|JRL #7046||Plain Text - Entire Issue|
1. Interfax: Russians think U.S. wants to attack Iraq to gain control
over oil resources - poll.
2. Reuters: Russia says second UN Iraq resolution may be needed.
3. BBC Monitoring: Russian liberal says "dangerous" Iraqi regime must be
changed by peaceful means. (Yavlinsky)
4. BBC Monitoring: Leading politician says Russia must look after its own
interests in Iraqi crisis. (Nemtsov)
5. Reuters: Russia's industry growth seen hurt by slow reform.
6. AP: Russians, Americans Mourn Columbia Crew.
7. RFE/RL: Gregory Feifer, Russia: Space Industry Says Quick Action
Needed On ISS.
8. Michael McFaul: re 7045-Ware/McFaul.
9. BBC Monitoring: Putin calls for objective history teaching in Russia's
10. Argumenty i Fakty: Vyacheslav KOSTIKOV, THICKENING SHADOW OF THE
11. Profil: Andrei Ryabov, RUSSIA ON THE EVE OF THE ELECTION RACE.
12. The Ecologist (U.K.): Paul Webster, The Wild Wild East: Russia's
zapovedniks are some of the world's most pristine wildernesses. For 70 years they were
protected ruthlessly by the Soviet system, but recently they have fallen prey to
Putin, the World Bank and ecotourists.
13. Trud: RUSSIA IN THE MIRROR OF SOCIOLOGICAL POLLS. (interview with
14. Reuters: Ex-Chechen chief uses pirate TV to warn of attack.
15. BBC Monitoring: Chechen web site insists Basayev, not Maskhadov,
behind Moscow theatre siege.
16. BBC Monitoring: Russian FSB says new tape proves Chechen rebel
17. Moscow Times: Boris Kagarlitsky, Latin American Dynamism.
18. The Guardian (UK): 'He's probably passed out somewhere with a bottle
in hishand...' John O'Mahoney goes in search of Russia's most promising playwright.
Russians think U.S. wants to attack Iraq to gain control over oil resources -
MOSCOW. Feb 3 (Interfax) - An estimated 37% of Russians polled by the Agency
for Regional Political Research believe the U.S. and its allies want to
attack Iraq so Washington can gain control over the region's oil resources.
The poll totaling 1,600 respondents was conducted in January.
Over one-fourth of respondents believe the U.S. is planning to attack Iraq
because it wants to rule the world. Seventeen percent of Russians surveyed
believe the reason is that Iraq supports international terrorism.
Only 7% of respondents see the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime as
a possible reason for launching military actions. Two percent gave other
reasons and 8% were undecided.
The poll shows that the majority of Russians (58%) oppose the use of
military force to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Twenty percent favor the idea,
and 17% are undecided.
Russia says second UN Iraq resolution may be needed
February 3, 2003
ZAVIDOVO, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday a
second Security Council resolution on Iraqi weapons might be necessary if
U.N. inspectors were obstructed in performing their duties.
Putin, who has long opposed U.S. suggestions of using force against Iraq,
said it was up to inspectors operating under a U.N. Security Council
resolution passed in November to report whether they were able to conduct
their searches of Iraqi sites.
"The weapons inspectors are playing a key role. They must carry out their
inspections and present their conclusions to the Security Council," Putin
told a news conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
"The inspectors have to say what else we need from Iraq. Everything has to be
decided, I say again, in the U.N. Security Council...For the moment, (a
second U.N. resolution) is not indispensable, but we do not rule it out."
He described the use of force as a "last resort."
The president's latest comments, after talks at a rural lodge with
Berlusconi, reflected his suggestion last week that Russia could change its
stand and back tougher action against Baghdad if it was found to be hindering
Russia, which has ties with Iraq dating from the Soviet era, has long opposed
military action against Baghdad and sought to ensure the return to Iraq of
U.N. inspectors who had last conducted searches for weapons of mass
destruction in 1998.
Along with France, it also pressed to put the Security Council and the center
of any further action against Iraq.
Berlusconi, one of nine European leaders publicly backing the tough U.S. line
on disarming Iraq, told reporters that last November's resolution 1441
"already authorises a military intervention."
But he acknowledged that a second resolution would "provide absolute
legitimacy to the operation."
In Vienna, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said Baghdad
needed to begin cooperating more with U.N. weapons inspectors. ElBaradei is
due to visit Iraq this week along with chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix before
delivering a second report on inspections to the Security Council.
Russian liberal says "dangerous" Iraqi regime must be changed by peaceful
Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1725 gmt 1 Feb 03
[Presenter] The Iraqi crisis is deepening...
[Grigoriy Yavlinskiy, leader of the Yabloko political party] Our first point
is that Russia is against war in Iraq. If there is a war, Russia must do
everything possible to minimize the number of casualties, especially among
civilians. Another important task for Russia is to contribute to a change of
regime in Iraq. There is a totalitarian regime there, which is dangerous for
What can be done in the present situation to avoid a war in Iraq? From my
point of view, the analysis shows that it is necessary to deploy a large,
serious number of international troops in the region. The forces would put an
enormous pressure on the totalitarian Iraqi regime and would control the
transitional period for a long time. Besides, it is necessary to create
conditions which would leave Saddam Husayn no room for manoeuvre. Then he
would understand that he could really lose power, money and oil. Then the
regime would gradually start transforming. In other words, these things need
to be done together: large international forces, huge pressure on Iraq,
control over the situation in the region, but no direct conflict as long as
possible. Incidentally, in these conditions, in order to create sufficient
pressure on Saddam Husayn, more experts are needed to work there, they need
to work more systematically, probably for a longer period. This method has
been known for a long time: if you want peace, prepare for war. Russia's
response must be absolutely clear: everything possible needs to be done to
change the regime to make it completely harmless and friendly for Russia, but
one should try to avoid war, avoid being drawn into a war at all cost, refuse
to sacrifice civilians, and minimize casualties when the war starts.
[Unidentified correspondent] What would be the economic consequences for
Russia of a war in Iraq?
[Yavlinskiy] If there is an agreement between the Russian and the US
presidents about compensation for losses on the basis of reducing oil prices
after the conflict in Iraq, then for some time Russia would find itself in a
more or less beneficial position. However, the USA has said that after 15 to
20 years its consumption of oil will drop dramatically, they want to get rid
of this dependence. Russia must urgently become a modern, high-technology
country. Russia must not live like a drug addict on oil and gas.
Leading politician says Russia must look after its own interests in Iraqi
Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1725 gmt 1 Feb 03
[Boris Nemtsov, leader of the Union of the Right Forces party] Of course it
is awful that Russia is so dependent on the world's oil prices. Of course it
is awful that we do not develop our high-technology industries. Of course it
is awful that our manufacturing industry, including medium-size businesses,
are stagnating. However, nothing can be done about this.
We have an economy based on raw materials and we must think about national
security for the coming years. Here are my thoughts: if [oil] prices go down,
Russia will have big problems. I think that in the Iraqi crisis we must be
guided solely by our national interests. Broadly speaking, there are three
First, what oil prices would be after the conflict. If oil prices go down
radically and reach 10-12 dollars a barrel, this would mean a large-scale
crisis and collapse for Russia. Therefore, involvement in forming the oil
market is of fundamental importance for us.
The second issue is our involvement in the extraction of oil in Iraq. You
know that Saddam has practically thrown our oil company out of Iraq. The
Iraqi leaders' perfidious decision is a threat to our economic security and
we must come to an agreement with the Americans that our presence in the
[Iraqi] economy and oil industry must be preserved.
The third issue is that Saddam owes us 8bn dollars. When will he give it
back? Eight billion dollars could pay for military reform. With 8bn dollars,
we could raise pensions by 150 per cent and teachers' salaries by 200 per
cent for. These are the three big issues.
Now, our position in the Iraqi crisis must depend on how these issues are
resolved. If the Americans tell us: our dear friends, we together will make
sure that oil prices stay at 20-25 dollars a barrel, and here are our
guarantees to you; we together will make sure that LUKoil, Rosneft and other
Russian companies, Zarubezhneft, will get back the oil fields which they had;
then, if there is a change of power in Iraq, then you will get your 8bn
dollars back within three to five years - if the Americans can give us such
guarantees, then it's irrelevant for us what they do in Iraq. Let's not
defend peace in the whole world, let's think about Russia. The USA's position
is irrelevant to us. They have plenty of money, they have marines, they have
a professional army, they don't know what to do with their money. This is
If the Americans are not prepared to do this, if they are not prepared to
ensure that we get our 8bn dollars or the oil fields back, not prepared to
say they would correct oil prices, then I think we should take a stance
similar to Europe's, primarily to that of France. Their position is that they
are against a military solution to the Iraqi problem. If they want us to be
their allies, let them resolve our problems first. And that's that.
