|Plain Text - Entire Issue
1. AFP: 50 years on, Stalin casts a shadow over Russia.
2. The Economist (UK): Still mourning Stalin?
3. The Electronic Telegraph: Tom Parfitt, Stalin's forgotten victims stuck in the gulag.
4. Financial Times (UK): Engineer of human souls A dictator with a passion for Balzac, Stalin was an erratic, if fearsome, judge of Russian literary talent. FT books editor Jan Dalley on the roll-call of writers who survived his reign, and those who fell by the wayside.
5. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): Ed Holt, End of the road for the limo loved by Kremlin dictators. (Zil)
6. Reuters: Putin's stance on Iraq under scrutiny in Bulgaria.
7. UPI: Russian parliament speaker blasts U.S. (Seleznev)
8. Mother Jones: Aram Roston, The Cheney Loyalty Test. Why did Alan Larson, a Clinton undersecretary, keep his job under Bush?
9. Washington Post book review: Michael Dirda, Tales of the most feared horsemen this side of the Apocalypse. (re THE COSSACKS An Illustrated History by John Ure)
10. pravda.ru: Russian Cossacks Claim American Troops Might Be Deployed in Russia. Russian Cossacks are very concerned about the decline of the Russian
11. AFP: Human rights groups slam Chechen referendum.
12. Los Angeles Times: Zaindi Choltayev, A Trick Vote Won't End War.
13. BBC Monitoring: Chechen Envoy Says Russia Authorities Should Be On US Terror List.
14. BBC Monitoring: Two blacklisted Chechen groups do not exist, third legitimate - rebel site.
15. pravda.ru: Former Nazi Camp Prisoner Experiences More Horror in Modern Russia. Now she compares her present-day life to the fascist captivity.
16. Washington Times letter: Alexander Vershbow, Helping Russia clamp down on human trafficking.
17. Washington Times: James Morrison, Ambassador outraged.
50 years on, Stalin casts a shadow over Russia
March 2, 2003
Fifty years have passed since Joseph Stalin died on March 5, 1953, but many
Russians still revere him as a great leader who defeated Hitler and made
the Soviet Union a superpower, despite his devastating purges which killed
millions of people.
Opposite Moscow's Lubyanka, the headquarters of Stalin's secret police
where political prisoners were tortured and interrogated before being
herded like cattle onto trains to labour camps in Siberia and the far
north, stands a small black-stone memorial to his victims.
But Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov provoked liberal fury last year by proposing
to restore in the same place a huge statue to Lenin's secret police chief,
Felix Dzerzhinsky, who also carried out mass executions, which was torn
down by pro-democracy crowds in 1991.
Inside the Kremlin walls, President Vladimir Putin, a career officer in the
KGB who later headed its present-day successor, the Federal Security
Service (FSB), has spent the last three years trying to bring back his
ideal of a strong state inspired by the Soviet past.
"Putin has sympathy for the view that Stalin made this country great
although the repressions were unfair," said Arseny Roginsky, whose father
was shot under Stalin and who now heads the Russian human rights
"Russia will not be able to reconcile itself to this period of history
anytime in the near future. It will take decades in the best-case
scenario," he added.
A dictator who cast a shadow over the 20th century comparable to Hitler in
world history books, Stalin's nearly 30-year reign of terror reached a peak
in the late 1930s, when mass trials were held to liquidate all opposition.
There were 800,000 people officially recorded as shot during the Soviet
But up to 30 million people are estimated by Western historians to have
died between 1918 and 1956 in Stalinist repression, civil war, famine and
collectivization, although the true figure may never be known.
Yet today in Russia, the "father of the people" is widely
for the staggering human cost of his brutal methods but for making Moscow a
leading world power through rapid industrialization and victory in World
Stalin should be praised for pulling off a monumental task in dragging his
vast backward country into the modern era, said Communist historian
Alexander Senyavsky, who pointed out that at the start of the 20th century
in Russia, 85 percent of the population were illiterate peasants.
"Without collectivization and industrialization at this forced pace, we
couldn't have defeated Hitler. You cannot equate Nazism, which tried to
make one race dominate the entire world, with a regime which pursued, even
with harsh methods, justifiable aims," he said.
After a decade of turmoil and economic hardship since the break-up of the
Soviet Union, Stalin's time also represents a nostalgic memory, according
to sociologist Boris Dubin.
Russia's Public Opinion Foundation found in a recent poll that 36 percent
of Russians thought Stalin "did more good than bad for the country," while
just 29 percent disagreed with the statement.
Another poll conducted in 1994 showed that only 26 percent had a favourable
impression of the Soviet leader.
"If you go away from Moscow and Saint Petersburg to the provinces, you
hear only good things about Stalin," said Yury Zhukov, a historian from the
Moscow Institute of Russian History.
"For ordinary people, the 1930s is a period when life began to improve.
They don't think about the victims of repression. It didn't affect them,"
The Russian government has shown a reluctance to condemn Stalinism, despite
his successor Nikita Khrushchev's famous speech in 1956 before the 20th
Party Congress criticizing the excesses of Stalin's rule and the
free-wheeling public debate during Glasnost in the late 1980s.
It has never granted any proper compensation to the surviving victims of
Stalinism and relatives of those who died in the repression, although
Russians who served as slave labour under Nazi Germany have got payouts
under a German compensation fund.
And under Putin, the attitude towards the Stalinist past has taken a step
He has restored a number of Soviet symbols, including Stalin's national
anthem set to new lyrics -- the tune was played to wake up prisoners in
Stalinist labour camps.
If Russia is to overcome its ambivalence about the crimes of Stalin, the
government must lead the way by publicly condemning Stalinism, making
schools teach about it, funding nationwide exhibitions and erecting
memorials to the victims across the country, said Memorial's Roginsky.
Until this is done, the damaging legacy of Stalin will continue to haunt
Russians and keep them submissive towards a state which cynically
disregards its citizens' rights, he warned, pointing to the authorities'
handling of the Moscow hostage crisis last October.
Of the 800 hostages seized by Chechen guerrillas in a Moscow theatre, 129
died during the three-day siege, all but two killed by a powerful sleeping
gas used by Russian special forces in a rescue operation hailed as a success.
"Stalin and the Stalinist mentality is everywhere. The idea that the
is everything and the individual nothing is still all-pervasive," said
Susana Pechuro, 69, who spent five years in prisons and labour camps, says
the lesson of totalitarianism is that the individual has to earn his own
"I think that Stalin was unavoidable for us, like Hitler in Germany. It
wasn't some external evil, it was a reflection of our system and mentality.
"People say Stalin was guilty for everything but that takes away
responsibility. There's no point in demonizing him. You have to think about
how to change this country," she said.
The Economist (UK)
March 1-7, 2003
Still mourning Stalin?
So many people suffered in so many ways, by starvation, deportation, and
execution, that it is hard to give a complete tally of the human cost of
the three decades when Stalin ran the Soviet Union. Anne Applebaum, author
of an encyclopaedic new study of the Gulag (and former Economist writer),
reckons 18m people passed through the camp system, a further 6m were
exiled, and 6m-7m died in the artificial famines of the 1930s. Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, legendary chronicler of Soviet tyranny, puts the death toll
at 20m-plus and reckons that Stalin's brutality deprived the Soviet Union
of 100m people who would otherwise have been born in conditions of
normality. Yet, extraordinarily, many Russians still look back on the
Stalin years as a golden era.
One reason is that much of the period is still cloaked in mystery. After a
brief period following the collapse of Communism in the early 1990s,
journalists and historians were able to get into the KGB archives. But
since then it has become increasingly hard for outsiders to gain access to
While most Russians accept that Stalin, who died on March 5th 1953, was a
blood-stained oppressor, many still admire him for making their country
great. Did he not fulfil the dream of another magnificent tyrant, Peter the
Great, by dragging a country of peasants into the industrial and even space
age? Some nostalgists even cite the White Sea canal, linking Russia's
Arctic coast to the Baltic Sea and built in just 20 months, as a monument
to his genius--even though more than 100,000 people perished in the effort.
Viktor Anpilov, head of an avowedly Stalinist party, says that foreigners
used to treat Russia with the respect it deserved. It was--he
proclaims--the first country to put a man into space, the first where
doctors performed open heart surgery, the top of the league of
mathematicians and physicists. Now, he moans, outsiders are only interested
in Russia's mineral wealth. "They are laughing at us and despise us for our
fall," he says.
Such views, and the xenophobia they reflect, are still common, in public
attitudes and protectionist, inward-looking laws and rules on everything
from foreign ownership to visas. Other surviving features of the Stalin era
include the presumption of guilt in the legal system. Reform is painfully
slow. Russia's top prosecutor recently boasted that last year the acquittal
rate had doubled--to the grand total of 0.8% of those on trial.
