|JRL #7118||Plain Text - Entire Issue|
1. pravda.ru: What Do Russians Read?
2. AFP: Russia's Putin marks three years since election on wave of popularity.
3. AP: Russia: U.S. Trying to Destroy Iraq.
4. Moscow Times: Pavel Felgenhauer, Sanctions Busting Skeletons.
5. Interfax: USA may impose sanctions of Russian firms supplying Iraq - envoy.
6. Interfax: US ambassador to Russia give cautious welcome to Chechen referendum results.
7. BBC Monitoring: Russian paper suggests Bush, Blair may boycott St Petersburg celebrations.
8. BBC Monitoring: Tomahawk democracy not in world's interests - Russian FM.
9. Vremya MN: Russian Party Leaders' Iraq Positions Reviewed; Russia Seen Lacking Power To Influence.
10. Profil: Andrei Ryabov, PUTIN AS THE MIRROR OF RUSSIANS' ATTITUDE TO THE IRAQI WAR.
11. Interfax: Putin tops list of most popular Russian politicians.
12. Interfax: Putin still popular with majority of Russians on third anniversary of election.
13. BBC Monitoring: Most Russians see their president as "businesslike" and "cautious."
14. BBC Monitoring: Putin urges pro-presidential party to become nucleus of political life.
15. Moscow News: Russia's Billions in Western Banks.
16. Moscow News: Sergei Roy, Debunking Myths About Russia.
17. RFE/RL: Askold Krushelnycky, Ukraine: U.S. Welcomes Kyiv's Behind-The-Scenes Contributions To Iraqi War Effort.
18. BBC Monitoring: Chechen envoy says slim chances for constructive dialogue with Russia.
19. Le Monde: Editorial Contrasts Furor over Iraq War, Silence on Chechnya.
20. The Japan Times: Yeltsin to soak up Japan culture.
March 26, 2003
What Do Russians Read?
As it turned out, Russians prefer to read the press published in the regions,
not that issued in the capital. This is seen from an analysis made by the RF
Ministry of Press and recently published. I have no exact information at hand
concerning the amount of audience of central and local online editions, such
like the PRAVDA.Ru online newspaper. But as for printed newspapers, the
advantage of the local press over the central one is obvious. As for online
editions, the number of their visitors can be seen from special electronic
systems counting the number of visitors. But it is sometimes a problem to
find out the number of readers of printed editions. Can anyone say for sure
why people buy newspapers, to read or to wrap anything? It is perfectly clear
that editions publishing much advertising say their circulation is bigger as
compared with other printed editions. But this is not the reason to place
such advertising newspapers together with the press publishing articles and
opinions, they are certainly editions of a particular class.
The RF Ministry of Press reports, the share of all-Russian newspapers among
editions that recently appeared makes up 14.7%, and the share of regional,
republican, local newspapers is over 80%. It's interesting to mention that
ten years ago the central press had complete domination in the country. There
are over 3.500 regional and city newspapers in Russia. The total one-time
circulation makes up about 32 million copies. At that, there are about 7.000
of regional, district and republican editions with the one-time circulation
of about 30 million copies. At the same time, the one-time circulation of all
printed mass media published in Moscow makes up about 36 million. Deputy
Minister of Press, Vladimir Grigoryev says, the above mentioned figures
demonstrate that regional press is now an accomplished, influential and
serious information power. 20 new mass media are registered in Russia every
day. As of now, there are 6715 electronic, 38060 printed and 933 online
periodicals officially registered in Russia. 7477 new mass media were
registered by the Ministry of Press and its territorial departments in 2002.
The number of newspapers distributed in Russia every day makes up 21.5
million copies. But regional and city newspapers registered in the federal
register have won majority of readers. The sum appropriated from the federal
budget on financing of these newspapers in 2002 made up 167 million 156
thousand rubles. Almost 20 million rubles out of the sum appropriated for
support of Russia's regional newspapers were spent on development of their
editorial offices' material and technical basis. As the Ministry of Press
reports, subsidies to regional editions in 82 regions of Russia made up
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Russia's Putin marks three years since election on wave of popularity
March 26, 2003
Economic and political stability mean Russian President Vladimir Putin,
elected three years ago, is heading towards polls next March on a wave of
popularity, despite the persistent thorn of the Chechen conflict.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who has criticized the Kremlin chief
on many occasions for authoritarian instincts, lavished rare praise on the
third anniversary of Putin's March 26, 2000 election.
"At first, I was not totally sure that he would be able to handle the
situation. But at present, he has clearly reached the key objectives:
stability and authority, including wage and pension payments," Gorbachev
After the post-Soviet chaos, when then president Boris Yeltsin sacked his
prime ministers at whim, brought in tanks to crush a parliamentary revolt and
presided over financial meltdown in 1998, Russians wanted strong leadership.
"Putin three years ago managed to tap into the popular mood. He has
maintained high personal ratings although public satisfaction about the
economy and other areas is lower," said analyst Nikolai Petrov from the
Carnegie Centre think-tank.
Putin's popularity rating has remained consistently high, and in a new poll
published Tuesday, 82 percent of electors who said they had voted for him
three years ago said they felt they had made the right choice, with only six
percent expressing regret.
The president's strong opposition to the US-led military campaign in Iraq has
gone down well with voters, although analysts warn that the tensions between
Washington and Moscow have damaged the close ties between the two capitals.
The developments in Iraq have forced Putin to postpone a State of the Nation
address he was due to make to parliament to mark the third anniversary of his
election, media reported.
The State of the Nation address, likely to set out his campaign programme, is
now likely to be made around mid-April, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta said.
However, events in the war-torn Russian republic of Chechnya, which last
Sunday approved a new constitution, are of more immediate concern to Putin's
On Monday Putin said that the "positive outcome" of the poll,
overwelmingly according to final results announced Wednesday, meant that the
decade-long Chechen conflict had finally ended.
Having launched the current fighting with considerable bravado in October
1999 while prime minister under his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, Putin
desperately needs a settlement to the conflict to prove that his hardline
policies, refusing all contacts with the separatist rebels, have worked.
The conflict, which has drained Russia of resources and severely tarnished
its reputation abroad, was dramatically illustrated by last October's
hostage-taking in a Moscow theatre, in which 129 hostages died.
The new Chechen constitution, and the presidential and parliamentary
elections to which it will give rise in the coming year, are intended as a
demonstration that the war is won and as the cornerstone of a political
Russians remain sceptical, however. A ROMIR opinion poll Tuesday indicated
that Chechnya was the issue on which Putin was considered least successful.
"Chechnya is a critical issue. He promised to solve the problem of
and bring stability and security but he has not achieved this," said Petrov
from the Carnegie Centre.
In other areas Putin has little to fear.
The Russian economy remains buoyant, with 4.4 percent growth expected this
year, comparable with last year's 4.2 percent, even though Moscow's debt
payments are due to peak this year at more than 17 billion dollars (16
And the 2003 budget has set aside funds to boost living standards, with
military and state salaries, pensions and student grants all due to rise.
But analysts have voiced fears that Putin has backed off necessary but
unpopular economic reforms, such as phasing out costly social subsidies and
This year though could see long-awaited action on the break-up of the world's
largest power monopoly, approved by parliament last month.
"I hope that Putin will soon propose a development programme to meet the
current challenges. A strategy of breakthrough rather than inertia is
required," said Gorbachev.
Russia: U.S. Trying to Destroy Iraq
March 26, 2003
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
MOSCOW (AP) - Reflecting a new chill between Moscow and Washington, Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov accused the United States on Wednesday of trying
to destroy Iraq and waging what he dubbed an information war against Russia.
Ivanov also supported the proposal of some legislators to put off
ratification of a pivotal U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty, saying
the war in Iraq could fuel unfair criticism of the pact.
``Maybe now is not the right moment psychologically to bring this document up
for ratification,'' Ivanov said. ``If we wait for some time, and concentrate
all our efforts on ending the war ... then at a more quiet moment we can
quickly deal with this issue.''
