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1. Reuters: Russian envoy in Baghdad on surprise mission. (Primakov)
2. South China Morning Post: Fred Weir, Putin torn between US and European camps when it comes to deciding who to back in Iraq debate Russia stuck in the
middle
.
3. BBC Monitoring: Russian businessmen mull possible consequences of Iraqi campaign - TV.
4. Scotland on Sunday: Tom Parfitt, Toast of Russia's literary set faces 14 years in prison for plotting terror attacks. (Limonov)
5. New York Times: Michael Wines, Justice in Russia Is No Longer Swift or Sure.
6. BBC Monitoring: New Constitutional Court chairman against hasty changing of Russia's main law. (Zorkin)
7. San Francisco Chronicle book review: David Kipen, From Russia with brains. A dying Tolstoy sparks brilliant riffs on the birth of modernity. (re The Commissariat of Enlightenment by Ken Kalfus)
8. Sacramento Bee: Luci Komisar, Are criminals in Russia sending missiles to Iraq?
9. Reuters: Russia dismisses US worries on Iran nuclear plant.
10. BBC Monitoring: There is no war in Chechnya, new Chechen premier tells Russian radio listerners.
11. pravda.ru: Russia Joining WTO: Consequences Unknown. International Labour Organization tries to help Russia in determining its position.
12. The Russia Journal editorial: Rent-seekers unrestrained.
13. New York Times: Michael Wines, Exiled American Outlives Stalin's Shadow.
14. BBC: St Petersburg fund loses millions.
15. Baltimore Sun: Douglas Birch, A 'crucial' architectural moment. Change: Eleven firms are competing to design a $100 million theater in 300-year-old St. Petersburg. All are expected to submit modern designs.
16. Vremya MN: Regions' Support for Russian Political Parties in Coming Elections Viewed.

********

#1
Russian envoy in Baghdad on surprise mission
By Hassan Hafidh

BAGHDAD, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov
arrived in Baghdad on an unexpected mission for President Vladimir Putin, a
Russian source in Baghdad said on Sunday.

The visit comes amid U.S. and British efforts to secure a new United
Nations Security Council resolution expected to pave the way for war
against Iraq.

Iraqi and Russian officials said Primakov arrived late on Saturday and had
met senior aides to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has ordered Iraq to start destroying
its al-Samoud 2 missiles by March 1 as part of the process of disarming the
country. Iraq has not yet responded to the demand.

Primakov, a Middle East expert and a long-time friend of Saddam, did not
appear in public in Baghdad and is believed to be staying at one of the
presidential palaces. He is expected to leave later on Sunday, the Russian
source said.

The official gave no information on the nature of the mission.

Primakov served as Russia's prime minister from 1998-99. He travelled to
Baghdad twice in 1990 as part of then-Soviet efforts to avert a U.S.-led
attack to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. His missions failed.

Russia, which has extensive economic interests in Iraq, favours a peaceful
solution to the Iraqi crisis over alleged weapons of mass destruction.
Moscow says it sees no need to use force against Iraq and insists on
allowing U.N. arms inspectors to continue their search for banned weapons.

Russian delegations have visited Baghdad regularly since the standoff with
the United States began last year.

Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov travelled to Iraq in January
along with a delegation of Russian energy companies. Deputies from Russia's
State Duma lower house of parliament met Saddam in Baghdad earlier this month.

Washington has massed tens of thousands of troops in the Gulf for a
possible attack on Iraq.

U.N. weapons inspectors continued their search in the country on Sunday.

Ballistic experts visited several installations associated with weapons
production outside the Iraqi capital, including al-Rafah factory west of
Baghdad.

The head of Iraq's weapons monitoring department, Hussam Mohammad Amin, is
expected to discuss the missile issue at a news conference on Sunday at
1500 GMT. It was not immediately known whether he would respond to Blix's
demand.

********

#2
South China Morning Post
February 23, 2003
Putin torn between US and European camps when it comes to deciding who to
back in Iraq debate Russia stuck in the middle
Fred Weir in Moscow

Throughout the long years of the Cold War, Moscow conspired to drive
political wedges between Europe and America.

But Russia was caught unawares by this month's rowdy transatlantic split
over how to deal with Saddam Hussein, and the Kremlin is dithering over
whether to line up with anti-war campaigners Germany and France or throw
its support behind a United States-led invasion of Iraq.

"Russia is waiting to see which way the wind blows" before deciding how to
act if the US introduces a pro-war resolution into the UN Security Council
in coming days," says Alexei Malashenko, an expert with the Carnegie
Endowment in Moscow.

"Right now it doesn't seem to be blowing America's way." The key issue,
which Russian policy experts are debating, is how to extract the maximum
benefits for Moscow while doing the least harm, particularly to its fragile
post-September 11 anti-terrorist partnership with the US.

"This presents Russia with a very serious dilemma," said Alexei Arbatov, a
liberal lawmaker and deputy chairman of the State Duma's defence committee.

"Russia does not support the use of force in Iraq, but by casting our veto
in the Security Council we might appear to be a leader of an anti-American
coalition. That could destroy everything we've gained in our relations with
the US in the past couple of years."

Moscow was not always so timid. Twelve years ago, on the eve of the first
Gulf War, the still-extant Soviet Union tried to fan divisions in the
US-led anti -Saddam coalition by sending Kremlin adviser Yevgeny Primakov
to Baghdad to broker an 11th-hour peace deal.

But even France - then, as now, reluctant to go to war - failed to back the
scheme, and the Soviet initiative fell apart.

Experts say that Russia has inherited many of the former USSR's motives for
opposing war.

These include a traditional foreign policy line that views Iraq as a
valuable client state, major economic investments in Iraqi oilfields and
concern over how to collect the approximately US$ 7 billion (HK$ 54.5
billion) in Soviet -era debt that it still owes Moscow.

Russia inherited the USSR's permanent seat on the UN Security Council - one
of its few remaining sources of superpower-style influence - and can be
expected to react angrily should the US launch an invasion of Iraq without
that body's approval.

"Vladimir Putin has moved Russia into a close partnership with the US, and
despite all differences the Kremlin is determined to maintain that
relationship," said Sergei Oznobichev, director of the independent
Institute of Strategic Forecasting in Moscow.

"This transatlantic quarrel has thrown Russian policy into confusion. No
one is sure what to do if we have to make a hard choice between Europe and
the US."

A minority of Russian policy experts say the widening Euro-American split
could be the beginning of a permanent geopolitical shift that could see the
end of the US-led Nato alliance and the growth of the European Union into a
military and political superpower in its own right.

"Whatever happens over Iraq, it is clear the post-Cold War order is going
to undergo major changes," said Viktor Kremeniuk, deputy director of the
official Institute of USA-Canada Studies in Moscow.

"We are witnessing the emergence of a Europe that is far less dependent on
the US, more assertive in putting forward its own position and defending
its own interests. Therefore, Russia has a strategic choice to make: should
we go with Europe or the US?"

In the past decade Moscow's commerce with Europe has grown rapidly and now
accounts for more than half of all Russia's foreign trade turnover.

Germany is the biggest single customer for Russian energy exports.

Hopes for a post-Soviet wave of American investment have never
materialised, and many Russians are bitter over the failure of successive
US leaders to repeal Cold War-era laws, such as Jackson-Vanik, which blocks
access for Russian goods to US markets.

"In practical terms, our real partners are in Europe, particularly France
and Germany," Mr Kremeniuk said. "This gives Russia real incentive to get
on board with those countries politically, even when they are defying the
US. It's the obvious choice."

********

#3
BBC Monitoring
Russian businessmen mull possible consequences of Iraqi campaign - TV
Source: Ren TV, Moscow, in Russian 1730 gmt 22 Feb 03

[Presenter] Russia may have to cut its budget following a war in Iraq.
Russian industrialists are counting their potential losses that may reach
billions of dollars. Aleksandr Zhestkov has more.

[Correspondent] I'm standing in front of the US Embassy in Moscow. Russian
Communists and anarchists have chosen this place for anti-war protests. Oil
and heavy industry magnates do not participate in protest actions, though
they would suffer from a military operation in Iraq more than anybody else.

The war can destroy the Iraqi economy. Hundreds of Russian factories that
are supplying goods to Iraq can suffer either. The machine-building
industry alone may lose contracts worth 1.15bn dollars...

[Olga Vdovchenko, captioned as chairperson of the Mashinoimport trading
company] It's our traditional market. We've been there for 50 years. Our
equipment is of low quality, and there is no demand for it in Western
countries. We can't compete with Western producers, so this [Iraqi] market
is one of the most important for us.

