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CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List
 

 

December 14, 2000   

This Date's Issues:   4687  4688

 

Johnson's Russia List
#4687
14 December 2000
davidjohnson@erols.com

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Russians see fewer bear hugs with Republicans.
2. AP: Solzhenitsyn Criticizes Anthem Plan.
3. BBC Monitoring: Solzhenitsyn wins humanitarian prize: backs Russia's Chechen policy.
4. AP: Yeltsin Drinking Worried Aides.
5. AFP: Dagestani court hears Russian war reporter Babitsky's appeal.
6. Bloomberg: Boeing Names Former UN Ambassador Pickering to New Post.
7. David Price: Gorbachev in Belgian.
8. HA'ARETZ (Israel): Eliahu Salpeter, Russian anti-Semitism in high places?
9. Reuters: Gusinsky aide believes Spain won't send boss home. (Malashenko)
10. Interfax: RIGHT-WING DUMA LEADERS URGE PRESIDENT TO INTERVENE
IN GUSINSKY SITUATION
.
11. Interfax: NO CHARGES TO BE BROUGHT AGAINST YELTSIN IN CONNECTION WITH MABETEX CASE - INVESTIGATOR.
12. BBC Monitoring: Top Russian liberal warns "vindictive" Putin a threat to millions. (Nemtsov)
13. Interfax: MOSCOW'S OSTANKINO TELEVISION TOWER TO BE WORLD'S
TALLEST AFTER RECONSTRUCTION
.
14. Reuters: Russia-Cuba trade ties need finance not nostalgia.
15. RFE/RL: Andrew Tully, Georgia: Experts Discuss Successor After Shevardnadze.
16. BBC Monitoring: Russian paper says Krasnoyarsk governor Lebed seeking political comeback.]   

*******

#1
Russians see fewer bear hugs with Republicans
December 13, 2000
By Peter Graff
 
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russians expect fewer bear hugs from a Washington under
Republican control, but say the likely emergence of George W. Bush as the
next U.S. president may not be all bad news for East-West ties.

Russian experts said Wednesday they were well prepared to deal with the party
they faced during some of the toughest Cold War years. And they pointed out
that a Republican administration would no longer face second-guessing from a
hostile, opposition-controlled Congress when striking deals with Moscow.

"The Republicans will be much tougher," Sergei Rogov, Director of Russia's
USA and Canada Institute, told Reuters. "But look at the record of the
Clinton administration. The intentions were good but what was the outcome?"

"I think it is possible to do business with a Republican administration.
Unlike the Democrats, they can deliver," he said. But he added: "A lot
depends on their -- and our -- capability to compromise."

For much of the 1990s, ties between Moscow and Washington were dominated by
cheery Bill-and-Boris summits between the bear-hugging, back-slapping,
first-names-only presidents Clinton and Yeltsin.

But ties have become much frostier over the past few years, amid often-fierce
disagreements -- over arms control, NATO expansion, Kosovo, Iraq and
Chechnya, to name just a few.

In Clinton's four meetings with Yeltsin's successor, the tough-talking former
KGB spy Vladimir Putin, both men's body language has been noticeably
reserved.

Critics on both sides of the Atlantic have said the initial post-Soviet
warmth may have been naive.

BUSH TAKES A TOUGH LINE

Bush has not been shy about criticizing Clinton-era policy toward Moscow, and
his advisers include some noted Russia hawks, such as presumed National
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

He has pledged a tougher line on arms control, threatening to withdraw from
the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty if Russia does not agree to amend it
to allow the United States to deploy an anti-missile shield.

During his campaign, Bush also accused the Clinton administration of allowing
lavish amounts of aid funds to Russia to be looted, charges strongly denied
in Moscow.

But some Russian experts say Moscow still may prefer a firm opponent to a
sometimes-wobbly friend.

"The (Bush) administration will have the support of Congress. It will be a
strong government, and we have to take that into account," Vladimir Lukin, a
former Russian ambassador in Washington and now member of parliament told ORT
television.

"We have to bear in mind that the Republicans are a party with a more
rational -- I would say cynical -- and very practical approach. Whether we
are prepared for that, the future will show," he said.

"We have cadres who know all about Republicans. We have to make use of them."

(Additional reporting by Ron Popeski)

*******

#2
Solzhenitsyn Criticizes Anthem Plan
December 13, 2000
 
MOSCOW (AP) - Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn on Wednesday criticized
plans to reinstate the melody of the Soviet anthem as Russia's national hymn,
calling the move ``extremely inappropriate and ill-timed.''

The former Soviet political prisoner questioned making the issue of state
symbols a priority, saying ``you cannot save a dying country with symbols.''

``When men are dying hopeless at the prime of their lives, it makes no
difference what sort of hymn is being sung over their heads,'' Solzhenitsyn
told a news conference.

Solzhenitsyn, whose chronicle of life in Stalinist-era labor camps made him a
strong voice in defense of human rights, spoke after a ceremony at the French
Embassy in Moscow at which he was awarded a French humanities prize, the
Grand Prize of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.

Solzhenitsyn's ``Gulag Archipelago'' trilogy remains the most detailed
published history of how Stalin terrorized, murdered and imprisoned millions.
Solzhenitsyn, who was sent into exile by the Soviet authorities for his work,
won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970.

Solzhenitsyn also reiterated his defense of Russia's war in Chechnya, saying
the rebels had provoked the fighting by raiding the neighboring Russian
region of Dagestan. He also rejected warnings that freedom of the press was
at threat in President Vladimir Putin's Russia, saying the media tended to be
controlled more by their owners' financial interests.

``Basically, the Russian press today is free and is not afraid of anything,''
he said. ``Newspapers care least of all for the people's good. They are more
inclined to engage in their own intrigues.''

