Center for Defense Information
Research Topics
CDI Library
What's New
CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List


December 15, 2000   

This Date's Issues:   4689  4690


Johnson's Russia List
15 December 2000


[Note from David Johnson:
1. The Globe and Mail (Canada): Geoffrey York and Chrystia Freeland, Vladimir Putin's secret dream. Russia's steely leader likes eco-warriors, the ski slopes and the '72 hockey summit. But most of all, he'd like you to like him.
2. Veshnyakov: too many elections in Russia.
3. Itar-Tass: Putin warns oligarchs against running up debts to manipulate media.
4. Moscow Times: Pavel Felgenhauer, Playing a Dangerous Game. (re "xenophobic regime")
5. Russia will be able to repay foreign debt in 2003 without having to reschedule it, says leading economist. (Abel Aganbegyan)
6. AFP: Russia adopts first balanced budget plan of post-Soviet era.
7. Reuters: U.S, Russia end INF missile inspections.
8. Chicago Tribune: Colin McMahon, MOSCOW TAX CADETS PAY DUES TO MAKE
Yavlinsky does not think that inter-party debates will split Yabloko
10. Obshchaya Gazeta: Interview with Arkadiy Volskiy, Court of Honor for Oligarchs: Russia's Industrialists Do Not Want To Procure Money From Air." (Volskiy Sees 'Red Directors,' 'Oligarchs' Reconciliation)
11. Robert Bruce Ware: Trial in Dagestan/Challenge to Journalists.]   


The Globe and Mail (Canada)
December 14, 2000
Vladimir Putin's secret dream
Russia's steely leader likes eco-warriors, the ski slopes and the '72
hockey summit.
But most of all, he'd like you to like him

MOSCOW -- Vladimir Putin has a secret dream. He might be known to the world
as the tough-talking KGB veteran who waged a ruthless war in Chechnya, but he
confesses that some day he might prefer a kinder and gentler life -- as an
ecological activist.

"To be honest, I've always admired people who devote their lives to
environmental problems," he said. "I've watched with astonishment as a group
of people on a little boat try to oppose a huge military or industrial ship.
I must say this inspires only sympathy."

When his time in the Kremlin runs out (he is constitutionally limited to
serving eight years over two terms), the Russian President coyly hints that
he might consider a second career as an environmentalist.

"I've often thought about what I should do when my term expires," Mr. Putin
said in an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail and two Canadian
television networks.

"It is a noble task to support the ecological movement. At least I wouldn't
be sorry to spend time on it."

Canada should get ready to meet a softer and cuddlier Kremlin chief when he
arrives in Ottawa this weekend.
Mr. Putin captured the Russian presidency on the strength of his brutal
military campaign against Chechen separatists. He misses no opportunity to
display his bone-breaking judo skills, and last week he reinstated the melody
of Joseph Stalin's national anthem as Russia's new national hymn. But on the
eve of his first state visit to Canada, he is trying very hard to present a
friendlier side.

It's not that Mr. Putin has suddenly converted from red to green. Rather, the
Russian leader -- who once told a friend that his KGB training had made him
"a specialist in human relations" -- seems to have decided that the best way
to defuse mounting Western concerns about the fate of Russian democracy is
with a personal-charm offensive.

In a 70-minute conversation in the Kremlin, he smiled, joked, and even
flirted with his Canadian guests. He praised Canada as a good neighbour, paid
homage to the memorable 1972 Canada-Soviet hockey series, offered soothing
responses to tough political questions, and modestly deflected a question
about a newspaper survey that rated him the sexiest man in Russia.

For the first time publicly, he confirmed he is studying English, which makes
him the only Russian leader in modern times to try to learn the language of
Britain and North America. "English is a world language," he said. "For me,
studying English is something like intellectual gymnastics. And any language
is a glimpse into another world, a different culture. It's exciting."

Still, Mr. Putin -- who also speaks German -- did the entire interview in

At the end of the session, he chatted amiably about skiing, asking for the
names of top resorts in Western Canada, just in case he has a chance to go
there in the future.

But beneath the charm, the steel is clearly there. Mr. Putin, whose
cool-headed forcefulness came as such a relief to a nation exhausted by the
boozy bombast of former president Boris Yeltsin, remains almost Teutonic in
his precision and his control.

Even at 10 p.m. on a Friday night -- as the interview proceeds -- he is the
model of crisp efficiency. His thinning, blondish hair is combed neatly, his
face has been painted smooth for the television cameras, his white shirt
gleams and his navy suit is freshly pressed.

Grey-blue eyes fixed on his questioner, Mr. Putin sits ramrod straight, his
hands disciplined into stillness. Only his feet, hidden beneath the table his
handlers insisted upon, are allowed to be unruly, dancing up and down.

Sitting in front of a white ceramic fireplace in one of the ornate,
high-ceilinged rooms of the Kremlin, with gold-gilded walls, parquet floors
and plush, faux antique furniture, there is sometimes an earnest
scholarliness in his desire to please his audience with carefully prepared

Aware that Canadians are keen hockey fans, Mr. Putin memorized a series of
precise statistics on the number of Russians in the National Hockey League.
When nobody asked the right question, he finally managed to reveal his data
in the final moments of the interview, while answering an unrelated question.

(Mr. Putin calculated that 408 Russians have played in the NHL since 1975,
and 128 have signed professional contracts in the past year alone.)

Asked about his KGB years, he offers an old tale about how he once admitted
his spy background to Henry Kissinger, who promptly assured him that "all
decent people got their start in intelligence." It is an anecdote he has
recycled in his memoirs and in other interviews, but he still relies on it as
a way of disarming critics.