Russia's industry growth seen hurt by slow reform
By Andrius Vilkancas
MOSCOW, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Russia's manufacturing industry shrank for the
first time in more than four years in January signalling that high oil prices
and a strong rouble are taking their toll on firms which have failed to
A survey of 300 Russian purchasing managers carried out by Moscow Narodny
Bank (MNB) showed Russia's PMI index fell to 49.1 in January from 50.4 in
December when the sector barely grew at all. A reading of 50.0 would have
signalled no change.
It was the first time since November 1998 that the index fell below 50.0,
indicating a decline on the previous month.
Roland Nash, chief strategist at Renaissance Capital, said a strong rouble, a
slowdown in reform momentum ahead of December parliamentary polls and
uncertainty about future global oil prices had combined to squeeze many
"What we will see going forward is much more differentiation between those
parts of economy that are restructuring and those parts of the economy that
failed to restructure and have been surviving on a high oil price and a cheap
rouble," Nash said.
MNB economist Paul Forrest said: "Slowdown in output, a dearth of new orders,
lengthening suppliers' delivery times and robust inflationary pressures are
indicative of the problems that need to be addressed."
"With PMI easing below 50 for the first time since 1998, real GDP performance
could be expected to be much poorer this year, were it not for the strength
of global oil prices and the dynamism of the service sector," he added.
Nash said that companies like oil and metal firms that were in private hands
and have been investing heavily were likely to power ahead this year, trailed
by food processing, retail and construction firms that have shaken off their
He said heavy machinery, textiles and automobile companies -- which were
still mired in the Soviet era -- were struggling.
"Those sectors were not restructured enough and those are the parts where you
are going to see most of the slowdown," Nash added.
Russia is the world's second largest oil exporter and its commodity-dependent
economy is vulnerable to changes in global crude prices.
Russia's economic growth slowed to some four percent in 2002 from five
percent the year before as industrial output rise eased to 3.7 percent from
4.9 percent in 2001.
Officials hope that Russia's economy will expand 3.5-4.4 percent this year,
depending on crude prices.
"It could be a hangover from December but it looks that it was a more severe
hangover than we saw over past couple of years," Peter Westin, a senior
economist at Aton brokerage said.
The rouble has been propelled by oil-rich Russia's hefty foreign trade
surplus. Oil prices have soared on fears that a war in Iraq could lead to
Russians, Americans Mourn Columbia Crew
February 3, 2003
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
KOROLYOV, Russia (AP) - U.S. and Russian officials gathered Monday at mission
control here to mourn the crew of the shuttle Columbia and pledge continued
international cooperation in space exploration.
Russian space officials said they would shelve plans to carry more tourists
to the international space station and would use their spacecraft only to
deliver long-term crews. They also offered to build spacecraft to help make
up for the loss of shuttle flights during the investigation.
During the memorial ceremony in Korolyov, just outside Moscow, U.S.
astronauts and Russian cosmonauts observed a moment of silence for the seven
Columbia astronauts, whose pictures were displayed on the big screen in the
``We are deeply mourning,'' said Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev, who flew
aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1999 with Rick Husband, Columbia's commander.
``Rick Husband was a great friend and an excellent pilot.''
The U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, Alexander Vershbow, told mourners that the two
countries - space-race foes during the Cold War - should continue their
cooperation on the international space station.
``The space community that gathered here today will carry out the pledge of
our presidents ... to work together as we deal with the aftermath of the
accident, ensuring that the joint work on the international space station
continues,'' Vershbow said. ``It's challenging work, it's dangerous work,
it's honorable work.''
Russian space officials said they could keep the station manned by using
Russian spacecraft instead of shuttles - provided the United States and other
participants in the 18-nation project help pay the additional cost.
Russia must send two Soyuz capsules and three Progress supply ships to the
station each year under an agreement with other partners in the project.
Without shuttle missions, four or five Progress ships would be needed, said
Yuri Semyonov, head of the state-run RKK Energia company, which builds the
spacecraft that fly to the orbiting complex.
``We will need money for that,'' Semyonov said. ``If we get the money, we
will mobilize all our resources and provide the spacecraft.''
A Progress cargo ship that blasted off Sunday is scheduled to dock Tuesday,
bringing fuel and supplies for the crew.
Valery Lyndin, a mission control spokesman, said that leaving the station
unmanned would be hazardous because there would be no crew to spot and fix
Semyonov said Russia will consult with its partners on revisions to the
flight schedule. He said Russia had planned to send another space tourist to
the station in April, but would now drop the idea.
Mikhail Sinelshchikov, a Russian space agency official in charge of the
manned space program, said Monday that Russia would stop sending paying
tourists and crews on short-term visits to the station while shuttle flights
In the past, U.S. shuttles have ferried long-term crews to the 16-nation
space station, while Russian rockets have carried visiting crews in fresh
Soyuz craft that they leave behind as emergency escape vehicles. An American
and a South African have paid a reported $20 million each to fly to the space
station aboard Russian rockets.
Russia: Space Industry Says Quick Action Needed On ISS
By Gregory Feifer
With the 1 February space-shuttle disaster likely to ground the U.S. shuttle
program for some time, eyes are turning to Russia, the only country now
capable of supplying the International Space Station. But the ailing Russian
space program is barely able to scrape together enough funds to meet its
current launch schedule. Industry representatives and analysts say immediate
action is needed if Moscow is to have even a remote chance of picking up the
Moscow, 3 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The 1 February disaster involving the
"Columbia" space shuttle has grounded for an indefinite time the remaining
three U.S. shuttles for investigation. This means it is now up to Russia to
act as sole supplier to the three astronauts living aboard the International
Space Station (ISS).
That is a tall order. Even before the weekend disaster, analysts had
questioned the future of Russia's participation in the program. The country's
space industry is so cash-strapped it can barely keep up with even its
current launch schedules.
But as Russia joined in mourning the loss of space shuttle "Columbia" --
President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to U.S. President George W.
Bush in a telegram on the day of the disaster -- the country went ahead with
the launch of an unmanned Progress cargo ship on 2 February. It will deliver
food and fuel to the station's three crew members: Americans Ken Bowersox and
Don Pettit and Russian commander Nikolai Budarin. With that shipment, the
crew, which was originally due to return to Earth in March, will have enough
supplies to last them through June of this year.
Moscow is currently scheduled to send up five rockets this year. But at least
another three will be needed to keep the current three-man crew adequately
supplied. That will require quick and drastic action and, above all, a flow
of U.S. cash to Russia.
Sergei Gorbunov is a spokesman for Russia's space agency, Rosaviakosmos. He
told RFE/RL that the United States must decide what it needs from Russia to
be able to continue supplying the 16-country space station and must also make
an official request to Moscow.
He said that unofficial telephone conversations between "technical
specialists" began as early as 1 February. "This question has been discussed
for hours, days -- I'm not quite sure. It's just that [the Americans] are
figuring out exactly what happened -- it's a shocking event. But we're also
considering all the options: who, what, and how. We understand that we are
left as the only cargo carriers to the ISS, so naturally we're working out
all the options," Gorbunov said.
Gorbunov said that Russian companies involved in supplying the ISS are
calculating what they need to send to the station. But that does not include
heavy cargo, such as space-station components, which Russian vessels do not
have the capacity to carry.
Officials estimate that six unmanned, single-use Progress cargo ships and two
manned Soyuz vessels must be sent up per year to supply a three-man crew, the
same number of shipments Moscow used to supply its Mir space station.
Russian Progress ships can only carry up to 5 tons of cargo, meaning that
barring the return of the U.S. space shuttles to service, another solution
will have to be found in order for major construction work to continue on the
The "Columbia" disaster leaves an enormous gap in scheduled delivery missions
to the ISS. Five scheduled U.S. shuttle missions this year will likely be
scrapped, including a March launch by space shuttle "Atlantis" to relieve the
It is also unclear when the United States will be able to resume its shuttle
program. The last U.S. shuttle disaster, the "Challenger" explosion in 1986,
kept the shuttle fleet grounded for almost three years.
Gorbunov said that tensions are high at the Russian agency as officials
determine how to compensate for the unexpected loss of the U.S. shuttle
missions. He downplayed the notion that the Russian space industry is in a
position to capitalize on its new opportunity as sole supplier to the ISS.