[Correspondent] Our manufacturers of power industry equipment have
contracts with Iraq totalling to 1.5bn dollars. The Russians were planning
to open the Yusifiya thermal power plant near Baghdad in 2004, but their
plans are in jeopardy now. Five hundred specialists are waiting for an
evacuation order from the [Russian] Foreign Ministry. Their families are
already at home. Whether the construction of the Yusifiya power plant will
go ahead after the war, is a big question. Even if the new Iraqi government
announces a tender, the Russians doubt its fairness.

[Valentin Kuznetsov, captioned as head of the Tekhnopromeksport federal
state unitary enterprise] Let's take Kuwait as an example. There was a
construction boom after the first Gulf war. After participating in two or
three tenders we realized that it was pointless, because everything was
predetermined by the Americans. They decided who would win the tender. If
the American capital dominates in Iraq, the same rules of the game will be
applied.

[Correspondent] Russian oil companies are sharing these concerns. They are
not working on big contracts in Iraq because of strict international
sanctions, but they foresee a tough struggle for the Iraqi oil in the
future. The West Qurna alone is comparable to half of all Russian oil
reserves.

[Mikhail Khodorkovskiy, captioned as Yukos oil company board chairman] Of
course, Yukos would like to operate outside Russia, including the Middle
East. There are some interesting opportunities and options but we can't use
them as long as sanctions are there. If sanctions are lifted and the
[Iraqi] legislation is acceptable, we certainly will participate in Iraq's
restoration.

[Correspondent] The implementation of these plans depends on the Americans
as well as on the Russian Foreign Ministry. The latter continues to insist
that diplomatic resources are not exhausted yet.

********

#4
Scotland on Sunday
February 23, 2003
Toast of Russia's literary set faces 14 years in prison for plotting terror
attacks
TOM PARFITT IN MOSCOW

HE IS a darling of the intelligentsia and one of Russias best-known
contemporary writers, famous for his controversial political and erotic
works.

However, the latest chapter in the remarkable life of Eduard Limonov is
stranger even than his works of fiction.

The controversial 59-year-old Russian author, feted during periods of exile
in both France and the United States, is facing 14 years in jail for
allegedly plotting a series of terrorist attacks designed to carve out a
"Second Russia" in Kazakhstan.

The leader of the ultra-nationalist National Bolshevik Party (NBP), is
accused of planning an armed uprising "to instigate a violent change of the
existing constitutional order".

Limonov, who spent his 60th birthday in confinement yesterday , is one of
Russias most famous post-Soviet era writers, with a reputation for sharp
polemic and erotic fiction.

His trial has prompted muffled protest from human rights advocates, who,
nevertheless, have been wary of endorsing his extremist politics. The
writer denies charges of attempting to acquire weapons, planning terrorist
attacks and forming an illegal armed group.

At a court appearance in Russias Saratov region, he claimed: "This case is
aimed at immersing our society in fear... and returning the country to a
one-party system where only the party of power has a right to exist."

A wiry, hyperactive figure with a neatly trimmed goatee beard, Limonov used
his position at the head of the NBP before his arrest to pour scorn on the
Kremlin, or "the evil force called The System". On different occasions, he
called president Vladimir Putin a latent homosexual, a blood-sucking
vampire and an idiot.

Security agents seized the writer in spring 2001 in a remote village in
southern Russia near the Kazakh border. Russias Federal Security Service
(FSB) had earlier arrested several NBP activists who tried to buy four
machine-guns, cartridges and 900g of plastic explosives. The activists said
they were acting on Limonovs orders.

FSB agents claim the charismatic author planned to lead armed groups into
Kazakhstan from the Altai mountains, fomenting rebellion among the
Russian-speaking population of the former Soviet republic.

The accusation is based on an article published in NBPs newspaper,
Limonka, calling for a "Second Russia" to rise up and champion the cause of
marginalised Russians living on the territory of other states.

Following the break-up of the USSR, large communities of ethnic Russians
were left marooned in former Soviet republics where many have complained of
discrimination.

Limonov, who remains in custody, denies writing the inflammatory article.
During closing comments in his defence earlier this month, he compared
himself to the 19th century radical Nikolai Chernyshevsky, who was arrested
in 1862 "in connection with an anti-governmental proclamation that he did
not actually sign".

Prosecutors insist on Limonovs guilt, demanding a 14-year sentence in a
high security prison. A verdict is expected in April.

Born Eduard Savenko, Limonov rose to prominence in the early 1990s after
returning from 20 years abroad in the US and France. He founded the
extremist National Bolshevik Party with the aim of "reviving Lenins
revolutionary fervour" in post-Soviet Russia.

Bizarre pranks quickly became the partys calling card, including a
tomato-throwing attack on Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson during the
closing conference of the Nato summit in Prague last November.

International PEN, an organisation campaigning on behalf of jailed writers
around the world, has cast doubt on the "flimsy evidence" being brought
against Limonov, whom it describes as one of Russias most noted
avant-garde writers.

"We are asking for him to be released or for his sentence to be reduced,"
said Alexander Tkachenko, general secretary of PENs Russian branch.

"This is a very tragic fate for a significant writer. In my opinion, the
prosecution is not so much against him, as against his party."

Tkachenko stressed, however, that he could not endorse Limonovs political
views.

Natalya Ivanova, a literary critic at Znamya magazine, agreed, saying
Limonov took "a rightful place in the canons of modern prose" but that his
political convictions were "morally repugnant".

Meanwhile, a local television station in Saratov reported Limonov was
keeping up his spirits by reading Lenins works and letters, and doing
push-ups in his prison cell.

The writer, it said, had been nicknamed "The Energizer" by fellow inmates
because of his boundless zest for life.

*******

#5
New York Times
February 23, 2003
Justice in Russia Is No Longer Swift or Sure
By MICHAEL WINES

IZHEVSK, Russia, Feb. 19 -- This was the week that this gritty
edge-of-Siberia city joined a lumbering, long-delayed turnabout in the
Russian legal system and held an actual jury trial, its first in at least
85 years.

Not a moment too soon. Igor M. Yakovlev needed a jury on whose mercy he
could throw himself.

Slumped behind the iron-bars of the defendant's cage in a chilly courtroom
here, Mr. Yakovlev, 33, sullen, with a buzz cut and wearing an Adidas
fleece jacket, looked every bit his part: a man accused of beating two men
to death so savagely that he broke a baseball bat, then a stick, before
using a metal pipe to finish the job.

A woman testified that he had said he committed the killings "from the
depths of my soul." His best character witness could only state that while
he did not know Mr. Yakovlev well, he had never seen him drunk.

It fell to the retired police officer who defended him, Sergei M.
Balobanov, to find a way out. His last-ditch advice was for a reluctant Mr.
Yakovlev to confess -- even though that meant the jury would see a
prosecution video in which he energetically re-enacted his crime.

"I thought it would be a good strategy for him to admit his guilt to strive
for smaller punishment," Mr. Balobanov, a stolid man in glasses and a
forest green sports coat, said during a recess. "All I want to achieve is
for the jury to admit that he needs some softer treatment. If the jury says
he needs lenience, the judge won't be able to ignore it."

That sort of thinking is not just a turnabout, but a revolution. Since
shortly after 1917, when the new Soviet state outlawed juries, the fates of
most accused Russians have been decided by three-member panels that served
as judges, jurors and -- sometimes -- aides to the prosecution. As recently
as 1996, the panels were grinding out convictions in 995 of every 1,000
criminal cases.

This winter -- glacially, and sometimes grudgingly -- their monopoly is
starting to crack. An overhaul of Russia's criminal code, pushed through
Parliament by President Vladimir V. Putin and adopted in July, gives
defendants accused of the most serious crimes the right to demand a jury
trial. It also guarantees them Western-style rights.

Much of that had already been written into Russia's Constitution in 1993.
In 1999, after six years of fitful experiments, the nation's top court
ordered the government to carry out the changes. But Parliament did not
consider the legislation until last year. Even after the new criminal code
became law, Parliament voted in December to delay the start of jury trials
in 20 regions, including Moscow, because a decade's notice had still left
officials unprepared.

In fact, there is a lot to prepare. By some measures, Russia's 20,000
judges are only half the number needed for the new system. Courtrooms must
have jury boxes, microphones and other items. Juror lists must be compiled,
and the jurors must be paid. Last year, an experimental trial in suburban
Moscow stalled because the $1.75 per diem failed to lure jurors into the
courtroom. The 2003 judicial budget was increased 25 percent $762 million.

