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1. Reuters: Russia warns US anti-terror coalition could be hit.
2. AP: U.S., Russia Delay Nuclear Weapons Treaty.
3. ITAR-TASS: Russia: Poll shows US tops list of countries seen as posing threat to world.
4. Interfax: War against Iraq means more dangerous, unpredictable world - Putin aide.
5. Moscow Times: Victoria Lavrentieva, Dollar Dethroned as Top Saving Tool.
7. BBC Monitoring: Russian artists urge Putin to show world example by ending Chechen war.
8. BBC Monitoring: Putin's address to people of Chechnya on the eve of referendum.
9. BBC Monitoring: Chechens divided on Putin's address.
10. BBC Monitoring: Vote in Chechnya will not bring changes, says poll among Russians.
11. Radio Nederland: Laura Durnford, Lake losing its lustre. (Lake Baikal)
12. Asia Times: Curtis Runyan, The Russian mapping revolution.
13. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Vitaliy Tretyakov, Causes and Effects. U.S. Military Activity -- Main Trend of New Century.
14. BBC Monitoring: Putin reassures economics chief after premier's public rebuke. (Gref)
15. pravda.ru: Where Are Presidents Trained? It is not ruled out that prospective successor to Vladimir Putin may emerge right before elections rather
unexpectedly. (re Khodorkovsky)

16. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: GENNADI ZYUGANOV DISSATISFIED WITH THE KREMLIN. CPRF leader promises the regime a series of protest campaigns.
17. Jamestown Foundation Russia and Eurasia Review: Mikhail Kochkin, THE BIRTH PANGS OF RUSSIAN CONSERVATISM.


Russia warns US anti-terror coalition could be hit
By Andrei Shukshin

MOSCOW, March 18 (Reuters) - Russia on Tuesday fought to stop its new-found
partnership with the United States going off the rails over Iraq but admitted
their deep differences could destroy the anti-terror coalition binding them

Speaking by telephone with President George W. Bush as U.S. forces girded for
action, Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin said he regretted Bush's 48-hour
ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to go into exile or face war.

A Kremlin account of their conversation also said it was stressed, after the
failure of diplomacy, that "in any situation the United Nations and its
Security Council will be called upon to play a central role in upholding
international peace and stability."

The Kremlin said the two men had stressed the need to keep talking in the
coming days, underscoring Putin's resolve to preserve his relationship with
Bush through the crisis ahead.

There were, however, sharp words from Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and
parliament put off a vote to ratify a key bilateral nuclear arms treaty,
further signalling Russian anger at Washington's rush towards military action.

"Unfortunately today, in connection with the looming threat of war against
Iraq, the unity of the international anti-terrorist coalition is under
threat," Ivanov said.

"Naturally, having made this choice, the United States also assumes
responsibility for the consequences of their actions," he said, echoing
anti-war ally French President Jacques Chirac.

"It is obvious that any resort to force is fraught with numerous deaths,
large-scale destruction and consequences that go beyond this region," he told
a conference

Ivanov, who then left for a U.N. Security Council meeting in New York, said
the crisis "can and must be solved" diplomatically.


It was Putin's swift backing for the U.S.-led international coalition against
terror immediately after the September 11, 2001 airliner attacks on U.S.
cities that led to the new strategic partnership between the former
superpower rivals.

With an eye to long-term gains for Russia's economy and its place in the
world, Putin proceeded to remove irritants in ties and forged close relations
with Bush. He then backed the U.S. campaign to oust Afghanistan's hardline
Taliban authorities.

The Russian parliament, angry at what it regarded as a U.S. humiliation of
Russia over Iraq, put off a vote to ratify the Moscow treaty to slash nuclear
arsenals. The State Duma lower house had been scheduled to vote on the pact
on Friday.

But Duma officials said the vote had been postponed because of the U.S. push
for military action, with no new date fixed. Some members said the pact's
fate now hinged on events in Iraq.

"We are standing on the verge of the Third World War and the consequences of
the beginning of military action in Iraq are to a large extent
unpredictable," said Duma official Sergei Shishkaryov. "Everything will
depend on how the situation in Iraq develops."

The treaty, agreed last May by Putin and Bush, calls on the two powers to cut
their strategic nuclear stocks to between 1,700 to 2,200 each, from about
6,000 now.

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the treaty on March 6, a move widely
seen as part of a U.S. diplomatic effort to win Russian support for a tougher
line against Iraq.

Russian religious leaders returning to Moscow on one of the last flights out
of Baghdad told of residents remaining calm.

"People are utterly calm," said Feofan, Orthodox Bishop of Magadan on
Russia's Pacific coast.

"What was striking was that women, children, the elderly -- the mosques are
full. Everyone is asking the same question. Who are they fighting against?
And who gave them this right?"


U.S., Russia Delay Nuclear Weapons Treaty
March 18, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian lawmakers postponed indefinitely a vote Tuesday to
ratify a U.S.-Russian nuclear arms treaty, as the parliament speaker warned
that a war against Iraq could endanger the pact.

The treaty, agreed to last May by Russian President Vladimir Putin and
President Bush, requires that the two nations cut their strategic nuclear
arsenals by about two-thirds, to 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads each, by

The treaty was seen as more advantageous to Russia than the now-defunct
START II agreement, which specifically banned Russia from deploying
land-based missiles with multiple warheads. The new deal would leave it to
each nation to decide which weapons it will scrap. That would let Russia
keep its Soviet-built multiwarhead SS-18 and SS-19 missiles at the core of
its nuclear arsenal.

Russia's lower house, the State Duma, had been expected to take up debate
on the treaty Friday. But the Duma Council, which sets the legislative
agenda, put off the vote indefinitely and did not set a new date.

``We consider ratification very important, but now this step is not
justified,'' said Sergei Shishkaryov, the deputy chairman of the Duma's
international affairs committee. He added that ``in essence, we are
standing on the threshold of World War III.''

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the treaty earlier this month, a move
widely seen as part of a diplomatic effort to win Russian support for a
tougher line against Iraq. But Russia opposed a U.S.-backed draft
resolution at the U.N. Security Council threatening the use of force
against Iraq.

President Bush has abandoned diplomatic efforts at the United Nations and
given Saddam Hussein until Wednesday night to leave the country or face war.

``In the event of an American strike on Iraq the fate of the entire treaty
will be in question,'' Gennady Seleznyov, speaker of the Duma, said during
a visit to the Czech capital, Prague.

``The Americans are striking at international law,'' he said, according to
the Interfax news agency.

Tuesday's postponement reflected the ambivalence of post-Cold War
Russian-U.S. relations. Washington and Moscow have pursued closer ties, but
the Kremlin bridles at what it regards as a U.S. penchant for unilateral
action, such as its withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

Some Russian lawmakers lashed out at the United States over Iraq.

``Let them know there is a serious nuclear power that will really provide
for the security of the entire world community and will never allow itself
to act by the laws of the jungle,'' Interfax quoted Seleznyov as saying.

Other lawmakers cautioned their colleagues against making rash decisions
that could imperil the nuclear treaty and strain the overall U.S.-Russian

Sergei Mironov, the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, called
the decision to put off ratification a mistake.

``This treaty plays an important strategic role for both Russia and the
United States,'' Mironov said, according to the Interfax-Military news
agency reported.


Russia: Poll shows US tops list of countries seen as posing threat to world

MOSCOW, March 14 (Itar-Tass) -- Greenpeace
activists have staged an action of protest against a possible war in
Iraq. However, the rally was not authorized by Moscow authorities, the
city police told Itar-Tass on Friday.
The police said that the rally gathered about 30 people. The
Greenpeace members hung out placards with the mottos "Veto to War" and
"Stop War" just opposite the Kremlin. The posters were mounted with the
help of alpinist equipment. Ten members of the environmental organization
were detained and taken to the central police station for interrogation,
the source said. Two of the rally's participants managed to escape down
the Moscow River on a boat flying the Greenpeace flag.
Most of Russians are strongly opposed to the US' military action
against Iraq, a poll suggests.
The poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Center has shown that
most of Russians (71 percent) see the US on top of the list of countries
that pose threat to the world.
Pollsters interpreted this view of the respondents as a way of
protesting the US' possible assault of Iraq.
However, 62 percent of those polled were of the opinion that Iraq and
North Korea must not be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction.
Ninety-three percent of the respondents are against bombing of Iraq
and 91 percent against a ground operation.
Some 87 percent of those polled disprove of plans of occupation of
Iraq by troops of the US and its allies.
With a military action against Iraq increasingly looming, numbers of
Russians sympathetic with the US have been decreasing.
While 69 percent of people described their attitudes to the US as good
in last year's October, their proportion dwindled to 53 per cent in
January and to 48 percent in March.
Lithuania's new President Rolandas Paksas has called for a peaceful
settlement of the Iraqi crisis. The use of force against Baghdad should
be employed only when all other means have been completely exhausted,
Paksas stated in parliament on Friday.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has strongly criticized the
U.S. policy on Iraq.
The United States is trying to convince the world that Iraq is the
strongest link in the axis of evil, and it is filled with weapons of mass
destruction, Lukashenko told students of Belarussian State University on
At the same time, the real reason for the Iraqi situation is well
known, it is oil, Lukashenko said. "The entire world understands that,
and billions of people stand up for Iraq, yet that will hardly contain a
war," he remarked.
It is necessary to do everything "for the peaceful, political and
diplomatic settlement of the Iraqi crisis in strict compliance with
resolutions of the U.N. Security Council," Russian Deputy Foreign
Minister Yuri Fedotov said at Friday consultations with the State
Secretary of the Romanian Foreign Ministry.
"Russia objects to the adoption of a new resolution of the U.N.
Security Council on Iraq, which actually paves way to the use of force,"
sources in the Russian foreign ministry cited Fedotov to Itar-Tass.


War against Iraq means more dangerous, unpredictable world - Putin aide

Moscow, 18 March: Marshal Igor Sergeyev, the Russian Federation president's
aide on issues of strategic stability, forecasts serious destabilization of
the situation in the world after the start of a US military operation against

"The consequences for international security in the event of a new war in
Iraq will be unpredictable and extremely negative," Sergeyev told Interfax in
an interview on Tuesday [18 March].

"No war develops according to plan and war is always a loss, and first and
foremost for whoever starts it," the presidential aide said.

"I'm not sure that war in Iraq will lead to an upturn in the American economy
and I have my doubts about how quickly and efficiently it (the USA) will deal
with Iraq. Right now nobody can predict the loss that will be inflicted on
the civilian population," Sergeyev said. He used to occupy the post of
Russian Federation defence minister.

The marshal supposes that war against Iraq is unavoidable.

"In my view, they (members of the anti-Iraq coalition - Interfax) have
already taken the decision [to go to war]," Sergeyev said.

He suggested that "the most varied means of waging war" will be used by the
USA and its allies in the operation against Iraq".

"It is dreadful to imagine, but in war any means are good. The situation
around Iraq has been developing unpredictably and it is complex to predict
what they may use there," Sergeyev noted.

Having said that the escalation of tension around Iraq is having a pernicious
effect on the situation in the world, Sergeyev added: "The world has entered
an era of unpredictability."


Moscow Times
March 18, 2003
Dollar Dethroned as Top Saving Tool
By Victoria Lavrentieva
Staff Writer

It only took two years for a new suitor to end Russians' monogamous love
affair with the dollar.

On balance, Russians bought more euros than dollars in January for the first
time since the European currency's notes and coins became available Jan. 1,
2001, according to the latest Central Bank data.

While in gross terms, Russians bought more dollars from retail banks than
euros in the month -- $1.193 billion versus 701 million euros -- they also
sold more. The result is that 598 million euros made its way into the hands
of the population, compared to just 438 million bucks.

Worried by the continued weakness of the greenback, which has lost more than
10 percent against the euro in recent months and 1.3 percent against the
ruble since the beginning of the year, people are rushing to diversify their
once dollar-only savings.

Analysts, however, say the trend is temporary and that the market will likely
stabilize once the Iraqi conflict is resolved.

"The situation in Iraq is the main factor that affects the dollar/euro rate
and the demand for cash currency," said Natalya Orlova, an economist with
Alfa Bank.

"The longer we see uncertainty over Iraq, the weaker the dollar and the
higher demand for the euros," she said.

In total, imports of euros by Russian banks doubled to a record 751 million
in January, while average Russians bought seven times more of the currency
than they sold, the Central Bank said.

Bankers now say that demand for dollars has practically dried up, as everyone
is selling: Banks imported a total of just $944 million in January, compared
to $2.5 billion in December.

"Demand for cash euros has been growing by 20 percent to 30 percent a month,"
said Kirill Grishanov, head of the currency and money market department of
Raiffeisenbank Moscow. "It's a good time for Russians to buy euros now, as
the currency has proved to be a good means of savings."

"If this trend continues, Russia might become an exporter of cash dollars for
the second time in the last decade," said Vasily Zablodsky, deputy head of
the investment department at MDM Bank, one of the largest importers of cash
currency in the market.

Zablodsky said the last time Russia was a net exporter of dollars was after
the terrorist attacks in America in September 2001.

Zablodsky said that once the Iraqi crisis is resolved he expected the dollar
to regain parity with the euro.

"In the end, we will have two major world currencies and a more equal risk
distribution between them," he said.

Although some companies such as car dealerships and tourist agencies have
started marking their prices in euros, experts doubt that the European
currency's importance to the Russian economy as a whole will match the
dollar's any time soon.

"It is premature to speak about a 'de-dollarization' of the economy because
the corporate sector still prefers to use dollars," Orlova said.


No. 11
March 2003
Author: Valery Solovei, an expert with the Gorbachev Trust
Source: Profil, N 11, March, 2003, p. 23
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]

It goes without saying that all the recent reorganizations were
undertaken to solidify Vladimir Putin's political regime. After all,
they expanded the powers only of the security structures of whose
loyalty (loyalty of whose heads and directors, that is) the president
is stone cold confident. The question of effectiveness of the
reorganized structures is secondary to the capacities of the renovated
Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry in becoming a political
and economic prop for the president. It is of paramount importance now
that the elections are coming up, whose scenario is drafted and
implemented by the presidential administration whose senior officials
are loyal to the financial-political groups that promoted them more
than they are to the president himself.
All constructions of the president's latest initiative agree that
it will solidify the positions of security structures, first and
foremost the positions of the Federal Security Service and Interior
Ministry. Some even mention a kind of "Lubyanka Renaissance".
Observers particularly comment on the unprecedented growth of
influence of the security structures within the economic sphere. The
assumption is confirmed by transfer of the tax police into the
Interior Ministry and return of the Federal Agency for Government
Communications and Information into the sphere of secret police. It
should be noted here that Federal Agency for Government Communications
and Information possesses unrestricted access to all informational
channels in Russia, all financial and economic data included. And
information is power, real or potential.
It seems that the president's decision to have security
structures deal with economic matters is explained by Putin's failure
to put a sturdy foundation under his regime. Save for Gazprom, whose
financial standing leaves much to be desired, and arms export, whose
major financial and industrial assets are concentrated in the hands of
those clans pursuing alternative or even openly anti-presidential
policies. To avoid this hypothetical possibility, the president opted
to stiffen his own control over political and economic processes in
modern Russia.
Ideally, the reorganizations should ensure the elite's loyalty to
the president - on the eve of the elections. Generally speaking, this
is an attempt to put Russian officials and large businesses in the
face of a choice between the carrot and the stick. The carrot means
preservation of the existing bureaucratic and economic status quo, the
stick - the supervising security services possessing new fiscal and
informational powers. The criterion of the choice is simple - loyalty
to the president (or at least the lack of hostility) and unselfish
assistance in the elections and in the course of the reforms.
It is clear, however, that the model of relations within the
powers-that-be, between the president and the elites, the model of
relations built for years to come, has an alarming "national
Textbooks for secret services include an interesting term -
"special period in the time of peace" denoting the condition of
transition between pace and war. Strange as it may seem, this term may
be applied to Russia now, which in the case of emergency, may
encounter mass uprising and spontaneous violence. The country depends
too much on the dynamically changing international economic situation
- first and foremost on the oil price whose fluctuations in the wake
of the American aggressions against Iraq will hurt the export-oriented
Russian economy and numerous social strata. Very many Russians will be
forced about indexations (of pensions, salaries, and subsidies) and
growth of income in the private sector. The first steps of the so-
called social reforms already irritate the population. What with the
external factor thrown in, the population may revise its opinion of
the president. To counter this possibility, the president is
reinforcing police forces.
(Translated by A. Ignatkin)


BBC Monitoring
Russian artists urge Putin to show world example by ending Chechen war
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 1400 gmt 18 Mar 03

[Presenter] Sixty well-known artists and people connected with the world of
culture today signed a petition entitled "Let's end the Chechen war
together". The petition calls on the Russian authorities to change their
approach to the Chechen problem, to end military operations in the republic,
and begin talks with the rebel leaders. Speaking at a news conference, the
playwright Aleksandr Gelman said that this is the most opportune moment for
such a step.

[Gelman] Right now, when to all appearances the world is on the eve of a war
which pits the USA and the UK against Iraq, it would be extremely timely to
begin talks with the Chechen separatists. In this case, we would not be
simply calling on the USA and UK to come to a compromise, we would be
demonstrating the example of adopting the line of compromise.

I am sure that if President Putin unexpectedly and without hesitation takes
the decision to hold talks and such talks begin, then his authority and the
authority of Russia can only be enhanced. This step will be judged by our
people on its merits. This step will also enhance the capabilities and
authority of Russia in the fight against international terrorism.


BBC Monitoring
Putin's address to people of Chechnya on the eve of referendum
Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 0500 gmt 17 Mar 03

[Presenter] Good morning, I'm Viktoriya Timofeyeva. Let me start with the
statement made by the president of Russia. Vladimir Putin addressed the
people of Chechnya in connection with the forthcoming referendum on the
republic's constitution. It will be a historic event for Chechnya. For the
first time a draft constitution prepared by Chechens themselves is being put
to a nationwide referendum.

[Putin] Good morning. Today I am addressing those who are living in Chechnya
and those to whom the fate of the Chechen Republic is dear. It is connected
with the event which will take place in several days' time. A referendum on
the republic's draft constitution and laws on presidential and parliamentary
elections will be held in the republic. It will not be an exaggeration to say
that it will be an historical event for the Chechen people.

The referendum is an important step in fighting devastation, a step towards
order. I am convinced that a constitution adopted by the people is the
foundation for a political settlement in Chechnya. When adopted, the
constitution will make it possible to elect a really democratic power which
enjoys people's confidence.

You know that there have been many attempts to prevent the holding of the
referendum. Acts of provocation and terror are still continuing in Chechnya,
attempts are being made to intimidate people. However, the people themselves
have the right to decide their future and adopt their constitution. The
Chechen people will be able to enjoy this right on 23 March.

Peaceful life is being established in Chechnya although the process is not
going as quickly as we would like. New electricity transmission lines have
been laid and gas supplies has been resumed in many districts, hospitals and
schools are operating, students are continuing their studies, bread is being
harvested. These changes are invisible only to those who do not want to see

The constitution will give the Chechen people an opportunity to live their
life independently and implement that very wide autonomy within Russia which
has been discussed a lot lately. For this purpose, following joint efforts a
special agreement between the [Russian] Federation and the republic will be
drawn up and signed.

We must create a situation in which Russian citizens, residents of Chechnya,
no longer have to live in fear, to be afraid of every knock at the door in
the night and to hide from so-called sweep operations. The people of Chechnya
must have a decent human life. You know that the reduction of checkpoints has
begun. The remaining ones should not be taking bribes from civilians but they
should carry out quite a different function, that of fighting crime.

You know that a partial withdrawal of Defence Ministry and Interior Ministry
units is under way. In the future, only units based in Chechnya on a
permanent basis should stay there. Their main task will be to assist local
law-enforcement agencies and local police established by the Chechen Republic

It's important to revive as soon as possible the industries that are vital
for peoples' lives. We must help the enterprises that are directly involved
in the production of food, basic commodities and construction materials. We
must support the enterprises that build houses, schools, clinics and cultural

I should say that the federal government has already allocated significant
sums of money to help the republic. Now our common task is to create a
situation in which this money is spent efficiently. I know that there are
serious questions to the federal government as well as to the republic's
administration in this connection. Many problems are emerging in the course
of the restoration work because of red tape and corruption.

I've already said that the referendum will open the way to the formation of
new power bodies. One of their main tasks will be to control the spending of
budget funds.

We must also arrange the efficient use of Chechnya's rich natural resources,
especially of unique Chechen oil. The first steps have been taken towards the
revival of the Chechen petrochemical complex. This wealth must be converted
into a powerful tool for solving social and economic problems.

The Russian government is working on paying compensation to those whose
houses and flats have been destroyed. According to preliminary estimates,
about 280,000 citizens have no roof over their heads. The lists of those who
lost their houses should be verified by joint efforts, with the active
participation of district administrations. Paying of compensation must start
as early as this year.

I must say that we feel especially strongly about the children of Chechnya.
They went through non-childlike ordeals. But the Chechen children, like all
Russian children, are our future. We'll give them good education and good
knowledge, we'll put them on their feet.

The adoption of a constitution is a really serious milestone. This is the
moment when the Chechen people will take their fate in their own hands. The
future of your children and grandchildren, the future of the Chechen land
itself is in your hands. That is why I call on you to participate in the
referendum and make the right choice.

Thank you for attention.


BBC Monitoring
Chechens divided on Putin's address
Source: TVS, Moscow, in Russian 1400 gmt 17 Mar 03

[Correspondent] Yesterday's [16 March] address of Russian President Vladimir
Putin to the people of Chechnya was a surprise for many residents of the

The first announcements about the coming address were made by local
television only half an hour before it was broadcast. However, that was not
the main reason why Putin's words were not heard at all by many people in

[Correspondent, talking to people in the street] Did you watch the TV

[Unidentified man] We do not have electricity.

[U/i woman] I did not hear anything. What address? I don't know what address
you are talking about.

[Correspondent] And did you hear President Putin's address to the people of
Chechnya yesterday?

[2nd u/i woman] No, we don't have electricity either.

[Correspondent] How long has that been the case?

[2nd u/i woman] For a long time now, since the war started.

[Correspondent] Those who heard the address view it differently.

[2nd u/i man] It seems that the president feels some concern [for people].

[3rd u/i man] Anyway, the head of state said this, and that should mean
something. He is a guarantor of the constitution.

[2nd u/i man] There is one thing I did not understand, though. During the
three years of the second Chechen war, has Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin ever
known that we have been expecting a knock on the door at night, that people
are being abducted? Is it only now, just before the referendum, that people
have learned what has been going on here? I would like to ask Putin these
questions, if he can hear me, of course.


BBC Monitoring
Vote in Chechnya will not bring changes, says poll among Russians
Source: TVS, Moscow, in Russian 1200 gmt 18 Mar 03

The approaching referendum in Chechnya will not influence the situation in
the republic - this is the opinion of practically one half of the Russian
population. According to the results of the poll conducted by the All-Russian
Public Opinion Research Centre [VTsIOM], published today, 41 per cent of the
Russian population believe that the referendum on the draft constitution will
not make any impact on life in Chechnya. Twenty-five per cent of those polled
said that it would contribute to bringing life back to normal, while 14 per
cent think that the referendum will only aggravate the situation in the

Meanwhile, 44 per cent of Russian citizens who were polled believe that
Russian president Vladimir Putin is not doing his best to resolve the Chechen
issue, while exactly the same number of respondents, 44 per cent, believe
that he is doing all there is to be done.

[The caption on the screen says the poll was conducted among 1,600 people in
40 areas of the Russian Federation]


Radio Nederland
March 18, 2003
Lake losing its lustre
By Laura Durnford of our Science Unit

As delegates from around the world gather in Japan for the Third World
Water Forum this week, another meeting in Paris could influence the fate of
the planet's largest single store of surface freshwater Lake Baikal in
Siberia. Its natural filtration system, which has evolved over millions of
years and helps to keep the waters amongst the purest in the world, is
already affected by pollution and may now face new threats.

The Pearl of Siberia' is just one nickname by which Lake Baikal is known,
thanks to the richness of its beauty, with mountains, forests and wild
rivers all around. Located in South-eastern Siberia close to the Mongolian
border, this natural treasure is also an ancient cultural crossroads for
many Asian tribes and nations, many of who see it as a holy place and call
it The Sacred Sea' or The Heart of Asia'. But Baikal is also a
limnological superstar; this the oldest lake on the planet (25-30 million
years) is also the deepest at around 1600m, and it holds a cool 20% of the
world's surface freshwater supply. It's also home to around 1200 species of
animals and 1000 species of plants. With four in every five species being
unique to the area thelLake earns yet another moniker: The Galapagos of


"Scientists call it a place where evolution is generated, like an engine of
evolution," says Dr. Maxim Timofeev, a biologist working as a consultant on
the lake for the Russian Geographical Society. "Now it has evolved a very
complex system of crustaceans, worms and molluscs that can help to keep
pure and very clear water for years." These creatures work in concert to
filter dead organic matter out of the lake, resulting in water so pure that
in many places it can be safely consumed without further processing.

Unsurprisingly then, Lake Baikal was declared a World Heritage Site in
1996, in recognition of its special attributes and status.

Human impact

But, although Baikal still counts as one of the purest freshwater bodies in
the world, some parts of the pearl are showing signs of losing their
lustre, according to Jennifer Sutton - a co-chairman of the locally based
NGO, Baikal Environmental Wave: "These species are at risk from any form of
pollution. This can be observed in the Southern basin, which has been under
impact from human activity around the lake and changes can be seen in the
system already."

For a number of decades, the lake has been contaminated by the outflow from
two local pulp and paper plants as well as other industrial and municipal
waste. And Sutton says that relatively high levels of dioxins and other
chemicals have been found in the blubber of the nerpa the world's only
freshwater seal, which is unique to Baikal. But other proposed developments
now pose an additional potential threat; the possible construction of
pipelines through the region, transporting gas and oil to China.

Quakes and leaks

Although the Russian State Party has recently ruled out the possibility of
a pipeline cutting through the World Heritage Site itself, alternative
routes could cross around 50 major rivers and many more smaller tributaries
to the lake. With a history of leakages from existing pipelines, the
protection of Baikal's water catchment is a major concern to the
environmentalists. And their fears are compounded by the knowledge that the
lake occupies one of the deepest rifts in the Earth's crust a rift that
is still widening, with up to 2000 seismic events recorded in the region
each year. "The possibility of earthquakes affecting the pipelines is very
high," believes Sutton.

Conventional influence

With such hazards on the horizon, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO
has been considering moving Baikal onto its World Heritage Site in Danger'
list, but has postponed its decision until July 2003 following opposition
by the Russian State Party. In the meantime, the Committee is first meeting
this week to discuss various revisions to the operational guidelines of the
convention that underpins the formation of these lists. According to a
representative of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), some parties are
seeking a change so that sites could not be put on the list of World
Heritage Sites in Danger without the consent of the State Party. "IUCN
considers that this change, or interpretation , would affect the
credibility of the convention," says Georgina Peard. If such a change is
actually made, it could conceivably influence the future of the waters,
species and environs of Lake Baikal.


Asia Times
March 18, 2003
The Russian mapping revolution
By Curtis Runyan

WASHINGTON - When the conservation group Global Forest Watch Canada wanted to
map the country's vast boreal forests, it turned to the Russians.

Using whatever means available in the past decade, Dima Aksenov and Alexey
Yaroshenko have been mapping Russia's northern forests, deciphering the rapid
rate at which they are being logged. In doing so, they have become the
boreal-forest mapping experts - despite shoestring budgets, government
roadblocks, and their rodent-plagued basement office in Moscow.

While a number of organizations now make maps with computerized geographic
information systems (GIS), Aksenov, Yaroshenko, and their teams are in high
demand. They got their start in the waning years of the Soviet Union, when
copy machines and access to mapping data were hard to come by. To this day
many state maps remain locked away from public view, but Aksenov was able to
borrow Forest Service maps through contacts at the local environment office.
The group used tracing paper and colored pens to copy the maps.

"We were looking at maps, tracing them, and transferring the information by
hand, coloring in everything," said Aksenov, who spoke at a recent conference
in Washington, DC. The conference, convened by the World Resources Institute
(WRI) in the US capital, brought together mapping experts from Canada,
Russia, the United States, Finland, and Sweden. The group is planning to
release a comprehensive map of all the large tracts of wilderness remaining
in the northern forests.

In the early 1990s, Aksenov and other members of the Student Corps for Nature
Conservation - one of the country's only independent conservation groups at
that time - used their hand-drawn maps to launch a campaign to protect
old-growth forests in Murmansk oblast, in the Russian northwest beyond the
Arctic Circle. After nearly a decade of negotiations, the government caved in
to public pressure and is soon expected to protect a large area of the
Murmansk's old-growth forests.

What began as a one-time map-making operation expanded in the mid-1990s when
German and Scandinavian environmental groups asked the Russians to make maps
of the forests in the Republic of Karelia, which is just south of Murmansk.
The groups were kicking off a campaign to pressure European companies such as
Finnish Enso (today Swedish-Finnish StoraEnso) and UPM-Kummene to stop buying
old-growth timber from the Karelian forests.

The maps, which revealed the rapid rate at which the forests were being
destroyed, hit a nerve with consumers in Europe, which pressured Enso in 1996
to announce a moratorium on logging old-growth forests in the Karelia and
Murmansk regions. Other big companies followed suit. "Some of the world's
largest companies announced they would be guided by our maps when buying logs
from Karelia and Murmansk," said Aksenov.

But making maps by hand was a huge task. "We got tired of redrawing these
maps by hand every time we made a small change," said Aksenov. "Our
colleagues from the scientific community in Moscow already used GIS in their
work. But for advocacy groups this technology was too expensive." About that
time ESRI, a US-based software company, offered to donate its GIS programs to
them. With basic equipment and rudimentary training, the map makers
determined to chart all of Russia's northern European forests.

In 1999, the Taiga Rescue Network, a coalition of groups from Norway, Sweden,
Finland, and Russia working to protect boreal forests, set out to map all of
northern Europe's old-growth forests. When the network compiled its data, the
Russian team turned out to be the only group capable of transforming the
material into a GIS map.

When WRI set up its Global Forest Watch initiative in Russia in 1999,
Yaroshenko was developing a ground-breaking approach to mapping boreal
forests using satellite images. Aksenov and Yaroshenko stepped in to become
the new organization's backbone. Armed with a grant from the home-furnishings
company IKEA, Global Forest Watch Russia began working to identify and map
all remaining large blocks of intact forest in Russia - a huge task, given
the country-s 289 million hectares of forest. The maps would allow timber
companies to steer clear of old-growth forests and pressure government
authorities to protect wild areas.

Even with some international funding, their Russian ingenuity was put to the
test. They were able to purchase and barter for only a handful of the
expensive high-resolution satellite images needed to build the maps, so they
started with topographical maps and cheaper lower-resolution images to
identify obvious disturbances, and bought high-resolution images for the
remaining areas. The result was published last year: The Atlas of Russia's
Intact Forest Landscapes.

"IKEA is now using our atlas" to avoid buying timber from old-growth forests,
said Misha Karpachevsky, of the Biodiversity Conservation Center, another
member of Global Forest Watch in Russia. But government officials remain
stuck in a Soviet mindset, says Yaroshenko.

"They don't even think whether they will be able to earn more money, they
just want to log more," he said.
(WRI Features)


US Military, Political Motives for, Interest in Attacking Iraq Analyzed

Rossiyskaya Gazeta
13 March 2003
Article by Vitaliy Tretyakov: "Causes and Effects. U.S. Military
Activity -- Main Trend of New Century"

It seems that all observers and experts have
already arrived at the opinion that the U.S. military operation against
Iraq will start within the next couple of days. Our most important task
is to comprehend all the reasons for which the United States is going to
use its military forces for the third time over the past four years (in
Yugoslavia in 1999 and Afghanistan in 2001) and already for the second
time in this century; moreover, each time thousands of kilometers away
from its own territory.

The U.S. elite being the elite of a global empire thinks beyond the
limits of its national territory and regards the entire planet as the
sphere of its vital interests (above all, economic ones). Absolutely
nobody can consider himself safe if he does not take into account the
U.S. elite's interests not only on some foreign territory but also on his
own land.

Common sense and historic experience prompt to the Americans that being
the wealthiest person surrounded by beggars is fraught with danger.
Therefore, it is better to nip that danger in the bud than wait until it
transforms from hypothetical into real.

There is much talk about the democratic messianic mission of the United
States and about the fact that the Americans so firmly believe in the
supremacy of their values that they want to make old nondemocratic and
hence, backward countries happy by all means. Even if it is really so,
there are reasons to doubt both the legitimacy and sincerity of the U.S.
messianic mission. First, since it is imposed by force, in what way is
it better than, for instance, the communist messianic mission? Second,
if the global historic role of the United States is to impose democracy
and free market throughout the world, why hurry to fulfill this mission
in individual and the least prepared states? For instance, why is it
necessary to remove the dictator Saddam Husayn right now and, moreover,
by means of a military operation if in 10-15 years (in 20 years as a
maximum) he will leave the arena in a natural way? Particularly since
dictatorships most often die along with dictators. In addition, if
there were no dictatorships in the world democracy itself would lose
motivation not only for its self-improvement but also for its existence
as such. The point is that without dictatorships there would be no
competitive environment in which democracy could demonstrate its
advantages. Most likely, if authoritarianism died in the world a number
of today's democratic states (it is not out of the question that the
United States would be the first among them) would become authoritarian.
The toppling of the last dictatorial regime in the world would mean the
end of democracy.

However, let us go back to the motives behind the current actions of the
United States. The Americans themselves deny that oil is the prevailing
motive or that this motive exists at all. Let us presume they are
telling the truth, although there are too many indications they are not.
It is hardly a coincidence that the very Iraqi regime controlling the
world's second largest oil bearing region has been chosen of all the
numerous authoritarian regimes, a significant number of which control
energy resources.

U.S. officials insist publicly and behind the scenes that the main reason
for their relentless position with regard to Iraq is the fight against
international terrorism and against proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction. If it is so, then, even taking into account that the world
has not been shown any evidence of ties between Saddam Husayn and
al-Qa'ida, one can hardly deny that due to all recent sanctions against
Iraq, including the regimen of permanent inspections, these goals have in
fact been achieved or are close to being achieved.

Apparently, the United States pursues other goals after all. Any army
is a kind of technological mechanism that cannot improve or even exist if
it does not fight.

War is the most effective and cheapest way, first, to get rid of aging
ammunition and armaments that cost a lot of money to store and, second,
to test new ammunition and armaments. It is absolutely obvious that
both in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, just as in Iraq now, the United
States will fully implement these purely military and military-technical
needs of its military-industrial complex. Rearmament can be the main
practical reason for the U.S. military action, even more important than
control over oil prices. Only a warring state can leave all other
countries far behind in military-technical terms. For this reason the
United States fights far from its borders, invariably choosing large
countries as its test ranges (naturally, the Americans were not able to
fully spread their wings in Yugoslavia. which lies in Europe close to
Washington's main allies).

I think that yet another reason for U.S. resoluteness is the attempt to
at least temporarily reverse the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. All the
indications are that if events continue to develop in line with the same
scenario based on which they have developed in recent years, sooner or
later, albeit in the foreseeable future the Israel state will cease to
exist. The existence of Iraq as a strong state and, above all, a state
beyond U.S. control makes this outcome only too imminent.

Finally, the combination of all the above motives, which the Americans
regard as an imperative, produces a simple dilemma. The first option:
The United States can do as it deems advisable and thus achieve the
following goals: First, strengthen its domination in the world; second,
show all dissidents that their opinions are worthless and, moreover, can
entail sanctions against the very dissidents; third -- taking advantage
of its status as the global leader that demonstrated its readiness to go
to all lengths and, if necessary, oppose any other country and win --
reorganize the system of international institutions and international law
in line with its imperialistic standards. The second option:
Washington can yield to pressure and hence, show that one can argue with
it, disagree with it, and even stand up against it. The United States
does not have a choice. To be more precise, it could have a choice if
it was not afraid of losing its leadership, at least in civilizational
terms. However, leaders who are not afraid of losing their leadership
do not exist. Smart leaders are afraid. Meanwhile, the actions of a
stupid leader, a despot, are even less predictable.

Speculations to the effect that one can explain to the Americans that it
is for the sake of preserving their civilizational leadership that they
should act more flexibly and discriminately rather than destroy all those
they regard as enemies are interesting in theory but worthless in
practice. The main point is that although a different way of thinking
is not a revelation and does not require extraordinary intellect, all
empires always acted this way.

What does this mean for Russia's policy (just as all other countries'
policy for that matter)? The main conclusion is that the United States
demands and will continue to demand loyalty to itself or, in those areas
where other countries' loyalty cannot be fully achieved, will try to
split disloyal or not fully loyal centers of influence -- the Arab world,
Europe, Russia -- and any other country, including Russia, which has any
weak points that can be used to split that country. The United States
will itself create these weak points using the weaknesses of domestic
policies or internal situations in particular countries.

What are Russia's weak points in this context? Three factors come to
mind in the first place: Dependence on oil prices, Chechnya, and
hypothetical possibility of Russia's unification with "old Europe."

Apparently, the Americans will deliver strikes against these very points
if Russia dares, particularly on its own, veto the resolution authorizing
Washington to launch a war on Iraq.


BBC Monitoring
Putin reassures economics chief after premier's public rebuke
Source: Channel One TV, Moscow, in Russian 1200 gmt 18 Mar 03

[Presenter] The president had a working meeting today with Economic
Development and Trade Minister German Gref, focusing on the economic
situation in the country.

[Gref] Our results are not bad at the moment, the growth in industrial output
over the period January-February came to 5.7 per cent. Agricultural output
increased by 1.4 per cent. Real incomes among the population went up by 2.8
per cent. A number of sectors give cause for concern, of course,
unfortunately decline is continuing in a whole number of sectors, in
particular in light industry, constant decline over the past six months.
There has also been decline in the food industry and in the machine-building

[Putin] There has just been a board meeting of the ministry, hasn't there? We
know that your team has done a lot of very positive work over the past year,
although at the same time there are things which prompt a certain amount of
concern. I know that the board meeting was businesslike and that high demands
were made, and that criticism was made. But I think this should not in any
way put you in a pessimistic mood but, on the contrary, it should gear you up
for work.


March 18, 2003
Where Are Presidents Trained?
It is not ruled out that prospective successor to Vladimir Putin may emerge
right before elections rather unexpectedly

Elections to Russias State Duma will be the central political event of
2003; however, we should remember that soon after the parliamentary
elections the country will have to participate in presidential elections.
It is not ruled out that the problem of presidential elections is not paid
special attention to because of the firm confidence of Putins categorical
imperative. However, if we consider the situation from bottom to top,
well understand that the vertical of power constructed by the second
Russian president doesnt look completely monumental.

And this problem is not because of some faults of the vertical, such as
indistinct positions of presidential plenipotentiaries in the federal
districts who within the three years of their activity have failed to reach
the level of authority endowed to them by the president. The problem is
that the ideology of reforming suggested is obviously lagging behind the
intermediate results of activity of the new system of power.

Lets take Russias Far East and Primorye for instance. Last year the
president spoke a lot about Russias strategic interests on the territories
across the Ural Mountains and mentioned that the government planned several
economic measures in the region, and the measures (dues on cars, auctions,
energy tariffs) in their turn, seriously hit the pockets of Far Eastern
citizens. You may say that these are only Russias internal problems, and
nine millions of Far Eastern population displeased with the reforms carried
out in the region wont play the key role in the presidential elections.
But Russias advanced western region also has questions to ask the federal
center the Chechen war or the threat of terrorism, for instance. If a PR
campaign is launched professionally, these problems can be posed in a
rhetorical manner to strain the nerves of the probable candidate to the
presidential post (the incumbent president is meant).

As of now, there are actually no real opponents to President Putin. Leaders
of the parliamentary factions are the yesterday of Russias politics. But
the fact that we see no visual image of Putins rival doesnt mean that
there is no rival in fact. The very example of Putin demonstrates that
quite unknown people can be nominated to the presidential post. So, it is
not ruled out that prospective successor to Vladimir Putin may emerge right
before elections rather unexpectedly.

It will take several years more before the Russian voters will give up the
habit of considering only politicians in a rank of prime minister or party
leader as appropriate candidates to the presidential post. But the
exclusive status categories of choice are the recurrence of a transition
model of society development. And if the Russian society wants to finally
complete the transition, we will have to share the same values of success
and the universal notion of the American dream that the whole of the
civilized world has. This will be the time when governors will become
candidates to the presidential posts like in the USA, or these will be
businessmen like in Italy. It is quite clear that nothing of the kind will
occur during presidential elections in 2004, but presidential elections in
2008 will be the time when quite a new candidate to the Russian presidency
comes. It may happen even of the Duma passes a legislation on the
possibility of the third presidential term.

What is more, there is such a candidate: a young man who seldom appears on
TV screens and his name is not involved in scandals connected with Russian
oligarchs. The basis that man is laying for his future suggests an idea
that he is being prepared to take Putins place. His name is Mikhail
Khodorkovsky, the president of Russias second largest and dynamically
developing oil company YUKOS.

In fact, Mikhail Khodorkovsky is a businessman of a transitional type, like
any other known businessman in Russia. But at the same time he is
particular: he is going beyond the limits of exclusively corporate business
construction, on the example of his company he suggests a practical model
of the society. And it is done not in an ultimate form in the manner of
Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. The Khodorkovsky label is being promoted
horizontally on the same level where the businessman is himself. But one
day it may happen so that this level will be the limit against which
majority of the electorate will rest.

A club of regional journalists which name can be translated as Firsthand
Facts was created for promotion of the Khodorkovsky label. It was not his
own idea to create the club, but he sponsors activity of the club. About 50
journalists from Russian province come to sessions of the club twice a
month. They listen to reports delivered by lectors from institutes and
ministries who share the same views Khodorkovsky does. At that, Mikhail
Khodorkovsky is the highlight of the program: he is democratic, easily
understood and thinks sensibly. The journalist cohort who regularly contact
with the oligarch can be called Khodorkovskys fifth column in the Russian

Provincial mass media is just a part of progressive promotion of
Khodorkovsky. For five years already he has been financing the
interregional public organization of youth and children New Civilization.

From time to time rumors and newspaper sensations say that Khodorkovskys
company YUKOS finances the communist party, or that Khodorkovsky tries to
reconcile the one-leader party Yabloko with the four-leader party Union of
Right-wing Forces. The YUKOS president has already declared that he would
quit the business in 2007, one year before presidential elections. No doubt
that one day Mikhail Khodorkovsky will launch a struggle for the
electorate. Otherwise, we are observing the first in the Russian history
instance of political altruism.

Igor Nikitin
Zolotoy Rog newspaper


Nezavisimaya Gazeta
March 18, 2003
CPRF leader promises the regime a series of protest campaigns
Author: Anatoly Kostyukov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]

An interview with Communist Party leader Gennadi Zyuganov

While Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov is busy trying to find out which
of his deputy prime ministers is obstructing the reforms, the left-
wing opposition is preparing to calling all of the Cabinet to account.
A recent plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party set
the date for a mass protest campaign: March 27-29. Communist leaders
intend to adopt the plan for the year's first "spring offensive"
Question: Your party's main slogan is "Putin is today's Yeltsin".
Judging by Vladimir Putin's popularity rating, however, Russian
citizens do not tend to associate him with his predecessor. The next
presidential election will be the first time that you will run against
a popular president. Do you think this is a risky undertaking?
Gennadi Zyuganov: Let me remind you of the high popularity
ratings Gorbachev and Yeltsin had at first, and how they crashed.
Besides, the pollsters themselves cannot explain Putin's rating. When
they ask respondents about Putin's achievements, they only get 18-20%
approval. Indeed, what has improved over the last three years? Has
crime been beaten? Has Russia's output of high-tech products
increased? Have the coffins stopped coming back from Chechnya? No way.
The economic growth stimulated by the default is over. There was no
investment in the Russian economy before Putin, and there is no
investment under Putin. Corruption is flourishing, and the nation is
dying out at the rate of one million people per year. Do you call this
stabilization? If it is, then it's the stabilization of Yeltsinism.
Question: The Communists might have appreciated that unlike
Yeltsin, Putin doesn't threaten to ban the Communist Party or remove
Lenin's body from the Mausoleum. Moreover, Putin has brought back the
music of the Soviet national anthem and restored the army's red flag.
Gennadi Zyuganov: It isn't hard to see what these generous
gestures are really worth. Anyone can talk to the people on television
for an hour or two and pretend he knows everything there is to know
about what proplems the people face, and has a solution to all
problems. That's window-dressing, right? There must be more to a
national leader than publicity stunts of this sort. Three years ago,
only three Russian regions experienced heating shortages in winter;
but this year, 30 regions have done so. Besides, Yeltsin never went as
far as selling land. Putin doesn't feel any compunctions. The
electricity system and railroads were not for sale before Putin. They
are, now. There were up to 50 kinds of social benefits enjoyed by the
elderly, disabled persons, women, and servicemen. Our present
government rescinded them all at a stroke. American colonels in
Tbilisi and NATO military bases in Central Asia appeared with Putin in
the Kremlin too. If you ask me, more destructive and harmful laws have
been passed over the last three years than over the seven preceding
Question: The opposition will always find some reason to
criticize the regime. You cannot argue, however, that regimes never
implement programs proposed by the opposition in reality.
Gennadi Zyuganov: There are certain requirements every national
leader, regardless of ideology, should meet. First and foremost, a
national leader is supposed to recognize the problems his country is
facing, and be able to find subordinates capable of handling these
problems. And what do we see nowadays? Positions of great
responsibility are offered to people virtually picked up off the
streets. Instead of professionals, the corridors of power are full of
people from the president's home town, amateurs without the necessary
knowledge or experience. Consider the Federation Council: as it used
to be, and as it is now. Consider its speakers: Stroyev and Mironov.
Mironov will never come close to the level of Stroyev.
The president distrusts recommendations offered by the
opposition. That's all right. There is, however, the State Council, a
body that owes its very existence to Putin and Putin alone. Moreover,
Putin chairs it. There cannot be an advisory body with more influence
than the State Council, can there? This is the way it is supposed to
be; but what do we really have? The State Council endorsed a program
of economic development written by a team led by Khabarovsk Governor
Viktor Ishayev. Where is the program now? In the wastebasket. The
government never even bothered to take a look, and the president
pretended that it's all right. It is very typical of the regime. It
mouths resolute phrases, it adopts crisis management programs, but the
nation is still sliding into an abyss. I have told Putin already: tell
your strategists to restrain themselves, tell them they do not have to
re-invent anything. Just take a look at how Roosevelt and Erhard got
their countries out of crises, take a look at the Japanese Miracle, at
what the Chinese have been doing. Analyze all this and go for it! But
they would not do it! What is there to discuss with such people? There
is nothing to discuss. Such people should give way to competent
managers and Russian patriots, who are ready to work for the people,
not for the nouveau riche.
Question: A few words about patriots and the nouveau riche. You
said in an article recently: "The people's patriotic movement nowadays
is an agreement between classes. To be more precise, it is an
agreement between labor and capital to achieve certain objectives." I
can't believe that was written by a communist.
Gennadi Zyuganov: Why act so surprised? Whoever knows Soviet
history remembers that Lenin changed the tactics of building socialism
four times within four years. We have to get Russia out of the ruins
again now. To achieve that, we should strive for consolidation of all
healthy forces in society.
Question: An "agreement between classes" must mean participation
of the Communist Party in the People's Patriotic Union. Your allies in
the Union inevitably cause some sort of row on the eve of every
election. Why are the Communists staying with this alliance?
Gennadi Zyuganov: We value this alliance as a form of cooperation
with people who are not communists, yet share our views on what needs
to be done. In the long run, voters do not really care what
organizations are called or who belongs to which political structure.
On the other hand, when voters see Nobel Prize winner Zhores Alferov
and generals Ivashov and Rodionov, they are duly impressed. As for the
scandals you've mentioned, I wouldn't exaggerate them.
Question: The Communists presently have a conflict with the
Executive Committee of the People's Patriotic Union. This is something
unprecedented, since matters have deteriorated to point of going to
Gennadi Zyuganov: No, I cannot say I recall any past incident
when political discord has resulted in a lawsuit. Let me correct you,
however. We do not have a conflict with the Executive Committee of the
People's Patriotic Union. Its chairman, Gennadi Semigin, was the one
who initiated legal proceedings against the Sovetskaya Rossiya and
Zavtra newspapers. This was his personal lawsuit. The conflict is
purely personal. Semigin was instructed to establish a trust of
financial support for the People's Patriotic Union. The was three
years ago. The People's Patriotic Union still doesn't have a trust. I
should admit that Semigin managed to provoke a split in our Leningrad
branch, and we were forced to take measures. A plenary meeting of the
municipal committee recently elected a new secretary, Svyatoslav
Sokol. Needless to say, this behavior on the part of the chairman of
the Executive Committee was and is criticized.
Question: What about Sergei Glaziev, who challenged your opinion
too? Has this incident affected his status as a valuable ally?
Gennadi Zyuganov: Glaziev is an independent politician. He is not
a party member, and therefore is not bound by its decisions. He is a
competent economist working in the People's Patriotic Union and we
value Glaziev in precisely this capacity.
Question: Would you say Glaziev has a chance of being one of the
top three names on the CPRF electoral list?
Gennadi Zyuganov: I think his chances are really good. I cannot
say anything else, however, because compilation of the list is a
prerogative of the party congress.
Question: So far as I know, the two top slots on the list are
already occupied. The first one is... you know who; and the second is
Alferov. The latest plenum of the Central Committee has decided to
raise funds for the party campaign coffers. Is that how you deal with
the liars saying that communists are on the payroll of the oligarchs?
Gennadi Zyuganov: We do not want to respond to nonsense. In the
first place, fund-raising is quite a legitimate action. Secondly, it
is the most straightforward method of forming what you call campaign
coffers. No one will give us free airtime on TV, you know, even though
it is funded with the money of our voters too. That is why we are
forced to borrow from the people who vote for us.
(Translated by A. Ignatkin)


Jamestown Foundation
Russia and Eurasia Review
Volume 2, Issue 6
March 18, 2003

by Mikhail Kochkin
Mikhail Kochkin is a postgraduate in linguistic studies and a volunteer with
"Eurocontact" NGO in Volgograd.

Political life in Russia boasts many phenomena which are hard for the
outsider to understand. One of these is the party system, which currently
comprises three main forces: the communists (the left wing), United Russia
(centrists and the pro-Kremlin "party of power") and the right
wing--currently in a lamentable state--consisting of Yabloko and the Union of
Right Forces (SPS).

Russia is unique in that the terms "left" and "right" don't work as
definitions of a party's political orientation. For example, the right-wing
Yabloko party in fact espouses left-of-center, liberal values, and in this
respect is close to Europe's social democrats. Meanwhile, the communists on
the "left" are fighting for the "glorious traditions of the past" and display
all the hallmarks of real right-wing conservatives in public and cultural

The right wing, such as it is in Russia's political system, is in a state of
disarray. No convincing conservative party of the right has yet been
established and there is no distinctive system of conservative ideas that is
intelligible to the electorate.

United Russia, which the Kremlin had intended should take on this role, is
patently not up to the task. This is due to a dearth of policy initiatives
and a lack of charismatic leaders, particularly since the reorganization of
the party leadership and the departure of Sergei Shoigu, Yury Luzhkov and
Mintimer Shaimiev.

January saw an unexpected slump in public support for United Russia, from 27
percent in December to 14 percent in January, according to statistics from
the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (those losses were,
however, reversed in February). Many believe that the party needs a major
overhaul if it is to succeed in the December 2003 State Duma elections. A
party that simply relies on the support of the president (who still has not
formally signed on as a member), like a picture that depends on the nail that
fixes it to the wall, cannot be viable. Political elites may be confident
that the current situation can be sustained over the next few years, while
Putin remains in power, but they also have to start thinking about what
happens when he goes.

So it is no accident that at the end of January we saw new signs of life from
Russia's conservatives. First, the respectable journal Vedomosti, and then
the REGNUM information agency, published a most remarkable document entitled
"The Serafim Club Memorandum." Named after one of Russia's most revered
saints, Serafim of Sarov, this club has brought together a number of public
figures who have in common a right-wing, conservative orientation. Almost
none of them are in power. The nucleus of the new movement comprises three
political commentators from the "Odnako" ("However") program on the ORT TV
channel, Mikhail Leontiev, Maksim Sokolov and Aleksandr Privalov. It also
includes the chief editor of the influential economic weekly, Ekspert, Valery
Fadeev, and another well-known producer, Aleksei Balabanov, creator of the
chauvinist movie blockbusters "Brother-2" and "War." With such heavyweights
on board, the club should be taken seriously. These men have already had a
significant impact on both public opinion and the policies of the

The content of the club's first document is essentially an appeal to "abandon
the politics of fear for the politics of growth." Russia's current political
elite is accused of inertia and reluctance to make effective use of its
existing capabilities, resources and opportunities to speed up economic
development. With Russia's new capitalist managers in place, with a huge
internal market, and with a rather unexpected looming world crisis, Russia
should be poised for takeoff. In the words of the appeal, "Russia can either
accept her historical defeat and agree to take a back seat, or reclaim her
rightful position among the world leaders." Playing against Francis
Fukuyama's "End of History," the appeal calls for the country to make a
triumphant "return to history." Otherwise, it warns, "the victors will show
us our place in the backyard of the new world system." The rhetoric of these
"prophets of the new empire" is full of mysticism and religious allusion: the
"return" must be achieved by means of an "unconditional faith that death can
be overcome by a zeal for resurrection." This "zeal for resurrection" is
considered impossible without "ideological unity," the absence of which is of
great concern to the "Serafims."

It is no surprise that the text does not once use the term "civil society" or
devote a single word to the responsibilities and accountability of the
authorities. For the Serafims, these words are like a red rag to a bull--a
provocative invention of "Westernizers" and liberals. On the other hand,
there are repeated references to the "will of the state" and "economic

As noted by journalist Aleksei Chadaev in his response to the memorandum,
"the main task of the state is not to stimulate growth by drawing up assorted
strategic plans, but to create conditions that allow this growth to develop
on its own." But this is only possible if the country cultivates the rule of
law and respect for the rights of the individual. Moreover, it is not clear
what is supposed to happen suddenly to all the problems which produced the
"politics of fear" in the 1990s. These problems stymied serious economic
growth and scared off foreign and local investors. Given the current
lawlessness in the country and the links between law enforcement agencies and
the criminal world, it takes a very brave man to do business in Russia these
days, unless he has powerful contacts among the authorities and within the
mafia (which are often one and the same).

The slogans of the Serafims make use of stock geopolitical cliches about
world confrontation as well as revanchist ideas of Russia as a world leader.
They also make use of libertarian notions of economic processes that, they
say, are subject to direct control--all that is needed is the will to do it.
It would probably be fair to assume that the notorious phrase "the national
idea" will soon be appearing in the club's texts. Perhaps the only thing
worse than the inertia of the political elite is the Serafim's lack of grasp
on reality, and their desire to build a superpower before the country even
has a normal standard of living for its citizens.

The Serafims, as committed statists, are revolted by the prominence of
"bourgeois" concerns regarding both the individual and standards of living
(the manifesto speaks of these as "sinking quietly and rather pleasingly into
the mires of history"). They dream of a vast new Russian empire that will
emerge as a result of the current "global crisis." Despite their frequent
references to the need for modernization, the club members still think in the
categories of Russian 19th century conservatives such as Konstantin Leontiev
and Konstantin Pobedonostsev. The latter was an adviser to Alexander III and
Nicholas II who fought for "Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality." Hence the
club's deliberate use of the language of the "old regime." (For example, to
describe the present government's concern with running a budget surplus they
use the neologism "budgetobesie," which means budget-madness and is analogous
to the term "mrakobesie" or obscurantism.)

There is nothing surprising about this cocktail of ideas--things have always
been hard for Russian conservatism. While the conservative parties of Western
Europe have relied on the propertied classes (especially landowners), with an
appeal based on a defense of firmly entrenched traditions, in Russia it is
hard to find any core of conservatism. The propertied classes were wiped out,
and Russia's way of life has changed so often in the last century that it is
hard to define just what values and traditions the new conservatives should
build on if they are to reunite today's polarized society. So conservatism in
Russia is built not on any objectively existing economic interests, but on
ideological dogmas that have been espoused by the various repressive
governments that this geographical area has known. This is why it so often
resembles not conservatism as the rest of the world knows it, but banal
chauvinism. They offer a melange of religious-mystical rhetoric,
traditionalism, isolationism, and a conviction that the interests of the
state should take priority over the interests of the individual.

What is to be the role of this new movement? The Serafims say that their task
is the design of a new economic and political image for Russia. Such
ambitious aims are normally the province of political parties, and there are
grounds to believe that the club will become the intellectual and ideological
center of the United Russia party, which one of the memorandum's authors, the
journalist Leontiev, recently joined. This possibility is indirectly
supported by statements made by the current United Russia leader, Interior
Minister Boris Gryzlov: "In 2003 the party is going to change its image. We
need to give it an ideological core, and then revitalize the intellectual
life of the party and increase the influence of its thinking."

The party of power is in severe need of an ideology that it can put forward
at election time, and it is clear that it will not be the brainchild of any
of the assorted bureaucrats and career politicians who form its leadership.
So this task has been given to the "tribunes and intellectuals"--journalists
with daily access to a TV audience of millions. (Just as in 1996 a group of
intellectuals came up with the theme of anti-communism as the unifying
principle for Boris Yeltsin's surprising electoral comeback.)

It is not necessarily the case that the new concept of conservatism will be
adopted by United Russia's party structures. A post-modernist push from the
"new conservatives" is capable of creating something much more brilliant and
unconventional than the sluggish bureaucratic brontosaurus that is the "party
of power" can ever assimilate or digest. In this case, the Serafims may serve
merely as an intellectual facade for the party, rather than its nerve-center,
along the lines of the second brain that the great dinosaurs had near the
coccyx, controlling their tail movements. But if the "tail" were to learn how
to "wag the dinosaur" and wield real influence over United Russia's program
and image, then we might witness a transformation of the party of power into
Russia's first genuinely strong and popular conservative party.

Where exactly the Serafims will end up by international standards is an open
question. Whether it is more likely to gravitate, ideologically and
aesthetically, to the extreme, chauvinistic parties of Jean Le Pen and Jorg
Haider, or to Europe's "conservative mainstream," will in large part depend
on a successful dialogue between Russia and the West.