The treaty, signed in May by Russian President Vladimir Putin and President
Bush, calls on both nations to cut their strategic nuclear arsenals by about
two-thirds, to 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads, by 2012.
The Senate unanimously approved the treaty earlier this month in what was
seen as a diplomatic move to win Russian support for war in Iraq. But Moscow
has only hardened its stance.
In one of his strongest anti-war statements to date, Ivanov accused
Washington of hypocrisy and said its strikes were endangering the wider
``What democracy are they talking about when they are trying to completely
destroy the country?'' Ivanov said.
``If such massive bombardment continues, a humanitarian, economic and
environmental catastrophe will become inevitable in the near future, not only
in Iraq but in the whole region.''
Ivanov dismissed U.S. allegations that Russian companies provided Iraq with
anti-tank guided missiles, satellite jamming devices and night-vision goggles
in violation of U.N. sanctions.
``We are seriously concerned by the attempts of certain circles in the United
States to drag Russia into an information war over Iraq by making unfounded
accusations,'' Ivanov said. The two companies that have been implicated in
the transaction, Aviakonversiya and KBP Tula, have denied any role.
A senior U.S. diplomat countered that the United States has ``very hard
information'' contradicting Moscow's denials. Speaking on condition of
anonymity, the diplomat said that at least Aviakonversiya had dealt directly
with Baghdad and that it had employees tending to the equipment in Iraq.
The diplomat said it was unclear whether, after repeated U.S. demands to
investigate the alleged transfer of military equipment, Russian officials
``just didn't look hard enough or whether there were efforts to conceal
things.'' Washington is demanding that Russia punish the companies involved.
Despite his fierce criticism of the war, Ivanov emphasized that Moscow wants
to preserve good relations with Washington. ``We consider it inadmissible to
slide back into confrontation,'' he said.
The U.S. diplomat said neither side was ``mincing words'' over their
disagreement over Iraq, but speculated that at least some of the angry
rhetoric from Russian officials was ``tending to the home front.''
A poll conducted earlier this week showed a dramatic rise of anti-American
sentiments in Russia with 55 percent of respondents saying they view the
United States negatively, compared to 15 percent last summer.
Only 5 percent of 1,600 respondents in a nationwide poll completed earlier
this week by the respected All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center said
they sympathize with the United States in the war. Some 45 percent said they
side with Iraq, 46 percent said they supported neither side, and the rest
were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of 3.4 percent.
March 27, 2003
Sanctions Busting Skeletons
By Pavel Felgenhauer
Is Russia supplying Saddam Hussein with illegal weapons in violation of UN
sanctions? Last Saturday, Russian Ambassador to the United States Yury
Ushakov was called to the State Department and handed an official protest.
The story was also immediately leaked to the press.
The Russian authorities replied with a barrage of denials. The Kremlin
announced that President Vladimir Putin had told President George W. Bush
the allegations were "unproven" and "could only damage relations between
the two countries." Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told journalists that "for
the last 12 years Russia has not sold Iraq any equipment, including
military equipment, in violation of the sanctions regime."
State Duma Deputy Andrei Kokoshin, a former secretary of the Security
Council and first deputy defense minister, told reporters Monday: "There
have been no deliveries officially authorized or made by official Russian
institutions. If any arms were delivered, they are likely to have been
Soviet-made. There are plenty of such arms in other former Soviet republics
too, starting with Ukraine."
Kokoshin, who was in charge of arms export control inside the Defense
Ministry for several years, is clearly guarded in the wording of his
denial. Maybe this can be partially explained by the fact that in 1997 I
told Kokoshin I had evidence Moscow was constantly and massively breaching
the arms sanctions regime on Iraq. (In 1997 Kokoshin did not confirm,
comment on or deny the allegations.)
In September 1990, after Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, the Soviet
government issued executive order 1422 that banned all arms and military
technology trade with Iraq "in accordance with the UN Security Council
resolution." Some 80 percent of the hardware of the Iraqi military is
Soviet-made. If sanctions had indeed been watertight since September 1990,
today there would not be a single Iraqi jet or helicopter flying, tank
rolling, or radar or SAM battery operating due to a lack of spare parts and
adequate maintenance. Hussein's army and Republican Guard would long ago
There have been large-scale breaches of the sanctions regime all these
years. These violations are the main reason that today so much force is
needed to dislodge Hussein.
In January 1997, I received reliable information that in 1995 and 1996 Iraq
acquired some 20 Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters in clear violation of the
sanctions regime. A Bulgarian trading company called Kintex apparently
shipped the Hinds in containers into Iraq.
The country of origin of the Hinds may have been Russia or Ukraine. In
1997, the CEO of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant told me that he had sent
technicians from Moscow to Baghdad in 1996 to assemble the choppers and get
them into working order. In 1996, Hussein may have used the Hind gunships
during an attack on Erbil in northern Iraq. Iraqi forces later withdrew
from Erbil after massacring many Kurds.
A Moscow banker (a former military officer and professional arms trader in
Soviet times) who had been involved in financing arms export deals told me
in 1997 that spare parts for Russian-made Iraqi weaponry had been shipped
into Iraq with the help of Bulgarian and Turkish intermediaries. The main
sources of illegal weapons were Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Romania,
Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland were also mentioned as black market
Russian government export controls are easily bypassed by writing false
end-user certificates. And now Washington alleges that KBP of Tula has sent
a substantial amount of modern Kornet guided antitank missiles to Iraq,
using Yemen as a false end-user destination. Such a pattern would seem to
fit the pattern of Russian "black" arms exports.
A high-ranking Foreign Ministry official involved in arms export control
told me that the Hind deal I researched in 1997-98 and more recent
disclosures of Russian sanctions-busting were only "the tip of the iceberg."
Russian arms producers and Hussein's regime were indeed closely intertwined.
It's possible that adamant Russian opposition to regime change in Iraq was
fueled by fears that if Hussein goes, the extent of his cooperation with
Moscow will be disclosed. The French may be troubled by the same concerns.
After the fall of Baghdad many unwanted skeletons may come tumbling out of
Pavel Felgenhauer is an independent defense analyst.
USA may impose sanctions of Russian firms supplying Iraq - envoy
Moscow, 26 March: US Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow said the USA may
impose sanctions on Russian firms that Washington suspects of supplying
military equipment to Iraq in breach of UN sanctions.
However, the USA hopes that Russia will make the necessary steps to establish
control over the supply of such equipment to Iraq, Vershbow said in an
interview with Interfax.
Russia has repeatedly denied the US accusations...
Vershbow stressed the USA is not fully satisfied with Russia's response on
this matter. He said the US believes Russian military technologies were
supplied to Iraq, either directly or through third countries, and there is no
doubt that these technologies are there.
Vershbow recalled that this issue has been discussed by the two nations'
presidents. The USA is continuing to raise the issue in the hope that Russia
will take more effective steps to stop such supplies, he said.
The USA has provided Russian special services with additional information and
evidence to help them solve this problem, Vershbow said. This happened after
the Monday [24 March] telephone conversation between Putin and Bush, he said.
The US hopes these firms will be punished in some way, Vershbow said.
US ambassador to Russia give cautious welcome to Chechen referendum results
Moscow, 26 March: US ambassador Alexander Vershbow expressed the hope today
that the constitutional referendum in Chechnya on 23 March has launched a
political process to end the conflict. Vershbow told Interfax the United
States was closely following the referendum.
He said the US still had questions about the referendum, and plans to analyse
the referendum statistics, including the reported 96 per cent support for the
draft constitution. His country believes the referendum could lay the basis
for stability, he said.
Vershbow said some of the ideas put forward by Russian President Vladimir
Putin in an address to the Chechen people before the referendum were
important to the United States.
The ambassador said Russia should urge Chechens who used to support the
separatists to join in the peace process. But the Chechen population cannot
be drawn into the peace process if security sweeps go on and Russian
servicemen who have committed violence against Chechen civilians go
unpunished, he said.
He said the United States respects the territorial integrity of Russia. He
promised that his country will block foreign support for Chechen terrorists
and will urge Chechens to give up violence and join in efforts for a
He also said the United States might extend the list of organizations,
including three Chechen groups, that it has qualified as terrorist. The US is
looking at a list of other Chechen organizations that Russia wants the United
States to qualify as terrorist.
He said it was difficult to say what decision the US will take, because
Washington is using strict legal criteria, and in some cases needs additional
information from Russia.
Russian paper suggests Bush, Blair may boycott St Petersburg celebrations
Source: Izvestiya, Moscow, in Russian 26 Mar 03
In announcing a programme of events [between 23 and 31 May] to celebrate the
300th anniversary of St Petersburg, Russian Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoy
said: "We have a fortunate opportunity to make up for all the neglect which
this city suffered throughout the 20th century."...
However, exercises in the traditional Russian popular pastime of
the grass on the eve of the bosses' arrival" could give way at the last
moment to a more dramatic operation. To wit, viewing the empty seats at a
table groaning with food. Of course the situation does not yet threaten to
involve a repetition of the Moscow 1980 Olympics, when half the world of
sport refused to travel to Moscow in protest against the USSR's aggression in
Afghanistan, but it is not out of the question that it will be reminiscent of
that occasion in a while. If the war in Iraq continues, how will Bush or
Blair travel to St Petersburg? They will simply be unable to enjoy themselves
in public (and as guests of Putin, an opponent of the war) while their
soldiers are dying.
In addition if the war in Iraq continues, the split between the world powers
will also deepen. In particular the split between Russia and the USA. And
then Bush's no-show could be a protest gesture against the anti-American
position of the Kremlin (not of St Petersburg). America will insistently ask
its allies not to go "as a sign of solidarity". And there are also various
Arab and Muslim countries. They could also start protesting against something
or other. And what kind of a celebration will it be then?...
Tomahawk democracy not in world's interests - Russian FM
Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1100 gmt 26 Mar 03
[Presenter] The Federation Council has proposed to Russian President Vladimir
Putin that a strategic group be created to work out measures to defend
Russia's interests in the Middle East, according to a Federation Council
statement. The document also says that the use of force against Iraq has done
serious damage to the widely-accepted norms and principles of international
law and the whole system of international security.
[Correspondent Yevgeniy Rozhkov] The Federation Council is confident that it
can help to resolve the Iraqi crisis. The senators have already condemned the
US and British actions, refused to ratify the US-Russian Strategic Offensive
Reductions Treaty [SORT], for the time being at least, and finally addressed
a proposal to Putin to the effect that Russia's interests in the Middle East
should be considered.
To give the debate a higher profile, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has
been invited to today's Federation Council session. The senators and Ivanov
were unanimous in their opinion - the war in Iraq cannot be justified.
[Ivanov] Russia has always believed that there is no good reason for the war
in Iraq. Every day the war goes on just confirms that our conclusion was
right. Nobody was able to come forward with convincing proof that Iraq is
supporting international terrorism. Nobody has proved that Iraq represents a
military threat to anyone.
[Correspondent] Only self-defence can justify military operations - this is
not the case with the USA or Britain.
Ivanov said that the coalition's aim is not only to disarm Iraq, but to
remove Saddam Husayn's regime and establish its own democracy there.
[Ivanov] I have serious doubts about a democracy imposed by Tomahawks. We
know that various religions have been imposed by sword and fire. If we start
doing the same in the 21st century, then this kind of democracy is unlikely
to be in the interests of modern civilization, let alone the Arab East.
[Correspondent] Ivanov spent nearly half an hour answering senators'
questions, even the toughest ones.
[Sergey Agaptsov, captioned as Volgograd Region administration representative
to the Federation Council] The USA will win, as it has the military advantage
over Iraq. Who will be next: Iran, Russia, [North] Korea?
[Ivanov] Who will be next? I hope there will be no next [targets].
[Correspondent] Russia does not want to quarrel with the USA, as it is
Russia's strategic partner, Ivanov says. This is why Russia regards as
strange and groundless the US claims to the effect that Russia is supplying
arms to Iraq.
[Ivanov, speaking to journalists] Both the competent Russian and US agencies
are continuing to discuss this topic. So far there has been no confirmation
of Russia handing over to Iraq any kind equipment, including military,
contrary to the sanctions regime.
Russian Party Leaders' Iraq Positions Reviewed; Russia Seen Lacking Power
22 March 2003
Article by Andrey Lipskiy: "What Are We To Do About the Iraq Crisis?"
Russia's political elite has entirely
unanimously and expectedly condemned the United States for its military
action against Iraq in circumvention of the United Nations. True,
"different words" have been used to do this: from the moderately
restrained Putin definition of this action as a "big political mistake"
of the United States and its allies to the communist incantations to the
effect that "the harsh judgment of the peoples and history inevitably
awaits the aggressors."
Well, everyone makes blinis the way he likes them-under the
conditions of the cheerless "stabilization," which is undisturbed,
strictly speaking, even by the inexorable approach of the elections, it
would be a sin not to make use of the Iraq situation to state one's
position and if only briefly to attract to oneself the attention of
potential voters that are, strictly speaking, indifferent to party and
True, there arises here the natural question: is this a position?
What in the least bit serious could Russian politicians say about the war
in Iraq and, most important, about how Russia could influence its
progress and effects?
The communists, for example, are proposing as a priority measure that
we seek to have the United States and its allies recognized as aggressors
at the international level. Who, though, would do this? The United
Nations? The organization, that is, that the United States has publicly
ignored, and not for the first time, what is more? A strong measure, no
denying. The proposal for a winding up of the negotiating process with
the United States on strategic arms appears just as strong also.
Infantile logic: I'll go into the woods, the wolves will devour me, then
my parents will weep.... The proposals for a boycott of American goods,
audio products, and movies (it is unclear why dollars are not on this
list) would appear no less infantile either. Measures "to suppress the
pro-America and anti-Arab propaganda in the news media" with the latter
being categorized as "directly aiding and abetting the aggressors" would
appear anything but trifling, though. This proposal appears in the mouths
of CPRF figures entirely organic, but what has this to do with Russia's
influence on the course of the Iraq crisis?
Raykov's People's Party, incidentally, has concertedly supported all
the propositions of the communists, adding, true, one more: suspending
cooperation with the parliaments of the United States, Britain, and
Spain. One thing is unclear: why was this point not in the proposals of
the communists? Can it be that they are being included more often in Duma
The recommendations of the right appear less exotic, but entirely
The SPS [Union of Right Forces] believes that, first, a deterioration
in relations with the United States cannot be permitted (this is
understandable, it's what Putin does not want) and that, second,
following the "speediest" end to the hostilities in Iraq, it is necessary
to commit to the conflict zone a collective UN peacekeeping force, of
which Russia also should be a part. Who will invite this force into Iraq,
I wonder? The US occupation authorities, perhaps? Perhaps they began the
war in defiance of the United Nations in order to commit a contingent of
"blue helmets" to Iraq?
Yabloko is more modest. Its leader sees as Russia's role merely the
fact that it could occupy a leading position in the crafting of proposals
to avert a "similar development of events." There are many dictatorial
regimes, and warring with them each time to prevent them using weapons of
mass destruction would be too costly. Only these initiatives, according
to Yavlinskiy, would once again have to be submitted to the UN Security
Council. And once again everything would run into that same wall.
The country's chief politician also is obsessed with the United
Nations. President Putin expresses the adamant certainty that world
crises have to be resolved primarily by the UN Security Council and that
the Iraq knot may be untied only on the basis of its resolutions. Well,
of all those listed above, he alone, by status, may utter such
banalities: a head of state that has for several months spoken in defense
of UN procedures simply has no alternative (which, incidentally, cannot
by any means be said of his Duma affiliate-representatives of the various
components of United Russia have been unable to force themselves to
express on the Iraq problem anything other than "support for the
Of course, we could assail Russia's political class with charges of
absence of thoughts, ideas, imagination, and determination. We could, but
not on this occasion. It is hard to impose one's own rules when one is
playing another's game. And when the forces and possibilities are
lacking, to propose one's own.
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
PUTIN AS THE MIRROR OF RUSSIANS' ATTITUDE TO THE IRAQI WAR
By Andrei RYABOV, Scholar-in-Residence, Carnegie Moscow Centre
It is believed that the Russian President depends on the
public opinion in the pursuit of his foreign policy much less
than in his domestic policy. This is logical, as today Russians
are worried by growing prices, crime and unemployment. They
remember about foreign policy only when all media start
speaking about it all together.
The Iraqi war is a relevant example, the more so that it
is being waged in the election year in Russia. So, the Russian
President, who is very sensitive to the public mood in domestic
policy, is bound to take it into account in his foreign policy
It looked as if Putin would have to take an extremely
harsh stand with regard to the USA and its allies in this
situation. It is a fact that Russians firmly denounced the NATO
bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. But all through the Iraqi crisis
President Putin and Russian diplomats have been pursuing a very
flexible policy. On the one hand, they spoke about the
inadmissibility of the use of military force to resolve the
Iraqi crisis. But on the other hand, they clearly did not want
to aggravate relations with Americans. Even after the war had
begun, the Russian officials, who denounced it and
traditionally called for a peaceful settlement, have assured
Washington that partner relations with the USA would remain
inviolable. It looks as if Moscow's stand on the Iraqi problem
clashes with public opinion. But this is an illusion.
According to the latest opinion poll of the National
Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM), the overwhelming
majority of Russians (over 90%) have a negative attitude to all
kinds of military actions against Iraq, including bombing
raids, a ground operation, temporary occupation and so on. On
the other hand, they have no sympathy for the Iraqi regime
(contrary to the traditional view). Over 40% of the respondents
have a negative attitude to Saddam Hussein, while a positive
attitude to him was voiced by a quarter of those polled. Over
45% of Russians agree that Iraq threatens peace and security in
In other words, despite their not quite favourable (to put
it mildly) attitude to the Iraqi regime, Russians are
categorically against military strikes at that country. There
are several reasons for this, all of them quite rational. The
Russian public has not seen any reliable proof of the
connection of Saddam Hussein with international terrorism, or
the presence of weapons of mass destruction in the country.
There were no Iraqi citizens among the mercenaries who are
fighting the federal forces in Chechnya. And lastly, Russian
citizens question the use of military force as a universal
method of settling international disputes.
At the same time, Russian society has a sober view of the
international situation and Russia's possibilities. More and
more Russians are assuming an isolationist stand, according to
which it is better to keep away from such conflicts. According
to the February poll by VTsIOM, 42% of the respondents
advocated such a policy, while 32% believed that in case of a
military conflict Russia should denounce the policy of the USA
and provide diplomatic assistance to Iraq. In other words, we
have enough problems as it is (take Chechnya), so why get
involved in new ones?
Rationalism is also the key word in the public attitude to
the USA. Though the number of those who have a positive
attitude to the USA dwindled when the situation around Iraq
deteriorated, the figure for early March remained rather
impressive - 48%.
Moreover, the 42% who said Russia should keep away also
believed that it should remain an ally of the USA in the
counter-terrorist coalition. This duality can be explained only
by awareness of the new world realities.
As a result, the attitude of Russian society to the Iraqi
crisis can be defined by three things: rejection of the use of
military force; the expediency of keeping away from the
and unwillingness to stir a feud with the USA. A comparison of
this stand with Putin's policy reveals apparent similarities.
Putin tops list of most popular Russian politicians
MOSCOW. March 26 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin still tops
the list of Russia's most popular politicians, the All- Russian Public
Opinion Research Center told Interfax on Wednesday.
When asked to name the Russian politicians they trust most, 51% of
respondents named President Putin in March (against 49% in February).
The second most popular politician is Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov
(18% in March, against 14% in February). The third most popular is
Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu (16% in March, against 18% in
Shoigu is followed by Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir
Zhirinovsky (11%) and Valentina Matviyenko, who was recently appointed
presidential envoy to the Northwestern Federal District (9%).
The top-ten list of popular politicians also includes Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov (8%), Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov (8%), Kemerovo region
Governor Aman Tuleyev (8%), Trade Chamber Chairman Yevgeny Primakov (6%),
and Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky (6%).
An estimated 19% of respondents said they do not trust any Russian
In March, 75% of respondents said they were positive about Putin's
performance as president, and 21% said they were negative. These figures
were almost the same in February.
A poll of 1,600 citizens of Russia conducted in late March showed that
39% are positive about Mikhail Kasyanov's performance as prime minister,
and 49% are negative (against 42% and 49% in February).
An estimated 36% of respondents said they are positive about the
performance of the Russian government, and 56% said they are negative
(against 35% and 58% in February).
Putin still popular with majority of Russians on third anniversary of
Moscow, 26 March: A majority of Russians (57 per cent) have not changed their
opinion about Vladimir Putin since he was elected president three years ago
and 26 per cent have a higher opinion about him. Meanwhile, 14 per cent have
been disappointed with Putin and 3 per cent are undecided.
Interfax obtained this information from the Agency for Regional Political
Research (ARPI), which polled 1,600 Russians in 28 regions in the run-up to
the third anniversary of Putin's election as president.
Putin was elected on 26 March 2000 in the first round of the elections,
gaining over 50 per cent of the vote and leaving 10 other candidates behind.
On 7 May 2000 Putin officially took office.
As many as 82 per cent of those who voted for Putin in the elections said
they did the right thing and do not regret their choice, while 11 per cent
are indifferent and 6 per cent regret voting for Putin. The poll showed that
more women than men are satisfied with their vote...
Another poll, conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre
(VTsIOM), indicates that 49 per cent of Russians believe that the hopes they
pinned on Putin when he came to power have [been] justified...
Some 63 per cent of Russians believe Putin's greatest achievements over the
past year were strengthening Russia's positions on the world arena, while 31
per cent of the respondents disagreed. Just 45 per cent of those polled by
VTsIOM believe that Putin has succeeded in improving order in Russia, while
53 per cent believe otherwise.
In the view of 65 per cent of the respondents, the president has not done
much to improve Russia's economy or the people's wellbeing and only 31 per
cent believe Putin has made progress in this area.
The sociologists recorded positive trends in attitudes towards Putin's
efforts to settle the situation in Chechnya politically. In November last
year, only 16 per cent of Russians praised Putin's steps in this field, while
in mid-March this number grew to 29 per cent. The number of those who regard
Putin's contribution to the elimination of guerrillas in Chechnya as a
success also increased from 18 per cent to 30 per cent over the same period.
Most Russians see their president as "businesslike" and "cautious"
Source: NTV, Moscow, in Russian 0300 gmt 26 Mar 03
Russians are satisfied with their president and have no regrets about the
choice they made three years ago. These are the results obtained by pollsters
from the Agency for Regional Political Studies. Most Russians - 57 per cent -
have said that their opinion of [Vladimir] Putin has not changed over the
last three years, while 26 per cent said that their opinion of the president
had improved. Fourteen per cent said they were disappointed.
The poll was conducted in 28 regions among more than 1,500 people.
There is some more interesting data obtained by the pollsters. About 32 per
cent of those polled see a businesslike approach as Putin's main feature, 16
per cent called him cautious, 11 per cent calm, 10 per cent resolute, seven
per cent cunning,, five per cent simple and five per cent said Putin is fair.
Let me remind you that Putin was elected president on 26 March 2000 in the
first round of the elections, winning more than 50 per cent of the votes.
Only six per cent of those who voted for him now regret their choice, the
Agency for Regional Political Studies has said.
Putin urges pro-presidential party to become nucleus of political life
Source: Radio Mayak, Moscow, in Russian 1200 gmt 26 Mar 03
The One Russia party, with its great organizational potential, unique
membership and intellectual potential, could significantly contribute to the
development of the political system in the country and its economy, President
Putin has said at a meeting with the party's leaders in the Kremlin. He urged
the party not to stop its activities after the general election but to secure
reliable positions in the regions. The party should become the nucleus of
political life, not only in the big cities but in the regions as well, he
said. The following is the text of Putin's speech at the meeting broadcast by
Russian Mayak radio on 26 March.
[Presenter] One Russia [party] could make a significant contribution to the
development of the basis for Russia's future political system and economy,
Vladimir Putin has said opening a meeting with the party's leaders in the
Kremlin. The president pointed out that he had in mind the great
organizational potential and unique membership of One Russia.
[Putin] We have a solid pretext for holding this meeting today because One
Russia will soon hold a second congress, and although the process of the
making of your organization has not been finalized, vast and positive
experience of party formation and doing sociopolitical work has nevertheless
been acquired. I know - and I would like to repeat this - that vast
experience has been accumulated in doing this work, both organizational and
However, there exist some problems as well. The formation of political
parties is not a simple task, indeed. And it is clear that any party in the
making always sets a pragmatic task of winning the forthcoming elections,
first and foremost. You should agree that the real influence of a party on
the life of the country should not be confined to this. On the contrary, it
should begin at that point. Better still if a party is directly involved in
efforts to build up the strategic basis for the country's development and if
it therefore actively influences the process of achieving these goals and is
capable of exercising control over the way these goals are achieved.
Therefore, it seems to me that One Russia, with its great organizational
potential, unique membership and intellectual potential, could significantly
contribute to the development of the basis for the future formation of a
political system and to the development of Russia's economy. I would like to
repeat that the party could help establish public control over the
implementation of this task in everyday life.
Up to now the party work in our country has stopped literally the day after
I want to stress again: this is absolutely wrong and inadmissible. If a
public organization wants to be vibrant and to influence real processes and
citizens, and if it wants to have supporters among the voters, it should work
You have said many times that One Russia has not been set up for the
forthcoming election campaign. I hope you will be able to arrive at a
permanent and a systematic level of work and become a nucleus of political
life not only in the capitals [Moscow and St Petersburg] but in Russia's
regions and municipalities.
Everything that has been done of late to modernize Russia's political life
was aimed precisely at creating large federal political parties that would
lean, first and foremost, on the regions and municipalities. This is
precisely how the party's vertical structure should be built - from bottom to
I hope that people in the regions will feel nationwide interests in a better
way, whereas the federal centre - through the influence of a party thus
formed - will sense in a more subtle way the nerve of the country's
development and the needs of its ordinary citizens. The party thus gets a
stimulus and becomes interested in securing its positions at the regional
One Russia also gained experience of participating in regional election
campaigns. As an example, I can mention Sverdlovsk Region, where a
proportional election system has been in place for 10 years. I also know that
the list of your achievements includes many initiatives prompted by popular
demand. I have in mind, for example, your party's stance on the reform of the
system of remuneration of employees in the budget-funded sector. It seems to
me that One Russia noticed in time that some of the government's proposals
were lame and stepped in in time. There should be more such initiatives.
Generally speaking, I hope that One Russia will continue the process of its
formation and show itself as a fully structured party that has a good
intellectual basis, as an organization that will influence the strategy of
the development of the Russian state.
[Presenter] Vladimir Putin therefore hopes that One Russia will be able to
become a true nucleus of political life not only in the capital but in the
regions as well.
March 26-April 1, 2003
Russia's Billions in Western Banks
The problem of capital flight from Russia is being tackled by many agencies
but to no avail. What role is the West playing in illegal money transfers?
Apart from offshore companies, where do the Russian billions land?
Nikolai Kovalev, chairman of the State Duma Commission for Combating
Corruption, talks with Vremya MN's correspondent Sergei Guk
How much help are you getting from your Western colleagues in your search for
Let us first clarify a few things. The principal task of my commission is to
work for the improvement of anti-corruption legislation. Let us bear in mind
that the commission, as well as the lower house on the whole, do not conduct
parliamentary inquires. In other words, we find it extremely difficult, if
not altogether impossible, to get at the truth by sorting out what is really
We ask our fellow parliamentarians in the West for help in tracking down
various cash holdings, but we get little or no assistance from them because
the Western countries' legislation securely protects bank deposits,
forbidding the disclosure of information about the movement of capital.
Nearly all our requests for such information are denied on the grounds that
the commercial secrets of the banks involved are protected to the full extent
of the law.
Even in cases of stolen money?
Let us look at the cases where money was returned to Russia as a result of
joint operations. You can count such cases on the fingers of one hand. Every
month some $1.2 billion escape abroad never to return. A typical case is
Golden Ada. Of the $128 million worth of valuables it stole from Russia, the
United States returned to us less than one fifth. This is a problem that is
always confronting our law-enforcement agencies. Sometimes our inquiry
produces the following kind of answer: Yes, it is true that Mr. X came to us
with a certain sum of money, but during his stay here he has run into debt
and owes our treasury three times the amount he brought along; that is why
his money was turned over to our state.
I find this situation alarming: The West accuses us of corruption and
inefficient control, but it won't do a thing to help us, while making out
that it is squeaky clean itself. Illegal transfer of money abroad is always a
reciprocal process. Take the commercial activities of our officials - rather
high-ranking ones - in the West. Where can we find information about their
activities there? Did we get it in one, single case? Never! Our officials are
deliberately corrupted and then blackmailed.
Does this mean that the West helps those who have committed economic crimes
Yes, but not so openly. They pretend to be willing to help our
law-enforcement agencies. Take the well-known case initiated by Switzerland,
which came to nothing. If they had acted lawfully and charged their citizen
with attempted bribery, it would have been a reasonable matter of justice.
Instead, they sent Moscow an inquiry asking for information about the
movement of money kept in accounts with foreign banks. Obviously, the
Prosecutor General's Office in Russia cannot possibly have such information.
The banks involved are on Swiss territory, aren't they, and it's the Swiss
who should be asking them for the relevant information. That's the usual
pattern of our cooperation with law-enforcement agencies in foreign countries.
Some of our mass media repeatedly accused our Prosecutor General's Office of
refusing to send a request to the Swiss, who they said were ready to provide
us with every fact relating to illegitimate capital the Swiss supposedly
wanted to help us get back.
My pragmatism tells me that such claims are merely political games to deceive
the public. That declaration of a Swiss prosecutor was not backed by
appropriate action. Why not? We have an agreement on cooperation in fighting
terrorism. But it does not provide for any of the signatory state supplying
proof of the guilt of the person whose extradition it is seeking. The reason
is that the collection of evidence and all investigative procedures have not
been completed, the accused has not been questioned or confroned with
witnesses, has not been tried and convicted. It's a vicious circle: In the
absence of the suspect it is impossible to establish his guilt. Another
problem is that the law enforcers of one country think they have the right to
appraise and review the activities of another country's law enforcers, who
work in different conditions and on the basis of a different system of
legislation. Everywhere the justice ministry is the dominant body in legal
matters; in Russia it is the Prosecutor General's Off ice that has overriding
I hear that the bankers who lost money in [Russia's August 1998] debt default
are asking your commission to blacklist Western bankers involved in illegal
transfer of capital abroad.
There is no such list. Myself, I'd rather there was a white list of
structures of proven reliability recommended as business partners; and a
black list of those with criminal connections.
However, compiling a black list poses a problem: We just cannot put an end to
one-day firms. We should pass a law that forbids firms which have existed for
less than five years to engage in foreign-economic activities.
Why can't you make a list of the culprit Western banks based on the evidence
of Russian banks that fell victim to the 1998 debt default?
Because of the same objective reasons: Loopholes in Russian legislation that
hamper our commission's work. It is not written anywhere that we have the
right to make such a list. So any list from us will be challenged in court.
March 26-April 1, 2003
Debunking Myths About Russia
Alexander Goryanin. Mify o Rossii i dukh natsii (Myths About Russia and the
Spirit of the Nation). Pentagraphic, Ltd. Moscow 2002. 336 pp
In the run-up to the recent national census in Russia, Grigory Yavlinsky,
leader of the left-liberal Yabloko party, asserted that 97 percent of the
Russian population lived in poverty. In an article reprinted in numerous
publications, Valeria Novodvorskaya, leader of the Democratic Union, insists
in all seriousness that most Russians collectively suffer from
maniac-depressive psychosis. The writer and TV personality Edvard Radzinsky,
a prominent proponent of the comic-strip school of historiography, exclaimed
on camera, in his usual bathetic style: "For a thousand years the [Russian]
people has been oppressed and kept in a state of semi-starvation!" Journalist
Alla Bossart thus sees her native Russia: "Sick cities. A sick people. A sick
generation. What is now currently known as a humanitarian catastrophe."
These are just isolated exampled of what Alexander Goryanin, author of Myths
about Russia and the Spirit of the Nation, calls catastrophism, an attitude
extremely wide-spread, if not prevalent, among the Russian political and
journalistic intelligentsia, both liberal-democratic and Communist-leaning.
Others, not so finicky about purity of style, call this attitude
Speaking for oneself, this last term appears to be not only more expressive
but also more accurate. Throwing filth at the country they live in is clearly
a favorite pastime with the Russian media, especially the TV, which might as
well be called anti-Russian and be done with it. It has become a sort of bon
ton, an inverted political correctness, to bash all things Russian, whether
past or present - glibly, in passing, often parenthetically or in a
subordinate clause, as part of generally accepted wisdom. Try this for size:
an anchor on the ORT (Public Russian TV) channel gives this choice of options
as she asks a youth fashion designer: "What is Russian fashion - an
anachronism, a mockery of miserable life or an attempt to rise above the
drabness of our everyday existence?"
Too often are we inclined to shrug this sort of thing off with: "Oh,
just the idiot box. Just switch it off." But there are millions who do not
switch it off. And this massive onslaught on their psyche has a powerful, one
could say material, effect on what Alexander Goryanin calls the spirit of the
nation, sapping the people's moral fiber and thus preventing them from
rallying and boldly tackling the formidable tasks facing them.
As other authors have done before him, Goryanin points out that this kind of
filth-slinging is in sharp contrast with the attitude taken by the American
mass media, the church, the president, and Hollywood during the Great
Depression. The situation in the U.S. was then probably worse than in Russia
in the 1990s, what with unemployment affecting a third of the nation, between
1.5 and 4 million homeless roaming the country, hunger marches on Washington,
martial law declared in various states, etc. etc. And still, the mood of the
nation, epitomized in the motto "Keep smiling!", changed for the better as
early as the mid 1930s, although the actual improvement in the industries did
not come till 1943.
Nothing of the sort is possible in Russia as long as its so-called elite
keeps poisoning the people's minds with their hate-filled grumbling about the
impossibility of anything good happening in this country, for such, in their
view, is the fate of Russia, determined by its history, geography, the
nation's psychology, etc. These people of the "anti-system" (Lev Gumilyov's
term) - individuals who formally belong to the culture of the country but are
actually hostile to it - rely on a fairly ramified system of mythology about
Russia, which they take for granted, which they thrust on the public but
which dissolves in the cold light of analysis, historical analysis above all,
as masterfully practiced by Alexander Goryanin.
Goryanin's exercise in debunking is, indeed, wide-ranging and extremely
systematic, with ample quotes from numerous historical and other sources,
even unto the CIA's World Factbook on the Internet. The present review can
cite only a few of these myths, those that particularly struck the
imagination; for the rest, the reader will have to go to the book itself.
The Slave Spirit Myth: Russia's past, present and future is all doom and
gloom because the Russian people are slaves, have always been slaves, and it
will take generations for them to learn to be free, self-reliant people. This
is elegantly known as the "paradigm of non-freedom" to which Russia is
allegedly doomed, whereas, say, Europe has for centuries cultivated the ideal
of individual freedom.
Rubbish, says Goryanin. He conducted a totally unscientific but striking
experiment, asking a few of his acquaintances, What proportion of the
population was liberated from serfdom by Alexander II in 1861? Since Russia
was a peasant country, it stood to reason that the number would be close to
90 percent. So Goryanin's pollees said, and so I myself would have said - and
missed the correct figure by about a mile: It was, in cold fact, 28 percent.
The other 72 percent, an absolute majority of the nation, were free people,
and it doesn't take great intellectual effort to work out why. The original
principality of Muscovy was a fairly small country, about the size of Poland,
and whenever some peasants felt they were a tad too oppressed by their
noblemen, they up and went away, first to the Don, later to the Kuban, the
Urals, Siberia, and so on, until they hit the Pacific. These vast spaces were
colonized by the plows of those runaway peasants and their descendants, many
of whom formed warlike communities run on the military democracy principle,
the Cossack hosts. The sword of the feudal Russian state came later, if ever.
Only free people could achieve this enormous feat of colonization - and they
Closer to the present day, it was not for sheer sadistic pleasure that the
Stalin regime shot and sent to the Gulag millions of people: It took all that
mighty effort, plus a foreign invasion, to beat back the people's staunch
resistance to the Communist tyranny - which eventually had to transform
itself into something pretty toothless and doomed to collapse precisely
because of the resistance, not because of a defeat in the Cold War (yet
another myth, propagated, alas, not just by the "cold warriors" abroad but
also by the anti-system over here).
Another cliche, connected with the Slave Spirit Myth, is this: Russians are
an extremely long-suffering people. A quick look at Russian history will show
that Russians are, if anything, less than any other people inclined to suffer
in abject submission: Their history reads like a catalogue of mighty peasant
rebellions. For comparison: about a third of the peasant population of France
died of famine in 1715 alone - and no sign of mutiny. So much for the
Europeans' love of freedom.
The book draws many apt parallels like this. Just one more example. At the
end of 1943, when it became clear that the war (World War II) would have to
be prosecuted on German territory, the Soviet Supreme Command began to work
out measures to fight German partisans. It just did not enter any Russian
head that there would be no German partisans. End of example.
The No-Human-Rights Myth: Russia has never known the rights and freedoms of
man, an independent press, independent system of justice, etc.; the
individual in Russia has always been helpless vis-a-vis the state machine,
while in Europe the rights of man have been cherished since antiquity.
These platitudes, mostly originating from foreign sources but shamelessly
repeated by the anti-system, fall to dust in light of historical facts. Trial
by jury was introduced in Russia in 1864 (in Italy, in 1865; Austria, 1866;
Spain, 1888). Russia "began the struggle for church Reformation a whole
generation earlier than other European states" (quoted from Prof. Alexander
Yanov's work). Anyone who talks of "slavishly obedient" press in Russia in,
say, the 19th century simply did not bother to look up the back files: The
press virtually stopped the government's military reform, attacked all of
Alexander II's innovations, his foreign policy, etc. , keeping censorship at
Respect for human life, now. Capital punishment was introduced in Russia only
in the 15th century, while for the first six centuries of its existence the
Russian state did very well without it. Significantly, the first cities to
introduce capital punishment were Dvinsk and Pskov - under the direct West
European influence of the Teuton and Livonian Orders. But even in later
centuries capital punishment was practiced very sparingly: Between 1825 and
1906, just 19 death sentences were carried out annually in the years of peace
in a country covering one sixth of the planet. "Civilized" Western Europe
fares pretty badly by comparison: As late as 1819, 225 kinds of crimes and
other offences in England were punishable by hanging.
And so the debunking proceeds, myth by myth. The "collectivism"
as sobornost, a meaningless term if ever there was one) of the Russian
people, expressed particularly in the "eternal" existence of the village
commune, or obshchina, turns out to be a bureaucratic artifact dating back to
the Kiselyov reform of 1838 and finally enforced by the Bolsheviks in the
years of bloody collectivization a century later.
The myth of Peter I "hacking out a window on Europe," through which
ideas flooded Russia, is just another myth. Take the idea of constitutional
democracy. On 4 February, 1610, when there was not a glimmer of that idea
anywhere in Western Europe and a good century before Peter's exploits, the
Boyar Duma passed the "basic law of constitutional monarchy" (Vasily
Klyuchevsky) - a document that reflected a centuries-old Russian liberal
One particularly important myth debunked by Goryanin, the Economic Decline
Myth, has to do more with the present-day situation than history, and with
the economy than manners and mores. The myth runs something like this: Ten
years ago Russia was second in the world in terms of production, and nowadays
it has dropped out of the first hundred. The book clearly shows that this
nonsense can only be the result of clumsy (or probably too deft) handling of
political economy instruments. Quoting the World Bank's World Development
Report and the CIA's World Factbook, the author shows that in 2000 Russia's
GDP was assessed at $1120 billion ($7700 per capita), which places it well in
the Top Ten.
There is also the mysterious matter of the Russian budget, which is almost
universally pronounced to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 billion. In
actual fact in, say, 2000 it was planned to spend in 2001 the sum of 2.073
trillion rubles. Application to this figure of a respectable economics
instrument known as the purchasing power parity (PPP) conversion rate yields
the sum of $236 billion - a far cry from $20 billion.
For those, however, who dislike figures and conversion rates, it is enough to
look around and use their common sense. The number of cars alone in the years
since Perestroika has at least quintupled. And, of course, no World Bank or
CIA can keep track of the scope and enthusiasm of economic activity that
shies away from any sort of records. Just one tiny example: a deputy minister
of construction bitterly complained recently that in the last 10 years, 15
million (!) unregistered "property units" (in plain language, homes) have
sprung up all over the place. Economic decline my foot.
Contrary to what I've been stressing here, the book is full not just of
acerbic criticism but also of positive ideas. The main one among them seems
to me to be this: While showing the anti-system its proper place, the
liberal, democratic intelligentsia ought to take away from the Communists and
their hangers-on the ideology of patriotism which the latter somehow managed
to rip off.
The book also provides an instrument for returning this stolen property, and
is in this sense long overdue. As I read and re-read the pages, I had this
feeling familiar to anyone who ever perused a hard-hitting, much-needed work:
I do wish I'd written this passage myself!
And no doubt about the "much-needed" bit. I lent the book to a
friend - and
had to fight to get it back. Let that be a lesson to you, dear reader.
Ukraine: U.S. Welcomes Kyiv's Behind-The-Scenes Contributions To Iraqi War
By Askold Krushelnycky
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma apparently sees an opportunity in the
conflict in Iraq to repair relations with Western countries, particularly the
U.S., and to bolster his country's tattered image. Ukraine is sending a
military unit trained to counter chemical and biological attacks to the
Persian Gulf, and yesterday Kyiv announced an offer to treat victims of the
conflict in Ukraine -- coalition troops, as well as Iraqis.
Kyiv, 26 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine has begun dispatching to Kuwait the
first of 530 men and their equipment from a specialized battalion trained to
counter the effects of nuclear, biological, and chemical attacks.
The first of 80 planeloads of servicemen from Ukraine's 19th Radiation,
Chemical, and Biological Protection Battalion departed yesterday from the
western Ukrainian city of Lviv. The deployment will take up to three weeks.
The battalion will not take part in the U.S.-led coalition's war against Iraq
but will be based in Kuwait, at U.S. request, to help the civilian population
in case of an Iraqi chemical or biological attack.
Yesterday, Yurko Pavlenko -- a member of the Ukrainian parliament and leader
of the Youth Party, part of the largest democratic parliamentary faction, Our
Ukraine -- unveiled an initiative to offer the services of Ukrainian
hospitals and sanatoriums to anyone injured in the conflict.
Pavlenko said Kuchma "enthusiastically" supports the plan. He said
in contact with the United Nations and nongovernmental aid agencies, as well
as the Iraqi, U.S. and British embassies, to discuss the plan. "Today, we
have received support for the initiative from the president of Ukraine. We
have received support from the head of the Our Ukraine bloc, Viktor
Yushchenko. We have already received a response from the Iraqi ambassador and
will hear his views shortly on this matter, and the same applies to the
embassies of the U.S.A. and Britain," Pavlenko said.
Pavlenko said that although Ukraine expects most of the beneficiaries to be
Iraqi civilians, he hopes coalition forces will also send soldiers to Ukraine
for treatment or recuperation. "We are convinced that we can, and that it is
necessary, to help and to treat not only civilians from Iraq, particularly
women and children, but also soldiers from the coalition," he said.
Kuchma has largely been ostracized by Western countries following allegations
of his involvement in corruption, election fraud, the murder of an opposition
journalist, and the sale of a sophisticated air-defense system to Iraq.
Some Ukrainian political commentators believe Kuchma's decision to send the
battalion is linked to his desire to repair relations with the West,
particularly the U.S., Ukraine's most important international backer.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Patricia Guy, said the move is
welcomed by the U.S. "We're very pleased. We think it's a positive
development in relations between Ukraine and the United States, and we
believe the unit will play an important humanitarian role in the region, and
also that its mere presence in the region could perhaps deter possible
chemical attacks because people will know this unit -- along with other units
from other countries -- are in the area to minimize the effects of any such
attack," Guy said.
Kuchma's decision to send the specialist battalion to Kuwait is unpopular
with many Ukrainians. Polls show the overwhelming majority of the population
disapproves of the war. Kuchma's critics say the battalion directly aids
coalition forces. But Pavlenko said Kuchma believes the scheme will gain
Ukraine prestige abroad.
"The Ukrainian president listened to us carefully and agreed with most
points that we made, and he supports the fundamental idea of improving
Ukraine's international image. But he also voiced his view that it was
necessary to help those suffering from the conflict because ordinary people
are not to blame for the war. The war is bad -- Ukraine has made its view on
this clear -- and we must help these people," Pavlenko said.
Pavlenko said that up to 100,000 people could be accommodated in Ukraine if
international aid agencies help with additional resources. He said the
country has a large number of facilities for medical treatment and
recuperation in Crimea and in Ukraine's Carpathian region. He says coalition
countries will evacuate badly wounded soldiers to their own facilities but
hopes that some allied soldiers might be sent to Ukraine for recuperation.
"We understand that those countries taking part in the conflict have
own facilities nearby for the heavily wounded, but for those people who are
lightly injured or who are in shock and require rehabilitation, Ukraine could
be the best place for them. And the distance involved is not too far,"
Guy, the U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Kyiv, reacted positively to the
initiative. "Well, if Ukraine is willing to make additional contributions --
in addition to the biochemical decontamination battalion -- we are ready to
listen to them. And if Ukraine feels they can make further contributions to
prevent loss of life in the war, we are willing to discuss that with them,"
A spokesman for the Iraqi Embassy in Kyiv said his ambassador is interested
in the proposition and plans to meet today with Pavlenko. Pavlenko intends to
travel next week to Kuwait to discuss practical aspects of the scheme with
government authorities and international aid agencies.
Chechen envoy says slim chances for constructive dialogue with Russia
Source: Chechenpress web site, Tbilisi, in Russian 25 Mar 03
The Chechen rebel president's envoy to Russia, Salambek Maigov, says he does
not see hope for constructive dialogue on the conflict in Russian officials'
statements. Speaking in an interview with the Chechen rebel official news
agency Chechenpress, Maigov said that because of Moscow's "radical position"
he was not maintaining regular contact with "serious" Russian politicians. He
said that history had not seen such a hypocritical approach to referenda as
in the case of the recent constitutional referendum in Chechnya. The
following is excerpt from the interview carried by the Chechenpress news
agency web site on 25 March:
I am 36, I come from the village of Makhkety in Chechnya's Vedenskiy District.
[Passage omitted: Education and work details]
[Correspondent A. Melkhiyev] Before being appointed to a post, every official
presents a programme. What did you have to offer the Chechen leadership?
[Maigov] I want to note that I have permanently, for more than three years
now, been in contact with CRI [Chechen Republic of Ichkeria] President Aslan
Maskhadov and members of his government. For this reason, on the one hand,
there was no need to develop a programme, and on the other, certainly, I
coordinate my actions with President Maskhadov, whose official representative
I am in Russia. I will only add that I took this step in order to promote
peace on Chechen land, which needs to be achieved at the negotiating table.
[Correspondent] Could you briefly disclose the technical details of your
[Maigov] I do not think this is an issue of principle. The decree on my
appointment was received, powers defined, and the most important thing is the
success of actions aimed at initiating talks.
[Correspondent] Did you have a recommendation from anyone?
[Correspondent] Judging by statements by the Russian leadership, it is
unlikely to be capable of constructive dialogue with the Chechen side. How do
you hope to change this situation?
[Maigov] You are right, statements by Russian officials do not inspire hope
for a constructive approach, and still I am convinced that the Russian public
which favours talks is the main argument in favour of the possibility of and
need for a constructive approach. As for the way I hope to change the
situation, believe me, there is no irreplaceable person on whom the
development of the situation depends. Only we all together, from an ordinary
soldier of the Chechen resistance to President Maskhadov, with the support of
the people are capable of changing the situation. I am just one of many and
many. And still, there does exist a plan of my actions, and I am working on
the implementation of our common goals and tasks on my part of the front.
[Passage omitted: war in Chechnya makes Maigov feel uncomfortable]
[Correspondent] Whom from the Russian establishment do you meet today?
[Maigov] Contacts are carried out regularly. As you may know, a meeting is
scheduled between me and Russian cultural figures who have signed an address
to President Putin calling on him to start talks. As for contacts with
serious politicians with whom I used to have repeated meetings and who
include both heads of President Putin's administration and political
"heavyweights", I can only state that contacts are not maintained, and the
reason for this is not so much my appointment as the Kremlin's radical
position voiced after the events at Nord-Ost [Moscow hostage crisis in
October 2002], in the context of the decision made on the holding of the [23
March constitutional] referendum.
[Correspondent] What has changed since your were appointed?
[Maigov] It is for the time being difficult to talk about changes.
Coordinated actions by everyone are needed, with everyone forgetting their
own well-being. We must do everything towards the achievement of a just peace
on Chechen land, and there will be changes.
[Correspondent] How do you coordinate your activity with the Chechen
[Maigov] By post, telephone, sometimes at meetings in person.
[Correspondent] I would like to ask you a question in connection with recent
statements by MPs of the Chechen parliament whom you met in Moscow. How do
you generally feel about this?
[Maigov] I do not know them, though I did not try to meet them either. As for
the statements, it is sad that they allowed themselves to be used in the
propaganda show around the so-called referendum.
[Correspondent] How do you think the so-called referendum of 23 March will
influence the situation in Chechnya?
[Maigov] Sharing the official position of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria on
this action, I want to note that in essence the people were offered to make a
choice not on the draft constitution but between violence and promises of
peace and an end to the violence. The history of referenda has never seen
such an Jesuitical approach. I am convinced that neither from the legal nor
historical point of view will this farce have consequences and an impact on
the situation in Chechnya, unless the world sees that that the "moon"
promised by the Kremlin to the Chechen people is a propaganda canard with the
aim of enticing people to ballot boxes. Only the resumption of the
Russian-Chechen political process interrupted in 1999 is acceptable for the
Chechen people and their future. This is where we stand.
[Passage omitted: 15 September 2002 declaration by Chechen Anti-War Congress
on peace in Chechnya]
France: Editorial Contrasts Furor over Iraq War, Silence on Chechnya
25 March 2003
Unattributed editorial: "The Other War"
While the forces of the Anglo-American
coalition drive toward Baghdad, one of the main representatives of the
"peace camp" has been pursuing another war for more than three years, in
Chechnya. Without being bothered. With the indifference, or even
approval, of his peers in the Western world, who find nothing to fault in
the fierce repression conducted against a small Muslim people of the
It is true that since 11 September 2001 Vladimir Putin has been a
full-fledged member of the anti-terrorist coalition. President George W.
Bush, who boasts of liberating the Iraqis from the yoke of Saddam Husayn,
has accepted the lumping together of the Chechen independence fighters of
President Aslan Maskhadov, democratically elected in 1992, and the
Islamic fundamentalists modeling themselves on Bin Ladin. Tony Blair, who
freely speaks about a new internationalism of the rights of man, is no
more picky about Chechnya than is his friend Putin.
The defender of "international legality" against an "illegal war" in
Iraq, Jacques Chirac puts up with the support of Vladimir Putin, who,
however, is not all that attached to the law when it comes to using the
war to gain power and keep it.
As for the crowds who demonstrate in the European capitals to
denounce Operation "Iraqi Freedom," they were strangely absent a few
years ago, when Grozny was crushed under the bombs.
The war in Chechnya has been going on for 10 years with a brief
interruption from 1996 to 1999. It has caused more than 200,000 deaths
and 150,000 refugees. 35,000 Russian soldiers still occupy this little
republic, whose population is currently no more than 500,000 people. The
clashes between the Russian forces and the pro-independence fighters have
become sporadic. The repression has taken other forms with the "death
squads," an offshoot of the central government, which kidnap youths
liable to become 'boiviki' -- fighters -- and who even shoot at the
officially pro-Russian Chechen militias.
What meaning is there, under these conditions, in the referendum held
on Sunday 23 March in Chechnya on the draft for a new Constitution?
According to Putin, mindful of his international image, this is supposed
to be the start of that "process of political settlement" that the
Westerners meekly ask from him. There are no fools except those who want
to be. That is not the case, at least, with the Council of Europe. It
refused to send observers to Chechnya in order not to approve of a vote
which, under state-of-war conditions, can only be a farce.
The Chechens who went to the polls voted less for a Constitution
granted by Moscow than for peace. But that will not be possible as long
as the Kremlin refuses to negotiate with the true representatives of the
The Japan Times
March 27, 2003
Yeltsin to soak up Japan culture
By SAYURI DAIMON
Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin will make a weeklong visit to Japan
beginning Monday, and he is likely to boast his improved health while here by
eating well and taking in a hot spring resort.
Government officials said Wednesday that Yeltsin will arrive aboard Russian
President Vladimir Putin's jet.
While the date of his meeting with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has not
yet been fixed, Yeltsin, who suffered from heart attacks and other ailments
due to heavy drinking, is likely to have a relaxing time with his old friend
and one-time counterpart, former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.
After taking a sightseeing tour of Tokyo, he will be joined by Hashimoto for
dinner Tuesday evening at a restaurant in Tokyo's Akasaka district.
"Boris loves 'toro' (fatty tuna) very much," Hashimoto said.
"I'm sure he
will order it this time, too."
The last time Yeltsin visited, Hashimoto ordered a dish of toro for the
president. After finishing his plate, Yeltsin remarked to Hashimoto with a
smile, "Since you live here, you have more chances to eat this, don't you?"
Hashimoto recalled that Yeltsin then swiftly exchanged his plate with
Hashimoto's, which still had some pieces of tuna on it.
On Wednesday, Yeltsin will fly to Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture, to stay at a
fancy hotel with spas, according to the officials.
It is still uncertain whether stalled bilateral issues, including talks over
the return of four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido and the pursuit of a
formal peace treaty, will be taken up.