"You don't build on the bones of others. This isn't a chance for development
but a chance to prove that the Russian space program is alive, is working,
and will continue to exist," Gorbunov said.
Russia has only two Soyuz vessels, one of which is currently moored to the
ISS for use as an escape vessel. The second was scheduled to be launched in
April, a plan that now comes into question because of logistical concerns.
Only one more Soyuz is currently under construction. Russian space officials
last year said that at current spending levels, even its present rate of
production would have to be scaled back.
The bleak outlook has led some experts in Russia to say the ISS may have to
Russia's space budget is estimated at between 8 billion and 10 billion rubles
a year ($250 million-$312 million), as opposed to $14 billion in the United
Russia has in the past raised cash by sending "space tourists" to the station
at $20 million a ride.
Vsevolod Latyshev, a spokesman for Russia's mission control, reiterated
Gorbunov's statement that the Russian space industry is not seeking to
capitalize on the shuttle tragedy. He said that the "Columbia" disaster is a
blow to all those with a stake in the $95 billion ISS, including the
European, Japanese, Canadian, and other space programs. "Notwithstanding the
fact that we want the program to be financed better, we would like the
program to remain a partnership with the Americans and all the other partners
working on the ISS," Latyshev said.
Latyshev said the mood at mission control is somber. NASA representatives and
the U.S. ambassador today visited for a ceremony commemorating the lost
Igor Lisov is a space analyst with "Novosti kosmonavtiki." He agrees that the
main questioning is financing. "In any case, it must be decided quickly. Why
did talk begin of [an additional] three Progress vessels? Because there was
so little money in previous years, and there are no backup supplies. It takes
a minimum of 1 1/2 years to build a Soyuz or Progress-type ship. It's like
pregnancy: You can't speed it up. Well, under certain limits, with a lot of
effort, it may be possible to build one in a year," Lisov said.
Lisov said that if money enough is provided, it may be possible to build six
Progress ships for next year. In the meantime, it may be necessary to reduce
the number of astronauts in the ISS to two.
Another, even more drastic, option is evacuating the ISS altogether,
something that Gorbunov said would come with the risk of losing control of
Date: Mon, 03 Feb 2003
From: Michael McFaul <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: re 7045-Ware/McFaul
Response to Bruce Ware.
Thanks for your thoughtful note. You of course realize that it is not
possible to provide the detail and balance that you rightly request in an
op ed piece. I have written several books and dozens and dozens of
articles on democratic development in Russia over the last decade, (based
by the way on years of fieldwork). The next book, due out this fall, is
called Russian Democracy. Is There a Future? Was There a Past? I would
hope that you will refer to these longer accounts when assessing my views
and not only these oped pieces. Oh, and by the way, I never wrote about
the Soviet Union. My dissertation was about southern Africa.
Putin calls for objective history teaching in Russia's schools
Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1100 gmt 3 Feb 03
[Presenter] Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting with members of the government
today. One of the main issues was the federal development programme for
southern Russia. This document will be discussed by the Cabinet of Ministers
in the next few days...
Also today, Vladimir Putin said that he had signed an order granting the
President's Prize to the winners of the Teacher of the Year competition. In
this context, he particularly stressed the need for objective history
teaching in Russian schools.
[Putin] I was in Volgograd yesterday on the occasion of the 60th anniversary
of the victory at Stalingrad and at practically every one of my meetings with
veterans, the question about teaching history in our schools and the content
of teaching materials came up. Last year, the government did a lot of
detailed work on this issue and I would simply like to draw your attention to
the fact that this issue should not be a passing concern. Everything
necessary has to be done to ensure that our young students in schools have
the opportunity to receive objective information about all that has happened
in our country's history...
Argumenty i Fakty
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
THICKENING SHADOW OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY
By Vyacheslav KOSTIKOV
For some time after Vladimir Putin was elected president it
looked like the communist revenge theme was finally exhausted.
Today, as parliamentary elections are coming nearer, the
communists are recalled more often than not, mostly with
Until now the proportion in public assessment of the two
politicians - Vladimir Putin and Gennady Zyuganov - was 5:1 in
favor of the president. In 2002 Putin was building up his
rating, while communist leader Zyuganov was slowly losing it.
But the picture looks different if viewed in the context of
elections to the State Duma. Despite the "administrative
resource" of United Russia, this party and the communists run
shoulder to shoulder. The popularity of both parties among the
voters (with slight changes in different months) varied within
30% (according to VTsIOM opinion polls) and 22% (according to
FOM). The attempts by the authorities to lure a part of the
communist electorate into the Revival Party, led by Speaker
Gennady Seleznyov, shows no obvious results. Seleznyov's
"plumage" attracts not more than 1-2%.
The strong merit of the communists is, as in the previous
years, their ability to work among people, "from door to door".
The situation could change if the president publicly supported
United Russia. However, Putin uses the tactics of Boris Yeltsin
so far and does not associate himself with any party,
preferring to be "a representative of the whole nation."
Growth of United Russia's popularity is impeded by its vague
ideology and the absence of bright leaders and traditions in
the party. Meanwhile, Zyuganov, even in the absence charisma
but due to his long presence in politics and skilful populism,
retains a place among the top five national leaders,
outstripping Grigory Yavlinsky, Boris Nemtsov and Irina
Hakamada. Communists still maintain a strict party discipline.
They will go to the polls "in columns" under the traditional
banners and slogans, while 3 to 5 percent of the United Russia
members will secretly vote communist.
Communist ideals and myths are still working by inertia for the
Communist Party. Public opinion polls show that, for all the
political and economic reforms, the sentiments of a
considerable part of the population remain communist. About
one-third of the population considers that in 1917 the
Bolsheviks saved Russia and sympathize (though decreasingly at
present) with a "strong hand" of Lenin, Dzerzhinsky and Stalin,
and not with "soft Bolshevik" Bukharin, and still less with
Kerensky or Milyukov.
During his recent visit to Germany, Prime Minister Mikhail
Kasyanov said, commenting on this phenomenon, that "Russia
still suffers from the totalitarian syndrome." The Communist
Party plays extensively on these sentiments. The recent
elections in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, which brought
communist-supported Sergei Glazyev to the level of the
political elite, have shown in full measure the capacity of the
This does not mean, of course, that the population longs for a
restoration of socialism and a return of the Soviet flag. For
all the hardships of the transition period, the population,
especially its most active part, comes out for reforms. But the
latest opinion polls show that a conservative mood has been
growing, to the detriment of liberal sentiments. At the same
time, there is an obvious ideological confusion in the minds of
many Russians. Thus, the majority of those polled prefer to
work in the private sector (about 15% are employed there
today). At the same time they say that there should be more
state control, more planning and "more socialism" in the market
As for slogans of freedom and human rights traditionally
proclaimed by liberals, the majority of the population are
prepared to waive these "decorations" for the sake of greater
security and social guarantees. The outcome of the political
battle in 2003 largely depends on who better (or more
cynically) plays on these sentiments.
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
RUSSIA ON THE EVE OF THE ELECTION RACE
by Andrei RYABOV, Scholar-in-Residence, Carnegie Moscow Centre
Though there is still much time left until the official
beginning of the parliamentary election race, the parties are
assuming combat formation. It is clear without a doubt that the
Kremlin will orchestrate the forthcoming elections. On the
other hand, the success of any performance depends not only on
the director but also on those who will implement his idea. And
so the director will have to work hard yet to make them perform
as he wants.
But let's begin with the idea of the performance. The goal is
perfectly clear - to create a pro-presidential majority of
two-thirds of the votes in the new State Duma. It appears that
the Kremlin has abandoned the simplistic interpretation of this
idea, according to which the majority should be represented by
one party, for example the completely tamed United Russia. For
a constitutional majority is necessary only when voting on key
issues and it is much better to have some room for manoeuvre in
This is why the desired majority will be most probably created
through rallying several parties. The SPS or Yabloko will
surely be one of them, though the choice of the party will
remain undecided until election time. Everything will depend on
the political situation. If the Kremlin opts for an alternative
economic strategy of reforms, it will choose Yabloko. If it
decides that it needs loyalty and mobilised support for the
government on the part of liberally minded voters, it will
surely support the SPS.