He makes it clear he is proud of his espionage work in the Soviet Union and
East Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. "I served my country, I did it in good
faith, and I don't have any regrets," he said. "And by the way, surprisingly
enough, I never violated the laws of any foreign countries. It was an
interesting, highly professional job."

Despite his studious preparation, he occasionally reveals his inexperience on
the world stage. At one point in the interview, he borrowed a quaintly
chauvinistic quotation from a film to suggest that a state's efforts to
restrict the media are like the sexual tension between a man and a woman.

"A real man should always try, and a decent woman should always resist," he
said, oblivious to notions of political correctness.

At another point, he hinted that the opposition media could be seen as
"hooligans" for their attacks on him. Then he quickly retreated from the
remark, insisting he was speaking hypothetically.

Mr. Putin's public-relations efforts have been highly effective. He remains
massively popular in Russia, and he has already won friends and admirers
among some Western leaders.

But it remains difficult to glimpse the real Vladimir Putin. Even his close
adviser, Gleb Pavlovsky, referred to him as a "black box."

There is still a raging debate in Russia and the West about whether Mr. Putin
is a would-be dictator or a progressive modernizer who will drag Russia into
the 21st century.

One thing is clear: he is determined to create a strong Russian state.
Throughout the interview, he spoke of the need to strengthen the state, to
force everyone to obey the law, and to "consolidate" political power to
assure parliamentary approval for economic reforms.

The key question, of course, is whether a strong state would impose limits on
freedom. Asked about that, Mr. Putin revealed a prudishly moral side of his
character. Alluding to the erotic programming on late-night Russian
television, he expressed envy for Canada's broadcasting regulations.

"In the United States and Canada, many things can be shown only on cable
television, for moral reasons," he said approvingly. "Here, unfortunately,
anything can be put on the air."


December 14, 2000
Veshnyakov: too many elections in Russia

RF Central Election Commission Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov told journalists
on December 14 in Ulyanovsk, Volga region, where he had arrived to see
whether the region was ready for upcoming gubernatorial elections, that the
country "holds too many different-level election campaigns," that these took
place in different periods, and that "people are tired of their abundance."

In his opinion, this is the reason why "confidence declines in the as yet
weak democracy in Russia." March is the best time for holding election
campaigns and they must combine three- to four-level elections.

Russia's electoral legislation needs to be further improved, thinks
Veshnyakov. There had been no serious violations of laws during the elections
of heads of 30 subjects of the Russian Federation held this year, he said.


Russia: Putin warns oligarchs against running up debts to manipulate media

Moscow, 14 December: In an interview to Russian and Canadian media in the
runup to his visit to Ottawa, Russian President Vladimir Putin touched upon
freedom of speech in Russia.

"As regards questions of political nature, there are no restrictions for
anyone," Putin said. "The matter is posed differently in Russia. It is the
matter of the influence of some of the so-called oligarchs on the state. They
regard the media as the main lever for this influence."

"However, law must operate in this area, just as in any other area," Putin
said. "If one borrowed money for entrepreneurial activities, also those
linked with the operation of the media, the debt must be repaid, or else
property should be relinquished. If one is unwilling to give up property,
then some other arrangement with a creditor should be made. Everybody have
got accustomed, particularly of late, to have all their wishes granted by the
state and use this in whatever way they like. They do not want to live within
the bounds of law. I believe this is not right."

Putin said that everybody - state officials, representatives of the media,
all the institutions of society and state - must learn to live within the
bounds of law and observe law, whether they like it or not. If they do not
like it "they should seek alteration of that law by democratic procedure".


Moscow Times
December 14, 2000
Playing a Dangerous Game
By Pavel Felgenhauer  
For most of its history Russia has been extremely xenophobic. After the
collapse of communism in the beginning of the 1990s, though, this
traditional attitude seemed to fade. The idea that evil foreigners are
somehow constantly plotting to destroy Russia became merely a bugbear of
nationalistic extremists that in no way affected Russia?s national
security, defense and foreign policy decision-making.

It seems extreme nationalism and xenophobia are back with a vengeance. The
ruling elite surrounding President Vladimir Putin, as well as that within
the military and the defense industry, seems to be deliberately exploiting
the frustration of the Russian people and directing their attention to
foreign enemies.

Of course, the Kremlin is still cautiously repudiating the more extreme
xenophobic conspiracy theories. But it is hard to take these disclaimers
seriously when official actions tell a different story.

Naval officials continue to claim that a NATO submarine sank the Kursk in
August in the Barents Sea. In the rank and file of the Russian navy, these
unsubstantiated claims are treated with disdain. Genuine professionals
understand that the "collision theory" does not jibe with the known facts
of the Kursk sinking. But the Kremlin steadfastly refuses to repudiate or
discipline its admirals and generals for publicly proclaiming a "collision
with a foreign sub" was the cause of the Kursk disaster.

Apparently some of Putin?s close advisers believe that a certain degree of
tension with the West is a good thing since it helps the Kremlin maintain a
broad base of support in the country and within the elite. This week Putin,
speaking at a banquet in the Kremlin, once again publicly praised the
virtues of the growing political consensus in Russia when the "left" forces
increasingly support "market reform," while "rightist" forces support a
"strong state."

Of course, such national unity comes only at a price. But it seems the
ruling elite is in agreement that a reasonable level of anti-Westernism is
a cheap price to pay for this national "consolidation." Soviet dictator
Josef Stalin understood that a siege mentality makes the Russian people
work harder and obey better. It seems hardly surprising that the Stalinist
anthem has been adopted this week as Russia?s new national hymn.

But anti-Westernism is a dangerous tool even if used for purely internal
political considerations. To satisfy the defense industry, the Kremlin last
month repudiated its agreement with Washington to terminate all arms deals
with Iran. Moscow has already begun negotiating big new deals with Iranian
officials and, if they are consummated, serious U.S. trade sanctions and
other unpleasant consequences are almost inevitable.

The Russian military has been given an official go-ahead to resume
substantial mobilization exercises in preparation for a possible
large-scale war. The Russian air force was allowed to run simulations of
air attacks on the carrier USS Kitty Hawk in the Sea of Japan. The air
force also deployed several strategic bombers to forward positions in the
Arctic in an exercise to simulate possible bombing raids on U.S. territory.

No doubt, these exercises are more a demonstration than serious preparation
for war. But the military clearly seized the opportunity to make as much
mischief as possible. A confrontation with Chechen or Afghan rebels is not
enough: Such enemies cannot promote serious procurement ? especially
nuclear submarines and bombers.

For the Russian military-industrial complex, confrontation with the West is
the chance to keep alive a big Soviet-style military and defense industry.
The livelihoods of millions are at stake. Once the Kremlin gave tacit
approval to anti-Westernism, powerful special interests rushed to do
everything to turn a limited standoff into a tense confrontation.

The West itself is also very much to blame for the ugly xenophobic
"consolidation" that is taking place in Russia. Many observers have been
telling the West for some time now that unqualified support of disastrous
"market-oriented" reforms, the expansion of NATO and the illegal air war
with Yugoslavia would isolate Russia and cause trouble. Western actions
have enraged many Russians and made xenophobia more palatable.

And the Western response to present Russian xenophobic antics has been
weak. Apparently Western leaders believe that appeasement will help Putin?s
"market" reforms. But a consensus with extreme nationalists and Communist
automatically rules out any meaningful reforms. Appeasement has never
helped enlighten any xenophobic regime.

Pavel Felgenhauer is an independent, Moscow-based defense analyst.


Russia will be able to repay foreign debt in 2003 without having to
reschedule it, says leading economist
According to Abel Aganbegyan, a leading Russian economist and President of
the government-sponsored National Economy Academy, in 2003 Russia will be
able to repay its foreign debt without rescheduling it.

He expects the Central Bank's gold and currency reserves to reach $50 billion
by the year 2003, which will enable Russia to repay its debt. Nevertheless,
he cautions, Russia need not ignore debt rescheduling, notably its debt to
the Paris Club.

In Aganbegyan's opinion, Russia's current economic growth is not related to
higher oil, gas and metal prices. He says only one third of the increase in
GDP can be put down to a favorable situation on the world markers. He notes
that growing production in the light industry and other non-export industries
are mainly responsible for the current economic growth, one of the reasons
being the Central Bank's transition to a market rate of exchange. He also
says that on the whole the Russian government has made effective use of the
favorable situation on the world markets of raw materials and the effect
resulting from the devaluation of the ruble in order to stimulate economic

Aganbegyan was one of the authors who drafted economic programs for a number
of Russian regions, including a program for Western Siberia's oil and gas

At present he combines research with work on a number of joint projects with
leading companies. He heads the council of directors of the British-Russian
joint venture Link and Zenith, a Russian bank. He is also chairman of the
Directors' Club, an organization grouping the managers of major Russian
industrial enterprises.


Russia adopts first balanced budget plan of post-Soviet era

MOSCOW, Dec 14 (AFP) -
Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, on Thursday adopted a budget
plan for 2001 that for the first time in the post-Soviet era outlined a
balancing of income and expenditure.

This year's budget had forecast a deficit, although it is expected to end up
registering a surplus.

Following a debate lasting more than two months, the budget for 2001
forecasts government expenditure of 1,193 billion rubles (40 billion dollars,
45 billion euros) being met by the the same amount of income.

The finance legislation has to be approved by the Federation Council upper
house of parliament before being signed by President Vladimir Putin.

"The budget will be signed by the president by the end of the year," Deputy
Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin said after the vote.

The budget was "perfectly realistic," he said, adding that Moscow would be
able to reach the target even without aid from international financial

Members of the government appeared to accept that Russia is unlikely to get
the 1.75 billion dollars in International Monetary Fund loans written into
the receipts side of the budget.

It also risks having to pay three billion dollars to the Paris Club of
creditor nations that have not been accounted for as expenses in the budget.

But several experts said they considered the receipts in the budget to be
underestimated, even in the case of an expected fall in oil prices, agreeing
with Kudrin that the government could meet the budget targets.

For 2000, the government had forecast a deficit equal to 1.13 percent of
annual gross domestic product and had counted on IMF loans of four billion
dollars to bolster receipts. But the Fund never extended those loans.

Moscow nevertheless managed to honour is foreign debt payments and is to
register a budget surplus, its first since the former Soviet Union's collapse
in 1991.

The sharing out of the country's funds is subjected to tough negotiations
every year, with some lawmakers demanding extra money for the army, others
for agriculture, science, health or education.

But only the communists lawmakers and some of their allies were resolutely
opposed to the 2001 budget.

Servicing public debt will take up one fifth of expenses next year. For
foreign debt alone, Moscow has set aside 11.3 billion dollars.

Defence, the second-biggest item, gets 18.3 percent of the funds.

For the first time, the government gave a detailed breakdown of defence
expenditure, according to staff, refurbishment of equipment and training.

A total of 218.9 billion rubles was set aside for defence, of which 91.6
billion roubles would go to maintenance and military staff salaries.