*******

#3
BBC Monitoring
Solzhenitsyn wins humanitarian prize: backs Russia's Chechen policy
Text of report by Russia TV on 13 December

[Presenter] The Grand Prix of the French Academy of Ethics and Political
Science was awarded at a ceremony in Moscow today. This prize has been
awarded since 1983. This year it was won by a fellow Russian, Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn. He was awarded the prize as an effective defender of individual
rights and freedoms and as a champion of humanism. After the award ceremony,
Solzhenitsyn gave a speech. He said the standards of humanism had changed
radically in today's world. For example, the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia had
become possible under the pretext of restoring historical justice. The role
of the United Nations is gradually decreasing and this cannot fail to cause
alarm. The writer supported the President Putin's policy on Chechnya.

[Solzhenitsyn] Chechnya sought independence in order to become a military
explosive device. It was not Putin that attacked Chechnya, but rather
Maskhadov's rebels who attacked Dagestan. What should he have done - given up
Dagestan? Stavropol Territory would have been next - should he have given
that up, just so there wouldn't be a war?

[Presenter] Solzhenitsyn also touched on the issue of Russia's state symbols.
In the writer's view, the time for resolving this issue is not now. Totally
different issues are currently the priority.

[Solzhenitsyn] There is no way the two-headed eagle can help the millions who
are drowning in poverty. I believe that the anthem, indeed the whole issue of
state symbols, has been raised at completely inappropriately and
unnecessarily and it should be put to one side for at least 25 years.

[Presenter] In his speech, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn also mentioned such issues
as the freedom of speech, the campaign against corruption and relations with
CIS countries.

*******

#4
Yeltsin Drinking Worried Aides
By Anna Dolgov
Associated Press Writer
Dec. 13, 2000

MOSCOW -- Former President Boris Yeltsin's aides worried that the leader was
completely losing control after he got drunk and conducted a Berlin military
orchestra in 1994, according to a letter published Wednesday.

The letter, signed by seven presidential aides, urged Yeltsin to cut back on
his "unhealthy habits" and chided him for "the well-known Russian
overindulgence," a euphemism for drinking.

Among those who signed the letter was Mikhail Barsukov, former head of the
Federal Security Service, who told the weekly newspaper Moskovskiye Novosti
that Yeltsin roared with anger when he read the letter. He later forgave his
advisers.

Yeltsin led Russia during the tumultuous years after the 1991 Soviet breakup
until his resignation Dec. 31. He was succeeded by Vladimir Putin, elected in
March.

Yeltsin had a number of erratic moments in his later years in office, but his
shenanigans in Berlin ?" considered an important diplomatic trip ?"
caused his
staff to worry that he could lose the presidency.

"His work has acquired an irregular character, with rises and sharp falls of
activity," read the letter, published Wednesday.

"It is becoming obvious that contacts with the public, journalists, newspaper
and television audiences are becoming increasingly difficult for the
president," the letter said.

In his memoirs, "Midnight Diaries," published in October, Yeltsin conceded
that he was drunk when he grabbed the baton in Berlin. The visit marked the
withdrawal of the last Russian troops from Germany and was viewed as
particularly significant in Moscow.

But trouble began just after Yeltsin's arrival; suffering insomnia, he
summoned then-Defense Minister Pavel Grachev to his suite, and the two drank
until early morning, former aides told the newspaper.

The next day, Yeltsin floundered through speeches, made awkward impromptu
comments, and ultimately moved to conduct the orchestra.

Calculating that the mercurial president would be more receptive to criticism
while on vacation, aides handed the letter to Yeltsin on a plane to the Black
Sea resort of Sochi, the newspaper reported.

Initially, the president was furious, but he forgave his advisers and agreed
to make changes ?" a decision he recalled in his memoirs.

"I walked along the beach in Sochi and realized that I had to go on living. I
had to regain my strength," Yeltsin wrote.

Yeltsin, who had heart bypass surgery in 1996, said that on the advice of his
doctors, he now limits himself to a glass of wine a day.

*******

#5
Dagestani court hears Russian war reporter Babitsky's appeal

MOSCOW, Dec 13 (AFP) -
The appeal court in Russia's Dagestan republic upheld a guilty verdict
Wednesday against war reporter and outspoken Kremlin critic Andrei Babitsky,
convicted in October of using a fake passport.

Babitsky, who covered the early months of the Chechen war for Radio Svoboda,
the Russian branch of US-funded Radio Free Europe, was fined about 300
dollars in October by a lower court in Dagestan.

However, he claimed on appeal Wednesday that the Kremlin had deliberately
pressed the charges because it was angry at his coverage of the brutal
Russian clampdown in the separatist Russian republic.

Babitsky refused to take advantage of a general amnesty for small crimes and
continues to protest his innocence of the fake document charges, which he
says were filed on Kremlin orders.

The journalist made his name by reporting on the impact of the Russian
crackdown in breakaway Chechnya on ordinary civilians, his grim reports
earning him harsh public criticism from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The last journalist out of the Chechen capital Grozny before it was captured
by Russian troops in February, he was first arrested on January 16 as he left
the shattered capital after a stint behind rebel lines.

But after several weeks in detention, during which he says he was beaten by
his Russian guards and heard the screams of fellow prisoners being tortured,
Babitsky became embroiled in a bizarre prisoner swap.

Babitsky was only freed following the direct intervention of Putin, then
acting president, who came under intense international pressure over the case.

The journalist has admitted using the fake passport, which bore the name of
an Azerbaijani national, Abul Ogli Musayev, but said he had no choice as his
own papers had been confiscated by his jailers.

******

#6
Boeing Names Former UN Ambassador Pickering to New Post
 
Seattle, Dec. 13 (Bloomberg)
-- Boeing Co. named Thomas Pickering, a U.S. undersecretary of state and
former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to a newly created post as
senior vice president for international relations.

Pickering, 69, will join the world's largest aerospace company in January
following his retirement from the U.S. government, Boeing Chairman Phil
Condit said.

``Ambassador Pickering will focus on strengthening our company's
relationships around the world,'' Condit told reporters on a conference call.
``He is an extremely impressive guy.''

