|JRL #7114||Plain Text - Entire Issue|
Johnson's Russia List
25 March 2003
A CDI Project
1. Reuters: U.S. believes Russians in Baghdad aiding Iraq.
2. gazeta.ru: US blames combat failures on Russian companies.
2a. Interfax: MP denies Russia delivers arms to Iraq. (Kokoshin)
3. BBC Monitoring: Denials in Moscow as USA accuses Russia of sending arms
4. RIA Novosti: USA CAN FABRICATE "FINDING" OF MASS DESTRUCTION WEAPONS IN
5. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Natalya Melikova, PUTIN'S ADDRESS TO FEDERAL
ASSEMBLY WILL DEPEND ON IRAQ WAR OUTCOME.
6. Transitions Online editorial: Making a Russian World Order.
7. AP: Russia Seeks Ratification of Nuke Treaty.
8. Moscow Times: Boris Kagarlitsky, Stalin's Legacy to Liberals.
9. NRDC's New RUSSIAN NUCLEAR GEOGRAPHY DATABASE for Arms Control Research.
10. Vremya Novostei: Dmitry Olshansky, RUSSIAN PARTIES AS THEY ARE.
11. gazeta.ru: Duma to silence mass media before elections.
12. pravda.ru: Little Hope for Cashing Checks in Russia.
13. The New Yorker book review: Robert Conquest, LOUDMOUTH. The first
comprehensive biography of Stalin’s successor. (re Taubman's Khrushchev)
14. The Globe and Mail (Canada): Colin Eatock, Kirov's white knight.
Despite many opportunities worldwide, maestro Valery Gergiev stays committed
to advancing his beloved theatre.
15. RFE/RL: Gregory Feifer, Russian Officials Say Chechen Referendum
Broadly Approves Constitution.]
U.S. believes Russians in Baghdad aiding Iraq
By Arshad Mohammed
WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) - The United States believes Russian company
technicians are in Baghdad helping train Iraqis to operate electronic jamming
systems that could interfere with U.S. forces fighting Iraq, a U.S. official
said on Monday.
U.S. President George W. Bush telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to
protest against alleged Russian sales of night-vision goggles, antitank
missiles and global positioning system (GPS) jamming systems to Iraq, the
White House said. U.S. officials said such sales would violate U.N. sanctions.
"It's the kind of equipment that will put our young men and women in
way," Secretary of State Colin Powell told Fox News Channel, without
identifying the materiel. "It gives an advantage to the enemy, an advantage
we don't want them to have."
"We have been in touch with the Russians over a period of many months to
point this out .... and in the last 48 hours I have seen even more
information that causes me concern," Powell said. "So far I am disappointed
at the response."
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov of Russia, which with France opposed the
U.S.-led war against Iraq and threatened to veto a U.N. resolution
sanctioning it, denied Russia had supplied Iraq with any military equipment
in breach of U.N. sanctions.
"No facts proving U.S. concerns have been found," Ivanov said in
although a Russian foreign ministry spokesman said Moscow would study any
evidence Washington provides.
PROTESTS AT SENIOR LEVELS
U.S. officials said Washington had been worried about the alleged sales by
Russian companies for the better part of a year and had protested to Moscow
at increasingly senior levels, culminating in Bush's telephone call to Putin
"We are very concerned that there are reports of ongoing cooperation and
support to Iraqi military forces being provided by a Russian company that
produces GPS jamming equipment," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer,
also citing alleged sales of night-vision goggles and anti-tank guided
For years, the United States has with limited success asked Russia not to
spread weapons technology, notably to Iran, where U.S. officials complain
Moscow has sold missile technology. The United States has in particular
pushed Russia to tighten export controls to prevent private firms from making
U.S. officials believe the alleged military sales to Iraq have been carried
out by private Russian firms and they want greater oversight by the Russian
government to stop them.
A U.S. official who asked not to be named said Washington decided to make its
accusations public late last week when it discovered Russian company
technicians in Baghdad aiding the Iraqis with the jamming system after the
U.S.-led war began.
"They are there in Baghdad ... trying to make the system work, the
system," said the U.S. official.
"It was the discovery that there are ... Russian technicians helping to
this GPS jamming work in Baghdad that prompted the internal debate in the
U.S. government about what to do and (whether) to go public," the official
Allegations of such alleged Russian military sales surfaced on Sunday in the
Washington Post, which reported that the United States had protested against
the sales late last week.
The newspaper cited Bush administration sources as saying one Russian company
was helping the Iraqi military deploy electronic jamming equipment against
U.S. planes and bombs, and two others have sold antitank missiles and
thousands of night-vision goggles in violation of U.N. sanctions.
A U.S. official who asked not to be named told Reuters there were signs some
of materiel may have been listed as bound for Syria or Yemen to hide its
March 24, 2003
US blames combat failures on Russian companies
Two Russian companies accused by the US State Department of illegally
supplying sensitive military equipment to Iraq have called the allegation
groundless and said they had nothing to do with the deliveries. It appears
that Washington has in advance begun looking for a justification for the
setbacks during missile strikes and the actions of its land forces in Iraq.
According to the Washington Post, US authorities have protested about the
delivery of military equipment to Iraq by two Russian firms, the KBP
(instrument-making design bureau) Tula and Aviakonversia, a Moscow-based
company. KBP supplied guided antitank missiles and Aviakonversia allegedly
provided electronic jamming equipment to Iraq, the newspaper said.
Washington accused the two companies of abetting Iraq and of illegal
deliveries to Iraq of antitank missiles, night-vision goggles, and
electronic jamming devices, used to suppress different kinds of radio
systems, including the global positioning system equipment used in US
aircraft and bombs.
Gazeta.Ru asked the director of the Russian LLC Aviakonversia Oleg Antonov
to comment on the Washington Post report. He assured us that his firm had
never supplied its products to Iraq, and said that the US had first brought
charges against the company back in late September 2002.
''The Americans simply need to find a scapegoat, to explain their failures
in Iraq. I would like to say that their allegations are groundless: their
intelligence has so far failed to find chemical weapons there, and then
suddenly they say that they have seen our [military] experts in Iraq. I do
not know whom they have found there this time, but our representatives do
not work there,'' Oleg Antonov said.
The head of Aviakonversia also said: ''The largest order for jammers to
suppress the GPS gear was placed by the US – they used the device at test
grounds for testing missiles and bombs in conditions of radio-interference.
Of course, there were orders from other countries and from intermediaries,
as well – the whole world buys that equipment.''
According to the arms expert, the jamming equipment helps to suppress the
guidance signals of cruise missiles and so-called 'smart bombs'. This
suggests that the US side has purposefully began to fan the flames of a
scandal that has been smouldering since autumn because their missiles have
been missing their targets, hitting civilians and their own troops, as well
as neighbouring states.
Gazeta.Ru also contacted the Tula design bureau. Incidentally, KBP Tula is
not a privately owned firm, as the US has claimed. The design bureau is a
state-owned unitary enterprise established 76 years ago. KBP Tula’s chief
designer Viktor Babichev confirmed to Gazeta.Ru that the deputy to general
director in charge of foreign economic ties Leonid Roshal and the head of
one of the departments Alexei Gladkov were not in the office at present,
but refuted reports they were in Iraq. Babichev told us that the bureau
does not work with Iraq. ''If our colleagues were in Iraq,'' our
interlocutor said, ''the Americans would not be there.'' Babichev confirmed
that KPB Tula was included in a US black list last year. ''Only, that has
no effect on us,'' he added.
''Arms deliveries of the design bureau are kept under tight control by the
Russian government and are made strictly in accordance with the
restrictions imposed by the United Nations,'' KBP Tula’s deputy director
Leonid Roshal told ITAR-TASS on Monday. According to his information, the
KBP has not supplied armaments to Iraq and the other countries under UN
sanctions for 10 years.
In comments for Interfax Iraqi Ambassador to Moscow Abbas Khalaf has also
refuted the US media reports that several Russian companies have delivered
military hardware to Baghdad. ''This is another American propaganda
invention,'' the envoy said. ''Such deliveries are impossible in conditions
of international economic sanctions against Iraq,'' he said.
