|Plain Text - Entire Issue
1. Chronicle of Higher Education: Nina Ayoub, 'All Russia Is
Burning! A Cultural History of Fire and Arson in Late Imperial Russia'
2. AP: Vote on U.S.-Russia Nuke Treaty Delayed.
3. Novaya Gazeta: Irina Gordienko, YOU HAVE THE STATE AUTOMATIC SYSTEM TOO. THE FEDERAL SECURITY SERVICE CONTROLS ELECTIONS ON ABSOLUTELY ALL LEVELS NOW.
4. Reuters: Teetotal crusaders fight to keep Russia sober.
5. Interfax: AIDS outbreak a threat to Russia's demography.
6. Kennan Institute event summary: Jumpstarting Democracy: Novgorod as a Model of Rapid Social Change in Russia. (Nicolai Petro)
7. RFE/RL: BRIEFING REPORT: Russian Activist Decries Apathy on Domestic Violence.
8. Richard Thomas: RE: 7105- Investors Toast Putin.
9. Dow Jones/AP: Russia Will Seek To Restore Peace If US Attacks Iraq.
10. Boston Globe: Cathy Young, America's unsavory alliances. (re views of Vladimir Bukovsky and Elena Bonner)
11. Izvestia: Nikolai Zlobin, Russian Reaction, Hold the Hysteria.
12. Moscow Times: Andrei Piontkovsky, President in Bad Company?
13. Reuters: Rebel leader tells Chechens to reject Moscow plan.
14. Moscow Times: Simon Saradzhyan, Steps Called Too Little, Too Late. (re Chechynya)
15. Washington Times: Roger Fontaine, Story of a Chechen rebel. (re Nicholas Griffin's Cauasus: Mountain Men and Holy Wars)
16. St. Petersburg Times: Igor Leshukov, In Case You Missed It...the EU Is Offering a New Deal.
17. Peter Lavelle: Untimely Thoughts.
18. Transitions Online: Sam Greene, Fatal Heritage. In the second volume of his study of Russian-Jewish coexistence, Solzhenitsyn approaches the subject not as
a narrative but as a conversation.
19. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace meeting summary: Prospects for India-Russia Security Relations.
Chronicle of Higher Education
March 21, 2003
'All Russia Is Burning! A Cultural History of Fire and Arson in Late
By NINA C. AYOUB
One night in rural Russia in the waning decades of czarist rule, some
villagers torched their new priest. He had been warned. His fees for parish
services were too high, the peasants told him. The young Orthodox cleric
insulted his flock and ignored their threats, which escalated to the
burning of some outbuildings around his home. Then, with a rapidness that
implied kerosene, his house was incinerated. The priest, his wife, two
children, and a servant all perished.
After the fire, the villagers closed ranks, and no one identified the
culprits, says Cathy A. Frierson in All Russia Is Burning! A Cultural
History of Fire and Arson in Late Imperial Russia (University of Washington
Press). The story is brutal but not anomalous. Long before the spark of
revolution, readers learn, rural Russia was in flames.
Fire was more of a constant than famine, writes the author, a professor of
history at the University of New Hampshire. Blazes of both accident and
intent plagued the countryside. For educated Russians bent on modernity,
she contends, the "rural fire culture" symbolized a backward nation of
malevolent and negligent peasants. But the damage to the motherland was
more than symbolic.
In the era covered, 1860 to 1904, fires destroyed nearly three-billion
rubles worth of property, almost all in rural areas. Educated Russians
responded with insurance schemes, new plans and building materials for
villages, and the creation of volunteer fire brigades. "Russia is burning,"
said Prince L'vov, a brigade founder, "and she needs rational assistance."
Russian peasants also sought control over fire, at the hearth, in the
fields, in their healing and spiritual practices, and, disturbingly,
Scholars, Ms. Frierson writes, have tended to focus on incidents of arson
aimed at the gentry, dress rehearsals of a kind for the 1905 and 1917
revolutions. They have neglected, she says, the far more common event of
peasant-to-peasant aggression or attacks on outsiders within, like the
priest. "Loosing the red rooster," as arson was called, represents a form
of "peasant agency that diverges from categories of class or resistance.
Instead, it reveals a "Hobbes-ian world of unconstrained envy, rebuke, and
retribution in which peasants acted against their fellows, often for most
Vote on U.S.-Russia Nuke Treaty Delayed
March 18, 2003
By MARA D. BELLABY
MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's lower house of parliament on Tuesday decided to
indefinitely put off a vote on ratification of a U.S.-Russia nuclear arms
treaty because of the U.S. threat of war against Iraq.
The treaty, agreed to last May by Russian President Vladimir Putin and
President Bush, calls on both nations to cut their strategic nuclear
arsenals by about two-thirds, to 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads, by 2012.
``After yesterday's statement by the president of the United States, and in
conditions of massive pressure by the U.S. administration on the world
community, a decision to postpone the ratification was taken,'' said Sergei
Shishkaryov, the deputy chairman of the international affairs committee in
the lower house, or State Duma.
``We consider ratification very important, but now this step is not
Russia has called for a peaceful resolution to the Iraq crisis and oppose
U.S. plans for military action.
Russian lawmakers had planned to submit the treaty to the full Duma for a
vote on Friday. The decision Tuesday by the Duma Council, which sets the
agenda for the legislature, did not include a new date, and Shishkaryov
said the council would take up the matter again only in April.
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the treaty earlier this week, a move
that was widely seen as part of the U.S. diplomatic effort to win Russian
support for a tougher line against Iraq.
Russia has long argued for Iraq to be disarmed solely through diplomatic
pressure. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday condemned military
action against Iraq, warning that war would be a mistake that could imperil
The Kremlin had earlier made clear that it would not approve a U.S.-backed
resolution in the U.N. Security Council that would open the way to military
conflict. U.S. President George W. Bush withdrew the resolution on Monday,
and gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war.
March 17, 2003
YOU HAVE THE STATE AUTOMATIC SYSTEM TOO
THE FEDERAL SECURITY SERVICE CONTROLS ELECTIONS ON ABSOLUTELY ALL LEVELS NOW
Author: Irina Gordienko
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
CONTROL OVER THE STATE AUTOMATIC SYSTEM HANDED OVER TO THE FEDERAL
The president ordered reorganization of security structures
setting every tongue in the country waging over whom will control what
now. Speculations on the future of the border guards and tax policemen
completely overshadowed the fact that the Federal Security Service
controls elections on absolutely all levels now. The State Automatic
System was handed over to the secret service. Why not to the Central
The State Automatic System was designed to sum up preliminary
results of elections. Moreover, the system calculates the outcome of
the election when the first data is absorbed and digested. Its
database includes information on 104 million potential voters.
The system is not supposed to affect the outcome. Local
commissions still count the bulletins in the presence of observers. On
the other hand, the sending of protocols and bulletins to Moscow where
they are to be processed again takes weeks. That is why all data is
put on monitors and displays. Press Enter and it is uploaded to
Central Election Commission Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov.
The winner is the man officially named by Veshnyakov the
The system did not have an official status at first. General
public knew little if anything about the system as such or about who
controlled it and how.
This state of affairs generated a myth about a classified system
with colossal capacities and about how the outcome depends on the
moods (or preferences) of the man in front of the monitor at the given
The decision was eventually made to legalize the system to
clarify matters some. Unfortunately, even adoption of the law "On the
State Automatic System" failed to clarify matters.
Dmitry Orlov, Assistant Director of the Political Technologies
Center, says that the Central Election Commission only in theory
controls the State Automatic System. As a matter of fact, the Central
Election Commission is just a major corporative user. All technical
control over data was executed by special structures of the Federal
Agency for Government Communications and Information. In other words,
Veshnyakov received information from the Bolshoi Kiselny Pereulok in
Moscow and not directly from the regions.
Even the concept of the system was devised somewhere in the
Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information.
Sources in the PR department of the Central Election Commission
say that abolition of the Federal Agency for Government Communications
and Information left "everything suspended". Since the system itself
is "vital" for elections anywhere in the Russian Federation, however,
officials of the PR department are confident that the president will
sign a special decree in the near future. But why? To all appearances,
one secret service replaces another and that is that. There is more to
it, however, than meets the eye. The Federal Agency for Government
Communications and Information gave way to the Federal Security
Service, the major secret service in the country, in the situation
when it is on its way to becoming the only secret service in the
country controlling absolutely everything, the State Automatic System
The situation is further complicated by the fact that the work of
the State Automatic System is not to be accessed by outsiders.
"Nobody publishes any data," said Alexander Firsov, Assistant
Director of the Institute of Electoral Systems Development. "The
diagrams posted in Internet are really a laugh. Much too shallow, they
do not give the true picture, and there is nothing to be done to check
out their validity. Hence all the opportunities for mischief from the
banal offer of "empty bulletins" (after all, 99% of observers get only
copies of bulletins) to brilliant ones like establishment of virtual
polling stations. And results of this mischief affect the outcome on
the federal level."
The State Automatic System is the most powerful and the youngest
software. Along with data on age and address, it includes information
on voters' marital status and jobs. Nobody knows what else it
includes. A Russian voter can get acquainted with his folder only at
electoral commissions and not always at that.
For the time being, specialists say, the system resembles a black
box - input the data and get the results. A man comes in and leaves as
a deputy. Control over transformation is in the hands of the Federal
Security Service gaining prominence in the country. The problem is,
there is no chance at all to check the process.
(Translated by A. Ignatkin)
FEATURE-Teetotal crusaders fight to keep Russia sober
By Clara Ferreira-Marques
MOSCOW, March 18 (Reuters) - "Drink is the joy of Russians!" Prince
Vladimir is said to have cried in the 10th century when he rejected
teetotal Islam as a national religion for Russia.
The Russian Orthodox Church later canonised him.
Russia is still paying the price for his choice, with recent estimates
calculating that one in every seven Russians is an alcoholic. Male life
expectancy has sunk to under 60.
But in a cramped two-room Moscow apartment, a handful of temperance
activists is still fighting to keep Russia sober.
"People are dying. This country is dying," said Oleg Novikov of the
All-Russian Society for Temperance and Health.
The government, even under health-conscious President Vladimir Putin, has
steered clear of any policies that would smack of hugely unpopular
"Drunkenness is just the tip of the iceberg. Many, many more problems
with it -- abandoned children, domestic violence," said Novikov, who heads
the Society's health programmes.
According to Nikolai Gerasimenko, head of a parliamentary committee on
health and sport, Russians drink some 15 litres of pure alcohol a year.
Germans drink nine.
Alcohol is readily available at kiosks dotting Moscow streets, many open
around the clock, with litres of vodka costing the equivalent of just over
$1. Commuters often clutch bottles of beer as they make their way into work
in the morning.
"We are at more than double the "civilised" norm,"
Gerasimenko wrote in a
recent newspaper article. "According to the World Health Organisation, if
the level is above eight litres then it is already dangerous for the nation."
HATED ANTI-ALCOHOL DRIVE
The All-Russian Society for Temperance and Health, founded during Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reviled anti-alcohol campaign in the mid-1980s,
once counted its members in millions. Local branches were given lavish
offices in Russia's provinces.
Every worker was forced to join the movement in a campaign which saw
officials rip up vineyards in now ex-Soviet Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine
and slash vodka production.
"Generals, the highest-ranking people in the Communist Party joined.
the police, though of course they were secretly still drinking," said
Novikov, a psychiatrist.
Vladimir Yarigin, a factory worker twice decorated as a Hero of Socialist
Labour, was chosen to head the organisation.
Now, only a handful of dedicated and unpaid volunteers keep the society
afloat. Its Moscow offices, which once occupied the entire floor of a
well-appointed building, have since moved to two rooms with peeling
wallpaper at the back of a block rented out by travel agents.
"They stopped paying us and started laughing at us instead," Novikov said.
Yarigin, now 67, spends one morning a week at the Society's offices, in his
time off from the plant where he still works. All other
government-sponsored officials have long left.
The final blow for the Society's activities, mainly medical campaigns and
information drives, came with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, famous for
his love of the national drink.
"When Yeltsin came along they stopped talking about the national alcohol
problem," Novikov said. "Instead, the opposition just wanted us to diagnose
him as an alcoholic."
Yeltsin spent long spells in hospital during his presidency and once
famously failed to get off his plane at Shannon airport, leaving the Irish
president waiting on the tarmac.
Gorbachev's anti-alcohol policies were among the greatest failures of the
perestroika period and remain one of the reasons for his lasting
unpopularity in Russia.
The campaign, which lasted less than two years, sank public finances
heavily dependent on alcohol excise taxes and fuelled widespread
discontent. Sugar, an essential ingredient for samogon or Russian
moonshine, disappeared from market stalls.
The director of Ukraine's Magarach Wine-Making Institute in Crimea hanged
himself rather than carry out the Kremlin's directives to destroy his
Jokes about Gorbachev's policies abounded.
In one, a man queued for vodka for several hours before, exasperated,
deciding it would be easier to shoot Gorbachev. He marched off to the
Kremlin, but returned minutes later. The queue to shoot Gorbachev, he
complained, was even longer.
But during the brief campaign Russia's life expectancy rose for the first
time since the 1960s -- to 65.
That figure has since plummeted. Now, according to official statistics,
male life expectancy is below 59.
Alcohol-related deaths, many fuelled by financial despair, reach into the
tens of thousands every year.
"In Russia, the government always prefers to let people drink rather
have a revolution," said Konstantin, a volunteer adviser at Alcoholics
Anonymous. "Each time we have prohibition, we have social upheaval -- under
the Tsar, under Gorbachev."
But while the funds have dried up, Russian sobriety campaigners still have
work to do.
"The main problem is the lack of information," Konstantin said.
medicine ignores the problem and there are too many people proposing quack
cures. I always ask, if you can cure it, where is your Nobel prize?"
Yarigin says the organisation would need only a tiny fraction of government
revenues from alcohol -- no longer as high as they were under the Soviet
period, when there was a government monopoly on alcohol sales.
"Now, we ask only for one percent of their alcohol revenues to fund an
awareness campaign," Yarigin said.
But, activists say, the government is not forthcoming.
"They cannot close us down. That would be an embarrassment, Novikov
"But if we shut down tomorrow, no one would care."
AIDS outbreak a threat to Russia's demography
MOSCOW. March 18 (Interfax) - Moscow will play host to an international
scientific conference, "AIDS in Russia: Trends, Facts, Consequences," on
The conference is sponsored by the Russian Center for AIDS Prevention
and the Center of Demography and Human Ecology of the Russian Academy of
Vadim Pokrovsky, director of the Center for AIDS Prevention, told
Interfax that this conference is being convened at a time "when the AIDS
epidemic in the country has reached such a level and has assumed such a
nature that it practically poses a threat to the demographic situation in
Russia, a country with a low birth rate."
There are 232,258 officially registered HIV-infected cases, which means
that the actual number of people with the immune-deficiency virus stands at
about one million.
Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg lead in the number of HIV cases
(with about 20,000 HIV-infected people in each city). However, even in
smaller cities, such as Tolyatti, Orenburg, Norilsk and Irkutsk, one
percent of the population (every hundredth citizen) is infected with HIV.
"These levels are higher than in both the United States and Europe. We
"overtook" them long ago and are now "catching up with Africa," Pokrovsky
Jumpstarting Democracy: Novgorod as a Model of Rapid Social Change in Russia
March 10, 2003
In a recent seminar at the Kennan Institute, Nicolai Petro, a Professor of
Political Science, University of Rhode Island, discussed the key elements
of what he sees as a successful implementation of social change in the
Russian region of Novgorod. According to Petro, “democracy can take root at
the regional level in the most unexpected places.” He described Novgorod’s
successful democratic consolidation according to three standards commonly
used in measuring democratic transition: the creation of a new
constitutional order; a clear level of economic prosperity; and an increase
in the level of voluntary associations (civil society).
Petro stated that the first component of Novgorod’s democratic
consolidation has been the successful creation of a new constitutional
order. He stressed that in this new framework there is an emphasis on
creating a local legal infrastructure for self-government. Petro explained
that Novgorod was one of the first regions to adopt laws establishing local
government, which resulted in the first popular gubernatorial election in
According to Petro, a second constitutional innovation is the designation
of municipal or district heads as heads of the local government. This
fusion of the executive and legislative responsibilities , along with a
redistricting scheme that has created electoral districts that overlap
several municipal districts , creates “overlapping constituencies” that
force officials to take a broader view of their political responsibilities.
Another consequence of the semi-legislative system is to alter the
financial management within the region. Petro stated that, “shifting
financial responsibility has been a revolutionary transformation” which has
resulted in an increase of pressure on local leaders to become more
effective managers, and provided financing for important reforms, while
allowing a degree a stability that is “the envy of other regions.”
Petro attributed Novgorod’s economic success to what he called “Novgorod’s
New Economic Policy.” He explained that the combination of tax deferments,
administrative help in reducing bureaucratic red tape, and the nation’s
most binding legal guarantees have proved successful in attracting foreign
direct investment to the region. Petro noted that as a result of this, from
1995-98 Novgorod’s gross domestic product annually rose by 3.8 percent
while Russia’s fell 2.7 percent. He explained that one major difference
between the foreign direct investment in Novgorod versus investment in
Russia was that tax incentives were only offered to companies that were
willing pay the upfront costs of production. As a result, the region has
enjoyed an influx of wealth with nearly three-quarters of taxes being paid
in cash, which means pension funds and social payments are made on time.
Petro noted several trends in the region’s development of civil society. He
explained how regional leaders successfully used cultural symbols to
increase voluntary association among citizens. According to Petro,
“theories of democratic development are hard pressed to explain the change
at the regional level, because researchers do not focus enough attention on
the influence of culture on transition.”
Petro concluded by offering four implications of the Novgorod model. First,
economic and political reforms are closely tied to a revitalized sense of
identity. Second, local governments and elites can shape values and
priorities for their communities, even in the absence of national
consensus. Third, ignoring local cultural patterns increases social
tensions and undermines the prospect of democratization. Finally, the
proper sequencing of foreign assistance is vital to economic success.
Novgorod created a receptive cultural environment before it pursued
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003
Subject: BRIEFING REPORT:Russian Activist Decries Apathy on Domestic
(Washington, DC--March 14, 2003) Domestic violence, particularly against
persists in Russia
because society condones it and it is "almost impossible" to defend the
human rights of women, according to a community leader working in the
Elena Schitova, Executive Director of the Women's Alliance in
Barnaul, Russia (Altai and Siberian regions), told an RFE/RL audience last
week that domestic violence against women continues unabated, and that
between 12,000 and 14, 000 women each year are killed by their spouses or
companions -- in other words, a woman in the Russian Federation is killed
by her husband or partner every 40 seconds.
Schitova said that strong stereotypes which blame women for
provoking domestic violence also blame social activists like Schitova for
"[bringing] this problem [to Russia] from the West." Local and national
newspapers and media perpetuate myths surrounding domestic violence,
according to Schitova, and rarely acknowledge that domestic violence as
such is a societal problem.
Schitova and the volunteers of her NGO, the Women's Alliance,
focus on intervention in cases of domestic violence, providing counseling
and implementing education programs for the police, judicial authorities,
defense lawyers and the general public. Schitova's group also runs the
Women's Crisis Center in Barnaul, but find it difficult to fund a true
homeless shelter for abused women and children. Schitova said only five or
six shelters for abused women exist throughout the entire Russian
Amnesty International USA is assisting the Women's Alliance and
others working to protect women in Russia from domestic violence. Amnesty
has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to set up a national plan
to combat violence against women that would include supporting NGO crisis
centers, establishing shelters for women and their children, and launching
a public awareness campaign.
From: Richard Thomas <Thomas@aton.ru>
Subject: RE: 7105- Investors Toast Putin
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2003
A brief comment on "Investors Toast Putin in New York" By Boris
reprinted from the Moscow Times in 7105:
William Browder's remarks about credit agency reactions in response to
Helena Hessel's very justifiable skepticism may have been coy, in some way,
but they undermined nothing. He might also, and with equal incisiveness,
have pointed out that after throwing many billions into the Russian economic
toilet, the IMF finally resolved to, well... stop doing that. Live and
learn? His comment may have said something useful about the quality of
credit agency response, but it said nothing about the advisability of
investing in Russia.
At the moment, there is definitely something going on in Russia that looks,
to some extent, like movement in the direction of improved "ownership rights
and debt servicing, and reforms necessary to encourage investor confidence."
How deep any of this runs remains to be seen. It would be inaccuarate (not
to mention foolish) to deny that very significant business, tax, country and
legal risks remain, that foreign investors still get kicked around every
day, and that the whole thing remains largely what it has been from the
beginning: a game of roulette, where the house keeps its foot on the pedal.
There will be winners, but...
BP has come driving back in after getting kicked around as hard as anyone,
and that's very interesting, perhaps even encouraging. We'll see how that
one looks in 4-5 years. Caterpillar, to pick one on a different scale, has
been slugging it out in Russia for many years, knows how to do business here
on the inside, and is making steady headway. Still, the day-to-day inner
workings of Russian business and the nature of the business culture have
changed very little over the past decade or so. If you are investing someone
else's money in Russia, it might be in your interests to make light of that
observation. If you are investing your own money, it is not.
Russia Will Seek To Restore Peace If US Attacks Iraq
March 18, 2003
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
MOSCOW (AP)--Russia will do all it can to restore peace if the U.S.
launches a military attack against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime, a
senior Russian official said Tuesday as Russia's foreign minister prepared
to travel to New York for a foreign ministers' meeting at the U.N.
"The world, including Russia and other interested countries, must do
everything necessary to seek a path that returns the situation around Iraq
to a peaceful channel," said Oleg Chernov, deputy secretary of Russian
President Vladimir Putin's Security Council, Interfax reported.
Putin Monday condemned military action against Iraq, warning war would be a
mistake that could pose a grave risk to international security.
The Kremlin, which has long argued for Baghdad's peaceful disarmament, had
earlier made it clear that it wouldn't approve a U.S.-backed resolution in
the U.N. Security Council which would open the way to military conflict.
U.S. President George W. Bush withdrew the resolution Monday, and gave
Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war.
Saddam has remained defiant, and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, head of Russia's
Kalmykia region, was quoted as telling Interfax Tuesday from the Iraqi
capital that "neither Saddam Hussein nor his sons are planning on fleeing
Iraq and are prepared to defend their country."
Ilyumzhinov, who also heads the World Chess Federation, met with Saddam's
oldest son, Odai, Monday.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Yakovenko, said Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov was scheduled to leave for New York later Tuesday.
"In Moscow, as before, we believe that there is no basis to declare that
the political-diplomatic regulation of the situation around Iraq has no
prospects, that 'the time for diplomacy has passed'," Yakovenko told ORT
Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov told Interfax
that about 25 Russian diplomats were still working in the Russian Embassy
in Baghdad, and that the embassy was operating as normal.
"In an emergency situation, Russians who are still in Iraq, including
journalists, will leave the country either by plane or by land through
neighboring Iran or other countries," Saltanov was quoted as saying.
The Russian leader also discussed the Iraqi crisis by telephone Tuesday
with China's new president, Hu Jintao. The Kremlin's press service said the
leaders underlined "the commonality of their positions."
March 17, 2003
America's unsavory alliances
By Cathy Young
AS PRO- AND antiwar voices around the world vie for our attention, one
extraordinary statement that doesn't fall squarely on either side of the
divide comes out of Russia: an ''Open Letter to President Bush'' by
Vladimir Bukovsky and Elena Bonner. Bukovsky, a noted Soviet-era dissident,
former political prisoner, and author, and Bonner, the widow of the great
scientist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov and a prominent
activist in her own right, are both veterans of the struggle against Soviet
tyranny. They have no sympathy with the antiwar movement. Their conclusion,
from their own experience of life under a totalitarian regime, is that
military action against the rule of Saddam Hussein in Iraq is long overdue,
and that it would free the Iraqi people from brutal oppression. And yet
they pose the question: ''Why is the US government not as smart as its
weapons are? Why does it always make it so difficult to support it, even
when it fights for a just and noble cause?''
Bukovsky's and Bonner's harsh words are directed at the unsavory alliances
that they believe the United States is entering in the war against
terrorism -- and, specifically, at our new friendship with Russia.
Their letter, which appeared in the conservative Web magazine FrontPage on
March 10, has received virtually no publicity. Yet its message is worth
Bukovsky and Bonner paint a troubling picture of Russia in 2003. ''The KGB
has won,'' they write startlingly. ''After 10 years of some hesitant,
half-hearted attempts at reform, the power was handed back to them, once
again, and they were very quick to reestablish their authority throughout
They cite the crackdown on the independent media and the prosecutions of
whistleblowers who have spoken out against military abuses. They also point
to Chechnya, where, they assert, Russia is waging nothing less than a
''The danger of `partnership' with criminal regimes,'' write Bukovsky and
Bonner, ''is that they never stop until they make you an accomplice in
their crimes. Slowly but surely, the Russian rulers force their Western
partners to accept their crimes in Chechnya as a part of common struggle
Before Sept. 11, they note, criticism from the West exerted at least some
restraint on Russia's rampant abuses in Chechnya; now, even that is gone.
And the Bush administration, they say, had blacklisted Chechen groups as
''terrorist organizations'' solely on the word of the Russian security
service, the FSB (the KGB's successor).
Principles aside, Bukovsky and Bonner argue that these compromises are
buying us an untrustworthy partner. They point out that Russia is still
secretly selling military equipment to the ''axis of evil countries.'' They
are particularly appalled by British Prime Minister Tony Blair's praise for
Russia's ''vast experience in fighting terrorism.''
Actually, they point out, ''Russia, in its former incarnation as the Soviet
Union, has practically invented modern political terrorism, elevating it to
the level of state policy.'' For decades, it armed and otherwise aided
terrorist groups around the world, as well as rogue states including Iraq.
Perhaps Bukovsky and Bonner are painting too gloomy and too one-sided a
picture. They seem to disregard credible claims of the involvement of
radical Islamic terrorists, including Al Qaeda, in the struggle of the
Chechen rebels. They may exaggerate Russia's backsliding toward
Still, their concerns are firmly grounded in reality. Two days after the
publication of their letter, Putin issued decrees expanding the FSB's turf,
giving it back some of the functions of the old KGB -- overseeing border
control and protecting the security of government communications. Many saw
this as yet another step in tightening the KGB's grip on the country.
''They are re-creating the old monster,'' warned Ludmila Alexeyeva, head of
the Moscow Helsinki Group, a human rights organization.
One could argue that we can't afford to be too picky about choosing our
allies in the war against terrorism. Bukovsky and Bonner warn against such
a view, and not just on idealistic grounds.
''There is nothing more dangerous in the war of ideas than the
`realpolitik' approach which brought us so many disasters in the past,''
they write. ''After all, was not Osama bin Laden a byproduct of a similar
`marriage of convenience' at one point? Was it not true also in the case of
Saddam Hussein? . . . Will the United States ever learn this lesson, or
will it continue forever to build up new enemies while fighting present
As we appear to be headed toward war, we would do well to heed this warning.
Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine. Her column appears
regularly in the Globe.
March 18, 2003
Nikolai Zlobin: Russian Reaction, Hold the Hysteria
A View from Washington
By Nikolai Zlobin, Director of Russian and Eurasian Programs, Center for
The prominent 20th-century military theorist John Fuller once said that the
goal of war is not victory, but peace. No one doubts a US military victory
in Iraq, but many are unconvinced that it will bring peace. And yet for
this administration, the goal is not simply peace, but a new world order.
The White House is now convinced that the current, post-WWII system of
international relations is no longer able to deal with new problems.
Today's situation is akin to the immediate post-war years, when the
international community was forced to seek a new path for global relations
and international structures. Using its unprecedented political and
economical superiority, America has given her vision a world-wide scale and
made it the center of an international debate. Today's global agenda is
determined in Washington.
The White House is not very interested in the results of the UN
inspections. Disarming Iraq or controlling Iraqi oil is not the issue. The
US is beginning to build a new international system, which will revolve
around the security of America and her allies. To achieve this, the US is
willing to endure colossal economic losses and, if necessary, reject its
alliances with a number of traditional Western European partners.
The new system will be built upon the principles of defense, shying from
counterstrikes, as has been the case over the past half-century, and
leaning toward military prevention of potential threats. The war on
terrorism has shown that there is no reliable defense against it, and that
counterstrikes are meaningless since terrorists have no government
structures or armies to target and defeat, nor a president to sign the
capitulation treaties, nor an economy to embargo. To weigh the legitimacy
of the American military operation in Iraq on the scales of contemporary
international law, including the UN Charter, as suggested by Igor Ivanov,
is meaningless. International law provides no levers for pre-emptive
actions. And while Washington would like a sign of approval from the
Security Council, they don't consider it a prerequisite. The Council cannot
be expected to approve measures that would hasten its demise - it cannot be
expected to continue existing in its current form for more than a few years
longer. This, in part, forces Paris to forget its recent hypocrisy and
embrace Russia, another potential victim of reform in the UN.
Iraq is now the key to stabilizing the Persian Gulf region, which today,
according to Washington, is a direct threat to global security. America
prefers to start with Saddam Hussein, but certainly won't stop there. Kim
Chen-Il understood this, demanding written security guarantees from the
White House, which of course America cannot grant a communist regime.
The question before Moscow today on what position to take in the Security
Council, and how to respond to a US military operation in the Persian Gulf,
is not just about Iraq. Moscow must develop a position that relates to the
US strategy of deep restructuring of international relations. Even if
Moscow doesn't agree that the new security system should begin with the
disarmament of Iraq, instead of, say, Israel or Pakistan, it would be a
mistake for Russia to turn a blind eye to Washington's long-term goals in
Iraq and not extract the maximum advantage for itself.
A strategic partnership with the US, the only country ready and capable of
providing Russian security, should not be undermined because of a
disagreement over Iraq. Iraq is only the first step by the US, a step that
Russia should treat without hysteria and move on. Moscow should remain
America's partner even if it's convinced that the partner is making a
mistake in Iraq. A strategic union with America fully corresponds to
Russia's national interests on the global arena. Partners may have
differences in tactics and critique each other's mistakes, but in no way
should the US-Russia union be dependent upon the fate of a Middle East
On the other hand, Moscow should delineate its disagreements with
Washington and elaborate its stance as a strategic partner. One couldn't
say that America is ready to accept Moscow in such a role. Reports of
Russian willingness to veto the Anglo-American resolution at the Security
Council were printed in Western newspapers alongside polls that showed more
than half of Russians believing that Stalin played a positive role in the
country's history. This not only shocked US society, but also forced the
elite to consider the Russian motivation for relations with Iraq, and the
reliability of Putin's integration with the West. Russian diplomacy still
has a lot of work ahead, and disagreements about Iraq are only complicating
the task. But only in a union with the US can Russia expect to strengthen
its own security and receive a worthy role in the unfolding world order, as
well as a voice in the new international structures. To miss this chance
would be the biggest mistake in the history of post-Soviet foreign policy.
March 18, 2003
President in Bad Company?
By Andrei Piontkovsky
The preservation of a unified Euro-Atlantic community, with Russia now part
of it, is of immense importance," Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov proclaimed
in a Financial Times op-ed on Feb. 14.
Generations of Russian Westernizers and reformers, from the
comrades-in-arms of the young tsar Ivan IV to the liberals who support
President Vladimir Putin's post-9/11 foreign policy, have dreamed of
hearing Russia's foreign minister utter these very words. But the article
doesn't exactly fill you with a sense of joy and triumph, because it is
built on half-truths strung together by strained interpretations and sham
The article opens with the announcement of "a new phenomenon in world
politics, the significance of which goes beyond the Iraqi crisis." This is
how Ivanov describes the joint initiative of France, Germany and Russia to
extend the work of the UN inspectors by several months, thereby making a
military strike by the U.S. and its allies impossible.
Our foreign ministers seem to be irresistibly drawn to "new phenomena in
world politics," and most of all to strategic trilateral alliances that for
some reason they want to drag Russia into. A couple of years ago, during a
visit to Delhi, Yevgeny Primakov stunned his hosts by proposing a strategic
alliance between China, India and Russia. Needless to say, his proposal
Ivanov's vision of entente will share the same fate no matter how many
photo-ops he attends with his French and German counterparts. It will most
likely fall apart as early as this week. Once the U.S.-led strike on Iraq
gets under way, France and Germany will almost certainly want a seat at the
table when the victors divide up the spoils after the first, purely
military phase of the operation is completed. French and German warships
are already plying the waters of the Persian Gulf. All Russia will get in
exchange for ruining its relationship with the United States is the short
end of the stick.
France and Germany are playing a very complicated game with the United
States to enhance their influence and prestige and to pursue their national
interests within the real Euro-Atlantic community to which all three
countries belong, as opposed to the mythical community in which Ivanov
insists that Russia belongs. All of this maneuvering is obscured by the
obligatory rhetoric about the unwavering norms of international law, the
exclusive role of the UN, and so on. You may recall, however, that in 1999,
France and Germany, together with the United States, participated in a
military operation in Kosovo -- and back then the absence of a UN sanction
didn't seem to bother anyone.
Ivanov outstrips the French and Germans in his rhetoric because of his
enthusiasm for this latest anti-American alliance. In his op-ed piece,
Ivanov disingenuously sums up the Iraq crisis as follows: "The world
community, via the United Nations Security Council, has set itself a clear
task to find out whether Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction." The
world community has done no such thing. Every military analyst worth his
salt and every reasonably well-informed politician -- including the Russian
foreign minister, of course -- knows perfectly well that Iraq possesses
tons of chemical and biological weapons. UN Security Council Resolution
1441 -- which Russia voted for, by the way -- calls not for a determination
as to whether Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, but for the
destruction of its stockpiles of such weapons. The weapons inspectors were
not sent to find a canister of nerve gas stashed under a mattress in one of
Saddam Hussein's palaces. Their assignment was to force Iraq to account for
the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons identified by previous
inspectors before their expulsion from Iraq in 1999. Iraq refuses to comply
with this demand.
Ivanov's conscious distortion of the facts is tantamount to an expression
of support for the Iraqi dictator: "Carry on deceiving world opinion,
comrade Hussein. And we will join you." This support undermines the world
community's attempt to force Hussein to disarm peacefully using the force
of diplomatic pressure.
Peaceful disarmament is obviously preferable to war. Opponents of war have
some weighty arguments, the main one being the inevitability of civilian
casualties no matter how accurate the air strikes, no matter how "smart"
the bombs. Ivanov mentions this in his article: "Iraq would inevitably
entail mass casualties, particularly among civilians." It's nice to know
that we have such a humane foreign minister. Then again, it's too bad that
until now he hasn't noticed the tens of thousands of civilians who have
died in the war that continues to rage on Russian territory. He seems to
value Russian citizens, especially those from the "wrong" ethnic group,
rather less than he values the citizens of Iraq.
Russia's official line on Iraq has undergone appreciable change of late.
For some time, Russia played the role of mediator between the
Anglo-American and Franco-German positions. Not long ago, during a visit to
Kiev, Putin declared that if Iraq continued to flout UN Security Council
resolutions, it might be time to consider resorting to tougher measures
than diplomacy. We can only guess at the battle going on within the
president's inner circle and at the pressure that various parties are
exerting on his foreign policy course.
We do know that one idea has taken hold in the top echelons of the foreign
policy bureaucracy. It goes like this: We have made too many concessions to
the United States in recent years. We have backed down for too long. In
this election year it is more important than ever to take a strong stand in
our dealings with the United States. The image of a strong and decisive
leader will play well with the voters.
This "theory" doesn't hold water for at least three reasons.
America simply to show our mettle does not serve Russia's national
interest. The United States will remain the most powerful player on the
world stage at least for the next 10-15 years, whether we like it or not.
Russia's relationship with the United States will not be a simple one, and
it is important that we establish a set of guiding principles in advance.
These principles cannot revolve around debating how much Russia should
support or oppose America -- or, even worse, be reduced to our "elite's"
favorite pastime of trying to make trouble for the United States at every
In its current situation, with limited resources and potential security
threats in the south and east, Russia should be asking instead how it can
best put America's enormous power to use to remove those threats. This is
what happened in Afghanistan. The United States pursued its own aims in
overthrowing the Taliban, of course, but in so doing it eliminated a
serious threat to Russia's security by removing the main training ground
for Islamist radicals on the southern border of the CIS. Russia's support
for the U.S. operation in Afghanistan paved the way for improved relations
between the two countries. Saving Hussein's hide or helping Chirac realize
his vain ambitions are hardly values for which it is worth squandering
Russia's diplomatic resources.
There is at present no political reason for launching a new round of
anti-American hostility. When public opinion polls take into account
Putin's handling of specific issues -- the economy, social policy, Chechnya
-- his 70 percent approval rating drops to 40 percent or 30 percent. With
one exception, that is: Seventy percent support Putin's foreign policy. It
is the political "elite" and not the public that has been increasingly
challenging the wisdom of Putin's post-9/11 foreign policy of late.
And one last point about the president and his re-election prospects. If
you accept the argument that Russia has made unjustified concessions to the
United States and that we need to adopt a tough new stance, you must then
answer the question: Who is responsible for these concessions? If the
United States is our enemy, who allowed U.S. troops to set up bases in the
former Soviet republics of Central Asia? Who closed Russian bases in Cuba
and Vietnam? Who allowed NATO to expand eastward, and who allowed the
United States to exit the ABM Treaty? Who has undermined Russia's national
security? Interesting questions indeed at the start of an election campaign.
Andrei Piontkovsky, an independent political analyst, contributed this
comment to The Moscow Times.
Rebel leader tells Chechens to reject Moscow plan
MOSCOW, March 18 (Reuters) - Demanding full independence, Chechen rebel
leader Aslan Maskhadov on Tuesday rejected Moscow's latest offer of wider
autonomy for Chechnya linked to the outcome of a key regional referendum in
five days time.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Chechens in a televised address that
if they approved a new constitution in a referendum next Sunday, their
devastated homeland would gain a special status and broad control over
The referendum is the cornerstone of Russian peace plans in Chechnya, a
predominantly Islamic region along its southern Caucasus flank.
"For centuries our ancestors have not recognised (Russian) power, and
they are trying to force us to vote at gunpoint," Maskhadov said in remarks
quoted on separatist website kavkazcenter.com.
In the 1990s, tens of thousands were killed in a separatist war which ended
with the region's de facto independence.
But the Kremlin's forces poured back in 1999, drove then-president
Maskhadov into hiding and established nominal Russian control over
Chechnya, although they continue to lose men on a near-daily basis through
"Russia is in vain trying to force us to recognise its power over
Maskhadov said, adding that any links to Russia should be rejected.
"I appeal to all who value our long-suffering country, all who value the
honour of our nation, to all our republic's citizens to unite at this hard
time, and to openly declare that there can be no alternative to an
independent Chechen state."
The referendum is due to be followed by local elections to choose a
parliament and president for the region. Russian media reports said on
Tuesday the Kremlin might also consider an amnesty for the rebels.
March 18, 2003
Steps Called Too Little, Too Late
By Simon Saradzhyan
Moscow has closed a few checkpoints and withdrawn some troops from Chechnya
as part of what political analysts say is an effort to shore up Chechen
support ahead of next weekend's constitutional referendum.
The measures, however, will do little to sway the opinion of a war-weary
public, and the draft constitution might end up getting approved in a vote
riddled with the violations that tarnished the 1996 election of pro-Moscow
President Doku Zavgayev, analysts said.
Moscow has been busy in the weeks ahead of the March 23 vote. The
authorities have closed two checkpoints in Grozny and promised to dismantle
six more. More than 1,000 servicemen have been withdrawn from Chechnya.
Federal officials pledged to start compensating residents for destroyed
housing. And prosecutors announced that 45 servicemen are either on trial
or have been convicted of human abuses against civilians in Chechnya.
These steps are too little and too late to influence the minds of
Chechnya's 1 million residents, said Alexei Makarkin of the Center for
"Unfortunately, everything indicates that the Zavgayev election scenario
will be repeated," Makarkin said.
Zavgayev was elected president in a June 1996 vote that was described by
observing journalists as massively rigged. International observers were not
At the time, the Kremlin was eager to get its man into office in an attempt
to legitimize the unpopular administration installed by Moscow as the first
war raged on.
Zavgayev's government fell shortly afterward when rebels stormed Grozny,
and Chechnya gained de-facto independence. Rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov was
elected president in a republic-sponsored poll in 1997.
This time around, the Kremlin has invited international organizations to
monitor the vote on March 23 -- although the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe has declined to send observers, citing security concerns.
Pro-Moscow Chechen officials, whose careers rest largely on the outcome of
the referendum, insist that the vote will be held on the up-and-up.
"The possibility of rigging ... is zero," Chechen elections
Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov told Interfax on Friday.
If pro-Moscow Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov manages to get the constitution
approved without major violations being exposed or large rebel attacks, he
will be assured of Kremlin support in the republic's presidential election,
said Alexei Malashenko of the Moscow Carnegie Center.
Kadyrov himself has acknowledged that the referendum will be a key test of
his leadership and has promised that more than 90 percent of all voters
According to the Chechen elections commission, 537,000 adults have the
right to vote in Sunday's referendum, including 38,000 Russian troops and
about 65,000 refugees in Ingushetia.
The Danish Refugee Council, however, estimates that there were as many as
106,000 Chechen refugees in Ingushetia as of late last year.
Malashenko said the actual results of the poll might end up a well-guarded
secret, but they could still be valuable to federal policy-makers shaping
Moscow's policy on Chechnya. Regardless of how the votes are cast, they
could give the Kremlin a rough idea of how many people in Chechnya are
willing to maintain a dialogue with federal authorities, he said.
Abdullah Khamzayev, the Chechen lawyer representing the family of the
Chechen girl strangled by Colonel Yury Budanov, said Moscow's recent
activities surrounding Chechnya are largely missing the mark. He said the
priority for the population is not compensation for their homes but the
knowledge that their rights will not be trampled on by troops and law
enforcers in mopping-up operations.
"People should be able to go to bed feeling confident that they will
up in the same place," Khamzayev said.
March 18, 2003
Story of a Chechen rebel
By Roger Fontaine
Roger Fontaine was a member of the National Security Council staff during
the second Reagan administration.
By now it is a time-tested formula. Take an exotic location; mix in
some travel writing and history, and in a few hundred pages, the reader may
actually learn something while being entertained. Few of us can resist
A decade ago, the favorite spot to write about was the treacherous
Balkans, made even more appealing after the collapse of Marshal Tito's
Yugoslavia and the myth of postwar Balkan stability. Suddenly, old hatreds
seemed very contemporary. Judging from Nicholas Griffin's "Cauasus:
Mountain Men and Holy Wars," the Caucasus could be the early 21st century's
bid for prize travel book locale replacing the Balkans for unvarnished
In truth, and even more than communist Yugoslavia, in Joseph Stalin's
empire the Caucasus was kept away from Western eyes for decades. No one,
not even the CIA knew the fate of the region's peoples until Nikita
Khrushchev partially lifted the curtain in his 1956 secret speech. Now with
the Chechen war as a focus, the Caucasus, with its wild mixture of peoples,
religions and ethnic hatreds is a near perfect recipe to whet the appetite
of any vicarious traveler. Add oil and gas — probably lots of it — and
geostrategists will succumb to the lure of the Caucasus as well.
Nicholas Griffin cashes in on Caucasian exotica and frames his work
with alternate chapters on his wanderings through the region with a
detailed history of one Chechen rebel, Imam Shamil, who bedeviled the
mid-19th century Russian government for years. To make matters properly
complicated in the Caucasian manner, Shamil himself was not a Chechen, but
from neighboring Dagestan.
Anyone who has read Leo Tolstoy's account of Shamil's successor, Hadji
Murat, will be on familiar ground. And Mr. Griffin reminds us that the
slash-and-burn strategy of the czsars has been repeated by several
post-Soviet Russian governments — with so far about the same results. In a
fascinating parallel, which Mr. Griffin draws, the 19th-century Russian
practice of systematically destroying Chechen forests, thus depriving the
rebels of cover, is being repeated today with the systematic leveling of
Chechnya's capital, Grozny, where even the rubble was deliberately reduced
to dust — depriving Chechen snipers of any cover.
The Russian military obviously remembers the lessons of Stalingrad,
but Mr. Griffin contends they don't remember the lessons of the 19th
century. Well, perhaps. But the one thing that strikes me from both Tolstoy
and Mr. Griffin's account, the Russians eventually did prevail over Shamil
and Hadji Murat simply by outlasting them and a willingness to pay the
price. Nearly any price.
The Kremlin may have the same strategy in mind despite the deplorable
shape of Russia's armed forces and their experience in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, can anyone question the canniness of President Putin in buckling
his war against Chechnya with the American crusade (why not use that lately
unfashionable word?) against terrorism anywhere, anyplace it may show its
Still, the dirty war in the Caucasus remains an open question.
Smothering the Chechens for a while may put them in their place. But at
what cost? And for how long? The author wisely gives us no answer, but does
give us the chance to think about it as well as the U.S. role in aiding and
abetting this abattoir in the name of counter-terrorism.
As for the rest of the Caucasus, we get quick snapshots of
Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia that to the uninitiated may sound like all
the same place, but they are not. Georgia hardly makes an appearance. Its
ugly internal situation and its tense relations with Russia and the
connection to Chechnya are barely touched upon. Armenia and the Armenian
mentality are another story, however, which the author seems to understand
Mr. Griffin has a keen sense of Armenian uniqueness and why. No
matter how far and how long from Armenia, these Transcaucasus people remain
stubbornly Armenian, believing themselves, among other things, the oldest
Christians in the world. And they don't much like the Azeris who were
outfought and outclassed by the Armenians in the fight over Karabagh.
So whose claim is just in that conflict? The author is quite right.
Like a thousand similar Balkan quarrels, each side can make its claim with
equal legitimacy leaving the outsider either confused or taking sides —
with the latter the less preferable. In fact, the parallels between the
Caucasus and the Balkans are all too clear. Mix Christian — even Orthodox —
and Muslim whose histories go back centuries and who know only what it is
like to be on top or the bottom — there is no middle level — and it is a
recipe for unending conflict.
There is no assurance that the Caucasus will be any better than Bosnia.
St. Petersburg Times
March 18, 2003
In Case You Missed It...the EU Is Offering a New Deal
By Igor Leshukov
Igor Leshukov is the director of the Institute of International Affairs,
St. Petersburg, a private think tank. He contributed this comment to the
St. Petersburg Times.
THE reshuffling of Russia's security agencies and the machinations in the
UN over the looming war in Iraq monopolized the attention of the media last
week, meaning that an important development in Russia's relations with
Europe went virtually unnoticed. This is particularly unfortunate, since
this event may mark a watershed in EU-Russia cooperation and carry
significant consequences for Russia's reform process and its future in
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dismemberment of the Eastern
Bloc, the European Union has applied a clear policy of differentiation.
Central European countries and the Baltic States were quickly granted the
status of EU candidates, with the associated benefits ranging from closer
economic interaction to intensive assistance in the implementation of
reforms. The remainder of the countries in question, including Russia,
have, despite ponderous rhetoric to the contrary, been left out of the
loop, enjoying very little attention both in EU statements of its
priorities and in financial resources. Tacis was broadly touted as "an
unmatched program of technical assistance" but, in reality, it has meant a
sum of less than $1 billion in spending over the last decade, an amount
that is insignificant given Russia's size and the magnitude of the problem.
The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the EU constitutes the
main contractual framework for relations between Moscow and Brussels. It
has an attractive title, but is, basically, just a non-preferential trade
agreement that will become largely obsolete if Russia realizes its
objective of joining the WTO. Specific initiatives and issues such as the
Northern Dimension, the Energy Dialogue, the High Level Group on Common
Economic Space and talks on travel between Kaliningrad and the rest of
Russia have all been clumsy efforts to bypass the outdated framework of the
PCA. Moscow has pressed the EU to sign special agreements or to review the
PCA, but Brussels has remained reluctant, citing Russia's responsibility to
be in full compliance with the PCA while, at the same time, being aware of
the institutional nightmare involved with negotiating a new agreement with
Given this history, a document with the title "Wider Europe -
Neighborhood," which was published last Tuesday by the European Commission,
came as a surprise. While the document proposes a new framework for
relations with the all of the EU's eastern and southern neighbors,
presenting Brussels' vision of its future relationship with those countries
not included in the body's 2004 enlargement, to a large extent, Russia is
the focus. For the first time, Brussels has taken the step of making Russia
a significant offer, given the EU's traditional taboos.
The EU is offering Moscow gradual access to its market and, in principle,
agreeing to replace the existing PCA with a "Neighborhood Agreement" that
will better correspond to real needs and create a road map for Russia's
integration into Europe. The deciding condition, according to the document,
will be Russia's "concrete progress demonstrating shared values and
effective implementation of political, economic and institutional reforms,
including aligning legislation with the [European Union's set of rules and
practices]." This is the first time in EU-Russia relationship that Brussels
has offered Russia a tangible carrot. It's a pity that it has come so late.
If such an offer had been made in the 1990s, it would probably have helped
to avoid the Chechen drama and to ensure better economic performance in
But we live in the real world, where these types of "ifs" have no
In the real world, Moscow has managed to modernize the country's political
institutions without liberalizing its political life. Democracy exists at a
strictly procedural level, with the further strengthening of the
bureaucratic monopoly of power being the dominant trend. Businesses are not
successful here as a result of competition, but by a cruel game that some
analysts call "Russian chess," where administrative resources provide the
While the EU's offer seems attractive, Russia's elites know that free
cheese can only be found in a mousetrap and, for some of them, the EU
proposal is just that - an extension of EU norms and values to Russia that
would destroy the systemic foundations of the current elites in the
country, in both economic and political terms.
While it is understandable that the ruling elites might not want to go
rushing into such a trap, there is still hope. Economic growth is an
overriding priority for Russia, particularly if it hopes to maintain some
relevance in the world and social stability at home. Those who have already
accumulated significant capital are now interested in even greater
capitalization and access to broader markets. None of this can be achieved
without foreign investment and open and transparent markets. The EU is
strategically positioned in this regard and can apply significant leverage,
adding to the likelihood that the offer will be hard for Moscow to reject,
but not before there is some tough bargaining and attempts to misuse the
The European Commission is proposing to negotiate an "Action Plan"
would explicitly identify the targets for political and economic reforms
and objectives. This will be assessed annually, and the delivery of the
carrot will be linked directly to achievements in the reform process and in
Russia's alignment with the EU's template.
The final results of this process are not guaranteed. They depend on
whether the elites here feel real gains generated by compliance with EU
norms outweigh the benefits achieved through Russian chess. It will be more
compex and daring to embark on this path today than it would have been in
the 1990s but, as the saying goes, better late than never.
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003
From: Peter Lavelle <email@example.com>
Subject: Untimely Thoughts
"Untimely Thoughts" is to become a weekly e-newsletter for those
wish to receive it. The newsletter is free and will be sent out every
Friday afternoon Moscow time. Those interested in this newsletter,
please send me your email address to receive the first issue slated
for distribution on March 21.
Peter Lavelle firstname.lastname@example.org
March 12, 2003
In the second volume of his study of Russian-Jewish coexistence,
Solzhenitsyn approaches the subject not as a narrative but as a conversation.
By Sam Greene
Sam Greene has written on the Jewish community in the former Soviet Union
since 1999. He is currently based in London.
Dvesti let vmeste (Two Hundred Years Together), by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Moscow, Russky put, 2002.
When Alexander Solzhenitsyn published the first volume of Two Hundred Years
Together, his history of Russian-Jewish coexistence, he said he was trying
to bring sobriety to a topic all too often approached with overwrought
emotion. Rather than a politicized polemic, he said, his work would be an
impartial accounting of facts, leaving the reader free to draw conclusions.
He predicted controversy, but he pined for understanding.
“The history of the ‘Jewish question’ in Russia is, first and foremost,
rich,” reads the preface to the first book. “To write about it requires
listening to new voices and bringing them to the reader. But public
discourse puts you on the knife’s edge. From both sides, you can sense all
the possible, impossible, and still growing reproaches and accusations. The
feeling that has brought me through this book … is a search for all points
of mutual understanding and for all possible paths to a future cleansed of
the bitterness of the past.”
Clearly, Russia’s most famous former dissident did not get the reaction he
was looking for. When the first volume, covering the period from 1795 to
1917, was released in June 2001, critics charged that it was too slow to
criticize the excesses of the czarist regime, that Solzhenitsyn’s
monarchist and Orthodox leanings left him blind to state-sponsored
anti-Semitism, from pogroms to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Expected in a matter of months, volume two arrived in Moscow bookstores a
full year and a half later. If, however, Solzhenitsyn used that time to
reflect and revise, he is likely to be disappointed once again--the second
tome, covering the period from 1917 to 1995, looks set to arouse even more
controversy than the first.
RENEGADES AND REVOLUTIONARIES
Like the first volume, the book is an almost encyclopedic collection of
quotations and citations. Footnotes in each chapter number nearly 200. The
sources are varied, ranging from Soviet archives to the memoirs of Soviet
Jews and the pages of the Israeli press. The research is careful and
But in contrast to the earlier volume, Solzhenitsyn now approaches Soviet
Jewish history not as a narrative but as a conversation. Moving through the
chronology, the book is driven not by events but by ideas. Solzhenitsyn has
broken the “Jewish question” down into dozens of sub-questions,
and--although he initially promised to leave conclusions up to individual
readers--he makes valiant attempts to answer all of them.
To start, he takes up and debunks the refrain--often heard in the aftermath
of the Soviet Union--that Bolshevism was a Jewish phenomenon. The
revolutions, first in February 1917 and then in November, were “done by
Russian hands and Russian rashness.” Nonetheless, he explains, it was Jews
who benefited from them more than any other group, finally gaining access
to Moscow and Petrograd, as well as universities, professional guilds, and
politics. As a result--and because there was nothing in the old regime to
engender Jewish loyalty, while a non-czarist future seemed to hold great
promise--Jewish participation, at least in the February revolution, is
understandable, Solzhenitsyn writes.
But from there he goes on, for the better part of two chapters, to list the
Jews who rose to prominence among the Bolsheviks. Special attention, not
surprisingly, is reserved for Leon Trotsky, who organized the Party’s
military wing and went on to lead the Red Army in the Civil War. Trotsky,
he writes, is often cited as a prime example of how the Jews among the
Bolsheviks were not Jews at all, but “renegades” who had turned away from
their heritage. Solzhenitsyn, though, does not have much patience for that
“Trotsky himself was without doubt an internationalist,” he writes, “and
can believe his demonstrative declarations, in which he pushed away from
himself everything Jewish--but, judging by his appointments, Jewish
renegades were closer to his heart than Russian renegades.”
Question after question follow in the chapters to come. Pogroms during the
Civil War? Inexcusable, but given the link between the Jews and the
Bolsheviks, could anything else have been expected? Public anti-Semitism in
the 1920s and 1930s? Jews appeared “too successful” in claiming top Party
posts, plus they started moving to the major cities in droves, exacerbating
The book becomes more interesting--and more troublesome--when the story
moves into Solzhenitsyn’s own lifeline, starting with his chapter on the
gulag. “To the extent that it is possible to generalize,” he writes, Jews
in the gulag "lived easier than anyone else.” Jewish commandants, he wrote,
made sure Jewish inmates didn’t starve, while Jewish doctors got them off
hard labor. The psychiatric wards--which Solzhenitsyn describes as the
cushiest parts of the camps--were heavily overpopulated with Jews. For the
preponderance of Jews in the gulag bureaucracy, meanwhile, Solzhenitsyn
finds only one answer: the desire for revenge.
He runs into more minefields in the next chapter, on World War II. After a
detailed and unwavering account of the Holocaust on Soviet territory--an
important undertaking, given the paucity of Russian literature on the
subject--he condemns the reticence of both ordinary Russians and Russian
partisans to help Jews in need. He goes on to debunk the myth that Jews
were underrepresented in the Soviet army, although he argues anecdotally
that most Jews still kept far from the front, which he attributes to
“divided loyalties.” The most troubling moment in the book, however, comes
at the end of the chapter, when--as he does in every chapter--he tries to
make sense of it all. And the only explanation he can find for the
Holocaust is that it was a punishment: divine punishment for turning away
from the Torah, and earthly punishment for plunging headlong into Bolshevism.
Like the first book, meanwhile, volume two is notable for what it doesn’t
include. There are extensive lists and biographies of prominent Jewish
Party members, but hardly a mention of Jewish participation in the
avant-garde movement of the 1920s or the samizdat movement that gave
Solzhenitsyn his start. The murder on Stalin's orders of the prominent
Jewish actor Solomon Mikhoels in 1948, which convinced Soviet Jews of the
anti-Semitic nature of Stalin’s later terrors, receives no more than two
sentences. The role the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee played in raising
funds for the war effort is treated in a handful of paragraphs. The
virulent anti-Semitism that erupted during the waning days of glasnost--and
the nexus of nationalist groups like Pamyat with elements of the Russian
Orthodox Church--are also not explored. Indeed, for a book ostensibly about
Jews and Russians, Russians themselves are conspicuously absent.
Solzhenitsyn does not turn a blind eye to Soviet anti-Semitism. He blasts
both Khrushchev and Brezhnev for the Kremlin's wild anti-Zionist
campaigns--culminating in the aftermath of the Six Day War--which served to
galvanize Jewish emigration and prove once again that Jews could not feel
at home in Russia. And he has high praise for the Jews among the dissidents
of the 1970s and 1980s, although he laments that none of them seemed
willing to apologize for their brethren’s role in the revolution.
But he also has no patience for the accusations more recent Jewish writers
have made against Russia, particularly Soviet Russia. Jews and Russians, he
argues, worked together to oppress Jews, Russians, and myriad other
nations. Russians, he writes, have recognized their guilt; it is time for
Jews to do the same, and just as Russians are wrong to blame Jews for all
of their ills, so are Jews wrong to scapegoat Russians.
As Solzhenitsyn’s history draws to an end, he laments the mass Jewish
emigration, starting from the '70s through to the present day, as yet more
proof that Jews and Russians still haven’t learned to live together. Jews,
he writes, have never felt at home in Russia, even when revolution removed
the barriers they faced. He is skeptical of Zionism as a motivation here,
writing: “Soviet Jews who were able to emigrate loudly cried: ‘Let my
people go!’ That was an incomplete quote. In the Bible it reads: ‘Let my
people go, so that they may worship me in the desert’ (Exodus 5:1). But
somehow, many of those let go went not to the desert, but to bountiful
As for those Jews who have stayed, Solzhenitsyn continues to see little
hope of constructive coexistence. “The key,” he writes, “is not in the
fatalism of heritage, not in blood, not in genes, but in whose pain hits
closest to the heart: Jewish pain, or that of the core nation, among whom
one grew up?”
And for Solzhenitsyn, the answer seems clear: assimilation, such that Jews
in Russia would no longer distinguish between Jewish pain and Russian pain.
“So far, assimilation has not been very convincing,” he writes. “The
problem of assimilation remains difficult to resolve. And although from a
broad perspective the process of assimilation has gone quite far, we cannot
then conclude that the Diaspora has been dismantled.”
Indeed, that is what Solzhenitsyn sees as the answer to the Jewish
question: the disappearance of the Jewish Diaspora, the total elimination
of any distinctions between Jews and Russians, with the possible exception
of religion. “There are some bright fates, some individuals who have
assimilated in their whole being,” he writes, to end the book. “And we in
Russia welcome them with all our soul.”
It is not an answer Russian Jews are likely to accept. Many Russian Jews,
to be honest, would not even accept the question. “I don’t have a Jewish
question,” Evgeny Satanovsky, president of the Russian Jewish Congress, is
fond of saying. “I have a Russian question.” That, though, is a question to
which Solzhenitsyn does not seem to have an answer.
The reviewer read the text of the book posted at http://sila.by.ru.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Prospects for India-Russia Security Relations
On March 7, 2003, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted a
seminar by Dipankar Banerjee and Dmitri Trenin on "Prospects for
India-Russia Security Relations." Banerjee, a retired Major General in the
Indian Army, is currently a senior fellow at the United States Institute of
Peace. Trenin is deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. The session
was chaired by Andrew Kuchins, director of the Russian and Eurasian Program
at the Carnegie Endowment.
Banerjee opened the program with a brief overview of the historical context
of India-Russia cooperation. Although Jawaharlal Nehru remained wary of the
Soviet Union in the early days of the Indian state, by the mid-1950s
Pakistan's rapprochement with the United States spurred India to establish
closer relations with the USSR. This trend was confirmed in 1956 when,
during a visit to India, Nikolai Bulganin and Alexei Kosygin referred to
Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India. Formal cooperation between
India and Russia began in 1962, when the two countries agreed to a program
of military-technical cooperation, and culminated in 1971 with the signing
of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation. In spite of the
economic benefits of Indo-Soviet cooperation, the fall of the USSR
introduced tensions into the relationship. The years 1991-96 marked a low
point in bilateral relations; during this period, the Russian Foreign
Ministry considered South Asia only its seventh-highest foreign policy
priority. Boris Yeltsin's visit to India in 1993 yielded new
military-to-military agreements-and helped alleviate growing tensions
between Moscow and Delhi-but brought few other lasting results.
Even today, Indo-Russian cooperation remains limited. People-to-people
interactions are rare: only a small number of personnel or academic
exchanges have taken place, and the two countries have never conducted
joint military operations. Civilian trade between the nations-which amounts
to $1.4 billion a year-remains relatively light, and is dominated by Indian
exports of textiles, leather, and pharmaceuticals. In spite of recent
declines in the volume of India-Russia trade, however, Banerjee argued that
the booming arms and energy trade will likely strengthen the two nations'
economic relations in the future. He also noted that informal cultural
exchanges are healthy and growing, as evidenced by the popularity of Indian
films in the former USSR.
Banerjee insisted that if India and Russia have yet to realize their full
cooperative potential, India has reaped substantial benefits from the
relationship. Soviet/Russian veto power at the UN has provided India with
important security guarantees, assuring that a Security Council rift over
Kashmir would not result in major changes in the status quo. Even more
important, Russia's constant supply of inexpensive but high-quality
military equipment has defined the countries' bilateral relations and
significantly improved India's security situation. India's acquisitions
from the USSR/Russia comprise 70% of its major weapons systems, and include
up-to-date tanks, fighter aircraft, cruise missiles, and an aircraft
carrier. In the future, energy cooperation may prove just as beneficial for
both sides. Indian firms are involved in collaborative projects on Sakhalin
and in the Caspian region, and Russia has cooperated on eighty hydro- and
thermoelectric projects-as well as a light-water reactor plant-in India.
Dmitri Trenin opened his remarks by arguing that the Indo-Russian strategic
alignment of today will endure well into the future. Striking parallels
have emerged in both countries' struggles to bolster their economies, craft
international roles for themselves, and neutralize threats on their
peripheries. Furthermore, Russia's strategic interests are consistent with
a stronger India, which Moscow believes would increase trade, create new
opportunities for its industrial complex, and balance other growing powers
in Asia. Indeed, Trenin argued, Russia has found itself in the "time of the
south;" its security agenda over the next decades will focus on its
Trenin proceeded to outline Russia's new, three-pronged security agenda.
First, although Moscow urges restraint on the proliferation of WMDs in
principle, in practice it has resigned itself to a nuclear South Asia. The
fact that it took several years to elicit a Russian response to India's and
Pakistan's 1998 nuclear tests indicates that Russia does not seek to
regulate the nuclear programs of either country. Though Russia does not
desire to be a leader or a broker in South Asia, it is nevertheless eager
to promote strategic and regional stability. Trenin suspects that it was
this goal that motivated Putin to meet with Pervez Musharraf recently,
mending thirty years of broken relations between Moscow and Islamabad.
Despite Putin's suspicion of Musharraf and the ISI, he seems to view a
stable Pakistan as a lesser evil than a more democratic, but less orderly,
nation. Similarly, Trenin sees a convergence of Russian and Indian
interests in Afghanistan, and believes that Russia would welcome India's
increased presence in Central Asia. Finally, Russia views India as a
possible counterbalance to China. China's GDP is now five times that of
Russia, and its population is nearly ten times as large. But India's
population-and global importance-are also exploding, and its nuclear
program renders it a key player in world politics.
In short, then, the Russia-India relationship contains great promise. Both
countries face similar challenges and have responded in similar manners to
challenges in the past. Both have embraced cooperation, resuming their
yearly presidential summits in 2000. Trenin acknowledged that contacts
between the two nations remain minimal beyond the highest levels of
government, and that their relations to date have rested on the relatively
weak foundation of arms sales. Still, he argued, India represents a pillar
of stability in a very unstable region, and there is no better candidate
for a strategic-if not formal-ally for Russia.
The question and answer session began with one of the participants
observing that Trenin had focused extensively on India's strategic value to
Russia, while Banerjee had hardly mentioned Russia's import beyond its role
as an arms provider. Another attendee pushed the presenters to elaborate on
India's potential involvement in Central Asia, wondering if there is a true
convergence in Russian and Indian strategic thinking about the region.
Banerjee responded that while the term "strategic partner" is overused, the
Indian government has a real interest in crafting a stronger relationship
with Russia. With regard to Central Asia, he pointed out that plans for a
Central Asian transport corridor might provide new opportunities for
increased Indian engagement in the region, ending Delhi's traditionally
minimal involvement there. Trenin added that Russia's longstanding and
stable friendship with India provides a stark contrast to its troubled
relations with Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan, the other major players in the
region. But he also characterized Russian plans for increased Indian
engagement in Central Asia as "wishful thinking," pointing out that India
is unlikely to expand its economic presence in the region to the extent
that Moscow would like.
The discussion then turned to the effects of the situation in Afghanistan
on Indo-Russian relations. Trenin argued that Russia was one of the prime
beneficiaries of Operation Enduring Freedom, which removed the greatest
strategic threat to arise since the fall of the Soviet Union. He
characterized as wise Russia's decision not to undermine the Karzai
government. However, he also sees a lack of Russian initiatives to aid the
stabilization of Afghanistan, and believes that Russia prefers that Kabul
"continue muddling through" the delicate situation in the region. Banerjee
asserted that it will be many years before a functional center emerges in
Kabul, but noted that India is doing its best to counter re-Talibanization
and to promote development. It retains strong ties to northern tribal
leaders, many of whom have lived in exile in India, and is training Afghan
police forces. Still, he emphasized, serious problems remain: continuing
tensions with Pakistan preclude more robust Indian involvement in
Afghanistan, and have tied up shipments of food aid, which must travel
Another participant wondered why Russia and India have not coordinated
their Afghan policies, which, in turn, would aid the solidification of
their strategic alliance. Banerjee responded that extensive Indo-Russian
collaboration might have been possible were India's bilateral relations
with Pakistan better, but that the enmity between the two countries has
precluded extensive Indian involvement in Central Asia. Trenin added that
Russia did have an urge to play a lead role in the Afghan reconstruction
effort, but that its history in Afghanistan-and its limited financial
resources-prevented it from doing so. There is no fundament clash of
interests between India and Russia preventing a real partnership between
the two nations, he argued, but India will find it difficult to reach out
to Russia until its relations with Pakistan become more stable. In short, a
leap forward in Indo-Russian cooperation-which would benefit both
countries-is dependent on a leap forward in their strategic thinking.
Summary prepared by Faith Hillis, Junior Fellow with the Russian and
Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment