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Johnson's Russia List


December 11, 2000   

This Date's Issues:   4680  4681


Johnson's Russia List
11 December 2000

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Interfax: Gorbachev says policy of "extreme liberalism" in Russia should be replaced.
2. BBC Monitoring: Russia's Putin creates illusion of activity by state symbols epic - pundit. (Liliya Shevtsova)
3. BBC Monitoring: Russia's Putin lacks "intelligible strategy" - independent MP. (Vladimir Ryzhkov)
4. The Russia Journal: Alexander Golts, Washington, Moscow at the crossroads.
5. Wayne Merry: re Edmund Pope.
6. Christian Science Monitor: Scott Peterson, Heavy civilian toll in Chechnya's 'unlimited violence.' In their 18-month operation, Russian troops don't just target rebels, say rights groups.
7. Itar-Tass: "Unbiased coverage" of Chechen operation ensured public support - Putin's aide.
8. Stefan Korshak: Re: Allina-Pisano/Rudnitsky/4678.
9. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Tajikis play key role in battle for Afghanistan. US and Russia back same force.
10. RFE/RL: Nikola Krastev, East: Report Says Information Technology Development Lagging.
11. Ira Straus: on EU summit and Putin's failure.]

Gorbachev says policy of "extreme liberalism" in Russia should be replaced

Moscow, 10th December: Former Soviet President and leader of the Russian
United Social Democratic Party Mikhail Gorbachev thinks that President
Vladimir Putin and his team cannot stop the country's inert movement along
the course it has been moving along for the past 10 years.

He said at the constituent congress of the Russian Social Democratic Youth
Union in Moscow on Sunday [10th December] that the course of "extreme
liberalism pursued for the past 10 years must be replaced by a course of
socially-oriented economy, real democracy and humanization".

He said, however, that the Russian United Social Democratic Party supports
Putin as a president who is trusted by the majority of the Russian citizens
and a president who is trying to improve the situation.

The Russian United Social Democratic Party is proposing a real alternative to
the current course which was announced at the second party congress on 9th
December, he said. The position of the party is an alternative to the course
pursued by those parties which "are pulling the country back and are
manipulating the bright memories of part of society", Gorbachev said. "Such
parties are ageing," he said.


BBC Monitoring
Russia's Putin creates illusion of activity by state symbols epic - pundit
Source: Ekho Moskvy news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1026 gmt 09 Dec 00

[No dateline as received] "[Russian President Vladimir] Putin was in need of
the state symbols' epic because he found himself dazed and confused. This is
an attempt to fill up the vacuum and create an illusion of activity,"
political scientist Liliya Shevtsova [of the Moscow Carnegie Centre] told
Ekho Moskvy radio.

The president "has gathered all the instruments of power", but does not know
what to do next, she said. If the country is not ready for a complete unity,
one cannot unite it on the basis of symbols or ideas. "The country can be
united on the basis of a policy supported by the people and the readiness to
implement this policy," she said. [omitted: heated discussion of state
symbols shows that Russia is not a normal country]

Shevtsova reminded of Putin's inauguration address when he said that he
wanted to take responsibility for everything.

"This is a very serious commitment. By weakening institutions, regions,
regional bosses, the parliament and political parties in order to take
everything upon himself, he lays a personal trap. If you control everything -
it is you who is responsible for everything: for [Maritime Territory governor
Yevgeniy] Nazdratenko, for the energy crisis in the Far East, for the Chechen
war, for communal services. And if you are responsible for all the failures
and mistakes, you are losing your legitimacy. What will happen with your
power in 2004?" Shevtsova added.


BBC Monitoring
Russia's Putin lacks "intelligible strategy" - independent MP
Source: Ekho Moskvy news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0845 gmt 09 Dec 00

[No dateline as received] "I will risk to make an assumption that the
[Russian] constitution may be changed in 2001. Then one can say with
confidence that the constitution, political system, political regime and the
rest are in fact changing," the State Duma independent deputy, Vladimir
Ryzhkov, has told Ekho Moskvy radio.

Even now the constitution "is being eroded very seriously and although not a
single letter has been changed in it, actually it is a different
constitution", he said. [omitted: repetition]

"We have the State Council now and seven [federal] districts. The president
have the right to sack governors and federal authorities have the right to
dissolve regional parliaments. The constitution foresees none of these
provisions," Ryzhkov said.

[Russian President Vladimir] Putin has chosen "the way of a forced political
development", Ryzhkov said. "Putin needs victories every quarter. He has won
the State Duma elections and presidential election, he has won in the federal
and tax reforms, he has won on the issues of the budget and state symbols. I
think that the next victory will be a law on political parties and then the
time will come for the constitution".

Ryzhkov said that he is worried by the lack of a clear strategy - "how to
make Russia competitive in the 21st century". "Gambling on the bureaucracy,
force, power vertical, suppression of the parliament, dismantling of the
federalism, dismantling of such important institutions of a civil society as
media, local self-government and public organizations reduces Russia's
chances to compete with other developed nations in the 21st century. An
intelligible strategy has not been declared. What is being done, most
probably, only harms Russia," Ryzhkov added.


The Russia Journal
December 9-15, 2000
Washington, Moscow at the crossroads
By Alexander Golts 
CARLYSLE, Pennsylvania - A sign hung on the door saying "Conference: War
2000," and next to it was a map of the Russian Far East. The U.S. Army
military college was holding a training maneuver that had American forces
coming to Russia's aid after an attack from a "third power." And by sheer
coincidence, on the next floor up, there was yet another conference on Russia.

The topic of the conference was Moscow and security policy. Russia
specialists from American universities and nongovernmental research
centers, as well as well-known analysts from the Pentagon, State Department
and other departments all converged in the tiny Pennsylvania town of
Carlysle for the convention. These were bureaucrats rather than
politicians, people with careers relatively independent of Washington power

In the end, it is these very bureaucrats who turn hazy ideas into a
concrete stance on international policy, and every U.S. administration
(whether Democratic or Republican) turns to these people for advice.

The conference coincided with a fairly touchy period in Russian-American
relations; in Moscow, it was decided to take advantage of the instability
surrounding the transfer of power to show the Americans that Russia really
is a great power. On Nov. 1, the eve of the election, Foreign Minister Igor
Ivanov sent Madeleine Albright a telegram informing her that Moscow no
longer considers itself bound by the secret Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement of

According to the agreement, Russia was to end all arms shipments to Iran by
1999. Ivanov began backtracking because the agreement became public
knowledge during the U.S. election campaign, and even though the American
political elite is wrapped up in domestic problems, Moscow's move was
noticed. Many in Washington read Ivanov's telegram not as a
misunderstanding but as a bet on resistance from the United States.

Participants in the conference (whose organizers asked that they remain
unidentified) did not seem to be particularly afraid of such a turn of
events. Security specialists are more than aware that the Kremlin has
severely limited options. "Russia is a problem, not a threat," one of them
said. Nonetheless, they spoke with distress of the rebirth in Russian
politics of imperial and great-power ambitions.

They noted how Russia wastes its scant resources on achieving irrational
geopolitical goals, such as keeping C.I.S. countries inside the nonexistent
sphere of its nonexistent influence. Attempts to create a multipolar world
(as opposed to the single pole now represented by the United States) also
seem less than reasonable.

"As its authors say, Russian policy really is focused on another century.
But it's the 19th, not the 21st," one of the speakers joked sadly.

American analysts also paid attention to Russia's attempts to make the
United States look like a weak government. Both diplomats and military
representatives took a very serious view of attempts to sell arms to Iran,
since these arms will be sold to a government that has been suspected (with
some foundation) of aiding Islamic extremists.

"On one hand, you are trying to play a positive role in regulating the
Middle East, yet you continue selling arms to a state that openly advocates
the destruction of Israel," a high-ranking Washington bureaucrat remarked.

Analysts are worried that a Russia without allies would be willing to form
alliances with international outlaws such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and North
Korea (in the wake of the Iran decision, the United States is waiting to
see the results of President Vladimir Putin's visit to Cuba).

Washington was not only shocked by Moscow's decision to renew arms
shipments to Iran, but by the fact that it actually did so. For the first
time, Russia unilaterally refused to go along with a previous agreement.
Furthermore, it did not even consult with the Americans before doing so.
Now, Washington is in doubt as to whether Moscow will carry out other
agreements it has signed with the United States, and nobody minces words:
Moscow will have to pay for going back on its agreement.

Soon, the next administration will look at airing out its Anti-Ballistic
Missile system. According to the letter of the ABM agreement, the United
States can simply announce that it is no longer bound by the agreement, and
can then exit within six months.

For now, the State Department is trying to bring discussion of this problem
back into a more normal tone. At the last meeting between the two country's
top diplomats, it was decided that a special work group will be formed
where Russia will explain exactly what arms it intends to sell Iran, and in
what volumes.

If Moscow wants trouble, it will have its hands full. No credence should be
given to the words of the lobbyists from the military-industrial complex
who claim that the cost of U.S. sanctions could easily be covered by the
millions of dollars Iran is ready to pay for Russian submarines, tanks and
fighter planes.

It is interesting that two weeks ago these contracts were estimated to be
worth $4 billion, but now that sum has doubled. Sources close to Russian
weapons manufacturers now speak of $8 billion as a reasonable sum. This
difference in figures alone casts doubt on the seriousness with which
Russia's trade perspectives with Iran have been estimated.

Washington is talking about something else. Although Moscow swears that
Tehran pays punctually, American experts say that work done at the first
block of the atomic station in Bushere has yet to be paid for. Furthermore,
Russia could lose tens of millions of dollars by going against the wishes
of the United States, since Washington determines how many satellites
belonging to other countries can be launched by Russia (according to U.S.
law, if a satellite contains American parts, then Washington must give
permission for its launch).

At the conference, it was suggested that the Russian Defense Ministry
itself could suffer sanctions. After all, as a result of a presidential
decree, the ministry is responsible for all arms sales. This would also
cost Russia tens of millions of dollars, since the United States finances
programs for destroying nuclear weapons and ensuring the safety of existing
nuclear arsenals.

In Carslyle, I was repeatedly assured that no one is going to threaten
Russia. But people in Washington are beginning to say that it is time to
draw a line in the sand beyond which Moscow must not venture. No one will
say what is waiting behind this line. But maps of Russia can be used to
plan more than just training maneuvers.
From: "Wayne Merry" <>
Subject: re Edmund Pope
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000

>From Wayne Merry, Senior Associate at the American Foreign Policy Council

Now that Putin has publicly agreed to let Pope go home, I would like to add
a perspective on the case and what the Russian security services were
trying to accomplish with this prosecution.   