Duma defence committee chairman, and formerly deputy defence minister,
Andrei Kokoshin, too, denied the report. ''Russia has not delivered arms to
Iraq. As for the so-called Russian arms deliveries, I am 100 per cent sure
that there have been no deliveries officially authorized or conducted by
official Russian institutions,'' he said following US State Department
reports that accused Russia of such deliveries. ''If any arms were
delivered, they are likely to have been Soviet-made,'' he said.
Deputy head of the Russian Cabinet apparatus Alexei Volin said later on
Monday: ''Russia does not supply arms and military systems to Iraq and
strictly adheres to all decisions of the UN Security Council.'' According
to him, Russia ''stands, as it has always stood'' on a clear and
unequivocal position that the deliveries of armaments must not lead to the
escalation of any regional conflicts and must not violate any international
MP denies Russia delivers arms to Iraq
Moscow, 24 March: Russia has not delivered arms to Iraq, Duma committee
chairman Andrey Kokoshin told a Monday [23 March] news conference at the
Interfax main office.
"Russia has not delivered arms to Iraq. As for the so-called Russian
deliveries, I am 100 per cent sure that there have been no deliveries
officially authorized or conducted by official Russian institutions," he said
following US State Department reports that accused Russia of such deliveries.
At one time, Kokoshin was deputy defence minister.
"If any arms were delivered, they are likely to have been
"There are plenty of such arms in other former Soviet republics too,
beginning with Ukraine. There are also plenty of them in several countries of
the Middle East. I do not rule out that this may have been done by those who
are interested in a political scandal," Kokoshin said.
"There is one thing I am sure of: Russia has not violated any decisions.
simply know how tough are the government bodies and special services bound to
control this issue," he said.
Denials in Moscow as USA accuses Russia of sending arms to Iraq
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 1000 gmt 24 Mar 03
The Western media have reported that Russia is being blamed for the deaths of
Syrian refugees. News agencies are saying that an American missile has hit a
bus with refugees. Some reports say this was in Iraq on the border with
Syria; others say the bus had already left Iraq.
The logic behind this is as follows: Russian companies are supplying Iraq
with equipment that interferes with rocket and bomb guidance systems, so they
miss their targets. The US State Department has already protested to Russia.
Meanwhile, our radio station has contacted official government spokesman
Aleksey Volin, and he denied that Russian weapons are being sent to Iraq.
[Volin] Russia has, and has always had, a precise and unambiguous position,
which is that arms supplies should not cause escalation in any regional
conflict and should not contravene any international sanctions. Therefore I
can quite safely say that the allegations against Russia are not only without
substance but pure invention. The same allegations can be made against
American and European companies, of supplying dual-use systems to Iraq -
especially since, unlike in Russia, there have been reports in the media of
American companies, among others, being involved in supplying illegal
products to Iraq.
[Presenter] US newspapers say that jamming devices are obstructing bombs from
homing in on their targets, and are being delivered to Iraq by the Russian
company Aviakonversiya. The company's director, Oleg Antonov, denied these
charges in an interview with us.
[Antonov] We have loads of customers around the world and our best buyers
have been the Americans, for testing purposes. That's understandable, because
they have the most pressing reason to try out their weapons in the kind of
jamming environment that our equipment creates. We're very careful when it
comes to the legal aspects. Also, we're a private organization so we try to
stay out of trouble. We don't break the law.
[Presenter] The fact that B-52s have joined in the action means that the
Tomahawks are not hitting their targets, according to Antonov. He added that
the Americans are blaming Russia because, quote, they are trying to find a
fall-guy for what's happening. The Iraqi ambassador to Moscow, Abbas Khalaf,
also denied to us that Russian companies are supplying his country with arms
[Khalaf] This is just another hoax, an attempt by the current US
administration to justify their military defeats in southern Iraq and the
fact that the Iraqi air defences can use old Soviet equipment to swat Cruise
missiles like flies...
USA CAN FABRICATE "FINDING" OF MASS DESTRUCTION WEAPONS IN IRAQ
MOSCOW, March 24, 2003. /from a RIA Novosti correspondent/-- The United
States can fabricate "finding" of mass destruction weapons in Iraq or
"evidence" of Baghdad possessing prohibited weapon programmes, a Russian
military expert, who decided to remain anonymous, told RIA Novosti.
"The information war" conducted by Washington against Iraq "is
intensive than the military operations themselves", he stated.
Mass media of many countries point to the fact that filming of mass surrender
of Iraqis hardly resembling regular Iraqi soldiers is, most probably, "an
open falsification", RIA Novosti's interlocutor stressed.
The Russian military expert believes that American propaganda in the war
against Iraq is failing.
Anti-war demonstrations are becoming increasingly frequent all over the
world, he recalled. New York hosted the biggest anti-war demonstration in the
last 15 years. A total of at least 1,500 people were arrested in San
Francisco for participation in a similar demonstration. As far as Europe is
concerned, the most violent clashes of demonstrators with police took place
in Spain, a major ally of the U.S. and Britain, which supported war against
Iraq in the UN Security Council.
"In some regions located rather far away from the conflict area, for
Latin America, there are violent demonstrations of protest, too," the
interlocutor pointed out.
The Russian expert also pointed to the weakness of America's statements that
its standpoint on Iraq and its military operations were supported
internationally. "Even if we believe that Washington enjoyed the support of
45 countries, which included Palau and Solomon Islands to make them more, it
still makes only 24% of the total number of the UN member-states, the expert
March 24, 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
PUTIN'S ADDRESS TO FEDERAL ASSEMBLY WILL DEPEND ON IRAQ WAR OUTCOME
By Natalya MELIKOVA
The date when the president of Russia is to make a State
of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly, which has again
been put off because the situation around Iraq remains
uncertain, will be announced in the coming few days. The
preparation of President Putin's address has been kept secret
by tradition. Nonetheless, the Nezavisimaya daily has found out
that the address by the head of state to the members of both
chambers of the Russian parliament is to be made at the end of
the second decade--the beginning of the third decade in April.
The main points of the message have also become known.
It is known to Nezavisimaya from a source in the
presidential administration that there are two reason behind
the delay in announcing the date of the president's address -
the need to receive the results of the referendum in the
Chechen Republic, and the war in Iraq. According to the source,
the country's leaders want first to know the scenario,
according to which the U.S. military campaign in Iraq will be
developing - whether the war will be rapid and involve few
casualties or the allied troops will bog down in Iraq. The
international part of Putin's address to the country's
political elite - there are already several variants of it, the
source said - will depend on the situation in the Middle East.
Anyway, it is supposed that the president will present his
vision of a post-war world arrangement, the distribution of
roles in a changed system of the world order and Russia's place
Special stress on foreign-policy problems will make perhaps the
main difference between the April address and the one Putin
made last year.
The war in Iraq is by far not the only factor complicating
the preparation of the text of the presidential address to the
Federal Assembly. Putin's aides take it into account that the
address will be the last one before the start of his
presidential campaign. Therefore it will be a sketch of his
election platform - he will have to give answers to key
questions that are of concern both to the political elite and
to society as a whole. In this sense the obligatory subjects in
the address are the confirmation of the course towards
settlement of Chechen problems and the further development of
the country's economy.
The coming presidential elections will, naturally, have a
decisive influence on the ideological content of the
president's message to the parliamentarians. The 2003 address
will contain "an ideology of specific changes" which are
designed to improve the image of the authorities and set
guidelines for Putin's post-election programme of action. Our
sources confirm this version and note that during the
presidential election year radical ideas are unlikely to be
announced in the address. Most likely they will be offered to
the public right after the next election cycle is over.
As in last year's address, this time, too, the president
will again dwell on the administrative reform. He will have to
note again that the functions of the state apparatus are not
being reduced so far. Vladimir Putin will definitely say also
about carrying on the municipal reform and solving the housing
and communal services problem. Argument between government
leaders and the tax service have already become a wrangle in
public. A compromise answer to the question whether a cardinal
cut is to be made in taxes is currently been sought in the
presidential administration. The president will necessarily
draw the attention of the political elite to the need to
develop the manufacturing sector of the country's economy. All
these reforms are significant for the strategic course charted
by the president a year ago - a cardinal increase of the
economic growth rates.
March 24, 2003
Making a Russian World Order
To Washington, Russia may again seem like an opponent, not a partner. With
the old world order shaking, the Kremlin needs to be constructive--and find
an international problem in which it would play a proactive role in solving.
