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1. Interfax: Most Russians oppose war in Iraq, poll shows.
2. RosBusinessConsulting: US Ambassador explains why Americans need war in Iraq.
4. Rosbalt: US Visa Policy Amounts to "Cultural Fascism."
5. pravda.ru: American Families Adopt More Russian Children. Americans only deal with the countries, where it is easy to adopt a child.
7. AP: Russian: Funds Needed for Nuke Security.
8. AP: Russia, U.S. May Push Arms Treaty.
9. Interfax: Russian Comptroller: Laws on privatization need adjustment.
10. AFP: Russian court clears writer of pornography charge.
11. Reuters: Old, wistful mark 50th anniversary of Stalin death.
12. Moscow News: Rudolf Pikhoya, Great Leader as a Brand Name. A well-known historian, reminisces ahead of Joseph Stalin's 50th death anniversary,
March 5
13. New York Times: Michael Wines, New Study Supports Idea Stalin Was Poisoned.
14. AFP: Chechen constitution will not bring an end to war: refugees.
15. Moscow Times: Pavel Felgenhauer, Withdrawal Is a PR Fudge.
16. Canberra Times (Australia): Ian Warden, Clark keeps eye out for new Tolstoy
17. The New Republic book review: John Banville, Blastings. (re works of Tatyana Tolstaya)
18. BusinessWeek Online: Olga Kharif, Russia: Playing Catch-Up in Tech


Most Russians oppose war in Iraq, poll shows

MOSCOW. March 5 (Interfax) - The overwhelming majority of Russians oppose 
military action against Iraq, the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center 
told Interfax. 
This information is based on the results of a poll totaling 1,600 people, 
which was conducted in late February and early March. 
An estimated 93% of respondents said they oppose the bombing of Iraq and 
only 3% said they back it. The situation with possible military action 
against Iraq is the same: 91% of respondents are against it and only 5% are 
for it. Eighty-seven percent of respondents oppose a possible temporary 
occupation of Iraq by troops of the U.S. and its allies, and only 6% said 
they favor it. 


March 45, 2003
US Ambassador explains why Americans need war in Iraq 

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, US Ambassador to Russia 
Alexander Vershbow defined Washington's position on the Iraq issue. The 
online conference was organized by RBC. 

"The American position is clear: Iraq must disarm unconditionally, according 
to the UN Security Council Resolution 1441. If Saddam doesn't comply with it, 
the United States and our allies are ready to take necessary actions to 
defend ourselves and disarm the Baghdad regime," Mr. Vershbow said. 

When asked whether a war in Iraq would be a war for oil, he said that the 
operation in Iraq "has nothing to do with oil". "It is about weapons of mass 
destruction and issues of international law, as it is said in the UN 
resolution. If an oil issue was at stake, this goal could be achieved by 
simpler and cheaper means," the American diplomat stressed. 

"We would reach some deal with Saddam Hussein. We would allow our oil 
companies to act, would give them a green light and allow them to make 
investments. Nobody can say exactly how much a military operation in Iraq 
might cost. But expenses needed for such operation and postwar rehabilitation 
will amount to hundred millions of dollars, or even more," Mr. Vershbow 
noted. "So, it is not about oil. On the contrary, we want to prevent that 
dictators like Saddam Hussein ignore UN resolutions for 12 years and try to 
obtain weapons of mass destruction illegally," he added. 

Mr. Vershbow also elaborated on what will happen to Iraq after the war. 
According to him, the US administration has serious plans on the political 
and economic restoration of a post-Saddam Iraq. "A multi-ethnic government 
will be created, representative of the entire population," the Ambassador 
said. The new government will comprise the representatives of both opposition 
forces outside Iraq and forces inside the country. "So, there will be a 
transitional period. During the first part of this period, a coalition will 
rule the country. At the second stage, an ad hoc international organization 
will assume these functions, until it is possible to form a government in 
Iraq that would reflect all these ethnic groups," Mr. Vershbow concluded. 



MOSCOW, March 5, 2003 /RIA Novosti correspondent Pyotr Goncharov/ -- US 
President George W. Bush "may win the war against Iraq and at the same time 
lose the presidential race." This opinion was expressed by director of the 
Institute of the US and Canada Studies Sergei Rogov at a news conference in 
RIA Novosti on Wednesday. 

Explaining his position, Rogov reminded the audience that three years ago, 
"the surplus of the US budget equalled two percent of the Gross Domestic 
Product." At the present time, the US budget "has a deficit of three percent 
of the Gross Domestic Product, apart from the growing oil prices." The expert 
did not exclude that "at the presidential elections in 2004, Bush will have a 
deficit in the country's budget of four or five percent of the Gross Domestic 
Product. This fact may plunge the United States into a serious economic 
crisis." The present situation has been exacerbated by the circumstance that 
the Bush administration, not having yet started the war against Iraq, has 
already "lost it politically." "The United States has failed to enlist the 
unconditional support of the UN Security Council and risks to find itself in 
a very serious international isolation," underscored Sergei Rogov. 


March 5, 2003
US Visa Policy Amounts to "Cultural Fascism"

MOSCOW, March 5. Over the past 1.5 years more than 60 thousand Russians have 
fallen foul of stricter rules on receiving a US visa. This was announced at a 
press conference yesterday by Vladimir Didenko, a board member of the 
Russian-American Public Visa Council. Didenko said that US consulates in 
Russia are carrying out 'a policy of cultural fascism and running a consular 
war against the Russian Federation.' A particularly hard blow has been dealt 
to Russian scientists, students and businessmen who have studied and worked 
in the US, Didenko believes. The psychological and material loss from this 
runs into millions of dollars, according to Didenko.

In the light of the situation that has developed, the Visa Council has set up 
a programme called 'Russians are leaving America.' The programme's aim is to 
help Russian scientists, students and businessmen obtain US visas so that 
they can tie up loose ends in America and bring their possessions to Russia, 
Didenko said. 


March 5, 2003
American Families Adopt More Russian Children 
Americans only deal with the countries, where it is easy to adopt a child 

In 2002 former countries of the Soviet Union, China, South Korea and Latin 
American countries became the world leaders on the so-called "export" of 
children, who were later adopted in the USA. Most often, American families 
adopted Chinese children -- 5 053. Russia takes the second position on the 
list -- 4 939 children. Ukraine took the fifth position -- 1 106 children, 
Kazakhstan -- the sixth (819), and Belarus took the 14th position on the list 
(169 children). According to the information from the US National Adoption 
Information Clearinghouse (NAIC), the top five of the list of the states, 
whose children were adopted by American citizens, also include Guatemala (2 
219 children) and South Korea (1 779 children). 

Pursuant to the information of the US State Department, there were twenty 
thousand and ninety-nine children adopted by foreign parents in total. 
Adoption becomes more and more frequent. In 1992 foreign parents adopted 6 
472 children, while in 1997 the figure increased to 12 743. There were 17 718 
children adopted in the year 2000. The "export" of Russian children to the 
USA has increased as well. Three thousand eight hundred and sixteen children 
were taken out of the country in 1997 against 4 348 kids in 2000. 

KidSave is one of the largest noncommercial and non-state organizations, 
which selects Russian children for American parents. The scheme of its 
activity is as follows: they pick out a kid in children shelters, and then a 
child is invited to visit an American family. An employee of a children 
shelter accompanies a child in his trip to the United States. American 
families often set out their wish to adopt that child later. As the people 
from KidSave claim, they are not a special agency for picking out children 
for foreign parents. As they say, their major goal is to take children out of 
their shelters for a while, and to give them an opportunity to have a family. 
As a rule, such children are between seven or twelve years of age. Their 
chances to be adopted in a Russian family are equal to five percent. About 
eight hundred children have been to the United States over three years. As a 
result, 95% of them found their new families. Terry Baugh founded KidSave 
after she had adopted a Russian child herself in 1997. She was completely 
shocked with what she saw in a Russian children shelter. She can hardly hold 
back her tears, when she talks about it. 

Such geography of adoption is basically explained with legal peculiarities of 
adequate countries. Americans do not deal with the countries, if it is hard 
to take a child out of it from the juridical point of view. The majority of 
African and Mideast countries do not allow foreigners to adopt their 
children. The majority of West European countries stick to the same policy. 
On the other hand, adoption is the only way out for the children of the third 
world. This is the only way that can provide them a right for normal life. 
For example, there are 730 shelters for children in all African countries. 
There are more than 1.7 million orphans in one African country of Uganda -- 
the majority of African children live in streets. 

According to the American law, only a certain category of American citizens 
are entitled to adopt a child. A family couple is supposed to be married for 
not less than two years. If a single man or a single woman plans to adopt a 
child, he or she is supposed to be over 25 years old. Every candidacy for 
adoption should undergo FBI and police examination. The level of income of a 
family or a single adoptive father/mother must be 25% higher than the average 
income in a certain region. A special social agent is supposed to visit a 
house or an apartment of wound-be adoptive parents to see, if a family or a 
parent is ready to provide all necessary conditions to a child. 

Adoption of a foreign child usually costs up to twenty thousand dollars. The 
average yearly income of an American man made up $28 272 in 2000. The average 
income of an American woman was $16 190. According to experts' estimates, 
potential American families have to spend $25-27 thousand to take a child out 
of Russia (plus about three thousand dollars for a trip to Russia). 

MiK News Agency 
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov 


No. 20
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
By the initiative of the Ministry of Labor, the 
administrations of 10 Russian regions decided to conduct an 
experiment to increase the birth rate. According to the polls, 
the factors that influence the decision of young couples to 
have a child are accommodations and decent incomes. That's why 
among the measures that the authorities take or will be taking 
in the context of the experiment are: granting the young 
families loans for buying apartments with the possibility of 
writing the debts off in case a couple has children, 
introducing favorable payment conditions for housing expenses, 
assisting in the search of highly-paid jobs, and various tax 
Izvestia correspondent Natalya KONYGINA asked head of the 
Family Sociology Chair of the Sociology Faculty of Moscow State 
University Anatoly ANTONOV about the real factors that 
influence the birth rate.

Question: Is Russia's population dwindling because of the 
low birth rate or high death rate?
Answer: Doctors and biologists claim that it's all because 
of the growth of the death rate, therefore, we should 
concentrate all our efforts on the fight with this tendency. 
They are right - the death rate in our country is appallingly 
high. However, in order to fight depopulation only by lowering 
the death rate, we would have to make our citizens immortal. 
Every year, the number of babies born in Russia is 750-800 
thousand less than it's necessary to compensate for the death 
rate. In 2010-2015 this figure will increase to 1 million.

Question: Do you agree that the reasons for the dwindling 
birth rate in Russia are economic? 
Answer: The birth rate is dropping not only in Russia, but 
also in the West. Human behavior is regulated by social norms 
and values. Until the 18th century, humanity had high birth 
rate norms. In the 18th century births became economically 
disadvantageous. However, the norms are very inertial, they 
always lag behind the changing living standards. That's why 
they existed till the 20th century. They are still the same in 
Asia, Africa and Latin America, although, by the middle of the 
21st century, no country in the world would have the norm of 
more than two children in a family.

Question: There is an opinion that depopulation in Russia 
started all the way back in the 1970's. Is that true?
Answer: The delay-action mine had started ticking probably 
even earlier - in the 1960's. After the Second World War, 
humanity experienced a baby boom. It ended in the 1960's, and 
everywhere in the world the process of devaluation of the 
family and procreation had started. Bachelor existence had 
become popular especially in big cities.

Question: Nevertheless, people are still eager to have 
Answer: Yes, but according to our research, every 30 years 
people start wanting one child less. In the beginning of the 
20th century families still wanted to have 5-7 children, but 
the revolution, the civil war, the collapse of the economy 
interfered with their desire to have many children. In the 
1930s-40s people were satisfied with no more than four 
children. In the 1960's, the desire to have only two children 
started to prevail.
Nowadays, people normally want to have a single child.

Question: In this case, it seems that the policy aimed at 
stimulating childbirth - apartments, loans, and benefits - is 
worthless? Do we have to change the norms, instead? Promote the 
family and possession of many children?
Answer: People certainly respond to propaganda. However, 
they do it only while the advertising campaign is under way and 
up to a point where they start realizing that it doesn't 
correspond to the realities of life. And if we only deal with 
promotion without changing socio-psychological conditions, we 
won't get anywhere. We must raise the prestige of families with 
many children and lower the tax burden for those families at 
the same time. Such families must be given a variety of 
economic incentives. Have you ever thought about such a 
discrepancy when after the birth of a child the state starts 
collecting additional taxes for gas, water, garbage, etc. from 
a family as if it were some kind of punishment for childbirth? 
The government should conduct a policy aimed at rewarding 
families with children. The rewards could be small. For 
example, if you go to a theatre with the family you would get 
better seats. It might sound trivial, but it's still pleasant. 
People would start feeling that they are cared about right 
away. Government officials should find the ways to raise the 
value and prestige of the family together with sociologists and 
socio-psychologists because we are talking about things that 
are immaterial.

Question: And if we do all that, will the norms change in 
300 years? 
Answer: For how long they are going to exist, nobody knows.
All we know is that if we start doing something about it today, 
we will feel the effect not earlier than in 30 years, may be 
even later.

Question: What is your vision of the birth rate trends in 
Russia in the 21st century?
Answer: We have several scenarios. Let's assume that from 
2015 the state will be conducting a real social policy aimed at 
rewarding the family and the childbirth (we shouldn't expect 
any changes before 2015 because all we'll hear would be idle 
talk, anyway). In any case, by that time the population will 
drop to 105-107 million. Only from 2051 it will start 
increasing slowly and by 2080 it will get back to the present 
levels. If, instead of reward policy, from 2015 the government 
is going to ban abortions and introduce punitive economic 
measures against families without children (there are 
suggestions like that, by the way), the population of Russia 
will drop to 70 million in 50 years and will never get back to 
present levels in this century.
On the contrary, it will continue diminishing. There are other 
scenarios between the two above-mentioned extremes, but they 
all predict the inevitability of depopulation. In any case, the 
Russian population in the 21st century will never number 150 
million as it did quite recently.

Question: How many children must an average Russian family 
have in order to stop this trend?
Answer: Ideally, we would need 35 percent of families with 
two children, 35 percent - with three, 15 percent - with four, 
and 2 percent - with five or more. 5-6 percent will remain 
childless anyway just because some couples cannot produce 
children. Families with a single child should constitute no 
more than 10 percent of the population. Another scenario - 50 
percent of the families must have three kids, the rest could 
have as many as they would want.


Russian: Funds Needed for Nuke Security
March 5, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's atomic energy minister said Wednesday that more 
funding is needed to beef up security around the country's nuclear 
installations, which critics say are only lightly guarded and are vulnerable 
to terrorist attacks or thefts of radioactive material.

Alexander Rumyantsev, in a speech to lawmakers in Russia's lower house of 
parliament, said the Interior Ministry has cut back on personnel guarding 
nuclear facilities, the Interfax news agency reported.

He said his ministry needs $203 million to improve physical protection of 
nuclear plants, including electronic monitors. More money also is needed to 
continue decommissioning Russian nuclear submarines, Rumyantsev said.

He said spent nuclear fuel would be unloaded from 11 submarines this year, 
down from 14 the year before. U.S. funding for the project is drying up now 
that many of the submarines that targeted the United States have been 
destroyed, he told lawmakers.

Since 1998, more than 100 submarines have been decommissioned, but there are 
many more awaiting dismantlement, he said.

At the same time, Rumyantsev said the United States has pledged to fund the 
closure of three nuclear reactors in Russia that produce weapons-grade 
plutonium, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Rumyantsev said he and U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham would sign the 
deal next week, the report said.

The security of Russia's nuclear facilities, including power plants and waste 
storage depots, has come under closer scrutiny since the Sept. 11 terror 
attacks in the United States. Environmental groups also have criticized 
Russia for accepting nuclear waste from other countries for storage and 
reprocessing - as permitted under a 2001 law.


Russia, U.S. May Push Arms Treaty
March 5, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) - A top Russian diplomat said Wednesday that the Russian and U.S. 
governments may make a simultaneous push for ratification of their latest 
arms control treaty - a sign the two countries are searching for areas of 
agreement even as they differ over Iraq.

Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov said he and U.S. Ambassador Alexander 
Vershbow had discussed trying to coordinate ratification of the document, 
known as the Treaty of Moscow, in the Russian State Duma and the U.S. Senate.

``This treaty, notwithstanding all the difficulties of the international 
situation, can be put up for ratification in the next few weeks,'' Mamedov 
was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. ``We and the United States 
have agreed to synchronize ratification of the document.''

Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker later told 
reporters in Moscow that the full Senate was poised to begin considering the 
treaty ``within the next few hours.''

``It is our expectation that the Senate will vote to approve this treaty,'' 
Rademaker said, adding he hoped the Duma would as well.

The pact, agreed to by Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Bush at 
a May summit, would require Russia and the United States to reduce their 
stockpiles of deployed strategic nuclear weapons by about two-thirds over the 
next decade to between 1,700 and 2,200 each.

Vershbow, who was accompanied by an official from the National Aeronautics 
and Space Administration, had requested the meeting to discuss U.S.-Russian 
cooperation in space after the Columbia shuttle disaster, which has grounded 
American space flights.

After the loss of Columbia, Russia remains the sole source of spacecraft - if 
it can get U.S. funding to build more - to service the International Space 


Russian Comptroller: Laws on privatization need adjustment 

MOSCOW. March 4 (Interfax) - The time has come 
to revise privatization legislation in Russia, says Audit Chamber 
Chairman Sergei Stepashin. 
In an interview published in the Tuesday issue of Komsomolskaya 
Pravda, Stepashin said he means laws under which privatization deals were 
concluded in the past decade. "What was happening in the early 1990s was 
of a political rather than an economic nature," he said. 
"But if laws were grossly violated, those deals must be revised," 
Stepashin said. 
"However, something different is more important now, that is, first, 
the efficiency of handling state stakes in large companies, and second, 
involvement in the audit of companies before privatization," he said. 
He pointed to the fact that an alliance of Sibneft and TNK oil 
companies was prepared to pay from $3 billion to $3.5 billion for a state 
stake in Slavneft last December, but they had no serious opponents during 
the tender. 
"We have made specific proposals on changing the law. You cannot 
disqualify companies [Rosneft] in a court decision two or three days 
before the tender - all these procedures should end at least 10 or 15 
days before, as in elections," he said. 
Stepashin said the presale evaluation of Slavneft by Audit Chamber 
experts was just the first test. "Now we are going to scrutinize Rosneft, 
Svyazinvest and other companies," he said. 
Talking about last year's results of the Audit Chamber's work, 
Stepashin said "we brought over 6 billion rubles into state coffers." 


Russian court clears writer of pornography charge
March 5, 2003

A Russian court dismissed Wednesday a legal action taken by a shadowy 
pro-Kremlin youth group accusing novelist Bayan Shiryanov of pornography and 
promoting drugs.

The case against Shiryanov, the pen-name of Kirill Vorobyev, was thrown out 
after literary specialists told the court that his novels "can in no way be 
considered pornographic," the writer's lawyer Alexander Glushenkov told the 
Interfax news agency. 

The prosecution was launched after the youth group Moving Together, which 
backs President Vladimir Putin but is not affiliated to any official 
organisation or party, last September accused the writer of pornography and 
favouring the use of drugs.

Among Shiryanov's novels are "Nizshy pilotazh" (Gutter Piloting), in which he 
describes the world of drug addiction, and "Zanimatelnaya Sexopatologia" (An 
Entertaining Sexual Pathology).

Moving Together also instigated the conversial prosecution for pornography of 
the postmodern novelist Vladimir Sorokin, relating in particular to his 1999 
bestseller "Goluboye Salo" (Sky-Blue Bacon), a science-fiction fable which 
contains an explicit gay sex scene between clones of late Soviet leaders 
Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev.

Sorokin, who faces up to two years in prison if found guilty, has denounced 
the prosecution as a return to Soviet-style censorship.

He is supported by many intellectuals and even some government figures have 
spoken in his defence.


Old, wistful mark 50th anniversary of Stalin death
March 5, 2003
By Jonathan Thatcher

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Hundreds of elderly Russians lined up in Moscow's Red 
Square Wednesday in freezing sunshine to mark the 50th anniversary of the 
death of Josef Stalin, many saying they'd happily see someone like him back 
in power.

Most carried red flowers, their color a symbol of the 1917 Bolshevik 
revolution, to lay at the grave of a man who probably spilled more of his 
people's blood than any other Russian ruler.

A towering tyrant of the 20th century, Stalin used mass murder, prison camps, 
forced migration and grandiose economic plans to force the impoverished and 
backward Soviet empire into an industrial powerhouse.

Some historians estimate around 20 million people died under his nearly 
30-year rule until his death in 1953.

"Stalin was a great politician, diplomat, statesman and military commander. 
The Stalin era cannot be viewed only as a time of repression," Communist 
Party chief Gennady Zyuganov said.

The Communists still command huge popularity -- winning 30 percent of the 
vote in the last general election -- but as a political force have been all 
but neutered by the even more popular President Vladimir Putin.

Party supporters belong mostly to Russia's teeming have-nots, pushed 
helplessly aside in the rush into the embrace of capitalism since the Soviet 
collapse in 1991.

This week, Forbes business magazine noted Russia has 17 billionaires, 
compared to none three years ago. In a country which for three generations 
eschewed personal wealth, Russia is home to the world's fourth-largest 
collection of billionaires. 


But an opinion poll this week showed that just over half the population think 
the fiercely anti-capitalist Stalin, a Georgian by origin who once toyed with 
becoming a priest, played a positive role in history.

His chief claim to that support was by leading his nation to victory over 
invading Nazi Germany in 1945 in what most Russians refer to as the Great 
Patriotic War.

But a quarter of respondents described him as a "cruel, inhumane tyrant, 
guilty of killing millions of people."

"Today's revival of Stalin is a result of the failure of democratic reforms," 
the Kommersant daily quoted member of the Academy of Science, Saltan 
Dzarasov, as saying.

Some commentators accused Putin -- only the second popularly elected leader 
Russia has ever known -- of starting to cloak himself with the ways that made 
Stalin so overpowering.

"It depends only on Putin whether we return to Stalin or not," the newspaper 
quoted filmmaker Alexander German as saying.

He said Putin was popular enough to create a personality cult. "We are all 
his hostages."

For many, the era of Stalin is something to be gazed back at wistfully, a 
time when prices were lower and the Soviet Union was a power to be reckoned 
with in the world.

"During the war, there was firm belief in our life, every year things got 
better, and every year prices came down, every year was better and better and 
better, now it is worse and worse and worse," said Muscovite pensioner 
Anatoly Semyonov. 


He was among the hundreds who lined up on Red Square where Soviet leaders 
once paraded their weaponry, first filing past the waxed corpse of Soviet 
state founder Vladimir Lenin whom Stalin succeeded as Communist Party leader.

Outside, beneath the towering walls of the Kremlin, stands the grave of 
Stalin along with other heroes of the Soviet past.

One man knelt beneath Stalin's bust, making the sign of the cross -- an 
unlikely gesture to a man who dynamited churches and turned one of Russia's 
grandest cathedrals into a museum to atheism.

Among the predominantly elderly, shuffling quietly along the square's cobbled 
stones, was one would-be acolyte of the dead dictator, 14-year-old Sasha 

"He had many sins. But they were justified. He suppressed those who stole ... 
who wanted to turn back to the Czarist times. Innocent people didn't suffer," 
he said as he walked briskly off, flower in hand, to join the line.


Moscow News
March 5-11, 2002
Great Leader as a Brand Name
Rudolf Pikhoya
A well-known historian, reminisces ahead of Joseph Stalin's 50th death 
anniversary, March 5 

Power - the centerpiece of Stalin's legacy - became the main bone of 
contention for his associates. At 10.40 a.m., on March 2, 1953, Beria, 
Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Malenkov, Mikoyan, Molotov, Pervukhin, Saburov, 
Khrushchev, Shvernik, and Shkiryatov, in this order, filed into Stalin's 
office. The party leaders were accompanied by I.I. Kuperin, head of the 
Kremlin's medical administration, who had been appointed to this position 
when it fell vacant in the process of the "doctors' conspiracy," on September 
1, 1952; and A.S. Tolkachev, a functionary with the Party Organization 
Department at the CPSU Central Committee.

Ten minutes later, Kuperin and Tolkachev left the office. They had plenty of 
things to attend to. Kuperin was to organize "public releases about Comrade 
Stalin's illness." Tolkachev and the Central Committee staff were, as a 
matter of urgency, to summon to Moscow participants in the upcoming plenary 
session of the Central Committee. It was clear that Stalin was dying. Before 
long the conference in the Kremlin was over. Twenty minutes later, Stalin's 
office was empty.

On March 3, all Central Committee members were ordered to come to Moscow for 
a plenary session. On March 3 and 4, Lavrenty Beria, deputy chairman of the 
USSR Council of Ministers, drafted a memo assigning key state positions and 
coordinating it with another deputy chairman - Georgy Malenkov.

At 8 p.m. on March 5, 1953, a joint session of the Plenum of the CPSU Central 
Committee, the USSR Council of Ministers, and the Presidium of the USSR 
Supreme Soviet began. It lasted 40 minutes.

A little more than an hour later - 9.50 p.m. - the doctors said: Stalin had 

A triumvirate came to power in the country: Malenkov, the head of state; 
Khrushchev, the party leader; and Beria, the interior minister. Three men 
representing the three "powerhouses" in the Soviet Union. Each had his own 
power base, his own structures in the state and party apparat, and his own 
interests to look after. They got locked in a life-or-death struggle where 
victory meant absolute power and defeat meant death - physical (as for Beria) 
or political (as was the case with Malenkov and his followers).

Stalin's associates learned the hard lesson in the power struggle - as part 
of his political legacy.

Stalin's successors effectively kept intact for decades:

-the administrative system based on the nomenklatura principle whereby an 
official was completely dependent on those who appointed him and bore 
virtually no responsibility to the lower elements of the command chain, let 
alone ordinary citizens;

-the socioeconomic system: "property ownership by the whole people," a 
planned economy, and a collective/state farming system;

-ideological and political aims of the state: to build Communism and catch up 
with and overtake the capitalist countries, above all the United States;

-foreign policy priorities which combined the principles of "proletarian 
internationalism" and "assistance to countries fighting against colonial 
oppression" with participation in the Cold War;

-participation in the Cold War and a ruinous arms race.

By a quirk of history, Stalin associates inherited his trademark disdain for 
predecessors. A dead leader was not to overshadow the living rulers.

The propaganda apparatus, through inertia, continued to call for the memory 
of Stalin - "the brilliant leader and teacher, the great successor to the 
cause of Marx, Engels and Lenin" - to be preserved forever. A wide-ranging 
program to promote the Stalin legacy was planned. It was announced that a 
"pantheon/monument to the eternal glory of the great personalities of the 
Soviet land" would be built. It was to be erected opposite the Kremlin, on 
the other bank on the Moskva River, on the Sofiyskaya Embankment, or not far 
from the Moscow State University skyscraper, on a beeline between the Kremlin 
and the Lenin Hills.

The day after the funeral, March 10, however, speaking at a session of the 
CPSU Central Committee Presidium, Malenkov criticized the Soviet press, 
saying: "We consider it necessary to put an end to personality cult policy."

Pantheon plans were immediately forgotten, as if they never had been.

The out-of-town residence where Stalin had died and where, in the logic of 
things, a museum should have been set up, like the Lenin museum in Gorki, in 
May 1953, was handed over to the Health Ministry to be converted into a 
children's sanitarium. The sanitarium never materialized, but nothing came of 
the Stalin museum plan either: It was closed shortly after it was opened. Not 
even the publication of a collection of Stalin's works was completed.

Yet Stalin successors did not inherit his entire arsenal. The ruling elite 
was dead set against Stalin terror, which had often worked against the top 
nomenklatura itself.

On April 4, 1953, Beria issued an order prohibiting the use of "barbarous 
methods of interrogation." The order demanded that the use of "measures of 
physical coercion" against remand prisoners be banned and that "premises at 
the Lefortovo and Vnutrennyaya [internal] prisons, organized by the former 
leadership of the USSR State Security Ministry, be abolished while all tools 
used for torture be destroyed."

And so it went on. A plenary session in the fall of 1964 removed Khrushchev 
from office when the party and state apparatus had got fed up with his 
reforms. Khrushchev's successor - Brezhnev - proclaimed the well-known thesis 
about the "stability of leadership" and "a stable personnel policy," which 
meant virtual impunity for the top nomenklatura that was now all but 

At this point disagreements between Stalin's successors over his legacy were 
finally buried.

The attitude to Stalin began to change perceptibly in the second half of the 
1960s with the emergence of neo-stalinism - loyalty to old ideological values 
and "ideological discipline" reinforced with the "stability of leadership" - 
a thing unheard-of under Stalin. Neo-Stalinism also meant abandoning reforms 
since the true socialist values allegedly lay in the past and it was up to 
the ruling authority to live up to them.

In 1969, a dispute arose within the CPSU Central Committee Politburo over 
whether Stalin's 90th birthday anniversary ought to be marked. Mikhail 
Suslov, Pyotr Shelest, Kirill Mazurov, Alexei Kosygin, and Yuri Andropov 
insisted that a jubilee article should be published. Nikolai Podgorny, Arvid 
Pelshe, and Boris Ponomarev objected to the idea, reminding their colleagues 
that all of them were closely involved in "debunking the personality cult." 
The former group gained the upper hand.

The article was duly published. In 1970, a bust, made by sculptor Nikolai 
Tomsky, was erected over Stalin's tomb. The unobtrusive return of Stalin's 
political legacy had begun.

What next?

A comparison of two surveys, conducted in 1990 and 2001 by the Russian Civil 
Service Academy Sociological Research Center, is noteworthy.

In 1990, Joseph Stalin was named as one of the most unpopular political 
figures of the past with a mere six percent of respondents approving of his 
performance (as compared to 74 percent in favor of Peter the Great, 57 
percent of Lenin enthusiasts, and 55 percent of those who admired Marshal 
Georgy Zhukov).

Eleven years later, 32.9 percent of respondents gave Stalin top marks (with 
90.2, 39.9, and 80.8 percent for Peter the Great, Lenin, and Zhukov, 

What is the reason for this dramatic change in historical consciousness?

There are several reasons. First of all, the Stalin era is history now. The 
violent anti-Stalin charge of the late 1980s journalism lost its focus - the 
Communist system. The study of Stalin became not a sign of political daring, 
but a routine historical research process and therefore had little public 
appeal. Documentary publications about Stalin and his era, amazing in their 
abundance of exciting facts and information, are rarely published in editions 
of more than 3,000 copies.

Meanwhile, a new myth is being born. The ostentatious, motley, bright 
symbolism of the Stalin era, which was created by talented people, still 
holds the magic of "the great empire style," titillating the imagination with 
the memory of the Soviet Union, a superpower. And so the mustachioed Great 
Leader in his marshal's tunic and jackboots is very much in demand - this 
time as a brand name widely used by disingenuous policy peddlers and other 


New York Times
March 5, 2003
New Study Supports Idea Stalin Was Poisoned

MOSCOW, March 4 -- Fifty years after Stalin died, felled by a brain
at his dacha, an exhaustive study of long-secret Soviet records lends new 
weight to an old theory that he was actually poisoned, perhaps to avert a 
looming war with the United States. 

That war may well have been closer than anyone outside the Kremlin suspected 
at the time, say the authors of a new book based on the records. 

The 402-page book, "Stalin's Last Crime," will be published later this month. 
Relying on a previously secret account by doctors of Stalin's final days, its 
authors suggest that he may have been poisoned with warfarin, a tasteless and 
colorless blood thinner also used as a rat killer, during a final dinner with 
four members of his Politburo.

They base that theory in part on early drafts of the report, which show that 
Stalin suffered extensive stomach hemorrhaging during his death throes. The 
authors state that significant references to stomach bleeding were excised 
from the 20-page official medical record, which was not issued until June 
1953, more than three months after his death on March 5 that year.

Four Politburo members were at that dinner: Lavrenti P. Beria, then chief of 
the secret police; Georgi M. Malenkov, Stalin's immediate successor; Nikita 
S. Khrushchev, who eventually rose to the top spot; and Nikolai Bulganin.

The authors, Vladimir P. Naumov, a Russian historian, and Jonathan Brent, a 
Yale University Soviet scholar, suggest that the most likely suspect, if 
Stalin was poisoned, is Mr. Beria, for 15 years his despised minister of 
internal security. 

Mr. Beria supposedly boasted of killing Stalin on May Day, two months after 
his death. ``I did him in! I saved all of you,'' he was quoted as telling 
Vyacheslav M. Molotov, another Politburo member, in Mr. Molotov's 1993 
political reminiscence, ``Molotov Remembers.''

Messrs. Naumov and Brent dismiss Khrushchev's own account of Stalin's death, 
in his memoirs, as an almost cartoonish distortion of the truth. With 
virtually everyone connected to the case now dead, the real story may never 
be known, Mr. Brent said in an interview this week. 

"Some doctors are skeptical that if an autopsy were performed, that a 
conclusive answer to the question of whether he was poisoned could be found," 
he said. "I personally believe that Stalin's death was not fortuitous. There 
are just too many arrows pointing in the other direction." 

The book, like most such volumes, paints a chilling portrait of Stalin, at 
once deeply paranoid and endlessly crafty, continually inventing enemies and 
then wiping them out as part of the terror that killed millions and kept 
millions more in the toil that enabled the Soviet Union to leap from czarism 
to the industrial age.

Yet modern Russians are torn about his memory. The latest poll of 1,600 
adults by the All-Russian Public Opinion Center, released today on the eve of 
the 50th anniversary of his death, shows that more than half of all 
respondents believe Stalin's role in Russian history was positive, while only 
a third disagreed. 

By the poll's reckoning, 27 percent of Russians judge Stalin a cruel and 
inhumane tyrant. But 20 percent call him wise and humane -- among them the 
head of the Communist Party, Gennadi Zyuganov, who today compared Stalin to 
"the most grandiose figures of the Renaissance." 

Mr. Brent and Mr. Naumov, the secretary of a Russian government commission to 
rehabilitate victims of repression, have spent years in the archives of the 
K.G.B. and other Soviet organizations. 

Russian officials granted them access to some documents for their latest 
work, which primarily traces the fabulous course of the Doctors' Plot, a 
supposed collusion in the late 1940's by Kremlin doctors to kill top 
Communist leaders. 

The collusion was in fact a fabrication by Kremlin officials, acting largely 
on Stalin's orders. By the time Stalin disclosed the plot to a stunned Soviet 
populace in January 1953, he had spun it into a vast conspiracy, led by Jews 
under the United States' secret direction, to kill him and destroy the Soviet 
Union itself. 

That February, the Kremlin ordered the construction of four giant prison 
camps in Kazakhstan, Siberia and the Arctic north, apparently in preparation 
for a second great terror -- this time directed at the millions of Soviet 
citizens of Jewish descent. 

But the terror never unfolded. On March 1, 1953, two weeks after the camps 
were ordered built and two weeks before the accused doctors were to go on 
trial, Stalin collapsed at Blizhnaya, a north Moscow dacha, after the 
all-night dinner with his four Politburo comrades.

After four days, Stalin died, at age 73. Death was laid to a hemorrhage on 
the left side of his brain. 

Less than a month later, the doctors previously accused of trying to kill him 
were abruptly exonerated and the case against them was deemed an invention of 
the secret police. No Jews were deported east. By year's end, Beria faced a 
firing squad, and Khrushchev had tempered Soviet hostility toward the United 

In their book, Mr. Naumov and Mr. Brent cite wildly varying accounts of 
Stalin's last hours as evidence that -- at the least -- Stalin's Politburo 
colleagues denied him medical help in the first hours of his illness, when it 
might have been effective. 

Khrushchev and others recalled long after Stalin's death that they had dined 
with him until the early hours of March 1. His and most other reports state 
that Stalin was later found sprawled unconscious on the floor, a copy of 
Pravda nearby. 

Yet no doctors were summoned to the dacha until the morning of March 2. Why 
remains a mystery: one guard later said that Beria had called shortly after 
Stalin was found, ordering them to say nothing about his illness. Khrushchev 
wrote that Stalin had been drunk at the dinner and that his dinner 
companions, told of his illness, presumed that he had fallen out of bed -- 
until it became clear things were more serious. 

More telling, however, is the official medical account of Stalin's death, 
given to the Communist Party Central Committee in June 1953 and buried in 
files for almost the next 50 years until unearthed by Mr. Naumov and Mr. 
Brent. It maintained that Stalin had become ill in the early hours of March 
2, a full day after he actually suffered a stroke. 

The effect of the altered official report is to imply that doctors were 
summoned quickly after Stalin was found, rather than after a delay.

The authors state that a cerebral hemorrhage is still the most 
straightforward explanation for Stalin's death, and that poisoning remains 
for now a matter of speculation. But Western physicians who examined the 
Soviet doctors' official account of Stalin's last days said similar physical 
effects could have been produced by a 5-to-10-day dose of warfarin, which had 
been patented in 1950 and was being aggressively marketed worldwide at the 

Why Stalin might have been killed is a less difficult question. Politburo 
members lived in fear of Stalin; beyond that, the book cites a previously 
secret report as evidence that Stalin was preparing to add a new dimension to 
the alleged American conspiracy known as the Doctors' Plot.

That report -- an interrogation of a supposed American agent named Ivan I. 
Varfolomeyev, in 1951 -- indicated that the Kremlin was preparing to accuse 
the United States of a plot to destroy much of Moscow with a new nuclear 
weapon, then to launch an invasion of Soviet territory along the Chinese 

Mr. Varfolomeyev's fantastic plot was known in Soviet documents as "the plan 
of the internal blow." Stalin, the book states, had assigned the Varfolomeyev 
case highest priority, and was preparing to proceed with a public trial 
despite his underlings' fears that the charges were so unbelievable that they 
would make the Kremlin a global laughingstock. 

Mr. Naumov said in an interview today that that plan, combined with other 
Soviet military preparations in the Russian Far East at the time, strongly 
suggest that Stalin was preparing for a war along the United States' Pacific 
Coast. What remains unclear, he said, is whether he planned a first strike or 
whether the mushrooming conspiracy unfolding in Moscow was to serve as a 
provocation that would lead both sides to a flash point. 

"I am told that the only case when the two sides were on the verge of war was 
the Cuban crisis," in 1962, he said. "But I think this was the first case. 
And this first time that we were on the verge of war was even more 
dangerous," because the devastation of nuclear weapons was not yet an article 
of faith. 

Mr. Brent said he believes that fear of a nuclear holocaust could have led 
Beria and perhaps others at that final dinner to assent to Stalin's death. 

"No question -- they were afraid," he said. "But they knew that the direction 
Stalin was going in was one of fiercer and fiercer conflict with the U.S. 
This is what Khrushchev saw, and it is what Beria saw. And it scared them to 

The authors say that Stalin knew of his comrades' fears, citing as proof 
remarks at a December 1952 meeting of top Communist leaders in which Stalin 
began laying out the scope of the Doctors' Plot and the American threat to 
Soviet power. 

"Here, look at you -- blind men, kittens," the minutes record Stalin as 
saying. "You don't see the enemy. What will you do without me?" 


Chechen constitution will not bring an end to war: refugees
March 5, 2003

With Chechnya's constitutional referendum less than three weeks away, 
refugees living in tent camps in neighboring Ingushetia have little faith 
that the move will bring peace to their war-torn Russian republic.

"I don't think anything will change after the referendum," said Zarema 
Yusupova, 45, who fled Chechnya to a tent camp in Sleptsovsk after the second 
war between Russian forces and separatist rebels broke out in October 1999.

The March 23 referendum will put to voters a constitution aimed at 
solidifying Chechnya's status as part of the Russian Federation, a step 
Russian President Vladimir Putin says will bring an end to the war. 

However, many observors have urged Putin to instead open peace talks with the 
rebel leadership headed by Aslan Maskhadov, who was elected president of the 
republic in polls held after the first war ended in 1996.

"It's not the referendum that will stop the war, but negotiations between the 
fighters and president Maskhadov," Yusupova said.

Yusupova lives in a single tent with her husband and children: two sons aged 
19 and 22 and a 24-year-old daughter.

The family has a tough time making ends meet, and Yusupova is the only one 
who holds a job -- selling used clothing at a local market, bringing in 
between 20 and 50 rubles (between 60 US/euro cents and 1.50) a day.

Her husband, who has a mental disorder, gets a monthly pension of 760 rubles.

"Every year, we hope our situation will get better, but there's never been 
any change," she said. "Today, we can only count on Allah."

Around 98,000 Chechens live in Ingushetia, 17,000 of them in tent camps, 
according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and 
polling booths are being set up on the Chechen-Ingush border so they can 
participate in the March 23 vote.

While Chechnya's pro-Russian authorities have said that they launched a 
massive information campaign to inform refugees of the referendum, many here 
said they had not even seen a copy of the constitution and those who did 
mostly had criticisms.

"I am under the impression that for the referendum's organizers, the most 
important thing is to vote on one article -- the one that proclaims Chechnya 
is an alienable part of Russia," said Abdulla, 49.

Many refugees here echoed criticism made by observers and human rights 
groups, who have said that a fair vote cannot take place while the war 
continues to rage and civilians live under the shadow of federal soldiers.

"How can we talk about a referendum while the war continues?" asked Akhmed, 
49, who said he does not plan to vote on March 23.

"It's the people who destroyed my house who will vote in the referendum," he 
said, referring to the 23,000 federal troops that are eligible to vote in the 

While the Kremlin urges that major military operations in Chechnya are over 
and Russian soldiers are merely cleaning up the remnants of rebel groups, 
refugees say the bloody war is continuing full-scale.

"What good will this referendum bring when the violence continues?" asked 
Larisa, 40.

"The Russians should first take their troops out of Chechnya," she said.

"We are like prisonners here. Masked military men continue to sweep the camps 
and arrest our men," said Larisa, who says her brother was found dead after 
being arrested.

Some 80,000 federal troops are currently stationed in Chechnya, and Moscow 
has announced this week that it plans to withdraw nearly 2,300 troops in the 
next few days.


Moscow Times
March 6, 2003
Withdrawal Is a PR Fudge
By Pavel Felgenhauer 

The Russian authorities have once again announced a troop withdrawal from 
Chechnya. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced during a meeting with 
President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin that 1,270 men will be sent home this 
month, but that the pullback of "surplus troops" will not affect the security 
situation in the rebellious republic.

During the televised meeting, Putin asked Ivanov: "How many troops will be 
left in Chechnya after the withdrawal?" Ivanov's answer was so weird that 
international news agencies immediately began phoning me for an explanation.

Ivanov stated, "30,000 to 35,000 servicemen will stay in Chechnya on a 
nonpermanent basis." After some hesitation he added: "They will all be 
involved in special operations."

Of course, Ivanov's assessment that 30,000 to 35,000 servicemen are or will 
ever be assigned to special operations in Chechnya is sheer fantasy. Russia 
does not have that many special service units. It has been officially 
confirmed several times recently that there are approximately 80,000 federal 
servicemen in Chechnya today. If you subtract 1,270 from 80,000 how do you 
arrive at the figure of 30,000 to 35,000?

During communist rule, the number of troops deployed during wars and 
casualties were either not reported at all or grossly falsified. The collapse 
of communism and the introduction of democracy has not improved the 
situation: Today, the Defense Ministry either does not give any figures at 
all or crudely miscalculates.

Last month, the Defense Ministry officially announced that from 1999 to the 
end of 2002, 4,572 servicemen were killed in action and 15,549 were wounded 
in the Caucasus. The same report states that during the first Chechen war in 
1994-96, 3,927 servicemen were killed and 17,892 wounded. The authorities 
estimate the number of Chechen rebels killed since August 1999 at 15,500. 
Human rights activists estimate Chechen civilian losses at 100,000 or more.

The Soldiers' Mothers Committee estimates up to 10,000 federal servicemen may 
have died since 1999. The Defense Ministry itself has also produced figures 
that do not tally. At the end of 2000, the Institute of Military History of 
the Defense Ministry published a book that quotes official figures of 5,551 
dead and 51,387 wounded during the Chechen war of 1994-96.

This Defense Ministry book lists 1,624 more dead than other "official" 
figures, while the number of wounded servicemen is almost three times higher. 
One can guess that the Defense Ministry publicly accepts as "wounded" only 
those who became invalids.

A defense minister gives the president and the nation a figure for the number 
of troops left in Chechnya after a planned withdrawal with a 5,000-man margin 
of error. Maybe Ivanov does not know exactly how many soldiers in Chechnya 
are actually alive? (If one adds Ivanov's 5,000-man margin of error to the 
4,572 official body count, you get a figure close to the Soldiers' Mothers 
Committee estimate.)

Some of the dead may still be alive to all intents and purposes, receiving a 
salary and special combat bonuses that can instantly be commandeered.

It is reported that unit commanders in Chechnya often do not allow their 
soldiers to write letters to their families or that the letters get "lost." 
Families may not know for months (or more) about the fate of loved ones in 

The authorities have several times in the past announced major troop 
withdrawals from Chechnya. And some units have indeed left with pomp -- only 
to be replaced by others almost immediately afterward.

Now 1,270 men will leave, hardly shifting the overall balance. It has been 
announced that the 42nd army motor-rifle division (15,000 troops) and the 
Interior Ministry's 46th brigade (8,000) will stay in Chechnya as a permanent 
garrison. Also, the Border Guards near the Georgian border (some 3,000) will 
stay as "permanent" units. The so-called commandant companies will stay -- 
permanent garrisons in all major Chechen towns and villages comprised mostly 
of contract soldiers, other "permanent" federal agents and officers. All in 
all, this amounts to an estimated 50,000 in a "permanent" occupation force.

On top of that come Ivanov's 30,000 to 35,000 "nonpermanent" forces, making a 
grand total of 80,000 to 85,000 men. 

So there is in fact no withdrawal at all or "normalization," only another PR 
prank by the Kremlin, while the anti-guerrilla campaign continues as before.

Pavel Felgenhauer is an independent defense analyst.


Canberra Times (Australia)
March 5, 2003
Clark keeps eye out for new Tolstoy 

If ever a new Tolstoy or Dostoevsky surfaces in Russia, then Professor 
Katerina Clark, daughter of the late Dymphna and Professor Manning Clark, may 
be the first to see that keenly awaited genius break the surface.

Professor Clark, of course a Canberran (she went to Ainslie School, then 
Canberra High, and got her MA from the Australian National University), now 
teaches literature and languages at Yale, but is also judge of the Booker 
Prize for Russian novels. She is in back in her hometown to give the Dymphna 
Clark Lecture at Canberra's Weekend of Ideas, to be held at Manning Clark 
House in Forrest this weekend.

Her lecture will be about anti-fascist emigres who fled Hitler's Germany and 
the echoes of their plight in some of today's refugees. One of those who fled 
Germany, the Communist Egon Erwinkisch, got as far as Australia and, when 
authorities wouldn't let him disembark, he leapt from the ship on to the 
wharf, breaking bones.

Speaking at Manning Clark House yesterday, the professor explained that the 
Booker Prize for novels written in Russian, a different prize from the famous 
one given for novels written in English, was established by the same Booker 
people to try to give Russian novelists a fillip and they seem to need it.

Professor Clark (her brother Sebastian says that she's probably spent more 
time in Russia in the past 40 years than any other Australian, and that her 
Russian was so good that the KGB was unable to pick her as a foreigner) said 
yesterday that writers in post-soviet Russia struggled in ways that their 
popular and distinguished predecessors seldom knew.

'One of the ongoing preoccupations in Russian novels now is the problem of 
what's happened to literature in post-Communist Russia,' she said.

'They [novelists before the break up of the Soviet Union] were often 
enormously privileged and were paid huge royalties . . . and now they've been 
devalued in post-Communist Russia and they're very poor, suddenly.' There was 
'a huge existential crisis' among writers now because Russia's brilliant 
literary heritage seemed to mean nothing to modern Russians.

The second Weekend of Ideas will take place from Friday to Sunday at Manning 
Clark House, 11 Tasmania Circle, Forrest. More information can be obtained by 
calling 6295 9433.


The New Republic
March 10, 2003
book review
By John Banville
John Banville's new novel, Shroud, will be published this month by Knopf.

Pushkin's Children: Writing on Russia and Russians
By Tatyana Tolstaya
Translated by Jamey Gambrell
Mariner Books, 242 pp., $15)

The Slynx
By Tatyana Tolstaya
Translated by Jamey Gambrell
(Houghton Mifflin, 278 pp., $24)

Tatyana Tolstaya is an angry woman. She is angry at Gorbachev, she is angry 
at Yeltsin, she is positively furious with Solzhenitsyn, and she is not too 
pleased with Putin. The things that have happened to her country over the 
past hundred years make her blood boil. There are the great calamities, 
particularly Stalinism and all that it wrought, against which she rails in 
her essays; but, as with all good writers, it is in the details that she is 
her most telling. Returning from America to St. Petersburg in 1997, she 
notices that the metal balconies have disappeared from the building across 
the street, which had once been so beautiful. Wondering what happened, she is 
told that one of the balconies had fallen and killed a passerby, and since 
the city authorities had no money to spend on repairs, they had ordered that 
the rest of the balconies be torn down. 

Balconies, of course, are the least of it. Tolstaya's real fury is reserved 
for the plight of the Russian people, betrayed over and over again by their 
so-called leaders, the czars, and the commissars, Lenin and Stalin, and their 
faceless henchmen who could always be depended upon to inform, to persecute, 
to tap telephones, to make midnight arrests, to run labor camps, to murder 
millions. Yet she is candid regarding how such horrors could have happened in 
her country. Reviewing an updated version of Robert Conquest's The Great 
Terror, an account of state crimes in the Stalinist years, Tolstaya sketches 
the process by which in Stalin's time Russian society, "intoxicated by the 
feeling that everything was allowed," first destroyed all that was "alien" 
and then, when things to destroy began to run out, turned inward and set to 
devouring itself. "Without popular support Stalin and his cannibals wouldn't 
have lasted for long. The executioner's genius expressed itself in his 
ability to feel and direct the evil forces slumbering in the people."

That was how; the question remains why. Tolstaya despairs of an answer. She 
recalls her first English teacher, a Russian immigrant who had married an 
American and, believing in the Communist dream, returned with him to Russia 
in the 1930s. Both were immediately arrested and sent to prison, where the 
husband perished. The woman had screamed at the investigator that she was not 
guilty of anything. His reply was that no one brought before him was guilty 
of anything. "But why, then?" "Just because," came the answer. Reading this, 
I recalled the great Czech scholar Eduard Goldstucker telling me that when he 
was arrested by the secret police in Prague in 1951 he inquired what charge 
was to be brought against him, to which the reply, accompanied by an ironic 
smile, was, "That is what you will tell us."

As her surname indicates, Tatyana Tolstaya comes from a literary family. She 
counts among her forebears not only the great Leo but also Alexei Tolstoy. 
Her maternal grandfather was a translator of Shakespeare, Dante, and Lope de 
Vega, and her father was a noted scholar. As Alma Guillermoprieto writes in 
her introduction to Pushkin's Children, Tolstaya's collection of essays, "the 
near-sacred family name shielded its members from terror" during the Stalin 
era, and Tatyana grew up in relative luxury in her parents' book-filled 
apartment. Still, political paranoia was as thoroughly inculcated in her as 
in any other child of those dreadful years. In "Lies I Lived," a chilling 
fragment of memoir at the end of Pushkin's Children, she recalls how when she 
was eight she was playing outside her home when an old couple approached her 
and asked the way to the Botanical Gardens. Identifying them as surely 
belonging to the "enemies" against whom the state was constantly warning its 
citizens, she promptly sent them off in the wrong direction. As she watched 
the pair shuffle painfully away, however, enlightenment burst upon her.

I felt an acute surge of shame. Suddenly, in one overwhelming moment--a 
moment I shall never forget--the truth was revealed to me. This was knowledge 
that comes in an instant, without words; complete knowledge, clear, 
indisputable, the kind of moral knowledge that requires no questions or 
explanations, the kind of knowledge that transforms an ape into a human 
being... And at that moment, burning with shame, I swore a silent oath: Never.

In Pushkin's Children, Tolstaya excoriates her fellow countrymen for their 
"blind, superstitious belief in the spoken, and especially in the written, 
word." In the title essay, however, a compressed but brilliant account of the 
effects of the fall of communism on Russian literature and its readers, she 
observes that after 1989 "the word, which had seemed unique and rare, was 
published in editions of millions and lost its magical qualities. The reader, 
elated at first, was eventually overwhelmed and then disappointed... 
Everything was lost, everything was desacralized in one fell swoop." One 
wonders if Pushkin himself has suffered under this process of 
desacralization, that Pushkin for whom "after his death admiration ... grew 
and grew until he himself became, for many Russians, God, tsar, and the 
People, an idol, an icon, holy writ." Tolstaya reveres Pushkin precisely 
because he stood above the "flat, pragmatic point of view" of the majority of 
Russian writers before and after him, who saw themselves as oracles and who 
"used the power of their words to address the most important social and 
political problems of their day."

In The Slynx, a fiction set in a dystopic future, Pushkin has become the idol 
of the tribe, "our be all and end all"; carved wooden "pushkins" are set up 
at doorposts and crossroads, and at the end of the book a tribal elder, 
condemned to the pyre, is tied aloft to one of these totems as the flames 
leap under him. In the introduction to Pushkin's Children, Guillermoprieto 
remarks, with somewhat shaky grammar, that "although Tolstaya comes down 
squarely on the side of creative freedom, it is as a chronicler of political 
events that her own words catch fire." This is faint praise for a writer who 
has produced two previous works of fiction and, simultaneously with Pushkin's 
Children, her first novel. The books are certainly a pair, each helping to 
elucidate the other.

The Slynx is a difficult work to categorize. The jacket blurb calls it a 
"rollicking satirical novel," but while it certainly does rollick, and there 
is a lot of obvious satire, this description seems both inadequate and 
overblown. The book is set at an uncertain point in the future, a couple of 
hundred years after "the Blast," when Russia has entered a new Dark Ages. The 
wheel has been re-invented, mice are the chief source of food and clothing 
and candle wax, and a dwarf czar called "Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe" is in 
power. Things could be worse: "after all," a character remarks, "we're in the 
Neolithic period, and not some savage animal kingdom." The hero of the tale 
is a young man, Benedikt Karpich, "the late Karp Pudich's son, who was the 
son of Pud Christoforovich, who was the son of Christopher Matveich, and 
whose son that Matvei was and where from--we can't remember, it's been lost 
in the gloom of time."

Benedikt is a vigorous chap, none too bright, remarkable only for a consuming 
obsession with books; Dostoevsky would have recognized him, and Tolstaya's 
greatgranduncle would have preached him a sermon. He lives in the town of 
Fyodor-Kuzmichsk--yes, confusingly named, it would seem, after the undersized 
czar, or vice versa--around which are "boundless fields, unknown lands. To 
the north are deep forests, full of storm-felled trees, the branches so 
twisted you can't get through." In these forests lives the fabled Slynx, 
which "sits on dark branches and howls a wild, sad howl....If you wander into 
the forest it jumps on your neck from behind: hop! It grabs your spine in its 
teeth--crunch--and picks out the main vein with its claw and breaks it. All 
the reason runs right out of you. If you come back, you're never the same 

The Blast has created genetic chaos among the people, or Golubchiks--there is 
a rather perfunctory glossary at the beginning of the book--who display 
grotesque Consequences: one character has ears under his armpits, another has 
grown cock's combs all over her body, while Benedikt has, for a time at 
least, a little tail. The Consequence for some who survived the Blast, the 
Oldeners, is that they are still alive, centenarians many times over. Nikita 
Ivanich, the Head Stoker, is an Oldener, and not only is he seemingly 
immortal, he is also a sort of human dragon who can breathe blasts of 
flame--a handy knack, as it happens, for his job is to keep the town's stoves 

Benedikt marries into the family of Kudeyar Kudeyarich, the chief Saniturion 
of Fyodor-Kuzmichsk. Kudeyar, his wife, and his daughter Olenka, Benedikt's 
bride, all have claws on their feet, and incessantly scrape the floors--one 
of the more grisly leitmotifs of the novel is the little woolly piles of wood 
shavings that the Kudeyariches leave all over the house. We are not told 
exactly what a Saniturion does, and it is probably better that we do not 
know, but Kudeyarich's tasks include winkling illicit books out of the more 
literate inhabitants of the town. Kudeyarich enlists Benedikt as his 
lieutenant in this task, supplying him with a useful and deadly double-sided 
hook meant to be used to snag books and haul them out of their hiding places, 
but which inevitably ends up gutting more than one resistant book-lover. In 
the end, Kudeyarich and Benedikt together stage a comical, messy, and 
murderous coup and set up a farcical people's state, with Kudeyarich as 
leader and Benedikt the deputy for marine and oceanic defense. The Bright 
Past has come again.

It is impossible to communicate adequately the richness, the exuberance, and 
the horrid inventiveness of this book. It must have been a nightmare to 
translate, and Jamey Gambrell has done a heroic job. Since the Blast, the 
Russian language has been in a process of decay, and in the translation a 
kind of Jabberwocky patters throughout the narrative: mushrooms have become 
marshrooms, worms are worrums, and the Renaissance has deliquesced into 
runnysauce. Scraps of poetry are strewn through the pages, everything from 
Lermontov and (of course) Pushkin to Russian nonsense verse and Schiller's 
"Ode to Joy."

Despite all the energy and all the excitement, however, The Slynx is hard to 
love. As in most allegorical and futuristic novels, including 1984 and Brave 
New World, the characters are robbed of substance by the bizarreries amongst 
which they must move and conduct their fitful lives. We simply do not care 
enough about these unfortunates, maimed and malformed as they are. Even 
Benedikt engages neither our full sympathy nor our full reprehension. As for 
the satire, one is required to be familiar with more than any Westerner could 
possibly know about the minutiae of Russian history and contemporary Russian 
life. Consider this exchange:

"You sing so well!" said Nikita Ivanich comfortingly. "Did you study or is it 
just natural? Does it run in your family?"

"Probably ... Papa was a dentist," sniffed Lev Lvovich one last time. "And on 
my mother's side I'm from the Kuban."

Yes, one gets the hoary old gag about the dentist--but the Kuban?

Reading The Slynx is rather like finding oneself attending a theatrical 
performance in a foreign city where one knows the language but simply cannot 
get the jokes or the slang or the references. There are pages in Tatyana 
Tolstaya's novel that no doubt will have them splitting their sides in Moscow 
and St. Petersburg, but they will leave the Western reader glum and 
stony-faced, wondering what all the laughter is about.


BusinessWeek Online
March 3, 2003
Russia: Playing Catch-Up in Tech 
By Olga Kharif in Portland, Ore. 

Striving hard to shuck the communist era, it's proving to be worth the 
still-considerable risks for growth-starved U.S. tech outfits 
When microprocessor king Intel (INTC ) arrived in Russia 12 years ago, it was 
a different country -- literally. Then a part of the former Soviet Union, 
Russia was a high-tech desert. Even today, after a decade of selling by Intel 
and other tech companies, fewer than 10% of Russian households have a PC. 
Says Steve Chase, president of Intel Russia: "We started with no market." 

The world's largest chipmaker is glad it persevered. Russia, pedaling hard to 
catch up with the West, is now Intel's fastest-growing market -- as it is for 
many other tech companies worldwide. In part, that's because Russia isn't 
enduring the same economic slump the U.S. is now going through. For the past 
four years, in fact, Russia's economy has grown at an average annual rate of 
5%. Much of the boost is thanks to sky-high prices for its exported oil and 
gas, which account for one-third of gross domestic product. Under President 
Vladimir Putin, Russia has become relatively stable politically. And monthly 
per capita income has risen 29.5% in just the past year, to $154.50. 

FEW HOMEGROWN PLAYERS. All of that has contributed to the country's thirst 
for the latest information technology -- from hardware to software, from 
telecom equipment to tech services. "After all the macroeconomic and 
political changes of the past decade, the infrastructure of this country is 
finally being formed," says Sergei Tarasov, head of server seller Sun 
Microsystems' (SUNW ) operations in the former Soviet Union. Still, many 
basic tech products, such as superservers, printers, and other computer 
peripherals, aren't produced domestically, points out Mikhail Novikov, an 
analyst with tech consultancy IDC Russia in Moscow. Neither is telecom 
equipment for either wireless or landline phone networks. 

An increasing number of foreign suppliers -- such as Sun, computing 
powerhouse IBM (IBM ), PC maker Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ), and imaging company 
Xerox (XRX ) -- are happy to fill in the gap. "In Russia, the technology 
business is pretty clean, compared to some other [businesses]," says Esther 
Dyson, chairman of EDventure Holdings, a New York venture-capital firm that 
has invested in Russian tech companies since the mid-1990s. The rewards have 
proven to be worth a little risk. In the past year, software giant 
Microsoft's (MSFT ) sales in Russia have grown 80%, while Sun's have doubled 
over the last two years. Both cite their Russian divisions as their best 
performers companywide in 2002. 

That could be just the beginning. Russia's technology market should grow 12%, 
to $5.1 billion, this year, according to IDC. Tech pioneers that entered 
Russia a decade ago and persevered through the political turbulence of the 
1990s and the ruble's August, 1998, meltdown will benefit handsomely. But 
newcomers also have plenty of opportunity -- particularly those that sell 
enterprise resource-planning (ERP) software, network hardware, and wireless 
networking equipment. 

OPEN WINDOW. ERP software, which puts a company's entire operations at 
executives' fingertips, looks poised for explosive growth. More Russian 
companies are looking to raise money by floating bonds on the European market 
or attracting foreign investment. To do that, they have to achieve 
operational and financial transparency, says Alexander Bloch, senior 
vice-president and chief information officer at Tyumen Oil. Russian's 
second-largest petroleum company in terms of crude-oil reserves, Tyumen began 
installing SAP's (SAP ) ERP software in early 2001. 

The resulting efficiencies and window into its operations helped Tyumen float 
a $400 million Eurobond issue this past January. Those were also major 
factors in British Petroleum's (BP ) Feb. 11 decision to merge its operations 
in the former Soviet Union with those of Tyumen Oil's parent companies, ALFA 
Group and Access-Renova, Bloch says. 

Changes in government regulations should encourage further proliferation of 
ERP software. In 2002, Russia began implementing Putin's nine-year, $2.5 
billion Electronic Russia initiative, designed to connect schools and 
government agencies to the Internet. ERP will come in handy for managing vast 
amounts of data that will be put on the Web for that project, asserts Laurie 
Doyle Kelly, a vice-president at SAP, which has been selling its software in 
Russia for 11 years. Also, Russia is starting to mandate car insurance, which 
is likely to encourage more financial-services companies to use ERP for 
managing huge amounts of customer data, says Kelly. That should be good news 
for SAP, Oracle (ORCL ), and smaller ERP suppliers. 

TEACHING TEACHERS. The hardware revolution in Russia will likely accelerate, 
too, as tech companies come up with inventive ways to sell to a population 
whose incomes are much lower than in the West. Intel may have found a 
solution. Last November and December, it ran pilot tests in Moscow and St. 
Petersburg in which participants could buy computers with down payments -- 
the way Americans buy cars. One program called for a down payment of $99 and 
the other $199, says Chase. The PCs with an initial payment of $99 sold out, 
so Intel plans to expand the test to 10 cities this year. 

Educating Russia's population to be tech-savvier will also help foster 
industry growth. Last year, Intel implemented its "Teach to the Future" 
program, which trained 7,000 Russian teachers in using computers and the Web. 
This year, it plans to train 20,000 teachers, Chase says. Intel is also 
creating four labs in Russian universities to familiarize students with its 
technology. Microsoft offers a variety of courses for engineers at companies 
that buy its technology. And HP has become a favorite of many local 
businesses because, unlike some outfits that offer tech support only in major 
cities, HP offers it regionally. 

Hardware manufacturers also are benefiting from the Westernization of 
Russia's distribution system. Previously, a PC maker had to go to Moscow or 
St. Petersburg to buy a load of computer components, then get them on a plane 
and guard them so they wouldn't get stolen before reaching the assembly 
plant. But in the past year, distributors have begun setting up regional 
warehouses and arranging secure transportation. "The market is becoming more 
civilized," says Chase. 

Remote distribution of tech products pays off in higher orders: Unit imports 
of servers grew 80% last year, according to IDC Russia. And while local 
computer assemblers still control about 80% of the PC market, Dell (DELL ), 
HP, and IBM are grabbing bigger shares. 

EUROPE'S STANDARD. Telecom equipment is yet another good market for Western 
companies. Mobile-communications gear is among the most in demand in Russia 
today, says Simon Baker, an analyst with IDC Russia. In large cities such as 
Moscow and St. Petersburg, cell-phone use is nearly as prevalent as in, say, 
New York, and now regional wireless networks are being built -- fast. 

Last year, Russians bought 1 million wireless phones a month. But U.S. 
gearmakers will have a hard time competing in this market, as Russia has 
adapted Europe's wireless networking standard, which only one U.S. mobile 
carrier uses. That's an opportunity for equipment makers such as Ericsson 
(ERICY ) and phone manufacturer Nokia (NOK ), says Baker. Already, Ericsson 
is building the wireless network of one of Russia's leading carriers, 

That also represents opportunity for IT infrastructure companies like Sun, 
whose telecom-related business is its fastest-growing in Russia, according to 
Sun's Tarasov. He says high-end and midrange servers are flying off the 
shelves as Russia's wireless service providers expand their networks. 

PIRACY PERSISTS. Technology services are more of a slog for U.S. companies, 
even though Russia's highly skilled engineers aren't particularly adept at 
integrating imported products into big networks, says Alex Freedland, 
chairman and CEO of Mirantis. The Foster City (Calif.) outfit has helped 
companies such as HP and storage maker Veritas (VRTS ) set up operations in 
Russia. So far, most global services companies have met with only limited 
success in Russia, he adds. "It's difficult for a Western consultant to 
convince Russian people to change their business practices," he explains. 
Established global players would likely benefit from buying Russian 
consulting companies, he suggests. 

Some vestiges of 70 years of communist rule remain, adding further 
difficulties to doing business in Russia. Software piracy, though on the 
decline, remains a huge problem. In the early- to mid-1990s, nearly all 
corporations used pirated versions of Windows operating systems. But last 
year, that figure dropped to 87%, according to the Business Software 
Alliance, a worldwide software and Internet industry association. And Russian 
police have recently been cracking down on sales of illegal software. 

Finding good salespeople is another challenge. Until the 1990s, entrepreneurs 
were considered crooks, says EDventure's Dyson. Chase points out that until 
the Russian government changes its laws to allow for easier export of 
profits, domestic production of high-tech components, such as chips, isn't 
viable. And the country's poor transportation infrastructure makes deliveries 
slow and expensive, says Sun's Tarasov. 

Still, importers are largely undaunted. "It isn't simple [to do business 
there], but it's not that complicated," says Dyson. Now that the pioneers 
have blazed the trail, it's mainly a matter of clearing a road to prosperity.