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1. The Nation: Katrina vanden Heuvel, Dispatch From Russia.
2. Reuters: Russia's nuclear past haunts Urals villages.
3. Rosbalt: President's Plenipotentiary: Information about Chemical Weapons in Iraq Is Seen as Propagandistic Ploy.
4. RIA Novosti: RUSSIAN EXPERT IS POSITIVE IRAQ HAS NO CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN POSSESSION.
5. Interfax: Russian speaker says USA unlikely to fake use of chemical weapons in Iraq.
6. Interfax: Russians disapprove of U.S. attack on Iraq - poll.
7. BBC Monitoring: Poll shows split in Russian people's attitudes to Iraq war.
8. Transitions Online: Martin Vane, Notes from Grozny: A Potted Road to Normality. Life for Chechen refugees is inching back towards normality. It could
be much more normal
.
9. AP: Putin Calls for Chechen Amnesty Law Draft.
10. BBC Monitoring: Putin outlines political, economic priorities for Chechnya.
11. RFE/RL: Gregory Feifer, Chechnya: Rights Groups Dispute Kremlin Claim That New Constitution Sets Foundation For Peace.
12. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Marina Volkova, Put in a Trap. (Modest Results of Putin's Political, Social Reform Program Viewed)
13. RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly: WHY HAS PUTIN FAILED TO TAME THE BUREAUCRACY? (Views of Lilia Shevtsova, Dmitrii Furman, and Peter Reddaway)
14. Reuters: Russia's Aeroflot bucks trend with profits rise.
15. BBC: James Arnold, No regrets' for tarnished tycoon. (re Berezovsky)
16. AFP: Writer in Russia's "Potter vs. Grotter" row hits out at J.K. Rowling.

*******

#1
The Nation
April 14, 2003
Dispatch From Russia
By KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL
Moscow

A few hours after the United States launched its first missile attack
against Baghdad, I spoke to 400 students and faculty at Moscow's largest
university of commerce and economics. The mood in the packed hall was
tense. My theme: the loyal opposition to war in America. The eager
questions came in rapid-fire sequence: Will this war destroy the United
Nations? How can a democratically elected President wage an unlawful war?
Why does the Bush Administration treat us like a province of a new American
empire?

These students are Russia's Westernized elite--the country's future leaders
of commerce and business. Yet their anger at America was palpable, and
expressed most vividly in the antiwar resolution they had drafted and
unanimously adopted earlier that morning. "We demand an end to the war....
We demand the resignation of the Bush Administration, and the exile of
George Bush and his family from the United States." It continued, "Bush and
his team of aggressors should be brought before an international tribunal
and charged with crimes against humanity." The resolution was delivered by
hand to President Vladimir Putin that afternoon.

There are various opinions in Russia's political elite and media about the
factors behind America's "imperial" war against Iraq. But one of the most
startling for an American draws a sharp parallel with the former Soviet
Union's behavior abroad. The Brezhnev Doctrine, as it was called from the
Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968 until the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev in
1985, asserted that countries in the Soviet orbit--primarily in Eastern
Europe--had only "limited sovereignty," and therefore that Moscow alone had
the right to decide the nature of those countries' political regimes. This
was, it is pointed out here, an early version of Washington's current
doctrine of pre-emptive war and regime change, and thus the talk in Moscow
about "Bush's Brezhnev Doctrine."

While Russians overwhelmingly oppose the war--a poll taken hours after it
started shows that 71 percent view US actions against Iraq as the greatest
threat to world peace and 93 percent opposed the bombing of Iraq, while
positive opinion of the United States has fallen dramatically, from 68
percent to 28 percent in the past month--few have taken to the streets to
protest. The weekend after the war began, about 2,000 members of the
pro-Kremlin youth group Walking Together braved Moscow's subzero
temperatures to rally outside the US ambassador's residence. They carried
several thousand blue containers of oil. "We are ready to bring as much as
is needed," the group's leader said, "to meet American needs and stop the
war." Across from the US Embassy, about 300 largely elderly demonstrators
waved banners and placards reading Veto to War and USA--International
Terrorist No. 1. A small group of schoolchildren later joined the crowd and
sang a song written for the occasion: America parasha, pobeda budet nasha,
or "America is trash, victory will be ours."

Russia's small street protests reflect the people's resignation, alienation
from politics and mass impoverishment. "In the past several years," one
young protester told me, "many have come to believe that street
demonstrations are useless. They have done nothing to improve our lives,
and most people believe the Kremlin doesn't care about public opinion. It's
what we call 'managed democracy' or 'constitutional dictatorship.'" "After
all," he continued, "if people don't go out to protest against Russia's war
in Chechnya, the cancer on our country's soul, why should they protest
against America's war in Iraq?"

While the streets may be relatively quiet, a political struggle rages
inside the Kremlin. Since September 11, President Putin, the ex-KGB colonel
whose soul Bush once looked into so admiringly, has come under high-level
attack for his professed strategic alliance with the United States. Many
Russians believe that Putin's national security policy has consisted of
giving the Bush Administration concessions that have been met only by
broken US promises and imperial aggrandizement--from the garrisoning of
American troops and bases in central Asia to the shredding of the ABM
treaty. "He has sold out our country and betrayed our national interests,"
a former Putin supporter told me. Opposition to the US war in Iraq has
allowed Putin to reposition himself as a defender of Russia's national
interests. The day after war started, in a nationally televised address,
Putin went further than even antiwar European leaders such as French
President Chirac in denouncing US actions as a "big political mistake" that
threatens international security and will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.

The key question facing Russia today is whether its opposition to the US
war against Iraq will end Putin's increasingly frayed partnership with
Bush, and open the door to some new kind of cold war. The day I left
Moscow, the US ambassador was called to the Foreign Ministry--for the first
time since 1996--in protest against US U-2 overflights along Russia's
border. Accusations that Russian companies have sold Iraq military
equipment have raised a diplomatic storm. Broadcasts and papers once
fiercely pro-Western are gloating about US military defeats and tactical
failures. And the three main television stations, all state-controlled or
pro-Kremlin, were quick to broadcast the Al-Jazeera tape showing American
POWs. Commentary on radio and TV talk shows mocked Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld's invocation of the Geneva conventions and described White House
efforts to censor US newscasters as America's "new McCarthyism," a term
used frequently these days by Russian journalists, who think they see
parallels between Brezhnev's Russia and Bush's America.

********

#2
FEATURE-Russia's nuclear past haunts Urals villages
March 27, 2003
By Clara Ferreira-Marques

MUSLYUMOVO, Russia (Reuters) - Raya Khamatova's geese and cattle are
scattered along the banks of the Techa river, one of Russia's most lethal
nuclear dumping grounds.

In the hot months of the Urals summer her grandchildren pick berries and
paddle in the crystal clear waters. The plains around them are among the most
radioactive places on earth.

From 1949 to 1956 the secret Mayak nuclear complex, 18 miles from Khamatova's
village of Muslyumovo, dumped 2.68 billion cubic feet of highly radioactive
waste into the river.

In 1957 an explosion at a Mayak reservoir, the worst Soviet nuclear disaster
until a reactor at the Chernobyl plant blew up in 1986, showered radiation
over the region on the threshold of Siberia.

The last big accident registered at Mayak was in 1967, when the Karachai
reservoir, used to store waste, partially evaporated after a dry, hot summer.
Strong winds dispersed clouds of radioactive dust over a vast area.

Today, radiation levels along the river banks are still far above natural
levels. In parts, levels are more than 1,000 times above global safety limits.

And there are no official plans to resettle Khamatova and her fellow
villagers.

The Soviet authorities took almost half a century to admit to the accidents
and dumping at the secret complex, though scores of workers died of radiation
exposure.

Some villagers were exposed to radiation comparable to doses sustained by
survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings in World War Two. No
one was told of the danger to which they had been exposed.

"We noticed the water we drank began to taste strange," said 66-year-old
Khamatova over a cup of milky tea. Tons of chemical waste were thrown in the
river along with nuclear waste.

"But we thought there had been an accident upstream and that a car was
leaking fuel into the river."

Though forbidden from fishing and swimming in the river by the 1950s, most
villagers did not learn of the disasters until Soviet leader Mikhail
Gorbachev's policies of glasnost, or openness, in the late 1980s.

"HOW WILL WE SURVIVE?"

Khamatova, who suffers from severe arthritis and shooting pains from the
radioactive strontium-90 that has settled in her bones, receives a monthly
compensation payment of 40 roubles (just over a dollar). She lives only yards
from the Techa.

Several villages along the river were resettled in the 1950s, but the mainly
Tatar village of Muslyumovo was never moved. There are no official plans to
resettle it.