Everyone seems to be afraid of the United States at the moment. Even Tony
Blair, Washington’s closest ally, invoked fear as an argument to support
the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Speaking in the British parliament on 18 March,
he suggested that a retreat from support of the United States would be “the
biggest impulse to unilateralism that we could possibly imagine.” “What
then of the United Nations, and of the future of Iraq and the Middle East
peace process?” he asked rhetorically.
Russia, of course, is all too familiar with fear of the United States. Its
foreign policy has been on the back foot for the best part of a decade. The
aim has largely been to limit the power of the West in general, and the
United States in particular. Intervention in Kosovo? No. NATO enlargement?
No, until President Vladimir Putin came along. EU enlargement to include
the Baltic states? Ditto, though more quietly.
By the logic of these policies, Moscow should be feeling relatively happy
now. The European Union has been ravaged by the Iraqi crisis: The major
powers are split, and French President Jacques Chirac’s tirade against the
Central and Eastern European applicants suggests that enlargement could
weaken rather than strengthen the EU. Major fracture lines have also
appeared in NATO, with pro- and anti-war camps, with France, Germany, and
Belgium refusing to promise to defend Turkey, and with Turkey refusing to
allow U.S. troops to use its bases. The notion of a common European defense
looks stillborn, while NATO, rather than being the strike force of a West
heading inexorably eastward, now seems more like a pool of potential
partners from which the United States forms “coalitions of the willing.”
Increasingly, an enlarged NATO appears to be a slower-moving alliance with
an essentially defensive posture.
The paradox is that Russia now seems more rueful than happy. It turns out
that the quid pro quo for these changes is that, instead of worrying about
NATO, it now has to worry even more than before about the United States, a
country that spends far more on defense than all other NATO nations combined.
Whether the old world order really disappears remains to be seen. But what
seems clear is that, having done its largely ineffectual best to use the
old world order to constrain a stronger West, Moscow now has to be
constructive in rebuilding the old order or in shaping a new system that
would contain the United States.
In his speech, Blair presented the options as being either “rivalry” or
“partnership” with the United States. That is as good a point as any to
start working out options.
As a rival, the prospects for Russia look poor. The bipolar world with
Moscow as a second pole disappeared with the Soviet Union, while the
multipolar world that Paris and Moscow talk of is a long-term project
requiring a great deal of construction work (and, in Europe’s case, repair
and reconstruction work).
To prove itself a partner once again, Russia now has a more difficult task
than it did a year ago. Then, the new partnership with Washington seemed
radical, but in retrospect it seems relatively easy, largely requiring
simply signing up to the battle against terrorism and accepting what was in
any case the near-inevitability of EU and NATO enlargement. Now, the
ingredients of partnership with the United States look more basic and more
difficult: first, some sense of agreement that the world needs to be
ordered in a different way and, second, some basic agreement on the aims
and values of that way.
In all of these areas, Russia has a problem. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov,
for one, does not see why the world needs reordering. And as for shared
values, even on seemingly ordinary benchmarks, such as what constitutes a
largely democratic election, attitudes diverge. That was made clear by the
staggeringly different assessments of the recent flawed Armenian elections
made by observers from the United States (and the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe) and from Russia (and the Commonwealth of
Nor perhaps will Washington hawks believe Russia is a convincing partner in
the task of redesigning international relations. To the once-isolationist
Bush, who now seems to have made the United States’ security the defining
issue of his term in office, Russia’s habit of close relations with
difficult customers surely causes, at the very least, a serious image
problem. Nor can Russia argue that these close relations have been of much
benefit for the wider world. True, Russia has this year tried to use its
ties with North Korea and Iraq to find some solution to these international
crises, but this has mainly highlighted how little influence it won in
exchange for its friendship. Its close relations did prove critical once,
helping to end the war with Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia--but even that
served to highlight the question of why Russia hadn’t used its influence
Such cases (and its no votes in the Security Council over the first Gulf
War and Kosovo, and its threatened veto over Iraq) will make it harder for
Moscow to present itself in Washington as actively interested in countering
invasions, stopping ethnic cleansing, and containing nuclear proliferation,
all issues on which the United States has shown a desire to act.
Fortunately for Russia, though, every country is in the same quandary,
wondering what will happen next and what to do next. The Kremlin,
therefore, has time. But it should at least be looking for a starting point.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry is apparently developing a
doctrine, a supposed antidote to U.S. unilateralism. But another starting
point would be to look for a crucial international problem in which it
could finally play a constructive and proactive role in resolving, one in
which Russia also has no awkward relations to explain.
One is clear: Palestine. Moscow has been a friend of the Arabs since before
1991, and since 1991 ties with Israel have become much closer (partly
because Israel’s Russian Jewish community has become much larger).
At best, Moscow’s role would be limited--an ultimate solution again depends
on the United States--but, by being more proactive than it is now, it could
at least show its foreign policy in a more constructive light. Palestine
also has the advantage of being a win-win issue. Bush has, by agreeing to
produce a road map to a solution, made a commitment that he can be judged
on: If he does not act, Moscow would have the chance to point to at least
one international crisis in which Russia is proactive and Washington
Russia Seeks Ratification of Nuke Treaty
March 24, 2003
By JIM HEINTZ
MOSCOW (AP) - The Russian parliament's upper chamber plans to call Tuesday
for the quick ratification of a U.S.-Russian nuclear arms treaty despite
objections from the lower house because of the war in Iraq.
The foreign relations committee of the Federation Council, the upper house,
decided Monday to make the move because of the treaty's value to Russia, the
ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
The report quoted Federation Council speaker Sergei Mironov as saying the
treaty ``affects Russia's interests, including the improvement of our defense
capability'' and should be ratified as soon as possible.
Last week, the Duma, the lower house, decided to put off consideration of
ratifying the so-called Treaty of Moscow because of the imminent prospect of
a U.S. assault on Iraq.
Now, with the war under way, the Duma intends to consider the treaty ``only
after the United States and Great Britain bring the Iraq issue back into
diplomatic channels, start coordinating their steps with the U.N. Security
Council and take the opinion of the global community into account,'' the head
of the chamber's foreign affairs committee, Dmitry Rogozin, said Monday,
according to the Interfax news agency.
The Federation Council's move for a quick ratification vote would be
irresponsible because ``there is no doubt it will not be ratified amid the
current outpouring of outrage over the U.S.-led strike on Iraq,'' Rogozin was
quoted as saying.
Under Russian law, the Duma has to vote to ratify the treaty before the upper
house can consider it, so the Federation Council's demand to speed up the
process would not be binding.
The postponement reflected the tensions between Washington and the Kremlin,
even as the two country's leaders have pursued closer ties. Moscow bridles at
what it regards as a U.S. penchant for unilateral action - such as its
withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, as well as launching the
attack on Iraq without Security Council sanction.
The treaty, signed last year by Russian President Vladimir Putin and
President Bush, 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 leaves it to each nation to decide which weapons it will scrap.
That will allow Russia to keep its Soviet-built multi-warhead SS-18 and SS-19
missiles at the core of its nuclear arsenal.
March 25, 2003
Stalin's Legacy to Liberals
By Boris Kagarlitsky
As March winds down, so does the flood of publications devoted to the 50th
anniversary of Joseph Stalin's death on March 5, 1953. It comes as no
surprise that fans of Generalissimo Stalin have churned out reams of praise
for their idol. But the innumerable articles that have appeared in the
liberal press are a worthy object of analysis, if not psychoanalysis.
The feature common to all these articles is their hysterical tone. Regardless
of who wrote the article or where it appeared, the thrust is the same: The
number of Stalin's supporters is growing, and their dream is to rehabilitate
the late dictator.
I find it amazing that none of these authors seems to wonder why anyone would
still admire Stalin, much less want to rehabilitate him, after 50 years of
government propaganda aimed at exposing the horrors of Stalin and Stalinism.
After tens of millions of dollars have been spent in this effort, after
thousands of hours of television programs and untold tons of newsprint. The
reputation of the "Leader of Peoples" had hit rock bottom by the end of the
1980s. But in post-Soviet Russia, his popularity has rebounded. Our
intellectuals put this down to Russia's rotten society and repulsive people.
But our ideologues would do well to take a closer look at themselves. They
might just find that they're part of the problem.
Stalin ordered the murder of millions of people. This is an historical fact
that even the dictator's admirers no longer deny. But why do liberals
constantly talk about "tens of millions" of victims? Why do they throw out
totally absurd numbers when the real numbers are more than terrible enough?
