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1. Reuters: Putin, Bush pledge work on acceptable Iraq solution.
2. Financial Times (UK): Andrew Jack, US takes steps to win over Russia.
3. ITAR-TASS: Pro-Iraq sentiments mounting in Russia.
4. BBC: Russians stick to 'comrade.'
5. Interfax: Russians differ in their opinions about Stalin - poll.
6. ITAR-TASS: Russia sees US presence in Central Asia as temporary - foreign minister.
7. BBC Monitoring: Russian analyst criticizes minister's remarks on US troops withdrawal from Asia. (Nikonov)
8. BBC Monitoring: Russia in dire need of structural reforms, says liberal economist. (Gaidar)
9. Moscow Tribune: Stanislav Menshikov, THE BURDEN OF GOVERNMENT. Liberal alternative could mean more poverty.
10. pravda.ru: Russias Decline Damages USs Interests Directly or Indirectly. Part II. RAND Corporation reacted to PRAVDA.Ru article.
11. Reuters: Russia using fear to swing Chechen vote -activists.
12. Vladimir Shlapentokh: Islamic extremists versus America and the Jews in Russia's roster of enemies.


Putin, Bush pledge work on acceptable Iraq solution
February 27, 2003
By Ron Popeski

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Bush agreed
Thursday to work toward a solution to the Iraq crisis, taking into account
"the interests of the world community," the Kremlin said.

"During a discussion on Iraq, both sides expressed the intention to step up
work within the U.N. Security Council with the aim of working out a plan of
action to take account of the interests of the world community," a Kremlin
statement said.

The statement said the two men had talked by telephone at Bush's request.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Washington saw Moscow as an ally in
its drive to rid Iraq of suspected weapons of mass destruction. Iraq denies
having such weapons.

"We will continue to consult with Russia," Fleischer said. "We agree about
the need to disarm Saddam Hussein and we will continue to consult as allies."

A U.S.-backed draft resolution aimed at authorizing the use of force against
Iraq was submitted to the Security Council this week. But Putin said
Wednesday, after Kremlin talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, that
Russia could not back any resolution which could allow hostilities to be

Russia, which has ties with Iraq dating from the Soviet era, has repeatedly
spoken out against any use of force and said it will use all available
diplomatic means to reach a political settlement.

Moscow backs an alternative plan, promoted by France and Germany, that would
give inspectors an additional four months to search Iraqi sites for weapons
of mass destruction.

Moscow says the inspections, resumed for the first time since 1998 on the
basis of a Security Council resolution passed in November, have already
achieved tangible results and should proceed further.

Putin said Wednesday he had never heard Bush say that he wanted a war, and
that Bush "also wants to solve the problem by peaceful means." Putin said it
was Washington's tough position that had prompted Iraq to make concessions
and adopt a more "pliant" stand on what Washington says are banned weapons.

The Kremlin statement said the two leaders had also discussed North Korea's
"nuclear problem" and had "spoken in favor of political and diplomatic
measures in order to improve the situation."


Financial Times (UK)
February 28, 2003
US takes steps to win over Russia
By Andrew Jack in Moscow

The US administration has told Moscow that it will seek congressional approval for two pro-Russian gestures before a gathering of world leaders in St Petersburg at the end of May.

Speaking in Moscow as intense negotiations continued over the shape of any new United Nations resolution on Iraq, a senior US official said there was a strong hope that the Jackson- Vanick law - a measure dating from the cold war that restricts trade with Russia - would finally be repealed by Congress.

He said it was also likely the Treaty of Moscow on reductions in nuclear arms by both countries, agreed after the US withdrew from the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty, would be ratified. The US is also backing Russia's entry to the World Trade Organisation, and has indicated it will be adding Chechen organisations to its official list of terrorist groups.

Russia backed this week's French proposal to strengthen UN weapons inspections. But talks have continued behind the scenes, with President Vladimir Putin holding more than a dozen conversations with other leaders over the past few days, including one on Thursday with US President George W. Bush.

According to a Kremlin statement, the two leaders agreed to work out a plan in the interests of the world community through the UN. Moscow has also indicated that it might be willing to co-operate on the drafting of a second resolution provided that it is not seen as leading to war. "We are ready to talk. But we are not ready to fight," said Mr Putin.

Mr Putin is also being courted by the other camp at the UN. German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder paid a brief visit to Moscow on Wednesday evening, after which the two leaders stressed their shared belief that UN weapons inspectors should continue their work in the search for a peaceful settlement to the crisis.

Mr Schrder championed Russian proposals to create a structure to allow regular discussions with the European Union, along the lines of the Nato "19 plus 1" format. "We should put closer relations on a more formal basis and I think it will be on the agenda in St Petersburg," he said.

Mr Putin had raised the idea during talks with Romano Prodi, head of the European Commission, earlier this month but EU officials have since played down the idea, saying there are still problems in implementing Russia's existing partnership and co-operation agreement.


Pro-Iraq sentiments mounting in Russia

Moscow, 27 February: Pro-Baghdad sentiments have sharply increased among the Russian population on the eve of a possible US-British military operation against Iraq. This is shown by the all-Russia public opinion poll, carried out by the Public Opinion Foundation. ITAR-TASS got its results on Thursday [27 February]. Whereas before 39 per cent of respondents regarded Iraq as a country that is friendly to Russia, now this figure has grown to 49 per cent.

However, the poll showed that the population of Russia is mostly pessimistic about the ability of the anti-war policy of several European countries to exert influence on Washington and to prevent a war with Iraq. Less than a third of those polled believe this is possible (30 per cent), while 45 per cent of them are of a different view.

As many as 87 per cent of the 1,500 respondents prefer Iraq's peaceful disarmament and want only the United Nations to decide whether a military operation is needed or not. The staunchest advocates of this stand in Europe are France and Germany. Only three per cent of respondents objected to such an approach.


February 27, 2003
Russians stick to 'comrade'

The Soviet Union ceased to exist 12 years ago, but the spirit of communist comradeship is not dead, a nationwide survey has found. According to the market research group Romir Monitoring one third of Russians are likely to use the word "Comrades!" when addressing a group of people.

The more neutral "Citizens!" came next with 15% followed by "Ladies and Gentlemen!" with 9%.

"Lords and Ladies!" scored only 1%.

Use of the word "comrades" was commonest among people over the age of 60, residents of the Far East region and military personnel.

People with higher education were markedly less likely to use the term, and businessmen favoured the more formal "Ladies and Gentlemen!"

Stalin revival

Overall, more than 40% of respondents said they would none of the above phrases.

Russians today generally address individual strangers as "man", "woman", "young man", "girl" and so on.

The poll results were revealed just a few days before Russia marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the Soviet dictator and wartime leader Joseph Stalin.

Meanwhile another poll reported in the Russian media on Thursday revealed that more than one in three Russians think that Stalin did more good than bad for the country.

Thirty-six per cent of Russians polled said they had a positive opinion of Stalin, while 29% said the opposite and 34% did not express an opinion.


Russians differ in their opinions about Stalin - poll

MOSCOW. Feb 27 (Interfax) - Some 36% of Russians think Joseph Stalin did more good than bad for the country. 29% think the opposite, and 34% found it hard to express their opinion about the deeds of "the leader of the peoples."
   The Public Opinion Foundation released this data on Thursday, with reference to a poll of 1,500 respondents on February 22.
   The 50th anniversary of Stalin's death will be marked on March 5.
   61% of respondents accused Stalin of large-scale repression and "genocide of his own people."
   8% said "there was no lawfulness, everyone was afraid of one another, and there was no freedom of speech" in Stalin's times.
   3% accused him for the country's lack of preparedness for the war [1941-1945] and unnecessarily large casualties during it. The same percentage accused Stalin for the death of millions of peasants during forced collectivization.
   At the same time, 35% of respondents who feel positive about Stalin laud him for victory in the Great Patriotic War, and 18% credit him with order in the country ("he ruled the country with a rod of iron").
   16% said average people lived a prosperous and stable life under Stalin, and the social system was just. They said "this wise leader cared about people." 10% said Stalin "reconstructed the country after the war," and 8% noted "he turned the country into an industrial nation." The same percentage said the country was strong under Stalin, and "other countries feared us." 3% said "all peoples were friends" under Stalin, and "he raised the people in a patriotic spirit."


Russia sees US presence in Central Asia as temporary - foreign minister

Beijing, 27 February: Russia sees the US presence in Central Asia as part of the anti-Taleban campaign, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said.

He said in an Internet conference that Russia "considers the military presence of the USA in Central Asia through the prism of the efforts of the antiterrorist coalition to liquidate the illegal Taleban regime that existed in Afghanistan".

Ivanov said the "Taleban regime has turned the country into a springboard for international terrorism".

"We proceed from the assumption that the time frame of troop deployments by non-regional countries on the territories of the Central Asian states must be synchronized with the presence in Afghanistan of international security forces, the time frame of which the UN Security Council will set," Ivanov said.


BBC Monitoring
Russian analyst criticizes minister's remarks on US troops withdrawal from Asia
Source: Ekho Moskvy news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1335 gmt 27 Feb 03

[No dateline, as received] Russia's initiative for the US troops to be withdrawn "entails the sovereignty of the Central Asian states", President of the Politika Foundation Vyacheslav Nikonov told Ekho Moskvy when commenting on the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to China.

"This initiative is clear from the point of view of the Russo-Chinese relations but I can hardly imagine how it can be supported by the [UN] Security Council," Nikonov stressed.

He added that Ivanov's statement "is a clearly anti-American gesture" and it is yet unclear how it might affect Russo-American relations".

"We are raising the issue of US troops' pullout from Central Asia but it is unclear why the issue of the other states have not been raised. If the Security Council is interested in the latter we have had no answer to this," Nikonov said.

He also thinks that "by trying to limit the period of the US troops' stay in Central Asia we would delay the conduction of the anti-terrorist operation together with the USA".


BBC Monitoring
Russia in dire need of structural reforms, says liberal economist
Source: TVS, Moscow, in Russian 1835 gmt 26 Feb 03

Serious structural reforms are unlikely in Russia before the 2004 presidential election, the co-chairman of the Union of Right Forces, former prime minister Yegor Gaydar has said. Speaking on Vladimir Solovyev's interview show "Look Who's Here" on the independent Russian TVS channel, Gaydar said the next "window of opportunity" in spring 2004 should not be missed. The cabinet should also assess in full the risks related to the possible slump in oil prices, he said. The following is an excerpt from the interview broadcast by Russian TVS television on 26 February:

[Presenter] Yegor Gaydar presented his vision of prospects for the socio-economic development of Russia today. In his report, Gaydar touched upon practically all institutions of modern Russian society and gave concrete recommendations about how to improve Russia. Mr Gaydar is the guest in our studio today.

Good evening, Yegor Timurovich. So you do not agree with the policy pursued by the government, do you?

Reforms slow down

[Gaydar, captioned as director of the Institute of Transition Economies] In the first place, I believe that the government did a lot of important and useful things, in 2000 and 2001 in particular. It carried out important and useful structural reforms. I am sorry to say that their tempo has obviously slowed down since 2002, which is wrong from my point of view. I am afraid that the government fails to assess in full the risks related to the slump in oil prices to come in the next 18 months.

[Presenter] People who took to the streets today believe you to be the real reason for all their misfortunes. And they also disagree with the government. What can we make of the strange date you have chosen to present your report? Is it a coincidence or was it done to spite public sector employees?

[Gaydar] What for? They disagree with the government on the opposite issue. They believe that what the government plans to do is not right. I believe that it is right, but the bad thing about it is that this is done slowly and inconsistently.

[Presenter] What does this mean?

[Gaydar] A set of structural reforms, including the reform of budget expenditures. Today, we finance public sector institutions not because they are public sector institutions and perform certain useful functions. Say, teach students whom we want to teach, treat patients we want to be treated, or carry out scientific research we want to take place.

[Presenter] Or protect the country we want to be protected.

Public sector needs changes

[Gaydar] Indeed. However, [they are being financed] just because they happened to be in the public sector and we are obliged, as taxpayers, to support it. The situation is not right from my point of view. I will give you an absolutely specific example. We have a network of diplomatic offices abroad - embassies and trade representative offices. Do you know in what countries we have attaches in charge of agriculture? Do you think in those countries, whose grain markets we are trying to get access to now? South Africa, northern Africa? No way. They are in those countries where the Soviet Union was procuring grain in: Canada, Argentina and Australia. What is the reason for that? It's just happened this way - historically.

Unless we move to a public sector network based on the country's needs from the network we inherited, we shall always have very inefficient budget expenditure. And high taxes, by the way...

[Presenter] Yegor Timurovich, these people who took to the streets, nobody needs them not because their skills are not in demand - they are teachers and doctors - but because our state is not civic-minded. The constitution says that we are a civic state, however, Mr Pochinok's office [the Russian Ministry of Labour and Social Development] is being financed from the leftovers.

[Gaydar] Additional funding, unfortunately, cannot resolve the problems of our public sector. I went into much detail about it today, and I said why. You can direct two annual budgets there - if you have the money. Let us suppose you do: you stopped paying pensioners, disbanded the army and, as a result, you have twice as much money for education and health care. If you do not change the structure of financing, however, you will end up with the same problems - low wages, inefficiency, etc. - you have today. This is a general pattern of post-industrial development. This is what the experience of many countries for several decades shows.

Through the past darkly

[Presenter] Still people have to survive the reforms. Some people have certainly survived your first reforms [in 1992] and are doing well now. We know them by name - there are, say, 20 of them in the country. The rest still fail to recall your name without a swear word.

[Gaydar] I cannot agree with you. I think that there are not 20 of them -

[Presenter] So, 220? We are speaking about different categories.

[Gaydar] Tens of millions. Tens of millions people gained from the reforms. Naturally, they are not ready to admit this, but tens of millions did. From the point of view of their current salaries, of the way they live, of the freedom to travel. They do not need to face the party district committee troika to get permission to visit Bulgaria. They are no longer accustomed to stand in two-hour queues, their level of choice is absolutely different. Thus tens of millions benefited from the reforms. Otherwise we would never be able to prevent the Communists from coming to power. One should not believe that our people are absolutely irrational and can be easily brainwashed by propaganda. No way...

However the country is split on those who had won and those who had lost ...

[Presenter] The main problem is that it is the socially unprotected stratas that always lose. The state has to protect them. You are proposing a new structural reform now. How we protect those in need of that?

[Gaydar] The socially unprotected always win from reasonable reforms.

[Presenter] If they are able to survive through them.

[Gaydar] If the reforms are carried out in a reasonable way. What we did in 1992 can hardly be called reforms. We were carrying out defibrillation measures on a dead economy and a dead state. Defibrillation measures are painful as a rule.

[Presenter] You mean the electric shock on an open heart, don't you?

[Gaydar] Frankly speaking, nobody enjoys it. Fortunately, in most of the cases the patient is unconscious. When we had no gold and currency reserves, no grain till the next harvest, no operational old state, no operational new state, no operational planned economy, no operational market, we had to introduce defibrillation measures in order not to repeat 1918.

[Presenter] Unfortunately, there were not enough anaesthetics for people?

[Gaydar] Unfortunately, anaesthetics do not help much in this case. Say, in 1917 there was no defibrillation and we all know the result. In 1992 the defibrillation was in place. Yes, it was hard and painful, but there was no civil war.

Back to the future

[Presenter] Well, let us go back to the future and look 10 years ahead. What should we expect in the future? Most of the people I speak to are living in anticipation of an approaching crisis, in comparison with which that of 1998 will look like a kindergarten. Then it was possible to contain social unrest. Now the gap between the incomes of the richest and the poorest has gone far beyond the threshold of the critical situation. The way the authorities use the mass media to say do not worry, be happy, just aggravates the situation.