In a five-decade diplomatic career, Pickering also served as U.S. ambassador
to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan. Boeing has
customers in 145 countries.

*******

#7
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000
From: David Price <Bron@compuserve.com>
Subject: Gorbachev in Belgian

About today's report from Russian source.

Gorbachev visited the University of Louvain la Neuve (corrected spelling)
where the Gorbachev Foundation set up a joint professorial chair on
European Union and Russian studies. He met the Belgian King Albert II and
Prime Minister Verhofstadt earlier.

Gorbachev (to my question) confirmed that the original deal made verbally
in 1990 between all the western leaders and him was for the unification of
Germany on the condition that Nato would NOT expand. He was quite severe at
what happened. He said that further Nato expansion to the Baltics for
example would show the most cynical attitude by the West. It would 'end
very badly.'

*******

#8
HA'ARETZ (Israel)
English Edition
December 13, 2000
Russian anti-Semitism in high places?
By Eliahu Salpeter (e_slptr@netvision.net.il)

Last month, a large majority of the members of the Russian parliament, the
Duma, rejected a proposal by the deputy chair of the house's constitutional
committee, Alex Fedulov, that President Vladimir Putin be called upon to
denounce the many anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred over the past
two months, particularly in the Kursk region. Even Russia's
prosecutor-general has refused to comply with the demand that the persons
responsible for the violent anti-Semitic acts in that region be prosecuted.
Nor was it at all coincidental that the most vociferous opponents of any
denouncement of the governor of the province of Kursk, Alexander Mikhailov,
included members of the Communist Party faction in the Duma. Mikhailov is a
senior member of the party, in which nationalistic tendencies have become
increasingly prominent.

In addition to strengthening their ties with the extreme right, the
Communists have lately begun to support the Russian Orthodox Church and its
anti-Semitic spokespersons. The support for the church has become so
pronounced in the Communist party that its secretary-general, Gennady
Zhuganov, published a long article in the party's newspaper in praise of
the primate of the ecclesiastical province of St. Petersburg, Ioann, who
died five years ago and who was the church's chief anti-Semitic ideologist.
Zhuganov crowned him with laurel wreaths for having been a tireless warrior
against "nihilism in the form of Russophobia and cosmopolitism." (The
latter term was the code-word for Judaism during the Stalin era.)

Ever since the Soviet regime's collapse, the clout of the Russian
Federation's provinces has increased. In an attempt to limit the
independence of provincial governors, Putin has launched major
administrative reforms. The events in Kursk, however, are raising fears
that Putin's reforms have failed or that the war on anti-Semitism is not
sufficiently important in his eyes to warrant his "wasting" valuable
political assets.

The Kursk affair, which has unfolded over the past two months, began when,
in a legal stratagem orchestrated by Moscow, the name of outgoing governor
Alexander Rutskoy was erased at the last minute from the list of candidates
for the post. Rutskoy had in the past expressed criticism of Kremlin
policies: For example, he had said that as early as 1917, the authorities
failed in their efforts to distract the attention of the starving masses by
issuing calls such as "Beat the Jews, save Russia!" According to Rutskoy,
his successor, Mikhailov, enjoys Putin's support, while Mikhailov has
attacked Rutskoy with the claim that he was backed by a "notorious Jewish
member of the business world," Boris Berezovsky, and by the Russian Jewish
Congress (RJC).

After being installed in office, Mikhailov announced triumphantly, "We
defeated them. This is a sign that Russia is finally beginning to liberate
itself from the filth that has accumulated over the past ten years.... In
case any of you are unaware of this fact, Rutskoy's mother, Zinaida
Yosifovna, is Jewish." Rutskoy's assistant, whose father is Jewish, was
attacked by anti-Semitic thugs and had to be hospitalized. Another group of
anti-Semitic hooligans vandalized the provincial Jewish community building.

Putin's failure to openly condemn those acts is inspiring anxiety among
Russian Jews that they may be on the brink of the renewal of the kind of
establishment-sponsored anti-Semitism that was prevalent in the days of the
now-defunct Soviet Union. "The Jews here are frightened, especially the
elderly ones who are Holocaust survivors," says Igor Buchman, one of the
leaders of Kursk's Jewish community. "Hearing anti-Semitic remarks on the
bus is one thing, but it is an entirely different kettle of fish when you
hear them coming from a provincial governor. It is only natural that we
should feel afraid."

Jewish leaders in Moscow have called on Putin to take the initiative and to
come out with the condemnation that the Duma has declined to demand of him.
The executive director of the RJC, Alexander Osovtsev, has stated
emphatically that "to maintain silence over this issue means, in fact, to
take a stand," while the representative of the Anti-Defamation League of
B'nai B'rith in Russia, Alexander Axelrod, has warned that a lack of
response to these events could place Russia at the bottom of the list of
the world's democratic nations.

Fedulov is similarly alarmed and feels that "the problems in the province
of Kursk are symptomatic of the general malaise from which Russia suffers
today in the area of inter-ethnic relations."

The storm of protest that the anti-Semitic acts in Kursk have generated
among Jews in the former Soviet Union and in the United States did, in the
final analysis, move Putin to publicize the fact that he had refused to
meet with the province's new governor and that the Russian president's
aides had demanded - and received - an apology from Mikhailov.

The events of the past few weeks in Russia indicate a blending of the usual
components of anti-Semitism. At the level of the provincial government (and
Kursk is not the only Russian Federation province to be tainted by
anti-Semitic outbursts), there is evidence that anti-Semitism is
unofficially backed by the establishment. Putin is waging a war against two
Jews who are prominent in the federation's media empires, Berezovsky and
Vladimir Goussinsky, and the ramifications of that war are fanning the
flames of anti-Semitism at the grassroots level of Russian society.

