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1. Dow Jones/AP: Putin: Iraq War Most Serious Crisis Since Cold War's End.
2. Rossiiskaya Gazeta: MIKHAIL GORBACHEV ABOUT THE SITUATION IN IRAQ.
3. Parlamentskaya Gazeta: STATEMENT BY THE FEDERATION COUNCIL OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION'S FEDERAL ASSEMBLY (PARLIAMENT) IN CONNECTION WITH MILITARY OPERATIONS AGAINST THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ.
4. Los Angeles Times: Rajan Menon, Moscow May Have Lost the Cold War, but It Still Knows How to Turn a Cold Shoulder.
5. RIA Novosti: RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SUBMITS PROTEST TO US STATE DEPARTMENT.
6. Luba Schwartzman: TV1 Review.
7. St. Petersburg Times: Irina Titova, Anti-War Protests Draw Tepid Response.
8. Moscow Times: Simon Saradzhyan, Smarter Tactics Delay the Inevitable.
9. Moskovsky Komsomolets: Alexander Budberg, A LAXATIVE FOR THE GOVERNMENT. Russia is seeking a national idea.
10. Moskovsky Komsomolets: Marina Ozerova and Liuba Shariy, THE JOURNALISTS' NIGHTMARE. A bill endangers freedom of information.
11. Moscow Times letters: In response to "Amnesty the Oligarchs" by Anders Aslund "Oligarch Amnesty Is Not on the Money" by Matt Bivens.
12. The Guardian (UK): 90 minutes that shook the world. It took Alexander Sokurov two years to prepare his film tribute to St Petersburg's Hermitage museum, once home to Catherine the Great and backdrop to the start of the Russian revolution. But it took him just an hour and a half to shoot it, in a single take. Jonathan Jones on the making of a remarkable movie.
13. BBC: Alexander Koliandre, Russia's race to export arms.
14. St. Petersburg Times: Vladimir Kovalev, Media Managers Should Lighten Up a Little.
15. Rosbalt/RBC: Number of Russian Tourists Abroad Rose in 2002.
16. www.iraqwar.ru: War in Iraq - requirement for more troops.

*******

#1
Putin: Iraq War Most Serious Crisis Since Cold War's End
March 28, 2003
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

MOSCOW (AP)--Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday called the U.S.-led
war against Iraq the most serious crisis since the end of the Cold War, and
warned that it threatened global stability.

The war is "in danger of rocking global stability and the foundations of
international law," Putin said.

He said the "only correct solution to the Iraqi problem is an immediate end
to military activity in Iraq and the resumption of a political settlement
in the U.N. Security Council.

Putin was speaking during a meeting with Russian lawmakers, segments of
which were aired on Russian television.

The Kremlin has been strongly critical of the U.S. action, but has insisted
that its disagreement with Washington will not damage relations.

"The partnership character of (our) relations with America will gives us a
basis for continuing our open dialogue," Putin said, Interfax reported.

Russian officials have expressed concern Russian interests and Russian
companies, which have signed numerous contracts to develop Iraq's oil
industry, will be pushed out by American companies in the aftermath of the
U.S.-led war. Baghdad also owes Russia about $8.5 billion in Soviet-era debt.

Russia "has never made its position on Iraq directly dependent on economic
factors or economic advantages," Putin was quoted by Interfax as saying.
"The economy is an important part of politics but if we make a mistake in
the political assessment of the situation, we will in the end lose out also
in the economic."

Putin urged lawmakers to act pragmatically and "leave emotions on the side"
when dealing with the crisis.

The lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has already postponed
ratification of a Kremlin-supported U.S.-Russian arms control treaty
because of the war.

*******

#2
Rossiiskaya Gazeta
No. 58
March 28, 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV ABOUT THE SITUATION IN IRAQ
Ex-President Mikhail GORBACHEV of the Soviet Union in an
interview with Vitaly DYMARSKY

Question: In the early 1990s you supported the anti-Iraqi
coalition led by President Bush Sr. Today Russia questions the
decision of President Bush Jr. Why?
Answer: There is a major difference between the two
situations. In 1990 Hussein launched an aggression against a
small country, Kuwait, and occupied it. It was a challenge to
the international community, which was only emerging from the
Cold War era. The situation today is completely different.
We did suspect that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Such threat to peace must be ruled out and it is the task of
international inspectors to do this. They have drafted several
reports saying that they had not found such weapons in Iraq and
that the Iraqi authorities show a desire to collaborate with
them. Russia and other countries took a correct stand by
demanding that the inspections should be carried on and Iraq
disarmed peacefully. The UN Security Council should have taken
harsh measures only if it were proved that Baghdad had the
prohibited weapons and Hussein had refused to liquidate them.
I am convinced that this war is a gross political mistake
of the USA. It did not rally a majority in the UN Security
Council and acted contrary to the UN Charter, delivering a
painful blow at the UN and international law. The Americans are
giving a bad example. It has been reported that Turkey is
sizing up possibilities of getting control of the oil-bearing
Iraqi Kurdistan.

Question: One political scientist suggested a term for
this, international totalitarianism.
Answer: A good term. While erasing a totalitarian regime
in one country, the Americans are at the same time creating a
totalitarian regime on the international scene. The USA has
delivered a strike at its relations with allies and partners
and all those who supported it after the September 11, 2001
tragedy.

Question: Everyone wants to know what will happen after
the war. It is true that the war dealt a heavy blow at the UN
but many people think the UN has long become obsolete.
Answer: The UN must certainly be reformed. In my opinion,
the UN Special Commission on Iraq has been working too long. I
have talked with its leaders several times and made suggestions
to them. We must admit that the process has been drawn out. But
this is no reason for destroying the UN. The Americans complain
that the UN cannot do this or that. But who is hindering its
work? The USA is. It does not pay its fees and, most
importantly, wants the UN to dance to the American tune,
disregarding the interests of other states and global problems.

Question: What do you think about the future of Russia-US
relationship?
Answer: I believe that our president is doing well and
calmly. While maintaining friendly partner relations with the
USA, he also calmly and with good reason points to Bush's
mistakes in the Iraqi crisis. Germany, France and China are
acting in the same balanced manner, pointing to the need to
maintain normal relations with the USA irrespective of current
developments. We should carry on this substantiated policy.

Question: Do you support Vladimir Putin's domestic policy?
What is your opinion of the first three years of his presidency?
Answer: I think we have approached the line beyond which
the implementation of major modernisation programmes begins.
Conditions for this were created during Putin's term. I have a
positive attitude to his work. I must admit that when Vladimir
Putin appeared on the political scene, many people did not
believe he would do much. He was a new man; we hardly knew him.
But in the past three years he showed that he has character,
ambitions and ability to learn. On the whole, Putin is a
president. Has he made mistakes? He certainly did. But one
should be a president to know how difficult this job is.
I think that personnel issues are at the top of his agenda
now. The stand he takes now is very important for the formation
of the new parliament. We need upright and competent people in
the State Duma; there is certainly a shortage of them. Besides,
I don't think the government fully understands what the people
expect of it. The high rating of the president means not only
the evaluation of our achievements but also the level of public
expectations. The president must not allow the country to move
by inertia; it must be hauled out of the crisis and on to the
right way. This calls for breakthroughs.

*******

#3
Parlamentskaya Gazeta
No. 57
March 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
STATEMENT BY THE FEDERATION COUNCIL OF THE RUSSIAN
FEDERATION'S FEDERAL ASSEMBLY (PARLIAMENT) IN CONNECTION WITH
MILITARY OPERATIONS AGAINST THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ

The United States has been perpetrating an act of
aggression against the Republic of Iraq since March 20, 2003.
Such actions violate highly important provisions of the UN
Charter, also ignoring international law and global public
opinion.
Contrary to the US leadership's statements, this military
operation is killing people, peaceful civilians, in the first
place, every day. Iraq's economic and social infrastructure is
being destroyed; moreover, the environmental situation
continues to deteriorate. Still these are only the first
results of this military operation. Tensions are being
aggravated in the Middle and Near East; moreover, this conflict
threatens to spread beyond Iraqi territory.
The unilateral military operation against the Republic of
Iraq has seriously damaged generally accepted principles and
norms of international law, as well as the entire
international- security system. The international coalition,
which is called on to cope with the main challenges, i.e.
terrorism and the spread of mass-destruction weapons, now
facing modern civilization, has become disunited. Therefore one
can say that the crisis around the Republic of Iraq, as well as
its negative consequences, seriously threaten the Russian
Federation's national security and its interests.
The Federation Council of the Russian Federation's Federal
Assembly (Parliament) expresses its deep concern over dramatic
events in the Persian Gulf area, calling upon US Congress, the
Parliament of Great Britain, as well as members of the entire
world's parliaments, to do their best for the sake of stopping
the conflict as soon as possible and in order to solve the
Iraqi problem within the UN framework.
The Federation Council of the Russian Federation's Federal
Assembly completely supports the Russian leadership's well
thought-out and consistent line aiming to settle the crisis
around the Republic of Iraq by political-diplomatic methods on
the basis of the UN Security Council's resolutions.
The Federation Council of the Russian Federation's Federal
Assembly is calling on President Vladimir Putin of the Russian
Federation to establish a strategic anti-crisis group that
would comprise representatives of the Administration of the
Russian Federation's President, the Security Council of the
Russiasn Federation, both houses of the Russian Federation's
Federal Assembly, ministries and departments, as well as those
of business and scientific circles, for the sake of drafting
measures, which would make it possible to ensure the Russian
Federation's interests in the Middle and Near East.

