|JRL #7124||Plain Text - Entire Issue|
1. Reuters: Russian economy seen heading for stronger 2003.
2. Reuters: Russian tycoon says wealth must be spread more widely. (Alexei Mordashov)
3. Los Angeles Times: David Holley, Russian Underworld Extends to Higher Education. Many schools rely on shady business deals, one of which may have
cost a professor his life.
4. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, Tatarstan, a Muslim oasis of calm in Russia. Despite some signs of foreign attempts to radicalize them, and some internal tensions, many Tatars support a philosophy of tolerance known as 'Euro-Islam.'
5. BBC Monitoring: Russian commentators warn against pursuing anti-US policy over Iraq. (Karaganov, Lukin, Bovin)
6. Moscow Times: Andrei Zolotov Jr., Russian Reporters Go to the Front Line.
7. www.fednews.ru: PRESS CONFERENCE WITH USA AND CANADA STUDIES INSTITUTE DIRECTOR SERGEI ROGOV ON IRAQ AND RUSSIAN-AMERICAN RELATIONS.
Russian economy seen heading for stronger 2003
By Andrius Vilkancas
MOSCOW, March 31 (Reuters) - Russia's economy looks set for a stronger than
expected 2003 on the back of soaring exports, rising investment and robust
domestic demand propelled by high oil and commodities prices, economists
said on Monday.
But economists noted that volatility in the price of oil, Russia's main
export, and excessive rouble strength may later in the year take some of
the gloss off what looked like a very rosy picture in January and February
Oil prices surged last week on fears of an extended war in Iraq with crude
prices hitting their highest since the conflict began with some contracts
over $30 a barrel.
Economists said, however, that despite the war in Iraq the average 2003
price for Russia's Urals blend should be higher than the $21.5 per barrel
set in Russia's 2003 budget.
Russian industrial output jumped by an annual 5.7 percent growth in the
first two months of the year with gross domestic product (GDP) powering
ahead by an annual 6.1 percent.
"It is not only a commodity price story it's the fact that you've got
strong export volume growth and also the capital account getting much
stronger," said Al Breach, chief economist at Brunswick UBS Warburg who has
recently revised Russia's 2003 GDP growth forecast to 6.5 percent from
previous five percent.
Russia, the world's second largest crude exporter, had been aiming for
3.5-4.4 percent growth in 2003 depending on global crude prices but after a
strong start officials raised their forecast to 4.5 percent for the year.
Peter Westin, a senior economist at Aton Capital said his better economic
growth outlook stemmed largely from rising investment in fixed assets which
reportedly soared almost 10 percent in the first two months of 2003.
"We now expect GDP growth of 4.8 percent (initial forecast was 4.1
percent), industrial growth of 4.5 percent and fixed investments to rise
8.5 percent," Westin said.
Investment saw anaemic growth of 2.6 percent in 2002 and was the main cause
for concern that Russia's economic expansion was sputtering. Russia's GDP
grew 4.3 percent last year after a 5.0 percent expansion in 2001.
INVESTMENT FIGURTES DISTORTED
Breach said it appeared that the headline investment figure for last year
was distorted after the abolition of a tax break on capital investment at
the start of 2002 had forced firms to inflate investment the year before.
"People underestimated the economic growth last year as they took
numbers on investment and construction at face value and that was wrong.
They were growing by eight to 10 percent rather than the reported two to
three percent," he said.
Westin noted that an important economy driver this year will be higher than
expected crude prices, that should allow firms to cash up for further
investment. It will also mean more money for domestic consumption, giving a
further fillip to economy growth.
"We believe strong growth in the first two months will continue through
summer, easing off slightly then and resuming at more moderate rates
towards the end of the year.
This leads us to forecast investment growth of 8.5 percent in 2003," he said.
However, Russia's largest private bank, Alfa Bank, said it left its 2003
GDP forecast unchanged at 4.2 percent. Its economists want to wait for a
few more months to see that growth is on a sustainable path.
"I am concerned by the real appreciation of the rouble which I see as a
factor that could limit the investment attractiveness of Russian projects
as the profitability of key sectors is shrinking given high inflation
rates," Natalia Orlova, economist of Alfa Bank said.
FEATURE-Russian tycoon says wealth must be spread more widely
By Andrew Hurst
CHEREPOVETS, Russia, March 31 (Reuters) - For a man who has acquired vast
riches while only in his thirties, steel magnate Alexei Mordashov says he
is acutely uneasy about the vast gulf between rich and poor in post-Soviet
"Generally speaking it's bad for the Russian economy because of the high
concentration of power in the hands of just several groups," he said in an
interview. "The problem is the big group of people who live under minimum
The only way wealth can be spread around more widely in Russia is for big
business to campaign for the government to sweep away red tape and other
obstacles that are strangling the growth of an entrepreneurial culture, he
"If you create better conditions, a better business environment for big
small enterprises at the same time, it will be reflected in the growing
number of small companies coming to the market providing services and so
on," he said.
Ranked as one of Russia's 17 dollar billionaires by United States business
magazine Forbes, with a personal fortune of $1.2 billion, Mordashov says he
literally cannot measure his wealth.
"I don't know actually. I never calculated it myself," he said when
about his wealth in a recent interview at his company Severstal's modest
headquarters at the heart of a giant soot-blackened steel complex in this
town north of Moscow.
He blames his ignorance of the exact size of his personal fortune on the
murky world of Russian high finance.
"It's extremely difficult to estimate because of the lack of
of the Russian capital market," he said, wolfing down a meal of cold cuts
and fish in the company boardroom.
Mordashov, rose through the ranks at Severstal, which he joined in 1988, to
become its director general in 1996 while still only 30. His wealth is
based on ownership of some 16 percent of the company's stock.
He is now chairman of the company he helped transform from a lumbering
Soviet behemoth into Russia's most competitive privately run steel
exporter, shipping some 50 percent of output abroad to markets from South
Korea to Spain.
Severstal is ranked as the world's 19th largest steel firm.
WEALTH CONCENTRATION COULD BE PASSING PHASE
As one of a select few captains of industry who preside over a big slice of
Russia's productive economy, Mordashov is known here as an "oligarch," a
word which mingles the awe and dread with which the nation's rich and
powerful are regarded.
Mordashov believes the extreme concentration of wealth and power in the
hands of a few may just be a passing phase.
"We cannot have a prosperous economy with only big enterprises," he
"They (the oligarchs) are too rich to be stupid and not to understand that."
"Maybe it's an inevitable stage of development of the Russian economy,
considering the history, mentality and habits ...of Russia," he said.
Some analysts believe Russia's big business tycoons want to retain a
stranglehold on the economy and have little interest in the emergence of a
thriving class of small entrepreneurs who might challenge their primacy in
Mordashov appears to believe that not all his fellow tycoons have the
interests of the country at heart.
Sometimes "they don't demonstrate commitment to their country's
But although the nation's tycoons want to increase their wealth, "they
understood very well that it is very much connected with the development of
the country as a whole," he said.
As a leading figure in Russia's industrialists association, the RSPP,
Mordashov says he is trying to persuade the government to help create a
more business-friendly environment in which small firms can flourish.
"A lot of legislation was changed with the support of the RSPP. Not in
favour of certain groups only, but in favour of the country as a whole," he
The government has introduced a new tax code but some of the most difficult
reforms -- such as streamlining a corrupt and grossly inefficient civil
service and simplifying Byzantine customs procedures -- lie ahead.
He also champions Russia's campaign to join the World Trade Organisation
(WTO). "I am fully convinced that Russia is prepared to be in the WTO."
The nation's top businessmen share his enthusiasm for joining the WTO even
though powerful aluminium and auto magnate Oleg Deripaska broke ranks by
opposing early WTO membership.
"They all heavily support this idea," Mordashev said.
"We would like to have access to the international quality of life and
do understand very well there is nothing possible without liberalisation,
without transparency in Russia."
Los Angeles Times
March 31, 2003
Russian Underworld Extends to Higher Education
Many schools rely on shady business deals, one of which may have cost a
professor his life.
By David Holley, Times Staff Writer
MOSCOW -- Viktor Frantsuzov might as well have been in Al Capone's Chicago:
Arriving home after midnight in his chauffeured car, the professor and
university administrator was cut down by a hail of bullets.
The ambush-execution early this year -- which the wounded driver survived
-- remains unsolved. But few doubt that it was tied to the respected
scholar's work as head of moneymaking activities at the Moscow State
Academy of Fine Chemical Technologies. Somehow, it is believed, he must
have angered gangsters in the corrupt world of Russian business.
In an era of post-Soviet cutbacks that have slashed state support for
higher education to about one-quarter its level of two decades ago, many
universities find themselves trapped in an unsavory stew of murky business
deals and rampant bribery -- by applicants and by students in the market
for a guaranteed passing grade.
Adding to the crisis, rock-bottom academic salaries, typically $100 a
month, have led to a brain drain. Many scholars, particularly in scientific
and technical fields, have left once-coveted positions to take business
jobs at home, high-technology work in places such as Silicon Valley or
teaching posts in the U.S. and Western Europe.
"It's best that a professor stick to science and not get into business
activities, but that wasn't always possible in the 1990s," said Yuri B.
Minkin, a friend of Frantsuzov who quit academia and is now co-owner of a
"The last decade was a decade of the wildest capitalism, where
were locked in one embrace with police and gangsters, all of them fighting
for their own piece of bread," he added. "If you think of Russia in the
1990s, you can think of Chicago in the 1920s, during Prohibition. So the
risks are colossal.... It's as easy for a gangster to pick up a gun as it
is for a professor to pick up his pen."
Leasing out campus space to private companies has helped many schools
survive but also made some corrupt administrators rich. Many academics who
stick with teaching supplement their salaries however possible: through
bribe-taking, tutoring future applicants, paid research, teaching at other
institutions or moonlighting outside their specialties.
Meanwhile, in a country where higher education used to be free for anyone
who could get in, half the students now pay their way.
As the chemical academy went into a steep decline in the early 1990s,
Frantsuzov "was very sorry about professors leaving, but he couldn't stop
them because of the low salaries," recalled his widow, Natalia. "The
situation at the academy was hurting his soul."
A specialist in oil-related chemistry, her husband "just adored"
but beginning in the mid-1990s, he focused on fund-raising because
"somebody had to do it," she said.
Given the financial pressures faced by their schools, many students seem
not to mind sharing space with businesses.
"What can we do, if the state doesn't have the money?" said Vitaly
who is enrolled at the chemical academy. "Some problems may arise, but I
think it's useful. It helps us get our education."
Asked what sort of problems might come up, Fokin replied: "One of them
the murder of Frantsuzov."
In the eight years before his death, Frantsuzov struck deals worth millions
of dollars, including rental of campus space to dozens of businesses,
Minkin says. Among the biggest renters is San Diego-based ChemBridge Corp.
It pays the academy about $300,000 a year for laboratory and office space,
according to Sergey Altshteyn, the firm's vice president.
ChemBridge, which specializes in synthesizing chemicals for pharmaceutical
research, has 300 full-time employees in its facilities on the campus. In
addition, about 350 scientists across the former Soviet Union supplement
their income by helping the firm.
Frantsuzov's biggest project was one in which the school received 25% of a
five-building apartment complex built by investors on academy land, Minkin
says. The school sold most of its share to fund academic construction and
kept the rest for employee housing.
Some educators argue that although the mood on campuses may be desperate,
the overall direction of education is not necessarily down. Rejection of
Communist ideology, new academic freedom and vastly expanded access to
worldwide scholarship are important gains. The number of students in higher
education jumped 71% between 1990 and 2002, while the number of
institutions leaped from 517 state schools in 1990 to a total of 1,337
schools in 2000, including 365 new private ones.
Still, fears for the future are immense.
"As long as our professors get $100 a month, they will continue
bribes," lamented Yaroslav I. Kuzminov, co-chairman of the Russian Public
Council on Education Development, a high-profile lobbying group pressing
"I think a few more years of this trend may deal a terrible blow to the
national culture of Russia, because we will lose our intelligentsia,"
Kuzminov said. "In Russia, education has traditionally been prized very
highly. In the course of the 1990s, our population saw direct negation of
the notion that education is useful, because success was achieved by
violence or by chance. Ten more years of a situation in which you could
simply buy your diploma could have a fatal effect on the quality of
University real estate deals often are illicit, Kuzminov added. About half
of all rental contracts are verbal, without any paperwork, and two-thirds
of the rest use fake contracts "with low official figures for tax
purposes," he said.
Still, students often see benefits from their schools' business dealings,
and they tend to view bribery as something that makes life easier for
professors and students, rather than a big problem or a threat to
Even at Moscow State University, the country's most prestigious, bribery is
common, said Denis, a student there who spoke on condition he not be
"In my department, an exam costs $100, while a test costs $50 to
said. "In other, more prestigious departments, like the law and economic
departments, you may pay up to $200 for an exam."
To buy admission to Moscow State University costs about $50,000 for the law
department and $10,000 to $20,000 for the journalism department, Denis said.
"It all depends on who you know, the chain of mediators," he
"The longer the chain, the more people you have to share it with."
In a kind of vicious cycle, the students who buy admission are the ones
most in need of paying bribes to pass tests, he said.
Among professors, "there are some hard-liners who simply fanatically
their subject to students and refuse to take any money at all," Denis
added. But this is not a big problem, he said, because there is no rule
that exams must be taken from the professor giving a course.
Viktor A. Sadovnichy, the rector of Moscow State University, said he
believes that allegations of bribery in higher education, both for passing
grades and admission, have been blown out of proportion as part of a
campaign by some educators and officials to implement a single nationwide
university admissions test. In his view, it is better to let universities
retain the right to use interviews to select the most talented students
from among those with similar test scores.
Sadovnichy argues that the quality of intellectual life on campus is higher
than it was 25 years ago, thanks largely to academic freedom and more
international contacts. But the brain drain "is a real threat," he said.
Vyacheslav A. Kuznetsov, head of the electromechanical engineering
department at the Moscow Power Engineering Institute, said that it is not
too late to save Russian science but that many more young specialists must
be enticed to pursue careers as professors.
Aging faculties are "a time bomb" that could destroy Russia's
strength in science and technology, said Kuznetsov, 63, who as a young
engineer helped design the motor for the Lunokhod unmanned research
vehicles that the Soviet Union put on the moon.
"We need only a few years to re-create part of our former treasure, but
we wait five more years, it will be irreversible, because the specialists
aren't getting younger," Kuznetsov said. "We have a huge number of books,
but that is only a small part of knowledge. We must have living people."
Christian Science Monitor
March 31, 2003
Tatarstan, a Muslim oasis of calm in Russia
Despite some signs of foreign attempts to radicalize them, and some
internal tensions, many Tatars support a philosophy of tolerance known as
By Fred Weir | Special to The Christian Science Monitor
KAZAN, RUSSIA -- Almira Adiatullina is set quietly, but stubbornly, on a
collision course with the Russian state. She is one of a group of religious
activists in Tatarstan, Russia's largest Muslim region, who are challenging
a government order to remove their Islamic headscarves for passport and
other identification photos.
Though the issue may appear minor, it has struck a nerve in this
semi-autonomous republic, where more than half the 5.5-million population
are ethnic Tatars - many still struggling to rediscover their
thousand-year-old Muslim traditions after decades of communist suppression.
The dispute with Moscow is notable, because Tatarstan is widely seen as the
leader in an emerging new liberal brand of Islamic thought - dubbed
"Euro-Islam" by its supporters - that preaches democracy, tolerance and
acceptance of secular social values and government.
By most accounts, Tatarstan and a few neighboring Muslim regions are
islands of calm among the Islamic zones of the former USSR.
"There are two types of Islam in the former Soviet Union," says
Umnov, an expert at the Institute of World Economy and International
Relations in Moscow. "Middle East-style Islam, which is confrontational and
intolerant, dominates in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The trend of
Euro-Islam, which predominates in Tatarstan, Bashkortistan and the Volga
region, is a version that fits well into Russian civilization," he says,
adding, "It requires only that Russians be tolerant, democratic and stick
to secular values, and peaceful coexistence is assured."
There are signs of attempts to radicalize the Tatars, however.
A Taliban link
Experts acknowledge that money from Persian Gulf countries flowed into
Tatarstan in the 1990s to fund religious schools, some of which are still
operating. While the amounts have fallen since Sept. 11 and crackdowns by
Russian security services, some Tatars fought alongside the Taliban in
Afghanistan. Of three Russian citizens held in Guantánamo Bay, two are
Tatars, according to the Russian government.
Recently, Russia's head mufti, Ravil Gainuddin, said that Russian Muslims
would help defend Iraq against the US attack.
But for many Tatars, radical action is not their way.
Valiulla Iakoupov, Tatarstan's first deputy mufti says the headscarf issue
can be solved through negotiation. "This tough position of Russian
officials over the headscarves surprises us very much," she says."We fear
that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's experts have not properly
explained to him the significance of the headscarves to our people."
"Islamic Sharia law says a woman must cover her entire body, except for
face and hands," explains Ms. Adiatullina. "To take the headscarf off in
the presence of a man is a terrible sin which violates my deepest
The women's challenge was rejected earlier this month by Russia's Supreme
Court on the grounds that security officials cannot make proper
identifications unless ears, neck and hair are visible.
For Adiatullina and others like her, a refusal to remove the headscarf
could make it impossible to obtain an internal passport, the essential
document a Russian citizen needs to receive social services, pass routine
police checks or enter any government building.
"I pray there will be a reasonable solution," Adiatullina says.
20 million Muslims in Russia, and their interests ought to be taken into
Russians and Tatars have lived side-by-side since Russian Czar Ivan the
Terrible conquered Kazan in 1552.
Though Moscow's rule was often brutal, and included forced Russification
and the persecution of Islam, experts say that centuries of coexistence has
taught both local Russians and Tatars the importance of mutual respect and
"Tatars have a lot of experience in adapting to existing
Rafik Moukhamentshin, a historian with the Islamic University in Kazan. "We
have learned to see Islam as an inner state of the individual, which is
quite compatible with modern, secular civilization. Tatar Islam includes
liberal values that are typical of Europe, and hence some are labeling it
After the breakup of the USSR, Tatarstan declared "limited
began to promote Tatar cultural and religious revival in the Volga River
republic, which is roughly the size of Maine. The government has funded the
construction of about 1,000 mosques and dozens of Islamic schools, but has
carefully avoided the kind of confrontational policies that have produced
two wars between Moscow and the breakaway Caucasus republic of Chechnya in
the past decade.
"Our government has shown a lot of wisdom in managing relations with
Moscow," says Rosalinda Musina, head ethnologist at Tatarstan's official
Institute of History. "In some places they talk of a 'clash of
civilizations' between Islam and Christianity, but there are no grounds for
Deputy Mufti Iakoupov agrees that Middle East-style politicized Islam has
little appeal among Tatars. "Islam is facing major changes in the coming
period, and this is very much needed," he says. "Some parts of the Muslim
world look like reservations for dictators and totalitarian ways. We hope
for a different future."
Nevertheless, there are frictions with Moscow. Some Tatars have complained
that the country's laws are geared for the convenience of a Christian
society. The generally accepted day off is Sunday, and Muslims need special
permission to leave workplaces to attend their Friday religious
celebrations. Also, in what some see as an affront to Islam, alcoholic
beverages are generally available, widely advertised and consumed in public
Sometimes the tensions spillover, as they did in the city of Naberezhnye
Chelnye last summer, when a group of angry Muslim women vandalized a
construction site for an Orthodox church they said was being erected
illegally in a local park.
The Kremlin's intimate relations with the Orthodox Church are viewed with
irritation by some.
"Putin is our president, too, so he should at least conceal his
while performing his state duties, says Mr. Moukhametshin. "This is a
secular state, but it leans toward the Orthodox majority. Different faiths
should be treated equally."
The biggest complaints involve the Army. All 18-year-old males are obliged
to serve for two years. Human rights workers say Tatar recruits are often
subjected to insults and abuse on the basis of religion and are given no
alternative to consuming pork and foods cooked in pork grease. Although
Orthodox chapels and priests are allowed on army bases, Islamic services
are banned, and Muslim conscripts not given time to say daily prayers as
required by their faith.
Rashit Vagizov, Tatarstan's human rights ombudsman, who is elected by the
republic's parliament, says many Tatar youths have deserted the Army rather
than be sent to Chechnya to fight fellow Muslims.
"We have raised these issues over and over again with the Defense
but the Army is a state within a state that seems beyond normal laws," he
says. "We think the best solution would be to let local boys do their
military service here in Tatarstan, where we can better observe the
situation and work to create the right conditions. But we are not listened
Russian commentators warn against pursuing anti-US policy over Iraq
Source: Channel One TV, Moscow, in Russian 1400 gmt 30 Mar 03
Russia must not allow Soviet-style anti-Americanism to affect its policy in
the wake of the Iraqi war, all the commentators on Channel One's "Vremena"
agreed. State Duma Deputy Speaker Vladimir Lukin said that he thought that
the current cooling of relations with Washington is just an "episode". He
added that "partnership with the USA is in Russia's vital interests and is
unavoidable". His views, in this respect, were largely shared by the other
contributors to the programme - foreign policy expert, Sergey Karaganov,
and former ambassador, Aleksandr Bovin. The following is an excerpt from
the edition of "Vremena" broadcast on Russian Channel One TV on 30 March.
Subheadings have been inserted editorially:
[Pozner] The war will be drawn out. It is clear that Rumsfeld's plans are
not going as was desired at the beginning...
What do you think? How will events develop? Can you say how long the war
What outcome to war in Iraq will suit Russia?
[Sergey Karaganov, head of the defence and foreign policy council] Now it
is possible to say. The Americans have lost the propaganda war and the
political war. And because of this they have changed their plan. And
instead of mass bombardment, they have started a ground advance. Now they
have been proved wrong in their forecasts, since they ignored all those who
said the Iraqis will resist. So we are talking about a few months. I think
it will last two or three months. And that's the minimum. Then there will
be a long and painful period, when there will be guerrilla operations and
suicide bombers and the like. We have now a totally different situation.
And we need urgently to change and reconsider our policy...
[Pozner] So what would be best for Russia, what kind of sequence of events
would benefit it, if the scenario put forward by Sergey Karaganov is correct?
[Vladimir Lukin, Yabloko State Duma deputy speaker] [Passage omitted: we
need to think, we should not be emotional. It is not Russia's war.] We are
not particularly interested in what kind of regime will be in Iraq after
the end of the war. We should not be emotionally attached to Saddam
Husayn's regime, like some of our friends on the Left.
What is important is that by doing what it has done, America has sharply
lowered the threshold for starting military operations. This threshold was
psychologically fairly high until recently. America has lowered it...
It is in Russia's interests that the threshold is raised again and that it
In this sense we are far from indifferent as to how internal affairs in
America move on after the end of the war. Will there be something like the
There was also the Lebanon syndrome. Remember how in 1993 [as heard - 1983]
President Reagan put troops into Lebanon. There they lost something like
260 men, and he pulled them out. And the Lebanon syndrome lasted for quite
a long time.
So we are interested in the victims being kept to a minimum during the war,
but also in the war being relatively long and problematical for those who
started it. So that we get something like the Vietnam syndrome.
Need to avoid anti-Americanism
[Pozner] Aleksandr Yevgeniyevich [Bovin]. I don't know about you, but I
have the feeling that when you look at the newspapers and TV and put on the
radio, there is the impression, not very openly expressed, but nevertheless
clear enough, of people rejoicing at US misfortunes...
Is it to our advantage that America is defeated in this war?
[Aleksandr Bovin, political commentator, former ambassador to Israel] Of
course, not. This is silly. This is not how it will be. Of course, America
will win. And the quicker this happens the better, because less blood will
be shed. And everything else is beside the point. We won't get these debts
[40 bn dollars owed by Iraq to Russia] back whatever happens, whether
Saddam beats America or not...
The greatest misfortune is that we are driving our own people God knows
where. The anti-American syndrome stems from the fact that for seventy
years we were taught that America is our main enemy...
[Pozner] How far have relations [with the USA] being seriously damaged?
[Passage omitted. Repeats versions of question]
[Lukin] I think that relations have been damaged compared to what we had
before the Iraqi war. They have suffered in a psychological sense. These is
a different chemistry, as the Americans themselves say. Before there was a
pleasant chemistry, now it is, if not confrontational, then cold and
reserved. More cold than reserved. Whether this lasts a long time will
depend on how our government and the US government will, so to speak,
control the chemistry. I think that, first and foremost, it is extremely
important not to break off relations, both for us and the Americans.
For my part, I still think that the Iraq war is an episode on the field of
strategy, on which we should cooperate, and on which we will cooperate...
Partnership with the USA is in our vital interests, and is unavoidable...
[Karaganov] Relations [with the USA] have not been seriously damaged, so
far. Dialogue is still going on. However, there are problems which could
get worse if we don't pursue a policy that is clear both for ourselves and
our current opponents in the USA. By the way, I don't know what their
policy is, so fundamentally confused has it become. But that is their
problem, not ours. The situation will also worsen if we do not seek a
way-out for the Americans, for ourselves and for the Iraqis. If we adhere
to a policy that says the worse things are the better. For such a policy
is, in principle, logical for the Americans. But this is a totally
bloodthirsty policy. It will mean more Iraqis die. The better things go for
the Americans, the better things will be for the world...
And the longer the war goes on the longer the current mistrust and tension
will continue to build up between our two countries. We need to limit the
damage. And in the coming months we need to coordinate our policy, which,
it seems to me, has not been very coordinated...
March 31, 2003
Russian Reporters Go to the Front Line
By Andrei Zolotov Jr.
As NTV's Sergei Kholoshevsky was doing his stand-up report from a Baghdad
street last Thursday, shooting began from the rooftop of the Information
Ministry building behind him.
"Natalya, these are anti-aircraft guns that just started firing from the
roof of our press center," Kholoshevsky continued, instinctively bending
his head. The report ran live on the evening news in Siberia, at 3 p.m.
Moscow time, and was repeated on NTV's 7 p.m. news for central Russia.
"It is not very safe here right now," he said. "I am afraid
that the hit on
the press center that we have all been expecting in the past days is coming."
The press center, located in the Information Ministry, was spared Thursday,
but over the weekend it was hit by a U.S. cruise missile.
Kholoshevsky is one of dozens of Russian reporters who are putting their
lives at risk to cover the Iraq war. With much smaller resources than
reporters for global media companies such as CNN or BBC and often without
the rigorous war training that has become obligatory for their Western
colleagues, Russian reporters from nearly all television channels and some
newspapers are nonetheless working both under the bombs in Baghdad and with
U.S. and British troops. On both sides of the conflict, their activities
are controlled by the respective authorities.
While the national networks Channel One, Rossia and NTV each have several
teams in the conflict zone, second-tier networks such as TVS and TV Center
also have reporters in the area. Even the Moscow region's TV-3, which
shares airtime with the city's TV Center, has a reporter based in Qatar.
"It is too important for Russia," NTV's chief of news, Tatyana
said in a telephone interview Friday. "There is no such thing as other
people's war, just like there is no other people's grief."
The fully state-owned Rossia channel claims to be the first television
channel in the world to report the beginning of the war on March 20 at 4
a.m. Moscow time when its Baghdad-based military correspondent Alexander
Minakov was doing a feed to Moscow. Rossia broadcast a breaking news report
several minutes ahead of CNN and BBC, said the spokeswoman for Rossia's
"Vesti" news program, Maria Bezborodova. Rossia also has one of three
Russian crews imbedded with U.S. troops.
In Baghdad, most of the reporters are staying in Hotel Palestine, where so
far they have been spared a direct hit from U.S. bombs.
"We literally get shaken every once in a while, but we are getting used
that," Kholoshevsky said in a satellite telephone interview Friday. It was
especially "unpleasant" in the early hours of March 24, he said, when
buildings right next to the hotel were being hit by bombs and missiles.
Journalists shot the scene, not knowing whether the next bomb would hit
Adding to the unpleasantness of the situation were Iraqi security officers
who ran through the hotel confiscating the cameras that were used in the
unauthorized filming. "Our cameraman Kirill Yanchenko then heroically went
downstairs and carefully liberated our camera," Kholoshevsky said.
Iraqi authorities have prohibited journalists from filming most destroyed
buildings, many of which are military facilities or Saddam Hussein's
palaces, Kholoshevsky said.
Every morning, reporters are briefed on what they are allowed to shoot. On
Friday, it was the market place and a store -- to convey the message of a
Reporters are not allowed to go anywhere without a "guide" supplied
authorities. Their feeds to Moscow are also controlled by Iraqi
authorities, said spokesmen of all major Russian channels.
The live reports, more accurately live-to-tape, are done outside the
Information Ministry, which is on the other side of the Tigris River from
Hotel Palestine. Reporters' satellite phones can be used only for outgoing
An attempt by the NTV crew to film two Iraqi personnel carriers from the
window of the press bus almost ended with the confiscation of their camera
and expulsion from Baghdad. "They accused us of being spies and said we
were working for CNN," Kholoshevsky said.
The cruise missile attack on the Information Ministry was apparently part
of a U.S. effort to knock out communications facilities and prevent Hussein
from using television to control his country and armed forces.
The missile appeared to have pierced the roof of the 11-story ministry
building, and aerials and satellite dishes on the roof were broken, but
Iraqi television remained on the air, Reuters reported.
Rossia television transmits from a mobile unit parked near the ministry,
and it was not damaged, a Rossia official said Sunday, speaking on
condition of anonymity.
Kholoshevsky said that simple Iraqis treat Russians well. One old man at
the market, for example, kissed his sound engineer's accreditation card
with the word "Russia" on it, saying "Russia is good." But this does not
make Russian reporters' job any easier. "Everybody is afraid to speak on
camera," he said. "Whether you are American, French or Russian -- it makes
On the other side of the front line, Russian reporters are at a
disadvantage. Channel One's reporter Anna Raiva, who is based in Kuwait,
said U.S. press officers give preferential treatement to U.S. and British
reporters when it comes to getting into pools that are taken to the Iraqi
border or to southern Iraq. "For those who speak English with an accent, it
is very hard to get there," Izvestia quoted her as saying in Saturday's issue.
Even so, Rossia's Mikhail Solodovnikov, who also is based in Kuwait, said
Raiva has an edge over some other reporters -- her "blue eyes and fair sex."
Raiva confirmed that in the Izvestia interview. "Press officers have an
easier time saying no to male reporters," she said. "With women, they at
least allow them to complete their sentences."
Solodovnikov, speaking Friday by telephone, said his three-member crew is
treated well by the U.S. military. It helps immensely, he said, that they
have been in Kuwait since December and have been able to form personal ties
with U.S. press officers and to establish their credentials as journalists.
In December, there were 20 to 30 foreign TV crews in Kuwait, compared to
thousands of reporters now, Solodovnikov said. The latecomers have a very
hard time getting access. "They work like radio reporters," he said.
For a while, his team was shadowed by an American officer, who, as
Solodovnikov found out later, spoke perfect Russian.
"Americans know that we work properly and, as reporters for state
television, won't allow ourselves to do anything outrageous," Solodovnikov
said. "The military is very sensitive and doesn't like provocative
questions. Some Russian media are now writing in a pretty sharp manner,
calling U.S. troops aggressors, etc. This is a line that we shouldn't
cross. We understand that they are soldiers and carrying out their duties."
Asked what he considers his main journalistic success on this assignment,
Solodovnikov named being one of the first to be admitted to the port of Umm
Qasr after it fell and shooting a stand-up with a Tornado jet fighter
taking off right behind him -- "in violation of all security precautions,"
At least three Russian news organizations have reporters imbedded with U.S.
troops, U.S. Embassy spokesman Tom Leary said. NTV's Konstantin Syomin and
Itar-Tass's Konstantin Yelovsky are on board the aircraft carrier USS
Theodore Roosevelt in the eastern Mediterranean, and a Channel One team is
currently with a unit in Texas waiting to be deployed in northern Iraq.
While many Western reporters have gone through extensive training at home
before being dispatched to the war zone, Russian reporters have gotten
their training largely on the job.
Solodovnikov said he went through four to five days of training organized
by U.S. troops in Kuwait. But his gear shows a track record of working in
"I have a funny set," Solodovnikov said. "My gas mask is
was bought by our producer back in Moscow from some old stores. My helmet
is Israeli -- I got it during the latest intifada, when we covered the
standoff in Bethlehem. And my bulletproof vest -- I bought it in Yugoslavia."
Asked about his insurance and evacuation coverage, a major concern and
expense for Western news organizations sending reporters into a war zone,
Solodovnikov was in the dark. "I assume I have it," he said. "Our personnel
department in Moscow should know better. But if something happens, I don't
know where the insurance policy is."
What the reporters on both sides of the front line have in common is they
do not know how long it will be before they return home. Mitkova said she
has already instructed Kholoshevsky and his crew, who have been in Baghdad
for more than three weeks, to evacuate. But they have decided to stay. "We
have an unspoken rule that the reporter has the last word in such
situations," Mitkova said.
The problem is that getting replacement crews into Baghdad is almost
impossible. Channel One is the only Russian TV company to have two crews in
Asked when he thought his crew would leave, Kholoshevsky, who said he has
slept in two to three hour bits since the war began, replied: "Only God
knows -- Inshallah -- when a replacement will come."
Solodovnikov said he is likely to be in Kuwait "to the very end."
TITLE: PRESS CONFERENCE WITH USA AND CANADA STUDIES INSTITUTE
DIRECTOR ON IRAQ AND RUSSIAN-AMERICAN
[DOM ZHURNALISTA, 11:00, MARCH 28, 2003]
SOURCE: FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE (http://www.fednews.ru/)
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you on behalf of
the Union of Journalists of Russia and on behalf of the Central
House of Journalists. I am the head of information programs. Our
guest today is Sergei Mikhailovich Rogov, director of the US and
Canada Institute. And I thank you for accepting our invitation. The
war is on and every day we see press conferences and statements.
Many politicians have expressed their opinions. I think Sergei
Mikhailovich I am sure has a lot of interesting things to tell us.
Rogov: Thank you. It's a fine spring day. At long last the
long long winter is coming to an end. And of course on such a
morning to speak about war is not very pleasant. But the war that
began a week ago is an event that is likely to have long-term
Let me first of all give me my assessment of this war and then
I will answer your questions.
First, the causes of the war. Unfortunately in this country
and abroad the interpretation given is often inaccurate. Everything
is reduced to the issue of oil. Oil in this case is a secondary
factor. Yes, economic issues, energy are important international
problems, but to put it crudely, the United States does not need
Iraqi oil. In any case you know that almost half of the oil that
Iraq had the right to sell under the Oil for Food program went to
the United States and Saddam Hussein would have gladly go on
selling oil to America at a cheap price, as much oil as America
One should also bear in mind that the American economy today
is a qualitatively different economy than, say 30 years ago during
the oil embargo. And America's dependence on energy resources, and
the energy resources of the Persian Gulf is less than it was a
generation ago. In general, the cost of oil accounts for less than
1 percent of the American GDP. One can say that Russia is far more
dependent on the export of energy resources than the United States
depends on the import of energy resources. There are concrete
interests of concrete corporations. You know that the Bush
administration is quite brazenly distributing contracts for the
reconstruction of the oil resources of Iraq among its own
companies. The first major contract was awarded to the corporation
that was once headed by the current Vice-President Cheney.
But let me stress that this is not the main thing. The main
thing is the ideology that today informs all the actions of the
Bush administration. We tend to forget that during the Cold War not
only the Soviet Union was driven by ideological imperatives, it was
also true of the United States. And the ideology factor in American
policy has always been very prominent. The idea of America as a
shining city on a hill, an example to the whole world.
And perhaps it would be fair to say that the present US
administration is the most ideological administration since the
times of Reagan. And from that point of view George Bush Jr.,
politically and ideologically, is more the son of Reagan than of
George Bush Sr. who was a much more pragmatic politician.
In the fall of last year the Bush administration published its
National Security Strategy. I would like to quote to you, from
memory, the first time of that strategy. You can verify it if you
like. It goes like this: "The victory of the forces of democracy
and freedom in the Cold War (that is, the victory of the US over
the Soviet Union) means that there is only one model of successful
national development for humanity." The language is poignantly
Well, the present US leadership believes that the American
model of democracy is the only possible model for the whole world
community. And from that point of view the leaders of the present
administration do not seem to be bothered by the fact that an
overwhelming majority of the world public opinion -- not only in
Iraq, not only in the Arab world, but even in the Western countries
-- the overwhelming majority of the world public condemns this war.
This belief that we are the sole custodians of the ultimate truth.
One can draw a parallel here. You remember how the Soviet
troops entered Afghanistan in 1979 expecting that the oppressed
peasantry of Afghanistan would welcome them with flowers and
immediately proceed to build socialism on the land of Afghanistan.
The Bush administration has similarly convinced itself that the
people of Iraq would jubilantly welcome the liberators. And Bush
and Rumsfeld and other American leaders keep using the word
"liberation". And yet it is perfectly clear to everyone that in
spite of the brutal repressions to which the people of Iraq have
been subjected over several decades, the Iraqi society is not
welcoming the American troops as liberators, they see them as
occupiers who have attacked Iraq without any reason.
And once again I would like to go back to the topic of Bush
Sr. and Bush Jr. Bush Sr. proceeded within international law and
the war was waged under a resolution of the Security Council. By
the way, there is the talk now about the Security Council breaking
up and so on. But let us not kid ourselves. The UN has never played
the role that it was supposed to play under the charter of the UN.
In the years of the Cold War the two super powers disregarded the
UN and never asked the permission of the Security Council -- in
Vietnam, in Afghanistan and one might recall the
Anglo-Franco-Israeli attack on Egypt, the 1967 war. Why have we
suddenly decided that what is happening is something new? The UN
had a chance after the Cold War to begin to implement the functions
that set forth in its Charter, and the 1991 war gave hope that the
Security Council would become a body that made decisions on the
legitimate use of force for peacekeeping purposes.
However, under the Clinton administration -- let's recall
NATO's war against Yugoslavia in circumvention of the Security
Council. In the year 2001 after the terrorist attack on the US, the
Bush administration's first instinct was "we will not go to the UN
Security Council, we will beat bin Laden ourselves". However then
a more cautious approach prevailed, the Americans went to the
Security Council and received appropriate resolutions.
Now we can see that the Bush administration started the war
when it had become clear that the war would not be legitimized. And
the reason for this is not only ideology. One of the reasons for
this is that there used to be a senator by the name Fullbright(?),
who actively criticized the Vietnam war and wrote a book called The
Arrogance of Power. This arrogance of power is now obvious in
Indeed, the Americans have tremendous power. Going back to
ideology, right-wing ideologists in the Republican Party have been
trying to prove for several years -- they used the following logic.
Just listen to this. America does not have an equal enemy. Let's
show the world that no one will ever be able to compete with
America as the Soviet Union could. And let's go so far ahead in the
military field from all other countries that will secure America
overwhelming military supremacy over any country or any coalition
of countries in the 21st century.
I must say that this ideological trend actually represents a
small group of people. You might have read this report today.
Richard Perle announced his resignation. I have known him since
1972 when I was a post-graduate student, and he was an aide to
Senator Jackson. The Jackson-Vanik amendment was a creation of
Richard Perle. In other words, it's a rather small group of
dyed-in-the-wool Cold War supporters and opponents of peaceful
coexistence with the Soviet Union, who always demanded total
victory, no arms control, no ABM Treaty, etc.
Perle himself held a symbolic position in the Bush
administration. He was actually a free adviser, just as I am a
member of the learned council under the Russian Security Council.
He was the chairman of a learned council. It was called the
advisory board. How should I say it in Russian? A consultative
council at the Pentagon. He wasn't paid for his job.
The team that is playing the decisive role in the Bush
administration now is called sometimes the chain of pearls. It's a
pun. In other words, it means people who have pursued this ideology
for many years with Pearl or under his direction. These include
Wolfovitz, First Deputy Secretary of Defense, Fife(?) and Crouch,
who also hold key positions in the Department of Defense,
Undersecretary of State Bolton, who deals with international
security and arms control, Bob Joseph, who is in charge of WMD
non-proliferation in the National Security Council.
This team is a team of Reagan-era men. That's what I would
call them. Some of them, for example Bush Senior did not take them
into his administration because they were too ideologized. But the
Bush Junior administration played and are playing a key role.
In 1992, Wolfovitz and Cheney, who was Secretary of Defense at
that time, prepared a document called national defense planning. It
clearly said that the US should consolidate its role of the world's
only super power and prevent the appearance of an equal enemy like
Germany, Japan, China and Russia. It wasn't said in a diplomatic
fashion. A scandal broke out. Then they edited the documents a
little bit after that.
But if you look at the 2002 national security strategy, you
will see the same thesis: the US must not allow the appearance of
an equal enemy. And this can be done only by showing military
force. Look at what has happened over the two years the Bush
administration has been in power. I will give you a couple of
figures. It's hard to comprehend them by ear, but still.
Under Reagan, the US spent 6.5 percent of GDP on defense. This
created a federal budget deficit of 2.5 percent of GDP. Under
Clinton in 2000, the US defense budget was 3 percent of GDP. As a
result, the deficit was replaced with a surplus of 2.5 percent of
GDP. It's all very simple. It's like on scales. Under Bush,
military spending has grown from $300 billion to $400 billion a
year. Add to this the $70 billion that have been requested from the
Congress this week. Add to this homeland defense expenditures,
which have increased sharply after September 11. When all this is
added up, we will see that the military budget is approaching 4.5
percent of GDP.
At the same time, Bush has begun to reduce taxes for
ideological reasons, just as Reagan did. Look at the result. The US
had a budget surplus of 2 percent of GDP two years ago. But this
year they are going to have a deficit of 4 percent of GDP. Where is
the logic? The Republicans have always favored a balance budget.
But the logic of this team is very simple. America spent 6, 8 and
even 10 percent of its GDP on defense during the Cold War. Let us
go ahead by buying new high-precision weapons of fifth and even
sixth generation in order to be able to use military force whenever
we deem it necessary disregarding anyone. A unilateral approach.
And going back to the National Security Strategy, this is
manifested in the thesis about the US right to "preemption". In
fact the idea of a preemptive strike was current in the years of
the World War Two, but it had an equal rival in the Soviet Union.
The result was "mutual assured destruction" or mutual nuclear
deterrence. And in these conditions arms control became a way of
regulating the rivalry between the two super powers that deterred
Such people as Richard Perle, the right wing of the Republican
Party, have always opposed this and invariably called for a
victory. You may remember Senator Goldwater: "Why not victory?" In
other words, I want to stress the continuity. What is taking place
at present has its roots in the Cold War and is not connected with
Saddam Hussein. And this team today is saying, if there is no equal
adversary, the idea of deterrence should be renounced in favor of
the idea of "preemption".
And look what is happening. I think I was saying to this
audience last year that if you look at the National Security
Strategy, it says that there is no need for mutual nuclear
deterrence with Russia, deterrence does not work against
terrorists, deterrence does not deter rogue states. And from that
point of view this is what they call "a war of choice" when the
American leadership has decided to carry out a war to demonstrate
to the whole world what will happen to those who refuse to play by
the American rules.
And the choice of Saddam Hussein -- look at the "axis of
evil", and by the way, still on the subject of ideology, do you see
the connection between "the empire of evil" and "the axis of evil"?
Well, Saddam is not big enough to be called an empire. If you take
the "axis of evil" Iraq is the weakest link in that axis because
after 1991, after the military defeat of Iraq in 1991, Iraq has
been entirely on the defensive. Formerly, Saddam Hussein could
afford to launch wars against Iran, Kuwait and so on. But now it is
a question of survival for him.
And this prompted the idea of a small, easy and victorious
war. But as you see and as has often happened in history, an easy
and victorious war did not materialize. There are several reasons
I have already mentioned one of them. The people of Iraq do
not see the Anglo-American troops as liberators. And therefore the
entry of American forces into cities is fraught with an intifada
Iraq-style. I would hate to draw sad parallels with Russia. But you
may remember that some people bragged that they could take Grozny
within an hour or within two hours by sending a paratroop regiment.
Americans made serious mistakes in military planning. The
American way of prosecuting war has always been reliance on
technology. We bomb and we do not come in for retaliation. And now
there is high precision weaponry and 90 percent of all the weapons
used in the strikes on Iraq is high-precision weapons. It has never
been the case before. The Americans have overestimated the role of
high-precision weapons because at the end of the day they will have
to do street fighting, hand scuffles and there the American
technological edge is not an asset, but rather the other way round.
After all, the Americans are used to fighting when there are air
conditioners, cold beer and other conveniences.
Third. The American force is much smaller than it was in 1991.
And in general initially the civilian pentagon chiefs such as
Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld said that 70,000-90,000 troops would be
enough to do the job. The American military are more circumspect.
And Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said last year
at hearings that we American military do not want a "fair fight",
we want an unfair fight, complete supremacy when we are pounding
them, but they are not pounding us.
As a result the American force that was put together included
4 divisions plus a British division. But Turkey let the US down.
They haggled and haggled and eventually they failed to make a deal.
As a result the initial plan of striking from two strategic
directions, from the north and from the south, was disrupted. And
the Americans had to launch their offensive from Kuwait. It is a
tiny state and the task was how to get out of the bottleneck. They
managed to get out, but then it became obvious that they would have
to storm the cities.
The northern front has not been opened and it will take
several weeks before the Fourth Infantry that was to strike from
Turkey lands in Kuwait, plus additional troops that are being moved
from the mainland of the United States. The communication lines are
stretched and they are exposed to the actions of the fedayeen. You
can call them guerrillas, or you can call them terrorists. But
communications stretching over 300 kilometers is, frankly speaking,
a gamble. It is another question that Iraq doesn't have the
strength to strike the Americans from the flanks and from the rear
from the side of Basra because as soon as they leave the city they
will be exposed to American aviation strikes. One can assume that
during the next week or two the Americans will be pulling up the
rear and wait for reinforcements and they will not resume active
offensive against Baghdad until the middle of April.
And from that point of view, in spite of the setbacks suffered
by the American troops -- relative setbacks, but clearly things are
not going according to plan and plans have to be adjusted. Of
course the military superiority of the US is too great.
Apparently, for a month and a half to two months they will be
able to break open military resistance. In this respect, the US
will win a military victory. But will they win a political victory?
It is a big question.
If we analyze political factors, Bush still has the support of
American society. We are seeing a classical effect of society
rallying around the President during the war. Seventy percent of
people support the war. But already a very strong anti-war movement
has emerged in America. If we draw an analogy with Vietnam, at that
time a mass anti-war movement began in America only five years
later. Today it is already there.
If we take the world public opinion, it is not only Russia,
China and the Arab world, of course, that are opposed to the war,
but America's allies as well. Look at the paradox. The Bush
administration talks about democracy, but all public opinion polls
show that 90 or 80 percent of Spaniards, slightly less in Britain,
70 to 80 percent of people in the countries that are America's
allies are against the war, including the new NATO members, which
support it despite the public sentiments in their countries. Quite
Second, if they decide to storm cities, casualties will be
tremendous, primarily among the peaceful Iraqi population. The US
troops will sustain big losses, too, but the ratio will most likely
be 1 to 10 or maybe even 1 to 50, if the Americans get drawn into
street fighting, 1 to 50 in favor of the military.
Besides, they have high-precision weapons. You might have seen
the statistics. The Americans have fired about 1,000 Tomahawks and
dropped about 4,000 high-precision bombs. But their entire stock of
high-recision bombs is 20,000. If they keep the intensity of the
operation at the present level, they will soon run out of their
high-precision weapons, and what will they do then? Carpet bombings
In other words, the Americans in Iraq will find themselves in
a dire political situation. A humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq is
quite probable. So, how can the US turn this into a victory? I want
to offer you three scenarios and then end my presentation so that
you could ask your questions.
Scenario 1. The US will win a military victory without heavy
losses. Impressed by this, the US allies will line up, and the rest
of the world will make a conclusion for itself that it is better
not to tackle the US and that it is better to play the political
rules established by the US. In other words, the US will turn its
military victory into a political one. We cannot rule this out
despite all the factors that I have mentioned above.
This will mean that for a rather long period of time the US
will play the role of the world's only super power, or, if you
wish, a world policeman. But I personally think that even America
will not have enough resources to play this role.
Scenario 2. Do you remember this Russian fairy-tale about the
bear who was caught, but then the hunters did not know how to carry
him. America is facing the same kind of situation in Iraq as Israel
is facing on the Palestinian territories: they got him, but it's
not a political victory.
Moreover, the conflict expands to neighboring countries. For
example, Israel begins to follow the US suit and solve the
Palestinian problem by force. Indeed, why not get rid of Arafat if
America can get rid of Saddam?
Turkey, Kurdistan. All kinds of scenarios are possible there.
Kashmir. Terrorist acts, new tests, tension between India and
Pakistan grows again. In other words, America will not be able to
turn this war into a political victory. But this will create chaos
in the system of international relations as everybody will try to
rub out, excuse the expression, his enemy, using the US precedent.
This is a very dangerous scenario, as dangerous as the first
one, because the use of weapons of mass destruction is quite
possible. I must say that despite all US propaganda statements,
there has been no proof that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
Even if it has hidden the remainder of them, Iraq has not used them
so far. But if we take the Indian-Pakistani conflict, everything is
And scenario 3. America is persuaded to embark on a lawful
path. I think this is possible. There are several reasons for this.
First of all, America is not almighty. The war costs, both economic
and human, although Americans count only their own casualties, may
prove to be too high for the US public.
Let's recall Bush Senior. He beat the Soviet Union in the Cold
War, he defeated Iraq in Desert Storm, but a year later Clinton
came to power, whom no one really knew, and said only the economy
mattered and beat Bush Senior. He said it was economy stupid.
There were no guarantees that Bush Junior will win the 2004
elections. There are more moderate people in the Bush
administration than those who support this ideology. I think
Perle's resignation, although the reason is absolutely different,
being a free adviser to the Pentagon he, nevertheless, gave paid
consultations to a firm that has contracts from the Pentagon. It's
a breach of ethics.
But I think this is a symbol of defeat of this ideological
wing. Although it is too early to speak of this defeat, the
unquestionable leader, and I know the people in this group quite
well and I must say that Richard Perle is indeed a very intelligent
person. His philosophy is very peculiar, though. Indeed, his
nickname is the Prince of Darkness. Other members of this group are
not as intelligent as he is. And I think this indicates that they
are not so almighty, after all.
The second reason is a split in the Western community. A split
in NATO is a very serious thing. NATO will not fall apart, of
course, it will survive. But this split is a result of a crisis in
NATO delayed for 10 years after the disappearance of the common
enemy. Indeed, this military-political alliance was held in peace
by a common enemy, which was the Soviet Union. We know that such
coalitions of victors have always fallen apart after the victory.
But NATO did not break up, and it has been inventing new functions
for itself for 10 years. What has happened proves the correctness
of this thesis. Americans say Saddam Hussein is an enemy, but
Europe says he is not.
There have appeared serious complications in Russian-American
relations. Very serious positive changes have occurred since
September 11 with the appearance of a common enemy -- bin Laden,
the Taliban, and international terrorism. But we don't perceive
Iraq as an enemy of Russia. In this respect, the international
isolation of America is quite possible. I have been studying the US
for 35 years, and I can't remember even one time when Americans
faced a situation like this one. Today they are basically opposing
the world public opinion.
The fight is now under way for the role of the Security
Council in the post-war settlement. I believe the outcome of this
fight will make it clear whether the war against Iraq is just an
episode, unpleasant and negative but still only episode, and the
world goes back to the rules and international law, or the law of
the strong, or as Putin has called it the law of the fist,
I think all three scenarios have equal chances. But we will be
able to make some conclusions in a month or a month and a half. I
thank you for your attention and I am ready to answer your
Q: What has been hidden from the public in this war?
Rogov: Frankly speaking, I think your question is something
simplifying the situation as if to suggest that there is some
terrible secret there, but we are all stupid and we don't know it,
that global conspirators have concocted something.
I believe the real secret of this war is what I said in the
beginning, that the reason for this war is ideology, the Messiah
ideology and the confidence that America is almighty. But of
course, there are many secrets in this war. There is propaganda
war, and both sides are conducting this war now.
But I think the Americans are losing this psychological war
because they have failed to show that they can win easily. If they
decide to storm cities, the whole world will see what is happening
there, unless, of course, they bomb down all TV crews working
there, and this will not add to America's prestige either.
As for the use of some secret weapon that may change the
course of war, I don't think it is possible. A conspiracy to kill
Saddam may change the course of events. But you know that CIA has
been trying to kill Saddam for 10 years, and the Americans have
canceled some of their laws that banned the assassination of
foreign leaders. If we consider an operation to dispose of Saddam
a secret, I can neither confirm or deny it. It can't tell you who
hires the assassins.
So, I think that to say that there is some terrible secret in
this war --
Q: (Off mike).
Rogov: This is what military propaganda is all about. I think
both sides are playing this game: to hide their failures and to
overstate the losses of the enemy. But I don't see any terrible
political secret in this war.
Q: Were there any secrets in the Vietnam or Yugoslav wars that
surfaced after they were over?
Rogov: I think one can write about secret diplomacy and spy
wars, but in principle there are quite clear and obvious reasons --
economic and political -- for any war. And this was doesn't differ
in this respect from the war in Vietnam or the war in Afghanistan.
Q: What steps should be taken to protect Russian business
interests in Iraq? Or have those who invested in Iraq lost their
money? Who is to be sued for this, Washington, London, or maybe the
Rogov: I will express a view that some may find disputable. I
have already said that America does not have vital economic
interests in Iraq. Nor does Russia. I think people have been
confusing national interests with the interests of a concrete
company or a concrete oligarch. Some time ago there was a popular
phrase in the States: What is good for Standard Oil, is good for
America. Or what is good for General Motors, is good for America.
The person who said what is good for General Motors is good
for America was Secretary of Defense Johnson under Eisenhower. He
was put in jail because it turned out that he was sticky-fingered,
just as Pearl was.
Russia has economic interests in Iraq, but there are secondary
interests and it is hard to realize them. Let's begin with the
state interests. It's Iraq's state debt to Russia. But who have
told you that Saddam Hussein pays his debts? Why have we decided
that Saddam Hussein will pay us these seven or eight billion
Third World countries owed the Soviet Union $165 billion. It's
much more than our debt is. But is anybody paying back? Think of
what happened to the debt of Angola, Mozambique, Egypt. It was
consolidated to 10-15 percent. Think about what happened to the
Indian debt and to the Vietnamese debt. They pay debts to the
Americans, they don't pay debts back to Russia.
You remember that in August of last year in Johannesburg
Kasyanov announced, after the event, the fact that 27 billion in
debts had been forgiven to the developing countries. And still they
are not paying. That enabled us to say how noble we were. But no
matter whether or not we have made those declarations they wouldn't
have paid us back. Neither Saddam, nor the regime that will come to
replace him will pay back the debt because economic reconstruction
of Iraq will probably take a long time.
There are the interests of concrete Russian companies that
have been signing good contracts with Iraq. But to implement these
contracts major investments are needed. If we look at our own
economy -- Lukoil, Yukos and so on -- the growth of oil extraction
in Russia occurs at the old oil fields that do not require major
capital investments. The use of modern technologies makes it
possible to increase extraction to some extent.
But they haven't managed to launch a single major new oil
field during these past ten years, with the exception of the
Sakhalin project which was financed by Western companies. So, our
companies when signing contracts with Iraq had neither the money
nor the technology to implement these contracts. They would have to
join forces, as in the case of Sakhalin, with some major Western
And in this context, there is ample ground for saying that
Saddam Hussein was playing a game with us or with some of our
political figures and corporations. This was a carrot that Saddam
Hussein dangled before a goat, to recall the late Lebed.
The question, in my view is not that Russia's economic
interests have been seriously damaged. The question is that the
United States is behaving itself in accordance with the cartoons
that Soviet propaganda used to publish. And they are demonstrating
to us and to the whole world that humanity can be made happy with
the help of tanks and bombs, that democracy and freedom can be
created in that way.
From the economic point of view the consequences for us can be
negative very soon if the war drags on and prices start falling.
Then our federal budget will split at the seams. And the contracts
signed with Iraq have nothing to do with our federal budget. You
know that this money never returns to Russia.
Q: Sergei Mikhailovich, how should the Russian authorities
behave with regard to the new government of Iraq that will be
installed after the occupation of Iraq? Will a new relationship
need to be formed with it or should we regard it as illegitimate?
Rogov: A very interesting question. A very sound question. I
think that question should be linked to the thesis about political
results of the war. If the Americans establish in Iraq an
occupation regime similar to occupation regime that they had in
Germany and Japan after World War II then of course there is no
question of granting recognition to such a regime.
If the Americans create a coalition government of various
opposition forces... I have serious doubts that the United States
will do that. Just a couple of days ago the State Department
resolutely rejected the declaration by the Iraqi opposition about
forming a government in exile. But if it does happen and such a
government is set up, I don't think we should rush to recognize it.
Will that government be perceived as a legitimate government in
Iraq itself, and apparently we are talking not about the population
of Iraq as a whole, but the Shiite part of Iraq and Kurdistan and
so on? Will that government be recognized in the Arab world? Will
the credentials of that government be recognized at the UN Security
I am somewhat puzzled by the statements by some of our experts
and not only experts that we should hurry to take part in post-war
reconstruction so as to get out slice of the cake. I think that
this is a mistaken position both from the political and moral
points of view and even, if you like, in terms of profits. They
won't give us any slice of the cake. But we will quickly fritter
away the respect that Russia has gained in the world.
Q: Golos Rossii radio company. In what areas do you think
cooperation between the US and Russia is still possible today? And
the second question. All the post-communist regimes have joined the
coalition against Iraq. What has prompted them to act in this way?
In other words, could you give your opinion about anti-Iraq
Rogov: Perhaps, I should start with the second part of your
question. You mean the East European countries. That is clear. The
anti-Soviet and anti-communist sentiments are still strong in the
countries of Eastern Europe. They are waning, but they are still
strong. So, the heads of East European states see America as their
main patron who can grant them admission and issue a membership
card of the Western community, of NATO, etc. And you know that
there are constant relapses into fear of the Russian threat, the
assumption that Russia is still a threat to East European states,
which is why they have to joint NATO.
I would say that today the old members of NATO, those
described by Rumsfeld as "the old Europe" have a feeling that they
are letting in a Trojan Horse. And I would also stress that they
are further along the road of democratization than we are. This is
a recognized fact. But look at how the leaders of these countries
have unceremoniously ignored public sentiments. Moreover, they have
even symbolically sent their soldiers. Even Ukraine has.
Now about Russian-American relations. We have vital relations
and interests connected with the US. These are security, economic
and political interests. In the security sphere, we and the
Americans are still in a state of mutual nuclear deterrence. As you
probably remember, I have spoken of getting rid of the doctrine of
deterrence. There are two ways to get rid of mutual nuclear
deterrence. First, we disintegrate and America gains overwhelming
supremacy. In this case, mutual nuclear deterrence will be gone.
Second, we jointly get rid of the most destabilizing elements.
Nuclear weapons will remain in Russia and America. It's like
Britain and France, relations between Chirac and Blair. There is no
mutual nuclear deterrence although both have nuclear weapons.
It worries me, to say the least, that we are again beginning
to play the same game: we will not ratify the Strategic Offensive
Reductions Treaty. We played with START-2 Treaty for seven years
and ratified it when it was no longer relevant. As a result, we had
to sign a new treaty in a much more complex situation after having
lost the ABM Treaty. Let's face the truth. Who is to benefit more
from this treaty, Russia or America? By so doing we may simply
subjugate our vital interest to a secondary interest. That will be
Economic problems. Despite the improvement of Russian-American
relations, not even one key economic problem in Russia's relations
with the West has been solved. The only symbol is that we have been
recognized as a market economy. But how could they not 10 years
after the collapse of the Soviet Union? And yet, the Jackson-Vanik
amendment has so far not been canceled.
The terms of Russia's admission to the WTO, the problem of
Russian debts, the problem of access to high technologies -- Russia
imports almost half of machinery from the US. Speaking of oil, we
need American technologies to develop our own oil fields. I will
express a view here that may go beyond your questions, though. We
have almost a love relationship with France and Germany. But has
the European Union changed its requirements, abolished Shengen
visas for Kaliningrad, written off our debts?
Political integration between Russia and old Europe has not
had any impact on economic problems. But of course, we cannot
benefit from a new confrontation with the United States. In
conclusion, and I think we will have to finish quite soon, I must
say the following. Political and economic reforms have been going
on in Russia with great difficulty. We are moving toward a more
mature political democracy and more mature market economy, we are
zigzagging, we take one step forward and one step back, but we are
moving. This means that Russia must be closely connected with the
community of democratic market states.
This does not mean, however, that Russia must copy America.
Flaws in American or British democracy are obvious. But the present
split in the Western community means that there is no place for
Russia to integrate into. I want to draw your attention to this
thesis because it was emphasized a couple of days ago by our
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. I haven't seen it in any newspaper or
in any television report. Instead they keep on talking about some
guys who send Saddam Hussein's books and sign up as volunteers.
But they don't report what Putin or Ivanov says, they don't even
Shall we have the last question and then call it a day?
Q: The US has very many complaints about Iran and it has
taught this country (inaudible)... We can see now that the war in
Iraq is not going as the Americans planned. So, will they dare
attack Iran in this situation?
Rogov: In other words, one Vietnam, two Vietnams, three
Vietnams, as Che Guevara used to say. I have this feeling that if
American wins in Afghanistan, I am sorry in Iraq, the next
candidate will most likely be Kim Chong-il. I think that after the
Americans have had enough problems in Baghdad and Basra, they will
run out of steam to move into Iran.
But I think that the situation around Iran may deteriorate
considerably. Here is why. If I were the Iranian leader, seeing how
America is rubbing out Saddam Hussein, what would I do? I would
create deterrence weapons as fast as I can. And this may create
very serious problems, including for Russian-American relations.
We are not doing anything to help Iran create nuclear weapons.
I mean we are not doing anything illegal. But there have been many
reports saying that Iran is pursuing other problems behind our
back. We must take a very cautious and well-balanced approach. No
matter how terrible the Iraqi war may be, it seems that no weapons
of mass destruction will be used in it, maybe just a couple dozen
rusted chemical shells.
As for Korea and Iran, these may be conflicts involving the
use of weapons of mass destruction, let alone India and Pakistan.
Q: If relations between Russia and the US deteriorate further,
may this bring Russia and China closer?
Rogov: As for further cooling of relations, I think it
certainly will take place. But I believe we will not bang the door
or hit the table with a shoe. Americans are interested in
cooperation with Russia on a number of issues. These include
Afghanistan, where the problem is not at all solved yet. It is
al-Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations. I think
the americans realize that if we want to, we can create very big
problems in Central Asia.
Finally, the Americans understand that if they provoke
confrontation with us, Russia will hardly exercise restraint,
including in its supplies of technologies to Iran, Korea and some
other countries. Of course, some in America today wish to punish
Russia, but to be honest, today the situation is one in which we
cannot be punished. If the International Monetary Fund refuses to
give loans to us, so what? They are not giving them anyway. They
will not buy our oil? But they are not buying it already -- only
Europe is buying it and Europe has no other resort.
Overall, the situation is quite interesting. It looks as if
the asymmetry is quite large between Russia and America but it so
happens that it is not easy for the United States to corner Russia.
Now the Russian-Chinese relations. For a number of recent
years we have had a trend of improving in the Russian-Chinese
relations. And now I think we can talk about three points. The
first is the strategic impulse of the Bush administration, it is
the ideological wing of the Republican Party which regards China as
the main enemy rather than Russia. And on the eve of September 11
there were some strategic documents drafted in the United States
like the Quadrennial Defense Review, the first variants of national
security strategy -- which directly mentioned China as the
After September 11, all this was reviewed but the US-Chinese
relations are in earnest and for a long time and here there are
some in-built conflicts such as Taiwan. This is something that does
not exist in the Russian-US relations.
The second point is that in reality, if we are to talk about
opposing the war in Iraq, we will probably get a situation in which
China -- which usually prefers to act on its own -- has for the
first time found itself in the company with Russia and France and
with Germany. We should not deduce from this the establishment of
a geopolitical axis but it marks quite an evolution in the Chinese
policy. China is beginning -- more and more cautiously -- to play
in the world diplomatic space.
And the last point. I just said "cautiously" and to tell you
honestly I am very much impressed by the way the Chinese criticize
the United States -- they do it sharply, but without hysteria and
without attempting to bluff. I think I could learn some things from
the Chinese comrades.
Q: What will be the response in Russia if America tries --
after Iraq -- to interfere with Iran or North Korea? Will Russia's
response be the same?
And the second question is: after the terrorist attacks in New
York it was thought that Putin made a strategic choice of
partnership with America, of good relations and there was already
some "groundwork" prepared: they softened their position on
Chechnya. But now we hear quite a tough statement by Putin, tough
statements by Ivanov. What is your assessment of Russia's current
position vis-a-vis America? Has everything changed again?
Rogov: Let me start with the second question and then I will
come back to this one because they are interrelated but let us
agree that this is the last question because I have to fly to the
city of Munich. I promise there will not be any Munich-type
Indeed, in the wake of September 11 there arose a prospect for
the establishment of a strategic partnership between Russia and the
United States. This had to do with the appearance of a common
enemy. And hence those very notable changes in the Russian-US
relations. But the new partnership was not institutionalized. I
think I have said it here that the two presidents have -- every two
or three months -- to do the work that must be done by officials at
a lower level. And the two presidents have not met in this country
for quite a while.
Firstly, the cooperation in the struggle with the Taliban and
the Al Qaeda was not accompanied by serious progress in most other
areas, above all in economics. Again there were declarations and
again there were promises but in reality there were no investments
and no trade -- nothing. Last year Russia invested in the United
States three times more money than America did in Russia and
There is a lack of coordination in approaching a number of
complex regional problems. On Iraq, the Americans knew our position
but they ignored it. So, we have divergencies on Iran and Korea.
And I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to express some
doubt in regard, as it seems to me, to Russia's not very logical
position vis-a-vis North Korea.
Indeed, the Kim Chong-il is behaving in a provocative way as
distinct from Saddam. Kim has got out of the non-proliferation
treaty, is fanning tensions in all possible ways. And unlike the
situation with Iraq, the Americans say: let us discuss the issue in
the Security Council. And we say no, let us not. I have some
difficulty understanding this position. If we want the Security
Council to play indeed a key role in matters of world stability and
regional conflicts, I would, for instance, come up with such
initiative myself. The more so that as to Iraq today, what can the
Security Council do? It could sanction the US attack, with the
benefit of hindsight. And on Korea, we can act before the tension
leads to a military conflict, and we can prevent a military
Now on Iran. I would say that in some cases we are also
behaving not quite far-sightedly. It is known that Iran is pursuing
nuclear programs behind our back. And we pretend not to understand
what the substance of the problems is.
But as to the United States, who has established the precedent
with nuclear Israel? All are perfectly aware of Israel's nuclear
programs and nuclear weapons. And now America again gives Israel 10
billion dollars, credit guarantees included. This is a double
standard on the American side. And of course it hardly contributes
to our approaching -- together with the Americans -- to Iran and to
North Korea with the same yardstick.
As to how to correct what has happened and may happen in the
next few months, I think it will be difficult for us and the
Americans to get on the same wavelength for a long time. But now it
is still not late to get on the same wavelength on Iraq and Iran in
order to prevent the situation from developing by the first
scenario: one Vietnam, two Vietnams, three Vietnams; finished with
Iraq, get on to North Korea; finished with North Korea, get on to
Iran. I think this may avert this situation.
But if America decides to repeat the Iraqi precedent, the
fragile Russian-American partnership will fall apart for good.
Q: But what does Russia want exactly? Does it have a strategy?
Or is Putin reversing things and does not want to develop further
relations with America?
Rogov: I don't see any signs indicating that Putin and Russia
are deviating from the strategic partnership with the US. Indeed,
we criticize Americans strongly, sometimes too strongly, but at the
same time we are using the Bush formula. Do you remember what he
said when the US seceded from the ABM Treaty? He said we may not
agree but we can remain friends and partners. So, we can say to
them now that we disagree but we remain partners.
Rogov: But frankly speaking, it will be very difficult to do
if disagreements increase and we are again at odds with the
Americans on such issues as Chechnya, Iran and Korea. This is why
I say that the partnership has not fallen apart yet, but it is very
fragile and may fall apart if the situation develops in a negative
I want to thank you for your patience.
Moderator: And we want to thank you and we hope that we will
meet again in a month's time or some other time.
Rogov: I will return from Washington on April 15, and it may
be interesting to meet again then. Some critical military events
may happen by that time.