Goussinsky is also president of the RJC and Putin's "war on oligarchs" is
part and parcel of the confrontation between that organization and a new
body, the Federation of Jewish Communities, which was founded by the
Lubavitcher Hasidic movement and has received the blessing of the
authorities in the Russian Federation. The head of the Lubavitcher movement
in Russia, American-born Rabbi Berl Lazar, has been declared by his
organization the chief rabbi of Russia and he is recognized as such by the
Kremlin. Thus, the authorities have withdrawn their recognition of Rabbi
Adolf Shayevich, who began serving in this capacity under the Soviets.
Nonetheless, the RJC and more than a hundred local Jewish communities in
the Russian Federation continue to consider Shayevich Russia's chief rabbi.

It would seem that Jewish organizations and Jewish public figures have
become pawns in the power struggle within the Russian political system and
that the authorities are meddling in the "wars of the Jews" in the Russian
Federation. Furthermore, it is not clear whether the increase in the number
of anti-Semitic occurrences and incidents is due to the actions of at least
some establishment officials or whether these events reflect a growth in
anti-Semitism in Russian society at large. It is quite possible that the
answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Russian President Putin is now trying to restore the might of the Russian
Federation by reintroducing the old Soviet anthem and the hammer-and-sickle
red flag. There are those who are afraid that the return of the anthem and
flag will be accompanied by the renewed appearance of Soviet attitudes
toward Jews.

*******

#9
Gusinsky aide believes Spain won't send boss home
By William Schomberg
 
MADRID, Dec 13 (Reuters) - An aide to Vladimir Gusinsky said on Wednesday he
was confident Spain would not extradite the jailed Russian media magnate, and
insisted fraud charges against him were an attempt to silence a key critic of
the Kremlin.

Gusinsky was arrested on Tuesday by police in Spain acting on an
international arrest warrant. He was being held in a Madrid jail pending
extradition hearings which could be lengthy.

"The aim of all this is to bring Mr Gusinsky back to Russia to destroy him.
The motives are also clear -- to punish Mr Gusinsky for the journalistic line
of his media group," said Igor Malashenko, the deputy head of the Media-Most
group.

"I do not think it will happen," he told reporters in Madrid when asked about
the chances of Gusinsky being sent to Moscow.

"It is a clean-cut political case and our group and Mr Gusinsky have been
under attack for a long time, since the first day of (Russian President
Vladimir) Putin's administration."

Under international law, countries are not obliged to return suspects wanted
in cases deemed to be political.

The international police force Interpol has asked its Moscow office to verify
that the Russian charges are genuine.

Russian prosecutors on Wednesday denied any interference by the Russian
government and said they were working to secure the extradition of Gusinsky,
48, who was briefly detained in Moscow in June under previous embezzlement
charges.

Those charges were dropped after Gusinsky agreed to sell part of his company
to the state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom and then left the country in July.

Malashenko dismissed claims by the prosecutors that his boss had failed to
meet debts of up to $300 million to Gazprom, and said it would have been
"suicide" for Gusinsky to appear for questioning in November, as he had been
asked to do.

"In Russia today it is impossible to have a fair and free trial," he said.

Gusinky's refusal to attend the November hearing prompted authorities to seek
his arrest.

Malashenko accused the Kremlin of trying to take control of Russia's
independent media. He said Media Most executives were in talks with possible
foreign investors, partly to provide protection against interference by the
Kremlin.

One of the potential investors was "an important media company which is known
around the world," Malashenko said.

*******

#10
RIGHT-WING DUMA LEADERS URGE PRESIDENT TO INTERVENE IN GUSINSKY
SITUATION

     MOSCOW. Dec  13 (Interfax)  - A  number of  leaders of  the Russian
State Duma's  right-wing factions  wrote to  President Vladimir Putin on
Wednesday to  ask that  he involve  himself in the situation surrounding
the prosecution of Media-MOST holding head Vladimir Gusinsky.
     A statement addressed to the president and signed by Boris Nemtsov,
Grigory Yavlinsky,  Viktor Pokhmelkin, Sergei Ivanenko, Irina Khakamada,
Vladimir Lukin,  Boris Nadezhdin, and Sergei Mitrokhin says: "We turn to
you, respected Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], with an urgent request to
fulfil the  duties of  guarantor of the Constitution entrusted to you by
the people of Russia. Order in the Prosecutor General's Office should be
restored and  those guilty  of lawlessness  should be severely punished.
Not only  do unscrupulous  prosecutors discredit  these law  enforcement
structures, they  discredit the whole of Russia's judiciary, the Russian
state and you personally, Mr. President."
     "Recent events convincingly demonstrate that the Russian Prosecutor
General's Office  has been  increasingly used  as a  weapon of political
pressure and  property re-distribution,"  the letter  says. Its say they
believe that  "the so-called  Media-MOST case is a vivid example of just
such a state of affairs."
     "Only a  few in  the world doubt that there is but one thing behind
the whole streak of bombastic accusations: the desire to take under full
political control  the last  national television  channel independent of
state officials,  and  other  'disobedient'  mass  media,"  the  faction
leaders wrote.

