|Plain Text - Entire Issue
1. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, Russia embraces trial
by peers A constitutional right since 1993, jury trials are expected to be
standard all over the country by 2007.
2. Interfax: U.S. accused of "consular war" on Russians.
3. AFP: Chechen TV journalist tries to change Russian view of her people.
4. ITAR-TASS: Russians divided in views of Stalin. (poll)
5. RFE/RL: Gregory Feifer, With Hindsight People See Stalin As Positive Leader.
6. Financial Times (UK): Carola Hoyos, Exxon chief cool on deals within Russia.
7. Forbes: Benjamin Fulford, China and Russia start to tussle over Siberia.
8. Moscow Times: Andrei Zolotov Jr., Interros Buys Into TMT's Parent.
9. Moscow Times editorial: Oligarchs Just Come And Go.
10. Novoe Vremya: Alexander Kustarev, REVOLT OF THE EUROPEAN ATLANTEANS. The Iraq conflict as a driving force in European integration.
11. US State Department: Interview on Russia's ORT. Secretary Colin L. Powell.
12. BBC: Ask Russian foreign minister. Q&A with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
Christian Science Monitor
March 5, 2003
Russia embraces trial by peers
A constitutional right since 1993, jury trials are expected to be standard
all over the country by 2007.
By Fred Weir | Special to The Christian science Monitor
MOSCOW -- It's an hour after starting time on the second day of Denis
Baryshnikov's murder trial, and the courtroom near Moscow's Barrikadnaya
metro station is in pandemonium.
Surveying the 12 black office chairs arranged along one gray wall and
noting an empty seat, Judge Lyubov Brikalova vents her frustration at the
fledgling jury system before adjourning last Friday's session. "Where is
juror No. 5?," she demands of the court clerks. "This is like a
kindergarten - no, it's more like a nursery. And now they want to introduce
this bedlam into the whole country?"
Despite such inauspicious beginnings and widespread skepticism from
Russia's conservative judges and prosecutors, the Western practice of trial
by a panel of peers is being extended to a quarter of Russian regions this
year. It is expected to be standard across the country by 2007. The return
of juries to Russian courtrooms - after an absence of almost a century - is
intended to help restore public faith in a widely distrusted judicial
system by making criminal trials more open and fair. The reform was the
cornerstone of a sweeping judicial package passed by the State Duma last year.
"Jury trials are certainly cumbersome and more expensive to stage, but
results are better," says Vladimir Tumanov, a former chairman of Russia's
Constitutional Court. "The demands of evidence are much higher, and
prosecutors have to work hard to prove the defendant's guilt. As a result,
jury trials lead much more often to 'not guilty' verdicts."
Jury trials have been legal for a decade under Russia's 1993 Constitution,
and experiments have been going on in a handful of Russian regions since
then. A significant widening of the practice last year is already being
credited with doubling the total acquittal rate, for all types of trials,
from .4 percent of all defendants - where it has hovered for most of the
past decade - to .8 percent.
In jury trials, Russian jurors, like their Western counterparts, free an
average 15 percent of defendants. (In the US, where juries are common, the
acquittal rate is 17 percent).
Russian justice wasn't always a seemingly inevitable march from arrest to
prison sentence. In the 19th century, a thriving jury system absolved
almost a third of all defendants. But the legacy of the Soviet system, in
which a working compact among investigators, prosecutors and judges
combined with a firm presumption that anyone accused by the state must be
guilty, still weighs heavily on Russia's courts.
It took almost a decade for the Duma to pass a law mandating nationwide
introduction of juries. "There has been fierce resistance from judges and
prosecutors," says Sergei Pashin, a former judge who works as a legal
specialist with the Helsinki Group, a human rights watchdog. Most Russian
regions are still dragging their heels on introducing the jury system, with
local authorities often citing a lack of funds to install jury rooms and
pay the 100 rouble (about $3) daily juror pay. But Mr. Pashin says the main
problem is lack of political will. "Basically we are dealing with people
who do not understand this reform and do not want it."
Even in those regions that are introducing jury trials, they are available
only for a handful of serious crimes, including murder, corruption, and
Mr. Baryshnikov is charged with participating in a killing during a car
theft. The jurors in his case are mainly pensioners and unemployed people.
Citizens with jobs tend to beg off jury duty or, like the truant juror No.
5, disappear after a day or so.
His attorney, Yelena Bondarenko, complains that the court has forbidden her
to mention her client's claim that his confession was coerced, because a
police commission concluded that his facial injuries were the result of a
"fall down stairs." The judge has ordered Bondarenko to stick to "proven
facts" only. Nor is she permitted to bring up any mitigating circumstances,
such as his disabled parents' dependence on him for support or the fact
that this is his first brush with the law. "In a regular court, I could
raise these issues with the judge," says Ms. Bondarenko, who had counseled
her client against requesting a jury trial. "I doubt that a jury comprised
of laymen is able to take in all the complexities of this case and
Her attitude is mirrored by Judge Brikalova. "I was very enthusiastic at
the beginning," she says. "But now I realize that if I had to face a court
myself, I would never ask for a jury trial, because they are totally
Other senior jurists offer harsher statements. "I think jury trials are
anachronism designed for people who want to evade responsibility,"
Vladislav Postogonov, a judge in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don
told the liberal magazine Ogonyok. And Natalya Reshetova, a top official
with the General Prosecutor's office in Moscow, complained that juries "act
from emotion rather than common sense ... People tend to see the defendant
as a victim of state oppression, to sympathize with him as the underdog,
and the acquittals they hand down are not justice but just a kind of protest."
But others say that even Russia's limited experience with the new system
shows that it works better than the judge-dominated courtrooms inherited
from the Soviet Union. "The fear that juries would act on their first
impressions or emotional sympathies have proven groundless," says Olga
Solovyeva, a sociologist at Moscow State University who has been studying
jury trials since the first experimental one was held in Russia in 1994.
For one thing, she says, jurors demand to see evidence. "Russian
investigators have this saying that "confession is the queen of evidence,"
and once they have extracted a confession they don't bother probing much
further. But juries don't accept that. They want to see the murder weapon,
hear the opinions of experts, and be told the results of scientific tests
taken at the crime scene, and so on. It's a whole new courtroom."
Reporters on the Job
COURTROOM CONFUSION: Moscow-based reporter Fred Weir has been in a lot of
Russian courtrooms over the years - as a journalist - not a defendant, he
hastily notes. "I've been impressed by the professionalism of the judges.
But I've always been suspicious of the lockstep nature of the proceedings,
which have the feel of any bureaucratic process in Russia," he says. But in
covering a jury trial for his story today, Fred noticed a a new atmosphere.
"It was a little anarchic, and the judge was really frustrated," he says.
But he finds that an encouraging sign of progress. "A bit of confusion is
usually a sign here that things are changing. In my opinion, the spread of
the jury system is just the right antidote in Russia to what has been in
the past a smoothly running machine for convicting people. Juries offer a
way for the public to insert themselves into what was formerly a closed
process. It's a sign of a fresh wind blowing through Russia."
U.S. accused of "consular war" on Russians
MOSCOW. March 4 (Interfax) - Every fourth Russian wishing to visit the United
States is denied an entry visa, Igor Suzdaltsev, a senior member of the
Russian-American Public Visa Council, complained on Tuesday.
"Russians are denied entry to the U.S. in 25% of cases, whereas the figure
for entry to European Union countries is only at about 3%," Igor Suzdaltsev
told a news conference in Moscow, citing information from the U.S. consul in
Russia, Jim Warlick.
"This policy of consular war is, in particular, dealing a blow to Russian
scientists, who, having worked in the U.S. for several years and having
afterward being deprived of their visas, cannot bring their property,
manuscripts or libraries to Russia."
The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group said the U.S. visa policy toward
Russians runs against international human rights accords.
"Such violations weaken the position of the U.S. in its dialogue with the
Russian authorities on the defense of U.S. citizens' rights. This means that
both sides close their eyes to violations of the right to freedom of movement
for citizens of the two countries," Lyudmila Alexeyeva said.
Chechen TV journalist tries to change Russian view of her people
March 4, 2003
For Aset Vatsuyeva, her new job as a newscaster on Russian television is more
than a good career move, it's a small victory for the Chechen people she
hopes to represent.
"Chechens are really happy to see me on television. For them it's a
victory," said Vatsuyeva, 25.
