|JRL #7051||Plain Text - Entire Issue|
1. Moscow Times: Michele Berdy, The Limits of Legislating on
2. Interfax: Putin criticizes Russian media.
3. Prime-TASS: Number of Russians using Internet rises to 5.1 mln in 2002.
4. Novye Izvestia: Zoya Svetova, SERGEI KOVALEV: A REFERENDUM IN CHECHNYA IS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT A STABLE TRUCE. Prominent human rights activist challenges the Russian delegation.
5. Sarah Henderson: RE: 7050-Civil Society.
6. Luba Schwartzman: TV1 Review.
7. Washington Times: Olga Kryzhanovska, 10 Eastern Europe broadcasts to end. (Voice of America)
8. Olga Makhovskaya: Russian brides: primary source.
9. Robert Devane: job opportunity.
10. Washington Post: Sharon LaFraniere, Rivalry Fragments Russia's Liberals.
11. BBC Monitoring: Political analyst notes loss by One Russia party of poll lead over Communists.
12. Itogi: Evgeny Zherebenkov, NOT BY UNITED RUSSIA ALONE. Election strategies in Russia - a communist comeback?
13. Moscow Tribune: Stanislav Menshikov, OLIGARCHS AND ELECTIONS. Will the right wing unite?
14. Prime-TASS: Roland Nash, Industrial slowdown, Ladas and the Soviet sandwich.
15. Moscow Times editorial: Too Soon to Deep-Six Diplomacy.
16. RFE/RL: Gregory Feifer, Russia: President Faces Tough Decision Over Iraq.
17. IWPR'S CAUCASUS REPORTING SERVICE: Asiyat Vazayeva, THE MENTAL SCARS OF CHECHNYA'S CHILDREN. Psychologists are discovering that a whole generation of Chechen children is showing symptoms of trauma.
18. Interfax: Russian small business sees poor competition, not state regulation, as obstacle.
19. Reuters: Russia has hill to climb to win investment grade.
February 7, 2003
The Limits of Legislating on Language
By Michele A. Berdy
Yuzabilnost saita: the user-friendliness of a web site.
I have been thoroughly enjoying the debate in the State Duma and the press
on the new language law, particularly concerning the use of "non-standard"
language (nenormativnaya leksika). I don't believe obscene language can be
"banned" -- as the new legislation tries to do -- if only because sometimes
only "non-standard" language can adequately describe Russian reality.
Just the other day one of my co-workers asked me, "kak tebe dvizheniye v
Moskve?" (How do you like driving in Moscow?) and I replied, "esli ty
khochesh uslyshat, kak ya khorosho materyus po-russki, ya tebe otvechu"(If
you want to hear how well I can swear in Russian, I'll answer). Besides,
although Americans love to regulate human behavior with laws more than just
about anyone else on the planet, it seems to me that if your mother didn't
teach you when you can use "non-standard language" (e.g. in the car with a
co-worker) and when you cannot (e.g. from the podium at a government
meeting) you're not likely to learn it from the legal code.
But, lover of the Russian language that I am, I do sympathize with attempts
to keep Russian Russian. Why use kreativnaya gruppa (creative team) when
there is an exact native Russian equivalent -- tvorcheskaya gruppa? Do you
really need to say kontent-analiz instead of analiz soderzhaniya? To me,
"ya provela analiz soderzhaniya teleperedach" means "I did a
content-analysis of TV shows," while "ya provela kontent-analiz
teleperedach" means "I did a fancy, Western-style content analysis of TV
shows, which indicates how hip and well-traveled I am." Russians call this
vypendrivaniye or vypendryozh. I call it blowing hot air.
On the other hand, most foreign phrases that have entered the language are
used either because the word doesn't exist in Russian or because the
Russian word or phrase has unwanted connotations.
Take the word manager -- upravlenets. "Naznachili Ivana Ivanovicha
direktorom. Neplokhoi variant -- on khoroshy upravlenets" means "They
appointed Ivan Ivanovich director. Not a bad choice -- he's a good
manager." But if you choose the word upravlenets, you're more likely to
convey the sense of "old-style director" -- a man in his mid-fifties, who
ran a cement factory in Soviet times and knew how to wrangle budget money.
But if you say, "on khoroshy menedzher," the connotation is more "new,
Western-style manager" -- the kind of guy who can read a spread-sheet and
knows something about marketing and rational use of personnel.
Other economic terms like marketing, franchaizing or master-liz have
entered the language as transliterations because they simply didn't exist
in Russian, and it's easier to borrow the word than use a sentence-long
The one area where the battle is completely lost is the world of computers
and the Internet. No one is ever going to call their computer
vychislitelnaya mashina, not only because it's too long and cumbersome, but
also because these days you use your computer for just about everything but
calculating (vychisleniye). Kibord, veb-sait, onlain, chat, (and the verb
chatatsya), optsii... . You can forget trying to find Russian equivalents.
Recently, computer folks have started to refer to yuzabilnost saita --
user-friendliness of sites. There is a way to say this in standard Russian:
If baby-friendly hospitals are bolnitsy dobrozhelatelnogo otnosheniya k
rebyonku, you could call it sait dobrozhelatelnogo otnosheniya k
polzovatelyu, or maybe udobny dlya polzovaniya sait -- but I wouldn't bet
it will catch on.
Russian web-surfers who think that "R U OK?" is good, standard English are
not going to futz around with compound sentences. And besides, they didn't
just transliterate the word, they Russified it with a good old Russian
suffix. Their mothers should be proud.
Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.
Putin criticizes Russian media
MOSCOW. Feb 6 (Interfax) - President Vladimir Putin urged Russia's electronic
media to heed the criticism voiced at a meeting on Thursday of the
presidential council for culture and the arts.
"This is correct criticism though I don't agree with all the statements,"
Putin said at the meeting, held in Moscow. "There are no outsiders" at this
meeting and "there really is something to think about" as regards what the
media do, "including from the point of view of content."
Putin was responding to a remark by Oleg Dobrodeyev, chairman of the
All-Russia State Television and Radio Company, who rejected opinions that
there is too much advertising on television and that television programs are
Television "lives according to the circumstances, means and resources that
it possesses," Dobrodeyev said.
Putin said "there are many irritating negative market elements" about the
However, "such irritation mustn't take the form of anger against those who
go to large concerts and of considering them a bunch of animals," he said.
Also, "the state should form and create an environment for freedom of
creation and simultaneously" give the media contracts and pay for them "in a
proper way," Putin said.
Number of Russians using Internet rises to 5.1 mln in 2002
MOSCOW, Feb 6 /Prime-TASS/ -- The number of Russians using the Internet
totaled 5.1 million people in 2002, accounting for 3.9% of Russia's
population older than 10 years of age, Russian market research company Comcon
said in a statement Thursday.
The figure includes 3.6 million urban Internet users, accounting for 6% of
the total urban population older than 10 years of age, the statement said.
About 78% of users are regularly visiting Web sites, 72% are using e-mail,
21% are communicating through ICQ and 51% are using other Internet services,
the statement noted.
The average weekly duration of time spent on the Internet increased 10% on
the year to 474 minutes in 2002, the statement added.
In the fourth quarter of 2002 the most popular Internet resources were
Yandex, Rambler, Mail.ru, Mult.ru and Yahoo.com, the statement said.
February 7, 2003
SERGEI KOVALEV: A REFERENDUM IN CHECHNYA IS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT A
Prominent human rights activist challenges the Russian delegation
Author: Zoya Svetova
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
SERGEI KOVALEV, DUMA MEMBER, WAS THE ONLY MEMBER OF THE RUSSIAN
PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION TO EXPRESS A DISSENTING OPINION AT THE PACE
MEETING IN STRASBOURG. HIS OPINION WAS NOT REPORTED BY THE RUSSIAN
MEDIA. KOVALEV DOES NOT BELIEVE THAT THE REFERENDUM ON A CONSTITUTION
FOR CHECHNYA WILL BE VALID.