"They once spoke of building New Muslyumovo. But no one ever saw it," said
Khamatova, who used to work in the village's general store. "We get used to
living in a village. If they move us, there will be no gardens and how will
we survive?"

Many residents turned down an offer to move to a village of several
five-story buildings erected in the middle of nowhere further away from the
Techa because they would lose the state benefits they receive.

"People who get moved die anyway, alone," Khamatova said.

Muslyumovo is well aware of the cost of radiation. The death rate is far
higher than the birth rate in the village of 3,200. In 1950 to 1954, after
the largest quantities of waste were dumped, more than half the children born
to village families had developmental problems.

The remains of many of those who did not survive are kept in the medical
institute of the nearby city of Chelyabinsk, in large brown jars of
formaldehyde.

Officially, Mayak ceased to dump waste in the Techa after villagers began to
fall ill. But some historians say it stopped after traces of the waste were
found in the Atlantic Ocean -- literally leaking the whereabouts of the
Soviet plutonium plant.

HAUNTED BY NUCLEAR FALLOUT

Several miles downstream from Muslyumovo was once the village of Kurmanovo.
It was fully resettled further inland.

But Novo (New) Kurmanovo, a village of neat wooden houses along a dirt track,
is still haunted by the Techa fallout.

Rafida Faizullina, who lived in Muslyumovo before Novo Kurmanovo, suffers
from anemia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Her son Ramsis, 18, was born with hydrocephalus -- an abnormal increase in
the amount of fluid in the skull which leaves people with unusually large
heads.

"I lived here all my life and received huge doses of radiation. This is what
I got in return," said Faizullina, gesturing at her son. "When I had him,
they said it was because I had given birth late, at 37. But there are others
like him."

Ramsis studies psychology in Chelyabinsk, 45 miles away. But he cannot manage
the two-hour journey into the city, some 870 miles southeast of Moscow, every
day. The fatigue makes his head spin.

In 1993 the Russian government officially acknowledged the accidents at the
plant, which produced plutonium for the Soviet Union's first atom bomb in
1949. It then admitted some 450,000 people had been affected by radiation.

But activists say little is being done to prevent similar disasters at Mayak.
The plant has stocks which could produce a blast several times more serious
than Chernobyl.

Earlier this year the Russian nuclear safety body shut down Mayak's plutonium
reprocessing plant. It was again granted a license only months later, on
condition it limits its waste.

Officials denied there was any risk that Mayak's main dumping ground, the
Karachai reservoir, could overflow or permeate drinking water. The
radioactivity levels of the reservoir are 10 times higher than those
dispersed after the Chernobyl explosion.

"There is no risk at all, not even theoretically," said Evgeny Ryzhkov, a
spokesman for Mayak. "Our aim is to one day stop dumping waste into Karachai
and to cover it, maybe plant grass."

The problem, Ryzhkov said, is money. Russia's cash-starved nuclear lobby
pushed deputies two years ago to allow imports of foreign spent nuclear fuel.
The vast majority of the waste to be reprocessed will be stored at Mayak.

Officials say the project will bring in much-needed cash.

But, in Novo Kurmanovo, Ramsis and his mother are skeptical.

"Money? Maybe," Faizullina said. "But they will get the money. And we will
suffer the consequences."

********

#3
Rosbalt
March 27, 2003
President's Plenipotentiary: Information about Chemical Weapons in Iraq Is
Seen as Propagandistic Ploy

NIZHNI NOVGOROD, March 27. 'Any information about chemical weapons factories
in Iraq is probably just a propagandistic ploy,' announced Chairman of the
State Committee for the Destruction of Chemical Weapons and Presidential
Plenipotentiary to the Privolzhsk Federal District Sergei Kirienko on March
25. In an interview with a Rosbalt correspondent, he said that he trusts the
results of UN weapons inspectors in Iraq. Moreover, Mr Kirienko said that 'if
Iraq possessed any weapons of mass destruction, then they would probably have
used them by now.' At the same time, he believes that 'the international
community should try to create some new laws on chemical weapons.'

'It is currently very easy for any country, including Iraq, to buy the
components necessary for making chemical weapons on the world market,' Mr
Kirienko explained. 'It is difficult to prevent this happening with the
current laws as any producer of these components simply has to claim that
they will be used to manufacture goods of mass consumption.

********

#4
RUSSIAN EXPERT IS POSITIVE IRAQ HAS NO CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN POSSESSION

MOSCOW, 27 March /from RIA Novosti's Pyotr Goncharov/ - Chief of the
environmental security department of the Russian natural resources ministry
Viktor Kutsenko said Thursday that to produce basic components of chemical
weapons, combat poisonous substances, appropriate components and production
facilities were required, something Iraq was lacking at the moment.

Taking into account present intelligence capabilities it is practically
impossible to hide chemical weapons production facilities and their storage
places, said Kutsenko.

Thus, in Kutsenko's opinion, Western media reports saying a plant producing
chemical weapons was discovered in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf "do not
correspond to reality." Moreover, Kutsenko stressed, it was confirmed by a UN
expert who worked in Iraq along other weapons inspectors. He said there was
only one industrial facility in Najaf, a cement factory, which was inspected
as to a possibility to produce poisonous substances.

The Russian expert is positive reports about Baghdad possessiing chemical
weapons are designed to justify the military operation against Iraq and the
US' irrepressible wish to get access to cheap Iraqi oil.

*******

#5
Russian speaker says USA unlikely to fake use of chemical weapons in Iraq
Interfax

Moscow, 27 March: Russian State Duma speaker Gennadiy Seleznev believes it is
unlikely that the USA will fake Iraq's use of chemical weapons to justify its
own use of nuclear weapons against Iraq.

"I have heard such assumptions but I do not believe that the Americans can do
such a crazy thing and cause such unprecedented provocation," Seleznev said
in an interview with Interfax on Thursday [26 March].

The international community still has no proof that Iraq has weapons of mass
destruction, he said.

Seleznev recalled that the US-led attack on Iraq makes it impossible to hold
the UN Security Council session at which Mohammed El-Baradi'i, the head of
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was to make a report stating
that "Iraq's nuclear file is closed", meaning that Iraq no longer has nuclear
weapons.

As to whether Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, Seleznev said the USA
simply did not let the international inspectors complete the investigation
into this matter.

Seleznev insists that an emergency session of the UN General Assembly be
conducted due to the events in Iraq and believes that this international
forum should be called by Russia.

"The General Assembly should discuss how the UN will develop now that the
Americans have shown the entire world their doctrine of a unilateral world
and their right to meddle in the internal affairs of any state, including by
use of force. The UN session should address how to proceed from a world of
confrontation to a world of peace and patience," Seleznev said.

*******

#6
Russians disapprove of U.S. attack on Iraq - poll

MOSCOW. March 27 (Interfax) - The overwhelming majority of Russians (91%)
disapprove of the U.S. and its allies' actions against Iraq. This figure is
one result of a public opinion poll conducted by the Public Opinion
Foundation on the third day of the war. Only 5% of the respondents said they
approve of the coalition's actions.
The poll also showed that Russians' assessment of Russian-U.S. relations
has changed dramatically.
In March 2003, 41% of the respondents said that Russian-U.S. relations
have recently soured, which is four times more than in February 2002 (10%).
The percentage of respondents who believe that Russian-U.S. relations have
improved has dropped from 29% in February 2002 to 8% in March 2003.
The percentage of Russians who believe that Russian-U.S. relations are
stable has decreased from 49% in 2002 to 40% in 2003.
In addition, most respondents (59%) believe that the U.S. is unfriendly to
Russia, while 27% disagree (against 44% and 39%, respectively, in February
2002).
Although the Russians tend to say that they are indifferent about the
U.S., the percentage of those who say they feel negatively about the U.S.
increased from 22% in 2002 to 35% in 2003.
The percentage of those who are positive about the U.S. is highest among
people with university and vocational degrees (27% and 25%, respectively) and
among Russians younger than 35 (24%), the poll shows. The percentage of
people who are negative about the U.S. is highest among supporters of the
Communist Party (58%) and people living in villages (42%).

*******

#7
BBC Monitoring
Poll shows split in Russian people's attitudes to Iraq war
Source: Izvestiya, Moscow, in Russian 27 Mar 03

All the latest public opinion polls show that most Russian citizens condemn
the US-British actions without UN authorization and want military victory for
Iraq. However, if you study the pollsters' figures more closely you will
discover that there is also another position in society.

The anti-Americanism traditional of former Soviet people is intensified with
each news broadcast showing the bombing of Baghdad, the maimed Iraqi children
and the frightened American prisoners. Nevertheless, the results of an
all-Russia poll conducted by the Agency for Regional Political Studies shows
that two-thirds of respondents have no doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of
mass destruction and a quarter of our fellow citizens are convinced that
Saddam Husayn's regime must be overthrown by external military means.

There is another striking figure: 62 per cent of those polled by the
All-Russia Centre for the Study of Public Opinion on Social and Economic
Questions believe that countries such as Iraq and North Korea have no right
to possesses weapons of mass destruction (just 27 per cent of Russians adhere
to the opposing viewpoint).

"Despite the anti-Americanism in this country, the existence of chemical and
bacteriological weapons in Iraq (and one in two of those polled is convinced
that Saddam has them) is a very powerful argument in favour of strong-arm
actions against Saddam Husayn's regime for a considerable proportion of our
fellow citizens," Leonid Sedov, a leading specialist with the All-Russia
Centre for the Study of Public Opinion on Social and Economic Questions,
stated to Izvestiya.

Some 45 per cent of respondents stated that they sense the threat to peace
and security emanating from Iraq. At the same time, another anti-Saddam
argument circulated by the media and certain politicians comparing Husayn to
Hitler or Stalin is not working.

"Our people have lost the ability to discern totalitarian tendencies," Sedov
asserts. "I recall that recently over 50 per cent of Russians stated that
Stalin played a positive role in the country's history. Society's moral and
historical-cultural guidelines have become confused."

The intensifying split in the mass consciousness is confusing them even more:
The Americans' actions are undoubtedly condemned as wrong but Russians feel
no particular love for Husayn either: Almost one-half of respondents to the
All-Russia Centre for the Study of Public Opinion on Social and Economic
Questions have a negative view of this political figure. Many political
commentators preferred to overlook this latter fact in the heat of the
fighting for Umm Qasr and Basra.

"Of course our national self-consciousness has been wounded by the fact that
America is pursuing a hegemonic policy," Mikhail Tarusin, the director of the
Agency for Regional Political Studies Department of Socio-Political Research,
believes. "But many of the country's media, first and foremost the leading TV
stations, are giving a one-sided coverage of Iraqi events."

"The war must not lead to an increase in anti-American feelings in society
and especially not to the appearance of any aggressive acts with regard to
the Americans - this is one of the most important domestic political tasks,"
Konstantin Kosachev, a State Duma deputy and a leading specialist in the
field of international relations, stated to Izvestiya. "Our politicians are
not doing enough for this and many have succumbed to the temptation of using
a large dose of anti-Americanism to score points. Russia's strategic
interests demand not confrontation but cooperation with the leading world
centres of power, including the United States"...

*******

#8
Transitions Online
www.tol.cz
March 27, 2003
Notes from Grozny:
A Potted Road to Normality
Life for Chechen refugees is inching back towards normality. It could be
much more normal.
by Martin Vane

NAZRAN, Ingushetia--These are not, of course, quite notes written from
Grozny. Foreign aid workers are not allowed to stay in Grozny overnight, so
when we go to Grozny, usually once a fortnight, we spend every minute away
from the desk.

Normally, as an employee of the Czech charity Charitas, I operate out of
Nazran, the capital of Ingushetia--now a separate republic but twinned with
Chechnya under Soviet rule. Once very much the junior partner to Grozny,
Nazran is now home to one of the largest centers of Chechens in the south
Caucasus.

In Ingushetia, Charitas runs five kindergartens for 680 children of refugees.
If supply could match demand, there would be many more. There are some other
kindergartens in the camps, but they are few in number and poorer in quality.
Every empty desk in the school brings huge pressure from parents who want
their child to fill it, and leaves aid workers with the invidious task of
choosing children. Taught, well fed, and cared for by psychologists and
doctors, pupils who have heard guns explode (and some who have seen people
die) become familiar with a normal childhood. One year can make a large
difference. Years could make a bigger impact, and our effort now is to find
long-term support, partly by developing adopt-a-child schemes in which Czechs
help to cover the costs of particular children.

Three years into the war, aid has therefore moved on from crisis management
to building some kind of future. That kind of progress can be seen a little
even in Grozny. A few buildings have been repaired, and the government is
more visible. Creating a semblance of normality is critical to the
government. Part of that involves the re-introduction of some
pre-independence customs. At Christmas, for example, a huge Christmas tree
was raised in central Grozny, a tradition that ended after the first Chechen
war when the influence of more radical Islamists grew and sharia law was
imposed.

But the limits of normality are still plain to see and hear. The day we came
to deliver seasonal presents in another Charitas-run school, we heard two big
explosions as we stood near the Christmas tree. After being hastily ushered
out of Grozny, we discovered that the government headquarters had been
demolished in a suicide attack.

Still, there are some ingredients for much greater normality, including a
change in Chechen attitudes. Chechen men do not talk about what they did in
the first Chechen war, which ended in 1996, but it is clear that the appetite
for war has largely disappeared. The nationalist ardor of the first war has
gone, flickering only in some grim satisfaction at Russian losses and
setbacks. When Chechen rebels seized hostages in Moscow in October, there was
no glee. At least they know what we went through in Chechnya, refugees said,
but the tone was not gloating.

Nor have I seen obvious Islamist fundamentalism, just Chechens' much more
complex Muslim heritage combined with pagan customs. In the first war, the
Wahhabists gained kudos thanks to the feats of the warlord Khattab. Even the
even more (in)famous Chechen warlord Shamil Basaev was influenced enough to
join the movement. Now Basaev wins only curses, and the Wahhabists have lost
whatever credit they had (and Khattab his life).

Arguably, if given the chance, Chechen society could still look reasonably as
it did before the wars. Many Chechens have left the region, but almost every
refugee in Ingushetia plans to return; the only one who has told me he would
not return has an Ingush wife, a house, and a new life. Socially, Chechen
traditions are proving capable of absorbing some of the impact of death and
massive disruption. In Grozny and in Nazran, there are no orphans living on
the streets as there are, for example, in Moscow. If parents die, the
extended family takes the child--and if the extended family cannot, neighbors
do. It is a policy that extends across ethnic lines: a Russian orphan I know
was taken in by her Chechen neighbors.

A modern society could also begin to function with surprising ease: While
many young and educated Chechens have emigrated, significant human capital
remains among the refugees and in Grozny itself. Finding qualified workers
with a university education is not hard; finding work is far harder.

The 23 March referendum was supposed to be that chance for normality. But
that is hardly enough. The reportedly overwhelming support for the referendum
says little. Information about the referendum was scant and knowledge
nominal; hardly any refugee I've met knew more than simply that there was a
referendum. Even finding a copy of the constitution was a labor. We
eventually found one. It hadn't seemed to impress the one or two Chechens
who'd laid their hands on it. Scrawled alongside a passage laying out that
everyone has a right to the protection of their human rights was the addition
"this does not include Chechens."

More than a constitution, Chechens want a government that is not a puppet
government. For most refugees, that is what Ahmed Kadyrov is. Once an
official in Maskhadov's government and the mufti of Chechnya, Kadyrov is now
seen entirely as Moscow's man. His attempts at being critical of Moscow are
taken as necessary PR maneuvering, as meaningless as the decision that
Chechens deported from Chechnya to Central Asia by Stalin in 1944 will
receive compensation. By the time the paperwork is done and the money
released, even fewer deportees will remain. The same skepticism pervades
about Russia's pre-referendum promise to compensate Chechens for damage done
to their homes during the war. The terms are not set and not published. It
will be a long time before promises turn to money and skepticism to belief.

So, does the new constitution turn puppets into real leaders, and convince
Chechens that promises mean something? The early signs are unpromising. After
all, if the Kremlin can dismiss a Chechen president when it chooses, how real
a leader can the new president be?

Beyond that, Chechen traditions will have a large say in how normality
returns. The honor culture means that the cycle of vengeance will continue.
The responsibility for revenge passes from male to male, and when the males
are gone, the responsibility may pass to the women of the family. This was,
quite possibly, how Chechen women came to took part in the seizure of the
Nord-Ost theater in October.

But even more important are the attitudes of the elders. In this part of the
world, what old men and older brothers say, goes. Theoretically, a Chechen
president could be summoned before the older members of his family and given
a dressing down. It would be very hard for him not to listen. This respect
does not equate to reverence. Asked when things started to go wrong in
Chechnya, some younger refugees point to 1991, blaming the old men, flush
with relative independence from Moscow and armed with new guns, for the
emergence of a more bellicose mood.

When resistance ends will depend somewhat, then, on the Chechens--and
particularly the older Chechens. In large part, though it will depend on the
behavior of ordinary Russian servicemen and the commanders on the ground. If
they were not so brutal, the weariness with war would have more chance of
defeating Chechen anger and desire for revenge. One friend in Grozny has
signed up as a policewoman. It is work, and there is not much of that for a
university-educated woman in Grozny. But it also protects her from being
raped and robbed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described this weekend's referendum as "the
most important step in the struggle with devastation and a step toward
order." A more important moment, though, will be when a Chechen woman's fear
of rape and robbery subsides.

********

#9
Putin Calls for Chechen Amnesty Law Draft
March 27, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin called on officials in
Chechnya on Thursday to draft an amnesty law for rebels and to lay the
groundwork for providing a wide degree of autonomy, the latest move in the
Kremlin push to re-exert control over the war-battered republic.

It was unclear what the amnesty terms would be, but it apparently would go
beyond what Russia already offers to rebels who lay down their weapons and
have not participated in terrorism.

Putin requested the moves in a meeting with Chechen administration head
Akhmad Kadyrov held four days after a referendum in which Chechens approved a
draft constitution placing the republic under the Russian federal government.

Chechnya has been de facto independent since Russian troops pulled out in
1996 at the end of the first Chechen war. Russian forces returned in 1999
following rebel incursions into a neighboring region and a series of
apartment house bombings in Russia blamed on rebels.

The referendum was promoted by the Kremlin as a first step toward restoring
civil order in Chechnya, even as fighting between rebels and Russian soldiers
continues, and Russian officials proudly touted its passage as evidence
Chechnya can be brought under control without negotiating with rebels.

But critics, including an aide to Kadyrov, denounced the referendum as a
farce. A senior U.S. diplomat said Wednesday the Kremlin must move quickly to
widen the political dialogue on Chechnya.

Putin's meeting with Kadyrov appeared to be an effort to neutralize such
criticism.

He said the top priority was to develop a power-sharing agreement allowing
the republic to ``develop effectively and as a full-fledged member'' of the
Russian federation. Chechnya ``must be given autonomous status in the
broadest sense of the word,'' he said.

Also Thursday, Russian security officials detained a fifth suspect in the
December car bombing of the Chechen government headquarters that killed at
least 70 people and demolished the building.

Four Russian servicemen also were reported killed Thursday when their truck
ran over a land mine in the Chechen capital.

On Wednesday, rebels stopped a car driven by the brother of the Chechen
emergency situations minister, Maj. Gen. Ruslan Avtayev, and shot him and a
female co-worker to death, said Yuri Kolodkin, a duty officer at the
Emergency Situations Ministry department for southern Russia, in Rostov.

********

#10
BBC Monitoring
Putin outlines political, economic priorities for Chechnya
Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1400 gmt 27 Mar 03

Russian President Vladimir Putin has outlined priorities for Chechnya in
three main areas: further political settlement, transfer of law-enforcement
tasks to Interior Ministry and economic reconstruction, including
compensations for lost housing to the population.

Political settlement: treaty with Russia, amnesty, preparations for elections

Speaking on Russia TV, Putin focused on further political settlement: "I
think that here there are several priority tasks:

"The first task: it is necessary to start joint work on preparing a treaty on
the division of powers between the federal centre and the Republic of
Chechnya and to create such a treaty that would enable the republic to
develop to its full potential, effectively, and would make it possible to
ensure the interests of the Chechen people and give Chechnya autonomy in the
broadest sense of the word. The constitution of the Russian federation does
allow this.

"The second most important component, in my view - work on it has already
begun and it will need to be concluded jointly with deputies of the State
Duma and we have discussed this many a time - is to issue out an amnesty in
Chechnya.

"The third very important component - one has to do this without excessive
hurry, perhaps not leaving it on the back burner either and the
responsibility for this will be largely with Chechnya itself, with you as its
leaders - preparations for the elections of the president of the Republic of
Chechnya have to be started on the basis of the constitution adopted by the
people."

Transfer of law enforcement from FSB to Interior Ministry

Putin said law enforcement should be ultimately transferred to Interior
Ministry of Chechnya: "In the law-enforcement sphere we have opportunities to
start the transfer of the entire law enforcement sphere in the republic, or
its main components, from the Federal Security Service [FSB] to the Russian
Interior Ministry. Bearing in mind that a significant share of responsibility
for the situation in the Republic of Chechnya must be in the hands of the
Interior Ministry of Chechnya. We will start this work now, we will do it
gradually, without rushing as the law-enforcement bodies of the republic grow
stronger. I think this work should be completed by autumn."

Economic restoration, compensation to population

Putin outlined tasks for economic recovery in Chechnya: "And last, the third
component of stabilization is joint economic work, work in the economic
field. There are common large-scale tasks: Chechnya's economy has to be
restored and new jobs have to be created. However, there are also
first-priority tasks, it is our duty to do certain things as a matter of
priority. Villages and destroyed population centres must be restored. Groznyy
has to be cleared and reconstructed first of all.

"The second urgent task is the payment of compensation to citizens for lost
housing. There are preliminary lists containing the names of approximately
280,000 people - I already spoke about this in my address to the residents of
the republic. The 2003 federal budget contains a programme for the payment of
compensations. However, if we continue to make payments in the current
regime, it will take 10 years or more."

Corruption and bandits must be kept away from compensations

Putin called for preventing corruption and bandits from taking compensation
money away from ordinary people "However, what we have to ensure by all means
is to make this sphere effectively safe from corruption. That was first.
Second, however sad it may be but it needs to be mentioned too,
responsibility for this will be placed with the Interior Ministry of the
republic, i.e. to make sure that bandits will not take this money away from
ordinary and defenceless citizens.

"If we ensure all this then one could say that the trust which the Chechens
expressed in us at the referendum will be justified."

*******

#11
Chechnya: Rights Groups Dispute Kremlin Claim That New Constitution Sets
Foundation For Peace
By Gregory Feifer

Moscow is hailing its new constitution for Chechnya -- approved in a
controversial referendum last Sunday, 23 March -- as the cornerstone for
peace in the war-torn region. Some Chechens have also welcomed the process,
saying they support any move to curb the Russian military's human rights
violations in the breakaway republic. But while it is unclear exactly how the
Kremlin's touted plan for peace will play out, rights groups and aid
organizations say they doubt Chechnya's new constitution will have any real
impact on the republic's future.

Moscow, 27 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The Russian government says it is confident
that a political process toward peace is finally underway in the war-torn
region of Chechnya.

Officials are basing their hopes on the results of a referendum that
overwhelmingly approved a new constitution for Chechnya last weekend. The
document subordinates the breakaway region as an "inseparable and integral"
part of Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday called the process a resounding
success, saying Chechens had "made their choice for peace and development
together with Russia:"

"We have resolved the last serious problem facing the territorial integrity
of Russia. During the referendum on March 23, the people of Chechnya did it
directly and in the most democratic way."

In the vote last Sunday, 96 percent of those taking part supported the
passage of the Kremlin-drafted constitution. In response to two additional
questions on elections, some 95 percent voted in approval of holding
presidential elections in six months; 96 percent approved parliamentary
elections later in the year.

Groups monitoring the referendum dispute the figures. But a number of
Chechens have nonetheless welcomed the new constitution, agreeing with the
official position that its passage will serve as a fresh start for the
unstable region.

One such supporter is Hussein Bibulatov, a former Chechen deputy prime
minister who took part in peace negotiations after the region's first
conflict, from 1994 to 1996. Bibulatov spoke on Wednesday during a discussion
by a new civic group dedicated to helping facilitate Chechnya's development
under Moscow's rule: "The main development we were waiting for -- the first
step of adopting a constitution and the creation of a normative base for the
resulting formation of legitimate authority in the Chechen Republic -- has
been accomplished."

Many in Chechnya have greeted the process as a way of cutting down on the
rampant rights violations committed by Russian forces stationed in the
region, including so-called "zachitski," or mopping-up operations, which have
led to countless disappearances over the course of the war. The corpses of
such "disappeared" Chechens are sometimes found later, often bearing signs of
torture.

The regional elections commission reported a total turnout of over 80 percent
in the weekend referendum. Aslambek Aslakhanov, a Duma deputy representing
Chechnya, was in the region during the referendum last weekend and told
reporters he was taken aback by the participation of so many voters: "On the
one hand it's an act of desperation -- [the hope] that it may give some
benefit. But in many cases it's hope that the referendum will bring peace to
the republic. The population says that most of all, it wants the criminal,
inhumane actions to stop -- when armored personnel carriers show up at dusk
and take away young men whose fate can remain unknown for years."

Aslakhanov said he was ready to work with the government to ensure elections
bring about real change. He said a number of qualified officials and
businessmen could make good candidates.

But Aslakhanov adds that the new constitution will only work if the
government takes action immediately: "If radical changes aren't brought about
in the republic in the period of a month, the trust that the people just gave
those carrying out political actions in the Chechen Republic can come
crashing down in a short period of time."

Chechen advocates question such reasoning. Elena Burtina of the Civic
Assistance group, which helps Chechen refugees in Moscow, says the new
constitution will likely do little for the Chechen population: "Nothing stood
in the way of stopping [the zachistki] earlier -- or even of not beginning
them at all. The zachistki, as they are carried out, don't have anything to
do with the fight against terrorists. It's an act of retribution against the
population and mostly concerns people who have nothing to do with the [rebel]
opposition."

Even several pro-Moscow members of the civic group on Chechnya said that,
despite welcoming the referendum, they feel Moscow will eventually have to
sit down for talks with Chechen separatist rebels.

That represents a big challenge. The government resolutely refuses to
negotiate with separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, elected Chechen president
in 1997 in voting recognized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe. Moscow calls Maskhadov and his followers "bandits" and
"terrorists."

A commonly held view is that the referendum's main aim in sidelining
Maskhadov was to legitimize the current Moscow-installed Chechen
administration headed by Akhmad Kadyrov. He is at the top of the list of
those eyeing the Chechen presidency, which would give him a degree of
independence from the Kremlin that appointed him.

Critics meanwhile oppose the proposed constitution for giving the federal
government much more sway over Chechnya than over other regions, granting the
Russian president the power to sack the Chechen leader and depriving the
population the right to appeal to international arbitration bodies.

But the details of Chechnya's future are as yet unclear. In addition to
setting the date for presidential elections, Putin must now move forward with
plans to negotiate a federal treaty with Chechnya that will hammer out the
specifics of its status and establish the structure of its administration.

Analysts say that even if Kadyrov were to win the presidency, he would likely
not be able to run the region with the broad autonomy the Kremlin now
promises. Among the key issues is control over Chechen oil, which Moscow is
not expected to relinquish.

Burtina says Kadyrov's attempt to legitimize his rule will fail. "There's no
less respected person in Chechnya than Kadyrov," she says of the former rebel
warlord.

Rights defenders maintain that talks with separatists remain the only way
toward a real political solution.

Maskhadov aide Salambek Maigov on Wednesday called the referendum results a
"pure falsification in the best tradition of the Soviet past," the Associated
Press reported.

Ruslan Badalov, head of the Chechen National Salvation Committee, says the
new constitution has no legal basis because Maskhadov continues to be the
region's only legitimate political leader.

Badalov agrees that the results of last week's referendum were falsified:
"It's a crime against the people of the Chechen Republic -- the entire
civilian population. It's a continuation of the degradation, harassment, and
insulting of the people, who have endured more than three-and-a-half years of
another military campaign."

Badalov echoes the common opinion among rights defenders that, without talks,
the cycle of rebel attacks and Russian military retribution against the
population will continue unchecked despite Moscow's best hopes for the
political solution it has been planning.

********

#12
Modest Results of Putin's Political, Social Reform Program Viewed

Rossiyskaya Gazeta
26 March 2003
Article by Marina Volkova: "Put in a Trap"

When Vladimir Putin won the first round of the
presidential election three years ago and became a legitimate "resident"
of the Kremlin, he, as a matter of fact started his presidential term
from a very strange statement. His words about a "hired manager" of the
huge corporation called Russia appointed by the people caused slight
surprise even in his immediate retinue. Particularly when viewed
against the backdrop of his ratings, which continued to grow after the
election and reacted to every single move Putin made as yet another
reason to love the President even more than before. A rational
relationship between the country and its leader, which Putin in essence
proposed to establish when he referred to Russia as a large joint-stock
company, seemed to be an instance of the Kremlin's wishful thinking.

Manual Control.

In reality everything Putin has done over the three years of his
presidency clearly fits in the task that he himself once set -- to
transform Russia from a "manually controlled" country into a fine-tuned
mechanism functioning regardless of one person's will. Virtually all
the reform initiatives that originated from the head of state were aimed
at creating this very mechanism: Both the forming of the new Federation
Council combined with substantial curtailment of governors' powers and
subsequent attempts to decentralize power by means of reform of local
self-government preceded by "equalization" of central and regional
legislation. And judiciary reform. And the referendum in Chechnya.
And a series of economic transformations ranging from tax and customs
reforms to reform of natural monopolies. And attempts to create at
least "islands" of civil society in Russia by means of the party system
or human rights organizations.

There were also "stylistic" manifestations of this trend. The
president's annual address to the Federal Assembly was more and more
detailed with every year and became reminiscent of an action plan.
However, his desire to achieve clarity, rationality, and logical
distribution of powers within the country was not displayed only once a
year on big holidays. In everyday life the president preferred to speak
publicly only when he really had to, and oftentimes deliberately did not
respond to particular questions and referred this task to his "relevant"
subordinates.

Initially, this caused great dissatisfaction that invariably ended in the
"indignant public's" question: Why the president does not answer? But
later on the country gradually started to get accustomed to the fact that
Putin, despite being the head of state, does not have to be aware of
every detail of every process taking place in the state. After all, he
has subordinates, just as in any normal corporation. However, this is
all but the only right, which the President managed to win from the
public -- the right to remain silent when he has no wish to answer. On
the other hand, judging by questions Putin is asked during his
traditional conferences with the people before New Year's Eve, such as
questions on when a water supply will be hooked up to their house, even
this right is far from being indisputable. The demonstration of
willingness to become a civilized country and develop relations between
authorities and the people on the rational basis, including to separate
"areas of responsibility" does not evoke any questions. In practice,
however, it is rather reminiscent of almost mechanical compliance with
the president's rules of the game, nothing more than that. Particularly
as far as ordinary citizens' participation in this process is concerned.
Take regional elections, for instance: Voter turnout in most cases
barely exceeds the minimum level at which elections are deemed valid.
Or take party life. Only the Communists are in a stable situation due
to the specific nature of their electorate and so is United Russia mostly
due to exploitation of the selfsame Putin's name. All other parties
either remain within the statistical error margin without much of a
chance to change the situation (such as the Party of Life or Liberal
Russia) or else, as is the case with the Union of Right-Wing Forces and
Yabloko, are fighting for the cherished 5 percent of the vote that makes
them eligible for Duma seats which they won long ago and have partially
squandered since. The Civil Forum was held with great pomp and human
rights activists were invited to take part in it, but things did not move
further than discussions on who is going to be in charge of the process
of forming civil society. The people remained indifferent to absolutely
all the ideas voiced at the forum. Meanwhile, theoretically, all the
necessary components exist -- the leader, his team, and absolutely noble
goals, but nonetheless citizens unwillingly cooperate with the
authorities. It is yet another paradox: These kinds of "glitches" do
not affect Putin's ratings in any way, and citizens continue to like him
irrationally. Unlike the president's Western friends whose "love" is
based exclusively on pragmatic considerations, which Putin clearly
understands. Hence, the president's accomplishments in the purely
pragmatic international arena.

Man With a Team.

Although Putin's relations with Russian administrative institutions are a
little bit less complicated than with the people entrusted to his care,
they are not devoid of ambiguity either. The Presidential Staff is
probably the only institution that can read his mind immediately and thus
defeats the theory that Putin is a loner, a man without a team. We
would say that over the three years all those people whom Putin had been
strongly recommended to get rid of can now be rightfully considered a
part of his team, and not the least important one come to that. It is
in the Kremlin that the main postulates of reforms being implemented by
Putin were designed, ranging from the Chechen referendum to the
aforementioned reform of local self-government.

Meanwhile, the government is balancing over an abyss in this respect.
For instance, the president issues the directive to carry out tax reform
and lower taxes. It results in public argument. Rational behavior is
not popular in this country, and the State Duma can serve as the most
illustrative example. The amount of efforts to "galvanize" the
legislature is incommensurate with the lower chamber's output. The Duma
even failed to pass the resolution on Iraq on the same day when the
United States started the war (let alone top-priority laws on Russia's
domestic life). And it is absolutely pointless to expect the Duma's
heroic deeds for the motherland's welfare during a preelection year, for
deputies will give priority to their own PR campaigns. That said,
naturally, there are ways to keep the lower chamber in check. The most
effective lever to influence the Duma is irrational behavior, which Putin
dislikes but which is nonetheless typically Russian: To hold a stick
behind his back and even occasionally use it. What matters most is that
it does help.

Year Without Election.

Although the next year will be the election year not only for the State
Duma but also for the head of state himself, in essence, it is not an
election year for Putin. The clear-cut task was set in 2000: To
promote an unknown Putin to such a degree as to ensure his victory, but
this problem does not currently exist in principle. He will win without
any kinds of election staffs, meetings with electors, and other requisite
elements of an election campaign. His routine work in the Kremlin will
do. Naturally, provided that something beyond the president's control
does not happen in Russia, something that will require urgent corrective
measures, including populist or plainly spectacular steps: Public
thrashings, dismissals, personnel reshuffle, as well as flights on
fighter aircraft and "water sports" in submarines.

It is not Putin himself who needs the election campaign; it is his
retinue that needs it to prove its own indispensability and to make its
moderate contribution to his rating. In reality the future winner's
presidential campaign is already in top gear. Putin did not issue
orders to launch it and is taking virtually no part in it. Each of his
comrades-in-arms has his own idea of beauty. And it cannot be ruled out
that as the election approaches the right hand will know not what the
left hand does. A lot will depend on whom Putin will entrust with the
function of leading his election staff. And this will mean a return to
the same point from which Putin once departed -- manual control.

"Putin" or "Different Country" Project.

In reality almost all reforms launched by Putin -- administrative, tax,
and reform of natural monopolies -- will start to yield their first
results in 2004-2005. Vladimir Putin has five more years to get Russia
accustomed to life by "managerial" laws and to gradually reduce
similarity between the words "state" and "strange" to make it purely
phonetic. However, for objective reasons this period of time is
insufficient to finally transform the "Putin" project that was launched
at some point into the "Different Country" project. And despite efforts
by the very "hired manager of the Russia corporation" and his retinue
Russia's dependence on the person that will come to replace Vladimir
Putin will remain extremely high. Apparently, one of the main tasks
faced by the president in the next several years is to minimize this
dependence to the extent possible under the circumstances and depending
on success of reform or the lack thereof. Naturally, the search for a
successor, which knowing Putin's punctiliousness will be launched (more
or less intensively) quite soon, is an interesting pastime (especially
for the press). One thing does not evoke doubts: Vladimir Putin will
be replaced by "an even greater manager" relying on new social
structures. Naturally, provided the latter are established within the
next five years.

Briefly then, someone has been PUT IN a trap.

********

#13
RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly
Vol. 3, No. 13, 26 March 2003

WHY HAS PUTIN FAILED TO TAME THE BUREAUCRACY? This week marks
the third anniversary of President Vladimir Putin's election. In
terms of the international environment, much has changed since March
2000. Most notably, the Persian Gulf is engulfed in war, and the
close relationship forged by Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush
after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States
seems to have been put on hold. At home, the landscape has been
altered, but not radically transformed. Regional governors have lower
public profiles at the national level, and the State Duma and
Federation Council are quick to pass even the most controversial
legislation. However, Putin has been unable to tame the bureaucracy
he inherited from his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin. Without the
cooperation of bureaucrats at all levels, some of the more sweeping
reforms that Putin has managed to push through the legislature will
continue to exist largely only on paper. This week, "RFE/RL Russian
Political Weekly" asked three experts on Russian domestic politics
about Putin's apparent failure to launch a reform of the bureaucracy:
Lilia Shevtsova of the Carnegie Moscow Center, Dmitrii Furman of the
Moscow-based Institute of Europe, and Peter Reddaway of George
Washington University. Reddaway is currently spending his sabbatical
at the London School of Economics. (Julie A. Corwin)

ROUNDTABLE ON ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM

RFE/RL: Why hasn't President Putin undertaken significant reform of
the state bureaucracy and tried to limit its role? He has promised to
trim back the federal bureaucracy, but instead it has grown during
his tenure.

SHEVTSOVA: On 3 April 2001, in his annual message to the Federal
Assembly, Putin spoke for the first time of the need for
administrative reform. He promised to reform the state apparatus and
to put an end to influence peddling by bureaucrats, who solicit
bribes to lobby for private interests. At that moment, the liberals
such as members of the Union of Rightist Forces and Yabloko heaved a
sign of relief. But a year has passed, and administrative reform is
still being prepared. Why has it stalled?
Putin clearly understands that the Russian state apparatus is
the major obstacle to all his reform efforts and attempts to pursue
modernization. The problem is that the goal of any administrative
reform is not simply to cut the number of apparatchiks -- in fact,
Russia has only about 1.8 million people working at all levels of
administration, which is not too high a figure compared to developed
Western countries. The real challenge for any administrative reform
in Russia is to end the close association between the state
bureaucracy and private business, which is the wellspring of
corruption and the degeneration of the state.
In order to achieve this goal, Putin would have to undertake a
radical political revolution -- drafting new rules of the game for
the functioning of the state, rearranging spheres of responsibility
of the apparatus at all levels, and, in effect, changing the
relationship between society and the state. It would mean a final
break with the old, precommunist Russian system that is based on one-
man rule and the fusion of power and property. The president
apparently has come to the conclusion that such an overhaul is too
dangerous for the country's stability and his own position. The
current draft of the administrative reform includes rather modest
aims, such as the establishment of an ethical code for Russian state
officials.
Anyway, radical reform of the apparatus has been postponed
until after the State Duma and presidential elections [in December
and March, respectively]. After he is re-elected, will Putin risk
undertaking such a reform? He might try, but he has to understand
that this reform will mean the end of the current status quo in
Russia. It will require reforming his base of support and rethinking
his current strategy for ruling Russia. In any case, the core element
of the reform will be -- as I've mentioned -- an end to collusion
between the state apparatus and private business, which will require
an increased role for the judicial system and transparent rules for
economic activity. This will be the first step in changing the
traditional role of the Russian bureaucracy and easing its grip on
the economy and society.

FURMAN: In order to undertake a far-reaching reform of the state
bureaucracy, one should first have some kind of incentive. Second,
one should believe in the possibility -- if not the probability -- of
success. The incentives should be great enough to outweigh the
difficulties and risks connected with the undertaking. If the
incentives are too small, then one will do nothing, even if the
effort required is minimal. If, on the contrary, the incentives are
huge, then he will be prepared to make a colossal effort and take
enormous risks. For Putin, I think the incentives for undertaking
such a reform are too small to outweigh the truly enormous and simply
insurmountable difficulties that he would encounter.
Let's consider the president's motives and desires. Putin's
natural desire is to serve his two terms -- clearly, there will be
two -- and then either to transfer power to a person he selects from
his circle or to change the constitution and remain president longer.
A struggle with the bureaucracy cannot help Putin in any way with the
goal of being re-elected. A too active struggle with the bureaucracy
could give rise to some kind of plot among members of Russia's elite
and that, in Russian conditions, would be dangerous. After all, it is
difficult to imagine that the Family, when electing Putin, would have
risked entrusting the government and its fate to a person whom it
could not fully trust and completely control. [Former President
Boris] Yeltsin and his Family did not elect Putin in the capacity of
a successor without a means of guaranteeing his loyalty. They
undoubtedly maintain some kind of control over him.
Therefore, a too active battle against bureaucratic corruption
would affect the interests of the Family, and this means that it
would be dangerous for the president. Such a struggle would give
Putin nothing for the maintenance of his own power. On the contrary,
the genesis of his power puts obvious limitations on the
opportunities for such a struggle and makes it risky for him.
Therefore, Putin's incentives for engaging in a battle with the
bureaucracy cannot be very strong. Of course, that does not mean that
there are none and cannot be any in the future.
Putin clearly wants greater control over the bureaucracy so
that it carries out his orders. This is the normal aspiration of any
bureaucratic head. But such an aspiration, by its very nature, does
not lend itself to the conduct of any kind of thorough reform. The
appointment of people devoted to him to important posts and various
types of bureaucratic reorganizations are not part of an attempt to
end the system of the supremacy of the bureaucracy. They are only
representative of an effort to make the bureaucracy more obedient to
him and more manageable.
Of course, Putin's motives could -- in part -- be purely
"idealistic." Putin might believe, as do some of his advisers, such
as economist Andrei Illarionov, that the dominance of the
criminalized bureaucracy hinders the country's social and economic
development and will lead to Russia falling further behind. There is
little doubt that Putin is striving for the good of his own country.
But because this good is not necessarily connected with the
furthering of his own ambitions -- that is, to be re-elected in any
situation -- such aspirations might be merely abstract. Putin would
likely prefer that there be less corruption and that Russia were
developing more successfully, but such desires could hardly be so
strong as to encourage him to engage in such a difficult and risky
proposition as reform of Russia's bureaucracy.
But let's assume -- for sake of argument -- that Putin's desire
for a less corrupt, more robust Russia reaches a fever pitch,
becoming a shining ideal for which he is willing to suffer great
difficulties and incur substantial risks. What could he actually do?
How can he roll back the bureaucracy?
The only real means of limiting the bureaucracy would be the
development of democracy and the rule of law. However, the most basic
obstacle on the path toward establishing the rule of law is the
character of the system for selecting the country's highest
authorities. They are formally elected in general elections, but
they, in fact, face no real competition. As long as these officials
face little possibility of being displaced at the ballot box, they
cannot be held accountable by the public, and there can be no real
limitation to their power. Under the existing system in Russia,
elections are held without any real alternatives, and the task of re-
electing Putin in 2004 can already be considered resolved. In this
way, Putin himself personifies the main and not easily surmountable
obstacle on the path to establishing the rule of law. Removing this
obstacle would require altering the very nature of Putin's power.
This cannot be his job. He cannot himself limit his own power and
create his own competition. Such a task is simply a psychological
impossibility.
Thus we come to the conclusion that the president has neither
strong enough motivation nor the real opportunity of bringing an end
to the modern Russian system of the supremacy of the criminalized
bureaucracy. This is not his task. This is a task for Russian society
itself, and it is not a separate one from effecting the transition to
a system of a rotation of power and real competitive elections.
Unfortunately, the Russian public is not yet ready to realize this
goal.

REDDAWAY: Putin came into office trying to push market reforms,
believing that the only radical way to deal with corruption would be
to try to make the market function more efficiently. After three
years or so, a lot has been done on paper with regard to tax reforms
and streamlining of licensing procedures, etc, etc., but in practice
not a lot has changed. According to some well-informed observers --
such as Igor Kamkin, the well-known political sociologist, and
Aleksandr Budberg, columnist for "Moskovskii komsomolets" -- this is
mostly because the bureaucracy has become so corrupt that it
essentially offers its services on a free market to whomever is
willing to buy them. These services are frequently and assiduously
bought by various companies and oligarchs. In this way, the interests
of private business have done well but at the expense of the national
interest and at the expense of creating a level playing field for all
businesses regardless of size.
Early in his term, in the summer of 2000, "Nezavisimaya gazeta"
Editor in Chief Vitalii Tretyakov urged Putin to grab the bureaucracy
by the scruff of the neck and show it from the beginning that he is
its master. Otherwise, Tretyakov warned, the bureaucracy will get the
upper hand very quickly. But the problem with Tretyakov's advice to
Putin was that it presupposed that Putin was independent enough to
take the bureaucracy by the scruff of the neck and that he would have
powerful-enough allies who were prepared to help him. Apart from a
few of his individual allies with security-service backgrounds, Putin
didn't have these. He was a product of the Yeltsin administration,
which chose him as Yeltsin's successor. And it appears that Putin has
been bound by various obligations that he assumed when he was chosen,
and perhaps those obligations were guaranteed by certain compromising
materials that the so-called Family possesses. Putin is afraid that
they will make these materials public, which could harm him
politically and perhaps even cause him to be ousted.
So, in my opinion, Putin has never been a very independent
political actor, and it was unrealistic of Tretyakov to put forward
that advice in 2000. I think Tretyakov was right in principle that
this was the only way that reform could be conducted, but certainly,
Putin, for whatever reasons, was politically dependent on forces that
were not in favor of reform. He was, therefore, unable to challenge
the bureaucracy early on.
The fundamental reason that Putin can't reform the bureaucracy
in the way that he wants to is that he lacks effective instruments
for keeping the bureaucracy under his tight control. In his time,
Stalin had the Communist Party and the secret police. Khrushchev had
only the party, since he had emasculated the secret police. When he
proceeded to alienate the party as well as the state institutions,
then his reforms came to nothing. Gorbachev tried initially to use
the party as his instrument to get the state bureaucracy moving
again, but by autumn 1988 he had given up on that and instead tried
to use popular forces as an instrument to control and push the
bureaucracy in the direction of reform. But this had the effect of
bringing down the Soviet Union.
Putin has no party to curb the bureaucracy, as Khrushchev and
Gorbachev did. The Unified Russia party is an extremely weak reed,
and he hasn't even tried to use it. The FSB [Federal Security
Service] is too weak, is not structured for this sort of work, and
has done virtually nothing with regard to reforming the bureaucracy.
The presidential envoys to the seven federal districts also have very
limited powers. They don't have budgets of their own, except to pay
their staffs. They have achieved a few improvements from the point of
view of taking back a bit of power from the regional governors, but
they haven't made any real breakthroughs in controlling the
bureaucracy in a very radical way.
Even if the suggestions of the commission [of deputy
presidential administration head Dmitrii Kozak] for so-called federal
administrative reforms are adopted as law -- as they probably will be
before long -- the danger and likelihood is that they will remain
mostly on paper rather than being translated into real change. The
function of the bureaucracy as a modernizing force that helps the
president and legislature to carry out real reform is simply not
possible to envisage in the present Russian situation. The
bureaucracy will tend to grow, because there is no political force
with enough power to trim it back and control it and promote forward-
looking bureaucrats.
The danger is that as time passes, big business and the
oligarchs are likely to be able to dictate their terms more and more
to ministers, deputy ministers, and senior civil servants. Private
interests will increasingly dominate the national interest. The
viability of the state as regards its basic functions is not
improving, and is in certain ways declining. Ultimately, the only
force that can change the situation or get a grip on the bureaucracy
would be a president who has a popular mandate to carry out serious
reform of the bureaucracy, which means carrying out a dynamic program
of economic reforms, gradually weeding out corruption. At the moment,
it is not possible in my mind to foresee the appearance of such a
president. That might, one hopes, come in the future.

********

#14
Russia's Aeroflot bucks trend with profits rise
By Samantha Shields

MOSCOW, March 27 (Reuters) - Russia's Aeroflot bucked a broad industry trend
on Thursday by announcing soaring profits and a likely dividend rise while
other flag carriers struggle with plunging demand linked to the war in Iraq.

Analysts said the airline was reaping the benefits of a sound cost-cutting
and restructuring programme and a more relaxed attitude by Russian travellers
to the threat of attacks than their U.S. and west European peers.

Net profit to Russian Accounting Standards (RAS) was 3.198 billion roubles
($101.9 million), up 143 percent from 2001, while operating revenue rose 8.39
percent to 45 billion roubles, deputy general director Lev Koshlyakov told a
news conference.

"We expect to be able to significantly increase dividends," he told Reuters
after the briefing, without giving any figures.

Koshlyakov told reporters results calculated according to International
Accounting Standards (IAS) were not yet available and made no forecast for
this year's results, although he has previously named a net profit target of
over $100 million.

He said results for 2002 calculated according to IAS would be close to the
RAS figures. Koshlyakov had said in January that he expected 2002 RAS results
equivalent to $74.2 million.

"The actual figure converts to around $99 million...we certainly met the
goals we set ourselves," he said, attributing the rise to increased
efficiency and cost cutting.

Aeroflot's full year IAS net profit for 2001 was $20.1 million, up from 8.6
million in 2000.

TIMETABLE STABLE DESPITE WAR IN IRAQ

Koshlyakov said the airline's timetable remained more or less stable, despite
the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

"There has not yet been any great effect on our business," he said. Aeroflot
flew 5.5 million passengers in 2002, down 300,000 from 2001. It expects a
five percent increase this year.

Andrei Ivanov of Troika Dialog said Aeroflot's Russian market was growing,
with demand for international flights up 10 percent last year. Domestic
demand had risen three percent.

"Russians are more sensitive to price than common risk factors, they're not
scared and if they see an opportunity for a cheap flight they'll go for it,"
he said.

All five top U.S. airlines -- UAL Corp's United Airlines, AMR Corp's American
Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines --
have cut flight schedules and jobs this week.

Air France announced big spending cuts, a seven percent cut in capacity in
April and postponed delivery of seven planes. It warned it might miss profit
targets for this year.

British Airways said it would complete 13,000 layoffs by September instead of
next March. It will also cut flights by four percent until the end of May.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, airlines have lost some $30 billion
world-wide with further possible losses of $10 billion because of the Iraq
war, the International Air Transport Association has forecast.

Aeroflot, less dependent on transatlantic routes, weathered the crisis after
the attacks better than its peers. It also boosted market share as its
competitors cut flights to Russia.

Aeroflot is aiming to achieve ambitious growth targets by restructuring its
fleet and increasing passengers.

By December 2005, the fleet will comprise 18 Airbus 319/320s and nine Boeing
767s through various leasing arrangements. Its Russian-made fleet will be
slashed by around half to 50.

The whole restructuring programme will cost $600 million, but Aeroflot will
use different schemes, including giving back used Boeings, so that it will
end up paying $250 million.

The state owns 51.17 percent of Aeroflot.
($1-31.38 Rouble)

********

#15
BBC
March 26, 2003
No regrets' for tarnished tycoon
By James Arnold
BBC News Online business reporter

For Russian billionaires, being arrested is as much part of the job as the
bullet-proof limousine or the Versace-clad moll.

But Boris Berezovsky, the country's most notorious tycoon, has so far managed
to avoid a spell behind bars.

Until now, that is: this week, Mr Berezovsky, an exile in London since 2000,
was nabbed by the Metropolitan Police in response to a Russian complaint
about alleged fraud in the mid-1990s.

BBC News Online obtained the last interview with Mr Berezovsky before his
arrest, and found the billionaire bullish about his prospects - and even
plotting his political comeback.

Laid-back in London...

For a man with a price on his head, Mr Berezovsky was surprisingly relaxed
when BBC News Online met him in his Mayfair office.

Not that his exile has been an entirely comfortable one.

Mr Berezovsky continues to manage what he says is a multi-billion-dollar
portfolio of assets, including Russian aluminium and oil, newspapers and
television stations, and property all over the world.
He has been engaged in a series of running battles with the Kremlin, having
fallen out with the Russian Government since the election of President
Vladimir Putin three years ago.

He is trying to build a new Russian political party, which he says will unite
the country's notoriously quarrelsome liberals under an electable banner.

Oh, and he has just completed one of the longest libel battles in British
legal history, forcing Forbes magazine to back down - but not apologise or
pay damages - over a 1996 article portraying him as the "Godfather of the
Kremlin".

"I like it here in London well enough," Mr Berezovsky said. "But compared
with Russia, it's often very boring."

... manic in Moscow

Indeed.

Mr Berezovsky is used to a very different pace of life.

For anyone involved in Russian business or politics during the 1990s, the
name of Berezovsky carries almost mythical associations.

Having made his money through LogoVaz, a company that first sold software to,
and then bought cars from, Lada-building leviathan AvtoVaz, the former
mathematician leveraged wealth into influence by building Russia's biggest
media empire.
He still owns three newspapers and a television station, but his real clout
in the 1990s came from his control of ORT, the theoretically state-owned main
TV broadcaster.

This brought him into close contact with the government, and Mr Berezovsky
was a key member of the cabal that effectively bought Boris Yeltsin
re-election in the closely-contested 1996 presidential poll.

After 1996, Mr Berezovsky was almost alarmingly close to Mr Yeltsin, a
position that earned him political office and extensive - but often
vaguely-defined - involvement with some of the country's biggest companies.

Enemy of the people

It also earned him notoriety - his life was even used as the loose basis for
a hit movie, "Oligarkh" - and an unparalleled reputation for dodgy dealing.

After the early triumphs, Mr Yeltsin's second term was a dispiriting descent
into corruption and maladministration - for which Mr Berezovsky's influence
was often blamed.
"If it's raining in Russia, that's because Berezovsky's watering his garden,"
a prominent Russian politician told this correspondent in 1997.

For his part, Mr Berezovsky said he was the victim of anti-semitism - born a
Jew, he converted to Orthodox Christianity in the mid-1990s - and of a
persistent smear campaign by the KGB and its successor espionage agencies.

Since Mr Putin, a former KGB chief, came to power, those smears have
apparently become intolerable.

The article in Forbes magazine, which linked Mr Berezovsky with a number of
business-related murders, sprang from the same tainted source, Mr Berezovsky
said.

Oligarchs wanted

Mr Berezovsky remains not only unabashed by his critics, but insists that he
and his fellow billionaires - known by Russia-watchers as the oligarchs -
actually helped the country's economy after the collapse of communism.

By aggressively privatising chunks of the Russian economy, and buying state
assets for a song, oligarchs helped reform take the sort of initial leap that
the wider market was too cautious to finance, he argues.

"We created a market in Russia," he told BBC News Online.

"Under communism, cars were not sold, they were distributed. We realised that
the first wish people had was for a car, and we fulfilled that wish.

"If we had had not just 10 oligarchs, but more like 1,000, all of Russia's
problems would be solved."

Pricking Putin

During his exile, Mr Berezovsky has honed this sort of apologia into a
full-blown manifesto of liberalism - a concept that in Russian terms means
free-market libertarianism, rather than soft-left social democracy.

Mr Berezovsky has no time for the nationalist policies of Mr Putin, who he
says has neglected economic reform in favour of bombastic nation-building.
"Of all the big pieces of economic reform that needed doing, Putin has done
none."

The relative health of the Russian economy since Mr Putin's elections - a
steady rouble, buoyant growth, moderating inflation - are solely the results
of Yeltsin-era liberalisation, Mr Berezovsky argued.

"Putin has not created a stable economic situation," he said. "How you can
say that Russia is stable when it has in effect a civil war going on in
Chechnya?"

Another crash is around the corner, Mr Berezovsky thinks - and optimistic
recent investors such as oil giant BP Amoco are taking an unnecessary gamble.

Money worries

Just how much of Mr Berezovsky's ill-feeling stems from his personal
circumstances is open to question.

For the past five years, Mr Berezovsky has been under investigation for
allegedly siphoning off billions of dollars from Aeroflot, the state airline
which Mr Berezovsky seemed to control at one point.

Last November, Moscow asked for Mr Berezovsky's extradition over charges that
LogoVaz bilked the Samara regional government out of 60bn roubles (1.2bn;
$1.9bn).

Mr Berezovsky denied the allegations - "I am completely happy with the way I
behaved during the 1990s" - and is spitting bullets about the way ceaseless
corruption probes have dogged him.

"I'm not sitting here going crazy because I can't go back to Russia," he
said.

"But what I don't like is that someone other than myself gets to decide
whether I can return or not."

No regrets

Now, Mr Berezovsky may get his chance to return.

But a homecoming in handcuffs may shatter his plans to launch his Liberal
Russia party as a serious enterprise this year.

After years of wrangling with his fellow liberals, Mr Berezovsky claimed to
have ironed out ideological differences, and the bloc was aiming to field up
to 250 candidates in December's parliamentary elections.

But Mr Berezovsky is not the type to waste time in regrets.

"Life in Russia is dangerous for every businessman, not just for
billionaires," he said.

"But I made my choice: I could have sat in the quiet corner, and focused on
my science, which I love - but that would never have suited me."

********

#16
Writer in Russia's "Potter vs. Grotter" row hits out at J.K. Rowling
March 27, 2003
AFP

A Russian writer sued for plagiarism in a Dutch court by J.K. Rowling, author
of the best-selling Harry Potter series, has accused her of trying to snuff
out competition from his young sorceress, Tanya Grotter.

Dmitry Yemets, a youthful-looking 29-year-old, has been plunged into a "David
versus Goliath" fight after lawyers for Rowling launched legal action to
block the first foreign edition of "Tanya Grotter and the Magic Double Bass."

"I greatly respect Jan Rowling, but I am not violating her author's rights,"
he told AFP at the launch of the fourth book in his series about a Russian
orphan with magical powers.

"It's a blatant attempt to eliminate competition and establish a monopoly in
children's fantasy writing," he charged.

The "Potter vs. Grotter" wrangle spilled over this week into an Amsterdam
court, where Rowling and her lawyers have brought a suit for "unscrupulous
writing and plagiarism" to prevent the book's release.

Dutch publishers Biblos are due to release just 7,000 copies, but the lawsuit
aims to send a signal to other would-be "imitators" of Harry Potter, who has
become an international publishing and screen phenomenon.

"This will set a precedent to dissuade people from dishonest competition,"
said Natalia Dolgova of the Rosmen publishing house which holds the copyright
to the Russian edition of the Harry Potter series.

"Harry Potter is a major brand around the world. There would never have been
Tanya Grotter if there hadn't been Harry Potter," she added.

Warner Brothers, which purchased the film and merchandising rights, as well
as the trademarks and copyrights to the trainee wizard and his magical
friends, is behind the lawsuit along with the British multimillionaire.

Accused by Rowling of plagiarism, Yemets and his Russian publishers, Eksmo,
have defended their series with the claim that the Grotter tales are merely a
parody of the Potter tales.

"Tanya Grotter began as a parody of Harry Potter. Like with all parodies,
there are common elements, but this is a literary satire," said Yemets.

His heroine's adventures are inspired by Russian, Japanese, Korean and
European folklore, the author explained.

"I don't use English folklore, there are no goblins, elves or trolls," he
said.

"It seems that the publishers of Harry Potter are afraid of Tanya Grotter. In
Russia, my books are becoming as popular than Harry Potter, and they fear
this will be repeated in Europe," Yemets claimed.

The Yemets books, while very popular in Russia, cannot compare to the Harry
Potter phenomenon, with 3.5 million books sold in Russia alone.

Eksmo has sold some 500,000 copies of the Tanya Grotter books, and radio
plays have been produced based on the first two books in the series, "Tanya
Grotter and the Magic Double Bass" and "Tanya Grotter and the Vanishing
Floor".

Rowling's four Potter books have sold over 100 million copies, and the film
of her first novel, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," broke
box-office records worldwide.

The film of the second book, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", has
brought in almost 850 million dollars (800 million euros) worldwide.

Rowling's eagerly awaited fifth novel, "Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix", will be published on June 21. She plans to write two more after
that to conclude the saga.

Undeterred by the legal onslaught, Yemets says he plans to publish a total of
eight books in the Tanya Grotter series by the middle of next year, and
believes he could reap big sales in Europe and Asia.

"I hope the court will be objective and not side with powerful, interested
parties but take an honest look at my books. They have already gone beyond
Harry Potter," he said.