the public mood. Kremlin social
working on a new phase of reforms are also aware of this. Russian liberals
too should realize that if they are to become a leading political force in
the country, their liberalism should be supplemented with patriotism.
Most people in Russia who do not regard Soviet times as a period of crimes
but as a contradictory period which saw dynamic development as well as
repressions are in favor Alexandrov's music - something like 60%. Russia's
liberals are against but they represent a minority view. However, their
opinion should not be ignored because Russian liberals are young and
vigorous. Strictly speaking, the future belongs to them, and besides they
reflect world public opinion. Therefore, I do not think that Alexandrov's
music should be endorsed simply by voting without taking account of the
Duma's liberal majority. What is needed, therefore, is a dialogue.
national symbols should unite the nation instead of sowing divisions among
the people. In fact, uniting the nation is the main function of national
Russian liberals and the Soviet anthem: between marginal ideology and
I believe it would be very useful for the liberal political forces to
acknowledge Alexandrov's music. The country is putting an end to setting
Communists against anti-Communists; it is tackling other more vital
But one of the maladies of the Russian liberals is that they are obsessed
with anti-communism. It is high time they realized that communism has
receded into the past and does not pose a threat to the country. I would
suggest to the leaders of the Union of Right Forces and Yabloko to forget
word "communists" in general. The time has come to stop blaming
them for all
of the problems of present-day Russia. The anti-communistic rhetoric of
liberals is holding them to the past and does not allow them to become the
leading political force in the country.
The fact that the Russian liberals are obsessed with anti-communism
them from building relationships with the elderly generations that make up
the majority of the electorate. Russian west-oriented liberals have
the Soviet period a period of crimes and mistakes. In so doing they have
pushed away from themselves a great majority of the country, those who had
worked honestly, those who had seen not only crimes and mistakes, but also
the forward movement of the country in economics and social life.
The Russian liberals should accept the Soviet period not as a solid black
stripe that should be crossed out of history, but as a great and tragic
period, as part of the great and tragic history of Russia in general.
Unifying the pre-Soviet coat of arms and flag with the Soviet anthem looks
artificial only to politicians overwhelmed by ideology. But for the
of the population it is acknowledged as a reconciliation between the reds
whites, as an end to the civil war, as the heritage of all that was good
all the periods of Russian history. And the Russian west-oriented liberals
should join that majority of people, that civic peace. Any other decision
retains the west-oriented liberals in the position of a marginal political
So far, the lyrics are outside the framework of discussion
Behind the disputes around the music for the anthem, it has been forgotten
that a national anthem should have lyrics, words that citizens could sing
days of the people's triumphs and troubles." A commission is to pass
decision on the lyrics, but the public too should actively join the
discussion concerning those criteria on the basis of which the final
of lyrics will be made. However, discussions in society quite often begin
when practically everything has already been decided by the authorities.
What kind of symbols should be woven into the fabric of the anthem lyrics
this is the kind of discussion that is needed so that the national anthem
instills a feeling of pride for their country, so that it unites all the
citizens into a nation.
Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2000
Subject: INVITATION: Humanitarian Crisis in Chechnya
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
tel: 202-457-6900 * fax: 202-457-6992
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
invites you to a briefing by
Director, Chechen Center for Pluralism, Lam
Director, National Library of Chechnya
Founding Member and Secretary, Lam
The Looming Humanitarian Crisis
What the International Community Needs To Do Now
Monday, December 11, 2000
in Conference Room A (4th Floor) at
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
1201 Connecticut Ave NW
[entrance on Rhode Island Ave NW, next to St. Matthew's Cathedral]
Chechnya and the Chechen people are now in the midst of another brutal
winter, one which finds many of them without adequate housing, heating or
food. This humanitarian crisis threatens to damage even more lives
the war itself, unless the international community takes action soon.
Lecha Ilyasov and Edilbek Khasmagomadov are senior officials of Lam
("mountain" in Chechen), an NGO committed to helping promote
assistance to Chechnya, documenting human rights violations and war
crimes, and seeking to bring about an end to the conflict. In
their group has organized democratic education programs in Chechen refugee
camps. Lam works closely with the Sakharov Museum in Moscow and the
Movement for Democracy.
RFE/RL would like to thank the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe,
which organized Mr. Ilyasov's and Mr. Khasmagomadov's visit to Washington.
The briefing will be conducted in Russian with English translation.
Please RSVP by Friday, December 8, 2000 by email to
telephone to Melody Jones at
(202) 457-6949, or by fax to (202) 457-6992.
A Fish Stinks from the Head
A timely review of "Democracy From Scratch: Opposition and Regime in
Russian Revolution" by Steven Fish
By John Dolan
I've just had one of the most shocking reading experiences of my life.