After stalling for 12 years, in January Russia's parliament passed a law
granting Stalin's victims and their children compensation, albeit of a
symbolic kind: 92 roubles ($2.9) a month, one free train ride a year,
half-price medicine, and free false teeth. Recently, in Warsaw, Russia's
prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, took a more daring step and floated the
idea of paying compensation to Stalin's Polish victims.
But there has still been nothing like the Germans' painful and candid
acknowledgement of the enormity both of crimes committed then and of
collective responsibility now. It may be years yet before Russians face up
to the full horrors of the Stalin era, both inflicted and suffered.
The Electronic Telegraph
March 2, 2003
Stalin's forgotten victims stuck in the gulag
By Tom Parfitt
Fifty years to the week after Stalin died, gulag survivors remain stuck in
bleak outposts of the former Soviet Union.
As Russians debate the legacy of the man who ruled for a generation, former
prisoners in towns such as Vorkuta have little to celebrate.
Twelve-hundred miles north-east of Moscow, train No 42 crosses the Arctic
Circle and bursts from the forest into the blizzard-swept wastleland of
this mining town - a huddle of smokestacks and apartment blocks - where the
winter temperature falls to minus 50C.
It was once the heart of Stalin's gulags, built by men and women banished
for "crimes against Soviet power". Today, a few hundred gulag survivors
live among miners and engineers, forgotten by the authorities.
An estimated 18 million Soviet citizens entered the gulags during the 50
years they flourished; a network of about 500 camps where at least seven
million died. Coal was found in Vorkuta in the 1920s and by 1934 prisoners
from all over the USSR were sucked into its pits and factories. Scattered
on the town's fringes are the smashed remains of barracks, isolation cells
and watchtowers. Thousands died here from disease, starvation and
hypothermia. Those who survived their sentences were often too poor to
Most of the few still marooned have given up hope of return. "I think I
will never see my motherland again," said Anastasia Bugaenko, 76, a former
prisoner from western Ukraine. "I grew up in green countryside but I will
die here in the snow."
Like many, Mrs Bugaenko was a victim of Soviet paranoia. She was sentenced
to six years' hard labour in 1949 after young communists denounced her
brother for wearing a black armband. He was mourning his father, killed in
"All my life, I had never so much as swatted a fly," she said.
moment I was sent to the gulag, I burned with desire to kill Stalin."
Her life was consumed by a daily struggle for survival. Prisoners toiled
all day underground and at night huddled in wooden barracks or zemlyanka -
moss-lined bunkers carved from the permafrost.
Rations were limited to soup and 14 ounces of bread a day, a quantity
increased by two ounces if production targets were met. "It was almost
unendurable," said Olga Olshevskaya, 93, from St Petersburg, who was
arrested for political agitation at the height of Stalin's terror in 1937.
He died on March 5, 1953.
The survivors were mostly women, said Mrs Olshevskaya. "The food was
for women but men lacked the nourishment they needed."
Mrs Bugaenko was freed in 1952 but had nowhere to go. "They gave me 200
roubles [now worth less than £4] and pushed me into the tundra." She found
a job on the local railway, married, and saved enough money for a short
trip to Ukraine five years later.
Under Soviet law she had to return to Vorkuta. It was the last time she saw
her family. She is now free to travel but can't afford it on her pension.
Although Vorkuta's last camps closed in the early 1960s, more than 300
surviving former political prisoners are stranded in the town, shackled by
their pensions from the local authority.
As Vorkuta dies a slow death - half its mines have closed - thousands of
inhabitants are clamouring for homes elsewhere in Russia but victims of
political repression do not get preferential treatment.
One gulag survivor, however, is convinced she will finally leave soon.
Galina Dall lives alone in a two-room apartment decorated with trinkets
from her native Germany. In 1945 she was seized in the Ukraine - where her
family had fled on the outbreak of war - and sentenced to 10 years because
she had bowed to pressure to work as a translator for Nazi troops. "Now the
sound of my language calls to me," she said.
She cultivated condemned artists and singers in the Vorkuta camp and since
her release in 1955 has been reading Shakespeare and Goethe.
Mrs Dall's two sons worked as miners and have raised enough money to take
her to Stuttgart. "I want to see museums, discuss religion and talk with
cultured people in my native tongue," she said. "I want to go home."
Like many in Russia, she refuses to blame Stalin for her suffering. "He
didn't know about my imprisonment. The system was to blame, not Stalin. He
did the right thing for the Soviet Union."
Mrs Bugaenko is less forgiving. "When Stalin died in 1953 one of my
workmates asked why I was not crying. I replied, 'I cried for years in the
gulag because of that monster'. I had no tears left."
Financial Times (UK)
March 1, 2003
Engineer of human souls A dictator with a passion for Balzac, Stalin was an
erratic, if fearsome, judge of Russian literary talent.
FT books editor Jan Dalley on the roll-call of writers who survived his
reign, and those who fell by the wayside.
Stalin once, famously, called writers "the engineers of human
a striking phrase, odd, eerie, uncomfortable. Yet chillingly beautiful,
too, resonant and unforgettable: its author could not have been insensitive
Stalin, of course, did massive human-engineering works, tinkering not
perhaps with the souls but certainly with the structure of writers' lives
in a way that made creative existence - or even physical survival -
impossible for many. He was a principal architect in 1932-34 of the
"socialist realism" which was to govern the artistic output of that highly
creative country for the next half-century. Demanding that art should deal
with "typical characters under typical circumstances" (although only the
rosiest view of revolutionary life counted as "typical"), it was obviously
mendacious and blinkered - but also an almost risible attempt at artistic
control over a literary tradition that was essentially allusive,
Stalin also - as we all know - waged against writers one of the most
consistent and merciless campaigns of margin-alisation, repression,
persecution and murder that the world has seen. Yet - to return to that
haunting phrase of his - the tension of brutality and beauty within it well
reflect Stalin's feelings about books and writers. Russian tyrants have
always known the unique power of writers in that country, and attempts at
silencing these troublesome beings were usually the result of fear - as
with Pushkin or Dostoevsky under the Tsarist authorities. That rulers
bothered with such measures shows their awareness of the artists' enormous
potential influence, and that as individuals they too felt some of the same
strange awe and love and almost-veneration towards writers that they feared
in their people.
It was so with Stalin. In the terrible catalogue of his years in power, we
don't in fact see the ruthlessly efficient Man of Steel simply batting away
everyone who displeased him, or who did not fit the socialist mould. The
story is more random, more full of contradictions, chance and personal
dislike or prejudice - as well as personal admiration, respect, even
perhaps love. There were writers Stalin loved - Maxim Gorky, principally;
writers he tolerated and even promoted, on sometimes mysterious grounds -
Mikhail Bulgakov, for instance; and thousands of tragic others whose fate
was brutal and immediate, sometimes again for no obvious reason.
Stalin was not much interested in visual art, intent only on imposing the
iron-fisted kitsch of socialist realism. But if he relentlessly harassed
and destroyed the artists of the early Bolshevik era - Malevich, Rodchenko,
Lissitsky and many other talents - and brought to an abrupt end the
exuberant creativity of that time, with its spiky modernism and spirit of
experiment, he didn't perpetrate Taliban-style destruction. We still have
much of this work; a box of matches would have seen to it that we didn't.
But literature was different, for Stalin. He had had a scanty formal
education but had become the consummate autodidact, surprisingly well and
widely read. French authors such as Stendhal and Balzac were favourites of
his - and these sociologically acute Frenchmen he considered more in tune
with socialist principles than great Russians such as Tolstoy and
Dostoevsky, with their "excessive" moral and religious concerns. Stalin was
reputed to read every new book submitted for the Stalin Prize, sometimes
annotating them and telephoning the author to discuss his reactions.
Stalin's judgments on writers past and present show no consistent pattern.
He declared Mayakovsky the great poet of the Bolshevik era, even though
that brilliant enfant terrible of Revolution had become a thorn in the side
of Lenin, who once called his work "double-dyed silliness". Mayakovsky's
unconventional personal life shocked the prudish Bolsheviks, and he was
always stridently at the centre of experimental groups of modernists,
futurists and artistic radicals of all sorts in cinema, theatre, design and
visual arts as well as literature - everything, in fact, that socialist
realism hated and was set to stamp out. What's more, in 1930 Mayakovsky had
taken the irretrievably bourgeois step of killing himself in despair and
disillusion - but perhaps that meant he was safe for adulation, since he
was safely out of the way.
Boris Pasternak was not out of the way, and was one whom Stalin might
easily have chosen to destroy. He had never conformed to the
socialist-realist model, nor indeed before Stalin's era had he fitted into
the prevailing orthodoxy. He was an idealist, an individualist; his
autobiographical work discussed pre-revolutionary influences: many people
died for less. Yet, as legend has it, Stalin is supposed to have instructed
his henchmen to "leave that cloud-dweller alone".
The cloud-dweller, however, survived but did not fare well, forced into
silence, or the relative safety of translation work. And in the Khrushchev
era Pasternak suffered the most savage official persecution after the
publication in the west of Doctor Zhivago and his 1958 Nobel Prize - which
he was forced to decline.
Another who survived the Stalin years in the body-armour of silence was
Anna Akhmatova, already an acclaimed poet before the Revolution. Her first
husband, the poet Nikolai Gumilyov, was shot in 1921, and her work was
banned there-after. Her son was arrested; her long-time lover executed; she
saw the disappearance of her great friend and fellow poet Osip Mandelstam -
but she survived. The slight thaw of the war years meant that she could
publish again for a short time in the 1940s, but not for long. Like
Pasternak she survived by translating; she complained that for a poet such
work was "like devouring one's own brains". But at least she lived to work
and publish again, and to inspire the next generation.
Every movement must have its heroes, and Stalin's regime found a candidate
with impeccable credentials in Maxim Gorky. An autodidact like Stalin,
Gorky was born in 1868, orphaned and alone on the streets at the age of 11,
scratching a living among the poorest of the urban underclass. By the age
of 30, however, he had become a prominent member of the pre-revolutionary
leftist intelligentsia and a successful playwright and novelist. He joined
the Bolshevik Party in 1905, and remained the established literary
chronicler of the proletariat and its terrifying deprivations. For Stalin,
he was perfect: a socialist writer before socialism was invented, his 1906
novel Mother was held up as a socialist-realist template. He was also
strikingly good-looking, charismatic and extremely tough-minded.
But Gorky's attitude towards the Brave New World was ambivalent. Lenin had
allowed him to live abroad between 1921 and 1931, ostensibly for his
health, on a sort of licensed parole basis - he never broke with the
Bolshevik regime, used his influence to help other writers and artists, and
published his new work in the USSR. In 1931 he made a triumphant return,
and in the early 1930s became the front-man of socialist realism at home
and a cultural ambassador abroad. He lived in style in a pre-1917 art deco
mansion in Moscow, and his house became a sort of literary-politburo HQ
frequented socially by all the Kremlin gratin and their families; he was
probably one of the richest individuals in Russia.
When Gorky died in 1936 he was given a lavish state funeral, and for the
next several decades his status as the greatest Russian writer of the 20th
century stayed officially intact. Yet many people think that the
circumstances of his death are suspicious, and the jury is still out on his
real literary merits. The big question that remains is whether Stalin's
literary standard-bearer carried his flag willingly to the end - or whether
he was overtaken by revulsion at what he had been so implicated in. Still,
for Stalin he was another safely dead literary hero.
Even stranger, in some ways, was Stalin's relationship with Mikhail Bul-
gakov. He had struggled to survive as a playwright in 1920s Moscow, with
some success, and published novels and sketches about the horrors he had
witnessed during the civil war - not a subject to endear him to the
authorities. By 1929 all his dramatic work had been proscribed, leaving him
with no source of income, and he took the bold move of writing to Stalin to
ask permission to go abroad. The result was a historic telephone call from
the Kremlin. "Where, comrade Bulgakov, do you think a Russian writer should
live and work?" Stalin asked. In an answer that probably saved his life,
Bulgakov replied that a true Russian writer could only flourish in Russia -
but that he had to eat.
In one of those strokes of apparent whimsy that characterised the man,
Stalin immediately re-assigned Bulgakov to the Moscow Arts Theatre. It was
there that Bulgakov's The Days of the Turbins had opened, played
succesfully, been banned, was revived. Since the play followed the themes
of his The White Guard -about the fate of intellectuals and Tsarist
officers caught up in the revolution - it was bizarre not just that the
play was performed at all, but that - odder still - it was one of Stalin's
Though he was now deeply in Stalin's debt, Bulgakov was not one to shut up.
He wrote a play called Molie re, or The Cabal of Hypocrites, about a
writer's struggle for artistic freedom. It took four years to get through
the censors, and came off after a handful of performances; other work was
banned before rehearsals began. Bulgakov spent his last years on his
masterpiece novel, The Master and Margarita - in which Stalin is cast as
Pontius Pilate - and died in 1940, aged 49. But at least he died at home in
his bed. Why Stalin allowed him to do that is almost impossible to say.
This may be a good moment to reflect on the whimsicality of dictators. The
relationship between Stalin and these writers shows how the brutal logic of
repression can co-exist with an apparently random sentimentality - almost a
skittishness - which in its unpredictability can come to seem almost more
terrible. In that rich world of Russian letters, a few thrived, a few
survived, many were destroyed, or compromised, or died. And we'll never
The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
March 2, 2003
End of the road for the limo loved by Kremlin dictators
By Ed Holt in Moscow
Zil limousines, the weighty black status symbols favoured by the Kremlin's
occupants from Joseph Stalin to Vladimir Putin, have come to the end of the
road, victims of Russia's capitalist economy.
After almost 60 years, the factory in Moscow where model Soviet workers
once assembled up to 24 Zils a year by hand has suspended production of the
Since the fall of communism and the break-up of the Soviet Union, the
popularity of the 3.5-ton behemoth - once seen as the acme of socialist
technical prowess - has collapsed.
The armour-plated, bullet-proof and grenade-resistant 41052 model had
remained popular in Moscow for a while after the end of the Soviet era
despite its £380,000 price-tag, but more recently the Mercedes has stolen
Now, 15 unwanted Zil 41047s, the most recent seven-seater models, stand
unsold at the Likhachyov factory in south Moscow, with no buyers in sight.
"They are equal to almost a year's output," lamented Vladislav Yevlampiyev,
the assembly chief at the plant. "These are very tough times for us."
Vitaly Mochedlovsky, the 67-year-old deputy head designer for Zil, said:
"I've been here 45 years and have seen most of the Communist Party general
secretaries come and go. I should retire myself now but I can't leave Zil
at this moment."
The rise and fall of the Zil closely mirrors that of the Soviet Union.
Originally modelled on Buick and Packard sedans from America, the car was
born out of Stalin's desire to match the vehicles turned out by the Soviet
Union's rival for superpower status.
He launched the project to create the 315hp Zil limousine at the height of
the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942, in defiance of the Nazi invasion.
For more than 50 years, convoys of Zils were a familiar sight on the
streets of Moscow and other Russian cities, whisking the party elite along
reserved traffic lanes. Designed for luxury rather than speed or fuel
economy, the Zil managed a maximum 118mph and took 13 seconds to accelerate
from 0 to 60mph, averaging just 10 miles to the gallon.
A few of the cars were also exported: past and present owners include Fidel
Castro of Cuba, the former Indonesian president Suharto and heads of state
in Mongolia and Eastern Europe.
At the height of communism, two models a month came off the production
line, destined for party bosses. The cars were returned to be scrapped
after 10 years or 100,000 miles - and a few were destroyed with only a few
thousand miles on the clock, written off by the country's leaders as
It was Boris Yeltsin who delivered the first of a series of fatal blows to
the Zil when, in 1992, he opted for a German Mercedes. Although President
Putin reverted to the Zil, and has two at his disposal - one, with
white-walled tyres, built for Nikita Khrushchev in 1963, is used on foreign
visits - government orders for the limousine have dwindled from 25 a year
to only 10.
In an effort to clear its unwanted stock, the company has cut the price of
its Zils to £79,000. It has also hired a new designer, a 38-year-old
aviation engineer, Konstantin Laptyev, to try to revive the marque's fortune.
The older generation of workers at the factory believe he can secure a
future for the car. "Even in 1942, Stalin believed we must emerge and join
the ranks of the leading nations with our own face - and our own car," said
Mr Mochedlovsky. "But no one envies the burden on Laptyev's shoulders."
Putin's stance on Iraq under scrutiny in Bulgaria
By Ron Popeski
SOFIA, March 2 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin sets about
cementing post-communist friendship with Bulgaria on Sunday, but attention
will focus on whether he will stand firm in opposition to the use of force
Putin, making only his second trip as president to an ex-ally of the
defunct Warsaw Pact, will find his hosts among the strongest supporters of
Washington's hawkish line on Iraq -- following U.S. backing for Bulgaria's
membership of NATO.
The Kremlin leader briefly met President Georgi Parvanov on Saturday
evening. On Sunday, he meets Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Cobourg, Bulgaria's
ex-king who has made improving ties with Moscow a foreign policy priority,
along with joining NATO and the European Union.
As the U.N. Security Council nears a debate on a resolution backed by
Washington that lays the ground for war, diplomats will be watching for any
hint Moscow could drop its resistance to such a draft.
Putin has rejected any resolution liable to be used as a trigger for
military action and said Moscow could use its veto as a permanent member of
the Council. He has backed alternative French-German proposals to give
inspectors a further four months to search for suspected banned weapons.
Russia says inspections have produced results and Putin last week praised a
tough U.S. line for making Baghdad more "pliant."
The Russian Foreign Ministry welcomed Baghdad's destruction of al-Samoud
missiles on Saturday as "highly important evidence of Iraq's cooperation
with the United Nations."
Analysts suggest Moscow could abstain in a vote on the U.S.-backed proposal
to preserve its alliance with Washington.
Interviewed by Bulgarian media prior to his arrival, Putin said the threat
from Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction should not be exaggerated.
"We...do not believe the threat from Iraq is greater than that from
countries," he said. "And in official and unofficial discussions with our
colleagues many, in fact, agree with us."
Russian diplomatic manoeuvres in the past week have left open the
possibility of a change.
Putin dispatched to Baghdad ex-Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, a
longstanding friend of President Saddam Hussein who failed in two 1990
missions to avert a U.S.-led operation to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
He also sent to Washington Alexander Voloshin, his powerful, pro-Western
chief of staff.
Bulgaria, which is also currently a member of the Security Council, has
granted Washington the use of a Black Sea air base and its airspace and
approved the deployment of 150 troops to tackle non-conventional warfare
threats in the Iraq region.
Officials say Western-oriented policies should have no effect on efforts to
restore virtually frozen post-Soviet ties.
"Bulgaria's accession to NATO and the European Union would not hamper
relations with Russia," Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Nikolai
Vassilev told private television.
"Quite the opposite, our Russian partners are well aware of our warm
feelings and pragmatic approach."
(Additional reporting by Anna Mudeva)
Russian parliament speaker blasts U.S.
TUNIS, Tunisia, March 1 (UPI) -- Russia's parliamentary speaker Saturday
blasted the United States' policy towards Iraq, the region, and the world,
warning that his country would use its veto power in the U.N Security
Council to prevent a war on Iraq.
Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said at a news conference that proposals
calling for the Iraqi leadership's ouster were "ridiculous."
Unilateral U.S. action against Iraq would represent "radical political
changes on the global level and would lead to the destruction of
international law, the U.N and the Security Council," Seleznev said.
Speaking at a news conference in Tunis after a three-day visit, Seleznev
said these actions called for "serious thought for establishing alternative
international bodies to the U.N. that could guarantee global security,
especially that Russia and the rest of the world strongly reject the return
to the laws of the jungle where the strong eats the weak."
Countries cannot change regimes just because they don't like them, Seleznev
told reporters. The current U.S. unilateralist slant is a "serious trend
that needs to be confronted and to affirm that the people alone have the
right to change their own regimes," he said.
The Russian legislator said his country would use its veto power as one of
the five permanent U.N. Security Council members to knock down any U.S.
resolution allowing the use of force against Iraq for its failure to disarm.
He also criticized the United States for adopting "double standard
policies, where Iraq is asked to apply Security Council resolutions while
Israel publicly rejects implementing resolutions regarding the Arab-Israeli
He added that Washington "does not hesitate in imposing sanctions on
on the excuse that it possesses weapons of mass destruction, and does not
do the same to Israel, which does own WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and
refuses to accept U.N. resolutions."
Former U.S. administrations, displeased with Cuban President Fidel Castro's
regime, "had to eventually tolerate his presence and were able to co-exist
with his authority. So this suggestion (to remove Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein) is ridiculous and does not deserve discussion," Seleznev added.
The Cheney Loyalty Test
Why did Alan Larson, a Clinton undersecretary, keep his job under Bush?
By Aram Roston
When a new president takes office, high-ranking officials appointed by the
previous administration are usually replaced as quickly as possible. That
was certainly the case with the Bush administration, which wasted little
time in accepting the resignations of each of the 37 officials who served
as undersecretaries for Bill Clinton -- except one.
The lone survivor of the political housecleaning was Alan Larson, who
continues to serve in the State Department as undersecretary of state for
economic affairs. The exception is particularly notable, observers say,
given that Bush demands absolute loyalty from his appointees. "It's
unusual," notes Paul Light, who studies presidential appointments for the
Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank. "Undersecretary
positions are very high-ranking plums. You generally would use them to
reward someone who is faithful to the president and to no previous
But Undersecretary Larson, as it happens, may have had a chance to
demonstrate his faithfulness even before Bush was elected president. In
February 2000, Larson received a visit from Dick Cheney, then the CEO of
Halliburton. According to a source familiar with the meeting, Cheney wanted
to express concern over a State Department decision to block $500 million
in federal loan guarantees to a Russian company called Tyumen Oil. Larson
was responsible for the issue at State. Sources say the State Department
had blocked the aid after the CIA warned that Tyumen and its owners, a
Russian conglomerate called the Alfa Group, were suspected of tampering
with courts to stage hostile takeovers of rival companies. BP Amoco and
other investors in one of those rivals had also lodged complaints, accusing
Tyumen of driving the firm into bankruptcy and attempting to steal its
assets in a rigged auction.
The decision to block the deal was bad news for Cheney, since Tyumen was
supposed to pass along nearly $300 million of the federal subsidies to
Halliburton to help refurbish a Siberian oil field. So at his meeting with
Larson, Cheney warned that refusing the aid to Tyumen might cost jobs at
Cheney got his way. Two months after he met with Larson, the State
Department withdrew its objections and agreed to release the money. When
Bush and Cheney moved into the White House the following January, Larson
kept his job.
In deciding to keep Larson, a career Foreign Service official, the State
Department says that "questions of loans, contracts, or individual
companies were never raised nor even considered." Insiders say Larson is
now considered something of a rising star in the administration. In
October, he was sent on high-profile missions to Saudi Arabia and other
oil-supply nations to secure a commitment for increased production should
Iraq's oil taps get turned off because of war.
The fortunes of Tyumen and its parent company have likewise soared. Last
summer the administration signed a deal with the Alfa Group to explore a
series of oil projects in Russia. And in October, not long after Cheney
suggested allowing Russian companies to supply the United States with oil,
Tyumen became the first Russian firm to deliver oil to the Strategic
Petroleum Reserve, providing the federal government with 285,000 barrels.
March 2, 2003
Tales of the most feared horsemen this side of the Apocalypse
By Michael Dirda
An Illustrated History
By John Ure
Overlook. 288 pp. $45
Perhaps 30 years ago, there was a vogue for popular "illustrated"
and biographies. Some were original, others pictorially amplified versions
of previously published texts, but all were slightly oversized volumes,
roughly the dimensions of a three-ring binder. Over the years I bought
quite a few of these elegant, inviting books: Alan Moorehead's Darwin and
the Beagle, C.P. Snow's Trollope, Graham Greene's Lord Rochester's Monkey,
Anthony Burgess's Shakespeare, Wilfred Blunt's Linnaeus (this last reissued
recently in a gorgeous new edition by Princeton). Lively writers, appealing
subjects, lots of pictures and maps – surely, I thought, all nonfiction
should be presented in this attractive way. One felt civilized just turning
the sleek, shiny pages.
John Ure's The Cossacks is a book in this lavish tradition, at once
pleasing to look at and to read. There are scores of paintings of Cossack
warriors, a handful of maps (I would have welcomed even more), and an
easygoing text that calls to mind after-dinner conversation over port and
Stilton. This is hardly surprising, as Sir John spent his career as a
British diplomat (in Russia, Cuba, Brazil and Sweden), though finding time,
in that cultivated English way, to publish eight books and to give out the
Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph prize for the best travel writing of the year.
Ure, in other words, appears here as a passionate, informed amateur rather
than a professional historian.
Yet surely one demands a good deal of passion in charting a people as
colorful, as controversial, as the Cossacks. After all, these were "the
untamed horsemen who had tormented and harassed Napoleon's Grande Arme»e
across the snow of the Russian steppes from Moscow to Warsaw, and then
onwards across central Europe to the gates of Paris itself. They were said
to need almost no rations, plundering what they required from friend and
foe alike. The French believed that they barbecued and ate children."
For centuries, the warning cry "The Cossacks are coming!" has
dread. And rightly so. Napoleon called these barbaric horsemen "a disgrace
to the human species," and his troops referred to them as "the vultures of
the battlefield" because of "their reputation for taking no prisoners and
for robbing the dead and dying." A Cossack, says Ure, would "learn to shoot
from the saddle as soon as he could ride, and to ride as soon as he could
walk." My father's father was a Cossack: When young, I was solemnly
informed that while other nations might have an army, the Cossacks were an
Descended from Mongol or Tartar nomads, these mustachioed warriors dwelt as
semi-autonomous clans along the Don River, between the Black Sea and the
Caspian Sea. Orthodox Christians, disdaining manual labor other than
fishing and hunting, intemperate, equestrian, self-sufficient and fiercely
independent (though ruled by an elected hetman or ataman), they regarded
themselves as a military caste, like the Gurkhas, janissaries or some of
the Plains Indians. They liked to dance, carouse and drink heavily – except
when going into battle: On a raid or campaign "an ataman would feel himself
justified in shooting a drunken Cossack who was jeopardizing the safety of
his fellows by noisy behavior or erratic shooting." They sported tall
shaggy hats, long sheepskin coats and, eventually, tunics crisscrossed with
sewn-on slots for their rifle cartridges.
Ure organizes Cossack history by focusing on legendary figures and by
emphasizing their tangled relations with the czar. So in the 16th century,
Yermak leads a Cossack host into Siberia, battling the indigenous tribes
all the way to Lake Baikal and beyond. During the 17th-century "Time of
Troubles," Bogdan turns into a bloodthirsty guerrilla harassing the Poles
to avenge the deaths of his son and mistress. A little later, Stenka Razin
– perhaps the archetypal Cossack – spends his life as "soldier, bandit,
freedom fighter, champion of the poor, and scourge of the Sultan," as well
as a pirate on the Volga and a threat to the Russian imperial throne. The
young Mazeppa, discovered in bed with a nobleman's wife, is stripped naked
and tied to a wild horse (an ordeal later described in Byron's famous long
poem "Mazeppa"). He survives to become the leader of the Cossacks, a
favorite of Peter the Great and ultimately a turncoat who sides with the
invading Charles XII of Sweden. In the 18th century, the illiterate
Pugachev pretends to be the true heir to Catherine the Great's throne,
leads an army to the gates of Moscow and plays a key role in Pushkin's
great short novel The Captain's Daughter.
During the 19th century, the Cossacks made up much of the Russian cavalry
and served as reconnaissance specialists, guides and special-operations
forces. They fought in the Caucasus, for example, against Chechen warlords
– and met defeat at the hands of the Imam Shamyl. In a book filled with
colorful, larger-than-life figures, that Muslim spiritual and military
leader may be the grandest:
"When in 1832 the Russian commander in the Caucasus . . . culminated a
punitive campaign through Chechnia and Daghestan by a 10,000-strong attack
on the 500-strong garrison of Ghinari, Shamyl was one of only two men to
escape alive. This he did by making his horse leap over the heads of a line
of Russian soldiers who were about to open fire on him. He cut down three
of them with his sabre before a fourth ran him through with a bayonet;
Shamyl plucked the bayonet from his own chest, used it to despatch the
fourth Russian, and galloped off into the forests."
This is just the beginning of Shamyl's incredible career, concisely
described here by Ure and more fully chronicled in Lesley Blanch's
splendidly romantic The Sabres of Paradise. Shamyl's chief lieutenant is
even the subject of Tolstoy's last masterpiece, Haji Murad.
Naturally, Ure lingers over the Cossacks' role during the skirmishes
between Russia and Britain for control of Central Asia ("the Great Game").
During an 1865 battle for the walled city of Tashkent, a contingent of 40
Cossacks "rode at full gallop into the massed phalanx of the Khan's 5,000
oncoming cavalrymen. Firing volleys from the saddle as they charged, and
then using their sabres at close quarters, they put the Kohkand horsemen to
rout. Of those who were not cut down in the initial encounter, many were
drowned trying to cross the Saidarya river. The pride of the Khokand army
had been decimated by a squadron of Cossacks."
When the Russian Revolution broke out, the Cossacks equivocated, many at
first supporting the czar but some the Bolsheviks, still others the White
Russians in their eventual civil war against the Reds. During the 1930s,
they were periodically starved and massacred by their government, and after
World War II they were betrayed by the West: Cossack prisoners of war who
had, for one reason or another, fought against Stalin were handed over to
the Soviets and were immediately shot or exiled to labor camps. Today,
though, Cossack culture and tradition has revived in 21st-century Russia,
and Ure ends his history with this timeless if somewhat melodramatic image:
"It is a picture of a horseman spurring his pony across the snowbound
wastes of Russia, causing a whisper of fear to run ahead of him like a
Siberian wind blowing through the tall grasses of the steppes and the
clumps of silver birches. His face is hard, etched with lines of courage
tinged by cruelty, of mirth tinged with suffering. His destination is
unknown. But one thing is sure: he is firmly in the saddle and likely to
All in all, Ure's is an inviting brisk survey of Cossack history, and he
writes pleasingly, with occasional rhetorical flourishes, as in the above.
But even though he briefly discusses Tolstoy's The Cossacks – Turgenev
regarded this short novel as the best story written in Russian – why does
he fail to mention that most thrilling romance of Cossack life, Gogol's
February 26, 2003
Russian Cossacks Claim American Troops Might Be Deployed in Russia
Russian Cossacks are very concerned about the decline of the Russian
As PRAVDA.Ru reported before, former commander of the Russian troops in the
Russian Northern Caucasus military region, Colonel-General Gennady Troshev
was appointed for the position of a presidential aide. From now on, Troshev
will deal with coordinating activities of presidential envoys in Russian
administrative districts. The general will administer the activity of
Cossack societies. In other words, the general will be in charge of the
As it is well known, Troshev was in charge of the counter-terrorist
operation in Chechnya for a long time. When Sergey Ivanov, the Defense
Minister, offered the general to take the same position, although in the
Siberian military region, Troshev responded with a public refusal to that.
Now President Vladimir Putin made a decision to appoint Gennady Troshev on
the position of the presidential aide for Cossacks’ issues (taking into
consideration defense minister’s recommendations).
Gennady Troshev told reporters in an interview that he treated his new
appointment positively. In the nearest future Troshev is coming to Moscow
to start executing his new duties. The new aide to the president has
something to think about. It seems that there are more and more of Russian
Cossacks that are not happy with the present state policy. At any rate, the
administration and the council of atamans of the Russian union of Cossacks
set forth a statement, which is addressed to the leadership of the country
and to its people. The statement was entitled “About certain results of the
year 2002 and the necessity for all healthy forces of the Russian society
to unite for the prevention of Russia’s occupation and collapse.” The
statement runs that the previous years of the “democratic triumph” revealed
the viciousness and malignancy of the policy that is run by the Russian
Last year Russia took the 135th place amid all countries of the world in
terms of the Gross Domestic Product level per capita. Cossacks think that
this is nothing but a sentence to the course of reforms that have been
conducted by Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, and Vladimir Putin. By the
way, the USSR used to take the 43rd position in the world from the GDP
viewpoint back in 1989.
As the statement from the Russian union of Cossacks runs further, the
country is torn apart by oligarchs: “Science and education experience a
decline. Healthcare is dying together with the Russian population, the
death rate of which has already reached one million people a year. The
Russian industry has been actually buried. Several thousand criminals fill
their pockets up with money. Tens of thousands of their assistants live
fairly well, while tens of millions of Russian people live below the
poverty line in the declining country. Hundreds of billions of stolen
dollars have been taken abroad. That money has been working for the West,
strengthening its economic and military power. The Armed Forces of the
Russian Federation fell into decay on account of the governmental
officials’ actions. Officers lead beggarly lives, soldiers are forced to
beg. The defense technology is totally worn out, no new troops are coming.”
Ataman A.Martynov of the Russian union of Cossacks said: “Our sources in
the United States informed us in 2001 about meetings and negotiations of
several well-known Russian officials of the so-called liberal persuasion.
They conducted meetings with spokespeople for American administration and
special services. As it was informed, there was an opportunity for American
or NATO peacemaking troops to be deployed on the territory of Russia to
control the Russian nuclear arsenal. It was particularly planned to use the
opportunities of the Russian energy giant RAO UES of Russia and its head,
Anatoly Chubais, for those purposes. The Kremlin authorities could not but
notice those meetings. However, no reaction followed. There are several
groups of American officials working in Russia. They obtain secret
information about Iran, Iraq and North Korea from Russian special services.
Furthermore, they discuss issues pertaining to a possible deployment of US
troops in Russia. They explain that with the need to strengthen the joint
struggle with the mythical international terrorism. We realize the
responsibility for Russia’s fate, which every Cossack of our union claims.
On the ground of that fact, we declare that all healthy forces of the
Russian society should unite in order to prevent the collapse and the
occupation of our Fatherland,” runs the statement.
On the whole, Gennady Troshev, the new presidential aide for Cossacks’
issues will have something to think about on his new position, taking into
consideration the fact that he has already proved himself to be an honest
and courageous general during the time, when he administered the
anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya. Cossacks say that the Kremlin does
not hear them.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
Human rights groups slam Chechen referendum
March 2, 2003
Representatives from 50 human rights organizations warned Sunday that the
referendum due to be held in Chechnya this month risked being mired in
corruption and fanning the flames of war.
"If the people vote for the Kremlin's draft constitution, the war will
stop," warned Ruslan Badalov of the Chechen Committee for National Salvation.
Voters are set to vote March 23 on a new constitution aimed at solidifying
the breakaway republic's status as part of the Russian Federation, but the
plan has been widely criticized as coming to soon in the war-torn republic.
"To talk about a referendum while the population is living in such
conditions is amoral," Badalov charged at the meeting in Nazran, the
capital of Ingushetia, a republic neighboring Chechnya.
"The referendum should only be organized after military action has come
an end," he said.
Federal forces and separatist rebels continue to battle almost daily, more
than three years after fighting broke out in October 1999.
Memorial, a respected Russian human rights group, warned that authorities
were aiming to manipulate the results of the referendum to ensure the draft
constitution would pass.
Authorities overcounted the Chechen population during a recent census and
came up with 200,000 "dead souls" to vote in the election, warned Usam
"Memorial decided not to participate in the referendum's organization,
as observors," he said, calling for the referendum to take place only after
security and proper voter lists had been established.
The Kremlin has promoted the referendum as proof that the war in Chechnya
is coming to a peaceful end, but observers and rights groups have urged
President Vladimir Putin to first open peace talks with the separatist
leadership which he refuses to recognize.
Los Angeles Times
March 2, 2003
A Trick Vote Won't End War
By Zaindi Choltayev
Zaindi Choltayev is the Galina Starovoitova fellow at the Kennan,
Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. During, the
first war in Chechnya, he participated in the Chechen-Russian, negotiations.
With the world riveted on the prospect of war in Iraq, the Russian
government plans to hold a referendum in Chechnya that the Kremlin hopes
will solve its Chechen problem once and for all. But the move is little
more than pretend democracy to legitimize its bankrupt and brutal policy.
The March 23 question for Chechens will be whether to adopt a new
constitution written in Moscow. The document is intended to replace
Chechnya's old constitution, previously recognized by Moscow, that was the
basis for the 1997 presidential election endorsed by the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe. Therein lies the trap.
In the improbable event that a majority of Chechens freely votes
the referendum, Chechnya's legitimately elected president, Aslan Maskhadov,
would be de-legitimized. Maskhadov has been on the run and in hiding ever
since Moscow declared him an outlaw at the beginning of the second war in
Chechnya in 1999. The new constitution would legitimize a Kremlin-sponsored
puppet regime in the republic.
Should the U.S. see through this artifice and protest, the Kremlin has a
sweet deal in mind. Relations between the United States and Europe are
strained because Washington is pressing its case for quick military action
to disarm Saddam Hussein. Should Russia come aboard, it could greatly boost
the U.S. cause in Europe.
Thus, in exchange for Washington's silence on Chechnya, Russia might be
willing to reconsider its opposition to a U.N. Security Council resolution
endorsing a swift military move against the Iraqi dictator. Chechnya, it
seems, would be a small price to pay for the prize of stability, security
and even democracy in the Middle East.
The reality is that the Kremlin is running out of options. After nearly
four years of brutal fighting, the Russian army has failed to defeat
Chechen fighters. It is hunkered down in its encampments. Russian soldiers
dare not leave their bases at night. Worse, demoralized and ill equipped,
Russian soldiers are reportedly selling weapons to the rebels, looting and
kidnapping Chechen civilians for ransom.
The Russian government has ruled out negotiations with Chechen opposition
groups after Chechen terrorists seized a Moscow theater last October and
took more than 700 hostages. The incident led to 129 hostage deaths, most
of them from a gas used by Russian forces when they stormed the theater.
The U.S. State Department's decision to add three Chechen groups to its
list of foreign terrorist organizations bolsters the Kremlin's refusal to
negotiate with terrorists. The announcement lends international credibility
to Moscow's claim that the war in Chechnya is part of the global war on
terrorism, and one doesn't negotiate with terrorists.
Unable to win the war and unwilling to negotiate for peace, the Kremlin has
reached an impasse. But Vladimir V. Putin, who rode to the presidency on a
promise of military victory in Chechnya, needs something to show the
Russian people that he is making progress, especially with 2004 elections
nearing. His political advisors, aware that the United States has many
other, more pressing foreign policy distractions, apparently settled on the
Russia can get away with such a cynical tactic only because Chechnya is
forgotten and isolated. Access to the republic is tightly controlled; news
of conditions there has slowed to a trickle. Furthermore, at the end of
2002, the Kremlin refused to go along with the renewal of the OSCE mission
in Chechnya. International observers have concluded that the security
environment in the republic is so dangerous that it would be impossible to
hold a legitimate referendum there.
Meantime, thousands of refugees are living in tents in cold and inhumane
conditions. Brutal "cleanups" by the Russian military continue unabated;
people disappear without a trace. Rape, torture and murder go unpunished
because Chechens have been branded terrorists and are therefore fair game.
Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, the Kremlin can hide under its
referendum. But it will not bring the war to an end. By force or
manipulation, Moscow will get the votes it needs to declare victory at the
polls, but neither the rebels nor the remainder of the Chechen people will
be impressed. Instead, the Kremlin should return to its 1996 strategy, when
it realized that the war was at an impasse and that negotiations with the
rebels were the only way out. That requires people who can compromise, in
Moscow and in Chechnya. The Kremlin's current approach denies them even a
chance to be heard.
March 1, 2003
Chechen Envoy Says Russia Authorities Should Be On US Terror List
Source: Chechenpress web site, Tbilisi, in Russian 1 Mar 03
1 March: The following is a statement by the deputy prime minister of the
Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Akhmed Zakayev, on the decision by the USA to
include on a list of terrorist organizations the Riyad us-Saliheyn Martyrs'
Brigade, the Islamic Special Purpose Regiment and the International Islamic
In connection with today's statement by the US State Department, I,
representative of the president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, am
authorized to state the following:
The US State Department has recognized several Chechen structures as
terrorist organizations. I confirm that such marginal groups appear as a
result of brutal punitive acts by the Russian military on the territory of
Chechnya. At the same time, we maintain that the absolute majority of the
Chechen resistance is under the command of Chechen President Aslan
Maskhadov and has nothing to do with terrorist activities. The government
of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria is states again: we have nothing to do
with terrorist acts against the civilian population, particularly with the
recent hostage crisis in a Moscow theatre in October 2002 and with the
bombing of the so-called government house in Groznyy in December 2002. We
condemn all forms of terrorism regardless of who they are perpetrated by.
We want to hope that the publication of the State Department will put an
end to the campaign of slander and misinformation initiated by Moscow and
directed at blackening the legal government of the Chechen Republic and the
whole Chechen people.
At the same time, the list published today is incomplete. It is to be
regretted that the main terrorist force operating in Chechnya - the Russian
occupation authorities - have not been included on it. They have tens of
thousands of innocent victims on their conscience - both Chechens and
Over the last period, the terrorist activities of the federal forces have
considerably increased in connection with preparations for the so-called
referendum. Murders and disappearance of civilians have become more
frequent. Punitive detachments and covert "death squads" are operating
throughout Chechnya. Their aim is to terrorize the civilian population and
force it to put up with the aggression.
Russian terror is not confined to Chechnya. The Federal Security Service of
the Russian Federation is responsible for the explosions of apartment
blocks in Moscow in September 1999. There is a number of questions for the
Russian power-wielding structures about the terrorist act in the Moscow
theatre in October 2002.
The Chechens know from their bitter experience that violence leads to
violence and terror leads to terror. In the face of Russia's state
terrorism, our government, unfortunately, is not always able to hold back
the irresponsible and desperate actions of Russian terror victims and
criminal elements supported by the Russian special services.
However, to a great extent, the escalation of violence in Chechnya is a
result of the double standards of civilized countries which allow murderers
and war criminals and their inspirers to join their coalition. Evil cannot
counter evil. We call on the Western countries to use their influence in
order to force Russia to solve the problem of Chechnya with political, not
Two blacklisted Chechen groups do not exist, third legitimate - rebel site
Source: Kavkaz-Tsentr news agency web site in Russian 1 Mar 03
The Chechen rebel web site Kavkaz-Tsentr has ridiculed the decision by the
USA to include three Chechen armed groups on its list of terrorist
organizations. The web site said that two of these groups did not exist,
while the third was a purely military guerrilla structure waging a
legitimate war against Russian troops. The web site also pointed out that
the US decision to freeze the accounts of these groups in American banks
was ridiculous as none of them had any. This "show" was provoked by the
Kremlin, and the USA is conducting a policy of "appeasing" Moscow before
invading Iraq, the web site says. The following is a text of S. Akhmadov
report by Kavkaz-Tsentr news agency web site entitled "The Kremlin managed
to frame the US State Department":
As Kavkaz-Tsentr commentators assumed, the US State Department did not
dance to the Kremlin's tune and did not include nonexistent Chechen
organizations on its so-called "terrorist list" in order to avoid confusion
and not to discredit itself. The US State Department publicized its list
describing as "terrorist" three armed structures which Washington thinks
are maintaining hostilities on the territory of the Chechen Republic of
Ichkeria against the Russian occupation troops "by terrorist methods". The
American list mentions the following armed structures - the Riyad
us-Saliheyn Martyrs' Brigade, the International Islamic Brigade and the
Islamic Special Purpose Detachment. A spokesman for the US State Department
announced that the accounts of these "organizations" would be frozen and
their members would be banned from entering the United States.
Richard Boucher, press secretary of the State Department, said that all
these structures were related to the Nord-Ost events hostage-taking in a
theatre in Moscow in October last year. State Secretary Colin Powell stated
that these armed structures, which for some reason have been described as
"organizations" in the interpretation of American officials, "pose a
considerable threat of terrorist acts that might threaten the national
security, interests, foreign policy and economy of the USA".
However, in spite of the caution of the Americans who have been
procrastinating the publication of the names of these structures, there is
still some confusion even if we exclude the ridiculous passage about the
freezing of "the accounts of these Chechen organizations in American banks".
At least two of the armed structures mentioned in the US State Department
list - the International Islamic Brigade and the Islamic Special Purpose
Detachment - do not exist and have never existed.
Ostensibly, sensing a dirty trick and obviously distrusting the
"intelligence information of the Russian side", which the Kremlin forwarded
to the Americans, Colin Powell insured himself beforehand, stating on 27
February, before publicizing the State Department's "black list", that "it
was necessary to take into account that such organizations often change
At the same time, taking into account that the US State Department is
unambiguously pointing to the fact that the structures mentioned on the
list are directly related to the seizure of the theatre centre in Moscow,
we can suppose that by saying "Islamic Special Purpose Detachment", the US
State Department meant a unit which was previously led by Movsar Barayev -
the Islamic Special Purpose Regiment (ISPR).
As for the so-called International Islamic Brigade, the talk is most likely
about the International Islamic Peacekeeping Brigade. Amir Khattab used to
be its military amir and Shamil Basayev was in charge of it in general.
But in this case, if our assumptions are still correct and the Americans
substantiate their decision with the low quality information of the Russian
intelligence services, the crux of the issue does not change.
The International Islamic Peacekeeping Brigade was reorganized last summer
in connection with the formation of the State Defence Committee - Majlis
ul-Shura. Its individual units joined the eastern front of the regular
troops of the armed forces of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. The eastern
front is led by Amir Abu-Valid. Moreover, Shamil Basayev gave up the
remaining formal authorities of the general command of these units
immediately after the Nord-Ost events. The military amir of the brigade,
Khattab, as is known, died in March last year.
Movsar Barayev left the command of his regiment after he took charge of the
sabotage detachment of martyrs who arrived in Moscow intending to die, not
to return home. The Islamic Special Purpose Regiment itself was also
reorganized in connection with the general reorganization of the whole
structure of the armed forces of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria within
the framework of the newly-created State Defence Committee - Majlis
ul-Shura and its individual units joined three different fronts of the
Chechen troops (including the eastern front) controlled by the Military
Committee of the State Defence Committee - Majlis ul-Shura of the Chechen
Republic of Ichkeria and Chechen rebel President Aslan Maskhadov.
Thus, as a fighting unit, only one armed structure of the Chechen
Resistance really exists and operates - the Riyad us-Saliheyn Martyrs'
Brigade. But the whole piquancy of the situation is that this structure is
not on the Russian terrorist list. For some reason, the Russians did not
include it on their list. The structures mentioned on the Russian list -
the Congress of the Peoples of Chechnya and Dagestan and the Supreme
Military Majlis ul-Shura of the Mojahedin are not on the American
"blacklist" as the US State Department did not wish to discredit its list
with Russian presidential aide Sergey Yastrzhembskiy's "dead souls".
The Riyad us-Saliheyn Martyrs' Brigade under the command of Shamil Basayev
is a purely military-guerrilla structure which is waging a legitimate armed
struggle against the occupation forces of the aggressor state using the
means and methods available to it, including on the enemy's territory.
In line with the norms of so-called international law, to which Moscow and
the West like to refer to so much, the victim of an armed aggression has
legitimate grounds to carry out strikes, including sabotage strikes against
military, political-administrative and strategic targets on the territory
of the aggressor country. These are absolutely legal military targets for
the defending side. These actions are still legitimate even if the
military-political leadership of the victim country refrains from such
attacks for reasons of political expediency or humanitarianism as is the
case with the leadership of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.
No state in the world has any legal grounds to describe any structures of
the Chechen Resistance, including autonomous structures, as "terrorist
structures". The confusion of the ideas of "terrorism" and "national
liberation movement" is an absolute propaganda ploy. This is obvious from
the example of the USA and Russia who have "struck a deal" for political
reasons on the "Chechen issue" in the run-up to the settlement of the "Iraq
Many Chechen representatives believe that the only reason that prompted the
White House to the absolutely illegitimate inclusion of one of the
autonomous Chechen guerrilla structures on the so-called "terrorist list"
is the policy of appeasing Moscow before invading Iraq.
But even in this case, the US State Department's decision will hardly have
any consequences for the Riyad us-Saliheyn fighters. None of them have
accounts in American banks and will hardly apply for an American visa. For
the "members" of other "organizations" mentioned on the American "black
list", this issue is not topical at all as these "organizations" do not
Nevertheless, the ridiculous farce with "Chechen terrorist
provoked by the Kremlin is continuing. The Russian media report that for
the first time in the history of the United Nations, all five permanent
member-states of the UN Security Council have appealed to the UN committee
on sanctions, demanding that all three "Chechen organizations" be included
on the so-called "list of international terrorist organizations". The press
service of the US State Department reported that the USA, Russia, Britain,
China and France, as well as Spain, had put forward this demand to the UN.
We should add on our own behalf that this is not the only thing that
happened for the first time. For the first time in the history of the UN,
all five permanent member-states of the UN Security Council have been put
in such a ridiculous light before the whole world thanks to Russia.
As for the Kremlin's idea of its own "list of terrorist
which the Russians are parroting, everything ended just like ex-Russian
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said - "We wanted better, but got the
February 28, 2003
Former Nazi Camp Prisoner Experiences More Horror in Modern Russia
Now she compares her present-day life to the fascist captivity
Galina Petrovna Afanasyeva, a resident of the settlement of Kildinstroy, is
a former juvenile prisoner of the fascist concentration camp in Munich.
American soldiers, who released Soviet children from the camp in 1945,
called them children of heaven. Americans believed that children managed to
stay alive on account of a divine miracle. Until recently, Galina
Afanasyeva believed that she had already had her share of yearning. She had
to survive hell, when she was a captive of a Nazi camp. Could she eve
imagine that she would have to go through unbelievable tortures in Russia
at her elderly age? Those tortures could only be comparable to the
brutality of a fascist concentration camp.
The house of ghosts and its inhabitants
Here is the address of the Russian reservation, where people were brutally
tortured, and where Galina Afanasyeva realized that the fascist horror was
not over for her: the settlement of Kildinstroy, Sovetskaya Street, 3.
Nobody lives in that desolate five-storied building at present moment. The
former dormitory of the former brick factory looks completely abandoned
now, although it used to be the most beautiful building in the settlement.
Now it has no roof, no doors, which makes the building produce wailing
sounds in windy weather. However, twelve families are still registered in
the building. All those people still live (according to documents) in the
house of ghosts. Twelve families are forced to live in other people’s
apartments, because its is not their time to be resettled. They still hope
for the better, though.
The enterprise KSM-Kola, which used to own both the brick factory and the
dormitory, was announced a bankrupt long ago. The five-storied building was
vested to the administration of the Kola region. There were two variants to
deal with the building: to spend a lot of money on repairs or to resettle
everyone from there. Officials chose the latter. It should be mentioned
here that the so-called resettlement has been going on for three years
already. All those years the inhabitants of the ghost house have been doing
their best to defend their residence. People did not want to move out, even
when the authorities ordered to cut the electricity, water supplies and
heating power. Nobody wanted to leave even when there was no more
canalization in the building. It seems incredible that tens of people
managed to live in such a house for three years.
“There was no place to go, - Galina Afanasyeva said, - that is why we had
to live under horrible conditions. Every day we hoped that something would
change for the better.” A Russian classic once said that concocting
complicated plots for novels was not a noble thing to do, because it always
pales in comparison with real life. “I had to see the truth of those words
myself, when I learned of the living conditions of the dead house. Children
would do their homework, while their rooms were lit with candlelight.
Apartment walls were all covered with thick layers of ice. Parents would
bring water from a stream nearby, men tried to connect the house to street
light wires in order to have electricity in the building. In the evening
people would gather outside of the building and make a big fire. They used
that fire for cooking meals. We had to learn how to survive, so we started
adjusting ourselves to those conditions. Men found a big grate somewhere
and fixed it above the fire spot. We cooked our meals on the fire once a
day. All our saucepans and frying pans turned to smoked pots.”
The evening fire was the best time for the children of the ghost house.
Women would cut their children’s nails there, for it was impossible to
undress a little kid in an apartment – it was too cold. “It was horrible to
look into the eyes of the children, who gathered by the fire. I could not
believe it, I did not even realize, which year we were actually living in.
Everything messed up in my mind. It seemed to me that those freezing
children and their exhausted parents, all of us, including me, did not live
in Russia. I thought that we were not living in the third millennium, I
thought that we were the prisoners of fascist Germany. It looked like we
were warming up by the fire near the barracks of our concentration camp.”
Men in white
Galina Afanasyeva found herself in the concentration camp in Munich, when
she was four years old. Galina was born in the village of Plus, in the
Pskov region of Russia. Her father was a partisan, he came to see his wife
and six children right on the day, when Germans arranged a raid in the
village. Galina still remembers something of that horrible day. She
remembers how her parents, brothers and sisters were pushed into a train
car. She remembers her younger sister Vera stumbling and cutting her leg
with a metal dowel. Galina remembers fascists killing a little girl with a
bayonet. Her mother held the body of her dead child all the way to Germany.
She remembers her father’s desperation, who could not forgive himself for
become a captive. Her mother would always count her six children like
chickens. When the train arrived in Germany, fascists distributed prisoners
to different departments of the camp. “Those departments were like stables.
It was always cold and dark there, I was always hungry and I fainted many
times over undernourishment.” A lot of people died in those departments,
only a few of them were lucky to survive the hell. However, every member of
the Afanasyevs family remained alive. When American soldiers opened up the
gates of the camp to release prisoners, it did not occur to Galina that
they actually released them. Americans spoke the language that Galina did
not understand, so she thought that they were as mean as fascists. The
six-year-old girl believed that Americans liberated her, when she was given
an American chocolate bar. Hungry children rushed to take pieces of the
wonderful delicacy. American soldiers’ chocolate stock vanished in a
minute. The bitter chocolate taste became the Victory Day association for
Galina Afanasyeva. After Americans liberated her, she never criticized the
USA, not even for their incursion in Vietnam or Iraq. By the way, Galina
had a real shot to become an American citizen. She remembers her parents
arguing for a long time, discussing a possibility to go to live in the
United States after they were liberated. Her father wanted to leave, but
her mother insisted on coming back to their Russian home. They eventually
decided to come back to the USSR.
The Soviet Union gave a dull welcome to he Afanasyevs family. Galina’s
parents were questioned for a very long time at the border. “Those people
were dressed in white clothes: white hats, white coats and even white
gloves. I remember that very well, because they beat my mother, and their
white clothes was covered with blood stains. Me and my brothers and sisters
rushed to protect our mother, we hugged her from every side. Men in white
kept on beating her, they looked like butchers with those blood stains from
head to foot.” Galina never saw her father again after that day – he was
lost somewhere in Soviet camps for former captives.
Everything lies in the hands of God
Galina Afanasyeva tries not to think about the horrors of her fascist
captivity. However, the horrid reality of the present time sometimes gets
mixed up with the distant past. Galina feels a little girl on such minutes.
One cold winter night, when heating power supplies were cut in the ghost
house, Galina had her back frozen to the wall. She woke up in the middle of
the night and started calling her mother and sisters. It seemed to her for
a minute that she was lying on the bunk of the Munich concentration camp,
when she and her siblings had to hug each other tight in order not to
freeze to death while sleeping. A sailor lived next door to Galina's
apartment. The 40-year-old man did not have the energy to live in such a
house, so he hung himself. “At that time I though that the period of my
childhood that I spent in the concentration camp helped me to survive the
hell that I had to go through in the ghost-house.”
For the time being, Galina Afanasyeva is still registered in the desolate
house together with 12 other families. All of them rent either rooms or
apartments, waiting for their time to be resettled. She has been to a lot
of administration offices. Officials’ replies to her were all the same:
there is no money at the moment, when we have some, we will buy you an
apartment. There was a time, though, when officials made Galina “happy:”
she was told that her resettlement problem had been solved. As it turned
out, Galina was offered to live in an apartment, in which an old lady was
recently stabbed. Galina was too scared to go and see the apartment alone,
so she took her friend along. She was terribly disappointed with what she
saw: no windows, no doors, no canalization and no water. The only good
thing about that place was the heating power and electricity. She had to
turn the offer down. The apartment that she rents now does not have water
supplies either. Old ladies have to go to the stream to get some water
there. However, Galina Afanasyeva does not give way to despair. She still
hopes that she will have a place to live some day. The woman, who survived
the hell of a fascist camp is sure that everything lies in God’s hands. God
does not leave those, who suffer.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
March 2, 2003
Helping Russia clamp down on human trafficking
U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation
It is tiresome having to respond to each new outburst by Donna Hughes,
women's studies professor at the University of Rhode Island, concerning the
fight against human trafficking in Russia ("Russian prostitution
imbroglio," Letters, Feb. 14). Nevertheless, I cannot risk having my
silence misconstrued as assent.
Not content with the lies and distortions in her comments on National
Review Online (NRO), Miss Hughes now tries new versions of the same
slander. In her NRO article, she accused the entire State Department of
being part of a "pro-prostitution mafia." Having been called on that
ridiculous charge, she now claims to have exposed a "pro-prostitution
cabal" within the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Really? If Miss Hughes believed
this serious charge, she could have contacted me directly, named the guilty
parties, specified their wrongdoings and presented her evidence. That she
has not done so speaks volumes for her credibility.
She claims that my staff tried to foist weak anti-trafficking legislation
on the Russian parliament (Duma) that would have opened the door to
legalized prostitution, and that a State Department intervention quelled
this effort to legalize prostitution and turned it around. Let me be
unequivocal about this: There was no such effort to legalize prostitution
by either the working group or any member of my staff, no weak legislation,
no intervention and no turnaround.
In her NRO article, Miss Hughes asserted that Duma Deputy Yelena Mizulina
supported legalizing prostitution in Russia. Confronted, she backed off.
Now she has shifted from libel to innuendo, making vague references in her
letter to a "Duma deputy" from a party that supports legalized
prostitution. In fact, Miss Mizulina is the main driving force behind
legislation that would criminalize human trafficking in Russia, and is on
record as strongly opposing the legalization of prostitution.
Here are the facts. Each year, thousands of Russians are trafficked, many
for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Many of them are taken to the
United States. A Duma working group led by Miss Mizulina and supported by
nongovernmental organizations and international experts has drafted and is
working to pass anti-trafficking legislation. Our embassy supports this
effort with technical assistance and expert advice. And we have a lot of
work ahead of us, because fighting such trafficking in Russia is a serious,
complex and painstaking job.
In light of the facts, I hope Miss Hughes will stop attacking us. Stopping
human trafficking is vitally important to the future well-being of Russian
democracy, and slandering people of good will in order to create a public
furor is not the way to achieve our common goal.
February 11, 2003
The U.S. ambassador to Russia has denounced an article carried on the Web
site of a major conservative magazine as a "willful slander" against U.S.
Embassy staff and State Department officials.
Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, in a letter to the editor of National Review
Online, protested an article carried on Nov. 21 that accused some embassy
personnel of working to promote prostitution in Russia.
Mr. Vershbow said he was "outraged" when he read the article by
Hughes, who referred to "officials at the Moscow embassy who continue to
actively work with the pro-prostitution mafia and to support its
Mrs. Hughes, a professor at the University of Rhode Island and an expert on
the exploitation of women, claimed the State Department is siding with
nongovernmental organizations that want to reclassify prostitution as "sex
work" and legitimize the widespread trafficking in girls and women in Russia.
She said the United States was aligning itself with "organized-crime
groups, corrupt politicians and strip club owners."
Mr. Vershbow, whose letter can be found at www.nationalreview.com, wrote
that the article "is so permeated with false claims and distortions that it
borders on willful slander."
"Mrs. Hughes distorts U.S. government policy of trafficking in persons,
portraying it as driven by a 'pro-prostitution mafia' that includes the
Department of State in league with the American Embassy in Moscow. This is
absurd," Mr. Vershbow wrote.
He said the United States is supporting reformers in the Russian parliament
who are working to draft Russia's first anti-trafficking legislation.
"Criminalizing and eradicating this shameful, immoral trade is a major
objective of the U.S. government and my embassy in support of the growing
anti-trafficking movement inside Russia, itself," Mr. Vershbow said.
Mrs. Hughes, who responded to Mr. Vershbow's letter, said her article was
an attempt to expose some diplomats who were lending support to the
legalization of prostitution.
She said her article "created a furor" and helped reformers
support for legislation that criminalizes the full scope of predatory
tactics used by traffickers to recruit and exploit women."