Provisions of military and technical equipment would account of 31.5 billion
rubles, health and training 2.1 billion rubles and insurance slightly over
one billion roubles.

Expenses for military orders would total 912 million roubles.

"This publication (of the military budget) considerably increases the ability
of the civilian control over the armed forces," said the Duma's defence
committee chairman, Andrei Nikolayev.

The budget relies on economic growth of 4.1 percent next year against close
to seven percent this year and inflation of 12 percent compared to about 20
percent this year.


U.S, Russia end INF missile inspections
December 14, 2000
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States and Russia signed an agreement Thursday
to end inspections of each other's missile assembly plants begun under the
landmark INF treaty which scrapped medium-range missiles and denuclearized
in Europe.

Under INF, the missiles were due to be eliminated by May 1991 and the
inspections by May next year.

"Although the INF treaty is of unlimited duration, the treaty's extensive
inspection regime, including continuous monitoring at missile assembly plants
at Magna, Utah, USA and Votkinsk, Udmurtia, Russia, will be concluded at
midnight on May 31, 2001," a joint statement said.

U.S. officials will continue to monitor the Votkinsk plant under the START
treaty, while Russia has no such rights at the Magna facility under the 1991
START pact, U.S. officials said.

U.S. Ambassador Steven Steiner told Reuters: "This agreement ends a 13-year
regime of 24-hour 'portal monitoring' (under INF) at the gates of missile
assembly plans in Magna, Utah and Votkinsk.

"Every truck, container, vehicle or cargo big enough to carry a missile that
came out was inspected."

Steiner and Russian envoy Mikhail Streltsov signed the agreement to dismantle
from May 31, 2001 the round-the-clock on-site INF inspections at the
production facilities.

The first on-site nuclear inspection regime between the two superpowers was
set up by the United States and the Soviet Union under the Intermediate Range
Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former U.S. President Ronald
Reagan signed the 1987 pact to ban and destroy their 2,600 nuclear-armed
land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 km (310 miles) to
5,500 km (3,420 miles).

The Cold War era pact, which went into force in June 1988, was the first to
eliminate an entire class of missiles. It covered SS-20 missiles deployed in
the Soviet Union -- which Washington said threatened Western Europe -- and
U.S. Pershing II missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles deployed in
then West Germany, Italy and Britain.

Senior arms control officials from the former Soviet republics of Belarus,
Kazakhstan and Ukraine also signed the accord struck by the five-party
Special Verification Commission which oversees INF implementation.

"We have worked for the completion of the very successful 13-year inspection
regime which was pace-setting and helped lead the way to START (Strategic
Arms Reduction Treaty)," Steiner said at the signing ceremony at the U.S.
mission in Geneva.


Steiner, in an interview with Reuters, said: "The INF made history, it went a
long way to denuclearizing Europe and took out Soviet SS-20s trained on
Europe and Asia, too."

He added: "It set up the first real on-site inspections between the U.S. and
Soviet Union. It also eliminated a whole class of missiles in a verifiable

Monday in Geneva, arms negotiators from the United States, Russia, Ukraine,
Belarus and Kazakhstan also signed an agreement providing for the phased
elimination of the last SS-24 intercontinental ballistic missiles remaining
on Ukrainian soil.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Ukraine was left with about
200 ICBMs and hundreds of nuclear warheads. All nuclear warheads, both
strategic and tactical, have already been removed from Ukraine. U.S.
officials say 50 to 60 missiles remain to be eliminated in the former Soviet


Chicago Tribune
December 14, 2000
By Colin McMahon
Tribune Foreign Correspondent

MOSCOW -- The boys and girls at the Third Moscow Cadet Corps of the Tax
Police already reflect their new school.

They are earnest. They have good intentions. They set goals.

Only they seem not so sure about what they want to be.

The cadets, ages 10 to 15, are asked how many truly hope to become tax
inspectors. Tentative as pubescent boys at a school dance, they steal glances
at friends. They smile sheepishly. Then maybe half the youths drop their
shoulders and barely raise their hands.

I do, they shrug, I guess.

The tax police academy, the third quasi-military school to open in Moscow
since the end of the Soviet Union, is a mix of lofty ideals and basic

Based partly on nostalgia, the school calls to mind the military academies
that flourished in czarist Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution. Based
partly on a very modern need, the school is called upon to prepare a new
generation for the demanding job of turning a tax-dodging country into a
tax-paying one.

So far, though, the subject of taxes is not much of an issue.

"We rarely speak about taxes," said Pavel Blinov, an affable school official
who, like most of the staff and students, dresses in camouflage fatigues.
"Sometimes if we have some school events, especially if there are guests, we
talk about it, but I don't consider it necessary to constantly speak of tax
inspection or of tax police.

"The tax police are one of our sponsors," Blinov said, "but we haven't seen
any financial support from them yet."

It is not too much of a stretch to hold the school up as a Potemkin
village-like metaphor for the tax system as a whole.

Russia has a slew of tax laws on the books, including a set of reforms set to
take effect Jan. 1. It has an army of tax inspectors and collectors. It has
all the requisite forms and procedures.

Yet few Russians--rich, poor or in-between--pay what they owe.

Only about 40 percent of people who made major purchases this year filed the
required declaration, for example, the tax ministry said.

Non- or underreporting of income taxes is so widespread that Russia collected
only about $700 million in income taxes last year--less than 4 percent of
what it takes it from all tax sources. Most of Russia's revenue comes from
sales taxes, which are harder to avoid, and corporate taxes.