Vatsuyeva fled her native Chechnya to escape the first war that ravaged the
separatist republic from 1994 to 1996.
In Moscow, she was approached by veteran NTV journalist Leonid Parfionov to
present a new program called "Strana i Mir" (The Country and the World).
"It's a political gesture," Parfionov said.
"I want to contribute to the disappearance of the phrase 'person of
origin,' a pejorative expression rooted in Russian society, most of which
thinks (Chechens) are 'criminal' or 'terrorist,'" he told AFP.
Vatsuyeva's first program, aired in late October, focused on the Chechen
women who formed part of a band of rebels who held 800 theatre-goers in
Moscow hostage for three days.
It was a controversial debut, with many viewers accusing the Chechen
newscaster of sympathy for the hostage-takers.
"After the hostage-taking, the police arrested my 20-year-old brother
and accused him of links to the abductors. The NTV leadership had to step in
so they would let him go," Vatsuyeva said in an interview with AFP.
In the days following the theatre crisis -- which left 129 hostages and all
41 hostage-takers dead -- anti-Chechen sentiment in Moscow ran even higher
than usual, with widespread accusations of police harassment and summary
Similar accusations emerge daily from Chechnya, with human rights groups
accusing federal forces of everything from kidnapping to summary executions
and rape against the civilian population.
"I don't need to watch the news to know what's going on in
"I just have to talk to my relatives, who go back regularly and tell us
our neighbors were grabbed by masked men and found dead a few days later,"
"Do you call that a peaceful existence?"
President Vladimir Putin has been attempting to press on the world that the
war in Chechnya is coming to a peaceful end, planning a constitutional
referendum later in the month that is set to be followed by presidential and
He has refused to negotiate with the Chechen rebel leadership.
"The position of the Russian authorities is a vicious circle,"
said. "All wars end through negotiations."
The young Chechen was just 16 when the Russian federal forces first swept
into the southern republic to put down a separatist rebellion in 1994.
"All my dreams and illusions were destroyed," she remembered.
"The worst thing was the bombings. You couldn't find shelter
"Our family fled to the village of Goyty (10 kilometers, six miles south
Grozny), but my father and uncle were trapped in Grozny by federal forces,"
she said. "For several months, we didn't even know if they were alive."
Vatsuyeva's father, veteran Chechen dissident Abdulla Vatsuyev, did surive,
but has since become paralyzed from a stroke.
The second war broke out in October 1999 as Vatsuyeva was in the middle of
her journalism studies in Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
Her family fled to Ingushetia, the republic bordering Chechnya which is home
to thousands of refugees from the war, before joining her in Moscow in
"The first year, every night my mother would say: 'I think that in a
can go back home,'" Vatsuyeva remembered.
"Now, she understands that that is impossible -- our house was
Vatsuyeva's work as a journalist led her to return to Chechnya in summer
2000, in the midst of the bloody war that continues to ravage the republic.
"I didn't recognize my hometown," she said.
"The ruins, the depressed people -- I've never seen anything worse, not
worst nightmares, not even in films," she said with tears in her eyes.
Russians divided in views of Stalin
Moscow, 4 March: Russians still associate Joseph Stalin, who ruled Russia
from the end of the 1920s through to his death on 5 March 1953, with the
horrors of a totalitarian regime, says an opinion poll organized by the
Public Opinion Fund while the country is marking the 50th anniversary of the
For about 42 per cent, Stalin's name is associated with "dictatorship,
repression and the Gulag chain of concentration camps", the poll suggests. At
the same time, a total of 32 per cent believe Stalin is generally associated
with "unequivocal orderliness, industrial rise and the pride of a great
A total of 15 per cent of those polled said Stalin's name did not trigger any
associations, except for the fact that he was "a pipe-smoking boss with
Also, 36 per cent of respondents said his activity was beneficial rather than
bad for the Soviet Union, while 29 per cent said they had an opposite view.
For some 35 per cent of people, Stalin is synonymous with victory in World
War II, which in Russia is usually called the Great Patriotic War. "Law and
order" is the praise given to him by 18 per cent of those polled while 16 per
cent said Stalin ensured "a stable and decent life".
When asked about Stalin's most negative legacy, about 61 per cent of Russians
said it was the mass repressions.
Russia: With Hindsight People See Stalin As Positive Leader
By Gregory Feifer
This week (5 March), Russia marks the 50th anniversary of Soviet dictator
Josef Stalin's death. The watershed moment changed world history, putting an
end to the worst excesses of repression by the Communist Party. But as RFE/RL
reports, Russians today increasingly see Stalin as a positive figure in their
Moscow, 4 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- "Our Party, the Soviet people, all
have suffered a great, irreparable loss. The glorious life of our teacher and
leader, humanity's great genius, Josef Vissarionovich Stalin, has come to the
end of its path."
These were the words of Communist Party leader Georgii Malenkov in 1953 at
one of the pivotal moments of the 20th century: funeral ceremonies for Soviet
dictator Josef Stalin, who died on 5 March of that year. Tearful millions
poured into the streets to mourn.
It marked a major turning point in Soviet history that put an end to the
worst of the Communist Party's repressions. Historians disagree about the
numbers who died from execution, famine, imprisonment in labor camps, and
other repressions under Stalin, but a commonly cited figure is over 20
Despite the staggering figure, Russians are increasingly ambivalent about
Stalin's image at the 50th anniversary of the dictator's death this week.
Twelve years after the Soviet collapse and a turbulent transition toward
democracy and capitalism, a public opinion poll this month says 36 percent of
Russians think Stalin brought more good than harm to the country. Another 34
percent say they are ambivalent, seeing both positive and negative aspects.
Many laud Stalin for leading the Soviet Union to victory against Nazi Germany
in World War II and forcing the country to undergo massive industrialization
to catch up to the West.
A small exhibit on Stalin's image in central Moscow reflects these mixed
feelings. It chiefly contains adulating portraits of the dictator and devotes
only a small space to the Gulag concentration-camp system through which
almost 20 million political prisoners passed.
Tamara Aleksandrovna, (she would not give her last name) works in the
administration office at the museum. She lauded Stalin for bringing order. "I
view Stalin positively. Because if there were such leadership now as there
was under Stalin, there would be less disorder in our country. There wouldn't
be thievery or such anarchy," she said.
She questioned those who say Stalin was a murderous dictator. "You know,
don't know whom he killed, I can't say that. It's all relative -- whom he
Tatyana Kurmantsova, a museum curator, said such feelings at least in part
are brought about by nostalgia. This, she said, is fuelled by the poverty and
crime afflicting large parts of Russia today.
Alyona Kozlova is the head of the Gulag archives at Memorial, one of the
country's top human rights organizations, set up in the late 1980s to catalog
Soviet crimes. Kozlova criticizes as dangerous the fact that no officials
have been tried for crimes under the Soviet Union, and that none of them has
apologized for the past. "It is even allowed for politicians who say that
there were no repressions to make statements and give their opinions. But if
[the repressions] did not take place, then to some degree they are
justified," she said.
She added that the authorities' current actions, such as orders to step up
random police checks of documents on the streets -- drives aimed chiefly at
dark-skinned passersby -- stem from a tendency left from the Soviet period of
dividing members of society into "good and bad, us and them."
Tatyana Smilgo was sent to the Gulag under Stalin. Her father was a Bolshevik
revolutionary, a Central Committee member who knew Stalin himself personally
and argued with the dictator. For that he was later shot along with his wife
and other relatives following the greatest wave of Stalin's purges in 1938.
Memorial uncovered the remains of Smilgo's mother four years ago in a forest
outside St. Petersburg, where she was shot.
Smilgo herself was arrested as a grade-school student in 1939 and sentenced
to 4 1/2 years of prison camp and another 13 years of exile. Later denied
work and acceptance in universities, she found work as a teacher. She said
she is against the current exhibit on Stalin. "How can you look at [the
exhibit]? How can one look at a person who shot your entire family and ruined
your life? How, for God's sake? Even his funeral -- I find it funny. I
thought I wouldn't live until the moment that he would die," she said.