The future of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) is
not clear so far. On the one hand, Zhirinovsky's party has
always voted "correctly" on key issues. But on the other hand,
it costs too much. The small LDPR cannot ensure many votes and,
unlike the SPS or Yabloko, does not contribute to a better
reputation of the Kremlin in the West. So, is the play worth
As for the favourite party, United Russia, much should be done
as yet to put it in high combat readiness. Its division into
factions and groups must be stopped, with the party machinery
turned into a hierarchically streamlined mechanism where every
command from the top is immediately fulfilled in the provinces
without gubernatorial peccadilloes.
Another difficult task is to win over the protest electorate,
as victory over the Communist Party would be unrealistic
without its support because the share of the electorate who is
satisfied with life is not that big. This electorate can be won
over by staging demonstration conflicts with the government, as
a result of which the government would "see" its mistakes and
make a show of trying to improve life for the people.
The Communist Party is the only actor who does not fit in the
Kremlin election scenario. Its leader, Gennady Zyuganov, and
his team promptly saw that only a harsher attitude to the
regime can win them additional voters, some of whom are
becoming disappointed by the party's insipid stand. This is why
the party is being cleansed of those who tended to more closely
collaborate with the Kremlin.
The communists may also try to win that part of the electorate
that had not voted for the party before. They can use Sergei
Glazyev, who has won the gubernatorial elections in
Krasnoyarsk, for this purpose. His views are not properly
communist and hence he does not provoke allergy in a part of
the electorate. Reliance on Glazyev will make the Communist
Party more independent of the Kremlin scenario.
Would this suffice to prevent the other side from winning the
desired high score? If wages are paid on time (the Central Bank
has accumulated vast reserves for this) and pipes stop
bursting, and if major terrorist acts by Chechen bandits are
prevented, the Kremlin will most probably succeed in staging
the performance called "elections" and attain its goals.
The Ecologist (U.K.)
The Wild Wild East: Russia's zapovedniks are some of the world's most
pristine wildernesses. For 70 years they were protected ruthlessly by the
Soviet system, but recently they have fallen prey to Putin, the World Bank
BY PAUL WEBSTER
They form a patchwork of dizzying diversity that includes the largest
undisturbed Eurasian wilderness, the world's most biologically varied
temperate forests and an inter-continental roll call of rare species from
the Siberian tiger to the snow leopard, the Anatolian leopard to the
Asiatic black bear and the European bison to the oriental stork. They are
Russia's greatest natural marvels, a collection of 100 scientific reserves
ranging in size from two hectares to 3.6 million hectares, that represent
an astonishing 40 per cent of the world's scientific reserves. And they are
at risk of being destroyed.
Better red than dead
Established in 1916, the reserves, which are known as zapovedniks, were
originally governed under the Soviet system by strict rules that prohibited
any activities within their boundaries, other than those for scientific
purposes. But in 1991 the Soviet collapse suddenly exposed the reserves to
market forces. The Russian government slashed zapovednik budgets by 90 per
cent and pay was terminated for thousands of nature wardens and researchers
in the reserves. The parks found themselves under fierce attack, threatened
by developers and industries who were keen to strip them of their protected
"Russia's greatest protected areas are being destroyed," says Arkady
Tishkov, a biologist and geographer at Moscow State University who monitors
parks and zapovedniks. "Everything is being done to change the status of
reserves and national parks to allow economic exploitation like logging and
oil drilling." The pressure on zapovednik directors and scientists is
fierce. "We are supposed to be quiet when our local administration makes
plans to cut down the forests that we have been protecting with our limited
resources, even at risk to our lives," says Tishkov. "We are supposed to be
patient when local bosses visit us and demand bribes."
Although the crisis started in 1991 with the end of 70 years of rigid
Soviet protection, the disaster deepened two years ago when Russian
president Vladimir Putin came to power and introduced an aggressive
programme to boost government revenues by exporting Russia's natural
One of Putin's first moves in office was to shut down the Forest
Department, which, along with the State Committee on Environment
Protection, was Russia's main environmental regulator. Its
responsibilities, including management of the zapovedniks, were passed to
the Ministry of Natural Resources, a department, as its name suggests,
dedicated to resource exploitation.
The effect was immediate. In October 2001 the deputy minister of finance
suggested that money could be raised by logging the zapovedniks buffer
zones which were designed to shelter their perimeters. Furthermore, it was
put foward that those zapovedniks without buffer zones should sacrifice
forest areas within the reserves to logging.
Vsevolod Stepanitsky, Russia's most senior zapovednik adminstrator at the
time, resigned in anger soon after those suggestions were made. "The policy
of abandoning the zapovedniks is having dramatic impacts," he says. "There
is incredible pressure from industrial lobbies. The ministry is dedicated
to encouraging resource industries to strip and sell natural resources
anywhere they can."
The ministry's new zapovednik director Vladimir Pishchelev denies the
charge. "These are protected areas and that wont change," he says. He
insists the ministry will not surrender the zapovedniks to chaos,
corruption and condemnation.
But when asked whether the zapovedniks are now open for business, Pischelev
gives an important admission. "There are lots of ways to make money in the
zapovedniks," he says. "We favour a sustainable conservation approach."
These days in Moscow, everyone aims to be sustainable. The forest industry
promises it. The oil industry is enthusiastic. The nuclear industry is
keen. Even President Putin, whose anti-environmental policies delivered
huge budget surpluses in recent years, says sustainable development is his
But Russia's biggest sustainability booster is undoubtedly the
Washington-based World Bank. In recent years, it has sent out $170 million
in loans to the Russian government for "environmental projects". They
started in 1994, with a $110m loan for an environmental management
programme. The aim was to help Russia's beleaguered Ministry of the
Environment to re-organise, rebuild and rededicate itself to serve "both
nature protection and economic growth, through sustainable and
environmentally acceptable development options".
The bank's efforts to rebuild Russia's environment department were
temporarily punctured when Putin terminated Russia's federal environmental
agencies in 2000. Forced to rethink, the bank quickly drafted a $60m loan
to Russias Ministry of Natural Resources for a "sustainable" forestry
project which aimed to help the ministry boost pulp and paper production
through intensified approaches to forestry.
The bank hopes the loan, which is currently in the final stages of
negotiation, will help Russia hugely expand forest cutting using
"sustainable" practices modelled on those found (and bitterly opposed as
utterly unsustainable) in Canada, says Andrey Kushlin, the banks Russian
In 1996 the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), an environmental
protection fund established by the World Bank and the UN, granted $20m for
a biodiversity conservation project aimed at helping Russian nature
reserves and parks cope with the crisis triggered by the Soviet collapse.
Under the recently completed project, zapovedniks received nearly $3.8m in
direct aid for computers, security, transportation and salaries. A further
$440,000 was awarded for 66 scientific projects. And the project delivered
another $15m for programmes based in Russian parks.
And what did the bureaucrats do with those millions?
Mostly, they engineered projects promoting "sustainable" ways to squeeze
money from nature, including the publication of two books: Ecological
Problems and Commodity Producers: a Review of Facts and Examples in the
Russian and World Markets and Nature and Profit: a Textbook for Children
and Ministers. The programme also paid for various economic studies, the
language of which typifies modern man's relationship to the natural world.
For "The Economic Value of Living Nature in Concrete Situations based on
the Total Economic Value Concept" and a study of how to integrate
"categories of economic value of biodiversity into the National Strategy of
Biodiversity Conservation," read "How much do you want for the trees?"
Business of biodiversity
So it goes on. "We looked at how the business of biodiversity can be made
more sustainable", says Kushlin, who managed the project. He explains that
putting the zapovedniks to work was a key objective in an overall effort to
bring environmental protection into the mainstream and make it a factor of
The programme focussed on making use of high-profile reserves as engines of
economic development with more and more focus on maximum use of protected
areas. Specifically, Kushlin says, that means eco-tourism and sustainable
According to the bank, its programme delivered a 44-fold increase in
tourism in ten zapovedniks where tourism was tracked. Trails and roads
averaging 487 kilometres long were built in each of these reserves.
The zapovedniks were orginally protected by strict Russian laws that
ensured natural purity in these areas by keeping humans out. Asked if the
economic push contradicts this original purpose, Kushlin says the old-style
purists must surrender. "There are no longer sustainable economic means to
do it the old way," he says.
Development or disaster?
The Kronotsky zapovednik is Russia's most famous reserve. Lying on the
Kamchatka peninsula it is home to active volcanoes, thermal rivers and
beautiful scenery. When Putin cut funding for Kronotsky, GEF specialists
were invited to help develop tourism.