It started out harmlessly enough: a Berkeley professor named W. Steven
attacked Stephen Cohen's book "Failed Crusade: America and the
post-Communist Russia" for daring to cite the eXile, which Fish
"a cross between the National Enquirer and Hustler magazine." A
insult--clearly Professor Fish isn't too knowledgable about American
media--but it gave me the notion of reviewing Fish's own contribution to
Russian studies, his 1995 book "Democracy from Scratch: Opposition
Regime in the New Russian Revolution." I imagined the book would be
cautious, stolid. I planned to write a brief, funny review.
What I found was not funny at all. This book is vile beyond description,
crude beyond belief, written in childish, awkward prose, and demonstrably
wrong about every point it makes. But please don't take my word for it. I
urge anyone out there who really cares about the study of recent Russian
history: please read Democracy from Scratch for yourself. I would
urge Fish's colleagues in the Political Science Department at Berkeley to
read the book--because you certainly didn't do so when you decided to give
this man tenure.
Democracy from Scratch purports to be a "social-scientific"
analysis of the
development of "democratic" institutions in the early nineties.
Fish is a
professor of "political science," after all; and though more
sensitive people in his field have long since abandoned the claim that
work is "scientific," Fish is quite convinced that he is a
makes it all the more remarkable that he writes like a half-literate
Kommissar, using loaded adjectives and adverbs to bolster a crudely
teleological historical model which informs his entire book. Here, for
example, is Fish using typically Leninist rhetoric to rationalize the
of all those who expressed concern about the suffering imposed by Gaidar's
discredited "reforms." Note Fish's body-metaphor, which he uses
characterize Gaidar's opponents as parasites:
"Large, hard pieces of the ancien regime...remained lodged deeply and
extensively in the body politic, and these pieces proved adept at putting
themselves back together again and resisting radical reform."
Of course these "pieces" are people--specifically, the millions
who were appalled by the suffering and economic decline precipitated by
Gaidar's so-called "reforms." But they have been turned here
The "scientific" Fish writes an allegory, in which Russia
becomes a human
body, with Chernomyrdin and all others who oppose Gaidar reduced to mere
"pieces" of alien flesh, "lodged" in "the body
politic." (Or are they meant
to be feces, the products of some social constipation?) The metaphor is
imprecise, but its implication is clear: all those who resist
reform" are harming "the body politic" and must be
eliminated. As Lenin and
Stalin demonstrated, once one's opponents have been dehumanized in this
fashion, it is easy to find euphemisms for their extirpation; the process
can be likened to antibiotics, surgery, laxatives... Whatever the
the point is clear: eliminate the "pieces" which are getting in
the way of
the grand historical process.
By an historical irony which has long since ceased to seem surprising,
Fish's historical process is the undoing of Lenin's grand plan; but the
share the same savage, dehumanized, teleological view of the way in which
the great transformation must be carried out. Like Lenin, Fish continually
magnifies the numbers and importance of his faction, either implying or
stating outright that they, as the favorites of History, are the only real
people in Russia. Even when the signs of corruption and failure are
Fish finds some tortuous rhetorical excess which will allow him to dismiss
them. Here, in his Epilogue, note the way in which he concedes that it's
falling apart, then, amazingly, uses this as evidence that all will be
"Indeed, the events of 1993 provide further evidence of the
tortuousness of the path that lies between Soviet-style socialism and
democracy. And yet the very conspicuousness of the conditions and trends
that point toward the failure of democracy now urge the analyst to adopt a
strategy of "possibilism," to undertake a search for
might push the transition forward and favor its success."
That's an exact quote, folks. I didn't make that up. You can find it on
232 of Fish's book. This is the sort of thing which had me reeling as I
the book. This passage actually says outright that, because it looks like
democracy will fail, "the analyst" should try to think that it's
succeed. This might be merely amusing, if spoken by a preacher. But for a
soi-disant "scientist" to tell his readers he intends to stand
on its head is, you will agree, rather surprising.
The comparison to the ars predicandi is inevitable when slogging through
this book. Like the messianic idiot he is, Fish has a single, universal
model of the progress of history. In his mind, events in Russia can move
toward "democracy" only according to "the path"--the
one and only road to
salvation. And so he must impose his crude scheme on the murky, fetid
politics of early-nineties Russia. Yeltsin's victory is, in his view,
first crucial stage of posttotalitarian politics" in Russia. The next
stage will be the victory of Gaidar's faction, Democratic Russia. They
alone, in Fish's view circa 1995, understand the need for radical and
privatization. And how should this be accomplished? By the voucher
The voucher has become a metonymy for all the worst aspects of post-Soviet
"reform," so it's rather painful to see the enthusiasm with
which Fish, ever
the simple ideologue, endorses it:
"The large-scale scheme that the State Privatization Committee drew
the summer and fall of 1992 contains a number of progressive provisions,
including a 'voucher' system designed to 'popularize' property ownership.
The plan is based on liberal principles and demonstrates the government's
interest in departing from 'nomenklatura privatization.'"
For Fish, the voucher plan is good because it is aligned with the forces
history: it is "progressive" and "based on liberal
principles." He is so
entranced with his simple ideological division of Russia into
progressives and their "antagonists" that he could not imagine
himself whether the voucher plan suited conditions in Russia. Indeed, for
Fish, the very idea that Russia has a unique culture which should be taken
into account when designing reforms would be unscientific. Kansas or Kazan;
it's all one to him. To the extent that he is aware of Russia as a
cultural context, it is only in terms of Russia's failure to match the
he mentions that in Russia, "...there [is] no political spectrum in
sense that this term is normally understood, with its socialists,
nationalists, and so on." He adds, "[Russia] still does not
requirements for status as a civil society outlined in Chapter
Isn't that an amazing sentence? My God, the arrogance of this tenth-rate
academic consigning a huge country to wretchedness because it fails to fit
the checklist of his wretched "chapter three"! I take back my
Fish to Lenin; it's hugely unfair to Lenin.
Fish constantly resorts to crude pamphletteering rhetoric when dividing
Russia into "democratic" forces and their opponents, whom he
antagonists." "Storm clouds had been gathering," he
intones. In a single
paragraph (p. 209) he uses such melodramatic cliches as "cruel
"harsh authoritarian reversion and erosion of hard-won civil rights
freedoms," "overweening executive power," and "the
specter of dictatorship."
This, remember, from a man who sneered at Stephen Cohen for the
of his writing!
Like a true Leninist, Fish only criticizes his faction when it fails to
ruthlessly enough against the "forces of the old order," who
thoroughgoing reform." Attacking Yeltsin for failing to call early
after the 1991 coup, Fish writes in that true Sovok style, at once boring
"[Yeltsin] squandered a fine opportunity to capitalize on the
the failed putsch inflicted on the forces of the old order,...The old
had finally showed its stripes."
If those "stripes" seemed rather striking, take a look at what
Fish can do
when he gets his Soviet-style cliche generator going at full strength, as
this passage which follows closely the "stripes" rant:
"...[T]he lack of progress toward radical reform...leaves the sword
arbitrary state power dangling over the new polity. Mass privatization
promises to begin dissolving the cement that fused state and economy for
One can't help wondering what would happen if the sword landed in the
dissolving cement. Why, it could be swept away by the river of fate, onto
the ash heap of history!
But though it's easy to laugh at Fish's narrative excesses, you can't help
remembering that these crude moral tales became the justification for the
"radical reforms" which jerked Russia in the
(as determined by a band of third-rate intellectuals), regardless of the
suffering they caused.
As a "scientist," Fish is no doubt willing to have his analyses
all his predictions tested for their accuracy. Indeed, scientific rigor
demands that we examine them to see how well they stand, five years after
they were published. Let us begin by examining his estimation of Yeltsin
himself. Alas, Professor Fish seems to have gotten this one rather
spectacularly wrong. Here is his view of Yeltsin:
"El'tsin's stance vis-a-vis the democratic movement and his previous
as a party functionary scarcely preclude the possibility that he holds at
least some truly "democratic" convictions. Still less do they
mistaken image of him, widely held in the west, as a populist
Unfortunately, "populist demagogue" seems like a rather
description of Yeltsin, now that he has finished his disastrous reign. But
Fish's mis-estimate of Yeltsin is trivial compared to his
ideologically-driven overestimation of the "democrats." Because
into his crudely teleological, generalized model of history, he failed to
notice the obvious elitism and corruption of Gaidar's faction, thus
providing the cover-story by which America gave its support to the
Kleptocracy which looted Russia, with the considerable help of that
demagogue Fish so admired--much as he may want to pretend otherwise now.
Nothing is so embarrassing as an old love-letter. Fish's book is a
particularly embarrassing billet-doux, since it reveals all too clearly
besotted complicity in the looting of Russia. His "scientific"
Russia managed to get everything wrong. His prose is so awful that I
recommend he toddle over to Dwinelle Hall and enroll in Rhetoric 1A. His
crude ideological bias is so utterly callous toward the suffering of
ordinary Russians as to invite comparison with Lenin.
--And yet, rather than retire to the forest to dress in burlap and
contemplate his sins, this odious halfwit still poses as an expert on
Russia, and even dares to criticize Stephen Cohen's work on Russia as
Can the members of the UCB committee which granted tenure to this
mean-hearted jerk please identify yourselves? Show yourselves for once,
do the right thing: join Associate Professor Fish for a picnic lunch atop
Barrows Hall. Let the wine flow and the banter flap. And then, holding
and singing some Fleetwood Mac anthem, all of you take one giant step for
mankind, right over the edge.
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