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1. AFP: Putin sees breakdown in power balance, aggressiveness of some.
2. Prime-TASS: Putin says certain aggressive countries want to dominate world.
3. AP: Russia to Oppose War Resolution on Iraq.
4. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Duma's Lukin Warns US Against 'Arrogance of Power' in  Event of Iraq War.
5. Interfax: Russian population shrinks by 857,000 in 2002.
6. ITAR-TASS: Russian survey shows quarter of population under poverty line.
7. Interfax: Poll: Defender's Day important for most Russians.
8. Reuters: Russia announces Kremlin, Duma election date.
9. pravda.ru: Vladimir Putin "Starts" December 10, 2003.
10. Washington Post: Sharon LaFraniere, Russians Feel Abortion's Complications. Used as Birth Control in Soviet Times, Practice Has Led to Widespread 
11. Reuters: Russian judge involved in 1993 upheaval back in job.(Valery Zorkin)
12. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): Ben Aris, Newspaper shut for lampoon of Putin. (Noviye Izvestia)
13. Reuters: Russia says ready to begin OECD membership process.
14. Reuters: Grammy nod fuels fame of Russian country band. (Bering Strait)
15. AFP: US move on Chechen groups a swap for Russia's help in Iraq: analysts.
16. US Department of State: Interview on Russia's RTR Television, Secretary Colin L. Powell)
17. The Russia Journal: Andrei Piontkovsky, After the referendum - not too much
18. AFP: Russian sings "jihad" against war in Chechnya.
19. The Russia Journal: Otto Latsis, The church in search of an ally.
20. pravda.ru: Issue to Bury Vladimir Lenins Body Still Actual. This is a very hard decision to make, for there are lots of arguments for and against it.
21. pravda.ru: Americans Advise Russia to Give Far East Away to China.
23. AFP: Remembering Stalin: New exhibit tackles Russia's demons.
24. Interfax: Russian activists concerned about public revival of Stalin cult of personality.
25. Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Lena Bizina and Paul Josephson, Bush and Putin share heartless environmental policy.


Putin sees breakdown in power balance, aggressiveness of some 

MOSCOW, Feb 21 (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday 
deplored a "breakdown" of the balance of power in the world and the "growing 
aggressiveness of influential forces in certain countries" which he did not 
name but which clearly included the United States.

"The geopolitical situation in the world remains very complex, the balance of 
power has clearly broken down and the new architecture of international 
security has not yet been put in place," Putin told a group of army officers, 
as quoted by the ITAR-TASS news agency. 

"At the same time, we cannot ignore the growing aggressiveness of very 
influential forces in certain countries which, taken with the declining 
efficiency of the institutions charged with maintaining global security, is 
bound to concern us," the Russian president said. 

Putin's comments were clearly directed at the United States which, under the 
presidency of George W. Bush, has acted unilaterally in several areas which 
Russia has a key interest, notably by scrapping the 1972 Anti-Ballistic 
Missile treaty in order to build a space-based defence shield, and by 
threatening to use force to disarm Iraq. 

The comments came in the context of a discussion with Russia's top military 
chiefs of the need to "perfect the structure and composition of the army." 


Putin says certain aggressive countries want to dominate world 

MOSCOW, Feb 21 /Prime-TASS/ -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday 
he was concerned with the growing instability in the world due to the 
"aggressiveness" of certain "powerful forces" in certain unspecified nations.

"The geopolitical situation in the world is quite difficult, the balance of 
power has been undermined but a new structure of international security has 
not yet been established," Russian President Vladimir Putin told a conference 
of Russian Armed Forces officers Friday.

He expressed his concern about "the growing aggressiveness of some very 
influential powers in some countries," and said that therefore Russia's Armed 
Forces should be ready for tactical activities and mobilization.

He did not name the countries. 

Russia's Armed Forces should also be adapted to perform tasks in the 
framework of the fight against terrorism, he said.

Russia needs professional, well-trained and well-equipped soldiers, he said.

"So our main goal is to re-equip the Armed Forces with the latest models of 
weapons," he said.

Commenting on the situation in Chechnya, Putin said that it is necessary to 
strengthen law enforcement in the republic, including local militia forces, 
which should play an important role in providing security.

Russian Armed Forces in Chechnya will be reduced gradually, taking into 
account the development of the political situation there, he noted.

Putin also said that discipline in the units should be improved and that 
actions contradicting military manuals should be eliminated.

After the conference, Putin met 15 officers in the ranks from lieutenant to 
captain to discuss the day-to-day life of servicemen.

At the meeting, Putin added that this year Russia plans to hold largest-scale 
training exercise of the Pacific Fleet in recent times. 

He noted that representatives of neighboring states will take part in the 
training, as well as monitoring it. 


Russia to Oppose War Resolution on Iraq
February 22, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia will oppose any new U.N. Security Council resolution
that would automatically authorize the use of force against Iraq, Deputy
Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said in an interview Saturday.

``We continue to believe that there is no need for a new U.N. Security
Council resolution on Iraq,'' Fedetov was quoted as saying by the Interfax
news agency. ``We are against a resolution that would automatically
authorize the use of force.''

But, he said, if a new draft resolution is submitted to the Security
Council, ``its contents will have to be studied.'' Fedetov did not say
whether or not Russia's opposition would include the use of its veto power
in the Security Council.

Russia has long been pushing for a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis,
and has supported letting U.N. weapons inspectors continue their work.
``The inspections in Iraq must be continued and Baghdad should fully
cooperate with the international inspectors,'' Fedotov said.

A resolution drafted by the United States and Britain was is expected to be
put forth next week in the Security Council in a bid to gain support for
using force to disarm Iraq.

Russia would be reluctant to use its veto power to block a new resolution,
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said earlier in the week.

``It is used only in those situations where there is no way out ... Russia
was always for preserving unity in the framework of the Security Council,
above all among the permanent members because namely unity can be the
guarantee of solving such problems of Iraq,'' Ivanov said on Thursday.


Duma's Lukin Warns US Against 'Arrogance of Power' in Event of Iraq War

Rossiyskaya Gazeta
20 February 2003
Interview with Vladimir Lukin, vice speaker of the State Duma, by 
Ariadna Rokossovskaya, date and place not given: "Against the Arrogance 
of Power" 

Vladimir Lukin, former Russian ambassador to the 
United States and vice speaker of the State Duma, has become president of 
"East-West Bridges," a foundation for the development of international 
cooperation created last year by leading Russian international affairs 
scientists and representatives of business circles. The newly-elected 
president of the foundation, which has as its main task the promotion of 
Russia's integration into the Western community, answered questions for 
your Rossiyskaya Gazeta correspondent. 

[Rokossovskaya] In your opinion what are the possible consequences of 
a US military operation in Iraq? 

[Lukin] The United States will gain a very rapid victory -- literally 
within a few days -- and will occupy this country. The Iraqi army's 
resistance will most probably be weak (with the exception of some 
individual formations) because Saddam Husayn's regime is rotten through 
and through. The worst will follow after that. If this operation begins 
without the world community's authorization, without UN authorization, 
this will be an American war against an Arab country with all the 
attendant consequences of that. This will be a guerrilla war on Iraq's 
terms. Most importantly, there will be a sharp rise in the threat of 
terrorism and furthermore it will be purposeful and oriented toward the 
United States. This will be a great tragedy for the United States 
because despite all its preparations this is essentially an open country 
and real conditions for terrorism exist there. Furthermore, as the 11 
September events showed, the more technological a country is, the more 
terrifying the terrorists' opportunities are. I am not saying that the 
United States will go down drastically in the eyes of the whole world: 
It is impossible to rule the world by force alone for a long time. What 
is of fundamental importance is what kind of lesson this will be and for 
whom. If weapons of mass destruction are not found in Iraq but the war 
begins anyway this will simply show that the United States wants to 
establish supremacy over the poorest countries by military means. 
Therefore the psychological consequences will be very bad -- an increase 
in terrorism and aggressiveness and in the sense of alienation between 
the poor and rich countries. 

[Rokossovskaya] What is the purpose of your work when viewed against 
this background? 

[Lukin] I believe that our task is to enlighten. Because in Russia 
many people think not in the categories of Russia's interests but of 
Soviet bipolar instincts: The worse things are for America the better 
they are for Russia. In fact this is wrong. We have common aims with 
the United States, it is just that America muddles and confuses them with 
hegemonist instincts. We must understand that Russia has its own tasks. 
They include ending the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction 
around the world and ensuring a calm and non-confrontational period of 
prolonged development that is not costly for Russia in which we will be 
able to become a healthier and stronger country. And it is necessary to 
inform America's citizens that they cut a very poor figure in the world. 
We are not opposed to America, we are opposed to the excessive "arrogance 
of power" -- a concept introduced by William Fulbright, the great US 
politician, during the war in Vietnam. The "arrogance of power" has 
increased many times over now and it is necessary to explain to ordinary 
Americans that this path does not lead to the real greatness of the 
United States. 


Russian population shrinks by 857,000 in 2002

MOSCOW. Feb 21 (Interfax) - Russia's population decreased by about 856,700
people (0.6%) in 2002 to 143.1 million. 
According to State Statistics Committee data circulated in Friday, the
decline in the population slowed a little in 2002 against the year before,
when the population shrank by 871,000. 
"There were certain positive trends in Russia's demographic situation in
2002," the committee noted. Last year saw the highest birth rate in the
past ten years. "This trend is sustainable," the committee said. There was
also a decline in the infant mortality rate and a slight growth in the
number of migrants. 
At the same time, the committee said "the shifts were not significant
and did not greatly change the unfavorable demographic situation in the
"The growing mortality rate is a setback to improvement of the
situation. Last year's mortality rate was the highest in the entry postwar
period," the committee stressed. 
About 1.4 million children were born in Russia in 2002, against 1.31
million in 2001. Last year's mortality rate amounted to 2.3 million people,
as compared to 2.26 million the year before. The number of deaths exceeded
the number of births by 934,600 people, down from 943,300 in 2001. 


Russian survey shows quarter of population under poverty line 

MOSCOW, February 19 (Itar-Tass) -- Approximately a quarter of the 
population of Russia or 35.8 million people had been living below poverty 
line by the beginning of this year, says a survey released by an extended 
meeting of the Board of the Russian Labour Ministry, Prime Tass reported 
on Wednesday. 
The percentage of the population whose real income is below the 
minimum subsistence level remains very high yet, sources from the Labor 
Ministry said, The proportion of ten percent of the richest population 
whose income surpassed low-income groups by 14 times in 2001 remains 
unchanged until now. Despite an upward change in the birth statistics 
last year the process of the population decline continues. 
By December 1, 2002 the population had been estimated at 143.2 
million, which was 0.5 percent down against the statistics at the 
beginning of last year. An inconsiderable population growth achieved due 
to migration last year has recompensed the natural loss of the population 
by 8.7 percent only. 
The situation on the labour market has improved, the Labour Ministry 
said. The number of workers employed in the economic sector increased 
from 64.8 million in December 2001 to 67.3 million by the end of 2002. 
The average number of the employees has grown by 3 percent or 1,9 
million; the number of people who live on the dole counted in accordance 
with the International Labour Organization standards dropped from 6.4 
million to 5.5 million or by 14 percent. 
At the end of last year, the number of the unemployed totaled 5.1 
million or 7.1 percent of the overall economically active population. By 
the end of last year, the number of registered people who live on the 
dole was 1.31 million or 1,8 percent of the economically active 
population without Chechnya, and 1.5 million, including Chechnya. 
In 2002, the number of the unemployed on record files of unemployment 
departments rose by approximately 17 percent. More than 1.1 million were 
provided with unemployment benefits worth 830 roubles a month on the 


Poll: Defender's Day important for most Russians

MOSCOW. Feb 22 (Interfax) - Most Russians (63%) consider Defender's Day a
special and important holiday, according to a poll conducted by the Public
Opinion Fund among 1,500 people on February 15. Defender's Day is
celebrated every year on February 23. 
However, 32% of the respondents do not see anything special about the
holiday which, they noted, is meaningful only for those in the armed forces. 
As many as three percent of respondents said that like other Soviet-era
holidays, February 23 "has faded and is gone." 
Another 3% believe that the holiday should not be commemorated when "the
army is falling apart, everything is deteriorating and the power is gone." 
Furthermore, 3% of Russians are skeptical about all holidays including
February 23. 
Over a third (35%) of Russians associate the holiday with its old name,
Soviet Army and Air Force Day, previously called Red Army Day. 
Some 22% replied correctly that it is now called Defender's Day. 
For 18% of Russians, it is a holiday for all men and 14% view it just as
a day off. 


Russia announces Kremlin, Duma election dates
February 21, 2003

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russians vote in a presidential election on March 14
next year, after voting in a parliamentary election on Dec. 14, the
country's top electoral official said Friday.

Alexander Veshnyakov, addressing a news conference in the southern city of
Rostov-on-Don, said he expected four or five candidates to participate in
the presidential election.

Incumbent Vladimir Putin, whose approval ratings clear 70 percent, easily
won the 2000 contest in a single round and is widely expected to run for
re-election, though he has not yet announced his intentions.


February 21, 2003
Vladimir Putin "Starts" December 10, 2003

Parliamentary election is fixed for December 14, 2003 in Russia, while 
presidential one -- for March 14, 2004. December 10, 2003, presidential 
pre-election campaign starts, while State Duma pre-election campaign starts 
September 1. This was reported today by the head of Russian Central Election 
Committee, Alexandr Veshnyakov while speaking in Rostov-on-Don. 

In the meanwhile, the President rating is still high enough. According to 
Russian Centre of Public Opinion Search (1,600 Russian citizens participated 
in the poll), Putin's activity as president is supported by 83 percent of 
Russians and not supported by 15 percent. 

Moreover, Putin keeps on leading the trust rating-list: 52 percent of 
respondents called Putin, as they were asked to call a politician they trust 
most of all. 

Although the President did not officially declared yet his intention to stand 
for president again, there is some indirect evidence of it. So, April 18, 
2002, while addressing to Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin shared with 
parliamentarians his plans extending till 2008. The parliamentarians 
understood the hint. 

Putin's opponents however are watchful, too, including that ones in his 
closest surrounding. Moreover, recent resignation of the head of Fishery 
Committee, Yevgeny Nazdratenko (ex-Seaside Region governor, backed by 
St-Petersburg law-enforcers), initiated by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, 
as well as State Duma voting for RAO UES restructuring show the "family" 
influence growth in the Kremlin. 

In his interview to PRAVDA.Ru, State Duma deputy Anatoly Chekhoev gave to 
understand an alternative for the President was being prepared "at the top". 
According to Chekhoev, the track must be looked for in "executive power", 
while not in "presidential structures." 

Checkhoev supposes somebody wants to expose the President. "You will see who 
will become president. They will accuse Putin of having done nothing (the 
question is about settlement of the Chechen situation), while this is they 
who organised this all." 

Checkhoev sorrowfully noted the fact that Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov 
"always reports that Chechnya again needs money, while we still have no 
effective mechanism of control over money." 


Washington Post
February 22, 2003
Russians Feel Abortion's Complications 
Used as Birth Control in Soviet Times, Practice Has Led to Widespread
By Sharon LaFraniere
Washington Post Foreign Service

MOSCOW, Feb. 21 -- Katya Esipova says she never liked to take chances on
her health. So when she continued to bleed after she had an abortion at age
19 she visited two doctors to ask why. They assured her that even after a
month, bleeding was perfectly normal.

Only four years later, when she and her husband decided it was time for a
baby, did she learn how wrong they were. The abortion had led to an
infection that left both fallopian tubes partially blocked. She managed to
get pregnant once more, at age 27, but the fetus lodged in one of the
fallopian tubes and surgeons aborted it.

Now 30, she has all but given up her hopes of having a baby. "It is so
terrible to wait every month and be disappointed," she said over a Greek
salad in a downtown restaurant. "I was too young. I did not realize how big
a problem an abortion could be."

Russian health specialists call women like Esipova one of the more lasting
legacies of a Soviet health system that for decades viewed abortion as the
main form of birth control. According to Vladimir Serov, chief gynecologist
at the Health Ministry, abortions are one of the primary causes of
infertility in a country that is desperate to raise a plummeting birth rate.

About 5 million -- or 13 percent -- of Russian married couples are
infertile, and doctors report that diagnoses of infertility are on the
rise. In nearly three out of four cases, infertility is attributed to the
woman, typically because of complications from one or more abortions,
according to Serov and other health experts.

The abortion rate has been declining rapidly for 15 years because of the
availability of contraceptives. Still, it remains five times higher than
that of the United States. The Health Ministry reports that for every live
birth there are 1.7 abortions, compared with more than three births for
every abortion in the United States.

A study of mid-1990s data by a group of health researchers showed Russia's
abortion rate was the fourth-highest of 57 countries, after only Vietnam,
Cuba and Romania.

"It's a habit, a tradition," said Serov. "It is a result of our low level
of medical culture."

Russian health and demographics experts say the abortion legacy has created
a problem greater than the private trauma of childless couples, because the
resulting infertility contributes to a low birth rate. That trend and a
soaring death rate are helping reduce Russia's population at a rapid rate.

U.N. population experts predict that in 50 years Russia will be the world's
17th-most populous country; it is now the sixth. Projections show Russia
will lose more than a quarter of its population, dropping from 143 million
people to 104 million by 2050.

Like other countries in Europe, Russia has been experiencing a falling
fertility rate for most of the last half-century. It is now the
sixth-lowest in the world, according to U.N. studies. On average, Russian
women now bear just more than one child. 

Such statistics help buttress Serov's arguments that the government must
take better care of women's reproductive health by promoting contraceptives
instead of abortions and fighting the spread of sexually transmitted
diseases, which he considers the second-leading cause of infertility after
abortions. He said the government hopes to set the course with a new
program next year.

Whether it will be funded is another question. Abortion-related infertility
is one piece of a much bigger health care crisis that has yet to command
much of the Kremlin's attention. Russia's health care system is in a state
of collapse, and with it, the public's health, by almost any measure,
whether heart disease or HIV. Russia spends just 5.3 percent of its gross
domestic product on health, less than 37 other European countries,
according to the World Health Organization.

"The country just does not have the money," Serov said. "This is very sad.
If we are not able to stop the epidemic of abortions and control the
transmission of genital infections, the reproductive force will be damaged."

Russia's strides in introducing modern birth control are due mainly to the
advent of capitalism. The free market finished off the production of
unappealing Soviet-era condoms of thick, dark latex and diaphragms
manufactured in only one size. They were replaced by European imports.
Although birth control pills made their Russian debut in too high a dosage
and scared off some women, they are now becoming more popular. The number
of women who use contraceptives has doubled since 1988, according to a
two-year-old study by the Rand Corporation. 

For four years, the government also funded family planning clinics that
distributed free contraceptives and provided medical care. But in 1997, the
Communist-controlled Russian parliament cut off financing, leaving some 400
clinics to subsist on local subsidies. Lawmakers said a nation with a
falling birth rate did not need to promote birth control. The Russian
Orthodox Church, an increasingly influential force, also threw its weight
against the program.

The shift was true to form for Russian health care, which emphasizes
medical cures over prevention or education, the mantras of Western health
care. The government offers no funds for contraceptives and leaves sex
education up to individual schools, most of which offer little or none of
it. Citing public opposition, federal officials in 1997 scrapped a
U.N-funded project to introduce sex education in Russian schools.

But state-funded clinics provide free first-trimester abortions upon
request and second-trimester abortions up to the 22nd week of pregnancy for
medical or social reasons that include lack of a husband, housing or
adequate financial support.

It is typical of Russian attitudes about sex that young people are left to
discover the options and risks on their own, said Inga Grebesheva, director
of the Family Planning Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works out
of the Health Ministry building. Even 12 years after the fall of the Soviet
Union, she said, Russians have not shed their reticence to discuss sex openly.

"We had abortions but not sex," she said with a smile. "It's just that we
were not supposed to talk about it. Everyone would watch sex on TV with
pleasure, but to talk about it would be bad manners."

Despite Moscow's ambivalence over family planning, the rate of abortions in
Russia dived by 45 percent from 1992 to 2001.

The number of women who died from them also dropped by one-half in the
1990s, according to the Rand study. Serov predicts abortions will continue
to decline as contraceptives become more accepted, even without a federal
program. "It will just take more time," he said, to reverse a decades-old

In most countries, people were introduced to contraceptives before
abortions. In Russia, it was the opposite. The Soviet Union first legalized
abortion during a widespread famine in 1920, more than a half-century
before the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in the United States. They were
banned under Josef Stalin in 1936 in hopes of encouraging births, then
legalized again in 1955 after his death.

With no access to decent contraceptives, Russian women came to view
abortion as a routine procedure, doctors say, comparable almost to a tooth
extraction. A study in 1994 found that the average Russian woman had three
abortions by the end of her child-bearing years. 

Esipova, a tall, friendly specialist in commercial real estate, said she
was not overly worried about having an abortion when she found out at age
19 she was pregnant. "All my friends had done it already," she said.

She went to a state clinic because she felt she would get reliable care
there. When she discovered the complications four years later, she said,
her confidence in Russian medical care was shot. In 1998, she tried
artificial insemination at a fertility clinic in the United States, she
said, but without success. Four years later, she and her second husband
were divorced.

Other problems besides her infertility led to the break-up of her
marriages, she said.

But she added: "Of course, if I had gotten pregnant, it would have been a
different story."


Russian judge involved in 1993 upheaval back in job

MOSCOW, Feb 21 (Reuters) - A Russian judge got his job back as the top
constitutional arbiter on Friday, eight years after being forced out for
challenging former President Boris Yeltsin in a standoff with parliament
which ended in a bloodbath.

Valery Zorkin was elected for the second time as chairman of the
Constitutional Court, which rules on the legitimacy of laws, receiving
votes from 10 of the 19 judges.

Clearly surprised, Zorkin declined to answer questions from reporters and
said the majority vote for the three-year term was "completely unexpected."

Now 60, Zorkin was appointed the Court's first head in 1991 in the dying
days of Soviet rule. He was thrust into prominence when he declared
unconstitutional Yeltsin's September 1993 decree dissolving the
pro-Communist parliament, which had been elected in Soviet times and was
continually defying his orders.

Zorkin then sought to defuse tensions by trying to persuade both sides to
abandon hardline positions.

Police erected barbed wire around the parliament to bring it to submission
but rebel deputies and hundreds of their supporters launched an
insurrection by trying to occupy a number of key Moscow buildings,
including the television centre.

Yeltsin dispatched tanks on October 4 and shelled parliament before the
rebels capitulated. At least 140 people died in the confrontation and
Zorkin resigned as chairman the next day.

Commentators welcomed his election as a sign that society might put behind
it the disorder of early post-Soviet rule.

"My personal hope that the Court will be more independent overrides fears
that it would be subject to the political passions he showed when he was
last in the job," liberal deputy Vladimir Lukin told Interfax news agency.

Among those congratulating Zorkin was Ruslan Khasbulatov, chairman of the
parliament in 1993 whose stand he had backed.

"I cannot put anyone on an equal footing with Zorkin, though we have many
good legal experts in Russia," he told Ekho Moskvy radio. "We even wanted
to nominate him for president in 1993."


The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
February 22, 2003
Newspaper shut for lampoon of Putin
By Ben Aris in Moscow

The liberal Russian newspaper Noviye Izvestia was closed temporarily
yesterday after the Kremlin was outraged by an article lampooning President
Vladimir Putin's growing personality cult, journalists said.

Staff arrived to find the security guards had all been replaced. The
editor-in-chief, Igor Golembiovskiy, and several leading journalists were
told they had been suspended and were turned away.

Noviye Izvestia has been a thorn in the Kremlin's side since it was set up
five years ago by Mr Putin's arch-rival, the businessman Boris Berezovsky.
It is seen as a political mouthpiece in his battle with the president.

The last straw was an article on Wednesday detailing bizarre examples of a
personality cult extolling the president entitled the "Putinisation of the
whole country".

Valery Yakov, the deputy editor, said: "We were discussing whether to put
this article in Wednesday's edition as we already had a series of
controversial editions recently and were afraid of irritating the authorities.

"But we went ahead as [the Putinisation article] said nothing new as most
of these facts were already known."

The article detailed the stranger ways Russians have chosen to honour Mr
Putin. The most unusual was a man who bred a tomato, weighing 3.5 lb, but
was refused permission to name it "Vladimir Putin".


Russia says ready to begin OECD membership process

PARIS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on
Friday Russia was ready to take the first steps towards joining the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and that the OECD's
chief backed membership talks.

"We are ready to put the question of Russia joining the OECD... Today I got
the approval from (OECD Secretary General Donald) Johnston to begin such
steps," Kudrin told a media briefing in Paris.

Russia and the OECD, whose 30 member countries account for most of the
world's wealth, have a longstanding cooperation, with Russia sitting on a
number of OECD committees. They have professed the shared objective of
Russia joining the group.

To join the OECD a country must be invited, and has to meet various
requirements, such as demonstrating that it has a market economy, though
there are no formal entry conditions.

Kudrin said the next step would be to discuss the issue with other
countries, notably the seven major industrialised countries, and seek their

He added that before joining, Russia would have to prepare 160 documents
needed for OECD membership.

The Paris-based OECD serves as a forum to discuss economic and social
policies and releases regular economic reports. Its members have promised
to pursue policies of economic growth and internal and external stability,
among other things.

Russia is also in talks to become a member of the World Trade Organisation
as it seeks to boost its standing on the world economic stage.

Moscow first asked to join the OECD in 1996, when its surprise request got
a fairly cold reception from the then-new OECD head Johnston. It has since
worked increasingly closely with the group.

Kudrin was in Paris to meet fellow G8 finance ministers, but would not take
part in the main meeting for representatives of the G7 on Saturday.

He met the new U.S. Treasury Secretary, John Snow, for the first time on
Friday, and said Snow had expressed a high opinion of Russia's economic


Grammy nod fuels fame of Russian country band
February 21, 2003
By Peter Henderson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - One band vying for the top country music
instrumental honors hails not from the land of banjos and burgers, but from
the birthplace of the balalaika and borscht.

Grammy nominee Bering Strait began its climb to stardom from the stage at a
Mexican restaurant in Moscow.

Performing before rushing Cuban waiters and Americans hungry for a taste of
home, the teenage band served up helpings of bluegrass that made the chile
sauce at La Cantina restaurant seem bland by comparison.

On Sunday, the band may win one of the popular music industry's highest
awards for country instrumental "Bearing Straight," a bluegrass-tinged
melody with a title that puns on Bering Strait, the channel that separates
Russia from America and the group's name. The prize would push the band
well along the crooked path to fame it has followed over the last decade.

The journey of the six musicians is also the subject of a new documentary,
"The Ballad of Bering Strait", which has just been released in theaters in
New York and Los Angeles by filmmaker Nina Gilden Seavey. She signed on
expecting an eight-month project, but it stretched into three years.

She says the musicians play real country from the heart and their music
struck a chord with listeners interviewed on the film. Many country songs
lament tough times, and "They've got it hard over there, too," one woman in
the film says.

Another at a honky-tonk who hears a Bering Strait song on the juke box and
drawls her judgment: "Country's country. And it's country. 'Cause I'm


Ilya Toshinsky, now 25, was 12 when he and friends began taking the
suburban train to Moscow from Obninsk, the closed city filled with nuclear
scientists like their parents. The banjo player and song writer sang on the
main tourist street of Moscow, Arbat, making more money in two days than
his father could in a month.

The band members were born mostly in the late 1970s. As Russia was throwing
out Vladimir Lenin, the classically trained young musicians discovered
Garth Brooks, the U.S. country music legend.

A teacher in Obninsk had started their love affair with foreign music by
teaching them fast-moving bluegrass to improve their classical technique.
The band took up country when La Cantina patrons requested standards from
stars like Brooks that it barely knew.

Toshinsky recorded the songs, played them back at half speed on a Soviet
tape recorder, and transcribed the music. "All the classical training I had
in the music school paid off," he joked in an interview.

An American art dealer, Ray Johnson, heard them play one night and was so
impressed he flew them to Nashville and helped them find a manager, Mike
Kinnamon. Kinnamon put them up after they moved permanently to the United
States in 1998, and then they began flying from one near-success to the
next, always just beyond reach of a record deal.

A friend coined the band's current name a couple of years ago, as it was
struggling with duds like "Siberian Heat Wave", which Toshinsky calls
"better for a hockey team." 


In the past few months, they have been nominated for a Grammy from the
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and their CD and the movie
about them have been released, and Russia, which never knew the Bering
Strait as more than a stretch of cold salt water, is agog.

But will they be more than a fad? "We are trying to stay out of that
novelty thing," says steel guitar player Sasha Ostrovsky.

The other band members are Natasha Borzilova, whose gutsy singing voice has
no hint of an accent, keyboardist Lydia Salnikova, drummer Alexander
Arzamastsev and bass player Sergei Olkhovsky.

Many of the 12 songs on their debut CD, "Bering Strait" fit in easily with
the music on most country music stations. The instrumental for which they
are nominated, written by four band members, stands out stylistically, as
does their rockabilly version of a Russian traditional song, sung in Russian.

Film maker Seavey says the young musicians are still developing their own

"Have they mastered American country music as it might be played on the
radio? Yes. But are they done as artists? I would say not by a long shot,"
she said.


US move on Chechen groups a swap for Russia's help in Iraq: analysts 
February 21, 2003

A US decision to place three Chechen rebel groups on a list of terrorist 
organizations, announced by US Secretary of State Colin Powell but not yet 
formalized, appeared a timely inducement to Moscow to toe the US line on war 
with Iraq, analysts said Friday. 

"This is a good signal showing that even in such delicate matters we can come 
to precise and correct decisions that will benefit Russia, the United States, 
and the entire anti-terrorist coalition," Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Kremlin's 
top advisor on Chechnya, said late Thursday. 

Moscow has long been lobbying Washington to take action against the groups it 
says are the most active in the breakaway Russian republic, where federal 
forces have been fighting separatist rebels since October 1999. 

Powell first disclosed the terrorist designations, but failed to offered 
specifics on the names of the groups or the sanctions, in an interview to be 
aired on Friday by Rossiya state television, a transcript of which was 
received by AFP. Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said 
that Moscow expected a formal declaration to be announced soon. 

The three groups are set to be put on the joint blacklist drawn up by the US 
state and treasury departments, and would freeze the groups' US-based assets, 
a US official said on condition of anonymity. 

The groups have not yet been designated "international terrorist groups", he 

Russia has pushed the United States to add the Chechen rebels to their 
blacklist, a move that would enable Moscow to further present its campaign as 
part of the US-led "war on terror." 

Diplomatic sources said the three groups were the Battalion of Kamikaze 
Shahid, the Congress of Peoples of Ichkeria and Dagestan and the United Force 
of Caucasian Mujahideen -- all led by the Chechen warlord Shail Basayev, who 
took responsibility for the deadly hostage-taking at a Moscow theatre in 

Analysts said the timing of the move was meant to offer concessions to 
Russia, which has strengthened its opposition to US threats of military force 
as the Iraq crisis has mounted. 

Washington "really needs Moscow, in terms of preparing a second resolution," 
said Yevgeny Volk of the Heritage Foundation. 

Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, is 
opposed to a second resolution that would authorize military force on Iraq 
and has urged the United States to allow UN weapons inspections to run their 

"I think this will work, since for Russia, Chechnya is a fundamental 
subject," Volk said. 

"Russia has remained more moderate (than France and Germany) and Washington 
wants to reinforce its benign neutrality," he added. 

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin came out in support of a 
Franco-German declaration that urged a reinforcement of weapons inspections 
in Iraq and stressed that the use of force must be the last option. 

Yet he maintains a closer relationship with US President George W. Bush than 
his French or German counterparts, and has nudged Russia closer to the US 
following the September 11, 2001 attacks. 

And while Putin has come out in opposition to military plans in Iraq, 
analysts have said that he is also unwilling to sacrifice close ties with the 
United States. 

"Washington wants to ensure that Moscow will present the least possible 
obstacles" to US military strikes on Iraq, particularly in terms of its veto 
power, said analyst Andrei Piontkovsky. 

Powell's announcement "is part of a bargaining process that has been going on 
for six months," Piontkovsky said. 

US ambassador to Moscow Alexander Vershbow said in an interview with 
Nezavissimaya Gazeta last week that the United States had "assured Russia 
that its economic interests would be taken into account in a post-Saddam 

Russia fears that it will lose its massive interests in oil-rich Iraq after 
the regime of Saddam Hussein is overthrown, and is concerned that a 
US-friendly government in Baghdad will fail to honor billions of dollars in 
Soviet-era debt. 


US Department of State
Interview on Russia's RTR Television
Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
February 21, 2003

MR. PISKOUNOV: Mr. Secretary, during the last days, Baghdad took many steps 
about the United Nations demand. Baghdad let U-2 aircrafts fly over the 
territory of Iraq. Saddam Hussein officially banned production of weapons of 
mass destruction. 

Did it make any changes to the situation and do you think the necessity of 
war is postponed? 

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I think these changes have been minor and not that 
serious. I am pleased that the U-2s are now flying. But the decree he put out 
banning weapons of mass destruction was a decree put out to private citizens 
who don't have them in the first place. It didn't apply to the government. So 
it's this kind of game that he plays all the time. 

What he needs to do is comply, to bring forward all the documents that he 
has, to fix all the errors in the declaration that he submitted, to bring 
forth all the missiles that the inspectors keep finding and tagging, to 
account for what happened to the nerve agents and the biological agents and 
all of the other terrible things that he's had for these years. He should be 
coming forward with that, and not just grudgingly, every few days slipping 
out something to see if he can keep the United Nations from acting, to see if 
he can just keep the inspections going on and on and on, but never really 

The challenge that we have before us now, and my colleague and I, Foreign 
Minister Igor Ivanov, and I have spoken about this many times. The challenge 
we have now is not just how long the inspections should be or how many 
inspectors there should be assigned to the task, but is Iraq complying. And 
I'm sorry, the evidence before us is that Iraq still tries to deceive, to 
divert attention, and is not yet complying. And unless there is compliance in 
the near future, I think the Security Council has to meet and decide whether 
or not serious consequences are called for. 

QUESTION: Last weekend, there were huge demonstration all over the world, 
including New York City and San Francisco, voices of dissent. What impact do 
the demonstrations have on your decision in the administration? 

SECRETARY POWELL: We watch these demonstrations carefully. We know that there 
is great anxiety, that there are many, many people who do not want to see 
war. We don't want to see war. They don't think war is the right answer. 

War must always be a last resort, but it must be a resort. If the 
international community is to have any standing, if the United Nations is to 
have any meaning, it must be able to impose its will when faced with a nation 
like Iraq that simply ignores the will of the international community. 

And so I understand that people are hoping that war can be avoided. I hope it 
can be avoided. But the one who has the power in his hands to decide whether 
there will be war or peace is Saddam Hussein. If he complies, or if he leaves 
the country tomorrow, there will be no war. The problem is he has shown no 
signs of leaving the country and he still shows no signs of complying by 
coming forward with the documents, with people to be interviewed, with the 
materials that we know he has, with the mobile biological laboratories, with 
all these things that have been documented and are facts, not speculation. He 
still has not come forward and said here they are, I no longer want to have 
anything to do with these kinds of weapons, I'm changed. He's not changed, 
unfortunately, so far. 

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, about international terrorism. Russia values its 
partnership with United States. Russia respects your position, though 
disagree. But there is perception of double standard in American approach to 
the problems of terrorism. Even after mass and horrible attack in Moscow 
theater, Chechen terrorists organization not on the terrorist list. 

How do you respond, Mr. Secretary? 

SECRETARY POWELL: We are very sensitive to the threat that Chechen terrorists 
present to Russia. I've spoken with Mr. Ivanov about it many times and with 
Mr. Putin many times. Recently, we added three organizations to our terrorist 
list, three Chechen organizations, and we are doing everything we can, 
working with Georgian authorities and we're working with our Russian 
colleagues to help them in the war against terrorism, but, at the same time, 
seeing whether or not a peaceful solution can be found to the situation in 
Chechnya. We know how deeply felt this situation is to all Russians, 
especially after the tragedy that occurred in the theater in Moscow. And so I 
stay in very close conversation and touch with Foreign Minister Ivanov on 
this matter. 

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. 

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, sir. 

QUESTION: Appreciate it. 


The Russia Journal
February 21-27, 2003
After the referendum - not too much 
By Andrei Piontkovsky

A demonstration against the Chechen War in central Moscow on Feb. 1
attracted just a few hundred people. Wet snow fell on the yellow robes of
Buddhists beating a tambourine that somehow made a particularly mournful
and lonely sound. The state TV channels either ignored the demonstration
altogether or emphasized the small number of people it drew.

On the Chechen Wars foreign-propaganda front, the authorities can proudly
claim a few victories. Former head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe Lord Judd has been defeated. Just remember Dmitry
Rogozins happy smirk on the first day of the "Nord-Ost" hostage tragedy
and his quip, "What will Lord Judd say now?" The extradition process
against Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadovs aide, Akhmed Zakayev,
is now underway in Britain, though it wont bring Moscow the result it
hopes for. Finally, the Kremlin spokesman on Chechnya, Sergei
Yastrzhembsky, flew to Washington at state expense to give another of his
press conferences there rather than in Moscow.

But all these successes on the domestic and foreign fronts cant hide the
fact that Moscow has once again lost the Chechen war. First, it lost the
war for the hearts and minds of the Chechen people, trying to convince them
that they are Russian citizens by bombing them, murdering them, torturing
them, abducting them and subjecting them to "cleansing" operations.

Back in the autumn of 1999, Russia had for the first time, perhaps, a real
chance at winning its war. The Chechens were fed up with their own
gangsters and would have accepted federal authority in the hope of seeing
some order brought to their republic.

By the autumn of 2002, Moscow had already lost its three-year long Chechen
War in the hearts and minds of a majority of Russians. For the first time
since the war began, surveys showed that the number of people supporting an
end to the war and negotiations with the rebels had broken the halfway mark
to reach 60 percent.

True, people dont go to anti-war demonstrations, or any demonstrations,
for that matter, because theyre disillusioned, passive and dont believe
they have the power to change anything. But public opinion has already
rejected this war.

Whats particularly worrying for authorities are the signs of change among
the elite, which is forced to react to shifts of mood among the population.
Previously, the only people to consistently support negotiations were
human-rights activists and one prominent politician, Yabloko leader Grigory
Yavlinsky. But they are now beginning to be joined by others. The very
party that swept into the Duma on a wave of patriotic fervor, with its
leaders proclaiming the Russian Army would be reborn in Chechnya and that
those who thought otherwise were traitors, is now organizing and sponsoring
anti-war conferences. Last September and October, even such conservative
and cautious politicians as head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and
Entrepreneurs Arkady Volsky and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who
belong to the "mainstream" of the Russian elite, spoke in favor of a change
in Russian policy on Chechnya.

Hawks in both Chechnya and Moscow used the "Nord-Ost" tragedy to stop this
peace movement from swelling. But, despite the immense propaganda effort,
the effect has been short-lived. By the beginning of the year, the level of
support for negotiations with the Chechen rebels led by Maskhadov had
returned to its October 2002 level and will inevitably increase.

Now the authorities have their attention taken by another new toy the
self-deception of their plans to hold a referendum in Chechnya on March 23.
Before this date, they dont want to hear about anything else, so the
sooner the referendum takes place, the better. It will have just as
triumphant a result as the election of Doku Zavgayev as Chechen president
in December 1995. But the very first day after the referendum, this
soap-bubble illusion will burst, and the authorities will find themselves
facing the same old problems in Chechnya and having to deal with an
increasingly alienated public opinion.

Andrei Piontkovsky is director of the Center for Strategic Studies.


Russian sings "jihad" against war in Chechnya 
February 21, 2003

"I will become jihad, I do not need you, eye for an eye, even if I stay 
alone," the young, khaki-clad man sang, looking for all the world like a 
Chechen rebel commando, kneeling to pray to Allah. 

The image, broadcast on the MTV popular music channel has shocked Russians 
who see it as a call to a merciless holy war. 

However Shamil, the singer and author of the song, says he intended it to be 
a message of peace. "This song is my message to the Russian state that war is 
evil. In Chechnya, people are dying like flies. We must save the lives and 
souls of Chechen civilians and Russian soldiers at all costs," the young 
singer, born in the northern Caucasus not far from Chechnya, explained. 

"In my song, I'm a deserter fleeing the war," he said. 

The message was clearly lost on the alarmed Russian media who rallied against 
Shamil's video clip, replete with images of war-devastated Chechnya, 
guerrilla fighters and Russian soldiers. 

The daily Komsomolskaya Pravda in particular leapt to attack the song, 
horrified at the thought of Russian teenagers singing "I will become jihad." 

The uproar may have been the reason why the MTV's Russian branch took the 
clip off air 10 days after its first release in November last year. 

"MTV banned broadcasts of my clip after the Russian parliament phoned the 
channel to criticise it. Someone saw it as propaganda in favour of 
terrorism," Shamil told AFP by telephone from London, where he spends a lot 
of his time. 

MTV however told AFP that the video was taken off air as "it was no longer 
appreciated by viewers." 

Russian audiences did indeed take a dim view view of the song's message. 

"I think this song calls for vengeance against Russians who launched the war 
in Chechnya," 63-year-old teacher Elena said. 

Shamil's definition of jihad as "a moral and physical effort to reach the All 
High" is distinctly at odds with most dictionaries and popular usage which 
define jihad as "a holy war set to defend Islam." 

Even the name Shamil has unfortunate echoes for many Russians, reminding them 
of the rebel warlord Shamil Basayev or the Imam Shamil who led Chechnya's 
struggle against imperial Russia in the 19th century. 

Shamil the songwright admits that even his looks, with dark, short-cropped 
hair and piercing black eyes, "have something of a terrorist appearance." 

He changed his song's title from "Jihad" to "No need" after a rebel Chechen 
commando team took more than 800 people hostage in a bloody drama that 
unfolded in a Moscow downtown theater in October last year. 

However, critics said that that Shamil's Caucasus image could be just another 
attempt to shock. Three years ago the singer -- who then dubbed himself Oscar 
-- adopted a quasi-gay style with heavy make-up. 

Shamil said he was finding it "very dangerous to remain myself." As a result 
of threats by Russian skinheads, Shamil fled to London, a "multinational 
city" where he feels "more at ease" to work on his next album. 


The Russia Journal
February 21-27, 2003
The church in search of an ally 
By Otto Latsis

An exhibition called "Caution: Religion!" that was held at Moscows Andrei
Sakharov Museum on Jan. 16-18, 2003, has ended up causing a real stir in
the media and among public opinion, especially after Duma deputies accused
the exhibitions organizers of "stirring up religious hatred."

Indeed, on these grounds, the Duma even requested the General Prosecutors
Office to investigate, in accordance with the criminal-procedural code,
what it calls a case of stirring up religious hatred.

The Duma approved a resolution to send this appeal to the prosecutors
office on Feb. 11. The Duma deputies so eager to bring the wrath of the law
down on the Sakharov center didnt seemed bothered by the fact that not a
single one of them had actually seen the exhibition in question. None of
them stopped to think that it would be simply absurd for the Sakharov
Center, which continued the work of the great human-rights activist, who
often stood up for the rights of believers in the most difficult moments,
to foment religious hatred.

Neither were the deputies concerned by the fact that they passed their
resolution just four days before the 80th birthday of Yelena Bonner,
Sakharovs widow and the centers director. Whats more, if the deputies
had paid any attention to the media, they would have realized that far from
being "held," as such, the exhibition was wrecked by a group of vandals
just two days after its opening, after which the Sakharov Center had itself
turned to the prosecutors and some investigation work had begun.

Perhaps it was precisely this that incited the deputies to also turn to the
prosecutors. They certainly tried hard to push their resolution through. It
wasnt approved the first time round, but the Communist deputies insisted
on a repeat vote. Only two deputies voted against it, both from the Union
of Right Forces (SPS), though even this faction had four deputies
supporting the resolution and 26 who did not vote. Deputies from the
Communist Party and from Fatherland-All Russia voted unanimously in favor
of the resolution.

But there is not even any legal proof that the Sakharov Center was
fomenting religious hatred. Without an expert opinion, and there is none,
its impossible to pass judgment on the objects on exhibition. Not only did
the deputies not see the exhibition, but the hooligans who vandalized it
after spending no more a minute there were unlikely to have actually seen
it either.

The deputies and the vandals, most likely, were probably reacting to the
exhibitions name, which can be read with different interpretations. By
analogy with signs such as "Caution: Children," it could be seen as a call
to treat religion with care. It could also be read as a warning of the
danger of religion, like in the old Soviet slogans of the "Caution:
Zionism" type. Finally, it could indicate that, while believers need to be
protected from persecution, religious fundamentalism can also be a danger
for society.

The exhibitions organizers and participants say that the third
interpretation best fits the spirit of the exhibition. The deputies and
vandals, meanwhile, following Soviet propaganda stereotypes, seized upon
the second interpretation. But who prompted the Duma to take time from its
many genuinely important state affairs to deal with one small exhibition,
one of hundreds taking place every month in Moscow? And who prompted the
vandals, some of whom were not from Moscow, to visit an exhibition born of
complex intellectual thought?

There is and will not be any conclusive answer to this question. But there
are some facts. For example, Metropolitan Kirill, the head of the Russian
Orthodox Churchs foreign relations department, and his deputy, Archpriest
Vsevolod Chaplin, both publicly regretted that the exhibition wasnt
banned. Chaplin even said it would be good if such events first had to get
permission, like in the Soviet years when nothing happened without Party
permission and bulldozers were sent in to demolish an unapproved exhibition
of abstract art 40 years ago.

Among the objects destroyed by the vandals was one that did have permission
from the Church. The object had first been exhibited on the dome of a
planetarium before being exhibited at the Sakharov Center. There is even
the permission form signed and sealed by none other than Archpriest Chaplin. 

In this case, the artistic value of this or that object is not what counts.
Its a question of the visitors. If you dont like it, dont go to it. In
the end, only a few dozen people ended up seeing the short-lived exhibition.

These events are just one of many signs that religious fundamentalism is
rising in Russia. It coincides with a noisy campaign to introduce Orthodox
studies to the state school curriculum. Supporters say it would be
optional, but in practice, the rights of non-believers or followers of
other religions would inevitably end up being violated.

Religious fundamentalism in Russia is not just a case of certain Muslim
radicals becoming more active, but the state has so far been reluctant to
address the issue of Orthodox fundamentalism and has even tried to use it
as a political resource. This is where the real problem lies.


February 21, 2003
Issue to Bury Vladimir Lenins Body Still Actual 
This is a very hard decision to make, for there are lots of arguments for
and against it 

A discussion devoted to St.Petersburgs role in the formation of the
Russian state structure took place yesterday. Lyudmila Narusova set forth
her initiative to bury Vladimir Lenins body in the necropolis of the
Ulyanovs family at the Volkovskoye graveyard of St.Petersburg. It is about
time we should get back to the issue of burying Vladimir Lenins body,
said Narusova. She added that the bravest and most impudent ideas were
born in St.Petersburg, although they seemed to be unrealizable sometimes.
As Lyudmila Narusova believes, it would never occur to anyone 2o years ago
that Leningrad would be renamed to St.Petersburg. 

Lyudmila Narusova believes that Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenins body should have
been buried next to his mother in the necropolis long ago, for there is no
other bigger punishment and outrage upon a Russian and an Orthodox person
than to be exposed into the public eye after death. Every Russian person
is supposed to be buried in the ground after death. This is the national
tradition and political expediency talks are out of the question here,
added Narusova. 

Furthermore, the same subject has been recently touched upon by Alexander
Kotenkov, the presidential envoy in the Russian State Duma. However,
Kotenkov was more pragmatic regarding Lenins body issue. He just mentioned
that it was too expensive to maintain the Lenins Tomb. 

Indeed, a human body is supposed to be buried in the ground, according to
all human laws, according to Gods Law. Celibate priest Amvrosy said:
There are occultism, personality cult aspects to the situation with the
embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin. Such aspects are not allowed either for
the faithful or for other people. This situation is similar to the Pharaoh
cult, it is very close to idol worshipping. 

On the other hand, everything is much more complicated in this certain
case. The Lenins Tomb is something like the incarnation of the great epoch
and of the great fulfillment for a lot of Russian people. This tomb is the
symbol of the Soviet Union the country, which does not exist anymore in
the world. Thoughtless and radical actions about this object might cause
more discord to the up-to-date Russian society, which suffers from numerous
troubles and contradictions. 

By the way, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksey II thinks that
the decision to remove Vladimir Lenins body from the tomb can be made only
if it is the will of the whole nation. Is it the time? Aleksey II has
already expressed his opinion regarding Lenins Tomb before. He believes
that one should not take any actions, which would separate the Russian
people even more, which would add new opposition in the society, although
there have been too many of them experienced over the latest decade. The
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia is certain that all of those things do
not assist in the unification of the nation, or in the strengthening of the

Yet, it is obvious that the Russian society will have to get back to the
issue of the Lenins body in the future anyway. 

One fine moment I suddenly saw myself in the Lenins Tomb. I do not feel
comfortable talking about it, really. I was not approaching his body, I was
flying above it. There is a line of people, as always, people come and go.
But then I started talking to Vladimir Lenin. He said to me: Tell them to
bury me, tell them to bury me please, for Gods sake. I can not suffer from
this torture any longer. What are they doing to me? I want to be buried in
the ground. This is a horrible execution that I have to suffer from all the
time! I was listening to him, thinking: What am I doing here? What am I
doing here in the tomb? And then I smelled the decay, the stench, the air
turned cold. I felt something like spiritual cold. But he just kept on
begging me. (This was said by Orthodox faithful Tatiana, who survived
clinical death.) 

Sergey Stefanov 
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov 


February 22, 2003
Americans Advise Russia to Give Far East Away to China

Russia is, as well known, a big country. It is still big even after the
USSR collapse. As for its population, it is not the biggest in the world.
In this field, China occupies the leading position. Moreover, it has the
longest border wit Russia. So, the Chinese actively master Russian
territory, legally and illegally. 

Why am I saying all this? I explain you, why. Recently, Russian Far East
fate became the subject of concern of such a respected edition like Wall
Street Journal. It easily found a solution of the complicated problem of
Chinese migration to Russia. I am surprised, why Russian authorities have
not came yet to this decision! According to the Wall Street Journal, Moscow
should do with the Far East what Great Britain has done with Hong Kong. In
other words, Russia should cede a part of its Far East to China. 

The essence of the WSJ argumentation could be expressed in several items.
First, todays Chinese migration to the north is a natural factor. In
southern Amur River bank, there is 50 times bigger density of population,
than in the northern one. On Russian side, there is a big amount of fertile
lands, which are not tilled. Second, in globalisation conditions, Russia
could keep the Far East only, if it fully realises the region economical
potential, while this is possible with Chinese assistance only. If Russia
closes from its southern neighbour, Beijing certainly will put pressure
upon Moscow and will most likely win a victory. Third, if Russia opened its
Far-Eastern frontiers for China, it would become the basis of the region
prosperity. Khabarovsk and Seaside Regions would become more attractive for
Russians from other regions and from CIS countries. With developed
infrastructure, investments would be made into the region economy.
Mastering of rich natural recourses would bring profits into the country
budget. While the Chinese would become a guarantor of Russian laws
stability in the Far East. This is the role the Chinese play in many other
countries, while being one of the most disciplined nations. Though, to
reach this prosperity, Russia must, according to WSJ, to overcome
xenophobia which rains in its society. 

Nobody would dispute against the fact that the Far East (as well as any
other Russian region) needs investments. And co-operation with China could
be very fruitful in this sphere. Though, this issue should be considered
from another view. The question is that at the moment, China is
economically more powerful, than Russia. So, if Russia follows the WSJ
prescription, there will be all conditions (especially taking into account
massive Chinese migration to Russia) for the Far East seizure from Russia.
If even it will not happen de jure, it will certainly happen de facto. 

Moreover, other countries example is not fully correct. The US is
separated from China with a natural obstacle with ocean. This however did
not hindered Chinese goods from penetrating to US market. Probably
everybody remembers that comical episode a month ago, when President Bush,
who made a speech, calling to support of US firms, stood against the
background of some boxes with inscription Made in China. So, if the US
cannot resist to Chinese intrusion, what could Russia do? 

The question is not about xenophobia. The question is about sovereignty,
which has not been abolished yet. And if the Far East belong to Russia, it
must belong to Russia. There could be enough people, including that ones in
China, who are not satisfied with 50-year-old agreements. While there are
enough people in Mexico, who still remember to whom Texas and California
belonged in the 19th century. 

These issues are to complicated and specific to be solved with universal
prescriptions. Too many factors must be taken into account. Both Russia and
China have many troubles, different troubles. And they do not need to have
one more in their relations, like big unassimilated territory big

And one more remark. It is probably not by chance that articles like that
one in the Wall Street Journal (and not only in this edition) started to
appear on the threshold of a big Far-Eastern tour of US Secretary of State
Colin Powell. February 23, he is arriving in China 

Vasily Bubnov 
Translated by Vera Solovieva 


RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly
Vol. 3, No. 8, 21 February 2003

By Gregory Feifer

Russia is embarking on a series of unprecedented reforms that
will allow privatization of agricultural land and possibly provide
one of the most significant legacies of Russian President Vladimir
Putin's administration. Enacted last month, the country's new
Land Code opens the doors for an incremental restructuring of
ownership of rural land as regional courts and legislatures hammer
out a new set of rules for such ownership.
The sale of farmland is allowed under the country's 1993
constitution, but Communist and other leftist lawmakers successfully
postponed the creation of a legal mechanism for a decade. In 2001,
Putin created waves by allowing the privatization of commercial and
residential land but put off addressing agricultural land until last
year. The new Land Code took effect in January after being passed by
the Duma last June. It stipulates that agricultural land must be sold
or leased "at market prices" or at values set by auctions. It may
only be used for farming and can be confiscated if neglected or used
for other purposes. According to the law, first right of purchase for
land sold by individuals belongs to regional or municipal
governments. The state can also buy into commonly held land. 
Russia has around 221 million hectares of farmland, which is
almost one-quarter of the country's land mass. Agriculture
Minister Aleksei Gordeev has estimated that the country's
farmland is worth between $80 trillion and $100 trillion, about
one-third of Russia's estimated net worth. Most of that land is
now controlled by Soviet-era collective farms, which for the most
part are inefficient, debt-laden behemoths struggling to survive.
Many have reportedly been plundered by their managers, who are often
holdovers from the communist era with reputations for running their
farms with iron fists. Collective-farm managers generally oppose land
reform and have tried to keep their enterprises intact.
Such officials have backed a powerful antireform lobby that
includes regional authorities who stand to lose de facto control over
the land. The Communist Party has also protested privatization
bitterly, saying criminal groups and foreigners will snap up
agricultural land and squeeze out the country's farmers. But
supporters of reform say the failure to privatize farmland in the
1990s put the brakes on development in the sector and fostered
massive corruption. 
In theory, 137 million hectares have already been privatized
in accord with the provisions of the 1993 constitution and additional
presidential decrees on farmland privatization. Around 12 million
Russians are said to own land; many of them are collective farmers
who have been allocated small plots.
But so far, few landowners understand their legal rights. In
many cases, regional and local officials have been able to keep land
in the hands of collective-farm managers and other cronies. 
Vladimir Kuchin lives in the Serpukhovskii Raion about 100
kilometers south of Moscow. He said that regional authorities and
managers at the Zaoksk Collective Farm, where he worked as an
economist, have cheated him out of his land. Kuchin currently works
for the private farm Vesna, which grows cabbage and other vegetables
on Zaoksk-owned farmland, which it leases. 
Vesna is unusual in that it is waging a legal battle to take
over the land it farms. Kuchin accuses Zaoksk's director of
cheating former employees. "According to presidential decree, the
land belongs to us, but [the director] wrote a letter to the head of
the region and went to Moscow," Kuchin said. "[The] Serpukhovskii
[regional authorities] are more cunning in the registration chamber
[than we are]. [The director] registered the land in Moscow, and he
was given the rights, illegally, we believe. That's why we're
suing in court." The Zaoksk management, for its part, says dividing
the land would make it unattractive to potential investors, such as
oil major LUKoil, which is said to be interested in buying the land.
Like most Soviet-era collective farms, Zaoksk needs massive
investment to replace rusting machinery and rebuild its decayed
The new Land Code could help lay the groundwork for real
change in the countryside, according to Nikolai Dyazhur, who heads an
organization that defends the claims of 2,000 would-be small
landholders in the Serpukhovskii Raion. But first the landholders
"will have to establish [their] rights in court," he said. According
to Dyazhur, the Land Code is "very dense" but is at the same time
"incomplete." It has contradictory regulations and will have to be
amended. He said the law will have to be clear and enforceable for
Russian agriculture to be able to generate profits.
In addition to the prospect of looming ownership battles,
another major obstacle to development that landowners face is lack of
investment. "The most frightening problem is that not one investor
will come. Not one investor will put money into farmland -- although
it is a very attractive option, and such investors exist -- because
the process is unregulated and massive legal violations take place,
including ownership rights of small land parcels," Dyazhur said. 
One of the major points of the new law is that foreigners are
not allowed to buy farmland, a concession to local officials and
populist parties like the Communists and the Agrarians. Foreigners
are, however, allowed to hold 49-year land leases, and some
politicians have hinted that the ban on sales of arable land to
foreigners may be revised in years to come.
Another complicating factor for investors and landowners is
that the law leaves the details of the privatization process --
including timing and sale procedures -- up to the country's
regions. Duma Deputy Viktor Pokhmelkin, co-chairman of the Liberal
Russia party, said the Land Code in its current form allows room for
meddling by officials and could encourage corruption, in part because
it sets out the rights of the authorities more clearly than those of
However, Agriculture Minister Gordeev told reporters last
month that the federal government will monitor local developments and
"influence" regions, including encouraging them to adopt reforms.
"The work is not simple," Gordeev said. "It's moving forward. A
number of regions have already passed such legislative bills. I think
it's important that we have created a unified legal space within
the country. As of today, we have strengthened the rights and
responsibilities of all property owners, users, and managers of land
Despite the Land Code's flaws, Pokhmelkin considers its
adoption a genuine step forward. "Before its passage, everything was
basically regulated by presidential decrees and old Soviet-era land
legislation. That's why there were huge gaps and loopholes for
bureaucrats to abuse power," he said. But it is only a first step and
other major changes, like the development of an independent legal
system, are needed. The authorities' behavior, Pokhmelkin
concluded, still makes investment in Russian agriculture a risky

Gregory Feifer is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Moscow.


Remembering Stalin: New exhibit tackles Russia's demons 
February 21, 2003

Bloody dictator or Soviet hero? The question still rages among Russians 
nearly 50 years after the death of Joseph Stalin and is at the center of a 
new exhibit that opened Thursday in Moscow. 

"We can no longer have an objective vision of Stalin's role," said museum 
director Tamara Shumnaya on opening the exhibit at Moscow's Museum of 
Contemporary Russian History. 

"Several among us lived through his era -- some suffered Stalinist 
repressions, while others are still nostalgic for the strong man," she said. 

Russia is gearing up for the 50th anniversary of Stalin's death on March 5, 
1953, with many torn between revering a man who symbolised their country's 
status as a great power and the monster who killed tens of millions of his 
own people. "There were certain excesses in Stalin's activities, but that was 
just because he was uninformed," said military historian Georgy Kumanev. 

"But without him, we would never have won World War II," he said. 

An entire room is dedicated to the Soviet Army's victory at the ferocious 
battle of Stalingrad of 1942-43 which turned the tide of World War II and 
paved the way for the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany. 

Not everyone at the exhibit inauguration remembered Stalin as "the father of 
the Soviet people," but instead as most of the world does: a megalomaniacal 
tyrant who killed an estimated 20 million Soviet citizens in purges and 
famines during his nearly 30 years as leader. 

"Stalin is a great personality, but a sinister one," said Stepan Mikoyan, son 
of Anastas Mikoyan, who headed the Communist Party Central Committee under 

"He liquidated peasants and great military chiefs, and we are still feeling 
the consequences," he said. 

Mikoyan's remarks, which would be considered a tame evaluation of Stalin's 
terror-filled rule nearly anywhere else, were greeted with shouts of "Shut 
up! Long live Stalin!" 

The exhibit, set to run until the end of May, attempts to tackle the 
difficult task of remembering a figure who continues to inspire both fear and 
awe among a people who remember Soviet times not only as an era of repression 
but also as a time when their country was a major player on the world stage. 

Photos of Stalin and rare documents line the walls, alongside Soviet posters 
glorifying "the little father of the people" and posters from the perestroika 
years of the late 1980s condemning Stalin as a tyrant. 

"The captain of the Soviet countries is carrying us towards victory," reads 
one poster illustrating Stalin at the helm of a ship called the USSR. 

Handcuffs, search warrants and the infamous round eyeglasses of Lavrenti 
Beria, Stalin's notorious secret police chief, comprise the part of the 
exhibit called "Stalinism and destiny". 

The cult of personality that Stalin built is evidenced in his omnipresent 
face, with its bushy moustache and thick black hair, that covers everything 
from posters and paintings to tea sets. 

Then there is the pen-case and inkwell given to Stalin in 1949 by a 
handicapped woman who had no hands and embroidered the gifts with her toes, 
and a copy of the Soviet constitution written on silk by women workers on the 
Moscow-Kiev railroad. 

"The devil never arrives where he is not expected," said Genrikh Borovik, a 
well-known Russian journalist and author of a documentary on Stalin. 

"We needed a strong and bloody arm, and Stalin knew how to exploit popular 
psychology," he said. 

The exhibit also attempts to show the other side of history, with drawings by 
prisoners sent to the labor camps by Stalin and posters from the late 1980s 
warning against a return to his style of authoritarian terror. 


Russian activists concerned about public revival of Stalin cult of

MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) - A group of human 
rights activists and historians believes that the Stalin personality cult 
is experiencing a revival in the Russian public mind. 
Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group, 
expressed this opinion at a round-able meeting on Stalinism held in 
Moscow on Thursday. 
Participants named as an indication of the ideological rehabilitation 
of Stalin numerous recent publications hailing him as the leader of all 
times and nations. 
Among the books on Stalin they singled out the series "50 Years 
Without the Leader," consisting of 50 novels dedicated to the dictator. 
"This outburst of publications and the general hysteria over the 
suggestion to return the name of Stalingrad to Volgograd brought on by 
the [50th] anniversary of Stalin's death [on March 5, 2003] cannot be 
explained as nostalgia for a firm leading hand," she said. 
She explained this outburst of nostalgia for order as inevitably 
rising in people who find themselves incapable of protecting their rights 
from the arbitrariness of law enforcement bodies and officials and the 
indifference of the authorities to ordinary people. 
"If we fail to find the powers and means to look into our past and if 
we encourage this salutation of Herod by our silence, it will become 
impossible to build a law-governed state in Russia," she said. 
In Alekseyeva's opinion, the crimes of Stalinism should be more widely 
debated in the media, using archived information to resist the revival of 
the Stalin cult. 
An exhibition timed with the anniversary of Stalin's death called 
"Stalin: Man and Symbol" opened at the Museum of Russian Contemporary 
History in Moscow. 
Along with presents dedicated to Stalin and posters with the slogan 
"Stalin - The Captain of the Land of Soviets" it features drawings by 
Stalin camp inmates and posters with "We won't let it happen again" 
written on them, as well as numerous portraits, photos and Stalin's 
personal belongings and autographs. 


Seattle Post-Intelligencer 
February 20, 2003
Bush and Putin share heartless environmental policy
Lena Bizina teaches law and ecology at Vologda State Pedagogical University 
in Russia. Paul Josephson teaches history at Colby College in Waterville, 
Maine, and is the author of "Industrialized Nature."

In another attack on the environment, President Bush recently decided to open 
one-third of the nation's remaining wetlands to development. This keeps Bush 
in step with President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

Bush and Putin share a heartless environmental policy. They have put oil and 
resource extraction at the top of their agendas. They have weakened or 
abrogated laws and institutions established to protect the environment in 
order to do so. And both presidents have emasculated their environmental 
protection agencies.

Two years ago Putin merely disbanded the Russian version of the Environmental 
Protection Agency, giving responsibility for monitoring and enforcement to 
provincial governments but denying them funding or personnel. Since then, the 
Ministry of Natural Resources has run roughshod over the environment. The 
ministry sees its mission as opening the nation to development and selling 
off seemingly inexhaustible resources to huge corporations.

No less than in Utah, Alaska or Oregon, the Russian government is giving 
forest and mineral rights away from Kamchatka to Murmansk so that 
multinational corporations and large Russian conglomerates can profit. Putin 
is beholden to the extractive industries, especially to oil company 

No less than in Washington, D.C., oil execs have easy access to the Kremlin. 
The Russians' answer to the United States' plan to drill in the Arctic 
National Wildlife Reserve is to build a 2,000-mile pipeline through northern 
Russian tundra across the Kola Peninsula to Murmansk, using technology 
notorious for fouling fragile Arctic ecosystems.

It's paradoxical that the Russian government will sign the Kyoto Protocol on 
reducing greenhouse gas emissions while the Bush administration, almost alone 
in the world, refuses to do anything.

Both Bush and Putin think humans should behave in god-like fashion, 
determining which species should survive this century. Officials in Russia 
have actually discussed selling permits to shoot polar bears and other 
animals on the "red list" to earn some rubles. The Bush administration has 
determined not to seek a reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act, 
underfunds its enforcement and actually considers the 30-year-old law 

Would we be surprised if Interior Secretary Gail Norton announced the sale of 
licenses to shoot California condors? Even if EPA Administrator Christine 
Todd Whitman privately opposes Bush administration policies to gut provisions 
of the Clean Air Act and permit logging and mining on federal lands, she is 
powerless, given her silence and the ascendance of the Department of Interior.

Finally, both presidents ignore conservation. The profligate use of resources 
in the United States is legendary. Russia has a long way to go to catch up. 
But, as did the Bolsheviks, Putin's government sees energy production as the 
key to the economic future. Both nations have resumed efforts to deploy 
nuclear power plants in the next few decades -- 40 stations in Russia alone 
by 2020 plus a dozen compact nuclear power plants that float on barges.

Vice President Dick Cheney wants America to build new reactors near big 
cities. We hope this desire will never move beyond the talking stage in the 
United States. Do terrorists need more inviting targets?

Perhaps only the end of the Cold War could permit these two nations to ignore 
entirely the will of the people to improve environmental policies. During the 
Cold War each nation's leader strove to demonstrate his policies truly 
reflected the will of the people to protect nature at least for show, 
whatever the reality of enforcement.

But Bush and Putin reject any role for environmental organizations in the 
policy process. Rather than take advantage of the Cold War's end to advance 
environmental agendas, Bush and Putin hide behind their wars on terrorism and 
misguided efforts to stabilize struggling economies.

They somehow believe that nature, too, is an enemy. And having gutted the 
agencies intended to protect the environment, they ensure that the costs to 
nature and citizens alike will be very high and most likely irreversible.