Soon afterwards tourists started arriving on cruise ships and helicopters,
generating substantial revenue despite the laws to keep them out. "The
reserves do not need financial sustainability based on ecotourism," says
Vladimir Mosolov, Kronotsky's deputy director of science. "Ecotourism will
only destroy the Russian system of reserves. What has to be supported are
protection activities, not the infrastructure of ecotourism.
"None of the proceeds are invested in supporting the reserves themselves.
The next step will be when the government changes the reserves status from
zapovednik to national park. And if that happens, Russia's most famous
zapovednik, one of the world's great biodiversity reserves, will cease to
Marine biologist Olga Selivanova, a field researcher at Kronotsky, echoes
these criticisms. "The World Bank did a great job of opening Kronotsky for
cruise ships and helicopter companies. But they have only succeeded in
making the reserve environmentally unsustainable."
Olin Rhodes, a Purdue University wildlife ecologist with a strong interest
in the zapovedniks, is unequivocal on the topic of opening them to
ecotourism. "Once you allow ecotourism, they are no longer zapovedniks," he
says. "They cannot be, because they are no longer suitable for the study of
long-term ecological processes in undisturbed natural settings."
Vadim Mokievsky, an oceanographer with Moscow's Shirkov Institute agrees.
He insists that the zapovedniks are "strict scientific reserves where any
kind of human activity must be prohibited completely". Even from a narrowly
economic view, he says, protecting biodiversity by keeping people out will
pay a greater economic reward through scientific rewards in the long run.
And the way to do it, he says, is through pressurising the government to
protect the reserves from market forces. "Society has to pay," he argues.
Instead, the World Bank and the Russian government are making "poor,
unrealistic assumptions if they succumb to the myth that nature can be
protected though free market mechanisms," says David Ostergren, a
researcher in Russian wilderness policy at Northern Arizona University. In
his view, the Russian government has a responsibility to fund the sanctuaries.
A review of Putin's recent budget priorities suggests environmental cuts
are no longer necessary. Profits from oil and other natural resources have
increased Russian government revenues by 50 per cent in just two years,
delivering a $10 billion annual windfall starting in 2001. This has allowed
Putin to pay off foreign debts ahead of schedule while putting aside a $3bn
budget surplus; he has boosted military expenditure by 40 per cent and
spent $500m a year on the war in Chechnya.
Recently the international community has got wise to Russia's new wealth
and of Putin's controversial spending. So the idea of mobilising public
support for a lobby to persuade the government to set aside some of what it
squeezes from nature to protect the reserves has become a realistic
ambition. If successful, the zapovedniks would have a real chance at a
sustainable future. Otherwise the world will lose some of its greatest
natural treasures before most people even knew they existed.
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
RUSSIA IN THE MIRROR OF SOCIOLOGICAL POLLS
"The current turning point in Russian history promises to
be protracted and very difficult," Professor Yuri Levada, D. Sc.
(Philosophy), director of the All-Russian Public Opinion
Research Center, says in an interview with Trud's Vitaly
Question: First of all, what do citizens say about their
material wellbeing. Say, did, in their opinion, their life
improve or not last year?
Answer: Judging by our research, the scale of poverty has not
radically changed over the past year. Just like in 2001, every
fifth respondent said in November 2002 that "the family can
hardly make both ends meet." Another 40% of citizens "have the
money to buy food but buying clothes causes serious problems."
We got approximately the same answers the year before last.
A third of respondents referred themselves to the next group
("we have the money to buy food and clothes but cannot afford
to buy durables - a TV-set, a fridge, a sofa"). Only 7% of
those polled could afford to buy most durables. They could not
afford only such expensive buys as apartments, dachas, posh
Lastly, it turned out that the richest people who buy immovable
property and Mercedes cars make up less than one percent.
(However, an important point is that in our selection the group
of rich citizens is represented inadequately because the owners
of expensive mansions are not eager to give interviews; so,
according to the data of other research centers, the rich in
the country make up perhaps about 5%).
Some changes in the past year were taken into account, of
course, especially in the first two quarters of 2002,
however, in the latter half of the year, as economic growth was
slowing down, the situation in the social sphere was getting
worse. Using the results of polls, the staff of our center make
their own calculations of the share of the low-income group of
the population. The method is simple: citizens themselves name
the average per capita income below which, in their opinion, a
family should be considered a poor one. We determine the
average value of this threshold below which a family is
considered a needy one.
Knowing the actual monetary incomes of those polled, we can
easily calculate how many citizens actually lived below the
poverty line in a given period of time. Both in 2001 and the
third quarter of 2002 this index was the same - about 40%. In
other words, both last year and the year before last, about a
third of the population could not climb out of dire poverty.
Incidentally, the same level of poverty in the third quarter of
2002 (54 million Russians) is also cited by the experts of the
All-Russian Center of the Standard of Living, who made
calculations using their own methods. So, neglected in previous
years, the situation in the social sphere remains very serious,
I would say. Just think: in the 12th year of reforms, over a
third of the population of a huge country still cannot lead a
normal life which does not humiliate human dignity.
Question: However, high-ranking Russian executives claim that
the standard of living in Russia is slowly but surely
Incidentally, a study conducted by the All-Russian Public
Opinion Research Center also seems to prove this. In 2001, 40%
of those polled described the level of their families' material
wellbeing as "low and very low," and 35% - in 2002. What can
you say on this score?
Answer: I will not enter into polemics with executives.
Evidently, they use other data, although our materials are also
open for all, including government structures.
Now a few words about a certain decrease in the number of
pessimistic answers. I think that "the phenomenon of getting
accustomed" has played its role in this case. You know, if a
family lives in poverty for a long time, it tries to adapt in a
way. People start working harder in their kitchen-gardens,
adapting to the circumstances... In order to understand the
real situation, we also analyze answers to many other questions
related to the standard of living. We compare results. Hence, I
repeat, the conclusion: there have been no serious positive
In 2002, the number of Russians thinking that the past year was
harder than the previous one slightly grew. More citizens state
their growing concern, fear for the future. In particular,
fears of mass layoffs at enterprises have grown by 50%. Every
third respondent from among those who have a job is afraid of
losing it. We have to state that the level of aggressiveness is
still high in society. This was stated by every sixth
The continuing worsening of the quality of health services
(this was stated by half respondents), the lack of personal
security guarantees and the state of the environment are
causing serious concern among citizens. Possibly, the
government and power structures do not feel all this but I
think that we, sociologists see such tendencies clearly enough.
Question: What can you say about the current situation as
compared with 1998?
Answer: This is quite a different thing. In the years after
the August default positive changes were developing dynamically
and the material wellbeing of families was improving fast. Say,
in 1998 over a half of respondents said: "Our disastrous
situation just cannot be endured any longer." In 2001 and 2002
such answers made up 20 and 21%, respectively, that is, 60%
less. Four years ago two-thirds of the Russians stated that
"they are altogether or mostly discontent with their life."
Today, 34% of those polled think so. On the whole, we have at
last reached the level of the pre-crisis year 1997 in terms of
effective monetary incomes and this is good. However, let me
repeat, in 2002 progress in the social sphere started slowing
down. "Weary indifference" is still one of the main
characteristics of people's sentiments - this was stated by
every third respondent.
We are entering the market, but through its "shadow" part. No
one knows when we see the light. Alas, there is still no new
economy. Over the years of Soviet power people forgot how to
work and cannot learn it again. Small business is still being
kept down and only desperate dare-devils dare to have a try in
this field. When answering the questions of our interviewers,
citizens stressed that there were fewer opportunities to make
money in 2002 than before. Nor can private farming take root in
this country - the conditions for it are unfavorable in Russia.
In a word, although the material wellbeing of citizens has
slightly improved, they have more concerns now. A sense of
internal uncertainty and confusion is still prevailing among
In general, changing mentality takes decades and many
generations. At present, up to half the Russians believe that
"it would be better if everything remained the way it was
before 1985". The number of the supporters of "Soviet
socialism" has even slightly grown, compared with 1992.
Nostalgia for the past far from always means a desire to return
there, though. People live by their current interests and hopes
and make plans for the future. Research shows that about 70%
of citizens have either adapted to changes or hope to do this
in the near future. Only about a quarter of citizens think that
they will not be able to adapt to new conditions.
Question: What is the attitude of the population to the reforms
underway in the country?
Answer: There are more supporters than opponents. Thirty-nine
percent of Russians favor continued market reforms and only 24%
oppose them. Admittedly, the number of those who found it
difficult to answer is still high - over a third of those
polled. They can join either the first group (if real successes
are achieved in economic and social development) or the second
one - if reforms continue stalling or are even reversed.