You'd think that Stalin's actual crimes were bad enough. This need to
exaggerate Stalin's crimes, to swell them beyond all imagining, demonstrates
the deep-seated psychological problem that afflicts Russia's liberal
commentators. Why are 10 million victims not enough? Why the compulsion to
promulgate the lie about 50 million victims?
The murder of a single innocent person is a crime. From the moral point of
view, Stalin would have been guilty even if he had executed only Nikolai
Bukharin and Grigory Zinovyev. As Dostoevsky wrote, all the happiness of the
world isn't worth the tears of a single child.
The point is that Stalin is discussed not in moral or historical terms, but
from the standpoint of political expediency. Under Stalin everyone knew for a
certainty that the White terror was bad and that the Red terror was good.
In an attempt to secure some measure of moral justification for their own
position, our liberals cast their opponents not merely as criminals (in our
heart of hearts we know that we are no different), but as monsters, agents
not simply of evil, but of absolute evil. The battle against such evil in and
of itself justifies us in committing any and all crimes, and resorting
ourselves to evil.
This is the logic behind the current campaign to expose Stalin. The Red
terror is now evil simply because it is Red. The foul deeds of General
Augusto Pinochet, or ordering tanks to fire on parliament, are nothing
compared to the Gulag. Starving masses in Africa and our own freezing
pensioners don't even count. After all, they're dying not behind barbed wire,
but in freedom.
They must constantly recall the horrors of Stalinism in order that people
appreciate their current good fortune and the blessings of our remarkable
When the time came to deal with political rivals, Stalin and his henchmen did
not merely declare them to be enemies. They declared that anyone who strayed
from the party line was sprinkling broken glass in the workers' sour cream,
blowing up mine shafts and derailing trains. All of this nonsense was
necessary to provide "moral" justification for the terror. This was the
practice that Trotsky famously denounced as the "Stalinist school of
Unfortunately, many contemporary ideologues of Russian liberalism graduated
from the same school. It is an irony of history that Stalin himself has
posthumously been "victimized" by his own methods.
There is a certain historical justice in all this. But it's a shame that our
society is still a long, long way from escaping the tyranny of falsehood.
Boris Kagarlitsky is director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.
Subject: Russian Nuclear Geography Database
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2003
From: "Gerry Janco" <email@example.com>
NRDC's New RUSSIAN NUCLEAR GEOGRAPHY DATABASE for Arms Control Research
At the recent Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference in
Washington, DC, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) demonstrated
the prototype of its "Russia's Nuclear Geography" website and we invited
prospective users to sign up to get access.
Because of the sensitive information that will be available on the website,
access to this website will be limited. We will authenticate access by two
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Thomas B. Cochran
Matthew G. McKinzie
RUSSIAN PARTIES AS THEY ARE
By Prof. Dmitry OLSHANSKY, director of the Centre for Strategic Analysis
Six months ago sociologists concluded that the "undecided"
part of the respondents (the "marsh" that does not know for
whom to vote because nobody is to their liking) amounted to
20-25% of the total. It was normal for a situation a year
before the elections. But today, six months later, the
situation has changed, with the "marsh" growing to 40% of the
voters. Who will they come to love at the last possible moment?
For whom will they vote? And what bogey may rise from this
"marsh"? These are alarming questions.
To determine the situation in the parties, the Centre for
Strategic Analysis and Forecasts and the Glas Naroda Public
Opinion Research Centre polled 55 experts (political
scientists, journalists, party activists and experts of special
services), asking them to evaluate the potential of the leading
parties in ten areas: organisational structure of their support
creative potential of their headquarters; administrative
resource; popular knowledge of their programmes; financial
resources; the charisma of their leaders; the effect of their
PR actions; knowledge about them among the electorate;
information support of the media; and electoral support.
Let's begin with the routine feature of party and
political life. The parties got the highest rating in the areas
of financial resources, information support of the media and
the related popularity of the party leaders and brands. This
produced a chain of money-media-party leaders and brands.
The parties got the lowest rating in the area of the
potential of their headquarters and popular knowledge of their
programmes and, as a result of this, electoral resource (with
the exception of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation
and United Russia). This prompted another chain of low
standards of party operators-inarticulate programmes-the
absence of popular readiness to vote. The parties are too
engrossed in PR politicking, but the population is not ready
The group of top ten parties is divided into two and a
half subgroups. The first includes the KPRF, United Russia,
LDPR and Yabloko, which have the best chances so far. But the
close runners up are the Union of Right Forces (SPS) and the
People's Party of Russia, which is quickly rising from the
These two parties are the cushion that divides the first
echelon from the second. The latter includes the Agrarian Party
of Russia, the Greens Ecological Party (former Kedr), the Party
of the Rebirth of Russia, and the Party of Life. The two latter
parties are placed at the bottom of the top ten by the bulk of
To create a larger picture, we have calculated the sum
total of rating by all parameters (the smaller the figure, the
higher the party's standing).
1. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation 25.5
2. United Russia 31.5
3. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia 32.0
4. Yabloko 33.5
5. The Union of Right Forces 41.0
6. The People's Party of Russia 56.5
7. The Agrarian Party of Russia 72.5
8. The Greens Ecological Party 78.0
9. The Party of the Rebirth of Russia 87.0
10. The Party of Life 94.5
Let's compare the leading parties. The advantages of the
KPRF are high standards of party structures; public awareness
of the party programme; the name to which the public has become
accustomed; and stable electorate. It holds the second place in
the area of administrative resource ("red" governors); charisma
of the leader; and PR actions. But it is not the KPRF that has
gained scores; it is other parties that have lost them. The
score of United Russia is lower than a party the claims the
role of "the ruling majority" should have. Its advantages are
the good administrative resource; finance; and support of the
That's it, so far.
Picture by Parameters
Organisational structure of the support base: Their
evaluation showed that this parameter is gauged as "above
medium" in the case of only two parties - the KPRF and United
Russia, though the organisational structures of the LDPR (third
place) have grown stronger in the past few years. The runners
up are the closely advancing SPS and the People's Party of
Creative potential of headquarters: It was a shock that
the Ecological Party rushed to the third place in terms of this
parameter, but it was a programmed shock. Parties differ from
each other only insignificantly, so that the Greens, which say,
"We are not politicians," look more advanced against the
background of boring party rhetoric. This is also why (because
of nontrivial action) the People's Party of Russia holds the
fourth place by this parameter. The sixth place of United
Russia is an alarming sign. Yabloko (leader) and the SPS
(runner-up) keep up their high standing because they are
traditionally regarded as the parties of the intellectuals,
while experts do not expect the KPRF, LDPR and other parties to
show a creative streak.
Administrative resource: United Russia is clearly the
leader, while the KPRF, the People's Party and SPS run shoulder
to shoulder, claiming a minor part of the resource. The term
"administrative resource" means close association with the
executive authorities (United Russia), influence on regional
leaders (KPRF) and general "connection" with the authorities.
The latter is the privilege of the parties that have their
representative in the power structures. The People's Party and
the SPS are running ahead of the LDPR and Yabloko in this
Popular knowledge of party programmes: The public knows
very little about the programmes of all parties, which experts
say are not very attractive (only the KPRF got the "above
average" rating). Communist ideas are still very popular with a
part of the public. Yabloko with its human rights policy is the
runner up followed by the SPS (economic liberalisation), the
LDPR (patriotic slogans) and the Greens (nature conservation).
In term of financial resources, United Russia is far ahead
of all other parties. Yabloko and the SPS are somewhat poorer,
with the LDPR moving behind them though it is much richer than
the KPRF. The rest look like beggars.
The rating by the charisma of leaders looks strange in the
current party-political system. Indeed, though our
intelligentsia (including experts) was outraged by Zhirinovsky,
they now give him the highest rating for charisma. In fact, he
is the absolute winner in our over-bureaucratised policy.
Gennady Zyuganov's second place can be explained by the fact
that he worked hard for the people to become accustomed to him.