*******

#11
NO CHARGES TO BE BROUGHT AGAINST YELTSIN IN CONNECTION WITH
MABETEXCASE - INVESTIGATOR

         MOSCOW. Dec  13 (Interfax)  - The  Russian Prosecutor General's
Office will  not initiate  legal action  against First Russian President
Boris Yeltsin  and members  of his  family, who  were witnesses  in  the
Mabetex case,  Chief Investigator  into the  Mabetex case Ruslan Tamayev
said at a press conference at the Interfax head office on Wednesday.
         He said  the decision regarding Boris Yeltsin himself, his wife
Naina and  his daughters Tatiana Dyachenko and Yelena Okulova, was taken
in the absence of corpus delicti.
      Earlier on Wednesday, Tamayev told Interfax that the Mabetex case,
based  on   charges  of   corruption  in  the  former  Kremlin  property
department, had been closed due to a lack of evidence.
     Tamayev stressed  that "no political or physical pressure" had been
exerted on him to close the case.
     However, he  added that  Yeltsin's  wife  and  daughters  had  been
questioned. "There was no need to question the first Russian president,"
he said.
     Tamayev confirmed  that the  Euro Cards  issued  by  the  Swiss  El
Gotardo bank  to Yeltsin's  family had  been used, and some 55,000 Swiss
francs had been drawn from them against personal guarantees from Mabetex
Chief Behgjet  Paccoli. He  added that  a sum  covering the spending had
been transferred from Yeltsin's personal account against guarantees from
Mezhprombank.
     Tamayev said  he was  surprised by  the violations  of proceedings'
regulations in handling the case. He said a pre-investigation inspection
necessary in  such cases had not been conducted, and the case itself was
opened on  the grounds  of a  single application  from Felipe Turover, a
foreign national.
     Moreover, when  the case  was opened,  the so-called Card No. 1 was
not filed,  i.e., the  offense was not added to the database of the Main
Registration Center.  "As a  result the  case could have been closed any
time, because formally the offense had never been committed," he said.
     Tamayev said  that Turover's accusations stated in two applications
submitted to former Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov were not true.
     Responding to  questions from  journalists he  said he had notified
his Swiss counterparts of the closure of the Mabetex case.
     However, he said this does not signify an end to the probe into the
Mercata Trading  company operations conducted by Swiss investigators and
involving Russian  nations. "We  have already  fulfilled three  requests
from our Swiss colleagues and are ready to continue the job," he said.
     Tamayev dismissed  as untrue reports that the Swiss law enforcement
had ordered  the arrest of former Kremlin Property Manager Pavel Borodin
and involved Interpol in the effort.
     However, he  did not  say what  sums had  been in  question in  the
Mabetex case,  because budget  spending  on  the  modernization  of  top
security buildings in the Kremlin and the government house constitutes a
state secret.
 
******

#12
BBC Monitoring
Top Russian liberal warns "vindictive" Putin a threat to millions
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 1100 gmt 13 Dec 00

Boris Nemtsov, the leader of Russia's Union of Right Forces in the Duma, has
warned of the dangers of what he called Putin's "vindictive" personality and
of the state's bid to control the media, arguing that these two factors alone
lie behind the charges against media boss, Vladimir Gusinskiy who was
arrested in Spain on 12th December and who now faces the threat of
extradition to Russia.

In an interview for Russian Ekho Moskvy radio on the 13th, Nemtsov said the
following: "An attempt is under way to extend state control over the
independent press. It's obvious, and it applies to NTV first and foremost.
And the device being used to achieve this is the Prosecutor-General's Office.
I think that what is now happening to the Media-Most management makes a
mockery of and discredits the Prosecutor-General's Office first and foremost,
but also the president of the Russian Federation and our entire country. The
point is that the charges against Gusinskiy have no basis in reality... These
criminal proceedings are purely political and serve a twofold purpose:
firstly they are part of a bid to impose state control at NTV through the
sale of 25 per cent of shares plus one - the Kremlin itself wants to buy
these shares through affiliated commercial structures - and secondly there is
the extreme, almost physiological level of the hostility felt by the
president towards Gusinskiy.

"I think that the attempt to impose state control is a catastrophe for the
country and a very serious mistake on the part of the president. It will lead
to an increase in arbitrary behaviour and lawlessness in the country and
simply to an increase in corruption. It will set the country back years. And
as for the president's hostility, he has no right to be vindictive or
rancorous. Even if he was like that as a child, then as president he should
forget it. Do you see? He has so much power that if he can behave like that
for personal reasons then millions of Russian citizens will suffer. Millions.
I think that in some of Russia's rulers, both in the Communist period and
before it, personal characteristics played a key role in the fate of the
country and the fate of people. I know the first president of Russia
[Yeltsin] very well and you can accuse him as much as you like of being a
holy terror, of behaving badly and so on but he never harboured a grudge and
was never vindictive...

"I think that the case against Gusinskiy is purely political. If we don't
want to bring shame on the country I think it should be dropped. As simple as
that: dropped. Because there is nothing to discuss... The Gusinskiy case will
have far-reaching consequences. Capital will start flooding out of the
country even faster than before because when a country is extremely unstable,
when political life can chop and change, no sane person will invest in it.
That will do enormous economic harm to our state."

*******

#13
MOSCOW'S OSTANKINO TELEVISION TOWER TO BE WORLD'S TALLEST AFTER
RECONSTRUCTION

     MOSCOW. Dec  13 (Interfax)  - Moscow's  Ostankino television  tower
will be  the world's  tallest broadcasting  tower in the world after its
reconstruction, the  concept for  which was  discussed  at  a  Wednesday
conference  organized   by  the   board  of   the  State  Committee  for
Construction.
     Chief engineer  of the  State Institute  of  Television  and  Radio
Broadcasting Alexander  Demyanov said  the reconstruction  plan provides
for adding steel structure from an altitude of 540 meters to 562 meters.
The addition  should significantly  improve the  quality of TV and radio
signals.
     The EBRD  recently offered  to extend the Russian government a loan
for the  reconstruction of  the tower,  which was  badly damaged by fire
this past August. Chairman of the State Committee for Construction Anvar
Shamuzafarov  said   the  Bank  has  agreed  to  a  speedy  disbursement
procedure.
     The conference  heard that the estimated reconstruction costs weigh
in at  from $50  million to  $60 million. However, a more precise figure
should  be  "substantiated  and  checked  by  experts  with  the  utmost
accuracy," Shamuzafarov said.

*******

#14
Russia-Cuba trade ties need finance not nostalgia
By Pascal Fletcher
 
HAVANA, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Cuba
starting Wednesday night will stress trade and economic cooperation, but his
hosts will seek concrete financing and investment commitments, not just good
intentions.

Putin, the first Russian president to visit Moscow's old Caribbean ally since
the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, is expected to try to breathe new
life into an economic relationship that is a pale reflection of what it used
to be.