Federation Council of the Russian
Federation's Federal Assembly
Moscow
March 26, 2003

*******

#4
Los Angeles Times
March 28, 2003
Moscow May Have Lost the Cold War, but It Still Knows How to Turn a Cold
Shoulder
The depth of Russian resentment toward U.S. policies has caught American
experts off guard.
By Rajan Menon, Special to The Times
Rajan Menon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is a
professor of international relations at Lehigh University.

Russia has given us some rude surprises of late. In the days before the war
against Iraq began, Moscow went public with a threat to veto a United
Nations resolution on Iraq sought by the United States, Britain and Spain.
Once the military campaign started, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and
Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov lost no time in declaring that the U.S. war
against Iraq had no justification.

But clearly we hadn't seen anything yet. Now it is alleged that Russian
companies supplied night-vision goggles, antitank missiles and electronic
jamming technology to Iraq. Washington has complained to the Kremlin.

This is not the way it was supposed to be. Americans have heard about the
good chemistry between President Bush and "Puti-put," Bush's nickname for
the Russian leader. Russia, we were told, was our friend and ally. Why then
was Putin unmoved by Bush's phone calls for his support? Why has there been
such a parting of the ways at so critical a time?

The answer is that our government and most of our Russia experts committed
a classic blunder: They allowed their wishes to father their thoughts.

Our officials erred in assuming that Russia was in such bad shape
economically that it could not jeopardize the relationship with Washington
for the sake of Saddam Hussein's doomed regime and that it would never do
so while the super-pragmatist Putin was in charge.

The U.S. is essential to Russia when it comes to trade, investment, debt
rescheduling and arms control. What, by contrast, could Hussein offer,
especially because he lives on borrowed time? Sure, the Russians would
drive a hard bargain to extract concessions for their support, but in the
end they would fall in line. That was the calculation in the State
Department and the White House. And it was mistaken.

U.S. experts on Russia got it wrong for different reasons. In American
academic circles, the standard line is that Russia has turned the corner
toward democracy and capitalism and has decided that its future lies with
the West in general and the U.S. in particular. Never mind that once one
leaves Moscow, Russia's reality is a good deal more complicated and dismal.
Bribery, criminality, myriad social problems and resentment are ubiquitous.

American experts on Russia have a genuine affection for that country; they
desperately want it to succeed. (Who does not?) The Russians they know are
privileged, Westernized and sophisticated businesspeople and academics who
have done well by the system -- avatars of hope and reassurance that the
future is bright. Our experts believe that what they want to happen in
Russia is in fact happening.

But much anger seethes below the surface. The Russian reaction to the war
in Iraq flows from resentment that has pushed aside pecuniary and pragmatic
considerations. A once-mighty superpower has become something of a basket
case. Many Russians feel that democracy and markets have benefited chiefly
the criminal, the crooked and the well connected. And it's all too easy to
chalk up the misery and shattered hopes to lack of American generosity, bad
American advice or an American desire to see Russia fail.

Russians are also a lot less happy with the prospect of Pax Americana than
we might think. They are unenthusiastic about the "end of history" and the
"unipolar moment" we so routinely celebrate because these concepts convey
their marginalization. The American decision to wage war against Iraq more
or less unilaterally is a vivid display of the supremacy and triumphalism
they dislike and mistrust.

Russia has put the bottom line aside in order to vent its wounded pride, to
poke us in the eye. This desire to do so is strong -- among the masses and
within the elite. For their part, Russia's military, intelligence services
and oil companies have long-standing ties with Iraq and have been
suspicious of U.S. motives behind the war against Hussein.

Also, 20% of Russia's population is Muslim. The Kremlin, which is facing
militant Islamic movements in Chechnya and neighboring Central Asia, does
not want to be seen in the Islamic world as an adjutant in a war against
Islam.

Add these considerations together and it's obvious why Russia has not
behaved in the agreeable manner we expected.

*******

#5
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SUBMITS PROTEST TO US STATE DEPARTMENT

MOSCOW, March 28, 2003. /From a RIA Novosti correspondent/ -- The Russian
Foreign Ministry has submitted a protest to the US State Department in
connection with "concealed threats" issued by the US Ambassador in Moscow
to Russian diplomats working in Baghdad, informed sources in Moscow told
RIA Novosti.

According to the sources, the note of protest was delivered yesterday to
the US State Department.

In his recent interview with Russian media agencies, US Ambassador Vershbow
heavily criticises Moscow for alleged deliveries by Russian companies of
military equipment to Iraq, the informed sources disclosed. Vershbow had
also warned the Russian Ambassador and other Russian diplomats that it was
increasingly "dangerous" for them to remain in Baghdad."

*******

#6
TV1 Review
www.1tv.ru
Compiled by Luba Schwartzman (luba_sch@hotmail.com)
Research Analyst, Center for Defense Information, Moscow office

HEADLINES,
Thursday, March 27, 2003
- The "Drawings of Chechen Children" exhibit opened at the Tretyakov State
Art Gallery in Moscow. A total of 73 works the results of a contest held
by the Chechen Ministry of Culture -- are on display. The 20 children who
won the contest traveled to Moscow.
- Cabinet members discussed the upcoming reform of the housing and utilities
sector. Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov asserted that the reform was the
most important one for the people. He said that the economy has been
developing well and that all power plants have been working steadily.
- The Topol intercontinental missile was test launched from the Plesetsk
polygon and hit its target on the Kamchatka. This type of missile has been
in use for 18 years.
- Russian surgeons saved the lives of two girls from Kyrghyzstan born as
Siamese Twins -- by performing an operation to separate them.
- The results of the Chechen Referendum have been published. 90 percent of
the electorate participated in the referendum. Almost 96 percent approved
the new Constitution.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chechen Administration Head
Akhmad Kadyrov. Putin declared that dividing the jurisdiction between the
federal center and the republic's administration was the main priority. He
also noted that an amnesty will be declared and that residents of Chechnya
whose homes were destroyed will receive compensation
-President Putin also met with President of North Ossetia Aleksandr
Dzasokhov, who reported on preparations for a working meeting of the leaders
of Russia's border territories..
- President Putin awarded 45 people with state honors. They included State
Duma Deputy Iosif Kobzon, children's doctor Leonid Roshal, soldier Yuri
Sorokin, Deputy Emergencies Minister Yuri Vorobiev, member of the Pobeda
veterans organization planning committee Aleksandr Yefimov, skier Raisa
Smetanina, poet Ilya Reznik and Interfax General Director Mikhail Komissar.
- Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Sergin died 35 years ago today when their
training airplane went into an uncontrolled nose-spin and plummeted to the
ground.
- Vladimir Pekhtin declared that the United Russia Party is determined to
become the State Duma majority party in the upcoming parliamentary
elections. It will rely on the regions for its success. The Second
Congress of the party will be held on March 29th. The party currently has
over 400,000 members.
- President Putin met with Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkov to discuss the
protection of historical monuments of universal importance in Iraq.
Shvydkov reported that he has put in a request to UNESCO to protect the
treasures. The Minister also spoke about preparations for celebrations of
The Year of Kazakhstan in Russia and The Year of Russia in Ukraine.
- The search for the Pacific Fleet military helicopter that crashed last
night has been resumed. Search and rescue workers have found the body of
one of the crew members.
- A TU-154 passenger airplane made an emergency landing in Vladivostok. No
one was injured.

*******

#7
St. Petersburg Times
March 28, 2003
Anti-War Protests Draw Tepid Response
By Irina Titova
STAFF WRITER

While opposition to the war in Iraq is very strong in Russia -
public-opinion polls generally show that about 90 percent of Russians are
opposed - public reaction here has been relatively tame. The launching of
the war by the United States and its coalition partners has generated huge
peace demonstrations in major cities around the world, and analysts in
Russia say that the lack of such demonstrations here says much about the
level of apathy in the Russian polity.

Since the beginning of the war, major demonstrations have been held in
cities such as London, Berlin, Tokyo, New York and Sydney. Last Saturday,
an estimated 20,000 people marched through the center of nearby Helsinki,
which has a population of only 500,000. But, with the exception of crowds
of about 100 people at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and of less than 50 at
the consulate in St. Petersburg, nothing has happened here.

"It is obvious that Russian society has become passive," said Leonid
Kesselman, a political analyst at the Sociology Department of the Russian
Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. "The average Russian today is
estranged from the problems of others, and this estrangement is the result
of a boomerang effect after the illusions and hopes that the country's
population stood up for in the early 1990s proved to be unjustified."

In the early 1990s, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, throngs
crowded Nevsky Prospect here or Red Square in Moscow to protest in favor of
democracy, human rights or simply better living conditions. Kesselman says
that the impetus for these demonstrations came from the desire by many to
"call things by their proper names," a phrase that is the equivalent of
"calling a spade a spade" in English. The focus was on addressing the
negative character of the Soviet past, as well as pushing for open public
discourse in the present.

Although labor organizations have managed to attract larger crowds to
protests, the actions against the war held outside of the U.S. Consulate
or, as on Wednesday, in front of the offices of Valentina Matviyenko,
President Vladimir Putin's representative in the Northwest Region, have
been small. The 20 to 30 people who show up are generally either Communist
Party members or ultra-nationalists, and are either youth or seniors.

The demonstration on Wednesday, which was organized by anti-globalists,
featured mostly members of the National Bolshevik movement and a few
pensioners. Among the former, shaved heads and nationalist symbols were
prominent.

Most passersby opted to travel a wide route to avoid the group, which was
shouting slogans against the United States and presidents George W. Bush
and Putin. They were also calling for the Kremlin to break off diplomatic
relations with the United States, to stop Bush from making a planned visit
to St. Petersburg this May, and to provide the Iraqi government with arms.

Kesselman said that the anti-American character of the Russian
demonstrations is not unusual.

"In fact, in many countries the activity is the result not just of an
anti-war mood, but by anti-American feelings in general," Kesselman said.
"America's unilateralism in everything irritates people."

Boris Pustyntsev, the head of the Citizen's Watch human-rights
organization, agrees that there has not been the type of reaction to the
war that has been seen in other major cities, but he sees this as a
positive sign.

"Thank God that this massive psychosis hasn't hit Russia," Pustyntsev said
Monday. "I'm convinced that, unless we're suicidal, we should understand
that [Hussein] has to be disarmed."

However, Pustyntsev agrees with Kesselman that, in general, Russians have
changed their attitudes toward mass public actions.

"Now, Russians take the position that 'nothing depends on me' because their
expectations that their standard of living improve with freedom turned out
to be an illusion," Pustyntsev said.

Kesselman says that the active anti-war protests in the West are
symptomatic of states with "the presence of a civil society," where people
believe that their opinion is important and can influence something.

"Russia's people do not count on the government's help anymore," he said.
"They are mostly interested in finding ways to get around the government in
order to obtain better life," Kesselman said.

However, Irina Flige, the head of the Memorial human-rights organization,
which organizes twice weekly pickets of protest against the war in
Chechnya, pointed to a different reason for the country's apparent
indifference to the war in Iraq.

"It's easier to protest against international events when you have no sore
spots of your own," Rige said on Monday. "Russia has its own major problem
- the war in Chechnya.'

Flige doesn't agree that the state of civil society is as week here as
other analysts suggest.

"People join us, though not in great masses, in protests," she said "Many
just prefer to express their opinion on our Internet site on the topic."

*******

#8
Moscow Times
March 28, 2003
Smarter Tactics Delay the Inevitable
By Simon Saradzhyan
Staff Writer

Dug in in cities and towns, the Iraqi armed forces and paramilitary
formations are avoiding open-field battles, opting for asymmetric warfare,
which is perhaps the only viable tactic for fighting a technologically
superior adversary.

But even this tactic can only delay the ultimate ouster of Saddam Hussein's
regime, former Russian commanders and defense experts said.

Having seen entire columns of armor and troops pounded into oblivion on
desert roads during the 1991 Gulf War, the Iraqi regular troops "wisely"
are preferring to stay in cities as U.S. and British units roll toward
Baghdad, according to retired army General Makhmud Gareev, head of the
Academy of Military Sciences.

And while the regular units wait for the U.S.-led forces to enter large
cities to try to trap them there for drawn out and bloody street fights,
the plainclothes paramilitary troops have ventured into open terrain in
civilian vehicles to stage a series of hit-and-run strikes.

Such surprise hits have led to casualties among the U.S.-led troops, which
are sure to increase if the Americans and British stage all-out assaults to
try to take the cities quickly, said retired Marshal Dmitry Yazov, former
Soviet defense minister and World War II veteran.

Two leading U.S. newspapers published stories Thursday quoting active and
retired U.S. officers as saying that the U.S.-led operation may take longer
than previously expected.

In a story headlined "Allies Adapt to Setbacks," The New York Times said
that air raids have failed to decapitate the Hussein regime as the Pentagon
had promised and that the U.S. military is putting off the battle of
Baghdad while concentrating on wiping out militiamen in and around Iraqi
cities.

A combination of sandstorms, insecure supply lines and a relentless enemy
could lead to a "longer, harder war than had been expected," The Washington
Post said in a story titled "War Could Last Months, Officers Say." (See
story, Page 11.)

"This is a problem for the Americans as the time is against them," Yazov
said. "The longer the war, the more casualties and less public support."

The decision to deploy more troops, such as the 3rd Armored Cavalry
Regiment and 1st Cavalry Division from their U.S. bases, is evidence the
U.S. Central Command has had to abandon hopes that Iraqi troops would
surrender en masse as they did during the 1991 war, according to Alexander
Pikayev, military analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center.

In addition to deploying insufficient troops for the ground assault from
Kuwait, the United States also "made a mistake" in hoping that Turkey would
eventually grant passage to allow a strike from the north, Pikayev noted.

However, even so, the United States has still managed to "achieve
impressive results," coming within 80 kilometers of Baghdad in less than a
week, he said.

This city of 5 million is guarded by Hussein's most loyal, well-equipped
and best-trained troops, the Republican Guard, which would put up fierce
resistance against an American attack.

The technological superiority enjoyed by the U.S. side can work wonders in
the open field, but can give only a slight advantage when it comes to urban
warfare, as fighting in the Chechen capital in 1994 showed, said one senior
Russian army officer who asked not to be named.

During the battle of Grozny in the winter of 1994 federal troops suffered
heavy casualties despite the fact that Chechen separatists had mostly
machine guns and grenade launchers to pit against the federal troops' heavy
armor and air support.

Perhaps the only way to avoid a battle for Baghdad and achieve a quicker
victory would be to decapitate the Iraqi regime, Pikayev said.

Ruled for decades by strictly centralized dictatorship, "the Iraqis are not
Chechens who can fight on in separate groups without central command," he
said.

But even if Hussein continues to dodge bombs and missiles, we should not
expect a "Baghdograd," because Iraqi troops lack the motivation that Soviet
troops had during the battle of Stalingrad 60 years ago, all of the
interviewed experts agreed.

"All these attempts to avoid the ultimate defeat are hopeless," said Vasily
Shlykov, a former Russian defense minister and independent defense expert.

*******

#9
Moskovsky Komsomolets
March 28, 2003
A LAXATIVE FOR THE GOVERNMENT
Russia is seeking a national idea
Author: Alexander Budberg
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
THERE IS A NATIONAL IDEA IN RUSSIA AROUND WHICH VERY DIVERSE
POLITICAL FORCES CAN BE UNITED. THIS CONCERNS EXPROPRIATING MEGA-
PROFITS FROM THE OIL SECTOR AND REINVESTING THESE FUNDS IN ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT AND TAX CUTS. THIS WAS THE MAIN IDEA PROPOSED AT
YESTERDAY'S CONFERENCE ON RUSSIA'S DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY.

A roundtable conference was held yesterday to discuss strategy
for Russia's development.
The conference was organized by the Union of Right Forces (URF),
and for the party the event was primarily a forum to present some
policies aimed at the forthcoming election campaign. However, as well
as URF leader Boris Nemtsov, participants included people like Sergei
Glazyev, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Petr Aven, Yevgeny Yasin, and Deputy
Economy Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. Therefore, from the very start
everyone was expecting "bloodshed over strategy".
Yet this did not eventuate. The conference was opened by Yasin,
who noted that no long-term strategy for Russia has ever been
proposed. There was Herman Gref's attempt, but it ended in nothing.
Nemtsov then declared three basic principles of the URF: an effective
state, a competitive private economy, and individual liberty. And he
briefly explained what priority measures should be taken. In the
political aspect - turning the Federation Council into a fully-fledged
institution and electing senators by direct vote. Urgent military
reforms, as the Armed Forces are presently incapable of defending
Russia's sovereignty. Updating the healthcare funding system.
Guaranteeing civil liberties, and preventing the church from merging
with education or the state.
Surprisingly enough, the spiciest aspect of the URF's economic
strategy coincides in many ways with the statements of other
participants, including irreconcilable leftist Glazyev. In Nemtsov's
view, further tax cuts are necessary. Conditions for that can be
created by means of "expropriating mega-profits from oil magnates."
Russian oil is profitable at a price of $14 a barrel. Therefore,
Russia - like most other oil extracting countries - should expropriate
all mega-profits after oil prices go over $23 a barrel. Nemtsov said:
"High oil prices have a soporific effect on the government. A laxative
effect would be better."
Sergey Glazyev was virtually 100% in agreement with that - or
even more than 100%, since his own propsals actually involve
nationalization of the oil sector. However, the main dispute between
Glazyev and Nemtsov concerns the distribution of money. Glazyev
believes that expropriated wealth should be redistributed through the
budget and invested in other, supposedly promising, sectors. However,
in the view of the URF, that scheme cannot lead to anything other than
more theft by state officials. More money would be distributed by
civil servants, so they would have more opportunities to recognize
this or that sector of industry as "promising." So the main goal of
the "oil rent" (according to Glazyev) or "expropriation of mega-
profits" (according to Nemtsov) is not simple industrial policy, but
"creation of an oxygen bag" for further economic restructuring. Tax
cuts would enable more of the economy to emerge from the shadows.
Oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky did not argue against this
thesis directly, but he pointed out that most mega-profits are already
being expropriated by bribe-takers of all kinds.
At the end of the conference, it was resolved to set up permanent
working groups that could develop reform details. However, the most
interesting point was the obvious consensus among very diverse
political forces: Russia cannot miss this exceptionally favorable
period of super-high oil prices. So expropriation of mega-profits is
actually that national idea around which both the right and the left
can be united.
(Translated by P. Pikhnovsky )

*******

#10
Moskovsky Komsomolets
March 28, 2003
THE JOURNALISTS' NIGHTMARE
A bill endangers freedom of information
Author: Marina Ozerova, Liuba Shariy
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
THE DUMA HAS PASSED AMENDMENTS TO THE LAW ON THE MEDIA IN THE FIRST
READING. THESE AMENDMENTS HAVE AROUSED GRAVE CONCERNS REGARDING THE
PROSPECTIVE SCOPE OF THEIR APPLICATION. MANY FEAR THEY WILL GIVE THE
AUTHORITIES A TOOL FOR SHUTTING DOWN "DISAGREEABLE" MEDIA OUTLETS
DURING THE FORTHCOMING ELECTION CAMPAIGN PERIOD.

Will it be a "piece of cake" to shut down any media outlet?
According to new amendments to media laws, introduced by the
president and passed by the Duma in the first reading, the operation
of a media outlet can be suspended - until the end of an election
campaign.
Interestingly enough, the parties which have opposed the
amendments are those which cannot count on the support of state-
controlled media or the use of administrative resources: the Union of
Right Forces (URF), Yabloko, and the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation. Members of the ruling party, United Russia, voted in
favor.
Central Electoral Commission Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov has
assured the public that newspaper and magazine editors simply
misunderstood him - the new bill cannot be called "draconian."
Veshnyakov believes that if it does strike a blow at anything, the
target is not freedom of speech, but "freedom to lie, to defame, and
use unaccounted funds." Appeals from 191 Russian regional media
outlets not to pass these amendments have not convinced Veshnyakov.
An analysis of the amendments by experts from the UNESCO
copyright department confirms that there is reason for alarm. First, a
media outlet can be suspended even if only one of its journalists or
editors breaks campaign coverage regulations. Second, it is assumed
from the text that penalties can also be applied for "incorrect
information" about the progress of an election campaign, not only for
violation of campaign advertising rules. How to interpret this
"incorrectness" is unclear... Finally, television and radio channels
have been the luckiest: their operation can be suspended for several
pre-election months without even a court decision, as with newspapers,
only requiring an order from the "registering institution," i.e. the
Media Ministry.
It is open to question what will happen to a newspaper that is
not published for even a few weeks or a TV channel suspended even for
a couple of days. What penalties would they have to pay for
unfulfilled advertising contracts (including political and legitimate
advertising)? And can they survive after all this?
Sure, one may say: don't break the rules, and everything will be
okay. Yet our laws are written so as to permit dual or triple
interpretation. Meanwhile, unfortunately, one cannot count on the
Russian courts being the most humane and independent courts in the
world.
The hope remains that the vaguest and most dangerous articles of
the law on the media will be made more specific and amended by the
second reading. But this hope is weak, to tell the truth.
This is what journalists and Duma members said about the
legislative innovations.
Victor Loshak, editor-in-chief, Moskovskiye Novosti newspaper: I
believe that these amendments are extremely dangerous, not only for
the media, but also for the state of democracy in our society. In
practice these amendments can lead to the closure of media and TV and
radio companies which are not controlled by the authorities. This is
particularly dangerous in the provinces, where the power of regional
leaders is so vast that Moscow will never notice if a newspaper gets
shut down. The amendments deprive voters of access to objective
information about candidates, electoral blocs, or violations by state
officials in the preparation and conducting of elections.
On the whole, this is a blow at the Constitution that guarantees
freedom of information for Russian citizens. As an editor-in-chief and
Industrial Committee member, I will initiate legal action by the
Industrial Committee, together with my colleagues, as these amendments
are legally sloppy.
Sergey Ivanenko, deputy faction chief, Yabloko party: We are
being invited to extinguish fires with kerosene - since the main
election problem these days is abuse of power, and these amendments
exacerbate it. The amendments that give executive branch institutions
the ability to revoke electronic media licenses are especially
alarming. They would actually be performing a court's functions by
doing this.
Andrei Vulf, URF faction: Unfortunately, the law has no clear
specification of the period for which a media outlet can be suspended:
it says until the end of an election campaign, and until the end of a
repeated election, if there is a repeated election. But there are
always elections underway somewhere in Russia; the terms of campaigns
do not coincide. This means theoretically that any national media
outlet that violated the rules of campaign coverage somewhere in one
region could be suspended for the duration of the federal presidential
or parliamentary campaign as well...
Sergey Mitrokhin, Yabloko: The tragedy of our laws does not lie
in the fact that they are mild or harsh, but that they are applied
selectively. The same electoral commissions and the same courts find
small faults with some candidates, but overlook big faults with
others... The amendments in question turn an election campaign into a
grim period for media, and they will fear elections like fire from now
on. Because they can be "hunted" during this period. Not all of them,
but only those that do not suit the regime or the owners of powerful
financial resources.
Andrei Vasiliyev, director general of the Kommersant Publishing
House: The borderline between news coverage and campaign advertising
is very vague in these amendments. It turns out that the law would ban
campaign advertising thirty days before voting day, which actually
means banning news coverage as well in this case. That is, to give an
honest account of a candidate we should accept money from him, record
this money receipt, and report about him to fulfill the law on
campaign advertising. But if we want to write without taking money, we
are asking for trouble with violating the law. No doubt, these
amendments contradict that part of the Constitution that guarantees
freedom of access to information.
So far, I cannot clearly imagine how my newspaper will function
during the election campaign. I think that in each particular case we
will make an individual decision on how to act. Yet, it is not ruled
out that we will have to break some regulations as well. If court
sanctions are applied against us, we will dispute them by
counterclaims.
An ideal outcome of this situation might be the existence of a
media community; then it would be possible to make an arrangement and
write nothing at all about elections or show nothing on television.
Then Duma candidates would very quickly revise everything and cancel
their amendments. Unfortunately, this is impossible, as even the major
media would not be able to achieve an agreement on such a boycott. Yet
this would be a very effective method.
(Translated by P. Pikhnovsky )

*******

#11
Moscow Times
March 28, 2003
letters
In response to "Amnesty the Oligarchs," by Anders Aslund on March 14, and
"Oligarch Amnesty Is Not on the Money," by Matt Bivens on March 17.

Editor,
Aslund's thesis that protecting property rights of wealthy Russians will
reduce the corruption of government and civil institutions should be
questioned.

Much property belonging to the so-called oligarchs is extremely well
protected here in the United States, and in France, Britain, Germany,
Turkey, Liechtenstein, Barbados, Switzerland. The economic benefit
associated with this wealth is, of course, that it accrues to many
additional people as it is invested or spent, or even as it sits in a bank.
But these additional people and the banks are not Russian.

Instead of "individualized government services," it is more probable that
valuable sums transferred to Russian officials are payments of commissions
earned in the past, and for future entrance fees to rent-seeking enterprises.

How will any sort of amnesty slow the two-decade flight of gray capital
from Russia? This capital flight has been responsibly reported between $15
billion and $22 billion (net) each year since 1992, and continues to grow.
This is approximately two months' wages for each of the 70 plus million
Russians employed, or seeking employment, since 1992, without any
multiplying effect.

How does an amnesty reverse the net capital destruction of the Russian
manufacturing sector -- a question with as much relevance as Aslund's
gratuitous comments regarding Poland?

Aslund again fails to show little concept of Russia's continuing cultural
clashes, pitting the ethic of individual rights verses the ethic of community.

The economics of transition in Russia have very little in common, save
occasional terminology, with any other transition from command to "market"
economy. Only Russia is the Russian enigma.

Walter Moore
Inverness, Florida

Editor,
I am from the United States and enjoy the real world perspectives on
economics that come from your paper as it chronicles the transformation of
the Russian economy from centralized to free market. Anyone familiar with
Friedrich Hayek or Ayn Rand is not surprised to read an article like this
but it is most gratifying seeing this empirical support for what many of us
argue is the only rational logical approach to business, government and
economics.

Many of us felt the same way about Chile in the 1980s, but the size of that
country made the argument somewhat limited. Often times in the United
States we say that our individual states are the laboratories of democracy,
but Russia right now is the preeminent laboratory for economics.

When dealing with free markets some isolated incident can always be pointed
to by some demagogue that is screaming about "fairness," but in the long
run the free market is both fair and efficient, as long as transparency and
freedom of information is facilitated by the central government.

Keep up the intelligent objective reporting.

Richard Lyshek
Madison, Wisconsin

Editor,
I agree with Anders Aslund's views that oligarchs are a cancer in Russia's
economy, and in Russia's democracy. His description of our political system
is, in my view, very accurate indeed. However, I agree with Matt Bivens'
argument that securing the oligarchs' property rights would be first of all
unfair, as much of it was pretty much stolen or illegally obtained. Second
of all, it may not help secure democracy and reduce the oligarchs'
influence on the political system. They will still have their fortunes and
their interests, and try to navigate the government toward those interests.

I see two potential solutions. One is to investigate and prosecute the
oligarchs, jail them if proven guilty, and organize a government committee
to sell their businesses to all in the stock market, with a ceiling of how
much one single investor would be allowed to purchase (say, 25 percent).
Even if they cannot be proven guilty, an enforceable antimonopoly law
should make them reduce their stakes in the businesses they own. This would
be fair from the public's point of view. However, if done all at once, it
would destabilize the country significantly, and may be dangerous for our
President Putin.

Doing it slowly and gradually is the second solution. However, the results
of such a process even if it is in place are certainly not very visible to
the public. I hope and pray this is what President Putin is doing, and
history will judge him on this, perhaps more than on anything else. Any
delay takes away from the people's faith in justice and their respect of
law. However little of both still remains.

Ekaterina Okun
Washington

********

#12
The Guardian (UK)
March 28, 2003
90 minutes that shook the world
It took Alexander Sokurov two years to prepare his film tribute to St
Petersburg's Hermitage museum, once home to Catherine the Great and
backdrop to the start of the Russian revolution. But it took him just an
hour and a half to shoot it, in a single take. Jonathan Jones on the making
of a remarkable movie

Alexander Sokurov has a surprisingly ornate clock in his otherwise cool and
restrained St Petersburg flat. It chimes as I study a photograph on the
wall of him with Solzhenitsyn, and reminds me of other elaborate
time-keeping devices in this city.

Of the cannon that fired at noon as I was sitting in a hushed reception
room behind the scenes at the Hermitage, waiting to meet the museum's
director. Of the Peacock Clock inside the Small Hermitage, an ornate
contraption constructed in the 1760s by the English jeweller James Coxe in
the form of a tree upon which a gilded clockwork peacock perches and
spreads its tail. And of the clock in the small dining room of the Winter
Palace, frozen at 2.10, the time the provisional government was arrested in
this room on the night of November 7 1917, when the Bolsheviks stormed the
building in the decisive act of the Russian Revolution.

At that moment a whole history ceased. The history of 18th- and
19th-century Russia encapsulated by the Hermitage - from Peter the Great's
foundation of his new capital in 1703 to the excesses of the 19th-century
Tsars - came to an end, just as the history of St Petersburg as a capital
came to an end. The Soviets transferred the seat of government to Moscow.
All the clocks stopped.

Or perhaps not.

"Time never stops," Sokurov says. "The epoch of Peter the Great hasn't
stopped yet. You can always imagine you are in this time because the branch
of this time is still growing. The world, in my imagination, is like a
tree. We are all cells in that tree and are moving along it. We are much
closer to our past than Englishmen are to Victorian times. Our past hasn't
become past yet - the main problem of this country is that we don't know
when it will become past."

The light is low in Sokurov's study; the acclaimed director of Mother and
Son (1996), Moloch (1999) and now his stunning celebration of the Hermitage
museum, Russian Ark, recently had an eye operation. Russian Ark begins in
darkness. The voice of the invisible narrator - Sokurov's voice - has no
idea where or when he is, but remembers an accident, a catastrophe. Then
suddenly he sees officers and ladies in 19th-century dress, and the camera
that represents him is off on its snaking journey, following these would-be
Tsarist revellers into the Hermitage, getting lost, hooking up with a
cynical Frenchman from the Romantic era who for the rest of the film acts
as his and our psychopomp, travelling, swooping, running, stumbling from
room to room, seeing history's weight and frivolity - Catherine the Great
running off to piss, a terrifying hint of the siege of Leningrad - and
always, like time in Sokurov's image, continuing.

Russian Ark was made in a single hour-and-a-half-long shot, unedited. It
took that hour and a half to film (after two years of preparation) and
takes the same time to watch. It is the first film to be made in this way,
exploiting digital technology not to bend reality but to do justice to it -
no film on celluloid could continue unbroken for this amount of time.

With its Steadicam journey through the Hermitage's astonishing interiors -
filmed by German cameraman Tilman Bttner, and the longest-ever steadicam
shot - Russian Ark is something unexpected. Everyone's first, mounting
reaction to Sokurov's film is suspense; a huge cast, complex crowd scenes
and intricate dialogue - what if someone coughed or fell over?

But perhaps what is most amazing is that Sokurov got permission to film at
the Hermitage at all - and not simply permission, but the assistance of the
museum's curators and staff in planning and executing the film. Mikhail
Piotrovsky, the director of the museum, appears in it as himself, having a
conversation with his dead father, who was also the director of the museum,
and with another deceased director, Iosef Orbeli, responsible for saving
the museum's treasures during the three-year siege of Leningrad.

Piotrovsky himself is leading me, quite fast, along the route taken by
Sokurov's camera. We begin behind the scenes, in the theatre designed for
Catherine the Great by her neoclassical architect Giacomo Quarenghi and
modelled on Palladio's Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza in Italy. "We have had
some bad experiences with feature films," says Piotrovsky as we burst out
of the theatre into the museum proper, out of subdued light into a bright,
sunlit public space where it seems the entire population of St Petersburg
has come to spend Saturday morning.

Never having visited the museum before, as disorientated as Sokurov's
invisible time traveller, I follow Piotrovsky past old and young, so many
faces, through rooms with gilded mouldings, mosaics, balconies, vistas.

Bad experiences with feature films. Some extraordinary ones, too. Long
before Piotrovsky's time (and before his father's), Sergei Eisenstein shot
the storming of the Winter Palace, part of the Hermitage complex, on
location in October, his dramatised account of the revolution, commissioned
for the 10th anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power.

In Eisenstein's film, the Peacock Clock - the same one made by a brilliant
English designer in the 18th century, bought by Catherine the Great's
intimate Grigorii Potemkin, and today still proudly in working order -
appears as a historical absurdity.

Objects that were once considered symbols of decadence have become national
treasures. In the the Hall of St George, Mikhail Piotrovsky shows me the
newly restored twin-headed eagle, symbol of Tsarist Russia, from the top of
the Winter Palace. It is reverently displayed and enraptures the museum's
Russian visitors. How different from its representation by the
revolutionary avant garde 80-odd years ago. "Death to the two-headed
eagle!/Sever its long-necked head/With a single stroke!" wrote the poet
Mayakovsky.

Today, explains Piotrovsky, people come to the Hermitage to see and
celebrate the lost world of 18th- and 19th-century Russia. In Russian Ark,
the events of 1917 are hinted at as a looming tragedy; there is sympathy
for the doomed royal family. It's a far cry from Eisenstein, let alone his
more politically orthodox rival, Pudovkin, whose own film restaging of the
revolution is called, with consummate brutality, The End of St Petersburg.

You can't help thinking about these films in the context of Russian Ark,
and not only because they share a location. In the history of Russian
cinema, Alexander Sokurov's decision to make a film in a single shot, in
real time, and with absolutely no editing seems particularly pregnant.

Editing is what Russian avant garde cinema of the 1920s is famous for, what
Eisenstein, Pudovkin and their contemporaries contributed to cinema; not
just the haphazard scissors-and-paste techniques cobbled together by
Hollywood custom, but something altogether more systematic: montage, the
dazzling juxtaposition of images to convey meaning - in Eisenstein's hands
a great modernist aesthetic, but also a mode of manipulation and propaganda.

With editing, whether in the films of the Soviet avant garde or in the
fictive patchwork of today's mainstream cinema, reality is remade in the
cutting room; film bends time, routinely distorts experience.

In Sokurov's Russian Ark, nothing is cut, nothing is moved, nothing is
reinvented or added at the whim of the all-powerful director. What we see
is a direct record of what the camera saw on its hour-and-a-half journey
through the Hermitage. This allows time, experience, to flow unedited and
complex on screen: it's not just a technical but an artistic, even
philosophical achievement.

It becomes clear that Sokurov is tired of talking about his film as a
technical masterstroke; the method of shooting "is only one of the tools",
he says, pained by having to go through it again. "This film is not
contradicting anything," he says. "If it were, it would mean it was
revolutionary." In fact, the strangeness of Russian Ark, its
connoisseurship of time, is an accurate description of what it feels like
to visit the Hermitage.

All great old museums are places where time stretches, floats, accumulates
dust, even has an odour (in Sokurov's film, people sniff paintings). You
lose yourself, cut free from linear time into something more oceanic. The
Hermitage has the same historical thickness that all museums have, but to
an infinitely more fermented degree.

The location of the Hermitage is peculiarly disassociated from the
everyday. The Winter Palace, built by the 18th-century Baroque genius
Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli and restored extravagantly to his designs
after the fire of 1837, together with the Small Hermitage that Catherine
the Great created as her personal retreat, the Large Hermitage that she
built to house her art collection, and the 19th-century New Hermitage that
is the only purpose-designed public gallery within the complex, stand along
the bank of the river Neva.

So you find yourself in a drawing room staggering beneath green malachite
pilasters and a gilded ceiling, and looking out at a sea of ice, the frozen
river; and on the ice, people are walking, skating, fishing. This is a
charming fantasy of Russia, like the enormous sled carved in the shape of
St George and the Dragon that you came across in some room in the museum,
you can't remember which.

"It destroys your mind," an employee tells me. Working here, she says,
disfigures your sense of reality, alienates you from life outside. If the
Hermitage seems to the casual visitor to inhabit a different time, I am
told that it is an even more intense world for the people who work here.
They love it - "Nobody leaves" - and become part of it.

The Hermitage has its own school where children can learn archaeology and
art history from the age of five, preselected for curatorial lives like
gymnasts or violinists; many, after university, come back to work here.
"Some start as cleaners and then by steps become curators. Two
vice-directors began here as labourers, moving things from one place to
another."

And then there is the collection. Russia's first ambitious art collector
was Catherine the Great, the German princess who bumped off her husband to
become empress and styled herself the Minerva of the European
Enlightenment, commissioning Jean-Antoine Houdon's statue of Voltaire,
inviting Diderot to St Petersburg, and then buying his library and paying
him as its curator. It is truly impressive how much of the Hermitage's fine
art collection can be attributed directly to Catherine, her lovers and her
agents.

The Hermitage has perhaps the best collection of Rembrandts in the world -
The Return of the Prodigal Son and The Descent from the Cross are among
many bought by Catherine; she bought Tintoretto's Birth of St John the
Baptist and Giorgione's Judith; as a patron of the Enlightenment, she
bought contemporary art from the leading enlightened nations, France and
Britain. Paintings by Watteau and Chardin have been here since her time. So
have two paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby, ordered directly from the
scientifically minded midlands artist's studio. So has some of the earliest
and best Wedgwood.

You can go on for days like this. Everyone makes their own path through
this immeasurable museum. This is what Sokurov does, and it is one of the
reasons his film is so alive: it is not an attempt to show the whole of the
Hermitage, but to follow one specific path, which happens to take in some
of his favourite paintings. Only one - El Greco's St Peter and St Paul -
was moved to place it on the route; the rest are as you find them.

"The painting in the Hermitage is so fundamental, it is beyond any
discussion," says Sokurov. "When you say you prefer this one, it is a
little bit shameful; but in fact I like Rembrandt very sincerely with all
my heart and I love El Greco since my school years. I am a provincial man,
and my first meeting with real paintings was in the Hermitage. Before that
I saw lots of paintings by Rembrandt and El Greco in books."

Sokurov's film has a deliberately awkward sense of awe before paintings.
Far from showing lovely, clean, perfectly lit shots of paintings, it treats
them as difficult and stubborn. In fact, it seems to be an inquiry into how
to experience great art.

As well as sniffing the paintings, people go so close as almost to touch
them, and a blind visitor - in real life a gymnast called Tamara who lost
her sight when she was 12 - explains Van Dyck's Rest on the Flight into
Egypt. Her casting seems to suggest that art is not only, or necessarily,
visual; and Rembrandt, whose art the film stops for, or anyway circles
around longest, is the painter who exemplifies this most profoundly.

Rejecting the meticulous realism of his Dutch contemporaries, Rembrandt
painted in such a way as to suggest the inner life, consciousness;
blindness is a recurring image in his paintings, and his dark, isolating,
inner-lit portraits make us feel that we are looking at someone's soul. In
his Dana (restored after it was attacked in the 1980s), you feel that the
subject is reaching for something more than glittering gold.

Rembrandt makes us aware of what Sokurov says is the essence of painting.
"When you meet the real painting, you meet a real creature. Rembrandt left
part of his physical being in his painting - every time you come up to a
painting, you feel part of this energy, this sense of something being alive."

As if to get close to this life distilled in paint, Sokurov films paintings
from the side, in normal lighting, so that reflections - as they do -
obscure one part of the picture and make the texture of its surface
visible. And because he is interested in encounter rather than information,
he lingers on just a few paintings; Rembrandts, a Rubens, a Van Dyck, a
Tintoretto.

In front of El Greco's St Peter and St Paul, the French traveller abuses a
young Russian for not knowing the scriptures. Sokurov loves the religion in
old paintings; religiosity of some kind is fundamental to his concept of
art. It's one of the reasons he prefers the art of the Old Masters to that
of modernism.

"The banner of modern art says, 'I want to do this.' On the banner of
classic art are the words, 'Everything from God.' They didn't put a crude
religious meaning into it - it was simply a modesty. Historically, nothing
has changed, and we could have the same banner now. Give me the name of any
modern artist who could create something more avant-garde than Turner."

His dislike of modernism flavours the film and its route. After the
Rembrandts, the Hermitage's most celebrated paintings are Matisse's Music
and the Dance, expropriated from the great Shchukin collection after the
revolution. But you won't see them in Russian Ark. "The main criterion in
art is time. It seems to me that those artists who are considered modern
classics are to be tested by time yet." A century is not nearly long enough.

Time again, time that wells up, time we drown in pleasurably. Sokurov is an
unapologetic defender of the idea of the museum in its most - superficially
- conservative sense. "Museums make culture stable. Museums make the chaos
of art into a stable structure. Museums also remind modern artists that
there was art before them so they should be modest."

One way of understanding him here - it's what he goes on to say - is by
contrast with cinema. Cinema, although it has a history of more than a
century (and St Petersburg itself is only 300 years old), seems to have no
sense of history, of its own history. "Those unlimited things that cinema
is doing with no sense of history is due to the absence of cinema museums,"
says Sokurov. He's saying this at a time when the Hollywood remake of
Tarkovsky's Solaris is showing in St Petersburg.

Russian Ark is a film that celebrates high culture unequivocally. I tell
him how British museums want to be part of a youthful, urban culture. His
film, I say, seems pleasurably melancholic in its respect for the stillness
of museums. "I don't think it is melancholia; it is a delicacy. Great
paintings and statues are, so to say, scared of brightness and glare. They
demand a very quiet attention towards them. Of course it is all the same
for the paintings, but it demands silence. Flirting with youth is like
flirting with nazism, and you mustn't do this."

I ask Mikhail Piotrovsky about the conversation he has in the film with his
father, who warns him about coming catastrophe. At first Piotrovsky says he
doesn't know what this might mean. Then he says it means commercialism -
the pressures the Hermitage is under to survive in a market economy.
Sokurov, too, is fearful of commercialism; Soviet communism was no defence
against this - in the 1920s and 30s the state sold major Hermitage
treasures abroad.

Sokurov's title, Russian Ark, is an anxious one, implying a threatening
disaster, a coming flood from which the Hermitage alone can protect high
European culture. It is also an intervention in the endless debate - as old
as the Hermitage - about Russian identity and Russia's place in Europe.

Russia didn't slavishly copy Europe, says the film, in the Hermitage;
rather, it cherished high European art and culture, from Wedgwood to
Voltaire, more passionately than the British or French themseves. In
Alexander Sokurov's vision, Russia is a great interpreter and preserver of
European high art, the last place where it is still respected and loved and
protected.

*******

#13
BBC
March 28, 2003
Russia's race to export arms
By Alexander Koliandre
BBC Russian service

For decades, the Soviet Union supplied Iraq with firepower, tanks and
aircraft. Now the US is accusing two Russian firms of selling banned
equipment to Iraq.

President Vladimir Putin is at pains to prove that Russia has not supplied
banned weapons to Baghdad.

But after a decade of retreat, Russia is indeed regaining its position as a
leading exporter of arms and military equipment.

In 2002, Russia's export of military hardware rose to $4.8bn (3.1bn) - a
post-Soviet record.

Arms sales have tripled during the past eight years and the state officials
hope that it won't stop there.

"We see Russian exports on the rise as demand is high," says Mikhail
Dmitriev, who heads the Committee on Foreign Military and Technological
Cooperation.

Russia is already the top arms exporter in the world, according to the
Stockholm International Peace Institute, although the institute's
calculation methods are questioned by experts in both Moscow and Washington.

Even by more conventional estimates, Russia is the world's third or
fourth-largest exporter.

And for the first time in almost a century, Russia's arms exports are not a
political game but a valuable source of business.

Political export

Almost every regional conflict during the Cold War was fought with Soviet
arms.

Sergey Berets, who served with the Soviet military mission in Ethiopia in
1981-83, recalls that almost every piece of equipment in the African
country was made in the USSR.

Ethiopia's foes - Eritrea's rebels and Somalia - had Soviet weaponry too.
The supply of arms was generous, not least because the government of
Ethiopia proclaimed Communism as its goal.

But the Soviet arms exports were hardly profitable.

"Senior officers and engineers were trying hard not to sell more arms for
higher prices, but to keep their places and wages, paid in hard currency,"
recalls Konstantin Eggert, now a BBC correspondent in Moscow, who was
serving in Yemen in the 1980s.

And the vast majority of buyers were not paying at all. Some African and
Asian countries still owe hundreds of millions to Russia and the chances of
calling in those debts are slim.

Only oil-rich Iraq and Libya were paying in full.

But now Russia cares more about money than about the politics.

Although the country's arms exports were worth almost $5bn in 2002 - a far
cry from $20bn the USSR was charging each year three decades ago - at least
those billions are now getting paid.

Limited markets

However, even though the current rise in sales is impressive, it may be
short-lived.

Just two countries, India and China, account for almost three-quarters of
all Russia's arms exports.

Both are rearming and are ready to pay not only for existing arms but also
for development of new ones.

Engineers from India are working with the Russians on a new version of
Sukhoi-30MKI fighter, as well as naval equipment.

But leading military analyst Ruslan Pukhov, who heads Russia's Centre for
Strategy and Technology Analysis (CAST), doesn't believe that sales to
India and China will last long.

This is because both countries' rearmament is close to completion, he said.

Russia is trying hard to gain new markets, eyeing even Nato states like
Greece, to which it has sold several landing ships.

It also helping to upgrade Soviet-made Mig planes for Poland, Slovakia,
Hungary and Bulgaria.

But Moscow is careful not to upset its Western partners by selling arms to
rogue states in the Middle East.

"If we were operating only on the basis of sales, we could have sold a lot
more to this area," Mr Dmitriev says.

Getting older

Another problem is ageing products.

Much of the military hardware was developed more than 10 years ago when the
Soviet Union was handing its military industry as much money as it wanted.

Russian planes are still relatively modern and cheap. A Sukhoi-27 fighter
costs about $35m, while its competitor, the F-15, costs more than $50m.

But as a Russian military engineer has admitted privately, there simply is
not enough money to construct new models on the scale of yesteryear.

"It's a vicious circle - we are about to loose the market because our
technology and people are ageing [although] we have now money to catch up,"
he said.

Russia's leadership is also pressing ahead with reform in its over-crowded
and under-funded military, which is still dependent on state subsidies.

But CAST's Mr Pukhov is pessimistic. "Time has been already lost, and as
such reform is rather painful, we hardly can expect it before Vladimir
Putin is re-elected as president next year."

This might be too late for Russia to remain a leader in the arms market.

********

#14
St. Petersburg Times
March 28, 2003
Media Managers Should Lighten Up a Little
By Vladimir Kovalev

"Moscow, the Kremlin, 2003.
Alexander the Great and Napoleon are standing on the Lenin Mausoleum,
watching a military parade
A: If had all of this equipment, I could have concurred the world in 30 days.
N: If I this kind of media, nobody would have found out that I lost at
Waterloo."

WATCHING Russian state television, it's pretty clear what the role of the
journalists and the stations for which they work is. They are there to
cover the Kremlin in a positive light first, second and, often, even third,
and then, if there's still some time left, they turn their attention to us,
the less important masses. For example, one evening recently I was treated
to extensive coverage of some routine meeting held by President Vladimir
Putin in the Kremlin, followed by a report about a few park rangers who had
been murdered in a forest in the Krasnodar region. Perhaps they just
believe that political news should come before crime-related information
but, even if it is a sort of policy, to me, it just shows that the lives of
common people are less important than some mundane presidential
announcement that we all know is unlikely to make any difference in the
lives of most Russians?

This is just another example of the fact that the value placed on life in
Russia is much lower than it should be and than it is in, for example, most
European countries. Unless, of course, that life is Putin's.

A recent flap between a journalist at the St. Petersburg bureau of Rossiya
television and the station's management is a glaring example of the
ridiculous situations that can arise when the subject of any report is Putin.

Marianna Faktorovich, a reporter for Rossiya, was asked by local newspaper
Chas Pik to write a short, humorous piece describing the way that she and
friends ushered in the new year. Unfortunately for her, while describing
the arrival of some friends as she was watching Putin's New Year's message,
she added a little humorous touch that led her suspension by the station.

"At precisely one minute to twelve, a screaming crowd rolled into [my
friend's apartment] and rushed to the table shouting 'pour the drinks!'
After the last word from the president (I'm not sure I remember who it
was), we had only seconds left to throw some salad on our plates.
Basically, [as people say] would spend the new year the way we celebrated
it. Long live everything new and let the new year bring us only good luck
and nothing else. Happy New Year!" Faktorovich wrote.

It turned out to be wishful thinking. After her little quip about the
president (a hint for Faktorovich - the name starts with "P"), there was
little hope that what would follow would be "good luck and nothing else."
St. Petersburg bureau Rossiya chief Marina Fokina didn't take long to get
around to straightening her misguided reporter out, accusing her of
unprofessional behavior, laziness, irresponsibility, etc.

"The paper was published Dec. 8 and, on Jan. 8, I was called to the
management's office, where I was executed completely. For a whole hour,
they tried to explain to me the specifics of the crime I had committed but,
to be honest, I failed to understand what they meant," Faktorovich wrote in
a letter published by the St. Petersburg Center for Extreme Journalism.

Fokina's reply to Faktorovich's account, published in the same source, was,
perhaps, even more outrageous than the incident itself, reminding me of a
time I thought (or, perhaps foolishly, hoped) had passed.

"Jokes in poor taste made by a person under the influence of alcohol are
[his or her] private business when that person is a freelance writer or not
a journalist at all. But an employee of any company (state or private) has
to understand that public behavior of this sort harms the reputation of the
company and should expect to be held accountable. And, a fully conscious
and sober journalist is unable to identify the president of the country,
how can we speak of any level of professionalism," Fokina said. Talk about
missing the joke.

Basically, this means that if our job is to praise the president, then all
of our employees are in the same boat, whether they are off duty or not.
Great!

Napoleon's response in the joke at the start of this column suggests the
danger inherent in these tactics. If everyone spends all of their time
managing Putin's image, he could face his Waterloo without even noticing it
himself.

In the Tver region, where about a hundred Unity members recently resigned
from the party, complaining about the bureaucratization of their work and
claiming that the party's management had distanced itself from real people
and was concentrating on party business only.

I saw the event reported on TVS, in my opinion the only independent
television station left in Russia. Rossiya doesn't have time to report
stories like this. It's too busy making sure its journalists aren't joking
around.
More

******

#15
Rosbalt/RBC
Number of Russian Tourists Abroad Rose in 2002

MOSCOW, March 27. About 5 million Russians left the country on tourist trips
last year, up from 4.2 million in 2001, President of Russia's Union of
Tourist Companies Sergei Shpilko has announced. In 2002, about 3.1 million
foreign tourists came to Russia, up from 2.4 million in 2001, he noted.

In 2002, about 686,000 Russians visited Turkey, up 10% year-on-year, and
about 234,000 Russians visited Egypt, up from 150,000 in 2001. Mr Shpilko
believes that if the war in Iraq finishes quickly it is unlikely to influence
the world tourist industry much.

*******

#16
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2003
From: Chuck Spinney <chuckspinney@earthlink.net>
Subject: Iraqi SITREP 27 Mar [A Russian view]

This report is by a Russian open source intelligence operation. Its
information is of unknown reliability, and this particular report contains
some detailed descriptions of movements and casualties that is very
different from that reported by US media and therefore impossible to verify.

War in Iraq - requirement for more troops
March 27, 2003
www.iraqwar.ru
The IRAQWAR.RU analytical center was created recently by a group of
journalists and military experts from Russia to provide accurate and
up-to-date news and analysis of the war against Iraq. The following is the
English translation of the IRAQWAR.RU report based on the Russian military
intelligence reports.

March 27, 2003, 1425hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - There has been a sharp
increase in activity on the southern front. As of 0700hrs the coalition
forces are subjected to nearly constant attacks along the entire length of
the front. The Iraqi command took the advantage of the raging sand storm to
regroup its troops and to reinforce the defenses along the approaches to
Karabela and An-Najaf with two large armored units (up to two armored
brigades totaling up to 200 tanks). The Iraqi attack units were covertly
moved near the positions of the US 3rd Infantry Division (Motorized) and
the 101st Airborne Division. With sunrise and a marginal visibility
improvement the Iraqis attacked these US forces in the flank to the west of
Karabela.
Simultaneously, massive artillery barrages and counterattacks were launched
against units of the US 3rd Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne
Division conducting combat operations near An-Najaf. The situation [for the
US troops] was complicated by the fact that the continuing sand storm
forced them to group their units into battalion convoys in order to avoid
losing troops and equipment in near zero-visibility conditions. These
battalion convoys were concentrated along the roads leading to Karabela and
An-Najaf and had only limited defenses. There was no single line of the
front; aerial reconnaissance in these conditions was not possible and until
the very last moment the coalition command was unaware of the Iraqi
preparations.

During one of such attacks [the Iraqi forces] caught off-guard a unit of
the US 3rd Infantry Division that was doing vehicle maintenance and
repairs. In a short battle the US unit was destroyed and dispersed, leaving
behind one armored personnel carrier, a repair vehicle and two Abrams
tanks, one of which was fully operational.
At the present time visibility in the combat zone does not exceed 300
meters, which limits the effectiveness of the 101st Airborne Division and
that of its 70 attack helicopters representing the main aerial
reconnaissance and ground support force of the coalition. One of the
coalition transport helicopters crashed yesterday during take-off. The
reason for the crash was sand in the engine compressors.
The Iraqis were able to get in range for close combat without losses and
now fierce battles are continuing in the areas of Karabela and An-Najaf.
The main burden of supporting the coalition ground troops has been placed
with the artillery and ground attack aircraft. Effectiveness of the latter
is minimal due to the weather conditions. Strikes can be delivered only
against old Iraqi targets with known coordinates, while actually supporting
the ground troops engaged in combat is virtually impossible and attempts to
do so lead to the most unfortunate consequences.

Intercepted radio communications show that at around 0615hrs this morning
the lead of a flight of two A-10 ground attack planes detected a convoy of
armored vehicles. Unable to see any markings identifying these vehicles as
friendly and not being able to contact the convoy by radio the pilot
directed artillery fire to the coordinates of the convoy.
Later it was discovered that this was a coalition convoy. Thick layers of
dust covered up the identification markings - colored strips of cloth in
the rear of the vehicles. Electronic jamming made radio contact impossible.
First reports indicated that the US unit lost 50 troops killed and wounded.
At least five armored vehicles have been destroyed, one of which was an
Abrams tank.

During the past day the coalition losses in this area [ Karabela and
An-Najaf ] were 18-22 killed and up to 40 wounded. Most of the fatalities
were sustained due to unexpected attacks by the Iraqi Special Forces
against the coalition rears and against communication sites. This is a sign
of the increasing diversionary and partisan actions by the Iraqis.

During the same period of time the Iraqi forces sustained up to 100 killed,
about the same number of wounded and up to 50 captured.

Since the beginning of the operation no more than 2000 Iraqi troops were
captured by the coalition. The majority of the captured troops were members
of regional defense [militia] units.
The Iraqis were able to move significant reinforcements to the area of
An-Nasiriya making it now extremely difficult for the Americans to widen
their staging areas on the left bank of the Euphrates. Moreover, the
Americans [on the left bank of the Euphrates] may end up in a very
difficult situation if the Iraqis manage to destroy the bridges and to
separate [these US units] from the main coalition force. The US forces in
this area consist of up to 4,000 Marines from the 1st Marine Division and
supporting units of the 82nd Airborne Division. Currently, fighting has
resumed in the An-Nasiriya suburbs.

During one of the Iraqi attacks yesterday against the US positions the
Iraqis for the first time employed the "Grad" mobile multiple rocket launch
systems [MLRS]. As the result an entire US unit was taken out of combat
after sustaining up to 40 killed and wounded as well as losing up to 7
armored vehicles.

There are no other reports of any losses in this area [ An-Nasiriya] except
for one US Marine drowning in one of the city's water canals and another
Marine being killed by a sniper.
During the sand storm the coalition command lost contact with up to 4
coalition reconnaissance groups. Their whereabouts are being determined. It
is still unknown what happened to more than 600 other coalition troops
mainly from resupply, communications and reconnaissance units communication
with which was lost during the past 24 hours.
The situation around Basra remains unclear. The Iraqis control the city and
its suburbs, as well as the area south of Basra and the part of the
adjacent Fao peninsula, which the British have so far failed to take. The
British forces are blockading Basra from the west and northwest. However,
due to difficult marshy terrain crossed by numerous waterways the British
have been unable to create a single line of front and to establish a
complete blockade of the city. Currently main combat operations are being
launched for control of a small village near Basra where the local airport
is located. The British field commanders report that there has been no drop
in the combat activity of the Iraqis. On the contrary, under the cover of
the sand storm up to two battalions of the "surrendered" Iraqi 51st
Infantry Division were moved to the Fao peninsula to support the local
defending forces.
Rumors about an uprising by the Basra Shiite population turned out to be
false. Moreover, the Shiite community leaders called on the local residents
to fight the "children of the Satan" - the Americans and the British.

During the past 24 hours the British sustained no less than 3 killed and up
to 10 wounded due to mortar and sniper fire.

It is difficult to estimate the Iraqi losses [in Basra] due to limited
available information. However, some reports suggest that up to 30 Iraqi
troops were killed during the past day by artillery and aircraft fire.

During an attack against a coalition checkpoint in Umm Qasr last night one
British marine infantry soldier was heavily wounded. This once again points
to the tentative nature of the British claims of control over the town.
Information coming from northern regions of Iraq indicates that most of the
Kurdish leaders chose not to participate in the US war against Iraq. The
primary reason for that is the mistrust of the Kurds toward the US.
Yesterday one of the Russian intelligence sources obtained information
about a secret agreement reached between the US and the Turkish government.
In the agreement the US, behind the backs of the Kurds, promised Turkey not
to support in any way a formation of a Kurdish state in this region. The US
has also promised not to prevent Turkey from sending its troops [ to
Northern Kurdistan] immediately following [the coalition] capture of
northern Iraq.

In essence, this gives Turkey a card-blanche to use force for a "cleanup"
in Kurdistan. At the same time the Kurdish troops will be moved to fight
the Iraqis outside of Kurdistan, thus rendering them unable to support
their own people.

Along the border with Kurdistan Turkey has already massed a 40,000-strong
army expeditionary corps that is specializing in combat operations against
the Kurds. This force remains at a 4-hour readiness to begin combat
operations.

All of this indicates that the coalition command will be unable to create a
strong "Northern Front" during the next 3-4 days and that the US Marines
and paratroopers in this area will have to limit their operations to
distracting the Iraqis and to launching reconnaissance missions.
During a meeting with the Germany's chancellor [ Gerhard ] Schroeder the
heads of the German military and political intelligence reported that the
US is doing everything possible to conceal information on the situation in
the combat zone and that the US shows an extremely "unfriendly" attitude.
Germany's own intelligence-gathering capabilities in this region are very
limited. This is the result of Germany, being true to its obligations as an
ally, not attempting to bolster its national intelligence operations in the
region and not trying to separate its intelligence agencies from the
intelligence structures of NATO and the US.

There has been a confirmation of yesterday's reports about the plans of the
coalition command to increase its forces fighting in Iraq. The troops of
the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) are currently being airlifted to the
region, while its equipment is traveling by sea around the Arabian
Peninsula and the unloading is expected to begin as early as by the end of
tomorrow. The Division numbers 30,000 soldiers and officers. By the end of
April up to 120,000 more US troops, up to 500 tanks and up to 300 more
helicopters will be moved to the region.
In addition to that, today the US President [George W] Bush asked the
British Prime-Minister [Tony] Blair to increase the British military
presence in Iraq by a minimum of 15,000-20,000 troops.

At the current level of combat operations and at the current level of Iraqi
resistance the coalition may face a sharp shortage of troops and weapons
within the next 5-7 days, which will allow the Iraqis to take the
initiative. The White House took this conclusion of the US Joint Chiefs of
Staff with great concern.

During the past seven days of the war the US Navy detained all ships in the
Persian Gulf going to Iraq under the US "Oil for Food" program. Since
yesterday all these ships are being unloaded in Kuwait. Unloaded food is
being delivered by the US military to Iraq and is being distributed as
"American humanitarian aid" and as a part of the "rebuilding Iraq" program.
These US actions have already cause a serious scandal in the UN. The US
explained its actions by its unilateral decision to freeze all Iraqi
financial assets, including the Iraqi financial assets with the UN. These
assets the US now considers its property and will exercise full control
over them. Captains of the detained ships have already called these actions
by the US a "piracy."