"The existing documents on Chechnya (primarily the conclusions of
the legal Committee formulated by Mr. Binding, and Lord Judd's report)
do include some principal provisions. I can mention the conclusion on
the global significance of the Chechnya conflict alone - that its
existence demeans the dignity of the Council of Europe, that there is
an atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity in Chechnya. There are no
false references to any substantial progress this time. And of course,
I can mention the statement about the impossibility of holding the
referendum in March."
This is an excerpt from the speech of Sergei Kovalev, Duma
member, at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
meeting in Strasbourg on January 28. Kovalev was the only member of
the Russian parliamentary delegation to express a dissenting opinion.
Moreover, his opinion was not reported by the Russian media. Its
repots and commentary from Strasbourg implied that the Russian
delegation rallied around Dmitry Rogozin - to challenge the majority
of European parliamentarians who objected to the referendum in
Chechnya being held on March 23.
Why does Kovalev object to the referendum which the Kremlin is so
determined to carry out?
Kovalev: It isn't hard to predict how the referendum will be
organized in an atmosphere of continuing armed clashes, clean-up
operations, a curfew, and so on. Anyone who challenges Akhmad
Kadyrov's version of the constitution may well disappear without a
trace. Thousands already have. Supporters of the federal authorities,
on the other hand, will be assassinated by guerrillas.
"I tried to explain that the date as such is immaterial," Kovalev
said. "But a stable truce is needed, at least. The resolution does not
mention that. In fact, some provisions of the document make it clear
that its authors got carried away. Take, for example, the provision on
free political debate in the free and independent media. What
political parties, what media do they mean? There is a guerrilla war
underway in Chechnya, a war with no rules."
The initial draft of the PACE resolution stated that the Russian
government could not ensure the necessary conditions for the
referendum in Chechnya by March 23. Debates between Lord Judd and
Rogozin resulted in the following wording: "The PACE is concerned that
the conditions necessary for the referendum may not be in place by
According to Kovalev, the Russian delegation considers this
amendment to the resolution as its own triumph. "However, provided the
PACE retains its policy, this defeat will not amount to much," he
said. "The problem is that the PACE does not intend to monitor the
situation in Chechnya."
Kovalev criticized the Europeans for their politically tactful
compliments to Russia and President Putin. "I do not trust the
sincerity of these evaluations," Kovalev said in Strasbourg.
"Unfortunately, this diplomacy by the PACE-Duma Commission has already
drawn the PACE into an imitation of political processes. We
participate in deception, and are getting what we deserve - Mr.
Rogozin issues ultimatums, the Russian delegation uses straight-out
blackmail. The policy of appeasing the Kremlin has led the PACE into a
What was the outcome of the scandal over Lord Judd's resignation
and the resolution on Chechnya? As far as Kovalev is concerned, the
resolution does condemn the referendum.
One other point: Rogozin has not yet achieved everything he is
out to achieve. His suggestion about disbanding the PACE-Duma working
group was not accepted. Lord Judd will retain his position until March
Besides, the PACE is not sending its observers to the referendum.
This means that the Council of Europe is not going to recognize the
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2003
From: "Sarah Henderson" <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: 7050-Civil Society
In the wake of Michael McFaul's editorial, various Johnson's List readers
have written in to comment on a variety of points that deal with a
conglomeration of issues ranging from Chechnya, the nature of field work in
Russia, human rights organizations, and the status of civil society overall.
Mainly, my comments have to deal with human rights organization, the
reregistration crisis, and the development of civil society. I just returned
from a three-month research trip from Russia, in which I met with a variety
of NGO activists in Moscow, Krasnodar, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, and
Vladivostok. This was my first major research trip back since I spent all of
1998 in Russia researching NGO development. In reading the comments about
civil society in Johnson's Russia List over the past year or so, I find
there is a growing tendency in the discussion of civil society to use human
rights organizations, primarily based in Moscow, to make generalizable
statements about the status of civil society in Russia overall. In addition,
based on my own research, I find that reregistration and government
harassment are not the largest problems for NGOs. Rather, some of the third
sector's biggest problems lie within the NGO movement itself. A few
prominent NGOs have captured the discourse on "civil society" in Russia,
leaving many Russian NGOs spread out across Russia's regions out of
meaningful debate about the emerging shape and nature of Russia's activism.
In addition, NGOs suffer primarily, not from government harassment, but from
perceived irrelevance. Most governments are not interested in NGOs, refusing
them meaningful participation in state affairs. The poor tax environment,
never favorable to begin with, is a demonstration more of NGOs' perceived
irrelevance than a campaign against civil society. In short, we need to
broaden our analysis of NGO development both thematically as well as
geographically in order to capture a true picture of civil society's
One of the issues that has been widely discussed has been the question of
how much field research is enough, and where this research should be done. I
find that in terms of my own research, there is a wide discrepancy between
the how NGO development and civil society development is portrayed when I
talk to and collect information from NGOs in Moscow, and when I actually go
out to the regions and meet with NGOs there. I did find that in Moscow,
several human rights organizations were talking about reregistration issues,
government harassment, and perceived increased efforts to colonize civic
groups. Yet, in the additional 100 plus interviews I did with a whole range
of civic groups (not jut human rights groups) in Moscow, Krasnodar,
Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, and Vladivostok, these weren't the issues that
NGOs were raising when it came to discussing problems, setbacks they faced
in their work. In fact, not a single NGO had faced reregistration
harassment. Nor did they know anyone who did have problems. Certainly, some
Western funded groups faced suspicion and resentment from administrations,
who often were poorer and less well-equipped than donor supported NGOs, who
often are able to garner newer computers and office technology than local
officials. While reregistration is certainly a hassle for many groups, it
is more because it tends to favor groups located in the oblast center over
groups located far away from the center. The only place to submit
registration documents is in the oblast' capital, and this creates large
problems for groups that have to make the long journey in, often on public
transportation, to the center city. Often, the documents are not in order,
and this requires a return trip at some later date.
In fact, reregistration is not necessarily negative. The statistical
presence of NGOs is much higher than the numbers of NGOs that are actually
able to organize on a regular basis. Unclear and poorly designed legislation
in the 1990s established loopholes in which certain NGOs were set up as
fronts for lucrative business activities. Thus, it seems to me that
reregistration and the unfavorable tax legislation (never favorable to begin
with) is part of the government's overall effort to clean up and reverse the
Yeltsin era problem of decentralization and loss of control over a wide
array of players, rather than a directed campaign against NGO communities.
Rather, the tax legislation seems to demonstrate that the Duma isn't
thinking much about NGOs at all, rather than thinking too much about them.
Likewise, the problem for many NGOs across the regions, rather than
unwelcome government scrutiny, is a lack of interaction, or interaction in
which local governments play only lip service to NGOs' importance.
Finally, I just wanted to comment on the Western media's portrayals of
perceived increased hostility to foreign programs in Russian soil, such as
the high profile expulsion of the Peace Corps and other developments.
Certainly, these are troubling, but I think they also point to problems
within the way "democracy aid" is structured, designed and implemented in
Russia, and cannot be placed solely on the shoulders of the Russian
Department of Political Science
Oregon State University
Compiled by Luba Schwartzman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Research Analyst, Center for Defense Information, Moscow office
Thursday, February 06, 2003
- Experts from the Ministry of Health prevented the entry of counterfeit
antibiotics on the Russian market. EvroLineMedical, the firm producing the
drug was a false front. Medication was delivered from underground
storehouses and the product differed from the original in packaging and
- Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met with Pakistani Prime Minister
Pervez Musharraf. They spoke about the fight against international
terrorism and possible solutions to the Iraqi problem.
- President Putin met with the leaders of the Russian security organs. He
noted that crime has been lowered overall, although it has increased in
certain categories. Putin declared that the effectiveness of the fight
against terrorism and extremism is of great importance to the security of
the people and the society. He also named the fight against drug
trafficking and fight against corruption as primary tasks of the Interior
- Residents of Belarus will not need to fill out migration cards when
entering Russia, since they are now citizens of the Russia-Belarus Union.