His host, Cuban President Fidel Castro, has neither forgotten nor forgiven
the way in which the Soviet collapse demolished a solid three-decades-old
trade and aid alliance and left communist-ruled Cuba facing the threat of
economic ruin.

The Caribbean island survived the resulting recession, but was forced to seek
new international commercial partners in a drastic realignment of trade links
that relegated Russia to a position behind Spain, Canada and Venezuela.

At the end of Putin's visit, he and Castro are due to sign a broad economic
agreement setting out bilateral trade and cooperation goals for the next five
years.

Other agreements to be initialed include a treaty to avoid double taxation
and a health care cooperation accord.

Moscow is seeking to expand the relationship beyond the still significant but
erratic annual exchanges of Russian oil and Cuban sugar that have kept
reduced commercial links between the two countries alive during the last
decade.

"That's our job, to widen our trade relations so they don't just consist of
sugar-for-oil," Oleg Podolko, head of Russia's Commercial Mission in Havana,
told Reuters.

He said, for example, that renewed exports by Russian companies of non-oil
products to the island, such as light vehicles, machinery, spares,
fertilizers and rubber goods, had increased by some 30 percent over the last
two years.

But Podolko said financial questions, such as the absence of effective
insurance and credit mechanisms to support Russian exports to Cuba, were an
obstacle to increased trade.

"WILLINGNESS NOT ENOUGH"

The problem of financing, coupled with Cuba's large debt to Russia, were
expected to be discussed during Putin's visit.

Also on the table was at least one known Russian proposal, from mining giant
Norilsk Nickel, to complete an unfinished nickel plant on the island, one of
several giant industrial projects left over from the Soviet era.

Other originally Soviet-built projects that are still looking for foreign
partners or investors include an idle oil refinery at Cienfuegos and a
controversial unfinished nuclear power plant whose construction has halted in
1992.

Both Moscow and Havana have announced their interest in creating a joint
venture to finish the Juragua nuclear plant.

But where the estimated $600 million of investment required to finish the
project will come from remains unclear.

Cuban officials welcome Russian moves to reactivate ties but do not hide
their skepticism about Moscow's capacity to make good any promises of
increased cooperation.

"Willingness is not enough. What you need is financing," one Cuban official,
who asked not to be named, said.

While Canadian and European investors dominate the 370 foreign capital
projects set up in Cuba over the last decade, the first Russian-Cuban joint
venture, to assemble and repair sugar locomotive diesel engines, is only just
getting started.

The two sides even appear unable to agree on the current quantity of trade
between the two countries. Russian official figures put last year's two-way
trade at around $900 million, while Cuban Central bank figures show $427
million.

Russian officials say their figures reflect products delivered indirectly by
international traders.

Cuba's debt to the Soviet Union, now inherited by Russia, is a thorny
problem. Previously estimated by the Russian side at around $20 billion, it
has threatened to complicate Cuba's efforts to renegotiate its separate $11
billion convertible currency debt with western creditors.

******

#15
Georgia: Experts Discuss Successor After Shevardnadze
By Andrew F. Tully

Earlier this year, Eduard Shevardnadze was re-elected to his final five-year
term as president of Georgia. But already policy analysts are concerned about
who will succeed him. They aired their thoughts at a conference on Caucasus
issues in Washington.

Washington, 12 December 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Georgia has as its president one of
the world's best-known diplomats, Eduard Shevardnadze. But the republic is
far from stable, and policy analysts wonder how it will fare after
Shevardnadze leaves office in five years.

The succession in Georgia was part of an all-day conference yesterday
(Monday) on issues relating to the Caucasus. The meeting was held at Johns
Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in
Washington.

Georgia's stability has been seriously compromised by separatist movements in
the regions of Abkhazia and Ossetia. Shevardnadze also has been the target of
two assassination attempts, and has once had to crush a military mutiny.

Monday's conference -- on issues of the Caucasus region -- opened with a long
exchange of ideas on the presidential succession in Georgia. One panelist was
Charles Fairbanks, director of SAIS' Central Asia-Caucasus Institute.

Fairbanks began by saying that even one of the most stable democracies -- the
U.S. -- can have trouble deciding on its next president. Therefore it should
not be surprising that there is apprehension over who will follow
Shevardnadze as Georgia's leader.

He was particularly concerned about Russia's influence on its small neighbor.
He noted that Russia recently exempted people living in Abkhazia and Ossetia
from visa requirements imposed on other Georgian residents. The two
separatist regions are near Georgia's border with Russia and have large
ethnic-Russian populations.

Fairbanks said if Russia increases this sort of pressure on Tbilisi, then
Georgia's contact with the West could be choked off.

Another panelist went further. He is Paul Joyal, a Washington businessman who
publishes Intercon's Daily, a digest of news from the Commonwealth of
Independent States.

Joyal said he believes the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin
is restoring a frightening aspect of the old Soviet rule to his country.
Besides the visa exemptions for Abkhazia and Ossetia, he cited its embrace of
the Stalinist-era national anthem and the recent trial of Edmond Pope, an
American whom a Moscow court last week convicted of espionage and sentenced
to 20 years in prison.

"It appears to me that there is a re-emergence of a counterintelligence state
in Russia that we're seeing today."

For the most part, however, panelists expressed optimism about Georgia's
future.

Fairbanks said in most cases, former Communist countries in Eastern Europe
and Central Asia have had successful presidential elections. He noted that
even the authoritarian Slobodan Milosevic was successfully voted out of
office as Yugoslavia's president. But he also said heads of state in these
countries try to manipulate election results as much as they can.

"When it became clear that he [Milosevic] had lost the election, that was
decisive. But, on the other hand, as we also know, elections are usually
fraudulent to a greater or lesser degree."

Ghia Nodia, a Georgian intellectual who founded the Caucasian Institute for
Peace, agreed and elaborates on Fairbanks' point.

"People assume that elections will be rigged to some extent. But there is
some extent after which they are getting angry."

Nodia said he expects Shevardnadze will either explicitly or implicitly
designate his choice for successor, then step aside and let Georgia's voters
decided if the heir-apparent is to their liking. And he gave a great deal of
time to listing which political leaders might be candidates for the position.

But Nodia stressed that it is too early for such forecasts. He said the field
of candidates will be clearer after parliamentary elections in 2003.

Korneli Kakachia, a Georgian political activist, agreed it is too early to
consider possible candidates, but for a different reason. He said political
leaders interested in becoming Georgia's president are at the moment not
making their intentions known.

"None of them want now to be active in public because there is a threat that
when you are too active, it might turn against you after some time."

Finally, Kakachia said, it is not important who succeeds Shevardnadze but
what his policies will be. And that, Kakachia said, is even more difficult to
forecast.

Others taking part in the conference were David Darchiashvili, the head of
the research department of the Georgian parliament, and Colonel Archil
Tsintadze of the Georgian Army.

******

#16
BBC Monitoring
Russian paper says Krasnoyarsk governor Lebed seeking political comeback
Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Moscow, in Russian 10 Dec 00

Gen Aleksandr Lebed, governor of Krasnoyarsk Territory and broker of peace in
Chechnya during Boris Yeltsin's presidency, is fed up in his current post,
which has become a cul-de-sac, and is seeking a more satisfactory and
powerful position, such as Putin's plenipotentiary representative in the
regions. He is said to have backed energy reform plans being proposed by
Anatoliy Chubays, chief of the Unified Energy System of Russia company, in
return for Chubays's help in securing a meeting with President Putin to plead
his case. The following is the text of a report by the Russian newspaper
Nezavisimaya Gazeta published on 10 December. Subheadings are the newspaper's
own.

Aleksandr Lebed, whom people in Russia and abroad have long ceased to regard
as a figure on the federal scale, is not abandoning hope of returning to the
Russian political limelight. The general is thoroughly fed up with life on
the banks of the [River] Yenisey, where a capricious fate brought him only a
little over two years ago. Aleksandr Ivanovich is pinning his main hopes on a
meeting with the president which, according to information from Lebed's
entourage, is to be held over the next two weeks. Although the presidential
staff is not confirming these reports, it is not denying them either.

Yenisey exile

So very shortly we will learn how good Lebed's chances are of not remaining a
provincial politician his whole life, especially as the general is by no
means guaranteed the post of governor in Krasnoyarsk. Life for the Siberians
has not improved recently, but the head of the administration himself has
concentrated mostly on the fight to establish control over the Territory's
major enterprises. Despite all his efforts, Lebed has failed to become "one
of us" for ordinary Krasnoyarsk residents, the regional elite, or the
financial-industrial groups operating in the Territory. His main circle of
intimates still consists of "boys in pink trousers" [dismissive reference to
liberal economists associated with Yegor Gaydar] imported from Moscow and
army colleagues. Lebed is having to reckon with local politicians and
businessmen, but the general has not earned any particular love and respect
from them.

The difficulty of Lebed's present situation can clearly be seen from the
example of his fight against [businessman] Anatoliy Bykov. Formally speaking,
the general has won a total victory, so to speak. Bykov has lost not only his
property, but also his liberty, and his reputation as a criminal kingpin,
formerly carefully concealed, has become generally recognized. However, the
victory has only magnified the psychological gulf that has arisen in Lebed's
relations with the Siberians. Not only do Krasnoyarsk residents still see
Bykov as one of their own and the general as a stranger and outsider. Many
remember that Bykov was originally one of the instigators in inviting Lebed
to the region and did much to bring about his victory in the governor
elections. In the eyes of low-income sections of the population Bykov retains
the attractive image of an "honest bandit" and people a priori feel more
sympathetic towards him than towards the existing authorities, who, though
victorious and represented by the imposing figure of Gen Lebed, are
nevertheless responsible for their impoverished lives, the lack of work, the
callousness of officials and problems in everyday life.

And, conversely, the general's image, which in 1998 evoked in Krasnoyarsk
residents hopes for a better life, for a swift solution to vital problems and
for victory over every foe, has faded, lost its lustre and become eroded. It
can no longer guarantee Lebed victory and the retention of power. Anyhow,
does the general even want power in such a huge, wealthy, but hence also very
complex, contradictory and problematical region? After all, power is not so
much status, citizens' respect and due privilege, as tremendous
responsibility and a heavy burden that weighs down on a politician and often
crushes him beneath its weight. As far as Lebed is concerned, this burden is
not only too heavy, but also unwanted, especially in a Siberian Territory.

For a long time now nobody in the general's entourage has made any secret of
their disappointment with the results of his "Yenisey campaign". After all,
in 1998 his accession to the throne in Krasnoyarsk was conceived as the
capture of a bridgehead before a new march - this time on Moscow - and as the
creation of a convenient position for a subsequent dash to the summit. There
were two years to go until the presidential elections and during this time
Lebed, who, from being an out-of-favour general, had become a "governor
general", hoped to consolidate his position, collect resources and allies,
and take first prize by bursting into the Kremlin after a forced march. But
the cards fell otherwise and Lebed had to settle in Siberia in real earnest,
and for a long haul. And the professional Airborne Troops' officer whose
speciality is seizing a limited area and holding it until the main forces
arrive does not know how to do this and is incapable of doing it. Hence the
ceaseless personnel merry-go-round within the administration, the swift
ascents and equally abrupt falls, the stagnation and neglect in affairs and
the "governor general's" frequent mood swings.

Another painful blow to Lebed's pride was the way the Kremlin ignored his
position and him during the administrative reform. In itself the reform
substantially limits the political influence of any governor by placing him
in a hierarchy in which there is an obstacle between the regional leader and
the president - the plenipotentiary representative in the federal district.
With respect to the Krasnoyarsk leader this is exacerbated by the choice of
site for the Siberian plenipotentiary representative's residence -
Novosibirsk. This strengthens Novosibirsk's position in the long-standing
rivalry between several regions for the right to bear the proud name of
"capital of Siberia", and the Novosibirsk governor, taking advantage of his
proximity to plenipotentiary representative Leonid Drachevskiy, is thereby
promoted to the leading role among the community of governors of the "state's
stronghold region". After the defeat in terms of status, other defeats are in
prospect: The process of amalgamating power industry, communications and
transport enterprises, during which levers for the management of the
territorial infrastructure, and along with them a significant proportion of
tax payments, are moving from Krasnoyarsk to Novosibirsk, has begun.

