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Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

JRL #7122 Plain Text - Entire Issue

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3. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Vitaliy Tretyakov, What Should Be Our Current Attitude to United States? Trap of Anti-U.S. Sentiments or Real Threat? (Split in Russian Opinion Over Attitude to US in Light of Iraq War Analyzed)
4. US Embassy Moscow: clarification re Ambassador Vershbow: 7121,item #5.
5. Igor Biryukov: re Rajan Menon's LA Times article in 7121.
6. TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT (LONDON): Nick Holdsworth, Court overturns sacking of lecturer who criticised teaching standards.
7. Robert Bruce Ware: Political Legitimacy in Chechnya.
8. Financial Times (UK): Rafael Behr, Russia Diary: A vote for peace. (re Chechnya)
9. Sunday Telegraph (UK): Palace in Peril. As St Petersburg celebrates its 300th anniversary, time is running out for Catherine the Great's exquisite Chinese palace, warns Simon Sebag Montefiore.
10. RFE/RL: Michael Lelyveld, Moscow Criticizes OPEC Over Iraq.
11. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Psychologists See Putin as 'Balanced' Man of 'Peace.'
12. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Yekaterina Dobrynina, What Is Putin Like Today? (Results of Surveys on Putin's Popularity Over Three Years in Office Detailed)
13. www.fednews.ru: EXPERT VIEWS ON THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS IN RUSSIA AT A MEETING OF THE CIVIL DEBATES CLUB. (Nikonov, Piontkovsky, Pavlovsky, and Kurginyan)



MOSCOW, MARCH 28, 2003 /from RIA Novosti correspondent Vladimir Pakhomov/ --
In Iraq, the USA will find itself in a difficult political situation, said
director of the Institute of the US and Canadian Studies Sergei Rogov at a
press conference in Moscow on Friday.

According to him, "it is already clear that the Americans' short victorious
war ambition has failed". The reason is that "the people of Iraq do not
recognise Americans as liberators, and Iraqi cities are preparing a kind of
intifada for them", he believes. Also, the USA committed serious mistakes
when planning the operation, Rogov said. Thus, they mistakenly staked upon
the technology and overestimated the role of precision weapons, he explained.
"These weapons are of no help in town", the expert added.

At the same time, he believes the forces of the US military machine are
definitely "very significant". In this connection, he has no doubts that the
USA will achieve "a military victory". "Yet this will not be a political
victory," Rogov pointed out.

He recalled that with the current intensity of precision weapons' use,
Americans could soon run out of them. In a week of military action, the USA
used 1,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles and about 4,000 high accuracy bombs,
according to Rogov's information. The US total arsenal of these bombs numbers

"Meanwhile, prospects of a humanitarian catastrophe are quite real," the
expert concluded.


Rossiiskaya Gazeta
No. 56
March 26, 2003
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]

The Shock and Awe blitzkrieg plan has dropped through. It
is admitted even in Washington, and a scapegoat hunt will
possibly start soon.
Things were screwed up either by the CIA or the military
intelligence service. Bush was told that Saddam was panic-
stricken and was about to flee Iraq, but before leaving Baghdad
he allegedly appointed a farewell meeting. His numerous and
powerful relatives and the country's top leaders were to meet
in a bunker. Its location was allegedly known to the
intelligence service. That offered a unique chance to finish
off Iraq's ruling elite together with hated Saddam with one
blow, and to plunge the enemy into shock and awe.
Therefore the first attack on Baghdad was made by
precision strikes and was not intensive. All bombs and missiles
hit the targets and it was reported to Washington that Saddam
was dead.
Not checking that information, U.S. Commander-in-Chief George
Bush ordered the start of a ground operation.
With its start a few demonstrative mutinies should have
erupted in regions populated by Shiites. Secret service
analysts assured that the Muslims of that branch of Islam hated
Saddam, who is a Sunnite, and only waited for a chance to rise
against him.
The first mutiny was planned to break out in Nasiria. It
had been prepared by CIA agents, and the U.S. Defense
Intelligence Agency (DIA) guaranteed military support. A group
of U.S.
special-task intelligence servicemen landed in a region of an
expected "national uprising" against tyrant Saddam. But the
green berets were ambushed and nearly all of them were killed.
Ground units of the U.S. expeditionary corps rushed to the aid
of the airborne troops. But, faced with fierce resistance and
having lost their men, they retreated. Some were taken prisoner.
It seems improbable, but the coalition troops, above all
the Americans, are losing the war on the intelligence level.
It is believed that in a period since the time of Laurence
of Arabia, that is, the entire 20st century, the British
intelligence service has monitored not only the Middle East but
also all the politicized branches of Islam. The U.S.
intelligence service came to Muslim countries later, but was
most active there, helping, among other things, to establish
intelligence services in the countries that today are leaders
in oil production. It is an open secret that the CIA and DIA
conducted through their agents a veritable war against the
Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Another open secret is that Osama
bin Laden was nourished by Washington, not Moscow.
The reports sent by U.S. intelligence men operating in the
Middle East were traditionally based on "reliable" information
provided by their colleagues from "friendly" intelligence
services. It may seem at first sight that there was no sense at
all for the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia in spending
money on keeping its own intelligence service and establishing
secret-service networks. It looked like world confrontation was
on the level of the U.S., European states, China, Japan and,
perhaps, also India and Pakistan. These countries had reason to
know in advance about possible moves of their friends and foes.
But who cares about Abu Dhabi or El Riyadh? But still...
There is a tiny insular state of Bahrain. Its policy is
pro-American neutrality, if one may say so, and its economy is
oil and tourism. This minute kingdom, in the opinion of best-
informed experts, spends five billion dollars a year on its own
intelligence service.
The intelligence service of Saudi Arabia is the richest
and most tightly closed in the Islamic world. It is quite
possible that its real budget exceeds that of the U.S. CIA, NSA
and DIA put together. But what does the Saudi intelligence
service spend its money on?
There are no formal grounds to say that the intelligence
services of Islamic states support those whom the U.S. lists as
"international terrorists." More likely they pursue their own
goals, which not necessarily coincide with Washington's
interests and are yet poorly understood by politicians in
patriarchal Europe. But it is not to be denied that these goals
are masterly attained.
Having failed in a strategic assessment of Iraq's
military-political capability and in planning its own tactical
operations, the U.S. intelligence service found nothing better
than to blame the military setbacks of the coalition forces on
an instrument-designing bureau in the Russian city of Tula and
a small Moscow region-based enterprise Aviakonversia. This is
yet another confirmation of the fact that the Pentagon has a
rather distorted picture of the real situation in the zone of
the military conflict it had started.


Split in Russian Opinion Over Attitude to US in Light of Iraq War Analyzed

Rossiyskaya Gazeta
27 March 2003
Article by Vitaliy Tretyakov: "What Should Be Our Current Attitude
to United States? Trap of Anti-U.S. Sentiments or Real Threat?"

Naturally, it is not the issue of people's attitude
to Saddam Husayn or even to Iraq's fate that has been the most disputable
issue over the past several days. On the other hand, it is worth asking
how come a huge number of people even outside the Arab or Islamic world
who do not have any warm feelings for Husayn or his regime nevertheless
wish that the United States and not Iraq would face if not military than
at least political defeat. At the same time, many people say that
falling into the trap of anti-U.S. sentiments would be very dangerous at
this point. I fully share this opinion (which I have recently stated)
for three reasons. First, strictly speaking, the name of a monopoly
power trying to impose its totalitarian will on the rest of the world is
not the point. Therefore, it is U.S. hegemony and not the United States
itself that we should resist. This means that while trying to destroy
hegemony we should not try to ruin the United States, as we once did when
we ruined Russia while destroying communism.

Second, even if we are to believe that the United States is evil, let us
imagine for a moment the chaos that would sweep the globe if the United
States suddenly disappeared.

Third, which is the main point after all, the United States is not going
to disappear and we will have to coexist and actually form a single
Euroatlantic civilization. Therefore, we cannot wish the United States
would cease to exist and, moreover, have no right to do so.

On the other hand, naturally, it is not we but the Americans themselves
who are to blame for the fact that anti-U.S. sentiments are becoming one
of the main trends in contemporary international relations.

In essence, the question is as follows: Does U.S. hegemony, judging by
U.S. actions in Iraq, pose a threat to all other countries including
Russia or else the United States simply does not adjust its political
goals, which in general are correct, to the methods it uses to achieve

This issue caused a split in Russia's political community. Some
politicians prefer the former response, whereas others prefer the latter.
Hence, the great difference in approaches to Russia's hypothetical
reaction to the policy demonstrated by the U.S. war on Iraq.

It has come to very fundamental and sharp conflicts. On the one hand,
it is commonly believed that international terrorism, proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction, and drug trafficking are the main foreign
threats currently faced by Russia. The United States has always fought
all of the above phenomena, although not always effectively and
correctly, and therefore, despite all the differences over the Iraqi
issue the United States remains Russia's sole ally. Moreover, Russia
will not be able to cope with these threats without the United States and
therefore, even the most risky steps taken by the United States should be
criticized very delicately to avoid strategic losses. What we
absolutely are not allowed to do is regard the United States as some kind
of threat to Russia.

People representing the opposite opinion, including myself, claim that it
is not international terrorism let alone proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction that became the main threats in recent months. It is the
very global monopoly of the United States that currently constitutes the
main problem, especially since the start of the war on Iraq.
Admittedly, this threat can be interpreted in different ways ranging
between "deliberate strategy to carry out a new redivision of the world
including in territorial terms," which would directly affect Russia's
interests and (which would be a less dramatic scenario) "ineffective,
unsatisfactory or exclusively selfish performance of the role of the
global leader by the United States."

Leadership is a component of all hierarchic structures even such
spontaneous-hierarchic ones as the system of international relations.
Particularly in the contemporary extremely globalized, which in essence
means unified, world.

Particular countries are not chosen for the role of leaders in the
international arena, they become leaders. After that all other
countries are free to either accept their leadership or else oppose it
and, naturally, face all the ensuing risks.

Nevertheless, it is worth asking the following question: "Whose
interests? does this leadership serve?" and not only "is it effective or
not?" If this leadership serves solely the leader's own interests
whereas other countries' interests including the interests of official
and unofficial allies are ignored and if their resources (let alone the
resources of those countries that oppose this leadership) are simply
seized by the leader that subjects all its opponents to repression this
can no longer be called leadership and deserves a different name.

Why do I regard international terrorism and as a lesser threat at this
point than U.S. hegemony despite the fact that international terrorism
does pose a colossal threat? Here is the main reason: International
terrorism is an obvious, present and clear danger. We know that it
exists. We know (although not always specifically) its components,
human resources, assets, methods, organizers, numerous activists and
their financial sponsors, and so on. We make poor use of this
knowledge, indeed, but it is a different story.

International terrorism is a global albeit not solid phenomenon; it is
scattered on many countries' territories, but does not exist in all

Finally, we know how to behave with regard to terrorists. We know that
we cannot accept their demands or yield to their orders. We know that
public opinion invariably supports authorities in their struggle against
terrorism. International terrorism, despite sophisticated technical
means in its possession, is straightforward and unambiguous as a
phenomenon. Meanwhile, international hegemony of one superpower (be at
the United States, China, Russia, Iraq or -- all of a sudden -- Lithuania
or Lesotho) is a complex phenomenon for it combines civilized and
uncivilized forms and methods, legal and illegal structures, as well as
visible and deeply concealed objectives.

For this very reason contemporary political community cannot give a
clear-cut answer to the following question: What should be done in the
face of U.S. domination? Should it be accepted or resisted? Should
the U.S. military action in Iraq be supported by all available means or
not supported in any way? The overwhelming majority of countries do not
experience these kinds of doubts with regard to international terrorism.

Unclear and obscure evil is more dangerous than obvious evil.

Who can say or, to be more precise, vouch that global hegemony (in this
case that of the United States) is merely ineffective leadership and not
evil? Above all the United States itself should do so by means of its
actions rather than words. These actions should be rational, evoking no
suspicion, and free from double standards. Thus far we have not seen
such actions. By saying "we" I do not mean Russia only; I mean a whole
number of other European countries, direct U.S. allies.

Sometimes people say that the Americans cannot say everything openly, for
they, allegedly, are not fighting international terrorism; they are
fighting Islam's global offensive on the Christian civilization and
therefore are automatically protecting Russia along with other countries.
If it is really so, I do not think that the mechanisms and methods
chosen for this kind of struggle are appropriate and safe for the
Christian civilization itself. If it is really so, then, instead of
implementing Huntington's civilizational clash theory we should look for
a possibility of global public agreement between Christianity, Islam, and
other world religions and, forgive me the expression, speak about a
separation of their spheres of influence. This means that each
civilization would live based on its own laws on its own canonical
territories and keep away from other civilizations' territories. This
means peaceful coexistence of states with different religious systems.

Incidentally, this gives a clear answer regarding the future status of
the United Nations. And naturally in this case any Christian country's
war against any Muslim country shall be banned (and the other way


From: "McKennan, Jacqueline K" <mckennjk@state.gov>
Subject: Official Response
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003

In response to the Johnson's List 7121, item #5. Please attribute this
statement to the U.S. Embassy Spokesman.

Ambassador Vershbow made no veiled threat of any kind. During an interview
March 26 at Interfax he was asked whether there had been any discussion of
the safe departure from Baghdad of Russian Embassy staff. He replied that
he was not aware that there had been any discussion of possible assistance
in the withdrawal of Russian personnel, but that if such assistance were
requested, he thought the U.S. would likely provide it. He noted that it
was risky for the Russian Embassy to maintain its staff in Baghdad - a
simple statement of fact.

Thanks, Jackie
Jackie McKennan
Deputy Press Attache
U.S. Embassy, Moscow
Bolshoi Deviatinskiy Pereulok, #8
7-095-728-5131; 7-095-997-2050, mobile


Subject: Rajan Menon's LA Times article in David Johnson's # 7121
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003
From: "Igor Biryukov" <BiryukovI@tomsnyder.com>


Mr. Menon's article confuses where Russian position comes from. It's not a
wounded Russia pride or desire to 'poke US in the eye'. It is strictly
business, not personal. Putin said that US made a huge mistake with Iraq.
His argument makes sense for me and many people in Russia and the world.
Russia holds that major threat to the world today comes not from 'rouge'
states, but from statelessness, absence or failure of state control and
order. In was paramountly shown in Afghanistan. Russia had a taste of it in
Chechnya. Large parts of Africa, Middle East, Latin America, Indian
subcontinent, and Balkans has become or becoming breading grounds for
terrorists exactly because a failure or absence of state - any state
'rogue' or otherwise 'civilized'. And now the US is destroying Iraqi state,
which used to give some cohesion to the region. What comes afterwards, the
day after - I bet we will be witness to opening new huge 'can of worms',
let along a huge loss of life and destruction of Baghdad.

Regards, Igor Biryukov
Boston, MA


From: "Nick Holdsworth" <nickh007@online.ru>
Subject: Court overturns sacking of US lecturer at Siberian university
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003

Court overturns sacking of lecturer who criticised teaching standards
Nick Holdsworth, Moscow
Published: 28 March 2003

An American teacher at a Siberian university who was deported after managers
sacked him for criticising the way English was taught has won a court case
ordering his reinstatement.

Tomsk district court in western Siberia ruled this month that Tomsk
Polytechnical University had no grounds for dismissing retired US army
officer David Richardson. The university was ordered to pay him 35,000
roubles (700) in lost pay. An award for damages will be decided later.

Mr Richardson, who took a job as an assistant at a linguistic institute at
the university to spend more time with his Russian fiancee, was vilified and
forced to leave Russia in January after he took part in a management
assessment exercise.

Mr Richardson, 46, drew up a report detailing shortcomings in the way
English was taught. In January he was ordered to return his visa and was
sacked for alleged poor time-keeping.

Mr Richardson is a biochemical graduate from California who learnt Russian
during his military service more than 20 years ago. He said his report,
which was critical of teaching and management practices, proved an
embarrassment to university leaders.

He said that during the four months he taught at the university, where he
was paid less than 200 a month, lack of coordination and clear teaching
instructions were a constant irritation.

"The university asked me to take part in a commission looking into the
practices at the institute of language communication because over five years
they had spent a large amount and felt they were not getting value for
money," Mr Richardson said.

His recommendations, that clearer institutional goals should be set and that
teachers and students should have more exposure to native speakers, sparked
an aggressive response from the institute. This included, he claimed, a
clumsy attempt to force him into a compromising situation with a prostitute.

On the day Mr Richardson left Russia, an article appeared in a local
newspaper with critical quotes from anonymous students, racial slurs and
allegations that Mr Richardson, an African-American, had spied on Russian
forces in Germany, Afghanistan and Indo-China.

Mr Richardson intends to sue the newspaper and university for defamation.


From: "Robert Bruce Ware" <...@brick.net>
Subject: Political Legitimacy in Chechnya
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003

Political legitimacy in Chechnya ultimately will have more to do with
patterns of economic development than with Sundays constitutional
referendum. Predictably, the vote is being questioned by Western
commentaries and ridiculed by the militant website. Even some Russian
observers have exclaimed that voter turnouts over 80 percent, including
districts where there are clear signs of dissatisfaction with Moscows
policies, are almost too good to be true. Yet international monitors
present in Chechnya during the vote did not spot significant
irregularities. Is the result legitimate?

In October 2002, the Russian census found 1,088,000 residents of Chechnya.
This appears to be an unrealistic enumeration of Chechen residents, though
it may come closer to approximating the total number of Chechen nationals
in all locations. Census procedures permitted one member of a family to
record the names of all family members, including those at a distance.
Realistically, the number of Chechen residents should be less than 650,000
and perhaps closer to 550,000. Hence, the size of the current electorate
inside Chechnya probably falls between 250,000 and 350,000. However, at the
beginning of this year electoral officials announced in the Russian media
that they anticipated an electorate of approximately 540,000 people.

While this figure may have allowed for electoral participation by some
Chechens residing in camps outside of Chechnya the number appears to be high.

These figures suggest that electoral officials may have had an opportunity
to include as many as two or three hundred thousand falsified ballots
without an appearance of irregularity. In practice, it is unlikely that
there were this many, and so far there is no proof that there were any
falsified ballots at all. Indeed, journalists found long lines of
prospective voters at many polling places, and most of those whom they
interviewed said they were voting for acceptance of the constitution.
Careful research is required.

Yet together with ballots cast by Russian troops, ballots cast by genuine
supporters of the constitution or the pro-Moscow administration of Akhmed
Kadyrov, and ballots cast by people who are simply exhausted by the war,
the latitude of these numbers may account for the remarkably high voter
turnout. A similar combination of technique and tendencies is likely to
favor Mr. Kadyrov, or some similar candidate, in the subsequent
presidential election.

Economic Patterns

However, in the long-term political legitimacy often has as much to do with
economic productivity as electoral procedure. The significance of the March
referendum will have less to do with the short-term legitimacy of the new
administration than with the long-term transition of economic patterns from
those that perpetuate the war to those that will, one day in the distant
future, underwrite stability.

Over the next five to ten years a new Chechen social order will slowly
crystallize. New Chechen elites will gradually emerge around new patterns
of economic flow that will develop with the establishment of the new
administration, and the consequent expansion of federal subsidies for
Chechen reconstruction and economic development. Subsequent budgetary
transfers and humanitarian aid will follow patterns of top-down economic
flow that will crystallize around the new administration and gradually
consolidate its authority.

Progressively, the crystallization of this new order will marginalize
Chechen radicals, and promote Chechen pragmatists and moderates. New groups
of Chechen elites are already emerging in Chechnya and among the Chechen
diaspora in Moscow. Many of these are more pragmatic, more focused upon
preconditions for legitimate economic development, and more suspicious of
radicalism than were their predecessors. Hence, the consolidation of this
new order may be the best hope for long term stability in Chechnya. It
would be beneficial for the new Chechen administration autonomously and
genuinely to reflect the interests and needs of all of the people of
Chechnya. Yet the patterns of economic flow that follow the establishment
of a new administration thereafter will shape the development of new
interests and needs in the republic.

Nevertheless, the precise formation of these patterns will be difficult for
anyone to anticipate or control since they will be subject to corruption.
Indeed, current regional economic patterns favor the perpetuation of the
war. All of this will moderate the economic leverage that Moscow might
apply toward the stabilization of Chechen society and mandate a shift in
its political leverage.

Political Options

More than ever, it is now in Moscows interest to settle with members of
the Chechen opposition. Yet the prospect of negotiations with militant
forces presents three fundamental problems. First, these forces are so
fragmented that no leader genuinely represents all of them. Therefore,
secondly, no single leader can guarantee any agreements that Moscow might
achieve. Third, some militant leaders have been involved in terrorist
activities that make them unattractive partners for negotiation.

The best opportunities for mediation of the conflict involve regional
leaders, especially those in neighboring Muslim North Caucasian republics.
Multiple local mediators might make multiple contacts on the Chechen side.
This would be an advantage since many Chechen commanders will have to be
approached individually due to the chronic fragmentation of militant
forces. In some cases Moscow may have to consider separate concessions,
but, for the most part, offers of amnesty may be the key since the tide
appears to have turned irrevocably in Moscows favor. The general strategy
should be to settle individually with those Chechen militant leaders who
are open to settlement in order to further isolate those who are not. Since
amnestied opposition leaders must be given opportunities to compete for
elective positions in the new Chechen administration there are now
additional incentives for quick settlements.

After the referendum, as more people gradually return to Chechnya,
terrorist acts will become easier to engineer, and more deadly in their
execution. So long as terrorist acts continue it will be difficult to
eliminate brutal federal searches and mass detentions, known as zachistki.
Indeed, since zachistki tend to mobilize village populations to take up
arms against Russian troops, militants may already be seeking to provoke
zachistki as a means of recruitment. The cycle of injustice, abuse, and
retribution may continue for some time to come. Therefore, in order to
minimize contact with locals, Russian troops should be strictly garrisoned,
and brought forward only at moments of crisis. With the establishment of
the new Chechen administration Moscow appears likely to shift genuine law
enforcement responsibilities to local officials. Whether or not the
referendum results are genuine, political legitimacy in Chechnya will
depend upon these long-term trends.


Financial Times (UK)
February 28, 2003
Russia Diary: A vote for peace
By Rafael Behr recently in Grozny

Alexei takes a hand off his Kalashnikov only long enough to light a
cigarette. "You have no idea how many people we killed. We killed and killed.
And we lost ours too. I lost a lot of friends."

He is keeping guard outside a hotel in a sleepy, provincial Russian town in
the North Caucasus. He was probably a sleepy, provincial guy before he got
drafted to fight in a vicious war against separatist guerrillas a few
kilometres away in Chechnya.

Now he is watching us watching a referendum. After ten years, two wars,
thousands dead, Moscow is asking Chechnya whether or not it wants to become a
sleepy, provincial Russian region again, with a new constitution, a new
parliament, a new president.

Alexei is 25 and has a young family. He's through with killing now but he's a
learnt thing or too. "You feel something after the first time. But to be
honest, after that you feel nothing. I'm a sniper. You see that car?" -
around 40 metres away, disappearing into the darkness - "If someone was
getting out of that car now, I could get them between the eyes." Comforting.

But Alexei is not coming with us back into Chechnya proper. A troop of
foreign journalists gets more prestigious, and better armed cover.

We get two cars full of Kalashnikovs, and their interior ministry handlers.
At the back of the bus we also have an unmarked, heavy set fighting machine
with a bushy moustache and an arsenal strapped to his body.

They escort us to a few polling stations in the north of Chechnya, the wholly
Russian-controlled part, where we are least likely to encounter danger. The
first place we visit is a Potemkin village. It is deserted at first, but
promptly fills up with willing voters. They are all saying 'yes' to the new
constitution, 'yes' to a new president, and 'yes' to a new parliament for
Chechnya. It is a vote for peace.

The local authorities are keen to ply us with cakes and vodka. Someone behind
the scenes finds enough electricity to get the loudspeakers working and pop
music crackles into life. This is what Soviet elections must have felt like:
only one correct answer on the exam paper, but a sweetener and a
whistle-wettener for the local party if the results come in on time and the
turnout is high.

The next polling station didn't have their scenery up in time. Bad show.

The voters are enthusiastic enough, and by lucky coincidence a member of the
team of international observers is there at the same time.

He represents monitors from the Commonwealth of Independent States (former
Soviet republics). A Russian gentleman as it happens, just down for the day
from Moscow.

But no amount of burly men with guns could deter small pockets of the
suspiciously indifferent from gathering to watch the show.

Everyone was planning to vote, at least at the beginning of the conversation.
Zeal waned after a few minutes.

Musa is a tall 20-year-old, with a knitted cap pulled close to his eye so the
word 'Chechnya' runs the length of his forehead. He wanted to know if there
were a lot of Muslims in Britain.

Did people get on together? Why we had come? How, since we had not lived
through two wars and seen our families killed and friends disappear in the
middle of the night, we could claim to know anything? Anything about
anything. Musa probably wasn't going to vote, he hadn't made up his mind. But
lots of people, he says,would vote: they'll try anything if it means peace
and an end to fear.

And on to Grozny, the ruined capital of Chechnya. Here too there is voting,
much of it enthusiastic, and doubtless much of it genuine. There is a sniper
on the roof of one polling station. There is a charred hole in the roof of
another, a school. Posters on the walls warn children of the danger of
playing football in open spaces. Grozny is mined.

Magomed is 15 years old and studying to be an accountant. He would be voting
and saying 'yes' - if he were old enough, because he knows what war is like.
At least now you can walk the streets by day, although you don't do so at
night. "Not out of choice, anyway." Our night is spent on a brand new
military base. Long rows of identical white barracks have been dug into a
field outside Grozny and reinforced with heavy guns and a tank.

Vladimir Putin looks down from a huge poster with a stern smile, authority
airbrushed into paternal encouragement: "I am certain that the forces of the
Ministry of Internal Affairs will reliably provide security to citizens and
state," says Mr Putin in big curly typescript.

Everyone on the base, one young soldier confirms, without fail exercised
their right to vote as inhabitants of the Chechen republic. They voted 'Yes'.

The next day we have a lightening stopover in Grozny.Protection from the
people who have just enthusiastically voted to rejoin Russia is vigorous and
access to the electorate harder than the day before. Only one young man wants
to talk. He is selling the local newspapers, although he advises against
reading them on the grounds that they are "full of rubbish."

He knows hardly anyone who turned out apart from himself, and he voted "no".
From then on we can only read the mood from graffiti. "People Live Here",
painted onto hollow ruins. "Drivers, Stop! Shooting Without Warning!" on a
checkpoint. "I want to live in beauty".

For the record, official preliminary results of the referendum are as
follows: 89 per cent of registered voters turned out. Of them 96 per cent
backed the adoption of a new constitution, 95 per cent backed the creation of
the post of a new president and 96 per cent supported forming a new


From: "Cathy Giangrande" <catherinegiangrande@hotmail.com>
Subject: Catherine the Great's Chinese palace
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003

Dear Mr Johnson

A couple of weeks ago you said you'd be happy to take someting on the work
of World Monuments Fund in Russia. Attached is an article that came out in
last Sunday's Telegraph Magazine. I hope you might be able to include this
in your next issue.

With thanks. Cathy
Cathy Giangrande
c/o Sir Robert McAlpine, Yorkshire House, Grosvenor Crescent, London SW1X
Tel +44 (0)20 7838 9153 Fax + 44 (0)20 7838 9217

Palace in Peril- The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, March 23 2003
As St Petersburg celebrates its 300th anniversary, time is running out for
Catherine the Great's exquisite Chinese palace, warns Simon Sebag Montefiore

On the morning of 28 June 1972, Catherine, wife of Peter III, the
grandson of Peter the Great, founder of St Petersburg, was woken at her
palace in Peterhof, one of a superb cluster of imperial palaces around
Oranienbaum near St Petersburg, and told that she had to seize the throne
that day - or hang. Her conspiracy to launch a coup has been betrayed.
The 33-year old Catherine set off immediately for St Petersburg, 18 miles
away, to raise the Imperial Guards and the support of her lover Grigory
Orlov - cherubic of face, giant of stature, bluff by nature.
Just miles away, at Oranienbaum, her husband, the ruling and rightful
Emperor of Russia, slept on, oblivious and still tipsy from the night
before. By the time he awoke his wife, massing her forces in St
Petersburg, had been hailed as Catherine II. While Peter tried frantically
to arrange resistance, Catherine marched towards Oranienbaum to arrest him.
Capture by her advance-guard, he was forced to abdicate, and, days later,
was murdered by strangulation (it was announced that he had died of piles).
Catherine, intelligent and ambitious, had long been unhappy in her
marriage to Peter, a puerile martinet who was said to spend his time
hanging rats, 'for insubordination', over the marital bed while his wife
took lovers and made connections in the Imperial Guards.
Once in power, Catherine the Great was lavish in the rewards she showered
on Orlov: together, that very year, they commissioned the building of
their own palace at Oranienbaum. Because Chinoiserie was the architectural
vogue in England and Catherine was a passionate anglophile, her architect
Antonio Rinaldi was instructed to design a Chinese palace. But, while
Catherine had thought she could tolerate Oslo's political and cultural
naivety, she could not abide his promiscuity. And, as Rinaldi's beautiful
Chinese confection began to take shape at Oranienbaum, so the couple's
relationship began to disintegrate.
By 1772, Catherine found herself facing the greatest political and
military crises of her reign, including a massive peasant's revolt, and she
needed help- from an equal. The empress took a new lover, another giant
guardsman, the one-eyed, eccentric and intellectually brilliant Grigory
Potemkin. Orlov was consoled with the title of prince and a shower of
riches, and Potemkin arrived in Petersburg to become, almost certainly,
Catherine's secret husband. Potemkin, who was also created a prince,
became, effectively, her co-ruler in a remarkable romantic and political
partnership between two of the most successful and gifted statesmen in
Russian history.
At Oranienbaum, despite its associations with Peter III and Orlov, the
empress entertained and displayed the glory of Catherinian Russia. Even by
the standards of Russian architecture, the palace was a fabulous
masterpiece. Comprising 28 rooms on the ground floor, with a second storey
added in the 19th century, the palace is low and graceful. In the eastern
wing, the Hall of Muses depicts the nine muses against a background of
light pinks and blues. Natural light streams in through French windows
opening on to the garden. More than 15 types of wood are used in the
parquet, playfully inlaid with musical instruments or flowers.
A few rooms on lies the highlight of the Chinese Palace, the Glass-Beaded
Salon. Unique in Europe, the room features panels of exotic scenes of
birds, cornucopias, and flowers made up of more than two million shimmering
horizontal glass beads. The effect is breathtaking as the elegant birds
glitter in and out of focus. Today their fragility is apparent, as some of
the panels are starting to unravel. They are fixed to the walls in their
gold frames shaped like palm trees, so will need to be restored in situ.
Astonishingly, the room originally contained a glass floor (later replace
by parquet), which would have heightened the dazzling effect.
At the centre of the Chinese Place is the Grand Hall, which astounds
visitors with the richness of its scagliola, or false marble, and sheer
scale. Busts of Peter the Great and his daughter the Empress Elizabeth
face one another above each of the doors; their presence serving to
emphasise Catherine's connections with the legitimate imperial dynasty.
In the west wing are the two Chinese-style rooms that give the palace its
name. The Small Chinese Cabinet features rich Chinese silk adorned with
image of birds, while the parquet has Chinese latticework and bowls of
flowers. But it is in the next room that Rinaldi gives free reign to his
imagination and goes to ornate extremes. In the Great Chinese Cabinet the
ceiling painting showing the marriage of Europe and Asia is framed by a
riot of Chinese patterns, fronds, and dragons. The walls are an intricate
mosaic of 20 different woods showing vast imagined Chinese landscapes.
Though Oranienbaum escaped the destruction wreaked in the 1940s by the
invading German army on many of the imperial resorts outside St Petersburg,
time, neglect and the fall of the Soviet Union threaten the palace's
survival. Oranienbaum today is being eaten away by damp- a broken drainage
system pours water into the palace, the roof leaks- and, without urgent
help, this miraculous building will be lost forever.
A 2 million appeal by the Word Monuments Fund, to save Oranienbaum is
one of the most important restoration projects in Europe today. Its timing
is good, too: this year, St Petersburg celebrated is foundation by Peter
the Great 300 years ago. Another famous, more recent inhabitant of the
city, Vladimir Putin, had allocated 250 million to restore St Petersburg
itself; on the same stretch of coast as Oranienbaum is restoring another
imperial palace to serve as a presidential residence. So, strangely, long
after Peter and Catherine, power has returned to the imperial resorts of
Petersburg. But if this appeal fails, it will be too later for the Chinese

For more information about the Chinese Palace or to make a donation,
contact Will Black at the World Monuments Fund on + 44 (0) 20 7730 5344,
will@wmf.org.uk or visit wmf.org.uk.


Russia: Moscow Criticizes OPEC Over Iraq
By Michael Lelyveld

Russia is showing the economic tensions of war with Iraq as it blasts the
Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries for boosting output to assure
global oil supplies. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko has charged the
cartel with playing "political games" in a sign of the high economic risks
for many countries as they await the outcome of the war.

Boston, 28 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Russia has blown the facade off its
cooperation with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as
tempers flare over the economic risks of the war with Iraq.

Speaking to reporters on 25 March in Moscow, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor
Khristenko blasted the 11-member oil cartel, saying, "If OPEC starts to play
political games over the war in Iraq, it will be the beginning of the end of
this organization."

Khristenko warned, "OPEC must be preserved as a commercial organization of
countries dedicated to keeping oil prices fair and speculation to a minimum,"
Interfax reported. Khristenko added, "There are risks for OPEC, and those
risks could grow in magnitude if OPEC attempts to become a political player."

Although Khristenko did not spell out his objections to OPEC's actions, his
remarks stood in sharp contrast to the cooperative mood in mid-March when
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali bin Ibrahim al-Naimi visited Moscow for three
days. The world's two biggest oil producers then agreed on the need to keep
stability in the world oil market at fair prices.

It was a rare show of solidarity for Russia, which has challenged OPEC as an
alternate supplier to the West for much of the past year. The accord came
only four days before the war began.

But the agreement may have been one of the shortest on record. Khristenko
seemed angry that OPEC immediately declared a suspension of production quotas
for its 10 participating members, excluding Iraq, to offset any potential
shortages. Two days before fighting erupted, Saudi Arabia also made it known
that it had amassed a previously secret pool of 50 million barrels of oil as
an extra cushion against any cut in supplies.

The effect was immediate. Oil prices plunged 25 percent in two days, despite
widespread predictions that the onset of war could cause prices to soar.
Despite rumor-driven trading and civil strife in Nigeria, prices have
struggled to breach the $30 per barrel barrier since.

Russia's frustration seems to echo on several levels. The first may be
political. Khristenko's warning suggests that some officials see OPEC's
support for world oil security as support for the war, which Moscow is dead
set against.

At least one OPEC member, Iran, has also objected to the lifting of quotas.
On 21 March, Iran's OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, told the
official news agency IRNA that there had been no agreement for the measure,
calling any overproduction a "violation." But like Russia, Iran may find it
hard to hike exports any more than it has.

OPEC members seemed to brush off the criticism. This week, the Dow Jones news
agency reported that daily OPEC output has risen this month by 1.3 million
barrels per day, or more than 5 percent since February. That means production
is already 8.5 percent over cartel quotas.

While Khristenko cited political concerns, Russia's fears are mainly
economic. Some officials believe that the world oil market is already
oversupplied and that the 25 percent price drop could be a taste of more to
come. Iraq itself added fuel to that argument this week with reports that oil
from its northern oil fields at Kirkuk had kept flowing through a pipeline to
the Turkish port of Ceyhan, long after it was presumed to have stopped.

On 26 March, the Associated Press quoted analysts as saying that Iraq could
restart exports through the Persian Gulf within weeks from oil fields
captured by coalition forces in the south.

Russian frustration was also on display this week as Nikolai Tokarev, chief
executive of the Russian state oil firm Zarubezhneft, complained that
prospects were poor for postwar participation in Iraq's oil industry because
of U.S. interests. Tokarev told Reuters, "There will be nothing good for
Russian firms in Iraq." Energy Minister Igor Yusufov said yesterday that the
government is working to return Russian oil companies to Iraq "immediately
after peace is restored," Interfax reported.

Although officials have argued that Russia's budget can withstand prices of
$18 per barrel or even lower, the government continues to see $25 as its
"fair price." This week, OPEC vowed to cut production quickly when the war
ends and prices start falling. But Russia could get caught in the squeeze,
because then, it may also be producing too much.

The outcome seems sure to affect both Russia and the world economy. In the
United States, the Federal Reserve specifically cited "oil price premiums" as
a major factor in what it called "the hesitancy of the economic expansion,"
"The Washington Times" reported. The statement raised hopes for recovery when
prices ease. On the other side this week, the International Monetary Fund's
managing director, Horst Kohler, warned that a long war could risk a "global
recession," Reuters reported. A downturn could also heighten pressure to cut
oil output.

But another source of Russia's frustration seems to be its marginalization in
any of the decisions. Several months ago, it was promoting its energy
partnership with the United States in defiance of OPEC efforts to trim global
production and keep prices up. Now, the situation is reversed, and little has
been said about the energy partnership with the United States, which would
presumably welcome more oil from Russia, OPEC, or both.


Psychologists See Putin as 'Balanced' Man of 'Peace'

Rossiyskaya Gazeta
26 March 2003
Article by Profesor Yelena Shestopal, head of Moscow State
University Philosophy Faculty Political Psychology Department: "Give Me A

Vladimir Putin's psychological profile is pretty
well balanced.
Power is not the dominant motif for him (a rarity among our political
leaders) and he does not "thirst" for it. This determines his political
conduct and decision-making style. Many experts note that his
personality is distinguished by a high degree of what is known in
psychology as the "affiliation motive" -- a desire to be with others. In
this indicator Putin surpasses virtually all contemporary politicians.
The nature of Putin's personality explains why he tries to create a team
of like-minded people around him. The appointment of so-called "St.
Petersburgers" to key posts reflects his normal human need to see friends
around him. The president is someone who values personal relationships;
it is important to him that the results of his work should meet with
approval. Leaders of this type are bound to be interested in what is
happening to their ratings and to listen to the people's opinion.
Moreover Putin is characterized by a desire to enlist specialists from
other spheres to do a job or make an expert assessment and not come
across as a know-it-all. Without this he is unable to perform his
professional duties.
If we are talking about Putin's views (psychologists study them on the
basis of the texts of the president's speeches in which he expresses his
inner beliefs). then the conclusion is that in the political sphere he
always seeks a fulcrum in the shape of allies and partners and aims to
have peace around him and not conflict. From this viewpoint it is very
important to have this kind of person in power when the country is rent
by enormous antagonism. As he saw and sees it, his main inner
psychological task is not simply to establish order, but to establish
peace --without tragedies, explosions, and conflicts. In terms of his
beliefs he is someone who believes in liberalism as an economic doctrine,
but in the political sphere he believes in a strong state. When citizens
call him a patriot and someone who is concerned about the country's
interests, psychologists confirm that this is true. What is very
important to Putin is anything connected with strengthening the state.
Moreover he sees himself not as a leader, but as civil servant, or,
perhaps, an officer who has taken an oath.
Polls show that largely under Putin's influence the "fashion for
politicians" has changed in society. We have actually gotten to the
point where we want not a leader, not a father, but a president whom we
invite to work, who does this work effectively, and whom the people
control. In my view, this is the main positive result of Putin's period
in power.


Results of Surveys on Putin's Popularity Over Three Years in Office Detailed

Rossiyskaya Gazeta
26 March 2003
Report by Yekaterina Dobrynina: "What Is Putin Like Today?"

The popularity ratings that we love have as much in
common with public opinion as dried fruit with a blooming garden:
Genealogy is the same but the final product is only good for compote.
No flavor, no aroma. The only pleasant thing is that "two-thirds" of
respondents did not send the sociologists on their way or refuse to
answer but honestly declared their love to a politician -- even if to the
president himself. But why, nobody knows.

Meanwhile, any statistic information is made up of living voices,
emotions, and expanded answers -- not the faceless "yes-no-I do not
know." For example, an exhausted poll taker calls you at home and asks
to speak with not just whoever comes along but, in strict compliance with
sampling rules, with "an adult female member of the household." He will
not only hear the answer but will also write down somewhere in his
questionnaire the data you additionally dumped on him. If, however, it
is an "interview at the respondent's home" or when the sociologists
torment a "discussion focus group," all the words will be thoroughly
recorded and entered into a database. It is a different thing that that
sociological services strictly protect the anonymity of their
respondents, while the rough, genuine statements usually serve as
supporting material for official use only. Sometimes, however, they
leak into the public view.

On the occasion of Putin's three years in power, practically all
sociological services offered to public judgment a fresh portion of
presidential ratings: Read, you unpopular politicians, and eat your heart

Here is some fresh data from the Public Opinion Foundation [FOM].
Respondents were asked about their present assessment of Putin as Russian
president. The answers "excellent" and "good" were given by 39 percent
of those polled, "satisfactory" by 44 percent, "bad" and "very bad" by 13
percent, with the rest declining to answer. Throughout Putin's three
years in the presidential post, his popularity has stood stable at a high
level. According to FOM's latest survey, if the elections were held
next Sunday, 47 percent of Russians would vote for the incumbent
president (two years ago, the president's electoral rating amounted to 48

There are noticeably more people who have improved their opinion on the
president: In March of 2001, one year after the elections, this was
said only by 25 percent of Russians, compared to the present 33 percent.
Almost one half of Russians (46 percent) are confident that Putin's
popularity is higher today than it was three years ago, another 27
percent of those surveyed believe that the president's popularity has not
changed, and only 15 percent think it has declined.

What is it that "people on the street" like Putin for and what complaints
do they have about him? The FOM cites excerpts from interviews: "He
says something and then he does it, he is a man of his word," "Serious,
consistent," "I like his confidence and ability to instill this
confidence in other citizens," "He demands work from his ministers,"
"Not overbearing, behaves like an ordinary person," "Shy, not pushy,"
"Does not flaunt his family, unlike Yeltsin," "Talks to everyone on the
same terms," "Does not speak from notes, unlike previous leaders,"
"Tactful," "He can emphasize his thought, get it across to the

At the beginning of his road to power, Russians liked Vladimir Putin "in
general and on the whole." In the third year of his presidency, more
citizens have started giving substantial answers, specifying positive
traits of the president (78 percent in March of 2003, compared to 68
percent in September of 2002). On the other hand, more people point to
negative characteristics of the president (35 percent, up from 31
percent). In any case, the bright image of the state leader is losing
its abstractness and assuming specific dimensions. What do people like
about him? It is still his confidence, resolve, exactness to his
subordinates, consistency, intelligence, judiciousness, and composure
combined with a modest behavior in public. Some, on the contrary,
believe Putin's image lacks intensity: "We could see Yeltsin... Yeltsin
was a man... Yeltsin had charisma... Putin does not have it... He
is faceless... He is deprived of human qualities."

A little more frequently than half a year ago, the president is now
reproached: "He does not always do what he says," "He speaks nicely but
does not do much," "Does not finish what he started," "Spends money of
public-sector employees," "Remains friends with Bush," "Things are not
going well inside the country but he helps other countries," "Does not
pay attention to countryside, agriculture," "Started to travel abroad
to much," "Lacks toughness."

In the polls, a traditional target for criticism is the presidential
circle. Notably, people include also practically all even barely
significance officials. Respondents unanimously accuse the authorities
of disregard for people's needs, bribery, and other deadly sins. Yet,
the president has been above suspicion thus far. Putin knows "what
sentiments prevail in society and what people are concerned about today"
-- this opinion was expressed by 66 percent of our citizens. Only
one-fourth of respondents condemned the president for being divorced from
people's life.

Has Putin changed during his time as president? Last year, 35 percent
of those polled said "yes," compared to 44 percent this year. In March
of 2002, 49 percent said "no" and only 36 percent stick to this opinion
now. There is a sort of false bottom hiding behind the "change"
question: It is usually not a politician but an attitude toward him
that changes. The credit of trust granted to the country's leader is
far from exhausted but it has already come due. Popular trust and
sincere, ingenuous love are not endless. To preserve this capital, a
politician willy-nilly has to keep up with his image as "people's
protector," "impartial arbiter," "unconditional leader," etc. It is
quite difficult if only because different social groups have their own
notion of "good" and "bad" leader. And also because that many opinions
are at a level of unconscious sympathy or antipathy, manifesting
themselves only during special quite complex surveys but sometimes
playing a decisive role in electoral or propaganda campaigns. A
characteristic example is a conversation held in one of the FOM focus
groups. "Do you believe Putin is concerned by the fact that life in the
country is poor?" a moderator (a sociologist conducting the discussion)
asks. "Yes," two participants in the conversation answer. "Why? How
do you know he has conscience?" the moderator keeps asking. "Because it
is written all over his face!" a third respondent concludes the


[ALEXANDER HOUSE, 12:00, MARCH 26, 2003]
SOURCE: FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE (http://www.fednews.ru/)

Moderator (Markov): I give the floor to the President of the
Politika Foundation Nikonov. Piontkovsky will be the next speaker.

Nikonov: Thank you. I will try to simply answer the questions
that were posed and I will follow this scheme. Putin and the party
go to the elections and who will be preferred by the supporters and
the opponents of the President? Naturally, the elections are
parliamentary and presidential. The supporters of the President
will prefer Putin at the presidential elections. It is likely that
the United Russia will be more preferred at the Duma elections,
while the opponents will give more preference to the CPRF and
YABLOKO. The Union of Right Forces and the LDPR have in their
electorates both the allies and the opponents of the President, who
I think will be present in roughly the same proportions.
Will the world military factor become a factor of electoral
politics? The world military factor is not existent as such. I am
still holding to my opinion that the war in Iraq will not be a
factor in electoral politics. In our country any events are kept in
the information field for just one week after the event has
occurred. I think that the war in Iraq will most likely be
forgotten somewhere by the time of the May holidays when everything
will be over and that is why to survive as a major electoral
subject till December or till March will be impossible. This can
become a factor if of course we now sharpen our relations to the
limit with the United States which is actually what is happening,
this sharpening is in progress and if we already heard the word
"sanctions", this is not a pleasant thing because the word
"sanctions" as applied to a state may mean just anything, including
-- and I will remind you -- that our gold and currency reserves are
in first-class American banks at the present time.
This thing may become a serious factor of politics but so far,
for I don't know what reason, we are running in front of the
locomotive, even in front of the League of Arab States in defending
a regime which will soon be no more.
Will there be a partisan mobilization of Putin's majority and
will there be the birth of a ruling party? These are two different
questions because the partisan mobilization of Putin's majority
will doubtless take place when Putin will seek re-election at the
elections of 2004 and there will be a partial mobilization of
Putin's majority on the basis of the United Russia during the
parliamentary elections.
But this will not lead to the birth of a ruling party. These
are perfectly different questions because a ruling party is, by
definition, possible only where the power itself is partisan. Where
the power is non-partisan, there can be no ruling party. Where the
president is non-partisan, where the Federation Council is
non-partisan, where the government is non--partisan and where the
presidential administration is non-partisan by law, and where the
governors are non-partisan, the role of the party as a rule boils
down only to electing a part of the deputies of the State Duma.
That is why to talk about the possibility of the appearance of
a ruling party until there is a change in the tradition and the
legislation preventing the creation of political parties as
institutions of power, it is natural that a ruling party in the
country will not exist. As regards the parties acting as doubles or
competitors -- the SPS, the Party of Life (sic), the Narodnaya
party. As to the SPS, I do not regard it as a double-competitor, it
is rather an independent political force. As to the Party of Life,
the Narodnaya party, I think will not be permitted to participate
in the election campaign to the State Duma because without a doubt
they will be taking away the votes from The United Russia.
And if they are not forbidden to participate in the election,
this will reflect the well-known "inter-tower" contradictions in
the Kremlin and it will be the reflection of the fact that the
Kremlin as the single force is not emerging and is playing
different political games. Intellectually, they must be prohibited
from participating in election campaigns if the goal is to support
the United Russia.
Will the Russian President remain non-partisan? I think for
the moment yes. At least I do not see now any reasons why he should
go to the next presidential elections in 2004 under the flag of a
particular party because we don't have a majority party, and to act
on behalf of a minority party, which will also make its name by
certain steps in the near future -- which is inevitable for nay
party -- would be quite risky for him but this does not mean that
the Russian President will remain non-partisan for ever. I am sure
that Putin is interested in creating in Russia a normal partisan
system which is in principle impossible without a partisan
presidential authority. That is why, concerning the second term,
the partisanship of the Russian President looks to me to be quite
a real thing. Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. Now Andrei Piontkovsky and the next
speaker will be Pavlovsky.

Piontkovsky: Thank you, Sergei. If the words "the sunset of
non-partisanship" in our meeting today refer to Putin's
non-partisanship, I do not see any "sunset" of his
non-partisanship. In the presidential election he will, of course,
run as a non-partisan candidate and I will quickly try to explain
The experience of post-Soviet democratic Russia shows that the
ruling party is used in elections as a disposable instrument. The
reason why is clear. The same people cannot come forward every four
years and say, we are a party of bureaucratic semi-criminal
capitalism and please will you vote for us once again. For the
ruling party to be reelected one has to invent a new front and a
new idea. We all remember well how it happened in 1999.
So, a second use of the same disposable instrument is not
normal. The authorities are aware of it. Hence the attempts to set
up various "doubles", all these parties of life and death. A couple
of months ago we were presented with a very ambitious project of a
new party in place of SPS and Yabloko. But it is too late. So, the
establishment will contest the election with the party that exists,
beefing it up with administrative resources. It takes for an
organization genius and the frenzied energy of a Boris Abramovich
Berezovsky to create a party within two or three months. Perhaps
this is the reason why he is being urged to return to Russia.
So, Putin is left with only a Bonapartist project, the father
of the nation appealing to the electorate over the head of the
political class and the existing institutions. He will avail
himself of this scheme. But one has to understand the snags and
weaknesses of this project. This project was eventually the undoing
even of the great De Gaulle when he lost a referendum over some
insignificant issue, something to do with local government. A
father of the nation has to deliver a miracle to the people. We
have a good idea of the kind of miracle that was presented on the
previous occasion. So there are some problems there too.
At the same time, to identify himself with some party on the
eve of parliamentary elections, even to a very limited degree, like
the previous time, would mean an unjustified risk for Putin and he
will not run this risk.
I still have a couple of minutes and I would like to comment
on the question whether the world military factor will become a
factor in electoral policy. The war, for all the American setbacks,
is likely to end pretty soon, but the process of reconstruction of
Iraq, and especially the Russian-American relations are issues that
will not go away within a week after the end of the war. I think
they will remain a very serious factor in the election campaign and
there I do not agree with my highly respected colleague, Tsipko,
who says they will play in favor of Putin.
This morning I read Prokhanov's editorial in Zavtra, brilliant
as usual. I seldom agree with him but I prize his publicistic
skill. And in his editorial he builds a potent argument in favor of
the title: "Saddam Is a Hero, Bush Is a Murderer, Putin Is a Wimp."
This is the message that our television is drumming into the heads
of our citizens 24 hours a day. And it is unlikely to play into the
hands of Putin. The communists, the left-wing opposition, and the
nationalists look much more convincing and principled as
anti-Americanists. And Putin finds himself in a Catch-22 situation.
He cannot but try to limit the anti-American wave as a responsible
politician if only because he and other politicians daily repeat
the thesis about our strategic partnership with the United States
which is so important that it cannot be undermined by the Iraq
crisis. This is not demagogy, the authorities are convinced of
But when he tries to dampen the anti-American groundswell, he
will confirm the suspicion that he is spineless. And if he decides
to pursue anti-Americanism further, the gap between his new
position and what he did during the past years will be so wide that
all his enemies will rush into the gap asking him where he was all
these previous two years if America is our enemy. And with these
remarks I would like to end today.

Markov: Thank you. I now give the floor to Gleb Pavlovsky.

Pavlovsky: With your permission I will skip the first question
because it presupposes forecasting and I personally do not find it
very interesting. Whom of the opponents and supporters of the
President will they prefer? The hot favorite is United Russia. But
so far it is a very uncouth favorite. So, a lot depends on skillful
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the
triumph of the Chechen referendum is absolutely unprecedented and
it assumes the character of Putin's personal victory. But
simultaneously it demonstrates that there is a risk of a victory
without any clarity as to what the second step will be. On the face
of it the second step is obvious: election of the president and all
the rest of it. But at present there is a certain confusion on the
part of the federal authorities in connection with the results of
the referendum because the expectations had been much more modest.
So, we are dealing with a new factor, a mass factor, something
that the present regime doesn't know how to work with. This is the
result of the alienation of the mass of the people from active
politics in the 1990s as a result of the tug of war between the
right and the left. So, the regime doesn't know when a consolidated
public position emerges. So, we see a search for further decisions
on how to proceed, on the nature of the support that has become
And United Russia is in a similar situation. It has to deal
with the gigantic potential of support for Putin, but it doesn't
quite understand how to handle this potential. So, the aim of
working with Putin's supporters declared by the party remains, for
now, largely a declaration. So far, we see no tools for pursuing
this work.
I would like to draw your attention to a somewhat hastily-made
document on Kremlin.Org web site, which sums up popular opinion on
what Putin has accomplished during three years. Both the supporters
and opponents of the President were studied. It is a rather mixed
bag, but it exists.
I would draw your attention to something that is obvious. We
have a strange on-going discussion, what else should Putin do and
what other strategic goals can he set? There should be no new
strategic goals. All the policy planks have been formulated and in
principle on all planks certain steps have been taken although
these steps are often incommensurate. Sometimes such steps are
quite decisive and sometimes they are very weak and appear to be
nothing more than tentative jabs taken at the job by the
President's staff.
But in principle there are no novelties and there shouldn't be
any. And I can say for sure that Putin's constituency does not
expect any novelties from Putin. It does not want any novelties
from him. It has a lot of complaints about the way the authorities
behave, but it expects from Putin a consolidation of his declared
policies and not novel policies.
And the theme of the "party of the majority" in the context of
the upcoming elections -- I stress that we can only talk about a
party of the democratic majority, that is, the party that managed
to win the election with an impressive lead on the rivals. This is
not a topic for this election only. Even if one imagines that this
principle of United Russia fails, probably because of competition
of what has been described as the "double" parties, though perhaps
not quite correctly because various parties are coming out for the
president and each of them wants to stake out a niche for itself.
Let us imagine that a majority party does not emerge in the
Duma. But even then this topic will not go away and the struggle in
these and all the following elections will be over this.
An alternative, in the context of the present constitutional
structure, is just one: a monarchy, overt or covert. If a majority
party does not emerge in the parliament then the search for some
crypto-monarchy becomes inevitable. There is no other way to
preserve a status quo. In that sense the Russian President can
remain outside parties only by moving towards a monarchy and
creating institutions and initiating modes of action that will
increasingly diverge from the current constitution. This would be
a dangerous trend and therefore the play should be steered toward
a battle for a party of parliamentary majority.
As for the war, it is obvious that there is a hidden and
temporary hysteria here in some ways analogous and in some ways
symmetric to the American one because our elite is very fond of
playing at symmetry. Obviously there is a rise of buccaneering
sentiments harking back to the era of NTV vintage 1996-1997. I see
no fundamental difference between the applause that greets the
movement of occupation forces on Baghdad. We all wish this
operation to be completed swiftly with a minimum of blood spilling.
But this does not prevent us from seeing that the United
States has created a second problem and that problem will remain
which is the problem of a revolutionary war. The United States has
declared a revolutionary principle of replacing regimes on the
basis of subjective ideological feelings, on the basis of a
subjective conviction that a regime is unjust and does not comply
with eternal values.
This is a patently revolutionary principle. It is very
familiar to us. It cannot meet with any support in Russia, except
among the elites who are nostalgic for the Soviet Union. But this
principle meets with support in our elites and in Western elites.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that our
"Westernizers" are acting out a show on the topic "the Chechen
people is invincible, the Chechen guerrilla is invincible, Grozny
will not surrender and will fight house to house, hurrah!" We have
been there many times before. The price was a mountain of corpses.
Do we want to see another mountain of corpses in the Middle
East? I don't see how this can be used as a political trump. I
think this is a temporary delusion of the Russian elite in response
to a much more dangerous delusion, revolutionary delusion of the
leadership of the United States. I think the principle of the
"change of regime" is absolutely unlawful, it will never have the
backing of the Russian Federation. I stress, it is obvious that the
Russian Federation will never support it.
The principle of disarmament, yes. The principle of limited
sovereignty, no. And the Russian no will be absolute on this issue.
The process should be brought back into the legitimate,
conservative international legal space.

Moderator: I give the floor to Sergei Kurginyan.

Kurginyan: First and foremost I would like to say a few words
about international factor. I perfectly agree with what Andrei
Fyodorov told us here. Indeed, the anti-American pathos does exist.
It is shared by the elite and the society and each public
politician who now deals with elections, will take that into
account and this is perfectly correct.
But this does not absolutely mean that this pathos has indeed
some relation to real politics. The struggle is being waged not
between America and the world. The struggle is being waged between
two Americas -- for the formula of world power. It is not against
the world power of America, it is the struggle for the type of
power. To speak in images the struggle is between Brzezinski and
Kissinger, between Liberman and Gore, the party of Bush, between
the large military-industrial complex and other parts of the same
complex. The struggle involving the CIA. And in this struggle all
the US mass media are opposed to Bush. We can see that. The guys
understand that they will not change anything and that is why they
need a real victory. They believe that the victory will write off
everything so there will be victory.
Philosophically, it is a war between the so-called conflict of
civilizations and globalization. All the opponents of the conflict
of civilizations -- meaning Kissinger's formula -- become adherents
of globalization -- which is the formula of Brzezinski. There is no
other alternative to this in the real politics. The place of Russia
in this real politics is the following: everyone who is now
operating in Russia on the principle of we write down five and we
hold the zero in reserve, meaning that we have in mind something
akin to the USSR -- so it is a man quite aloof from real politics.
He may be a public politician but not real politician. Russia is no
longer the center of forces, Russia is not a super power, the USSR
was a super power, artificial or not is a different matter; the
population was 500 million, there were the armed forces of the
Warsaw Treaty. I will not adduce arguments.
Russia at present is not even the center of forces. Russia is
a factor. United Europe can be the center of forces, China and
Islam if it gets united. Russia is a factor. Russia has jumped off
the first place onto the third. And all configurations with Russia
look quite different from what they could look with the USSR.
Everyone who experiences phantom pains, must move over to a private
question: do we want to restore the super power? I am all in favor.
But then it will be a different elite, a different paradigm, a
different configuration and all the rest.
If not, then the most dangerous thing that can be is a strong
gesture of a feeble person. All that is now happening in terms of
real politics is a most profound error. It is an attempt to
transform real politics into a hostage of public politics and in
the process there is no need for this today. And all that will be
happening further is indeed that one question which all should
understand -- that it is not a question of public relations, it is
a question of destiny in the full sense of the word, and not an
overly long destiny. That is why the phrase that says there is a
man of destiny is probably is very accurate phrase but alas
excessively accurate.
This at least requires concentration of attention and of all
the rest. But there is a different question that there is no
consensus in assessing basic events. To announce that there is no
consensus I talk about myself in person. I do not share the
optimism over the referendum in Chechnya. I consider that the
referendum in Chechnya is a defeat for the genuine policy of the
state, a total loss, above all because the referendum has
legitimized the absence of half a million Russians within the
limits of Chechen space. The Chechens have obtained everything they
wanted, a mono-ethnic state, certain individual rights under the
Constitution, they got Gelayev as a real force inside. I hope that
no one has the illusion about Gelayev being the chief force that
supports all that is being "lined-up" now.
And it is a weak support and thus dangerous, unlike Basayev,
and not by anything else. And now you have one of the examples to
indicate the lack of a consensus. I look at this thing and I say
that it is like this but the neighbor whom I respect says that this
is a triumphant victory. Future will show what it really is.
Now concerning the parties. First, the hostages. The question
for the president in the entire post-Soviet period is not whether
to win or not to win, but the question is whose hostage you are.
Whose hostage you are? Boris Yeltsin, watching Rutskoi and a party
that he was going to establish, was always thinking why he should
change the Democratic Russia for the same thing.
The President of Russia today so far does not wish to be a
hostage of the parties. The President sort of has another formula
of power. The power is a narrow technical structure, it is much
more profitable to be a hostage to mass media and to those that
guide them than to be a hostage to large entities which in the
Soviet way can put you in office or they can dismiss you. In my
point of view the President is thinking: what can be done? Whose
hostage will I be? The second is theoretical. Considering that
there is no civil society, it does not exist for me, but there are
some for whom the civil society exists. It is a loss for me in
Chechnya but for some it is a win.
For me the civil society does not exist and we should forget
about it. And it exists for some people and I have every respect
for them. It means that everything moves toward the corporate
spirit. The President does not think of whether he should be a
hostage to the parties, he is thinking about whether he should be
a hostage to corporations, not in the sense of oligarchs, but in
the sense of the "reunification" of Lubyanka (sic), around the
polemic of the President, the direct polemic of the President with
YUKOS, with Khodorkovsky and around certain other events of our
contemporary life.
It may be that the Presidents decides to become the hostage of
corporations. But he has not decided on that either. In this
situation the question arises that if today you take a sheet of
paper and you put it in the Kremlin Palace and you ask: guys, how
much should each of the parties receive? There will be no consensus
on this question. So, there is no consensus even on this question.
I am not implying that this is indeed going to happen, that
everybody will get elected and it will be triumph throughout,
legal, fair and I do not intend to discredit anything. I simply
want to say that if my mind's eye I imagine that the only thing I
have to do is to write down the figures, the figures are not
available and in all likelihood this system of interests is event
more difficult to consolidate than the previous.
In this sense the parties have certain peripheral "platforms"
for the games to be played by the technostructural groups inside
the power itself, which exactly constitutes the essence of the
existing political system.
Now about the United Russia. To make this political system
collapse, one needs a left-of-center large party that will unite
with communists and establish a bipartisan system. In this case all
the others will find themselves thrown overboard. This will be the
destruction of the existing non-transparent system and the passage
over into a bipartisan system. All that has occurred of late is
pulling of the United Russia into the right-of-center bloc, which
means the conscious raising of the issue aimed at the United Russia
getting defeated. It is because in the right-of-center approach it
has no positions but then the political system will be preserved.
All the others may divide the left center and wait to see a loose
configuration, one consisting of many elements, and the struggle of
corporations at the next stage of the political life of Russia will
be increasing. I have in mind not the oligarchs but large
corporations. Thank you.