They will, however, still need to register upon arrival in the city they are
- Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov chaired the first meeting of the Cabinet
after his vacation. Tax reform was at the top of the agenda. Kasyanov
declared that lowering the tax burden is the primary goal of tax reform.
The ministers discussed the use of a stabilization fund to speed up reform.
- The influenza epidemic has taken the lives of six Russians. In some
regions, over 40% of the population has been sick. Doctors find that flu
shots have not achieved desired results.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Council on
Culture. Putin noted that budget spending on culture and the arts has
tripled over the last several years.
- President Putin congratulated Channel One Director Konstantin Ernst on his
- Police officers in Krasnodar are using decoy police cars to get drivers to
lower their speed. The number of traffic accidents has decreased where the
fake cruisers are placed.
- President Putin congratulated actor Vladimir Zamansky on his 75th
- Garry Kasparov will play the last and deciding chess match against the
Deep Junior computer program.
February 7, 2003
10 Eastern Europe broadcasts to end
By Olga Kryzhanovska
The Voice of America will end its foreign-language service to 10
Eastern European countries under its 2004 budget, officials said this week.
The U.S. government-run service will shut down its services in
Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish,
Slovene, Slovak and Romanian, the officials said. There will also be
substantial cuts in its Ukrainian and Armenian services.
According to VOA management, the changes are motivated by strategic
rather than economic reasons. VOA's budget for 2004 was increased by 9.5
percent to $563.5 million.
But VOA wants to use the increased funding to develop programming
aimed at the Middle East and Southeast Asia. A total of $30 million will be
used to initiate the Middle East Television Network, a new satellite
service in Arabic. Indonesian programming will be doubled to five hours a
"Our world is changing," said VOA Director David Jackson in a
telephone interview. "Ever since VOA was created 62 years ago our countries
have changed as the geopolitical situation has changed."
Some analysts agree it's time for VOA to rethink its strategy. Simon
Serfaty, director of European studies at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies, said he was sympathetic to the decision to reduce
the European division.
"In the conditions of scarce resources, Europe doesn't hold that kind
of priority for pursuing such activity as other parts of the world," he said.
VOA, supervised by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), beams
about 1,000 hours of news, information, and educational and cultural
programs every week to an audience of about 94 million people worldwide in
more than 50 languages, according to the VOA Web site.
"We operate much like the private media journalistically," Mr. Jackson
said. "However, part of our mission is to report on the U.S. government and
The BBG also oversees Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio
Sawa and Radio Farda in Arabic, Radio Free Asia , Radio and TV Marti, and
RFE/RL, which was created to broadcast local news in countries where
free speech is suppressed, will also drop services in six languages:
Bulgarian, Croatian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Slovak. Operational
costs of Armenian, Georgian, Serbian and Ukrainian services will be reduced
In a statement to VOA staff this week, BBG Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson
said the victory in the Cold War was a direct result of VOA broadcasts to
Eastern and Central Europe.
He said that "the goal these services struggled and sacrificed for
has been achieved, and they should take great pride in the role they played
in this historic mission."
From: "Olga Makhovskaya" <email@example.com>
Subject: Russian brides: primary source
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2003
because of my absence in Moscow last week I couldn't react timely to RIA
novosti news after my press-conference on January, 24. I am a member of
thead hoc committee established
by the Russian Duma to develop legislation implementing the TOC Protocol
against trafficking in persons, and I was busy during this week's committee
meeting in Vinogradovo, nearby Moscow. The press-conference on 24, January
(one and half conversation) was devoted to final publishing small collection
of psychological essays entitled "Tricks of emigration, or For Women on the
Fly to Paris". The book was already faced by both positive and negative
reaction from journalists and public audience, and I tried to make my
comments on the phenomena of the new female imigration stimulated by
numerous Internet agencies. First of all, I try to prevent hysteria (or mass
epidemia) about scenario "to marry foreigner" as most desirable way to
resolve all the troubling situations in the life of young ladies here.
I already sent some letters to Russian-American couples who live together
queitly and happily for many years with my best wishes. People in the list
could also find my old messages on Post-Soviet immigration in the U.S. in
JRL, and last anti-trafficking publications in Russian central press, for
Nothing to be shocked. And please, don't pay too much attention to figures in
RIA-news. I am afraid my pathetic manner to talk negative effects on
My the very best -
Ph.D. in psychology, Moscow
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 2003
From: Robert Devane <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: job opportunity
A boutique investment management and research firm based in San
Francisco with presence in New York seeks a sharp, talented, and driven
youngish self-starter with a background in capital markets to take on a
sales/marketing role of the firm's Russian research and advisory
capacity. The position is in the New York area (possibly in San
Francisco). Hours are flexible. Compensation is commission based. The
opportunity to grow is immense. Requires excellent English, professional
demeanor, excellent phone voice and presentation skills, and good
understanding of Russian political and economic trends. Russian language
skills a plus.
Send resume to email@example.com
We are an equal opportunity employer. We will only reply to those
candidates that are interesting to us.
February 7, 2003
Rivalry Fragments Russia's Liberals
By Sharon LaFraniere
Washington Post Foreign Service
MOSCOW, Feb. 6 -- Moscow was poised last week for a major political event:
a meeting between two of Russia's best-known politicians who embrace
Western-style market democracy. After not speaking to each other for six
months, they were supposed to discuss uniting their political parties in a
bid to widen their slender niche in a parliament dominated by President
Then, less than 24 hours beforehand, Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the
Yabloko party, called it off. In a dismissive letter to Boris Nemtsov,
leader of the Union of Right Forces, he said he knew the details of
Nemtsov's proposal for a merger, and had rejected it.
It was a typical deadlock between the two political leaders who claim to be
the voice of freedom in a country they call increasingly authoritarian. "I
will explain to you the problem," said Nemtsov in an interview after the
meeting was canceled, waving Yavlinsky's letter in the air. "Ego. That's
The feud is emblematic of the troubles of Russia's liberals as they prepare
for the December parliamentary elections. Although 25 to 30 percent of
Russians questioned in polls say they support the liberal democratic ideals
that the parties espouse, such as free speech, human rights, and a
Western-style system of checks and balances, only about 10 percent say they
support either of the two parties.
Political experts say Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces could each fail
to capture 5 percent of the vote -- the threshold needed to function as a
party in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma. As a result, they
might not offer new slates in the next election. The liberals' dicey
situation reflects political reality under Putin. Although the president
has embraced free markets and integration with the West, critics say civil
liberties have suffered under his rule, especially freedom of the press.
Political experts say the bulk of the public here, disillusioned with the
chaos of the first decade of capitalism, has decided that some democratic
freedoms can be reined in if it means a strong state that creates more
order. That has translated into a virtual monopoly on power for Putin, who
commands an 85 percent approval rating and the loyalty of most of the
"This is the era of stability after the revolution," said Andrei Ryabov, a
political expert at the Carnegie Endowment's Moscow Center, a research
organization. "The opportunities for liberal democratic parties are really
limited. They cannot be as strong as they were in the last decade."
Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces head into the election with just 49
lawmakers in the 450-seat Duma. Another faction of 12 legislators, backed
by the tycoon Boris Berezovsky, often votes with them. Pro-Putin parties
control more than half of the Duma, followed by Communists and Agrarians,
with more than one-fourth of the votes.
The competition between Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces parties
dilutes their influence on the many issues on which they agree, including
human rights, press freedom and an end to the war in Chechnya. Yavlinsky
blames the Union of Right Forces for helping what he calls the criminal
concentration of the nation's wealth in the hands of the business leaders
known as "oligarchs." Both Nemtsov and Anatoly Chubais, co-founder of the
Union of Right Forces, helped steer the transition to capitalism under
Putin's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.