Even tax inspectors themselves join the act. Parliament's investigative arm
reported last month that the Moscow tax ministry office used a loophole to
raise employee salaries without paying taxes on the difference. Officials
acknowledged the dodge, which involved loans and a charity fund, but defended
it as being technically legal.

Given the small salaries of tax inspectors, the lost revenue may not be much.
But elsewhere the Russian state is losing big.

In a report made public last month, tax authorities claimed that Russia's oil
companies avoid paying as much as $9 billion a year in taxes. Their scheme,
while apparently legal, masks the true sale price of oil. That $9 billion in
lost revenue would represent about a quarter of Russia's federal budget for

How the 152 boys and girls of the Third Moscow Cadet Corps are going to take
on the next generation of oil tycoons is unclear.

The arm patches they wear on the camouflage uniforms say "Tax Police." So
does the nameplate by the front door of their building, which until this
summer housed a city-run orphanage called, Hope.

Yet so far, the Moscow school is a tax-police academy in name only.

The youths do not research money-laundering or offshore tax havens. They do
not don black ski masks and practice breaking down doors in midnight raids,
something Russian tax police do regularly.

They basically just do reading, writing and arithmetic.

"They introduced economics into the curriculum, starting from the 5th grade,"
said Lyudmilla Abroskina, the school's chief librarian. "It's a general
discipline so that they get familiar with certain terms and have the prospect
of entering the taxation academy.

"But it's difficult to say who will take an interest in this."

Nearly two dozen of the children are wards of the state. They chose to stay
when the orphanage was converted into the tax police school in September. The
rest of the school body is drawn from the neighborhood or from families with
law-enforcement and military ties.

Victor, 14, is one of the youths from the orphanage. He says the regime of
the school can be tough for newcomers, with early morning roll call and
exercise, deadlines that must be met and a full schedule.

He is considering a career in the tax police, or possible the military or
some other branch of law enforcement. He calls it honorable.

"The business world is all about competition," Victor said. "It's a constant
struggle to find your place. I'm looking for honest labor."

The Cadet Corps is a boarding school with a dormitory, a dining room and a
yard for soccer and other activities. New weightlifting equipment has been
added next to a small dance studio. In a dank basement, under a bank of
basketball hoops, the youths exercise and practice basic hand-to-hand combat

"Our task is not to direct the children to the tax police," Blinov said. "Our
task is to make them bright, polite and physically strong. And when in the
9th or 10th grade they have a feel for what direction to choose, either the
civil or the military one, or maybe the tax police or something else, they
will be especially prepared."

Bright, polite and physically strong--the tax ministry could use more such
employees. Tax officials have been trying not only to get the public to
declare more income, they also want the public to change the way it thinks of
the tax man.

"The press image of a tax police officer, who wears a mask and a tommy gun,
breaks in and makes people fall onto a snowdrift, is not true," said Yuri
Tretyakov, a ministry spokesman. "We are intellectuals sitting at a computer."

Obshchaya Gazeta
December 14, 2000
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
Grigory Yavlinsky does not think that inter-party debates will split Yabloko
     Question: Almost all prominent members of the Yabloko
party except its leader expressed their opinions on the
inter-party debates. The leader either does not think the
conflict is important or does not know which side to take.
     Answer: The leader expresses opinions at party congresses
and the central council's sessions. The central council
convenes every three months and everybody can speak up freely
on all inter-party issues. Simple and clear solutions are found
during these debates. I personally do not know what additional
clarification I can give. There can be no doubts with regard to
Yabloko's direction and actions. We do not see anything
extraordinary in the inter-party discussions that you've called
a conflict.
     Question: Your new rapprochement with the Union of Right
Forces provoked the current dispute. Some of Yabloko members
advocate "liquidation" and a merger with the Union of Right
Forces. The other wing includes "independents" who oppose any
kind of alliance with the Union of Right Forces. These
positions are irreconcilable. Can the party be preserved while
these extremes have remained?
     Answer: Most Yabloko members consider a union with the
Union of Right Forces as a coalition of two strong parties.
This is a result of all our discussions including at the latest
Yabloko congress. The extreme points of view do not pose a
threat of a split. Regional party divisions did not support
either the proposal of the Yaroslavl organization about merging
with the Union of Right Forces or a proposal on breaking the
coalition with the rightist politicians. There is no need to
take tough administrative measures against the initiators of
this discussion.
     Question: You've made a point of not participating in the
steps oriented to a coalition with the Union of Right Forces. A
question naturally comes up: if Yavlinsky values this alliance
why is he "keeping the distance?"
     Answer: A number of our leaders are actively involved in
this process. Vladimir Lukin works in the Coordination Council
of Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces and Sergei Ivanenko
heads the Coordination Council for legal problems and
economics. It also includes such prominent party figures as
Sergei Mitrokhin, Alexei Arbatov and Igor Artemyev. However, I
do not think that our coalition efforts reached a stage when my
participation is necessary. The process needs to "mature."
     Question: Isn't it maturing too long? The Yeltsin epoch
triggered the emergence of Yabloko and its split with the Union
of Right Forces. This epoch is over. What is dividing you today
except recollections of the past?
     Answer: That's true, we are prepared to fight for some
things together today. They include the freedom of expression,
basic democratic principles and protection of citizens from the
autocracy of the law enforcement system... What is extremely
important that we showed solidarity in opposing Alexandrov's
anthem. However, our attitude to the war in Chechnya has
remained opposite and our factions vote differently on some key
For instance, we categorically opposed the Duma's approval of a
law that permits governors to be elected for the third term.
Around 40% of the Union of Right Forces deputies voted in favor
of the bill. We are unlikely to have a similar attitude to the
new Labor Code and our views on certain aspects of the social
policy differ.
     Question: What's the idea behind "a coalition of two
strong parties?" If they are strong, why do they need a single
list at the election? But if they are running on the united
party list in the elections, create a single faction and pursue
coordinated policy, why are there two of them?
     Answer: The issue of a single list at the federal
elections is still a subject for discussion. We are gaining
experience at the regional level and we got good results in
many cases. Both our organizations benefit when we back the
same candidate for the gubernatorial post. The same is true
when we separate our candidates so that they do not draw votes
from each other in single-mandate districts.
     Question: Yabloko has always comprised two wings: liberal
and social-democratic. It did not seem important when the
objective was to oppose Yeltsin's regime. But Yabloko does not
have this function any longer. Isn't it the right time to work
out a more precise ideological identification?
     Answer: It's time for everyone to do it. Everybody
involved in politics must determine more precisely his or her
position in the new political reality. This is happening in
every party but it's more difficult for a party than for a
separate person. We must be able to make a choice that would
satisfy our electorate.
We do not conceal an urgency of this issue for Yabloko.
Moreover, we are preparing a congress on ideological issues. In
my opinion, it's a good thing that the discussion started long
before the congress. We'll have more time to work out
decisions. Time is needed to find out how much society needs
Yabloko as an opposition party today. A lot of things give rise
to serious concern. I mean attempts to turn Russia into a
corporate or quasi-Soviet state.
     This is a worst-case scenario of pursuing Yeltsin's
policy, it unavoidably leads to a slowdown. I do not think a
debate about whether the party should be purely liberal or
social-liberal is timely.
     Question: In other words, you are considering an option
for moving Yabloko back into opposition?
     Answer: This is not ruled out. If it does happen, we would
ask our allies about their decision.
     Question: It will hardly be possible to call Yabloko a
"strong party" if it again collects 7% of the citizens' votes.
Obviously you plan to broaden your electorate. What social
groups and principles are you going to rely on?
     Answer: Life is a great teacher. Those who did not vote
for us yesterday are joining Yabloko today. The number of
Yabloko members grew by 40% in the past seven months. Our
organization is built on proclaiming principles that are
extremely important for society. For instance, "not an
individual for the state but the state for the individual."
Protection of rights and freedom is the backbone of our policy.
We mean freedom in a broad sense of the word, a freedom from
need and fear, a freedom to chose what to do... We are sure
that time and developments in the country have gradually
multiplied the number of people who adhere to these values.
Some of the people, who hailed the war in Chechnya a year ago,
have realized its senselessness. The same will happen to the
people who do not see a need for an independent commission for
investigating the Kursk [nuclear submarine] tragedy today.
The number of our supporters is growing in different layers of
     Question: Rumor has it that Yabloko is going to form a
bloc with Gorbachev's party. Is it possible?
     Answer: I attended a congress headed by Mikhail Gorbachyov
on Saturday. I proposed an initiative that I hope would meet
understanding. We consider it necessary to convene a Democratic
conference. It will unite all democratic parties and movements,
civilian structures including creative unions, organizations
for protecting rights. This conference should be a permanent
body convened probably every three months. Its task is to work
out a general democratic "agenda." This roundtable should
include all those who are prepared to defend our Constitution.
I want to emphasize that protection of the Constitution is a
key issue for all democrats today. A revenge on the
Constitutional level has become realistic today. I am talking
about the authorities' preparation for convening the
Constitutional assembly. We are aware of the outcomes of
amending the Constitution. It will be adjusted to the needs of
the so-called "a managed democracy" or "the Soviet-type
democracy," as the sympathetic to the president Communists put
it. This is a serious threat and our today's debates about the
party tactics are trifles compared to it.

Volskiy Sees 'Red Directors,' 'Oligarchs' Reconciliation 

Obshchaya Gazeta
December 7, 2000
[translation for personal use only]
Interview with Arkadiy Volskiy by Tatyana Polyakova; place and date
not given: "Court of Honor for Oligarchs: Russia's Industrialists Do Not
Want To Procure Money From Air"

    At the recent congress of the Russian Union of
Industrialists and Entrepreneurs its president, Arkadiy Volskiy, was
asked: "Are you an oligarch?" He replied: "If I lose my life, consider me
an oligarch." It was at this congress that an unusual event that focused
general attention on the RSPP [Russian Union of Industrialists and
Entrepreneurs] occurred. Its directive bureau was suddenly joined all at
once by those whom it is customary to consider "oligarchs": Chubays,
Bendukidze, Potanin, Khodorkovskiy, Deripaska.... What theories in this
connection have there not been: Volskiy has been called a pawn in the
hands of Berezovskiy, an insidious FSB plot has been seen behind the
unification.... Obshchaya Gazeta asked Arkadiy Volskiy to comment on the

    [Polyakova] Arkadiy Ivanovich, confess, for whom do you work?

    [Volskiy] For the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs
(Employers)--this is what we call ourselves now. Nothing unnatural has
occurred, in actual fact. I often meet with the directors and owners of
the most diverse Russian enterprises that are located outside of Moscow.
So, then, they tell me to my face--you are behind the times, we in the
provinces united long since. We realized a year ago that we had to stop
living cheek by jowl: "red directors" and "oligarchs". The consolidation
of the business elite is an entirely logical process. We cannot have an
economy of the country, a region, a city that is torn apart into little
pieces, in deference to someone's personal ambitions.

    [Polyakova] Are you not afraid that the young and wealthy will scheme
against you?

    [Volskiy] I may be schemed against: I am not that much of a national
property. But the union itself cannot be schemed against.