Question: You have said that one of the main characteristics of
modern Russian society is "weary indifference." However, there
is no indifference with regard to the president, citizens
actively back the head of state. About 40% of those polled talk
about their sympathy and admiration of him. Another 37% of
Russians said that "they can say nothing bad about Putin." How
do sociologists explain the permanently high rating of the
Answer: Let's first see how the Russians themselves answer
this question. Over 40% of those polled explain the high degree
of confidence in the president by the hope that he will solve
the country's problems. Apart from that, every fifth referred
to the successes of the head of state, while every third said
"there is no one around to lay hopes on." However, when the
point at issue is the specific spheres of activity, people
invariably speak highly only about the strengthening of
Russia's international positions. At the same time, there are
fewer positive assessments than negative ones when the point at
issue is economic recovery, the growth of citizens' wellbeing,
establishing order in the country, the settlement of the
situation in Chechnya. That is, Putin is still "the president
When asked "What attracts you in Vladimir Putin?," 41% of
citizens answered: "He is an energetic, resolute and
strong-willed man." The answer "He can restore order in the
country" was on second place. When asked what they did not like
most of all about him, 29% of respondents said: "Putin is
connected with Yeltsin and his circle of confidants"...
Question: As far as is known from informal yet highly informed
circles, this is not true. It's another matter that "the
family" still retains powerful leverage, first of all, economic
and it is difficult to quickly change the situation in this
Answer: I cannot judge about what I do not know. I am just
telling you about the results of sociological research. In
2001, there were slightly fewer such answers.
A characteristic fact is that the majority of respondents
believe that Vladimir Putin should not bind himself to any
political party in the next presidential elections.
Question: How does the population assess the activity of the
Answer: The assessments in this case are much lower than in the
case of the head of state. A total of 61% of respondents made
more or less negative assessments ("The government does not
quite deserve confidence or does not deserve it at all"), while
24% of those polled made definitely positive assessments.
Another study showed that almost three-quarters of citizens
consider that the government has no thought-out economic
program of action to lead the country out of the crisis. This
is perhaps the most serious claim to the cabinet of ministers.
Citizens ask what kind of authority is this if thousands of
people freeze in their homes, while millions of people live in
poverty? Prices are soaring, the economy is in a state of
unstable equilibrium, keeping afloat mainly thanks to high oil
Question: What institutions enjoy utmost trust among the
Answer: The Church, armed forces and media - such are the
results of polls. This trust is formal, though. The following
institutions have very low ratings: the State Duma ("Does not
quite deserve trust or does not deserve it at all" - 74% of
those polled), the Federation Council (53% of respondents
answered in the negative), the police (75%). Today, a mere 3%
of respondents trust trade unions, which many citizens remember
as the largest public organization.
Question: What could you say on interethnic relations?
Answer: People are increasingly apprehensive of the growth of
extremism. There have been a few specific actions but there has
been no efficient opposition to this from authorities and
law-enforcement agencies. Forty percent of citizens believe
that there were more manifestations of nationalism in 2002,
while 44% of respondents think that interethnic relations have
changed for the worse.
Question: The last question is: what is the attitude of our
citizens to the United States?
Answer: The USA has stopped being "the main military and
political opponent" for the Russian people. Seventy-seven
percent of Russians like the Americans as a nation (in 2001
this index was higher - 84%), while every sixth respondent said
he did not like them. The three main characteristics of the
United States are as follows: "A rich country," "A strong
military power," "Impudently interferes in other countries'
affairs, imposes its orders and values on them." Three-quarters
of citizens approved Putin's decisions to back US actions
against international terrorism (although anti-American
sentiments are still strong in society).
At one time, America seemed to be "a land of promise" where one
wanted to go and perhaps live there. However, after "the iron
curtain" was lifted and people saw the United States in
reality, it turned out that this was a rather boring country,
which did not even have a coherent policy...
Such are the results of our research. It is to be hoped that
power structures will show much more interest in public
Ex-Chechen chief uses pirate TV to warn of attack
NAZRAN, Russia, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Chechnya's ousted separatist president said
rebels were ready to launch a new drive against Russian troops in the ravaged
province, in a pirate television broadcast late on Sunday.
Aslan Maskhadov denounced next month's constitutional referendum which Moscow
hopes will anchor Chechnya more tightly inside Russia's embrace.
"The referendum is an affront to our people," Maskhadov -- dressed in
fatigues and seated before the red, white and green separatist Chechen flag
-- said in the 20-minute broadcast.
"The war underway is not of my doing. This year will be decisive for
Chechnya. Once spring comes and we have green cover again, it will be easier
to wage a partisan war. Our fighters have been doing well lately in clashes
with Russian troops."
The broadcast was seen in districts on Chechnya's western border with
Ingushetia, the Russian region which has housed more than 100,000 refugees
fleeing two post-Soviet conflicts.
A further 20 minutes was devoted to footage of Chechen fighters training for
The Kremlin says the vote is part of a political solution to end a decade of
war that has left the predominantly Muslim region in tatters.
But Russian liberals and a number of Western officials say the proposed
constitution ignored much of Chechen public opinion and that the region is
still too violent for a vote to be conducted fairly.
Maskhadov, seen as a moderate by many in the West, came briefly to power in
1997, and was ousted after Moscow launched its second Chechen campaign in
His whereabouts are unknown and he has previously used video recordings from
undisclosed locations to broadcast messages.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Maskhadov's term in office resulted
only in lawlessness, and Russian officials accuse him of backing the Chechen
rebel takover last October of a Moscow theatre in which 129 hostages died.
Rebels have denied he had any involvement.
Chechen web site insists Basayev, not Maskhadov, behind Moscow theatre siege
Source: Kavkaz-Tsentr news agency web site in Russian 3 Feb 03
3 February: The Russian FSB [Federal Security Service] says that it has in
its hands proof of the involvement of President Maskhadov in the Dubrovka
events [Moscow theatre siege]. This claim was made on Sunday [2 February] on
the Russia TV channel.
[Passage omitted: Russia TV showed video footage of Movsar Barayev, who led
the siege, at a meeting with Maskhadov and other Chechen commanders]
As for the Dubrovka events, it is known that Shamil Basayev, head of the
military committee of the State Defence Committee - Majlis ul-Shura, has
taken upon himself full responsibility for this military act and has said
that he did not inform President Maskhadov about the special operation being
prepared on enemy territory.
Russian FSB says new tape proves Chechen rebel leader's guilt
Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1700 gmt 2 Feb 03
The Russian Federal Security service [FSB] has said a video tape recently
obtained in Chechnya proves that last's operation to seize hundreds of
hostages in Moscow was planned with the participation of Chechen rebel
president Aslan Maskhadov. Russia TV channel showed clips from the video
recording of a meeting, said to have been held at a rebel training camp in
August 2002. An FSB spokesman, presenting the tape, said the meeting was
attended by Maskhadov, the hostage-takers' leader Movsar Barayev, and several
others, including prominent Islamic spiritual leader Abu Omar. The following
is text of report shown by Russia TV on 2 February. Video notes and
subheadings have been inserted editorially.
[Presenter] Virtually at the same time as news came from London [about
possible extradition of Chechen rebel envoy Akhmed Zakayev], the results of a
special operation carried out in Chechnya became known. Proof was found there
that Aslan Maskhadov had indeed known about preparations for taking hostages
in Dubrovka [street in Moscow, where hundreds of people were taken hostage at
a theatre in late October 2002]. For the first time we are showing you a
[video] recording which shows Maskhadov and Barayev together discussing
preparations for the terrorist act. This unique footage forms part of Andrey
[Video, captioned Moscow, October 2002, pans hostages in the theatre, zooms
on one of the hostage-takers.]
[Voice off camera] Can I film you like that? You used to be very handsome
with the beard, and now you are very ugly.
[Medvedev, commenting] With the beard - that remark was about summer 2002.
This footage was filmed at a rebel camp in the mountains. [Another video,
captioned Chechnya, August 2002, shows Barayev and a bearded young man
pretending to shoot.] Movsar Barayev and explosives expert Yassir are not
practising firing but rather fooling around. Asked to do so by the cameraman,
Yassir addresses his compatriots. [Video now shows Yassir speaking into
[Yassir, speaking in Arabic, Russian translation overlaid] We are living
freely in the mountains of Chechnya. Fighters leave when they want and come
back when they want. We are fighting together in the path of Allah. We shall
fight until the last Day of Judgment.