Young people live on hope, but what about generals?

Aleksandr Lebed feels particularly uncomfortable in the post of governor
today. Time is not on his side, and not only his chances of returning to
federal politics, but also his authority and potential in his present
capacity as governor, are decreasing with every month that passes. In a
little while it will be possible to say "Life has passed him by". And Lebed,
with his natural political intuition, is almost physically aware of this. It
is time to "give up" the post of governor. Otherwise it will drag the general
down and turn him into a silent official, and this spells political death for
Lebed because he does not know how to be an official and will not be one. He
needs a politically significant post providing an opportunity to parade in
front of voters and to display his involvement not in provincial, but in
all-Russian, statewide politics, a post whose authority will not lose but
only gain as a result of the continuing restructuring and strengthening of
the vertical axis of power.

There is only one such post - the post of presidential plenipotentiary
representative. There is a widespread belief among Lebed's entourage that the
president made a mistake by appointing Leonid Drachevskiy plenipotentiary
representative in the Siberian district. The former Olympic champion and
later minister for CIS affairs stands out sharply from the ranks of Putin's
plenipotentiary representatives - he badly lacks shoulder stripes, a military
bearing, toughness in his voice and firmness in his gaze. Drachevskiy is
clearly out of keeping with the stern Pulikovskiy, the imposing Kazantsev and
the tough Cherkesov. Lebed, the Krasnoyarsk administration believes, would
fit superbly into this line-up. Abandoning the Territory's tiresome,
intractable problems, the general could gain operational manoeuvring space
and receive the powers to impose order in not just one, but a whole 10
Siberian regions. Of course the status of the plenipotentiary representatives
has not yet been legally defined, and there is no telling how matters may
turn out. But the general has always had a taste for adventure and risk, and
anyhow he has almost nothing to lose - his chances of re-election in 2002 are
in the realm of fantasy... [newspaper's ellipsis].

There is a "small" problem. He still has to get himself appointed. But the
circumstances are such that today you cannot make a career in Russia out of
naked opposition to the centre, fine phrases and expansive gestures - which
is what Lebed has always been renowned for. The situation has changed and now
only one man in Russia decides who goes up and who goes down. And Lebed needs
that man's support, needs a meeting with him. Who could organize it? The
general himself has almost no points of contact with President Putin. His
former ally, ["wanted" tycoon-in-exile] Boris Berezovskiy, who had provided
Lebed with a link with circles around the Kremlin, has long been out of
favour... [newspaper's ellipsis]. No new allies have emerged in the
intervening period.

Property in exchange for promises

However, one potential partner is close at hand, namely [Unified Energy
System of Russia - YeES Rossii - chief] Anatoliy Chubays, the top man in the
Russian power industry, who is still in with the president. In recent months
he has been a frequent visitor to Krasnoyarsk and other regional centres and
has been trying to persuade the governors to support his plan for
restructuring the national energy system. Chubays cannot expect the federal
government to approve his concept without the support of the heads of
administrations. However, the governors are still strongly resisting the top
power industry man's ideas, fearing that they will lose not only control over
the activities of local energy companies and opportunities for cross
subsidies of the social sphere and industrial enterprises, but also
guarantees for the stable work of boilerhouses and heat and power stations.
Ending up under the heavy hand of the centre, which is particularly sensitive
to heat supply problems during winter, appeals to no-one.

But Chubays too has nowhere to retreat: If the concept he has elaborated is
rejected a second time (the first time was in spring), this will be his "swan
song" as chairman of the YeES Rossii management board. Therefore, he is
trying to secure the governors' help: by supporting loyal candidates in the
regional elections, by promising concessions to "strong" governors and by
pressuring the "weak". A special tactic has been chosen with regard to Lebed,
who is interested not so much in economic benefits as in political support.
Despite their former disagreements and even enmity, today the two politicians
can be useful to one another. All that Lebed needs is a meeting with Putin,
at which the general hopes to persuade the head of state of his usefulness
and to secure his agreement to take him back into federal service. All that
Chubays needs is Lebed's support for the plans to restructure YeES Rossii. In
general, as the minister and administrator in "An everyday miracle" would
say: "You're attractive, I'm devilishly attractive, so why waste time?"

And they are not wasting time. According to a number of reports, such an
understanding was concluded during a two-hour one-on-one meeting in
Krasnoyarsk in November, when Chubays visited Lebed. And nobody knows what
Chubays promised Lebed. No-one in Moscow, Chubays himself included,
entertains any illusions about prospects for a Russian political comeback by
the Krasnoyarsk governor. There are already more than 10 candidates when it
comes to charismatic individuals in a general's uniform. And the fondness for
"fine, strapping military men" that is attributed to Putin is more than
exaggerated. The key posts in his government and staff are held by civilians,
and personnel are chosen on the basis of professionalism, capacity for work
and loyalty. On none of these criteria can Lebed - reckless, mutable, with a
propensity for bravado and fondness of one-liners - fit into "Putin's team".

But this quid pro quo will scarcely be able to return Lebed to "big-league
politics". Yesterday's heroes are not revered in Russia today. The Kremlin
rightly believes that they should recede into the past together with the
troubled and contradictory times of which they were products and symbols.
Lebed's illusions are unfounded. Chubays has encouraged the languishing
general with promises to aid his political career - in exchange for very
real, material concessions in resolving questions of power industry
ownership. But, as is well known, promises impose obligations on those who
receive them, not on those who make them... [newspaper's ellipsis]

******

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