The two parties have different bases of support. The Union of Right Forces
tends to represent younger, financially successful voters; the typical
Yabloko voter comes from the former Soviet intelligentsia, and many
suffered a decline in income with the advent of capitalism.
Nemtsov says the parties are still much closer to each other than to
Putin's Kremlin, and their failure to merge deprives Russia of a united
democratic opposition as the Kremlin is chipping away at democratic
freedoms. "I am afraid that if we don't organize strong democratic movement
in the country we will eventually move to dictatorship," he said. "People
are ready to do without freedom. Managed democracy is easier."
Yavlinsky, he claimed, is sidling up to the Kremlin instead of uniting with
other liberals. But Yabloko leaders say they are simply adjusting to
"Putin's situation now is such that he holds absolute power," said Sergei
Ivanenko, deputy head of Yabloko. "Even the Communists almost never
criticize Putin personally. So we, of course, have to take this into
consideration and seek ways of interacting with the president."
Yabloko for years played the role of the Kremlin's liberal detractor.
Political analysts say the Kremlin extracted a price for that in the 1999
parliamentary elections, when it organized an active campaign against
Yabloko that helped strip it of 28 of its 45 seats in the Duma.
The Union of Right Forces, on the other hand, declared its support for
Putin in late 1999. While the Kremlin gave Communist Party members some
Duma committee posts that the Union of Right Forces expected as a reward
for their support, Putin picked one of the party's leaders, former prime
minister Sergei Kiriyenko, as a top regional representative.
Putin also allowed Chubais to keep his position as head of Russia's vast
electricity monopoly. Although Nemtsov says Chubais does not contribute a
kopek to the party's bank accounts, political analysts often describe him
as the organization's hidden purse and closet leader.
Now the role of the two liberal parties is somewhat reversed: Yavlinsky is
toning down his criticism of Putin, while Nemtsov is escalating his.
A year ago, Yavlinsky said Russia faced the threat of becoming a
bureaucratic police state. He accused the Kremlin of instituting
censorship, falsifying election results and waging a bloody war in Chechnya
against the people's will.
Now Yavlinsky takes pains to praise Putin's pro-Western foreign policy and
says the president can't be held accountable for the sins of Russia's brand
of capitalism. Yavlinsky's deputy Ivanenko said that Putin's domestic
policy has proven more democratic than Yabloko expected. "There were fears
of a total ban on free speech, of arbitrariness on a mass scale," he said.
"It could have been worse."
Nemtsov says Yavlinsky is seeking the Kremlin's favor so he won't be banned
from the state-controlled broadcast networks or face another
Kremlin-sponsored campaign against his party in the upcoming elections. He
tries to portray his party as independent of the Kremlin, though Chubais is
essentially a Kremlin appointee. Still, at the moment Nemtsov is probably
the president's boldest and most influential liberal critic.
Which is why, Nemtsov claims, he is banned from appearing on at least two
national networks unless his views coincide with the Kremlin's. "Reduction
of taxes? It's okay for me to talk," he said. "But it is forbidden for me
to make any statement on Chechnya, on the situation in the army."
That is not a hopeful sign for his party in the December elections, but
Nemtsov says it will overcome any Kremlin lock on the national networks by
buying media exposure. He says independent-minded businessmen have given it
enough funding to get its message out. "Fortunately, Russia is a market
economy," he said. And even "in a managed democracy . . . money means
Political analyst notes loss by One Russia party of poll lead over Communists
Source: Ekho Moskvy news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1504 gmt 4 Feb 03
[No dateline, as received] Grigoriy Kertman, head of the Analysis Department
of the Public Opinion Foundation, has told Ekho Moskvy radio: "There are no
grounds to talk of a collapse in One Russia's rating".
Kertman quoted data collected last weekend by his organization: "The latest
poll indicates that 24 per cent would have voted for One Russia", he said.
Asked to explain why then the latest All-Russia Public Opinion Research
Centre [VTSIOM] poll showed One Russia's rating as having fallen to just 14
per cent, Kertman said that VTSIOM had offered respondents a broader list of
parties to choose from. "Due to this, respondents' votes were dispersed among
an endless number of small parties", he said.
"It is quite clear that this affects precisely One Russia's rating," Kertman
said. "The Communist Party and Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces are
parties with a clear ideological profile. The LDPR is a party with a visible
leader, so all is clear with it, too. They all have a clear fixed electorate.
The electorate of One Russia remains most amorphous. And any broadening of
the range of participants automatically reflects precisely its rating," he
"But this does not mean that the same thing will happen at the
[parliamentary] election [scheduled for December 2003]; no rating is a
forecast", he said.
"The very situation of an election campaign promotes a consolidation of the
electorate behind participants with real chances, and the voter does not
really like casting his vote for organizations that have just appeared or who
are unknown. Experience shows that all these small parties get fewer votes
than any polls before the election might indicate", Kertman said.
"Our data shows that there are no clear dynamics. There was a 2-3 per cent
lead for One Russia over the CPRF for several months, and that now has
disappeared. It is difficult to say whether this is a coincidence or a
trend", he said.
February 7, 2003
NOT BY UNITED RUSSIA ALONE
Election strategies in Russia - a communist comeback?
Author: Evgeny Zherebenkov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
AS ELECTIONS DRAW CLOSER, THE RULING PARTY NEEDS TO SERIOUSLY
RETHINK ITS ELECTION STRATEGY. SURVEYS SHOW THAT ITS RIVALS COULD
EASILY OUTPERFORM IT, UNLESS IT FINDS SOME EXTRAORDINARY SOLUTION.
THIS IS ALSO GROUNDS FOR THE AUTHORITIES TO THINK OVER THE STRATEGY OF
PARTY BUILDING IN GENERAL.
In preparing for the election race, the right wing parties and
the centrists, claiming to form a constructive parliamentary majority,
are not in their best form. Results of the latest polls prompt the
idea of a communist comeback in the Duma. The electoral rating of the
Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) is steady at over
20%, whereas something odd is happening to the rating of the "ruling
party", United Russia. The latest nationwide survey done by the Public
Opinion Foundation (FOM) promises United Russia the votes of 26% of
Russians, 22% being reserved for the CPRF. Meanwhile, according to the
express-survey done simultaneously by the All-Russian Centre for
Public Opinion Research (VCIOM), at a hypothetical election to the
lower house of the parliament the CPRF would gain the bigger number of
votes - 24%, while United Russia could count only on 14% of votes.
At the same time, according to FOM, only four parties will be
able to get over the 5% barrier at the election to the Duma - United
Russia, the CPRF, Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and
Yabloko, the two latter to encounter great troubles on that way. VCIOM
promises Duma mandates to five parties - the CPRF, United Russia,
Yabloko (8%), the LDPR (6%), and the Union of Right Forces (5%).
Somehow or other, the situation is not that joyful for the ruling
party. Even if the optimistic 26% are to be trusted, under the FOM-
promised alignment United Russia will gave to spent a lot of efforts
to attract allies (from among single-member constituency deputies)
with whom it would be possible to form a qualified parliament
majority. In fact, there is no one to make blocs with for the
communists either (of course, unless the old trick is made again, with
the separation of a group of agrarians from their own ranks), but this
is only another proof that the new Duma will more likely face
political combats, than constructive work.
Internal organizational squabbles, another redistribution of
senior posts noticeably shook the positions of United Russia. The
conscription of Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov to party building has
not yet altered the state of affairs. There were no other visible
events in the party life of United Russia. So the party seems to be
coming to a conclusion that the administrative resource is incapable
of making up for the absence of an ideological floor. The adoption of
this document will be the principal item on the agenda of the party
congress scheduled for March 29. "For us it is important that every
Russian citizen know what this party is, what it handles, its main
goals and attitudes," General Council member Vyacheslav Volodin
remarked. Well, better later than never. It is in itself amusing
though how the party which has reasons to call itself ruling had all
that time managed to get by without an ideological floor and to draw
new and new supporters to its ranks who were poorly aware of what the
party "goals and attitudes" consisted in.