[Barayev, shown speaking into camera in Russian, and pointing at Yassir] He
has more hardware that Russian plants have ever produced. [Both laugh]
[Correspondent] Let me remind you that after the Dubrovka events Aslan
Maskhadov claimed he did not even know Barayev personally. It turns out this
is not so. Here they are together at the same camp. [Poor-quality video shows
men who appear to be Maskhadov and Barayev sitting side by side.] But even
this is not the most interesting bit. Of the greatest importance is the
footage of a conference held by the rebels.
[Sergey Ignatchenko, deputy chief of the Russian Federal Security Service
public relations centre, pointing at figures on a TV screen] Here is
Maskhadov, [rebel commander Shamil] Basayev, here is Yassir and there is
Barayev. They are being introduced here, a man is reporting who they are, and
saying they would take part in the terrorist act that is being prepared.
[Correspondent, over video of the meeting, captioned Chechnya, August 2002]
On Maskhadov's left is field commander (?Saif) Islam, who led one of the
courses at the Kavkaz terrorist training camp [Circled on video]. He took
commands directly from [late Jordanian-born rebel leader] Khattab. Another
participant in the meeting is probably the most important figure: Shaykh Abu
Omar [Circled on video].
[Ignatchenko] He is very well known in the Arab world, in the Muslim
Brotherhood organization. At one time he represented in this country the
Al-Haramayn organization, known from when we exposed it in the year 2000. The
organization was engaged in funding terrorism on Chechen territory. In the
spiritual hierarchy, He is more senior than anyone else present here.
[Correspondent] Even higher than Maskhadov?
[Ignatchenko] He is higher than Maskhadov. He is the spiritual leader, who
blesses people to carry out terrorist acts.
[Correspondent] And this man here [point at TV screen] appears to be
[Ignatchenko] Yes. At this moment he is reporting on who Barayev is, how many
terrorist acts he has carried out.
[Voice-over in Russian of unidentified man shown on the video of the meeting]
Here is Movsar Barayev. He is a group commander. We need to discuss some
questions and plans for next month.
[Correspondent] Since 1996, Abu Omar has been rather a virtual-reality figure
for Russian counterintelligence: everyone has heard of him, there have been
radio intercepts of his calls, but no-one has seen his face. It was Omar who
created Wahhabi enclaves in Dagestan, in the villages of Karamakhi and
Chaban-makhi. [Video, captioned Chechnya, 1996, showed several men shaking
hands, entering the building with the sign Karamakhi administration,
Buynakskiy District, Dagestan]
[Zaur Akavov, shown on police video of interrogation, dated 3 July 2002] He
does not belong to anyone's detachment. He is always accompanied by two or
three men. There was a short man by his side-
[Voice off camera, presumably interrogator] Who are those two or three men?
[Akavov] Well, yes, they are like bodyguards or guides. Mostly he is
accompanied by two or three Chechens who know Arabic well.
[Correspondent] Shaykh Abu Omar does not fund all the operations of the
Chechen rebels but only high-profile terrorist acts. He very rarely speaks to
simple field commanders. The fact that Barayev and Yassir, not ranked among
the most senior rebels, are present at the same conference as Abu Omar, is a
rarity. [Video shows a different meeting in the camp, rebels studying maps.]
In the opinion of counterintelligence officers, however, it is understandable.
[Ignatchenko] Since they were to play the leading part in the terrorist act,
this is quite justifiable. You can see that they have a map in front of them
and they are discussing the strategy and tactics of the planned terrorist act.
Address to rebels
[Correspondent] A few days before the theatre in Moscow was seized, on 18
October 2002, Aslan Maskhadov made an address to the rebels. He was asked if
there was going to be a repeat of [a hostage-taking operation in] Budennovsk,
which the rebels dubbed Operation Jihad.
[Maskhadov, video captioned 18 October 2002] I am convinced - I have no doubt
- that in the final stage we shall definitely carry out an even more unique
operation similar to Jihad.
[Correspondent] During the three days spent at the Dubrovka theatre, Movsar
Barayev and Yassir phoned dozens of times to those who ordered and led the
terrorist act. Maskhadov was not among those they called, but it is now known
for certain that he was watching the events carefully. At least, in the view
of the FSB staff, this recording proves that it was none other than Maskhadov
who was responsible for the operation. It is enough to observe how thoroughly
he notes down all the directions from the Arab commanders [Video showed the
meeting; Maskhadov, sitting over a map, writing in his notebook].
This recording is unlikely to have been made to report back to someone. Abu
Omar is too well known a terrorist, so sponsors would have been quite happy
with a verbal report from him about the conference. It is more likely to have
been made for the personal archive of one of the participants. Yet now that
it has fallen into the hands of counterintelligence officers, this recording
has turned into a document whose authenticity cannot be doubted.
February 4, 2003
Latin American Dynamism
By Boris Kagarlitsky
In his address to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre last week, Brazilian
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced that while his country had
previously been oriented toward the United States and, to a lesser extent,
Europe, Brazil would now seek to develop political and economic ties with its
Latin American neighbors, South Africa and China. Lula didn't mention Russia
once in his speech.
In fact, Russia almost never came up at the World Social Forum. Latin
American affairs were the focus: the crisis in Venezuela, victories for the
left at the polls in Brazil and Ecuador, and the upcoming election in
Uruguay. Hot topics included the world economic crisis and experience with
participatory democracy amassed in cities controlled by Lula's Workers Party.
There were protests against the impending U.S. attack on Iraq, of course. The
delegates tried to engage Lula following his speech and flocked to hear
Venezuela's unpredictable president, Hugo Chavez, who floundered when asked
about his country's economic transformation, but delighted his audience for
an entire hour with political anecdotes.
Russia didn't come up much at Davos, either. The Russian delegates this year
couldn't bemoan a domestic financial crisis or boast about rapid economic
growth. As a result, Russia was lost in a long list of second-rate economies,
all vegetating on the margins of the world economic system. When you get
right down to it, how is oil-rich Russia any more interesting than oil-rich
The world isn't much interested in Russia these days, and rightly so. Russia
has nothing to show the world as it once did. Ours is a society run by
faceless bureaucrats who have set themselves the most insignificant of goals.
Nikita Khrushchev once promised to overtake the United States in 20 years and
to build communism at the same time. Today's visionaries at best predict that
Russia will catch up with Portugal in 10 years -- and this is no less utopian
than Khrushchev's dreams of Soviet economic superiority. But at least
Khrushchev dreamed big. When the Soviet regime figured out that it would
never overtake the United States or build communism on time, it hosted the
Olympic Games in Moscow to soothe its wounded pride. The current regime can't
even land a major international sporting event.
The world couldn't care less about Russia, and Russia has responded in kind.
As befits a thoroughly provincial society, we studiously avoid noticing the
global processes that directly affect our lives. For all the talk about
globalization, the Russian press ignores most of the globe. This myopia was
obvious in coverage of the Davos forum. The Russian press took scant notice
of the event, and even that was only because a number of Russian leaders were
in attendance and it would have been bad form to ignore them completely. The
World Social Forum didn't merit even that.
Russia has no intention of solving its own social problems, not to mention
the world's. Fifteen years ago, when the skeptics were outlining a worst-case
scenario for economic reform, they warned that Russia could turn into the
Brazil of the north -- no carnivals, but plenty of snow. Later we feared
turning into a banana republic without the bananas. Now these nightmares look
like unfulfilled dreams. The collapse of Russia's science-driven industries
and the decline in manufacturing over the past 15 years have led to a raw
material economy controlled by an oligarchy and an increasingly authoritarian
The last decade of neo-liberal reform in Latin America, on the other hand,
was a time of staunch opposition, popular protests and the rise of mass
political movements. Politicians relying on the support of these movements
are now coming to power. Lula, who heads a broad-based coalition, is a far
more effective leader than the populist Chavez. But individual presidents are
not the real story. These are dynamic societies looking for new models of
development and trying to solve their problems.
Russian society, by contrast, has come to the firm conclusion since the
mid-1990s that it has no role to play in running the country, and the ruling
elite has obviously decided that nothing needs to be changed. Stability has
therefore become the slogan of the day, as it was in the Brezhnev era, when
it became clear that the hopes of the Thaw era were just pie in the sky.
Under Brezhnev, stability led the country into stagnation. Much has changed
since that time. Today stability is no longer a euphemism for stagnation, but
Boris Kagarlitsky is director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.
