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1. AFP: Russian secret services told to produce proof of bomb "exercise" claim. (re 1999 apartment bombings)
2. Reuters: McCartney finally gets to go "Back in the USSR."
3. AFP: UN Security Council spent force, Russia must seek new options: analysts.
4. Voice of America: Lisa McAdams, Iraq Issue Poisons US-Russian Relations.
6. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Georgiy Satarov, Pragmatic Romanticism. Russia Should Not Be Afraid of a Deterioration in Relations with the Bush Administration.
7. BBC Monitoring: Russian liberal MP backs regime change in Iraq, slams Chechen referendum. (Yavlinsky)
10. RFE/RL Washington: BRIEFING REPORT: Akhmadov Offers Chechnya Peace Proposal.
12. RFE/RL: Valentinas Mite, Chechnya: Referendum Offers Little In Way Of True Independence.
13. AP: Putin Approves Military's Hiring Plans.
14. AP: Boston Globe Reporter Expelled From Iraq. (David Filipov)
15. BBC Monitoring: TV commentator says Russian judiciary corrupt. (Yuliya Latynina)
16. Rossiskaya Gazeta: Lilia SHEVTSOVA, PRESIDENT PUTIN: ARBITER OR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER? March Theses on a Received Subject.


Russian secret services told to produce proof of bomb "exercise" claim
March 19, 2003

A Russian court Wednesday ordered the head of the secret services to produce
a written order proving that an apparent bomb attempt on an apartment block
four years ago was a training exercise and not a real attack.

Judge Irina Shikanova issued the order after deputy Sergei Kovalyov said that
sugar sacks containing explosives discovered in the basement of a block of
flats in Ryazan on September 22, 1999 were widely believed to have been
intended to blow up the 12-storey building rather than part of an "exercise."

Kovalyov had brought the lawsuit in a challenge to the head of the secret
services, Nikolai Patrushev, to produce the written order establishing that
the incident in the southern Russian city had not been an attempt to blow up
the building.

The incident came after four earlier attacks on apartment blocks in Moscow
and other cities had left nearly 300 people dead.

Residents found the sacks and alerted the police who then evacuated the

Following allegations that the sacks had been placed by the FSB, the
successor agency to the feared KGB, Patrushev said that the sacks were a
"false bomb" containing only sugar in what had been an "exercise" to test the
efficiency of local security forces.

However he refused to provide written proof of the claim.

"There are two versions of the Ryazan 'false-bomb' incident," Kovalyov told
the court.

"For some people, this was not an exercise but the part of a real plan to
blow up the building. For others, the FSB did not intend to blow up the
building and it was a false bomb, but they were intending to create a scare
so that they could intervene and 'heroically' save the residents," he said.

"Given such rumours, an honest administration has to be totally transparent,
we can't have any state secrets," he stressed.

The Ryazan incident fuelled rumours that the FSB could have been behind the
previous bombings, subsequently taken by then prime minister Vladimir Putin
-- a former FSB chief -- as justification for his military intervention in

The series of deadly bombings and the swift Russian military response aroused
patriotism in Russians who swept Putin to the presidency half a year later.

Patrushev was not present in court but represented by an aide, Vasily Sheleg,
who argued that the court was not competent to deal with a "state secret."

The issue could only be examined by a higher court, he said, adding that it
was not the role of a lawmaker to ask the questions that Kovalyov had raised.

After a three-hour hearing, judge Shikanova ordered the FSB to produce the
required document at a resumption of proceedings on March 26.

The allegations of FSB involvement in the apartment block bombings have been
taken up by the exiled magnate and former head of the National Security
Council, Boris Berezovsky, who backed Putin to become Russian president but
has since fallen out with him.

Last year he screened a documentary film in a Ryazan cinema purporting to
establish a link between the FSB and the bombings.


McCartney finally gets to go "Back in the USSR"

LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney will play his
first concert in Russia later this year -- in front of 100,000 fans in Red

"I've long wanted to play in Russia but for a number of years when the
communists were in power, they didn't want me to," McCartney said in a
statement on Wednesday. "I'm delighted that at last I can play there."

McCartney, who wrote the Beatles hit "Back in the USSR" in the 1960s, said he
would play Red Square on May 24. His 36-track, three-hour concert will
include more than 20 Beatles classics.

The Beatles, who were at the forefront of the cultural and sexual revolution
in the West, were not welcome in the former Soviet Union during their heyday
in the 1960s.


UN Security Council spent force, Russia must seek new options: analysts
March 19, 2003

Top Russian diplomacy analysts gathered Wednesday to urge President Vladimir
Putin to forget the UN Security Council and start building a new global
framework with the United States in which Moscow's voice would carry more

The Kremlin-sponsored forum suggested Washington may soon decide to reassess
its relations with the United Nations after having been spurned by both
France and Russia in its efforts to win an international stamp of approval
for a war on Iraq.

"The Security Council received the kiss of death" from the United States on
Monday when US President George W. Bush delivered his two-day ultimatum to
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, said Fond Politika policy institute chief
Vyacheslav Nikonov.

"It is now clear that the UN Security Council, on its own, can no longer
prevent world crises," agreed influential analyst Sergei Karaganov, chairman
of the Kremlin-linked Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.

Karaganov suggested Russia should try to use its political seat within the
Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialized nations to develop a new
institution that oversees top global policies in the United Nations' place.

"It is now clear that the United States is unlikely to return to the United
Nations" to seek another resolution, added independent political analyst
Andrei Piontkovsky.

"But the council was always a talking shop ... and really meaningful
decisions were made elsewhere. We must now agree what Russia thinks its new
role should be."

It has long been recognized that Russia lost much of its diplomatic influence
following the Soviet Union's diplomatic disintegration and economic demise.

Moscow failed to prevent both the US-led drive to overthrow former Yugoslav
president Slobodan Milosevic and the eastward expansion on NATO in the 1990s.

But the Security Council -- where Russia is rooted as one of the five
permanent members and wields veto power that it exercised at will in the Cold
War days -- has always been seen as one of Moscow's last vestiges of
influence on the diplomatic arena.

With this council voice and against strong odds, Moscow struggled to grant
Iraq more time to disarm and avert military strikes since they threatened to
lead to a collapse of global oil prices on which Russia depends for budget

But Washington -- in the view of most public opinion worldwide -- decided to
sidestep the council by delivering the ultimatum instead of tabling a new UN
resolution on ways of dealing with Saddam.

Moscow appears now to be scrambling to figure out how to respond. And the
Moscow forum urged Putin on Wednesday to make some tough choices fast.

The analysts agreed Bush's move spared Putin taking the dangerous option of
using a Russian veto for only the third time in the post-Soviet era and thus
seriously compromising relations with the United States.

"Thank God, we did not have to use our veto" against a tough second
US-British-Spanish resolution on Iraq, Nikonov said.

But analysts agreed that keeping on marginally good terms with the United
States in the short term does not mean Russia will be able to influence
global decisions in its currently disheveled economic and military state.

"I do not think that Russia will play any part in a new Iraq," said Vitaly
Tretyakov, former editor of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta and a powerful voice in
Russian diplomatic issues.

"What we had in terms of oil investments (in Iraq) was virtual -- no one
could truly rely on Saddam," agreed Alexander Konovalov of the Institute for
Strategic Assessments.

"Those (oil investments) are lost. Now we have to figure out how to keep tabs
on this big brother of ours," Konovalov said referring to the United States.

"The big brother will be breaking necks of the bad guys first," said
Konovalov in reference to strikes against Iraq.

"But (the United States) might then move on to overthrowing the good guys,
and we would then have to figure out how to stop this. I think the G8 might
be one such institution."

Russia has a political seat on the G8 and was promised full economic
membership on the body by 2006.

"In any case, the United Nations must be reformed before it can be trusted to
make any meaningful decisions again," said analyst Sergei Markov, the Kremlin
forum's co-chairman.


Voice of America
March 19, 2003
Iraq Issue Poisons US-Russian Relations
Lisa McAdams

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin have vowed to keep
talking, as the United States readies to launch a war against Iraq, a move
long opposed by Moscow. Both leaders have expressed the hope that their
disagreement over Iraq will not side-track what had been a flourishing
bilateral relationship.

President Putin made few public comments on Iraq, almost to the end of the
diplomatic process, allowing his foreign minister and other officials to
express Moscow's extreme dissatisfaction with the U.S. position.

But in the crucial hours before President Bush issued his final ultimatum
to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, to leave Baghdad or face war, President
Putin spoke out. He said war against Iraq would be a serious mistake,
fraught with the gravest consequences for Iraq and global security as a

One day later President Putin took a softer tone. In a telephone
conversation with President Bush late Tuesday, Mr. Putin called the U.S.
decision "regrettable," but agreed with Mr. Bush that the U.S.-Russian
relationship must not suffer long-term damage as a result.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer also said the two countries will try
not to let this dispute hurt their growing relationship.

"They agree about the threats in the region, but it is no secret that they
don't see eye-to-eye on whether the use of force is a required remedy to
make Saddam Hussein disarm," he said. "But the two of them in the phone
call did stress to each other the importance of maintaining good
U.S.-Russian relations and both expressed confidence that would indeed

There are indications that will take some effort.

Tuesday, the lower house of parliament, the Duma, postponed indefinitely a
vote on ratification of a landmark arms reduction treaty ratified earlier
by the United States.

Officials indicated the dispute over Iraq made this a bad time for Russia
to commit to arms reduction.

For the deputy director of the Moscow Carnegie Center, Dmitry Trenin, that
is just one example of what he expects to be far more political "fall-out"
to come.

"I see the relationship going downhill as a result of what has happened
over the past few weeks," he said. "I would also add that the mainstay of
the relationship since September 11 has been the unusually warm, incredibly
good relationship between Presidents Bush and Putin. That relationship I
think has been severely damaged. I do not think it will be restored to its
former splendor."

Mr. Trenin added that even when the Bush-Putin relationship was
flourishing, there was relatively little that indicated the same kind of
closeness beneath the level of the two heads of state. Borrowing from an
American phrase, Mr. Trenin proclaims that the Bush-Putin "honeymoon" is over.

Independent analyst Pavel Felgenhauer agrees. "President Bush maybe will
have to answer what the heck he saw in Putin's eyes, because when push came
to shove, Putin, over Iraq, did not support him [Bush]," he said.

Mr. Felgenhauer is referring to the well-reported quote following the first
summit between Presidents Bush and Putin, in which Mr. Bush said he looked
into Mr. Putin's eyes and saw his soul. Mr. Bush went on to say that
"Vladimir," as he called him, was his friend and was a man he thought the
United States could work with.

For a time during the diplomatic dispute over Iraq it appeared that
President Putin's biggest worry was going to be whether to veto a
U.S.-backed security council resolution authorizing military action against
Iraq. President Putin was spared the difficult decision when U.S., British,
and Spanish officials decided not to call for a vote on the resolution
after failing to secure enough support for its passage.

But these days, analyst Felgenhauer says President Putin has a far more
serious problem; how much his opposition to the U.S. position over Iraq is
going to cost him in terms of future areas of bilateral cooperation.

Mr. Felgenhauer believes at least part of the answer will soon be known. He
says the United States and Russia have to face the problem of nuclear
proliferation in Iran.

He notes that Iran's controversial Bushehr nuclear reactor is due to become
operational in less than a year. Mr. Felgenhauer says at that time, if not
before, Russia's assistance to Iran on the project could again be called
into question.

"Russia would have a much stronger arguing position if it supported the
United States on Iraq," he pointed out. "Now our position is weak and it
will be very hard for us to argue in Washington that we will control the
Iranians and what we transfer to them [to] see it does not go to any harm."

U.S. officials fear Tehran might use the project to develop nuclear
weapons. Iran has said its program is for peaceful purposes only. And
Russian officials have given similar assurances.

The deputy director of the Moscow Carnegie Center, Dmitry Trenin, agrees
Iran will likely be the next testing ground for the future status of
U.S.-Russian relations.

But for Mr. Trenin, beyond Iraq and Iran, there is a bigger question, at
least for Russia.

"A lot of the political class in this country is still reeling at the loss
of Russia's superpower status and to them, Iraq, it is not so much about
America using force against a third country, it is about Russia's impotence
to weigh-in in a serious and decisive way on international developments,"
he said. "And that is something that a lot of people are not willing to
accept yet."

Mr. Trenin predicts rising anti-American sentiment in Russia as a result of
the U.S. decision to abandon diplomacy on Iraq and move toward war.
Analysts say that will make it even more difficult for President Putin to
try to mend relations with the United States, particularly with Russian
parliamentary elections coming up.



the United Nations on Iraq gives the right to use force against Baghdad
bypassing the UN Charter, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said at the
New York session of the United Nations Security Council on Iraq.

"Regrettably, at the moment when the prospect of disarmament of Iraq through
inspections has become real, problems directly unrelated to resolution 1441
and other United Nations decisions on Iraq have come to the foreground," he

None of these decisions "authorizes a forcible change of leadership in a
sovereign state," he said.

"If such actions are taken, they will not be conducive to the strengthening
of unity of the international community at a time when the world is badly in
need of solidarity and the pooling of efforts above all to stave off such a
real and common threat as international terrorism," stressed Igor Ivanov.

Russia is convinced of the need "to do all for overcoming the critical
situation as soon as possible and leave the Iraq problem in the course of
political settlement on the strong basis of the United Nations Charter and
international law," he went on to say.

"Only in this way can we ensure conditions for the continuation of an
efficient multilateral cooperation in the struggle against global threats and
challenges with the preservation of the central role of the United Nations
Security Council," stressed Igor Ivanov.


Russian Pundit Sees 'Pragmatic Advantages' in Quarreling With Bush

Rossiyskaya Gazeta
18 March 2003
Article by Georgiy Satarov: "Pragmatic Romanticism. Russia Should
Not Be Afraid of a Deterioration in Relations with the Bush

[Passage omitted on case for Russian veto of
second UN resolution on Iraq] Our analysts are fond of saying that
Saddam Husayn is not loved in the Arab world and that consequently
military actions will not influence the attitude toward the United
States. Following Turkey's refusal to help the United States in military
operations, the naivety of this reasoning has become obvious. No matter
how people in the East may view the Iraqi leader, he is closer to the
Arabs than any Western saint. And an attack on Iraq will be regarded
practically universally as aggression against the entire Arab world, with
all the ensuing consequences. Added to that is the obvious strengthening
of the anti-globalist movement that will take place as a result of the
aggression. And will the victory in Iraq, if it is achieved, lead to a
reduction in Islamic terrorism? It would be naive to expect that it
would. Unfortunately, the United States and other countries will have to
reckon with an increase in the risk of a terrorist response to the start
of military operations in Iraq. No matter how military operations may
develop, they will carry the risk of losses, the price of which is much
higher in the United States than in other countries.
From all this it can be concluded that the war in Iraq will with a
high degree of probability hit the Bush administration and give its
opponents in the Democratic Party weighty trump cards that they will be
able to use in the approaching presidential election. It is also
interesting to recall that one of the complaints expressed by the Clinton
administration's Republicans in the last election was formulated thus:
"The Democrats lost Russia." An intriguing element of the new political
situation will be that now the Democrats will be able to make this
accusation against the Republicans in turn, with more serious motivation.
Bush's dubious election victory, the deterioration in the economic
situation, the war in Iraq -- all this makes a victory for the Democrats
more than likely. And at the same time friendly relations with Russia
will be restored ceremoniously.
Thus, the negative consequences of quarreling with Bush that people in
Russia are so afraid of are either exaggerated or short-term. But the
positive consequences are long-term and fundamental. First, for a time
Russia becomes a real second pole in world politics -- not in economic or
strength terms, but in moral terms. We should not underestimate [as
published] the weakness of this kind of symbolic capital in view of the
fact that it is just as attractive as, for many people in the world, the
pole occupied by the United States currently is repellent. Second, by
occupying this pole, Russia, as has already been noted, acquires a unique
and autonomous position. How long our country can occupy that position
depends on the supreme authorities and on the skills of Russian
diplomats. For one thing, the existence of an autonomous position that
is popular in the world is commercially advantageous, since it makes it
possible to defend our interests much more effectively.
In conclusion, one aspect of the choice of proposed strategy that
should be discussed is Russia's attitude toward the Saddam Husayn regime.
The art of diplomacy and public politics should be directed toward
clarifying our position: If Saddam is a bandit, it does not follow that
we should use bandit methods. This position, which may appear romantic,
has long-term pragmatic advantages.


BBC Monitoring
Russian liberal MP backs regime change in Iraq, slams Chechen referendum
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 1108 gmt 19 Mar 03

The leader of the Russia's centre-right Yabloko party has backed regime
change in Iraq, but without the direct use of force. Speaking in an interview
with Russian Ekho Moskvy radio on 19 March, Grigoriy Yavlinskiy said a large
international contingent should be amassed to bring political and military
pressure to bear on Iraq, but that action should stop short of a large-scale
military operation. In the same interview, the Yabloko leader also cast
doubts on the value of the Chechen referendum, arguing that the only thing
that could alter the situation in the republic is a peace conference chaired
by the Russian president.

Regime change in Iraq

Yavlinskiy prefaced his comments on the impending war in Iraq by stressing
the need for Russia to come out unequivocally against the regime in Baghdad.
"It is extremely important for Russia, if it wants to be called a democratic
country, to give the correct assessment of the regime that has taken hold in
Baghdad, and of the events taking place there," he said.

He went on to voice is support for regime change. "Yabloko thinks that it is
vital to disarm the regime of Saddam Husayn," said the party leader. "It
thinks that it is in Russia's interests to totally change the Baghdad regime."

He then explained how this might be achieved: "Yabloko thinks that, in order
to achieve this aim, military means should be used. Yabloko thinks that an
enormous, I stress, an extremely significant international military
contingent should be amassed around Iraq and in this region, for an extended
period, for the whole transitional period. The task of this contingent would
be to bring direct and extremely significant military and political pressure
to bear with the aim of disarming and altering the nature of the regime in
Baghdad. The contingent would also serve to prevent any civil war which could
break out in Iraq after the change of regime in Baghdad," Yavlinskiy told

He stressed, though, that this should be done through "a cold war, and
without the start of large-scale military operations". In particular, "Russia
should not send a single soldier to the war... We should not get involved in
any military operations", stressed Yavlinskiy.

The Yabloko leader then went on to look at the wider problem of the so-called
rogue states and other undemocratic regimes. "Iraq is clearly not the last
country of this type. It is necessary to understand - first there was an
operation in Afghanistan, and now Iraq. And what then? North Korea, and then,
well, let's say, Iran, then half of the CIS, then Syria, then Libya. Then we
have the friendly totalitarian regimes," Yavlinskiy commented.

"It is necessary to find a common solution because this [Iraq] is not the
last place in the world where this problem will have to solved. And here
Russia could play a very important role," he stressed.

Asked if he agreed with the opinion of Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
that Iraq is not a threat, Yavlinskiy said: "No, this statement by Ivanov, in
my view, does not correspondent to reality. In the first place it does not
accord with the facts. Because Iraq has bacteriological and chemical
weapons... You also have to remember that Baghdad finances suicide bombers.
These suicide bombers operate in various places. Even Russia has confronted
this kind of phenomenon. The sponsoring of suicide bombers and the
development of this kind of terrorism is, indeed, a very serious danger,"
said Yavlinskiy.

Chechen referendum

The interview then moved on to the constitutional referendum to be held in
Chechnya on 23 March. Here Yavlinskiy sounded a pessimistic note. "I think
that the situation will simply stay as it is. And I think that, despite
everything, it will be necessary to bring about a realistic and genuine
political process to settle the Chechen problem," he remarked.

He then considered further the possibility for a long-term solution to the
Chechen conflict. "We think that it is absolutely vital to hold a peace
conference on the situation in Chechnya. What's more, we are of the opinion
that a conference on peace in Chechnya should take place in Moscow. We are of
the opinion that such a conference should be held under the chairmanship of
the president in Russia. This is crucial," stressed Yavlinskiy, adding that
the conference should be attended by "all sides in the conflict... except war


RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly
Vol. 3, No. 12, 19 March 2003

REGIONS... Rallies against a possible U.S.-led military action
against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein were held in numerous
locations across Russia last week. In Moscow on 14 March, more than
1,000 people took part in protests, according to ITAR-TASS.
Greenpeace activists managed to hang large signs reading "Veto the
War" and "Stop War" opposite the Kremlin in downtown Moscow. On the
evening of 13 March, some unidentified young people threw red paint
at the McDonald's restaurant on Moscow's Pushkin Square, newsru.com
reported. On a building adjoining the restaurant, the slogan "Peace
in Iraq, War with McDonald's" appeared in red paint. In Vladivostok,
about 100 students and environmentalists staged a picket outside the
U.S. Consulate, ITAR-TASS reported. A similar action was held outside
the U.S. Consulate in Yekaterinburg earlier in the month. On 18
March, State Duma deputies from Rostov Oblast discussed the pending
war with Ekho Rostova. Duma Deputy Vladimir Averchenko (People's
Deputy) expressed the view that the war is essentially a large
commercial venture on the part of the United States. Deputy Mikhail
Yemelyanov (Yabloko) said Russia could sustain large economic losses
in the event of war against Iraq. JAC

Chelyabinsk, the owners of a popular restaurant have stopped serving
U.S. and British citizens to protest the policies of the governments
of those countries vis-a-vis Iraq, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported
on 15 March. The owners have posted a sign explaining the new policy
on the door of the restaurant and have declared they are willing to
suffer the consequent financial losses. Earlier in the month, the
owners of a cafe in Taganrog in Rostov Oblast also announced they
will not serve citizens of the United States or Great Britain in
response to these countries' "aggressive policies" and "attempts to
violate the UN Charter" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 March 2003). On 18
March, the presidium of the Union of Entrepreneurs in Taganrog issued
a statement denouncing "the aggressive policies of the United
States," regions.ru reported. The entrepreneurs met to decide whether
to support the anti-U.S. policy of the local cafe owners. JAC


March 18, 2003
By Igor Torbakov

With the United States poised to attack Iraq, the policy-making elite in
Russia is grappling with a dilemma posed by the Bush administrations
unilateralist foreign policy. While most in Moscow believe that an Iraq war
will seriously damage Russian interests, a split is developing over how
Russia should respond to the imminent outbreak of war. One side appears
ready to continue opposition to US military action, while the other says
that Russia ought to embrace a realpolitik approach, and cooperate with the

Russia, along with France and Germany, has thus far led the international
opposition to the Bush administrations relentless drive for the armed
ouster of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. This opposition helped frustrate
the US attempt to secure a United Nations Security Council endorsement for
military action in Iraq.

This confrontational Russian stance exposed divisions within the countrys
policy community. A significant number of Russian commentators and
policymakers opposed the countrys Security Council position, arguing that
a head-on collision with the United States raised unacceptable risks to
Russias interests. For many, however, the desire to maintain cordial
relations with Washington is not rooted in affinity for the United States,
but more out of concern over the Bush administrations perceived arrogant
and arbitrary behavior.

Russias dilemma is not a "choice between the US and Iraq," Alexander
Bovin, a liberal political commentator and Russias former ambassador to
Israel, wrote in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily. "It is a different choice
the one between international law and international arbitrariness; between
the UN Charter that, whatever its deficiencies, seeks to resolve the
cardinal issues of international life on the collective basis, and the
arrogance and hubris of power that ignores the world public opinion."

Bovin, while perhaps approving of Russias UN stance as morally sound,
suggested that existing geopolitical conditions required Moscow to adopt an
expedient approach concerning the Iraq crisis. Quoting the wily French
diplomat Talleyrand, Bovin asserted that politics is the art of cooperating
with the inevitable. If diplomatic means could not deter the Bush
administration from war, Moscow must bow to reality and now seek some sort
of accommodation with Washington. "It is unwise to adopt a noble pose of
the defender of international law," Bovin said. "The political loss will
far exceed moral gain."

Russias potential loss, most in Moscow seem to agree, could be enormous.
Alexander Pikayev, a military expert at the Moscow Carnegie Center, said in
a commentary on the Russkii Zhurnal web site that an Iraq war could
seriously damage Russias economic development. A prolonged US occupation
of Iraq could shut Russian oil interests out of what is currently a
lucrative market for Moscow. It would also be likely to prompt a
significant fall in global oil prices. Given the Russian budgets
dependency on oil and gas revenue, Pikayev asserted a fall-off in global
prices "will be extremely painful and will negatively affect the
[countrys] economic situation."

Russian political analysts are also concerned about out the impact of the
likely US occupation of Iraq. Many believe that the US presence in Iraq
will encourage the present trend of destabilization in the already
turbulent Middle East. Potential chaos in a region not that far removed
from Russias southern borders may cause a dangerous spillover into the
Caucasus and Central Asia.

A more fundamental question for Moscows policy-making community is how to
contain US unilateralism. The Iraq crisis has dramatically illustrated the
Bush administrations worldview: Washington now considers itself to be in a
permanent, legitimate state of self-defense, and has assumed the right to
designate its enemies and subsequently make war. This new reality makes
Russian politicians nervous.

Fearful of unfettered US might, the Russian Foreign Ministry has developed
a "unity-in-diversity" doctrine, which is designed to stand in stark
contrast with US unilateralism. "Pluralism is an unalienable element of
democracy," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said in comments published
in the influential business daily Vedomosti. "Each country has a right to
prove its case."

Ivanovs doctrine may not be in Russias best interests, some influential
policy makers contend. Moscows diplomatic approach to the United States
should be calibrated so as to best promote Moscows interests, or in the
case of an Iraq offensive, to minimize the fallout, Ivanov critics contend.

Vladimir Lukin, vice-speaker of the State Duma, is among the prominent
critics of Russias current diplomatic position. In a commentary published
in the Moskovskie Novosti weekly, Lukin cautioned against Russia assuming a
leading role in trying to frustrate US strategic aims. "We might get caught
in an old trap," Lukin said. "When Europe is unhappy with the United
States, they push Russia to the forefront while they stand behind, settling
their differences with the United States in a quiet way."

Aleksei Arbatov, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee,
believes that if Moscow quickly shifts away from its confrontational
course, Russia could stand to benefit in unexpected ways from unilateral
American military action. If the war is short, the Bush administration
might be interested in Russias cooperation in Iraqs post-war
stabilization and economic recovery. If the US military operation
encounters difficulty, "the United States will seek Russias assistance
even more actively and will be ready to pay in other spheres of
[Russian-American] relations," Arbatov said.

Editors Note: Igor Torbakov is a freelance journalist and researcher who
specializes in CIS political affairs. He holds an MA in History from Moscow
State University and a PhD from the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. He was
Research Scholar at the Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of
Sciences, Moscow, 1988-1997; a Visiting Scholar at the Kennan Institute,
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC, 1995, and
a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University, New York, 2000. He is now based
in Istanbul, Turkey.


From: ZvanersM@rferl.org
Sent: Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Subject: BRIEFING REPORT: Akhmadov Offers Chechnya Peace Proposal

Akhmadov Offers Chechnya Peace Proposal

(Washington, DC--March 19, 2003) Ilyas Akhmadov, Foreign Minister of the
unrecognized Chechen Republic of
Ichkeria, unveiled a new initiative to bring peace to his war-torn region
at a briefing at RFE/RL on March 18. Akhmadov was accompanied by French
political philosopher Andre Gluksmann and Olivier Dupuis, who serves on
the Constitutional Commission of the European Parliament and is a
substitute member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Akhmadov offered a plan for resolving the crisis that he compared
to that in Kosovo or East Timor: that the United Nations would assume
responsibility for a resolution; Russian troops would withdraw in favor of
a UN peacekeeping contingent; the multinational force would pacify the
region and set the foundation for representative institutions and eventual
elections. The plan (which can be viewed online at
http://www.peaceinchechnya.org/peaceplans.htm) would help Chechnya, he said,
because it would be a guarantee of its
existence and open the road to statehood. It would help Russia because it
would stabilize the area remove a danger on its flank. Achieving peace
"is an antiterrorist necessity," Akhmadov noted.
Akhmadov saw little hope that the March 23 referendum, which asks
voters to approve a new constitution and regards Chechnya as an "integral
and inseparable part of the Russian Federation," would bring a stable,
viable peace to Chechnya. In particular, he criticized the fact that,
according to the Russian Constitution, Russian soldiers stationed there
would be allowed to vote.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a private, international
communications service to Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe; the
Caucasus; and Central and Southwestern Asia funded by the U.S. Congress
through the Broadcasting Board of Governors.



MOSCOW, MARCH 19. /RIA NOVOSTI/. - Sergei Yastrzhembsky, aide to President
Vladimir Putin, approves prospects for an amnesty in Chechnya. "It may bring
certain desirable fruit," he remarked to journalists tonight. An amnesty
would make developments in Chechnya calmer, and improve its social and
political situation.

Ahmad Kadyrov, republican administration head, spoke in favour of an amnesty
at a recent Kremlin conference with members of the Chechen clergy. The
gathering approved his opinion.

An amnesty demands certain official preparations. In particular, resolution
on it is up to the State Duma, the federal parliament's lower house, pointed
out Mr. Yastrzhembsky.


Chechnya: Referendum Offers Little In Way Of True Independence
By Valentinas Mite

Sunday's (23 March) referendum in Chechnya will ask voters to approve a new
draft constitution and pave the way for presidential and parliamentary
elections. If the referendum is successful, Moscow will move forward with
plans for a federal treaty establishing Chechnya's administration and status
within the Russian Federation. The Kremlin is calling the referendum an
opportunity for Chechnya to secure broad control over its affairs. But as
RFE/RL reports, analysts say the republic will be far from independent.

Prague, 19 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Observers say Moscow's blueprint for change
in Chechnya -- beginning with this weekend's referendum and ending with a new
government and a federal treaty with Russia -- may be a fresh start in
Russian-Chechen relations.

Nikolai Petrov is a political analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center. He told
RFE/RL that Moscow expects its agenda for Chechnya to succeed with no major
setbacks. "It has been announced several times that immediately after the
referendum -- the [Kremlin] has no doubts about the success of the referendum
on the constitution -- a go-ahead will be given for the election of the
[president] of Chechnya, and the process of signing of an agreement dividing
responsibilities between the [federal] center and the republic will
commence," Petrov said.

But whether Chechens themselves accept the plan remains uncertain. Aleksei
Makarkin is an analyst at the Center of Political Technologies, a
Moscow-based think tank. He said it is still not clear what Russia will
ultimately offer in a federal treaty. What is clear, he said, is that the
Kremlin's vague promise of "broad autonomy" for Chechnya is not likely to
translate into independent or even semi-independent status for the breakaway

"Nobody will let the republic go away, even in the case that Russian
sovereignty is formally recognized [by Chechnya]. The federal center needs
real Russian sovereignty in the republic. It will respect peculiarities of
the republic, but nothing more," Makarkin told RFE/RL.

The first clause of the draft constitution, though confusingly worded, is
unambiguous in its intent to keep Chechnya firmly under Moscow's wing. It
states: "The territory of the Chechen Republic is indivisible and is an
integral part of the territory of the Russian Federation."

Makarkin said Moscow's wording is based on fears that any degree of political
independence may create an uncontrollable situation similar to that of the
1990s, which witnessed the outbreak of two wars between federal forces and
Chechen separatist rebels.

But Makarkin did say Chechnya may be offered some rights not extended to
other Russian regions. "The [federal] center may recognize some local habits,
some local attributes -- for instance, the Council of Elders. It may give
guarantees that those Chechen political groups that agree that Chechnya is a
member of the Russian Federation will be allowed to take part in political
life," Makarkin said.

Makarkin said that the head of the pro-Moscow Chechen government,
Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov, recently indicated he would try to reach a deal with
Moscow allowing Chechnya to control its own oil and energy sector --
something, the analyst says, Moscow may not agree to.

Makarkin added that historically, there are no legal precedents for making
Chechnya a part of Russia. He said if Russia succeeds in signing a federal
treaty with Chechnya that is accepted by a substantial part of the Chechen
people, it will be the first agreement of its kind in the history of the
300-year relations between Chechnya and Russia. "As a legal document [the
treaty] is likely to be a very serious innovation," he said.

Petrov, from the Carnegie Moscow Center, said any treaty with the federal
government cannot be enforced against the will of the Chechen society. Even
the support of the pro-Moscow Chechen administration is not a guarantee of
success, he said. "Until now [the pro-Moscow administration] is in power
because of the help of the Russian federal forces. How can you normalize the
situation in the republic and win public support for measures [like a federal
treaty]? If [a new government] win such public support, then a new agreement
may become something real, something reflecting the status of Chechnya and
not just a piece of paper. It is a very big problem," Petrov said.

Petrov said Russia may manage to conduct the referendum, appoint the new
government, and have the federal treaty signed. But it may be a hollow
victory. "We can arrange a referendum, we can get the results we want -- the
results we are promising to produce. We can announce that an agreement is
signed, that the war is over and everything is in order. The problem is
whether it will reflect reality and whether it will be possible to control
the situation in the republic," he said.

Petrov said he is not sure if now is the best time for a referendum, with
wartime hostilities still raging. He also doubts a majority of Chechens will
either vote or accept the results of the vote.


Putin Approves Military's Hiring Plans
March 19, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) - President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday approved the defense
ministry's plan to switch the core of Russia's armed forces to volunteers
over the next four years.

Putin has long called for the phasing out of the military draft and the
forming of a leaner contract military by 2010.

His plan calls for hiring 167,000 volunteers from 2004 to 2007. Putin urged
military leaders to finalize the plan so the Cabinet can approve it by June
and the government can begin paying for it next year.

The military also announced it would raise the minimum monthly pay for some
volunteer soldiers from $127 to $168 starting March 1.

The Interfax-Military News Agency recently cited officials who said the
military was having trouble recruiting enough volunteers on the $127 salary
- about the same as the nation's average wage.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who faced anger from top brass over the
cuts, has said the move to volunteers would not be total and that
``conscription will remain forever'' to prepare reservists.

Last September, the defense ministry launched a pilot project to fully
switch the Pskov Airborne Division to volunteers, intending to set an
example for the rest of the military.

``The experiment should be over by the year's end, and we will have the
first airborne division fully staffed by contract soldiers,'' Ivanov said
on the state television channel Rossiya.

Airborne Forces chief Col.-Gen. Georgy Shpak, who visited the Pskov
division a few days ago, had said the construction of more comfortable
barracks for volunteers in Pskov was not proceeding as quickly as planned.

The wage hike only applies to the Pskov division, and makes a Pskov
soldier's pay roughly equal to that of a lieutenant elsewhere in the
military - a potential source of discontent among officers.

The 1.1 million-strong Russian armed forces now has about 130,000 contract
soldiers, officials say. The military has found it increasingly difficult
to round up enough draftees because of widespread draft-dodging fueled by
fears of rampant hazing, miserable conditions and the war in Chechnya.

All Russian men aged 18 to 27 years old are required to serve two years in
the military, but most avoid the draft through college deferments, health
exemptions or simple bribes.


Boston Globe Reporter Expelled From Iraq
March 14, 2003

BOSTON (AP) - A Boston Globe reporter was expelled from Iraq after using a
satellite phone from his hotel room to file a story, the newspaper said.

David Filipov, 40, the newspaper's Moscow bureau chief, arrived in Jordan on
Friday after being ordered out of Iraq the day before.

Jim Smith, the Globe's foreign editor, said Filipov was expelled by Iraqi
authorities after he used a satellite phone from his room to send a story
that described an Iraqi drone as being held together by duct tape and bearing
the words: ``God is Great.''

``It was a story that should have been regarded as useful for Iraq in telling
its story and responding to allegations that it had a very impressive and
dangerous drone,'' Smith said.

Reporters are told they must use and keep their satellite phones at the press
center in Baghdad.

However, Filipov had left the press center with the phone because it needed
repairs, Smith said. When he received the late assignment, Filipov did not
want to leave his room at night and travel to the press center to use the
phone because he thought it would be dangerous, Smith said.

Filipov had been in Baghdad about 17 days and had gotten an extension to his
visa that would have allowed him to stay in Iraq until March 18, Smith said.

Filipov has been with the Globe since 1996.

[DJ: From Boston Globe, March 18: "Filipov is heading to northern Iraq to
Charles M. Sennott, a colleague stationed in that region."]


BBC Monitoring
TV commentator says Russian judiciary corrupt
Source: TVS, Moscow, in Russian 0425 gmt 19 Mar 03

The level of corruption among Russian judiciary and police officials is
unacceptably high, said Yuliya Latynina, Novaya Gazeta journalist, in her
"Yest Mneniye" (My Opinion) morning commentary slot on the Russian
independent TV channel. She gave sums for which court rulings or expert
evaluations can allegedly be bought, citing in this connection Russian
Interior Ministry experts' recent failure to identify State Duma deputy
speaker Vladimir Zhirinovskiy on a video tape where a man looking like
Zhirinovskiy used obscene words in regard to US President George Bush. The
following is an excerpt from the commentary broadcast by Russian TVS
television on 19 March:

The number of twins has increased. In addition to the person looking like
[Yeltsin-era Russian] Prosecutor-General [Yuriy] Skuratov [reference to 1999
scandal], we've now got a person looking like State Duma deputy speaker
Vladimir Zhirinovskiy. Experts from the Russian Interior Ministry failed to
identify the man featured on a notorious video tape; they claimed that the
film, shot by two cameras belonging to different television companies in the
presence of a dozen of witnesses, had been spliced together from 84 sections.

The Duma Commission on Ethics said that they would now stop investigating the
case. It seems a peculiar decision. If the tape is false, then somebody must
have forged it. Surely, the commission should have insisted on a criminal
investigation against the deputy speaker's twin...

As the commission is not insisting on any criminal investigation, we may ask:
what was falsified - the tape or the expert evaluation? Some mistrustful
people hint that the average price of a false expert evaluation is about
10,000 dollars and the service is quite easy to come by...

Other legal services are much more expensive. Spiteful critics, obsessed with
a desire to discredit our legal system, quote the price list. A ruling from
an arbitration court costs 20,000-30,000 dollars, they say. Winning an appeal
case costs 10,000-15,000 dollars and cancellation of a lower court's decision
30,000-70,000 dollars. A desirable ruling on a medium-scale bankruptcy case
would cost you no less than 300,000 dollars. As for criminal courts, reducing
a custodial sentence costs 10,000 dollars per year...

The main problem is how to hand the money over. Lawyers of a specific kind,
called "walkers", arrange the whole chain using their contacts. By the time
the sentence is pronounced, money should have been paid to a trustee, but the
judge himself would get it only after the job is done. Funny things occur
from time to time. On occasion, the money has been put into a safe box in a
bank, with the bank instructed to give it to the person who produces the text
of a certain court ruling.

I think that this market lacks an important component, namely advertising. As
yet, not everybody in Russia knows that an expert evaluation can be bought as
easily as a tampax... Today's decision by the ethics commission should be
viewed as promotion of the image of legal services providers. It's not known
whether Russian journalists can forge Zhirinovskiy's twin, but Russian
experts obviously can do everything.


Rossiskaya Gazeta
No. 41
March 4, 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
March Theses on a Received Subject

Editors' note: Three years ago, in March 2000, Vladimir
Putin was elected President of Russia. Since then, to a certain
degree, the answer has been obtained to the period's most
popular question: Who is Mr. Putin? The answer was provided by
the President himself, who enjoys consistently high ratings
within the country and gravitas on the world stage.
Today, with a year to go until the next presidential
election and ten months until the parliamentary vote, people
are wondering: what kind of government structure and what kind
of social values are going to prevail in Russia?
Rossiiskaya Gazeta features an article on that subject by
the well-known political analyst Lilia Shevtsova, whose
English-language book "Putin's Russia" is due out soon in the
United States.

The more the country readies itself for the electoral
cycle, the more obvious the signs of bewilderment. Everyone is
looking impatiently to the President, hoping to second-guess
which way he's about to turn, what kind of agenda he is going
to take up for his re-election bid. Putin, meanwhile, is
holding back, something which many perceive as a choice - a
choice that fits the way things are right now.
1. When he came to power, Putin nearly tried to abandon
Yeltsin's "elected monarchy," which was based on connivance,
and move towards what he called the "vertical of power," that
is, rule based on obedience. But before long, it became clear
that there is no way to build "monocentrism" in Russia without
recourse to repression. Putin returned to bartering, making
concessions to special interests in exchange for their loyalty.
And the more the Kremlin trades on its influence, the less
likely it is that central government will eventually opt to use
However, if a regime only threatens sticks, power starts to
flow into the hands of whoever is willing to take it. In short,
the dilemma Putin is facing is either to return to the Yeltsin
form of rule, or to change the principles of the power
organisation by structuring it on the basis of law and order,
not a "vertical" chain of command.
2. The present government in Russia cannot consolidate in
principle. Autocracy is incompatible with elections. And this
is a ticking time bomb planted underneath the system. Moreover,
the presidency is being undermined by the elites' attempts to
privatise power resources. The aspiration of part of the ruling
class to maintain a status quo defies a central tenet of
democracy which calls for "clear rules and unclear results."
Our elites (by contrast) are interested solely in muddling the
rules of the game while delivering guaranteed results for
But now that society has come into play, it's impossible to
guarantee the result that is beneficial to those at the top. In
short, the power structure cannot solidify. But that is the
good part - when an opportunity emerges for reform, it won't
have to be done with a hammer.
3. Putin broke with a Russian tradition by giving members
of enforcement agencies access to power. But the Generals' -
Lebed's, Shamanov's, Pulikovsky's, Kazantsev's - entry on to
the political scene has proved unconvincing: they have been
unable to play in the field of politics under the laws of
politics. History once more confirmed that the military could
only turn into a political force if it enjoyed a high status
and was not prone to corruption. It is a paradoxical fact that
Russian corruption makes not only a military, but any other
totalitarian move highly unlikely.
On the other hand, Shamanov's and Troshev's defiant
posturing shows that Chechen-war generals can prove
uncontrollable. It is thus so imperative that the President
does not let the military caste that has been through Chechnya
consolidate. What is dangerous are not defiant generals, but
the possibility that they may be used by other forces as a
warning for the leader.
The arrival of secret service members in the government
closes the "KGB coup" subject: they've already slipped into the
realities of oligarchic capitalism. The market destroyed the
world's most formidable secret service. It should be borne in
mind that successful coups have always been carried out by
enforcement institutions that have managed to preserve their
"esprit de corps."
4. There is a prevailing view that the Putin regime has
passed the test. Supposedly the President's ratings and
effective lack of rivals are both testament to this. But in
actual fact the President is constrained, first, by the
ambitions of the elites, each of which is trying to monopolise
influence on the Kremlin;
second, by the weakness of the institutions; third, by the
emancipation of a significant part of society from its bond to
the state. Rather than being an Arbiter, Putin increasingly has
to be merely a Controller. Each day he is having to get
involved in all sorts of infighting and make sure that the
elites are all at an equal distance from government. However,
that is not always easily achieved.
Incidentally, Sergei Shoigu defined the mechanism of
presidential power in this way: "The President sees that the
situation is critical and says: This must be managed. Then you
don't think whether it's mine or not, you've got to handle it -
so you get into harness and handle it." But the mere fact that
the Emergencies Minister is the man in greatest demand in the
Cabinet indicates that the Russian government is locked into
the mobilisation rhythm. And the problem here is not a power
structure that is orientated towards manual control and cannot
operate in an automatic mode. It's just that motion stops when
Putin stops pressing buttons.
Finally, the Kremlin has less and less ability to
influence people that no longer look to the authorities and can
be depended on for any sort of nasty surprises. These are the
ones who vote "None of the Above" nowadays. These were the ones
who voted against the "administrative resources" in Magadan
As a result Putin finds himself in a more vulnerable
situation than Boris Yeltsin's was. Yeltsin gave others the
chance to promote themselves. Putin, by concentrating all the
resources in his hands, has shouldered responsibility for
everything, including his bureaucrats' bungling. He is limited
by the bureaucracy's potential to undermine his legitimacy. In
a word, he's a leader who is omnipotent and therefore
Where responsibilities are not delegated, the system of
governance begins to reproduce irresponsibility. The Kursk's
sinking was the most dramatic confirmation of this axiom. Last
summer after a gas explosion in a Moscow block of flats, it was
not until Shoigu reached the site that rescuers started to
clear the rubble. The "vertical" of power breeds sloppiness.
5. For now the people are taking Putin out of context,
giving him the benefit of doubt, blaming his subordinates for
mistakes. Society senses that pointing the finger at Putin
would bring the whole system down. And that is the case!
Virtually the whole of the state hangs on the President. It is
a massive load for him to bear - United Russia, the Cabinet,
the Duma and the Federation Council, not counting the shadow
pressure groups and free-riders. Ironically, not only does the
concentration of resources in single hands result in a degree
of powerlessness, but it undermines the monosubject. Sooner or
later, Putin will have to shed the load that is oppressing him.
He can do so by returning to the Yeltsin policy of personnel
reshuffling or he can make up his mind to go beyond that...
6. Fear is the most crucial condition for the existence of
the power "vertical." The fear that the elites experienced with
respect to the new leadership has passed. And consequently, the
President's scope for manoeuvre has begun to narrow.
Increasingly, the Kremlin is forced to back off on issues.
Yakutia, Krasnoyarsk, and Slavneft are three words that have
come indicate the President's resources. The elections in
Yakutia, where arm-twisting meant Nikolayev was eliminated, but
his comrade-in-arms Shtyrov had to be accepted, showed that the
Kremlin had failed to rein in the regional clans. The
Krasnoyarsk gubernatorial elections demonstrated that the
oligarchs had entered the battle for the regions, spoiling the
Kremlin's tactics. The Slavneft sale story also shows that the
President is limited by a clan pressure that has taken the form
of an underpinning system.
7. There are two components in the Russian political
autocracy on the one hand and linkage between business and the
government on the other. Importantly, the leader's autocracy is
increasingly subordinate to the interests of this linkage. To
be sure, roles within the business/bureaucrat tie-up can be
reversed. During Yeltsin's times, the oligarch was in the
driving seat, whilst today it's often the bureaucrat. The
symbiosis between bureaucracy and big business in Russia is
emphasising the traditional form of the country's survival
through derzhavnichestvo (great power nationalism) and
dependency on energy resources. As long as these groups provide
the leader's power base, we cannot hope for real
transformation. The President himself, for that matter, cannot
feel safe when he is under constant threat of finding himself
wearing a dog-collar.
8. Despite the impression of total conformity and
indifference, there are social groups in Russia whose readiness
is perceptible to back new rules of the game. Broadly speaking,
these are part of the intelligentsia and small and medium
business. The oligarchy is a more involved matter. Big business
continues to view the state as a means of implementing its own
interests. By their attitude to the government (and the West)
oligarchs often act as traditionalists, impeding
democratisation and openness. Yet certain big business
representatives are already starting to show interest in a new
order and, in the first instance, in the renunciation of
protection rackets on the part of the state apparatus.
Khodorkovsky said about corruption at a meeting with the
President (in the Kremlin), "Things began at some point and
they've got to end at some point." As far as technocrats are
concerned, they find themselves at the origins of oligarchic
capitalism, and that cannot but reflect on their inconsistency.
But even among them, moves are perceptible to distance
themselves from the system they helped build, is reflected in
the Union of Right Forces' opposition activity.
The consolidation of society's reformist impulses depends
on the President, whom the system itself has turned into the
prime power agent. Putin throughout his rule has managed not to
become a mouthpiece for the security establishment. He has
managed to turn Russia towards the West. Finally, the President
passed the Nord-Ost test, where a real pretext emerged for a
shift towards totalitarianism. Some hysterical liberals raced
that way, but the President escaped the temptation.
However, Putin finds himself in a trap - his survival
interests do not always coincide with his reformist ambitions.
That is a source of unending hesitation for him.
9. The dialectic of the President's behaviour is
understandable: on the one hand, Putin is trying to play the
role of a stabiliser, a guarantor of the status quo. On the
other hand, he is cautiously trying to press forward with the
reformist project the way he understands it. He has
successfully handled the first role, leading the country out of
the Yeltsin-era revolutionary cycle. Putin the stabiliser
targets all the social strata and groups at the same time,
enacting the role of the President of All Russians. He thwarts
the emergence of an opposition to him personally and at the
same time guarantees the influence of clans that evolved in
Yeltsin times.
As far as his reformer role is concerned, Putin's
potential here is limited not only by his background, his own
phobias, in particular the suspicion of opposition and freedom
of the media.
The most serious impediment for Putin the reformer are the
system pillars - diffuse political power and its fusion with
Instead of remedying power, the "vertical" that Putin has
created is reinforcing the sources of its degeneration.
10. Even while splitting between his two roles of the
Stabiliser and the Reformer, Putin has managed to hold on to
the pro-Western orientation, which along with the elective
legitimisation of authority has been new Russia's most
important achievement. Significantly, he achieved this despite
discontent amongst the ruling class; and all on his own.
Admittedly, the pro-Western orientation holds on a very
delicate foundation - war on terrorism. The moment this war
ceases to be the centre of the West's attention, Russia's
relations of alliance with the West will lose meaning. A real
partnership with the West, and Russia's inclusion in the
community of developed democracies, require a systemic
transformation of Russia and its departure from its present
ambivalent niche.
11. Reformers who have succeeded in breaking the mould of
an old system have always been that system's own people -
Gorbachev, De Klerk, Deng Xiaoping. They were able to dispense
with old rules because they knew them well, understood all the
weaknesses of the structures they collapsed. If it were not for
Putin's KGB background, our traditionalists would most likely
not have given him the go-ahead to pick up market reforms and
carry off the pro-Western U-turn. They tolerate Putin because
they hope this is a forced policy of survival. But this policy
is gradually leading up to the emergence of a logic the
President himself would not be able to deny, even if he really
wanted to.
12. We know what can throw the President off-balance -
Chechnya. Yet it is noteworthy that he has acknowledged there
cannot be a military solution to the Chechen problem. His idea
is the "Chechenisation" of the conflict. Everyone realises this
is a palliative, perhaps even yet another cul-de-sac. But it is
the most readily available way for the President to put the war
behind him without conceding defeat. It is the way in which he
puts himself out of context and dissociates himself from the
conflict. Maybe after the "Chechenisation," Putin in his new
capacity can find a new formula for Russia's relationship with
13. Deep down, a process has begun in Russia that could
come to upset lots of things. This involves the realisation
that the Russian system, based on diffuse authority,
bureaucratic control, imitation of legality and parasitic
business, is not working.
Putin's attempts to rationalise it have failed. What is more,
the system inescapably makes any president hostage to it.
But how to transform the system while avoiding
revolutionary upheaval in the process, especially given the
weak tone of the body politic? In these conditions the position
of the monosubject (that is, the President) proves to be the
key. The most important task for the democrats is to fight for
the release of his reformist potential. In the first instance,
this means fighting the bureaucratic-oligarchic component of
the present government.
However, one must acknowledge that striking at "the
bureaucratic oligarchy" in the midst of a weak civil society
means reinforcement of the leader's personal power. This
autocracy can be directed towards tackling reformist goals. But
it can also become a source of more blatant authoritarianism.
And the question is how to avoid this tilt.
14. The President ahead of the elections faces a judgement
call: would he replay the old formula, whereby Yeltsin used to
come to power and he himself came into the Kremlin, that is,
bank on stability and offer society the stark choice of "me vs.
Zyuganov"? Or would he put forward the idea of a reformist
breakthrough instead, thereby forming a new power base for the
presidency? So far the Kremlin has been conserving the
post-Soviet mix of traditionalism and timid reformism. For
Putin to replicate the same electoral model would mean he would
stay in the Kremlin, but end up once more in the pocket of his
own victory's strategists. Particularly because the ruling
class would no longer be wary of him, and would be in a
position to impose their own terms, and even blackmail him in
hinting there could be other contenders to the throne.
Furthemore, one more year in the stagnation mode could be
irreparably damaging to Russia.
For the first time we see that in the ensuing electoral
struggle Putin's goals diverge from those a section of the
Russian elite. For that part of the ruling class, elections are
a means of perpetuating the game's old rules. Putin's goal in
the elections is different: He has to obtain new legitimacy,
relieving him of the Chechen syndrome and entanglement with the
bureaucratic and oligarchic clans. For Putin, elections are a
way to get freedom of action.
15. The monopolisation of influence of any of the groups
that have formed around the Kremlin would be dangerous. The
enforcement apparatus is dangerous because they are trying to
press the authoritarian pedal. Equally dangerous is the
alliance between the oligarchy and technocrats, which not only
piloted Yeltsin through elections, but also created V.V.
himself. One more threat to Putin's reformist role are attempts
by his own comrades-in-arms to create an imitation of liberal
Incidentally, the latter prove the idea that the "vertical"
isn't working, and the Kremlin is searching for other forms of
authority. Meanwhile, any artificial structures devoid of roots
result in the people's real interests skulking and taking on a
destructive character for the state and the President.
Imitation of a party-political system, parliamentary politics,
and federation would inevitably lead up to the imitation of the
presidency, too.
The President must also be wary of his comrades-in-arms'
bid to create the new behemoth of United Russia and attempts to
draw in the leader himself. It is understandable what United
Russia needs a card-carrying President and a card-carrying
Cabinet for - that is a way for them to get out of their errand
boys' role. But for Putin and the Cabinet, that would mean
being swallowed by a mass of grey apparatchiks.
16. If Putin wants to obtain reformist legitimacy, he must
go over the ruling class's head and confront society with a new
agenda. In that case he might claim the role of Russia's answer
to de Gaulle and Adolfo Suarez, both of whom quit the
traditionalist system in just that way. Putin has to realise
that people would back him because they hope for change, not
for the status quo. The idea of an anti-oligarchic,
anti-bureaucratic breakthrough could be just the platform that
could generate a new power base for the President.
To date, Putin has been going down the road of creating
corporations - for businesspeople, regionals, etc. But that is
a road to the emergence of exclusive castes that in time can
become difficult to control. To move to a reformist formula,
the leader would have to pick advocates of modernisation from
the different elites, before consolidating them on the basis of
new tasks.
But society is already sceptical, it is therefore
insufficient to merely toss some new slogans around. What is
needed are real and understandable steps that would confirm the
President's intentions are serious. These intentions Putin will
have a chance to demonstrate in his next State of the Nation
address. It will have to involve a package of measures designed
to break the tie-up between the apparatus and business, which
is equally dangerous to society and the leader alike. It should
be about cutting government regulation, loosening the
bureaucratic noose around small and medium business, radical
administrative reform, and guarantees of independence for the
Significantly, society will be unlikely to trust the leader if
his reformist project is put together by the same old team.
17. A defining aspect of leadership is that it is invested
with both potential for reformist progress and with a threat to
that progress. In the final analysis, Russia will not become a
liberal democracy until leadership ceases to be the only
independent institution. Can Putin make the presidency an
instrument of modernisation while gradually moving on the
formation of other full-fledged institutions? That would mean
undoing the "vertical" he has been building so far.
Moreover, there have been no instances in the past of
structural reforms starting in conditions of stagnation, in the
absence of pressure from society. Breakthroughs have always
been jump-started by crises and profound upheaval. Nor have
there been instances in world history of a change of system by
a leader who was involved in the formation of that system. When
Mikhail Gorbachev began perestroika, he was annihilating a
system he had not created.
But at some point, everything in history has to happen for
the first time. Leaders start reforms when they realise that
their destiny depends on them. And it is not at all necessary
to wait until the next crisis for that. In that case, it would
definitely be a different leader who would start reforms.
18. When there is no powerful pressure in favour of
renewal within a society, the factor of outside pressure may
well come into play. Today the influence of the Western
community is taking on the role of such pressure. By making his
strategic choice in favour of the West, Putin cannot help but
tune his domestic posture so as to stay on the pro-Western
But the West's influence on Russia is mixed. Dialogue with
America enables Russia to tackle its security problems and
retain global interests. But the same dialogue does nothing to
impel the Kremlin to push forward with domestic reform. By
contrast, cooperation with Europe demands a real transformation
of Russia, and for that reason dialogue with the EU can be a
crucial instrument of reform for us.
Further progress of reform in Russia depends on when the
West as a community makes Russia's renewal a challenge for
itself. But already, the standing of Putin the reformer depends
on the extent to which the West is aware that acceleration of
Russian modernisation is in the best interests of the Western
community, including its security interests.
19. By virtue of his systemic omnipotence, the President
can either give impetus to new reforms or stay within the
confines of stagnation. For now he seems to reckon that rocking
the boat would be dangerous. But if so, he may be missing a
historic chance of both a systemic breakthrough and his own


RFE/RL Newsline
March 19, 2003
By Taras Kuzio
Taras Kuzio is a resident fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European
Studies, University of Toronto.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma submitted draft political reforms to the
Verkhovna Rada on 6 March, but those proposals are unlikely to overcome
Ukraine's profound political crisis.

The need for change was highlighted by the findings of an opinion poll
reported by "Ukrayinska pravda" on 11 March, according to which 45 percent of
respondents backed radical change, 38 percent supported revolutionary reform,
and 11 percent backed revolutionary changes. Only 6 percent believed changes
were unnecessary.

That level of discontent notwithstanding, the authorities are continuing to
put on a brave face on things. Looking to next year's presidential elections,
presidential administration head Viktor Medvedchuk is convinced that "the
authorities firmly believe in their victory in the future political battles."

Such optimism is largely unfounded. Kuchma's popularity is at an all-time
low, hovering at 5-8 percent. In contrast, the presidents of Russia, Moldova,
and Belarus enjoy popularity ratings of 72, 67, and 27 percent, respectively.
A November-December poll by Democratic Initiatives Fund found that 55 percent
of Ukrainians distrust Kuchma, while three-quarters would like to see him
step down early.

The political crisis has its roots in the delegitimization of Ukraine's
ruling class, the former Communist Party of Ukraine elite who became
"sovereign communists" in the late Soviet era and "centrists" after Ukraine
won its independence. This delegitimization makes it impossible to arrange a
transfer of power similar to the one that occurred in Russia in 1999-2000,
when Boris Yeltsin passed the torch to Vladimir Putin. In that Kuchma is
widely perceived as "an extremely unpopular and incompetent leader," his
endorsement would prove "a heavy weight that could drown" any potential
presidential candidate, Razumkov Center President Anatoliy Hrytsenko wrote in
the weekly "Zerkalo Nedeli" of 8-14 March.

Pro-presidential leaders are unpopular because of the public perception of
the elites as corrupt, amoral, and indifferent to the needs of the
population. Not surprisingly, therefore, a Razumkov Center poll found that
81.6 percent are opposed to Kuchma standing for a third term, while a similar
figure opposes any potential attempt at granting him immunity from

The front-runners from the first round of the 1994 presidential elections who
went on to the second round were Leonid Kravchuk (37.27 percent) and Kuchma
(31.27 percent), while Kuchma (36.49 percent) and Symonenko (22.24 percent)
advanced in the 1999 elections. In opinion surveys, pro-presidential figures
poll 5-8 percent, making it difficult to see how they could increase this
figure to the more than 20 percent needed to win a place in the second round
of the 2004 elections.

By contrast, opinion polls since 2000 have consistently indicated that
opposition Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko wins ratings of 23-30
percent, with Communist leader Piotr Symonenko in second place with 11-16
percent. Yushchenko is also the only candidate with a consistently higher
positive than negative rating.

With such public support, Yushchenko would be virtually guaranteed a place in
the second round of 2004 elections, where he might face Symonenko, whom he
would presumably defeat (as Kuchma did in 1999). As Hrytsenko concluded, "If
this leadership carries on with its policies, it is doomed, and none of its
candidates will get as far as the second round." Medvedchuk's claim in an
interview in the newspaper "2000" that "the authorities are now stronger than
ever before" therefore rings hollow.

But despite the clear need for radical reform, the changes that Kuchma has
proposed as a means of defusing the crisis are merely a reworking of those
put to a referendum in April 2000, the results of which were not recognized
by either the Council of Europe or the OSCE. In 2000, voters were asked to
approve or reject four proposals: a reduction in the size of parliament from
450 to 300 deputies; the creation of an upper house comprising regional
representatives; the president power to dissolve parliament if no majority is
formed within a month or no budget is passed within three months; and
abolition of deputies' immunity from prosecution. Kuchma's new proposals
include the first three of the 2000 proposals, but not the question of
deputies' immunity.

In addition to reintroducing three of the four 2000 referendum questions,
Kuchma has added fully proportional elections to the lower house. In 1994 and
1998, 50 percent of parliamentary deputies were elected in single-mandate
constituencies, while the other 50 percent won seats under a proportional
(party-list) system. In 2002, Kuchma opposed holding fully proportional
elections, but changed his mind after the elections were over. Under his most
recent proposals, elections to the lower house would be conducted under a
proportional system.

Kuchma's proposals for a fully proportional election law were discussed in
the Verkhovna Rada in February but failed to win the required number of votes
for approval. The draft was backed by the ideologically driven left
(Communists, Socialists) and the right (Our Ukraine, Tymoshenko). Most of the
pro-presidential and ideologically amorphous "centrist" parties voted against
the draft -- the one exception being the Social Democratic Party united
(SDPUo), which is the only "centrist" party to have invested resources in
developing a nationwide party structure, as a result of which it became the
only "centrist" party to surmount the 4 percent threshold in the proportional
vote in the 2000 elections.

Under Kuchma's proposals, the upper House of the Regions would include three
representatives from each of Ukraine's 24 oblasts, the Crimean autonomous
republic, and the two cities (Kyiv, Sevastopol) with all-union status, as
well as former presidents. This would allow Kuchma to become a senator for
two additional years after he leaves the president's office, tiding him over
until the next lower-house elections in 2006.

When similar proposals were discussed in the 1990s, eastern Ukrainian elites
rejected the creation of an upper house, saying it would give the less
populous and rural western Ukraine an equal standing with the more populous
east. As Kuchma opposes introducing elections for regional governors' posts,
the appointed upper house would act as a pro-presidential body -- a
counterweight to the lower house. (A similar model is in place in Kazakhstan,
Belarus, and Russia.)

The 2003 proposals thus reintroduce what Kuchma wished to obtain in the 2000
referendum, when Yushchenko was prime minister and there was a non-left
majority comprising the "center" and the center-right. This unity was
irrevocably destroyed by the so-called Kuchmagate crisis that began eight
months later, in November 2000. After the 2002 elections, Kuchma sought to
create a majority purely from the "center" to revive the 2000 reforms and
ensure his own immunity from prosecution. One factor in the aim to transform
Ukraine from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary-presidential republic is
ensuring that if elected, Yushchenko would not inherit the extensive powers
that Kuchma now wields.

Kuchma's reforms are to be the subject of Soviet-style public discussion
throughout the country. As in the Soviet era, the authorities already claim
that telegrams have been received from workers' collectives in support of the
proposals. But Ukrainian journalists have pointed out that a free discussion
is impossible because the media (especially television) are controlled by the
state and oligarchs.