The latest delay has raised suspicions among supporters of civil liberties
here that opponents want to water down protections for the accused. Two
weeks ago, Interior Minister Boris V. Gryzlov said his office was drafting
amendments because the code "fails to balance the rights and duties of the
parties involved."

He added that "the hands of investigators are tied."

That complaint, also a refrain of Western law-enforcement officials, was
echoed by prosecutors in the Yakovlev case. "You have to watch all the
periods and commas," said Igor P. Karpov, chief criminal prosecutor for the
republic of Urdmurtiya. "A criminal investigation may be done poorly, and
even if it's clear that the person is guilty, the evidence can't be used."

Prosecutors have seen their conviction rate of 99 percent shrink in the
experimental jury trials. In 2002, 44 of 465 people tried before juries
were acquitted, and the sentences of 11 others were thrown out on
procedural grounds, resulting in a conviction rate of just over 88 percent.

The defense lawyer, Mr. Balobanov, said he knew why. "These so-called
people's judges took part in trials all the time, and they got sick and
tired of them," he said. The jurors, he said, "feel greater responsibility
when passing a verdict."

The judge at Mr. Yakovlev's trial, Yuri V. Sukhanov, 45, is also the
chairman of Urdmurtiya's Supreme Court. He spent part of last year in
Wyoming, observing the American legal system. He said he believed that
Russian jury trials would work but added that his Wyoming colleagues had
warned him that they were "an expensive pleasure" used only when plea
bargaining failed.

But Russia's criminal code does not allow plea bargains for major crimes
like Mr. Yakovlev's. "Without a jury, this trial would take two, three days
maximum," the judge said. "Now it takes two weeks."

From a pool of 120 registered voters, the two sides settled on 12 jurors
and 2 alternates — mostly average folks, in this city famous for making
Kalashnikov rifles.

The case was grisly: Mr. Yakovlev, prosecutors charged, became angry after
the two victims warned a third man that a real-estate deal was a swindle.
Mr. Yakovlev told them to leave, but when he returned to the scene that
September evening, they were still there, drunk.

The prosecutors said Mr. Yakovlev took a baseball bat from his car and beat
them unconscious. When it broke, they said, he left, and returned half an
hour later with a stick, a pipe and a 16-year-old boy, who later saw him
throw away a piece of one broken weapon. The two men were beaten beyond
recognition.

Mr. Yakovlev said the men had tried to strangle him and displayed marks on
his neck. But his lawyer, Mr. Balobanov, did not mention that at the trial,
apparently because he believed, mistakenly, that the criminal code did not
permit it. Nor did the impassive Mr. Balobanov play to the jurors beyond
noting that the defendant had a 5-year-old child and had expressed remorse.
That surprised both the prosecutors and the judge.

After three hours, the jurors returned a verdict: Mr. Yakovlev had
committed two premeditated killings.

Despite Mr. Yakovlev's hopes, the jurors said he deserved no leniency. But
Mr. Sukhanov nevertheless handed down an 18-year sentence instead of the
life sentence the law allowed, saying he had taken into account Mr.
Yakovlev's claim of strangulation because it was part of the indictment,
even if the defense had failed to raise it.

"Unfortunately, the laws that were adopted, they are still quite raw," he
said. "But I think it will work."

********

#6
BBC Monitoring
New Constitutional Court chairman against hasty changing of Russia's main law
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 0400 gmt 23 Feb 03

[Presenter] The work of the Russian Constitutional Court will undergo no
dramatic changes following the election of a new chairman, Valeriy Zorkin
himself said in a live interview with Ekho Moskvy radio.

[Zorkin] The constitution has an article which provides for the possibility
of changing the constitution by means of a constitutional procedure.
Whether such changes are necessary or not - it's is not a question for the
Constitutional Court. It's a question for ruling politicians who must,
however, weigh everything including the legal aspects. What do I mean by
legal aspects? First of all, it's stability of the constitution. The
Americans have never changed their constitution, they only amended it. They
live very well with their old constitution. The irrepressible itch to
change the constitution eventually leads to its devaluation. Of course, the
constitution must be built reasonably. The existing constitution has
certain drawbacks, but it gives some kind of balance. Even if it has to be
changed, this must be done only when it is really necessary.

[Presenter] Let me remind you that Zorkin was elected chairman of the
Constitutional Court on 21 February.

[Russian news agency Ekho Moskvy, Moscow, in Russian, at 1726 gmt 22 Feb 03
quoted Zorkin as saying in the same interview that the Constitutional Court
considers about 14,000 suits and complaints per year, mostly related to
economic issues and taxation. He also praised the new Russian Criminal
Procedural Code put into effect in 2002.]

********

#7
San Francisco Chronicle
February 23, 2003
book review
From Russia with brains
A dying Tolstoy sparks brilliant riffs on the birth of modernity
Reviewed by David Kipen, Chronicle Book Critic

The Commissariat of Enlightenment
By Ken Kalfus
HARPERCOLLINS; 295 Pages; $24.95

Like plutonium, puns are rarely found in nature. Usually it takes some form
of human agency to make one. An exception to this tendency occurred in
1910, when Leo Tolstoy fled his long marriage and traveled for days aboard
a private train car, finally hovering between life and death in a rural
Russian railroad station called Astapovo. One can almost hear an eager
divinity prompting, in heavily accented English, "Get it?"

Astapovo: a stopover, between this world and the next. Ken Kalfus declines
to exploit this joke in "The Commissariat of Enlightenment," his
thrillingly intelligent first novel about the death of Tolstoy and the
birth of PR, but it's about the only trick he leaves on the table. A witty
meditation on how image supplanted language in the 20th century, "The
Commissariat of Enlightenment" confirms the promise of Kalfus' two story
collections, "Thirst" and "Pu-239," and neatly airbrushes him into any
class picture of the writers who are keeping American literature
interesting at the moment.

Kalfus cares more about ideas than about puns, less about paronomasia than
about paranoia -- the chronic low-grade terror born of knowing that
history's locomotive brakes for nobody. As Stalin snarls at Lenin's wife
near this book's brilliantly staged climax, "Get out of the way, bitch, or
history will run you over." If there were an annual MTV Movie Awards for
literature -- with categories not just for best books but for best first
sentence, best simile, best ending, best character name and the like --
"Get out of the way, bitch, or history will run you over" has at least one
early vote for line of the year.

The story of "The Commissariat of Enlightenment" cleaves right down the
middle, like a walnut. The first half retells Tolstoy's death at Astapovo
from the perspectives of an opportunistic British journalist, a pioneering
Ukrainian pathologist and a callow Pathe newsreel cameraman named Gribshin.
One is scheming to merchandise Tolstoy's likeness, one to embalm his body
and one to put his final moments on film. Each wants a piece of Tolstoy,
though they give no sign of having read that other book about death and
trains, "Anna Karenina," or, indeed, anything else by the dying man.

Tolstoy's work is lost on Stalin and the Lenins, too, who pass near
Astapovo on the way to their own railway rendezvous with history at the
Finland Station in 1917. Here, Kalfus is doing what most gifted historical
novelists do: picking one of the moments when the star of modernity first
appeared in the sky, then staring at it until its very gravity seems to
increase, drawing into its orbit any stray comets in the vicinity.

Kalfus is foreshadowing a revolution, just not the one we think. For all
his contagious fascination with 20th century Russian history, he's finally
less interested in Bolshevism's overthrow of the bourgeoisie than in film's
overthrow of fiction, the eclipse of the novel by mere novelty.

The first-act curtain gathers all of Kalfus' historical and invented
characters around Tolstoy's deathbed, then disperses them as the second
half begins. Suddenly it's 14 years later, and Stalin has made Gribshin his
minister of propaganda, his "Commissar of Enlightenment." Lenin is dying in
his dacha outside Moscow. Can Gribshin (now renamed Astapov, after the
station house where he first glimpsed the mass media's true potential)
stage-manage Lenin's death, and

turn Communism's messiah into an icon more potent than anything the Russian
Orthodox Church ever dreamed of?

That's the setup for a finish that ranks among the finest of any American
novel in several years. Too many novels nowadays fall apart at the end, or
limp safely into port on momentum and reader goodwill. Since the late '90s,
only Kurt Anderson's "Turn of the Century" has had an ending that really
brought the house down -- and there, the beginning and the middle were
iffy. By contrast, "The Commissariat of Enlightenment" comes on like
gangbusters at the close, but without ever giving the impression of having
conserved its strength along the way.