"Without an apology" from officials, she said, "it will be
possible to commit
more evil," adding: "I think it was a nightmare for Russia. [Stalin] ruined
not only [his own] generation, but future ones. People's psychology was
completely broken. There was fear, slavery -- all this continues to be with
Lev Mishchenko was born in 1917, the year of the revolution. He attended the
funerals of both his parents -- killed by Bolsheviks -- at the age of four. A
junior officer in World War II, he was captured by Nazi forces and sent to
the German concentration camp of Buchenwald. In the last days of the war, he
managed to escape from a prisoner convoy and made his way to a U.S. tank
division on the front line, where he turned down an offer to be sent to the
On repatriation to the Soviet Union, he was accused of spying and sent to
Siberia to work in labor camps, like many other former prisoners of war.
Freed in 1954, he also now decries nostalgia for Stalin. "He was a maniac.
The war was won despite Stalin and not thanks to Stalin. And what he did to
Russia, to the Soviet Union and all the Soviet republics -- destroying tens
of millions, at least 20 million innocent people -- [means] Stalin achieved
nothing positive," he said.
"People talk about how bad the economy is today, but under Stalin,
of collective farm workers died of famine," he said. "I saw how people lived
myself. People had nothing to eat, and still had to give milk and eggs to the
Kozlova said Memorial's work to catalog and discuss Soviet-era crimes goes on
despite increasingly difficult access to state archives. "It was only
possible to begin talking about [Soviet repressions] 10 years ago," she said.
"That is only a small amount of time to uncover such an enormous and deep
period of history."
Financial Times (UK)
March 5, 2003
Exxon chief cool on deals within Russia
By Carola Hoyos, Energy Correspondent
Lee Raymond, chairman and chief executive of Exxon-Mobil, the world's largest
energy company, has doused the renewed optimism over international
partnerships with Russian companies by saying the country's investment
climate remained below par.
"I don't think we look at it that the 'Good Housekeeping' seal of
will come soon to Russia," he said.
Exxon is seen as one of few companies positioned to take advantage of
Russia's recent willingness to accept significant partnerships, following
BP's $6.75bn deal, which created the country's third-largest oil company.
The deal concluded last month between BP, Sidanco and TNK, became the largest
foreign direct investment in recent Russian history.
"To the extent that you have the opportunity to make an investment under
[production sharing agreements], those are probably the most attractive
projects," Mr Raymond said, "The other form of potential investment [similar
to BP's] is yet to be seen, I wouldn't rule it out."
JJ Traynor, analyst at Deutsche Bank, said Exxon's interest in Russia was by
no means sated. "From a country perspective, what they have in Russia won't
ultimately satisfy them." However, he said the company was reluctant to make
acquisitions and that it would be a "slower build up in Russia for Exxon than
Exxon's giant Sakhalin project is the only successful large PSA in Russia,
which has maintained an iron grip on its resources. Nevertheless, Exxon is
believed to have considered the TNK deal.
As for the prospects of investing in Iraq, Mr Raymond said: "We can
as effectively as anyone in Iraq." But only if the climate under a new
government were right. But he denied having discussed the issue with the US
Back at home, Mr Raymond said the US was on the cusp of becoming a
natural-gas importer. "Marginal gas is going to be imported one way or
But investing in gas projects in Alaska and building the needed pipeline to
continental US would take sustained gas prices of $3.50-$4 per thousand cubic
The future incremental supply of natural gas to the US would come in the form
of liquefied natural gas imported from overseas, he said.
Within ExxonMobil, the company indicated that up to 40 per cent of its
synergies from the merger with Mobil had been eroded by inflation - a malaise
under which other oil companies, including ChevronTexaco also suffer.
March 17, 2003
The Dragon The Bear
China and Russia start to tussle over Siberia
By Benjamin Fulford
The China-Russia border has been a contentious one for centuries, with the
power of each nation waxing and waning. Now a search for arable land and
other natural resources is drawing the Chinese back into Russia's Far East.
Luo Yi is a chinese pig farmer eking out a living in a decrepit former
aluminum parts factory near Khabarovsk, in the Far East of Russia. He is a
small part of a smoldering conflict that could prove to be one of the biggest
geopolitical problems of the 21st century.
The land that Luo is on is part of a vast area that Russia annexed 140 years
ago, when China was too busy fighting the Opium Wars to object. Through
pogroms, massacres and mass deportations between 1860 and 1937, the Russians
purged a Chinese presence that dated back at least a thousand years.
But now the Chinese are returning, lured by a landmass that is 2.3 million
square miles, almost as big as China itself, but with a population of only 6
million people. Luo, 40, was a village headman and Communist Party official
in his native Heilongjiang province before going to Russia on a trade visit
in the early 1990s. He stayed.
One reason: the vast tracts of derelict farmland, largely unpopulated. In his
native district near the Russian border, Luo says, there were 186 people per
square mile. In southern Khabarovsk, which has the same climate, there are
only 3 people per square mile, meaning the region could support tens of
millions--if not more--of Chinese, he argues. "You cannot say whose land it
is. We have only one Earth, and throughout history the strong races prevailed
over the weak ones."
Driving the migration, as well, are severe water shortages in the
impoverished north and west (along the Russian border). In tandem with the
collapse of state-owned enterprises, these vast new dust bowls have created
at least 100 million economic and ecological refugees who have no place to
escape to in their own country. Many poor Chinese have been filtering across
the border, building illegal peasant villages and working in factories.
"We have to hide from the police, because they come to ask for money, to
us to work for free, or simply to take our vegetables," says Fang Yan Jun,
32, who works in a Chinese farm village in Siberia. "In the army we learned
the strategy of hiding, like in Maoist-style guerrilla or partisan warfare;
we have learned to survive by hiding whenever the Russian police come."
He says his people want to peacefully reconquer the region for China. But the
Russians harass even those Chinese like Luo whose papers are in order. Luo
lost most of his pigs recently when one of his farms was arbitrarily
How many Chinese are now in eastern Russia? Nobody really knows. Beyond the
12,000 legally there, estimates range from the Kremlin'sofficial figure of
200,000 to a "secret" official number of 1.5 million. "You could easily hide
10 million people in Siberia, it is so vast," says Jeffrey A. Van Dreal,
first secretary at the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
Officially, Sino-Russian relations are friendly, and territorial disputes are
limited to a few islands on the Amur River. Unofficially, the Russians are
terrified. They are desperate to keep the Chinese out, while the increasingly
confident and nationalistic Chinese view the return of their land as destiny.
"The Russians have good reason to be scared, because we Chinese are not
afraid of anything," says Wei Dai Tong, a Chinese merchant in Vladivostok.
"In the past Russia was strong and China was weak, but now China is strong
and Russia is weak."
According to Victor I. Ishaev, governor of Khabarovsk, the regional Russian
governors are so worried about Chinese expansion that they recently called an
emergency security meeting with President Vladimir Putin. "If you have no
population you have no security, so it will be impossible to maintain a
Russian presence in the Far East," Ishaev says.
The Russians make it very clear the Chinese are welcome as tourists but that
visits must not last longer than a month. The Chinese could not assimilate,
Russian immigration officials explain. Widespread anti-Chinese prejudice
makes a legal influx politically impossible to accept, despite a desperate
shortage of people, the officials say.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Russian Far East could no longer
depend on subsidies, notably cheap transportation costs, to survive. So the
entire region faced starvation, says Igor Ilyushin, who was chief adviser for
the head of the Vladivostok region at the time and who is now a college
Ilyushin says the local government turned a blind eye as people broke all
sorts of Soviet rules and sold scrap metal, surplus cement and anything else
they could find to the Chinese in exchange for food and clothing. The
Russians were resentful, not grateful.
"The Chinese do not need to physically conquer the Far East, because
have already enslaved us economically," claims Raisa Rozhanskaya, a federal
immigration official in Vladivostok. She refers to the Far East's dependence
on China for 90% of its food supply and much of its clothing. In other words,
the Chinese can seek peaceful conquest through trade, immigration--and the
latent threat of hostile action. Starting this year military training has
become mandatory for all Chinese middle school, high school and university
At the same time Russia is disarming. The once-mighty Vladivostok fleet, for
example, is a tenth its former size, says Sergey Khromykh, a former senior
officer on a nuclear armed destroyer who now runs a travel agency. Many
Russian ships have been sold to China.
Russian experts, such as Sergey Vladislavovich Drazdov, a colonel in the
Russian border militia in charge of liaison with the Chinese military, say
Siberia cannot be protected by conventional means--but they cite nuclear
weapons as a reason there will be no war. From Siberia, Russian missiles can
reach Beijing in a matter of minutes.
Those who believe in a gradual integration of the region with China cite
increasing trade and tourism as evidence that a smooth transition is
possible. In the first ten months of 2002 trade was up 18%, compared with a
similar period a year ago, according to Chinese customs data cited by the
Xinhua news agency. However, the amount--$9.8 billion--is still a fraction
of, say, the $30 billion Chinese trade with South Korea. Russia's $7 billion
in exports to China consisted mainly of timber and scrap metal, while its
$2.8 billion imports consisted mostly of food, clothing and light
Grain may be the ultimate lure to Russia as China's aquifers run dry. Hebei
province in northern China had over 1,000 lakes a decade ago; now there are
only 83. After peaking at 392 million tons in 1998, China's grain harvests
have fallen to 350 million tons a year since then.
Within two decades, according to a U.S. government report drawing heavily on
classified data, China could need 175 million tons of grain a year, more than
the total world grain trade in 2001.
No wonder Siberia, remote to so much of the world, looks to Chinese eyes like
a convenient granary.
March 4, 2003
Interros Buys Into TMT's Parent
By Andrei Zolotov Jr.
Two of Russia's major publishing companies -- Prof-Media, part
of Vladimir Potanin's Interros holding, and The Moscow Times'
Dutch-controlled parent company Independent Media -- announced on Monday that
they have formed a "strategic partnership," with Prof-Media buying a 35
percent stake in Independent Media. The price of the deal was not disclosed.
The deal, which is likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars, is a
significant development for the still relatively small print media market,
It appears to bolster the position of Prof-Media, which announced plans last
month to realign its diverse holdings into a single-share Western-type
publishing house, by offering it access to Independent Media's magazine
publishing expertise and giving it another foreign-owned strategic partner.
Norwegian publishing group A-pressen owns blocking stakes in the
Prof-Media-controlled Komsomolskaya Pravda and Sovietsky Sport dailies and
holds majority stakes in four printing presses founded by Prof-Media.
Prof-Media also controls the national newspaper Izvestia.
At the same time, as long as Prof-Media remains a minority shareholder in
Independent Media, the alliance does not pose a direct threat to the
editorial integrity of the Vedomosti business daily, which is one-third owned
by Independent Media, or The Moscow Times, which is fully owned by
Independent Media, analysts said.
Prior to the sale, Independent Media had bought back a 35 percent stake from
Dutch communication group VNU, which has been for sale since 2001, and a 10
percent stake from Menatep SA -- a Swiss company related to Mikhail
Khodorkovsky's Yukos holding.
As a result of the deal, Independent Media CEO Derk Sauer together with his
Dutch partners have increased their stake in Independent Media from 55
percent to 65 percent, with Prof-Media controlling the remaining 35 percent.
"The strategic partnership between our companies should act as a
both of our businesses and create additional competitive advantages,"
Prof-Media CEO Vadim Goryainov said. "Independent Media is a recognized
leader on the Russian magazine market, while Prof-Media has leading positions
on the market of national daily and weekly newspapers. Together, we cover a
broad segment of the market."
He said the purchase of the Independent Media stake increases Prof-Media's
capitalization and should make it easier to attract a major outside investor.
"Since the print media market is relatively small, the company has to be big
in order to attract investment," he said.
Sauer said the alliance is good for his company because Prof-Media, which he
said has worked hard to establish a reputation as the Russian print
industry's most transparent company, serves as both a strategic partner and a
Russian partner -- the roles previously played by VNU and Menatep.
"It gives us economy of scale," he said. "It gives us a good
cooperate in various areas -- distribution, marketing, printing, regional
Sauer faced questions Monday afternoon from Vedomosti and Moscow Times
reporters, who were concerned about possible threats to editorial integrity
from Potanin's powerful group. But he assured reporters that nothing will
change in the way the editorial side is run and that they should continue to
report all political and business news as they have always done. "I don't
expect you to change anything in your reporting of Interros or Menatep or any
other company," Sauer told reporters.
He said the company has a track record of not mixing its business
relationships with its editorial policy. "Actions speak louder than words,"
Sauer stressed that under Dutch law, under whose jurisdiction Independent
Media Holding BV is registered, there is no concept of a blocking stake. With
its 35 percent stake, Prof-Media will be protected in the same way as Menatep
was with 10 percent. Prof-Media will have three representatives on
Independent Media's nine-member nonexecutive board, which rules on major
decisions such as a share issue and appoints the CEO, but has little say over
the appointment of other top management and no say over the appointment of
editors and publishers of newspapers and magazines, whose hiring and firing
is entirely within the CEO's prerogative.
In addition to Izvestia, Komsomolskaya Pravda and Sovietsky Sport, Prof-Media
also controls tabloid Express-Gazeta, the Antenna television guide and FM
radio stations Avtoradio, Energia and Novosti Online. It owns stakes in a
distribution company, Segodnya-Press, and a printing company,
Prof-Media-Print, which is majority owned by A-pressen. Prof-Media also has
minority stakes in Expert magazine and the Prime-Tass business news agency,
which it said it planned to sell.
The company has a proclaimed goal of making a profit in publishing rather
than using its media holdings to serve its owner's other business or
political interests, as has been the typical approach of Russia's oligarchs.
It has championed the transparency cause in the publishing industry by having
its print runs independently audited and pushing for a fixed retail price.
Last month, Prof-Media said it planned to build a single publishing house
over two years. The new structure will oversee all financial, production and
distribution issues, while each media outlet will retain control over its
editorial and advertising departments.
Although it was not clear how the talks will develop, Goryainov has said that
A-pressen is asking for 25 percent plus one share of the new holding. LUKoil,
which holds 49 percent of Izvestia, would like 10 percent, and individual
shareholders who own stakes in Komsomolskaya Pravda and Segodnya-Press are
looking for 5 to 10 percent.
Goryainov said that in 2002, Prof-Media had a turnover of $90 million and a
net profit of $13.5 million.
Sauer said that Independent Media had a turnover of $70 million and a $16
million profit before taxes.
With the parties keeping their mouths shut about the size of the deal,
analysts were reluctant to guess. Alexei Moiseyev, an economist with
Renaissance Capital, said that, based on the figures cited by Sauer,
Independent Media could be valued anywhere from $50 million to $150 million,
but more likely from $100 million to $150 million. That would put the price
of the 35 percent stake at tens of millions of dollars.
Konstantin Isakov, co-owner of Mediamark media consulting company, said the
acquisition of a stake in Independent Media further improves Prof-Media's
already good position on the market and increases its chances of raising
"For Prof-Media, it is first and foremost an entrance into the magazine
market, which has been their soft spot," Isakov said in a telephone
interview. "Thus the sum of its assets makes Prof-Media the largest
publishing house in Russia. Such a player will be able to enter the financial
Isakov said the new alliance of Prof-Media with both A-pressen and
Independent Media is good news for Russia's media business and a tribute to
Prof-Media's transparency drive. "It is the first time international media
assets are united in Russia under the aegis of a Russian company," he said.
But Isakov said that Monday's announcement is only the first step in the
process and Independent Media should be on its guard. "Although today
Prof-Media does not seem to have control [of Independent Media], it is not
clear whether they will stop there," he said. "I don't know what their
Yelena Rykovtseva, a media analyst and editor of Radio Liberty's Moscow
bureau, also said the deal appears to be good for both businesses and for the
time being does not pose any threat to the editorial independence of
Vedomosti or The Moscow Times.
"As long as Prof-Media does not have a controlling stake, there will be
problems," she said. "But if Prof-Media has bigger plans, it is a different
story. We all see that Izvestia and Komsomolskaya Pravda sometimes look more
pro-state than state-owned media."
Vedomosti editor Tatyana Lysova said the newspaper would have to fight a
standard perception among Russian newsmakers that a business connection to an
oligarch affects editorial policy.
"Since you don't choose your shareholders, I'm left to accept the
of non-interference from our new shareholder that were given to me by
Independent Media CEO Derk Sauer," Lysova said. But she added that when she
worked at Expert magazine she wrote articles that were unpleasant for
Interros and did not face any pressure.
Independent Media publishes numerous magazines in Russian: Cosmopolitan,
Magia Cosmo, Harper's Bazaar, Domashny Ochag and Popular Mechanics, together
with Hearst; and also Formula Zdorovya, Men's Health, FHM, Yes and Agro
In addition to The Moscow Times, it publishes The St. Petersburg Times and Na
Rublyovke newspapers. It has a joint venture with the publishers of Financial
Times and The Wall Street Journal to publish Vedomosti.
Independent Media announced Monday it has a new joint venture with
Prof-Media's Sovietsky Sport to launch a monthly sports magazine.
March 4, 2003
Oligarchs Just Come And Go
Almost seven years ago now, shortly after Boris Yeltsin had managed to win
election to a second term, thanks in large part to the men who would soon
become known as the oligarchs, Independent Media sold a 10 percent stake to
The deal caused a fuss in The Moscow Times newsroom at the time, as
journalists feared they might be pressured to soften their coverage of
Menatep and Yukos -- in which Menatep had just won a controlling stake during
the rigged loans-for-shares auctions -- or that what they did write might be
read with suspicion.
Even our own story announcing the deal quoted the dean of MGU's journalism
faculty warning that it could infringe on our independence.
Those fears were soon put to rest. We continued to produce critical and
objective coverage of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his companies, while fending
off the occasional phone call from our new shareholder, who seemed to
understand in principle if not always in practice the concept of an
Vladimir Potanin can have no illusions that we will write any differently now
about Interros and Norilsk Nickel. He has only to look back through our
stories over the years about his predecessor.
One particularly memorable one, written by Jeanne Whalen, now of The Wall
Street Journal, and published on Aug. 25, 1998, tells of the troubles in a
Siberian oil town after the local oil producer was acquired by Yukos. It
describes Khodorkovsky as "the most vilified representative of Yukos" and
ends with a quote from a local businessman saying "if Khodorkovsky walked out
onto the main square, people would throw stones at him."
Khodorkovsky and his fellow banker-oligarchs also get no sympathy in a Dec.
29, 1998, story summing up that year of financial collapse: "They accumulated
billions on currency speculation, handling budget funds, 'winning' inside
privatizations, and speculating on the domestic T-bill market, only to watch
much of it vanish when the government announced it would default on domestic
debt. Justice was served."
Even in recent years, The Moscow Times has not blindly jumped on the Western
PR bandwagon for the new, transparent Yukos.
Our new 35 percent shareholder, Prof-Media, has bought into Independent Media
with the understanding that it will have no influence over the editorial
policy of its two newspapers. And we know it will not.
We at The Moscow Times are all for minority shareholder rights when it comes
to running a business, but in our newsroom the majority shareholder's
journalistic team makes all the decisions.
March 2, 2003
REVOLT OF THE EUROPEAN ATLANTEANS
The Iraq conflict as a driving force in European integration
Author: Alexander Kustarev
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
THE PROSPECT OF WAR AGAINST SADDAM HUSSEIN IS COMPLICATING RELATIONS
WITHIN THE ATLANTIC ALLIANCE MORE AND MORE. THE VAGUE HISTORICAL
POSSIBILITY THAT EUROPE AND AMERICA MIGHT BE TRANSFORMED FROM PARTNERS
INTO RIVALS HAS SUDDENLY ACQUIRED SOME COUNTOURS. WHAT ARE THE
IMPLICATIONS FOR RUSSIA HERE?
The prospect of war against Saddam Hussein is complicating
relations within the Atlantic alliance more and more. As the
inevitable invasion of Iraq approaches, differences between the
Washington-London and Paris-Berlin axes are growing more rather than
less pronounced. Now there is disagreement within the European Union
and a NATO crisis as well. The vague historical possibility that
Europe and America might be transformed from partners into rivals has
suddenly acquired some countours. And the intrigue looks more complex
than it seemed even a year ago.
The Iraq problem has distinguished two groups within Europe and
the European Union.
First, eight European nations declared in an open letter that
they fully support the White House's intentions with regard to Saddam
Hussein. These nations were: Britain, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Portugal,
the Czech Republic, and Hungary. They were later joined by ten more
nations, known as the "Vilnius group".
The second group is made up of France and Germany: their veto on
preliminary planning for measures to increase Turkey's defense
capabilities in the event of war led to NATO's most serious crisis in
50 years. Almost at once, the Paris-Berlin axis acquired a kind of
dotted-line extension stretching to Moscow.
As yet, there are no historical portents about this "chance
alliance". But Western observers are inclined to consider that Moscow
and Washington are too closely bound by mutually advantageous deals
based on the battle against international terrorism, and in the final
analysis Russia will turn out to be more loyal to Washington than
France and Germany. Russia's historical prospects are now being
decided on the field where "the Atlanteans are arguing amongst
themselves", just as that argument is being decided in Iraq.
Situational fireworks such as the present display are related to
deeper trends. In this case, they remind us of two posited historical
processes. Firstly, disagreements between America and Europe.
Secondly, the possibility of a single superpower known as "Europe". We
have already discussed the signs of a trans-Atlantic split. Let us
look at the chances of a "European superpower" being created.
To what extent might the unification of the European Union be
stopped or slowed by the individual foreign policy agendas of its
member nations? The problem of developing a common foreign policy has
always been present in the EU, but it has never been this urgent.
Observers have noted that European nations speak as one on the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the international criminal court, and
their position differs from that of the US. In the United Nations, the
EU member nations vote together. The differences which have arisen
over the war against Saddam Hussein are more like an exception to the
rule; but in historical terms, it is a very important exception. And
what is especially interesting here is the stand taken by the new
participants in the EU and NATO: the nations of Eastern Europe.
Eastern Europe has reason to feel drawn to America. For a long
time, Eastern Europe was under aggressive pressure from Germany. In
some countries, the authoritarian ruling elite used to be German or
Germanized. All this might seem to have been forgotten under the
Soviet yoke, but as soon as that Soviet yoke was lifted, the memories
are likely to have returned. This situation is now being given an
ironic twist by rapprochement between Germany and Russia. First Russia
and Germany crushed Eastern Europe with their tanks; now they might
crush it in the embrace of Russian-German friendship.
Joining NATO is meant to secure Eastern Europe against the threat
from the East once and for all. Moreover, it also promises material
benefits. The Balkan states in particular have their eye on taking
Turkey's geo-strategic place within NATO. And if relations between the
United States and Germany are substantially and irreversibly damanged,
Eastern Europe might take the place of Germany.
It is also interesting that each of the peoples of Eastern Europe
has a substantial diaspora in the United States. Their existence has
become part of the national identity - for example, for Poland and the
Baltic states. For large historical peoples, a diaspora is the younger
sibling of the metropolis, whether this is Germany, France, England,
or China. Relations between Ireland and the Irish diaspora in the
United States are quite different. The relations between the peoples
of Eastern Europe and their diasporas are closer to the Irish model.
American citizens have become presidents in Lithuania and Latvia - a
very important symbolic precedent. It is said that Vaclav Havel made
attempts to interest Madeleine Albright in becoming president of the
Czech Republic, and some enthusiasts in Poland wished to offer the
presidency to Zbigniew Brzezinski. There is something comical about
these incidents; however, jokes aside, the Atlantism of Eastern
Europeans is nourished by their diasporas.
Public opinion in Eastern Europe, amorphous and infantile, is
heavily influenced by emotional needs, status needs, and the
"satellite syndrome". They instinctively lean towards whomever they
perceive as more "prestigious", and choose alliance with whoever
appears to be the strongest patron. At present, all this is pushing
them in the direction of America.
Neither can it be entirely ruled out that Eastern Europe is
taking advantage of the current situation in order to gain the best
terms for EU membership. Its movement into the EU is a continuation of
its flight from Russia; but the "new Europeans" cannot fail to
understand that some difficult trials await them in the EU, and for
the time being they will be second-class members to some extent. Their
rapid acceptance into the EU is not entirely sincere; there has been
some strong opposition to it, especially from France. Now they are
hoping to gain something more by playing the Atlantism card. If and
when they get that something more, their Atlantic enthusiasm will
Thus, Eastern Europe's Atlantism may prove unstable. Then again,
these nations were not the ones who marked out Europe's split along
the Atlantism line. Their Atlantism wouldn't even be of interest to
anyone, were it not for the French-German opposition to Washington.
The splitters are not "the Eight", but the French-German nucleus of
the European Union.
To a certain extent, its opposition to US intentions towards Iraq
was predictable. France voluntarily assumed the role of dissident
within the Atlantic alliance and has been playing that role for almost
half a century. Everyone had grown used to it, and no longer attached
much significance to it. It was thought to be the only expression of
France's "great power syndrome". Germany's caution in any situation
where a likelihood of armed conflict arose was also easily written off
as part of its guilt complex and pacifism as a doctrine.
But no one predicted they would go this far - especially Germany.
Its actions were so unexpected that some were tempted to read them as
simple diplomatic incompetence by the team of Gerhard Schroeder,
Joschke Fischer, and Struck (the defense minister) - especially when
the media carried reports of some sort of secret alternative French-
German plan to pacify Saddam Hussein.
There is indeed something odd about Germany's behavior, and it
may be attributed to the foreign policy amateurishness of a government
which has grown unaccustomed to responsibility in international
affairs over the past fifty years.
But the unforeseen obduracy of France and Germany also carries a
tang of conscious, demonstrative provocation. After all, the question
of NATO providing military aid to Turkey was decided without France;
France is not a member of the Alliance's military organization. It is
worth noting that US assistance for Turkey could not have been stopped
by France's "veto", since Washington and Ankara have a bilateral
agreement. What's more, it is reported that contrary to this "veto",
Germany is already starting to send Patriot missiles to Turkey via
Holland. So what was the point of the objections? One suspicion is
expressed by John Keegan, leading military historian and defense
editor of The Daily Telegraph. In his view, the truth is that France
(for a long time) and Germany (now) have the intention of "weakening
NATO and eventually replacing it with a purely European structure on
this side of the Atlantic". In France, this policy is based on
consensus. In Germany, there seems to be no consensus, but as yet this
is hard to determine. Schroeder's policy, however amateurish it may
be, could turn out to be a national strategy, like the policy of
France. What does this strategy entail? There is indeed a vision of a
united Europe as a superpower in a bipolar (if not multipolar) world
order; and France and Germany are now working toward that vision. Why
are they so persistent, taking such risks in foreign policy? Most
likely, it is because they are investing their sovereignty in the
European Union and would like to give it their identity as well - that
is, to be "reincarnated" in the European Union. They are not saving
their "socialism", as the British skeptics think; they are saving
their identity. In the same way, Britain is trying to save its
identity, not its mythical "capitalism". This ought to be
understandable to Russians, since they are obsessed with the same
idea. Unlike obsession with material interests, or even ideological
interests, obsession with identity appears irrational. That may be
precisely why it is so powerful.
In any event, only a complete Europe would be capable of becoming
a second pole. France and Germany can't aspire to that role alone;
only together with Britain and the Mediterranean nations, and
preferably with Eastern Europe as well. Yet the transformation of
Lesser Europe into Greater Europe is being blocked by the existence of
NATO. France and Germany have taken this opportunity of testing NATO's
stability. And overall, they are taking advantage of the conflict over
Iraq to advance deeper European integration.
So far, their actions are having the directly opposite effect.
They have been unable to mobilize the EU as a whole to avert the war.
But this effect is not sufficient to block the rise of Europe as a
second pole in the world order. The possibility of this still remains,
and the main test of the project will be the war itself. Thus, the
stakes in the Iraqi war are immense.
If the war in Iraq destabilizes the Middle East and the United
States becomes bogged down there, the historical chances of a European
superpower in the form of an expanded French-German nucleus would be
greatly improved. As noted above, Eastern Europe would forget about
its Atlantism; this would be outweighed by EU membership and
geographic position. The same could probably be said for the
Mediterranean nations, overall. Britain would find itself in a very
difficult situation. In contrast to Eastern Europe, the roots of
Britain's Atlantism run deep; it really does have a split identity.
The choice between Europe and America would be agonizing for Britain.
It would not lose much, either way; but whichever option it chose, it
would regret the losses for a long time.
If the war in Iraq is quick and victorious, the United States
will emerge from it as the sole real support of the world order; and
the formation of Greater Europe as a superpower would be much more
problematic, if not completely unrealistic.
Russia has no real role in these events. Its only card is its
veto power in the UN Security Council - and even that card isn't worth
much, it seems. For example, if Russia wishes to have its hands untied
in Chechnya, it would be better off not using that veto: exchanging
Saddam for Chechnya.
Russia's historical great power ambitions may suffer in this
situation; however, looking at the matter soberly, Russia should
rather be thanking fate that it's watching the Iraq collision from the
sidelines. It should rather be preparing for the post-war situation,
where it will have some freedom of choice - although from the
viewpoint of Russia's geopolitical ambitions, it won't be able to
count on anything even then.
Greater Europe would be a superpower even without Russia, and
would simply replace Russia in that role. If Russia should want to
become part of that second pole, it would have to solicit that favor,
and Europe would dictate its terms. Under the circumstances, Russia
would consider rapprochement with the United States; and the United
States, isolated and with a destabilized Mideast on its hands, might
show some interest in such a project. Yet Russia would inevitably get
the role of junior partner here as well. Would the game be worth the
candle? Why sign on as an accessory to a wounded, ailing superpower?
It might appear that an efficient victory in Iraq for the United
States would be more advantageous for Russia. But in that case, a
monopolar world will be established for a long time: a world in which
Russia has no future at all as a great power, and perhaps not even as
a regional power - a factor which might intensify centrifugal trends
in Russia itself. Russia would only increase them in trying to raise
Actually, there is yet another speculative scenario. If France
and Germany go too far in this episode, and end up in isolation, there
will undoubtedly be some proponents of triple alliance of "retired
great powers"... Even if we assume that some functional place can be
found for such a quaint association in the indeterminate and
experimental future, Russia would still be a passive component of it,
since in cultural terms it would be dissolved in the French-German
cultural paradigm. This appears inevitable, since Russia's urban
culture has always been and still remains half-French, half-German;
France and Germany are Russia's mother-cultures.
Thus, it would seem that no matter what the outcome of the Iraq
campaign, Russia's geopolitical great power status can only decline.
Ought we to be concerned about that? Firstly, Russia's status will not
decline very much; not even very noticeably. Secondly, in Russia the
interests of the state and the interests of the people have always
been in such scandalous and blatant opposition that it might even
benefit the people to have Russia's great power inclinations pacified.
There's no certainty of that, of course. However, the people would
once again pay a disproportionate price for any active participation
by Russia in constructing poles of the world order. And that is
(Translated by Arina Yevtikhova )
US State Department
Interview on Russia's ORT
Secretary Colin L. Powell
March 3, 2003
(9:15 a.m. EST)
MR. SUKHOI: Thanks for this opportunity. And what now, Mr. Secretary? What
are the chances for peace and war now, after the latest developments?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think there is always a chance for peace, and peace
will come if Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime do what they have been asked
to do by the international community for the last 12 years, and that is to
completely comply with all their obligations to disarm, to get rid of their
weapons of mass destruction, to make the strategic decision to disarm. They
haven't done that.
They keep doling out little pieces of weapons. They keep reluctantly
responding to the demands of the UN. They keep pretending that they are
disarming, that they are doing things for the inspectors, when, in fact, they
are doing the minimum necessary to try to keep the pressure off.
They're now destroying some missiles. Well, there's nothing wrong with
destroying those missiles, but we know why they're being destroyed. It's
because there are large American and United Kingdom and other forces
assembling in the region, not because suddenly they have decided they have to
comply and they realize they've made a mistake for all these years. It is
simply military pressure and the threat of force that is causing them to do
what they are doing now.
What we would like to see them do is to come clean, let everybody come out to
be interviewed that need to be interviewed, give all the documents over,
account for everything, not try to game this every day with a little bit
more, a little bit less, a little bit more, a little bit less. One day, we'll
destroy the missiles. The next day, well, maybe we won't destroy the
missiles. This is the game they have been playing for so many years, and the
game has now come to an end, and it must come to an end soon.
MR. SUKHOI: What about the position of Russia? How do you account for the
fact that Russia, together with France and China, just say that more time
should be given to inspectors?
SECRETARY POWELL: We talk to our Russian colleagues regularly. I speak to
Foreign Minister Ivanov every few days, and President Putin and President
Bush are in very close contact with each other. And we understand the Russian
position and of course we respect the Russian position, but there is a
disagreement. We believe that the issue is not more time for the inspectors
or more inspectors; the issue is: Has Saddam Hussein made a strategic
decision to come to into compliance with the United Nations resolutions? And
we have seen nothing to suggest that he has made such a decision.
There is also a disagreement between us and Russia as to how serious the
threat is. Are these weapons of mass destruction a threat to the United
States, a threat to the Russian Federation, a threat to the region? We
sincerely believe these weapons are a threat and the intention of this man,
Saddam Hussein, to deploy such weapons is a threat to the region and to the
world at large, especially after 9/11 when we are deeply concerned that
terrorist organizations are looking for these kinds of weapons of mass
destruction to conduct horrible attacks throughout he world, attacks that are
not just directed at America but could be directed at Russia, as well. Russia
has been forced to deal with terrorism, just like the United States has been
forced to deal with terrorism, right in our own capitals.
MR. SUKHOI: What about the second resolution in the Security Council? Are you
going to push with this? And what are your instructions to Mr. Negroponte?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I always try to keep my instructions to Mr.
Negroponte somewhat private, but I think it is no secret that we believe this
resolution is appropriate. We are now waiting for Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei
to report to the Council on Friday. And after we have heard their reports and
consulted with our friends on the Council, our colleagues on the Council, and
I'm sure I'll be consulting with my Russian colleagues, then I believe in the
very near future after the 7th of March a judgment should be made as to
whether or not it is time to seek a vote on this resolution.
MR. SUKHOI: Yeah, well, I have one minute, sir. What can you say to the
Russian viewers? March is a time for war or April for time for war, or no
time for war?
SECRETARY POWELL: We would prefer not to have a war. Nobody wants war.
President Bush does not want war. President Putin does not want war. No
sensible person wants war.
But sometimes, when you have a regime like Saddam Hussein’s, which has
essentially said, I don't care, I don't care for the past 12 years what I
have been told to do. I am a dictator, I am a despot, I do terrible things to
my people, I'm developing these weapons of mass destruction and I don't care
what the rest of the world thinks. When you're faced with that kind of a
situation and when you have laid down the rule in Resolution 1441 that he
must comply, and he still does not comply, then, unfortunately, war becomes
an option. This man must be disarmed for the safety of the region and for the
safety of the world, and he will be disarmed -- peacefully, hopefully, but,
if necessary, the United States is prepared to lead a coalition of the
willing, a coalition of willing nations, either under UN authority or without
UN authority, if that turns out to be the case, in order to disarm this man.
And it will be a peaceful world, a less threatened world, if he is disarmed
and it’ll be a better future for the people of Iraq if that's what it comes
-- if that's what comes in their future.
MR. SUKHOI: Thanks a lot again. I am running out of my time.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.
MR. SUKHOI: All the best, good luck.
March 4, 2003
Ask Russian foreign minister
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told the BBC's Talking Point that Russia
has not ruled out the use of its veto in the UN Security Council to prevent a
war in Iraq.
Answering your e-mail questions Mr Ivanov added: "Abstaining is not a
position Russia can take, we have to take a clear position and we are for a
Mr Ivanov was in London to meet his UK counterpart Jack Straw and goes on to
France to speak to French ministers.
Last week Russia, together with France and Germany, submitted a proposal at
the UN for step-by-step disarmament of Iraq.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov answered your questions in a special
edition of Talking Point.
Hello and welcome to this special Talking Point. I'm Bridget Kendall and
today I'm joined by Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign minister. He's here in
London for talks with the British Government at a crucial time in the crisis
over Iraq. And that of course is what we, and the thousands of you from
across the world who have sent us e-mails, want to ask him about.
Russia has been playing a vital role in the negotiations at the United
Nations. It is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council who
could block any resolution by using its veto. And like France, Russia has
been openly critical of the second resolution proposed by America Britain and
Spain, aimed at paving the way for military action against Iraq.
But does that mean Russia might really use its veto to prevent a war? And
what is Russia's wider view on this crisis? Mr Igor Ivanov is with me now.
Foreign Minister Welcome.
I'll put the first question to you, which is one which we've had from
thousands of people who've contacted us. This is what most people want to
know: This question is from Diogo Pereira, Brazil: I would like to know
whether Russia would be prepared to use its veto power to block a
unilateralist US attack on Iraq?
To be honest, I'm surprised why such attention is paid to this issue of veto
- whether there will be veto or not. The Russian suggestion is entirely
something else. Over the recent time, we have been trying to achieve
unanimity in the Security Council because only unanimity will provide success
in the solution of the Iraqi problem.
If you remember that Russia has made a lot of efforts to make sure that
inspectors returned to Iraq. When such a decision was reached we believed
that there was no need for a new resolution. Nevertheless when the USA and
Britain suggested a draft resolution, in order not to break the unity of the
council we agreed and it was voted for by everybody. And all the time we look
for solutions which would allow for joint actions in the solution of the
Iraqi problem because this is where we see the solution.
In the past when positions differed and Iraqi used that it abused the
differences in the Security Council and it managed to avoid the solution. If
we preserve unity that would be the best guarantee that we will solve the
problem of Iraq.
You must admit that at the moment the Security Council is deeply split about
this question of a second resolution, how can you possibly achieve unity?
There are various approaches, you are right in that. One approach, and Russia
supports that, and the majority of other members of the Security Council that
the solution of the Iraqi problem has to be achieved through political means.
There are others who believe that political opportunities have been exhausted
and that force has to be used and such a position is reflected is reflected
in the draft resolution submitted by USA, Britain and Spain.
We believe that there are opportunities for continuing political efforts and
we are continuing to work at the Security Council in the direction to
persuade our partners that it is necessary to continue the work of the
inspectors and to look for a political solution.
At the same time, we have possibilities and we are still flexible. Today to
opt for military action when there are still all possibilities to solve it
politically with the use of inspectors, we believe it would be a mistake.
We are saying to our partners that this would a mistake and we warn them
against this mistake so that our partners will not make this mistake. And of
course Russia, if somebody should take such a decision to go to war against
Iraq, Russia would not support such action.
If you say that this is a mistake, but American officials are saying that
there's still hope that they can introduce this resolution for a vote next
week. Say they get nine votes in favour, would Russia use its veto?
You know I don't like to speculate and to cast about theoretically because I
rely on facts. But I can say one thing, that Russia will not support any
decision which would directly or indirectly open a way to war against Iraq.
But you don't exclude using your veto?
I do not rule anything out because the right of veto is the right which can
be used by any permanent member of the Security Council, including Russia,
and if this is necessary Russia can resort to using this right.
Denis Mikhailov, from Russia asks: Western experts say that Russia will
abstain in the end from using its veto during the voting in the Security
Council. They say Moscow is only trying to blackmail the West and hopes to
get benefits out of such tactics. What do you say to this?
I regret that such a decision arrived from Russia because in Russia everybody
must know we are pursuing every consistent policy over the duration of the
whole crisis. We don't speculate, we don't trade in anything, we don't do any
behind the scene games. We have a clear aim which was set from the very
beginning to achieve the full disarmament of Iraq and for that Russia has
already done a lot. And we believe that it is possible to achieve such an aim
and this is why the Russian position involves no games.
This is why I believe that in the current situation - a critical situation -
to abstain is not a position which Russia could take. Russia has to take a
clear position and we are for a political regulation.
But it does seem as though Russia is in something of a difficult position. It
is one thing to threaten to use the veto, it's quite another to actually use
it and see the UN split as a result. You've said right at the beginning of
this interview that what Russia wants to see is unity.
Why do you believe that Russia is in a difficult situation? Aren't those who
want to introduce a resolution in order to justify a beginning of a war
against which the vast majority of the states of the world, are. I think in a
difficult position are those who are now through various ways, including
through a second resolution are trying to find justification for their
actions which currently have no justification.
At the moment I repeat there are all the opportunities to regulate the Iraqi
situation through political means and to try to pretend that there are no
such opportunities and to submit a resolution which can really lead to a
split of the Security Council because the majority of the council at the
moment are for a political regulation. I think that those who are submitting
such a resolution are in the difficult situation and not those who would use
their right of veto.
But tomorrow you're going to Paris where you'll be seeing the French Foreign
Minister. How far are you co-ordinating with France?
Over the last two days I spoke to all the members of the UN Security Council
- Colin Powell and the foreign ministers of France, Mexico, Britain, Gabon,
Chile and so on. We have maintained relations with all of them. This is not
one group against another group. I repeat we want to use the opportunity to
the maximum in order to find united actions in regulating the Iraqi problem.
Yes with France or with China were I've just come from, we have very close
positions. They are very close because they are based on a political approach
to the solution of the Iraqi problem based on the full and strict compliance
with the UN Security Council resolution.
Tomorrow I will be in Paris. This is a scheduled visit and of course and as
in London where I have come, we have planned this visit several months ago.
This visit originally was not because of the Iraqi problem but today it is
dedicated to the Iraqi problem and of course the same with my trip to France.
And of course we will discuss the Iraqi subject with France as well as with
other Security Council members, we have very close position.
But are they identical with France's position and would you react if it came
to a vote in the same way?
You know every country is sovereign and independent and at the end of the day
it takes that decision by itself how to vote. We are not discussing issues of
voting, we discuss our approaches and our position. As for positions and
approaches, here we are very close. As for voting, this is up to every
county, they take independent decisions.
Dmitriy, Russia/USA: Do you think it is possible to avoid military action at
this point, and seek a diplomatic solution?
In particular I wanted to ask what about the Canadian compromise - so called.
The Canadians have suggested putting off a decision until the end of March.
I think that a war can still be avoided although with every day it is more
and more difficult - this reality which we have to take into consideration.
However, I repeat that until there is at least one chance - at least 1% of a
chance to avoid a war, diplomats have to work actively, especially with
consideration that every day we see new rallies and new demonstrations of
real advantage in the disarmament of Iraq. This is why I think that the
Canadian proposal - we haven't discussed it yet - but altogether the
direction of their proposal, we can understand it and support it. Their
meaning is to give the inspectors an opportunity to continue to carry out
It's very hard for me to speak of terms of dates - it could be a month or two
- experts have to define the date. I'm not an expert in chemical or
biological weapons. It is hard for me to say how long it will take to carry
out an analysis of some chemical samples. There are certain laws in that.
This is why we insist that Mr Blix and ElBaradei will submit on the 7th March
a clear plan of work with a list of specific questions to which they have to
answer. It could be 10, 20 or 100 questions but they have to be clearly
defined questions and the dates have to be defined during which time they can
answer this question then the world community will have the so-called plan of
action which we can submit to the Iraqi authority and we can insist on its
So far what we asked Iraq to do, it has complied from the beginning with spy
planes and the beginning of the destruction of al-Samoud missiles. What does
it mean - it means that when we put a question clearly we can achieve its
implementation. This is why inspectors have to formulate clearly their plan
of action and the terms with which it has to be implemented then the world
community will have a strong instrument of pressure on Baghdad.
So your saying that you think this Canadian proposal with possibly a new
deadline at the end of March would be something that you could support?
I said that we are ready to look positively at the very idea of the Canadian
proposal. As for dates, we cannot define dates without knowing the opinion of
the inspectors. The inspectors have to say whether they will have enough time
by the end of March or whether they will need three or four months - they
have to say that. And based on the opinion of inspectors we will take
Kunrat Wirasubrata, Saudi Arabia: What will Russia do if the US does invade
Iraq despite a Russian veto or Russian objections?
First of all I want to stress once more that if the USA and those countries
who will support them will resort against Iraq unilaterally against the
decision of the Security Council that would be a serious mistake and that
would have serious consequences. At the same time, I will be honest, I
wouldn't like to answer this question because if I answer it then this would
in effect mean that I have reconciled myself to the war. But I continue to
believe that there are still all the minimal but still chances to avoid a
However, I will answer your question. Any war whatever its scale has to end
and the faster it ends the less suffering it causes and the fewer the
destructions are and if it does take place, then Russian, together with the
vast majority of the states will insist on stopping this war and to return
the situation to the course of the political regulation.
Laurie, USA: If the US doesn't receive support from the UN for war and goes
ahead with a unilateral attack on Iraq, will Russia along with other opposing
members put up a defence to protect Iraq from invasion?
At the moment we are for a political regulation of the situation around Iraq
and we will continue to use only political methods in order to stop a war and
to return the process into the channel of a political solution.
Julie Chowdhury, Indonesia: Where does Russia's strategic interest lie, with
Europe or is it with the USA?
Taking into consideration that the question came from Asia, Russia's
strategic interests are both in Europe and the USA and of course in Asia our
foreign policy has got several facets - we have a real interest in Europe and
relations with European countries are one of the priority directions in our
Of course we are interested in developing partnership relations with the USA
and we're convinced that those differences we may have in connection with the
Iraqi situation will not affect the further development of our relations
because we have more interest in bilateral relations.
And the third important direction in our foreign policy are our relations
with China, India, Japan, Indonesia and many other countries in the Asia
Pacific region because a large part of our country is in Asia and we're
interested in developing trade with Asian countries.
Con Anastasopoulos, Australia: Doesn't Russia's long term strategic interest
lie with the US? The greatest challenge Russia faces is in dealing with
China. The current issue with Iraq will be over soon but the Chinese will
Today in the conditions of globalisation, relations between states are such
and mutually interwoven and mutually dependent that it is very difficult to
say that it is possible to develop relations with one region and to sideline
relations with another region.
We develop relations with all the states which want to and where we have a
real interest. We have real interest in relations with the USA and with China
and it this is very important - and I have just come back from China. The new
Chinese leadership which has just taken over after the 16th party congress,
that it confirmed continuity of beneficial relations with Russia. It fully
coincides with our line and Russian relations with China will continue that
coincides with the interests of international stability.
Shauna, UK Do you feel there is any remaining Cold War adversity with the US
which is perhaps why you chose to ally yourselves on this crisis with France?
We didn't choose any alliances. I think that the remnants of the Cold War are
in this question and not in our actions because some people continue to think
in the categories of blocked alliances. The Cold War is over and together
with it the military blocks and alliances.
Today with France we share common positions. This doesn't mean that France is
not the ally of the United States - by no means or that Germany is not an
ally of the USA. This is a mistake - quite the other way around. The new
situation after the Cold War lies in that that every country can openly
announce its political position and stand by it. But it shouldn't see it as
going against somebody else. Defending our position on Iraq, this shouldn't
be seen as a policy which is alien to the United States. We are partners. We
warn our partner against mistakes. We don't want Washington to make such a
mistake so that in future there will no consequences particularly for the
interest of the USA.
Patrick, Taipei, Taiwan: Has your fundamental view of America changed at all
as the result of the way its handled this Iraq crisis?
We stressed many times that the development of partnership constructive and
predicable relations with the United States is our strategic course. At the
same time we understood and understand very well that on this path we can
have differences and we can have serious differences - for example,
differences on the ABM Treaty.
You know that Russia was for the reservation of the ABM Treaty but the USA
unilaterally left the treaty. But we managed to continue talking and also to
continue the dialogue. Iraq is a serious exam for us. If we manage to pass
this exam in such a way as to avoid damage to the bilateral relations, both
Russia and USA will show by this, both to their people and to the
international community, that we have reached a qualitatively new stage of
cooperation and in any case this is how Russia will act.
But if you don't want your relations with the States to be affected, how can
you put any influence on Washington on this issue?
The strongest mechanisms we have is the policy of persuasion. We must sustain
a constant dialogue first of all. This is a dialogue between our presidents
and foreign ministers, defence ministers. We have very many channels of
And through dialogue and argument, we're trying to put across our points of
view today. I think that we can convince others of our position through
persuasion and we are trying to use this path. Not always we're successful
but sometimes we are successful, sometimes not. But this is a process and at
the end of the day even if we are not successful one shouldn't give up the
dialogue and we will continue this dialogue.
Somu, USA If your country were ever to veto the second UN resolution would
that reflect public opinion in Russia and would this be a turning point in
Russian foreign policy?
I could emphasise two sides to this question. First in Russia the vast
majority of people are against a war in Iraq. I recently met all the
political factions in the state parliament, in the state Duma, and everybody
subscribed to putting this policy against a war in Iraq.
On the other hand, it's also very important that there's no anti-American
feeling in Russia. There were no rallies with anti-American slogans. This is
why I think that no matter how the situation develops must concede that if
there is a war, if the USA unilaterally begins a war against Iraq, of course
this would influence the Russian public opinion. There would be discontent in
our country and the public opinion will not be happy.
However, our strategic interests are in developing these relations and I hope
that through joint efforts we will manage to overcome the difficulties which
we are facing.
(More of the transcript to follow.)