With the end of the Cold War, the U.S. reduced its armed forces
drastically. The services tended to retain officers from combat arms. In
consequence, many Foreign Area Officers (FAO's) had to leave the  military,
many soon after acquiring years of costly training in languages and  area
studies. The cream of the Cold War FAO corps, naturally, were the Russian
specialists (including former colleagues and classmates of mine). Added to
the officers let go was the normal retirement of older Russian FAO's,  ike
Pope, all looking for something to do with their skills. 

Not surprisingly, many showed up in post-Soviet Russia and the neighboring
states. Also not surprisingly, many (not all, but many) of their new
mployers were American firms doing business with the Pentagon. Even less
surprisingly, the Russian "special services" regarded these people as
spies, one and all. The FBI has a similar attitude toward former GRU and
KGB personnel -- once a spook, always a spook -- so it is in the nature of
things that the more paranoid Russian services should see these ex-FAO's as
security threats.    The Americans were (so far as I know) involved in
overt, non-clandestine  business activities. 

But, there were two problems. First, Russian counter-intelligence does not
distinguish between overt and covert or between official and private in
assessing whether an activity is spying. Second, much of the business
involved acquisition of Russian technologies, often with military
applications and available at fire-sale prices from design institutes  and
laboratories desperate for money. 

To my knowledge, senior Russian officials several times complained to U.S.
counterparts about this activity, but were told that legal private American
 business was not subject to regulation or control by Washington.   The
detail that much of the money ultimately came from government contracts was
 rationalized. Washington treated the Russian complaints as the whining of
a defeated empire, as they obviously lacked the internal controls to
prevent  this outflow of their own technology.   

The Russian authorities did, as we can now see, have another option at
their disposal, and Edmund Pope was just the unlucky person to take the
hit. He may, in fact, be luckier than another man would have been because
his health provides a legitimate basis for rapid clemency. I suspect the
Russians cared little about Pope himself or about trying to close an
already-open barn door on this particular torpedo.  hey obviously did not
care much about the merits of the case as presented in court. No, they are
sending a message that Russia will no longer tolerate practices by
Americans it could only complain about before (either because Putin is more
sympathetic than was Yeltsin, or because the money is not so important as
in previous years, or for whatever reason). The message is also directed at
Russian labs and  institutes: Americans may have nice money, but we have
power and are now  prepared to use it. In short, the glory days of
strip-mining Russian technology are over in this new era of Cold Peace.  

Christian Science Monitor
December 11, 2000
Heavy civilian toll in Chechnya's 'unlimited violence'
In their 18-month operation, Russian troops don't just target rebels, say
rights groups.
By Scott Peterson, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

In an operation local residents say is typical in Russian-controlled areas,
men in camouflage uniforms and black ski masks arrived in an unmarked armored
vehicle on Mozdokskaya Street in Grozny, the Chechen capital, and whisked
away 10 people.

Among the detainees were Haji Said-Alwi Gakayev's three daughters, who have
not been heard from since the incident last June.

"I brought them up to be cosmonauts, but I don't know if they have gone to
heaven yet or not," says the white-bearded Mr. Gakayev, tilting his
traditional red-velvet hat forward in resignation.

A Muslim spiritual leader in Gudermes, the center of the Moscow-appointed
Chechen administration in this breakaway southern republic, he now takes care
of all eight of his grandchildren. "Every night I come home, and they ask,
'Where is Mama?' " Gakayev says. "And every night their grandfather starts

Continued efforts to find his daughters - including letters to Russian
President Vladimir Putin - have so far failed.

War's 'new phase'

Russian commanders say their acts are aimed at quashing separatist Islamic

But as the 14-month Russian occupation of Chechnya grinds on, Russian forces
have been using brutal methods against civilians - from summary executions to
kidnapping, say rights groups, Chechens, and even some soldiers themselves.

"The war ... has entered a new phase," said the Nobel Peace prize-winning
humanitarian group Medecins sans Frontieres, in a late November report. "The
Russian forces have transformed Chechnya into a vast ghetto," the report
says. "In this ghetto, terror reigns ... every civilian is a suspect, and
freedom of movement is denied. Each and every checkpoint is a 'Russian
roulette' which puts their lives at stake."

It is known as bespredel, a Russian slang term that means excessive abuse of
power, and, in Chechnya especially, "unlimited violence."

"It's worse than I thought," says one young conscript at the main Russian
base of Khankala, 10 miles east of Grozny, while eating a breakfast of tinned
tuna and boiled buckwheat. "I thought this was a war, but it is bespredel."

"No, no - keep that to yourself," warns an officer, apparently aware that
Russia's image has been tarnished by persistent reports of Russian abuses

Critics have launched a chorus of complaints about alleged Russian atrocities
since federal troops reentered Chechnya in September 1999, with the stated
purpose of restoring law and order in a region that had fallen into
lawlessness under Chechen rule.

Russia's post-superpower prestige disintegrated at the hands of guerrillas in
the first Chechen war of 1994-96. A sense of revenge, analysts say, has
partly motivated Moscow's second campaign.

So winning Chechen hearts and minds has not been a priority. Grozny's central
market was entirely destroyed by Russian armored vehicles on Nov. 27 - this
year, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Rebel attacks are expected to increase at this time. Pro-Moscow Chechen
authorities say that in November alone, 18 Russian soldiers were killed in or
disappeared from the market.

But Muslims traditionally end daytime fasting during Ramadan with a feast,
and the market was an important source of food and income for thousands.

Russian forces have largely pushed the separatist fighters out of Grozny and
into the snow-covered mountains along the southern border with Georgia.
Moscow is aiming to cut back troop strength to about 25,000, down from 90,000
at the beginning of the year.

The price of continued conflict has been high for civilians. Acts of violence
are "designed to humiliate civilians: arbitrary executions and mopping-up
operations, arrests and disappearances, extortion and racketeering of
cadavers," last month's report by Medecins sans Frontieres notes.

Officially, more than 10,000 Chechens were arrested in the first five months
of the year alone.

Detailing severe beatings and the impunity with which federal forces operate
here, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch reported in October on the
"cycle of torture and extortion faced by thousands of Chechens whom Russian
forces have detained in Chechnya."

Caught in the middle

Testimony is not hard to find, even on a brief visit to Chechnya organized by
Russian officials.

"People are being exterminated by federal forces - that is the truth," says a
woman who works for the pro-Moscow administration in Gudermes. Two of her
nephews have disappeared. But she is no supporter of the rebels, either,
having been held hostage for eight months in 1998 by kidnappers linked to a
Chechen warlord.

"Troops catch everybody, military or not - they just disappear," she says.
"It's bespredel, like the extermination of the nation. If it keeps going on,
all the people will either be exterminated, or they will rise up."

Some senior officers are not convinced. "We have declared an amnesty [for
rebels deemed not to have been involved in crimes], so state officials do not
want them exterminated," says Col. Igor Yegiazarov, commander of Russian
forces in northern Chechnya. "As for the mass execution of the Chechen
people, I have not ever seen that. It's better to talk to the Chechens
themselves," Colonel Yegiazarov says. "I do know of officers and generals who
tried to prevent local murders and looting [by soldiers]. If things like
[bespredel] happen, then the guilty will have to be responsible before a
criminal court, like any other army in the world."

Extreme measures from Moscow are not unknown to Chechnya. Soviet dictator
Joseph Stalin - accusing Chechens of supporting Nazi Germany in World War II
- ordered the mass uprooting of the entire Chechen population to Siberia in
1944, an event still remembered annually on Deportation Day.

The pro-Moscow administration has warned Russian troops that abuses further
undermine their tenuous credibility. "We have certain problems with federal
troops, but we know the Army is against a very cunning enemy," says Abdullah
Bugayev, a deputy administrator in Gudermes. The administration pursues some
cases of wrongful detention. For instance, Gakayev says the mayor of Gudermes
is helping to find his three daughters.

"I wouldn't dramatize it," Mr. Bugayev says, when asked about bespredel. He
notes that several pro-Moscow officials have been killed, some brutally: "You
can't just look at one side."

Conditions on the ground are tough for young soldiers, who often say they
were lured by promises of high combat pay.

"This is a dirty war, people shoot you in the back," says one Russian
soldier, leaning over a fire at dusk at the muddy Khankala camp. "There is no
heroic fighting, like in a real, classic war. There is nothing romantic at


"Unbiased coverage" of Chechen operation ensured public support - Putin's

Moscow, 9th December: Sergey Yastrzhembskiy, an aide to the Russian
president, congratulated on Saturday [9th December] 50 Russian journalists
presented with government awards of valour for their work in the North
Caucasus. The recipients of awards work with the leading Russian television
companies ORT [Russian Public Television], RTR [Russia TV channel], NTV,
TV-6, TV Centre, ViD and ITAR-TASS and Interfax news agencies.

Yastrzhembskiy said the state had much respect for their professional skills,
unbiased approach to the news coverage and personal courage. He called
special attention to the names of Dmitriy Balburov, contributing to the
'Moskovskiye Novosti' newspaper, and Ramzan Mezhidov from the TV Centre
company. Balburov was abducted by rebels and held hostage in Chechnya for a
long time. Mezhidov was killed in Chechnya while discharging his professional
duty, and was awarded posthumously.

The presidential aid further said that, but for the unbiased coverage of the
antiterrorist operation in Chechnya, the state would not have the support of
the general public for its policy in the region.


From: "Stefan Korshak" <>
Subject: Re: Allina-Pisano/Rudnitsky/4678
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000

Jake Rudnitsky's evaluation of the role of surzhik (or surzhyk) in Ukraine
is, in my opinion, far more accurate than Jessica Allina-Pisano's. If you
ask the Ukrainians themselves, original language unimportant, they seem to
define surzhik as a bastardized, ungrammatical mix of Ukrainian and Russian
spoken by uneducated people in small towns and villages. I have come across
it most often in central rural regions where Russian is dominant in the
cities; for example outside Nikolaev (or Mykolayiv) or Odessa (or Odesa) or
Chernigov (Chernihiv). Rudnitsky is dead on the money when he names
Ukrainian collective farm bosses as likely speakers of surzhik; certainly
all the ones I have talked to used a clumsy Ukrainian peppered with Russian
words and syntax.

I believe Allina-Pisano's assertation that surzhik is "the lingua franca of
Ukraine...the spoken language...of much of the Ukrainian population outside
the center of Kyiv" is dead wrong.

>From what I can see the more educated the Ukrainian, the more likely he is
to speak good Ukrainian or Russian, or both. Basic education is fairly good
in Ukraine; so most do. People less educated tend to be fluent in one
language at the exclusion of the other, especially  where either Russian or
Ukrainian is heavily dominant. For instance, most Ukrainians would expect a
Carpathian farmer to speak excellent if peculiar Ukrainian, and a Donetsk
coal miner to pound vodka with his buddies only in colloquial Russian. If
parents, both would be very likely to be quick to correct children caught
using surzhik.

I cannot, even at extreme intellectual stretch, imagine any Ukrainian
defending surzhik as the full-fledged dialect of an legitimate and
economically-repressed minority. Perhaps that will change if a nationalist
movement claiming surzhik's status as a national minority toungue develops,
say, in poor farming communities of the Sumy oblast. I am not holding my
breath, Ms. Allina-Pisano's perception of the Ukrainian "social reality"

However surzhik, if defined as sometimes wooden Ukrainian spoken by a former
Communist party official used to Russian, actually has enjoyed a boost in
public visibility of late. Again Rudnitsky hits the nail on the head by
identifying Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma as a leading proponent of
Ukrainian as the official language, in spite of his native Russian. It is
perhaps unfair to describe Kuchma's Ukrainian as surzhik per se; in Ukraine
the term is quite pejorative, and Kuchma has made no secret of his
commendable but sometimes less than wholly successful efforts to use proper

But then one hardly expects eXile articles to be polite. I would say
Rudnitsky performed a good service by identifying modern
Ukrainian government bureaucrat-speak - whatever its name - as the
predominant language on the juiciest piece of Ukrainian kompromat to appear
in at least the last half decade, an audio tape of an apparent plot to rub
out Ukrainska Pravda editor Grigory Gongadze. The voices on the tape
certainly sound like high Ukrainian government officials, right down to word
choice and inflection.

Rudnitsky and Allina-Pisano seem, peculiarly enough, to agree one of the
voices is Kuchma's. That's going too far. At present, one can say one of the
voices on the tape discussing getting rid of  Gongadze is similar to
Kuchma's. Other voices resemble the President's chief of staff and Minister
of Internal Affairs. That's quite fishy, but not enough to hang a man for
murder, especially if the man accused is a Ukrainian politician, and the
damning evidence - the tape - was made public by his political opponent.

For by far the best coverage on the affair, and an alternative tape
transcript in English, see the Kyiv Post web site The tape
itself, in all its surzhik glory, can be read or downloaded at

Finally, what is "anglo journalism"?

Stefan Korshak
dpa Deutsche Presse Agentur
Kiev (or Kyiv, or Kiew)


Boston Globe
December 10, 2000
Tajikis play key role in battle for Afghanistan
US and Russia back same force
By David Filipov, Globe Staff

BERKUT BORDER POST, Tajikistan - The battle for Afghanistan unfolds clearly
from this heavily guarded Russian military post perched on a high cliff
overlooking the Pyandzh River that forms the Tajik-Afghan border.

On a hill on the Afghan side stand the tanks of the Islamic Taliban militia
that now controls over 90 percent of Afghanistan. The tanks trade fire with
the rocket launchers of the anti-Taliban forces led by the ethnic Tajik
General Ahmad Shah Masood, hidden behind a small ridge to the east.

Amid that heavy weaponry, the squat, black barge docked on Masood's side of
the front seems insignificant, but it is arguably the most ominous military
asset out there. Russian forces use that barge to supply weapons and
ammunition to its former enemy, Masood, raising the ante in Afghanistan's
civil war, and drawing threats of retaliation, and occasional artillery fire,
from the Taliban.

Saying it feared a humanitarian catastrophe of a scale worse than in Kosovo,
Russia stepped up its assistance to the anti-Taliban forces following the
Taliban's string of victories that brought its forces to the border of
Tajikistan in October.

Moscow is concerned that the Afghan violence could destabilize already
chaotic Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic where a fragile power-sharing
agreement between the country's post-Communist leaders and Islamic opposition
forces barely keeps the peace three years after a civil war that killed over
30,000 people.

Russia, which commands a force of 25,000 mainly Tajik troops in the republic,
argues that the Taliban military offensive threatens to unleash a refugee
crisis as well as a regional wave of Islamic insurgency.

Russia's support for Masood, unadvertised but readily acknowledged by the
border guards, has already turned parts of the border area into a war zone.

Taliban shells frequently land near the Russian posts on the Tajik side. The
Russian-led troops have dug trenches and planted mines around their posts
that dot the border.

''Last week the firing got so close that we went on full alert and spent the
week in the trenches,'' said Captain Rashid Khojayev, an ethnic Uzbek who
commands the Russian border post here.

The Afghanistan conflict has made for strange allies. The United States and
Russia joined last week to ask the UN Security Council to add measures to
sanctions against the Taliban that would essentially cut Afghanistan off from
the world.

Russians and Americans were on opposing sides in the civil war that followed
the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. After 10 years of fighting and
hundreds of thousands of victims, a coalition of US-backed Islamic rebels
drove out the Russians. Masood was one of the most prominent and successful
Afghan US-backed leaders; today, he is Russia's ally.

Moscow is most concerned about what it sees as the Taliban's support for
militant drug traffickers, Islamic movements and international terrorism that
spread across Central Asia and into the Caucasus. Washington agrees, not
least because the Taliban shelters the Saudi-born financier Osama bin Laden,
who is wanted in the United States on charges of masterminding the bombings
of two US embassies in Africa in 1998.

The upswing in the violence has created more trouble for the already
impoverished population in both northern Afghanistan and southern Tajikistan,
where a severe drought has threatened millions with starvation.

On Wednesday, the UN refugee agency urged Tajikistan to admit up to 10,000
Afghans who have been stranded for weeks on the border.

The agency said the refugees are marooned on islands and peninsulas in the
no-man's land on the Pyandzh River, with little shelter and dwindling food
supplies. Some have been killed by artillery fire. The cold weather, disease,
and possible flooding loom as additional threats to the refugees.

The United Nations said the refugees included armed former fighters of
Masood's coalition. Russia has said its troops would allow anti-Taliban
fighters into Tajikistan, if they were disarmed first. But Tajikistan's
Russian-backed president, Inomali Rakhmonov, has refused to admit most of the
Afghan refugees, saying that his government barely has the resources to aid
the estimated 3 million Tajik citizens who have been hit by the drought.

Marat Mamatshayev, an analyst based in Dushanbe, said that if Masood were
defeated, it would be a big blow to the stability of Rakhmonov's government.

This is why some analysts say Russia has begun supplying Masood's forces with
helicopter pilots and Russian-controlled airbases in Tajikistan, and could
begin full-scale airstrikes if the Taliban makes new gains.

By raising the Russian involvement in Afghanistan, the Kremlin is openly
challenging the Taliban, Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based defense analyst,
commented recently.

Felgenhauer questioned that strategy. He said that the minority Tajiks who
support Masood could never win a civil war against the Taliban, which is
supported by the majority Pushtu ethnic group. If the Taliban refused to back
down to Russia, Felgenhauer said, ''The resulting disaster may be comparable
to the Soviet debacle of a decade ago.''


East: Report Says Information Technology Development Lagging
By Nikola Krastev

The already enormous international market for information and communication
technology is now growing at a rate of 8 percent a year. A recent study
emphasizes the importance of the barely 20-year-old technology in the world
economy, but also says that Eastern Europe and Russia lag behind other
regions in terms of absolute spending on information technology.

Prague, 8 December 2000 (RFE/RL) -- The development of information and
communication technology, or ICT -- the backbone of the Internet
infrastructure -- is crucial to any country's advancement in electronic
commerce and services.

This is a major conclusion of the latest annual report -- known as "@Digital
Planet@" -- released by the World Information Technology and Services
Alliance, or WITSA.

The survey also reveals that, in total spending on ICT, Eastern Europe and
Russia are at the bottom of the scale, the Eastern countries are behind not
only Western Europe and North America but also regions grouped as the Middle
East/Africa, Latin America and Asia-Pacific. The survey's finding confirms a
trend first recorded three years ago.

According to the report, however, Eastern Europe and Russia are now moving
rapidly to catch up. When it comes to growth in ICT spending, the Eastern
countries and Latin America -- the regions with the smallest ICT bases -- are
currently outpacing by a rate of two-to-one Western Europe and North America,
regions with mature ICT structures.

The WITSA annual reports are based on solid scientific research and are
considered highly reliable among ICT professionals. The first @Digital
Planet@ survey was conducted in 1998.

John Gole, a telecommunications analyst for International Data Corporation,
Central Europe, tells RFE/RL that the stumbling block for ICT development in
Eastern nations is primarily their governments' restrictions on competition.

"Governments from Central and Eastern Europe continue to restrict competition
in the telecommunications market. That varies by degree in different markets,
in different countries, with [the] Czech market completing [its]
liberalization at the end of this year and some others -- for example Hungary
-- following the following year, and other markets working their way in that
direction. I think that the restrictions on competition in telecommunications
are a big barrier to development and use of IT [information technology] in
business in these countries."

In Russia, lack of revenue and insufficient Internet-related investments are
holding back the development of ICT. Robert Farish, research manager of
International Data Corporation, Russia, tells our correspondent that Russia
also lags behind some East European countries in developing its own Internet
and ICT legislation.

"Russia has been particularly known for the absence of state policy on the
development of IT. I think in other countries, like Hungary or [the] Czech
Republic, there's far more active state intervention in the development of

Among other findings in the @Digital Planet 2000@ survey is that ICT
development is no longer driven by the production of hardware, which was
typical of the period prior to 1999. The current trend is toward increasing
the dominance of software and services. While the hardware market grew
worldwide by 6 percent in 1999, software grew by 10 percent and services by
14 percent.

According to several analysts, there are now three distinct ICT development
groups among East European countries. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,
Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia are in the first, most advanced group. The
second-ranking ICT regional group is composed of Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, and, to a lesser degree, Yugoslavia. Russia
and Ukraine make up the third, least-developed group -- each with special ICT

John Cole of International Data Corporation puts it this way:

"Ukraine and Russia are interesting cases in which the governments aren't so
restrictive, but the markets themselves are not especially competitive,
despite some deregulation. In these markets, [it is] in some ways an issue
[of] government not taking an effective regulatory approach toward
competition more than a matter of just prohibiting competition."

At present, neither Albania and Belarus fit into any of the three groups.
Both countries have poor ICT infrastructures and have attracted virtually no
interest from potential Western investors.

@Digital Planet 2000@ recorded ICT annual growth of more than 10 percent in
Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. But when it came to per capita
spending on ICT, Russia, Romania, and Bulgaria were at the bottom of the
list, along with Indonesia.

Kimberley Claman, WITSA's executive director, say such findings should not be
a concern.

"I actually feel that the focus here should not be on why Eastern Europe lags
behind the others in terms of total spending. Rather, the focus should be on
the growth of total spending over time. Of the top 10 fastest growing ICT
markets -- [determined] by compounded annual growth rate from 1992 to 1999 --
Eastern Europe is the highest represented region. The top 10 include
countries such as Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and a catch-on group of
other Eastern European countries. If you would take this list of top 10 and
extend it to the top 15, the Czech Republic and Slovenia would also be
captured. Eastern Europe is doing in fact quite well on the growth of IT."

Analysts say there is generally a correlation between a political system in a
given country and its ICT development. But they warn that the correlation is
not always negative. They point to Vietnam and China -- communist countries
with restrictive political systems -- which have enjoyed the world's fastest
ICT annual growth rates between 1992 and 1999 -- 35 and 30 percent,


From: (Ira Straus)
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000
Subject: on EU summit and Putin's failure

EU scuttles Franco-Russian gambit on defense, but loses crucial time from its
work on Institutional Reform and Enlargement
by Ira Straus

At the Nice summit of the European Union, the idea of an "independent" EU
defense force has fizzled. The Russian gambit of supporting it backfired,
driving Europeans back into the arms of the US. The decision at Nice ended up
creating the minimum of autonomy for the new European force and the maximum
of continued cooperation with, even dependence on, NATO. All the French
rhetoric about multipolarism and "independence" of America, backed by Russia
with the transparent thought of dividing Europe from America, scared off the
other Europeans. Britain and Germany proved good Atlanticists, leaving France
in lonely anti-American splendor.

This outcome was predictable; the defeat of the Franco-Russian gambit was in
a sense inevitable, given the depth of Atlanticist commitment in most
European capitals. However, all actors must play our their roles to make the
inevitable happen. The hostile reactions in the US and its better allies to
the idea of an independent EU force -- reactions many of which were mobilized
only at the last moment by Putin's gaffe of publicly promoting the idea --
were a part of that process.

As a result, probably the EU force was actually whittled down too much; the
US might find it in its own interest for the EU to have a stronger force
slightly more capable of autonomous action if need be. This will have to be
left to the future.

In light of the outcome, the cooperation and participation that Messrs. Putin
and Ivanov offered to the EU force would in fact be an enhancement of
cooperation with NATO, at slight remove. It deserves to be welcomed as such
by the West.

By contrast, a truly independent EU military, separated from NATO, would be
too small to be able to welcome Russian participation. It would rather fear
Russian participation. It could also become much more disagreeable to Russian
than NATO: as a collective instrument of an emerging political federation
operating by majority vote, not an arm of a loose military confederacy
operating by semi-consensus like NATO, it would be far more capable than NATO
of taking action independent of the UN Security Council and of Russian

It is only as a part of NATO that the Europeans are not unduly afraid of
Russian cooperation. And even in the NATO context it has often been only the
insistence of America that has kept the door open for Russia. It is ironic,
but the best ally that Russia has in Europe is -- America. The USA is the
only other European country that, like Russia itself, is not 100% purely
European but is a vast outward extension of European society; and as such, it
is the only one that is not scared of Russia's size. This is the objective
reality. It will remain a reality despite the fixation of some portions of
the Russian political class on viewing America as its adversary. And despite
their fantasy about uniting with Europe against America. This is a fantasy
whose real roots lie in the Brezhnev era, when the elite wasn't able to speak
freely; it had to contort its Westernizing fantasies into a form that would
serve some nasty Soviet geopolitical purpose. Thus, it dreamed of uniting
with Europe while getting in an anti-American jab at the same time to head
off the charges of treason. The Russian elite grew out of this in the
Gorbachev-early Yeltsin years; it had a coming out party, major portions of
it becoming consistent and Atlanticist in their logic. Russia proceeded to
give up its empire, but NATO took the gift selfishly; instead of validating
it as a step toward a wider unity in which Russia could participate
seriously, it underlined the aspect of it a Russian defeat. The Russian
Atlanticists became susceptible once again to charges of treason. Much of the
elite has proceeded to regress to Brezhnevite form, as if it had never
learned anything about the untenability of that form.

The events at Nice have been a come-uppance not only for much of the Russian
political elite, but for all those who have tried to build European unity
around the theme of uniting against the USA. The adversarial poses toward
America have ended up merely creating divisiveness within the EU and slowing
down the process of integration. Several months ago, some would-be realists
in American embraced the French position, arguing that it was the plain
unarguable fact that uniting against America was the way to build a European
federation; after all, nothing so concentrates the mind as a common enemy. At
Nice, the verdict is in, and this brand of realism has once again been shown
to be the sheerest naivete. The presence of a genuine threatening enemy does
indeed concentrate the minds of those who are threatened; but an ersatz
policy of treating America as the enemy, manufactured by political elites in
the name of building unity, is usually divisive. The reason for this is
extraordinarily simple: America is not in fact an enemy of Europe, nor for
that matter of Russia, and most Europeans at least understand this fact and
have the good sense not to want to make an enemy of America.

The issue of an independent defense wasted a day of the Nice summit. The
summit is desperately short on time for dealing with its main business -- the
revamping of the whole institutional structure and power weightings of the
European Union, to free it of national unit vetoes and make it work more like
an efficient modern federation. This business is of supreme importance, both
intrinsically as a matter of placing the EU on solid footing, and
historically as a matter of putting the EU into condition for enlarging its
membership to the east without attenuating its capability for making
decisions. The negotiation on this matter is extremely difficult, as each
nation tries to hold onto its veto on some subjects of particular national
sensitivity, and all try to hold onto a preferential share of power in one or
another of the institutions of the EU. The work is already behind schedule on
this subject; the preparations in the last several months were inadequate.

Institutional reform requires all the time it can get at this summit.
Instead, not only was a day was wasted on the non-starter of an independent
defense; another day was wasted on a "Charter of Fundamental Rights" for EU
citizens. This is a mere declaratory document; its main significance has been
to create more divisiveness. It too was imagined to be a clever tactic for
getting faster to a union of the European citizens; it too has turned out to
be a diversion. The result of these two diversions has been to cut in half
the time for the real business of the summit.

A similar diversion had taken place on the eve of the Amsterdam summit, which
was supposed to make up for the gaping holes in the work of the Maastricht
summit and treaty. Maastricht had concentrated on the creation of the common
"euro" currency, at the expense of the institutional reforms that were needed
to streamline the union -- particularly, at the expense of the reform needed
to enable the EU to conduct an efficient foreign policy and to contemplate
eastern expansion in the wake of the collapse of Communism. Amsterdam was
supposed to fill in the missing work of streamlining, after a delay of some
years. But crises in the monetary coordination system among the European
states and doubts about their commitment to and readiness for the euro led to
Amsterdam's being largely diverted into an effort to patch up the path to the
euro and restore confidence in it. As a result, Amsterdam, too, failed to do
more than a fraction of the necessary work; it was judged sufficient only for
a mini-enlargement to bring the rich Scandinavian countries and Austria into
the EU. The foolhardy concentration on the euro at Maastricht had taken its
revenge, half-torpedoing the corrective summit at Amsterdam as well. A third
mini-summit at Luxembourg also fell short.

This is why it was left to the Nice summit this week to do what has been
needed ever since 1989. And now Nice might also fail, in the sense of falling
far short of what is needed for enabling eastern enlargement to proceed
without detriment to the Union.

There was much hope invested in the Nice summit, because the EU had meanwhile
overcome a second dilatory confusion: the debate between "widening" and
"deepening", in which Euroskeptic British leaders called for "widening" the
Union with an undisguised aim of making it more shallow, while French leaders
called for technocratic forms of "deepening" -- creating a common euro
currency, making common declarations, creating new areas of
inter-governmental cooperation, proclaiming a European Security and Defense
Identity -- that delayed widening (sometimes even erected new hurdles for
prospective new members to jump) rather than preparing the Union for it. This
stand-off had for nearly ten years diverted the EU from concentrating on the
forms of "deepening" that were relevant as preparation for widening, namely
streamlining of decision-making and re-weighting of the institutional votes.
At long last, with the change in Britain to a more EU-friendly government,
everyone had accepted the basic point: that the main thing was to get on with
those forms of institutional "deepening" that were relevant for paving the
way for "widening". It was not a new point; the Germans had been saying it
ever since 1989, and the French functionalists and the British nationalists,
in setting "widening" and "deepening" against each other, had really been
playing a symbiotic game of diversion from the real point. The diversion was
finally over: there was a consensus on the real nature of the issue, and
there was thought to be a good chance of relative success at Nice, after the
relative failures at Luxembourg, Amsterdam, and Maastricht.

And if Nice should also fail? In the case of half-way failure, it will
promulgate a new treaty, which will be inadequate to its purpose, but will
nevertheless be proclaimed a success. In the most extreme case, there will be
no new treaty at all. Lacking the time to complete its work, the Nice summit
would pass the issue on to the next summit. The presidency of the EU is to
pass meanwhile from France to Sweden. This will most likely be a net loss:
Sweden, while less prone to play an eccentric distorting role than France, is
also less friendly than France toward the project of deepening the EU in a
federal direction. Further, it is less capable of leadership; like most of
the small countries, it is prone to fashion a minimal compromise among the
member countries, using superficial trade-offs rather than a profound

A new treaty would probably ensue anyway by the end of the Swedish
presidency; but it would probably also be insufficient for the purpose of
streamlining the Union and preparing it for enlargement. Nevertheless, it
would be officially proclaimed a success and as opening the door for
enlargement: the ten-year delay in enlargement has become too much of a
scandal to admit failure. So, no matter whether at Nice or six months later,
a new treaty will almost surely be signed, and thereafter probably ratified.
The problem is that the new treaty is likely to be inadequate for its
purpose, yet proclaimed adequate anyway.

Enlargement might then proceed, but hesitantly. Myriad opportunities exist
within the enlargement process for throwing up new roadblocks and minimizing
the number of countries that are brought in. At each point in that process,
the committed members of the EU would wonder, not without cause, whether in
enlarging they were signing the death warrant of the historic project of the
EU. Enlargement being a treaty revision that requires agreement and
ratification by each member state, they would have ample opportunity to
exercise their veto for this reason, as well as for reasons of purely selfish

Another round of negotiations on institutional reform would be needed to
clear away the new logjams. Several new members would probably already be
inside the EU at that point, making it more complicated to get agreement on a
meaningful further treaty of revision. If it took four rounds to get to a
clear negotiating focus on the main issue and get things almost right at the
Nice round or its Swedish successor summit, yet the results still fell short,
then the prospects would not be great for getting it right in yet another new
round several years hence. The consensus on the real issue would weaken. New
diversions would be discovered. There would be an ample supply of new
diversions available, starting with the serious issues that will inevitably
emerge in the course of actually assimilating the first entrant wave of
eastern countries. The direction of the political wind might depend on
whether those eastern countries would also bring with them an enthusiasm for
the EU project that helps the EU in overriding its internal diversionary
forces. In 1989 they would have had that enthusiasm indeed, in such
quantities as to bring about some resurgence of the original idealistic
quality of the EU. After more than a decade of delays since 1989, it is a big
question mark what spirit they will introduce into EU deliberations. Their
diplomats say that they still have the old enthusiasm, which may be true
among portions of the elite, but some polls show otherwise among the general
public. And the spirit of '89 has suffered among the elites as well, even if
the formal commitment to joining the EU remains. The road ahead, in the event
of an insufficient success at Nice, looks like a less than simple straight
path of progress.


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