If the book has a flaw, it's the underdevelopment of its women. One
character like the idiot farm girl, who exists primarily to give birth to a
stillborn symbol of the revolution, might have been justifiable. But when
Kalfus describes Astapov's assistant as so otherworldly that "she did not
seem possessed of substance at all," and then his wife as so docile that
she "moved through their Party-supplied home on light, nearly weightless
feet," it's hard not to notice a pattern. Otherworldliness is fine,
especially for characters representing the producers and consumers of the
U.S.S.R.'s propaganda-addled future, but a little thisworldliness might
have made for more variety.

Leaving aside its sickle-sharp ideas about history, "The Commissariat of
Enlightenment" stands apart from most fiction today in one other regard:
Most of its characters don't hesitate to argue about ideas. It's a
refreshing departure, deserving of an adjective so unfashionable that it
may not even be a compliment anymore, though it should be. That word is
Shavian. George Bernard Shaw never scrupled to let his characters rip in
profound, well- matched exchanges, and neither, to his credit, does Kalfus.

It's not exactly a surprise ending. Lenin was always going to die, and no
reader has been expecting anything different. But in the way Lenin dies --
and through his posthumous soliloquy atop the catafalque in Red Square, as
the decades crank slowly by -- Kalfus resolves his novel with all the brio,
rhythm and whirligig majesty of a Tchaikovsky finale.

********

#8
Sacramento Bee
February 23, 2003
Other view: Are criminals in Russia sending missiles to Iraq?
By Lucy Komisar
Lucy Komisar writes about foreign affairs, particularly money laundering
and arms dealing. Her most recent work has appeared in the New York Daily
News, the Baltimore Sun, Salon and MSNBC.

American officials fear that Belarus is the middleman for Russian weapons
sales to Iraq, according to last week's Newsweek. The magazine noted that
Leonid Kozik, a Belarus official who visited Iraq last fall, is on the
board of a Russian-Belarussian company that markets weapons from those
countries.

Iraq is subject to a U.N. arms embargo. If Iraq is getting Russian weapons
through Belarus -- either with the approval of Russian officials or via
corrupt private firms -- it refocuses attention on the destabilizing impact
of the criminalization of the Russian state and the uncontrolled expansion
of the world's arms bazaar. Both developments have been largely ignored by
Washington, with failure to confront Russian corruption a legacy of the
Clinton administration and refusal to deal with weapons sales a result of
the longtime political influence of arms-makers.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Steven Pifer, who headed a
State Department delegation to Belarus in February 2002, said Washington
had evidence that country was involved in arms smuggling and had trained
Iraq's military to work with Russian S-300P missiles. The S-300P is a
transportable system designed for site defense.

Siemon Wezeman, a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research
Institute (SIPRI), noted that though claims of training have focused on the
S-300P, "Belarus does however also have the S-300V." He added, "Russia is
actively promoting the S-300V for export." The S-300V, called "SAM 12" by
NATO, is the most powerful surface-to-air defense missile on the market,
outperforming the American Patriot. It is a cross-country mobile system
designed to protect moving troops. Labeled defensive, it can be converted
to launch medium-range attack missiles and can bring down stealth aircraft.

AirForces Monthly (London), which covers military aviation, in October 2002
reported that "high on Saddam's shopping list" are the S-300P and also
S-300V anti-aircraft systems. It said, "There have been reports of his
agents traveling extensively in Eastern Europe in attempts to buy them from
corrupt officials in former Soviet republics." A spokesman for Pifer
declined to discuss reports that Iraq was seeking S-300Vs.

The British magazine said Iraq's purchase of the S-300V missiles "would
mean a dramatic alteration in the military balance of the Middle East,"
enhancing the ability of Iraq to shoot down American and British attack
aircraft as well as those that presently enforce the U.S.-U.K.-designated
no-fly zones. Till now, Iraqis have used less sophisticated missiles
against American and British planes that fly over their territory and have
not shot any down.

S-300V radar can see stratospheric B1 and B3 aircraft, and its missiles can
bring them down within a range of 60 miles. Inspectors on the ground can't
easily detect the system, because it's mobile, with a complex of missiles,
radar, and a command and control center that can be stored in five large
trucks.

Set up in five minutes, a firing battery can comprise up to 48 missiles on
self-propelled transporter-erector-launcher vehicles, each carrying four
missiles in sealed canisters. The engagement radar can guide up to twelve
surface-to-air missiles to simultaneously engage up to six different targets.

According to Steven Zaloga, an expert on Russian missile systems with the
Teal Group of Fairfax, Va., which provides aerospace and defense market
intelligence, "Only the Slavic republics -- Russia, Belarus, Ukraine --
have the S-300V." Here is where governance matters. System parts are
produced in various Russian locations, but the main assembly site is the
Mariski Machine Factory (MMZ) in the southern republic of Mari El, which
the major Russian business newspapers Kommersant and Versiya call a
criminal state.

Its former president and strongman, Vyacheslav Kislitsyn served six years
for armed robbery, and Versiya said, "At one time there were in the
administration of Mari El 11 people one way or another connected with
crime, from the first deputy premier to the minister of education."
Kislitsyn, whose nickname is "Acid," took control of the MariEl government
in 1993. A chief collaborator is Aslan Batyrov, the official "observer" of
the Chechen organized crime group headed by his brother, Magdan Batyrov.

When he got into power, Kislitsyn forced out federal law enforcement
personnel. Interior Ministry (MVD) agents left or were expelled. When a new
MVD chief in 2000 tried to institute changes, Kislitsyn ordered the door of
his apartment sealed. The newspapers described Kislitsyn as a sadistic thug
whose hobby was to practice boxing on clerks delivered to him in handcuffs.

Mocking the corruption of former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, Versiya
called Mari El's boss "the final product of the policy of Yeltsin reforms."
Kislitsyn considered the S-300V a good money-maker. In a 1997 letter to
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yakov Urinson, which I obtained, he sought
federal assistance to expand production and promised "good profits."
According to the Moscow paper Soversheno Secretno, a few years ago he had a
run-in with federal security service officials who sought to block a sale
of weapons to Kuwaiti sheiks. The paper said he fired the MMZ director,
changed the local security service chiefs and named his man to handle
shipments.

If the S-300Vs are used against U.S. forces, it will be yet another example
of blowback from Washington's failed Russia and arms control policies.

********

#9
Russia dismisses US worries on Iran nuclear plant
February 21, 2003
By Clara Ferreira-Marques

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A top Russian official Friday dismissed U.S. concerns
that Moscow's role in building the first nuclear power station in Iran
could help that country get nuclear weapons.

"At this moment in time, Iran does not have the capacity to build nuclear
weapons," Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev told reporters.

Moscow is helping to build the plant in the Gulf port of Bushehr.
Separately, Tehran set out an ambitious nuclear energy plan this month,
including enrichment of uranium.

"We are giving them only technology that is monitored and authorized by the
International Atomic Energy Agency. I can vouch that construction of an
atomic power station with the return of spent fuel (to Russia) poses no
danger," Rumyantsev said.

Russia has known for a long time that Iran had uranium ore. "The fact that
it intends to extract the uranium is its economic right," Rumyantsev said.

Russia says it is providing Iran only with civilian nuclear equipment, with
fuel from the 1,000-megawatt Bushehr plant to be shipped back to Russia for
reprocessing. But some U.S. experts say Iran could use the know-how
acquired from the Russians, if not the technology, to develop nuclear arms.

Rumyantsev had no comment on talks next week in Moscow between Russian
officials and U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton. Russian sources
said the visit by the top U.S. arms negotiator was a regular, scheduled visit.

Iran has been denounced by President Bush as part of the "axis of evil"
along with Iraq and North Korea.

U.S. officials have said Russia's nuclear dealings with Iran are the single
biggest thorn in relations with Washington, much improved since Russian
President Vladimir Putin threw his support behind the U.S. war against terror.

Rumyanstev said a visit to Iran by an IAEA delegation would help put
Washington at ease. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog,
arrived in Tehran Friday to discuss the nuclear program which Iran says is
needed to meet the energy demands of its 65 million people.

"There is always concern when countries develop nuclear technology, but a
high-ranking IAEA delegation is due in Iran," Rumyantsev said. "A lot of
questions will be answered while this delegation travels and works there."