Following behind him is Grigory Yavlinsky, who has not been
particularly charismatic before. Surprisingly, the SPS leaders
won the fourth place, but the "brightness" of Boris Nemtsov and
Irina Khakamada looks not as charisma but as PR imitation of
It is interesting that the leaders of United Russia (Boris
Gryzlov), People's Party (Gennady Raikov) and the Party of
Russia's Rebirth (Gennady Seleznev) have approximately the same
rating in this area. It appears that they are the typical
products of the political system, the high-placed "bosses"
pushed to the public scene. Their charismatic potential is
limited, though in the election situation the potential of
Raikov, who is using the language of common people, may turn
out to be larger than that of Gryzlov and Seleznev.
The LDPR is leading in the inventiveness and
aggressiveness of PR actions, thanks to the PR efforts of
The party of power shares the second and third places with the
KPRF, which speaks volumes, as the communist PR is hardly
noticeable. This means that the summer and autumn campaign of
United Russia, with street advertising and blockbuster promises
of monitoring the payment of salaries, was in vain. With the
exception of the LDPR, all other parties are struggling to get
above the medium line.
The PR action concerning the 80 years of history won the
KPRF the leading place in terms of public knowledge. The LDPR
takes the second place due to PR actions. Yabloko is also
running well thanks to its traditional image and "dissenting
opinion." United Russia holds the fourth place, as its brand
has little known yet and not only because the party has a new
leader. The thing is that the people still remember Unity,
Fatherland and All Russia better than their "offspring," United
United Russia has the best information support of the
media, which experts explain by its administrative and
financial resources. The LDPR, whose information presence has
grown after the New Year, is the runner up. Next follow Yabloko
and the SPS.
The KPRF holds the fourth place, though left publications are
printed in approximately 30 million copies.
Electoral support: The KPRF is leading the race slightly
ahead of United Russia, which is followed, at some distance, by
the LDPR. The gap between the LDPR and Yabloko is smaller than
between Yabloko and the SPS, which is slightly ahead of the
People's Party. In other words, the four leaders are running
closely one after another.
But we should remember that besides these "two and a half
echelons" there is a third and fourth ones, which will also
take part in the elections. The situation will change and we
cannot exclude the possibility that the last will become the
first. We will continue our analytical monitoring of the
situation, which experts think is useful for specialists,
parties and the public.
Democracy is a conscious choice of citizens based on
March 24, 2003
Duma to silence mass media before elections
Marina Sokolovskaya, Natalia Rostova
The State Duma has given initial approval to a presidential bill
introducing amendments to the legislation governing the activity of media
outlets during election campaigns. The deputies, however, have ignored the
concerns the media community has over the bill.
On Friday the State Duma passed in the first reading a presidential package
of bills introducing amendments to four federal laws in the framework of
the electoral system reform. The draft on introducing amendments to several
legislative acts in connection with the adoption of the federal law on
general guarantees of electoral rights and the right to referendum was
backed by 245 deputies, enough for the bill to clear the first hurdle. 2
abstained from voting.
The liberal Union of Rightist Forces, Yabloko as well as the Communists
voted against the bill, saying the proposed amendments amounted to
restriction of press freedom.
The controversial bill introduces amendments to the laws on mass media, on
charitable activities, as well as to the Criminal Code and the
Administrative Code. Presenting the bill to the house on Friday, the
chairman of the Central Election Commission Alexander Veshnyakov said it is
aimed at minimizing the use of dirty campaigning techniques during election
Amending the bill on mass media, Veshnyakov said, ''would prevent the
emergence of TV-killers after the pattern of 1999'', obviously alluding to
the TV-host Sergei Dorenko, whose extraordinary journalistic and
presentation skills were used to undermine the popularity of Yuri Luzhkov,
whose bloc, Fatherland-All Russia, posed a serious threat to the nascent
pro-Kremlin Unity Party in the December 1999 Duma election campaign.
The senior electoral official refuted claims by some media observers that
the proposed amendments amount to a new attack on the freedom of speech and
reiterated his own statement, made at the Media on the Eve of Election
conference four days earlier: ''This is not a blow to the freedom of
speech, but a blow to the freedom of lies, black PR and black cash.''
The outcome of the vote was pre-determined when Unity deputy Kovalenko said
that his faction had no objections to the draft. The critical remarks came
from the deputies who do not belong to the pro-Kremlin centrist bloc. For
instance, the Communist Party’s Viktor Ilyukhin noted that the draft
focuses on violations of electoral law by journalists and says nothing of
violations committed by election officials. Also, Ilyukhin said, the draft
offers no penalty for the use of the so-called ''administrative resource''
when candidates take advantage of their official position to influence
voting results and secure their victory.
The deputy complained that so far the CEC had failed to respond to active
propaganda by presidents and governors during election campaigns.
Veshnyakov retorted that under the new law on elections an incumbent who
joins the race would have to take leave pending the election campaign.
The liberal Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) and Yabloko sided with the
Communists in their aversion to the draft. SPS’s Alexander Barannikov
blasted the provision introducing criminal responsibility for candidates
and their sponsors for using money from outside their election funds when
campaigning. Barannikov assumes that a sponsor cannot possibly know if the
candidate’s election fund has been exceeded.
Another SPS deputy, Boris Nadezhdin, noted that altogether, there are only
three forms of election resources: an administrative resource, a financial
resource and a media resource. The deputy considers it strange that while
abusing the administrative resource is punishable with an absurdly low fine
of 5,000 roubles, abusing financial resources can be punished with up to 4
years in prison.
Yabloko’s Sergei Ivanenko noted that no one suspends the broadcasts of the
state-dominated Channel One and state-owned Rossia TV, while those networks
actively back the state authorities. Defining the amendments, Ivanenko
stated that adopting them amounts to an attempt to quench fire with
paraffin. His colleague, Sergei Mitrokhin added that the tragedy of that
bill is not that it is lenient or tough, but is that it is selective.
Editors of media outlets have drawn attention, first and foremost, to the
fact that the amendments have been passed in spite of President Putin’s
earlier promises not to introduce any bills concerning media activities
without first consulting the Media Industrial Committee.
In particular, this opinion was expressed at the above-mentioned conference
by one of the committee members, the chief-editor of Ekho Moskvy radio
station Alexei Venediktov. Incidentally, many journalists received the text
of the presidential amendments only at the conference held only four days
before the Duma held the first reading of the bill.
The most controversial provision of the bill is that allowing the CEC to
demand of the Press Ministry that a media outlet suspend operations pending
the election campaign. In line with the draft, such sanctions can be
imposed on a media outlet if it violates electoral regulation more than
twice during a single campaign. Journalists have denounced the proposed
mechanism as ‘anti-democratic’, saying only a court of law has the power to
decide whether the law was violated or not. The CEC officials claim that
the provision is intended to counter the use of dirty PR stunts.
So far, the bill has received only preliminary approval and still has a
long way to go before it is signed into law by the president. However, it
cannot be ruled out that the head of state might veto the bill as he did
earlier with the amendments to the laws on countering terrorism and on mass
media in the context of media coverage of terror attacks and
counter-terrorist operations. Then the media community, casting aside its
internal dissent, united in dissuading the president from signing the bill
into law, and succeeded.
March 24, 2003
Little Hope for Cashing Checks in Russia
In the everyday life Russians prefer to use cash. And this is quite
understandable: it’s a pleasure for the people to be paid with notes for
work and immediately hide them into the wallet. But it is often more
convenient and cheaper in the present-day economic situation to make
cashless settlements; and this concerns not only large companies. The
Russian population is gradually getting used to the fact that money can be
not only in cash, but also can be transferred to plastic cards or bank
accounts. Finally, it is habitual already in this country that you can be
paid with a cheque for your work. And the government stands up for the
increase of cashless statements in money circulation; this is at least what
the government says. But sometimes governmental authorities can do
something extraordinary that disagrees with the logic of the officially
Such problems certainly don’t concern average citizens. At present, the
number of companies and businessmen accepting payments in cheques is
increasing. At that, it’s not a problem for them that sometimes it may take
not 1.5-2 hours, but even a couple of months to cash checks. It’s more
important to know that money has been transferred; until recently, even
bank clients themselves could forecast the fate of this money. However, as
it is clear now, people holding non-cashed checks have got into a trouble.
Russian banks have ceased to cash checks. This is because the Central Bank
issued an instruction according to which checks can be cashed only by
authority given by the Central Bank in a written form. In other words, to
cash checks or to transfer money paid with a check to your bank account,
you need to appeal to the Central Bank, fill lots of bank forms and stand
in a long line to get a bank license for a single bank operation. It seems
to be quite a problem to get the right to use money that you have already
earned and that was paid to you with a cheque.
We often see in movies people put their signatures on checks, set the
problem of payments rather quickly with the help of checks. Probably, the
very fact that so much problems now arise in connection with cashing of
checks is not a big tragedy at all. But money thus frozen on checks may
turn to be unpaid salaries, outstanding public utilities bills or taxes.
Did Central Bank officials think about the problem when they issued the new
instruction? It’s a pity that the new instruction ignores everyday problems
of the working population.
The Moscow chief territorial department of the Russian Federation Central
Bank issued an explanation to the new regulations. It says: “In accordance
with the clause 877 of the Russian Federation Civil Code, a cheque is a
security that contains an unconditioned instruction of a cheque holder to a
bank to make payment of the sum mentioned in the cheque to this cheque
holder. In accordance with the subpoint “b” of the paragraph 4, clause 1 of
the RF law # 3615-1 “On currency regulation and currency control” of
October 9, 1992, cheques are referred to securities. According to the
subpoint “a” of the first clause of the above mentioned law, passing of
property and other rights connected with cheques is a currency transaction
connected with capital flow. As it is said in the paragraph 2 of the clause
6 of the law, the transaction is conducted in an order fixed by the Central
Bank. To execute currency transactions connected with capital flow, RF
residents must get a permission (license) of the Bank of Russia, if
otherwise is not provided by standard acts of the Bank of Russia.”
Unfortunately, there is no other method fixed for this purpose.
Some kinds of currency transaction require no license from the Bank of
Russia. This is fixed in the item 1.1.20 of the Bank of Russia Statute of
April 26, 1996, #39 “On order of execution of some kinds of currency
transactions, on accountability of some currency transactions”. In
accordance with the regulation, no license is required for “accepting of
cheques in foreign currency from non-residents by companies residing in
Russia as a donation, endowment or other non-repayable and irretrievable
receipts, and presentation of these cheques by companies for payment.”
If we consider the situation thoroughly we see that if a client decides to
grant a cheque with a sum in foreign currency to a bank, the bank will have
no problems with licenses for cashing of the cheque. However, if some
enterprise pays with a cheque in foreign currency for services or for some
work you’ve done, the Central Bank automatically applies to you the same
requirements it does to a currency exchange office and demands that you
should get a special license to cash the cheque. But it may happen in fact
that getting such a license may be more expensive than a sum paid to you
with the cheque. Will this cheque be worthy cashing then?
Objectives the Central Bank pursues by the innovation can be rather logic,
and reasons for introduction of the innovation may be very serious. It is
not ruled out that the Central Bank had to restrict uncontrolled
circulation of currency cheques for natural persons because companies issue
currency cheques for payments too often. As of now, many people have
currency cheques in possession, but these cheques are practically of no
value without special procedures at the Central Bank. In many cases it
turns out that people got worthless papers as payment for work they did.
So, the Central Bank easily achieved the objective it outlined for itself.
Since now, it is highly likely that people won’t agree to accept cheques
for payment for some work or services; they will prefer to get money in
cash, in foreign currency to be more exact. In other words, non-cash money
circulation will be reducing once again instead of increasing (as it is
desired by the financial authorities for better control). And this is quite
logic: people won’t accept cheques as payment for some work or services
simply because it is a problem to cash them. It is unlikely that this was
the main objective of the Central Bank financiers. Unfortunately, the
situation can be characterized with the traditional phrase: “We did the
best, you see the rest.”
Translated by Maria Gousseva
The New Yorker
March 31, 2003
by ROBERT CONQUEST
The first comprehensive biography of Stalin’s successor.
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was the unquestioned leader of the Soviet
Union from 1957 to 1964. In this fairly short span, he managed to provoke
two major international crises; survive a coup (a second toppled him);
order two disastrous economic overhauls; and hold erratic confrontations
with nearly everyone in sight—with the Chinese leadership, with Presidents
Kennedy and Nixon, with the neo-Stalinists in his Presidium and the Russian
intellectuals in his midst. On visits to the United States, he pounded his
shoe at the United Nations, ogled Marilyn Monroe’s derrière, and cheerily
shovelled manure in Iowa with the locals.
What was Khrushchev like? William Taubman, a professor of political science
at Amherst College, has now published “Khrushchev: The Man and His Era”
(Norton; $35), the first comprehensive and scholarly biography of Stalin’s
successor. As part of a painstaking attempt to answer the question, he
quotes the psychologist Nancy McWilliams on the “hypomanic” type: “Elated,
energetic, self-promoting . . . work-addicted . . . lacking a systematic
approach. . . . grand schemes, racing thoughts . . . constantly ‘up’—until
exhaustion eventually sets in.” It’s not everything, but it’s a start.
When Stalin died, in March, 1953, Khrushchev was still in the leadership
ranks of the Communist Party, despite a series of purges. Shortly before
his death, Stalin was preparing yet another purge. Khrushchev was not on
the list. What characteristics saved him? Among other things, no doubt, was
his very volubility—the impression of holding nothing back. More generally,
though, he had an air of being from the people, the narod. Khrushchev was
from Ukrainian peasant stock, and at fourteen he went to work in the
Ukrainian coal mines. As Stalin’s notorious foreign minister, Vyacheslav
Molotov, put it, “Khrushchev was no accident. We are primarily a peasant
Khrushchev was born in 1894 in the Kursk region, and when he was fourteen
the family moved to the proletarian mining city of Yuzovka (which was later
renamed Stalino, and then Donetsk). He began reading Pravda in 1915, as a
metal-fitter in the mines, but he didn’t join the Bolshevik Party until
more than a year after the revolution. Khrushchev said that while working
at foreign-owned enterprises he “discovered something about capitalists.
They are all alike, whatever the nationality. All they wanted from me was
the most work for the least money that kept me alive. So I became a
Communist.” He served in local Party organizations in Ukraine, and in 1929
he went to Moscow, where he became involved in the city Party committee.
During the early infighting in the Party, Khrushchev sided first with the
Trotskyites—not, as it turned out, an ideal entry on one’s Communist
curriculum vitae. For nearly any other Soviet politician of the
nineteen-thirties, this would have been a blemish worthy of execution.
Stalin merely forced Khrushchev to make a frank confession of it. Stalin’s
view of the matter seems to have been that the true Trotskyites came from
the older Party intelligentsia—the professional revolutionaries. A naïf, a
semiliterate worker member, likely appeared to Stalin an ignorant dupe, not
a lost soul. Khrushchev himself seems to have attributed his rise to
“luck”: he met Stalin’s wife, Nadezhda, while taking a course at the
industrial academy, and she passed the name, and her approval, along to her
In one sense, Taubman’s chapters on the struggle for power, first under
Stalin and then among his competing successors, remind one of Saint-Simon
(the courtier, not the socialist). Ambition, intrigue, slander, temporary
alliances, and betrayals: the essentials are the same. The tone, however,
is rather different. In place of the well-turned, feline exchanges of
Versailles, there is a certain coarseness. (Khrushchev, a prolific user of
profane language, was particularly adept in this regard.) We find, for
example, the secret-police chief Lavrenty Beria pinning on the back of
Khrushchev’s jacket a label bearing the word “prick”—hard to imagine in the
Taubman’s biography gives a thorough account of Khrushchev’s early
and he does not play down Khrushchev’s role in the 1937-38 Great Terror.
When he was appointed head of the Ukrainian Party committee, in 1938, he
pledged to “spare no efforts in seizing and annihilating all agents of
fascism, Trotskyites, Bukharinites, and all those despicable bourgeois
nationalists.” His suppression of the Ukrainian nationalist movement in the
mid-forties was ruthless. Taubman notes that three-quarters of a million
men, aged nineteen to fifty, were conscripted, given eight days’ training,
and thrown straight into battle against the Germans. All this is a reminder
that the huge Soviet mortality rate in the war cannot be presented simply
as heroic sacrifice.
After the prolonged power struggle that followed Stalin’s death, Khrushchev
emerged as the leader of the Communist Party. Countless prisoners in the
Gulag camp system were freed. On February 25, 1956, Khrushchev went before
a closed session of the Twentieth Party Congress and delivered a speech
that proved to be his most lasting legacy. He denounced Stalin’s
“personality cult,” his “capricious and despotic character,” and the
“brutal violence” with which he ruled the country. Khrushchev, who was also
interested in lifting blame from his own generation and in continuing the
regime, delegitimatized Stalin, yet, at the time, he did not seem to
realize what the results would be. The “secret speech,” which was soon
leaked to the Western media, provided only limited details of the torture
and execution of leading Party members, but it began the long process of
exposing and, eventually, undermining Communist authority in the Soviet
Union and abroad. The speech sparked rebellion in Poland and the Hungarian
Revolution. It shocked into sanity a whole stratum of the Western
intelligentsia that had, to one degree or another, accepted the fairy tale
as painted by Stalin and his court historians. When Gorbachev resumed the
Khrushchev initiative, thirty years later, he, too, began by revealing
suppressed secrets of Party history; and he, too, began hesitantly, fearful
of attacking Lenin, lest it lead to the immediate collapse of the entire
Bolshevik project. But that would come.
Khrushchev’s forays into foreign affairs were especially erratic,
incandescent. In his relations with foreigners, Khrushchev was always, and
openly, alert for any sign that he, or the Soviet regime, was being
“disrespected.” And he was always prepared to respond with disrespect of
his own. In Paris, he thought (wrongly) that he was being hissed by West
German journalists, and he shouted about the “fascist bastards we didn’t
finish off at Stalingrad.” After a confrontation with Harold Macmillan in
Moscow, he told an associate in the leadership that he had “fucked [the
British Prime Minister] with a telephone pole.” It was also a trifle
undiplomatic to tell the Americans that he had bombs ready for France and
Britain. During a series of tense negotiations with the Chinese Communist
leadership in Beijing, Khrushchev, in a room that he certainly knew was
bugged, entertained his delegation with obscene rhymes about various
Chinese leaders, and references to Mao as “old galoshes”—a term for a used
condom in both Russian and Chinese slang.
Taubman’s chapter on the Cuban crisis of 1962 is a full accounting of
Khrushchev’s huge and dangerous miscalculations. Even in this supposedly
planned venture, and with the possibility of worldwide destruction, a
remarkable level of incompetence prevailed. The general who was chosen to
be in charge, Issa Pliyev, was distinguished only for having put down a
rebellion of Soviet workers in the southern city of Novocherkassk earlier
that year. Described as knowing “more about horses than missiles,” Pliyev
impressed no one in the Soviet hierarchy but, nevertheless, was given
authority to launch tactical nuclear missiles.
It is clear from Taubman’s book that of the three parties involved the
Cubans were the most reckless. Taubman quotes the remarkable letter from
Castro to Moscow in effect arguing that the U.S.S.R. must use a first
strike against the United States in the expected final crisis. The author
suggests that Castro’s attitude was due, in part, to his belief that the
Soviets held nuclear superiority over the United States—and that they could
destroy it even if they suffered great damage themselves. That would mean
that the Cubans had accepted Soviet disinformation. Taubman describes well
how Castro was, in turn, enraged by the Soviet withdrawal, calling
Khrushchev “son of a bitch . . . bastard . . . asshole. . . . no cojones
[balls]. . . . maricón [homosexual].”
How did Khrushchev keep power? The question persists not merely because of
the inanity or the collapse of his policies. He was also tactless with his
allies and subordinates. Brezhnev, who finally helped unseat him, recalled
that he had once called his Kremlin colleagues “dogs peeing on curbstones.”
Khrushchev described his loyal foreign minister, Andrei Gromyko, as “a
piece of shit”—a favorite expression usually reserved for rivals or
The Soviet political machine, however, was so centralized that it took
years of such error and abuse to create an atmosphere in which a coup could
occur. Shortly after Khrushchev was removed from power, Pravda published an
editorial that referred indirectly to his policies as “harebrained,”
“half-baked,” “hasty,” “divorced from reality,” “bragging and bluster,”
“attraction to rule by fiat.” In fact, this was pretty mild compared with
some of the accompanying speeches—and all of it was true.
Perhaps it was necessary to be un-reliable and inconsistent in order to
emerge from the ideological trap of Stalinism; and then the direction could
not be fully reversed. In retirement, Khrushchev was treated harshly by the
Brezhnev regime, but Brezhnev failed to prevent him from dictating his
memoirs and, eventually, publishing them in the West. The memoirs are vital
for Taubman’s exhaustively and effectively researched opus, as are
countless pages of archival material that has emerged since the collapse of
the Soviet Union. Taubman is a voracious researcher, but I only hope, for
his sake, that his conscience did not force him to read through all those
volumes of Khrushchev’s speeches on agriculture. Short of that, he has
tapped every available source for this veritable Volga of a book.
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
March 24, 2003
Kirov's white knight
Despite many opportunities worldwide, maestro Valery Gergiev stays committed
to advancing his beloved theatre
By COLIN EATOCK
NEW YORK -- When Valery Gergiev opens the door to his temporary New York home
-- a borrowed flat a stone's throw from the Metropolitan Opera -- he's on the
telephone. "I have to speak to Moscow," he apologizes. Surprisingly, he
peppers his Russian-language phone conversation with the English word
"fundraiser" -- one of many post-Soviet concepts that the renowned conductor
As general director of St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre, principal
conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and principal guest conductor of the
Met, Gergiev seems, at first blush, much like any other globe-trotting
maestro. According to music critic John Ardoin, author of Valery Gergiev and
the Kirov, Gergiev is "probably the most sought-after conductor today under
the age of 50." But even with his busy touring schedule (tonight, he leads
the Kirov Orchestra at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall), he remains firmly
committed to his priorities. Despite a keen nose for opportunity, he's no
opportunist -- at least not in the pejorative sense. Rather, he measures all
opportunities in the context of his primary concern: the advancement of his
beloved Mariinsky Theatre.
In 1988, he emerged as a poster-boy for Gorbachev's perestroika, an intense
young man chosen at the tender age of 34 to lead Leningrad's Kirov Opera.
Today, everything has changed: Leningrad is once again St. Petersburg, and
the Kirov Theatre has reverted to its czarist name, the Mariinsky (although
its ensembles -- the opera, the ballet, the orchestra and chorus -- still
tour under the name Kirov). The one factor that has remained constant is
Gergiev. He's no longer quite so young -- his shaggy hairstyle disguises a
combed-over bald spot -- yet he has lost none of his intensity.
He hangs up the phone and settles into a couch. "The success of the
was first of all because of the artistic approach," he states in richly
accented English. "My role in many cases was to provide leadership -- to
inspire people, to convince people that we have to do things well."
Gergiev speaks of the chaos brought on by the collapse of communism, when the
arts in Russia -- traditionally supported by the state -- were suddenly cut
adrift. "In 1990, there was a sense of danger, and some singers and musicians
started to look for an exit to some other place -- no matter if it was a
village in Germany or an orchestra in America. I was working very hard on
morale. A man or a woman with a family who is not protected with a salary and
a solid position has to have confirmation."
Yet in the midst of this meltdown, Gergiev found cause for hope. "There
enormous flexibility, and this freedom became our strength: We enjoyed
flexibility unseen in North America or Europe. My way of surviving
collectively was to give unbelievably hard, heavy and strong -- but exciting
-- programs. My friends said, 'Are you mad? You will last a maximum of three
weeks. You want people to do things they've never done before -- they will
never do it.' I said, 'All right, I will be out, but at least I will be proud
of the reason I'm out.' "
Acting swiftly, in 1989 he signed a recording contract with Philips Classics.
By 1991, he had negotiated co-production deals with L'Opéra national de Paris
and London's Covent Garden, the first of many such exchanges with Western
opera companies. In 1994, he made his first appearance at the Metropolitan
Opera (and also in Canada, leading the Toronto Symphony Orchestra), and in
1997 he was named the Met's principal guest conductor -- the first in the
company's history. "I never thought seriously of taking any position outside
of the Mariinsky," he recalls. "But [Met general manager] Joseph Volpe made
an unusual effort to fly a huge distance to talk to me. And I have learned a
lot from the Met."
Gergiev has built his reputation on a solidly Russian repertoire. In addition
to offering such famous operas as Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades and
Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov, he champions rarely heard works by Prokofiev: The
Fiery Angel, The Gambler and others. In concert, he favours symphonies by
Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich and Borodin. (There's a slight irony in this:
Gergiev is not, strictly speaking, Russian at all. Ethnically, he is
Ossetian, and he grew up on the mountainous Russian-Georgian border.)
In parallel with his conducting, he established a second career as an
impresario, drawing from the Mariinsky's talent pool to stage music festivals
in the Netherlands, Finland and Israel. At home, he has organized two Peace
in the Caucasus festivals, in response to ethnic conflicts in this region,
and his latest creation is an Easter festival for Moscow. However, he's most
famous for his Stars of the White Nights Festival, presented in St.
Petersburg every spring and summer since 1992.
"I hate planning things years in advance," says Gergiev, attempting
explain how he does it all. "I think first about the artistic goals. In
Russia in the 1990s, things could only work this way -- you couldn't possibly
plan by thinking first about money. You must have your plans -- and if you
have artistic force, the money will find you." And find him it does, with a
little help from his glitterati supporters: Prince Charles has hosted a
benefit gala; Placido Domingo and Peter Ustinov are on the board of the
Mariinsky's charitable fund.
But financing is just one of many challenges that Gergiev thrives on,
improvising solutions to problems as they arise. One and a half years ago,
during the fateful Sept. 11 attacks, he found himself stranded in Los Angeles
with every airport in the United States closed. Undaunted, he travelled by
car to Tijuana, hopped a plane for Mexico City and flew from there to the
Netherlands, arriving just in time to conduct an important recording session.
Later, when war in Afghanistan made air travel over that country impossible,
effectively grounding a Kirov tour to Australia, he prevailed upon his friend
Vladimir Putin to call the president of the Philippines and arrange an
alternate air route over the Pacific Ocean.
Like all risk takers, Gergiev has had setbacks: Two years ago, The Times of
London declared a Kirov Opera tour to Covent Garden "a fiasco," and London's
Guardian complained of under-rehearsed stagings. But no one denies he's done
remarkable things at home under seemingly impossible conditions: The New
Yorker magazine called him "a national hero in Russia," crediting him with
making the Mariinsky "one of the most celebrated -- and recorded -- opera
companies in the world."
Indeed, the relative health of his Mariinsky Theatre stands in stark contrast
to Russia's other major opera house, the Bolshoi. Plagued by years of
infighting and management shifts, the legendary Moscow theatre -- once the
jewel in the Soviet crown -- now lives in the shadow of its St. Petersburg
rival. "The Bolshoi has a problem of leadership," says Gergiev, shaking his
head. "In the last 20 years, they have never figured out how they want to be
led. There were warring factions -- you had a disunited family of artists,
and they started to look at contracts in San Francisco and Tokyo. And so this
fantastic ensemble just disappeared within three or four years."
While the Mariinsky is hardly prosperous by Western standards -- even famous
singers may earn only a few hundred dollars a night -- the 143-year-old
theatre has a prestige that money can't buy, giving artists a reason to stay
in Russia. "Now, I don't hear about people leaving Russia," observes Gergiev.
"I hear about people coming back. Or coming back more often, or coming back
and dividing their time between Russia and other places."
Chechnya: Russian Officials Say Chechen Referendum Broadly Approves
By Gregory Feifer
Early results from a 23 March referendum in war-ravaged Chechnya show that
voters overwhelmingly approved a new constitution for the region. Moscow
hopes the document, which declares Chechnya an "inseparable part" of Russia,
will serve as the foundation for peace following the region's 3 1/2-year
conflict. But rebels and rights defenders say the referendum is irrelevant
for most Chechens and that the war will drag on.
Moscow, 24 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Referendum voters in Chechnya and nearby
regions yesterday overwhelmingly approved the passage of a new constitution
that subordinates the war-ravaged republic to Moscow.
Officials are billing the results as a key step toward a peaceful solution to
the Kremlin's 3 1/2-year war against separatist rebels. But Chechen fighters
and rights defenders say the vote is only a way of prolonging what they say
is an unjust conflict.
Chechnya's Moscow-appointed administration today said preliminary results
indicated that 96 percent of those taking part voted in favor of the
Kremlin-backed constitution. With the ballots of 61 percent of eligible
voters counted, that assures the document's passage into law.
Speaking today in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the
referendum results, saying they resolved the "last serious problem facing the
territorial integrity of Russia." "The results of this referendum are
positive," he said. "They were expected to be positive, but the figures have
even surpassed our most optimistic expectations. That means that the people
of Chechnya have made their choice for peace and development together with
Anatolii Popov, Chechnya's Moscow-appointed prime minister, likewise hailed
the results in remarks broadcast on Russian television. "The referendum can
be considered as having taken place, that is, as of today, the republic is
functioning under the approved constitution. Now, in front of us all -- the
government, the administration, the people -- stands a great amount of work
on the future creation of stability that will provide the basis for normal
life," Popov said.
Officials say 537,000 voters were eligible to take part in the referendum,
including some 65,000 refugees in the neighboring region of Ingushetia.
Around 38,000 Russian military personnel stationed in Chechnya were also
allowed to vote. The regional election commission reported a total turnout of
over 80 percent.
In addition to the constitution, voters were asked to vote on proceeding with
elections in the region. Results so far show 95 percent approval for
presidential elections in six months and 96 percent approval for
parliamentary elections later in the year.
Popov said there were no complaints about how the referendum was carried out
and that no fighting or other incidents disrupted procedures. Russian media
reported rebel attacks on some polling stations.
Separatist rebels (on the kavkazcenter.com website) called the referendum a
"political farce" in which most Chechens had actually refused to participate.
Chechen groups and human rights defenders in Russia and abroad have
criticized the referendum as an attempt to legitimize a brutal campaign rife
with human rights violations.
They say talks with separatists are the only way toward a real political
solution -- a position Moscow resolutely refuses.
Ruslan Badalov, head of the Chechen National Salvation Committee, spoke to
RFE/RL from Ingushetia. He said that based on the organization's monitoring
in Ingushetia, as well as information from sources in Grozny and media
reports, the results of the referendum appear to have been falsified. "The
city of Grozny was essentially dead," he said. "In short, the turnout was
practically miserly. In the hill regions, of course, those who voted were
mostly military personnel, as was expected and we predicted. About the
attempts to show that in some settlements, such as Shatoi, 98 percent [voted]
-- most of the population has been pushed out of there. 'Zachistki'
[mopping-up operations] and bombing are always going on. Of course, that 98
percent was clearly provided by the military."
Badalov said the referendum cannot be considered legitimate because Chechens
are not able to freely express their opinions under conditions of war. He
said many were coerced into taking part.
Critics also say the referendum has no legal basis because separatist leader
Aslan Maskhadov remains the region's only legitimate political leader.
Maskhadov was elected Chechen president in 1997 in voting recognized by the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Badalov said he does not expect the situation in Chechnya to change following
the referendum. "War on the territory of the Chechen Republic will continue,"
he said. "On the one hand, the separatist forces will conduct their partisan
war -- bomb explosions, attacks. Parallel to that, it reflects on the
civilian population -- zachistki, checkpoints, soldiers under every bush. All
that will not decrease and no one's planning on it. That's why the situation
is at a dead end."
Rights defenders have criticized the proposed constitution itself for giving
the federal government more sway over Chechnya than over other regions,
allowing the Russian president to sack the Chechen leader and depriving the
population of the right to appeal to international arbitration bodies.
Moscow launched its first campaign in Chechnya in 1994 to bring the
secessionist region under control. Russian forces took the capital Grozny at
great cost but were dislodged in 1996, after which the Kremlin signed a peace
settlement giving the region de facto independence.
Putin, prime minister at the time, launched the second conflict in 1999 after
Chechen rebels staged incursions into the neighboring Russian region of
Daghestan. A series of apartment-building bombings in Russia that killed
around 300 people were also blamed on Chechens despite a lack of convincing
Russian military forces currently suffer daily losses from mines, ambushes,
and skirmishes with rebels.
Official figures vary markedly, but a government-backed brochure released
this month puts the number of Russians killed in the conflict at 3,770
through March of this year. Human rights groups say that number is far too
Meanwhile, the military claims to have killed 14,000 Chechen rebels. There
are no figures for the number of civilians killed, but some observers put the
number in the tens of thousands.
Hrair Balain, an OSCE official observing the vote, was quoted by news
agencies as saying that "the constitution is less than perfect. But if it is
the start of a political process, then it may be a success."