The CPRF has everything in order with its ideological floor. The
communists do not either suffer the absence of political initiatives.
Having been flunked with the nationwide referendum on land and
utilities reform, the communists are arranging a new plebiscite. In
the next few days a canvass of signatures is to be launched in
different Russian regions among deputies of legislatures and members
of various political parties for a demand to pass a no-confidence vote
to the government of Mikhail Kasianov. Together with the National-
Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR), the CPRF is preparing a number of
large-scale public and political protest events. "A major event will
take place on February 15 against chaos in the economy and war on
Iraq; on February 23 we will hold a rally in support of Russian
science and the defense sector; in late March - a nationwide protest
campaign for the protection of citizens' social rights," Gennady
Zyuganov promised. Against the background of the actually complete
absence of initiatives on the part of the ruling party, the political
activity of the CPRF looks impressive. However, the patriotic
opposition is also being torn apart with serious inside discrepancies
on the verge of elections that to a certain extent resemble the
situation in United Russia. The CPRF leadership suspects the Executive
Committee head of the friendly NPSR, Duma Vice-Speaker Gennady
Semigin, of cooperation with the Kremlin. A scandalous article was
published in a Zyuganov-controlled leftist newspaper in which Semigin
was openly called a "spook" of the Kremlin and charged with
undermining the unity of the left wing opposition and attempts to buy
the party. Taking into account that the financing of local CPRF
structures is carried out through the NPSR Executive Committee and
that Semigin has a lot of supporters among regional committee
chairpersons, Zyuganov will hardly be able to resolve that conflict
with few casualties. It is not ruled out that the communists too will
have to call up a congress to decide on personnel matters on the brink
of elections. Another sorting out of relationships in the leadership
of the left wing opposition and mutual slander will not add scores to
them. However, it is also unlikely to shake their positions too
strongly: the communist electorate is steadfast and accustomed to
"deviations" and "anti-party groups" of all sorts.
No special innovations ought to be expected in the election
strategy of the CPRF apparently. The communist party will as usual
stake on hard criticism of the power, first of all the government,
charging it of the inability to solve the country's pressing problems.
Apparently, United Russia will try to play on the same field, but
their positions will be more constructive. Kasianov's cabinet will be
having a hard time under the cross-criticism. In the Duma, the
communists and United Russia people are sure to compete in pushing
through populist laws during the pre-election parliament session.
It is clear that to win over the CPRF United Russia needs new and
effective election moves. The tactic of pressing the communist party
to the roadside of political life, attempts to split the leftist
electorate via creation of political structures alternative to the
CPRF like Gennady Seleznev's Revival Party of Russia have not
Sure enough, the most effective move would be to draw President
Vladimir Putin to the party ranks. However, even the United Russia
people themselves have little hope for that prospect. The initiative
with employing the cabinet in the party is most likely doomed for
failure as well - the example of Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov did
not turn out to be appealing for his colleagues. On top of that, a
similar personnel addition would tie the hands of United Russia,
depriving it of the opportunity to criticize the government from
populist positions. Apparently they will have to confine themselves to
employing eminent figures of culture and art in party propaganda. But
the competition will add this method to its arsenals as well, and only
time will tell who will outsing and outdance whom.
Following formal logic, the ruling party ought to undertake
responsibility for reforms going on in the country. However, the same
United Russia spent a lot of efforts in the Duma to put off reform of
the housing and utilities sector and RAO UES of Russia, and in every
possible way tried to prevent the Duma from the discussion of the ways
to settle the situation in Chechnya. Foreign policy with patriotic
slogans like "Hands off Iraq!" remains nearly the only platform for
propaganda. However, the United Russia people are here no competition
to the communists and especially the LDPR, either.
In short, the party leadership will have to think a lot over the
election strategy. And the Kremlin over the strategy of party building
in general. The practice of creation of ruling parties for an hour,
capable of winning only one election and loudly flunking at the next,
does not justify itself, experience shows. It is not either ruled out
that in the present shortage of time the Kremlin might take
extraordinary steps, correcting its party preferences and insuring the
United Russia people with other parties of the centrist and rightist
sort. It would be a risk to put all eggs in one basket.
(Translated by P. Pikhnovsky)
February 7, 2003
OLIGARCHS AND ELECTIONS
Will the right wing unite?
By Stanislav Menshikov
When Vladimir Putin became president, he stated two principles that would
guide his relations with the Russian oligarchs, i.e. top financial and
industrial tycoons who under Boris Yeltsin heavily influenced Kremlin
policies. The rules were: keeping an equal distance from each of them and
not questioning the sources of their wealth provided they stay away from
politics. Two oligarchs, Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky continued to
oppose Putin's policies through their control of the media and had to leave
the country. Others chose to co-operate and participated in regular group
meetings at the Kremlin.
The system worked until recently when Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of the
YUKOS oil company, decided to intervene in the new election campaign. In a
meeting with Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the YABLOKO party, he allegedly
offered financial support if it agreed to join ranks with the SPS (Alliance
of Right Forces). Yavlinsky is said to have refused the offer. He was in the
process of difficult talks with the SPS, in which he laid down harsh
conditions for a united front. The oligarch's offer obviously came at the
The logic behind the proposed alliance is based on recent opinion polls that
indicate that if the parties act separately, only one of them, preferably
YABLOKO, would pass the 5 percent barrier in the elections to the Duma.
However, if they work together, they might possibly win up to 20 percent of
the vote and become the second or third largest party in parliament. Their
influence would increase significantly. While today Putin can easily ignore
criticism and advice coming from YABLOKO and SPS, he would have to seek
their support if they became a large united faction in the Duma.
Particularly if they also turn into the leading political force working in
favour of the oligarchs.
The urgency of this plan is caused by Putin's apparent foot-dragging on
economic reforms in which big business is particularly interested. So far,
the oligarchs have managed to grab control of the most profitable niches in
the economy. But at least three crucial sectors remain government
monopolies - oil pipelines, electric power generation and natural gas.
Privatisation of all three would open them up to oligarchic acquisition at
bargain basement prices, as many experts fear.
The government has promised to go ahead on liberalising the electric power
industry but has sided instead with Duma politicians in stalling relevant
legislation. Liberalising electric power tariffs is unpopular, and is being
consciously delayed until after the elections. Mikhail Kasyanov has refused
to permit the oil companies to have their own pipelines and thus be able to
further increase their share of the rent captured through oil exports.
YUKOS, LUKOIL and their partners in oil are steeply boosting production, but
Transneft, the government pipeline monopoly, is becoming a major bottleneck.
The oil concerns also want a reform in gas but that is stuck in the initial
So far, the oligarchs have had no strong leverage to induce Putin to hurry
up with reforms. That is why they want a strong political party of their own
to press their point on the Kremlin. Yavlinsky, with his quest for
intellectual independence, is not an ideal ally for big business but in
combination with Boris Nemtsov and the others in SPS he could possibly fit
its requirements. And without that alliance SPS could simply become a
The other snag is lack of unity amid the oligarchs. For instance, according
to Anatoly Chubais, head of the RAO UES, its reform was held up in order to
depress prices of its shares and help certain oligarchic groups in buying
them for cheap. From January to November 2002 the shares dropped by 55
percent and in January this year by another 17 percent. This allegedly
permitted Oleg Deripaska and Roman Abramovich who jointly control Rusal, the
largest aluminium oligopoly, to buy up 10 percent of the RAO UES. The duet
is interested in cheap electricity as input for its smelters and is at cross
purposes with the Chubais project that counts on RAO top management sharing
profits from high electricity prices with regional and foreign business
groups who would presumably become the principal owners of privatised power
It is said that Chubais brought his grievances to Vladimir Putin during a
recent meeting. But the president has mixed feelings on the matter. He has
no particular interest in speeding up the unpopular electricity reform that
could also strengthen Chubais, a potential political rival. But neither is
Putin interested in a YABLOKO-SPS alliance created with oligarchic support
to act as a long-term political counterweight to his policies. Yavlinsky has
demanded Chubais's resignation from SPS leadership as a condition for the
alliance. Putin may want to show psychological support for the RAO chief in
order to keep him active in the SPS and thus help ruin plans for its
collusion with YABLOKO.