********

#10
BBC Monitoring
There is no war in Chechnya, new Chechen premier tells Russian radio
listerners
Source: Radio Mayak, Moscow, in Russian 0905 gmt 22 Feb 03

There is no war in Chechnya, Anatoliy Popov, newly appointed prime minister
of the republic, told the "Power and People" slot on Russian Mayak radio.
According to him, the problem in Chechnya is a very high crime rate which
has to be dealt with, including by federal troops that help to maintain
order. Akhmar Zavgayev, representative of the Chechen Republic in the
Federation Council, told the programme that the attitude of PACE to the
situation in the republic had changed dramatically. The following is
excerpt from the programme broadcast on 22 February. Subheadings have been
inserted editorially:

[Presenter Yulian Semenov] Good morning. Today we are going to discuss the
situation in Chechnya and around it again... My studio guest is the
representative of the Chechen Republic administration in the Federation
Council, Akhmar Gapurovich Zavgayev...

Round table on Chechnya

Yesterday you took part in the round table in Moscow. It had a very formal
title: "Consolidation and unity of the peoples of the Chechen Republic are
a way towards peace and accord". But they say that it wasn't very peaceful
and there wasn't much accord at the forum. What is your view?

[Zavgayev] ...The title of the round table was certainly very attractive.
And the hope was that it would assist in restoring peace and accord in
Chechnya. At the same time, individual participants in the round table were
concerned not so much about peace and accord as about making their own
complains heard. Some so-called politicians still have ambitions and claims
to power...

At the same time, in my view, the dialogue was constructive. Of course,
there were many questions to [pro-Moscow head of the Chechen administration
Akhmad] Kadyrov, as well as accusations of each other...

New Chechen premier profiled

[Presenter] I am just being told that a link has been established with
Chechen Prime Minister Anatoliy Popov. Since it was technically difficult,
let's not keep him waiting...

Anatoliy Aleksandrovich [Popov], since you are on our programme for the
first time, we would like to introduce you to our listeners in more detail.

[Recorded voice-over] Anatoliy Aleksandrovich Popov was born in 1960. After
graduating from Volgograd Agricultural Institute, he continued education at
the Institute of Economy and Agriculture. He did some academic work, he is
a doctor of economic sciences. He worked as a consultant to the USSR deputy
prime minister and as an adviser at the Finance Ministry. He held the posts
of financial director of the Rosvooruzheniye [arms exporter] state company,
deputy head of the Moscow government department of food resources and
director of the investment management school at the Academy of National
Economy under the Russian government. In 2001, he was head of the federal
management in charge of construction and restoration work in Chechnya. On
10 February 2003, he was appointed to the post of prime minister of the
Chechen Republic. Anatoliy Popov is married, has a son. His hobbies are
football and downhill skiing.

Premier focuses on social sphere

[Presenter] Anatoliy Aleksandrovich, ...what were your first moves as head
of government?..

[Popov] I began by paying salaries which had not been paid for more than
two months. As of today, December arrears have been paid, and now we are
finishing paying January salaries. It was the most acute issue. Apart from
salaries, naturally [we paid] children's allowances and, following the
terrorist act on 27 December [when Government House in Groznyy was blown
up], this week we began paying compensations.

In other words, I began with the social sphere, and already in the first
days I visited a whole number of medical establishments in the city and the
republic's districts because the medical service is a very important
element of the social sphere for us at present - for obvious reasons, we
have many people who are currently ill or unwell.

[I also visited] educational establishments, and, of course, the most
important task facing us is the sowing campaign. As for organizational
work, the main thing is to improve the work of the government because it
was not in a working condition...

No war in Chechnya

[Question by telephone] The first question is as follows. How can you, as
specialists, explain the fact that the situation which happened 11 years
ago happened in Chechnya and not in other Islamic republics such as
Dagestan? And the second part of the question to you, as specialists, is
the following. The war in Chechnya has been dragging on and on. From your
point of view, is the use of force the only way of resolving the conflict
or are there some other measures that could be used to stop the war as soon
as possible?..

[Popov] One cannot give one reason as to why it happened in Chechnya
because there was a whole number of economic, political and other
conditions at the time, I mean 11 years ago. A combination of factors
determined the situation then.

As for the second question, one should be fully aware of the fact that
there is no war on Chechen territory. Simply, there is the highest level of
crime there which should be dealt with. Yesterday, a meeting of the
republic's Prosecutor's Office collegium was held, at which figures were
given. They are going down but, nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of
crimes are of a purely criminal nature. The rate of crime is so high that
troop contingents need to be involved in maintaining [order] and carrying
out special operations. But there is no war there.

[Presenter] What are your relations with the military like?

[Popov] We have absolutely normal relations with the military. We have one
common task - to ensure the stabilization of the situation, to achieve
peace and quiet in the republic and to ensure conditions for its future
development. Therefore we are operating together in full accord...

[Presenter] In my view, it is not a question of politicians' ambitions but
of who, after the reorganization of power in Chechnya after the elections,
will get access to money? Is it true or not?

[Zavgayev] My reply would be not. This issue is being whipped up by people
who - [changes tack] I would say the following: hold the thief! It is
people who plundered the republic's wealth that are shouting about that
now. I can give you an example. For six years Ingushetia was a zone of
economic prosperity but last year Ingushetia collected R800m in taxes.
Chechnya last year collected R3.758m in taxes. In other words, the economy
began to work, the social sphere began to work, although there are many
problems. Yes, there may be some losses and embezzlement too...

PACE changes attitude to Chechnya

[Presenter] Recently you attended the PACE [Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe] session in Strasbourg. Among other things, the session
discussed the situation in Chechnya. You know, they put pressure on us as
regards some problems but it seems that now the situation is changing. Can
you briefly talk about that?

[Zakayev] I would say that some emissaries that come to our country,
including Chechnya, do not objectively present the situation and the
information to the European community. They describe as rebels the
murderers and terrorists who are now eliminating the local population and
representatives of the Church and the intelligentsia there.

[Presenter] We know that. But is the situation changing?

[Zakayev] The situation has changed dramatically. In my speech at the
session I raised some questions. Are we adhering to the principles which
were stated here on numerous occasions? Are we supporting Russia's
integrity, international efforts against terrorism and observation of human
rights? If we adhere to these principles, then why today are you objecting
to us holding a referendum in order to ask the Chechen people what they
want? They did not have any arguments to object to that, so they supported
the holding of the referendum. It will be the first step towards the
political settlement of the conflict.

Most Chechens support referendum

[Presenter] I have the results of an opinion poll in front of me which was
carried out by the (?Ala) information analytical centre. So, 76 per cent of
the polled citizens of the Chechen Republic expressed a positive attitude
to the referendum, 7.4 per cent had a negative attitude and about 17 per
cent have not made up their minds. This is an objective picture. Also,
according to preliminary polls, about 60 per cent of citizens are going to
support the draft constitution...

Khasbulatov not very popular with pro-Moscow Chechen official

[Question by telephone] ...I am interested in [former speaker of the
Russian parliament ethnic Chechen Ruslan] Khasbulatov's position. If he
attended the round table, what was his view?..

[Zakayev] I would say that on the whole Ruslan Imranovich [Khasbulatov] did
not play a very good role in the past 11 years as regards the situation in
the Chechen Republic. Yesterday a representative of the Russian-speaking
population spoke at the round table. He simply said that the persecution of
the Chechens began in 1991-1992 under Khasbulatov...

[Presenter] Akhmar Gapurovich, you are entitled to your own opinion. The
question was different though. Did Khasbulatov or his representatives take
part in yesterday's round table?

[Zakayev] No, he did not take part, and I did not see his representatives...

[Duration 30']

********

#11
pravda.ru
February 22, 2003
Russia Joining WTO: Consequences Unknown
International Labour Organization tries to help Russia in determining its
position

Since last year, at different levels of Russian authority, disputes on
Russian membership in WTO are carried out. Although the government and the
main lobbyist of Russian membership in WTO, Economical Development Ministry
head German Gref were blamed with indistinct position and with lack of
explanations, the authorities still have not shown all pluses and minuses
of the possible entry. So, this issue was considered by International
Labour Organization: yesterday, in St Petersburg, a trilateral consultation
took place, under title Economical and Social Consequences of Russias
Entry to WTO, in which this organization representatives participated.

To the meeting, high Russian functionaries came: labour minister Alexandr
Pochinok, Independent Trade Union Federation chairman Mikhail Shmakov,
first deputy minister of economical development Mikhail Dmitriev, Russian
Employers Unit coordination council head, Oleg Yeremeev and others.
Ironically, economical consequences of Russias joining WTO have been never
discussed before at such a high level. While this is as important subject
for Russia as keeping low internal prices on carbohydrates and electric
power.