[Gaydar] I am not expecting any kind of a large-scale crisis... I am sure that if we do not make serious mistakes in economic policy and continue structural reforms, and if we are not irresponsible in our macroeconomic policy, we shall not face anything similar to the 1998 crisis even in worst-case scenario with the slump in oil prices.

[Presenter] The subjunctive mood you have just used presupposes these mistakes becoming more and more realistic.

[Gaydar] They are becoming possible. Four years of high oil prices usually soften the brains of the ruling elite completely. If you remember, in 1979-1982 the oil prices were three to four times higher than now in real terms. And this led to such brain damage that we even got involved in Afghanistan.

I believe that the government has dealt with the four years of high oil prices pretty well. However, there is always a limit. The political elite becomes too relaxed and believes that we can afford anything... Why should we follow the surplus budget? We have many problems, let us spend the money.

[Presenter] Yegor Timurovich, to whom you were addressing your report? Whom do you want it to hear?

[Gaydar] I would like the political elite I have just mentioned to understand this.

[Presenter] You mean the president and [Prime Minister Mikhail] Kasyanov?

[Gaydar] Not necessarily. The elite does not consist of the president and Kasyanov alone. From my experience in the authorities, I may say that the government listens to what the public and experts say, what is being said by TV and influential papers...

No time to lose

[Presenter] There is an obvious fight under way inside the government now. Conditionally speaking, there is Mr Kasyanov believing that what we need is not structural reforms, but fine tuning. On the other hand, there is the team of [Economic Development and Trade Minister German] Gref that insist on changes being introduced right now. I was kindly given to understand that the decision has been taken to develop the reforms, but to start their implementation after the presidential election [in 2004]. Do you consider such an approach feasible? Which group out of the two do you support?

[Gaydar] I would rather not speak in terms of personalities. I know the breakdown in the cabinet and it is a bit more complicated - I do not want to go into detail. I understand the motives of those saying there should be no reforms on the eve of the election. However, I am sure that losing time is very dangerous...

In order to have stable growth, we need not just three very good reforms, but the creation of a set of institutions. You cannot substitute a badly working judicial system or a system of protecting owner's rights by great tax reform. Tomorrow you make a breakthrough and get the best tax system in the world. However, if you do not have many other things in place, you are no longer there.

Window of opportunity

[Presenter] I see. And a very brief final question. Which tendency will have more time to win before the election? The need for changes or let's wait and hope that oil prices will not drop that drastically?

[Gaydar] I do not know and do not want to make a guess. However, I am afraid that the second approach is more likely to see the light. Still, the most important thing is to be at least ready to use the next window of opportunity to open in spring 2004, and to use it energetically. And another thing is not to do stupid things in the financial sphere.

[Presenter] Thank you, Yegor Timurovich.


Moscow Tribune
February 28, 2003
Liberal alternative could mean more poverty
By Stanislav Menshikov

These last days the occasional passer-by in Moscow was bound to notice pickets at subway stations protesting low wages of schoolteachers, medical workers, kindergarten tutors and other employees called "budgetniki" because the are being paid from government budgets. Moscow city authorities banned public demonstrations organised by the related trade unions but in some seventy other localities around the country meetings and manifestations took place.

They stressed a few basic points. Wages of these workers are currently below the subsistence level. They should be raised immediately by 50 percent or more. Employees should be paid on time, and the practice of wage arrears discontinued. The federal government should rescind a reform under which it would cease to transfer funds to local authorities for these purposes. Strikes by municipal employees have become common. In an election year, this is not good for either the parties in power, or the ratings of the Russian president.

But Vladimir Putin is also under pressure from the other side to reduce government expenditure, including spending on the "budgetniki", to raise rents and electricity tariffs, and reduce business taxes. This pressure comes from big business that does not have to go to the streets to make its points heard. Its message is carried by the media it owns and expressed in meetings with Putin in the Kremlin.

In more detail, its program is laid down in "The burden of the state and economic policy (a liberal alternative)". This is a report of the Expert Institute (EI) associated with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE), a mouthpiece of the oligarchs. According to EI, ANY government activity is a burden on business, a net deduction from GDP, more simply - economic waste. To measure the burden, EI adds up the consolidated budget's share in GDP (34-37 percent), the share of the government sector in total production (15-16 percent), and the informal negative effect of government regulation on the economy (another 7.5-8 percent). All told, the "burden" totals 60-65 percent of GDP.

However, such arithmetic is meaningless. Instead of being a waste, many government expenditures are in fact a positive contribution to the economic growth potential. Such is, for instance, capital investment in transport and other business infrastructure, in human capital - education and medical services, in know-how (R & D). One might question the effectiveness of these expenditures but automatically classifying them as a burden is wrong.

By the same token, government-owned enterprises do produce useful and necessary goods and services. With all their drawbacks, RAO UES and its affiliates generate electricity, Gazprom provides people and business with gas, government railroads with transportation. More than half of the defence industry produces consumer durables or armaments for export, i.e. is a valuable source of hard currency earnings for the whole country. Finally, estimating the rouble cost of economic losses caused by government regulation is largely guesswork.

Paradoxically, the report does admit that most government expenditures are in fact inadequate when compared to normal requirements. There is a need to raise them, says EI, but only a richer country than Russia can afford it. Increasing expenditures in line with the growth of the economy and waiting until they reach more normal levels seems like a logical recommendation. But not to the EI, which demands their reduction even today making the gap ever more glaring.

The report is opposed to increasing investment into government services for the various branches of the economy that need at least temporary support to become competitive and capable of sustainable growth. This possibility is refuted as "dirigism". One should recall, however, that such "dirigism" is widely used in advanced industrial countries where big business prefers to benefit from government financing of infrastructure rather then baring the cost itself. But Russian oligarchs strangely enough want a "liberal alternative" instead, i.e. cutting even such government expenditures from which they would be the first to gain. This is, of course, for the sake of lower business taxes.

The tax burden is particularly heavy on labour, says EI, because business has to pay 35.7 percent in the United Social Tax (UST) on wages while the profit tax (i.e. on capital) is only 24 percent. Why not reduce the UST to 24 percent and thus equalise tax rates on the principal factors of production? But note that the report says nothing about taxation of natural resources, the third production factor. Taxes on oil should be higher for the simple reason that profits from oil are five times higher than the industrial average. It would be fairer if the UST was raised for export industries but lowered for manufacturing. Equalising profit rates through taxes would go a long way towards reducing the economy's excessive dependence on raw materials exports. And then it would not be necessary to reduce pensions in order to satisfy the oligarchs.

The EI report is a clumsy effort to substantiate the demands of the rich at the expense of the poor. The liberal alternative according to the oligarchic gospel looks like a perspective for even more poverty.


February 27, 2003
Russias Decline Damages USs Interests Directly or Indirectly. Part II
RAND Corporation reacted to PRAVDA.Ru article

PRAVDA.Ru has recently received an email from RAND Corporation. The specialists of this organization substantiated an opportunity of the American military incursion in Russia.

PRAVDA.Ru published an article yesterday entitled Russias Decline Damages USs Interests Directly or Indirectly. The article was devoted to the report of the RAND Corporation pertaining to the need to conduct army operations on the territory of the Russian Federation. It goes without saying that operations are to be conducted by the US Army. As it was said in the report, this might happen in case if the Russian government is not able to control the political and economic situation in the country. The article gave an example of the fact, to which extent the American government paid attention to RANDs conclusions. It goes about Saudi Arabia here, after the country was called an active member of all levels of the terrorist network in one of reports.

PRAVDA.Ru received an email signed by David Egner, RAND Director of External Communication. Here is the complete text of the email: An article in Pravda Online on Feb. 26 by Vasily Bubnov stated incorrectly that the RAND Corporation issued a report last year saying Saudi Arabia was involved with terrorism. In fact, there never was such a RAND report. A RAND researcher simply expressed his personal views on this issue to a non-governmental advisory board. The opinions and conclusions expressed by the researcher, who has since left RAND, were strictly his own and should not be interpreted as representing those of RAND or any of the agencies or others sponsoring RAND research.

It should be mentioned here that the issue was not actually about the publication of that report. The issue was about the preparation of the report, which was read out loud at a session of the US Council for Defense Policy. It is impossible to get a copy of the report anywhere at present. This is not really important, though. If the RAND Corporation management does not share those conclusions, it is their right.

As a matter of fact, there is something more important about the issue: Mr. Egner did not say a word about the research, to which the mentioned article was actually devoted. It just so happens, that the corporation management completely shares the point of view of their employees regarding an opportunity for the American army to interfere in the affairs of the sovereign state of Russia. As it was said before, any person, who has access to the Internet can read the mentioned research online, or buy a book, which costs $20.

It goes without saying that those plans are rather theoretical. If it were not so, the report would not be available to the public. Yet, it is not clear, where that scrupulousness towards Saudi Arabia comes from and what is the origin of such disregard against Russia. The incumbent American administration stands for partnership relations with Russia. If Mr. Egner talks about agencies or others sponsoring RAND research, (governmental agencies are definitely on that list), does it mean that RAND specialists present the general point of view regarding relations with Russia? Does it mean that there is only the language of threats to be used in the conversation with the Russian Federation? If it is really so, any kind of partnership is out of the question.

Vasily Bubnov
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov


Russia using fear to swing Chechen vote -activists
February 27, 2003
By Andrei Shukshin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A leading Russian human rights group accused Moscow
Thursday of terrorizing people in Chechnya into voting "yes" to a new
constitution for the rebel province in a March 23 referendum.

The Kremlin-sponsored vote on the constitution would pave the way for a
presidential election in Chechnya, which is the only one of Russia's 89
regions not to have an elected leader.

President Vladimir Putin is likely to use the installation of a civilian
government in Chechnya, which has been devastated by a decade of war between
separatists and federal forces, as a card in his own election campaign next

"An atmosphere of fear and terror has been created in Chechnya ahead of the
referendum," Oleg Orlov, head of Moscow-based group Memorial, told a news

"If that is what the organizers of the referendum planned then they have
definitely succeeded," he said.

Memorial is one of a small number of independent bodies to have a presence in
Chechnya. It documents rights abuses in the war-ravaged republic and presses
prosecutors for action.

Orlov said there were indications that security forces were conducting fewer
large-scale sweeps for separatist rebels, but the number of kidnappings and
"disappearances" had surged.

"Only a handful of such cases are recorded by the prosecutors and even fewer
are investigated," Orlov said after distributing a list of dozens of people
who he said had gone missing in Chechnya in January and February alone.

He said some kidnappings could have been carried out by the rebels because
sometimes attackers wore masks, but Moscow's involvement was evident when
kidnappers drove armored personnel carriers or people disappeared at

Moscow says all major cases of rights abuses are duly documented by the
authorities and properly investigated.

The Russian army says it controls the province but rebels kill servicemen and
pro-Moscow officials almost daily.

Putin, who won the presidency in 2000 on the back of his tough stance toward
Chechnya, has refused to negotiate with guerrilla leaders and insists that
the referendum and a presidential election will help end the decade-long

But with most Chechens distrustful of anything Russia does in the region,
Orlov said Moscow seemed to have turned to force as the easiest way to
achieve the needed result.

"I have spoken to many people and they say that they will definitely take
part in the referendum and will certainly vote for the constitution," Orlov

"Because if our village ends up voting 'No' when others voted 'Yes', it will
make Moscow suspicious, will lead to disappearances and sweeps. That is why
we will vote 'Yes' and press neighbors to do the same," he quoted villagers
as saying.


From: "Vladimir Shlapentokh" <shlapent@msu.edu>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 11:04:11 -0500

Islamic extremists versus America and the Jews in Russia's roster of enemies By Vladimir Shlapentokh Michigan State University

One of the best ways to understand the current political processes in Russia as well as to make predictions about the country's future is to consider whom the people regard as their enemies. Indeed, the political culture in every society has a system of enemies that consists of both real and mythological elements. Foreign enemies, including ethnic and religious minorities inside the country, are usually blamed more for the country's problems than domestic enemies. The political actors in society use the system of enemies as a powerful instrument for mobilizing popular support for their foreign and domestic goals.

In authoritarian societies, the image of a single dominant enemy is forced on the people through the official propaganda. In non-authoritarian countries (full or partial democracies), several images of the enemy arise and compete for the public's attention.

In the Soviet past, the rulers elaborated a hierarchy of enemies in which the imperialist anti-Russian West clearly took the number one position. Subordinate to this main enemy were several domestic enemies. The importance of domestic enemies fluctuated during the course of Soviet history. The list included white officers, tsarist bureaucrats and capitalists, Mensheviks, Trotskyists, "right wreckers," ethnic minorities (such as the Chechens, who were accused of cooperating with Nazi Germany during the war), non-Russian nationalists, "bourgeois revisionists," Zionists and several others. All of these domestic enemies were regarded as servants to the main foreign enemy of the Soviet state and the Russian people. Under the influence of the official ideology and the fear of repression, most Soviet people were filled with hatred toward the state's enemies, and were indeed ready to help destroy them.

The situation has changed in contemporary Russia. With no dominant ideology and a high level of social atomization, there is no consensus among the Russians (both those in favor and those against the current regime) on the question of the country's primary foreign and domestic enemies. One group's friend is another group's enemy.

The gallery of Russian foes before October 2002

In the last years, Russians have operated with three primary enemies: America, Chechen separatists and Jews. Until recently, the USA occupied the leading spot in the gallery of Russia's foes. Not only Communists and nationalists, but also several liberals had depicted America as a major enemy that destroyed the Soviet Union and now undermined the country's economy, threatened the integrity of the Russian Federation, and deprived the country of its role in international affairs.

The fierce hostility of much of the Russian public toward the USA was revealed by their reaction to the events of September 11. While the majority of the Russians expressed their deep sympathy toward the American disaster, there were several leading Russian intellectuals who openly declared in the first days after 9/11 that "America deserved it." Many journalists and scholars expressed doubt that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were involved in the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Moreover, some hinted that American and Israeli special services were behind the attacks.

One year after 9/11, I made a trip to Moscow. As I learned from personal experience, the hostility and schadenfreude felt by much of the Russian educated class had only increased. Before an audience of one hundred fifty college students from a private university in Moscow (Nesterova's University), I discussed the Russians' reaction to 9/11. From the audience I heard only the voice of hatred toward America and gloating over the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Coincidentally, I gave this talk on October 23, 2002, just a few hours before Chechen militants seized the theater on Dubrovka in Moscow, during the performance of the popular musical "Nord-Ost" (800 hostages were taken).

Prior to the siege in Moscow, the second position on Russia's list of enemies was occupied by the Chechen separatists as well as ordinary Chechens and "people of Caucasian nationality" (i.e., Azerbaijanis and other Asian peoples), or "darks" as they are almost officially known in Russia. The hatred of these people was particularly strong among Muscovites. According to a survey, three times more Muscovites reported that they hate "people from Caucasia" as compared to the general population.

Jews were also included on the roster of Russia's enemies, particularly among Russian nationalists and Communists. Many ordinary Russians viewed the Jews as a disproportionately rich group of people who exploited the nation while remaining indifferent to its long-term concerns. However, the hatred of Chechens and other "dark people" pushed Jews out of the leading spot. According to the Fund of Public Opinion, the respondents regarded the Chechens as a "hated ethnic group" six times more than the Jews.

In an analysis of Russia's main enemies, China should not be overlooked. However, when asked by pollsters, most Russians mentioned the USA, Chechens and Jews more often than China. Indeed, the Chinese threat seems to have faded in the last years in the minds of most Russians, a big contrast to the Russian fears of China in the late 1960s and the 1970s when it looked as though the two countries were on the verge of war. Moreover, today the Communists and nationalists hail China as a major Russian ally. Those intellectuals who talked about the "Chinese threat" in the early 1990s moved to a sort of defeatist view by the late 1990s. They suggested that it was impossible to stop Chinese immigration to Russia, and that it may even benefit the country, as stated in a report on the future of Siberia and the Far East, commissioned by the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. One Moscow author commented on this issue in a recent article entitled, "The Chinese offensive impossible to avert."

The Russian masses were mostly inclined to accept the views of the Communists and nationalists on China. In May 2001, the Russians ranked China second only to Belorussia on a list of "Russia's allies and partners" (23 percent named China as a "friendly country," compared to the 21 percent who mentioned Germany, 11 percent named France, and 9 percent, the USA). As for those countries seen as "a source of danger" to Russia, 55 percent said America, while 5 percent said China. Only Russians in the Far East (up to one half of the population) deemed China a significant threat.

The list of enemies changes after October

The developments in Russia on October 23-26, 2002 shocked the nation. Roughly fifty Chechen militants entered Moscow, established a base of operations, and easily subdued a theater in Moscow's Dubrovka district. An elite unit of the Russian special forces regained control of the building by using a knockout gas that resulted in 128 fatalities.

The appalling events changed the composition of Russia's roster of enemies. In this period, animosity toward America declined somewhat. Many Russians recognized the commonality between September 11 and October 23, and some observers in the media noted what appeared to be Washington's unconditional solidarity with the Russians. The prestigious Fund of Long Term International Studies and the Institute of International Relations and Economy of the Russian Academy of Science went so far as to insist, in its annual survey of Russia's relations with foreign countries, that "the anti-terrorist coalition with the USA gives Russia a chance ... to restore its status as a great power," and therefore "Russian-American relations are of great strategic importance to the country." At the same time, even on the government TV station (Channel One) some commentators continued their old anti-American diatribes. The ambivalence of Russian attitudes toward America was never so noticeable as it was after the October events.

Meanwhile, the Russian people's hostility toward Europe, which was hard to find in the Russian media prior to October, became an important element of the Russian political landscape. In the aftermath of the October crisis, the Russians were angered by Europe's continued focus on the plight of the Chechens in their quest for independence. During the crisis, officials from Denmark refused to cancel the Chechen assembly in Copenhagen. The same officials also denied the delivery of terrorist suspect Achmet Zavgaiev to Moscow. Zavgaiev, the foreign emissary of Chechnia's president, had been in Denmark for the assembly. Denmark's failure to cooperate in these two cases angered many Russians, who saw it as a symbol of Europe's double standard and its spinelessness before Muslim extremists. Some of the arguments made by Russian authors were similar to the points made by Robert Kagan in his famous article "Power and Weakness." Many Moscow analysts now assumed that leftist Western European elites understood Russia's problem in Chechnia even less than Washington. In contrast to Europe's position, as the Russians noted with satisfaction, the State Department in Washington classified three Chechen groups as terrorist organizations. Among those Russian journalists who predicted a growing confrontation between a united Europe and the USA, many pointed to Europe's incessant badgering over the developments in Chechnia and suggested that Russia should opt for a partnership with the USA.

However, neither the similarity between 9/11 and 10/23, nor the new contempt toward Europe was strong enough to remove America from Russia's roster of enemies. Hatred of America is still felt by many Russian elites. Some of them (mostly Communists and rabid nationalists) even claimed that U.S. special forces were behind the terrorist attack in Moscow.

The October events did, of course, elevate the Chechens on the list of Russia's enemies. The animosity toward the Chechens, which was already quite high before October, extended to members of the Chechen diaspora, who were now seen as not only disloyal to Russia, but as accomplices to the Chechen terrorists. Moskovskii Komsomolets, one of the most popular newspapers in Russia, played a leading role in denouncing the Chechen community in Moscow. The newspaper suggested that even "peaceful Chechens in Moscow are Chechens nonetheless, which means they are criminals and militants, or at least they are supporters of militants." The Chechen community has been accused of supporting Movsar Basaev, the leader of the terrorist band that seized the theater in October. The Chechens had once been seen as separatists struggling for their independence from Moscow. Now they are regarded as Islamic extremists and part of a major offensive against the civilized world.

The shifting image of Chechen militants, from champions of independence to Islamic terrorists, reflects the new reality in Chechnia. The generation of Chechens who received Soviet education was replaced by a generation of Chechens who have been socialized under the banner of Islam and who have spent almost all of their lives in war-torn villages amid the notorious "mopping up" procedures of the hungry and demoralized Russian troops.

A powerful argument in favor of this new image of the Chechens emerged with the terrorist attack in Moscow in October. Unlike incidents in the past, religion played a prominent role in the act. During the siege at the Moscow theater, the terrorists were often seen praying, and as reported by the hostages, they made several references to Islam. Nothing like this occurred during the notorious raids on Russian cities in 1996, such as in Budenovsk or Kisliar. As one Russian author noted about the siege, "Islam was used for the first time by Chechen militants not only as a religion but also as a weapon." Another important element that did not exist during the first Chechen war in 1994-1996 was the strong conviction of many Russians about the deep involvement of foreign Islamic organizations in the Chechen war.

The new Russian foe: Chechens as the enemies of civilization

President Vladimir Putin has played a major role in changing the image of Chechens from "separatists" (early in his presidency in 1999-2000) to "international terrorists" (after 9/11) to "Islamic terrorists with global ambitions" (after October 23, 2002). Prior to the October tragedy in Moscow, Putin talked about "international terrorism" without regard to its ideological character, as the common enemy of both Russia and the West.

After the October events, Putin took a more significant step in developing the image of Russia's number one enemy. On two separate occasions (during a press conference in Brussels in November and one month later as a talk-show guest on Russian TV ) he described Russia's enemy as "Islamic extremists" and "religious fanatics." He suggested that "these people" were using international terrorism to further their goal of transforming Russia and the world into a caliphate. Putin has insisted that Russia's enemy poses an "evident and strong danger" to all Christians. Following Putin's lead, Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the FSB, ascribed to the Chechen radicals an intention to include in their caliphate not only Muslim republics in Northern Caucasia (i.e., Dagestan, Karachaevo-Cherkesia, and Kabardino-Balkaria), but also pure Russian regions such as Krasnodar and part of Stavropol. According to Patrushev, if the Chechens' plans are successful, "Russia will be reduced to the Moscow region." Soon after Patrushev's declarations about the Chechen threat, his office released a list of the fifteen most dangerous organizations to Russia's security. All of the groups were related to Islamic extremists.

To emphasize the scope of danger, Putin compared Islamic radicals to the Bolsheviks and the Nazis. He suggested that in the 1990s, when "the Russian state had weakened," Islamic radicals believed that they had a good chance "for the implementation of their goal in Russia." The Chechen invasion of Dagestan in 1999 was, as Putin asserted, clear evidence of their plan of creating a caliphate on Russian territory.

Although Putin has often demonstrated his respect for Islam (for instance, during his talk online with Russian citizens in December 2002 ) and like President Bush greeted Muslims at the end of Ramadan, he has taken a very different position than the leadership in Washington and other Western capitals. Perhaps the only world leader close to Putin's perspective is the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who made the headlines in late 2001 for his "politically incorrect" statements about Islamic civilization.

Indeed, the American leadership has tried to avoid an ideological discussion on the international terrorist organizations that openly launched a war against the West. In the last year, President Bush preferred to characterize the terrorists as "evildoers" rather than specifying their ideological or ethnic profile. He almost never used the terms "Islamic extremism," "Muslim radicals," or "radical Islamists," nor has he talked about the hostility of the Muslim or Arab world toward America as being relevant to the terrorist attacks in the last year. President Bush did not use such terms as "Islam" or "Muslims" in his hour-long State of the Union speech on January 28, 2003.

Western European politicians, even more so than Americans, have parried the subject of ideology in their analysis of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, Bali, Moscow and Mombasa. Officials in Israel, contrary to several politicians and intellectuals from the Likud party and despite the arrant hostility of the Muslim world, also belong to the group that would never dare challenge Islam openly.

Meanwhile, Putin, unlike his Western counterparts, declared bluntly that terrorists use Islam as a "cover for their activities." Putin even said that he was concerned about the danger of Islamic fanaticism, because the extremists have targeted the Muslim population in Russia as people whom they can "manipulate to serve their goals."

The Russian media did its best to show how Putin's attack against Islamic extremism was a bold step in the war against international terrorism. Several journalists have compared Putin's stance to the craven position of Western politicians who avoid condemning Islamic fanatics, because they fear the Muslim populations in their countries. They are also quick to point out that Russia also has a significant number of Muslims (no less than 20 million). Moreover, they accuse Western Europeans of being ignorant of the serious consequences of the Muslim encroachment and their hostility toward Western culture. They see Western Europe's obsession with human rights for Muslims as a cover for their cowardice.

The Russians are amazed by how the Western public turns a blind eye to Osama bin Laden, who openly declared war on the West several times on behalf of Islamic extremism. As one Moscow author remarked, the West looks like an ostrich with its head in the sand. Only recently, Western European officials started talking about the threat of "radical Islamists." According to Russian observers, the West also underestimates the Chechen elites' deep hatred of America.

Radicals highjacked Islam: Views in Moscow

Putin's position was, of course, applauded by the servile State Duma, which showed its sensitivity to the Kremlin's wishes by banning the use of any alphabet besides Cyrillic in the non-Russian republics. This measure was directed mostly against the Muslim republics, particularly Tatarstan, which moved to the Latin alphabet as a sign of autonomy in Yeltsin's times, an act which made most Tartars furious.
Two recent events came as little surprise in light of the Kremlin's heightened animosity toward the Chechens. First, there was the case of Colonel Yuri Budanov who raped and murdered a Chechen girl, and was later acquitted on the grounds of temporary insanity. Second, Moscow refused to renew the mission of the O.S.E.C (Organization of Security and Cooperation of Europe) in Chechnia, which oversaw relief efforts and an economic program. Moscow's decision was hardly noticed by observers.

Putin's position is perhaps closest to liberal nationalists, who respect Western culture, yearn for increased international status for Russia, and see the Muslim offensive as a major threat to the country and its future. Following Putin, they suggest that Islamists want to create a new world order based on an "international network" that enforces an "alternate identity" and destroys all infidels. Some authors describe Islam as a relatively "young and dynamic religion" that blends "fanaticism and fascism." The liberal nationalists have expressed views that are close to those of Western intellectuals, such as Robert Kaplan and Salman Rushdie, who regard Islamic extremism and its leaders as a major threat to the West.

Many Russian authors who were involved in the debate after the October events in Moscow over Russia's relationship with the Muslim world claimed that any religion or ideology could be used to justify both humanistic as well as oppressive goals. They asserted that the political role of any religion depends on those who control the major institutions (in the case of Islam, mosques, Islamic schools and the religious media) of the given religion at the given time and place. For instance, the brand of Catholicism practiced in Spain during the inquisition was radically different than the Catholicism of contemporary France.

As an expert on Islam contended in a Russian newspaper, there are now seventy-three branches of Islam that compete for dominance. For this reason, according to the author, it is meaningless to cite various excerpts from the Koran as evidences of the peaceful character of Islam in general, because the interpretation of the Koran depends on the political orientation of the sect that proclaims Islam as its religion. A Moscow journalist noted, "all terrorist acts in Russia and elsewhere have been committed by Islamic radicals, and Islam is used as a justification for the most heinous deeds."

Meanwhile, Muslim extremists, as some Moscow authors contend, now control or tend to control the dominant interpretation of this religion in many Muslim countries. Extremists focus on jihad not as a peaceful way of converting infidels, but as carnage of non-Muslims. Some authors pointed to the ideologue of the "Muslim brothers" (an Egyptian extremist
organization) who manipulated the Koran by claiming that a passage advises Muslims to spread fear among the enemies of Islam. What is more, the same authors asserted that now "the whole Islamic world is a hostage of the terrorists" and that not only the ideologues of Islamic fundamentalism but the political elites in many Muslim countries accepted the leading role of Islamic extremists. Moscow political scientists insisted that Islamic radicals, who control the network of Islamic organizations, "have a well-designed political project and the terrorist acts on September 11 were part of it."

According to the author of an article entitled "Unfaithful jihad," published in Nezavisimaia Gazeta, Islamic extremism, which does not have many followers in the Central European part of Russia, has been expanding to the Ural and Siberian regions. Pure Islam, a newspaper published in Russia, openly supports extremism. The newspaper's editor, during the siege of the Moscow theater, proposed to name one of the squares in Kazan "Chahid Square." Another author talked about "the expansion of aggressive Islam in Russia," particularly in the North Caucasus, but also among the Muslim community in Moscow, which was sponsored by Islamic centers in Turkey. The journalist cited a Turkish textbook used in the Muslim schools in Russia that suggested that "Turks see their goal as taking control of the whole world." An author from Izvestia wrote about the hostile activity of Islamists in Tatarstan, who demolished Orthodox churches, deeming them the outposts of the Russian empire.

Some Russian authors, as if developing Putin's view on the danger to the existence of Christianity, have gone even further and directly embraced the concept of a clash of "two civilizations." They frame this argument mostly in the context of the Russian-Chechen war. Andrei Kuraev, a known professor of Orthodox theology and a publicist, straightforwardly regarded the war between Russia and Chechnia as a confrontation between the agricultural and nomadic civilizations. Contrary to the previous terminology, which described the conflict as a war between Russia and Chechnia, Kuraev suggested that the Chechens, as an ethnic group, were at war with the Russians. He conveyed his certainty that all Chechens in Russia regarded the terrorists who seized the Moscow theater as heroes of the Chechen nation.

The view that the Russian and Chechen modes of life are incompatible has been supported by several of Izvestia's readers who accepted the clash of civilizations theory as a new paradigm for explaining the war in Chechnia. Some of them even described the Chechens as "a population of parasites." Almost none of the twenty readers who reacted to Kuraev's article condemned the author's statements. Leading Russian journalists (among them the leading essayist and TV anchor Maxim Sokolov) clearly conveyed the feelings of many Russians when they described the Chechens as people who live among Russians but ignore Russian customs and traditions, who are "bloodthirsty, cruel and irreconcilable enemies," who praise the plundering of their neighbors as national achievements, and who take part in kidnapping, enslavement and the murder of innocent people. Chechens, according to this image, are people who form gangs to terrorize the Russian markets. Another Moscow author, in his article about the Chechens, distinguished between ethnic groups that are able to create a normal society, and those groups that only want to destroy other societies.

There are many Russian elites who accept Samuel Huntington's vision of the world. Sergei Karaganov, a leading Moscow political scientist and deputy director of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Science, talked openly about "the confrontation between Islamic and Western cultures." Another known political scientist insisted that the Muslim world "lives in the 'Middle Ages,'" while other nations live in the modern world. He was seconded by a Moscow journalist who also saw a radical difference between the Muslim and Western civilizations, insisting that democracy is probably deeply alien to the first one.

The Communists' number one enemy: America

The tendency to see Islamic extremism as the main threat to Russia meets with strong resistance from two major political actors in the country: Communists and anti-Western nationalists. Both of these political actors have been forced to choose their major foe among the three main candidates: America, Islamic extremists (or the Chechens), and the Jews.

The Communists, who enjoy the support of one third of the Russian electorate, along with many sympathetic intellectuals, continue to see America as their main enemy. Besides the old anti-Western traditions inherited from the Soviet past, they see America as a supporter of the new political order in Russia, which has no room for the Communists in the government. They accuse the USA of planning to disintegrate the Russian Federation and even wage a nuclear attack against Russia in order to "eliminate from the earth the Orthodox and Slavic civilization." The Communists use the USA (along with the Kremlin) as a scapegoat for all the country's problems, particularly the degradation of the army and the special services. With their hatred of America, they see Putin's anti-Islamist position as a product of American policy, which intends to generate a conflict between Russia and the Arab world as well as between Orthodoxy and Islam.

The Communist newspaper Sovietskaia Rossia ran an article entitled, "The Kremlin declared war on Muslims," which denounced Putin's new anti-Islamic stance. Gennadii Ziuganov, the leader of the Communist Party, recently organized a round table discussion with the ambassadors of several Arab countries to profess the party's loyalty to these countries. Some of the Russian participants, such as Vasilii Safronchuk, the former Soviet diplomat and deputy of the general secretary of the UN, went so far as to deny the existence of "international terrorism." Besides denying the Muslim threat to Russia and depicting the USA as the primary enemy, the Communists also insist that an alliance with China is Russia's only chance to preserve its sovereignty in the future.

Along with the Communists, the advocates of the Euro Asian ideology also oppose Putin's focus on Islamic radicalism. According to the spirit of the ideology, they want to see an alliance bridged between Russia, China and India as well as a coalition between Orthodoxy and Islam as the major bulwark against the West. Alexander Dugin, a well-known proponent of this ideology and an adviser to the Duma's speaker, in an article entitled "Who benefited from the terrorist act?" suggested that the siege on the theater in Moscow had nothing to do with the Chechens or Islam; rather, he hinted that the attack had been orchestrated by Western "geopolitical forces."

The nationalists' number one enemy: Jews

There is no doubt that many Russian nationalists feel a great degree of animosity toward the Chechens and other people of "Caucasian nationality" as well as toward America. However, as a Russian liberal said about the presence of Jews among the nationalists' main adversaries, "an old enemy is better than two new ones." Alexander Prokhanov's novel Mister Hexagon (Gospodin Heksogen), which captured the attention of many Russian elites, clearly demonstrated that Jews ranked first among the nationalists' enemies. The book received a prestigious literary prize in 2001 and generated hot discussions in the media. Prokhanov is the editor of the rabid anti-Western nationalist periodical Zavtra, which is full of diatribes against America and the Kremlin. The newspaper regularly publishes articles about the calamities of the Chechen war and laments about the possibility of the Russian Federation's collapse. Prokhanov's book vividly described how Chechens and Azerbaijanis have taken control of certain Russian cities, the markets and several branches of the economy, and how they easily corrupt bureaucrats, the police and the courts. Reading these pages, one is led to believe that these people are the great destroyers of the motherland. Later in the book, the reader discovers that despite the dangers posed by the Chechens, Russia's real enemies are the Jews. As the author contends, it was the Jews "who had taken the country from the Russians ... who had ruined the workers' factories, which made nuclear reactors and space shuttles ... and who had stopped and reversed the progress of Russian culture." Prokhanov did not hold the Chechens responsible for the terrorist siege in Moscow, leaving the door open for blame to be placed on Jews or America.

Prokhanov's novel reflects the feelings and mood of many Russians. While most belligerent nationalists prefer not to publicly reveal this type of attitude, some recently managed to create and officially register an openly antisemitic political party called "The national party of Russian statehood" (NDPR in the Russian abbreviation). One of the three leaders of the party is the extreme nationalist and former Minister of the Press Boris Mironov. He expresses a sort of sympathy for the Muslims who live in Russia. He has publicly defended the Chechens and condemned those who regularly harass and threaten them in the Moscow streets. For Mironov's party, Jews are Russia's biggest foe. Members of the party have claimed that Jews have taken control of the country and encourage the extinction of ethnic Russians. While anti-Americanism also plays a role in the party's ideology, it is usually intertwined with antisemitism. In this way, America is regarded as either a Zionist tool, or as the controller of Jews who participate in subversive activities against Russia.

Ordinary Russians

While the Russian elites are steeped in an ideological and political debate over naming Russia's main enemy, the rest of the country is rather apathetic toward this issue. In fact, the public is generally indifferent toward all issues that go beyond the concerns of everyday life. Topics such as inflation and street crime are more likely to attract their interests.

I discovered this impassivity firsthand during my trip to Moscow. Amid the tragic days of the crisis, while 800 lives were in jeopardy, the normal pace of Moscow life continued. All of the entertainment events, conferences and public lectures (I lectured at a sociological institution during this period), not to mention business activities went on as scheduled. While many Russians were deeply moved by the tragic incident, some of the people I met almost completely ignored the tragic developments in our discussions. An author in Izvestia, drawing a comparison with the reaction of the Americans to 9/11, described the indifference of the Russian people, as well as that of almost all state and private organizations, to the fate of hostages after the end of the siege.

The lack of compassion was more evident in the province. Some people even gloated over the disaster in Moscow. Their reaction to the tribulations of rich Muscovites was quite similar to the response of many Russians to the events of September 11 (i.e., "they deserved it"). One week after the ordeal had ended, a subtitle on the front page of Izvestia read, "The terrorist acts on Dubrovka did not decrease the provincial hatred of Moscow." The author of the article cited a Russian woman from Petersburg who said that "What happened in Moscow is revenge ... for the indulgent and wealthy life of the city, which is isolated from the rest of the country."

Several Russian authors wrote about "the decline of Europe" and Western Christianity, the European defeatism before the Muslims, Europe's apathy, and its refusal to fight the enemy. In fact, this diagnosis of Europe is more relevant to contemporary Russia. Describing the moral status of the Russian nation and its various challenges after September 11, a prominent Russian journalist wrote about "the lack of social and historical perspective" and "the low level of solidarity," which is indeed lower among Russians than many other ethnic groups in Russia.
The suggestion made by some sociologists that the Russians are obsessed with their external enemies to whom they ascribe the cause of all their misfortune is wrong. In fact, most Russians are emotionally indifferent toward Russia's enemies. They may answer polling questions about which countries they like or dislike, but their answers have a low emotional pitch and do not relate to their behavior. While most Russians in the aftermath of the October events displayed negative attitudes toward the Chechens, their behavior did not change significantly. As a Russian social scientists explained, "Russians are too passive and tired for mass hysteria."

The Kremlin as well as many journalists and scholars were concerned about a backlash against Chechens in the wake of the October events. As it turned out, these concerns were unfounded. While the harassment of the Moscow police as well as the physical attacks by teenagers against "dark people" (even foreign diplomats from Africa were recently harassed and beaten in the streets) have remained fixtures of Moscow life, there have been no signs of a serious organized force that systematically performs violent acts against ethnic minorities. Only the FSB would be able to create such an organization.

This is not to say, however, that ethnic minorities, particularly Chechens, are safe in Russia. On the contrary, if the media launched an ideological campaign with xenophobic propaganda there would be an immediate response by many Russians.

America: A non-enemy, a partner, or a friend?

While Russian elites remain fragmented on the question of Russia's main enemy, Putin has made his position clear: Muslim radicals are the number one foe. This ideological move shows that the president is determined to link his foreign policy with that of the USA. By adopting a new aggressive stance toward radical Islamists, combined with his high concern about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Putin has removed the USA from Russia's list of enemies, and may even come to see the country as a partner in the near future.

At the same time, the Kremlin will continue to excite conflicts with the USA, as it has done in the past (for instance, Russia's blatant disregard for America's warning about the aid it gave Iran for the construction of nuclear reactors, or its refusal to cooperate with the American Peace Corps). In February 2002, Putin triggered a venomous, if rather absurd, anti-American campaign in Russia surrounding the so-called questionable decisions made by the American judges at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. The Russian media even accused the White House of being involved in the controversy with the goal of humiliating Great Russia. The Kremlin was close to calling back the entire Russian Olympic team in protest. Fortunately, the bout of hysteria in the Kremlin lasted only a few days and Putin halted the campaign.

The continuing ambiguity of Russia's stance toward the USA was revealed on full scale during the Iraq crisis in January-February 2003. Putin avoided the role as the major force opposing the American policy in the Middle East. Seemingly unwilling to pose as a major nuisance to the White House, Putin has sent several signals that he dislikes Hussein's regime and will ultimately support the war against Iraq (perhaps with some stipulations). His position is clearly different than that of the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. In some ways, Putin's stance is closer to that of the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, an ally of America in the Iraq crisis.

At the same time, the Russian president does not want to look like a loyal subject of America. Putin supported France and Germany, which are formally American allies in NATO, in an attempt to undermine the American hegemony, solidify the leading role of the UN Security Council in international politics, and prevent the shaping of a broad international coalition for the war against Hussein. However, while joining the two leading countries of "old Europe," Putin carefully avoided using negative words against American policies and denied that he sees "old Europe" as a counterbalance against the USA.

The duality of Putin's policy toward Iraq, which was revealed during his visit to Paris in February, aroused a lively debate in Moscow. Some authors showed their anti-American tendencies when they enthusiastically praised Russia's rapprochement with France and Germany, hoping it was a serious strategic decision, rather than a tactical one. They focused on Russia's deep economic ties with Europe, pointing out that one half of Russian exports go to Europe, while two thirds of the country's imports come from Europe (not including the former Soviet republics). Vitalii Tretiakov, a prominent journalist and analyst, talked with evident joy about the emergence of "The Triple Alliance against US domination."

However, many analysts, such as Viacheslav Nikonov, maintained that the strategic partnership with America is Putin's highest priority, and that he will not sacrifice it for increased cooperation with France and Germany. In line with this view, Nezavisimaia Gazeta cited a French analyst who rejected the idea that Putin is "on the side of Paris and Berlin" and insisted that "the Kremlin's approach is rather close to the American stance." The analyst suggested that Russia is only an opponent of the war "in words." In fact, "the Kremlin is eager to strengthen its friendship with Washington."

The current political atmosphere in Russia clearly supports the second view. While Western Europe and even the USA boil over with protests against Washington's policy in the Middle East, Russia has remained quiet. So far there have been no major public demonstration of anti-Americanism in the country. On February 15, 2003 millions of people around the world participated in the "World March for Peace." In Moscow, however, according to a Russian newspaper, the "lukewarm demonstration" organized by the Communists only attracted about a thousand people. In fact, there were only two protestors present for every one police officer there to monitor the event. As a show of it mischievousness, the Russian media also noted that Beijing was even more careful not to foment anti-Americanism (the Chinese did not enter the streets to support the anti-war movement).

As we know from the past, with one signal from the Kremlin, a virulent anti-American campaign would erupt in Russia. The potential for such a campaign is particularly great now considering the fact that the great majority of Russians are against the war, even if they are far less emotionally involved than the anti-war proponents in many other countries.

While the Kremlin refused to launch an anti-American campaign in the streets, it did allow the liberal media (not to speak of the Communist and nationalist media, which are completely on the side of Hussein) to forward moderate, and in some case strong, criticism of the American policy in the Middle East. At the same time, some newspapers published favorable articles toward America. One Russian journalist predicted that the future war in Iraq would result in a complete triumph of the American military machine.

The costs and benefits of Putin's pro American position

For now it seems evident that Putin will continue to pursue his non-enemy relationship with the USA, a position that will come with many benefits. Bridging an alliance with the USA has already permitted Putin to continue his fight against the Chechens. It also opens the door for the Russian army to use brutal tactics against the civilian population in Chechnia. No American politician has joined the Russian liberals in their critique of Putin's referendum on the Chechen constitution that supposedly gives the Chechen people the right to choose the fate of their republic. As a Russian journalist formulated, to expect that this Soviet-style maneuver, executed "under the bayonet," to act as a magic wand and bring peace to this wretched republic is indeed beyond common sense.

Putin also appreciates his partnership with the USA because it allows him to take a stand against threats from the South, primarily from Muslim countries. While many Russian politicians, even those close to Putin, lamented about the appearance of American troops in Central Asia, Putin has stressed that the American presence is important for averting the invasion of Islamic fundamentalists. He underscored that the Taliban (before the U.S. operations in Afghanistan) had presented a serious threat to the lay regimes in Uzbekistan, Tadzhikista, Kirgizstan and consequently to Russia.

China is also on Putin's mind as a potential enemy, even if the president regularly treats the country as a strategic partner. In 2000, while speaking in Blagoveshchensk, a regional center on the Amur river, which divides Russia and China, Putin did not hesitate to warn the residents of this region that if they did not make a radical leap forward in economic progress, their descendants would "speak a different language."
One of Putin's advisors, Andrei Illarionov, recently declared that "in 1990 the Russian GNP was 15 percent greater than that of China, but today it is six times smaller." He suggested that, as history shows, the gap between a country's "territorial might" and "economic insignificance" does not last long without catastrophic consequences. Elaborating on the words of the presidential adviser, Izvestia talked about the possibility of "the disintegration of the country" and "the loss of its sovereignty." There is no doubt that Putin sees an alliance with the USA as a powerful deterrent against China and Muslim extremists in the near future.

The alliance with America is quite useful for Putin's domestic policy as well. Indeed, the only alternative to Putin's policy of accommodation with America would be, to use the words of a prominent Moscow journalist, a contemporary version of the notorious "year of great change," meaning the year 1929 when Stalin initiated the accumulation of capital by repressive methods and started collectivization and the mobilization of the human and material resources for building Russia's military power. It is evident to almost everybody in Moscow that the chances of success for this type of revolution are slim. Most Russians (even those who dislike Putin's foreign
policy) are against making any serious sacrifice for the remilitarization of society. What is more, America's present indifference toward the fate of Russian democracy gave Putin free hands to curtail democratic institutions, an ongoing political process that will ensure his easy reelection in the next terms.

Putin's pro American policy also comes with disadvantages. Such a policy goes against the traditional anti-Western attitude in Russia. Putin's pro Jewish policy, combined with the new stance toward America, has increased the number of Putin's political enemies, particularly in the army and special services. In a speech to the FSB generals at their annual meeting, Putin sternly suggested that they must cooperate with the intelligence services of foreign countries (evidently the USA in the first place), underscoring, before their hostile eyes, the fact that such cooperation is necessary not only for the war on international terrorism, but for the implementation of Moscow's foreign policy.

His fight against radical Islamists has also alienated a considerable part of the Muslim population in Russia, in particular the Chechen and Tartar diaspora, a sector of the population that has grown rich and influential and has created its own network of corrupt officials. What is more, by naming Russia's new supreme enemy, Putin has accepted an alliance with America as a subordinate in international affairs. This move may lead to a significant loss of Russian influence in the former Soviet republics.

Putin seems to be a sober politician, who knows, as his economic adviser Andrei Illarionov recently explained, that at the current 4 percent
GNP growth rate, Russia could hardly hope to catch up to even Portugal in the next 50 years. Anatolii Chubais, one the most experienced Russian politicians, described Putin's changes in foreign policy, which included "making Americans our military allies," as having "no precedent in the history of the Russian state."

Certainly, we cannot rule out the possibility that Putin's risky foreign policy of cooperating with the USA will have a dangerous effect on his political future. Putin does not have Stalin's power or confidence to make sweeping changes in foreign policy (as was the case in 1939 when Stalin concluded the pact with Hitler, the enemy number one for the Soviet Union since 1933). As Chubais noted, it is surprising that Putin's abrupt reversal of the old Russian and Soviet tradition of xenophobia "has not met so far any serious challenges." Considering the magnitude of the consequences, one cannot ignore even the minimal chance of an extremist seizing control of Russia, which remains a significant nuclear power. As the case of North Korea showed, even the rulers of a small state that claims to have nuclear weapons can blackmail the USA and the world.

Forecasting the future of a country such as Russia, in which a single leader controls the fate of the nation, is indeed a difficult task. Putin's mind, his primary values and his long-term goals remain a mystery even to Moscow's most sophisticated analysts. Unforeseen events could quickly change the character of Russia's relationship with the USA. At the same time, while the stability of the growing partnership between Russia and the USA should not be taken for granted, in the last seven years, the constellation of enemies in the Russian mind has not been more favorably aligned than it is today.

Acknowledgment: The author wishes to thank Joshua Woods for his editorial contribution to this article.