The Guardian (UK)
February 3, 2003
'He's probably passed out somewhere with a bottle in his hand... '
John O'Mahoney goes in search of Russia's most promising playwright
Alarm bells began to ring rather furiously when, as I was trundling down
the gangway at Heathrow en route to interview playwright Vassily Sigarev in
his home city of Yekaterinburg, deep in the Urals, the head of the Royal
Court Theatre's international department managed to catch me on my mobile.
"How annoyed would you be if you went all the way there and the whole thing
didn't happen?" she asked, attempting to muffle a note of terror in her
voice. "The problem is that nobody seems to know where Vassily is. He
doesn't have a telephone and he's not responding to emails. But don't
worry, he's probably passed out somewhere with a bottle of vodka in his
The sane response to an enquiry like this would have been to trundle back
up the gangway and forget the whole business. However, in Russia, where
absolute chaos is often the only predictable pattern, sanity generally gets
you nowhere. It is also a country where heroic self-destructiveness is
particularly prized in artists and writers. Poet Sergei Esenin lived for
long stretches in a state of chronic drunkenness, and the writer Nikolai
Gumilev was so addicted both to vodka and to the seedy services offered by
certain St Petersburg brothels that he could not tear himself away from
whoring even when his wife, the poet Anna Akhmatova, was giving birth. Most
famous of all for his alcohol-fuelled creativity was Benedikt Erofeev,
whose novel Moskva-Petushki was responsible for popularising a Soviet-era
cocktail made from vodka and industrial-strength cologne.
Sigarev's work suggests that here is another Russian writer with an
unflinching love of extremes. Plasticine, the first of his plays at
London's Royal Court, was an unremittingly bleak evocation of Russian
provincial life that opened with a harrowing suicide and concluded with a
vicious male rape. Its rebellious anti-hero, a schoolboy named Maksim,
attempts to exert power over the chaos by moulding an alternate universe in
his bedroom out of plasticine; in one scene, he exposes a plasticine penis
to an unsympathetic school teacher.
The play earned Sigarev, then 26, the Charles Wintour award for most
promising playwright, which he collected in a state of somewhat impaired
sobriety, extravagantly getting down on his knees: "I'd like to thank
Dominic Cook, the director, who took on this mess of a play," he enthused.
"The Royal Court is the best theatre in the world!"
Even taking this natural anarchy into account, my situation was looking
particularly hopeless when, two days of jolting Aeroflot flights and rancid
catering later, Sigarev had still not surfaced. On the juddering approach
to Yekaterinburg, I looked down on this unlovely industrial city, best
known as the birthplace of Boris Yeltsin and the final resting place of
Tsar Nicholas II, shot by the communists. I gazed in horror at the
half-constructed tower blocks and expanses of waste ground, all more than
capable of hiding the slumped figure of a drunken playwright. The Royal
Court, which was in part funding the trip, grew ever more anxious.
At the British Council, Yelena, the director, was adamant: "You won't find
him," she said. "He has been gone now for five days, and even his wife
doesn't know where he is." At Ural Magazine, the literary journal where
Sigarev is nominally an editor, they were even more pessimistic: "He can
disappear without warning for weeks on end," said his boss. "Perhaps you
have such people in Great Britain; we certainly have them here in Russia."
Sigarev's colleagues were particularly bemused at the fact that I would fly
thousands of miles on the off chance of meeting a young man who is known
there more as an inveterate lush than as a playwright, and who remains
unproduced locally. "That kind of contemporary dirty realism has been done
before and much better by others," huffed one indignant colleague. "You
should interview Bogaev or Leontchuk; those are the writers that we respect
out here. And at least, at any given time, you would know where to find
Eventually, after a four-hour vigil, word began spreading that Sigarev had
finally been unearthed. I was handed a phone: "Forgive me, forgive me," an
impossibly faint, husky voice announced on the other end of the line. "I've
been on a bit of a bender and I've fallen back to earth. But I shall give
my entire day over to you tomorrow. Let's meet at Ural Magazine." Then he
added plaintively: "But please, not before noon."
Sigarev was born in Verkhnaya Salda, about 300km from Yekaterinburg, once a
privileged centre of industry and home to Russia's only titanium mine.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, locals realised that there was a
fortune in the titanium in the vast pits of waste discarded by the factory;
they shovelled it up and sold it to dealers. "The whole town went to dig it
out and could earn $100 per day," says Sigarev. "I was digging all day and
dining out in restaurants in the evening."
When this source of easy cash dried up, Verkhnaya Salda was left to the
ravages of drug abuse and Aids. "People had lots of money and nothing to
do, so a lot of people started injecting drugs. Then the money went away
and all that was left was the drugs. Every third person was an addict,
including my brother Yura, who began injecting heroin." Even worse was to
follow: "He was at a party and one of his so-called friends asked him to
join in a fight. They beat up some man who later died in hospital and my
brother was arrested." The resulting seven-and-a-half-year sentence
devastated Sigarev's mother and propelled his father, already prone to "the
Russian disease", into alcoholism.
When Sigarev finally shows up at Ural Magazine, he explains his five-day
episode by smiling wanly and tapping the side of this throat with the nail
of his index finger, a supremely Russian expression that simply means
"vodka-related". Though he has been accused of accentuating the negative
aspects of contemporary Russian life, he claims that Plasticine actually
painted a rather rosy picture: "I played down a lot of things, made
everything softer. It was much worse in reality. Though I don't think that
what I wrote was so hard and cruel. When you are 14, you just think that
the way you live is the way that it is supposed to be. All these terrible
things are there, but you don't suffer. You just think that it's life."
The action is drawn from a variety of actual experiences, though Vassily
says that it is essentially his brother's story. "It all started when a
teacher caught him smoking in the school toilet. I suggested that he make a
penis out of plasticine to scare her off, and moulded it myself. As a
result, they kicked him out of school, and he started to hang out on the
streets and take heroin. As it turned out later, the magistrate in his
court case turned out to be the son of this same teacher, so he gave my
brother the maximum sentence."
Rather than being an exercise in cynicism, Plasticine was an attempt to
purge intense feelings of guilt: "It was my suggestion that made him an
outcast. I suffered because of this and had to write a play. Afterwards, I
did feel better."
Sigarev's new play, Black Milk, which opens this week at the Royal Court,
can currently be seen in Moscow in a monumentally perverse production based
on the Russian version of Big Brother and featuring in the cast a
bow-legged dwarf. It is a testimony to Sigarev's scintillating talent that
the play somehow manages not only to survive these directorial travesties
but to come across as a miniature work of genius.
The plot involves a pair of Moscow shuttle traders, Lyovchik and Poppet,
who are hawking cheap Malaysian toasters to guileless locals in a
provincial town. "The main idea came from my mother, who once told me that
she had been given a free toaster and that she just had to pay for
delivery. We later discovered that the "delivery" was twice as expensive as
the cost of the toaster in the local market."
Admirers of the bleak intensity of Plasticine will perhaps be taken aback
by the broad comedy of Black Milk, which is a little like Gorky's The Lower
Depths with a dash of Moskva-Petushki. Even more surprising is the grimy
tenderness of the central love story. "Black Milk is a play about love,"
Sigarev says, "the very strange love between myself and my wife, which may
look like hate to outsiders but could end up being stronger than the love
between Romeo and Juliet." If the Royal Court production manages to match
this with the necessary pitch of Russian lunacy (though hopefully without
venturing as far as bow-legged dwarves), Black Milk may confirm Sigarev not
only as a promising but an important and versatile playwright with an
As a farewell gesture, Vassily decides to take me along to his favourite
den, the PressBar, his home for much of the previous five days. Located in
the basement of a tower block, the club has a clientele consisting mainly
of provincial intellectuals, many of whom are slumped over the tables.
"Most of them are just drunkards," says Sigarev, "but they are drunkards
claiming to be great artists or great writers. If a great writer ever did
walk in here, no one could tell the difference."
Strictly adhering to a no-alcohol resolution imposed by his wife, and with
nothing to console him except a bottle of mineral water, Sigarev seems
extremely edgy. The more sober he gets, the more his mood darkens. "It's
just a question of fate, of the stars decreeing it that way," he says of
his success in the west. "I think it is like an advance. Now I have to pay
it back with creativity."
One of his recurring fears is that, as with many other great Russian hopes,
his talent may be dissipated. "At the moment I have to give up my old
Russian habit, drinking - at least for a while. Then I want to write. My
next play is about trying to find these simple things, what you might call
a search for happiness. For me, happiness is a dream that you are trying to
reach, and when you attain it, there is nowhere to go."
Black Milk opens at the Royal Court, London SW1, tomorrow. Box office: