This Date's Issues: 4677
Johnson's Russia Lit
9 December 2000
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-Tass: Russian food expert hits at poor national diet.
2. AP: Clinton Cheers Putin's Pope Pardon.
3. BBC Monitoring: NTV, Restoration of Soviet anthem splits
4. Reuters: Retired Yeltsin prefers Celine Dion to spotlight.
5. Komsomolskaya Pravda: BORIS YELTSIN: I HAVE NO REGRETS.
6. Moscow Times: Oliver Ready, Stocking-Stuffers From Russia.
7. Moscow Times: Boris Kagarlitsky, Public Opinion Isn't
Divided; It's Schizoid.
8. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Mass. man given OK to exit
Russia. (Al Decie)
9. Reuters: Putin promises better life to Russian workers.
10. RFE/RL: Lisa McAdams, U.S.: Policy Experts Call For
Renewed Relations With Russia.
11. Christian Science Monitor: Justin Brown, US Grows More
Wary Of A Putin-Led Russia. As Russia's fledgling president tests US, the
latest flash point is arms sales to Iran.
12. Vek: DUMA DEPUTY SPEAKER: RUSSIA REMAINS LEFTIST.
(Interview with Gennady SEMIGIN.]
Russian food expert hits at poor national diet
Moscow, 8th December: Half the male population in Russia does not live to
reach the age of 60 because of unbalanced nutrition, Director of the
Russian Institute for Problems of Nutrition Viktor Tutelyan told a press
conference in Moscow on Friday [8th December].
Unbalanced nutrition increases risks to people's health, Tutelyan said. As
many as 70 per cent of the population in Russia suffer from a deficit of
vitamin C and around 80 per cent do not take enough other vitally
Above all, it is necessary to recompense protein shortages, which will
considerably improve health, the food expert said. He has recommended
people to eat soya, which is close to natural protein and is easily
Clinton Cheers Putin's Pope Pardon
December 9, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Clinton administration cheered Russian President
Vladimir Putin's decision Saturday to pardon and release American
businessman Edmond Pope, sentenced to 20 years in prison for espionage.
``We welcome the announcement of President Putin's intention to release
Pope and we look forward to having him in the United States and having him
reunited with his family,'' said White House spokeswoman Sarah Gegenheimer.
Putin said the pardon would come some time after Dec. 14, citing a
regulation that clemency may not be granted until a week after sentencing.
A top White House security adviser suggested Friday that Pope could be
Pope, 54, of State College, Pa., had been jailed in Russia since April on
espionage charges connected to plans for a high-speed torpedo. Pope, a
former Navy officer, insisted he was not a spy, and that information about
the torpedo was freely available. He runs a company that specializes in
A seven-week trial ended Wednesday in Pope's conviction and 20-year
sentence. Friday, a pardons commission cited Pope's recent bout with bone
cancer and the poor health of his father in a recommendation that the
Russian president grant his release.
Putin said he assured Clinton that Pope would be pardoned and released,
Putin did not specify when he gave that assurance. Clinton called Putin on
Friday to urge him to release Pope.
Restoration of Soviet anthem splits Russian society
Source: NTV International, Moscow, in Russian 1635 gmt 8 Dec 00
The "Vox Populi" live programme on Russian NTV turned into a
discussion of state symbols and Russia's national idea following the
restoration by the State Duma today of the Soviet-period national anthem.
Participants in the programme expressed different, often opposing, views.
The programme began by the restored anthem being played in the audience
about half of the people stood up while the rest remained seated.
Irina Khakamada, deputy speaker of the State Duma and a leader of the
of Right Forces movement, expressed strong opposition to the restoration
the Soviet anthem. She said about 4m people had been convicted in Russia
between 1921 and 1954 on charges of committing counterrevolutionary
"I speak on behalf of this minority - it pains their relatives, it
them and their children like me - my grandfather was killed and my
grandmother committed suicide by hanging herself - to hear this anthem. If
the state believes that it is above the fate of these people and is not
going to take into account the life of every individual in the future, let
this anthem be. It will be a reminder that nothing has changed in
Another participant in the discussion, film director Karen Shakhnazarov
objected: "Yes, different pages of our history are connected with
anthem. But it is our history, which I indeed don't want to forget. Yes,
Stalin and repressions are associated with this anthem, but also Victory
Day and the flight of Yuriy Gagarin."
Prominent actress Svetlana Druzhinina expressed her view: "The thing
is very important for me to support the president whom I trust, otherwise
will lose my self respect."
Well-known television presenter Sergey Dorenko joined in the debate:
anthem splits society. As has already been said here, today is such a
moment that it is dangerous to split society, it is still dangerous to do
so after 10 or 15 years of reforms. It is dangerous but it has been done.
It was done by politicians, by intelligent people."
Author Vladimir Voynovich said that 30 per cent of the population were
against the restoration of the Soviet anthem: "The point is that 30
cent are adamantly against this anthem. And this is already an argument.
For whatever reason but it is very important that a huge part of society
against. So, one should stop and think."