    [Polyakova] What's it like for you working in the new composition?

    [Volskiy] Very difficult. There are in our bureau 27 persons, of whom
14 are most important figures of Russian business known to everyone. They
do not as yet always find a common language, to put it mildly. They are
very diverse people. I'm twisting and turning like a snake in a skillet.
We have even formed a court of honor in the RSPP. Such a practice has
been in existence for many years throughout the world in organizations
similar to ours. In Austria, for example. Each year entrepreneurs
conclude among themselves a cartel agreement: the railroad engineers
undertake not to raise rates, and the power engineers, the cost of
electric power, and the coal people sell coal at the old price.... Entire
production chains are formed. And if a party to this cartel breaks the
agreement, his partners take him to an arbitral court. The court either
adopts a conciliation agreement, which is signed by all the partners, or
announces a boycott. And then it becomes considerably worse for the
"offending" businessman than if the world's entire tax police had gone
after him. We want to try to introduce it here also.

    [Polyakova] You mentioned the "red directors"-"oligarchs" dividing
line. What is the essence of the conflict between them?

    [Volskiy] You know, enterprises that were formerly directed by "red
directors" were the first to switch to market relations. Although
initially it was anything but simple. We had all worked for many years in
the state system and had served the state and had given no thought to any
kind of private property. And suddenly... the break. The directors felt
like dogs that had lost their master. They attempted to come together in
some herd and from desperation came to the union.
    And other people also appeared in Russian business in parallel at
that time. Remember the formula of the circulation of capital according
to Marx: "money--commodity--money-new line". I respect people who know
how to work and to make a profit. But some of our elite works according
to a different formula, which I would word as follows: "money--air--money
with profit". A difficult fate awaits these people for sooner or later
they will have to answer the question as to how money comes from air.

    [Polyakova] Entities whose representatives are members of your board
account for more than 80 percent of the GDP of Russia. Does your
proposition concerning making money out of air not apply to them?

    [Volskiy] The young stock appeared in Russian business totally
unexpectedly for me. Take Oleg Deripaska, the head of Russkiy Aluminiy.
He invests all the money he makes in the real sector of the economy.
Thanks to him, the Samara Aviation Plant, which was dying, is now picking
up. The purchase of shares of the Gorkiy Vehicle Manufacturers is a
similar action.
    Or take Vladimir Potanin, the director of Interros, who put Norilskiy
Nikel back on its feet and practically saved this plant, which had
perished, and the city. Today he makes 40 percent of the palladium in
Europe and is sizing up new fields and is prepared to invest money there.
    Some people may or may not care for Kakha Bendukidze, but when he
goes after Uralmash, the Izhorsk plants, when he purchases the Nizhegorod
Krasnaya Etna.... He is not buying them to close them down, after all!
For me this person is not an "oligarch" (this word has been thoroughly
compromised with us and is associated with people of the Berezovskiy
type), he is an industrial magnate. You know, I travel around the country
a lot and I noticed long since that each village, each township, the
smallest even, has its own "oligarch". He is the person thanks to whose
energy, business acumen, and money this township lives. And thank God!


From: "Robert Bruce Ware" <>
Subject: Trial in Dagestan/Challenge to Journalists
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000

On Thursday, November 30, The Supreme Court of  Dagestan, Russia's mostly
Moslem Caucasus republic, opened the trial of six  people charged with
instigating the blast of an apartment block in the Dagestani  city of
Buinaksk on September 4, 1999.  The blast, which left 62 people dead,  was
later followed by bomb attacks on apartment blocks in Moscow and
Volgodonsk,  the death toll of which was about 300 people.

The six people in the dock are father and son  Zainutdinovs,
AbdulkadyrAbdulkadyrov, Magomed Magomedov, one of the Salikhov  brothers,
the other being on the federal and international wanted lists, and  Musa
Abdusamedov. All are Daghestanis and followers of Wahhabism, a radical
Islamic sect.

The Dagestani prosecutor is charging that the blast  was masterminded by
Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev and Arab-born Emir al  Khattab. The judges
expect that it will take at least a month to gather  testimony from 600
victims and witnesses of the blast.

Fifteen days after the start of this trial not a  single Western media
outlet has reported this story.  Not one of the Western  journalists, who
have sat in Moscow for the last 18 months rewriting one  anothers
unsupported speculations alleging an FSB conspiracy to blow up Russian
apartment blocks as an excuse for the Chechen war, not one of them, has
bothered  to report this story.

Here's why this story is important: During the first  Chechen war most
Dagestanis sympathized with their Chechen brothers.  Dagestanis
accommodated 130,000 Chechen refugees, mostly in their homes.  But after
Russia  abandoned the North Caucasus in 1996 the anarchy in Chechnya
spilled across the  border into Dagestan.  From 1995 to 1999 the number of
Dagestanis being  kidnapped increased by 310 percent.  Most of these Muslim
men, women and  children were tortured and dismembered, often on videotapes
that were sent to  their impoverished families in order to extract
exorbitant ransoms.  This is not  to mention the increase in property
crimes during this period, nor the  destabilizing effects of Chechen
anarchy upon Dagestans unique democratic  system.

Because of the Chechnya-based kidnapping industry all  international relief
agencies pulled out of Dagestan by October 1997.  This, in  itself, was a
human rights abuse since the impoverished republic, flooded with  refugees
from wars in neighboring regions, was desperately in need of  relief.
Because of the Chechnya-based  kidnapping industry, Western journalists
were afraid to go to Dagestan to report  this story.  Hence the story has
been largely unappreciated in the  West.