Also, Putin may prefer to run against Gennady Zyuganov rather than against a
person enjoying unlimited financial and media support of the oligarchs. But
that is another story.
OPINION: Industrial slowdown, Ladas and the Soviet sandwich
Contributed by Roland Nash, Head of Research, Renaissance Capital
MOSCOW, Feb 6 /Prime-TASS/ -- I drive a Lada. Not the decision of which I am
most proud, but illustrative for current purposes. Before Christmas something
serious involving oil went wrong with it. The local mechanic expanded my
Russian vocabulary by telling me that I needed a new oil sump.
Next day I was presented with a bill of 250 roubles for labour and 500
roubles for parts - 25 dollars for what seemed to be a pretty serious
mechanical operation. A friend drives a more impressive looking Mitsubishi
Pajero on which, for irrelevant reasons, he managed to kick in his near side
rear indicator. The ensuing saga for fixing that lasted a week and cost
closer to forty dollars. The lesson would be clear, except that while
returning from the mechanic's, for no apparently good reason, my rear
wind-screen wiper flew off in mid-wipe leaving a large symmetric scratch
across the back window.
The point is that the reputation for most Russian manufactured goods is well
deserved - they are poor. However, they are also cheap. My Lada cost me less
than 5000 dollars brand new. While they remain cheap they will find a
consumer base among mid-income Russians and strategists lacking taste. They
cannot, however, compete on any other basis than cost. When input costs rise
and income levels improve, Russians will prefer foreign substitutes.
The latest Purchasing Manager's Confidence Index (PMI) numbers are therefore
concerning. They show that for the first time in four years more
manufacturers believe that output over the next 12 months will fall than
believe that output will rise. The numbers are concerning because they are
one of the few sets of statistics on the real economy which are not generated
by the statistical goons at Goskomstat. When they turned positive four years
ago they were the most reliable leading indicator of Russia's post-crisis
recovery. They have remained positive throughout the revisions and revamps of
Goskomstat's various guesstimates at economic activity.
The reasons given by managers for their loss in confidence are also telling -
growing input costs, declining export orders and uncertainty over domestic
demand. Russian industry appears to be feeling the bite of a harsher economic
environment. Real appreciation is eating away at the cushion provided by the
remarkably resilient 1998 revaluaton, while reasonable economic stability is
encouraging foreign firms to market to the acquisitive Russian consumer.
The increasing cost base and decreasing price competitiveness of Russian
manufacturers is inevitable and has been highlighted by every economist and
his bean counter for at least the last two years. Wage growth at 20% plus per
annum, the rebalancing of energy tariffs and real appreciation will
inevitably undermine price competitiveness - it is the reason why we have
focused on high oil prices as being at least as great a threat to medium-term
stability as lower oil prices.
A more interesting question than whether industry will be affected is which
sectors will survive and which will eventually go the way of my rapidly
depreciating Lada. A couple of years ago we wrote a report that anticipated
the evolution of two types of firm - those that were using the window of
opportunity to invest and restructure, and those that were simply making hay
while the rouble sun shined, and revenue diverting as rapidly as ever (see A
Tale of Two Economies, June 2001). More recently, this concept has been
superseded by a new framework which is catching on in Moscow, not least
because it has generated a catchy new soundbite, the Soviet Sandwich*.
The sandwich concept splits industry into three parts. At the top are the
natural resource firms where ownership is consolidated and which avoid the
absence of a banking sector by generating sufficient internal revenue for
investment purposes. These firms have been restructuring and investing, and
remain competitive enough to continue expanding production as rapidly as
ever. At the other side of the sandwich are the start up industries such as
food processing, retail, construction and brokerage. Lacking the
post-privatisation Soviet baggage of a disburse ownership structure, confused
management and defunct equipment, they too have been able to maintain
In the middle is the icky processed pink salami of industry struggling with
its Soveit era legacy - automobiles, aeronauticals, heavy machinery, defence,
textiles etc.. Unable to obtain capital and with market-challenged
management, they ramped up production behind the protective barrier of an
artificially cheap rouble, and are now cutting output as their
competitiveness is squeezed. Heavy machinery output grew by 53% between 1999
and 2001 and 2% in 2002; textiles increased output by 45% in the first three
post crisis years, and decreased output by 1% last year.
This of itself is not a concerning trend. Indeed, the outperformance of the
stronger sectors of the economy at the expense of the weaker is, in some
sense, the microeconomic transition which protectionism, non-payments and a
cheap rouble have at various times prevented the Russian economy from fully
experiencing over the last decade.
What the emergence of the sandwich does illuminate, however, is the two major
macroeconomic questions that Russia will face over the next decade. First,
and primary, is whether the government will permit the redistribution of
resources away from the uncompetitive economy and into the expanding sectors,
or whether it will revert to some form of protectionism (artificially
underpriced energy inputs, trade barriers, budget subsidies, industrial
policy etc.). Second, how the social fallout of any transition will be
handled in a country of one industry towns and notoriously inflexible labour
and capital markets.
For the last two years I have consistently underestimated the durability of
Russian recovery - possibly driving a Lada has clouded my judgement. I can
therefore be accused of suffering from the gloom for which the economic
profession is charged. However, the logic of Dutch disease driven
appreciation in an economy which lacks the institutional flexibility to adapt
to rapidly changing economic circumstances means that eventually some sectors
of the economy will have to collapse to release resources to the healthier
parts. This is a long term process which will eventually benefit the better
parts of the economy. However, it will also involve substantial economic
disruption. It is unfortunate that the management of that disruption begins
in an election year of volatile oil prices.
Please note that like all contributed opinions, this one has not been edited.
If you wish to contribute a commentary to Prime-Tass, please do so by sending
your 500-word opinion piece in English to the editor at
February 7, 2003
Too Soon to Deep-Six Diplomacy
In his speech to the UN Security Council, U.S. Secretary of State Colin
Powell made the most detailed case yet that Saddam Hussein is concealing
biological and chemical weapons programs from UN inspectors.
He also presented new evidence that an al-Qaida network, headed by Abu
Musab Zarqawi, has set up shop in Iraq.
Powell's argument that al-Qaida is working with Hussein's regime was a
little tenuous, but he no doubt got Russia's attention when he said Zarqawi
and his network have plotted terrorist actions in Europe and Russia.
"We also know that Zarqawi's colleagues have been active in the Pankisi
Gorge, Georgia, and in Chechnya, Russia," he said. "The plotting to which
they are linked is not mere chatter. Members of Zarqawi's network say their
goal was to kill Russians with toxins."
Scary stuff, if true. Let's hope the United States shares any intelligence
it may have on this with Russia.
But let's also remember what Powell's purpose was in presenting this
information: to persuade the Security Council to support military action
The United States needs the support of Russia, one of five permanent
members with veto powers, and one way to win the Kremlin's heart is to give
credence to its claims that Chechen rebels are a link in the international
So far, it does not appear to be working. President Vladimir Putin and
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Thursday that Russia's position has not
changed and both spoke in favor of a diplomatic solution.
"A first analysis indicates there is no new evidence to prove Iraq has
weapons of mass destruction," Ivanov told reporters Thursday.
Ivanov has rightly called for a thorough study of the information Powell
presented, much of it based on informants and U.S. intelligence.
He has joined his French, German and Chinese counterparts in pushing for
expanded and intensified inspections. The hope is that the inspectors,
armed with Powell's information, will have more success in getting Iraq to
Iraq must disarm. But the United States must not give up on diplomacy too soon
Russia: President Faces Tough Decision Over Iraq
By Gregory Feifer
With U.S. military action in Iraq looming ever closer, Russia faces a crucial
decision over whether to acquiesce to war. Washington took a step closer to
an attack with Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations
Security Council yesterday detailing the case for war. But a number of steps
remain to be taken ahead of a conflict, and analysts say Moscow is keeping
its options open.
Moscow, 6 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- As Washington continues to make its case
for war in Iraq, Moscow is keeping its options open over whether to protest a
The White House took a step closer to a campaign against Baghdad yesterday
with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's address to the United Nations
Security Council. The top U.S. diplomat presented satellite photographs and
intelligence intercepts to bolster claims Saddam Hussein is concealing banned
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said after the presentation that it was
too early to go to war and that the evidence, rather than bolstering the case
for war, instead demonstrated why weapons inspections should be allowed to
continue. He also said Powell's information "requires the most serious and
comprehensive study" before any final conclusions can be made.
Ivanov will meet with legislators in the Duma (lower house of parliament)
tomorrow to discuss Russian experts' reactions to the evidence.
Centrist Konstantin Kosachev is deputy chairman of the Duma's Foreign Affairs
Committee. He told RFE/RL ahead of Powell's presentation that Moscow's
response will take time, "I don't expect any reaction from the Russian side
for now, and in the long run, that reaction will be defined by how much
[Powell's] information is convincing and truthful."
While the time draws closer for a decision from the Kremlin over support for
a war, analysts say Russia could go either way. The chief variable is whether
Washington will decide to push for a new Security Council resolution
authorizing military force -- or instead choose to go it alone, backed by a
"coalition of the willing."
Russia has one of the five permanent seats on the 15-member Security Council.
That position gives it veto power over any resolution. Fellow war critics
France and China are also permanent members.
Kosachev said Moscow might back a war, but added that Washington would set a
dangerous precedent if it chooses to act unilaterally. "We will be ready to
uphold any decision concerning Iraq, including on the carrying out of force,
but only if it is made by the UN Security Council and on the basis of proved
conditions and facts," he said.
Kosachev said Russia's interests lie not in defending the Iraqi regime, but
in protecting the system of collective post-World War Two international
But there are economic interests as well: Russia's powerful oil industry
wants to safeguard billion-dollar contracts in oil-rich Iraq, while the
Kremlin is keen on recovering $8 billion in Soviet-era debt.
Alluding to the general criticism that Washington is using a military
campaign as a pretext for gaining access to Iraqi oil, Kosachev said Moscow
is against using Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as a "pseudo-threat" to realize
Although Russia has consistently criticized the U.S. position on Iraq, France
and Germany have taken the lead in recent weeks.
In a sign Moscow might be preparing the Russian public for a policy change,
Russian President Vladimir Putin -- during a summit meeting in the Ukrainian
capital Kyiv last week -- said Moscow's position against Iraq could toughen
if Baghdad obstructed inspectors' work.
Putin has in recent years moved Russia's foreign policy closer to
Washington's, joining the U.S.-led fight against terrorism following 11
September. But Moscow has continued criticizing what it sees as Washington's
unilateralism on the global geopolitical stage. The Kremlin has also moved to
forge closer ties with U.S. opponents -- including Iraq, a traditional Soviet
Foreign policy expert Vyacheslav Nikonov is director of Moscow's Politika
Foundation. He says Putin is currently maintaining a "very flexible" position
allowing him room for diplomatic maneuvering. "He hasn't left a single door
closed. He hasn't shut off any options, understanding that the United States
will in any case likely undertake military action against Iraq. That's why
I'd evaluate his talk in Kyiv as having the appearance of added flexibility,
as presenting the possibility that Russia can adopt any position without any
serious domestic political losses for the president," Nikonov said.
Nikonov said no final decision has yet been made over backing a conflict in
Iraq and that Powell's speech alone cannot change the playing field. The
situation in the Security Council remains "very dynamic," he said.
Nikonov said war is all but inevitable: if Washington feels it cannot win
support for a war resolution, it will go it alone. But he added that Moscow,
in the end, will not stand in the way of war. "If the question comes to a
military operation or Russia's vote [against it], Russia will most likely
support America. Russia will under no circumstances want to be the last
country in line getting in the way of the United States carrying out its
actions," he said.
Viktor Kremenyuk is deputy director of the USA and Canada Institute. He
disagrees, saying Putin may indeed stick his neck out to try to block U.S.
military action. "[The Kremlin] will probably try to avoid pushing the
situation to a veto, but Russia will likely try to coordinate with France and
China to try to keep matters from heading to a [new] resolution that will
allow the United States to begin a war. Russia doesn't want that -- that's
certain," Kremenyuk said.
Kremenyuk called "wishful thinking" the prevailing view that Putin changed
his position in Kyiv last week, saying the president's words were chiefly a
threat to the Iraqi leader -- and an afterthought to his long-stated position
that Moscow is happy with the progress of the inspections regime.
Instead, Kremenyuk said, Washington has put itself in a difficult position.
He echoed common criticism saying that if experts deem Powell's evidence
significant, that information should have been shared earlier with
inspectors. Failure to do so means the United States is itself not
cooperating with the international body.
Kremenyuk meanwhile said Putin may well take a political gamble by upholding
his refusal to go along with war. With parliamentary elections this year and
presidential elections in 2004 -- and with the pro-Kremlin United Russia
party losing support fast -- Putin risks losing popularity with a perceived
capitulation over Iraq.
"If under the conditions [of anti-Americanism in certain political circles],
he says, 'Please, go ahead, bomb away,' it could cost him very dearly. In
that case, the military, all the nationalists and the Communists unhappy over
the decision could unite against him -- it would be, as they say, a wide
front. And he'd have nothing to counter that because the results of his
partnership with the United States are very questionable," Kremenyuk said.
Kremenyuk concluded: "To receive the support of the majority [of voters], you
have to be anti-American and not pro-American."
From: Institute for War & Peace Reporting [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2003
Subject: Caucasus Reporting Service No. 165
WELCOME TO IWPR'S CAUCASUS REPORTING SERVICE, No. 165, February 6, 2003.
THE MENTAL SCARS OF CHECHNYA'S CHILDREN
Psychologists are discovering that a whole generation of Chechen children
is showing symptoms of trauma.
By Asiyat Vazayeva in Karabulak
Asiyat Vazayeva is a freelance journalist based in Nazran, Ingushetia
"Why have they driven us into a corner?!" shouts an inscription in large
white chalk letters. Next to it is a drawing of a Chechen landscape.
The words and pictures, drawn on the canvas roof of a tent, are the first
thing each new visitor sees as he enters the Centre for Medical and
Psychological Help in the Soglasie (Accord) camp in Karabulak, Ingushetia.
The artist is a young Chechen refugee boy named Ayub, who lives in
Karabulak. There are dozens of pictures around the canvas walls of the
centre and in picture albums, but none is as striking as Ayub's cry of
despair, which sums up the fears and miseries of a whole generation of
"The war has brought psychological suffering to everyone it has touched,"
said Khapta Akhmedova, a professional psychologist who works for the
centre at Karabulak. "But the most dangerous changes are in children -
which can lead to post-traumatic stress disorders and have a negative
influence on the whole life of the child."
Officials estimate that there are currently 291,000 Chechen children and
adolescents under 18 in Chechnya itself. In Ingushetia, the figure is
estimated to be 40,000, most of them refugees.
All have experienced more than eight years of conflict and violence.
Only a few organisations try to tackle the enormous psychological problems
this has caused. The French charity Médecins du Monde has been working in
Chechnya since the first war began there in 1994 and has set up 53 Centres
for Medical and Psychological Help throughout Chechnya and Ingushetia.
However, there are only around 30 trained psychologists working in the
The centres have identified children as a priority. And, as those who work
there have discovered, each child has experienced the conflict
"Even non-specialists have noticed the difference between children who
left Chechnya at the beginning of the war and those who left at the height
of the fighting," said Akhmedova the psychologist at Karabulak. "It was
possible to protect the first group from severe traumatic situations. And
they have kept up their capacity to play, communicate and do cognitive
As for the second group, who experienced war first-hand, they tend to be
withdrawn, irritable, quick to take offence or aggressive, Akhmedova said.
They find it harder to adapt to normal things in life.
Alisa D from the western Chechen village of Bamut, who now lives in the
Sputnik camp in Ingushetia, was one of the second category. Other people
noticed how in games she became extremely emotional and agitated, then got
tired and suffered from headaches and slow reactions.
Once in a group therapy session, Alisa, playing the role of a doctor,
attacked her "patient", a psychologist, and held a toy knife to her
throat. On another occasion, she bit her elbow. No complaints or pleas
could persuade her to stop.
By visiting Alisa's family, the psychologist was able to find out about
the causes of the girl's trauma.
It turned out that at the beginning of the first war in Chechnya, Alisa's
mother left for the nearby village of Alkhazurovo to visit her own mother.
While they were away, the Russian air force began to bomb Bamut and heavy
armour moved towards the village. The villagers had to spend the nights in
their cellars before Alisa's father managed to get his children out
through the woods.
As they escaped, Alisa saw dead and wounded and was constantly afraid for
her missing mother. It took a month of ordeals before the family was
reunited in Ingushetia.
After the first war ended in 1996, Bamut lay in ruins, following one of
the most intense battles of that conflict, but Alisa's family went back
home and managed to repair their house. However, fighting broke out again
in 1999 and on September 27 that year Russian forces again bombed Bamut.
One bomb struck the mosque and killed several men at midday prayer.
Alisa's family again left the village, this time fleeing for Ingushetia.
The father could not endure camp life and has gone back to live with
relatives in Chechnya, increasing the anxieties of his wife and family.
Alisa is at least now outside the war zone. But tens of thousands of
children are still living in Chechnya with constant fears about their
Nowhere is completely safe. On December 31 last year, the human rights
organisation Memorial reported that an explosive device had been found
under the New Year's tree in the centre of Grozny. Two Russian soldiers
were detained in the act of laying the device and taken for questioning to
a nearby police station.
Kyuri Idrisov, a well known Chechen psychiatrist who works for the charity
Médecins du Monde, made another important point, addressing a recent
conference organised by the World Health Organisation in Moscow -
post-traumatic stress amongst adults has to be tackled in parallel with
that of children.
"The psychological state of a child, especially a young child, depends not
so much on what happens around him or her, as on the reaction and state of
his parents," Idrisov said. "If the grown-ups (the mother first of all)
experience emotional stress, it is immediately transmitted to children,
even if the family is in a safe environment."
Idrisov, led an in-depth study - financed by the WHO - of the
psychological health of the population of Chechnya, which has experienced
crisis almost continuously since 1991.
Over three months, the specialists talked to 1400 people of different ages
and social backgrounds in four areas of Chechnya.
They concluded that 86 per cent of the Chechen population was suffering
from physical or emotional "distress" - about thirty per cent more people
living in the Chernobyl reactive zone. Thirty-one per cent of those
studied showed symptoms of ill health recognizable as post-traumatic
Idrisov says that the problem has reached crisis levels and needs urgent
"There is a vital need to create a centre for psychological health in
Chechnya," he said. "Its function should be not only medical and
psychological rehabilitation but sanitary and educational work. We have to
change the awful tradition of paying no attention to people's
Ute Enderlein of the WHO agrees but added, "The problem is too universal.
It has to be solved on a state level. And the work that humanitarian
organisations are doing is localised and cannot affect the situation as a
Russian small business sees poor competition, not state regulation, as
MOSCOW. Feb 5 (Interfax) - Small businesses in
Russia are ceasing to consider state regulation to be the main obstacle
to their development, linking the key problems in their activities most
of all to under-developed competition, senior economist at the World
Bank's Moscow offices Christof Ruhl said at a Wednesday press conference
The conference saw the presentation of the results of the second round
of a study by the center for economic and financial research and
development (TsEFIR) and the World Bank that looked at administrative
barriers in the way of small business development.
During this second round of monitoring, an analysis was done of the
process of implementing recently passed laws on removing red tape in the
economy, protecting the rights of legal entities during inspections
(August 2001), licensing (February 2002), registration (July 2002) and
certification (January 2003).
Describing the study results, Ruhl emphasized that the main one was
the findings on the efficacy of reforms carried out by the Russian
government in the field of de-bureaucratization and removing
Specific positive results were achieved in parts of licensing and
inspecting, that is, in two areas where not only were laws passed, but
where the determined time for their application had passed, Ruhl said.
This, he said, means that reforms in Russia have begun to work like they
do in any other country.
Ruhl continued by saying that the monitoring revealed a number of
remaining problems that still need to be redressed by the government and
business community. For Russian enterprises the continuing and pressing
problem of structural imbalance yet remains, most of all the problem of
privileges enjoyed by big business. It is not so important whether these
enterprises are old or new, the main problem in any case is competition,
Russia has hill to climb to win investment grade
By Andrew Hurst
MOSCOW, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Russia is keen to join a select band of emerging
countries which have won cherished investment grade status, but will be
hard pressed to earn it any time soon, said credit risk analysts.
Strong oil prices have helped the world's second biggest oil-exporting
nation fill state coffers with cash and alleviate a once crushing debt burden.
And four years of economic growth have brought rising living standards for
many after Russia was brought to its knees by a 1998 debt default and a
But to catch up with countries like Poland and South Africa, which have
made investment grade in recent years, Russia has first to wean its economy
off chronic dependence on volatile oil and gas exports.
"For investment grade we need to see greater economic diversification
underpinned by greater reforms," said Konrad Reuss, Managing Director for
Sovereign Ratings at Standard & Poor's in London.
Investment grade would give Russia access to cheaper borrowing rates on
international capital markets and allow western pension funds to invest in
It would also mark recovery from near pariah status in the late 1990s and
establish Russia's economic credentials alongside dynamic nations with a
stronger track record in attracting foreign investment such as Thailand,
Chile and Mexico.
"We have seen more strengthening on the fiscal side but it is still the oil
and gas sector that is behind economic growth," said Reuss. Russia's
economy grew by 4.2 percent last year and the government has set its sights
on growth above three percent in 2003.
TAKING ON VESTED INTERESTS
Many investors have put hopes of Russia winning an upgrade from rating
agencies such as Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Services and Fitch
IBCA on hold ahead of parliamentary elections this year and a presidential
poll in March 2004.
"We won't see an upgrade before the elections," said Peter Westin, an
economist at ATON brokerage in Moscow.
But even if President Vladimir Putin, who has pushed through market reforms
since taking office three years ago, is re-elected he will have to show
determination to take on vested interests, reform a stifling bureaucracy
and deregulate state monopolies.
"In terms of reaching investment grade Russia is still quite a way short,"
said Edward Parker, sovereign debt analyst at Fitch in London. "It will
take time but in our view it will continue to get better."
Fitch last upgraded Russia in May 2002 and Moody's and Standard & Poor's
both upped their ratings in December.
But he added that despite Russia's much vaunted reforms in areas such as
taxation, the climate for doing business in the country was still
difficult. "Behind the froth the underlying improvements are not so
spectacular," he said.
"Russia has impressed in passing reform legislation but there are doubts
over how effectively it has been implemented ...in the area of business
deregulation, the evidence suggests the burden on business is getting worse
rather than better."
Russia is two notches below the coveted investment grade on Standard &
Poor's and Moody's scale, and three below according to Fitch's rating.
Despite progress in slashing debt, Russia still lags behind most investment
grade countries on some key measures of economic performance.
The ratio of Russia's net debt to current account receipts -- a measure of
a country's ability to service its debt -- was 78 percent compared with a
median of 32 percent for a a group 12 investment grade emerging countries,
Russia's per capita gross domestic product, at $2,450, is still well below
an average of $4,350 for the same group of emerging countries which
includes Mexico, South Africa, Thailand and Poland.