In fact, Russia again undertook obligation to join WTO till the end of this
year. December last year, this was unambiguously declared by the vice Prime
Minister, finance minister Alexei Kudrin, when he was in Geneva. Within
half a day he spent there, he had time to promise the negotiation process
on this issue would be accelerated. While there are still many troubles and
ambiguities. A new round of the negotiations is coming, while the
government is thinking how to maximally use it. Deputy minister of
economical development Maxim Medvedkov, who leads Russian delegation at the
negotiations, offered an ambitious thesis: Russia could join WTO already
next months. While the question about Russias readiness to this step is
still without answer. So, the St-Petersburg meeting participants tried to
answer it.

To be honest, there are too many questions. For example, how will
businessmen and the authority share social and financial responsibility for
this step? The Russian Employers Unit coordination council head, Oleg
Yeremeev noticed keeping kindergartens, houses, and sometimes the whole
infrastructure of some cities and even regions negatively influenced
Russian companies competitiveness. Though, the state does not hasten to
undertake responsibility for social sphere. The state could gain
businessmen at least small indulgences for its support of social sphere.
Though, functionaries plead with necessity to pay external debts. In the
meanwhile, Russian companies low implication in the work on external market
reduces their interest in adaptation of their managers to global market
demands. According to some information, about 68 percent of Russian
enterprises have nothing to do with production export, while about half of
Russian business leaders know nothing about the issue of Russias entry to
WTO. They seem to support this step, though most of them will be simply
thrown overboard by foreign businessmen.

According to Article 7 of Russian Constitution, Russian Federation is a
social state, whose policy is aimed for creation of adequate living
standard and free development of a person. So, the main aim of Russias
joining WTO must be keeping this principle, while other possible profits of
WTO membership development of market, growth of foreign investments,
acceleration of economical growth and so on are nothing more but means to
achieve this aim. The real price of the issue is dozens of millions
peoples fates, Oleg Yeremeev said at the meeting.

Does the authority understand, how Russias WTO membership would influence
social and labour relationship? What does it mean: access to good jobs for
many people, effective social protection, confidence in the future, or a
social collapse? Serious scientists prefer not to speak about it, while
fashionable experts frighten Russian citizens and discuss horrors of
economical intervention.

According to Oleg Yeremeev, conclusions made by International Labour
Organization, correspond in general with researches made earlier by Russian
Academy of Science and do not confirm the most apocalyptic forecasts of
some experts. Spite serious troubles in different spheres of Russian
economy, no catastrophic economical collapse in Russia are to be expected.
There will be certainly some problems: for example growth of unemployment
in food, textile, footwear, furniture industries and in consumer
electronics production.
In fact, many fundamental questions still have no scientifically based
answers. However, there was nobody, who tried to find this answers.

Akhtyam Akhtyrov
PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva

*********

#12
The Russia Journal
February 21-27, 2003
Editorial
Rent-seekers unrestrained

It would seem that the Duma can pass all the laws it wants and President
Vladimir Putin sign one directive after another, but nothing changes the
corrupt behavior of some government officials. The Presidential
Administrations auditing directorate has a posting on its Web site that
hundreds of millions of dollars of state money have been misappropriated in
the last two years. As it is a Kremlin source, one has to wonder if the
watchdog of the watchdog is coming clean with real numbers. It does not
really matter, though; corruption in Russia both the perception of it and
the reality has changed very little under Putins presidency.

According to the directorates report, the misappropriated funds were
allocated for extra-budgetary revenues directed to cover specific ministry
programs. Oversight responsibility of these extra-budgetary funds,
inexplicably, was left in the hands of each ministry. The ministries
audited included the Nuclear Power, Natural Resources, Industry, Science
and Technology, Defense, Labor and, most disappointingly, Justice Ministries.

Extra-budgetary revenues, in Russian budget parlance, usually mean programs
to protect some of Russias most disadvantaged people and programs for the
countrys technological and social advancement. Absconding with these funds
belongs in a special category of odious and mercenary greed. Funds that
were intended to help the elderly, families in the military and scientific
research but ended up as dachas, exorbitant junkets and expensive gifts for
the powers-that-be speak of nothing less than a lack of a sense of socially
committed public service, to say the least. It is this kind of behavior
that Russias decade-old reform project has not addressed and keeps
Russias experience with administration rooted in a failed past. Governance
in Russia has never had the interest of the population as a polity in mind.
A decade of post-communism and two years under President Vladimir Putin
have not changed this sad state of affairs.

In Russia, the state and the population have never really gotten along
well. Corruption is one of the only spheres of social interaction where
communication between the two has been found. Corruption enriches those
with administrative power, while allowing a sense of security, even
protection, for those who are exploited or have had their wealth
expropriated. The existing relationship between the two has never
strengthened the state or society in the long run, and it certainly does
not create wealth. Corruption, by definition, cannot build anything
meaningful; it just perpetuates the "us versus them" social mentality that
is a part of everyday life.

The only new element to be introduced into Russias recent history of the
expropriator versus the expropriated is the advent of corporations with
wealth comparable to that of the state. For over a decade, Russias growing
corporate interests flourished in the corrupt political culture known so
well in this country. At a certain point, some of these same moneyed
interests realized that government-inspired corruption does not serve its
own interests especially if they desire to become important international
players. They are slowly but surely abandoning the corrupt business culture
that allowed them to come into being. They are, in fact, now leaving the
state behind, and, as an unintended result, most of the population as well.

What many call Russias "middle class" appears to be ambivalent about the
culture of corruption. It would seem that their attitude is that paying off
the policeman or taxman is acceptable as long as it is not exorbitant. But
this only perpetuates a very unhealthy form of social behavior. This
ambivalence will not create a solid middle class in Russia that could
develop a meaningful civil society.

It is reported that Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin, the government
official who is in charge of overseeing extra-budgetary programs, will
present a number of proposals in April on how to optimize budget
expenditures. The best we can expect from his proposals is that the state
will make corruption more efficient ending the practice does appear to be
on the agenda. In the meantime, Russia will continue to fail in its quest
to become a "normal" and prosperous society.

*********

#13
New York Times
February 22, 2003
Exiled American Outlives Stalin's Shadow
By MICHAEL WINES

DUBNA, Russia When David Natanovich Bell first applied for a visa to
visit the United States, at the American Embassy in Moscow in October 1987,
the consular official took one brief look at his Soviet passport and one
long look at him. She left the room, then returned with her boss.

"So," they asked him, "do you want to renew your American citizenship?"

It was a reasonable question. Beneath the red cover of his passport, with
its hammer and sickle, was a page noting his date and place of birth: May
14, 1921; Houston, Tex.

Mr. Bell had been living in the Soviet Union since he was barely 10.

Now 81, David Bell is among the last of a small band of Americans and their
kin hundreds, surely, and probably thousands who quit the United States
in the depths of the Great Depression and headed for Josef Stalin's
socialist paradise.

For acting on their convictions, many suffered grievously. Some died,
marooned in prison camps or worked to death building dams for greater
Soviet glory.

Many others, including Mr. Bell's brother, sister and children, fled to
America and Europe the instant the Soviet Union's borders began to crack open.

Mr. Bell stayed. He lives with his wife, Katya, 75, in Dubna, a
tree-studded town of about 60,000, 80 miles north of Moscow, in the
four-room fourth-floor apartment they have occupied since 1961.

"It never occurred to me to leave what would I do?" Mr. Bell, a tall,
spare man with long shocks of white hair, an animated manner and perfect
Midwestern English, said during a recent conversation. Russia, he said, is
his home and home to Katya, who speaks no English and has six Russian
sisters. "Men have a habit of kicking the bucket before women do," he said.
"Imagine her in America alone."

Besides, he has built another life here, erected on the remains of the
first. Since visiting the United States in 1987, Mr. Bell has helped to
bring more than a thousand Americans to Dubna and sent a thousand
Russians to America in return under an exchange program he established
with civic leaders in La Crosse, Wis.

Mr. Bell retired in 2001 as the Dubna head of the sister cities program,
recognized as Russia's best. In the last decade the venture has transformed
the city's Soviet-style health care system, spawned a new Dubna university
and given hundreds of local students an opportunity to live and study in
the United States.

It is a remarkable coda to a life that could easily have been consumed by
bitterness, for Mr. Bell's future was wrested from his hands by a twist of
fate.

David Bell was born to Ukrainian schoolteachers, Nathan and Anna Belkovsky,
who fled to Texas about 1910 after his grandfather died in anti-Jewish
pogroms near Kiev. In Houston, Nathan Belkovsky opened a newsstand, then
sold insurance, and entered America's middle class. They had three
children, bought a four-room house and truncated the family name to Bell.

Then, in May 1931, Nathan Bell shepherded a group of tourists to Russia,
and never returned.

"He met, well, a big chinovnik a big official in the Agriculture
Ministry, an old friend who talked him into staying," Mr. Bell said. "So my
father sent the group back and stayed on, and then he brought us over.

"Hey, I don't want to hurt my father's memory. But I call him nave."


THE Bell family arrived in Moscow that December and was crammed into two
rooms of a house that had been carved into communal apartments. Mr. Bell's
father taught English at the All-Union Scientific Institute of Vegetable
Cultivation. His mother worked in a foreign-language bookshop.

They lived next to a top Communist bureaucrat. One day he asked Nathan Bell
to give him one of the family's two rooms.

"Daddy refused," Mr. Bell recalled. "There were five of us. And the man
said, `Posmotrem' `We'll see.' "

It was early 1938. On March 14, "a bright, sunny day," Stalin's police
arrested Nathan Bell as he sat in his apartment eating cornflakes. A loyal
Communist, he refused to confess to engaging in anti-Soviet activities. He
was exiled to the Kazakhstan desert anyway. His family was put on the street.

At first they slept in a Moscow park. David Bell soon found a dormitory
room in his school. His mother became a transient, caring for elderly
people in exchange for a bed, until she could rejoin her husband in
Kazakhstan in 1940.

"They had three happy years, until he died," Mr. Bell said. "The diagnosis
was heart failure. But he had no job, no income. There was hunger, absolute
weakness. The word I use is that life just seeped out of him."

David Bell saw brief military service near the end of World War II the
army initially refused to draft him, calling him a security risk. Then he
returned to Moscow and tried to build a life. He finished school, married
and applied to teach English at a prestigious Moscow institute.

But fate was not finished with him.

In 1950 the government ordered him to teach in rural Siberia instead. His
wife took their daughter and fled, unable to face a life of privation.
Soon, Stalin began singling out Jews in the guise of a campaign against
"cosmopolitanism," and Mr. Bell lived in fear of meeting his father's and
grandfather's end.

"The camps were already placed," he said. "The railroad cars were ready to
ship all the Jews out. And do you know what saved us? Good old Joe died."

With Stalin's passing, in 1953, came a reprieve from Siberia. Mr. Bell
found a teaching job in Voskresensk, near Moscow. The name means city of
resurrection, incongruous for a factory town so sooty that the snow turned
black shortly after falling. But Mr. Bell was in fact reborn there.

As an instructor of aspiring teachers, he met and married his current wife.
He also befriended a tall young student from a newly founded city devoted
to nuclear research, called Dubna.

"I'd heard about Dubna," Mr. Bell said. "It was a city of science. So I
said to him, `It's my dream to go to Dubna.' And he looked at me and said,
`You will be there.' "

It took eight years. But in 1961, at age 40, Mr. Bell began teaching
English at Dubna's School No. 8, across the street from his new apartment
in a model Soviet city. He taught for two decades, then retired.

A few years later, in the late 1980's, a Russian friend brought him an
English-language letter for translation, from Physicians for Social
Responsibility in La Crosse.

Thus began Mr. Bell's second life or third, depending on one's count, and
the founding of the Dubna-La Crosse Friendship Association, which has
thrived through economic shocks, a divisive war in Yugoslavia and, so far,
a split over war in Iraq.

"With his help, we've had active exchanges between doctors, municipal
workers, businessmen, students, teachers and other categories," the mayor
of Dubna, Valery E. Prokh, said in an interview. "We have deep relations
with the people of La Crosse. And it's all attributable to David Natanovich
Bell."

Mr. Bell eventually made it to the United States, and has returned about
seven times since. But it is not home, despite what Stalin's henchmen stole
from him. "Bitter?" he said. "I've been bitter all my life, especially when
my father was arrested. I felt very sorry for him. He was a very honest
man, a very conscientious man."

But in Dubna, he said, "there's something I have done which I'm proud of."

"Would you leave if you were me?" he asked.

********

#14
BBC
February 23, 2003
St Petersburg fund loses millions

Millions of dollars have disappeared from a major scheme to mark the 300th
anniversary of Russia's second largest city St Petersburg, audit officials
say. Criminal proceedings are under way to uncover why only half of 59
projects to celebrate the occasion will be completed by the middle of the
year.

In one case, more than $30m allocated for the construction of new roads was
"simply hidden in the bushes", said the chairman of the Russian Audit
Chamber, Sergei Stepashin.

Many Russians believe corruption remains widespread among public sector
officials, despite central government efforts to tackle the problem.

Cultural centre

Mr Stepashin added that the budgets of many regions "had been squeezed" in
order to provide St Petersburg with the necessary funds to mark the occasion.

St Petersburg is seen as one of the cultural centres of Europe.

It is a showcase of 18th Century palaces and churches built during the
reign of Peter the Great, who wanted to "open a window to Europe".

In 1914, at the beginning of World War I, the city's name was changed to
the more Russian-sounding Petrograd, then in 1924 it became Leningrad,
before reverting to its original name in 1991.

********

#15
Baltimore Sun
February 23, 2003
A 'crucial' architectural moment
Change: Eleven firms are competing to design a $100 million theater in
300-year-old St. Petersburg. All are expected to submit modern designs.
By Douglas Birch

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - Here in this bastion of all that is traditional,
all that is classical, modern architecture may soon rear its
deconstructivist head.

"It's the crucial moment for St. Petersburg," warns Simeon I. Mikhailovsky,
an architectural historian with horn-rimmed glasses, gamely striving to
remain calm as the barbarians gather their forces.

What haunts Mikhailovsky and his allies are blueprints being drafted in
offices around the world. Eleven of the world's leading architectural firms
are vying to design a $100 million, 2,000-seat theater for the Mariinsky
Theater, home to the world-renowned Kirov opera and ballet companies. And
all the contestants, Mikhailovsky says, are expected to submit
unapologetically modern designs.

The Kremlin and city officials recently unveiled the details of this
international architectural contest, Russia's first since Josef Stalin
sought proposals for a mammoth Palace of Soviets near the Kremlin in 1931.
(The project was never built.)

St. Petersburg's 3,000 grand palaces, its graceful stone bridges and
network of canals have survived revolution, bombardment and decades of
neglect. Aside from a clunky Soviet-era Palace of Culture here, a bleak
Stalin-era office building there, the city's center mostly escaped the
architectural outrages inflicted on Moscow and other Russian cities.

As a result, what is sometimes called the "Venice of the North" survived as
an outdoor museum of architectural styles of the 18th and 19th centuries.
To many visitors, the city feels as melancholy and magical as it must have
when Dostoyevsky and Pushkin stalked its streets.

And many among Petersburg's conservative cognoscenti aim to keep it that way.

But resistance to change here has collided with the cultural ambitions of
one of the city's biggest stars, Valery Gergiev, the acclaimed conductor
and director of the Mariinsky.

Gergiev has lobbied for years for a new theater complex, to be built near
the old one. The richly ornamental, pastel-green Mariinsky, built in 1860
and named after a czarina, struggles to produce modern operas and ballets
in its cramped quarters, using 19th-century scenery technology.

The conductor has talked about creating an architectural showpiece, like
Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, London's Tate Modern or
Paris' Pompidou Center. A splashy post-modernist project, supporters say,
could create an international sensation, drawing crowds of tourists and
culture-lovers to the Mariinsky and its struggling hometown.

That could help enhance St. Petersburg's status as a world cultural capital
- a position that is being acknowledged as far away as Baltimore, where the
Vivat! festival (to March 2) is celebrating the 300th anniversary of St.
Petersburg.

"Because we love St. Petersburg for great architectural achievements in the
18th and 19th centuries," Gergiev told reporters recently, "maybe we'll
take a risk and make something surprising in the 21st century."

Last year, Gergiev came close to hiring Eric Owen Moss, an acclaimed Los
Angeles architect, to build the new theater, which will be across the
stone-lined Kryukov Canal from the old one.

Moss has proposed a glass- and granite-blob that alludes to an iceberg,
hardly an unwarranted image for Russia-of-the-long-winter. Local residents
scorned it. It looked, they said, like mussorny meshok- garbage bags - by
locals. One Russian newspaper branded Moss a "hooligan." And St.
Petersburg's chief architect denounced the Californian's design as "empty
nonsense" on Russian television.

Mikhailovsky, a prominent member of the faculty at the St. Petersburg
Academy of Arts, says he likes modern architecture, just not in his back
yard. He reckons that no important buildings have been erected in St.
Petersburg in at least a century.

Mikhailovsky says Moss made his reputation turning a bleak warehouse
neighborhood in Culver City, Calif., into a hotbed of Internet and
entertainment companies. Los Angeles, the historian says emphatically, is
certainly not St. Petersburg.

"I think he was not prepared for this city, either emotionally or
intellectually," Mikhailovsky says.

Mikhail Shvydkoi, Russia's minister of culture, agrees. In an interview in
Moscow, Shvydkoi praised Moss' creativity.

"But he never felt the atmosphere of St. Petersburg when he created his
project," the minister says. "You talk with the people who have lived in
the city for 25 or 50 years, and they have an image of St. Petersburg. He
came from outside; he didn't come from this atmosphere. And this was a
problem."

On the other hand, Shvydkoi says, the city must accept change. "It's
impossible to repeat Rossi or Rastrelli," the two 18th-century Italian
architects who built much of St. Petersburg, he says. "This would be
absolutely wrong. Of course, this must be a modern building."

Meanwhile, Moss has told reporters he was puzzled by the whole affair. He
thought he had won the contract to build the new theater, after intense
discussions with Gergiev last year. (A St. Petersburg official says Moss
had merely submitted an "initial proposal.")

But the American is still in the running. He was one of 11 architects the
Kremlin invited to join the competition, formally launched Jan. 14 during a
news conference at the Hermitage State Museum here.

Five other foreigners are in the running. They include such luminaries as
Dominique Perrault, who designed the French National Library in Paris, and
Hans Hollein of Vienna, winner of architecture's Pritzker Prize, who has
designed Guggenheim museums for Vienna and Salzburg in Austria. Five of
Russia's most prominent architects will submit designs.

Not everyone in St. Petersburg is opposed to a contemporary addition to the
Mariinsky.

"Five years ago, the citizens of St. Petersburg were against anything
modern in the center," says Ludmilla N. Likhachova, an official with the
city planning commission and executive secretary of the Mariinsky design
competition. "Now, people are eager to see something new, something that
will give them pride. It's a sign of St. Petersburg entering the 21st
century."

Over the past 300 years, she says, most of St. Petersburg's architects have
tried to harmonize architectural trends - Baroque, Classical, Empire and
eclectic - with the city's master design. By and large, they succeeded, she
says. "That's why the general line in the architecture has always been
preserved."

To some Americans, the dumping of Moss suggested that Russian architects
will go to elaborate lengths to stop foreigners from poaching on their
turf. Likhachova disagrees.

"It's absolutely not true," says Likhachova. "This competition isn't
designed to be won by a Russian. And it's not designed for a foreigner to
win. It's for the best project to win."

Mikhailovsky will be curator of an exhibit of the entries, which opens June
2 at the Academy of Arts. A few weeks later, a 13-member international jury
will choose the winner.

(Among the judges are Gergiev and Moss' archcritic, the St. Petersburg city
architect. Others include Bill Lacy, director of the Pritzker prizes, and
Joseph Clark of New York's Metropolitan Opera.)

Mikhailovsky says the contest might not settle the simmering dispute: There
is still too much political opposition to change. Eventually, he hopes, the
Kremlin and Gergiev can be persuaded to accept a more moderate,
neo-classical design.

"For me, it is important to show the exhibit to people in St. Petersburg,"
he says. "But I think it's not the end."

********

#16
Regions' Support for Russian Political Parties in Coming Elections Viewed

Vremya MN
18 February 2003
Article by Aleksandr Khramchikhin, head departmental analyst of the
Institute of Political and Military Analysis: "The Regional Resources of
the Federal Parties"

he size of the population and its activity at
elections, the political preferences of the electorate and the strength
and direction of the administrative resources -- these are the parameters
that determine the value of each of the 89 RF regions for the political
parties during the time of elections to the State Duma.

By tradition, the CPRF [RF Communist Party] will lean on the "red belt"
-- the group of regions of the Central and Central-Chernozem regions, the
North Caucasus, the Volga region, the south of Siberia and the Far East,
where the party's popularity is traditionally higher than it is for the
average Russian. It is here that are concentrated practically all of
the administrative resources of the CPRF, that is, the Communist
governors. In the Russian regions, however (the krays and oblasts), the
role of these resources are limited (they usually make up no more than 10
percent of the votes). Moreover, almost all the governors are forced to
turn over at least part of them to the party in power, and in the last
three years the Communists have mainly lost their positions in the
legislative bodies of the regions. Moreover, the majority of the "red"
regions is distinguished by a fairly small population size (the exception
-- Krasnodar and Stavropol krays), and the CPRF results are not usually
very high in highly populated components.

Unity achieved its greatest success in 1999 in the Russian regions and
"generally Russified" republics, and Fatherland -- in the RF components
where the administrative resources are stronger (up to 50 percent). In
all, in four regions (Moscow, Moscow Oblast, Tatarstan and Bashkiria), it
obtained exactly half of its votes for the country as a whole. In the
last three years, a noticeable drop has taken place in the popularity of
the party in power, its internal structures are as a rule weak and
dependent, and the administrative resources, as has already been
mentioned, are very limited in the krays and oblasts, with very rare
exception (Kemerovo and Orel oblasts). United Russia is therefore
mainly counting on the regions where these resources are strong (apart
from the highly populated Tatarstan and Bashkiria, these are Mordovia,
Kabardino-Balkaria, Dagestan, Ingushetia and a number of autonomous
okrugs where the population is small). It must be noted that the
leaders of these components are as a rule people who are quite
independent and capable of playing their own game. In addition, if the
republic's leaders are potentially able to "pump" almost all the former
"Fatherland" votes over to United Russia, this item will not precisely
play in Moscow -- here the elector is much more independent. Meanwhile,
in Moscow, Fatherland obtained almost 1.9 million votes, the loss of
which would be an extremely perceptible blow for the party in power.

The SPS [Union of Right Forces] lost virtually all its already small
administrative resources during last year: the head of the Altay
Republic, the mayors of Kyzyl and Vladimir lost the elections, the
chairmen of the Moscow city duma and the ZS of Nizhegorod Oblast left the
party, and only the chairman of the Kaliningrad Oblast Duma was left.
Even earlier, Samara's governor Titov left the SPS -- in 1999 he had
ensured the right almost 6 percent of their votes throughout Russia.
Yabloko never had any resources. In this case the popularity of the
democrats is traditionally high in highly populated regions (both
capitals, a number of large krays and oblasts in the Urals, Siberia and
the Volga region), which helped them overcome the 5-percent barrier.
Both parties have quite a few serious regional divisions.

The Russian regions of the Urals, Siberia and the Far East, where the
population is as a rule small, and its activity at elections is also low,
have recently become the support for the LDPR [Liberal-Democratic Party
of Russia]. The possibility is not ruled out, however, that at the
forthcoming elections the party will partially restore its positions in
the "red" regions of European Russia. The LDPR has no administrative
resources.

All the basic parties will wage a tough struggle in Moscow for
Fatherland's heritage at the coming elections. St. Petersburg,
Krasnoyarsk Kray, and Nizhegorod, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Irkutsk,
Novosibirsk and Rostov oblasts, where the population is quite high,
administrative resources are limited (moreover, only in Rostov and
Irkutsk oblasts will they be fully handed over to United Russia) will
also become critically important, and all the parties have a chance of
obtaining a perceptible result. The CPRF is trying to get back Voronezh
Oblast, which fell out of the "red belt," according to the results of the
recent federal and local elections. If Konstantin Titov takes part in
the elections as one of the leaders of the social-democrats, his party
will gain many votes in Samara Oblast. The SDPR [Social Democratic
Party of Russia] cannot help this -- throughout the country as a whole it
can scarcely garner even 2 percent of the votes -- but on the other hand,
all the rest of the parties will incur serious losses on the Volga. Yet
another anomaly may spring up in Perm Oblast, one of the "whitest"
regions in the country (the size of the population here is also quite
high). Viktor Pokhmelkin, who is very popular in this region, may also
ensure a high result for Liberal Russia. This will not help the party
as a whole either, but it will damage the SPS and Yabloko, for whom a
successful appearance in the West Urals is extremely important.

The "Party against everyone" may this time achieve substantial successes,
and moreover, the most promising thing for it will be some of the
abovementioned critically important regions. There will also be quite a
few "refuseniks" in the Far East. They will be gathered primarily
through the former electors of Unity and the SPS, who were the main
winners in the 1999 elections and have a chance of becoming the main
losers in 2003.