A religious figure, Father Aleksandr said: "We should understand what
are building. Either we are building a new Russia which will be
in which the view of an individual will be respected, in which life will
decent and of whom the whole world won't be afraid despite its nuclear
bomb, and which is a kind, normal, cultural and rich country. Or we want
rehabilitate comrade Stalin and the Soviet Union and say that not
everything was bad in it, that something was good in it.
There was something good in Fascist Germany too: people loved, got
gave birth to children, went to work, there were jobs, there were sunrises
and sunsets, everything was fine. The same applies to the Soviet Union.
But we must realize that we should either say that it was a terrible
which took millions of lives but which we want to rehabilitate now, or we
indeed should say that we want to build a new Russia on new
A young girl expressed a view: "I want to say that it is very
follow the view of the authorities because the authoritues are immoral if
they ignore the opinion of a minority. And this minority is millions of
people. Today the Duma adopted the anthem not of the motherland but of the
Prominent actor Oleg Bashilashvili expressed the view of many people in
audience: "Why did we have to do it now, why did we have to adopt the
anthem which divides us?"
Retired Yeltsin prefers Celine Dion to spotlight
December 8, 2000
By Peter Graff
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Retired Russian President Boris Yeltsin now prefers
screening Celine Dion and George Michael concerts on DVD to the
rough-and-tumble of public life but is not shy to give frank advice to his
In a candid interview with a popular tabloid published on Friday, Yeltsin
had harsh words for Vladimir Putin's move to reinstate the Soviet Union's
national anthem and also criticized his handling of the Kursk submarine
But he was still proud of Putin and had no regrets in stepping down last
New Year's Eve in favor of the ex-KGB spy.
Since his abrupt resignation, Yeltsin has mostly avoided the public eye,
still living in the official country house near Moscow where he spent much
of his last years in power, when ill health often kept him away from his
"Everyone who retires ... has to make this choice -- to remain in
life, travel a lot, give lectures, continue to work actively in general,
devote your time to your dear loved ones," he told Komsomolskaya
"I picked the second option. It best suits my soul."
In his spare time he watches sport on satellite television -- he loves
tennis especially -- and said he was so agitated during the Olympics in
September that he worried his doctors.
He has also discovered a new-found passion for music.
"I love classical and contemporary music. Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven,
Rakhmaninov, Shostakovich," he said. "I watch concerts of
performers on DVD: Sting, George Michael, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion,
there are too many to list."
His daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, a top Kremlin adviser during his
presidency, picks out his disks for him, he said.
As for other technological innovations, grandson Boris once tried to help
Yeltsin log on to the Internet, but the screen bothered his eyes too much.
"It would be interesting to find out what the political sites look
the ex-president said.
PUTIN DROPS BY ON WAY TO WORK
Yeltsin said he still meets Putin once or twice a month, the new president
dropping by Yeltsin's cottage on his way to work.
He said he told Putin he had made a mistake by keeping a low profile when
the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk sank in August, killing all 118 crew,
rather than "going straight before the nation with words of
"In dramatic situations, people expect from the head of state not
advice and directions but human compassion."
The former president's trademark bluntness also showed through in his
criticism of Putin's decision to ask parliament to reinstate music
by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, which Yeltsin scrapped in 1991, as
Russia's national anthem.
"All I associate with that anthem are party congresses, party
where the power of party bureaucrats was strengthened and confirmed,"
Yeltsin said. Parliament voted to restore the old tune Friday over liberal
With the issue in the news, the newspaper had released Yeltsin's remarks
the anthem early, causing a stir. But in the full interview Yeltsin made
clear he was proud of Putin.
"I give him (advice) because I think a new president must
listen to the opinion of his predecessor. But I know Putin will always act
on his own. That is precisely the quality of Vladimir Vladimirovich -- his
independence and self-sufficiency -- that drove me to decide in his favor.
"My expectations have been fully born out. Although I tell Putin
off about his mistakes, the main thing is that he has lived up to people's
As for his own early retirement, he has no regrets.
"The choice was correct. A graceful and timely exit -- this is as
art in politics as, say, going into politics in the first place."
December 8, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
BORIS YELTSIN: I HAVE NO REGRETS
First Russian President Boris YELTSIN meets
Pravda's special correspondent in the Gorki-9 residence
Question: Russian President Vladimir Putin has in
made Russia accept the Soviet Union's anthem. What's your
opinion about this? What associations do you have with
Answer: To begin with, I disagree with the
has made." It is true that lot of people especially from the
older generation like the old anthem. I categorically oppose
the restoration of the USSR's national song as Russia's anthem.
Initially the limerick was sung during Stalin's rule.
Khrushchev discarded the lines about the father of nations but
retained the melody. Something was changed in the verse during
the Brezhnev era. Will there be a new text now? Jokes must not
be played with such things. The only association that the old
anthem gives me is the [the Communist] Party congresses and
conferences that strengthened the power of party officials.
References are often made to athletes. What is important for
them is that the anthem should not change, that it should have
a verse. I am sure that our athletes do not care about the old
Soviet anthem. The young people are looking to the future
rather than the past.
Chubais was correct about this. The president
follow blindly the people's sentiments. He should actively
The situation with the anthem is complex. I feel
composing the verse and the music myself.
Question: You are said to meet Putin more often
mass media report. Are these discussions planned beforehand or
happen on the spur of the moment? Who initiates them?
Answer: I meet Putin once or twice a month. There
secret meetings. Our discussions are not held according to a
plan or a prior schedule. We meet when we have such a need.
Sometimes I am the initiator, sometimes he is. This is how
human life goes;
it seldom follows a strict plan.
Question: When was your last meeting?
Answer: A week ago. It's convenient for Vladimir
drop by in the morning before work. We are neighbors.
Question: What do you talk about?
Answer: The pattern is that Putin tells me about
around the country and abroad and about the results of his
meetings and talks. I listen carefully and then give my
Question: Do you advise him?
Answer: Yes, I do. I think that the new president
find out the opinion of the previous president. This is useful.
However, I know that Putin will have his own way. It was this
trait of Putin that prompted me to make a choice in his favor.
He is absolutely independent and self-sufficient.
Question: Have you been disappointed in your
Answer: No, I have not. All my expectations have
I draw Putin's attention to his mistakes. It is important that
he lived up to people's expectations.
Question: What do you criticize him for?
Answer: Different things.
Question: For instance?
Answer: You are going too far. Do you want me to
with Vladimir Putin?
Question: In other words, you are not going to
Answer: I am trying to recall something but
mentioning in the newspaper comes to my mind. Putin and I do
not have disagreements of principle.
Question: During discussions with Putin you were
to ignore the Kursk tragedy. What did you tell Putin then?
Answer: I openly said to Putin that he had made a
when he remained in Sochi instead of giving an explanation and
sympathy to people. People are expecting compassion instead of
technical advice or guidance in dramatic moments. The sailors'
relatives needed support. He should have tried to calm them
down and ease the overall tension.
Question: Were the mass media correct in
for his actions during the Kursk tragedy?
Answer: I did not say that. Certain mass media
society's near-sightedness are to blame for "appointing"
President Putin responsible for the sailors' deaths. I strongly
oppose this criticism. The main thing for me was to see that he
took this pain to heart.
Question: Do you support the Putin-initiated
reform of the
governance institutions and the creation of the power vertical?
Answer: I will describe my assessment as reserved
Dialogue with regional leaders is necessary. They should be
talked to with great respect and their opinion must be taken
into account. Another thing is true: it's high time to make
regional laws and governance systems conform to the federal
standard. A solution is long overdue.
Question: Lenin's body has not been removed from
Square, the Communist Party has not been disbanded as it was
intended (we assume there was no time). Should your successor
complete what the previous generation left unfinished?
Answer: Lenin's remains should certainly be
the Mausoleum and buried. I ought to have banned the Communist
Its members would have no choice but set up another
organization with a new name and a different program. What
didn't let me do it? Society was not psychologically ready. I
put off this decision many times. I prevented escalation of
tension and saved people's peace of mind. I probably should
have acted differently.
It will have to be done anyway. I should not have shifted the
responsibility on the new president...
Question: The Kremlin is trying to distance
"the old guard," from your encirclement. What do you think
about it? I am speaking about oligarchs and some governors.
Answer: The new Kremlin administration is
absolutely reasonable personnel policy. It is quite natural in
this situation. I am glad that they do not adhere to a general
principle of firing everyone who worked before and appointing
new people. You know that it is not happening. The best cadres
have remained and simultaneously new personnel are brought in.
As for the political and business elite, the new president
exercises tact and reasonable firmness. He keeps accurate and
correct distance, he neither favors nor snubs anyone.
Question: Do you really think so?
Answer: Are there other views?
Question: For instance, Boris Berezovsky is
agree with your assessment of the new president's tactfulness
Answer: Berezovsky was more harmful than he was
the long run. He did not work, he meddled into things. Putin
was right in taking a firm stance in relation to Berezovsky and
the so-called oligarchs. I backed Putin in this respect.
Question: Gorbachev said once that the president
secrets that he must take to his grave. You probably have such
Answer: Yes, I do. I keep some personal moments
I do not know whether I will ever speak about them. There is
probably no need to do so. The issue of state secrets is much
simpler. The notion of secrecy exists for everyone, including a
low-ranking official, a soldier or a president.
Question: You balanced on the verge of a
times. However, you always managed to "slip through the eye of
a needle." Was it luck, mysticism or...? Do you believe that
the God guards you?
Answer: I've never been serious about mysticism
premonitions. I've never been a religious person. But I have a
feeling that SOMEBODY keeps guard.
Question: Do you want to apologize to someone? Do
often feel remorse?
Answer: Chechnya was the most serious mistake and
regret it. But this is a subject for a separate and long
discussion. I feel no remorse with regard to specific people
from my encirclement. My conscience is clear.
Question: You've been retired for almost a year?
Answer: No, I have not! I do not have any
regrets. I made
the right choice. It's a great art to withdraw elegantly and
timely from politics, the same as emerge in it.
Question: But you've said that retirement is
Answer: So what? I do not want to shock society
actions. I am playing my role as an advisor. I am learning how
to give advice without insisting, without requesting a reply. I
am learning to notice things around me and analyze them from a
point of view other than the president's.
Question: How do you see the future?
Answer: Russia is going through a new stage.
finally got used to living in conditions of democracy, the
market economy and freedom. Now this habit should evolve into
an ability to live in keeping with precise rules, in a
civilized way. I do believe in our people. They should not be
harassed. Let people straighten out their shoulders. Lawmakers,
officials and politicians seem to have realized it...
December 9, 2000
Stocking-Stuffers From Russia
By Oliver Ready
The epochal ring of the year 2000 proved an irresistible temptation for
many Russia-watchers - what a moment to try to capture and make some sense
of the cataclysms of the 1990s.
For a lucid and lively account of the financial shenanigans that passed
high politics in the mid-'90s, look no further than former Financial Times
bureau chief Chrystia Freeland's Sale of the Century (Times Books,
an interview-based survey of the main players in the "capitalist
revolution" from Yegor Gaidar onward. In a study that treads similar
ground, Godfather of the Kremlin: Boris Berezovsky and the Looting of the
Kremlin (Harcourt, $28), Paul Klebnikov puts under the microscope the man
described by General Alexander Lebed as the "apotheosis of sleaziness
the state level." In self-imposed exile in New York, the Godfather
have plenty of time to drool over the Forbes magazine editor's densely
researched catalogue of his scandals and intrigues.
A bottom-up view of the social devastation wrought by Russia's new
democrats can be found in Moscow: The Beautiful and the Damned (Andre
Deutsch, $14.35). Nick Holdsworth's courageous reportage focuses on the
often unspoken phenomena of the transition - astonishing upward and
downward social mobility and the many ingenious ways Russians have found
simply getting by.
Grit of a different kind is the subject of The eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel
in the New Russia (Grove/Atlantic, $16). I didn't much enjoy this attempt
to make of 1990s Moscow a Golden Age of brutal sex, misogyny and other
forms of liberation, but you can't accuse the eXile of not staying true to
its product. And, in fairness, co-editor Matt Taibbi has been among the
most energetic critics of the willfully one-eyed nature of much Western
reporting during the '90s, a subject recently given scholarly
respectability with the publication of Failed Crusade: America and the
Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia (W. W. Norton, $21.95), by the Soviet
historian and contemporary commentator Stephen Cohen.
Politics take second place in one of the most important titles of the
Catherine Merridale's Night of Stone: Death and Memory in Russia (Granta,
$29) tackles the psychological burden of the century's traumas for
Russians, as well as the idiosyncratic ways in which Soviet society tried
to celebrate or ignore its various victims. The result of many years of
research in Russia and scores of interviews among camp survivors,
investigates some of the most difficult and unresolved legacies of recent
Russian history - which have been glossed over by many in the West by
the jargon of psychotherapy, as if the Russians are in denial or in the
throes of post-traumatic stress disorder. But Merridale has no truck with
easy labels or explanations.
For students and other diehard lovers of Soviet history, the year has
brought a few pleasant surprises. Thank You, Comrade Stalin (Princeton
University, $35) by Jeffrey Brooks is the fruit of tireless research
through the annals of Pravda and other propaganda organs and an
of how, even in the darkest days of Stalinism, citizens learned to say
were grateful for what they got. For the refreshing account of an
independent-minded observer who wasn't having any of it, try the diaries
Reader Bullard (Inside Stalin's Russia, Day Books, $28). Bullard was the
British consul general in Leningrad between 1930 and 1934, and his
not just into the Soviet system, but also into the Russian character that
could support it, have lost none of their resonance today.
It has not been a particularly good year for fiction in translation as far
as Russia's male writers are concerned. One exception is Andrew
translation of Viktor Pelevin's cult success Generation P, a funny and
well-targeted satire of modern commercialism. Despite drifting quickly
Pelevin's familiar brand of the surreal, this is the first major novel to
have come out of the new Russia that really gets to grips with the often
rampant absurdities of Western mass culture transplanted onto alien soil.
It's published in Britain under the title Babylon (Faber and Faber, $14).
I have richly enjoyed new translations of some of Russia's best, yet
underrated women writers. The Funeral Party by Lyudmila Ulitskaya
(translated by Cathy Porter and Victor Gollancz, $19) is a portrait of
Russian emigrÔ life in New York in the early 1990s of considerable
and craft - the perfect, and welcome, antidote to the accounts we have of
the dissolute lives spent stateside by the likes of Eddie Limonov. Another
cultured voice, available to English readers for the first time this year,
is that of Irina Muravyova. She also wrote her short novel The Nomadic
(Glas, $14.95, translator John Dewey) from America, but her subjects step
quite unashamedly out of the 19th-century Russian literary canon. A more
acidly contemporary writer is Svetlana Vasilenko, born and raised in the
Russian Cape Canaveral of Kapustin Yar - to her Soviet and post-Soviet
landscapes of orphanhood and devastation, she brings a burning sense of
religious inquiry and bold narrative experimentation. Her Shamara and
Russian Stories (Northwestern University Press, $15.95) is one of the most
exciting books by a new Russian writer I have read.
One searches in vain for new books that really capture the most obvious
characteristics of Russians - their sense of humor. I have, however, come
across one particularly offbeat title in this line: And Quiet Flows the
Vodka, or When Pushkin Comes to Shove: The Curmudgeon's Guide to Russian
Literature and Culture by Alicia Chudo (Northwestern University Press,
$14.95). The book's real target, in both senses, is the academy and among
the cultural corpses on display here are Dostoevsky's Unfinished Novel,
Torture and Scenes From Chekhov's Play 'The Dodo.' Chudo's satire at the
expense of serious Russian culture brims with clever jokes worthy of
rehearsal. But unless your audience's knowledge of two millennia of
culture is as compendious as the author's, you may find it's a case of
laughter through the bitter tears of ignorance.
December 9, 2000
Public Opinion Isn't Divided; It's Schizoid
By Boris Kagarlitsky
Public opinion polls in Russia are a hopeless matter. Each year Russian
sociologists conduct complex research into the public mind, and in each
study we are told that Russians do not want to choose between the two
that politicians and intellectuals are always putting in front of them.
You get the impression that we live in a land of strange people. About
one-quarter of the population has leftist or communist views. Slightly
fewer hold "liberal" values. No matter what happens in the
figures stubbornly refuse to change. Over the course of nearly a decade of
"liberal reform," the number of liberals has decreased slightly,
dramatically. The most important thing to note is that the overall number
of people who have clearly defined ideological views is becoming smaller
So, what about the majority?
Most just want to be happy. That means that they are categorically opposed
to nationalization while at the same time thinking that most privatized
enterprises should be immediately returned to the state without any
compensation. They believe in a free market, but only under the condition
that the government maintain strict price controls. They fear inflation,
but advocate sharply increased state spending and sharply reduced taxes.
Only at first glance would you think that they support a mixed economy. In
reality they are definitely for certain principles. The problem is that
these principles are mutually exclusive. The people long for radical
change, but are deathly afraid of revolution. For this reason, they esteem
Stalin more than Lenin and Leonid Brezhnev more than Boris Yeltsin.
They are for a firm hand that is unrestricted by laws or
the same time, they value liberty and oppose even the smallest violations
of civil rights. They seem to want to see a Pinochet, Ivan the Terrible or
Stalin running Russia, but only if strict constitutional limits are
observed. And without mass repression. Although, some people should be
Of course, it is easy to make fun of this confusion. A lot of this kind of
"analysis" is unfair, especially concerning economic issues.
there are ways of increasing state spending without significantly
increasing taxes and there are ways of expanding the public sector that
don't amount to nationalization.
However, it is hard to imagine a harsh dictatorship that guarantees
The problem is not so much the contradictions - Russia is not the only
society with such views - but the fact that the people don't seem to
acknowledge their existence or their scale.
Society is disoriented, but won't admit it. During Soviet times, we were
con-ditioned to believe the authorities could do anything. We have come to
believe that any policy can be implemented if the politicians really want
In other words, the public not only desires completely contradictory
things, but also is fundamentally convinced that the government is capable
of doing this if only it can muster the will. The so-called "Putin
can be explained by the fact that he originally presented himself to the
nation as someone who really can be everything to everyone. He was
to be simultaneously a pitiless dictator and a confirmed democrat; a
believer in the free market and a leader capable of controlling the
smallest detail of each enterprise in the country.
Already, though, this image is coming under question from both liberals
communists. For now, most of his support comes from people without
ideological views. The pro-Kremlin Unity faction is designed precisely as
party without ideology in order to reach this group.
Unfortunately, a party without an ideology is capable of winning power but
not of ruling effectively. It is Putin's fate that he will create crises
with any action he takes.
And he will create crises if he fails to act as well. After all, society
can't wait forever.
Boris Kagarlitsky is a Moscow-based sociologist.
December 9, 2000
Mass. man given OK to exit Russia
By David Filipov
MOSCOW - A Newburyport man who had been trapped in Russia for five months
was headed home yesterday after authorities returned the visa they had
seized from him in July.
Albert Decie III, 32, said officials in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk
agreed to return his entry-exit visa after he filed a lawsuit charging
the document had been confiscated illegally.
Decie said the head of Krasnoyarsk's visa department agreed to return the
document if he would drop the case.
''I'm glad it's over,'' Decie said in Moscow on Thursday. ''It still
hit me that my life's no longer on hold. I can start planning. I can get
back and see my father.''
Decie's father, Albert II, had organized a petition campaign in
and has been pressuring Massachusetts lawmakers and the US State
to help bring his son home.
That all helped, the younger Decie said. In the end, what worked for him
was the Russian legal system, which came under heavy criticism this week
after a Moscow court found Pennsylvania businessman Edmond Pope guilty of
''I was worried that the courts would be politicized, but the judge in my
case was very honest,'' Decie said. ''What got me out of here was the
Russian rule of law.''
Tax authorities in Krasnoyarsk had ordered the visa seized, citing a tax
probe. Decie, who worked for a US-funded project to promote grass-roots
democracy in Siberia since 1996, said his legal troubles arose from a
harassment campaign by Russian officials who disapproved of his
Hoping for a better chance to defend himself, Decie moved to Moscow, where
his case became bogged down in a larger dispute over how US aid workers
should be taxed in Russia. When Russian authorities ignored an August
appeal from the US Embassy to allow Decie to return home, he decided to
challenge the legality of the seizure of his visa.
Authorities have the right to seize a visa only after a court has
determined that the bearer has violated Russian law, said Decie's lawyer,
''Decie has not committed any crime,'' Polischuk said. ''There are no
criminal charges against him. He can leave the country legally.''
Decie said the outcome had ''strengthened my confidence in Russia's civil
society,'' but he was not taking any chances. Wary that authorities might
change their minds and put a stop on his visa at Moscow's Sheremetyevo
Airport, Decie said he planned to leave by train for Riga, Latvia,
accompanied by Polischuk. Decie said he plans to return to the United
States on Wednesday before taking a new job in Hungary.
Decie chose the unusual route because Russian officials on the Latvian
border do not usually conduct computerized visa checks.
''We believe there is a 1 percent chance that something could go wrong,''
Polischuk said. ''I think it's more like 50-50,'' Decie said. ''I still
have doubts about the system here.''
Putin promises better life to Russian workers
By Gennady Fyodorov
MAGNITOGORSK, Russia, Dec 9 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on
Saturday improving living standards of Russia's working people was still
one of his top priorities and urged people to draw inspiration from
positive Soviet experiences.
Putin visited Magnitogorsk metallurgical plant, the pride of the Soviet
industrialisation programme of the 1930s, a day after the Russian
parliament reinstated the Soviet-era anthem in a move which fuelled
fears of Communist resurgency.
He urged workers at the vast plant in the Urals to draw inspiration from
the brightest pages in the nation's history.
"When analysing the past, we have no right to forget about the heroic
of our fathers and grandfathers," Russian news agneices quoted Putin
saying. "This is the best way to treat our history."
Putin, who took over Russia after Boris Yeltsin resigned on New Year's
has softened the anti-Communist rhetoric which marked the eight years of
his predecessor's rule.
Putin's call to restore order in Russia, his crusade against unpopular
Yeltsin-era business magnates and independent-minded regional leaders has
ensured the unchallenged position of the country's most popular political
REASONABLE POLICIES BUT NO PATERNALISM
In his political programme, confirmed after an election victory in March,
Putin said improving living standards in the country, where an average
salary scarcely exceeds $100 a month, was his top priority.
"So far labour has been the cheapest stock in Russia," Itar-Tass
Putin as telling the workers at the plant, known locally as "Magnitka."
Putin attacked Russia's newly-emerged capitalists as selfish and some
regional officials for neglecting their duties.
"Those who think only about themselves, about personal profits only
simply neglect their duties as in some far eastern parts, should face an
appropriate reaction from the state," he said, referring to regions
country where corruption has been a particular problem.
Putin made clear workers should not expect a return to Soviet-era
paternalism or easy cash handouts from the state. But he promised a
reasonable government policy which could promote stability and investors'
"It would be wrong to force banks to invest in enterprises," he
should not be scared to invest. For that sake inflation should be kept
under control and for that reason the government cannot issue loose
"If one starts pumping cash into the economy, he will get nothing but
inflation," he added.
U.S.: Policy Experts Call For Renewed Relations With Russia
By Lisa McAdams
Leading U.S.- Russia policy experts are calling on the next U.S.
administration to take the necessary steps to put the bilateral
between Washington and Moscow back on track. The experts issued the call
new report, the theme of which was "renewal."
Washington, 8 December 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Senior experts at the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace in Washington say that as the incoming
administration formulates its foreign policy, it will find few if any
issue areas that could benefit more greatly from a "fresh look"
With new leadership in both countries, the experts say there is clearly an
opportunity to build a new relationship, one they recommend be based on
today's realities, rather than yesterday's expectations. In a 52-page
titled, "An Agenda for Renewal," released Thursday in
Washington, the experts
sought to lay out policy recommendations for the way forward.
The experts say the new U.S. administration should resist the temptation
to continue the policy status quo, or to shift to a more limited
of Russia as merely a bundle of security problems. They also stress that
policy toward Russia must address two core components -- security issues
Russia's domestic transformation.
The experts say these two halves of the recommended policy are mutually
reinforcing. In other words, America's many security concerns with respect
Russia will find real resolution only to the extent that Russia achieves a
healthy, well-functioning economy and a stable, deeply-rooted democracy.
Andrew Kuchins directs the Russia and Eurasia program at the Endowment, a
think-tank. At the core of the policy renewal, Kuchins says, must be bold
steps in the security domain, in order to break away once and for all from
Cold War habits and mind-sets.
In particular, Kuchins said the U.S.- Russian nuclear relationship must be
put on a new footing, one that does not "assume mutual enmity
A good place to start, Kuchins said, would be in undertaking unilateral
in the nuclear arsenal to the level of 1,000 to 1,500 warheads. He said
reduction would provide the U.S. with adequate deterrence and would be
undertaken to encourage Russia to respond likewise. Kuchins and the report
authors also recommend that the U.S. adhere to the Anti-Ballistic Missile
(ABM) treaty, unless the missile-threat environment changes significantly.
Kuchins says the next U.S. administration also should increase spending
threat reduction and non-proliferation cooperation to the tune of $1.5
billion per year for the next five years.
"If the United States is prepared to spend tens of billions of
the next 10-20 years to construct a national missile defense system (NM)
counter a threat that does not yet exist, the United States should be more
than ready to spend a fraction of that to contain the most dangerous
The report's authors also put forth a recommendation designed to promote
Russia's deeper integration into the Euro-Atlantic security community,
characterizing Russia's relationship with NATO and Europe as the most
"divisive and disappointing" element in the U.S.-Russian
"The report recommends that NATO not accept any new members from
Soviet territory before 2005, and we are realistically talking only about
Baltic states here, of course. Unfortunately, NATO opened a Pandora's box
trouble with Russia by prematurely taking on new members before a firmer
foundation had been established towards relations with Russia."
Kuchins says the report argues that there is no compelling reason to move
quickly with NATO's eastward expansion and that barring otherwise, a
"cautious" approach would be best.
Turning to domestic transformation, the report says the U.S. must do more
consolidate democracy in Russia. To that end, the author's urge raising
annual democracy aid budget for Russia from $16 million to $40 million. At
the same time, they call for a limit to U.S. economic assistance by
encouraging Russian expertise, rather than the insertion of American
consultants into the country. Thirdly, the report's recommendations aim to
promote the rule of law in Russia, without blindly mirroring American
practices, and institutions.
Democratic development expert Michael McFaul says improvement in Russia's
domestic transformation is a strategic U.S. national security interest.
"I believe there is backsliding in Russia today towards more
rule. If I thought that Russia had consolidated its democracy, as Poland
today, I would recommend that we not focus on that. But that is not the
in Russia today."
Overall, the report notes that the core security and domestic
recommendations will take place in "real-time" and against the
ongoing issues like Caspian oil development to Chechnya.
Senior Carnegie Associate Anatol Lieven spoke to the ongoing problem in
Russia's southern periphery. Lieven says the report's authors recognize
Russian military has committed numerous abuses in Chechnya. But Lieven
it is not, in their view, in the interests of the United States or the
Caucasus region that the Russian military simply withdraw from the
Lieven says this would risk the return to the anarchy and Islamic
of 1996 to 1999. Rather, Lieven says U.S. policy should focus on two more
"Firstly, trying to limit the human suffering caused by the war.
should do everything possible to prevent this war from spilling over into
neighboring countries and especially, of course, Georgia."
Lieven says the U.S. should continue to put very strong pressure on Moscow
not to launch any kind of military intervention in Georgia, which shares a
border with Chechnya. He also said the report's authors support the
of a genuine "multiple pipeline" policy on Caspian oil, which
Russia and perhaps even Iran.
Christian Science Monitor
December 8, 2000
US Grows More Wary Of A Putin-Led Russia
As Russia's fledgling president tests US, the latest flash point is arms
sales to Iran.
By Justin Brown, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON -- While the United States has been mired in presidential
uncertainty, Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a diplomatic
offensive that could further erode Moscow's fragile relationship with
Mr. Putin, who took control of Russia a year ago following the resignation
of Boris Yeltsin, has moved swiftly in the areas of weapons sales, arms
control, and strategic alliances - upsetting a delicate balance that was
struck during the Clinton administration.
He's also given the US a flashback to the cold war with his pursuit of
criminal charges against Edmond Pope, the US businessman whom a Moscow
judge sentenced to 20 years of hard labor yesterday, for allegedly trying
to steal Russian torpedo secrets.
Taken together, Putin's initiatives will provide an early challenge for
next US president, whether Texas Gov. George W. Bush or Vice President Al
"There's definitely been a sense that things have taken a turn for
worse in the past three to four months," says a US official.
see Putin as a much tougher customer" than Mr. Yeltsin.
Arms sales to Iran
The most defiant move by Putin so far has been to try to sell arms to
in violation of a secret 1995 agreement between Washington and Moscow that
was brokered by Mr. Gore. The US State Department sent a delegation to
Russia Wednesday to try to freeze the sale, which includes tanks and other
conventional weapons. A long-term concern is that these kinds of
transactions could escalate into the realm of ballistic missiles or
"We've been very successful in the past on constraining arms sales to
that otherwise would have undermined regional stability," says State
Department spokesman Richard Boucher, "and we're going to continue
dialogue with Russia on these critical issues."
Analysts say Russian arms sales to Iran are part of a larger strategy to
boost Russia's deteriorating military-industrial complex, while at the
time improving regional security. Moscow is also trying to increase sales
to China and India, with the hope that it can raise arms-sales revenue
its current level of between $3 billion and $4 billion, up to as much as
"The Russians face an environment in which they are surrounded by
powers," says Andrew Kuchins of the Carnegie Endowment for
Peace in Washington. "They can help manage these relations with
arms sales, which can give them leverage."
Putin may also be seeking greater military leverage through his suggestion
that he wants to rapidly reduce Russia's strategic nuclear-weapons
possibly to 1,500 warheads or fewer. While Putin needs to do so first and
foremost because of economic concerns, he is likely to use the overture to
pressure the US into making similar concessions, officials say.
"The Russians have to go down in numbers anyway," says Mr.
preference is for the US to go down also to maintain some of their
deterrence from the cold war."
Pressure on the US
First, Putin wants the US to give up plans to build a national missile
defense (NMD), which would be designed to protect the US from incoming
missiles. Although NMD tested poorly this year and the Clinton
put a decision about its future on hold, it has strong support among
Republicans, including Mr. Bush.
Second, Russia wants the US to reduce its nuclear arsenal to the same low
levels Russia hopes to achieve. Bush has said that he would do so -
provided he can compensate with defensive weapons like NMD - but the
establishment has yet to endorse a plan that would cut strategic nuclear
weapons to fewer than 2,500.
Under Putin, Russia has also sought a greater role in international
leadership. Putin has tried to mediate the Middle East crisis between
Israel and the Palestinians, a move that has made the US uncomfortable
he is thought to favor some sort of United Nations peacekeeping force,
which Washington opposes for now.
Also, Russia has shown surprising support for the creation of a joint
European Union rapid-reaction defense force - and they have even indicated
that they may be willing to contribute to it. Analysts say that support
likely stems from Moscow's desire to back any global power that can
counterbalance the US.
"The Russians are consumed with the foreign impression of their
says a US official. "They still suffer illusions of being a
But according to Fiona Hill, a Russia expert at the Brookings Institution
in Washington, Putin's international gambits may be hard to read because
is still trying to consolidate power at home.
While he is extremely popular - his approval rating is 70 percent,
according to a recent poll - he still struggles to rein in the remnants of
power left by the Yeltsin regime.
What's more, Ms. Hill says, Putin remains an enigmatic figure, and his
intentions with regards to the US are unclear.
"He's been very pragmatic with the US," she says. "He's not
confrontation, but he's not being pushed around by the US. Russian foreign
policy is very opportunistic - and that's the case here."
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
DUMA DEPUTY SPEAKER: RUSSIA REMAINS LEFTIST
By Larisa AIDINOVA
State Duma deputy speaker and co-chairman of the
Agrarian-industrial deputy group, Gennady SEMIGIN, seldom gives
interviews. This might seem strange for Doctor of Political
Sciences, member of two Russian Academies and a well-known
entrepreneur but it seems to be SEMIGIN's principle. However,
he made an exception for Vek.
Question: Mr. Semigin, could you describe your
contribution to the development of political sciences?
Answer: I was among the first researchers who
problem of political stability and social partnership in Russia.
These studies prompted the creation of a trilateral commission
with participation of the government, trade unions and
I am particularly proud of a major project that paved the way
for summarizing humankind's achievements in the political,
legal and economic spheres over the past twenty centuries.
Russia's best scientists worked with me on this project. "The
World Political Thought" and "The World Legal Thought"
anthologies were published in five volumes each. No similar
publications have been issued in Russia. Moreover, "Political
Encyclopedia" was released in two volumes. The first of the
four volumes of "New Philosophic Encyclopedia" will be on sale
in a few days.
We have started working on a new idea. We want to
Russia's development over the next fifty years and to take a
look into the 21st century.
Question: This is daring. We cannot have the
forecasting even the next day. Russia is considered a very
Answer: Despite its specifics, the Russian
not always be viewed as an unstable system. Contradictions and
clashes will certainly remain at a certain level. However,
tendencies clearly have emerged toward forming a politically
and economically stable society after the leadership's
This becomes obvious if we look at the left and right forces of
the political spectrum. They are different from what they used
to be in 1992-1993 and even 1998.
Question: I would have agreed with you if the
Party had not convened for its seventh congress recently. The
delegates reaffirmed their ongoing opposition to the president.
Is Russian society about to split again?
Answer: I do not seem much of a problem in
leader Gennady Zyuganov's declaration of a constructive
opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Communist
Party certainly opposes some of Putin's actions and programs.
Unlike the previous years, it is going to maintain a serious
dialogue with the Kremlin. The party will continue its fight in
a civilized way.
A consolidation of society is underway. However,
are not consolidating around the president who is enjoying an
unusually high popularity rating, or around his ideas few of
which have been announced... The authorities, the elite and the
people have got tired of fighting and realized that a path for
progress should be found. They are trying to influence the
trajectory of this path. I should single out three aspects of
First of all, the main political forces have
positions. I've already explained about the left. The rightist
wing has become more civilized and less radical. It is evident
today that liberal economic approaches triggered the 1998
default. The so-called young reformers cannot help but
acknowledge it. They've already done so. Boris Nemtsov made
remarks about a bandit capitalism that has been established in
Russia and about oligarchs who are stifling the economy.
Anatoly Chubais made similar statements. Even the new rightist
leaders softened their radicalism.
Secondly, I must mention the emerging positive
tendencies although the situation in the core economy remains
Lastly, the authorities and notably the president
a neutral, centrist position toward both the leftist and
rightist forces. He balances the overall system but it did not
happen in the Boris Yeltsin's era.
Numerous sociologic studies showed that up to 70%
Russia's population support leftist views. There is nothing
strange about it. Russia has always been a leftist country.
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