In August 1999, when Dagestan was invaded from across  the Chechen border,
displacing 32,000 people, Dagestanis repeatedly appealed to  Moscow for
military support and ordinary Dagestanis tangibly supported the  Russian
troops when they arrived.  Since military operations began, kidnapping  in
Dagestan has dropped dramatically.  Unlike the first Chechen war, Dagestan
has refused to accept any Chechen refugees and has been expelling Chechens
residing illegally in Dagestan.

This is the moral foundation of Moscows involvement  in the region.  Any
darker dealings that might have occurred do not alter this  moral
obligation on Moscows part to defend its Muslim citizens from sustained
violence and depredation of the most horrific sort.  It does not provide
license  for subsequent Russian abuses, which are absolutely deplorable.
Yet it is the  latter, and not the former that have, for the most part,
been reported in the  West.

Most Western reporters relied upon the safety of  Russian military
protection to write stories about Russian military excesses.   In doing so
they neglected to help their readers understand the sustained  suffering of
ordinary Caucasian families in the region, during those years in  which the
Russian military failed to provide protection.  Generally, they also
failed to explain to their readers why they probably would not have visited
the  region were it not for Russian military cover.

The unfortunate results of this lop-sided reporting  were an anti-Russian
hysteria that gripped the West a year ago, and a series of  consequently
uninformed and obtuse policy reponses from a wide range of Western

Consider just two of the many uninformed and  counterproductive Western
responses, and ask yourself how many reports you have  read about either of
these events: 1) When UNHCR Commissioner, Mary Robinson,  visited Chechnya
earlier this year she was scheduled to visit the Novolaksky  region of
Dagestan, where residents anticipated an opportunity to inform her of
their suffering as a consequence of lawlessness in Chechnya from 1996 to
1999.   However, after visiting filtration camps in Chechnya, Robinson
canceled her  visit to Novolaksky and proceeded directly to Dagestans
capital, Mahachkala,  where she intended immediately to depart for Moscow.
Dagestani officials  canceled her flight and kept her on the ground
overnight in Mahachkala, with the  hope that they would have a chance to
tell her their side of the story.   However, she refused to meet with them.
 2)  The Dagestani ethnic Avar Duma  representative, Gadji Makhachev, spoke
before the Council of Europe earlier this  year, just before that body
voted to expel Russia for its violation of human  rights.  Makhachev tried
to explain why the Muslim people of Dagestan supported  the Russian
military operation in Chechnya as a defense of THEIR human rights.
However, some EC members found it difficult to hear Makahchevs speech as
the EC  "representative" from Chechnya repeatedly shouted that he would
kill Makhachev.   When the EC thereafter voted to expel Russia it made it
clear that it does not  regard the murder of Dagestanis as a violation of
human rights.

While numerous Western human rights organizations  repeatedly interviewed
Chechen refugees, none of them visited Dagestans refugee  camps where
peopled sheltered from Chechen attacks, nor did Western journalists
describe their plight.

After this it is not surprising that most Dagestanis,  and many in Russia,
are turning their backs upon the West.  Certainly, the  Western response to
the war in Chechnya is not the only cause of increasing  acrimony between
Russia and the West, but it was the turning point.  A wonderful
opportunity for partnership between our nations has now been squandered.
Now  there will be renewed suffering on both sides as a result of the
growing  acrimony between East and West, suffering that might have been
avoided.  Much of  the blame rests with the utter and complete failure of
Western journalists to  dispatch their obligations to provide balanced
coverage of the situation in the  Northeast Caucasus.

As one of the few Western researchers who has  conducted fieldwork in the
Northeast Caucasus steadily throughout these years, I  have had a view that
was independent of both the Western and the Russian media.   No doubt many
JRL readers are by now rather painfully aware that it has been  extremely
painful for me to watch this process unfold.  I am afraid that it is
continuing to grow more painful.

Thus, before I read another round of rehashed  speculations about FSB
conspiracies and shoddy excuses for the war, Id like to  ask for further
indulgence from JRL readers in order to issue the following  challenge:

For the next month, I will watch carefully to see how  many Western
reporters cover the trial in Buinaksk, and particularly how many  reporters
actually trouble themselves to visit Dagestan and talk to some  Dagestanis.
 I will send David Johnson a copy of every article that I find.  If  he
cannot run an article in its entirety I will ask him to publish excerpts,
and  if he cannot do that then I will ask him to publish a single sentence
alerting  readers how to find the article.  I will directly express my
appreciation to any  reporter who provides balanced coverage of this story,
particularly if it  involves a visit to Dagestan, and I will write to JRL
on January 15 with a total  for the stories on the trial.

In the past more than one journalist has written to  me to say that he
would be interested in covering Dagestan, but his editors  would not fund
the travel.  Obviously, this is a catch-22 since one of the  reasons,
presumably, that editors will not fund Dagestan reports is that  reporters
have failed to explain the significance of the story.  However, from  this
point forward, if any reporter is denied funding for travel to Dagestan, I
offer to contact the editor myself in order to attempt to convey the
significance of the trip.  I might add that Ive offered data on Dagestan to
 every reporter who has written to me, and not single piece of that data
has  turned up in any of their reports.

I should add that some Dagestanis are by now  exhausted with the war, and
that, for all I know, there may have been an FSB  conspiracy to bomb
apartment blocks.  I hope that truth and justice triumph.   But I doubt
that any reporter who does not now go to Buinaksk in order to cover  this
trial has any basis for any further speculation.


CDI Russia Weekly:

Johnson's Russia List Archive (under construction):


Return to CDI's Home Page  I  Return to CDI's Library